Monday, August 31, 2009

It is the ability to self organize, more than anything else, which promotes and enhances our life in the universe - Diarmuid O Murchu
Blessed is the man who finds out which way God is moving and then gets going in the same direction - Len Sweet, "So Beautiful" pg. 58

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Relationships, continued

The earliest stories from the Bible remind us that God created us to be in right relationships with one another. By right I am not referring to right and wrong but rather ones that are appropriate, healthy and God intended. "These relationships are characterized by honor, respect, love, and care. They are creative, mutual, and generative. When we are in right relationship we embody God to each other" (Practicing Right Relationship, Sellon & Smith, pgs. 6-8).

Almost every aspect of our lives depends upon right relationship with others and yet the relational skills of our culture has decreased significantly over the past several decades. Sellon & Smith cite two key contributors to the breakdown of relational skills: technological advancements and the breakdown of nuclear families. Technology contributes to isolation and the breakdown in the family has not served as a healthy model for children to follow. It's difficult for people in our culture to know how to establish sustainable loving relationships.

The Church has a vital role to play in our society regarding relationship development. If the Church does not provide the means for individuals to raise their relational IQ then our society is doomed. It is through right relationship that people find transformation and fulfillment.

What are some things we can do better as a Church to raise the relational IQ of our attenders and community? I'm looking for ideas ... can you help me out? :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Relationships at Church

The strength of the local church is determined by the relationships people form within the congregation. "A big part of what draws people to faith communities is their desire (God created need actually) for caring and supportive relationships. They may initially be drawn to a church because it offers programs or features that meet situational needs in their lives; however studies reveal that it people do not form a significant relational connection within the first few weeks of attending (somewhere between 2-6 weeks) they drift away. Facilities and programs, no matter how excellent, do not satisfy the deeper relational needs of people. Relationship is what holds them and transforms their lives" (Practicing Right Relationship, Sellon & Smith, pg. 5-6).

How can we do a better job of assimilating guests and new/recent attenders into the relational fold of the Church during the 2-6 week window? I'm looking for ideas ... What say you?

Thoughts to ponder

"On the cross Jesus does away with all the rule keeping, debt collecting, point scoring, merit awarding rigmarole of religious systems that try to control God and limit heaven to people like us" - Bishop of Reading Stephen Cottrell.

"Authentic Christian living is lifting the veil of what God has done and is up to and manifesting the heart of God in the world we are privileged to be in" - Leonard Sweet

"Receive what you are and receive what you may become" - Saint Augustine (words shared while preparing to serve the Lord's Supper in North Africa in the fifth century).

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The relevance of Church today (continued)

Wow what a week! I had a lot of district business to deal with last week with no extra time left to blog. Whew, now that a new week has dawned I want to follow up on a thread I introduced last Monday on the relevance of the Church in society today. The key questions that I posed were, "Is and how is the Church relevant today?"

I am amazed how the nomenclature of society changes with each passing generation. Some words that were considered socially inappropriate to use 40 years ago are often common place in society today ... the word "suck" is a case and point example. My dad would have knocked me into next week and mom would have washed my mouth out with soap if I would have used the word "suck" as flippantly as so many do today in reference to people and things. Today I pulled out an old dictionary from my college years and the primary definition for the word suck is "to draw liquids through vacuum." Now one of the primary definitions used for the word means "a subject or situation that has no redeeming qualities or areas of deficiency." Hmmmm.

Some say this describes the state of the Church today. That she has little or no redeeming qualities. I disagreed and mentioned several points to refute that notion last week. The second part of the definition is more difficult to refute however because the "Church does have areas of deficiency." Why? The Church is comprised of people and people have issues. In any gathering of humans the broken and woundedness of individuals will be displayed presenting areas of deficiency. We all have them and any Christ follower worth his/her salt will admit to being a work in progress. As the old song goes, "He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be... How loving and patient He must be, cause He's still working on me."

In the body of Christ our deficiencies can become God's greatest glory. For "in our weaknesses He is made strong" the scriptures say. Also through humbleness of heart we have opportunity to experience God in new ways because of our deficiencies. When deficiencies/inconsistencies present we have the joy of inviting God's Spirit in to invade our lives and transform us into the image of Christ ... to deal with our stuff.

In the holiness tradition we refer to this experience of transformation as "heart purity." It refers to the Christ follower who asks God to fill his/her heart with His love. As the heart fills with God's love everything that is not of Christ is pushed out. God is love (I John 4:8) and everything God does is simply Him acting out the essence of who He is. When we surrender our lives completely to God and ask Him to fill us with His love we then will be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2), living out of the abundance of His love and not through sin and/or the sum total of the brokenness of our lives. Hmmmm... maybe finding a deficiency or two now and then is a good thing? What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sunday Night Bible Study

This week's Sunday night Bible study will focus on the topic of "love." As you prepare for the study seek to answer the following questions:
> How is love the core of holiness?

