Faith Community Church Blog

Blogging Guidelines 

I welcome participation in the discussion on this blog. To join the conversation, please agree to the following code of conduct (adapted from Wikia):

  1. We take responsibility for our own words.
  2. We will post high quality, acceptable content.
  3. We will not abuse, harass, or threaten others with our words.
  4. We will not publish libelous or knowingly false information or misrepresent another person.
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  6. We will not say something online that we would not say in person.
  7. If tensions escalate, we will have private conversation with the person we disagree with before we respond publicly.
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  10. We will ignore “trolls”; that is we won’t respond to nasty comments about ourselves in the blog. Feeding trolls only encourages them!

As the initiator of this blog, I (Dr. Darryl T. Jenkins) reserve the right to delete comments that do not conform to the above rules and basic standards of civility.

What is Sabbath?



Webster's definition:Sabbatical is a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.

The Christian would look at the word, research as studying Scripture, reading Christian books and having extended times of personal communion with God.

Ideas from the book on how do do an extended time of personal communion with God:

1.  Ditch the cell phone.  


2.  Start with NO AGENDA.  We need to listen with an open mind to begin to notice where He is leading.

3. Take the first 20-30 minutes to do nothing more than listen.  Be quiet, listen with your ears, eyes, mind and heart.

4.  Give thanks.  List all the things you are thankful for.  Write your prayers down.  That helps keep your mind focused.

5.  If distractions come - pray for them and release them back to him.

6.  If you go out for a walk, stroll instead of power walk.  Notice all the natural, God-made things around you.

7.  If you see something natural of interest, stop and watch it move or just inspect it's beauty and design.

8. Write down all of your observations and ask God to grant you His awareness of what you have just seen.  

9. Allow yourself to drop deeper into His presence.  

10.  If a person comes into your mind, write them a note of why you appreciate them or just pray for them.  

11.  Ask God to guide where you are going in life.  Remember, He may not give you the full plan but just the next few steps.

12.  Ask God to help you trust Him for the rest of the plan He has for your life.  Thank Him.  

Can We Leave Jesus Out of the Conversation?

Humanity

Can We Leave Jesus Out of the Conversation?

 January 7, 2016  Roland Kuhl  0 Comments

As I read and listen to the controversy going on between Wheaton College and Professor Larycia Hawkins, who donned a hijab during Advent to show solidarity with Muslims because as she expressed, Muslims and Christians worship the same God, and both are people of the book (cf. http://www.ibtimes.com/who-larycia-hawkins-wheaton-college-professor-suspended-after-comparing-christianity-2229036), I keep wondering about how we are engaging the conversation. Many of my friends have weighed in with their perspectives on whether Dr. Hawkins’ expression that Muslims and Christians (for that matter also Jews) worship the same God?

In one sense, yes! In a real sense, indeed yes! Jews, Christians and Muslims are all identified as Abrahamic faiths – having their roots in Abraham, who was called by God to journey to the promised land – and so we worship the same God, if we worship the God who called Abram/Abraham. We may identify God by different names (YHWH, God, Allah), have different experiences of God, but essentially we have in mind the same One God who encountered Abram in Genesis 12: 1-3, and made a covenant with him in Genesis 17: 9ff.

So the question is not whether we are fixing our eyes upon different gods – we have the same God in mind.

However, it seems we understand this God very differently, we worship this God very differently, we experience this God differently. And maybe that could be the end of the discussion, should be the end of our arguing with each other – and we could sit down at table easily together as brothers and sisters who have a different perception of the One who created us – if it were not for God showing up and messing it all up, for God desiring to reveal himself more fully to us.

Yet, what kind of God is God who desires to be revealed more fully to us? Why would we not want to see and hear this God more clearly? Yes, more would be required of us – and maybe therein lies the rub – we are happy with our perceptions of God; we do not want God to muddy the perceptions of who we think God is, a god whom we can control.

But yet, God chose, God chooses to become more fully known to us and so our contentness of shaping God in our own images is muddied, shattered.

How can God becoming human, to make God more visible to us become such a bad thing? A dividing thing? The problem is with us, not with God.

