Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Stop Being Weird Online!

The local Christian church has more than its share of critics these days.  Sometimes the criticism is unwarranted. People who stand up for life, traditional marriage and absolute truth often find themselves the recipients of disapproving looks at best or objects of profane language at worst. And, of course, the local church will inevitably run into criticism.

What we’re doing is counter-cultural and will never be met with universal applause. The Gospel, even when powerfully shared, got John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Jesus and the prophets killed, just to name a few. While it seems strange to say it, even speaking truth in love, when seen fully and magnificently, gets rejected.

But other times we absolutely deserve the criticism that comes our way.  Often these days, it seems, we’re not ridiculed or persecuted because we’re fighting nobly. Nope, sometimes we just shoot ourselves in the foot.

Here is ONE thing that, in the view of many (cf. C. Nieuwhop), would help the mission of the local church become more authentic and more effective if we could just stop doing it. (REMEMBER THIS THE NEXT TIME YOU ARE ON FACEBOOK!)

Being So Weird Online

Too many Christians come across online as either:

Toxic (Hello angry ranters, trolls and haters);

Cynical (Yes, we know you’re disappointed with everyone all the time and no one gets it as right as you); or

Syrupy (So sweet we can’t stand the taste and are not really sure you live in the real world)

Why do so many Christians think their social media feed is a place to show the world their weirdness?  It gives the impression that if you’re going to follow Jesus you also need to become socially awkward.  I know people might say, “No, I’m just being authentic or I'm just being transparent”. But being authentic or transparent does not mean being odd. 

If you go to post something and you think, "Well, that would be self-aggrandizing if I said that to someone", that’s a red flag. You are about to announce your narcissism to the world via social media!.  Just say "no"!  Similarly, if you think, “Well, If i said that at work in the lunch room, everybody would leave the table,” then maybe don’t say it.

If you’re always angry or cynical or all you do is complain online and you think, “Well, I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like that in real life,” then that’s a clue that maybe you shouldn’t say it.  And if you think, “Well, then I’ll have nothing to post,” then you’ve likely put your finger on a deeper issue.

Christians, let’s just stop being so weird online, okay?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Block Party at our Green Bay Site, Sunday, August 16. How can you be a part of the movement?

"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
(Matthew 25:40)  

Be a part of a movement that we pray will change the lives of people forever!  Our Hope Backpacks Campaign begins Saturday, July 18 and will run until August 3.  Pencil boxes will be sold for $3.00.  Included within the pencil box will be a list of school supplies that need to be purchased and put into a backpack.  We would like to have the backpacks with their supplies returned by the weekend of August 9.

If you would rather make a monetary donation instead of shopping, you may do that also.  If you would like to help out selling pencil boxes at any of the services during the weekends of July 18, 25 or Aug 2, or if you have questions, contact Lori Rogers at 920-680-6335.

We will give the backpacks to families in need at our Block Party at our Green Bay site on Sunday, August 16, which will be held from 12noon to 4:00pm (1167 Kenwood, 2 blocks north of Lambeau Field on Oneida St.)  The goal of this Block Party is to invite our neighbors around our Green Bay site to a family-friendly event as well as help them see that we are a church who cares.

We will have a bounce house, play ground, kickball, basketball, Gnome Games, catered food, drinks, tours of our facility and music!  Join us and bring your friends for a great event!

Volunteer today for this important outreach opportunity by going to http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e44a5ae23a4fe3-volunteer1.  Thank you!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Want To Be A Part of Something ... NEW?

GROW & GO – Frequently Asked Questions:

New Video Venue Service in Green Bay

Summer continues to march on and so does our planning and preparations for our NEW service! 

On Sunday, September 13th at 10am, our congregation will be launching a 6th worship service to reach more people with the message of Jesus.  

What will be needed to offer this new service?   Our Green Bay campus needs include a 60 & 90 inch TV and a digital sound system which will be housed in a sound booth at the back of the worship space.  Future improvements will include window blinds, accent lighting and better utilization of the altar area. This will help provide an attractive, comfortable place to bring your friends to be a part of our community and to meet Jesus.

What are the enhancements needed for the new Video Venue?  In order to offer this new worship service, we need to upgrade our video systems at the De Pere campus.  Upgrades will include HD (high-definition) cameras and a system that will include live editing and recording features.  With the new cameras, we’ll enhance the videos by using a new altar back drop and accent lights. The praise team will occasionally be positioned in the center so they can be better heard and seen by all. These enhancements provide a place where Jesus can be worshipped and known by all.

