Influential Community Leadership

Before the final Influential Leadership, which is focused on community, here is a quick review of the posts:
I have to share the circumstances around this specific topic in the class.  Just like every other topic, the first week was focused on prayer, how to pray, and taking time to pray. However, there was no second week of class and we haven't had church since.  So the Community study did not finish because of the March shelter in place order.   

I challenged the class to go out and get to know your neighbors.  Then the Michigan government said to limit contact with others.  And that order is still in effect today (04.17).  Here are two reasons why I believe the topic of Influential Community Leadership is still very important.
  1. We can influence our communities during this time in different ways.
  2. This time of shelter-in-place will end.  What will you do then?
On December 8, Pastor Brett preached on the familiar Good Samaritan passage, Luke 10:25 - 37.  The title of the message was "The Great Samaritan." Revisiting this message is a good way to begin thinking about Influential Community Leadership.  Here is a short summary of the passage.
Lawyer:  How do I inherit eternal life? 
Jesus:  Love God with your and love your neighbor as yourself. 
Lawyer:  Who is my neighbor? 
Jesus tells the parable and the asks "Who was a neighbor?"
Jesus concludes the lesson with the "Go and do likewise."
Jesus told the lawyer and the reader that in order to inherit eternal life you must worship God perfectly and love your neighbor perfectly.  The problem is we cannot do these things.  
Jesus is the Great Samaritan, the example of perfect love.
Those who have been saved by the Great Samaritan will be Good Samaritans.
Jesus not only commanded his disciples to love their neighbors.
He provided the perfect example of this love and He provided the only way we can live this way - through His death and resurrection and in the power of the Holy Spirit. 
God has placed each of us in our neighborhoods to give testimony of God's amazing grace by living out Christ-dependent, neighbor-loving, Spirit-empowered lives.  
Do you live in such a way that shows those around you the greatness of God or the selfishness of your heart?    

Love everyone, even your "undeserving, unlovable" neighbor because God loved you, an "undeserving, unlovable" person, so much that he sent His son. 

In The Gospel Comes with a House Key, Rosaria Butterfield writes "We trust God's power more than we trust our limitations, and we know that he never gives a command without giving the grace to perform it."  
God commands us to love our neighbors.  
He also gives us THE example of loving the undeserved, the reason we should love everyone, even our enemies, and the power that enables us to love everyone, even the unlovable.
THE example of love undeserved:  Romans 5:8  "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."
The reason to show love:  1 John 3:16. "By this, we know love, that [Jesus] laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers."
The power to give testimony of God's love:  Acts 1:8. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Here are some very basic, practical things to do:
  1. Pray that you and your family would show love to your community.
  2. Pray that your neighbors would see the love of Christ in your family and call out to God to save them from their sin.
  3. Pray with your neighbors.  This may be actually praying with them or asking them how you can pray for them.
  4. Serve neighbors because Christ loved you so much that he died for you.
Gospel Comes with a House Key: Radically Ordinary Hospitality in a Post-Christian World: by Rosaria Butterfield is a good resource about hospitality.  

Shelter-In-Place Notes:

This time of social isolation makes getting involved with your neighbors very difficult but it is still very much needed.  So how do you influence your neighbors when in isolation?  Here are a couple of specific, practical suggestions we have heard about or been able to do this last month.
  1. Take advantage of things others have set up.  A woman in our neighborhood organized a nightly singing of "God Bless America."  We haven't seen many people do this but we have made an effort to go out on our sidewalk and sing and pray with our neighbors while practicing social distancing.
  2. Greet people.  When out on walks or outside make it a point to be friendly and say hello to people you see.  
  3. HERE is an online resource The Art of Neighboring COVID-19 Tool Kit.   Don't try to do everything on this site.  


Silent Saturday

I have shared pictures of different things we have found during our Spring Break cleaning/organizing.
Pictures, cereal, mugs, and more.
I also found this letter I wrote on April 11, 2005.
Imagine that Silent Saturday about 2000 years ago.
Yesterday Jesus was crucified.
Tomorrow Jesus will rise from the dead. 
BUT today...
Not a day of joyful expectations for the disciples.
Not a day of hope.
Rather a day of despair.
A day of shattered dreams.
A day of sorrow and sadness.
A day of unmet expectations.
A day of questions. 
I have heard it said my times that you cannot have the joy of Easter without the pain of Good Friday.  I have recently been learning more and more about the waiting of Saturday.  Hebrews 11;1 says "And faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Also note vv. 10, 11, 13, 16, 20). 
A major part of Biblical Christianity is the idea of waiting.  Waiting upon God and His timing. 
Luke 24:11 says "[the disciples] did not believe the women because their words seemed like nonsense." The women's testimony of Jesus and His resurrection seemed like nonsense to the disciples.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus also had some interesting insights into Jesus' death.   Verses 19 - 21 records their words sbout Jesus Christ.  "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.  The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death and they crucified him.  But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel." 
These various verses show what the disciples were probably thinking after Jesus "left."  The one they thought was going to be the Messiah was gone and Rome was still in power.
I have found myself in the midst of these times of darkness, questioning and more.

After a difficult, challenging experience is when these "Saturday" usually happen.  For me that experience has been my dad's passing away.  I would love to have all the answers to all my questions but God in his omniscience and love has not answered of all of my questions.  I know many of these questions will not have an answer this side of eternity.  I also know I need to wait upon the LORD. 
Often, I see small glimmers of answers such as the fact that my dad's faithfulness through many years has been a testimony to many.  Then I think couldn't God have come up with an easier, less painful way to show people God's love and holiness. 
There is a part of me that can still see my dad [in the original much more detail was shared about this] on that night he passed away.  WHY GOD!?!?
Why him?
Why now?
Why this way?
Why does the 5 month anniversary of my dad's passing fall on the we celebrate Christ rising from the dead?
God, I am waiting for answers to these and so many other questions. 
But then my thoughts change to a different set of questions.
Why do you love me, God?
Why did Jesus have to die?
Why is it that the creator of the universe in all of His power and holiness wants to be in a relationship with me?
How is it that I, with all my sin and weakness, can be in a right relationship with God? 
The answer is...
As I think back to those disciples, I am reminded of their fear and apprehension.  They didn't completely understand the mystery of Christ's death.
Thank you, God, for the revelation of God's Word.
Thank you, God, for the resurrection of Jesus Christ
I pray that I would never grow weary of hearing the amazing Easter story.  I am thankful that we have the whole story.  I am thankful for the ANSWER it provides.  I am thankful for the PEACE it brings.