Is Your Church a Pizza Church?

I was taking the kids somewhere the other day and we passed by a church on a road adjacent to ours.  We’d passed by this church probably hundreds of times over the past three years, but Mackenzie asked if it was “the pizza church”.  It wasn’t.  To her defense, we were coming at this particular church from a different angle, so she didn’t recognize it.  Now, you may be wondering- what in the world is a “pizza church”, anyway?  Good question!

We used to live far enough out of town that the pizza delivery folks wouldn’t come visit us at our house. We would have to leave our house, and go about 1.5 miles away to a church parking lot.  Actually, we still have to do that- just going to a school now! At any rate, the kids associate this church with pizza, hence the name.  I got to thinking after her statement that our churches are known for something in our communities.  Now, some churches may be known for a lot of things, and maybe even a lot of things to a lot of different people.  Surely, the pizza church isn’t a pizza delivery meeting spot for everyone in our neck of the woods.  It may be known as a caring community of believers that want to see people come to know Christ.  It may be seen as a church that reaches out to people in need.  It may be seen as “that church” where people always get upset with each other and leave to go somewhere else.

What is your church?  If it’s only a “pizza church” to everyone that passes by, then you’ve got some work to do, don’t you?  If churches are a part of the body of Christ, and you are the Dominoes uniform, that’s not exactly what Paul was referencing. (Romans 12:4-5)  Taking the body of Christ illustration another step further, if your church is the raised, furrowed brow- you need to take a look in the mirror.  That look?  Not so good when it’s supposed to be coupled with Acts 2:46-47… meeting together joyfully, worshiping, sharing with each other, joy, generosity, and praising God.

We all need to take a look at what our churches represent to the people that pass by them daily.  Are they places of spiritual and in some cases, physical or emotional healing?  It is my hope that instead of seeing anything as people look at our churches they will see Someone. They will see a reflection of Christ.

And if your church happens to be a meeting spot for the delivery guy/gal- keep on providing this culinary public service on the side! 😉

Until next time!

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How y’all doin’, eh?

It’s funny what bits and pieces of different languages and cultures we can pick up. From 1999-2001 I was in graduate school at the University of South Florida. One of my fellow grad students, and one that I hung out with a lot, was a Canadian. The furthest north I’d lived was Roanoke, VA. Since he was a stranger in our land, which being Florida was strange itself, he had no license and, maybe as important, no car. His apartment was, at least for the first year of school, on the way to mine so I would give him a ride home quite often. I wasn’t going to let my poor Canadian trumpet-playing brother walk in the treacherous 75 degree Tampa weather in winter!

We decided that we would place a bet- a friendly wager, if you will. Although I no longer drink, I surely did then, so the bet was for a Guinness. I thought I could influence him to say “y’all” before he could get me to say “eh?” at the end of a sentence. Seriously, the trumpet practicing and grad school was destroying our brains. And the excessive amounts of the subject of our wager probably didn’t help, either! Well, it turns out that Canadian-ese is more infectious than Southern American. We were at a stoplight one day, and a car with hydraulics pulled up next to us. I said, “You don’t see that everyday, eh?” I lost.  I have to inform you, my readership, that I continued to use the “eh?” several more times.  It’s part of a linguistic takeover.  Mark those words.

So what’s the spiritual lesson here?  Canadians are evil?  No.  Hockey is of the devil?  Well, only if you’re in New Jersey.  (I heard the crickets chirping on that one… you’ll get it.)  No, that’s not it, either.  Here’s the thing- when we surround ourselves with godly influences, that will attract our thinking.  When we surround ourselves with ungodly influences, that will start to have a pull on us.  And again, I am not calling Canadians evil!  Look at James 4:4 and consider what he is saying to us:

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (ESV)

I think the breakdown is pretty clear here.  If you want to have both feet, or really even one foot in ungodly behavior, you’re a friend of the world.  This is directly opposite of what God wants, though.  Think of it as calling yourself a true, die-hard fan of one team and saying you’re a true, die-hard fan of that team’s rival.  Doesn’t work, eh?

Until next time!

Juice Box Christian

I’ll have to be perfectly honest, and say that the premise for my blog this morning wasn’t original.  I came across an absolutely hilarious video, that speaks an absolutely scary truth about our church culture.  (I’m even going to try to link it, but since I’ll probably botch that the video title is the same as my blog post, and it is done by Shift Worship… it can be Googled, like everything else in the known universe).

