Weekend Review (7/12/15)

Yesterday, at Church180, we continued our quest to figure out how to connect to God!
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We started off by showing this video:

And then we asked these questions…

  • What have we done that the first question people are asking us when we tell them about church is, “What do I wear?”
  • What have we done that the first thing people think about when they think about Christians is all the things they’ll have to stop doing and the things they’ll have to start doing if they are a Christian?
  • How have we taken something called, “the gospel” which literally means, “good news” and turned it into something that sounds like anything but good news?

The answer to this question is fairly simple… and heartbreaking…

We’ve come under the control of the “Tyranny of Trying.”

In other words… we’ve bought into the idea that we connect with God because of what we do or don’t do (including how we dress on Sunday)!

This bad theology is not a new one. In fact, it’s the primary reason that St. Paul wrote a letter to the church in the city of Galatia! Fairly early on in his letter he had this to say:

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. (Galatians 3:1-5 NLT)

These early Christians were trying to connect to God based on the things they were doing/not doing! Paul called them “foolish” and told them to STOP IT!

I shared a quote from Tim Keller’s book, Reason for God, that gets ALL OVER this matter:

“It is possible to avoid Jesus as Savior as much by keeping all the Biblical rules as by breaking them.

Both religion (in which you build your identity on your moral achievements) and irreligion (in which you build your identity on some other secular pursuit or relationship) are, ultimately, spiritually identical courses to take. Both are ‘sin.’

Self-salvation through good works may produce a good deal of moral behavior in your life, but inside you are filled with self-righteousness, cruelty, and bigotry, and you are miserable.

You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough.

You cannot, therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will.

You need a complete transformation of the very motives of the heart.

The devil, if anything, prefers Pharisees – men and women who try to save themselves. They are more unhappy than either mature Christians or irreligious people, and they do a lot more spiritual damage.”

What do you think about what he said?

Seriously, I think that some of the crankiest people I know are men and women who are trying to save themselves by “trying harder.”

Folks who are “trying harder” or “trying my best” may have religion… but they are not Christians.

St. Paul says that we’re connected to God NOT because of what we DO but because of who we TRUST!

So what does that look like? How does a Christian connect to God?

Here’s what St. Paul wrote:

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:16-20 NLT)

This is how Christians live! By listening to and following the leadership of the Spirit of God inside of us. He loves us. We trust Him. We speaks… we trust Him. We asks us to stop… we trust Him enough to stop. He tells us to go… we trust Him enough to go.

My prayer for Church180 is that we will be a church filled with men and women who trust God and let Him lead our lives… and in the process begin changing the questions that people ask about church and Christians!

Let’s change it from “What do I wear” to “How can I become one?”

That’ll happen when we stop trying so hard to save ourselves and simply start trusting the leadership of the Spirit of God who lives inside of us when we trust Jesus to connect us to God!

BTW, you can listen to the teaching here!

Weekend Review (7/5/15) –

Last week at Church180 we continued our conversation about how to connect to God…

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This whole conversation is in response to a line of thinking that goes like this…

God is good with me and I’m connected to God… based on what I am doing.

I shared a couple of lines from some correspondence I’ve had with a friend recently. My friend wrote:

“Being a Christian and taking that title means you are trying your best to have a walk with God and be separate from the world and look different from the world. Yes I sin every day, but I ask for forgiveness and work on my sin and try my best not to live in it.”

I respect my friend, but his understanding of what it means to be a Christian and how to connect with God is absolutely wrong.

Did you see the error in what he wrote? Read it again.

Find it?

Here’s the error…

Being a Christian, connecting with God is the result of “trying my best.”

NOOOOOO!!!

That’s not good news at all! That’s terrible news! Here’s why…

Have you ever had two days in a row where you did everything right? No? Me either.

Now, if we can’t get a two-day streak going… then how can we fairly expect our good behavior to be the basis upon which we connect with God?

Here’s the crazy thing…

If you’re trying your best and hoping THAT will connect you to God, you may be religious, but you are NOT a Christian!

