What's Next?

Check out what board member, Sheila Anderson, had to say in her Spiel article from the bulletin last week:

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”  Isaiah 40:8

As the world has been radically upended the past 16 months, many of us felt the disorientation of wondering what was coming next. Although conditions are still shifting, we are grateful to be slowly regaining a sense of normal.  One thing is certain, though: our God does not change.  And the mission He’s given us remains the same: to connect people to life in Jesus. Our vision is one church with each believer following Jesus wherever they are, and having an impact there for God’s Kingdom. To visualize this potential, the Church invites us to become “wells” – a physical presence scattered out in the world where God’s water of life can be accessed by thirsty wanderers.

The leadership board is excited to share some of staff’s plans for this summer and fall to help us  become more “well-like”. We welcome your ideas and thoughts! You can email us at board@livelifetogether.com, talk to any board or staff member or include your ideas on the worship connection card.

1. Back to Community initiative:  God designed us for connection and belonging. The social restrictions of the past year have highlighted our need for each other while at the same time making our habitual ways of connecting more difficult. It’s hard to be a useful well if no one knows you’re there! Moving forward, how can we engage others, both inside and outside our church, in the most meaningful way?  (Pause here for full disclosure: this initiative makes me a little anxious.  I’m not sure how much community engagement I want to add to my life right now. If, like me, you felt a pang of avoidance, anxiety, or irritation when you read those words ‘back to community” I urge you to go to 4.)

2.  Website redesign: As we’re seeking this connection, our website has become our front door for those who want to learn more about our community as well as a continuing resource for those who’ve been here awhile.  How can we make it better?  Perhaps a virtual walk into our building to see what happens here and who we are. A site to display our version of a life of mission and ministry.  Wouldn’t it be great to include resources to help with real life problems? as well as practical details (how, where, when) and links to share with friends?  What are your ideas?  Church Marketing, the group that helps with our online outreach, will be working with us on the upgrade.

3.  Here and there - Hybrid strategy: As we’ve discovered over the past year, we don’t have to be in person to be the Church. Our goal is to foster community wherever you are, however we can. Redesigning our website will make it easier for people to walk through our “front door”, so to speak, whether virtual or actual.  Once inside together, as one body of both virtual and face-to-face participants, how best to continue on-line and in-person hybrid meeting for worship, lifeGroups, Kid’s Connection and Higher Ground?

4.  Making space for margin in your life: living in simplicity:  Rest – isn’t that what we long for? Rest from worry, stress, need, and hurry.  God calls us to rest in Him.  As challenging as the last year has been, the slower pace and pruning of activities has been an unexpected pool of refreshment for many. Just as God led the Israelites through the desert where choices were simplified, He has led us through the past 15 months. As they were emerging from the desert into the promised land, He urged His people to choose life, to choose to love and cling to Him (Deut. 30:19). He honors us by giving us that choice as well: to plan and develop a way of life that allows plenty of time with Jesus to allow Him to fill our wells and speak into our lives. When we are full of Him, living water will spill out of our lives to refresh others. How can we choose to build space into our lives for the most meaningful things and relationships?  Now is the time to be intentional about that choice. God doesn’t expect you to be a well for everyone. That, in fact, is impossible. He knows your limits; He designed them.  He may be calling you to engage fully with just one person. In order to do that, saying “no” (even to good activities or worthy people) is following where Jesus leads.  How can the Church help us all build this discipline?  How can we empower “the sacred no” in each other’s lives?

 

A Vision of Hope With God

Do you find yourself in a place where you need some assurance that everything is going to be okay? That the struggle is not all there is? That there’s victory at the end of the road? Maybe you’re tired. Maybe it’s been a really long week. Maybe you have come to the awareness of your own insecurity, your own fallibility, your own mortality this week and you’re wondering, ‘Is this all there is? Is there more than this?’

 

The Scriptures address this kind of longing for assurance and longing for hope. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, we read: So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

 

And Hebrews 6:10-11 says: For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.

 

God Gives Us Vision

There is an importance to vision. It’s important that we understand and have some clarity around what it is that we desire to see in the future. Better stated, where God is leading us in the future. It’s important to have a clear portrait in our mind’s eye of a preferred future to maintain Hope. This allows us to see the future so clearly that we go, ‘Okay, this is why I’m doing this. This is the picture that God has given me of the future. I trust Him and I’ll keep moving forward toward that destination.’

