Posts Tagged New Way Church

Keeping it Real

At New Way Church we are in the midst of a series about the final week of Jesus’ time on earth. The four part series is called Potential. We started on Easter with the story of the resurrection of Jesus, and over the following three weeks are “flashing back” to the days that led up to that event. Today we discussed the famous “Palm Sunday”.

Specifically, we read about two events that took place on that day. First, Jesus entered Jerusalem being hailed as a King. Then, immediately following this, according to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus went into the temple and cast out the people who had turned it from a house of prayer into one of profit.

Now, there’s a lot going on in this story, but I suggest that one thing to learn here is the importance of “getting real” with yourself at the beginning of a spiritual struggle. The arrest and execution of Jesus–and therefore his resurrection–came about in part because his actions on Palm Sunday both openly declared war on the religious power structure operating in the temple in Jerusalem, and also represented an act of treason against the civil authority of the Emperor of Rome. Likewise, true spiritual battle doesn’t really happen until we acknowledge the authority of the Lord in our lives and also admit that there are things in our mind–evil and false things–that hold us back from fully accepting all the goodness God is trying to do for and through us. Attaining the spiritual potential he sees in each of us requires that we first “get real” and objectively observe the good and the bad within us.

So my challenge to everyone today was to take stock of life, and find some quiet time to consider the thoughts and affections of their minds and the actions that flow from them. And to make a list of all the good that is from the Lord. And then to acknowledge just one bad desire–a selfish tendency, a greedy attitude, an unloving habit, etc. And for the rest of the week, to just be mindful. See what comes up. Be aware.

So I thought I’d share my own results from this process of self examination. You don’t have to share your results out loud, but sometimes it can be helpful. Sometimes, though, what you find in yourself is hard to share. Don’t worry about that. You don’t have to completely follow my example to learn from it.

So here goes…

First, I see God in my life. How? I love my job. My calling. My church. My wife. Each of my children. These are all gifts from the Lord that I have done nothing to earn. I cherish them.

But going deeper, I realize that my very ability to love each of these is itself from the Lord. It is the Lord in me. My capacity to cherish, my desire to serve, and the joy I get from doing so, are also pure gifts, the result of God’s infinite grace and mercy.

Going further, I realize that the Lord has given me skills, talents, dispositions, resources, connections and experiences that make my life what it is and that have allowed me to achieve all that I have achieved. And I can’t take credit for any of them! For instance, I’m a reasonably smart person, and that has helped me accomplish some things, but I would be (and at times have been!) a total fool to even begin to think that was something I had anything to do with. If anything I have dishonored the gift over the years by slacking off in school, by using it for lazy purposes, and even at times using it for purely selfish–even petty–purposes.

And the same is true for any other trait or talent or ability I might ever accept a compliment for or be proud of or whatever. If it’s good, it’s from God. So, thank you, Lord, for all of these things!

Now, I could say a lot about what I might repent of. Already my mind is being drawn to selfish, arrogant and lazy ways I have misused whatever I have been given for selfish ends, but this week I just want to focus, laser-like, on one very specific thing. In fact, it is a thing that I have been aware of for a few weeks now, and I’m tired of it holding me back, and tripping me up.

Lately I have become increasingly aware of the fact that I sometimes struggle with trust. Part of it is just the result of having been hurt in the distant past; we all know what it’s like to have our trust shaken, right?

But I’ve come to believe there’s more to it in what’s going on with me these days. I’ve observed in myself a voice that seems to want to dwell in mistrust. If I’m being completely honest with myself–and that IS the point of this spiritual practice, after all–I have to acknowledge that some small, broken part of me actually enjoys the worry and fear that comes from not trusting.

And this is a very subtle thing. I mean, my difficulty with trusting isn’t something that plays out on the stage of my life much; it’s almost entirely an inner thing. I don’t much act on it, but in the depth of my mind it’s there, breeding quiet worries that I barely notice but that nevertheless undermine my connection with the Lord. I didn’t see them at all until something small prompted me to look deeper into my own motivations a little while back.

And now, thinking further on it, I have come to believe that part of what is going on is that hell is using the perfectly natural instinct to avoid being hurt by misplaced trust to stir up in me a desire to control that which I have no right to control. Thus a subtle insecurity can, over time, be turned into a selfishness that could some day poison relationships, the greatest of which being my relationship with the Lord. If I let it.

Now, there are other things in my life that don’t belong, either. But this subtle thing is actually a serious potential threat to my spiritual health and I’d like to get it under watch now, before it does major damage. And, frankly, this is one of the things I struggle with that I am actually (somewhat) comfortable sharing in such a public way. Like you, I have many things about me that need a little work, but many of them are things I only share with the very closest of my confidants, if with anyone at all. I’m sure you understand.

