Monday, September 28, 2015

Rebuilding Blocks: Brokenness

“I was just heartbroken.” We have all probably said that a time or two.  Sometimes there is nothing more to say. Sometimes it is lighter situations that seem dreadful at the time.  Your favorite team plays a great game but just comes up sort at the end, it can be a heartbreaking loss. If you are a sports fan, your heart will be broken. Then there are deeper more serious, deeper, hurtful times when we utter that profound statement. When you look around our Centralia community and witness young people lives cut short, lives that are full of promise, hope, and anticipating tragically cut short: as a community our hearts break.  If you ever risk love, your heart will get broken and those wounds go deep. You even weather you realize it or not take that brokenness into the future relationships as well. The wounds go deep. Our hearts can break for others as well. When a family member or friend gets those awful words from a doctor, our heart can break. Whenever a child’s life is ended way too soon in our community, it is a tragedy, but it also can break our heart, damage soul, and destroy our spirit as well.
So we stand among the rubble of what once was, with our hearts broken as we try to rebuild. We desperately search for meaning in our brokenness but many times there is none. So we stand in the middle of the chaos of our lives, with our hearts broken, not know how, when, and where to start to rebuild what was lost in our life. We begin not with the unknown but with the absolutes in our life.  We know that God is a God of love and life. One thing that is consistent throughout scripture is God is the God of love and life. He had provided for us love and life in this life and beyond. We know that brokenness is a season. A painful season but like all seasons both good and bad, seasons change. We also are absolute that God is a God of reconciliation. God love it when we come together without conflict. Most importantly if we look back from the beginning, God creates best out of chaos. It was out of chaos God created the physical world in which we live. It was out of chaos God sent His son to restore grace, mercy, and forgiveness in a new covenant. If we read the stories of both the Old and New Testament, we will find hundreds of rich stories where God created something better out of chaos, suffering, and brokenness. Let us not forget God can do the same in our brokenness as well. We must invite Him into our pain, chaos, and sadness. Because when our hearts are broken, God’s heart is broken as well. Join us as we uncover more rebuilding blocks as we rebuild from the ruins of our lives.
Just Love one Another

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sabbath Ain’t Just Solo Anymore

We live in a stressed out, chaotic, frustrating uneasy world. One only has to read the headlines or watch the news to know that craziness abides in our everyday existence. Our bodies eventually begin to show the physical signs of stress: High blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, over eating, and many more medical conditions are directly or indirectly related to stress. We all handle the stress of our lives differently. We all have been told to “just have more faith.” There has been a stigma attached Christians that is your life is stressful you lack faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we look at Jesus as he cleansed the temple and prayed in the garden before being arrested, Jesus had stress. Stress is part of life. We cannot avoid it, destroy it, or pray it away. So we must learn ways and means to deal with it. But God did not just leave it up to us to figure it out. First we are reminded that God creates out of chaos. Out of chaos, God created the heaven and earth and called it good. It was out of the chaos of sin, that God provided redemption, reconciliation, and salvation. God works best in creating out of stress and chaos.
We discussed why it is important to take a Sabbath or to rest as individuals. We uncovered how God rested and if it was important enough for the Creator of the universe to rest, maybe we should also. We also pointed out that God just didn’t simple take a day of rest but made that day Holy. A day set aside like no other day of the week. God also commanded his people to keep the Sabbath as part of God’s covenant with His people. It’s a time to rebuild relationships, spend intimate time with those we love, and not allow the world to dictate us. We all could use a little rest and better relationships.  God instructed us to take a Sabbath or day of rest witch is all agreeable on an individual basis but He doesn’t stop there. God instructs us to take a Sabbath as a community of faith as well. All communities need a time for renewal, re-energized, and a revision of passion.  It is a break from doing business as usual. Can you imagine if we took a time out in our community to just refocus? What if businesses, political leaders, social workers, teachers, educators, and religious leaders put aside all agendas, ideals, and opinions and focused all of our energy on one single issue that plagues our community? Can you imagine if our whole community that stop just saying “what’s wrong” and concentrates on specific concrete programs, outreach, and service. A break to evaluate if our efforts are truly helping or enabling those we are called to serve. As a faith community we need intentional periods of Sabbath to stop, listen to God’s instruction, reevaluate our efforts, and define our true calling in our community. God desires any community to take a Sabbath. Maybe it’s time we all put that into practice and follow God’s lead.
Lead Servant:


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What's in a Name?

