The Day the Bodybuilders met the Baptists

Three

St John’s is a Lutheran flavored congregation so why in the world am I blogging about bodybuilders and baptists?

This:

Do we reflect the very best of the gospel of Jesus, or are we slipping into the lure of institutionalism and isolationism? Do we actually know our neighbors? Do we love our city as Jesus loved Jerusalem? Do we honestly care about the needs and lives of those outside the church? How do we welcome the stranger, and those very different than us? Are we aware of how unapproachable or otherworldly we appear to others? Do we recognize that, unless we convince them otherwise, our culture identifies us with the grotesque aberrations of Christianity that the media panders to? How have we allowed the political culture, rather than the gospel, to shape us?

These are great questions! We are called to constantly monitor how we are representing Christ to each other and to the world.

Pastor Matt

What Netflix Can Teach Us About Church

nonprofit-storytelling-featured-imageThis blog post by Carey Nieuwhof is nearly a year old but it speaks well to what we are facing as The Church.  Carey shares five shifts in culture embodied in Netflix.  One of the great take-aways for me

Clearly people are looking for a better story. Church leaders need to bring it to them.

I love watching the Netflix original shows because they have great story lines, push the envelope, and are rich and full of life.  Carey calls them the movies of today.  It’s not the bland, one size fits all of TV programming of the 20th century.  It is full, rich story-telling–on demand.

We need to tell the Greatest Story Ever….well.  The entire Gospel in all it’s richness and interesting twists.  No Netflix or TV show can touch the drama and impact of Jesus Christ.  Tell….The…..Story.

The changing face of marriage

I often hear that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.  Then I hear that number is not right and actually the divorce rate is falling for marriages since the 1990s.  Then something else is blamed.  Then another thing is blamed.  Then we stand around pointing fingers.  But what if marriage has changed?

A sociologist interviewed by the Times connects the rise in divorce to women’s changing expectations, and the decline to men’s adaptation. It used to be that women needed marriage. A husband meant compliance with cultural norms, financial stability, the ability to have sex and children without social censure.

It’s not that way anymore. As effective contraception has become available, and women’s economic power has grown, the nature of marriage has changed from a partnership with distinct and defined roles to a give-and-take between equals, something, the Times’ sociologist says, we’ve now figured out.

I so resonate with the phrase “changed from a partnership with distinct and defined roles to a give-and-take between equals.  I posted a meme on facebook the other day and lamented how so many well-meaning “senior saints” wonder if the kids and I will be fed if Rachel (my wife) is sick or out of town.  I’ve actually had to get Rachel to tell a person that “yes, Matt does most of the cooking in our home.”

I don’t think this is a bad change from well defined roles to a give-and-take between equals.  But it is a change and it is one more thing we have to negotiate between the generations and in our society in general.  How many of our institutions still assume a stay at home mom?  What happens when it is a stay at home dad?  What happens when both partners make sacrifices to career for the sake of the family?

There is still a lot of ground to cover for us as we figure out what all this means.  I’ve been wrestling lately about what this means for the church.  We continue to see God up to new things in God’s creation.  Marriage is just one of those things.  How can we as the people of God support families as they negotiate their partnership in the midst of a world that just isn’t set up to support them?  How does Grace fit into all this?  Can forgiveness be the gift we bring to the table as the Church?

Lots of questions this morning.  If I had the answers, Rachel and I would be on the lecture circuit.  😀

Last Night She Couldn’t Sleep…

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So my daughter, Elizabeth, wrote a poem:

As little kids,
You could be…
Black,
White,
Purple with Pink Polk-a-dots,
And no one cared.
In Elementary School,
You could be…
Who you want,
Yourself,
Your favorite person,
And no one cared.
In Middle School,
You have to be…
Pretty,
“Cool”,
Smart,
Just to fit in.
In High School,
You have to…
Get good grades,
Be smart,
Know what you want,
Just to belong.
As an Adult,
You have to be…
Productive,
Prepared,
Successful,
Just to get by.
What happened to
Not caring if you are…
Black,
White,
Purple with Pink Polk-a-dots?
Let’s go back and
Not care about…
Race,
Gender,
or Age,
Let’s Just Be…
WHO WE ARE!!!!!!!!!!

Vocation

Cheryl Amrine award

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

God calls each of us to a vocation and gives us gifts to fulfill that vocation. Cheryl Amrine uses her God given gift of teaching children. Mrs. Amrine is featured in Southwest Washington Family because of the nomination of one of her students. Congratulations Mrs. Amrine!