> What do the following verses contribute to the correlation of love and holiness?
I Thess. 3:12-13
I Peter 1:15-16
I John 4:8
Ephesians 5:1-2

> What did Jesus mean by the phrase, "everyone will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35)?

See you Sunday at 6 pm in room 227. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday Men's Fight Club

This week at the Men's Fight Club we will study the "Core Truths About Jesus Found in the Gospels". We are on "Core Truth" # 11: "Jesus Follows the Pattern of God's Redemption." This will be a continuation from last week's discussion.

Please study Luke 15:4-32 in preparation for Saturday. The questions we did not get to last week are:

> What does it mean to act redemptively according to Jesus' definition?
> What does it mean to act redemptively in the world as a Christian?
> How does being judgmental impact the mission of redemption?
> What does the call to act redemptively mean for the church today?

I look forward to seeing you at 7:30 am in the Cafe.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Opinions are like mushrooms ...

Opinions ... everyone has an opinion. Someone very influential in my life used to say, "Opinions are like mushrooms ... and in the country the biggest ones usually grow out of a pile of manure!" I've tried to take that lesson to heart over the years. Especially when I read comments like I am about to share.

There seems to be a growing dissatisfaction with the local church in America even to the point where one man said, "The Church in America sucks!" (Steve Hughes, "The Relevance of Jesus Without all of the Religious Crap." page 83ff). Ouch! So does the Church suck? Let's look at what "suck" means first of all. Wikipedia defines it as "a term of general disparagement, indicating the subject or situation has no redeeming value, qualities or purpose. Indicating that a subject has a particular area of deficiency."

Wow, I have not encountered a church that "has no redeeming qualities," have you? No redeeming qualities? That's a pretty harsh pronouncement on a group of people, don't you think? What does the word "redeeming" mean? Again the online dictionary I just quoted gives insight ... "redeeming - "to change for the better."

Is that not why the Church exists ... to help people and communities change for the better as instructed by our Founder and CEO - Jesus Christ? No doubt every Church could do this better and be more relevant in their effort, but nonetheless, the intention of all Christ centered churches that I have ever known or heard about exists for the good of people, families and communities in general. They feed and clothe the homeless, conduct social/relational educational programming, counsel troubled marriages and families, provide meals for those who are sick and injured, and visit those who are housebound, etc.

I think the Church has many redeeming qualities and seeks to make a positive contribution for the betterment of their community and world. That's my opinion ... what's yours? How do you see the Church contributing to the good of God's mission on earth and for the society? How has it blessed your life?

thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Focus on the family

This weekend our sermon topic will focus on the importance of the family and local church in society today. Early in sacred literature God established the insititution we know today as the nuclear family unit comprised of dad, mom and kids and how He intends to impact the world through it. Some key questions I would like for you to consider as we approach the weekend sermon from Genesis 1:27-28 are:

> How much of God's agenda (mission) on Earth depends upon the relational health of family units?

> What impact does the family unit have on the Church and culture and how has both suffered from the breakdown of the family?

> Assuming that the culture goes as the family goes ... then what does the future look like for America if the family continues to disintegrate?

If indeed a great deal of God's agenda is played out through the family then the local church has a significant role in our culture. Having a weekly gathering place for families to come and experience lectures and seminars on healthy relationship is essential. All the more our focus should be on providing relevant educational classes and programming to aid family health for the community. It also validates our numerous self-help programs such as Divorce Care for Kids, Divorce Relationship Recovery, Marriage Rebuilders and Builders Workshops, Mastering Motherhood, and the various men's educational classes, etc., that we consistently offer throughout the year.

Everything we do at WHFC is transformation and redemptive in purpose. Redemptive in that by design our programs and ministries focus on bringing men, women, boys and girls to relationship with Jesus Christ and work towards recapturing the lost image of God in each one. Transformational in that Christ followers go into the world and influence society through emulating Christ's love and service to all.

As a church we must never forget that two thirds of God's name is "GO". We gather weekly in the Meeting House to be educated, encouraged and equipped to go into the world and share the kingdom of God with those in our sphere of influence. There is no sacred/secular divide in our lives. All is holy unto the Lord. What we do in the Meeting House is no more blessed by God then what we do with the rest of our time.

