Are you ready to see your new fixer upper?
(Commercial break. . .)
The show Fixer Upper has been a big hit. The idea is simple: find the worst house in the best neighborhood, invest in a complete remodel, and voila! You’ve turned a fixer-upper into your dream home!
If you watch the show, you know the tension builds through the entire show as Chip and Joanna Gains turn a fixer-upper into a house surpassing your wildest dreams. The near life-size photo of the old house is pulled apart to reveal the masterpiece. Every client is blown away with the amazing transformation.
Don’t we just love the big reveal? We want to be blown away when the masterpiece is revealed. We want to share in the excitement, in the joy, in the amazement of what was done. We all know Chip and Joanna will always come through. We wish they’d come and do their magic on our house, don’t we.
When Mary gave birth to Jesus, perhaps you could say God was making His big reveal. Pull apart the pages of history, and voila! What do you see? You see God, in a manger, born into an ordinary family; hope, love, joy and peace, all wrapped up in one beautiful baby boy.
When God chose to make His big reveal, a fixer-upper world made brand new, it was hard to find anyone who was amazed at what He had done. There were a few shepherds, who were scared to death by an angel announcement, and a few wise men who knew God was up to something. Yet the world certainly missed the big reveal.
And if we had seen it, our response would’ve been “God, what are you doing? Our world is broken, we live in darkness, oppressed by sin. We need you to fix it, make it over again, and all you can do is send a baby?”
God’s people were hoping, waiting and expecting a Messiah, a great warrior-king who would vanquish their enemies and make everything right again. They were expecting God to make them a great nation.
Yet God had something else in mind that was quite the opposite. Rather than send a warrior-king, God sent a Prince of Peace. This Prince was surely ready to make a brand new world. Trouble was, He was more interested in our hearts than in our nation. He was more concerned by our sin than our safety. Seems He was not here to fix up our world. He was here to fix our broken relationship with Him. By the time we discovered what He was up to, He wasn’t around to thank—in person anyway.
The singer Joni Mitchell sang, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
Don’t miss what God has done. God loves the world so much, He sent His one and only, dearly loved Son. Do you believe it? If you do, you will never die. You’ll spend an amazing eternity with Him.
I just wanted to post dad’s obituary. An obituary shares just the physical details of a persons life and legacy. It does not really give you a complete picture of who he was.
Dad was a man dedicated to his family, his church, and his friends. He always bragged on all of his kids and grandkids. He loved all of his brothers and sisters and their families. He was so proud of all them.
Dad was a man with unwavering faith in God. Because of His faith, he is in the physical presence of Jesus now and for eternity. I know I will be with him again.
He taught me by example that a man is a man of his word. When a man says he’s gonna be somewhere, he’s there. He taught me to never make fun of anyone.
He loved to laugh, even though we didn’t see much the last few years. He enjoyed playing cards with his family, watching sports, and music, especially the music made by his kids and family.
Dad was gifted with his hands and he was incredibly smart. He fixed anything from the electronics in the oilfield to the simplest home repairs. When he set his mind to fix something, it may not looked like it was new, but it was fixed.
That’s just a few things in my mind today.
I’m sure every church has tension. I know the church I serve does. If yours doesn’t, I’d like to know about it.
I don’t have any references to cite, but just wanted to organize some thoughts and share some of my observations about church in the 21st century.
First, churches are as individual as people. Each is unique. A lot of church headlines come from churches in huge communities, experiencing growth in their cities and churches, doing church however they feel led to do it, and achieving remarkable success. And although these churches seem to get a lot of attention, the fact is most churches exist in smaller cities and towns, declining in population or experiencing very little growth. Most of these churches have been around a while. These churches are also multi-generational. From octogenarians to infants, there’s a wide variety of cultures trying to exist together as a body of Christ in their communities. And there are more generations in our churches that ever before. I know there are churches out there that are not mufti-generational, but I have not ever been a part of one. My current church is mufti-generational, approaching 75 years old, and the statement above definitely applies.
We are not all the same. We each have unique characteristics. And many of these personal differences, our personalities, our likes and dislikes, are innate. We are a direct result of our physiology. Biology has put a unique imprint on every life. But who we are is greatly influenced by the culture we were raised in. And even though most of us were raised in the same country, each generation has grown up in its own culture and experience. Each generation has its own identity, its own experience, its own expectations and desires, its own needs and its own values.
With that said, its no wonder we have so much tension in our churches. We have so many people, and sometimes groups of people, with their own ideas about what church ought to be. We have different expectations, different languages, different likes and dislikes. We dress differently. We respond differently. We communicate differently. We learn differently. We have different desires and different needs.
