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Living Hope Morning Coffee

More Than Seeing

John 20:29

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


When we think about believing in things that you can’t see, it takes a lot of trust, doesn’t it? 

There are so many people who believe in UFOs and intelligent life on other planets. Have they seen an alien from a far away planet walking around the streets? No, but they still believe that somewhere in space there is intelligent life on some planet we haven’t discovered yet – life they believe is more intelligent than anyone of us – and one day their space ship is going land here on earth wanting to speak to our President.

There are some who believe the narrative in the “War of the Worlds” novel, movies, and television shows, that these intelligent beings are going to arrive here one day and try to kill all of us.

How much real evidence do they have to prove their beliefs? None.

They haven’t been privy to any real evidence, only conjecture and imagination, yet they believe.

To believe in God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is a completely different understanding of seeing is believing. Historical and archeological evidence has proven that the stories of Holy Scripture are accurate. 

The evidence is there. No need to dream that this evidence exists.

The question of faith and believing in Jesus is a deeper spiritual topic. Proving faith is not possible; it is all about believing and trusting in something greater than what we can see. And at the core of this faith is a deep-rooted living hope that the Creator of the world wants us to be with Him forever and He will do and has done everything to make this a reality. 

Faith is not touching the man Jesus and believing. Faith is believing the story of God that He loves us. And by the Holy Spirit, we say we believe and trust the God who created us, redeemed us, and sets us apart to be His own. 

We Christians who believe in Jesus don’t need to see the nail marks in His hands or the spear mark in His side to believe. We trust Him that when He said He came to fulfill the Law of God on our behalf and redeem us, He did just as He promised.

It is a wonderful feeling to live my life by my faith in Jesus Christ. Seeing this world through the prism that things can get better if all people come to faith in our resurrected world is a great feeling. So all of us work in tandem to bring this living hope of Jesus to all people on this blue ball floating in space. 

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Uncategorized

Our Best

As we see throughout the Bible, God’s people fail Him nearly every time. The people written about in Holy Scripture are not the greatest, most righteous people ever born. They are weak and sinful, not unlike all of us. But the stories found in God’s Word show us one important fact: It is God who wipes away our failures and makes us new in the regenerating waters of Baptism, the sacrifice of His Son at the cross, and our individual strengthening by the Holy Spirit.

Daily, God takes what is broken and makes it new. 

Evidence from Bible shows us this time and time again. Humanity was created in God’s image, but created lesser than the angels. As such, we’re not as strong physiologically and are prone to doing things that God doesn’t want us to do. However, God works His power through His Son and Spirit to make us new every day.

Refining and strengthening us through His love and grace everyday, we, God’s creation are built up to give to God and others one thing:

Our best.

He wants us to be our best in this life to love Him and others before anything. He wants us to walk faithfully on HIs path to show what it means to be a child of God. Jesus is asked about our lives and what God wants from us. His answer is simple:

(Jesus said) “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

(Mark 12:30-31)

God’s great directive for us is to strive to be our best – to Him and to others. He doesn’t want half-hearted worship or loving people only when it suits us.

He wants our best always.

Though being our best is not easy. Sin destroys our drive to be our best. We’re not as faithful to God as He wants and never loving enough to those around us.

As a church, I believe we need to begin to study and reflect upon working towards being our best to God and to others. Our daily mission is to be better today than we were yesterday, showing God and others our loving commitment of our discipleship in Jesus.

To be better, this commitment of ours needs to be towards formulating a more passionate prayer life, living a more expressive life of love towards the entirety of the world, including ourselves, and living the joyful hope we have in Jesus. And when we do those things, we do it all to the glory of God.

Isn’t that what Pauls tells the Corinthians? “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

God wants us to be our best.

We, the church, need to rebuild our discipleship lives around giving and being our best. 

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Church Gospel Life Living Hope

Abilities for the Church

Since I last wrote about using talents for the good of the Gospel, I started thinking about how to get this message across. In more established congregations, members may not be the most hyped up people when it comes to community outreach. Here at St. Matthew’s, we’re the same. A lot of our members are older, closer to retirement or wanting to move closer to family in other parts of the country rather than doing outreach here in the greater New Milford area. Others just haven’t done this type of work in the church before and they don’t know how to do it.