Tim Keller said it like this:

“If you are avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless and save you, then ironically, you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model, and helper, but you are avoiding Him as Savior. You are trusting in your own goodness for your standing with God. You are trying to save yourself by following Jesus. That ironically, is a rejection of the gospel of Jesus. It is a Christianized form of religion.”

People who are depending on “trying their best” to connect them to God are going to end up being disappointed, frustrated, judgmental, hypocritical, and ultimately give up hope of ever connecting with God.

St. Paul, in his letter to the church in Galatia, had to combat this same line of thinking. In fact, he had to confront one of the church leaders who had fallen into this line of thinking. This is what he said:

“We know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” (Galatians 2:16 NLT)

READ THAT AGAIN! (Yes, I’m yelling… because I’m excited!)

We connect with God NOT because of what we do or how hard we try! We connect with God based on our faith in Jesus! It’s FAITH not effort that makes the connection!

After attempting to make this point (you can watch/listen to the entire lesson here), I asked this question:

Are you trusting you or Jesus to connect you to God? To help us find the answer I asked two more questions:

  • If you think about God, are those thoughts immediately followed by “I should do…” Or “I need to quit…”? If this is the case… you are depending on you, your best efforts, trying harder to connect you to God… and it won’t work.

Or…

  • If you think about God are those thoughts immediately followed by, “I’m so glad about what Jesus has done for me”? If this is how you think then you are in the zone, because it is FAITH in Jesus that connects us to God.

After the teach I took some time to field questions that were texted in. I’m kind of digging this as an opportunity for live interaction. I think it makes the teaching more interactive… more dialogue and less lecture.

If you missed this weekend you can catch it here! I’d love to hear your feedback on this conversation too!

Weekend Review (6/28/15) – Living as a Christian in a crazy world

Yesterday at Church180 we kicked off a new teaching series called…Connect for facebook page

This series comes from a concern that I have that has been developing over the last year. I continue to hear people saying things like, “I’m doing good things” and hoping that will connect them to God. There’s only one problem with this…

It won’t.

So how do we connect with God? Well, that’s what this series is all about!

I didn’t go as far yesterday as I had originally intended simply because of all the chaos resulting from the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage. There is so much angst coming from both sides on this matter that I decided to camp out for a while on a sentence that St. Paul used in his introductory comments, “Jesus gave his life for our sins… in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” (You can watch/listen here.)

Yesterday’s lesson could be boiled down to three comments:

  • Stop being surprised when the crazy world acts crazy.
  • Start looking to Jesus, the one who has come to rescue us from the craziness.
  • Move out into the world like our Leader has done, with love and kindness in the hopes of connecting people to our God.

One idea in particular that I wish you’d spend some time thinking about is this…

Why do we keep expecting people who don’t believe in our God to keep His rules?

Think about it…

How would you feel if Shariah Law were imposed on your state?

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If you are like me, you’d oppose it vigorously… because you do not believe in Allah or his ideas.

If that’s how I would respond to Muslim imposition, then why am I surprised when people who don’t know/believe in my God act just like I would?

Ours is a world in which people are skeptical of “God claims” and almost antagonistic towards Christians (much of this antagonism has been earned).

Having said that…

I am convinced that now is a GREAT TIME for Christians to move into the world and represent Jesus by living well, loving generously, and offering hope in a world that is quickly losing hope!

This is a perfect time for us to change the way the world views Christians! It’s time for us to change the way people think about the church, Christians, and most importantly… our Leader, Jesus.

A couple of weeks ago U.S. News and World Report published an article by Ken Walsh entitled, “Americans Have Lost Confidence… In Everything.” I think the most important line in this article is the one Walsh wrote after reviewing the data:

All in all, it’s a picture of a nation discouraged about its present and worried about its future, and highly doubtful that its institutions can pull America out of its trough.

If this is true, and I am inclined to think it is, then NOW IS THE TIME FOR CHRISTIANS TO MOVE OUT AND LIVE PASSIONATELY, GRACIOUSLY, AND JOYFULLY!

