Keynotes – October 2016

So Blessed

Recently the taste of the water around St. Peter’s and our home as well started to taste “different” to keep this in check. The email tree around St. Peter’s picked it up and a few people had noticed the same issue.  We are so accustomed to having terrific water that we can notice when something is ‘off.’

I recall living in Santa Clara where we had water that tasted good, but it was well water and it was full of minerals that liked to be deposited in places where we didn’t want minerals like on faucets, shower doors, inside water heaters, and glasses in the dishwasher.

Beyond that I recall a particular special that may have been on PBS and showed a team going through rural parts of Africa digging wells for communities. One particular community hit hard. The young children balanced heavy ceramic jars on their heads and walked more than a mile each way to get water for their family. When they returned the water was a light brown color.

The team drilled all day and didn’t hit water. Determined to give this community another chance they got up early and dug some more. To their delight they hit water! Clear, cool water came out from the ground and the people could finally have something to drink that wasn’t polluted like the river.

That wasn’t the hard part. The team took a glass and filled it with the new source of water and handed it to a villager to drink. They didn’t want to. They didn’t know what it was! They had never seen clear water before and didn’t trust what they were handed. Once the team showed them it was okay to drink by drinking it themselves, then the villagers drank it too, and were delighted!

We have been blessed. Yes, we have been blessed with some of the best water in the world, but we have been so blessed beyond that! We live in a world that is polluted by sin. We are so accustomed to sin being in creation that we wouldn’t know what it was like to see a place with no sin. We would be suspicious of what was going to happen because we all know that something bad is going to happen when things go “too well.”

What we have to look forward to! Imagine being able to sleep knowing that you were 100% and that God is always protecting you! In Heaven we don’t need to be concerned about danger, bullies, people who love themselves at your expense, floods, drought, earthquakes, fires, housing, food, clothing, friends or anything else! Heaven is so pure that we can’t begin to comprehend what is to come. And yet, our Lord calls us to trust Him and drink from the river of life, to eat from the tree of life, to lie down in green pastures and never fear.

May our Lord, bless us with faith to trust Him today and to live with Him forever!

Keynotes – September 2016

What can we do to help you?

Both congregations have now seen fit to retool us by sending us to PLI’s Missional Leader training starting this Fall. Debbie and I will be participating in what is called an immersion the first week of October on the topic of “Missional Exploration.” In total we will be part of four such immersions over the next 2 ½ years. Between immersions there will be assignments for us to work on and coaching to keep us on track. The following immersions are: Missional Living, Missional Catalyst and Missional Church.

My description, with my current understanding, is this is similar to throwing a rock into a lake. The biggest splash occurs where the rock hits, then there are ripples the radiate from that initial splash. My understanding is that Debbie and I are the initial splash and the ripples are intended to flow through our congregations.

We are set to go, but there is some pre-work that we have been asked to do. And we have found it to be helpful already! One of the parts of preparation has to do with listening. Let me see if I can convey that here.

How good we are at listening was called into question immediately. As churches, do we listen to our community? Do ask our neighbors ‘What can we do to help you?’ I recall hearing that missionaries who were sent to Africa long ago saw the clothing, or lack of clothing, worn by the people and insisted that they change how they dressed to conform to being more modest.

We know that dressing modestly is a good thing, but is that our entry point? We know that worship is important, but is that the first thing someone should do? We know that there are physical needs that people have, but is that the first thing they need?

I can’t speak for you, but I know that I rarely invest time sitting in a coffee shop and listening to the people there. I don’t have the habit of walking the streets listening to people share what they would like our church to do for them.

Just how connected are we with our community, really? When we do connect with them do they leave feeling loved? Do they have such a wonderful experience that they want to come back for more, as soon as possible?

Perhaps we can all start to ask those questions of ourselves as we move forward. Please keep us, the leaders and all those participating in your prayers!