John expresses in the opening words of his gospel that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and this Word became human and dwelt among us (cf. John 1: 1-14). John iterates “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

God becoming human was meant to muddy the waters – to challenge our being content within ourselves in our own controlling realities and prejudices. The incarnation of God was meant to turn our worlds upside down, to uncover our self-empowering images of ourselves and a God who serves us. God came among us, as one of us, to show us God more clearly, more fully and also us more fully, more clearly. Paul further expresses in Colossians 1: 19 that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”

God came to rip off the covers of our controlling visions of God and our controlling visions over others. We are all in need of seeing who we are, and having a more clear vision of who God is. God becoming human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is for all humanity – who came into human history through the political history of one people group – Israel (after all Jesus was born a Jew). But, Jesus was never meant to be owned by or restricted to one people group – let alone become the mere God and Lord of Christians. It was our need to control and take charge that we took ownership of Jesus, taking God for ourselves, setting God against all those to whom God had come to be revealed, rather than taking on the posture of worship, of submission, of yielding ourselves to God (which is interestingly what the term “Muslim” means – “one who submits to God/Allah”).

In essence to leave Jesus out of the conversation, as so many of us are seeking to do – in misguided motives of wanting to be politically correct, of not wanting to offend, is indeed to muddy the waters, is to keep our voice as more important than the voice of the other. To refuse to acknowledge God who has come among us in the person of Jesus, is actually to acknowledge that we really do hate our neighbor, that we truly do want to lord ourselves over others, that we prefer to see the other as our enemy, that we do not want to live in harmony with all humanity.

In our not wrestling with how we are to understand and engage Jesus, this one who is God among us (Immanuel – cf. Matthew 1:23), we are opting to keep God hidden and to worship our images of self as images of God. We opt to keep God obscure from our sight, our lives, to be content with painting God in our own images, our own experiences, our own perspectives, rather than having ears to hear and eyes to see how God seeks to reveal who God is who is with us, among us, seeks to walk with us. Jesus, is not the property of “Christians,” nor of the Jews, nor of Muslims, nor Buddhists, Hindus, nor any other religious or human community – Jesus is God, who has become one of us, to draw all of humanity into relationship with God, and also in relationships of shalom, salaam, peace with one another.

We miss God, when we miss seeing Jesus, connecting with Jesus – because God became one of us in  this man. Jesus, then, is God’s Word – God who can be touched, heard, seen – for this planet, and for all who indwell it. And for us to keep Jesus out of the conversation is to intentionally seek to keep God out of the conversation, out of our lives, and out of our world.

A Working Credo – All Lives Matter!

Your Life Matters

A Working Credo – All Lives Matter!

 September 10, 2015  Roland Kuhl  0 Comments

As I continue to reflect on what I believe, here is a second statement of my working credo:

Every human being is created in God’s image – therefore, all lives matter, your life matters!

As I listen to people talk, it has come to my attention that some people are frustrated by the “Black Lives Matter” movement – that it is accentuates African Americans as a group of people over other groups of people – as if other lives don’t matter.

Can they be missing what’s going on?  I think so. “Black Lives Matter,” is a movement that is creating necessary awareness of how black lives have been marginalized, especially in the face of all the violence that we hear about in the news.

Yet, in response, those who are frustrated, especially in light of increase in targeted shootings of police officers, there is a movement to express that “Police Lives Matter.” And so now what is being expressed to raise awareness is now fostering further division rather than bringing healing. What was meant to create awareness, empathy and a road to reconciliation and conciliation is now creating more separateness.

To be fair, it is not movements that cause divisions, it’s people who are hijacking causes for their own ends. In advocating for a particular cause – “Black Lives Matter,” “Police Lives Matter” – people can become so focused upon their cause or their agenda that they contribute to the problem, rather than resolving what divides us.

The point in all this in drawing our attention to which lives matter is that “all lives matter.” “All human beings matter.” A consistent life ethic expresses that every life matters – Black lives, police lives, children’s lives, women’s lives, refugee lives, immigrant lives, every human life that experiences suffering, every life that is discriminated against, marginalized, enslaved – from the moment of conception, through whatever life circumstances people endure, to the end of life. All human life matters, all human beings deserve to be regarded and treated with dignity, because we are all created in God’s image.