This is no time to hide… retreat… whine… or judge

Now is the time to move out in love! Here’s what Jesus prayed to His Father for His followers, “As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.” (John 17:14-18 NLT)

Oh there’s so much more… but I’ve probably written to much now, so if you’re still with me I encourage you to watch/listen to the whole lesson right here.

BTW, I absolutely love the men and women of Church180. Only twice in my life have I received applause while talking… and both of them have been while I talked about the kinds of people that we want in our church… anyone and everyone.

Weekend Review (6/21/15) – Little things that make great dads!

Happy_Fathers_Day_wide_t_nvYesterday was Father’s Day! That’s a special day at Church180! At our church we focus on creating an environment where men would be comfortable coming… even if their lady didn’t come!

We believe that the best gift we can give to a lady is a man who honors and loves God and knows how to treat a lady!

Anyhow, yesterday we did a few things that were special for our dads…

  • We pulled out the chairs and set up the auditorium with tables and chairs… on the tables were cookies and coffee was served at the cafe!  The tables were dressed up to look manly… courtesy of the world’s premier designer, Kim Buchanan.
  • The auditorium was filled with the smell of BBQ pork which our worship pastor, Mike Delacruz, had spent hours cooking and prepping! We all hung out after church and ate that goodness!
  • Everyone sat at the tables and ate cookies and had coffee while we sang songs that honored our Leader, Jesus, and while I taught.
  • Before I taught, Mike Delacruz sang a cover of John Mayer’s song “Daughters”. He nailed it! I really love working with Mike!

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And then I talked with our dads about the most important lesson I’m learning as a dad right now… (You can watch/listen to the entire talk here)

“The important stuff requires daily attention.”

We agreed that most every dad wants to be a better dad. In fact we agreed that probably every dad at some point has made a decision or a series of decisions in an effort to be a better dad.

The problem with decisions is this…

Decisions are nothing until you do something!

At some point you MUST put action to the decisions that you make!

You want to do big things in your home… for your kids? Here’s the thing… the big things are made up of a bunch of small things!

In other words… you make a decision to make big change… do big things… raise great kids… be a great dad…

That decision MUST be followed up with a bunch of little actions. We said it like this…

“…the little things, done consistently over an extended period of time produce the biggest results.”

I shared with our church a verse that has been tattooed on my heart for the last year or so that is driving me to this conclusion:

“Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details.” (2 Corinthians 6:4 MSG)

We talked a bit about the fact that paying attention to “the daily details” of being an effective dad can be a bit mundane… even boring at times! But I shared this page from Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God, that gets right up in our grill:

tim kellerAt the end of the day, if I want to be a great dad, I’m going to have to set aside my convenience for a season and pay attention, every day, to the details!

What are the details?

I shared some details that I’ve been paying attention to in my home. The results are amazing! From the way my kiddos go to bed to the way they interact with each other, these details are important and make a huge difference when I pay attention to them every day…

Learn and speak your child’s love language.

I encourage every dad to read “The Five Love Languages of Children.” Learning how your child expresses and receives love is a HUGE step towards becoming a great dad!

Take weekly dates

This is a HUGE deal for your kids! At our house our dates are one hour per week and $1 per date. Not much… but it really is!

When I miss those dates my girls are quick to let me know.

Nightly “Quick Chat”

This is something that I have been doing for about 6 weeks. Every night before they go to sleep, I climb into my girl’s beds and we chat. They set they agenda. Some of my girls just want to me to listen to them … others want to wrestle… but the last thing on their mind is this, “Dad loves me.”

Tell them about them in a journal

Every night I write to each daughter in a notebook reserved for her. I’ll give it to them someday… I’m not sure when.

Sometime ago I read Mark Batterson’s book, Praying Circles Around Your Children. In this book he says that as a parent I am the historian and prophet of my child’s life. In other words, they will know about their past from the things I tell them and they will believe about their future much of what I say to them. My words help to interpret their past and clarify their future.

I began journaling for my girls a few years ago and have recently resumed it with a renewed level of intensity. In the journal I simply tell them what they did that day and affirm the good things I see in them. I also take the opportunity to tell them what I believe and love about them.

