Searching for the light

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Churchs, Unite!

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Many churches today have fallen into a mentality of “us verses them.” This idea influences the way congregations do ministry and serve. In the back of many people’s minds is the notion that while we are working for the good of God’s word, we hope that someone, anyone, will take notice and will come be a part of our community of faith. This has led to more separation between congregations than ever before.

While Christians worship the same God, read the same gospels, follow the teachings of the same Christ, there can be division in the way that communities enact their faith. One group will state that they have the true and proper way of understanding God and another will reject it and proclaim their authority in the matter. If Christians do in fact serve and worship the same God, why are Christians finding more and more ways to separate themselves? In the denomination I serve, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we do not have a creed or hardline stances on many things. The only essential of faith that all must be in agreement with is Jesus is Lord and Savior. Anything outside of that statement is up for conversation, discussion, studying, learning and growing. This does not mean that there is no such thing as a bad theology, but we are given liberty to learn together as a community.

Christianity today is seen as too fragmented, too isolated, too self-centered. Working together for a common cause is becoming a thing of the past; what is happening is duplication of services, resources, and ideas all in the name of growing a church’s name and brand. Once, I organized a day of service in a small Southeast Texas town where I was serving a small congregation. The idea was to get churches together to do mission work, not as a recruitment tool, but as a way to share the gospel and live into our commands to serve one another. I called several churches and got a decent response. I called one of the biggest churches in that town and spoke to the senior minister. He told me that he liked the idea, but he wanted to pass out pamphlets about their church and their ministries. I told him that I understood his desire, but the organization team had decided that we would work together in unity of Christ, so that meant no advertising, just work. He then told me that if he couldn’t promote his church, then his congregation would not participate.

I was deeply saddened. The minister was willing not to work in the name of Jesus the Christ because he couldn’t use it as a way to get more people in his sanctuary on Sunday mornings. And we wonder why the Church universal is shrinking.

As minister, I struggle with this notion. On one hand, I want people to experience God in their own way, but on the other, I have been transformed and changed and I want people to understand my way as well. I have to understand that my theology might not be someone else’s or that their view of the Bible is not the same as mine. They have their reasons and I have mine, but these differences should not keep us apart.

Unity in Christ should drive the congregations together. While we may sing different songs, proclaim different ideas of God, ministry and social justice, we are all one in Christ. If the church is going to the place where lives are changed and love is shown to the community, then why are we limiting God’s movement within us?

The church needs to be that place where people can come with all of their faults, insecurities and even doubts about the world, themselves, Jesus, the Bible and God and find a place of acceptance, warmth, welcoming, grace and peace.

Churches every day serve countless numbers of people around the world through hospitals, hospices, medical missions, homeless shelters, food pantries and so much more.

These fly under the “radar” of popular culture but they are vitally important. These ministries are not for accolades or attention rather they are the response to the gospel’s message of loving God and loving neighbor.

The Church’s core foundation of love, joy, hope, peace, grace, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation are still there, and they will never go away. The ministries that we promote, the gospel that is proclaimed and the mission of the Church must not change. We can change its transmission or function, but the core ideas and tenets are still in place.

Let’s hold on to those as we venture out into this world that is in desperate need of a Savior. We might not agree on theology, doctrine or even ways to have communion, but at our core, the Church is still trying to serve the same God and the same Christ.

There is so much work to be done and the workers are becoming fewer and fewer. Let’s come together united in Christ, seeing difference in theology and interpretation as a way to get a fuller, richer, deeper picture of who God is. The church needs to be the model of unity in a time where we are so easily divided over issues and politics. The church cannot model the same “us verses them” mentality that is being propagated in the news media and by politicians. Let us pray that one day our unity might one day be restored.

SNOW DAY!

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Today is a special day in North East Texas: SNOW DAY!

Stars Over Longview 2018

I was asked to give the invocation at Stars Over Longview. This event recognizes 12 women in the Longview area who have made an impact on the community.

The keynote speaker was Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  Below are the prayer and some pictures.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


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Friday Funday: Christian Tingle (Parody of Christian Dating Sites)

Not Off To A Great Start….

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I had an ambitious goal- blog every day for the month of January. I started off strong and then life happened. I had a mountain of work to do, kids have their activities and I needed time to relax and take care of myself.

I told myself I wasn’t going to sacrifice my family or work time to make this happen. In religious terms, this is called grace. Our society is too focused on deadlines and perfection that we give up certain things. Too many families spend more time apart than they do together. Sometimes this is unavoidable (which I understand) but in other cases, priorities need to be made.

I hope to continue to post when I can and I hope you like what I have to offer.

Give your self some grace today… it might make your day a bit brighter.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Motivation Monday

 

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—-Thomas Merton

 

Friday Fun Day: Parody of Our Modern Church Service

 

 

Books for 2018

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In my last post I reflected on the best book I read in 2017; today I begin looking for the best book of 2018. At the end of the year, I buy a few books to read for the upcoming year. I usually read a few them but the combination of work, family, and doctorate, I can not get to all of them.  I am ambitious in the beginning and realistic at the end.  My picks are a mix of theological and fiction.

Below at the six books, I have on the list for 2018.  What book did I miss?

The Best Book I Read In 2017

 

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Taken from goodreads.com

 

I had a goal in 2017; read more. I had found an article that stated that some of the best minds in the world (Zuckerburg, Buffett, Musk, etc.) spend time reading books/articles every day. They did not have to be related to their field but reading allowed them to expand their knowledge bases and interests.

I set a pretty basic goal: 12 books in a year. I completed my goal and ended 2017 with 14 books read. Some were for fun, some were for work and the rest were for my doctorate at Brite Divinity School.

Out of the 14, one book stood out. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond was the best book I read in 2017. Desmond, a sociologist from Harvard, follows the lives of families and landlords in Milwaukee. He shows the struggles to find affordable, decent housing and the landlord’s tensions between running a business and showing compassion for tenets trying to make ends meet. It was the most gut-wrenching book I have ever read. The pain, the struggle, the heartache that Desmond is able to capture shines a new and needed light on the issue of homelessness and housing.

Desmond won the Pulitzer for this text and I highly recommend it.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan