Month: August 2016

Your Life NEEDS Margin!

margins

I absolutely love to read. Books give us the possibility of entering into a conversation with people we will never meet. These authors teach us about life, marriage, faith, and the art of story-telling. Yet a badly designed book can have devastating consequences on the ability of the reader to enjoy it!

On the left, right, top, and bottom of a book is white space. This white space is known as margin. If the text in a book filled up the entire page – which seems as if it would accomplish more – the book would be a nightmare for the reader.

The same way that margin is vital for a book, it is essential for our lives.

Many of us believe that constant activity will produce extraordinary results. This simply isn’t true. Those of us who feel the need to constantly work are slowly eroding our families and destroying our marriages on the false altar of productivity. Our need to work 60-hour weeks says less about our work ethic and more about our desire to be a god. God does not sleep… He doesn’t have to. He is infinite. We are finite.

We get this confused far too often.

One of the greatest ways to build margin into your life is by practicing a regular Sabbath. I have been using Saturday as my Sabbath for the past year and it has been incredibly refreshing and healing.

I want you to pick a day of the week that you can spend time resting with your family. After you select this day you need to guard it with passion! If you do not fight for margin in your life, no one else will. There are not a bunch of legalistic rules you need to keep on your Sabbath; instead, I would encourage you to seek out activities that allow physical, emotional, and spiritual rest (I’d also encourage you to do this with your phone OFF!)

For me it means I spend a lot of time reading fiction. I love being pulled into a good story rather than being occupied with the current stress of my ministry. Fiction allows me to experience exotic places and incredible stories without leaving my home!

I also love nature. As long as it is not -30 outside, I will go for a long walk to breathe in fresh air and slowly watch birds, squirrels, rabbits, and insects enjoy the day. This reminds me that I’m really not that important. If God sustains the creatures of the earth with food and shelter, He will provide me with everything I need.

During my weekly Sabbath I commit much of the time to hanging out with my beautiful bride. Here’s the truth I live by: The Rescue Church in Garretson can have many different pastors, my wife and (soon to be) daughter only get one husband and father. I will willingly lay down formal ministry if it becomes a god which ravages my family through workaholism.

Can you say the same about your career? Or is your family being ripped apart by the incessant demands at work? Anything or anyone other than the Living God is extremely destructive to worship.

I’m afraid many of us are sacrificing self-care and the health of our families for the false gods of productivity, career, financial security, and materialism.  

A Daily Death (New Message)

Current Series

A Daily Death (Click to Open)

Many people view the Gospel as a means to become rich and achieve supernatural health. The has been propagated by ministers who preach the so-called “prosperity gospel.” This false teaching has been spurred into popularity by the materialistic society which exists in the western world.

In opposition to this, Jesus teaches us that an invitation to follow Him is actually an invitation to come and die (Luke 9:23). I unpack this truth and it’s implications for our lives in this message.

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will have to go to the actual page to hear the message.) 

 

Garretson Spotlight!

Garretson SD Banner

As many of you know, I have the incredible honor of leading The Rescue Church in Garretson. The community of Garretson, SD is filled with amazing people. One of the benefits of a small town is the ability to actually KNOW those around you!

I’m going to begin a regular column on both my website and the Garretson Gazette (the local paper) that highlights community leaders. Some of these people own businesses, work in non-profits, or simply add value to the community!

These short articles will focus on who they are as a person. I want each article to be the kinds of things you would learn over a cup of coffee. I hope it sparks new conversations, forms vibrant relationships, and generates business for the community.

I need YOUR help to make this successful.

Can you please comment or e-mail me the name of a person you think would be an inspiration to read about? My e-mail is tyler@therescuechurch.com – I look forward to hearing from you!

Feeling Distant from God?

Current Series

Have you ever felt distant from God? Does it feel like you are just going through religious motions? I have been there… many times.

I had the honor of preaching this past Sunday at the Garretson Campus of The Rescue Church. Here is the message. I pray that it encourages you in your faith and helps you realize just how much God loves you! (if you’re reading this in your e-mail, you will have to go to the actual page to listen or download)

P.S. – If you live in the area, I preach almost every Sunday at The Rescue Church in Garretson. The service is at 10am and our building is on Main Street. I would love to have YOU be my guest this Sunday!

The Problem with “Individual” Religion

island

The Christian faith has been deeply wounded by the individualism paraded by capitalistic society. Everything around us urges Christians to seek self-help and improve their personal lives. This has formed a church culture based on will-power and self-realization apart from Christ.

Pragmatism has trumped biblical truth.

The belief that Christianity is ONLY an individual decision made at the beckoning of a preacher or “spiritual experience” has been prominent in Western Christianity for centuries.

