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A Child-“LIKE” Faith

A Child-“LIKE” Faith

Perhaps the thing that makes parents ‘light up’ over their kids is when they act beyond their age! Maybe they were good at sharing, not complaining, helping without being asked, or just being a trooper while running errands.  When I see our kids act in such a way toward each other, toward adults, among friends, or with strangers, it feels so promising!  It’s not because they’re doing this for me but because they’re experimenting with a new desire that considers others.

When asked about whose the greatest in kingdom of heaven is, Jesus sat a child in their midst as an object lesson. A child had very little status in ancient society. In an agricultural society, often with large families, small children were viewed more as a burden because they couldn’t contribute. However, a child has an innate ability to trust in the care another. All children need an advocate because all children are supposed to grow up to be an advocate.

The idea is that we’re all supposed to spiritually grow out of child-ish, “meet-my-needs”, “bless-me” ways. Jesus affirms a child, signifying that the process of growing is most significant. Child-likeness is needed for faith to thrive - trusting our Heavenly Father while we to help others who might not notice, appreciate, or return the favor.

…How might God be parenting you?

…In what way are you growing as an advocate?

…As you grow, are their ways you can better serve your ‘faith family’?

A Pregnant Pause.

A Pregnant Pause.

From the time her water broke to the time Annika arrived was 20 minutes. That sounds like a relatively easy labor. The problem was we lived a solid 15 minutes from the hospital. It was your classic 3:00am dash – running red lights, driving faster as the groans grew louder. Once inside, the staff was so intent on NOT delivering until the doctor arrived. At this point, Annika’s little head was crowning out of the birth canal. I hear nurses literally say to Laurel, ‘just relax…try not to push’. Fine! But gravity is an impossible negotiator!! As the doctor finally enters the room, she glares at the nursing staff and exclaims with a nervous smile, “Let that baby come out!!”

The doctor’s presence meant “salvation” had come. Delivery meant Deliverance – for Laurel, for Annika, and for this group of labor nurses. New Life had come!

On the day Jesus decided to visit the house of a Jewish tax collector named Zacchaeus, everyone cringed. He was a man who knew God’s moral law, justice and faithfulness yet lived with complete self-interest. He worked with the ruling elite in exploiting his own people (Luke 19). Yet, Jesus (who’s name means, ‘God saves’) publicly exclaims for all to hear, “Today salvation has come to this house!” Jesus didn’t say this because this man had right doctrine or recited a prayer but because of a confession and eagerness to make amends. Jesus’ presence in his home brought peace. His handling of him offered hope. A meal together meant an opportunity to turn.

This weekend, we’re gathering as Tribes to practice community and hospitality. It’s a chance to visit, pray, even plan to make faith and community accessible. Like Jesus, this is another chance to but the ‘divine of display’. You’re not just volunteering to host or bring a brunch items. You’re gathering in faith believing that God can revive even the most stressed hearts, stale marriages, and doubting minds! My prayer is that, like Zacchaeus, each of us would grow in a willingness to turn…turn toward being known, finding a contribution, compassion or obedience. And we’d increasingly turn away from doubt, fear, and temptation. Let it be said of Mission Hills, whether we gather for worship, for a meal, in service of needs, at a party, or among friends – ‘Today, salvation has come!’

Enjoy what you create.

Enjoy what you create.

We had a saying we used with our kids growing up. We wanted them to treat each other as friends and with respect, not combative siblings. We never wanted to dismiss sibling rivalry as "just how it is". So we reminded them, "You get to enjoy what you create". In their case, it was the difference between enjoying a friend at home versus having a foe, feeling safe or being guarded. It was same toward us as parents. If they wanted to enjoy our trust and confidence, they had a say. It was one of the boundaries we used to make it easier for a sleepover or play date work, to enjoy eating out, or be part of a crowd even if other kids acted differently. As a result, we ALL got to enjoy a lot more fun than discipline, a lot more conversation than screen time, a lot more outings and adventure than time outs.

When it comes to faith, community, and mission – WE (as in each one of us) get to enjoy what we create. Faith should be transformational, but it’s not automatic. Community NEEDS a ‘standing appointment’ for quality relationships. Faith requires we DO something with our belief (otherwise God is just a theory). And the mission we long for is what makes life most meaningful. For our church family, our mission is creating a living faith, together, that will ultimately impact others starting with those closest.

Our home feels remarkably different this week as we moved our son into college. Ours will never be his address again. He will visit and stay but he’s not coming home each night. I’m in awe of the expansive quality God has created our hearts. My heart is SO FULL of joy and gratitude and at THE SAME TIME full of sadness and loss. It’s hard but so, so good. He was sad to leave as much as we were sad to see him go. YET, that’s a good thing!! AND, we are enjoying what we created – a son who’s ready and able to be on his own. A son who Lives what he Believes about Jesus. A son who longs for community and invests in others to make it happen.

Mission Hills seeks to exist as an extended family of faith more than simply a church service to attend. This fall, we have four Tribes – (1) South Austin, (2) Westlake/NW Hills, (3) Four Points/Lakeway, & (4) North Austin.

