Differences…

At the moment, I am hanging with five other guys and together we make up a discipleship group. We are different…no, we are each really different.

discipleship-group

Different races…

Different ages…

Different experiences…

Different opinions…

Different family history…

Different tragedies…

Different occupations…

Different backgrounds when it comes to our spiritual backgrounds…

So, you may be tempted to conclude that we are sitting around, trying to make up conversation, surviving the time, counting the hours until we can get back to people more similar to us…

NOT.AT.ALL!

Yesterday, we left for Branson. Tomorrow we head back to Kansas City. In between, it has been non-stop talking, laughter, friendship and some very deep spiritual discussion.

There is one shared thread that has influenced everything from our meals to our entertainment to our laughter and conversations…and that thread of similarity is our love for Jesus. Now don’t get me wrong, we are human and I have no doubt that in time, we would have some disagreement big enough to make us mad.

So when that moment comes, what should we do?

For starters, we should invite the Holy Spirit to empower our love for each other in spite of our differences. The sermon this Sunday is going to come from Romans 14:13-18 and it will speak specifically to situations where Christians disagree.  Life is too short to miss out on the love of Jesus applied to diverse people within a community of discipleship.

I hope to see you Sunday,

Troy

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Flag on the play…

This past Sunday night, at the last minute, I was invited to go to the Chiefs game with a friend. Leigh-Ann could be nominated for ‘wife of the year’ for dropping us off and picking us up after the game, saving us at least an hour and $60 in parking fees.

We made it just in time for kickoff. The first drive was great and then the Chiefs couldn’t seem to figure out their offense. The defense held strong and never gave up a touchdown.
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Towards the end of the fourth quarter, the Chiefs drove down the field and scored a touchdown bringing them within two points for the tie. They, of course, attempted a two-point conversion…and scored…and the crowd went wild. Strangers were giving high fives while Steelers fans went silent.

And then a little yellow flag appeared on the field…and that changed everything.

Eric Fisher was charged with a ten-yard holding penalty, the two point conversion was called back and the Chiefs failed to convert.

Game Over!

It’s tempting to blame the refs…or the quarterback…or the entire offensive unit…or the coach…

But honestly, I had nothing to do with the game and for me to blame someone is pretty ridiculous. I wasn’t playing, coaching or reffing…I wasn’t involved as a trainer or even a chaplain. Can you imagine if I went up to Eric Fisher and told him he lost the game as a result of his penalty?

I’m pretty sure, he would be like, “you have no right to tell me how to play football.” And he would be absolutely correct.

When a person without authority,  judges or condescends to another, it never ends well.

This Sunday, we continue our study of Romans 14. Paul is addressing Christians who were judging others over issues of personal preference. This was creating divisions among the believers. So Paul, calls for these Christians to pan out their vision and see the big picture.

There is so much more to say, so I really hope you can attend on Sunday. I promise you will leave with much more hope than the Chiefs fans did on Sunday :).

Have a great weekend,
Troy

Jail visit to jail…and grateful for freedom.

Today I had the distinct privilege of visiting someone in jail. The Jackson County Detention Center to be exact. Although I have visited him before, this time was a bit eerier.
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After stowing away my valuables in a locker, I proceeded through the metal detector and walked alone in a long, foreboding hallway until I found the elevator and rode up to the visiting floor.

Once on that floor, I followed the signs to a visiting room that was divided from the inmates by cinder blocks and glass. Since my visit was not during scheduled visiting hours, I was the only person on my side of the windows on the entire floor. The visiting room was dark and I couldn’t find a light switch. I could see some bunks and chairs on the other side of the glass, but there was no one in sight. In addition, there was a high pitched alarm sounding off that I could tell was coming from the other side.

I walked into the visiting room a few times and then walked out, not sure what to do. Since I was the only one on the entire floor and the visiting room was dark, I began to wonder what if….I am sure if someone jumped out to scare me, I would have screamed :).  Finally, a light came on and I noticed a guard on the other side of the glass. When he saw me, he made the connection and soon I was able to begin my visit.

The inmate told me about how God had protected him multiple times from danger. As a result of this incarceration, he has grown much closer to the Lord. He attends a church service every Sunday, Bible study several times a week and prayer circle every day. He is facing two life sentences, but hoping to walk out a free man after three and a half years. We ended our visit with each of us praying and then he returned to his cell and I headed towards the exit.

I have heard his story and have no idea what will happen. I do know that when I finally made it down the elevator, gathered my belongings and walked out the door, the coming ice storm was a welcome alternative to spending the night in jail.

As I reflect on this experience, I have concluded there is something incredibly amazing about freedom.

Freedom is worth celebrating when you come out of a jail, it is also worth celebrating in your spiritual journey. As Christians, we have been set free from our sins. However, if we are not careful we can create a new sort of bondage to other Christian’s expectations.

So what happens when our application of Scripture differs from a fellow Christians application of Scripture?

This Sunday, rain, ice, sleet or shine, we will cover that topic. It may be at 1717 McGee or it may be on facebook live, but either way, Pastor Dave will be opening our series on Romans 14-15. The title of his sermon is, “Differences without Division” from Romans 14:1-8. He will be speaking about tensions that arise due to differing opinions with regard to our Christian life.

If the weather permits, I hope you will be able to attend, but if the weather doesn’t cooperate with travel, I really hope you will tune into the facebook live video stream.

Stay safe,
Troy

Sledding…

Yesterday, we went sledding. The kids had been excitedly waiting all day. In fact, they started preparations for sledding at least a few hours before I told them I could be home.

After spending the better part of the afternoon in anticipation we started the final round of layers…snow pants, coats, hats, scarves, and mittens.

Finally, after everyone was thoroughly bundled up and the sleds were packed into the van, we took off for the hill.

All six kids (I included myself in that number :)) had a blast.

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The kids went alone…together…and even in a five-person train. I stayed at the bottom of the hill most of the time to make sure they didn’t slide into the road and get hurt…safety first :).

There were a few times the older girls traded with me so I could go down the hill.

I remember the first time, trying to get myself on to a small little saucer and then letting go down the hill and picking up speed and feeling every.single.bump…I wondered if this was the smartest decision for a 40-year-old man.

Well, in spite of my fears, there were no injuries and only a lot of fun and some great memories.

There are times when life is like a trip down the sledding hill. We take off on an adventure and then we begin to think of all that could go wrong…and we become fearful and anxious. This Sunday, Pastor Gabor Grész from Budapest, Hungary will bring the sermon from Mark 4:35-41, entitled, “On the other side of your fears.”

I am confident that God will use this sermon in each of our lives. I sure hope to see you on Sunday.

Troy

Announcement: This past Sunday, January 1st, I shared a sermon from Psalm 90. I challenged our church to “Make every day count” by committing to reading the Bible every day in 2017. We have posted a personal Bible Study guide on our website as a resource to help you in that pursuit.