Is the chruch a building?

A few years ago I heard someone say that the Church is people and applying the word ‘church’ to anything but people is just ridiculous. It took a while for that idea to sink in, but after about 6 months of processing and searching the scriptures, I realized how correct and important that statement is to the life of the Church/the Family of God.

Relationships revolve around people. People have relationships with people. Even as I type that, it sounds silly to hear because it’s so obvious, but to often people have relationships with places and events. Places and events are great, but that’s what they are, places and events. The Church is not an event or a place we go and we cannot stand in it. The Church is people. Any other explanation is just ridiculous.

Jesus talked about this when he said something like, the gates of hell will not stand against the Church. So if the church is a building, then why have so many buildings seen the destruction of decay! Bricks fall apart, wood rots, siding needs replacing, the speaker falls from the ceiling…etc.

Dont get me wrong, my wife and I attend places and events all the time, but I have appropriated the difference between a sunday gathering and people. I pull people closer into relationships with me, I connect people into relationships with others, I help people understand family relations over and above the attendance of meetings.

The difference in these 2 ideas is huge. Relationships with people is what the Father moves us into. The Father loves people, and then so should we. We, the Church, will not see decay, but that building down the street will!

Advertisements

what looks holy isnt always holy

I process all my thoughts out loud, this thought will be no different.

I’ve been a Christian for a while, I’ve heard lots of really good ideas and I’ve heard some really bad ones. I’ve taught both as well. Eh, we forgive, ask for forgiveness and we walk on. Hopefully we walk on together as members of the same family instead of separately even if we have different ideas or thoughts.

That’s a good intro, I mean that intro could be used to launch any thought, but my main idea is that of family and togetherness. I see these words linked together and wrapped up in ‘identity’. Ahhh, the buzz word! Identity is over used, underused and misused so much in our culture. What identifies us? Who identifies with us? Who we identify with? these questions go on and on.

Lets try this: often as Christians we want to be so identified with the Bible and the name on the front of a building we call the church that we forget who and what really identifies us.

The word Christian simply means ‘little christ’. Well that is easy i suppose, we are to reflect the identity of Christ. The real question then is who is Christ and what is his true identity? If as a Christian, i am to reflect Christ, then I should know what that even means!

I’ve heard it said, and at times in my life I’ve even said it: ‘now that I’m a Christian, i have to do….” I wonder though, if as Christians we understand what we are saying? It sounds holy to say that we should put ‘do’ stuff for God. But is that what it means to be a Christian or to ‘live’ as a Christian.

I like the idea that the scriptures say that we should be ‘imitators of God’. That’s easy. Basically this idea has 2 working parts: 1. we love like the father loves us (he shows us His love toward us in giving us Jesus), 2. we follow the Father in the same way Jesus listened and obeyed his Father.

Jesus went to the cross because the Father asked him to. period. We don’t go to the cross, why, because the father didn’t ask us to, but Jesus showed us the way to live, by simply doing what the Father asks. Therefore, we act in obedience to the will of our dear Father simply because we have learned to obey because jesus, our older brother, has shown us how to obey.

Truth is, i don’t care how much or little the bible is read or what sunday morning gathering someone attends, what i have noticed is that there are words and actions that sound holy, but have nothing to do with our true identity as Christians.

My Father’s Son

This past week a good friend of mine asked me to write a short story about adoption and all that adoption means to me and my family. Please view her blog at http://shortstorycollections.net/my-fathers-son/ you can buy cool art and fashion accessories and all things that will make you or your loved one happy. Read the other posts, there are some amazing stories to brighten and encourge your hearts. enjoy! below is the story I wrote:

As I sit and think back to my own childhood up until now, I can’t help but let my mind wander back to the fall of October 1968. I wasn’t there, but from the stories I’ve heard I can just about imagine: a grand wedding ceremony of 2 people in love, the new husband missing the opening day of duck hunting, the honeymoon drive from Wisconsin through Nebraska to Denver to Colorado Springs to little obscure and memorable places. I can imagine the laughter in the car, the excitement in their voices and the building of what has become a 44 year friendship that surpasses all rationale, which can only be summed up by the word Love.

Because I’ve had this conversation with these 2 great people, I know what they wanted most was to be happy together and share their life with a family, some kids in their quiver! For the next decade their efforts proved fruitless, not for the lack of trying, but out of the many complications. After 3 miscarriages and a ‘scary’ last try moment, this great couple decided to investigate the idea of adoption.

