On Sunday we talked about a “Magnetic Community” — one where God is central and His people radiate from relationship with Him. We talked about how if we’re going to see a church the way God intended it, we must start with being honest about God’s place in our lives. Secondly, we must be intentional about church (choosing to connect beyond the worship gatherings and choosing to love and engage with others). Thirdly, we must be magnetic to those who are outside.

This third area is a tough one for many. Because often when you are a part of a church, you quickly become connected and involved. And before you know it, life revolves around the various church activities, your friends become primarily or even solely “church people” and ever so subtly we forget about those who don’t know Jesus. The huge problem with this is that the church is part of God’s master plan to make sure the Gospel message is communicated and the world is given opportunity for hope and life. If we don’t do something about it, there is no one coming after us to get it done. It’s our call, our job and I think the evil one has subtly lulled many Christians asleep to a dying world without Christ. I think it’s even gotten to the point of well-meaning Christians beginning to believe, you don’t really need Jesus to have life and get to heaven. Not that they don’t need Jesus, but that some begin to believe that there are many roads, many ways to life and heaven and Jesus is just one of many. Okay, maybe we don’t believe that, but many seem to LIVE as if that’s true. If we stay silent, that is the message we’re sending: “somehow you’ll be okay without Jesus, and I don’t want to offend you, so I’ll just let you live without knowing what I know.”

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FWD: Church So far

We are in a series called “FWD: Church”. We’ve been discovering God’s original intention for the church and seeking to not be constrained by what we’ve experienced or known about “church” in the past. One of the big “aha’s” of this series has been realizing that the church is part of God’s master plan. What I mean is the church isn’t the one that has a mission, but the mission of God has a church and we are it! That’s exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting to be a part of something that pivotal in the plan of God. Scary because I know myself as a pastor and I know the church I’m a part of. We don’t seem worthy, we make mistakes and we’re far from perfect. Yet in God’s amazing grace He has chosen us. As David Platt has said, “the church is plan A and there is no plan B”. And what has hit me is that now is our time. We don’t have the time to fool around trying to “do church” like people expect church to be done. We don’t have time to cater to comfort and insider thinking. We are God’s plan and we must step into it.

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A Baptism at a Lake

Last night was quite an experience. The church gathered at Snail Lake in Shoreview for our annual “lake baptism & church picnic”. 17, wait, actually 18 (I’ll tell you that story in a second) were baptized. The afternoon/evening was perfect. A beautiful day, an awesome lake, warm water and a people with a sense of anticipation all made this special. The service began with worship music sung to two acoustic guitars with Will leading us. Watching a hillside full of hundreds of people worshipping God as the sun began setting was powerful. I then shared how baptism is the outward act that demonstrates what has already taken place in the hearts of people. Then the first group came forward…we heard short pieces of each one’s story and then all read Scripture over them, prayed over them and sent them out into the water. They were baptized by elders and staff and returned to be greeted by friends and family who hugged and celebrated with them. Then it was group 2 and then right before group 3, I met Marsha.

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Guest blogger:TJ Addington–Normal & Abnormal

I want to be radically normal and radically abnormal

This is who Jesus was and this is who I want to be. Jesus was radically normal. A carpenter, a man of the people, working class, and someone who everyone around him seemed able to relate to.

He was at home relationally with fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, the wealthy, the poor, the disadvantaged, the sick. Coming from Nazareth he was even more normal. He was obviously approachable as so many engaged conversation with him and he with others.

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Guest blog: meta story — read this

I LOVE how TJ Addington put these truths! The critical story we are in!

Here ya go…

There is a missing element in the conversation regarding spiritual transformation in many evangelical circles. There is rightly a conversation taking place about the need to move from behavior modification where people modify behaviors to fit into their evangelical sub-culture (whatever it is) to true inner life transformation.

In the first case life change is at the behavioral level. In the second case it is from the inside out: Hearts that understand and live in grace, minds that seek to think like Jesus, lives that are brought in line with God’s priorities and relationships that reflect the love of Jesus. For too long the church has settled for behavior modification instead of inner transformation. This is a very important conversation.

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Guest blog:TJ Addington

When I read these blogs by my friend TJ Addington, I felt like: “these are messages I want to share with the church, and I can not say it better!” So, with his permission you’ll notice some very important blog posts by a great author that fit perfectly with what we are talking about on Sundays!
Without further ado…

How do we help people grasp the fact that lost people are lost and face an eternity without Jesus?

It is not politically correct to state this. We don’t like to hear this. Many evangelicals in their bones do not believe this. Lost people (those who don’t know Jesus) are lost and without a relationship with Him they are destined for an eternity in hell. In the words of Jesus, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).'”

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Fwd:Church — the “Trader” video

The following video was shown at the end of week 1’s message in our FWD:Church series. It challenges us to think about what we’re living for and how that plays out in our everyday. He also sets the tone for a church full of people who are following fully after Jesus. Take a watch, and watch it again if you saw it Sunday — there is a lot of challenging content in it…

The Subtle Drift to Lesser Things

It’s not just you, it’s me too. Somehow, as followers of God we subtly drift. Sure I know there are examples of people who don’t drift but completely fall, rebel or abandon. But most of us, unfortunately just subtly drift. But here’s the problem, as I see it, we either don’t see it or worse come to accept it as “normal Christianity”. And before we know it, we start prioritizing the same things that people without faith prioritize. We start making life about us, and the pursuit of the American Dream. We drive our kids to yet one more activity with little to no value. We over extend our finances on what we want and then wonder why we’re giving a little “tip” to God (or worse not wonder at all, because it’s become our new normal – I mean we can’t afford to give more because all our money is tied up in our stuff) In some cases we spend more on personal entertainment (cable, movies, dinners out) in one month than we give in a year to God’s work through His church. We’d like to reach out to others, invite friends to church but begin to wonder what they will think and how they will view us. Our image becomes more important than our obedience. Holiness? Well, come on — I don’t want or even need to be one of those fanatics. I am not hurting anyone and I’m a nice person. What about serving, using the gifts, abilities and resources to forward God’s work? Well we quickly use those up elsewhere and I mean who’s got time? And it’s true—we don’t have the time to BOTH chase the American Dream AND follow Jesus fully.

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Does brokenness break you?

I don’t think I need to say it, but I will anyway: our world is broken. Genesis 1-2 reminds us that God created something beautiful. Genesis 3 shows us that that paradise has been broken by sin. John 1-3 teaches us that Jesus came to put the world back on track, to redeem, to create the potential for new life and a redeemed world. Acts 1-2 & 2 Corinthians 5 call us as Christians and the church to be a part of that redemptive work.

Yesterday we had “coffee with” Esther — the final in our “Coffee with the Old Testament” series. Esther was faced with a broken world and a man, Haman, who was hell-bent on harming the Jews. She was faced with an important decision. You see in a lot of ways, she could have settled into the comfort that she had come to enjoy. She was queen — had great food, servants and was insulated from the outside world. She felt safe, taken care of and comfortable. Then her cousin/ adopted dad, Mordecai, brought the brokenness to her attention. She was then at a key point in her story: to retreat and hide in the comfort of what she knew or to let the brokenness move her to action, a different action than she had engaged in before.

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