Which Door Will You Choose?

 

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” - Matthew 7:13-14

 

The Christian church, especially in America, has been accused sometimes by those outside the church of being exclusive -- of being too narrow.  And as believers, we might ask: Why is it that people look at religion and discard this idea of narrowness? Why wouldn’t people choose the right door? Is it because it is morally inconvenient? 

 

Yes. It is morally inconvenient because it doesn’t fit our own preferences, and that makes us uncomfortable. We want to be accepted in the Kingdom. We want to be loved but we want it on our terms. We want it however we want to make it up. We like to think about the idea of going to heaven when we die based on whatever and however we want to enter in. 

 

We tend to ignore certain truths in the Scripture because it’s not convenient to the way we are currently living our lives. And we change it so that it fits. And yet, Jesus very clearly introduces us to two doors, which means there are no options. So, what’s behind these two doors? 

 

Behind Door No. 2 = Wide Door 

The wide door seems inclusive, loving. It seems free, but it leads to a different and dangerous place: DEATH. But why does it seem to be appealing, iInclusive, loving, and freeing? It’s because through the broad and wide door, we don’t have to make many choices when it comes to evil, things that are contrary to God’s holy will. 

 

Evil is all around us. We have but to let ourselves go to experience it and to get caught up in it. It’s easy to be swept up in it and through it. That’s how wide this door is. It is easily accessible. Sin and wickedness is very much available now to us. We’re very much surrounded by the temptations to do evil. This is one reason why there are times we find it easier to get anxious and be worried than to be patient and to trust. It’s more convenient to respond in anger rather than hold our tongues whenever we’re caught up in a swell of emotions. It’s sometimes easier to be affected by the news that we hear than to stay calm and keep ourselves in God’s truth.

 

It is so wide we cannot miss it. We need to merely permit ourselves to go with the crowd and we’re caught up in it. Why is the wrong way broad? Because sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4) and if there is no law in sin, then it makes it easier for us to fall into. The wide variety of evil makes it appealing. It’s everyone turning to his own way. We are counseled today by the world to accept all that is on the wide path and count it as equal to the truth. But what if all the outside paths actually lead to death? And all the other doors actually lead to danger? Wouldn't it be wise to stay on the one right path?

 

Behind Door No. 1 = Narrow Door

 

The door is narrow because there is only ONE way. And if there is only one way to experience this abundant life with God, why then would we question this door in favor of all the other options that we might discover? Why couldn’t we stop and say: “Lord, thank you for creating a door. Thank you for giving us a way out. Thank you for giving us a way into the streams of living water. Thank you for showing us a way where we can experience that!”? 

 

We need to remember that there is no other person in the history of mankind who has faced death and died and rose on His own power. There is no other one. There is no other one who fulfilled all of the prophecies in the Old Testament written and transcribed hundreds of years before His birth. There is no other one who effectively fulfilled all that Father commanded in the law and prophets, thus satisfying the holiness required to be perfect and holy. Only Jesus. (John 14:6

 

Jesus provided an open door for us. Because we can’t do it. We can’t fulfill all of it. The door cannot be opened by us because we all fall short ( Romans 3:23), and that’s why God had to do something about our predicament, so He sent Jesus to be the only door, the only way to the Kingdom of God. Think about Jesus. There is no other who perfectly loves the world and transforms the human heart than Jesus.  He opens the door from death to life. There is nothing more broad, more loving, and more inclusive than the Christian message, the message of the Gospel of Jesus that is for ALL people. It is not designated for a few. 

 

We can choose to celebrate that there is a door to receive the blessing of life that the Father longs to share with each of us, and as we think about Jesus who claims to be this door, let’s remember what He did on the cross for us and follow Him through the door that He opened. 

 

The truth is, while there is an infinite diversity of wrong ways, there is but one right way and that is JESUS. Today, once again, we are given our choice. Which door will you use?

