Category: Ministry (Page 1 of 31)

Resurrection Hope Right Now

In Mark’s resurrection story, it’s not, “Hey, Jesus is raised! That means there really is life after death!” No, it’s more like, “Jesus is raised and he wants you to go to Galilee to see him! Today! You will see him, just as he told you!” In other words, everything Jesus told you about God’s Kingdom is coming true right now. It’s happening today. And you’re in on it!

Same deal in Matthew. “He is risen from the dead! Awesome! That means we’re going to heaven!” No, it’s more like, “Go see him in Galilee today! He’s got work for you to do! When Jesus meets them there, they worship the risen King and he says, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Now, go! And surely I am with you every step of the way!”

Resurrection doesn’t mean escaping from the world someday when we die. It’s means ministering to the world today while we’re alive. Resurrection hope is a way to live and work for the sake of the world by the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus right now. We are the messengers now, we’re the deliverers of the Good News that the risen Messiah is the King of the whole world. We demonstrate that Good News by living resurrection lives. We call on others to receive it and respond to it for their own resurrection power and hope in Jesus.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. They will rest from their labor for their deeds will follow them.” ~Revelation 14:13

We are–each of us, all of us–commissioned by God’s resurrection power to live and work for the coming and everlasting Kingdom of God on earth. That’s Christ’s prayer and that’s our hope: that God’s will be finally and fully done on earth as it is in heaven. We’re not oiling the wheels of a giant machine that’s going to roll off the side of a cliff. We’re not restoring a masterpiece painting that’s ultimately going to be thrown into a fire. We’re not planting roses in a garden that’s destined to be dug up for a parking garage. You are accomplishing something every day that will be an important part of God’s eternal Kingdom forever.

Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every act of care and nurturing, of comfort and support; every prayer lifted; every lesson taught; every good deed that spreads the Good News; everything you do in the name and manner of our Lord Jesus becomes an important part of his Kingdom. We are given resurrection hope in order to share that hope with others. And everything we contribute to the cause–everything!–is used by God toward that great and ultimate end. Every cup of cold water given in his name; every snack packed for at-risk school kids; every check written for foreign missions; every meal served at Family Promise; every diaper changed at Young Lives; every kid mentored at Opportunity Tribe; every fist bumped at Emerson Elementary; every hospital and prison visit; every act of kindness toward an immigrant or refugee–all your work matters. Every minute is packed with heavenly potential. Every action is loaded with eternal consequences. What great hope!

Resurrection hope. Genuine hope for tomorrow. Living hope for today.



An Unending Love

I came across this poem about three weeks ago and have read it out loud and talked to the Lord about it several times since then. It’s written by Rabbi Rami Shapiro and has been a source of deep blessing for me lately. I hope it will be for you, too.

We are loved by an unending love.

We are embraced by arms that find us even when we are hidden from ourselves.
We are touched by fingers that soothe us even when we are too proud for soothing.
We are counseled by voices that guide us even when we are too embittered to hear.

We are loved by an unending love.

We are supported by hands that uplift us even in the midst of a fall.
We are urged on by eyes that meet us even when we are too weak for meeting.

We are loved by an unending love.

Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled,
ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices;
ours are the hands, the eyes, the smiles.

We are loved by an unending love.


March Madness begins today and that means keeping up with the seven brackets in our annual family contest. Seven. Not eight. Carley entered a bracket for their dog that selected every school with a canine/wolf mascot, but I’m not keeping up with it. I’ve got Houston, Baylor, Creighton, and UConn in the Final Four with Cougar High beating the Huskies for the national title. I’m fine with losing to Collin or David. I could even get over it if Whitney scores better than me. But if I lose to the dog, I’ll never fill out another bracket again.



Prayer for the Future

I want to share with you a prayer we looked at together at our monthly ministers retreat this week. I’m not sure if this is really a prayer–it seems more like a poem. We prayed it to the Lord, we talked about it, we identified with some of the lines and affirmed all the others. It’s good. It’s very good. I hope it will be a blessing for you.