Is this Grow and Go expansion of ministry and outreach in the budget?  Yes, the cost of this new outreach into the Green Bay area and worship enhancements are part of the 2015-2016 budget requests the congregation passed in June 2015. 

What can I do to help? We encourage partners to make gifts to this Grow and Go effort. We ask that these gifts would be over and above your usual contributions. An itemized “wish list”, will be made available to St. Mark partners in our bulletin and on the web site. Your generous gift, of any size, enables us to have more margin in our budget and to respond to the opportunities God will present.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Iron Man Devotion

What’s Behind Your Iron Suit?

 
Some people are big time Batman fans - they relate to the Caped Crusader and his internal struggles.
Others emulate the Man of Steel - their desire to fly and save the world is the song of their inner child.
whats-behind-your-iron-suit-1Me? I’m fine with guys in superlative spandex wielding their prowess over the evil forces of the world, but there was always something about Iron Man that drew my interest above the rest. He doesn’t have super soldier serum flowing through his veins, nor does he have green gamma ray infused mega strength when things go haywire. He’s not a demi-god from another planet either - just plain old Tony Stark.
Plain, of course, until he dons the iron suit and becomes as formidable a force as anyone else in the Marvel pantheon of heroes.
A force, that is, until he meets up with Mandarin. Think Bin Laden meets The Joker and you have a modern day fictional terrorist who has the motivation and methodology to strip Iron Man down to the core of his humanity. Up to this point, Stark has been able to rely on all the power and seeming invulnerability that the suits had previously provided, but the Mandarin forces Tony into a stark reality that he has been unable or unwilling to face.
In the film series, Iron Man’s armor is made from fictional material bolstered by a force field, which is why he can pretty much withstand anything thrown or launched at him without significant damage.
But in real life, his suit can be replicated with about $25 worth of Rubbermaid products…which couldn’t repel a well thrown rock.
Isn’t that just like you and me? We pretend we have invincible emotional armor and weapons like sarcasm and denial that can fend off the incessant barrage of destructive circumstances life brings our way. But the truth is that our attempts to be superheroes in a fallen world strip us down to the core as well. Our so called “shield” is nothing more than a cheap fa├žade in the face of real loss.
whats-behind-your-iron-suit-2In Iron Man 3, Tony is forced to rely on his super intellect to survive the enemy, but I’m fairly certain that this is not an option for us non genius-billionaire-philanthropist-playboy types. This is why God sometimes has to remind me that underneath my “suit” of having it all together, I am not only vulnerable, but I have only one place to turn in my weakness.
This is what happened to the Apostle Paul, who when he was known as Saul was a sort of Iron Man back in the day. He had it all going for him on every level, and his “suit” was made out of the force field of an impeccable background and the finest education. He was nearing the height of his soaring career of persecuting Christians when he met up with an unstoppable force that obliterated his defense systems:
Saul was still talking much about how he would like to kill the followers of the Lord. He went to the head religious leader. He asked for letters to be written to the Jewish places of worship in the city of Damascus. The letters were to say that if he found any men or women following the Way of Christ he might bring them to Jerusalem in chains.
He went on his way until he came near Damascus. All at once he saw a light from heaven shining around him. He fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you working so hard against Me?” Saul answered, “Who are You, Lord?” He said, “I am Jesus, the One Whom you are working against. You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me.” Saul was shaken and surprised. Then he said, “What do You want me to do, Lord?” The Lord said to him, “Get up! Go into the city and you will be told what to do.”
Saul got up from the ground. When he opened his eyes, he saw nothing. They took him by the hand and led him to Damascus. He could not see for three days. During that time he did not eat or drink (Acts 9:1-10).
Saul was the “Iron Man” of religion, and his mission was to destroy Christians who, in his mind, were the enemy of God. But when he encountered the very presence of Jesus Christ, he experienced the destruction of his defenses. That is why years later, Paul would pen these words:
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me (1 Corinthians 12:9).
whats-behind-your-iron-suit-3Paul learned that, very much like Tony Stark, (and you and me), when our humanity is stripped to the core, we understand our true calling and source of strength. In Paul’s case, that day brought about a transformation that empowered him to change the world for Jesus Christ. In our case, remember that when we come to nothing, we gain everything through our Savior.
So the next time you meet up with your own personal “Mandarin” and it destroys your “suit,” remember that it may just be the method God is allowing or using to help you find your true self - the person He truly made you to be. In Christ, you have an unlimited supply of power, and you are armed with the weapon of the gospel, which can liberate even the most enslaved person.
And when you reach that place - look out world…you will be an Iron Man for THE Cause of Christ!