Tag Archives: new

Before We Begin

before we beginIn these early days of the new year, it is good for us to remember what we are called to do before we begin events or journeys of any kind in life. Martin Luther suggested that the first thing we do before beginning our day is to make the sign of the cross. Like we do in worship, it is good for us to begin our day, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And it is always a good thing to begin a new day with prayer. Many church traditions have even established times for more formalized morning prayer services.

Beyond the beginning of each new day, it is important to begin each meal with prayer and begin each night’s sleep with an evening prayer. I remember my dad having a prayer with the whole family in the car as we started on each summer vacation.

As we start on this new year and go about our new as well as our regular routines, it is good practice to stop for a moment before we embark on each endeavor, and say to ourselves, “Before we begin, let us pray, let us praise, let us give thanks to our God who has brought us to this moment to take part in this activity, event, job, meeting, meal, day, vacation” or whatever it may be.

I am reminded of this hymn:

With the Lord begin your task;
Jesus will direct it.
For his aid and counsel ask;
Jesus will perfect it.
Ev’ry morn with Jesus rise,
And when day is ended,
In his name then close your eyes;
Be to him commended.

Let each day begin with prayer,
Praise, and adoration.
On the Lord cast ev’ry care;
He is your salvation.
Morning, evening, and at night
Jesus will be near you,
Save you from the tempter’s might,
With his presence cheer you.

Keep these thoughts and words in mind each day of this new year, and remember, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

 

The Kainos Movement

kainosIn December 2014 Bryan Lottis launched the Kainos Movement in order to build multiethnic unity in the Body of Christ and to provide equipping and training that will inspire multi-ethnic movements among the people of God in organizations and churches. The movement has been getting a lot of traction ever since. Why is the movement so important?

Because, unfortunately, according to researchers, only about 14% of churches in America are multiethnic.

How is this determined? By what is called the 80/20 rule. A church is defined as multiethnic only if only one ethnicity makes up more than 80 percent of the whole. For instance, if a church has a hundred members and 85 are African American that is called a homogeneous church, but if a church has a hundred members and 80 are Caucasian and the rest are other ethnicities, it qualifies as a multiethnic church.

About 10 years ago, 98 percent of churches were identified as homogeneous [classified as one ethnic group making up more than 80 percent of the congregation]. In a recent Lifeway Research poll, it’s now moved down to 86 percent. So through the help of the Kainos Movement, things are moving in the right direction.

The goal of the Kainos Movement is that 50% or more of all churches be multiethnic by the year 2050—the year that sociologists project the United States will become majority minority for the first time in her history.

The word kainos is Greek for new and a word used by St. Paul to describe the coming together of Jews and Gentiles to form the multiethnic church.

The Kainos Movement mission statement says, “Our nation is trending towards diversity. The church has no option but to maintain the same trajectory, not so much forward, but backward to her first century roots where the normal was ethnic diversity. A failure to do so will put us perilously close to being irrelevant to the changing face of our society.”

Let us continue in the model of St. Paul and the Kainos Movement in ways that we can to incorporate more cultures and ethnicities into our congregations. Just as our neighborhoods and communities are becoming more multiethnic, our churches should too.

It is a perfect time, on this tipping point in cultural history, to reach out to someone with a different ethnicity than our own and say, “Come to church with me!”

Lift Up Your Heads

lift up your headAt a conference I attended recently Pastor MItchell Gowen of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Aiea, Hawaii, talked about the experience on January 13, 2018, when for 38 minutes residents and tourists in Hawaii scrambled to react to a terrifying emergency alert on their phones that read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” The alert turned out to be a false alarm, but there was no way of knowing that during that frightening period.

Those Gowen was with at his church at the time asked what they should do. Most decided to run to the basement. But Gowen decided he was going straight to the parking lot to “watch the show.” If this was indeed his last day, Gowen wanted to be there to see it.

I admire Gowen’s reaction born of faith. As Christians, our last day on earth is not something that we should be afraid of. Because it means we will be with our Savior in heaven. It means the end of tears and pain and sin and the beginning of a perfect eternal life won for us through the death and resurrection of Christ.

I think of this verse from Luke 21:27-28:

At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

When the end comes for each of us, it should not be time for us to look down or look away, but a time, by God’s grace and strength, to look up and see what God has accomplished to bring us salvation. At a time or an hour we do not yet know, Christ will come and no matter when that might be, we as his faithful people need to be ready, as Gowen says, to “see the show.” And what a sight it will be!

The White Helmets

white helmetI watched a story on 60 Minutes in December 2016 on the White Helmets.

The White Helmets, officially called The Syrian Civil Defense, is a volunteer corps of Syrians who act as first responders in the Syrian civil war, which is now in its sixth year. The group’s charter is simple: to carry out search-and-rescue operations to save the maximum number of lives. The group has rescued more than 60,000 people.

At great risk to their own safety and lives, these men in white helmets scour the aftermaths of bombing, clawing through the rubble to see a hand waving or a tiny voice crying from a survivor.

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Butterflies

butterflyTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

The company logo of Creative Communications is the butterfly. I see it so much that I take it for granted, but on this Easter Day, I look at it with fresh eyes and see the miracle it represents.

The butterfly is truly a “new creation” that comes out of a cocoon (a tomb of sorts) after a period of time. What once was a scrawny, wormy like creature that was only able to crawl on the ground is now a colorful, beautiful, glorious creation that can fly to great heights.

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Powerful Words

open BibleI was recently hospitalized and through that experience, among many things, I learned the power that the words of Scripture can have on a person in a time of crisis.

On a plaque directly in my line of sight as I laid in bed read: Fear not, for I am with you (Isaiah 41:10).

Those words kept my spirits up each day and gave me the strength to keep going.

Then my cousin texted these words to me:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning —Lamentations 3:22-23

As soon as I saw those words, I immediately began to cry. It was just what I needed to hear at that exact moment. No matter how bleak it was looking, I was reassured that God will always love me and that his goodness to me is fresh every day—no matter what is happening in my life.

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Ashes to Ashes

ashesWelcome to the first post of the Creative Christian Perspectives blog. Thank you for coming on this journey of faith with me as we dialogue about what it means to be a Christian in our world today. I begin the discussion using my perspective as a senior product developer at a Christian publishing company, Creative Communications for the Parish.

We start this blog very appropriately, I think, on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the season in which we meditate and reflect on the life, suffering and death of our Savior for our salvation. It is a time to look closely at ourselves and our own faith life in light of the overarching message of Lent, which is “Repent and believe!” Continue reading →