Where the “Post-Mod/Emergent/Hipster/Whatever the Latest Buzzword” Church Has Failed

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A lot of churches that have popped up in our “postmodern era” have had weird leaders, poor examples to both Jesus lovers and those outside of the Christian community.

I’ve seen perceivably dynamic communities full of disciples of Jesus.  And people who don’t love God, or Jesus, or Christianity are drawn to those communities because they’re loved in a unique way.

But the question that communities like this should be asking is “are we loving people towards the Jesus of the Bible, or are we just stroking people’s anti-establishment egos?”  There are many ‘churches’ (I don’t even know if church is the right word) these days that exist to oppose everything that Evangelical America stands for.  The good thing is that many of these places are opposing materialism, shallow community, plastic Christian phoniness, greed, ultra-polished Sunday morning hypocrisy and other forms of American Christianity that aren’t Biblical.  The bad thing is that these ‘churches’ are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  They are now, in an effort to reach those outside of the church, becoming anti-biblical.  This is totally dangerous.  The ‘disciples’ coming out of these communities are people who call themselves Christians and yet get drunk regularly, talk like non-Christians, misinterpret the Bible, criticize everything, live lazy and irresponsible lives and basically promote a gospel-free type of Christianity that doesn’t save anyone but more likely “travels over land and sea to win one single convert, and makes them twice as much a son of hell as they are” (Matthew 23:15)

I’ve also had friends that have been drawn into these communities for all the right reasons at first.  It’s understandable to see a disconnect between the Christianity of America and the dynamic discipleship of the apostles and disciples in the New Testament.  It’s also shocking to compare the words of Jesus to the way that American Christians live.  But some of these friends have adopted a reverse form of pride.  They think they’re more spiritual than everyone else because they follow the “radical” things of Jesus- like identifying with the poor and outcast, etc.  But they have adopted beliefs and values that are unbiblical in an effort to reach people who aren’t Christians.  They think if they simply love people then people will know Jesus, but don’t think that truth matters.  They’re at the point where they think that all truth statements (and the Bible contains MANY!) are just offensive.  They believe in a false god who doesn’t want to make anyone feel bad about their sin- so all the people that surround them live however they want, and so do they.  This makes it seem like our God and Creator doesn’t care how we live, but it’s clear in the scriptures that He is concerned about this.  We are to “act as free men, and not use our freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.” (1 Peter 2:16)

 

A Meditation on Joy in Suffering

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When I feel the tension of how difficult it is to truly follow Jesus amidst the paralyzed religious landscape of America.  I remember how my many brothers and sisters suffer far worse than I could imagine, and I weep with them.  Don’t turn your eyes away.

Don’t turn your eyes away from those who are raped, pillaged, burned, beaten, abused, ostracized, isolated, marginalized, hated, disrespected, uncared for, rejected, dishonored, and not listened to for the sake of the gospel of Christ.

And remember that though we live in a privileged and relatively safe country, we will surely suffer also as we stand full of joy and peace for the gospel of Jesus.  We should expect it.  We should welcome it with joy.

Even when we are misunderstood by religious people.

Even when we are mocked for our convictions.

May we love, and never give up.  May we show our enemies the love of Christ.  May we stand in the face of danger and risk and live quietly honorable, dignified, and humble.

May we do what’s right even when we don’t receive it in return.

May we share God’s peace and be transparent, even when people cause us violence and judge our motives wrongly.

May we be willing to suffer all things for Him who graciously calls us His own.

Persecution… What Does it Mean in America?

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:10-12)

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matt. 5:44)

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matt. 10:23)

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. (Matt. 24:9)

Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ (Luke 11:49)

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. (Luke 21:12)

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. (John 5:16)

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If theypersecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (John 15:20)

The Apostles Persecuted ] Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. (Acts 5:17)

Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— (Acts 7:52)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; (1 Cor. 4:12)

persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:9)

At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. (Galatians 4:29)

Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12)

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted    (2 Tim. 3:12)

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11)

 

I know this is a long post, but I just wanted to read through all of these to be reminded that to be faithful to Jesus is to welcome a tough life.  But I can’t help but ask as I live in this country of comfort we call America… “What does it mean to be persecuted in this country?”

In one sense I think it’s the same here as everywhere else.  It’s a fact that I hear from missionary friends all the time.  Many people call themselves “Christians” but their lives don’t look a thing like what the scriptures point to.  But the fact is, if we are to truly live and follow Jesus our lives should be able to be written in that chapter 11 of Hebrews called the “hall of faith” listed above.

