Becoming Who You Are

I did not preach yesterday morning. I was celebrating the wedding of my college roommate this weekend. In Detroit. In March. Anyway, while I did not preach this weekend, I was given the opportunity to speak to our local association’s pastor’s gathering last week. Here’s the message I gave them. If you are a leader in your local church, and you feel like your church could be more than it is right now, this is a message you’re going to want to catch. What I shared with the pastors last week was the secret to setting your church on the track of becoming fully who God designed her to be. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Becoming Who You Are

Have you ever tried to go somewhere blindfolded? Maybe someone’s done that to you as a kind of team-building exercise or an object lesson of some sort. How’d you do? I suppose it depends on where we are. I mean, if I’m at home, I’m going to feel fairly confident. I know where all of our stuff is—you know, minus all the surprises the kids leave in the floor—and feel like I could probably navigate my way around it to reach some goal without the benefit of sight. If you were to take me out of that environment and put me somewhere unfamiliar, though, that confidence level is going to drop like a stone. Even if you were to just put me in my front yard, I’d be moving around pretty carefully, not to mention slowly. It’s hard to get somewhere when we can’t see where we’re going. 

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Morning Musing: John 12:24

“Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

How is it that we manage to figure out who we are? More than that, how do we manage to become that person? There’s something inside of all of us that longs to be fully ourselves. The trouble is, most of us don’t really know who that is or how to get there if we do. There are all kinds of obstacles in the way. These appear in our path both internally and externally. Externally, some of the people around us don’t want us to become fully who we were made to be because they want us to be conformed to their own image for us. Maybe this is a parent in your life, but it could also be a sibling or a friend or a boss or a coworker. Many of our obstacles, though, are internal. We are afraid of the journey to reach that point. We don’t want to give up all of the things that will have to go for us to get there. We want to have options and not be fully committed to any one thing. The result here is often a mess. Jesus gave us a way to get there though. It is a way that was accidentally captured in the final episode of Titans season three. I know I did a review of the series a few weeks ago, but having just finished it at last, there’s one more thing we need to talk about. Let’s get to it.

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More Together

Here we are at the end of our journey to better understand who God made us to be as a church. We are a people with whom anyone can connect to grow in Christ and reach out for His kingdom. That is who God designed us to be for such a time and place as this. But simply being that church is not enough. If we are truly going to grow into who He made us to be, that growth has to go somewhere. Well, God has plans to take us somewhere. In this final part of our journey we’ll talk about what it takes to be the church He created us to be and where He is taking us in the days ahead of us. Thanks for reading and sharing. I would invite you to join with us on this journey.

More Together

The Ironman Triathlon is widely recognized to be one of the most grueling endurance races in the world. To complete the course, participants must swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon. Doing this once in a lifetime would be a major accomplishment. Doing it more than once in a year is almost beyond imagining. Then there’s William Pruett. This endurance superstar completed the Ironman course not merely once, not even merely twice. He once did it five times. In a week. That’s right: William managed to complete 5 Ironman events in 5 days. How was your week? If you didn’t swim 12 miles, bike 560 miles, and run 131 miles, you’re falling a little short. You may need to pick up the pace some this next week. 

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A Note on Being the Church

We’ve talked about connecting and we’ve talked about growing in Christ. But those two cannot be the end of our journey as followers of Jesus. They certainly weren’t the end of His. And they aren’t the end of who we were created to be as a church. This week we talked about one last, but critically important, part of our God-given identity: Reaching. Why do we reach out and what can that look like here? Read on to find out.

A Note on Being the Church

Have you ever played capture the flag? When we had P.E. in grade school, that was always one of my favorite games. We consistently played it in the gym. The P.E. teacher, Mr. Wilson, put a line of cones down the middle of the floor and split the class into two teams. On each side there was a zone of cones that was the jail and a zone that was where the flag stayed. The goal, of course, was to get the other team’s flag and make it back across the line to your side without getting tagged. The slowest people in the class always got stuck guarding the jail and the flag itself. The fastest group was tasked with getting the other team’s flag. We would line up along the halfway line in various places, trying to spread the other team’s defense as thinly as we could. Some of the group would be sent as decoys – guys we knew were going to get caught in order to distract the flag watchers and jail keepers which in turn created an opening around the flag. Once you made it into the flag box you were safe for the moment. The next trick was figuring out how to escape back to your side. I don’t know that we ever put that much strategy into things. We just ran around until the game was over. 

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The Necessity of Growth

This week we are taking the next step forward in our conversation about who God has designed First Baptist Oakboro to be. We are a people with whom anyone can connect, but connecting can’t be the end of the journey. Once someone has connected, it is time for some growth to happen. Let’s talk about what that means, why that matters, and how it can happen here.

The Necessity of Growth

Lisa and I both grew up in the suburbs. Now, I remember doing a pretty good-sized garden when I was growing up. It was a suburban backyard garden. We grew green beans, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, and probably some other veggies, but those are the ones I remember. After we got through seminary and settled in a little town in the middle of rural, Virginian farmland, though, neither of us had grown anything for quite some time. Naturally, we thought planting a garden would be a great idea. Noah was still at the age where we could put him down and he really couldn’t go anywhere, so we had our friend Larry till us up a 30×60 plot of ground with his tractor. We had a ball. We would spend hours each week pulling weeds (just so we’re clear: when you’re a bit OCD, keeping a 30×60 garden completely free of weeds is no small task) and watering and then picking and canning. It was great. That worked out for a couple of years and then we found ourselves with another baby and a toddler…and the garden got smaller. Then came baby number three and it got even smaller. 

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