Nathan O. Hatch describes the religious attitude of the early 19th century, “Christians should shun all institutions, soon to topple around them, and allow the Spirit to work within. It was the disappearance of the church and the unmediated operation of the Spirit upon the individual soul that would mark the advent of the millennium.”

The dangerous thing about false teaching is that it is almost true. This attitude has been practiced by evangelicals for hundreds of years… to our own ruin. Let’s break this statement down and discern what is actually true:

CLAIM: Christian should shun all institutions.
TRUTH: Some institutions are evil. The institution of slavery, the practice of chauvinism, and a variety of other institutional abuse should be shunned. This does NOT mean ALL institutions should be rejected… even the institution of government has been established by God (Romans 13:1). An institution is simply an organization that is established for a specific purpose. Many religious leaders encourage Christians to “shun” the church in pursuit of purely seeking Jesus. This sounds spiritual… really it’s demonic (we’ll get to that in a second).

CLAIM: Christians should allow the Spirit to work within.
TRUTH: Yes, Christians SHOULD allow the Spirit to work within. Nevertheless, Christians should also allow the Spirit to work outside of them as well. The Holy Spirit often speaks through human mediums – pastors, authority figures, parents, friends, small groups – just to name a few. The Holy Spirit does not wait for a Christian to seek a mystical experience before speaking… the Spirit of God is constantly communicating with us; the real question is whether or not we are listening.

CLAIM: The Church is going to disappear.
TRUTH: This is what makes the belief so dangerous. Jesus is clear that not even Hell can overcome HIS Church (Matthew 16:18). The United States will cease to exist. Your job which you sacrifice countless hours and anxiety to will cease to exist. Yet the Church will outlast EVERYTHING!

Jesus Christ established the church and it will exist into eternity. This does not mean the church is perfect! Rather, we should believe in the Reformation principle of “Semper Reformanda” or ALWAYS REFORMING! You cannot reform the church by rejecting it; you can only reform the church by faithfully discerning whether the present practices align with Scripture.

Friends, there really is an enemy and he wants to destroy your soul. He cloaks demonic teaching in the veil of religion in order to distort the true faith delivered to the saints. Christianity is not an individual faith. It is vital to have a group of people around you – the local church – to support you in this tremendous pilgrimage.

There is no such thing as a lone-wolf Christian.

If you try to live the Christian life on your own, you will be torn apart by Satan. He prowls around like a lion looking for arrogant evangelicals to devour. Lions pounce on those separated from the pack; there is no living faith apart from being involved in a church.

Do YOU agree or disagree? Let me know by leaving a comment!

The Gospel Tears Walls Down

brickwall

We are in the midst of a politically charged season. As U.S. citizens prepare to elect the most powerful person in the world, a variety of issues have surfaced. One of the vital issues of the presidential election is how the next president will handle immigrants.

As a Christian, will you respond from a place of biblical conviction or unwarranted fear?

In the early years of the United States there was an “US vs THEM” mentality between white and black people. Many white people celebrated the evil institution of slavery – to the point of exploiting religion in order to abuse their slaves.

In the midst of this tremendously dark situation, Methodist and Baptist churches began to swell with African-Americans (both slave and free). Nathan O. Hatch, in his excellent book on Christianity in the early U.S. explains, “Early Baptists and Methodists earned the right to be heard. They welcome African-Americans as full participants in their communities and condemned the institution of slavery.

In the 1800s the church experienced rapid growth because they took Peter’s revelation seriously:
I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” – Acts 10:34-35

This is an incredibly powerful verse that should influence how we respond to peoples of other cultures:

1. God does not view us through a national lens.
Contrary to popular belief, God does not have a favorite nation. God no longer views people through the lens of a national culture as He once did with Israel. This does not mean that patriotism is wrong; it does mean that patriotism which demonizes another country or culture IS wrong.

God does not elevate the United States or Israel (or any other country) on a pedestal above everyone else. There is no such thing as a truly “Christian” nation. A theocracy today would be a gross misinterpretation of Biblical truth.

2. God accepts us based on faith.
As a Christian, you should feel more solidarity with a refugee who follows Jesus than an American who doesn’t. We hold a dual citizenship in this world – we are citizens of God before we are citizens of the State.

As we enter into the New Jerusalem we will not be waving a flag with stripes and stars. We will be adorned in robes made clean by the blood of Christ. Our unity with others will be secured by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – not our culture, politics, language, or national identity.

3. God loves immigrants.
Being an immigrant seeking refuge is a picture of the Christian life. We exist on this planet as exiles and aliens; living in a world of which we never truly belong. Out of all people, Christians should be the most compassionate towards foreigners.