 

Hope Springs Eternal

Have you heard of the phrase “Hope springs eternal”? It came from an essay on man, written by Alexander Pope. In the middle of it, a phrase says: ‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast.’ Hope springs eternal in the human heart. Isn’t that interesting? Why does hope spring eternal? It’s not because mankind is so great. It’s because we carry DNA of the Curator of the universe, who is our redeemer and our restorer and so there is a natural inclination because we belong to God whether we know it or not.

 

Snyder’s Hope Theory

According to Snyder’s Hope Theory in the psychological side of things, hope consists of both cognitive elements and effective elements. This theory states that there are at least 3 components that people can relate to hope: 1) Have focused thoughts on a preferred future; 2) Develop strategies in advance in order to achieve goals you’ve set to get there; and 3) Be motivated to make the effort required to actually reach those goals. There is an importance to hope in the psychological framework of the human mind and heart, and when that hope is taken away when there is no preferred future, strategy, goals, or motivation to go there, then you have lost hope.

 

But in Romans 15:13, Paul writes: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

If you have lost your vision, God will fill you with joy and peace because He is the source of hope, because you trust in Him.

 
 

CHRIST’S RESURRECTION AND EFFECTIVE WITNESSING

Have you ever wondered why the churches in America tend to be so weak? Why is the church so weak when the message we carry is incredibly strong and powerful?

 

These days, we tend to be ineffective in being involved in public discourse and having a voice of mercy and grace in the midst of the challenges that we face. For many in the church of America, the practice of boldly proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus, that Jesus is alive, has become irrelevant. It has no voice. We go to church and we sing hymns about the resurrection and we talk to each other about the fact that Christ has risen and how His resurrection is so real and powerful, but it ends there.

 

The “dunamis” power of God that changes lives is the resurrection power of God. And this is what many churches and even believers are missing out today.  

 

The Resurrection of Jesus Brings Comfort and Mockery 

 

“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” - 1 Peter 3: 14-15

 

The teaching that Jesus is the resurrection and the life has always been a conundrum, a disturbing, disruptive proclamation. We can't be lukewarm with this teaching. We either say it's really real or it's not. Paul even talked about it in his letters in 1 Peter 3, that the resurrection gives baptism power. In the first century and even today, the declaration that Jesus is alive and He is the resurrection brings profound comfort to those who follow Jesus. As we face our own death, and as we watch friends and loved ones face theirs, the fact that Jesus rose from the dead gives us comfort. Even as we struggle with the death of dreams and relationships and with the grief that we feel, we are comforted to know that one day Jesus will return and make all things new. Why? Because He is alive and the only reason He hasn't come back now is because He's so patient in waiting for the church to move, so that all people will know that Jesus is exactly who He says He is.

 

On the other hand, the message that Jesus is the resurrection and the life also brings mockery and even disdain to some. In Acts 4,  it was specifically the message that Jesus rose from the dead that disturbed the priests and the Sadducees. Christians and believers are being looked down on and marked as silly. We're being questioned about Christ's resurrection and its proof. We're even told not to share it. We are told not to mention Jesus as part of our faith in our schools.  And we shouldn't be surprised! Because the truth works this way. The truth is always met with discomfort and disdain.

 

Sharing the Reality of Jesus’ Resurrection

Yet in all these, we have been given the same message that Peter was given. Jesus lives and He is the resurrection and the life.  This message itself is the power of God to transform a human soul and it also is the power to strengthen us in our own weakness. It is the power source for our mission to love the world.  

 

And what is our mission? To connect people to a life in Jesus. To love. To serve. To teach. To listen. To confirm. To boldly declare. To creatively share the reality of Jesus to our world, and we start right in our own homes. From there, we emanate to our neighborhoods, to our communities, to the country, and to the world. 

 

The truth of Jesus’ resurrection is undeniable. And sharing that Jesus is the resurrection and life is our great privilege. Jesus is real. There is no obstacle that can defeat us from proclaiming this truth. Jesus already defeated death, the final hurdle that can get in the way of our mission. The teaching about the resurrection power of Christ is a core teaching of our faith. Jesus did not just die on the cross and disappear. He didn't just rise from the dead and disappear. He's actually alive today and He's sitting on the throne at the Father's right hand. He is involved, moving in our communities and among His people.