Prayer for the Future
Written by Ken Untener for Cardinal Dearden
(commonly known as “The Prayer for St. Oscar Romero”)

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water the seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that provides far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.


Be the Light

Light isn’t what you see; it is the very element by which you see everything else. When you walk into a dark room and flip on the switch, you don’t really see the light as much as you see the coffee table let that’llĀ  kill your toe or the edge of the wall that will take out half your face. The light allows you to see reality, to see what’s really happening.

For us to respond to God’s call that we be the light of the world would, therefore, mean that we dispense light upon the people and things around us. We are not to be praised for being visible light; rather, we are to bring praise to those people and things upon whom and which we shine.

The light isn’t the glory; it’s the brilliance of the person or object seen due to the light.

Don’t be the critic. Be the light.

Don’t be the Scrooge. Be the light.

Don’t be the Bible-banging, Scripture-quoting Pharisee. Be the light.

Don’t be the accuser. Be the light.

Don’t be the naysayer. Be the light.

Life and light is always about how good we can make others appear. And feel. So, we have a lot of good work to do.

Be the light.



Day One in Kalispell

The GCR Church in Midland, Texas is taking the next big step in our Gospel partnership with the MountainView Christian Church in Kalispell, Montana. Nineteen of us are spending this week among the mountains and valleys, lakes and pines, to work side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in reaching their community for Christ.





The partnership between our two churches was formed last October as part of GCR’s “Breakthrough” campaign. A gifted and dynamic young couple, Brad and Melissa Hooley, were planting Mountain View Christian through the Nexus church planting organization, and we were determined to do more in our support of Nexus by upping our game with these courageous church planters. We’re not content to just write checks to Nexus anymore; we are going to own our relationship with these missionaries physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and personally.






It started with a live-streamed communion service together between our two churches via Zoom on their second Sunday. It continued in January when Brad and Melissa and their four wonderful kids spent a long weekend with us in Midland. And today, we have put our bodies where our money is by flying to Kalispell and helping their congregation achieve their plans for outreach in their city.








Today, we cleaned up around the city’s public pavilion, cleared brush and dead limbs around a nature trail, sanded and applied water seal to the wood tables and benches, and planted new flowers at the butterfly garden. This is a beautiful area regularly used by families, civic groups, schools, and nature lovers, but it’s been neglected over the years. Now, as part of their commitment to love their neighbors and to be a positive force in their community, MountainView Christian Church is taking care of it.








We also did a lot of work at their brand new preschool, which is scheduled to open September 6. When the Hooleys were doing their homework on Kalispell last year, they identified a lack of daycares and pre-schools as a point of entry into the community. Opening and operating a pre-school will meet a real, tangible need in the name and the manner of our Lord Jesus. Fifty-one percent of the profit will be put in a church benevolence fund to be used for the community while the remaining 49-percent will be placed into a church building fund. Today we shampooed the carpets, pulled weeds, and removed the rotten landscape timbers bordering the playground, replacing them with brand new six-by-sixes and re-doing the mulch.






Once the work day was done, we walked the downtown strip in Kalispell and enjoyed some wonderful ice cream at Norm’s before heading to Brad’s parents’ house for an incredible dinner with the Hooleys and a dozen other members of MountainView Christian. Check out the picture of Mark playing pickleball in Dwight and Sharon’s driveway. Those mountains and lakes provide the backdrop for almost every scene in Kalispell — just breathtaking. What a delight to break bread with our brothers and sisters in Christ in such a gorgeous setting, to pray with these church-planters, to make connections with these good people who live 1,200 miles away from West Texas, and to thank God for what he’s doing in Montana.

We’re cramming a whole lot into these six days. Brad tells me we accomplished much more today than he expected, which means his bar had been set really low or we really killed it. Either way, we exceeded their expectations, so it’s a win for everybody. I’m always a little worried on things like this that we might be more of a burden on these busy people than a blessing. We were assured by all tonight that is not the case.