Finally…

Have them read every day

From time to time I watch and listen to what my kids are watching/listening.

So much of what is consumed today is pure assininery (what you just read is a new word). Stupid, irresponsible, CRAP is what much of is available on TV, YouTube, and music these days.

I want my kids to have good things flowing into their minds… things that will provoke thoughtfulness, questions, and wisdom.

To be sure, they consume their share of silliness, but we are working daily to create an environment in which they put some substance into their little heads! Things like the lessons they picked up from Family180, stories of successful men and women, and even some silly books like “Dork Diary”… because reading is better than not reading.

Anyhow…

These are some of the things that I am paying attention to as a dad… and I am seeing significant changes in my home… changes that I like.

It really all comes back to this…

The important stuff requires daily attention.

And now, some tweetables

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  • I love being a dad, and I consider it one of the most important roles in my life.
  • Many parents spend more time on social media than they do in meaningful interaction with their kids.
  • Deciding is nothing until you do something!
  • the little things, done consistently over an extended period of time produce the biggest results.
  • The important stuff requires daily attention.
  • “Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details.” (2 Corinthians 6:4 MSG)
  • I want my kids to be emotionally healthy, spiritually & physically strong, relationally alert so I must pay attention to the details… daily.
  • When I take time for God, He addresses attitudes, gives wisdom, and helps me navigate the ever changing waters of parenting.
  • When I exercise, eat, and sleep well I am a better dad.
  • Every big thing is made up of a bunch of little things. A house = a lot of little bricks and nails. A million dollars = a lot of pennies.
  • There are no big things without little things… so pay attention to them… and that’s what will make the biggest changes in your home!

If you missed yesterday you can watch/listen here… and if you like it you can share it with another dad!

Now to you… what little things are making a big difference in your home?

 

 

Weekend Review (6/14/15) – Open forum

Yesterday at Church180 was fun and informative.

If you missed yesterday you can watch/listen here.

Here’s how it went down…

All of the pastors sat on the stage around a table and fielded questions that were submitted via Twitter, Facebook, Text, or paper!

**Shante Kiefer is on our pastoral team but was not able to join us yesterday due to a prior commitment. Though she was not on the stage, her presence is strongly felt and valued on our ministry team and in our church!

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The questions were great! Some samples…

  • Have any of you ever been arrested (two of us have). 😉
  • Could a lady ever be a pastor at this church?
  • Does God tempt us?
  • When should a parent talk to their kids about sex?
  • What is the hardest part of running a church?
  • What is God teaching you right now?
  • On a scale of 1-10 where are you on the “I’m burned out” scale?
  • Do you ever want to quit?
  • What does our church believe about spiritual gifts?
  • How do you deal with a teenager who is struggling with heavy issues (e.g. suicide, pregnancy, addiction, etc.)? How would you help his/her parents?
  • What is one thing you would like for everyone in the church to do regularly?
  • How do you get such great looking musicians?
  • What’s the secret to being a “Man’s Man” and being a “Godly Man” at the same time?
  • What does “Church180” mean and are we connected to a denomination?
  • Why don’t we have a cross in our building?
  • And a lot more great questions…

As we were sitting there talking, I realized a few things:

  • I love the team I get to work with! It’s not always like this in ministry environments. Sometimes you work with people because you must… so you figure out how to make it happen. This team, however, is not like that.
  • Our pastors love what they do! I was so happy to hear their responses to the “burnout” question! We work diligently to promote healthy ministry habits… and it’s showing!
  • Our pastors love the men, women, and children of Church180.
  • Our pastors love the mission of Church180 – to help everyone connect with God, discover friends, and become a better person.

And then there was this…

There was an orange drink on the table… it belonged to Paul… which Paul (i.e. Hoover or Peterson) however is not clear. 😉

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Anyhow, if you missed yesterday I encourage you to check it out here!

And then I’d love to hear from you… are there things we missed that you hoped to have answered?

