23 Easters Left

According to the trends, there are just 23 Easters left before  the mainline Protestant churches close their doors-for good.
 
This message is for you–the reluctant Christian waiting for someone else to lead the way back.    
 
If you are a reluctant leader, join the club. You are among many others, including me.
I wake up every day asking for instructions and wondering why God picked me, without a spouse and many obstacles to overcome. 
 
Moses was just like us, scared and too afraid to lead. Yet, Moses was the face of the people despite his resistance.
 
They could trust him and respected his wisdom– both he would deny.  Which is exactly why God chose Moses to lead. God wanted a leader  who listened to the Spirit’s wisdom instead of his own human understanding.
 
To deny one’s gift of leadership is to deny the One who gave it to you.  Peter learned the hard way. His denial was accepting his discipleship,  and ultimately his leadership. Are you Peter?  
 
There are many faces in a church-not one or two and all contribute to the Body. The more faces in diverse roles of leadership-the stronger the Body of Christ. 
 
We are now at a pivotal point in church history with an estimated 23 more Easters before mainline churches  close their doors. 
 
Do we lead or settle? Do we set the pace for a bold future or copy others just surviving? 
 
The cross was bold. The resurrection even bolder. Christ is boldest of all.
 
Can we, who put on Christ, be anything less? 
 
Dare to lead, let others follow, and never settle for less.
 
Put on Christ, my friends,
 
Pastor Terri


PAID in FULL

 

I shuffled through paperwork on the way to my tax appointment.  Deep in the pile of papers only an IRS agent can love, a document caught my eye: “Paid in Full-Parent Plus Loan.”  It was the first big loan I took out to help my overwhelmed daughter pay her college tuition. I didn’t want to do it, but there was no choice if I wanted to keep her in school that year and my income was just a bit too much for grants.  Her meager campus cafeteria job paid $10 per hour, but that was barely enough to cover her rent for an old house near campus that she shared with four other students. The left over paid for food, books, a variety of school fees, and gas for her slowly dying car.

Paid in Full-the relief was in my hands! Done! Finished! No more debt!

 As excited as I was, the tax guy didn’t care. He punched numbers into an on-line form to calculate the difference for another debt I owed –the government. Sigh, so much for my money… I handed him my plastic card for the difference and another debt was marked “Paid in Full.” 

When was it ever MY money?  Someone always wanted it, claimed it or needed it.  But there was this very persistent voice of God running through my head reminding me just who gave it to me to use in the first place. That’s right—use, give away, spend, and share for the Kingdom. 

 ‘I know God, but just once could I keep it all? 

 “Keep what you need-will 90% cover it?” God asked.

 “Well, when you put it that way.”  I humbly respond.

 While I whined, I realized that money was a small price to pay to help Jesus with the work of the kingdom on earth.  The investment price was steep and the set up costs exceeded what anyone on earth could pay. I looked at the cross sitting on my desk.

“That was quite a price to pay for a kingdom,” I said.

 “It wasn’t for the kingdom,” God replied. “It was for you.”

 “Huh?”

 “Without my children, there wouldn’t be a kingdom.”

 “So, why did Jesus have to die? Couldn’t he just find us and drift back to Heaven?

 “My child, you were so entangled in the cosmic net of evil.  Jesus had to pierce the heart of evil to rupture its cosmic grip. Death was the only way into the soul of evil.  When Jesus rose to life that third day, my Son burst the chains of hell open and freed my children from certain death.  It was the price he paid to save you, a price paid in full.”

There it was–stamped on the empty cross–Paid in Full.



Heroes Wanted

I’m mad at the world and I want to fix it with a clever meme, but can’t find one Carrie Fisher just died. The original Princess Leia is gone; her death was breaking news on FOX, CNN and the Washington Post.  Carrie Fisher succumbed to an unexpected and way too early heart attack taking a Star Wars heroine along with her because no one can play Princess Leia like Carrie Fisher; her inner spunk captured in Leia. 
 
princess-leia

Yet, she died an un-heroic death leaving fans stunned and heart-broken, more so because she was Princess Leia than Carrie Fisher, which is an even greater tragedy.  Princess Leia fought evil, stood up to injustice, and put her life on the line to save entire planets.  The cause was greater than herself.  Carrie Fisher, however,  struggled to overcome personal brokenness, like troubled relationships, substance abuse, mental illness and a Hollywood that exploits the beautiful only to dump them when they outlive their youthfulness.  Princess Leia fought the dark side in the universe while Carrie Fisher fought the darkness within.  Both fought to save the innocent, including the homeless and the hungry. Both were heroes in their own courageous ways.

Ironically, children dying in Aleppo took a back seat to our hero’s death.  Children shooting children in Minneapolis never broke the headlines. And, refugee families begging for a camp to take them were too depressing even for the news.

What did make the headlines?  Political leaders fought to gain control of bathrooms.  Britney Spears really didn’t die.  Amazon sold more televisions this year than the height of Mount Everest.  Meanwhile, Christmas Day saw some churches closed for lack of interest while most were poorly attended, giving the dark side a burst of energy.  Yet, US citizens pressed on and slammed one another in malls across America trying to grab the best after-Christmas sale.  Score another for the dark side.

People!  What happened?   When did we stop playing for the good guys, more explicitly—the Good Guy, Jesus, the Hero of the Light? When did we forget that the smallest of these was worth the whole cause?  When did the ‘poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ represent mall shoppers crushing each other?  And, why were churches even asked if they would be open on Sunday for Christmas and New Year’s Day?  People—it’s Sunday, the Sabbath!  God doesn’t take holidays!

We loved Princess Leia. She was the rich fighting for the poor; defending truth, justice, and light for the lost and displaced, not only in this world, but for all facing the same injustice—anywhere. Still, we don’t get it!   Princess Leia is a story. The Prince of Peace is real.  Jesus the Christ came to fight the dark forces with a sword of light and charged us to do the same. Yet, we know more about Princess Leia than the Prince of Peace!

People, it’s time to crawl out of the movie theaters and into the churches, pick up your lightsaber and fight the real forces of darkness!  It’s time to learn the ways of Jesus, meet in churches across America to strengthen our collective resolve to fight evil, and stop our world from blowing itself up faster than any ‘death star.’ The immigrants, refugees and children of our world cannot wait for a story tale Princess to save them!  You are it!  Be a hero and be courageous.  Follow the teachings of Jesus; pitting love of neighbor against evil and GO!

May the Light of Christ go with you.

Peace,

Pastor Terri 



Where do you see Christ?

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We are RESURRECTION people.  But, what does that mean?  Where do you find Christ?
This is what our members said about their own faith and finding Christ. 
 
 
“I see Christ in the quiet of dark, the stillness of morning, the blue sky of day, a smile and a hug”.
Lana B.
 
“I see Christ when we take our beautiful granddaughter, Elsie, to the nursing home where Sue’s mother is and the people who live there light up when they see her. Then when she smiles, they smile back much bigger and reach out to touch the gift of young life. Life is full of His work and love”.
Wyatt B
 
 “I see Christ when someone goes to the front of the church to pray at the rail, in a closer relationship with Him. I see Christ in our fellowship times. When people who may not otherwise cross paths support each other….and, when I see a sunset so beautiful, I have to stop and take it in”.
Greg S.