• Hey friends, I had the joy of preaching at Waite Park Church this last Sunday about The Will of God. If you've ever wondered "If It's The Lord's Will" this will be an encouragement to you:
    1. Why We Are Called To Be Anti-Racist

      As of late I've constantly found myself at a loss for words, understanding and how to move forward. All the emotions, opinions, experiences, stories, news, past, present and thoughts about the future have been overwhelming and constant. Who do I listen to? What do I do? Should I stay silent? Should I stick with like minded people? Do I make a statement? Should I take action? Lots and lots of questions have passed through my mind. At times I felt unsettled, confused, off balance. Can anyone relate to this?

      How are we as believers called to act in "unprecedented times" or when there's "political polarity" or when people are saying "we can't breathe" because of oppression or injustice? 

      We recently finished our Book/Video Study of The Color of Compromise as a church. Those who participated met last Saturday to discuss final thoughts and next steps. I wanted to share some thoughts and next steps discussed as we concluded this study and look ahead to the future.


      1. We Are Called to Be Anti-Racist. The definition of Anti-racist is simply taking a stand against racist attitudes, words and behaviors that discount or disqualify a person based on the color of their skin. To be anti-racist as a Christian means three things:

      • You acknowledge that every person regardless of ability, race, background, choices are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
      • Remember our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). You choose to respond not react with the checklist of love to situations and people who may be racist. And choose to not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing and good (1 Peter 3:9Romans 12:9-21).
      • Being Anti-racist is more than choosing to not be racist in your thoughts or actions towards others, it also means taking action when you see it happening through the interactions of others or in systems (James 4:17)


      2. YOU are the Church. Have you ever thought, "The church should really do something about that"? I think we all have at some point. But it's time we realize that when that thought comes, it means we should consider how I WILL DO SOMETHING about that. It might just be that Holy Spirit is highlighting something that HE is inviting you into (Hebrews 3:15). This is not to say we are alone in invoking change, but we also need to consider our part and take the steps we need to rather than assuming someone else should do it instead.


      3. Next steps. The book ends with very thorough, practical steps that can be taken to help each person get involved in ending racism. Among some of which include educate yourself. Get to know people different that you. Commit to not just knowing people of color, but to also using your spheres of influence to evoke change in systems and institutions that continue to be racist. Here are a few upcoming events to participate in:

       

      Unity Revival March: Merge Twin Cities is co-hosting this march with Unity Revival Movement on Saturday, August 8th at 11 AM. Those interested in joining can meet at K-mart on Lake St and the march will end at Phelps Park.

       

      Pray on MLK: Pray on MLK is an example of holy activism— a two hour, nationwide prayer and worship protest located along every Martin Luther King Jr. street or memorial in the United States (and around the world). Happening THIS Saturday, August 8th from 6:01PM-8:01PM. Click HERE to signup.

       


      This conversation is important. If you have thoughts, questions, comments feel free to reach out. We, as a staff, are here to journey alongside each other as together we grow, mature and attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

      1. How A Glass Of Water Can Change Your Week

        It's been hot! So very hot and humid. I know there are some within our church family that thrive in this weather, and I must say we are thankful for you because you bring us perspective in how this heavy, hot weather can also be enjoyed. Naturally when it is hot out we HYDRATE! In the passage this past Sunday, we explored Mark 9:36-41. The conversation  on the part of the disciples was riddled with competition, otherness and once again GREATNESS. It is so easy for us to look at the disciples from hundreds of years ago and shake our heads thinking,"What is wrong with them? Jesus is living among them. Get it together! Stop missing it." But if we pause like we did on Sunday and reflect on our own personal attitudes, persuasions, and motivations, could it be possible that we at times are more like them than we think?


        The disciples throughout chapter 9 have struggled. They were unable to fulfill their call in casting out a demon tormenting a little boy and later on in the chapter they find OTHER people, not a part of the IN crowd with Jesus successfully casting out demons in Jesus' Name. This comes right after they were caught by Jesus arguing about who was the greatest. Time and time again Jesus reorients and refocuses them back to the way, the truth and the life; himself. They didn't need to have the right way or the best truth or live their best life, they needed to return to listening to Jesus, asking questions and being willing to be faithful in the small, ordinary tasks, just as much as the big tasks.


        Jesus in this passage could have highlighted amazing, powerful, big spiritual wonders, as something worthy of reward, but instead he highlighted a simple cup of water. A symbolic representation of the stance we should have in relationships to those within the church and outside the church. He was calling them to have a default stance of being FOR others rather than against. This looks like being willing to celebrate how God is moving in and through the lives of others, being willing to receive from others rather than just give. Where are the places where it's hard to choose to be for rather than against others? Where is it hard to believe that others are for you rather than against you? How might God be reorienting you and refocusing you in these places? 