Fast forward to 1977 (a great year I might add). The couple is living in a western Wisconsin town; the wife working a modest job at a large corporation, the husband is on strike with the local telephone company working some odd jobs. As the story is told to me, the husband is helping a friend roof their house, when the wife shows up and says ‘Harry its time!” The hammer in hand goes flying, no memory of actually getting off the roof, and the excited couple get in the car to take the 2 hour drive to Eau Clare, Wisconsin.

In another scenario, a 16-year-old girl gives birth to a little boy. In an amazing, wise and powerful decision, the young girl gives her boy to a couple desiring a family. But that’s the part of the story we don’t see.

Kevin around 6 months old

Can you imagine for a moment what is going thru the minds of these two people: 10 years of trying to have biological children, the complications, the tears and questions and now a tiny little baby in the arms of the 2 greatest people so excited to start the next chapter of life.

Let’s go forward 6 or 7 years. The boy and his dad are sitting in an aluminum boat in the middle of Big Round Lake in Hayward, Wisconsin. Dad wearing his fishing hat, baiting the hook for the little boy, the boy I’m sure messing around playing with the water or letting the leaches stick to his fingers. The dad looks at the boy and begins serious yet easy conversation about birth: Dad: ‘Kevin, your mom and I love you so much, but mom did not actually give birth to you, we adopted you when you were one month old.’ The boy: ‘ok dad, you’re still my mom and dad right?’

That moment on the boat back in the early 80’s was a pivotal moment. A much-needed moment and as I look back on that one memory, it was the easiest conversation about adoption I ever had. I knew I was loved, cared for and cherished.  At that moment I knew I was my father’s son.

Moving forward again to September of 1994, I was driving from my town of Wisconsin Rapids to Appleton with a good friend to get the oil changed in her car. (yes a small detail that didn’t make sense to me even then). As my friend and I drove all the back roads, I began to notice all the huge trees across the central Wisconsin landscape. I remember thinking that these trees are like old farm-house trees, which made me think of my mom. My mom, who grew up on a 3rd generation family farm in eastern Minnesota, has a blood line that is deep in tradition, family and togetherness. I realized at that moment that all these trees are part of her heritage but they were not part of my blood. It was the first time I had ever realized that my blood was different from my parents. As my friend and I drove through the country side, huge hot tears began to soak my cheeks and shirt. For the first time I really began to think about adoption, put together the pieces ask some tough questions and look my mom and dad in the eyes and figure out who they really were.

That was 18 years ago.

As I sit here typing and thinking, the big hot tears rolling down my cheeks, I can’t help imagine that day on October 12, 1968 when 2 great people started a life journey together, looking forward to building their family, little did they know what part adoption would play in their life and life with me, who now bares their name.

Kevin and his daughter

Adoption plays out so differently in many of the people I’ve talked to, but I’ve realized something too…blood doesn’t always mean family, I am safe in my family, my family gives me my name, I am free to doubt my parents love, I am free to ask questions, I’m free to wonder if I have other blood siblings (of whom I am still the older brother), and most of all I am free to embrace who I am, my name, my heritage, my lineage, my mom and dad. Growing up everyone used to tell me that I look just like my mom or “you look like your dad.” When people would say that, we would just look at each other and smile. The truth is, I am the son of Harry and Kathy Troyanek. We look-alike because I have taken on their characteristics, why because I’m their son, because they’re my parents.

The Rich Mullins Legacy

Last night my lovely wife and I shared a time of pray over our dearest friend. I could use the word favorite here since these are 2 of my very favorite people in all the world. It was a sweet time of the Spirit interacting with us and also walking with each other, it was nothing like my old days of stilted prayer and I broke a few ‘lines in the sand’ last night. it was powerful. But as amazing as this time was, the best part was after our time of hearing from the Father, we bust out youtube and tried to find some old songs from our childhood and early faith days. Remember that song ‘He Is’ by Aaron Jeoffrey, yep, that’s the kinda stuff we looked up. Until we came to Rich…My soul came alive!

I remember Rich Mullins was the reason I wanted to learn guitar, but after listening to all these songs on youtube, i realized it wasnt the guitar I care about, but the life lived to create some of the most tearful, realistic, passionate words. Listening to all this music I’m still inspired to have a deep well of a heart full of life, I’m still inspired to be a place where people can share life and a place where we can together seek the face of our Father.

below are 2 songs that put a dramatic shift in my life:

 

 

maybe these 2 songs will inspire you to continue in fullness of faith. my words are done.

Construction of a House

I apologize to everyone who has enjoyed reading my blog posts in the past, I have not been very pro-active at posting my thoughts in the past months. I will say this though, the Father has been making faith happen in my heart and life during this time. Every time I sit down to write something profound, I’m found with a lack of words to express the ideas the Father is showing me.

