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My Rock. . . November 20, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends, Personal, Scripture musings, Spirituality.
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I wish I could put into words the kind of emotional roller coaster I’ve been on these last couple weeks. Life has been so unstable, and I feel like the portion of my life spent in turning the page to “Chapter 2” can be defined as a huge trial.

Those of you who know my personal struggles would call me sheltered or naïve. What I’m going through right now pales in comparison to what many are dealing with. Perhaps I am sheltered. I thank God that I haven’t experienced some of the trials my friends have experienced. But those of you who know me well also know that I have a tendency to bear the trials of others. I carry their weight on my shoulders and suffer their pain as if it were my own.

I had no idea just how earth-shattering the transition to “Chapter 2” would be for me. Or that one person could impact my life so profoundly and be the catalyst for the change. Thanks to one person, my life looks nothing like it used to, and the course I travel will never be what I had envisioned.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see what God has in store, but I feel like I’ve lost all stability in my life. But I know I can find it again.

God promised that, even though life may be completely unstable, he is an immovable rock. The prophet Isaiah wrote these words:

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.

In all the instability of my life, my God, my Creator, my Originator, the Heart from which I was born—He is completely stable. And no matter what comes into my life, He will always be there.

We used to teach the children at Liquid Kids the song “My Rock.” The chorus is as follows:

You are the Rock
You are the steady and unchanging
The way You care for me is wonderful, amazing
I can depend on You, trust in You, rely on You
You are, You are my Rock.

No matter how unstable my life becomes, no matter how many times I turn the page to “Chapter 2,” no matter how difficult those page turns may be, God is my Rock.

(Twenty) First Century Church. . . November 8, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity, Church.
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At the beginning of the First Century, a group of ragamuffins were given a crazy mission: take the Word of God to the whole frickin’ world.

In 1996, a couple guys coined the term BHAG, or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. That’s what Jesus gave his first followers. It was crazy, and I’m betting those eleven guys were thinking stuff like, “What the heck did I get myself into? Why couldn’t I have said ‘no’ three years ago?”

But it was totally worth it; 3000 people became Christ-followers in a day. This new Jesus movement was spreading like wildfire, and nothing anyone could do would be able to slow it down, let alone stop it.

But don’t think that no one tried. Plenty of people gave it a shot. But everyone was powerless to shut these radicals up. A wise teacher of religious law said these words during the beginning of the Jesus movement:
the-pharisees-conspire-together-giclee-print-c12015015

“Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

To this very day, the Jesus movement continues to spread like wildfire. Check out the Chinese underground church. Look at the Russian believers. For 2000 years, the Jesus movement has continued to spread.

luthers-95I firmly believe we’re in the midst of a massive surge in Christianity. Every few centuries, something big happens that sets the Faith on fire. In the Sixteenth Century it was the Protestant Reformation. In the Eighteenth Century it was the Great Awakening.

The songwriter Brooke Fraser put it this way:

I see a generation
Rising up to take their place
With selfless faith
Selfless faith

I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees
On our knees

There is a revolution coming, and I believe it is already among us. Millions of people are already stirring the metaphorical fires of revival within their own hearts, and when God begins to move in people whose hearts are broken for what breaks His, the movement is unstoppable.

Let’s bring it home and make it tangible. New Jersey is America’s #1 most densely populated state. Yet it ranks near the bottom in church attendance. “A spiritually dry region,” Tim would say.

But like the First-Century Church, which surged like a tsunami through regions that were dying of spiritual thirst, the Twenty-First-Century Church is on the brink of doing the same thing. With the vision of taking church to the people (instead of taking people to the church), Liquid is about to surge through New Jersey.

For months, I’ve been itching to post about this, and FINALLY we’ve officially announced our vision for UNSTOPPABLE 2010. God is doing something amazing through His church in New Jersey.

Can you “see the King of Glory” at work here?

A beautiful weekend. . . November 3, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends.
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Nothing is more beautiful to me than hearing story after story of how God is stirring the hearts of individual people. I can’t help but shed tears of joy over each soul that Christ restores.

On October 26, 2008, 62 people pledged their loyalty to Jesus in the city of Morristown, NJ. Even remembering makes me cry.

Baptism. . . October 9, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity, Church.
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Looks like I’m getting into the habit of posting videos here. Well, I promise. . . next post I’ll actually write something.

We’ve got our baptism service coming up on October 26. It’s one of the most beautiful services our church has. Witnessing dozens of people announce to the world that they’re joining the Jesus Movement is an awesome thing.

But beyond that. . . they’re telling everyone that they’re new creations. They’ve been reborn and renewed, and they want the world to know.

To find out more, go to the Liquid Church Baptism page

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The femininity of God. . . September 23, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends, Spirituality.
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Last weekend I was enjoying the final Saturday of the summer with some friends at the Bancrofts’ house. We had a fantastic time. As a side note: David, (the Worship Bloke) and Jess are fantastic hosts. If you’re ever invited to their house, don’t pass up on the invitation. You’ll regret it if you do.

