White-Hot Mission

Connecting People with Jesus and Each Other.

For nearly 11 years, our church has operated under the same basic mission statement.  Most of all of those who have made Harvest their church home at one point in time can recite it, even if they are no longer active attenders.  It occurred to me though that while many could repeat it, it does not accurately describe who we are and what we do.  The former mission while biblical and accurate does not describe the church we are today.  So we matched our mission with who we are and what we do.

Harvest connects people with Jesus and each other.

This is who we are and what we do.  We are dedicated to connecting you with the God of all creation, the loving God who sent His Son to live the life we could not, die the death we deserved and rose to give us the life He has.  We are dedicated to connecting you with the body of believers, the body  of Christ, locally, municipally, regionally and globally.  This is who we are and this is what we do.

Connecting you with Jesus and each other.  Come get connected!

Confidence and Sufficiency

2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Today I received my ministerial license from the Evangelical Free Church of America.  The process was a labor of love which has taken the better part of 2 years to accomplish.  As I look at this nice piece of paper and the scripture quote above, I must always remember that my confidence and sufficiency in being a minister of Jesus comes from Him first.  Being recognized by the EFCA is awesome but nothing in comparison to the call from God to be His servant to His people.

Time to get back on mission.

If you post it will they come?

Do you think Jesus’ challenge to James, John, Peter and Andrew at the sea of Galilee to follow Him and become fishers of men translates to the world of social media?

Can we really reduce our relationship building, personal care, active listening and selfless service to a post, a Facebook Ad or a Twitter feed.  Is this really what “Go into all the world…” means?  Too often I am tempted daily to do just that.  It is less messy, less involved and easier to turn off than having relationship with real people, in person.

God forgive me for treating your church like a business or a marketing campaign and for trying to expand your kingdom within the noise of the world.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Come on sing it!  “Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhood. In your ney-bor-hooooood ooooh….”
Being a storefront- church means that my immediate neighbors are the other businesses attached to our “mall/movie theatre/building”.  The people who work in these places are the ones we are charged with ministering to.  From the Smoke Shop, to Music Go Round, to Lady Luck Tattoo and Royal Hilltop bar.  These are our neighbors and these are those for whom Christ died.  When you visit them, be kind, generous and ask them how you can pray for them.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus

Assurance

Am I saved?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

There is a moment in every Christian’s mind that doubts whether or not they are “saved”.  Did I pray the right prayer or say the right words?  Did I take the sacraments in the right order or do the right things?  What if I did it wrong?  How can I be sure?  Should I go out and baptize myself just to be on the safe side?

Take a deep breath.

Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose from the grave three days later to give us new life.

Plain and simple.  The cross and the empty grave are our “blessed assurance”.

Walking into a Small Church

In a classic Seinfeld episode, Jerry visits his Pakistani immigrant friend, Babu’s restaurant.  Jerry walks into the empty eatery and is immediately struck by the lack of people.  You can feel the tension as Babu tries his hardest to convince Jerry that his restaurant is a great place to eat and hang out.  Babu’s excitement for his guest seems at once genuine and desperate.

I empathize with Babu as the pastor of a small church.   When visitors come on a day when a good portion of our congregation is out, it can feel empty.  It can give the appearance that something is wrong.  “Here is the church and here is the steeple, open it up and….ummmm, where are all the people?”  Appearances are often wrong though.

For me, Harvest is not just a place to attend on Sundays but an open family of believers who long to be known by God and each other.  We have plenty of seats at the table and there is never a wait to get in.

Come enjoy God’s grace with us.

 

Is Christianity only about sin-management?

Are you stuck in spinning the religious obedience plates?  Afraid to let one drop for fear?

Many who reject or have left Christianity have criticized the, some times pervasive, culture of sin-management within our faith.  Do this, don’t do that, keep the rules or you’ll die or become a democrat. I am kidding of course…about the death part ;-).

Is obedience to Christ then only about following the spirit and letter of the law?    Is our faith only about being rescued out of one set of rules into another?  These are questions worth answering.

Deep breath.

Is it possible that obedience to Jesus’ commandments can be born out of love for His sacrifice for us rather than through forced compliance? Could it be that obedience is not so much about keeping every law but about becoming the kind of person who will naturally live the kingdom life?  What would our lives look like if we let the life God has put in use manifest in obedient, kingdom-centered ways?

Food for thought.  Which is a far better use for plates than spinning them.

Deeply Flawed and Divinely Loved

I have found that the pastor’s life is a context-specific life, rather than a model or blue print. – Eugene Peterson

Just as Harvest is not your typical church, I am not a typical pastor.  I don’t fit the American model of what a pastor is “supposed” to be.  I am a deeply flawed follower of Jesus, wholly dedicated to the One who gave everything for me.  Yet at any given point in the day, I act in ways that do not appear “pastoral” or “Christian”.  I lose my temper, I curse in my car, I dwell too much in my head and run head first into the wall of self-righteousness.

Yet, in spite of all my senseless behavior, I continually find myself at the feet of God, speaking as the prodigal son, “I am not worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your servants.”  And God, faithful and just, picks me up off the ground, embraces me in His overcoming love and welcomes me back into his Home.