Month: January 2010

We exist to love people

Note to reader: This is part 1 of a 4-part blog series describing the core values of New Life Church. Next week: Part 2- We exist to equip believers


New Life Church exists to love people. God sent his Son because he loved the people of the world and Jesus said in John 13:35 that our love for one another would be proof to the world that we are his disciples.


Love is what we want most. That’s why our songs, our art, our movies and our books talk about love more than any other topic. We want to be loved and we want to show love. Love covers all wrongs, love is patient, love is gentle and love is kind. When love is present, anger is squelched, strivings cease and hurt feelings are mended.


What does that really mean and how are we supposed to carry out this mandate in a world seemingly void of love and filled with anger, evil and trouble?


As a church, we will show love at every opportunity. We will meet any real need that we are able to meet and we will give our resources to those in the greatest pain. Widows, orphans, the poor, the lost, the hurting, the lonely, the disenfranchised and the despised will always be our primary focus. 


No one loves people they do not pray for often. Love has to begin from the inside out. We will ask God to give us sincere love for people and then we will look for opportunities to practically demonstrate this love. Our words will be kind, our motives will be pure and our actions will be sincere.


To be clear, love does not mean we have to compromise our core convictions. We can hold fast to the truth we know but still show love to those who disagree with us. Love means we will listen to differing opinions and respect those with different worldviews or political affiliations. This means we will love and pray for presidents, congressmen and governors we did not vote for on election day.


Love means we will not insult those who have insulted us and we will choose kindness over vindication or revenge. Love means we will assume the best about people and not engage in gossip or slander.


Only love will motivate us to serve and sacrifice for the long term. Love will direct our decisions and determine our mission. In the end, our sincere love for others will give us the opportunity to point people to Christ, the only source of any authentic love.

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Reflections on Haiti

Christianity has done more than enough in the past 2000 years to earn a bad reputation, but when disasters strike, like the one in Haiti, authentic Christ followers have always been among the first to lend support and aid.  We may disagree on some minor theological points and we may not play well together at times, but we do tend to rally together when the need is the most urgent.

I heard a report today that 90 percent of the non-government aid coming to Haiti was from faith-based organizations.  As taxpayers and citizens, we have also contributed to the government relief and military support that is helping bring order and stability to Haiti.  I am grateful the church has responded with such generosity and is part of the solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem.

Christ followers are a hopeful people who love to serve and love to give, but sometimes it takes a disaster to remind us of our core mission.  In a season of economic instability and uncertainty, we gave generously, even when the need right here at home was great.

I pray we will continue to serve the people of Haiti after the media spotlight has dimmed and world attention has turned to some other global crisis. The problems in Haiti are decades old and the solutions are not simple or easy. We must not give up on these precious people. Jesus told us we would always have the poor among us. He did not tell us this as an excuse to ignore them but to remind us to never stop serving them.

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Are we loyal?

Loyalty is a devotion, duty and special attachment to somebody or something. Loyalty is often talked about, but rarely demonstrated. Athletes are not loyal to the hometown team, coaches leave players for better paying teams, fans are somewhat loyal, until the winning stops, and then they look for the next frontrunner to support.

I want to be a loyal person. I want to be loyal to God and the ministry He has given me. I certainly want to be loyal to Pam and our covenant of marriage. I want to be loyal to my children and to my friends.  Although relatively low in importance and high in carnality, I want to be loyal to the teams I have cheered for since childhood.

When I moved to Colorado, lots of people chided me for rooting for the Cowboys instead of the hometown Broncos.  It was all good natured and we have had a lot of laughs about it. But, when pushed on the issue, I tell people that I have always cheered for the Cowboys since I was a small boy growing up in Northwest Louisiana.  Staubach, Dorsett, Too Tall Jones, Harvey Martin, DD Lewis, Newhouse, Irvin, Emmitt, and Landry were my heroes. To root primarily for another team has never been an option. It’s a loyalty issue for me.

This season, the Broncos got off to a 6-0 start and the local fans were ecstatic and people were piling on the bandwagon. When the team sputtered to a 2-8 finish, local emergency rooms were full with people with broken ankles after jumping off the bandwagon.

I know these are worldly issues, but I am convinced that sports loyalties are a window into the soul. We certainly should not worship sports or make sports an idol, but if we say we are a fan of a team then mean what you say. Root for them when they win and stick with them when they stink.

Ultimately, loyalty to God and to others is much more critical. When tested, I want to be a loyal follower of Christ and a loyal friend. I want my devotion and my duty to be the same in the good times and in the bad times. Loyalty is a virtue that is hard to find in our culture today and when I spot it in others, I mark them as a person that I want as a friend.

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Have we prepared our people for tough times?

I believe God wants to bless us and I believe in healing for our physical bodies. I believe God is capable and willing to bless people financially. I don’t believe any of these are the central focus of the Gospel. They are parts, but not the center. However, in the past 50 years, American Christians have focused a great deal of thought and attention to wealth and health. Certainly, we have a better understanding of healing and blessing as a result, but I suspect we have also wandered from our primary mission and lost any understanding of the theology of suffering.

Have we created a theological ideology that eliminates any discomfort and marginalizes any element that would cause us pain or even death? To be clear, I am not suggesting that we look for persecution or that we pursue suffering because it is my opinion that persecution and suffering will find us without us looking for it. But, have we, as pastors, teachers and leaders prepared our churches for difficult times? Have we created a sense of entitlement among our people that lead them to believe that any hardship is a direct reflection on their capacity of faith or the result of some secret sin?

I do believe that unbelief and sin can cause bad things to happen to us, but I also believe rough times can happen to even the most devoted of followers.  When it does, Jesus said to “take heart, for I have overcome the world.” So while Jesus is trying to help us regain our courage and move forward, we are being bombarded with messages from well meaning people that difficult days were probably our fault.  This has to stop or we are going to shipwreck people with an incomplete theology.

I suggest we keep teaching on healing and we continue praying for miracles. I suggest we keep teaching people that God wants to bless us financially, especially those who are willing to use those resources for the building of His kingdom on the earth. But, let’s not avoid the difficult teachings of Jesus and the Apostles that clearly describe seasons of suffering and loss. 

God promised to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death and Jesus promised to enter into our suffering to comfort us and protect us.  Jesus guaranteed persecution but He also said we would always have the right words to say when brought before our persecutors. He promised us the Holy Spirit, who would teach us, lead us and guide us. 

My challenge to pastors and leaders is teach all of Scripture and not avoid the tough questions or sensitive issues. To preach and teach only on the comfortable topics is setting up our people for failure when their lives are not comfortable. Prepare the people for healing, blessing, suffering, and persecution and then the entire Gospel is really being taught.

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