Light for disappointing times…

This weekend, Kansas City plays host to the Big 12 basketball tournament. There are people all over downtown sporting their favorite game day gear, full of anticipation that their team will play well and win basketball games.
NCAA Basketball: Missouri vs. Baylor

Coming into this weekend, ten teams of players, coaches and fans are full of hope…dreaming about the possibility of winning the 2016 Big Twelve Basketball Tournament. And with that win, they have an even bigger hope of advancing into the final stages of the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament.

At the end of this weekend…only one team will still be cheering…nine will be struggling with disappointment.

Unfortunately, disappointment doesn’t just happen after losing basketball games…there are many different circumstances that make us feel the pain that results from missed expectations.

Fortunately, we have been given a Guide that is especially good at walking us through these times in life.

This Sunday, we continue our Easter Series with a sermon from John 8:12. Jesus is the light of the world. He is literally (in my best Chris Traeger voice :)) the most superior guide for life.

So whether its a disappointing loss, a disappointing day at the office or even at home…Jesus is the light of the world and longs to be your guide.

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Love and wallets…

This year, the kids pooled their money and bought me a new wallet. It is genuine leather and even has three sections for all my cards.

Since I have a new wallet, I also have an old wallet. So a few nights ago, I realized that Isaiah had some Christmas cash that seemed to be laying all over the house and I offered him my old wallet. You would have thought I gave him a new car. He was beaming.

Dallas already has a wallet, so he is covered in this department.

Ian however seemed to be a bit disappointed that I didn’t have a wallet for him.

He didn’t cry or throw a fit…which is a minor miracle, so I decided to look for one for him as well. I looked high and low and could find anything until I raided the junk drawer. Then I found something that would pass for a wallet for a three year old. He proceeded to put a $20 and a $5 bill in his wallet (he has more cash than I do :)).

Boys and their wallets He was so happy he slept with his wallet and when I woke him this morning, the first thing he said was, “where’s my wallet?”

Yesterday, Leigh-Ann had an appointment so I took the kids to school and then the boys came to church with me for a few minutes until she was done.

As soon as Ian saw someone at church, he pulled out a $20 and offered it to him. He has no clue what a $20 is worth, but I’m pretty sure when he does learn, he won’t be giving it away quite so easily.

He will learn some day that $20 is a currency that represents someone’s hard work and can then be used to purchase something. This Sunday we are going to be talking about a different type of currency.

The currency of love.

Love is amazing, but it’s not free. In fact it is the sum total of a lot of hard work and sacrifice. The greatest example of love cost the life of God’s only begotten son, Jesus.

The more we understand the cost of God’s love, the more we will value it. God’s love is an incredible asset to have when we are going through difficult trials. Tomorrow we will look closely at four different types of trials and we will see what happens when those trials intersect with God’s love.

I hope to see you on Sunday, who knows, maybe Ian will be handing out $20’s :), but if he’s not, God will still be offering love!

God is…

Fondue

On Christmas Eve, Leigh-Ann and I and the five kids celebrated the birth of Jesus with a few of our own traditions.

We fired up the fondue pot, along with some of our favorite sides and enjoyed a great meal. We were especially grateful that everyone stayed healthy which is no small achievement when you consider five kids ages 3-14 cooking meat on a fondue fork in boiling broth fueled by an open flame.

Afterwards, we opened some of our gifts.

So.Much.Fun.

The kids even surprised us with gifts…including a new wallet for me…I’m thinking they want me to have a nice holder for all the money they will need in the years to come :).

We ended the night by watching “The Nativity.”

Nativity Movie

nativity movie 2
The reality of Jesus’ birth puts our holiday into perspective.

  • Rome was overbearing and King Herod was downright evil.
  • Mary was so young and Joseph was so average.
  • The unexpected pregnancy created
    quite the stir.
  • The one hundred mile journey to Bethlehem was difficult.
  • The birthplace for Jesus was humble…embarrassingly humble for the Creator of the world.
  • Life was incredibly hard…no running water, electricity, decent transportation or direct long distance communication.