As I was pondering the importance of becoming a church whose core is bringing Jesus to people, it hit me: Not everyone is equipped to do this type of work, but they have other skills and abilities that can support and grow the church behind the scenes. In reality, a church doesn’t exist if it doesn’t have an active support group willing to do things to make the church stronger for new people and those already part of the church.

The important aspect of the wholeness of the church is that it works together to make discipleship essential. No one is greater than another. We are all equal in the eyes of God. Everyone has skills and talents that strengthen someone else’s faith and comfort level. Leadership doesn’t mean lording abilities over others; it means providing a vision and a dedication to make sure that all people inside the church are using their best abilities for the growth of God’s House.

Let’s say that someone in the church is great with kids. How can this person use this talent to help grow the church? People in the church can be terrific cooks or bakers or musicians or craftspeople. Others have great people skills or can come up with great ideas to enhance worship or the various ministries inside the church. Can these types of skills be used to make people feel comfortable and welcoming to new friends and potential disciples in the church?

Just because someone is not ready to outreach doesn’t mean they aren’t a vital part of the church! The individual talents we’re given can be used favorably for the spreading of the message of hope in Jesus Christ. Every ability each of us has can do just that! 

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Church Living Hope

It’s 2018, Not 1978

When I was a kid, there were two ways in which my family knew what was happening at church.

One, we attended church every Sunday. By being in church, my mother talked with people and heard about everything the church council and the pastor were doing. She wasn’t on the church council, but by being in church every Sunday, she was able to gauge what the important issues they were tackling.

The second was through the mailbox.

St. John’s mailed a lot of stuff. The pastor’s regular monthly news article. The church schedule. They even mailed home those cardboard Lent change calendar folders where you put a quarter in the folder for each day of season and then brought it to the church on Palm Sunday (or at least that is when my mother brought them back).

They didn’t make a lot of phone calls unless someone died. But when someone died most people knew about it because every family seemed to take out an obituary in the local Herald Statesman newspaper.

Through the years, the “how” we communicate in the church has changed. Physical newspapers are dying. Obituaries are found on websites instead of on page 13 of the daily newspaper. With the advent of smartphones and tablets and the entire range of mobile computing, it is easier to send a text or an email than to pick up the phone and call someone. Social networking through iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, etc., can get information out very quickly. Even church websites – those that are kept up to date, that is – are ways in which quick messages can be posted and information can get out.

The struggle of the small church today is how to make that transition.

We’ve been struggling here at St. Matthew’s with how we communicate church business with everyone. When you’re in the process of relaunching the church, selling church property, and trying to schedule meetings to discuss the future, our communication has failed.

Our emails are not going out regularly from the church.

Our news page on our website is terrible.

And we don’t spend money on sending monthly meeting notices through the mail anymore.

So what to do?

Part of the future of the new church, I believe we must commit to establishing a new way of communicating that is regular and clear.

  • A church app is needed. We can get information out about meetings and what we’re doing and all a member or a friend of the church has to do is tap the app and read it on their mobile device.
  • Additionally, a church app will provide a clearinghouse of worship video and audio that will promote Jesus and our weekend messages. Our bible studies can be available at any time someone is moved by the Spirit to study.
  • Oh, and an app is expensive.
  • Consistency with weekly emails. We need to ensure that church information is sent out every Thursday to help people prepare for weekend worship. There needs to be a clear message that is delivered to email inboxes, messages that can be easily be shared with others not on our list.
  • We need to establish texting program in church. Yeah, this is going to cost money, but sending out immediate texts regarding any emergency, important happenings, and worship events is important in 2018.
  • We need to improve our social media presence. This is a given.
  • With an improved social media presence, we also need people to take pictures in church and share them. Showing people what is going on is a more powerful message than just writing about it.

No church is perfect. No congregation is perfect.

The only thing we can do is pray and move forward to accomplish the goals of better communication. The living hope we have in Jesus should be our great motivator to be touch the lives of our members more vibrantly.