Blog Archives

Our failure to T.H.I.N.K. first

Have you noticed the escalating level of harsh and hurtful comments in the public discourse? Does it seem to you that people with differing opinions and ideas are more interested in degrading and dehumanizing the “other” than in listening and learning and creating a better community? I have an idea that might help.

You might think I’m going to throw some Bible verses at you, which I could. But I’m not. It occurred to me the other day that when I take couples thru pre-marital counseling, I recommend a strategy for dealing with important (and often emotional) conversations. It’s an idea I learned many years ago, and I don’t even know who thought it up originally. But it’s this:

THINK before you speak.

And I would extend that to say, “THINK before you post, too.”

THINK is an acronym representing five check-points. If what I’m about to say doesn’t check off ALL FIVE of these boxes, then it would be wise to go back to the drawing board and figure out a better way to say what I want to say. Is what I’m about to say…

  • True
  • Helpful
  • Inspiring
  • Necessary
  • Kind

If you wanted to you could probably summarize all these questions in the idea of “loving one another.”

To clarify, inspiring doesn’t mean all I say is “rah, rah, you’re a great person.” But it does mean I want my comments to inspire the other person to become the best version of themself; to stir up a desire for something better within them. If you prefer a Bible passage, you could check out some comments in Ephesians 4:25 – 5:4, or Jesus very challenging words in Luke 6:27-36.

None of these ideas are intended to say we shouldn’t discuss important, or even difficult matters. But the manner in which we carry on these conversations is vitally important. And the culture around us beckons us to stoop to the lowest denominator, to make assumptions about those with whom we disagree, and to participate in dehumanizing the “other.” Jesus’ plan is for a very different kind of community, one in which people from diverse backgrounds, opinions, beliefs, and traditions become formed into a family of brothers and sisters who are learning to think and act like Jesus himself, IOW to love one another.

This is a challenge. This may be the defining challenge of this age. Jesus himself said that the way in which we love one another would let the world know if we truly are his disciples. (John 13:35)

-Pastor Mark

Does God take vacation?

Have you ever had a crazy-busy season of life after which you just wanted to take a vacation and get some rest? That’s kinda what it can be like around a church office the week after Easter.

We just finished the biggest event of the year, with four gatherings and almost 1500 people. We wrapped up a week-long Spring Break camp that turned our normally quiet building into a hotbed of activities, games, fun, learning, and very loud groups of kids. And we pulled out all the stops for a powerful, multi-sensory Good Friday experience. It’s enough to make our staff want to take some much-deserved vacation.

Which got me thinking. Does God take vacation? Jesus made this statement during his ministry on earth.

My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working. John 5:17

Apparently God is NOT taking vacation just yet.

Ever wonder what God does when he works? Is he fixing things? (sorta) Is he building things (sorta) Is he solving problems? (sorta) The short answer is, he’s working on you. And me. Yep, we’re his project. And he wakes up in the morning thinking about you, thinking about how to get you closer to his original design.

That journey, from who we are, to who God longs for us to be, that’s the journey of transformation. And that’s the journey we’re committed to walking with you. Our mission at Seneca Creek is “To develop fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.” IOW, to help you experience God’s transformational work in your life.

One of the ways we try to help is through our Rooted Experience and Converge Groups. (I know, shameless plug here.) So as you think about where your life is, and where you long for it to be, just remember that God longs to work in you and on you. And since one of the best ways to participate in that work is in community, why not consider signing up for Rooted, or (if you’ve already gone thru Rooted) for one of our Converge Groups for this Spring. It just might be one of the best choices you make in 2018.

A recent Rooted celebration event

God is always at work. He’s not on vacation. Are you giving him room to work in your life?

-Pastor Mark

P.S. Speaking of work, I worked on a list of resources to share last Sunday, then forgot to mention it. So if you have questions about the Resurrection, or if you know someone who does and you’re trying to help them, check out this list of resources.

Revisiting the election from last fall

Last fall as the election loomed over our nation we launched a series called, “Vote for Jesus.”  It’s time to revisit that concept.

While the series was preached in the context of a turbulent national election, it’s far from a seasonal idea. In fact, I would suggest it’s a central idea to what it means to be a Christian, or a follower of Christ if you prefer.

Many of us have heard the concept that becoming a follower of Jesus is a simple as praying a prayer and then going on with life.  Sadly, for many, that’s been their experience.  Life just goes on as it did before with nothing more than an emotional memory.

But what if there’s more?  What if, in fact, Jesus invites us not just to “pray a prayer” but to elect a new king.  What if Jesus’ invitation is not simply to a collection of facts, but to a new kingdom?  What if Jesus’ words about “belief” and “faith” are more than intellectual ideas like algebra or astronomy, and more about allegiance to a new king?

That’s the main idea contained in a book I’ve been working through.  (Salvation By Allegiance Alone)  And I have to say, the author is speaking words of truth.  He suggests that what’s often missing in our understanding of Jesus and his invitation is the idea of “enthronement.”  As in, a new king has ascended to the throne, and we’re invited to give him our complete and total allegiance.

Back to the “Vote for Jesus” series.  That vote, then, means he’s my new king; a more personal and pervasive role than a president for sure!  It impacts areas like my marriage and family.  My finances.  My community of friends.  My intellect and education.  My struggles, battles and strongholds.  And my life goals and direction.

So regardless of which ballot you cast last fall, would you vote for Jesus today?  Would you make him king?  In every area of life?  That’s really what Jesus invites us to do.

-Pastor Mark