 
 

Prayer Boxes

This year, as we focus on our homes becoming Household Wells in our neighborhoods, we thought it would be fun to come together and make something tangible we could each use to bless our communities. Have you heard of a neighborhood prayer box? Simply put, it's a box that you leave in your yard/porch/office/anywhere visible. People are invited to leave a prayer request in the box. Then, you as a household pray for those requests. 
 
Where you put the box and how you set it up is up to you. Perhaps you can attach it to a pole next to your mailbox. Or maybe you leave it outside of your apartment door. Maybe a local business will let you leave it on their counter. Or perhaps on your desk in your office is where you want to offer support. Start dreaming and praying about how God wants you to use your prayer request box!
 
On June 27th, from 10:15-noon (come anytime in that time frame) we will have a prayer box assembly party. All of the materials you need, as well as step-by-step directions, will be available so you and your family can put together your own wooden prayer box. We will have work stations set up for families to be distanced from others. We will also have these boxes available as take-home kits. The boxes are $25 each to cover materials, but we don't want anyone left out for financial reasons. You can read more about these kits and all the details in the sign-up form.
 
Please register by June 1 to allow us time to prep the prayer box kits. You can find out more and register here: https://forms.gle/s6YmAqfNqDT1xxJ7A
 
I also found a neat blog and video about a family who used a prayer box in their neighborhood. You can check that out here: https://www.sallycressman.com/creative-ideas/putting-a-steeple-on-your-house-through-prayer/.
 
For more information and questions, contact Emily at epowers@livelifetogether.com
 

Celebrate!

We have much to celebrate!!  It is good to recount our blessings and say THANK YOU to God!!  “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” That is the stanza that is repeated over and over in Psalm 136.  This is going to be a bit of a rewrite of Psalm 136 as we rejoice with one another at some of the ways God has blessed us over the last few months at the Church.

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever; 

To him who brought us 7 new households for our online Connections,

For his steadfast loves endures forever;

And who has enabled us to stream our worship services live while meeting in person,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

And who let us have 22 households start a penzu journal and live out being a well,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

And who has kept our preschool open all year without any cases of covid,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

To the one who has blessed us with faithful families who return a tithe to worship God for all his good gifts and support our ministry,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

To him who has brought so many back to in person worship,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

To him who has kept lifeGroups meeting virtually and caring for one another and praying for each other,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

And the one who has taught and deepened the faith of our Higher Ground students,

And brought 5 new babies into the family of God through the waters of baptism,

For his steadfast love endures forever;

And to the one who has sustained and supported those who are struggling and hurting and lonely and sick through His presence and through the love of the body of Christ,

For his steadfast love endures forever and ever. Amen

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!  We have many, many blessings to celebrate!!  

 

You can try this at home as well.  If you go to our website www.livelifetogether.com under Household WELL you can find a template for Psalm 136 for an individual and for a family.  Try it out!!  You could even post your example in your Penzu journal.  

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, 

to sing praises to the Most High.” 

 Psalm 92:1

 
 

Write to Remember

“Write it down so you don’t forget.”   Have you ever heard those words or said them yourself?  The meaning can range from writing down an appointment so you remember to show up, or a list of items that you need to pick up at the grocery store or writing down your thoughts and feelings about an event that you have experienced.  No matter the context one thing is for sure, when we write it down it helps us remember.  In the writing, we slow down to process and get it out of our head and onto paper, and then we can go back and read it again and again.  

 

In 2021 we have set a goal to have 40 household wells keep a journal.  We want our households to see themselves as a well where the living water of Jesus flows freely to others.  Where they Welcome in Jesus, Engage with neighbors, Listen to others and God, and Love to try.  The journal is a place to keep a record of what the household is learning, discovering, doing, trying, how they have seen God’s faithfulness, and what they are struggling with during the year.   Why write it down?  So we can REMEMBER and give thanks to God and encourage one another that we are not alone on this journey, and inspire one another to share the water with those who are thirsty. 

 

How are we doing so far?  We have 22 Households participating. (Yay!)  There is also a journal for the church staff for the Leadership Board and for prompts. 