        1. Why You Don't Have To Be The Greatest

          Questions. There are times questions are helpful and there are times questions are not. I laugh when I think about this now, but I remember when Jessy and I were in college and how one day he was recounting his day and the conversations he had had with various people. One conversation in particular left me mortified. He reported that during a class lecture he raised his hand and asked the professor, "Why do you have an airplane landing strip on your head?" He was referring to his receded hairline! The professor was was not phased and laughed, but that question while OK to ask in one culture was not OK to ask in another. Jessy has since learned the socially appropriate conversation topics here, while I must say that I still have a ways to go at learning those for his homeland :)


          In reflecting on the Discovery Bible Passage from this past Sunday, Mark 9:30-37, I was struck by verse 32, "But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it." Jesus just told them THE PLAN and they were afraid to ask? Why? Perhaps because they were embarrassed and disillusioned that they were the greatest and thought that they should already know what Jesus was talking about? Perhaps because of their pride they missed the equipping and hope that Jesus was extending to them? How many times does our pride get in the way of what God is working within us? Too often I think we discount, disqualify, deny, disapprove or even doubt the opportunities God is placing before and miss out on the things He is inviting us into. 

          This passage highlights the stance Jesus calls us to have in the midst of the everyday.


          1. Humility:  The text clearly shows us that Jesus wasn't living to perform for people. In fact he didn't want people to know where He and His disciples were.


          2. Authenticity: It's funny how in the text, the argument between the disciples about who was the greatest was in fact very childish. Perhaps when Jesus placed a little child among them he was emphasizing that to them. I wonder if Jesus was also highlighting how we are not called to pretend like we have it altogether, but to come authentically with our questions, our failures, our true identities and passions before God.


          3. Teachable: I think we've all been asked a slew of questions at some point in our life by a child wondering how the world works. So many questions are asked and so many answers are given that ultimately we come to a point where we aren't sure how to answer those questions anymore! Have you been there? But the stance we are invited to take from this passage is one of learning, no one has arrived until we see Jesus face to face. If the disciples had stopped in their confusion and asked Jesus, who knows what might have been different when the time actually came for THE PLAN to happen. Would they have been scared and hiding in a room? Or would they have taken advantage of the situation compelled by the joy and hope that Jesus would rise three days later?


          So this week and in the weeks to come may we ask questions. I believe one of the greatest strategies we can take in humbling ourselves is to ask questions. Not to assume. Not to act like we have it all together. Asking questions reminds us we need each other and allows us to receive from another. It allows us to step out of being blinded by our need to be right or prove ourselves and rather step into complete and utter dependence on God, leaning into His understanding and trusting that He will make our paths straight. 

          1. A completed "Almost 30K"

            When There's Unbelief

            Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you start out strong, but as time passes or events occur you feel your strength failing?


            This past Saturday I experienced this firsthand with Noele. As many of you heard, we took on an "Almost 30K" in hopes of walking from the State Capitol of Minnesota to the Mall of America. Though we started out a few minutes late (parking issues), we also started out strong! The path wasn't clear at times so we pulled out our GPS and confirmed the route. At another point we had friends meet us past the halfway mark and cheer us on with liquids, buckets of ice and chairs to rest our feet. And still at other points when exhaustion was upon us we were able to find a bench to take a seat and regroup. But then the last stretch came. We excitedly entered the caged walkway and entered onto a sidewalk that journeyed along the highway, getting closer to our destination. At this point, by car, Mall of America was about 4 minutes away, by feet nearly two hours. 


            This path was unlike any other we had previously taken. The sun was high in the sky, shade was not present, benches for resting were nonexistent, bikes were whirring past us unexpectedly and after many steps, the way in front of us seemed unending! Our feeling of strength, our ways of coping, our plans of finishing became distant. With every passing minute I seemed to become more and more present to the pain in my toes and legs. At this point I questioned if I could even take another step, let alone make it to our destination.


            Have you ever been there? Maybe you haven't taken on a unique walking endeavor, but what about in the day to day? Have you ever held out hope for something to change? Or held onto belief that God would show up and after you reached the end of your patience, your resources, your support, maybe even yourself, you wondered if God could even do something!?


            I think this gives us a glimpse into the experience of the father from our Discovery Bible Study this past Sunday. In Mark 9:14-29 , we see a parent who has had a child suffering for many years with no change. And as Jesus converses with the father their dialogue is intriguing. I imagine this wasn't the first time the father had sought help for his son. And as he stands before Jesus, I assume he's speaking from experience when he asks Jesus for help and then he ends with, "if you can". So many times he probably sought solutions or answers it to help his son but to no avail. Jesus notices this, and reminds him of who God is and what He can do. Jesus says, "Anything is possible for him who believes." 


            Faithless versus belief, how do we move from one to the other? In looking further into the Greek we can see that the key ingredient in both of these stances is a four lettered word called TRUST. We all know this word, but do we really know it? To trust someone is to hold a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something (dictionary.com). Where are the places today where God is inviting you to step out in trust that HE is reliable, truthful, able and strong enough? So often we want answers that we can see or understand and often God's response is to lean in and trust Him and to see Him make our paths straight. Let's together seek to move from the stance of "If you can Lord" to declaring the truth "Lord you're able".