Sermon- Feed. Care. Follow. (Final Sermon at FCC(DOC), Orange, TX)

On August 26, 2012 I gave my final sermon at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Orange, Texas.  As of September 1, I will no longer be employed there.

I have enjoyed my time here in Orange and look forward to the next step in my ministry.

Sermon link

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

 

Final Words

Below are my parting words to the congregation of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Orange, Texas.


On behalf of Miranda, Violet and Reid, I want to thank you, the congregation of First Christian Church (DOC) for the past two years.  While we are leaving during an uncertain time, we are confident that God will lead us in the direction that we are to go next.  We have had our share of ups and downs, but through it all we tried to show the love of God in all things and at all times.  Below is part of what I presented to the Board in my last Board Report.

May God be with you until me meet again.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan Dolive, M.Div.
Associate Minister

I want to leave you these parting words and hopes for the church.  I challenge the church and its members to begin the difficult process of introspection and to start the process of seeing yourself in a different light.  It is easy to be “ho-hum” about our current situation, but this is not the mentality the church needs.  Yes, there are churches that are growing and are bigger than First Christian, but if the mentality is that First Christian is a “gray headed church” then that is how it will stay.

By having conversations, times of prayer and discernment, I believe that God will reveal in what direction the church will need to go and how to change to fully grow into the church God needs it to be.  I know that it will not be easy and tough choices will have to be made, but I believe that the church will be better because of it.

For the past two years I have called First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), my home and I thank all of the members and staff alike for joining me on this journey.  I pray that God will bless this congregation and I look forward to hearing about what great things this church will do for Kingdom of God.

May the peace of God be with you all, now and forevermore.

When One Door Closes…

I haven’t really mentioned it here or on the various social media outlets but tomorrow will be my last day at my current church in Orange, Texas.  Due to the decline of church attendance and the economy, the church informed me back in May that come September 1 I would no longer be able to be paid.

I have spent the last few months interviewing and traveling trying to find a new placement; it hasn’t been the most pleasant of summers.

I guess it didn’t really hit of the finality of it all until last week when I was writing my second to last sermon.  It wasn’t like I didn’t know that the end was coming, but like most things we dread, we try to put it away from our mind; I think the professionals call it “denial.”

And now on the eve of my last sermon at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Orange, Texas I am struck with the notion that it truly is the final one.  I struggled at times to craft the right parting words and realized that no such words exist.  So I composed a hope filled sermon based on the final words and commands of Christ in John.  (I’ll post the sermon audio tomorrow).  Through it all I was reminded that the words that I write do not matter, rather it is the Spirit’s movement in the moment and in the hearer’s life that makes the difference.

It has been a roller coaster of emotions- anger, fear, sadness, grief, etc. and I am not sure what the future will hold.  I am hopeful and I there are good things on the horizon (more of that to come later).

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Sermon- The “Harsh” Message of Jesus

Today I preached a sermon entitled “The ‘Harsh’ Message of Jesus” based on John 6:56-69 (Common English Bible).

Enjoy!

Sermon Link

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part VII

Here we go again… its time for another segment of “And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians.”

Our story today comes from the land that put racial tolerance and acceptance on the map, Mississippi. (/sarcasm)

You can read the story here, but in a nutshell the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi informed an engaged couple that they could no longer get married in the church. Did I mention that the church is predominately white and that the couple was African-American? Did I also mention that they church informed them just a couple of days prior to their actual wedding date?

Church officials were quoted to have said that they  “welcome any race into their congregation.”  Umm… no I do not think you do.

Once again race and Christianity has reared its ugly head.  It is hard to believe that in 21st century race still a factor in whether or not one is seen as a worthy human.  As I have said many times before if Christ did not discriminate in whether or not people were allowed to come and hear the gospel message, then why are some followers of Christ doing this?

Aside from the racial issue that is staring us right in the face, there are some other issues to this story.  First, the church must have granted permission for the couple to have their wedding at the church prior to this event; the couple had sent out the invitations and everything.  I think it would be a bit presumptuous of them to just think that a church they are not a member of would allow them to use the facility without asking.  Next, the minister stated that it was “a small minority” that was against the wedding being held at the church.  A small minority?  Sadly, this small minority must have a lot of power and pull because they basically overruled the church’s previous decision.

This is all to common in churches; many people dislike the notion of centralized power in Washington, D.C. but are powerless to anything about it in their own churches.  The way churches are today, it only takes one wrong move and people split and the money is gone.  I am not saying that the church should have allowed this distorting of the gospel to take place, but the though of ‘making waves’ scares people.

If I were the minister in that congregation I would have still had the wedding at the church no matter what the church’s a small minority believed.  Also, that would have been the last act as a minister in that congregation.  No two week notice, no reception, no farewells, gone.

The gospel can not be trampled like that and expect me to stick around.  There would be no amount of meetings or discernment that I believe would change some people’s minds.  Christ never turned people away and here we are claiming to be his followers and look at what we are doing.