In another sense I think it’s confusing in America to know if we’re really doing the right thing.  On one end, we can think we’re being persecuted by “the man” or “corporate evangelicalism” when we stand up for the rights of the poor and marginalized.  This can lead to bitterness and all sorts of hedonism.  I’ve seen it before- many great friends who say they’re followers of Jesus falling to sourness, drunkenness, unhealthy sex addiction and more.

On the other end, one can have totally correct doctrine and live a pure life, but be foul and unloving to everyone who doesn’t ascribe to their theological framework or level of holiness.  This person can be fooled into thinking they’re being persecuted for righteousness sake, when really they lack the grace and mercy of God.

Yet we’re called to stand for the rights of the poor and commanded to reject greed and materialism.

And we’re called to live a pure, holy life by the power of the Holy Spirit alone, ascribing to the full council of God as revealed in His Word.

So it seems that if we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus in America, we will be marginalized by nominal Christians who ascribe to either extreme described above.  And if we are bold we will step into dens of evil where people are crazy or unstable, and we will face opposition in all areas of our lives, truly living as aliens on this earth by faith, not returning to the treasures and trappings of the empire that surrounds us, but living as God asks us to in the midst of an entire society and even religious situation that seems to pull us away from that.

 

 

I am Stubborn at Times…

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I once worked at an Urban Youth Center, and when I came in, I was hired to be the “Spiritual Director”.  The person that had been leading it for six years was a lady, who knew how everything ran.  She just felt that in the midst of doing all the organizational dirty work of keeping the place running, she had lost her vision for the spiritual aspect of the organization.  Ultimately, she wanted to point students on the fringes of society to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who truly loves them and desires their repentance and devotion.  She hired me in to try to help them to do just that.

When I came into the job, she said over and over again that she didn’t want to be my “boss”, because I think she understood the whole idea of the priesthood of all believers.  But at the same time, she had to tell me what I needed to know to help her run the place.  She constantly struggled between telling me to do things, and trying to be my co-equal.  It was a hard balance, because she had been running the place for so long.  I, on the other hand, was brand spanking new to the whole experience.  The other thing we figured out is that I wasn’t experienced at running an organization, but was good with relational stuff.  She and I were total opposites, and sadly, we had to part ways, because at the time we didn’t understand each other.  But by her calling me her “co-equal”, she was asking me to help with making some serious decisions.  She was in conflict, because really, she rightfully wanted to make decisions, since the youth center was her baby, and she had been running it well for so long.

It’s hard for anyone to get over one’s own ideas.  It’s hard to let others influence you when you don’t always agree.  With Jesus Christ, it should be possible for opposing forces to slam together and synchronize.  With human beings, it’s often very difficult.

I left the job at the urban youth center after working there six months.  I was sad because I really loved the students but was too stubborn to understand the director’s way of doing things.

Three years later I was working part time at a mega church not very far from the youth center.  The director and I got together for a bagel not long after I started working at the church.  By this time, we had both significantly changed.  I would even say we had learned from each other in huge ways.  She offered me to come back to work with the youth center part-time again.  After a short time of prayer I was compelled to come back and volunteer there again.  The director and I have become good friends, allies in the gospel.  We both shared a passion to reach people with the gospel, and worked really well together.

When believers really understand their place in the priesthood of all believers, they will be strongly opinionated (yet gracious in communicating) about the things they know they are good at and fully understand, and they will be able to be taught in the areas that they’re weak in.  But at the same time, they’ll understand that they have limitations, and can’t be something they’re not.  The more we’re realized in Christ, the more truly human we become.  We start to realize that we’re merely human beings, and Jesus Christ is totally perfect in every way, yet we’re not at all.  However, we have the great privilege in sharing a part of His perfect plan and doing what we’re passionate about to help in advancing His Kingdom.  This is where the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ speaking the words of the Father into us and moving us, is so important.  We need the Holy Spirit and Christ’s transforming power in order to grow into the warriors for the gospel we’re meant to be.

EVERY leader of EVERY ministry is merely human, and limited in their understanding.  If they don’t realize that, they’ll become an autocratic megalomaniac.  Everyone needs to be balanced out by people who aren’t like them, and affirmed by people who are like them.  That’s the essence of unity, and a necessity within unity through Jesus.

Bring on the Mess! And ummmm… Help me Get Organized!

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I’m going to repeat a great illustration that Doug, my missionary friend from the Middle East told me.