As we will discover this weekend from the demographic statistics presented in the sermon, one of the most influential ways Christians can transform society for the good and win others to Christ is through relationally healthy family units. And, the very best thing we can do for God's mission on Earth is not necessarily memorize more scripture, attend more Bible seminars or pounce on people with the "Four Spiritual Laws" but rather to deal with our relational junk. To invite Jesus into the brokenness of our lives and let Him to heal our family wounds that sabotage our marriages and parenting, destroying our testimony and besmirching God's glory.

We need to stop playing into the hands of Satan and stop hurting the ones we love while contributing to the breakdown of the Church and society. Then people will come to Jesus and find value in attending the local Meeting House and listen when we speak. As you can see family ministry is something that I am passionate about so it will be a challenge for me to stay within the 30-35 minute time limit :-) What say you?

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me spout!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunday evening - Concert of Prayer

This Sunday night the Church who call themselves Willoughby Hills Friends will gather in the Meeting House for a Concert of Prayer at 6 PM in room 227. We are a congregation that values prayer and see the need to schedule corporate times of intercession throughout the year.

What is a Concert of Prayer? Great question ...I am glad you asked ;-) It is a worship service devoted to prayer. A theme is chosen, scripture related to the theme is read, some volunteers will lead the group in public prayers for special concerns related to our church and world, and private prayer will take place as well throughout the service. We will conclude the evening with a time of singing and celebration.

Our theme this weekend centers on Micah 6:8. Please pre-read the passage and pray for God's blessing to fall upon our time together. I hope to see you Sunday evening and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Saturday Night & Sunday's Sermon Guide

I encourage you to read ahead and prepare to engage God's word this weekend at the Meeting House. I will be sharing the same message both Saturday afternoon at 5 and Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11 titled, "God in the Balance." We will touch on two very important subjects directly related to God's glory and mission in the world. They are the importance God places on individual families and role the local church has in society today.

The text we will expound upon is Genesis 1:27-28; 31. From it we will discover 7 key observations. As you read and pray over the text see if you can pick them out. Maybe you will find some that I overlooked.

If there is a week you need to miss gathering with friends at the Meeting House remember you can listen to all of our weekly messages on the church website at Next week I plan to continue discussion about the topics surfaced in the message this weekend on my blog and Facebook wall. My blog is called "Fodder" and can found at

I hope you have a blessed weekend and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday Men's Fight Club

"Do not be afraid of your enemy. Remember the Lord is great and awesome, and FIGHT for your brethern, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses." (Nehemiah 4:14). YES!

I love reading the theme verse for the Men's Fight Club ... it speaks to my heart. This week we will continue our study of the Core Truths About Jesus Found in the Gospels. We are on "Core Truth" # 11: "Jesus Folllows the Pattern of God's Redemption."

Please study Luke 15:4-32 in preparation for Saturday. Some questions we hope to answer are:

> What does it mean to act redemptively according to Jesus' definition?
> What does it mean to act redemptively in the world as a Christian?
> How does being judgmental impact the mission of redemption?
> What does the call to act redemptively mean for the church today?

I look forward to seeing you at 7:30 am in the Cafe. Jr will probably be joining us this week. Adrian will be in town this weekend for his bridal shower. He's getting married on October 4. SWEET!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rick Warren on life

My friend Farrah sent this to me. Enjoy and be blessed!

You will enjoy the new insights that Rick Warren has, with his wife now having cancer and him having 'wealth' from the book sales. This is an absolutely incredible short interview with Rick Warren, 'Purpose Driven Life ' author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California.
In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:
People ask me, What is the purpose of life?

And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me.
I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity..
We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.
Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.
The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.
We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.
I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.
And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems:
If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her- It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.
You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.
Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.
It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.
So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.
First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit.. We made no major purchases.
Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.
Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.
Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.
We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?
Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?
When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better.. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Duke on the Church

Leonard Sweet quotes the film legend John Wayne as saying, "I don't much like God when He gets under a roof" (So Beautiful, page 55). What do you think he meant by that statement?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 7, 2009

A letter of resignation

I am writing to notify you that I am resigning from my position. I also want to inform you that Pastor Greg will no longer be your teaching pastor and the rest of the pastoral staff will be leaving as well. Now before I go any further let me explain.

That first paragraph was simply to get your attention and to remind us all of a future reality. As far as I know none of our staff plans to resign anytime soon but it will eventually occur at some point in the future. Pastors come and pastors go for any number of reasons but the church must remain and continue on for the glory of God and the good of society. Will WHFC be ready for that day?