I think another series or title of this post could be “And You Wonder Why The Church Is Shrinking”… case and point… people in Mississippi are still living in a world where their God is a god who discriminates.  If we are all made in the image of God, then why are we trying to make our church look like us?

How can the gospel of love be turned into the gospel of difference is not acceptable?

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

When Did We Stop Caring For People?

Latest article for the Orange County Record


Humans in general are pretty predictable.   We drive to work the same way, we go shopping at the same store, we drink our coffee at the same time in the morning, etc.  However, it generally when things are out of the ordinary that people start to take notice.

A couple of weeks ago, “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” was met with Facebook posts, tweets, blog posts, rants and more than likely sermons all centered around the notion that a company can support anti-same sex marriage policy.  Many people agreed with this and many people did not.

Like I mentioned in my previous article, the problem with this debate is that no one actually talked about the real issue, same sex marriage.  People were marginalized and stereotyped based on prejudices.  Throughout this entire ordeal I became aware that humanity indeed is quite callous and ego centric.

Only a few days after this outpouring of support for Chick-Fil-A, an armed man opened fire on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  Six worshippers and the gunman lost their lives.  It was a tragic and senseless event.  However, while there were news reports, there wasn’t the outpouring that was seen with Chick-Fil-A.  This, my friends, is quite disturbing.

When did we stop caring for people?  Can you imagine the outcry if someone would have murdered people in a church in small town America?  There would have been candle light vigils, facebook pictures of memorial, tweets of support and prayer and blog posts flooding the internet.  What does it say about our country and even followers of Christ when more time and effort is spent on a chicken sandwich than on seven lives lost?

People sadly only care about what they believe affects them or threatens them.  Because of this many people failed to have the one thing that Christ himself calls us to have, compassion.  If we believe that all of humanity is created in the image of God, then our hearts should break over the loss of life, no matter their religion, belief system, sexual orientation or background.  Christ’s compassion is given to all people, in all place and all times, not just to people who think like us, look like us, work like us or come from the same background as us.  This goes against the gospel message.  When did the gospel of love turn into the gospel of conditional love?  Was God’s love given to us on conditions?  No it was not.  The love of God is given to all of humanity as a free gift.

As followers of Christ, we are to live our life in a way that reflects that divine, perfect and wonderful love.  For followers of Christ we believe that this divine love was perfected in human form in the person of Jesus the Christ.  As we journey throughout our lives we are constantly trying to find ways to show and give this love away to other, with no strings attached.  Unfortunately, humans have yet again found a way to marginalize ‘the other.’  Too often in churches around the world, people are not met with open arms they are met with a list of ways they need to change before they are allowed to enter the congregation.  While this may not be explicitly said, there is however, an undercurrent of moral superiority that takes place within the four walls of some church buildings.

How is it fair to have been given unconditional love but fail to give it in return?

We cannot claim that God’s love is for everyone and then try to put conditions on it.  That is like saying to someone, “I will only love you fully if you do this for me.”  By giving unconditional love we then are opening ourselves up to the possibilities of what God can do through us.  We are able to see someone for who they are, who they were created to be.

I pray for comfort for the families of the seven who died in Wisconsin.  The loss of innocent life is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a family or community.  May the compassion of God rain down.

July 2012 Top Posts

July was a VERY busy month for evandolive.com and I have no one else to thank but you, my faithful readers!

In July the blog received 1559 page views! WOW!

Below are the TOP FIVE Posts of July 2012

  1. Robots, Arrogance and the Gospel
  2. And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part V
  3. Let’s Stop Lying To Young People
  4. And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part VI
  5. Misconceptions About Christians: The Conclusion

 

Sorry for the delay in posting this… I have been a out of town.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Rev. Evan

Opening Ceremonies = Acceptance?

Every two years the world sets its sights on a different location in the world for either the summer or winter Olympic Games. The Olympics Games showcase the best of athletic skill and poise. As the games begin the Opening Ceremonies show the world that despite the differences between cultures, religions, belief systems and even war conflicts, the spirit of competition and sportsmanship prevail.

Perhaps we as followers of Christ can learn from these Olympic athletes, not in the sense of striving for athletic perfection but for acceptance. Too often we can have preconceived notions regarding a group of people or even a religion. We jump to conclusions, we make wild accusations and claims, all because we believe we have superior views or concepts over others.

Jesus Christ calls us to a different standard. We are called to welcome the stranger, love the other, and pray for our enemy. Jesus’ command is one that made the law of God harder and for some it too difficult to follow. It is easier to think we have it all figured out and that our ways are the best but as followers of Christ we cannot act this way.