Weekend Review (6/7/16) – My God is severe

Yesterday we wrapped up our teaching series called

5Things.                                                                   I enjoyed this teaching series for a few reasons:

  • I was able to talk about my favorite restaurant, Red Bowl, every weekend!
  • It gave me a chance to articulate how I would go about explaining my God to someone who doesn’t believe in Him, or believe like I do.
  • Talking like this stimulated people at Church180 to begin thinking about how they would present God to their friends who don’t believe in God.
  • While preparing to teach this series, I gained a deeper appreciation and respect for my God.
  • If you missed the teaching series, you can watch/listen here.

So yesterday we talked about the “severity” of God. Essentially this refers to his intensity, and harshness.

We don’t talk about this a lot. Maybe we should.

Yesterday I said that I’d like to see MORE of God’s severity!

I’d like to see him smack down those savages who practice female genitalia mutilation.

I’d appreciate it greatly if He would open a can of GodSmack on ISIS for the barbaric treatment of innocent men, women, and children.

I’d cheer and clap if he gave heart attacks to those people who kidnap and purvey children and women as sex slaves.

I’d be okay if God laid down some thunder on rapists, murderers, thieves, and the dog next door who won’t quit barking! 😉

Where’s the love, right? 😉

Seriously, don’t get all righteous on me… you’ve thought the same thing! (Truthfully, I’m grateful for God’s mercy… without it I’d be a smear on the path.)

So why doesn’t he act? I struggle with that question. You may too. We’re not the only ones.

The truth is, however, that God IS severely dealing out justice in limited ways these days!

He is doing it through two obvious ways:

  • The government (click on this link and read these verses! Pay particular attention to verse 4 which says: “[the authorities] are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.”
  • Jesus. (again, click on this link to read why I say that Jesus one way God is dealing severely with evil in our world).

If you missed the teaching yesterday, this stuff makes more sense with the illustrations I mentioned. You can check it out here.

Then we asked the question, what about the unaddressed evil? When is God going to get harsh and severe with that? When will justice be served?

The answer is… we don’t know, but we continue to believe in and anticipate the time when it will happen!

In the meantime, St. Paul gives us clear instructions about what we are to do as we wait: Pray. Wait. Act.

Here’s how he said it:

(WARNING: what you are about to read will make your head explode)

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.

Instead, If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:14-21 NLT) *the bold is me highlighting the three big ideas: pray, wait, and act.

Think about it…

If I act violently, how does that make the world a better place? As one who believes in a severe God, I must choose to live quietly and peacefully knowing that someday my God will completely address the unchecked and unanswered violence in this world.

Now, this is a tough one for me but I embrace it’s truth and trust that someday my God will equalize all the evil that is not made right either through the justice system or forgiveness through Christ.

If you want to see the whole thing you can watch it here.

And now some tweetables:

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  • Today we will not beat the Baptist’s to Moe’s.
  • Notice how God is both kind and severe. (Romans 11:22 NLT)
  • More than 17,000 Americans are enslaved in the sex trade every year. That number is between 600,000 and 800,000 worldwide.
  • I don’t know why He hasn’t shown up yet. I don’t know when He will… but He will.
  • When is criminal is justly punished by the legal system… according to St. Paul, that is God’s severe justice being worked out in real time.
  • Christians believe that our God can forgive the worst person… because of what Jesus did!
  • St. Paul was part of a hunting & killing team that destroyed Christians. He was forgiven & used by God when he repented & believed in Jesus!
  • How to live in a world where there is so much unaddressed violence: pray, wait, act. (Romans 12:14-21)
  • Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord.
  • I will live quietly and peacefully knowing that someday my God will completely address the unchecked and unanswered violence in this world.

What do you think about all of this? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Weekend review (5/31/15) – She completely surprised me

Yep! That’s what happened this past weekend!

The lovely and talented Mrs. Peterson added a new “descriptor” to her portfolio… “sneaky.”

She put together a surprise birthday part for me which included my favorite people ever! I was blown away… speechless.

AND THEN…

she whisked me away for the weekend!

I love this girl so much… so very much!

happy birthdayIf you, like me, missed church this past weekend, you can catch up on the teaching right here!

BTW, the photo bomber in this photo is my buddy Jeremiah! 😉