Thursday, January 31, 2008

Following Jesus - Core Value #4

Until this point Christian readers have been nervous wondering if and when there would be any mention of Jesus. And at this same hot spot perhaps some not-yet-Christians are similarly cautious but for the opposite reason. Let's face it - Jesus was/is in many ways a polarizing figure. So when we say we are going to be about following Jesus what are we talking about?

This is a pivotal issue in my mind. It is the main focus that led me to start Process Church. A little over a year ago I read a catalytic book entitled They Like Jesus but Not the Church. The book postulated that many pre-Christian people are not in fact turned off by the message of Jesus, but instead by those who claim to follow Him. I have found many of those same thoughts in my talks with people.

So who are we following? Which Jesus? Clearly there are differing definitions of who Jesus is. For our purposes we are talking about the Jesus of the Scriptures. We will seek to know Him. To study His life... what He said... where He went... what He did. It is the Jesus we find in the pages of Scripture that I believe is worth following.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Social Action - Core Value #3

If Jesus really matters, He has to matter in context. And the context that we find ourselves in is this culture. So for Jesus to be real to people (and to us, for that matter) He has to make a difference here and now. That is the reason social action is a core value of Process Church.

The gospel is the good news in every way. When we involve ourselves in the hurts and needs of our community we represent the message of Jesus in ways that a sermon cannot.

Many people have built in obstructions to receiving the message of Jesus when it is presented within the walls of a church building. By taking Jesus to people where they live those barricades are lowered - and sometimes even removed. Jesus seldom waited for people to come to Him. He was constantly looking for ways to meet the needs of people where they were. May we be busy doing the same.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Extending Forgiveness - Core Value #2

No one could really say why he ran away. Or perhaps he didn’t, but was kicked out of his home by his father for something foolish that he said or did. Either way, Paco found himself wandering the streets of Madrid, Spain, with hopes of entering into a profession that would most likely get him killed – bullfighting. Those who train under a mentor have a good chance of surviving this profession, but Paco’s memory of his mistakes and guilt over what happened blindly drove him to this one way street to suicide.

But that was the last thing his father wanted, which is why he tried something desperate which he desperately hoped would work. There was little to no chance that he would be able to find Paco by wandering the streets of Madrid, so instead he put an advertisement in the local newspaper El Liberal. The advertisement read, "Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa."

Paco is such a common name in Spain that when the father went to the Hotel Montana the next day at noon there were 800 young men named Paco waiting for their fathers … and waiting for the forgiveness they never thought was possible!

This story demonstrates the power that is found in forgiveness - the same forgiveness that Jesus offers to anyone who asks for it. Process Church will be a place that refuses to rank sins. There are no biggies... just sins. Sins that are ALWAYS forgivable.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sharing Life - Core Value #1

The now popular phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" may be a derivative of an African proverb or it may be from Hillary Clinton or her ghostwriter... whatever its origin it rings true. The phrase has teeth beyond childrearing. With the exception of the solitary among us, most of us understand the beauty of being a part of a community - something bigger than ourselves.

As that relates to a faith community, Process Church will seek to be a place that values sharing life together. Our hope is that people can see church as a familiar friend - a place where real people journey through life together. And that church is not a location but instead a group of people who are trying to be authentic with each other spiritually.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Process Church Core Values: One Day at a Time

This week I shared a brief fly over version of what God is calling us to be as a church. My goal this week (if for no other reason than to test my personal discipline and self-will) is to elaborate on each of those values... one each day.

Hopefully this will give you a better view of what is meant by each value.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I'm thinking of starting a petition to change the name. It seems to me that there is far too much built in negativity when it comes to traffic signals. Most people call them stop lights. The further south you go the stronger the image - they call them red lights.

This past Sunday I challenged the people of our church to pray about how they should view traffic signals... well, sort of. Couldn't we just as easily call them go lights?

I remember an old preacher who liked to challenge the idea of going somewhere to serve God as the anti-instinctive response. Instead of saying, "I'm staying, but I'm willing to go", he would say, "I'm going, but I'm willing to stay." That's the opposite of how many of us think.

I ask you whether God might want you to move with us to Atlanta.

In the weeks to come as I unfold the specifics of what we are going there to do & just as important, why we think that matters - will you ask God what He wants you to do.

Of course some of you will have to stay... but are you willing to go?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Road Trip

Many people have asked about my recent trip to Atlanta with Natalie (our oldest daughter). Let me give you some of the highlights from my perspective... I think she would agree with most of these.

The first thing you need to know is that this was a VERY intentional trip! Day 1 of this 8-day road trip I had "the talk".... no, not that one... with Natalie. I wanted her to know why she was on this trip. After all, her mom didn't get to come. Her sister and brother were left behind as well. I told her very simply that the reason she was on this special trip with me was because she is the oldest. I explained to her that as the oldest I expected more from her than I do of the others. I told her that I need her to get her head (and more importantly, her heart) around this whole moving to Georgia thing so that the others can follow her good example. I know pretty old-school stuff for a 13-year-old... but that is honestly how I feel about it. She not only heard me, she listened. The rest of our trip was proof.

Frankly, there are too many great moments to write them all. I will try to give you the highest points of 8 days of father-daughter bonding...
  1. 13 hours of driving each way (all most all of which was filled with real conversation)
  2. shopping at the Mall of Georgia (ok that was a high point for her)
  3. enjoying meals together (all of them - every day)
  4. watching movies together almost every night (and me explaining them to her)