If we claim to be followers of Christ, then we must show it all people at all times in all places; we cannot show the love of Christ when we want or when it is convenient, or when we like the people we are around. By doing so we are putting conditions on love, something God did not do to us. I John 4:19 reads “we love because God first loved us.” The author of I John is stating that the only reason you have the capacity to love another human being is because God first loved you; by putting conditions on love we are limiting the unconditional love that was shown to us and squandering a free gift that was given by God. What makes us the moral standard for people? We are sinful and prideful and arrogant, just like other people. We have been given grace and we must show grace, we have been given love and we must show love, we have been given acceptance and we must accept others no matter their race, creed, skin color, socio-economic status or sexual orientation. All are children of God and deserve our love, respect and care. By denying that from people, we are effectively denying the love of God from them. Who are we to deny people the love of God? It was given to us freely, so we should give it freely as well.

Loving others despite differences is hard and it something that can take a life time and some hard work, much like the life of an Olympic athlete.

Let us remember to love one another because God has loved us so much.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

The Problem With The Chick-Fil-A Debate

My latest article for the Orange Leader regarding the on going Chick-Fil-A Debate


It has been all over the news; talking heads from both sides of the aisle have taken to airwaves to voice their opinion  Argument have started between friends, feelings have been hurt, names have been called.   Hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook posts and Tweets have flown through the internet regarding a particular chicken sandwich company– Chick-Fil-A.

Recently, as you may recall, the owner of the national restaurant chain stated on a Atlanta radio show that his company was “guilty as charged” amid reports that he did not support same-sex marriage.  He further explained that he is running his company on Biblical principles and that society has no business trying to refine “traditional” marriage.

Reports have come out that support this; Chick-Fil-A has given millions to organizations who actively oppose same-sex marriages.  With all of these things combined, a firestorm broke out.  Some people are now boycotting the restaurant because they do not want their money to go to causes that discriminate against a certain group of people. Others however  are actually eating there more believing that the more they eat there, the larger the profit, which then in turn will cause Chic-Fil-A to give more money to anti same-sex marriage organizations.

Jim Henson has pulled their toys from kid’s meals at the restaurant. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have spoken publicly about this issue.  Former Governor Mike Huckabee has even started a “National Chick-Fil-A Day” to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to run their company how they want.  All of this is a gigantic mess.

The problem with the Chick-Fil-A debate is that it is just that, a debate.  People once again are choosing sides and are drawing metaphoric lines in the sand and people are hurling their “points of view” back and forth and back and forth.  No one is actually speaking to one another.  The anonymity of the internet and social media is one of the greatest tools that people have in this or any debate.  Someone can post something online with no regard to another person.  It is much easier to speak your mind when there is a monitor between you and the one you are speaking about.  Since no one is speaking to one another how then will a decent, intelligent conversation ever be had regarding the multitude of issues in this particular story?  The answer- it will not happen.

The hot button issue obviously here is same sex marriage.  This is something that people have been debating for years and still each side is getting angrier and angrier.  Where are the civic leaders calling for a forum?  Where are the church leaders calling for a discussion on this topic?  The answer lies deep within our own hearts, minds and souls.  The answer is most people do not want to hear the other side.  This side believes they are correct while this side believes they are correct.

Some churches recently have taken up the task of having faithful discussion about homosexuality and same sex marriage.  I applaud them for at least having the discussion.  Many more churches and Christians need to have this same discussion.  Too often when people tell me their view about this issue the answer generally is “well I am against it because it is wrong.”  No explanation, no interjection of scripture, no nothing.  It is just “their personal belief.”  Well it is time to have the conversation. I call on all Christians from all walks of life and backgrounds to have faithful conversations about this issue that is dividing the church.

By faithful I mean being open minded, wanting to be challenged, wanting to learn more, wanting to grow.  Not just espousing what you have been taught or what you think the Bible is directing Christians to do and become.  Christians today need to stop telling people what the Bible “says” and focus more on what Bible is calling the followers of Christ to become; let’s stop as Brian McLaren says going to the Bible to support want we already know about God.

The reason why people are not doing this is because to have this conversation means that one has to be vulnerable and accept the fact that what you might have been taught or always believed could be incorrect.  Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts Comics, once drew a comic that speaks to this notion.  Snoopy informs Charlie Brown that he is writing a book of theology; Charlie Brown asks Snoopy what the book will be titled and Snoopy replies, “Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Wrong?”  For many people this thought of being “wrong” has never crossed their mind.

In this Chick-Fil-A debate the key here is discussion.  Not rhetoric, not partisan politics, not conservative Christians against liberal Christians.  It is time that the church stops placing people on the periphery, speaking about them like they are outcast in society or that they have a mental illness.  Let’s talk about it.  Let’s actually have a discussion on why homosexuality is or is not a big deal in the church today.  Let’s talk about a loving God creating people and then turning around and hating them.  Let’s throw away the things that we were taught as children and come to an understanding of the love of God in a new and exciting way.

So let’s put down the chicken sandwich, stop the protesting and debating and come together.  You might be surprised what will happen.