Archives For Nathan LaGrange

The Gift of Pain

Erik Cooper —  December 8, 2010 — 2 Comments

Last night my son learned a hard lesson. Pick on a kid who’s older than you and you may get a beat down.  Or as I like to think of it, act like Cortland Finnegan and someone may go all Andre Johnson on you.

Our friends and co-pastors the LaGranges were over for dinner, and my 5 year old was vying for attention the Jersey Shore way:  outrageous acts of annoyance. That is, until 9 year old Carter took matters into his own hands with a certified, WWE, off the top rope body slam that reverberated through the upstairs floor.

Boom!

(Tears).

And I, as a loving father, did what any responsible dad would do.

I laughed.

(Well OK, I made sure his neck wasn’t broken, then I laughed…hysterically).

Because my son got TKO’d?  Nope.  Because reality was teaching him a beautiful lesson. Act like a fool, and somebody may treat you like one.  Thanks Carter.

Lately, I’ve had some days when life seems to have me in a figure-four leg lock.  And while I’m getting my face smashed into the carpet, God seems to be relaxing at the dining room table sipping His coffee, maybe even getting a good chuckle at my wrestling ineptitude.

Doesn’t He care?

Sometimes God loves me best by allowing reality to do it’s work. By letting me struggle.  By not stepping in to stop the fight.  Because the transformation brought by pain can often be a gift. A cutting away of things I wouldn’t have given up on my own.

“He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” John 15:2

Because God loves me, He won’t let me stay the way I am. Even if it hurts.

Hard Truth

Erik Cooper —  February 24, 2010 — 1 Comment

My friend Geoff Wybrow hit me with a challenging statement yesterday:

“Offend people with the truth, not your character flaws.”

Some days we offend people with our brokenness, our insecurities, our selfish motivations, with the baseball bat of our own pain that we willingly or unwillingly take to the heads of others like an angry mafia boss (sorry for that visual, I’m a big fan of the movie Goodfellas).

But at times the truth really does hurt.  At times it should hurt.

Most prophets in the Bible weren’t real good at making friends.  Their words were too piercing, their obedience too radical, the Spirit of God too active in their declarations.  Isaiah walked around naked for three years, Hosea married a prostitute, and the prophet Nathan (no relation to my buddy LaGrange) called King David a liar and a murderer.

Bad social skills or insider’s information on some hard truth?

This past Sunday at City Community Church, we were confronted with some hard truth.  Not condemnation – that outward-in, man-made, guilt-ridden obligation that leads to resentment, not long-term transformation (Jesus never worked that way).  But conviction – an inside-out revelation from the Holy Spirit that shows us our brokenness and calls us to repentance. I want to share some of it with you.

Here is the video created by Rachel Richard that interrupted (yes, literally interrupted) the music towards the opening of the service (don’t adjust your volume, there intentionally isn’t any):

YouTube Preview Image

And click the link below to hear the powerful spoken word piece (this is a must listen) from our friend Mike Perez that brought the day to a close:

Just Worship: Mike Perez

And if you’ve got more time, linked here is the complete message from my friend and co-pastor Nathan LaGrange:

[blank]: Dismantled: Nathan LaGrange

Love to hear your thoughts.  Have you ever been offended by some hard truth?

Comment at http://www.beyondtherisk.com

Off to Honduras

Erik Cooper —  June 8, 2009 — Leave a comment

Packing up tonight for a short trip to La Ceiba, Honduras…only 2 full days with a travel day on each end.  Heading out with my wife Mandy and our co-pastors Nathan & Tricia LaGrange to connect with Jack Eans of Mission of Mercy.  We’ll be spending the rest of this week visiting Mercy Centers near La Ceiba, but more importantly traveling to communities that don’t have a center…yet.  That’s where we come in.

We’ll be spending a majority of our time in communities where centers are planned but not yet built, looking at future sites, talking to leaders, and even visiting families in their homes.  Our hope is that over the next few years, City Community Church can partner with MoM to literally transform the landscape of these communities.

Stay tuned for blogs, tweets, and maybe even a video post or two from Honduras.  And be thinking of ways you can potentially partner with us in bringing the reality of Jesus love to these beautiful people.

The Night Before CityCom

Erik Cooper —  February 28, 2009 — 1 Comment

Trying to put into words what I feel tonight, just 12 hours before the official start of City Community Church.  Today was rather surreal, last minute details, loading the truck, special setup times and music rehearsal.  I’m not sure the reality of it all has hit me yet.  Just thought I’d try and capture a few random thoughts in the moment.

I’m overwhelmed at the love and faithfulness of our team…some we’ve known for years, and others we’ve just met along this new leg of the journey.  My kids seem really excited, wired even tonight.  I think they’re ready to get back into some sense of normalcy (although they might be terribly mistaken about anything normal on the horizon).  It was nice to have a break from the Sunday to Sunday routine, but I think we’re all ready to get back in the swing of things.

Believing for a great start tomorrow.  Nathan’s kicking off our very first series: “Imagine.”  Don’t know what to expect, but I have this great sense that if we just stay focused on creating encouraging and challenging God-environments, we will somehow be able to create a place that is essential to people’s lives.  Only time will tell, and tomorrow is just step one on the journey.  Ready or not here we come.

As we worked today on populating the soon-to-be-launched second tier of CityCommunityChurch.com, I thought it might be good to spend a few posts explaining in more detail the values that are driving the planting of this church.

Number one for us is practicality.  We’ve coined the term “making Christ accessible to humanity.”  But what does that really mean?  Unfortunately, knowingly or unknowingly, I think a lot of churches today make it difficult for actual, normal people to see the reality of God through the lens of their own lives. 

As my buddy Nathan says…when Jesus died on the cross the curtain in the temple was ripped in two, representing the breaking of the barrier between God and man.  Why do so many Christians seem to be trying to sew it back up?

Our desire is to do everything humanly possible to present the truth of God in a way that everyone can understand and connect with.  When Jesus spoke to the crowds on the hillsides, he used stories and illustrations that spoke new life in terms familiar and easily understandable to all who heard. 

He was practial.  He was accessible.  We want to be, too.