Archives For challenge

Last night our furnace went out. Yep.

As Icemageddon, Snoprah, or whatever term of endearment you gave this September baby boom to be, bore down angrily on seemingly every poor soul in this great nation, my 11 year old furnace decided to be a quitter. To take its warm air and go home. Stupid baby.

And my testosterone levels began dropping with every degree of the thermostat.

You see, I likely know more about the governmental policies of Albania than I know about fixing a furnace. In fact, I don’t know much of anything about fixing anything in our house (except a pot of coffee). And my wife’s concern combined with my kids cold noses quickly began mixing into a toxic soup of self-doubt.

Why haven’t you learned how to do these things?

Your family can’t count on you.

Their impending frost bite is your fault.

Why don’t you ever remember to replace the filter?

And instead of wrestling with the real issue at hand, I quickly engaged in battle with my own insecurities. The focus shifted from helping my family to swimming around (or more like ice fishing I guess) in worthless self-indulgence. I was in danger of quitting just like my furnace.

I think this happens with God, too. I wrote about it in a little different way last week, and even talked about it at City Community Church this past Sunday.

I think one of the enemy’s greatest tactics is to get us engaged in the wrong battle.

Jesus came to mess with our normal. To disrupt. His words are often disturbing. Challenging. Meant to leave us questioning our self-driven motivations. Jesus stands in the road with His hand out as if to say, “You don’t want to go that way. Trust me. You want to follow me. There is more to this life than the pursuit of yourself.”

These are realities worth wrestling with.

But many of us choose instead to clash with insecurity. With shame. With comparison. With condemnation. Why am I not more like that guy? Why don’t I have those talents? When am I going to be that way?

And we become easily distracted from true Kingdom conflict. The kind of conflict that really matters. That can change us and the world around us.

Self pity wasn’t going to fix my furnace last night. A few phone calls, a creative wife, a vacuum cleaner, a courageous trip to Menard’s for a new filter, (an angry, ignorant smack on the side of the unit here and there), and a desperate prayer for supernatural intervention, however? That did it. That was the battle worth engaging.

Are you engaging the right battle? The one that really matters? Are you wrestling with Jesus words in your life or just your own insecurities?

I find myself somewhat reflective today.  CityCom is one (as in years old).  This “grand experiment,” this “adventure in Indy” we call City Community Church officially came to life one year ago today: March 1, 2009.  It’s still so surreal in such a beautiful sort of way.

But today there is no cake, no gifts, no party. Some birthday, huh?

Maybe we’re overly-sensitive, but we’re cautious of celebrating existence. Existence, just being here, really doesn’t mean much in God’s Kingdom.  In fact, God doesn’t really look too kindly on just existing.

Check out Jesus’ words from Luke 13 (emphasis mine):

6-7Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?

8-9“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.‘”

To put CityCom’s birthday in Jesus’ terms: we don’t want to celebrate that the tree is still standing, we only want to celebrate if it’s actually producing good fruit.

So, no church growth statistics today (although a few of them might impress you). Just people. Beautiful people. That’s what I want to celebrate.

People taking “one step closer to becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

People accepted for who they are, but challenged to become all God created them to be.

People embracing a journey of risk, adventure, and transformation.

People longing to know what it means to be The Church, not just go to church.

This is the fruit. The fruit we long for.  The fruit that we celebrate.  The fruit we desperately hope is pleasing to God.  And we’re seeing signs of it.  Beginnings.  “Buds.”

I’m so grateful to all of you who, in one way or another, have made City Community Church come to life.  May we bear much fruit. One year down, and the adventure is just beginning.

A Welcome Challenge

Erik Cooper —  April 27, 2009 — Leave a comment

Nathan and I just got back to the hotel after the opening night of the ARC All Access Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It was a great evening of worship, challenge, and reconnecting with new friends and church planters from all over the country.

I love the spirit of ARC pastors. My heart is naturally drawn to them.  There’s a sense of reckless abandon in the ARC, of freedom to follow God-given passions without boundaries or barriers.  That’s so refreshing in a culture where most churches are more concerned with looking backward than into the future.  I really feel at home here surrounded by like-minded people.

But back home I’ve also found myself interacting with pastors and spiritual leaders who question the validity of my innate expression and vision for church.  There are days when my mind swirls with the all the different voices and opinions, and in earlier days it would have overwhelmed me.  Today, I’m honestly learning to welcome it.

One of two things always happens when I open myself to challenge:  my mind is exposed to something I just wasn’t thinking before, or I deepen my beliefs and solidify my “why.”  Either way I win.

I think a lot of good-hearted, God-fearing people run from challenge.  They only hang out with people who think like them, talk like them, act like them, and encourage their preconceived notions.  But if our perspectives can’t survive exposure to opposing viewpoints, how authentic are they in the first place?

In the midst of all the voices, ask yourself one vital question:  “what is God really saying?”