Archives for category: church

Sometimes, I love the Twitter machine (and not just for photos like these, although without cat photos, would the internet even really exist?).

This morning, as I was considering the call God has placed before our family and the challenges that are sure to come with it, I could hear how God was was speaking through these tweets:

Art matters

Although pastors and church leaders have much to learn from the world of corporations and business management, my guiding images for ministry and future look have more to do with gardens, shepherds, and art.

I have to remind myself, constantly, that ministry is about what matters, not what gets results. We want to unleash redemption, beauty, and a story bigger than ourselves through our work — in a culture so quick to tear down, to guide a church that builds up, redeems, and invites others into wonder, awe, and worship of our Redeeming King.

To that end, I am also in constant prayer for courage. Jesus tells us to pray that God will send out workers into the harvest field — and, perhaps, for us to become the answer to that prayer.

As Frederick Buechner says (and of which I was reminded again today, via Twitter):

Best prayers - shade

May you pray as if you were not afraid, may you follow Jesus wherever He leads (it might be closer than you think), and may you do what matters today.

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Even reading that title brings back painful memories of well-intentioned but, ultimately, misguided friends in my life who have tried to discuss race and ethnicity with me.

In true postmodern style, Bruce Reyes-Chow — who has been known as a pastor, techie, moderator, social media maven, and all-around troublemaker — launched this book through a successful Kickstarter campaign. And, since I pitched in to the Kickstarter (“First!” in old internet comment-speak), I was able to chime in regarding the question:

Why is it important to talk about race?

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I’m looking forward to diving into this book. It can be a difficult conversation all around, but if we’re going to see the future begin, then we’ve got to enter in.

As Scripture says in Revelation 7:9-10, our future looks something like this, with an incredible array of people, languages, cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds worshiping Christ:

There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

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I returned recently from my second trip with Living Water International to Nicaragua to help bring clean water to a community in need. It is so humbling to be a small part of what God is doing there to demonstrate His love & care for the world.

Jorge, the team leader in Rivas, Nicaragua, told us a heartbreaking story about the reality of the water crisis. Recently, after completing a well, an elderly man from the village told Jorge he was very grateful, but that the well was two years too late. Jorge found out that the man’s wife had died two years earlier from water-related disease.

As a friend from our church community shared in his testimony this past Sunday, as we spent the week in the mud, digging and drilling for clean water, we could sense God saying to our new friends there that He has not abandoned them.  Despite the staggering statistics (almost 800 million without access to clean water, over 2 million water-related deaths each year), we know that God has not given up — and neither have we!

When the church answers the call to action, being willing to get our hands dirty so that others can live, our living sacrifice paves the way for the Living Water of Christ to flow.

Learn more about LWI’s work here:

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After our church services on Sunday, I spoke with a father whose son recently suffered an unexpected (and unjust) setback in his future career path.

This father shared with me how he counseled his son through the disappointment.

He, too, had suffered a similar setback early in his career. However, instead of letting it derail his sense of purpose, he rolled with it, bloomed where he was planted, and continue to seek God faithfully. His words were so wise:

“Son, your career is a means to glorify God. If He shuts one door, then you’ll be able to glorify Him through another. The most important thing is to honor God with your whole life.”

As a dad, I want my daughter to be resilient, to be able to bounce back from the inevitable disappointments and frustrations that will come her way in this broken world. I want her to fight the temptation to walk away or give up when life hurts. The truth is, I know I have to model this kind of holy resilience for her to catch it.

Friends, don’t give up. 

Light will break through this night. The fog will be lifted by the morning light.

The cross of Jesus Christ could have been the worst kind of disappointment: when hopes & dreams we had dared not speak were dashed apart in betrayal, darkness, and shame.

Instead, from the shipwreck of our lives, we see how far God will go in relentless pursuit of His beloved people. The cross tells a simple story: God has not given up on you.

And when Jesus emerged from the grave on that first Easter morning, we hear God’s voice again: You are alive and free.

You are not bound by sin and brokenness and death. God has hopes and dreams for you. Let this be your story and your song.

Wake up O sleeper

Photo Credit: Nikole Lim

On February 9, 2013, Richard Twiss — Taoyate Obnajin “He Stands with his People” — died, leaving an aching void not only for his family but for the Church, and the world.

My wife and I were only able to spend a little bit of time with Uncle Richard, but his life, ministry, and words left a profound impact on both of our lives. Uncle Richard was not only an advocate for First Nations peoples, but for all people. Though his personal experience with injustice was grievous — abuse of his family members and tribe at the hands of treaty-breaking colonial governments, Christians attempting to stamp out his ethnic and cultural identity all in the name of “Christianizing” him — he chose the path of grace and truth.

In his book One Church, Many Tribes: Following Jesus the Way God Made YouUncle Richard shares not only about the painful history of and sins committed against First Nations people in North America, but the ways in which God can bring beauty from the ashes of our burned out lives.

As we spoke this weekend about Uncle Richard, my wife described his impact on our lives: He demonstrated what it looked like to live a redemption-life — to celebrate who God made us to be, to see our ethnic and cultural backgrounds as gifts, intricately tied to who we are meant to be in Christ and to be redeemed for His purposes. When Christ invites us to His table, He doesn’t ask us to check our heritage at the door. Instead, He takes our broken lives into His hands, breathes life into them, and sets us free.

The Church is not better when we are all forced into some kind of Stepford homogeneity; we come alive for the glory of God when we represent the incredible, dizzying, difficult, beautiful diversity of the Creator together under the banner of Jesus.

That’s why, even now as Uncle Richard worships the One he so gracefully represented as he walked this earth, we know he’s joined that chorus of the rescued,

A great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” – Revelation 7:9-10

You can read more about his lasting impact on many lives here.

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger shares a thoughtful, heartfelt post about Richard’s life and ministry, and how we can carry on his good work. “Victory awaits us all, if we stay on that justice path that Jesus made and which Richard walked so well.”