Anyway, moving right along. I noticed something while there. Men are distinctly men, and women are distinctly women.

We’re each designed to have certain attributes that God placed within us. On the surface, they’re exhibited in things like our choice of drink and conversation. I have no idea what the women were talking about, but the men were talking about video games, technology, blowing stuff up, recording equipment. . . Okay, so “blowing stuff up” wasn’t really in conversation, but given enough time, it might have shown up.

But there we were, standing in a circle near the fridge, enjoying our beers and conversation that girls might interpret as mere grunting.

In the other room, the women were chatting about God-knows-what and sipping their glasses of Cabernet or Merlot.

But when the men entered the room, the conversation didn’t shift to male conversation or remain female. The dynamic changed. . . and as the exchange continued, the conversation grew spiritual.

I think that’s evidence that the man and woman were meant to come together on a spiritual plane. There’s something deep about that connection, even when there are multiple people in the room and many of the relationships are purely friendships.

Sure, there are deep conversations between women as there are between men. But there’s something unique about the exchange that a man has with a woman. It’s deeper somehow.

I think it’s a completion of God’s image in us. Whenever man and woman come together on any level—conversational, emotional, physical—the image of God has been put together.

While God has chosen to reveal himself in a distinctly masculine way, it would be presumptuous of us to view him as entirely male. God transcends male/female distinctiveness.

That’s not to say he’s neither male nor female. That would be to deny the fact that our gender distinctions aren’t part of God’s image in us.

God possesses qualities of both Man and Woman. He is both the Warrior and the Mother Hen.

I’m still exploring this idea for myself, but I find no reason to deny God’s feminine qualities. Moreover, I find reason to affirm that God does, in fact, transcend the gender differences.

Like I said, he has chosen to reveal himself to us in the masculine. But if we deny his femininity, we begin to say that God’s image is more pronounced in Man than it is in Woman. That’s an unfortunate conclusion because it leads to the abuse of the authority God gave Man.

Again, I’m still figuring this all out. Feel free to challenge me if you’d like. I’m very open-minded about this topic.

Under the steeple. . . September 11, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends, Personal, Spirituality.
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Tonight is eerily quiet. Yet in the silence, a deafening collision has taken place. Two worlds—that of a simple, unassuming, sheltered life; and the world of unspeakable pain, betrayal, and abandonment—have crashed into each other.

I guess I had no idea what I was in for when God brought me to Liquid Church.

Real life isn’t all smiles, hymns, organs, and a big steeple.

Real life is broken. It’s ugly. Consider yourself fortunate if you haven’t dealt with substance abuse, a cheating lover, rape, alcoholism, suicide, physical abuse. . . need I continue?

So I have to ask myself, Is this the world I want to set foot in?

Am I ready to face the ugliness?

I’m not gonna lie; my own life is full of its ugliness. Lies, deception, addiction. But suddenly my brokenness pales in comparison. My life was truly sheltered.

So what’s it gonna be? Am I jumping in? Or am I running back to what’s comfortable? Maybe I prefer the organs, hymns, and steeple. Where secrets are kept locked away for fear that the parishioners will shun, and the elders will discipline. Where relationships are skin-deep because no one knows the real me. And no one knows the real me because the real me will get the fake me into trouble.

Keep smiling, everybody. God loves you. And so do we. . . as long as you’re not broken.

Or maybe I should embrace the ugliness. Where secrets can safely come out because people embrace the pain, and they mentor and suffer alongside. Where relationships connect at the heart because people know the real me. And people know the real me because the fake me doesn’t exist.

It’s scary because I’m vulnerable now. We all are. We’ve admitted that we don’t have it together. We’re afraid because we think that we’ll lose each other if we expose our brokenness.

Because that’s what happened under the steeple, isn’t it? We lost friends because the real us wanted to come out. We were judged, ridiculed, laughed at, scolded, disciplined.

Misunderstood. Rejected. Scorned.

So maybe this messy life is where I belong. After all, the first step to healing is admitting there’s a problem. I always thought it was strange how no one ever had problems under the steeple. And those who did weren’t far from disappearing.

No wonder people are afraid of the Church.

i ♥ revolution. . . August 24, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity, Church, Social Justice.
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“The King will say, ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'”

You’re not looking, are you?

I’ll admit it. . . neither was I. The hungry, the thirsty, the poor—I didn’t see any of them.

Because I wasn’t looking.

But here they are. We can choose to look away. And it’s easy for us, isn’t it? It’s easy because we’re isolated. We have no contact with any of them. We can’t touch them, hear them, see them.

They don’t exist to us.

But they do exist. Stop looking away.

There they are. We’re ignoring them, and they’re dying. Do you see her? She’s three years old. She’s drinking water that is killing her. She will not survive another sip.

How can we sit here, watch her die, and not do anything?

Do you believe Jesus was a social revolutionary? Do you believe He called us to see God differently? If so, don’t you think He’s calling us right now to follow Him in a radical way?

Have you ever looked at the way He lived and studied His actions?

