Viewing entries tagged
Living Faith

Object of our belief.

Object of our belief.

Ever consider how everyone has faith?  Some have faith that God doesn’t exist, care, or heal. But faith is such a part of everyday life that we often don’t even notice!  Like now…the chair you’re sitting in. Did you question if it would hold you when you sat down? Did you inspect it beforehand and ease into it cautiously? The food you ordered – did you think it poison? The structure you’re in – do you question its safety? The friend you trust – do they ever have a lapse in judgment?  There are things in life we don’t question—Too much experience has left us believers! And yet…chairs break, food spoils, friends disappoint, and structures collapse. That also doesn’t mean we quit sitting, eating, seeking friendship, or being indoors.

Faith is a useful motivation in life when rooted in God’s faithfulness. However, if we can't see the difference it makes in our lives, faith will always feel nice…but just not very useful.  The better we understand who God is – as generous, merciful, just, compassionate, blameless, and redemptive – the more faith will shape our life. We can literally become like the object of our belief.

Here’s to faith becoming Useful!

Others Needed.

Others Needed.

What helps you feel connected to people? When do you realize you belong? Social media can offer a sense of community but simply posting or seeing what others are up to does not make us closer. Community shouldn’t be confused with being familiar (ie an acquaintance), being friendly (ie a neighbor), or even a history together (ie classmates). That’s part of it. But the nature of being IN COMMUNITY is to know and be known. It’s hard to be invested if we’re not in involved in outcomes! This makes social media so enticing—We’re able to keep up with lots of people without an actual investment in one another.

The church is supposed to be a radical alternative to a disconnected world. The New Testament refers to community as ‘Koinonia’, a Greek word we reduce to ‘fellowship’. Actually, the meaning is more like a ‘business partnership’, where people are vested in shared and prosperous outcomes. If you’re able to come and go with no expectation of participation, help, contribution or be missed when you’re gone…you’re simply missing out on true community. Being part of a church family CAN help us grow but only when we’re invested in each other’s spiritual progress. Simply put, faith needs a community. 

In life, change is inevitable. But growth is never automatic. And, true personal and spiritual growth happens within community more than on your own…Because growth should make the people around you better.

Mission Hills seeks to practice a Living Faith, together, through shared practice. It’s a chance to experience the heart of God, leverage our faith for the benefit of others, and pass on a living faith to those closest. This has the makings of a beautiful, if not transformational, community.

So who do you know? …because anything good is worth sharing!

Below is a brilliant gallery to scroll by Eric Pickersgill entitled ‘Removed’. It captures our need for real community where we actually share our lives and make each other better.

Useful, not User-friendly

Useful, not User-friendly

Useful does not always mean user-friendly. You might likely have a difficult situation going on right now (a financial dilemma, family saga, marriage impasse, job uncertainty, health scare…). It’s hard to be ‘buoyed’ with confidence that it will resolve well. Yet, you can also probably recall another time that you were in another kind impossible moment. And - only in looking back - can you now see God’s faithfulness. While it’s not something we’d ever want to go through again, we can find confidence in the reality of God’s presence…and, just maybe, your faith has grown. Faith is not a magic genie lamp we rub to get our wish. However, having gone through it, you’re now more able to believe that God sees, cares, and is present.

Faith is useful as a basis for hope. It can become useful as a motivation to help others. It also is useful as an “internal compass”, which steadies and guides us in the midst of challenges. Many would dismiss the utility of faith. However, faith becomes increasingly useful when God is seen in the sequence of life.

Look back over the last 3, 5 and 10 years of your life. Consider your impossible moments. How’d you survive or get through it? Was it all you? Or, can you possibly see God’s provision and care? An unexpected opportunity? Help of a friend? A debt forgiven? A change of heart? A cure? Recovery? Just because we don’t see God in the moment doesn’t mean God is not there. Faith is useful just not always user-friendly.

Being Useful.

Being Useful.

The Swiss Army Knife was the iPhone of its day. So many uses with so many applications. If you’re like most, actually talking on your phone is likely not even a Top 5 useful activity on your iPhone (behind texting, social media, news, emails, maps &/or your favorite game).

Speaking of useful-ness, have you ever sorted out how one’s faith is useful in everyday life?  Faith has direct applications for going to church, praying, reading the bible, serving, giving, worship, et al. But, beyond that, It’s just not always clear nor does even feel ‘spiritual’. Yet, if we believe God is All-Present, then it stands to reason faith intersects with our time, or as parents, our spending, and in marriage. It affects us in groups and by ourselves, with our health and toward our environment. Faith has so many applications...but only as it’s applied.

Ever need to mend a relationship? Long for deeper community? Struggle with injustice or wrestle with influence? Well, at the intersection of common sense, effort & opportunity is the Extra-Ordinary value of faith. In the Book of Philemon, we’re introduced to a runaway slave who finds Paul and a New Life…only to risk everything to realize how Use-Full faith can be in Me, with Us, for Others, & by God.  If you’ve ever wondered or been challenged to explain the role or value of faith in changing lives, experiencing God, or leveraging it for other’s benefit…this study will be useful in so many ways!

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 Storied Life.

A Storied Life.

The power of story captures even the most distracted of us! We cheer for underdogs and relate to ‘against all odds’. We love the timing of dialogue in the heat-of-a-moment. We savor (& binge) on story that paint pictures, weaves emotion, and invests us to outcomes. A screenwriter friend described what makes a gripping story is the development of a character. “To be interesting…”, he says as he leans forward over his coffee, “a person needs to go through something... something interesting or intense. The difference between an ‘extra' and a principal actor is what we see when a character goes through challenge. It can be attractive or repulsive. Either way, it's what makes the story." 

God’s story in us, that is a living faith, develops the same way. We grow as we’re forced or required to endure. And the secret ingredient to transformation is the Holy Spirit present within us. Given our access to education, industry, healthcare, and line of credit…it doesn’t seem to require faith to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. To be sure, God graciously provides but it’s easy to see my success, determination, and common sense exclusively tied to my strength. Yet, faith unfolds when we CANNOT see a way we can humanly make it happen. Faith works when we respond to the prompts to help, give, stop, receive, or turn. Faith is about learning how to love another in a world full of self-promotion and preservation. And, in the midst struggle and prosperity, within the mundane and the busyness – faith lives when believe that God sees, loves, redeems and restores. 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws”. (Ez.36:26-27)

Here’s to our story becoming God’s Story and a Living Faith!