Note: The content of this article was written as a collaborative effort between ideas expressed through emails between myself and Abby Henegar who is a senior psychology major at TCU, a amazing servant of God and calls me Dad. 

If you Google First Christian Church you will find 114 million hits. So what is in a name that is so common that there are 114 million others? The one thing our Centralia community has the most of per our population is churches yet our community seems to be in chaos and fear. So the problem arises if there are so many churches and things are getting worse then what can we as a faith family do to be more effective. What will make our name carry significance and respond accordingly?
First and foremost we will not panic nor fear. It was out of chaos that God created the world in which we life. It is in the chaos of our lives when Christ is the closest to us. God’s love and mercy has always hovered over chaos. Now is no different.  We Also need to realize our community is not unique. We have had an increase of deaths not by natural causes. However in my home town of Memphis in one evening fourteen people were killed. Two children were shot and killed in a drive by shooting while they slept in their beds. Every child should feel safe in their bed. I say this not out or disrespect but to note that evil is everywhere. It is now just trickling down to our community. We need to acknowledge that every life matters. Each life needs to matter to us regardless of age, race, religion, or social class. Why? Because each life matters of Christ so as a follower of Christ it needs to matter to us.
We will continue to preach and prayer that's been echoed it basically all scripture that Jesus, is in fact, alive and well. Alive and well in all of us that call ourselves Christians. We will continue to serve the countless number of families that visit the food bank, fellowship meal, and Salvation Army on a weekly basis. We will be intentional on focusing on the youth who are trying to fill the void in their life with sex, drugs, alcohol. It’s a void that only the peace of Jesus can fill. We will remain serving the adults who ended up with a life they never wanted or deserved. We will continue to focus ones in Centralia that lack an understanding of relentless, forgiving, unconditional love.  We will be an oasis where one can find a real relationship with the One who gave them life.  We will provide a place for those who yearn for a faith that fancy coffee bars, energetic PowerPoints, and rock bands cannot satisfy. We will be a place of refuge were everyone is not only welcomed but cherished.  We will proclaim if anything  that Jesus is living in Centralia today.  Jesus befriended the hurt, the broken, the least of these, the ones that society would not even give a chance.... Jesus is running this town, He always has been.  Jesus runs through us though, its his method of operation.  Jesus was a part of saving Murray Center, he was a part of Centralia Group Workcamp, and Jesus was running the streets of Centralia supporting the families and friends of those with cancer and other illnesses. This town is run by Jesus through our actions. Always has, and always will.  It is our job to make sure that we aren't distracted by personal pride and ego in our attempt to serve our city and serve our God... When we serve ourselves instead, the Jesus in us is counterproductive. We must shine God's light - not our own. Because it isn't ours to shine. Our name will not be a brand. Jesus did not need video promos, cool graphics, or tattoo drawn t-shirts. So nether shall we. Christ had himself and his father. So, what do we have in common with Jesus? - Ourselves & our Father. We are responsible; we are the future, with God’s will running through us, their will running through our city. We will cultivate disciples of Jesus. We will be more than a t-shirt wearing disciple. My goal is that someone can come to know hope, love, justice, and the presence of God by being myself, being a light of God our Father. Speaking for the next generation for disciples 20 year old Abby writes “I want to get on outreach: serving the poor, comforting the hurt, broken, and sick. I want to use our money not to be a billboard for Jesus, but use it to be blessing for someone else. I want to use myself not as a billboard, I want to use my talents and gifts God gave me as a hand-holder to the broken.”  
In reflection of the chaos we are enduring. Let us begin to respond accordingly so our name shall be synonymous for a faith family that consistently communicates the message of forgiveness, restoration, and hope. Then God's will to be with us through both the mountains and the dark valleys.
Peace, Love and Happiness: Tommy