Over the past few days, I have continued in prayer for Charleston. I want to share a portion of my response to the Charleston Church Shootings which I preached this morning at First United Methodist Church. I believe it is important and inadequate. You can find the entire sermon and manuscript online here.
Let me be clear:
God never intends us to choose evil.
The Charleston Church Shootings were not part of God’s plan.
Racism, murder and tragedy will never be God’s will.
Evil is never, ever God’s plan.
Each one of us has choices to make every day.
We choose between good and evil.
We choose between forgiveness and resentment.
We choose between light and darkness.
The choices that we make – both big and small lead us closer to God or further away from God.
Choose light and life.
Choose to follow Jesus Christ, Emmanuel – God is with us.
At a recent bedtime, I read Bulldozers (Mighty Machines) to our children as one of our stories. After reading, my son stood up and said excitedly,
“One day, I going to drive the biggest bulldozer in the world!”
I replied with a smile, “You sure could.”
In those brief moments, I was struck at how wide the possibilities are for him at three years old. He really could drive the biggest bulldozer in the world one day. Then I considered this possibility for myself. Would I ever drive the biggest bulldozer in the world? It seems a bit little less likely that I would ever would. The reality is that the choices that we make open some possibilities in the future and close others.
Part of the amazing power of the gospel is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Even, one day, drive the biggest bulldozer in the world.
I am a fan of technology. Technology can be used in a variety of ways that vary from mundane, productive, entertaining and more. I have recently started using an app that has made a tangible difference in my behavior in the real world. An app that is helping me make progress on things that I care about in my real life.
Lift is an iPhone and Android app that “employs coaching, community, and data to help you be your best.” According to their website, it provides:
Coaching – Stay motivated with guidance, encouragement, and optional reminders.
Community – Learn from thousands of experts and users following similar goals.
Data – Lift makes it easy to track, analyze, and celebrate progress.
I joined the Better Blogging in 30 Days plan which has helped me begin to update this blog after a long time away. I use Lift for a variety of daily habits I want to maintain or start and commend it to you.
What tools do you use to make progress on those things about which you care the most?
Clearly numbers do not tell the whole story of a local church, annual conference or denomination. There are stories of life change that are more important than raw data. One of the challenges of collecting stories is how to report them. It is far easier to look at a graph of worship attendance at our church over time and seek to draw conclusions over time. How do you look back over time and compare stories that have been collected?
Number of stories?
Category of stories?
Stories of visitors?
How do you collect stories of people and tell them in a way that builds up the body of Christ both at the time and will be able to used in a meaningful way in the future?
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Psalm 84:10, NIV
This verse reminds me of two things, which happen to be connected together. The first is an experience that I had in college at One Day 2000. Along with others from the college ministry of which I was a part, I traveled to Shelby Farms Park in Memphis Tennessee for One Day. This was one of the Passion Conferences and you can read more about it at this blog post – Remembering OneDay 2000-Sacred. Holy. His. This verse also reminds me of the song Better is One Day by Sonic Flood, who played at the One Day event.
More than these things, this verse brings perspective to my life when I get caught up in the details, tasks and minutiae of life. It helps broaden my perspective. Were you at One Day in 2000? I would love to hear from you in the comments. Also, how do you respond to this verse?
“The problem is: We just don’t do whole things anymore. We don’t read complete books — just excerpts. We don’t listen to whole CDs — just samplings. We don’t sit through whole baseball games — just a few innings. Don’t even write whole sentences. Or read whole stories like this one. We care more about the parts and less about the entire. We are into snippets and smidgens and clips and tweets. We are not only a fragmented society, but a fragment society. And the result: What we gain is the knowledge — or the illusion of knowledge — of many new, different and variegated aspects of life. What we lose is still being understood.”
I want to find the one verse that applies to my life.
The children’s ministry doesn’t really matter because I don’t have kids.
How can I continue to grow after I have gone through all of the Disciple Bible studies?
Do you ever hear things like that? What impact does this have on the community or our faith? How can the church pay more attention to the whole?
(I wanted to practice self awareness and let you know that I am aware that I just pulled out a quote from a much longer article and wrote my own short form response. In any case, I hope that you find value here.)