The movie was a great reminder that when we strip away the things that can be bought and the entertainment that can be enjoyed, people who have lived from the first century to the twenty-first century are still wired the same way.

The only way for us to find fulfillment and purpose is to start at the humble manger and end with the empty tomb.

Jesus came to bring hope to the world.

This Sunday, I look forward to sharing the first sermon in a four part series entitled, “God is…” from Isaiah 44:1-5 about the fact that God is louder than you think; but you have to be listening.

As we prepare to take down the Christmas tree and pack up the fondue pot for another year, I am so grateful that the story of Jesus’ birth is meant to be an integral part of our lives forever.

Reflections on life…

Death stings.

The stinging is fresh…a few days ago my Uncle Dave suffered a severe stroke and on Wednesday, he passed away.

My heart goes out to my Aunt Layna (could be a saint) who has lost her soul mate, my cousins who lost their dad and so many others who lost an incredible friend and role model.

Uncle Dave loved to laugh, tell corny jokes, play anything with a ball and ride anything with wheels. He loved to hunt, preach and watch the Packers, Bucks and Brewers.

Uncle Dave could make anyone feel welcomed and comfortable, drain 3-pointers on the Basketball court and preach tirelessly.

Uncle Dave loved God and people dearly.

His passing is painful for sure, but it also provides an opportunity to reflect.

Reflection heals.

Henri Nouwen wrote that life is a preparation for death as a final act of giving.

Uncle Dave spent his life giving…he gave his time and resources to his family and friends. Even in his death, he donated  his organs so that others could experience life.

This Sunday, Pastor Dave Robinson will be sharing a sermon from Luke 2 entitled, “Jesus the glory of Christmas.” This time of year is a celebration of the coming of Jesus into our world so that he could give His life. Interestingly enough, it was only after Jesus had left His disciples that they began to understand what He truly meant to them.

As I reflect on the life and now death of Uncle Dave, I am reminded of Jesus…and that’s about as good as it gets.

Thanks for joining my reflection of Uncle Dave and please consider joining our reflection of Jesus this Sunday at 10:45am which will include a Children’s Christmas Celebration from around the world.

Merry Christmas!

You are warmly invited to “An Acoustic Christmas” at New Life this Wednesday, December 23 from 6:30-7:30pm.

Starting right, ending well and everything in between

This past week my dad had a heart attack and then a few days later went under the knife for open heart surgery. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to be there with my dad, mom and siblings for this crucial life event.

Dad is in great shape and as a result was resilient in surgery and has recovered remarkably well.

The entire process has been an education for me. Once dad was taken into the hospital and the tests revealed a heart attack, the doctors, staff and family began a process of planning and then executing a strategy to treat the problem.

The surgery was scheduled. The family was educated. And the tools, products and staff were prepped.

Throughout the process I have learned a lot about the heart:

  • The first heart cell beats as early as four weeks.
  • There are more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels/arteries in each human body. That is enough to go around the world two times.
  • The heart beats 100,000 times per day…and never takes a break.
  • Your heart pumps 1.5 gallons per minute which adds up to 2,160 gallons per day.
  • Blood always finds its way back to the heart…fascinating.

So far, the process has been a success, but Dad still has a long road to recover. During the surgery the staff cut through his sternum, opened up his chest cavity, harvested healthy veins, turned his heart and lungs off, sewed healthy veins to bypass the blocked veins, re-started the heart, put everything back and sewed him up.

All in a day’s work.

Though the surgery started right and ended well, there was much that happened in between.

Sounds a lot like life…

This Sunday we will continue our “Life Management” series at New Life CityChurch. I will bring a sermon from Philippians 1:6 about starting right, ending well…and everything in between.

When it comes to life, most of us are “in between.”

We are in the grind of life. Within any given week we likely worry about relationships, money, career, family, etc. We experience wins…some of them big and we endure losses…some of them big as well.

We need truth to help us navigate. We need hope to motivate. We need discipline to captivate our fears.