This morning on a long bike ride, I was reminded of a thought I had a few weeks ago while driving through the mountains of California. During the drive, I listening to a sermon on the radio by some random speaker, he had a pleasant tone to his voice so I decided to listen.

His sermon consisted of explaining salvation down to the smallest detail. Oh just the kind of stuff I love, until a thought passed through my mind: I don’t care how big the nail was that built the house I live in, I just want to enjoy the house.

I will be brief…the picture i have in my mind is the construction of a house, made of wood, nails and drywall. If someone showed up to my empty plot of land with all the materials to construct my house and explained to me all the intricate pieces that go into the actual construction of the structure I’m sure I would look with great amazement. Let’s say the builder said to me, I’m going to use this nail over that nail because this one is bigger and more powerful and holds more weight…I would be amazed. Let’s use this 2×4 over that 2×4 because it will make the structure more secure, i would simply shake my head in agreement. Basically, I want my house to be as secure as possible, but in the end I just want the builder to use the best and strongest material known to man. All I want is to enjoy the finished product, I want to sit in my living room with my wife and daughter and enjoy family game night without wondering if that nail will hold.

Isn’t that similar to faith? I love knowing all the details of salvation and faith and life, but in the end, I simply want to enjoy salvation, I want to enjoy life and I want to live in faith. I wonder if some of the ideas we are teaching each other from a platform pulpit space is actually encouraging us on toward faith or just comparing nails.

navigating the identity of sons

I’m going to be kind of quick here since I need to start work in a few minutes. I grabbed a chunk of the scripture this morning from Matthew 13.1-43. I always struggle with parables when Jesus says, “who has eyes to see and ears to hear”, I too often feel like I’m on the outside of the kingdom looking in. So this morning went something like this, “Holy Spirit I wanna see and hear!”

The journey of understanding who we are as sons of God is extremely important. Being a son is not understanding more theology, it’s not understanding more points of order from the chaos around, it’s really understanding who we are in our very nature, understanding our identity called out to us from our Father. Being a son is at the very foundation of who we are and at the very foundation of our relationship with the Father AND his dear family.

fun!

Lets grab the sentences of Matthew 13 around verse 36-43. So the deal is that Jesus tells a story about a farmer who planted wheat and the enemy came at night and planted tares (a weed that looks similar to wheat). The little plants grew in time and the farmer and his employees noticed the 2 different plants growing together. At harvest time, the wheat was gathered and put into the barn, the weeds were tossed into the fire (maybe to keep the farmers warm during the chilly october months!).

So that’s the story. simple. easy. So Jesus sits down with his little band of guys and explains, the wheat are the sons of the kingdom, the weeds are the sons of the devil. that’s pretty straight forward. The sons of the kingdom are set aside, the sons of the devil are discarded. That too is pretty straight forward. So here we go with something special…

In verse 41-42 it reads as follows, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace” (bible.org)

Here is what I find interesting: my identity as a son of the kingdom is not a sinner or lawbreakers. The identity of a son, as the wheat in this parable, is good. The place between the wheat the weeds is drastically different even though we look similar in appearance. Our identity, as in the very seed in our heart is born of a different Father, a different nature and therefore produces pleasure and goodness to the planter of the seed, our dearest Father. Our identity as sons of the kingdom of heaven is not of stumbling blocks and sin and lawbreakers, but of something much much better.

We will shine like the Sun in due time! some questions to think about: do I view myself as wheat or a weed even though I have been birthed as wheat? Who tells me who I am? What is the Father saying about me?

Alright, there is so much more my mind is thinking about regarding all of this, but its time for work.

Lay down and Sleep

This morning I read Psalm 3 as part of my year-long reading extravaganza. I’m a little bit behind, but there is no guilt and shame here!

A few quick thoughts were surrounding my mind and movements in life the past few days that were bringing a bit of unrest and question. Not necessarily bad unrest or bad question, but the kind that sit in your mind and heart, brining a heaviness to each step.

I’ve read Psalm 3 many times before and usually bypass the phrase “lay down and sleep” in verse 5. It’s never made sense to me, never seemed too important, maybe just line filler for a song. This morning a new idea crept into play: what if this phrase is about believing?

I’ve recently hand a conversation where we discussed  the idea that we need to believe the Father, believe that he loves us and that I’m always in his good pleasure. I am unable to lay down and sleep because I struggle with believing his love for me, his goodness toward me, the truth that I walk in the goodness of the Father.

The rest of believing.