And here’s the thing: YOU Get To Enjoy What You Create!

When you’re IN community you see what people are capable of and work together to draw it out—Support for a Living Faith? ‘Current’ with friends? Experience with God? YES!  Each Tribe has capable leaders but, like any family, it takes each person seeing potential in others and finding their contribution. Sept.1&2 is Church-as-Tribe weekend. It’s a chance to pursue a faith that transforms our hearts, homes, neighborhoods, and city.

Making Noise

Making Noise

Typically, we think “strength in numbers”, “bigger is better”, “the more, the merrier” BUT…studies show the larger a group, the less productive it becomes. In one study, researchers found what they called, the Social Loafing Effect. One experiment, participants wore blindfolds and noise-cancelling headphones and were asked to shout as loud as they could. Without exception, everyone made less noise in groups compared to when they shouted alone. Their conclusion: the mere perception that you’re in a group reduces one’s motivation and effort.  

Researchers explained how Social Loafing is a feedback problem. It means when groups get larger, you experience less social pressure and feel less responsibility because your performance becomes difficult, even impossible, measure within a crowd.

Jesus invites each of us into a personal faith AND a group participation within the church. The danger of groups, though, is getting lost in crowd where serving is limited, gifts minimized, commitment lowered, and depth of experience missed...all of which can bringing change from the inside out.

At Mission Hills, we define the Rhythm of Renewal as a growing awareness of God’s presence. Despite the pace and demands of life, Renewal seeks to be sensitive to the Spirit prompting us to turn away (ie resentment, addiction, anger, etc) &/or turn towards (compassion, gratitude, hospitality, etc).  This week’s Friday Lent Initiative, “TGI…not my will” offers room to God’s Spirit to guide us in thought, word, and deed. Pick (at least) one and make a plan because a living faith leads to new life. Easter’s coming!

 

Results.

Results.

Inspired by the grand parties of Long Island in the 1920’s, F.Scott Fitzgerald began piecing together big ideas for a most memorable novel. In 1925, The Great Gatsby received mixed reviews and only sold 20,000 copies the first year. Hardly the results of such an inspired idea! Fitzgerald eventually died in 1940, tragically believing himself to be a failure and his work all but forgotten. As we know today, The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be a literary classic!

Sometimes it’s hard to see the impact of our work, our words, our friendship, our faith. Oftentimes, it’s easy to miss the fruit of the seeds we plant. And always, God invites us to trust.

In Jeremiah 29:11, there’s a heart-warming promise to the people of God in exile - “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans for hope and a future.”  The problem is that it would be 70 more years before they’d be freed. Instead, He tells them to seek the peace of the city…for in its prosperity you will also prosper.  In other words, serve, host, give, help, throw a party and trust that God will meet you there. Apparently, God doesn’t prosper us by removing struggle. But…he defines a way to experience his presence.

Speaking of grand parties and seeking the peace, we threw a ‘Roaring’ party last week (See pictures HERE). It was a chance to host others as we celebrated two years of faith, community, and mission in Austin. It’s hard to measure the impact of a party, a favor, an invite, a worship service, brunch, a bag of groceries, or a shared meal with a refugee. But God invites us to trust while we seek Him and the peace and of the city.  Here’s to demonstrating faith and trusting God with the results! Join us for worship this Sunday as we consider more of God’s promises for a New Year! In fact, don’t just come…Host. Many guests might be ready for another invite.

Trusting Him, together.

Making Awkward Look Good


Remember the feeling of the first day of school on a new campus?
Ever relocate to a new neighborhood or city and you were the outsider looking in?
Have you ever started a new job in a fast-paced office where you knew you were a step behind everyone else?
Ever show up to a workout class or gym and feel like you stick out like a sore thumb?
Last question . . . Ever start attending a new church and feel like everyone already has their friends, knows what to expect, and knows what to expect?

None of these experiences make us feel comfortable. They tend to create an awkwardness we’d rather avoid. The good news for all of us starting Mission Hills Church is that we’re all starting in the same boat. Maybe another way of saying this is, We make awkward look good! 

The only thing worse than an uncomfortable moment is when we go through it alone. We all desire spiritual growth but stepping out in faith alone is hard to sustain or enjoy. Yet, we can find strength in numbers.  Mission Hills seeks to re-imagine church as a shared practice of faith by embracing Rhythms, together. 

We see Tribes and worship gatherings as two-sides-of the-same-coin that we call church; Sharing meals, extended conversations, faith applications, intergenerational fellowship, expressing gratitude in worship, study of God’s living word — all spells a dynamic community of faith.

We see the church as an extended-family living on mission together in how we care for each other, respond to needs and opportunities around us, and offer our hearts up to Christ. We seek a living faith that looks 3-Dimensional – Inward, Upward, & Outward.

My hope is as you invest in Mission Hills long enough, you’ll find someone a little further along, someone to come alongside, and someone you can invest in. Trying anything new feels uncomfortable for a season but we have a chance to make awkward look effortless! Glad you’re in for the journey!