But what about foreigners who hold to the Muslim faith?

God loves them as well. He sees each of them as individuals made in His image and desires to have a personal relationship with them. Rather than bemoaning those who follow the Muslim faith, what if we showered them with unrelenting love and mercy? What if we lived out the Gospel truth that Jesus tears down the dividing walls of hostility that separate people (Eph. 2:14)?

Many immigrants are fleeing war-torn countries. They have two options: stay in their country and allow themselves to be brutally murdered or… flee! If we reject refugees out of a sense of fear, we will face the judgment of God. I find it convenient that many Christians ignore what the Scriptures teach on immigration (here are a few):

“There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.” – Exodus 12:49

When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34

“Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.” – Deuteronomy 1:1

Isn’t it ironic that many Christians claim the United States is a Christian nation and yet reject refugees and immigrants out of fear?

Christians, let’s ask different questions:
How can we make our churches more inviting to immigrants and refugees?
How can we show with our actions that God loves them and desires a relationship with them?
How do we live the crucified life, dying to ourselves, in order to display the love of Christ? 

There’s a Document Greater Than the Constitution.

photo-1467912407355-245f30185020

We have a tendency to take cultural norms and make them a standard for religious orthodoxy. One of the most disgusting, shameful, and terrible examples of this is racism. Flannery O’Connor lived from 1925 – 1964 and wrote prolifically about the cultural issues of her day. Growing up in the south, she saw the true evil of racism practiced and ingrained in the minds of Christians.

O’Connor sought to judge the cultural norms through the lens of Scripture.

One of the characters in her short story “Why Do the Heathen Rage” is appalled by the justice of God. This character believed that racism was good – that African Americans were treated best when they were treated as less than human.

You’re probably thinking this doesn’t apply to you.

Matter of fact, you may be someone of a different ethnicity and find racism horrible.

Hold on before you close this page out.

We as Christians tend to allow 21st century social issues to become the means of determining whether or not someone is a Christian (especially during a political season). Often we look to the constitution as our standard rather than Scripture. When someone questions a certain political issue held almost universally by Christians, that person is often labeled as a heretic and dismissed.

Unknowingly we have twisted the Gospel. We have added certain qualifications to the Christian life in order to determine whether or not a person is truly spiritual. We need to remember…

Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

Jesus + Something = Nothing.

Below are some qualifications I have experienced Christians (including myself!) lay on other believers:

You are only a true Christian if you believe there should NOT be more gun control.
Some Christians treat the 2nd amendment as if it was written into Scripture. Just for making this statement, there are people reading this who are assuming I am a crazy liberal supporting the “anti-God” agenda of taking away firearms (for the record, I enjoy shooting guns). We forget that many sincere Christians throughout the centuries have been pacifists; that doesn’t make them “anti-God” liberals.

You are only a true Christian if you vote republican.
No matter what you do, do not tell another Christian you support a democratic candidate. Regardless of the character of a certain Republican leader, be sure to vote for them over all else. We all know that God has selected a special political party and nominated the United States to be HIS county where HIS glory dwells (that’s sarcasm… or I’m a godless liberal. I’ll let you decide).

You are only a true Christian if you believe in greater immigration laws.
Forget all the commandments in Scripture for supporting immigrants. We need to focus on US before focusing on THEM (P.S. anytime you have an US vs THEM mentality, it is out of line with the Gospel.) For the record, I’m with the pope on this one. The gospel tears down walls, it doesn’t build them.

You are only a true Christian if you support the nation of Israel.
I almost don’t want to comment on this one… but I will. I won’t go into the theological debate regarding the nation of Israel but I will say this… We should identify more closely with a Christian in Palestine (or Israel, or Iraq) than we do with a secular citizen of any country – Including the United States or Israel.

Let me take this one step further. As a Christian, you should be more willing to support other Christians of different countries than you are willing to support a secular but very patriotic American. The blood of Christ trumps the blood of country.

You are only a true Christian if you attend a contemporary church.
We all know that liturgical churches are made up of lukewarm Christians who care nothing about Jesus (sarcasm again). Anytime our music/style preference negates our love for believers in a different context, we are contradicting the Gospel.

You get the point.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe any of these issues are morally evil or along the same lines as racism. Nevertheless, there is a document greater than the constitution.

Rather than blindly supporting a political agenda and demonizing those who disagree with you, find unity in the Gospel. Below is my contemporary translation of Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Republican nor Democrat, conservative nor liberal, immigrant nor citizen, Jew nor Gentile, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.” 

Are you mad at me? Leave a comment and let me know… I’m all for the 1st amendment!