There is help for the journey and we will study it this Sunday at 10:45am @newlifekc (www.newlifecity.church).

In the meantime, thanks for your prayers for my dad and his recovery during this time between. I am confident he will finish well.
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What if the Church?

New Life CityChurch has been a part of : http://whatifthechurch.org/for two years. This movement is designed to bring area churches together for the purpose of building their relationships with one another as well as the greater Kansas city community.

There are two parts to What if the Church?. The first is a three week message series. The 33 participating churches are divided into groups of three called triads. the teaching pastors of each church rotate over the series to teach at each other’s churches. This year New Life CityChurch is grouped again with Covenant Chapel and Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist church.

The second part of What If The Church? is called Serve Day. The people of the participating churches will come together and spend the morning of June 6, to serve at hundreds of community projects around the city. Our triad will serve at the Hope Center: http://hopecenterkc.org/. There will be multiple different projects in which you can participate…so whether you are skilled at a trade or are afraid of a hammer, there will be plenty to do.

This Sunday, one of the pastors in our group had a death in the family so Pastor Dave, from New Life is filling in to preach a sermon entitled: The Gospel Lifestyle :: What do SEX, HUMOR, SUFFERING and SELF-ESTEEM have to do with the Gospel?

It’s going to be a great start to a great opportunity to serve Jesus by serving the needs in our city.

I hope you can attend,

Troy

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Preparation for Easter

As we prepare our hearts for this most incredible weekend for the Christian faith, I can think of no better commentary to prepare us for an incredible Easter service at New Life CityChurch than something Leigh-Ann wrote yesterday.

In John 13 and 14, we read about Jesus and the disciples enjoying the Passover feast and what would become Jesus’ “Last Supper” with his friends. Jesus did some pretty crazy things, including washing their feet, pointing out which friend wasn’t a true friend at all, and telling one of them, while this friend claimed to be his ultimate BFF, that later that night, self-claimed-BFF would deny Jesus as well!

Jesus’ friends are confused, frustrated and hurt. They don’t understand what is happening- at all. They want to be close to Him. They want to understand. They want to remain faithful to Him. So one bravely demands “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied!” Jesus looks at the brave one and says “Seriously? I’ve been with you this whole time and you didn’t see God the Father?!”

How did they miss seeing God?

Now before I adjust my saddle, I need to climb down off my high horse here. I am a disciple of Christ, and how often do I miss seeing God in my life? How often do I see only what my eyes want to see and not what He wants me to see? How often do I doubt Him, His leading, His love, His promises? How often do I look at His plan and say “God, can you just show up here?”

Jesus goes on and gives them guidance, that most likely will be internalized long after He’s gone- “If you love me, obey my commandments, and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, Who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Another one of Jesus’ disciples at this point asks Jesus “Why are you only telling us this? Why just this room? Why not tell the world?” So Jesus gives them more hope (notice He’s giving HOPE while facing an overwhelming devastation to His very life) and tells them “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

That must have been a relief! Have you ever heard news or instructions that you had to remember, but you weren’t quite prepared for them so you didn’t write them all down? I know that especially when something traumatic is happening, as was here (they were losing a loved one), my brain just can’t focus. All details I want to remember blurs under stress. I can imagine the relief, when Jesus lets them know that an Advocate will be with them to remind them of everything Jesus has said to them.

“My representative will remind you of everything I have told you.” Phew! Relief!

Jesus goes on and explains why He told them all these things before any of it happened: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.”

So that you will believe.

So that YOU will believe.

So that you will BELIEVE.

Jesus left them with the best gift- peace of mind and heart like nothing they’d ever experienced! If they just remembered what He said and BELIEVED what Jesus said.

Jesus closes the conversation: “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.”

Notice that one part: “He has NO power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me.” Why? “So that the world will know that I love the Father.”

Beautiful one, that is our calling as well. We don’t obey out of duty but out of LOVE for our Father. We don’t obey, because it’s easy but out of LOVE for our Father.

Rest in that peace that passes all understanding during Good Friday and Passover.

Jesus did!
Passover