Because of the injustices we perpetrate upon one another, the one suffering cries out, “I matter,” “my life matters.” When we experience discrimination or marginalization, we cry out to be noticed. The problem is that we are all crying out for ourselves – we need to begin crying out for one another. We need to not just say, “my life matters,” but we need to find the courage and strength to express to one another, “your life matters!”

So, what is the point I am trying to make?

I have been reading in Philippians this month and I see Jesus’ life modeling a way of being with one another that may help us hear one another – to hear those expressing, “black lives matter,” to hear those expressing, “police lives matter,” to hear those expressing, “my life matters.”

Paul in addressing the church in Philippi expresses that we are not just to think about ourselves and our own rights (though I do not see a marginalizing of our rights by this statement of his). Paul specially expresses, “look out for the interest of others, not just your own” (Php. 2:4).

So, what’s the point?

It seems that in responding to those who are trying to raise awareness regarding an injustice being perpetrated, a people group being marginalized, too many of us respond with not really hearing what is being brought to our attention. Rather, we get defensive, we confront – we say, “what about my rights?” “what about my life?” It’s so easy for us to think merely about our own interests – with the result being an “eye for an eye” policy, which as Gandhi mused, “only ends up making the whole world blind.”

So, what is the way of Jesus in this so that we express and live in ways which all lives matter?

As we read in Philippians 2, we are to be champions of one another’s interests, of one another’s rights. Our top priority is to add our voices to the voices of those being oppressed and marginalized. We add our voices to the voices of others in support of what matters to them – we make it a point to hear what matters to them, see what matters from their perspective, walk with them.

The consequence of this is that it helps us not be defensive when they are around us because we are already with them. And there is another consequence as well – we find that others are walking with us too. As we give support to their lives, we discover that not only do their lives matter to us, but our lives matter to them as well. In this way, we express solidarity for one another – we support each other, we are a voice for one another, we matter to each other.

A definition of “sin,” is a “preoccupation with ourselves.” If we want to have our lives matter, then we need to take the radical step of caring about other lives before we care about our own. I know this is counterintuitive to what we have come to understand of what it means to be human, but as I understand what it means to be human in light of what God is doing in the world, being human begins with being humane with one another – stopping being so preoccupied with ourselves, and beginning to be preoccupied with the lives and rights of our neighbors – “loving our neighbors as ourselves” as an expression of “loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.”

The challenge is that we’ve tried and we keep making a mess of it. Perhaps its time we in mutually submitting to one another, we do it in reverence for Christ Jesus. It seems the only one who enables us to be humane with one another is to let the Spirit of God to take hold of our lives, to transform us and shape us. In yielding ourselves to God’s ways in us, we will be able to live with one another in ways that all lives matter.

Every human being matters!  Every life matters!

Come To Me All You Who Are Weary and Heavy Burdened – Jesus

Come To Me All You Who Are Weary and Heavy Burdened – Jesus

 June 19, 2015  Roland Kuhl  0 Comments

Heavy BurdenMatthew writes about Jesus in his gospel talking about Jesus’ ministry among the people, how he was about doing God’s business in the world, in the neighborhood – and then Jesus offers these words at the end of chapter 11 of Matthew’s gospel: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11: 28-30).

What Jesus has to say to every day people who are experiencing all kinds of things in daily life is you do not have to walk alone. As a community pastor I have encountered too many people trying to walk alone, trying to navigate the struggles of life alone. Yet, because the nature of life is difficult, it’s pretty near impossible to make it on our own – we need others, people who care about us, to come alongside of us and walk with us.

I realized in my own life journey, trying to make it on my own, trying to walk on my own – I almost ended up giving up before I even started. Life just had too many obstacles and barriers that were tripping me up. I remember thinking that maybe if I hung out with Jesus life might get easier, only to discover that how I experienced church and faith had me doing a lot of running trying to keep up with Jesus, with God in my life. Life got pretty tiring as I tried to have God in my life.

Yet, it was at a low point in my life, when I realized I did not have the energy to keep up with God, when I was becoming resigned to the fact that I would be living my life alone, that Jesus came to me and embraced me – I heard him say, “Roland, come to me. You’re weary and burdened – I will give you rest.” Now, what was different this time was that rather than my trying to do something to keep up with God, with Jesus, Jesus invited me and waited for me, stood there and actually came to me and took hold of me.

