Archives For January 2009

We’ve all been there before: we see this year’s model car and our heart cries out “I NEED THAT CAR!!!” Really, is that what I really need? Probably not, but we feel it so strongly.

Effective churches are often accused of catering to the needs of the unchurched. Why would a church talk about topics like parenting, life at work, marriage and sex? By they way, these are issues that Christians and non-Christians alike have in common.

Abraham Maslow studied human needs and found that there are basic needs that we have for survival, like air, food and water. And then there are some more complicated needs that people are aware of when their basic needs are met. These are things like the need for love, acceptance and respect.

What people think they need and what they really need are different. There are certain needs that people are aware of called Felt Needs. These are what people think they want. For example, if you want to gather a group of students, or ME, a felt need would be for something like PIZZA.

There are also Real Needs which are the things that we understand people need, but they may not realize it yet. These are for connection with God and others. Our ultimate need is for salvation and knowing God. These are more important because while the other needs are temporary, our spiritual needs are eternal.

Jesus didn’t just meet people’s spiritual needs, he also took care of their felt needs. This is like what Jesus did in Mark 2 when he not only met the lame man’s physical need of healing but he also met his spiritual need for forgiveness.

I love the story about the missionary who traveled to a remote island inhabited by cannibals. Though the natives were frightened, they tried to be accommodating to their guest by giving him a place to stay and food to eat.

The young missionary carried a small black book with him that he would point to and then he would point to the sky while yelling something very important. They noticed that he didn’t smile very often, but they listened politely to him as he spoke, even though they couldn’t really understand his words. They figured out that he was talking about his God who lived in the little black book and that he was saying that his God was greater than their gods. This didn’t make a lot of sense to the natives.

Over time, the guest didn’t show any interest in fishing or farming, and he got in the way of their daily chores. When they did something that he perceived as wrong, he would point his finger and scold them.  Eventually the leaders of the tribe got together to decide what to do with this man. He did not produce anything of value for them and he consumed a lot of their products. They decided he only had one use. So they ate him.

The moral of the story is that we should find needs and meet them with love. We’ve got to lend a hand before we can change a heart!

I just heard a respected theologian critiquing the “Seeker-Sensitive” movement. I thought I could speak into this to bring some clarity.

One of his points was that we don’t use the term “seeker-sensitive” anymore. That’s a very old school phrase because it’s not a good description of what effective churches are doing.

There are some churches that are “Seeker-Driven”, where the number 1 question they ask is, “What will a seeker think about this?” And in the process, they throw out anything offensive. These churches are obviously missing the mark.

But, there are lots of churches that are seeker-rude. Where they say, “We don’t really care about what anyone thinks about what we’re doing, we’re just going to do things the way that we’re comfortable with and do whatever’s easiest for us.” That’s seeker-rude!

When a guest comes to your house, you act a little different than usual. You probably don’t eat in your underwear, burp loudly, you probably pick up around the house, think a little more about what’s on the tv, that sort of thing. Christians should also be hospitable to our guests in corporate worship.

In fact, Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 14:22-23. Check it out for yourself and see how Paul says we should consider the needs of others and not just plan our services for our own people. He says our language needs to be clear and understandable. We communicate with people on Sunday in all kinds of ways: through our print material, website, songs, announcements, and sermons.

The Gospel is offensive enough to people’s lifestyle, that there’s no need for us to add to it. Make sure that we consider our guests, after all you don’t want to be rude :)

Check out this video invitation for the new Connection Church marriage series “Rock of Love”

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God Believes in Atheists

January 26, 2009

A little irrelevant personal background: The week before Pam and I got married, I moved into the apartment that would become our first home. On the night of our wedding rehearsal, I thought it would be fun to have a bachelor party and invite some of my friends over to watch a few movies. The movies were Spinal Tap and Penn and Teller Get Killed, which for some reason, I really liked. Especially the last scene with I Started a Joke.

Now, Penn, a professed atheist, has a thought-provoking video about an encounter he had with a Christian who gave him a gift. You’ve got to hear him out:

Penn’s thoughts are so applicable to us when we think about the impact of sharing a simple message in an honest way with the people around us. Heaven and Hell are real places and every person will spend eternity in one of those places! We will never lay eyes on anyone who God doesn’t love and Jesus didn’t die for. Do we really care enough to speak up, risk offending, or at worst, be viewed as a little weird, to save lives?

Who do you need to reach out to this week?

Here’s the week’s devotional study. Here’s what I found and what God is speaking to me:

Genesis 6:3 – My days are numbered. I’ve only got a limited time to make changes in my life, to become more like Jesus, and to make an impact on the world.

Genesis 6:5 – It’s amazing how fast things went south after God created the earth and then sin entered the world. People’s hearts (mine included) were consistently evil. God doesn’t take sin lightly, He hates it. That’s why I need Jesus!

Genesis 6:6 – God doesn’t change His mind, but our wrong choices grieve God’s heart. It breaks God’s heart when I choose anything other than God and His best for my life.

Genesis 6:7 – God will judge sin, and He’s better at it than I am, so I’ll leave it up to Him to judge.

Genesis 6:8 – One person can make a huge difference. I want to be that one!

Genesis 6:11, 13 – God takes violence seriously and offers solutions for us to live in a violent world. Here’s a study I wrote on the Cure for Violence. Check it out! It’s a whole study on this topic and it’s a freebie.

Genesis 6:14-16
– God called Noah to do a big project that took longer than most of us will live. Being obedient to God is a lifelong project. God also called Noah to do something extremely crazy to build a boat away from the water where it had never rained. God’s plan for us doesn’t always make sense and people will think we’re crazy as we’re doing it.

Genesis 6:18 – God makes covenants with us that are much more binding than a contract, they’re non-negotiable. A marriage is a lifelong covenant. At TCC we use covenants for our commitments for spiritual growth like being a member. We take those covenants seriously.

Genesis 7:5 – Noah did everything God commanded him to do! That’s the key verse here.

Genesis 7:7-15 – Even though there were a lot of details to cover, God took care of gathering all the animals. Don’t stress about the details when you’re following God.

Genesis 8:6-16 – Even though Noah was testing the ground to see if it was dry enough, he didn’t get out of the boat until God said so. I’ve got to wait on God’s timing and be patient no matter how long the wait might seem.

Genesis 8:20 – Noah’s first response to God was to worship Him. That needs to always be my response too.

Genesis 8:21 – My worship should smell sweet to God.

Genesis 8:22 – God is faithful to me through every season of my life!

Genesis 9:1 – This is the one command from God that most people don’t have a problem with :)

Genesis 9:3 – God gave us meat to eat them, so enjoy, but also eat fruits and vegetables.

Genesis 9:5-6 – Every person that I lay eyes on is a person of incredible value and worth. God made them in His image and they matter to God. I matter to God too :)

Genesis 9:12-17 – God thought up the rainbow. It was not meant to be used to promote any other agenda. God creates – man twists.

What did you find in this passage?