#BlackLivesMatter is a gospel issue

At The District Church, we’ve just started a series entitled “A Call for Racial Reconciliation.” Matthew kicked us off powerfully this past Sunday by talking about “Why Race Matters to God,” and included the unqualified statement that “Black Lives Matter is a gospel issue.” You can listen to that here.

Where is God in suffering, anxiety, and depression?

My good friend and brother-in-ministry Aaron Cho is one of the pastors at Quest Church in Seattle. He preached this weekend from the book of Job on suffering and delivered such a powerful word that I’m leaving it here for you.

Meanwhile, at The District Church this last Sunday, Aaron Graham (our lead pastor) preached on “Overwhelmed: The Fight Against Anxiety and Depression.” Too often our churches don’t know how to address mental illness — but we have to bring it out in the open and disarm it of its power. You can listen to that podcast here.

Overwhelmed

Carolyn’s Most Important Question

Every summer at The District Church, we do a series called My Most Important Question, during which we get to hear from folks in our community about the biggest question they’ve wrestled with (or are wrestling with) in their life and spiritual journey. The idea behind it is that we don’t believe God calls us to leave our questions at the door when we follow him, but rather, like the man in Mark 9, we can say, “I believe; help my unbelief!” We believe it’s in wrestling with those difficult questions, those doubts and uncertainties, and even in sitting with them — without actually fixing anything — that we grow and mature and God teaches us things we might not otherwise be able to learn.

Carolyn MMIQThis past Sunday, Carolyn shared her most important question. You can listen to it here (she’s last, beginning at 31:53 — though Raessa and Justin, who also spoke on Sunday, are worth listening to as well! For that matter, you should listen to all of the others.). I’m so proud of her, and for the story that she was able to tell because of what God has done; and I hope you’re encouraged.

Praxis Gathering: Planting Churches

praxis invite

In about a month’s time, I’m going to be leading worship at the Praxis Gathering here in DC. It’s going to be an exciting time — organized by my friend JR Woodward and V3, the lineup of speakers includes Alan and Deb Hirsch, David Bailey, Jon Tyson, Don Coleman, and many more (including a number of District Church pastors).

Per the website:

The Praxis Gathering is a unique church planting conference in that we are passionate about the space where real-time practice collides with rich theology, followed by deep reflection. During our time together, we will plummet deep into the hands-on-work of disciple-making, community formation and incarnational mission for the sake of God’s in-breaking Kingdom. There is a movement afoot calling us into these grounded vital essentials. Gather with us and 300 + other practitioners to be equipped, nourished and sent back into the world.

If this is of interest to you, I’d encourage you to register now by clicking here.

And if you’re looking to get a discount, shoot me a message and I’ll send you a code — you’ll need to register by Friday, August 14 for it to work!

Why Work? Part 3: A Challenge and an Encouragement

[Part 3 of an adaptation of the “We are at Work” sermon at The District Church on May 17, 2015. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.]

In their book Every Great Endeavor, Tim Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf list some common ways of understanding our Christian responsibility as those who work. You may know—or hold to—some of these:

  • to further social justice in the world;
  • to be personally honest and evangelize your colleagues;
  • just to do skillful, excellent work;
  • to create beauty;
  • to work from a Christian motivation to glorify God, seeking to engage and influence culture to that end;
  • to work with a grateful, joyful, gospel-changed heart through all the ups and downs;
  • to do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion;
  • to make as much money as you can, so that you can be as generous as you can.

The thing is, while some people will pick one or two of these and argue that this is what we’re all supposed to do, none of these is the only—or even the main—way; in fact, they’re intended—like the four chapters of the gospel story—to go together. They’re supposed to fill out a larger picture and understanding of our work. We’re supposed to try to do all of these things, and this vision of work is supposed to be bigger than anything you can manage on your own, because it’s God’s vision and that means it’s a God-sized vision. Don’t let our individualistic culture or American Christianity’s over-emphasis on your personal relationship with God fool you; knowing God personally is absolutely vital but God intended us to be a part of his family, part of his body, part of his church, to need each other and each other’s contribution and each other’s support, to depend on and value the other parts of the body of Christ even as we play our part. Why church? Because that’s what God made us for. 

Let me close with a challenge and an encouragement. My challenge to you all is this—and it may seem frustratingly simple and vastly inadequate to answer all of your questions and issues about work, and that may be intentional: seek God. Wherever you are—whether you are in a job you (by-and-large) enjoy or in a job you don’t; whether you feel like you’re utilizing your gifts or not; whether you feel fulfilled or not, seek God. If your faith has nothing to do with your work, seek God. If you don’t even have a faith, seek God.

Seeking God may look like recognizing that you can’t do your job without God and allowing that to drive you deeper into dependence on God. Seeking God may look like realizing that God might be calling you out of the work you’re doing and into something new or it may look like staying where you are right now because God is trying to teach you patience and perseverance and graciousness toward others. Seeking God may be as seemingly-insignificant as just saying a prayer when you’re having a rough moment or a long day, or as seemingly-life-changing as switching careers even though you went to school or worked for many years to get where you are now. Seeking God is actually never insignificant.

Seeking God might mean getting your personal walk with God in order—in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Apostle Paul writes, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Seeking God might mean getting more connected with the church community, who can support you in prayer, who can check in on you and see how you’re doing, who can take you out for a drink when you need it, who can remind you of the promises of God, or just be there, embodying the presence and love of God. “Seek God” is intended to be a simple challenge: simple in order that it might be applicable to all people in all situations and a challenge because it requires you to make an effort.

And here’s the encouragement—again, it may seem frustratingly simple and vastly inadequate to bring you much comfort, but again, that may be intentional: you’re not alone. This is where the church is unique—we are the body of Christ, we are dedicated to the work of God, and we are indwelled by the Most High. You’re not alone because God is with you. One of Jesus’ names was Emmanuel—it means “God with us.” I believe God says to us the same thing he said to Joshua in the Old Testament:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

God sent his Son to walk among us and he sent his Spirit to live within us. God is with you—and actually that’s why it’s important to seek God, because in seeking God, you may realize that God is with you far more than you’ve ever been aware.

You’re also not alone because we are with you. We the church, we the body of Christ, we the children of God, we your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Throughout the church, there are others who could listen to your story, to your struggles, to your joys, and say, “Me too.” We stand with one another, we laugh with one another, we pray with one another, we care for one another, we share one another’s burdens, we work with one another and are with one another as we work (and as we look for work). And all for the glory of God.