Yes if we continue to define and follow a biblical model of church structure. The ABC model of the past 50-75 years developed an industry of sorts that looked to a CEO to set vision and run the church. It was his job to motivate people and raise the funds needed to keep the machine running. If he was successful in his effort employment continued and he often would reap a large financial reward for his success.

In the Western Church the ABC model did succeed for a season in terms of erecting buildings and gathering a crowd but look around ... the wheels have come off of that bus! That model left the church under-discipled and stuck doing ministry behind brick and mortar. It sure seems like God has pushed the reset button on the Church in America. Clearly Christ is revisioning His bride and is moving her back to a biblical model ... a model He can bless.

The revisioning of the Church is no easy task. The Church is prone emotionally to return to old patterns in an attempt to feel comfortable. Sometimes following the path of least resistance is more than just an emotional decision however. It can also be used as a means of shirking responsibility. We must know God's mandate and act upon it.

What is a biblical model of leadership structure for the Church? One where lay leaders assume responsibility of setting the direction and vision for the church and own a great deal of responsibility for implementing it each year along with the pastors.

I am pleased to be a part of a church and leadership team that seeks to flesh all of this out. We have a collegial mindset that continues to help us discern God's will for ministry, structure and vision. I am excited to see our lay leaders taking greater responsibility in some key areas. The future of our church demands it.

As our leadership continues to act on these principles please encourage and support them. It is for the over all good and health of WHFC. Celebrate that we are a fellowship of Christ followers who honor and seek to conform to the mandate of Scripture and not conform to the path of least resistance.

Okay, so our staff is not be leaving their post anytime soon ... but that day will come. Either God will call them to another assignment, they'll retire or move on to their heavenly reward. It's inevitable that something will happen one day and the church must be structured to make transition without falling apart. Praise God His word makes such provision.

The success of our pastoral leadership will ultimately be seen in how the church transitions through our departure some day. In a healthy scenario the body will not fragment and polarize behind a certain individual(s). Rather the church will be joined together under the banner of Christ's cause and not lose step in moving His great kingdom forward.

What say you? What's your thoughts on the importance of lay leadership in the local church? How close are we to the biblical template of scripture?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Men's Fight Club - study guide

This Saturday the Men's Fight Club will meet at 7:30 am in the WHFC Cafe for fellowship, prayer and Bible discussion. We will continue with our series, "The Core Truths About Jesus Found in the Gospels." This week we will consider Truth # 10: "Jesus targeted His ministry to the marginalized of society."

Please come prepared to discuss the following texts:

> Luke 4:18-19 and 7:22-23 noting how Jesus showed love to the poor and oppressed

> Matthew 9:9-12 and Luke 19:10 observing how Christ befriended the outcast and misfit.

Ask yourself over the next few days, "What do these passages mean for me?" What impact should it have on WHFC?"

I look forward to our time together. See you Saturday morning at the Meeting house where the coffee is always low in price and rich in flavor ... NICE! :-)

God's ways are not man's ways

So many times I have recalled this teaching from sacred literature down through my tenure of professional ministry ... "God's ways are not man's ways" and "do not trust in your own understanding but acknowledge God and He will direct your way."

The Apostle Paul writes a similar proverb to the Corinthians,
"Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God .... For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:20-29).

Robert Fritz reminds us of a scientific fact in his book "The Path of Least Resistance for Managers" that the "underlying structure of anything will determine its path of least resistance. We can determine the path of least resistance by creating new structures. If you try to change your organizational behavior without dealing with the underlying structure then you will not succeed" (pg. 90).

When a church like WHFC desires to restructure and become missional, relational and incarnational rather than attractional (ABC's- attendance, building and cash driven) it will eventually face a crisis moment when some will want to return to past practices and follow the "path of least resistance." We have faced this in recent months and years as we instituted a new leadership model, sought to be more contemporary in our worship style and location to reach a younger, non-churched target group, revamp our membership process, and revision our bus garage into a ministry center. There are many more examples I'm sure but these are the ones which quickly come to mind.

This behavior is understandable because change can be difficult. The past is often so historically comfortable, clear and familiar and change is often times not at first. That is why following the lead of the Holy Spirit and having Spirit filled leaders in place is so imperative for the local church.

Having to wrestle with the path of least resistance can be beneficial for an organization. At WHFC it forces us to engage one another relationally, work together, define vision and purpose, use our resources wisely, and to center ourselves in Christ and not self interest.

If this principle holds true at WHFC eventually the path of least resistance will rear is head and put into question everything new or different. This is normal and should be expected. However, during the awkward, uncomfortable moments of transition leaders must stay the course. Not questioning in the dark what God gave them in the light.

