November 9…the day after one of the most contentious, vitriolic presidential election seasons in our recent past (this was my 8th presidential election to vote in). Some of us are rejoicing, some of us are despairing, and many of us are confused as to what direction our nation will pursue. But as we declared time and time again in our God & Politics series: our ultimate hope is not in a president, political party, or platform but in the Risen Lord Jesus and His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. That truth and reality still stands firm on November 9, the day after (and on November 10, two days after…and on November 11, three days after…and on and on). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
As followers of Jesus, I want to encourage and exhort all of us to be agents of hope right now. Over the coming days, weeks, and months, many of us will engage people who are frustrated, angry, and despondent over the results of the presidential election. We have an opportunity to compassionately listen. More importantly, we have an opportunity “to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). We have an opportunity to plant seeds of the good news of Jesus that transcends all human politics. Let us not get drawn into the partisan divide. Let us not get drawn into the rhetoric of anger and desperation. Instead, let us be agents of hope. Let us pray that God would have mercy on us as a nation. Let us pray that God would change the lives and hearts of our elected leaders to pursue laws and policies of goodness and justice (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Let us pray that God would empower and embolden followers of Jesus to be agents of hope.
I close with a powerful quote from Jared Wilson’s The Story of Everything:
The importance and fundamental purpose of the church is to keep pointing away from the world for the hope of the world. While everyone else points to government, family, good deeds, and whatever else as The Secret [to life], the church keeps pointing to the alien, heavenly power of grace as the hope for our problems and for our false hopes. Only the good news of Jesus is the answer to everything. And only this good news makes us new and satisfies our longings for connection with God and with our fellow man and for significance in the world.
Go be the Church for our world for such a time as this!
We began our new Viral series at Northshore Community Church and talked about Viral Principle #1: Passion. As we learn from the example of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13-14, behind passion is purpose.
In John Bishop’s book Dangerous Church, he captures this singular purpose well when he writes:
“In the early church, there was one, clear, encompassing mission—spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church did other things, of course, but these things were done to strengthen the church and building up the community so they were able and equipped to the do the one thing that defined their primary mission: seeking the lost and sharing the gospel.”
Behind a passion for Jesus and His message is the focused purpose of spreading the viral good news of Jesus!
The world has never seen anything like “the” movement called the Church. People want to be a part of something bigger and something greater than themselves. The book of Acts tells the story of a group of first-century, rag-tag followers of the Risen Christ who became the movement that would change the world. It’s God’s movement because He is a God on the move. The movement of the Holy Spirit throughout the centuries, the movement of the good news of Jesus—and He invites us to get on the move with Him. Come be a part of the most important, life-transforming, world-changing MOVEMENT in history. Here’s the series schedule:
Feb 8 | Launching a Movement (Acts 1:1-14)
Feb 15 | Ingredients of a Movement (Acts 2:1-47)
Feb 22 | Threats to a Movement, Part 1 (Acts 4:1-22)
Mar 1 | Threats to a Movement, Part 2 (Acts 5:1-11)
Mar 8 | Global Movements (Acts 8:26-40)
Mar 15 | Movement Heroes: Peter (Acts 10)
Mar 22 | Movement Heroes: Stephen (Acts 6-7)
Mar 29 | Movement Heroes: Paul (Acts 8-9, 13)
For more information on Northshore and our Sunday worship gatherings, click HERE.
Join us at 8, 9:30, and 11 am (Children’s Ministry available at the 9:30 & 11 am services).
Northshore, on Sunday, December 8, we challenged you to give to the Toy Shop. The goal was to impact 300 local families that were in need and identified through our local schools by providing toys for their Christmas celebration. We needed an additional 1,200 toys for a total of 1800 toys.
You met the challenge and responded with incredible generosity. We had a total of 2,144 toys donated and over $3,750 donated for grocery gift cards. We had 315 families come through the Toy Shop yesterday, and it took 452 volunteers from Northshore to pull it off. That’s awesome!
And it makes a difference. A volunteer who served at the Toy Shop told me that after one of the families left with their toys, they later returned with a thank you card. The dad wrote in the card, “Thank you for giving my kids something under the tree. It means so much to me. Thank you so very much for being here today.” And it was signed by the entire family. The volunteer was in tears and told me how much it meant to her to serve this family at the Toy Shop.
Each week we talk about being generous as a church, especially as the world around us is watching. Out of our love for Jesus, we give so that others might know this same Love. We’re in a season where giving is celebrated, and Northshore, I want to celebrate your giving.
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” ~ John 13:4-5
As we began our new series SERVE at Northshore this weekend with “Called to Serve” (John 13:1-17), we talked about the truth that saved people serve people. In John 13, Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. But in reality, as Jesus dons the garb and posture of a servant, He’s pointing to something much larger. He’s pointing to an ultimate cleansing—a soul cleansing—a cleansing from the stench and stain of sin that He’ll accomplish on the cross. The Bible says that the wages and result of our sin is death and separation from God. Out of love, Jesus dies the death we should have died and pays the penalty we should have paid.
As Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, it’s a beautiful portrait of the God who serves, but if we miss what Jesus has done for us to save us from sin and death, we miss the most important thing. Jesus shows us the difference between Incarnation vs. Imitation. In serving people in the name of Jesus, we’re not merely imitating Jesus. Because Jesus has given His life for us…because He’s brought us back from the dead…because He’s put a new heart in us…now He lives in and through us. Now when we serve, we incarnate Jesus. We put flesh and bone on Jesus’ love for people. When we serve, we show the very heart of Jesus to the people we serve. It’s not about imitation. It’s about incarnation.
How is Jesus inviting and calling you to incarnate His love in your world?
“We are most like Jesus when we serve like Jesus.” If you’re a follower of Jesus, you likely agree with this claim. But if we’re really honest, when we think of a servant, we often have a caricature of someone without meaning or purpose. Sort of a human mule who trudges through life. If that’s our view of a servant, we couldn’t be further from the truth. The portrait of a servant is best captured in Jesus Christ, and He was full of meaning and purpose.
Could it be that serving like Jesus actually gives us the meaning and purpose we’ve been looking for? Could it be that in serving like Jesus, might we actually find who we were created to be? In this new series SERVE, we’ll go on a journey together of discovering who God designed us to be, what He wants us to do, and how we become more like Jesus.
Here’s the schedule for the SERVE series:
November 3 – Called to Serve (John 13:1-17)
November 10 – Designed to Serve (1 Corinthians 12:11-18)
November 17 – Empowered to Serve (Ephesians 4:7-16)
November 24 – Released to Serve (John 14:12-14)
For more information on Northshore and our Sunday services, click HERE.
Gary Thomas, The Beautiful Fight
As we launched our new series The Art of Neighboring, one of your assignments this summer is the Block Map Exercise. If you’re going to neighbor well, you need to actually know who your actual neighbors are. How many of your neighbors’ names adjacent to your home do you know? How many of them do you know some relevant facts about? How many on your block map do you know something even more in-depth about—their career plans, dreams of starting a family, significant experiences in their lives, what they fear the most, or where they’re at in their spiritual journey?
The authors of the book The Art of Neighboring share this statistic:
About 10% of people can fill out the names of all eight of their neighbors. About 3% know relevant information and facts about all eight of their neighbors. And then less than 1% knows in-depth things about all eight of their neighbors. Take a step back and consider what this means. Jesus said to love our neighbors. Sure, the teaching extends to our metaphoric neighbors—people everywhere in need. This extends to the people we work with, the parent on our kid’s soccer team, and even to the person on the other side of the world who is in need of a meal. But it also means our actual neighbors—the people who live next door.
How are you doing actually loving our actual neighbors? The goal of the Block Map Exercise is to help you move from “Strangers to Acquaintances to Relationships” in your neighborhood. By the end of the summer, make it your aim to know all eight of the neighbors you live adjacent to and begin to discover more meaningful things about their lives. Remember, neighboring creates opportunities to connect your stories and your neighbors stories to God’s story!
As we launched our new series The Art of Neighboring, we talked about the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), or as I like to call it, “The Story of Two Selfish Jerks.” You likely know the story. A traveler is violently accosted by robbers and left for dead. A priest and a Levite pass by and do nothing. The “Good Samaritan” stops and renders aid at great inconvenience to himself. Jesus’ point in the story is that we’re to go and do the same as the Samaritan. The priest and Levite were looking for loopholes. Perhaps they thought, “If the guy is dead and I touch his body, I’ll become ceremonially unclean and have to go through this arduous ordeal to become clean again.” Whatever they were thinking, it doesn’t really matter because they were looking for loopholes to not love their neighbor.
Let’s be honest, when it comes to neighboring, we’re often looking for loopholes. We look for excuses. Perhaps some of you are thinking, “Have you ever met my neighbor? You should. You’d look for a loophole as well. They play their loud music at all hours. They party. They do drugs. They don’t keep up their yard. Their roof is absolutely caked with moss. Their cars are junkers. They’re mean. They’re not interested in God.” On and on we’ll go as we look for loopholes.
Let me tell you about one of my loopholes. My college degree was in horticulture. Basically, I spent four years to learn how to have a nice lawn. And I like a nice lawn. I fertilize it. I weed it. I mow it. I water it. I need a help group. When we lived in Portland, we had a neighbor who let their dog out, and this particular dog loved to come over to my nice lawn and do her business. Now, nobody likes to pick up somebody else’s dog poop. But that’s not what bothered me. It’s when their dog peed in my yard. I always knew exactly where where their dog peed. After a day or two, I’d discover a big, yellow dead spot in my beautiful, green grass. I didn’t blame the dog because that’s what dogs do (and that’s why I don’t own one). But I did blame my neighbor. They were so “thoughtless” that they wouldn’t police their own dog. So I used it as a loophole. I used it as an excuse to not care about or engage them. After all Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself, except when their dog pees in your yard and leaves a big, yellow dead spot in your beautiful, green grass.” I swear that’s somewhere in the fine print.
What loopholes are you looking for so you don’t have to love your neighbors?