There’s two aspects of our culture that contribute greatly to the tension in our churches. First, we live in a culture now that caters to our individuality. Our commercial embraces the old Burger King ad line “have it your way.” We have “I”pods, “I”phones and “I”pads. Our phones, computers, television, homes, cars and so much more, are an expression of our individuality. Today, in so many areas, we can have it our way. Selling to our individuality has worked. Is it any wonder, then, that we feel like our church should meet our needs and operate like we want it too?
Second, we live in a culture that is inundated with criticism and opinions. The media is wrought with “news” shows that scrutinize everything. Entire programs are dedicated to the sharing of opinions, from politics, sports, music, movies, religion, lifestyles and so on. We feel like we have the right to voice our opinions about what we like and don’t like, and its spilled over into the church. We want our church to meet our needs in a way that pleases us. We have opinions about what is right and what is wrong and feel entitled to express them anytime we want to.
Unless you are totally immersed in only yourself, surely you can see what I’m talking about. These issues really make it hard to do church in our modern culture. We are operating at a time when we are perhaps as diverse as ever. And at a time when expressing our displeasure is so easy to do. It is really hard to be focused on the mission of the church. Its even harder to put aside our wants and work together. But we’ve got to focus on our mission and learn to work together to make it happen.
Sometimes I wish I could say something that would fix everything. I never seem to know what to say. But let me draw some conclusions from my observations.
The mission of the church is to make disciples of all nations. Yet we disagree on what we need to do and how we need to do the various activities and programs we do to fulfill our mission.. And when we disagree, we lose focus. We become focused on agendas and politics and personal tastes and preferences. We become negative, argumentative, divisive and ineffective. We accuse, we hold back, we make poor choices. We lose sight of our purpose.
So what do we do? At the very least, let’s get our priorities right. Jesus gave us the greatest commandment: love God and love our neighbors. (Matthew 22:16-20) He said by this, our love, all will know we are His disciples. Maybe love is the key. Until we learn to love and love each other, we will not be able to fulfill the mission Jesus gave us. What will it take? We’ve got to find a way to love.
Here’s my two cents for what I think we’ve been through in the last half-century. I don’t have any sources because I haven’t done the physical research, but I’ve been here, been in a Baptist church my whole life, and this is what I think has happened.
In the 60’s, our churches were full. Then our culture changed. So we went into preservation mode. We were happy if we could keep doing things the way we’ve always done them. One of the big changes in our culture was rock and roll music. More and more people liked songs played by drums and guitars and a few singers instead of pianos and organs and choirs. In our preservation mode, we held on to the pianos, organ and choirs as long as we could. Then the people coming to our churches liked music played by drums and guitars and a few singers and didn’t care for pianos and organs or choirs, even though there were still lots of folks who liked songs played by pianos, organs and choirs.
So what was the result? We became focused more on music than we did on our mission. We have somehow gotten the idea that church is more about what we like than about what we do.
So what’s our mission? Making disciples. (Matt 28:19-20)
How do we do that? I don’t know. But we’ve got to stop looking at what we like or don’t like and start seeing church as being part of a team trying to make disciples. Which also means we’re gonna have to do some things we don’t like. Think about it.
I’ve been enjoying new puppies! They are Jack and Bear (L to R) We’ve had them for about 4 months now, and I’ve enjoyed working with them teaching them to become obedient pets.
The training is going well. They seem to learn quickly and they are learning basic commands. The progress has some snags, though.
The problem I’m having now is they don’t quite seem to understand “now.” They understand what I command them to do, but they will only do it if they want to do it. There is no sense that they should obey me regardless of what they want. I guess its all about who is the master. I’m trying to teach them that I’m the master and they should immediately obey my commands.
In my spiritual life, I have the same problem. I want to be the master. I suppose that’s the spiritual struggle we all face. Are we willing to let God be our master? Will we obey what He tells us to do or will we be our own master?
God’s Word is filled with things He wants us to do. He also has our best interest in heart. The things we should do in obedience to God are the things that will give us the abundant living He promises.
Let’s let Him be our Master today.
1 John 5:3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments And His commandments are not burdensome.
Wrote this a couple of years ago. Wanted to share again for my Music Appreciation class.
I came across this quote the other day:
“In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction is was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it.”
~ C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
My thought was “when was the last time I heard something so beautiful I could hardly bear it?”
I love beautiful music. I love hearing a beautiful piece of music for the very first time…
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