Here’s my attempt at the video link:

 

We’ll see what happens.  Now, the whole point of the juice box deal is not to comment on wine vs. grape juice for Communion, or to try to run Hi-C out of business.  It is about spiritual growth.  The whole premise of a 20-something staying in his 1st grade Sunday School class is absurd!  But don’t we do that when we resist things that will push us to grow?  This is true of any aspect of life, but Paul talks about it as he is discouraged by believers (that have been believers for a while) content on baby milk instead of progressing.  Although it’s not quite the same as milk, I drank an ounce of formula on a dare once and it was nasty… like liquid chalk.  Yet these believers were OK with that.  Yuck!

Check out 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and see if it hits home.  If it does, then try to tear down whatever wall is keeping you from growing in your walk with the Lord.  It could be a Bible-reading thing where you don’t read because of ___________ or that you can’t be a part of worship because the music is too ______________.  Or it could be some other excuse that is totally silly.  Change it and grow!

Until next time!

The Yellow Jacket of Distraction

I was at a stoplight today and a yellow jacket landed on the driver’s side mirror.  Before you panic, I had the window rolled up… and I’m not allergic, although I don’t like to be stung by those little things.  He wouldn’t fly away, and right as the light changed, he crawled from the top of the mirror to the back- shielded from the wind that would knock him off.

I thought nasty thoughts about him.  I used my Jedi mind control powers on him saying, “This is not the car you’re looking for.”  I thought about rigging a MacGuyver-esque contraption to crack the window and shoo him off.  I looked over every 1.3 seconds to see if he’d lost interest or gotten motion sickness and fallen off.  In essence, I did just about everything except pay attention to driving my car.

I know my life is like this sometimes almost all the time.  I have one little thing that gets me sidetracked and I take my eyes off the things that are really important.  Is this how God wants us to live our lives?  I don’t think so.  I think He wants us to be clearheaded and not prone to worrying about little things.  Jesus uses these kinds of words about worrying- “These things (worries) dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you what you need.” (Matthew 6:32-33 NLT)

Ouch.  I was so worried about that little yellow jacket that I’m not even allergic to…with my window rolled up, that I forgot to focus on a pretty major thing.  Like driving.  I became one of the crazies that I always fuss about on US 220.  Another topic for another time.

But really, we worry all the time and get so distracted by things that don’t matter.  As the writer of Hebrews states it in 12:1-2, we can run the race (a Christian life and walk with the Lord) not because of unneeded things, but because we keep our eyes on Christ.  We let Him matter more than the distractions.

So, to finish things up.  I got into the church parking lot, yellow jacket still hanging on for dear life.  I focused on parking the car and, you probably guessed it: the yellow jacket flew away.

Until next time!

Yardwork and Spiritual Battles

OK, I admit.  I don’t have much time to do a lot of work in my yard.  I have about 8 blades of actual grass, and the rest of the .75 acres that I mow are weeds.  When it is really short it can give an illusion of looking nice, but maybe that’s another devotional thought altogether!  I am actually thinking of my backyard which part of my property is forest.  It’s not a large portion, .05 acres, but it is dense and takes a lot of time to control.  I’ve found that if I don’t actively control it and try to push it back some, it will creep into my yard and take it over.  If I had some awesome power tools, it would be one thing.  Alas, I have a machete.  One little blade against a rainforest.  Well, maybe a little hyperbole, but you get my drift.

Where’s the spiritual analogy?  I was reading today in Acts 6 and the part after the beginning of the deacons caught my attention.  The Apostle Stephen was proclaiming God’s Word and the gospel.  Obviously, there was some opposition.  It came from a group called the “Synagogue of the Freedmen”.  I found out that this group was comprised of former slaves (good) from areas heavily influenced by Hellenism (bad).

Hellenism could easily correspond to our secularization of society today.  In a nutshell, the two cultures are very “go with the flow” and “do what you want” in nature.  This mentality and worldview encroaches on the Christian worldview in much the same way as my backyard forest does to the rest of my lawn.  It tries to take over.  We read in Acts 6 that the Freedmen couldn’t out-do Stephen in his arguments, so they took the low road.  They started to spread lies, twisted truths, get the officials involved, and make a mess of the whole thing.

Isn’t that what those who are opposed to the faith do today?  Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t Christians who add fuel to the fire… but the secular worldview is that Christianity is just plain wrong, just because.  They can’t provide real evidence against it, so they try to twist it to their advantage.  The truth of God’s Word and the message of the cross is worth standing firm against the trickery of the world.  Even if you’re just armed with a little machete, you can help keep the forest at bay.

Until next time!