These are just some ramblings about a variety of things that I hope will give some thought and insight into what we’re thinking during this really odd time in our country. Not to mention, I hope it will give you some thoughts on what we’re learning (CLF Staff anyway) through all of this.
Thoughts on Sunday’s sermon and “Easter in Real Time” video series:
- Once again, Perry played a huge role in our Sunday online service. Here’s a brief look at what we’ve done so far (really led by him):
- We’ve updated our hardware and software to make the live stream not as “glitchy” and much more smooth. This has allowed better integration of audio, video, and graphics.
- Our goal when this happened was to be super simple and just add one thing each week that we hoped would help. The first week, was “let’s just get one under our belts”. The second week it was adding texts/graphics to video which required new hardware and software. Not to mention it helped us see some concerns with our livestream broadcast, which led to a mid-week switch. The third week was to change the background because the white wall behind me wasn’t good on the camera or good on the eyes. Plus this past week, we added some hardware for audio and updated our producing software.
- On Thursday of this past week, we got some great help from Chris Guastaferro and Ray Hull, who helped Perry with background and lighting.
- All of this to say…this online, live-stream has been a work in-progress. CLF, we cannot thank you enough for your patience and your willingness to give us feedback. Let’s abound in the work of gratitude and love during this weird season.
- I’m starting to feel more comfortable in front of the camera, even though I’ve always felt that I have a “face for radio”. I’d rather not be preaching to an empty room, but I’m grateful that the Lord continues to help me get in the groove a little more each week. I am so grateful for your feedback on the sermons and our services. You have been incredibly encouraging and I thank God each Sunday, after we’re finished, that God has given me this church to serve.
- Sunday’s sermon was one that I’ve really looked forward to. The idea of the way Jesus came, showing us why Jesus came has been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Let me explain:
- I cut my teeth in the Southern Baptist ministry and (at least the guys I rubbed shoulders with) the prevailing theme was about moving up the “church ladder”…which was really no different than the corporate ladder. Start a ministry, make a “bang”, get noticed, and move up to the next biggest thing. The hope was that eventually you’d land in your dream location. Sound familiar?
- In my 30th year of working in the church or in church-circles, I have seen quite a bit of “power religion” that comes in all shapes and sizes:
- In charismatic circles: the Holy Spirit has come to give us power…to do miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead, make us wealthy, etc. because Jesus came to show the world His power.
- In social justice circles: Jesus came so that we would fight against the injustices in our world and the way we do that is with a show of force (rallies, boycotts, etc.).
- But there is something simple, yet really profound about the way Jesus came…even His displays of power (miracles) were primarily about one-thing. As we saw in the sermon, He came to seek, to save, to serve, in love. Now, what is simple about this is, that’s obvious. What’s profound about it is…how subtle this is and yet how “powerful” this is. Let me explain:
- I was telling Jill on Sunday that one hope I had for our church is to see how “subtle” Jesus’ kingdom is. Think about it: God, comes in human flesh, born in a manger…you don’t get more subtle than that. And you’ve heard me say it a lot but, born to insignificant parents, from an insignificant town (“can anything good come from Nazareth?”), and died a criminal’s death. His disciples (which were a small number) took the gospel to their hometown first, then because of persecution, it spread all over the known world, in small numbers (compared to the rest of their population). And we are now, 2,000 years later, still talking about the reality of the Christ’s kingdom. It’s had a massive impact, but it was subtle…not flashy.
- Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that there’s serious power…resurrection, miracles, healings, etc. all happen within the confines of Christ’s work. But the subtlety of that is still remarkable. As we saw Sunday, each of these were given to us that we might believe that He’s the Son of God…meaning, they were not given to us, for us to use to show how powerful we are or even that God had given us such power. The displays of power, were about Jesus…and were His tools of service to seek, save, and serve those whom He loves.
- The reason this is critical for us is that we can get a bit mesmerized by flash and by power. And if we’re not careful, we could miss God, in the midst of the simple. It is my contention, that while there are great revivals where God does unusual things (and moments that I pray for regularly), most of the movement of Christ’s kingdom is done…subtlety, through simple acts of service, many acts of love, kindly sharing our faith with our friends who need the hope of Christ, and “simply” being faithful to Christ.
- CLF, this is what I want for us…an understanding that Christ’s Kingdom and Christ’s work…takes time to make an impact. Again, we’re 2,000 years since Jesus’ death and resurrection…is God slow about His promises or we just impatient on Him?? Let us continue to be faithful to Christ’s gospel; let us seek to abound in His work…more; and let us believe that over time…He will do His work.
- The idea for the “Easter in Real Time” was confirmed a couple of weeks ago. Chris Guastaferro and Bill Heard (from Rex Heard) really felt strongly (in an elders’ meeting), that I needed to give some sort of online content for you. By in large, I have done that through Sunday sermons and writing emails or posting video updates. But the longer this pandemic goes on, these men (rightly so), felt that I needed to add some video content. This was a confirmation for something I was already considering, which was the “Easter in Real Time” videos. So, here’s what these are: there are short videos (3-10 minutes) where I discuss what happened in Jesus’s life on that particular day (i.e. Monday He was cleansing the Temple), read texts that go with that day, and then close the video. Nothing elaborate, but straight-forward and clear.
- We shot all the videos on Sunday, after our church service. So, yes, I am wearing the same clothes each day:).