 

We would love to have some more journals started AND the journals that we do have, to add more entries.  It is easy to forget to add an entry and we know most households have so much going on it can be seen as “one more thing - and I don’t have space for one more thing”.  Our encouragement to you, is give it a try!  Perhaps on Sunday evenings you could take a few minutes and reflect on your week as a family and consider what could be added to the journal.  (it doesn’t have to take a long time)

 

Check out the prompts.  One of the journals is called “Journal Prompts” and you will find several prompts for each month.  You don’t have to answer each one, pick out the ones that resonate with you.  Interview your kids and add what they say.  If you make it part of your rhythm it will be easier to do.  Maybe find someone to help hold you accountable.  Send each other a text reminder.   If you have a journal, who could you encourage to start one and join you in the fun of reflecting on what God is up to and recording it?  

 

You may be thinking, “I’m not a good writer.”  You do not have to be a good writer. No one is going to give you a grade on this or check your spelling.  It is simply a place to capture the amazing things that God is doing in our midst.  And we really can’t remember as well if we don’t write it down.  And, it does not have to be perfect! You can just add bullet points, and thoughts that are not complete sentences.  Try just adding pictures with a short caption.  

 

If you are unsure how to set up the journal, you can email ameyer@livelifetogether and I would be happy to walk you through the simple steps.  It is not too late to start!! 

 
 

Bringing Jesus' Open-Door Policy to our Neighborhoods

This month we have been looking at Jesus through the lens of a door. He is our door, our gateway, to the Father. It’s an inviting image - Jesus holding the door open, welcoming us inside with eagerness. This open-door policy that Jesus has is intimate. He is never too busy, unavailable, or uninterested. He doesn’t have dress code requirements or office hours for us. He desires to be with us.

 

That picture of Jesus, holding the door open, is the image that our communities need. After a year of isolation, anxiety, grief, and constant adjustments to daily life, our friends and neighbors are craving an open door. As Household Wells, we bring to them the invitation that Jesus offers. When we hold an “Open-Door Policy” in our homes, we give a glimpse of Jesus eagerly waiting with His open door.

 

Spring is here, and now is the perfect time to make a plan, as a Household Well, as to how you can offer that gift of availability and relationship to your neighborhood. 

 

But what does that look like? Perhaps it means increasing your presence in your neighborhood through walks and sitting outside more. Perhaps it means noticing a neighbor doing yard work and offering to help. Or maybe it means finding a way to invite your neighbors into service with you. Whatever it is, the outcome is a stronger presence, and therefore sense of availability to those who live near you.

 

Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity and brainstorming:

  • Friday Night Fire Pits: Move the firepit to the driveway, add extra chairs, and invite some neighbors to join you. If you pick a certain night to do this each week, your neighbors will notice the rhythm and perhaps be curious to join you.

  • Invite your neighbors to join you to clean up a local park.

  • Deliver May Day baskets to some homes on your block.

  • Organize a neighborhood food drive (email me if you want some tips on this!).

  • Do you have a lot of people walking/biking in your neighborhood? Leave out a cooler of water and invitation for others to help themselves.

  • Remote working? Take your computer to your front porch/driveway. Be sure to say “Hi!” as neighbors pass by.

  • Use sidewalk chalk to write messages of encouragement on sidewalks.

  • When your kids go to the park, go with them and try to meet some other parents.

  • Go outside. Read outside, work outside, walk, drink a cup of coffee, just make a plan to be outside of your home as often as you can. You’ll begin to notice more in your neighborhood, you’ll be available to meet new people, and your community will begin to recognize you.

  • Pray as you walk your neighborhood. Ask God to give you insight into how you can be his hands and feet in your community. Pray for opportunities to build relationships.

 

What ideas are exciting to you? How is God nudging you to create an open-door policy for your home? Share your ideas with us in your Penzu journal, on our Facebook page, or by emailing me at epowers@livelifetogether.com.