Just imagine it, a pastor is on his way to an “evangelistic meeting”, and on the way he stops to grab a granola bar at a local gas station.  Some homeless guy comes up to him as he’s about to get in his car and asks him for a sandwich, saying that he hasn’t eaten all day, and he’s depressed because life is hard for him and his family on the streets.  The pastor replies:  “I’d love to talk, but I’ve got a meeting to go to!  Have a good day!”  Then he goes to his evangelistic meeting to talk to aspiring leaders about how to share Jesus Christ with people!  Wouldn’t it be better if he gets the dude a sandwich, and then tells him about the saving grace of Jesus Christ?  He could call the people at the meeting and say that something came up, and he was going to be 30 minutes late.  They might get irritated with him, but then he could show up at that meeting and give those people a real lesson on evangelism, based on his life!  I’m not recommending that we live a life with no boundaries and no respect to time management.  I’m just saying that we often miss opportunities for ministry in the midst of doing ministry.

We all run around in frenzy.  We do this in our churches.  When someone shows up at the “church office” to talk about their problems in life, we’re too busy putting together our biblical counseling class to have time to listen.  When someone needs a meal, we’re too busy planning the yearly food pantry outreach to feed them.  When someone is in a crisis and needs a ride, we don’t have the time, money or gas to come and get them.  Is this how we were meant to share Christ?  Do we look for the depressed, suicidal person sitting in the corner who just needs a listening ear?  Or do we just go on about our schedules, disregarding the needs of people?

This is not a personality issue, or a matter of what certain individuals are “gifted to do”. This is a Biblical mandate of obedience to God.  This is the example of all those who followed God.  They made themselves available to people.  If we find ourselves, especially those of us in paid ministry, with no time to listen or help anyone, then we need to re-evaluate our priorities.  I’ve definitely had to do that time and time again.  But living for Jesus is an ever-changing, messy life.  Nowhere in the New or Old Testament are we promised a polished, predictable life.  If we’re getting polished, routine, and predictable, we probably need to repent of being too religious and rigid.

That’s the art of following God’s call.  Sometimes where we want to be doesn’t matter, and our agenda will get in the way of doing what God wants.  In those situations we ought to be adaptable, and be available for those God has put in our path.

This can be taken too far too.  I’ve gone to both extremes of being too rigid and scheduled, and also of being too available and flexible.  When someone is available all the time, then people start to see them as a doormat who they can take advantage of.

I got paid to work at an Urban Youth Center for a period of time, and continued to volunteer there when I was able.  After seeing the damage of trying to be too organized and rigid from my time working at a church, I thought that living a life of random spontaneity would be more effective.  Immediately, I tried to find every avenue I could to build into the lives of these young students, who normally had a bad home life, and were surrounded by peer influences of drugs and violence.  It became a messy life to really get to know some of these students, so much so that I probably put in at least 60 hours a week working and hanging out with them.  Out of this, I saw three of them willing to commit to come to a church with me on a regular basis, two of which didn’t even really believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

But my life got so messy during this time, that I wasn’t able to find time to clean my car and other stuff like that, so my life was literally messy in a lot of ways.  The car was a metaphor for my life at that time, because it was messy, and always full of junk.  These students really clung to me as well, because I think they must’ve seen that I cared about them.  And I truly did and do care about them, and I long to see many of them come into a relationship with Christ, and hope and pray that more people will be brought into their lives to show them the richness of God’s love and truth.  Maybe some part of them felt comfortable in the “mess” of my car and life, because their lives were a mess.  But maybe being a mess with them wasn’t what they needed.  Maybe they needed structure and order, and I was so busy being a mess that I didn’t completely give them what could help them.

I got so busy being relational at this gig that I probably put a lot of administrative stuff on the back-burner, which was a mistake.  The girl I worked with was really well-organized and administrative, and probably had a tougher time being relational with the students because of they way she was wired.  But without her organizational skills, it wouldn’t have been possible to run the place.  We ended up getting in a lot of fruitless arguments about which priorities were more important- being organized and strategic, or being relational and creative.  I ended up having to leave the job as a paid staff member because we couldn’t see eye to eye.  At the end, I was becoming more organized in my approach, and I even think maybe she became a little more comfortable in chaos.

Jesus’ way is a perfect combination of both approaches, and we as human beings are limited in our scope.  I wish things didn’t have to be this way in the Body of Christ, where we separate ourselves and say we have different “methodologies”.  We’re all just trying to obey Jesus Christ, and we’re imperfect and flawed in our approach!  We need each other.  We need different personalities so we can balance each other out and grow.  Anyone who is too stubborn to learn from someone completely unlike them has not yet grasped the mercy of Jesus Christ.  Sadly, I am one of those people, because I think my flawed way of living is fully right.  That’s called arrogance, and I am an arrogance addict.  I’m looking to be cured of it, but I’m not quite there yet.  I guess none of us are.