- Our hope is that you will use these as an “after dinner” time with your family or a short devotional for yourself.
- I also want to add this little short devotional from Crossway called “The Triumph of Easter” that I think is really helpful: https://www.crossway.org/articles/the-triumph-of-easter-a-6-day-devotional-for-families/
- I hope you enjoy this.
- As for online content…I’m looking at doing an online Q & A, but we’re not sure of the time or day yet. If this is something that you’d be interested in, please feel free to let Christina Luther know at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send her questions you might like to hear me address, if you’d like.
Live-Streaming on Easter Week:
- 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!”
From the Cheap Seats:
- I was encouraged to download “The Chosen” app and watch this series. To be honest, when it comes to Christian movies or shows, I’ve always found most of them to be pretty dorky or odd. Usually the filmmaking and the screenplays are not great. So, I thought that I would take a look at this one, with that usual skepticism. And I’ve got to admit that I was really impressed. I’ve enjoyed it and not only that, it’s made my awareness and affection for Jesus increase. Here’s a link to check it out: https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen/welcome
- To hear the President say that the NFL season should start on-time…oh man I hope he’s right. I recently heard an interviewer with Mike Pence give the VP this advice: “Mr. Vice-President, I believe that if you told people that self-isolating and social distancing would guarantee that the football season would start on time, everyone in the south would stay indoors and you wouldn’t have any issues.” I believe he’s right.
- Let me say some things about extremes and about how I’m seeing this whole deal right now…these are my own views and I’m not speaking for our church or for anyone in our church:
- I understand that people are really concerned about both sides…many are concerned for loved ones who could get this virus and are concerned for the most susceptible in our world. At the same time, I also understand those who are skeptical of how serious this virus is, especially in Oregon, when there are not as many cases as most places and certainly in Douglas County (only 12, as of right now).
- However, I think we have to be careful at reacting to extremes on either side. Here’s what I’ve found through the years: usually the truth is somewhere in the middle of the chaos/extremes. Examples are prevalent in this current time:
- Are New York hospitals being overrun by COVID-19 patients? Yes and no and it depends on who you ask. One doctor I know in town has a friend who’s an ER doc in NY. She contacted COVID-19 and was living at the hospital. That doesn’t sound great to me and sounds like a remarkably sacrificial act by this doctor. But her first-hand account is that, it’s bad.
- Currently the death rate in Italy is at 12%…that’s really sad. Yet in Germany, the death rate is the lowest in the world at 1.6%, which is still sad, but steady (it’s gone up quite a bit in the last few days). So, if we said, “see there, it’s awful, look at Italy” or “see there, it’s not that bad, look at Germany”, we’re speaking partial truths that support our desires or ideals.
- Seeing the videos of people cheering for the changing of shifts for medical workers in NY, is really inspiring and reveals, that something is indeed happening there that is bigger than what I know.
- Knowing that Oregon’s hospital beds are not full right now, indicate a few things:
- One could be, that this thing is not as bad as it was reported.
- Two could be, that the social distancing measures are working.
- Or three, it’s the calm before the storm.
- There could be a four…but you get my point…to jump on any of those bandwagons and demand that “this is the truth” seems a bit too early to tell.
- Along this thought, I think it’s important to let this whole thing play out to determine how deadly it is or isn’t. For instance, to say that “this is just the flu” or “not the flu” seems too early to tell and the death coming as quickly as it is , doesn’t look “just the flu”. My thought has been that the medical experts have said that this thing has the ability to overwhelm our medical industry and it’s highly contagious, so we should use social distancing for a short time. So, I will gladly do that because I’m willing to make sacrifices to spare lives and keep the spread down. Then, at a later date, we’ll look back and we can say then, if this thing was “just the flu” or not.
- I do believe, personally, that the measures seem a bit too restrictive for my blood. I don’t understand closing the Federal campgrounds and hiking trails until September 30…seems a bit of an over-stated position and I one I hope they will re-evaluate.
- Under this thought is that I hope that there will be some understanding of what areas are “hot-spots” and which ones aren’t and allow those that “aren’t” a little more freedom. I realize that this will be difficult.
- I am concerned that “equality” for many is beginning to become, “if one person can’t do it, then you can’t either”. Equality under the constitution was that every human is to be treated equally as made in the image of God and are to be given the same opportunities in life, because of that image-bearing. But what has taken place, (at least in our state), has been something different…if Portland needs to be contained, so does Harney county…I’m not sure that’s what equality means.
- I also believe that the potential despair from financial distress is going to be real. What’s a serious bummer is that if you say that you’re concerned over financial stuff, you get thrown into the camp that doesn’t care about people dying. This is why I have concerns about jumping to conclusions…those concerned about the economy (not all) are just as concerned about the COVID-19 virus causing death. And…those who are concerned about the COVID-19 virus (not all) are just as concerned about the economic distress causing death.
- On the restrictive measures, I’ve asked myself this question quite a bit: if the most fiscally concerned President since Reagan (not saying Trump is Reagan, but I am saying he’s concerned about the economy), is willing to spend trillions of dollars from the Federal government, willing to have us take very restrictive measures, there must be something to all of this that I’m not currently understanding. Therefore, I will withhold on any extreme positioning, one way or the other, until this plays itself out a little more.
- I hope you see my point on this…The over-reaction and over-criticizing on both sides, really concerns me and I will not allow myself to go there and I hope you won’t either.
Have a great week…