From the outset, Jesus healed the sick, associated with undesirables and ate with social outcasts. These social categories—the sick, the poor, and public sinners—were despised groups, marginalised because their own society believed God had marginalised them, regarded literally as “outlaws” (undermining by their lives and presence the observance of the Law). By associating with sinners (meaning not simply those who occasionally broke the law, but those who broke it in a flagrant and systematic way), Jesus was consorting with the “wicked”. He didn’t wait for them to repent and change before he sat down to eat with them (challenging the authority of the Law of Moses) and even more scandalously he starts to let these excluded groups know that God has a special love for them.
~John Battle, Member of Parliament for Leeds West

What about this?

How will you react? Did you catch what Battle said? “He didn’t wait for them to repent and change before he sat down to eat with them.” If Christ didn’t demand that they change before He shared their company, why do we?

Christ told us to follow Him. In doing so, we must live like Him. We must do the very things He would do were He to set foot on earth in the 21st century.

He is setting foot in this century, isn’t He? If we are His hands and feet, He has certainly taken steps in this generation. So are we going to live like Him? Are we going to be the social revolutionaries He called us to be?

Are we going to change the world?

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

The Republicans murdered Jesus. . . August 18, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity, Church.
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I’ve discovered something about following Jesus: I think He wants me to sever any political associations. I find it interesting that our American culture has embraced the idea that Christ should be married into campaigns, debates, and political agendas as a whole.

I want to travel back in time about 2,000 years to the ancient land of Judea. This point in history was marked by some of the most pervasive political tension ever. The Jewish nation was torn between two massive political engines, each aiming to destroy the other.

There was the “Religious Right” of the day, led by the powerful government system of the Sanhedrin and enforced by the Pharisees. This political party was given power by the Roman Empire to keep the Israelis from stirring trouble. Their favorite weapon was the Sabbath. By creating and enforcing rules about the Sabbath day, they were able to keep the deeply religious Jews under control.

Then there was the movement of insurrectionists known as the Zealots. As powerful as this political movement was, it was also the scourge of Jewish society. Secretly admired by many people, these insurrectionists wanted nothing more than the overthrowing of Roman power in Israel. Their favorite weapon was the sword. Nothing would make these men happier than taking down a centurion or praetorian guard.

Enter Jesus.

Fascinated by this new and unusual movement, the Pharisees probed and prodded Jesus of Nazareth with a barrage of tests and questions, looking for any sign of weakness. These men knew the Scriptures. They knew about Messiah and feared that, if this man were Messiah, their relationship with the Roman Empire would be over. The power that Rome had given the Sanhedrin would disappear.

The Zealots, on the other hand, rallied behind Jesus and His group of ragamuffins. If this man were truly Messiah, He would free the Israeli people from the Romans. But Jesus didn’t come to free Israel from Rome. He came to free the world from sin.

So at the end of the day, both political parties were completely pissed with Jesus. The so-called Messiah hadn’t fulfilled any of their dreams, hopes, and desires. So the insurrectionists and religious leaders set aside their political differences, shook hands, exchanged money, and murdered Jesus.

News like this forum bothers me. Anytime political parties decide to play the “Christ card,” I grow very suspicious. But I grow even more suspicious of the church that opens its doors to politics. Are you seeing where I’m going here? Christ isn’t interested in the kingdoms of the world. He’s not planning to use the world system of governments to proclaim His kingdom. He plans to use the Church. We have no business getting involved in the petty arguments between political parties. We exist for a much higher calling. Democrat, Republican, Independent, etc. The Bride of Christ must transcend these divisions.

Like my pastor once said, “Christ didn’t come to take sides, He came to take over.”

At a loss for words. . . August 4, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Social Justice.
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I’m not really sure if words can actually describe my experiences this past weekend. I’ve been deliberating simply because I couldn’t come up with anything to write that would do the GLOCAL event any justice.

All I can say is this: Thank you, Liquid Church, for being the vehicle through which I was able to serve the community in ways I never thought possible until now. Thank you, Father-God, for this amazing gift of love You’ve chosen to give me.

I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves.

Life water (again). . . July 31, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity, Church, Social Justice.
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Why water?

It’s the most basic substance necessary to sustain life. And so many—1.1 billion, actually—are trying to survive without enough of it.

One out of every six.

The only water these people have access to is teeming with parasites and disease. Their water is lethal. They’re drinking it. And it’s killing them.

What can we do? There are a number of things. First, this Saturday, Liquid Church will be hosting a huge party on the Morristown Green (map here). Simply by showing up, you’re doing something. At the center of the party is a WaterWalk. For each person who walks, Liquid Church will donate $20 towards building wells in sub-Saharan Africa.

Second, you can partner with Liquid Church by using our secure donation site. Place the word “GLOCAL” in the comments section to ensure that your donation is going towards the water crisis relief effort.

This verse tells it all:

“This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice.”
~Matthew 10.42 (The Message)

I know our individual attempts are small. But each person can do so much more when working together with others who are looking for the same thing. Check out the First-Century Church.

Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
~Acts 2.43-45 (The Message)

They got together and decided to wipe out poverty. Why can’t we do the same thing?