150 Years of Being Jesus’ Sacrament

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Ok, so you won’t live to be 150.  Unless medicine greatly morphs.  But your congregation might.  St. Paul’s Lutheran in Decatur, IL just celebrated its 150th.  150 years of being Jesus’ sacrament for the community.

Have you ever thought about blessing a community for that many years?  Ever asked your congregational leaders what that would look like?  "150 years from now, the community would look like ____________ because of our blessing."

What about simply blessing it for as long as you live there?

Radical sacramental insight:  Knowing Jesus is present in me AND acting on that knowledge doesn’t just change me; it changes my community.  Jesus-present-in-me should lead to Jesus-present-in-my-neighborhood through me.

A sacrament brings the presence of Jesus and all of His gifts into the touchable, taste-able realm.  It parts history and imparts grace.  If the presence of Jesus lives in you through your baptism, he desires to live in your community through you. 

City implications?  Global implications?  Perhaps the next great evangelistic movement will explode more through demonstration than proclamation.  Show me (the Jesus) money.  

Sadly most congregations’ blessing has a half-life like the Wicked Witch and water: it dies a quick death outside the brick.

Which leads to a Western Church more known for Word instead of works.  Not talking works-righteousness, here.  Just talking James’ concern about invisible faith.

If Christ is present in you — if you are His sacrament — then what does your sacramental presence look like for your community?  How is Jesus asking you to live out His presence with the young family whose dog keeps digging under your fence?  With the grocery store clerk who obviously expended all of her patience before you arrived?  With the business owner who is trying to start a real estate company near your church?   Do you know her name?  Have you listened to her story?  How are you helping her succeed?

This isn’t about a theological position as much as it’s about a life position.  It’s a stance that reflects God’s transforming love in me, freeing me to be a sacrament of His love to my community.  Freeing my ministry to be a sacrament for the neighborhood.

Where does Jesus want to make a difference in your community through His presence in you?  Think you’ll be in the game 150 years from now?

Share your thoughts below.

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Do You Have Sacramental Flow?

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Depending on the Christian denomination you call home, sacramental might invoke images of ancient icons and bishops in miters.  Or, if you’re like me, simply baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Whichever end of the spectrum you live on, we’ve got you in FiveTwo.  And then some.

Sacramental faith is FiveTwo’s fountainhead.  Everything else flows from this relationship.  (Yes, faith fundamentally is a relationship, not a feeling or possession, not an act or expression.  It’s a relational way of being, established by your Creator God when He gave you His Spirit.)  By sacramental we don’t mean simply the worship definition of baptism and Lord’s Supper.  We include that, yes.  But we’re expanding the footprint, widening the stream. 

Sacramental is more of a flow-based experience.

Here’s how it works:  Sacramental faith starts with the Christ that is present in the Word.  That flows into the Christ that is present in the sacraments.  The sacraments embody the Christ that’s in the Scriptures.  As you and I participate in those sacraments, we receive that Christ.  This Christ then fills us to be His presence for the world.

Word to Sacraments to Us to the World.  Sacramental flow.

It all starts in the Word, which reveals Jesus at every turn.  As Luther said, Scripture is “the swaddling clothes and the manger”.  The more we unwrap the swaddling clothes, the more of Jesus we find.  Scripture teaches us about Christ, revealing God’s heart for humanity and humanity’s need for God.

Flowing from that rooting, Christ is present in the sacraments. The sacraments are mysterious, beautiful and powerful.  In them Jesus explodes into our time and space, allowing us to experience the very real presence of Christ. 

I participate in the sacraments:  Christ participates in me.  

Baptism is a physical act, commanded by Jesus, communicating Jesus' forgiveness.  It anchors my daily life in His presence and power, daily drowning and raising me to new life in Him. How does this sacramental reality live out in your daily life?

The Lord’s Supper transports me to the cross where I experience sacramental union with Christ in His death and the covenant of God’s everlasting love (Jer. 31).  Jesus present in me, in you, empowers me for living in grace, desiring to follow, to worship, to be in His presence.  How does this sacramental reality live out in your daily life?

When we participate in the Sacraments, the Christ present in the sacraments becomes the Christ present in you and me.   Word to Sacraments to Us.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Finally, the flow culminates with Christ coming to life in the spiritual community – when the “I’s” join together into “we” the sacramental nature of community comes alive.  As our awareness of His presence in us increases, we live out His presence more and more for the world.  Our hearts follow His heart, loving the people He loves, sacrificing for the people He died for. 

Living out His sacramental presence leads to a life of generosity.  Generosity that flows from the heart of God through the cross of Jesus into the waters of our baptisms and through the bread and wine of the supper, through our hands, feet and dollars into a world that ignorantly ignores its Creator and Redeemer, to it’s eternal detriment.

How is Jesus flowing through you into your community…for your community?  How's your sacramental flow?

Tell us your thoughts below!

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Stetzer Interviews Metaxas

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

This time, Eric Metaxas is on the receiving end.  This interview, conducted by Ed Stetzer, is also worth the watch.  

Eric Metaxas on #TheExchange with @EdStetzer from Ed Stetzer on Vimeo.

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Metaxas Interviews Gladwell

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

This rather lengthy Eric Metaxas interview from earlier this year is an intriguing look into Malcolm Gladwell's spiritual journey. Definitely worth the watch.

Malcolm Gladwell: "David and Goliath" from Socrates in the City on Vimeo.

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Face Your Doubts

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

It was only natural that when I first launched into leading people to follow Jesus, I dug into learning about the bible and the Jesus it promotes.  Because after all, you’ve got all of these people—billions throughout history—who have embraced the resurrection as true, and Jesus as the Son of God sent by God the Creator to redeem His creation, a creation that still retains the fingerprints of God all over it but is no longer on the course originally set by the Creator.  You have all these people who believe The Creator originally set the Creation – that would include you and me – on a course to glorify Him and bless others, to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves – but we have been sucked into a selfish eddy that spins and spins us around on our own needs, stuck in self-centeredness, worshiping our own selves.  You have all these people who believe, then, the need for a perfect God/man Jesus to keep a foot in both worlds of divine and human and pull those worlds back together, to reconnect them you might say.  Billions of people believe this about Jesus and His purpose and seek to extend that message throughout the world. And they base their faith on the words of the Bible.

Now while I was one of those people, I realized my faith was based more on how I was raised and what my peers did than upon what I believed and I knew to be true.  So since I’m the kind of guy who’s wired to not take things at face value, and I love the intellectual, I decided to bring all of my doubts to my study and see how the God of the bible stood up.

If you want to talk theological terms, you and I can learn a lot about God by simply studying His creation.  This would be called “General Knowledge of God.” But the Bible teaches us what Creation cannot.  That would be “Revealed Knowledge of God.”  They’re not at odds as much as they are they are “discoverable on your own” vs “discoverable only with God’s help.”

And that’s what I’m challenging you to do.  You owe it to yourself to bring whatever doubts you have about Jesus and His claims to the forefront of your wrestling.  Don’t wrestle with them in silence.  Don’t lock them in some closet, thinking they’ll die in the dark.  Darkness breeds doubt.  Bring them out.  Introduce them to my doubts.  Set them a place at the table.  Because that’s the only way you’ll move beyond them.

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