So for this week, for the sake of this public exercise of what is often a very private spiritual practice, I’m choosing to work on how a subtle difficulty with trust can undermined relationships by stirring up a selfish need for control.

That’s my suspicion, at least. I am going to spend this week mindful of my feelings, and of the thoughts those feelings generate. I’m on the lookout for worry and distrust, but more particularly for any controlling desires that get excited by my fears. And if it turns out that my theory is right, I’m going to take the next step.

But that’s a topic for another post.

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Love Wins?

Joshunda Sanders, blogging here in Austin for The Statesman, recently mentioned a man I think is worth paying attention to: Rob Bell.

Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, is stirring up a lot of controversy. Why? In his new book, Love Wins, he makes the case that certain ideas about heaven, hell, as traditionally taught to Christians, are wrong. And toxic. And I agree.

Here’s a trailer introducing the book:

I’ve only read excerpts so far, but I’m pretty impressed. There are some areas I might quibble with him on, but until I read the whole book, I’m going to hold off on getting into all that. For now, as pastor of New Way Church, I want to encourage you to consider giving Rob Bell a listen. And perhaps a prayer or two, too. Why? Because he seems to be drawing a lot of hate.

He is being accused by some Christian writers of being a heretic because he makes claims that threaten the standard exclusionary view of God and salvation. For instance, he says that you can be “saved” even if you don’t know Jesus by name. He also says that hell is not a punishment at the end of life, but a choice each one of us is making or not making right here, right now, as we live our daily lives.

And I agree.

In fact, in the New Church (the religious movement New Way Church is a part of), the ideas of salvation for those ignorant of Christ and of heaven and hell as choices, rather than arbitrary reward and punishment have been standard doctrine for over two hundred years. So far, though, the New Church has been such a quiet, behind-the-scenes movement that our ideas haven’t attracted a lot of public heat. But Rob Bell is a “megapastor”, so when he speaks, it draws fire–some of it pretty hateful. I admire his courage.

I admire Rob Bell’s courage, and I stand with him, and with other so-called “Emergent” thinkers–Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and others–who say traditional Christianity needs to examine itself and rethink some of its beliefs.

This is part of the meaning behind our church’s name. At New Way Church, we are dedicated to thinking about life, religion, Christianity and the Bible in a new way. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who said he himself is The Way, and who declared, “Behold, I make all things new!”

Mac Frazier, Pastor, New Way Church

 

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The Unknown

?So, we’re less than 18 hours away from the official LAUNCH of New Way Church. Big breath in. Exhale. Again.

What’s going to happen? Well, here’s what I don’t know:

  • How many people will come?
  • How many people will be glad they came?
  • How many people will come again after tomorrow?
  • How many people will learn or experience something that will transform their lives in some way?
  • Will we have enough parking?
  • Did we rent too many chairs?
  • Is our advertising effective?
  • Is my sermon any good?

Actually, I could keep going. And going. And just thinking about it gives me heart palpitations.

But here’s what I do know:

On Sunday, February 27th, from 10 to 11 a.m., our little community will worship the Lord. With few or many people around us, we will turn to Jesus Christ as God, as a Human, as our savior, and He will be present. I have no doubt. I also know that whatever happens, He has already foreseen it, and has made plans and provisions so that good will come out of it.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

Lord, I pray that you will strengthen me and calm me and hold me up and lead me forward. Let me be your servant. Please make me whatever you need me to be so that people can see you in a new way. I’m a broken, flawed, limited person, but I know you can use that. Help me help others. And if at all possible, make it fun, too. :)

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Hands in the Air

roller coasterOur first postcard inviting people to check out New Way Church is in people’s mailboxes now. The second one is going out in less than a week. We’re advertising on Facebook, and through Google, and we’re inviting everyone we know. Because on Sunday, February 27th, at 10:00 a.m., New Way Church is officially launching.

We’ve been meeting quietly for half a year, and now it’s time to switch from quiet to loud. And it’s weird. Why? Because we are heading into unexplored territory and have no idea what will happen next. Will we get so many people showing up that there isn’t parking and seating for everyone? Will we get no one? Will the people who come check us out find value in what we offer? Or will our non-traditional take on Christianity make us a target of hatred?

Or will the Lord bless us with exactly what we need to learn and grow?

Why do roller coaster riders throw their hands in the air?

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New Way Church is online

Here are four five ways of following the developments at New Way Church in Austin, TX:

  1. Bookmark our website: NewWayAustin.org.
  2. Subscribe to our website’s feed: feeds.feedburner.com/NewWayChurch.
  3. “Like” our facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/Austin-TX/New-Way-Church/134013309972335.
  4. Follow our twitter account: twitter.com/NewWayAustin.
  5. Subscribe to our youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/NewWayChurchAustin.

All four are in the early development stage–especially the website. But in the coming little while, you should see them all bloom into great sources of information and inspiration!

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