Well, the odd new normal, at least for a few more weeks, is upon us. Doing live-stream wasn’t as weird as last week and working hard to speaking into the camera, isn’t as difficult. However, I don’t know about you, but “doing” church in an empty building, makes me long for the days when we’re all together again. After watching the President’s news briefing on Sunday, March 29th, it looks like things are extended until April 30th. While I was hoping for a joyous Easter reunion, it looks like Easter week will be live-streamed as well.
Thoughts on Sunday’s sermon (again in no particular order):
- I cannot thank Perry enough for the hard work he put in this past week to work out some bugs and find some new options. Literally, on Wednesday night, he was switching to a new software, installing new hardware, and running tests. Then on Friday, when we ran the test run for Sunday, everything was up and running. He did a fantastic job.
- On another front…you’ve probably noticed that you’re getting texts and emails from the church more regularly. That’s obvious and hopefully things are helpful. But the reason we can do that now is because of the hard work that Christina Luther has done on our back-end administrative software. The level of detail and information that she has consolidated into one place for us, is simply amazing. She worked on it the past 2 years or so and we are now reaping the benefits of that in the midst of this pandemic.
- Let me say something about my pastoral prayer moment. If you haven’t seen it, please watch it. Here’s why this is important for us:
- Our culture has been thriving as a “cancel” culture. You ever had a dad or a grandparent, work hard to always talk over the top of you? I have some relatives that do that to me and it drives me nuts (I’m sure my kids say the same about me)…well, that’s the “cancel” culture. We dismiss others who speak things that we disagree with and we say things that are demeaning and uncaring/unkind to them or about their opinions.
- When I think of the “cancel” culture, I think of how Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” And lately, after reading a ton of stuff online, seeing many comments on social media, and watching the news, it dawned on me…how are we, as Christians, to be different in the midst of a “cancel” culture and especially during this pandemic? Well, I think Ephesians speaks pretty well to that but I would add: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths (or text come off your fingers; or post come out of your phone), but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (see it or read it).”
- Here’s why…as I said on Sunday, there are real people at the end of those ideas or thoughts that you disagree with. This past week, I talked with people who are scared for loved ones who are susceptible; young moms concerned for their newborns; and the elderly who are nervous about going outside…To those people…for me to say “hey, this is just the flu and one way or another we’re all going to get it, so get over your fears and get on with life” is uncaring, unsympathetic, and not very pastoral or Christianly. On the other hand, I spoke with those in the trades who are concerned about the long-term effect this will have on their jobs; business execs who are looking at laying people off; and I’ve spoken with people who are looking at a job loss wondering where the next rent/mortgage payment is coming from…and for me to say to those people, “all you’re doing is thinking about money…there’s real lives at stake, don’t be so heart-less” is uncaring, unsympathetic, and not very pastoral or Christianly. You see my point. I actually think that we create more hysteria by arguing with one another, rather than caring for one another. I’ve never seen people stop yelling at each other by yelling at each other. As Proverbs would tell us: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We would do well to heed those wise words. In my opinion: Simply “rebuking” someone (or groups of people) online; shouting at them through exclamation points; or posting long diatribes…is not caring to individuals nor is it a long-term solution.
- So, here’s what I’m calling all CLF folks to consider: how can you genuinely show care? How can your posts, texts, calls…give grace to those who hear, read, or see them? What are you doing that’s part of the solution, rather than telling people to stop being so hysterical? Let’s apply Ephesians 4:29 & Proverbs 15:1 and be “peace-makers” to a world that wants to cancel each other out by blame-shifting and panic.
- As for the sermon:
- It’s always amazing to me how exegetical preaching (preaching through books of the Bible with the intent of drawing out why God gave these words to us and knowing that God spoke these words to original readers.) allows us to be on God’s timeframe and not ours. An example was Sunday in 1 Corinthians 4:8-21. The timing of examining our hearts about the Theology of Glory, could not have come at a better time. I needed it and I’m sure you did as well.
- There were several moments when I had a hard time containing my excitement. There were 5 of us at the building on Sunday and one guy gave a fist pump and another shouted ‘Amen’ on a few points. I’m sure if we were all together, I might’ve gotten a “little loud”:).
- A quote that I was really convicted by: “Do some Christians seem secretly to despise those Christians who seem always to be ‘up against it,’ while we or others achieve an illusion of peace by disengaging from struggle? Moltmann writes, ‘Presumption is a self-willed anticipation of the fulfilment of what we hope for from God. Despair is the premature, arbitrary anticipation of the non-fulfilment of what we hope for from God. Both forms of hopelessness … cancel … hope’ (Theology of Hope, p. 23). Luther writes, ‘God is not to be found except in sufferings and in the cross’ (The Heidelberg Disputation, sect. 21, p. 291).” Ouch!
- Paul’s fatherly affection…I didn’t say this out loud yesterday but I sure thought it…I’m very grateful that the Lord allowed me to plant CLF and I feel that “fatherly” affection towards our church. Through the years, I’ve had to learn to temper this and the Lord has graciously taken me through enough “beatings” to rub off lots of rough edges. But it is true…there’s a unique love that a pastor has for the people God has entrusted to his care and I’m glad that the Lord has given you to me and me to you. And thank you, CLF, for being a “joy” to pastor. A fulfillment of Hebrews 13:17…
What’s coming Easter Week:
Let me just whet your appetite for Holy Week. Here’s our plan right now:
- Sunday, April 5th (Palm Sunday):
- Sermon from Luke 19:28-40 on “Hosanna in the Highest”
- We will “take” communion together…we’ll have more information on this at the end of the week, but please have some communion supplies ready at your home.
- Friday, April 10th (Good Friday):
- Sermon from Luke 23:26-56 on “It is Finished!”
- Service will begin at 6:30 p.m.
- Sunday, April 12th (Resurrection Sunday):
- Sermon from Luke 24:1-12 on “He is not here; He is Risen!”
- One thing that would help you and your family is to take time over Easter week and read through Luke’s narrative from Luke 19:28-chapter 24 about Holy Week happenings and the last days of Jesus on the earth. It will get you prepared for the sermons also give you a good run down of what happened that week in Jesus’ life.
From the Cheap Seats:
- I miss sports.
- I ran across this today and really enjoyed it. John Krasinski is putting together “Some Good News”. I thought you’d enjoy this weeks’ edition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5pgG1M_h_U
- Do you wonder where God is in the midst of all this?
- Read Kevin DeYoung’s post called, “All things from His Fatherly Hand” to be uplifted and challenged.
- And another by David Mathis entitled, “Come what may: Finding patience and joy in a slow calamity”.
- I like to follow a soccer manager named Pep Guardiola. The guy is a maniacal genius and a really good soccer manager. Manchester City posted this today and I thought it was really true…Pep says, “We’ll all come back stronger, kinder and a little bit fatter.” Here’s the link. Unreal…but true.
- Finally, I’m sure many of you saw my video last week from my iPhone, at home, in my office…well, I’ve been informed by my lovely wife that no more videos can go out that are not approved by her and Christina Luther. Look, I’ve never done a selfie! I didn’t know that you can have “too much face” in the screen…wow! There must be a collegiate level class on taking your own pictures and selfies that I missed…So, from now on, I promise that my big beak won’t be on display and I’ll play by the selfie rules?♂️??…
Have a great week…