Last week I decided to fast for the first time in almost nine years. Right now Argonia Friends is going through what Richard Foster calls the “inner disciplines,” one of which is fasting. Because I had to preach on it and because I knew almost nothing about it, I fasted last Thursday. I had no idea what to expect, but God used the time to teach me three things about myself.
Growing up two things were for certain: we would play baseball and we would go to church.
Although both of my parents supported and encouraged each of these activities, it became natural for us to identify baseball with Dad and church with Mom. After all, it was my dad who always shared stories about how he struck out a guy who ended up playing in the Series. It was Dad who taught us to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” before we were 2. It was Dad out in the yard with us showing us how to throw a curveball. And it was mom who made sure we were dressed and in the car. It was Mom who encouraged us to sell fundraiser crap to go to camp. It was Mom who bought us the complete sermons of Martin Luther for Christmas (true story).
Andy Stanley’s Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend is part memoir and part instruction manual on how to create churches for those outside the church. Deep and Wide is divided into five sections, “My Story” is Stanley’s personal background, “Our Story,” is the story of the planting of North Point Community Church in 1995, “Going Deep,” covers North Points’ spiritual formation technique “Going Wide,” is about how North Point structures its programming for outreaching and “Becoming Deep and Wide,” is about helping churches to transition to the type of church Stanley advocates. My thoughts on what Deep and Wide gets right and what it gets wrong are detailed below.
I’ve lost about 20 pounds this year. I plan on losing more next year.
I lost weight as a direct result of my growth as a Christian. In youth group last spring we were talking about giving back to God because he gives so much to us and we asked, “What is something God gave us that we don’t always act thankful for?”
One girl said, “Our bodies.”
And like that I knew I had to take better care of my body. And so I do.
I’m telling you this story because I want to establish that I think that there isn’t a single part of life that isn’t influenced by our decision to follow God. Even the way we eat should be.
It’s almost time for Christmas. I can tell because there are lights on my neighbors houses, it is a little colder outside, the meeting house has been decorated with trees and nativity scenes, they’re playing carols on the radio, and, most clearly, everyone is complaining about the phrase, “Happy Holidays.” I hear “Keep the Christ in Christmas” more than I hear “Merry Christmas” these days.
In 2005 I stepped into a voting booth for the first time.
I cast my ballot in favor of Proposition 2, an amendment to the Texas Constitution making same-sex marriage and similar legal arrangements illegal.
Then I stepped out of a voting booth for the last time.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4
I’m fairly frequently asked, “But am I truly worshipping God if I can’t say with one hundred percent confidence that the words I’m singing are true of my life in the moment?”
Jesus changed a lot of things. Everything really. One big thing he changed is the way we refer to God. With his instruction for us to pray to God as “Our Father” he drastically changed our view of who God is.
God had been called Father before. There are a few notable places in the Old Testament where he calls Israel his child or where he is called the Father of Israel. But these were metaphors, Jesus tells us to call him Father. Like, address him as Dad.
This morning at Argonia Friends we began a 10 week series on Genesis. Genesis is a 50 chapter epic that follows the course of one family for 22 generations. To help keep the characters straight I created a family tree to share with the congregation. Since a lot of the people in this story end up being nations later (Moabites, Cannanites, Cushites) it’s helpful for reading the Old Testament.
You can get it here. Print it up and tuck it in your Bible to help you as you read.
You’re welcome to share it as well.