Welcoming Jim Tuttle

We ordained the newest member of our ministry team yesterday here at GCR Church. Jim Tuttle comes to us from Lincoln, Nebraska where he has served for 25 years as the founder and Lead Minister at Heartlands Church, to be our Spiritual Formation Minister. Jim brings his wealth of wisdom and experience and his laid-back, relaxed, and extremely relational personality to our adult Bible classes and small groups, to lead us more fully into transformation and mission, into being changed by God to love like Jesus.

In addition to his warm personality and his obvious love for our Lord and devotion to the ways of Jesus, what I see in Jim is that he’s a church guy. He knows church. He loves church. He understands church. You know, church is a funny thing. It’s strange. Church looks funny and talks funny and walks funny and thinks funny and acts funny. And Jim understands it. He knows how it works and what won’t fly. He cares deeply for the people who make up church and he works tirelessly to include the whole church in what God is doing in us and through us to his glory.

Jim’s first official day on the job, today, happens to be the first Monday of the month, the day of our monthly ministers retreat. For twelve years now I’ve made it a habit to host our ministers for breakfast on the first Monday of each month for a time in Word and Prayer, mutual burden sharing, big-picture planning, and group bonding and encouragement. Today, we spent some of our time equipping Jim for what’s in front of him. We want him to be prepared, we don’t want there to be any surprises. So we told him what he needs to know about the others in the group.

We told him that on Ryan’s birthday month or if Ryan happens to win the football pool or the basketball bracket, the monthly staff lunch will be at the food court at the Midland Mall. We told him that Ashlee’s sweet demeanor hides a fierce justice-seeking spirit and that whatever side Ashlee is on, she’s on it out of a righteous indignation and you need to get on board. We told him that J.E. sometimes walks barefoot around the church offices (gross). We told him that Cory’s texts will take up 3-4 scrolls, that Tim likes to come across as gruff but he’s really a sensitive, caring, loving individual, and that I sometimes take Ted Nugent’s name in vain.

I am thankful to God for bringing Jim and Judy to GCR. They are going to make us a better church for the Gospel mission here in Midland to our Lord’s eternal glory and praise.

We spent 45-minutes together in the Psalms and prayed for people in our small groups and ministries at GCR, for each other and our families, and for our church. We spent an hour looking at the overall state of things as we are six-months into our Breakthrough campaign and halfway through our Worship Center construction. We evaluated the current conditions with our classes and groups, with attendance and giving, with guests and new members, with the formation zones and overall communication. And we finalized most of the framework for our GCR 60th Anniversary and Homecoming on October 15. And we shared a serious breakfast casserole Susie Neale cooked for us.

We closed out our monthly ministers retreat with a benediction Ryan brought to us from Every Moment Holy. I recommend this prayer for any group of ministers or church committee:

Our lives are so small, O Lord,
Our vision so limited,
our courage so frail,
our hours so fleeting.
Therefore give us grace and guidance for the journey ahead.

We are gathered here because we believe
that we are called together into a work
we cannot yet know the fullness of.
Still, we trust the voice of the One who has called us.

And so we offer to you, O God, these things:
Our dreams, our plans, our vision.
Shape them as you will.
Our moments and our gifts.
May they be invested toward bright, eternal ends.

Richly bless the work before us, Father.
Shepherd us well lest we grow enamored
of our own accomplishment or entrenched in old habit.
Instead, let us listen for your voice,
our hearts ever open to the quiet beckonings
of your Spirit in this endeavor.
Let us in true humility and poverty of
spirit remain ever ready to move at the
impulse of your love in paths of your design.

May our acts of service and creation,
frail and wanting as they are,
be met and multiplied by the mysterious workings of your Spirit
who weaves all things together toward
a redemption more good and glorious
than yet we have eyes to see or courage to hope for.
May our love and our labors now echo your love
and your labors, O Lord.

Let all that we do here,
in these our brief lives,
in this our brief moment to love,
in this the work you have ordained for this community,
flower in winsome and beautiful foretaste
of greater glories yet to come.

O Spirit of God, now shape our hearts.
O Spirit of God, now guide our hands.
O Spirit of God, now build your Kingdom among us.


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