 

He is very much alive and we need to keep sharing this truth to the world. Keep sharing Jesus. 

 

Fully Live A Life Of Love

FULLY LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE

 

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He wanted us to believe that He was sent by God, that He is the Son of God, and He is the Messiah. He did it to show us that everything that He said was true, and everything that He did was from God - and that means that all of God’s promises are fulfilled through Jesus.


Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life

 

“And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.“ - John 5:25

 

Jesus wept for the pain that Lazarus went through and He wept for the reality that people are living in because we don’t see that we do not have to despair. At a funeral we are not without hope because we live with Jesus, we die with Jesus, and we rise with Jesus. He is the Resurrection and the Life.

 

Jesus has authority and power over death. Jesus is the embodiment of the resurrection Himself. He was raised to life and He can raise us to life, too. Jesus is the resurrection for us and He is the first of what is to come. Jesus gives us life to live that is full of hope and free from despair where we can trust in Him fully.

 

Our Purpose is to Live Fully

 

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.“ - John 10:10

 

We tend to worry about what the future might hold for us, forgetting that God has everything in control. That is the doing of the enemy stealing away God’s purpose for us. We don’t have to worry about what’s coming next. We don’t have to worry about where things are coming from because really, it all comes from God.

 

God created us to restore life as we were created to live, to take care of and love God’s creation and that includes each other. He created us to work hard, to serve our coworkers in love and to point other people to the hope that God wants them to have.

 

Jesus Wanted the People to Believe that God sent Him.

 

“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.“ - John 1:4

 

We have Jesus, who lived and died for us, showing us that God’s Word is true so we can live the life that He has given us to live.

 

A funeral is where we can see very clearly the shortcomings of the physical reality that we experience right now.  It is also the gateway or the door that we step through to our new bodies and the new creation that will come. 

 

Start every day living with that reality, fully in focus, free from the noise around us. Let us live that way with the help of the Spirit.

 

Happy Father's Day

...you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.

Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” -Romans 8:15b NLT

 

Happy Father’s Day!

 

Everyone can be called a child of God, from the standpoint of being created by Him, and loved by Him.  But sin separates everyone from God, so we don’t naturally know God as our Father.  God sent Jesus to bridge the separation between God and man, being God and made a man.  When Jesus was baptized God said,

“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” -Matthew 3:17 

And Paul reminds us that we are baptized not only into Jesus death, but also His life.  Through baptism, we are adopted as God’s own children, and we call Him “Abba” (Aramaic term for father), “Father”, “Dad”, “Daddy”, “Papa”, “Pop”, and as Ella says to me now, “Dada.”  We get to use these intimately personal names befitting a father who loves us dearly, because He does love us dearly, and because He did the work to make us His children. God is truly, legally, our Father.  Our birth certificates have been changed from children of sin, to children of the Heavenly Father.

 

In our baptism we are intimately tied to Christ, we die His death with Him (more importantly, He died in our place), and we rise from the waters to our new life in the resurrection even as we wait for our bodily resurrection when Jesus comes again.  

 

The life we live, we live as children of God, heirs of the kingdom with Christ.

 

    What was it like the first time you got to call God, “Daddy”?

 

And we live, sent to share the love of Jesus, the love of the Father, with everyone we meet. 

 

    What would it feel like to see someone you know get to call God, “Daddy” for the first time?

 

This Father’s Day is special to me because it brings me great joy when my little girl says, “Dada”, and gives me a hug, or just leans on me because it makes her feel good to know I’m right there with her.

 

Spend some time with your Father today.  Call Him whatever your name for Him is, and wrap your arms around Him, and lean on Him knowing that He is right there with you.  


I would love to hear what you learn as you reflect on what it means to you that you God is your Father, and how it changes the life you live.  If you have a Penzu journal, post something about Father’s day, and add a quick note about how you see God, or a quick thanks to Him.  And check out others’ stories while you’re at it.

 

Your brother in Christ,

Matthew Wipperman

mwipperman@livelifetogether.com