You got rocks in your head!?!

When I was a child my grandfather (Buck Hatch whose teaching you can listen to  at  used to tease me by saying, “What’s wrong with you?  You got rocks in your head?!” 

I’d do something stupid like 10-year-old boys often do, and out would come the “rocks in your head” comment in a joyful way that only a grandfather can say to his grandson. 

What’s the problem with having rocks in your head?  

On the most basic level – the problem with having a rock in your head is that there is no life in a rock!  

If we go to an art museum we see beautiful sculptures made out of stone.  These may inspire us to think good thoughts or peaceful. But do these stone statues really help us in any way?  No – these statues have no life in them.  

Some folks view Jesus in this way – he is like a stone statue that inspires us.  Jesus lived a good life and taught us many good things.  

This is true, but if Jesus is just an example from long ago who showed us the way to live life, then we’ve made him into a stone statue.  He may inspire us to try harder but in reality, we have to go out and do the hard work of life.

In I Peter 2:4, Jesus is called a “living stone”.  Peter uses a metaphor here to let us know that he is beautiful and worthy of building our life upon. But Jesus isn’t just a stone statue.  He’s the LIVING STONE. 

Peter wants us to remember that there is a MAJOR difference between Jesus and a statue.  Jesus is alive!  And he has the power to bring change in our world and your life. 

Do you view Jesus as a stone statue that’s worthy of admiration?  If so, maybe you’re the one with rocks in your head!

Is the Local Church Worth the Effort?

I know that’s a question I’m not supposed to ask as a pastor. But if I’m honest, that question has crossed my mind. And I’m sure it’s crossed your mind as well.

All of us who have been involved with the church have frustrations and disappointments. There’s no denying it—Christians can be frustrating people! Even though I started working for the church 28 years ago as an intern at New City in Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA), there have been multiple times when I’ve had serious questions about my involvement. Questions about those I work with. Questions about the members of the church. Internal questions—“Am I just wasting my time?”

But again and again over the years, the Lord has answered my questions with a resounding: “Yes, the local church is worth the effort!”

I’ve met remarkable people in the church over the years who have loved me, challenged me, and been used by God to mold me into the man I am today. The pastor of New City in Chattanooga used to say, “The church is God’s vehicle for social change.”

To that, I say yes! And I would add that the church is also God’s vehicle for personal change. The Lord does sometimes work in miraculous ways outside the organized church, but most often, His “tool” for personal and social change is the local body of Christ.

This month will be a special month at New City as we focus on the church. We’ll start a new sermon series titled “We Are The Church,” and membership classes start on September 10th. The sermon series will look at biblical teaching on the church while the classes will dig a little deeper into who we are at New City Church (IPC).

My prayer is that God will bind us together as the body of Christ in a renewed way over the coming weeks. Specifically, the sermons and classes will be leading us to October 8th when a group of us will take vows together as New City Church. 

Please let me know which membership class you’d like to join (Sundays before worship or Saturday, 23 September) in person or by filling out the brief registration form here.

Is the local church worth the effort?  YES!!!And let’s all thank the Lord for His commitment to gathering His people together for His purposes in this world.

Now’s the time to plan your ideal week – here’s mine!

I’ve been re-thinking my work schedule now that we’re getting close to the autumn.  I use an idea from Michael Hyatt which involves planning an “ideal week” from which I then base my schedule around.

How would you schedule your time if you were in total control? Of course, there will be conflicts but your ideal week gives you a baseline to begin your planning.

I tend to think of my days in 3 blocks – Morning, Afternoon and Evening. I I like to keep my mornings for study & writing while the afternoons & evenings are for meetings, busy work (expense reports, errands, etc.) and organized ministry.

A key part of a healthy lifestyle is being serious about Sabbath rest.  God’s commandment is good for our body, mind, and soul as we set aside a day when we are intentionally not working.  Since Sunday is a workday for me, I usually take Thursday off to spend time with Josephine and work on household tasks.

My ideal week looks like this:

Prayer then meeting
Staff meeting
Relational ministry
Film club
Men’s Bible study

A few notes of explanation:
1. “Study” includes writing emails, proposals, and complex administrative tasks.
2. “Meetings” include home visits, time with staff and relational evangelism
3. If I’m not preaching on Sunday, then Sunday morning becomes more relaxed providing time with others or church visits
4. Saturdays are a flexible day. There may be sermon prep, tasks for New City, time with friends as well as time off

Relax – it’s August!

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” ~ Genesis 2:1-2

Yes – God took a break.  

Not because He was tired from creating the world but to set the pattern for us, his creatures who are made in his image.

Here in Genesis, the pattern of 6 days work and 1 day of rest was establish for all human beings. And throughout the Old Testament law, we see God extending this pattern for the nation of Israel – work and rest – work and rest. Exodus 20 gives us the 4th commandment: “‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”

The pattern of work and rest is extended to the yearly calendar of feasts and festivals God commanded as well as the Sabbath Year (Lev 25) which called for the nation of Israel to refrain from working the fields every seven years.

In our modern days, we have to fight to keep our “Sabbath day” holy.  Work continues 24/7 for many.  Some struggle with finding a pattern of work and rest because they are not in control of their work schedule.  At times bosses don’t care that you’ve worked 10 days in a row.  If you want to keep working, you better show up tomorrow!  The Sabbath laws were laws of justice as they protected Israelite workers from being exploited.

Thankfully, many of us do have some control over our schedule.  The pressure to overwork comes from our internal identity issues in which our personal value is wrapped up with our performance on the job. Taking non-productive time off to read, hike, or even sleep challenges our performance-based identity.

The month of August is a time when it seems as though London takes a deep breath, slows down just a bit, before roaring back to life in September.  And I’m so thankful for this month.

Take advantage of the London calendar. Slow down a bit.  Turn off the TV and read a book.  Walk in the park.  Take a nap. Slow down and “smell the roses” both figuratively and literally!

This is the pattern God designed for us.  Rest is good for the soul.  Make rest a priority in your life – weekly, monthly, annually.

And thank God for his good design!
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