community

8 Ways Holy Week Shapes Our Lives

8 Ways Holy Week Shapes Our Lives

How is your life shaped by Easter week? I mean other than the obligatory 3 pounds that is about to be added to your waistline courtesy of honey baked ham, deviled eggs, and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups (if you’re going to put on the weight, it might as well be good… not Peeps or generic jelly beans!)?

It has often been noted that the final week of Jesus’ life takes up a disproportionate amount of the gospel narratives. Approximately a third of the gospel accounts are devoted to the final week of Jesus’ life:

·        8 of 28 chapters in Matthew

·        6 of 16 chapters in Mark

·        5 of 24 chapters in Luke

·        9 of 21 chapters in John

Of the 52 weeks of our year, Holy Week is highlighted and underlined. On this week the other 51 weeks of our year hang, on this week, the other 51 are shaped.

How does the Holy Week shape our lives?

How to Invite Someone to Church

How to Invite Someone to Church

An encouraging study by Lifeway Research found that two-thirds of churchgoers invited someone to church in the last six months.[i] When was the last time you invited someone to church? What would it look like for you to increase those efforts?

Inviting someone to church isn’t, of course, a substitute for evangelism, but it sure is a great partner in our evangelistic efforts. Similar to our homes, our churches ought to be a place that, while they are primarily for the gathered body of Christ, are also always welcoming to the outsider.

Diana Davis had an excellent post at Lifeway that spurred me to consider ways that I can better engage those God has put in my life with the gospel and be more active in inviting them to church.[ii] I’ve tweaked and whittled her list of 52 down to 17. They are a good challenge for me, and I hope they will be for you as well.  

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      "Nones" are Pursuing Spirituality but Not CommunityStephen Asma at the LA Times with a surprisingly critical take, "Many spiritual nones see themselves as authentic and liberated from the empty formalism of age-old ritual. There is some obvious good in this. But this strain of spirituality is largely detached from religious responsibilities and inconveniences, and it signals a generational shift toward isolation and short-term comfort."

2.      The False Gospel of Expressive Individualism: David Qaoud captures this pervasive phenomena well, "To say it another way, expressive individualism believes that each and every single person has the right to feel, believe, and think about themselves however they so choose. But even more, after you discover yourself (if you like the phrase), you’re free to express yourself. In fact, you must express yourself. Forget about what everyone else thinks. Forgot about any moral compass of right and wrong. Life is about you and your fulfillment. The goal of expressive individualism is to find yourself and express the desires you find."

3.      The Beautifully Tragic Backstories to Three Beloved Hymns: Mike Harland shares three powerful stories behind hymns you have probably sung before. It's amazing how connected creativity and suffering are in our relationship with God. 

4.      Whatever Happened to the Gifts of Language, Prophecy, and Healing? Andrew Wilson with a reflection on the early centuries of the church and the presence of charismatic gifts.

5.      Will These Audio Illusions Fool You? These are pretty fun... and weird!

What is Heaven? It's a Community

What is Heaven? It's a Community

Every so often someone will share with me that they don’t have any friends or haven’t found anyone who they think would make a good friend. And so they sit on the sidelines, disengaged from community.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around their experience. I’ve never lived in a place where I didn’t feel disappointed by the fact that we aren’t able to spend meaningful time with all of those we wanted to befriend or that we weren’t able to go deeper in our existing friendships. And many of my deepest regrets are in the ways I’ve failed others relationally: either not investing in relationships locally or not maintaining friendships from a distance.

Some have the faulty notion that relationships will cease when we get to heaven. Whether it is my childhood image of us perpetually singing around the throne of God or the ubiquitous picture of us strumming harps on clouds, relationships are largely omitted in popular conceptions of heaven.

One of the great promises of heaven are the relationships that will be rekindled, the relationships that will be deepened, and the brand new relationships that will be sparked.

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 3

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 3

For my birthday my wife took me out on a hike. We enjoyed the beautiful Arizona morning, winding our way up into the foothills of the Catalina Mountains through the lush Sonoran desert landscape. We went on a well-traveled trail toward our destination: pools tucked into the Catalina foothills, 2.8 miles from the trailhead.

As inexperienced hikers who hadn’t hiked the trail in some 20 years, we overestimated our progress and asked multiple passersby how far away the pools were. It shouldn’t take this long to go 2.8 miles, right? Our legs grew heavy and my wife wondered if we had made a wrong turn. Maybe we should just turn around?

Finally we crested over a hill and below us lay the pools below. Our pace quickened with the pools in view and the final 15 minutes sped by. We relaxed on sun-bathed boulders, ate a snack, took some pictures, and then headed back. Knowing the terrain now and having a much better sense of how far the 2.8 mile destination was, there were no moments of confusion or frustration. The trail seemed to melt quickly behind us and we arrived back at the trail head quickly.

Knowing your destination changes your hike.