Len Sweet reminds his readers in his book "So Beautiful," that following Christ is a paradox and "paradoxes are often the sign that things are going well" (pg. 45). He states that the true beauty of our relationship with Christ is: "We see the unseen; we subdue by submitting; win by losing; we are promoted by making ourselves little; come in first by being last; are honored by being humble; get filled with God by emptying ourselves; possess all by having nothing; we find real life by dying."

God's ways are not man's way. Proverbs reminds us there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end of the trail is destruction. H. L. Mencken said, "There is always an easy solution to every human problem - neat, plausible and wrong" (Sweet, pg. 41).

Does this ring true for your life? It does mine. Most of the time when I run ahead of Jesus I end up flat on my face. I've had to stop running ahead of Him ... at 49 I do not heal as quickly as I once did! What say you? :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Church as we know it... Gone?

As I continue to read Len Sweet's new book "So Beautiful" I am encouraged by the fact that God is up to something new and exciting in His Church. While old paradigms are being dismantled God seems to be erecting new ones that are biblically based and socially relevant. God is definitely pushing the reset button on the Church. NICE!

Sweet says, that "Postmodern culture is an anti-Christian culture. If you are reading these words then you are likely the last generation to be familiar with the Christian story and for whom churches have cultural significance. And you will die leaving behind a culture for whom the Christian story will be completely unknown. This requires not only a new ability to tell the story but also a fresh way to re frame the story for a sinless society" (referring to a society where people do not see themselves as sinners).

God is up to something and WHFC must be a part of it or she will be marginalized and ineffective by cultural change. The goal of our pastoral leadership is to be MRI in focus: Missional, Relational and Incarnational in order to remain effective for the glory of God. MRI can be defined as "Going out, living with and engaging people where they are at, and emulating Jesus to them." It will be emphasized from our pulpit, be the matrix of our administration, taught in our educational classes, and developed in our social/relational agenda.

What about the ABC's (Attendance, Buildings and Cash)? God is in the process of dismantling this paradigm across America so does that mean they are going away? I think many will, at least for the congregations that focus more on the ABC's rather than the MRI.

Much like WHFC other churches will be forced to rethink the use of their facility and why they do what they do. Until our $5 million dollar mortgage is dismissed we will need to generate different streams of revenue with our facility. The day care will need to expand, our school will need to grow and use more of the facility M-F. We need other ministries and organizations utilizing our space in the evening. We must become an attractive people to the community offering space and service to meet their needs rather than soliciting people for an attractional agenda designed to sit them in the pews and place their cash in the offering plates.

God is up to something at WHFC. Over the next few months and years our leadership will foster change in order to stay in step with Jesus. The means to growth at WHFC is to identify and meet people's real needs so they can develop relationally with Jesus Christ. That is the Christian story emulated by the life and teachings of our Lord in the Gospels.

What say you? Will you help us repackage the Christian story? Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Aches, Pains, Complaints?"

Leonard Sweet tells the story of the "APC pill" from WWII in his new book "So Beautiful." He says, "ask anyone who served in WWII do you remember the APC? and they will most likely say, it cured everything."

The APC pill was designed to cure the aches, pains and complaints (APC's) of soldiers. It was a combination of aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine. The problem, long term use would kill you! Phenacetin caused renal problems and cancer. But the short term benefits were so good that people continued to use APC and purchase it illegally.

Sweet says, the APC for the church has been the "ABC fix." We know that focusing our attention on "Attendance, Buildings, and Cash" (ABC) will destroy our long term health but the short term fix makes us feel better about ourselves. We deceive ourselves into thinking that if people are coming, the building is modern or expanding and the money is good then we must be doing something right.

Sweet and a host of other contemporary theologians state the church must be MRI: Missional (going forth), Relational (engaging people in their setting), and Incarnational (emulating Jesus). As I hear this my thoughts go to the movie "The Matrix" when the main character was brought to a point of decision. Should he change for the good of self and society or maintain the comfortable status quo? The choice came down choosing between one of two pills: a red or blue one. One would continue with business as usual. The other pill would order up a brave new world to experience.

Willoughby Hills Friends has a decision to make as she continues to seek relevance in today's society. Does she choose the MRI or ABC? One is a quick fix, a known commodity but historically leads to ineffectiveness and destruction. The other decision can be scary, messy, chaotic and hard to track. It does not guarantee increased numbers in the pews each week or extra dollars in the offering plate. It will make her feel uncomfortable and force her to act and think differently.

MRI is the will of the Father for the Church today and is where Jesus is working at this time. I encourage you to take your daily MRI pill and practice the presence of Christ in your sphere of influence. What say you to all of this?

Thanks for stopping by!