Christ In Us

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“I am the vine you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

Think back to January of 2020.
Things that are happening in our world today would have been truly unbelievable, indescribable. We are living through what would have been considered Hollywood worthy.
While these things may have taken us by surprise, while these things may seem overwhelming to us, nothing happening is taking God by surprise. And what is remarkable is that God placed churches like the Little Church on the Prairie and Lakewoodgrace and Christians all throughout this land so that God can show up everywhere there is a church and where Christians are present.
You see, Jesus promises to dwell and live in every Christian. Jesus is present in every church that bears his name.
Many are asking, “Where is God in all this?”
God is present, really present wherever Christians are. Christ is living in you.
C.S. Lewis writes: “Let me make it quite clear that when Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral. When they speak of being ‘in Christ’ or Christ being ‘in them,’ this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying him.
“They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts – that we are his fingers and muscles, the cells of his body.”
You and I are placed in our communities to be Christ’s presence in our crazy world. We are strategically placed in our families and communities to be hope in a world that seems chaotic. We are placed in our social contexts to be Christ’s real presence in a world that is searching for meaning and purpose.
We are Christ’s body. God is at work wherever you are at work to be Christ’s presence to the people around us.
Continue with your calls. Keep sending notes, emails, and cards. Continue to check in with one another. More than ever, pray. Pray for our country, cities, and church. Every time we do, Christ is present.
Thank you for being the church. Thank you for being a blessing!

On Earth As It is In Heaven

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“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)

As we watch and read about the madness of our culture fractured by systemic issues and violence it is easy to succumb to the feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness. Really, what can I do to change our culture? What can I do to impact what is taking place on the streets of our cities?

Don’t fall for this lie.

There is much you can do.

You can absolutely make a difference.

While God may not be asking us to change the world, God is absolutely asking us to change our world.

Your job and mine is to carve into this dark and hopeless world a piece of God’s kingdom where God’s will is done here on earth as it is in heaven. In our world, in our hearts, homes, neighborhoods, and communities, you impact the world in such a way that everyone around you knows that they are in the presence of God’s kingdom.

  • While the world sees black and white, we will love all human beings as brothers and sisters
  • While the world treats the wealthy and the poor differently, in our world we treat all human beings with dignity
  • While the world resorts to violence and anger, in our world we will always choose God’s peace and love

While we may not be able to change the world, we absolutely can change our world. And together, as we claim more and more territory for God, God will change the world.

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

 

Standing in the Gap Between Hope and Despair

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“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7)

The most physical pain I’ve ever endured was the open heart surgery for the quadruple bypass. A couple of days after the surgery, they gave me a pillow and told me to squeeze the pillow while coughing because the only way to open up the lungs that had been collapsed to allow the surgeon access to my heart was for me to start coughing. That day, the pain was overwhelming. I was exhausted from the pain and I started feeling pretty sorry for myself and soon found myself going down the “Woe is me trail.”

Why? Why me? Why now? Why this?

Ever been there?

The doc had me getting out of bed to walk within hours of the surgery. I was told if I could make it around the floor three times by myself I would be able to go home.

That day, I was able to walk down the hall way for the first time. During that walk I noticed that in the room right next to me the patient’s family had gathered because he had suffered a massive heart attack and wasn’t going to make it through the night. Then the person in the room next to him was an older patient who didn’t look like he was going to make it after his heart failure.

During that walk, I realized how pathetic I must have looked. Here was the pastor guy complaining about pain when the people around me were dying! I knew I woulds soon walk out of that hospital to continue living my life. These people wouldn’t be so fortunate. So every four hours when the nurses got me out of bed to walk, I started praying for the people in those rooms and their family members, as I passed by their rooms.

That changed everything. I was so grateful for a second chance at life. I was thankful that I had the privilege to watch my kids grow into adulthood, to continue pastoring and serving God. By taking the focus off me to the people around me, I went from a pity party to gratitude.

In every one of our neighborhoods, there are people facing heartbreakingly difficult situations – there are marriages that are hanging on by a thread, parents worrying about their children who have gone astray, people who are wondering how they are going to get their next meal, people struggling with addictions.

God has placed us in our neighborhoods to be the ones who stand in the gap between hope and despair to pray for our neighbors. That’s what Christians do. Christians love their neighbors.

This is needed now more than ever. As you walk around your neighborhood, take a good look at the homes around you and pray God’s grace and mercy on your neighbors. Stand in the gap between hope and despair as you pray for God’s guidance and provision for your neighbors and be God’s agents of blessing for your neighborhood.

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).