Yet I do know that spontaneous creativity has its place in the Church, and in society.  People who are methodical and logical, would you please cut us weirdo artists a break?  We need freedom to be messy, and we can learn from you too if you’re willing to be patient!  In the end, everyone will grow more and become well-balanced followers of Christ.

Spoiled Brat

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I grew up in a really safe, upper-middle class cool little town called Hudson.  I’ll admit at times I’m ashamed to admit that I grew up there, because everyone in the Akron/Cleveland area of Ohio knows it’s one of the richest, and potentially pretentious places around.  Yet as much as I was not a typical “Hudsonite”, I can say now that I’m glad I grew up there because it was fun and my education was great.

I’ll have to admit that I got in trouble quite often during my days in Hudson.  I was a definite miscreant.  There was a good little period when I was a senior in High School that the cops in the area knew me well, a long haired burn-out kid that needed to have his old 1988 Buick searched for drugs (which happened a few times).

Yet when I was 11 or 12 years old I wasn’t as crazy.  Though I still remember getting busted by the cops for silly things like jaywalking.  One time my friend Chris Waldeck and me got kicked out of a church parking lot for skateboarding.  I had one of those junky Bart Simpson skateboards, you know, the kind with a curve on only one side that squeaked a little when you rode it?

The cops in Hudson were often thoroughly made fun of.  We used to joke that they probably didn’t have much to do since Hudson was so safe.  We’d always say that they were probably hanging out eating donuts and drinking coffee, just waiting for some little kid to jaywalk so they could write him a warning ticket.

And then I think of what it would be like to be a policeman in a big city like Cleveland, Ohio, or Detroit, Michigan, where the crime rate is so high.  Every day would be a wild adventure.  There would probably be no time to warn someone about jaywalking, or even give speeding tickets.  If you had high profile organized drug dealers and murderers to deal with, priorities would change significantly.

Now America is the “global Hudson” of the world.  We have the most freedoms, we possess most of the resources, and we have the potential in this country to live a safe, comfortable, happy life.  It’s not this way in many other countries, such as Iraq or Mexico.

Much like Hudson cops, the American church has interesting priorities.  We have a lot of in-house debates over theology.  We have a lot of factions.  We have the freedom to divide over music style, size, ministry philosophy, theology, culture, and more.  We have plenty of folks that get paid really well to perform a certain duty within the church.  We have ministry professionals, preachers, speakers, writers and musicians, that make a really good living doing what they do for Jesus sake.  And as long as none of them get narcissistic, greedy or immoral in the process that’s all well and good.

But do we ever compare ourselves to the global church?

I remember when I began to discover the world outside of Hudson.  It was a culture shock.  I experienced multi-cultural diversity.  I learned a different view of material possessions from the poor.  I learned the work ethic of rural farm-workers.  I gleaned from some of the ideals of friends steeped in the liberal arts.

When we compare the American Church to the global church do we realize how spoiled we are?  We’re much like Hudson cops, who view petty things as crimes.  We aren’t persecuted and don’t live in fear for our lives.  So we fill our time by debasing and outcasting each other for petty reasons like culture, way of dress, music style and theological distinctive.  Poor congregations are embittered towards rich congregations.  Rich congregations look down on poor congregations.  Charismatic people criticize evangelicals for being too tame, and evangelicals criticize charismatics for being too crazy.  Calvinists criticize Armenians for denying God’s sovereignty, and Armenians criticize Calvinists for denying God’s desire for the world to be saved.  Old people criticize young people for playing loud music, and young people criticize old people for latching onto tradition.  I could name many more arguments but wouldn’t have the time or pages to name them all.

We desperately need the culture shock that would come from knowing and understanding how different churches operate around the world.  Then our view of discipleship would be far more complete, and our understanding of scriptures would become clearer.

I’m certainly not suggesting that we do what many in my generation (and history) have foolishly done:  Throw out the basic gospel and just focus on social justice.  But I do think we need to be well rounded.  I think factions that aren’t heretical need to learn from each other and work together.  I long for a day when the church in America looks more like this:

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (Acts 4:32-35)

And less like this:

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:15-18)

So may we American Christians begin to desire the Lord to stretch us.  Just as I was shocked out of my comfort upon departing from Hudson and the plastic bubble safety that surrounded me, I pray that all of us will begin to be shocked out of our comforts- whether they be riches, denominations, theologies, safe friends, church styles, or upbringings. Then we will be inspired to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. (Ephesians 4:12-14)  And may we come into a fuller knowledge of the truth of the scriptures and see Jesus as the Lord Himself sees Him.