I look at these words of Jesus very differently since that experience. In one sense, hearing Jesus say “come to me” means that we have to get up and get moving and go to where Jesus is at – but what if we can’t? But now I have come to hear Jesus differently. Jesus still says, “Come to me,” but the point of the incarnation (of God taking on our humanity in the person of Jesus) is that God, Jesus is always coming to us. Jesus calls us to “Come to me,” but then he is the one who comes to us, reaches out his hand and offers to take our hand and lift us up so that we can walk with him. We don’t have to run a marathon to catch up with Jesus, Jesus is standing right next to us, reaching out to us, waiting for us to put our hand in his.

And when we do, rather than our trying to walk with Jesus, we discover that Jesus helps us walk with him. Jesus gives us the ability to keep up with him, because he walks with us.

And when we walk with him in this way – his walking with us, we discover that the first thing that we discover is “rest for our weary bodies, minds, spirits, souls.” Often times in conversation with others in my “offices” all over Lake County, I hear people say that after we meet together, they leave sensing the presence of God, the presence of Jesus, his Spirit with them. They came with anxiety and they leave rested and more at peace. Now its not me they’re meeting with, when we meet, I realize I am there because Jesus has brought me there – and so when we meet together, we are meeting together with Jesus – who has offered the invitation, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened.” I find rest and refreshment in our meetings as well.

It’s interesting when we meet with Jesus. Not only do we walk with him as he walks with us, but we learn to walk in his ways in our lives, at work, at home, wherever we find ourselves, not just by wearing his “yoke” – something that holds oxen together as they pull a plough or cart (that’s the imagery of a yoke), we discover that a “yoke” connects us to Jesus and we learn to walk like him day to day, by looking to him, learning from him, because he connects himself to us – he offers to us to be yoked together with him, for he to be connected to us.

I have come to experience in my own life that this is the only way to live – to walk with Jesus Christ, to be yoked together with him.

And as community pastor, serving the residents of Lake and McHenry counties, by purpose is to come alongside of all who are weary because of the needs in their lives, that they might find rest by hearing Jesus say to them, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

May you grab hold of Jesus’ outstretched hand when he reaches out to you.

God Among Us

God Among Us

 April 20, 2015  twhite  0 Comments

God Among UsIf you have eyes to see, you can see God all over the place – touching people’s lives, in life situations, indeed all around us.

It reminds me of Jesus with his first disciples as he sent them out into the community. You can find this story in Luke 10: 1-9.

In essence what Jesus said to them was: when you come into a neighborhood hang out with the people you meet – drink a cup of coffee, eat with them, listen to them, help them out in ways that you can, and let them know that God’s kingdom or God’s presence has come near to them.

That’s a radical message that I think is best heard in the neighborhood – places like Panera, Starbucks, local coffee shops and restaurants, bars and taverns – places where people hang out in the neighborhood.

God is among us – though we do not always notice that God is hanging with us – and there to bring strength and healing to our lives.

We’ve thought in our culture that God is only to be found in churches, synagogues or mosques, but as we discover in Luke 10, Jesus did not send his disciples to synagogues or the Temple, but he sent them out to be among where people hang out during the way – in their places of work, where they connect with others, where they live life.

I have come to discover that is where I best see God as well.

When I pastored a church, often holed up in my office, I had a hard time seeing God, experiencing God. But when I was in a place like Panera, like where I am now writing this blog post, being amidst people living their lives, eating lunch, talking with one another, I get the strong sense that this is where God is hanging out as well.

As a community pastor, this is where I’d rather be – among the people in my neighborhood – because this it seems where God would rather be. As I make myself available to people to walk alongside with them, listening to their lives, their hopes, dreams, their longings and struggles, I find myself eating and drinking coffee with people whom I am growing in relationship – where we are sharing our lives with one another. And in the midst of this, without a hidden agenda, without trying to sell them something, I am led to honestly express, “the presence of God is here with us,” – God is here with us.

I find no greater joy in life, than being one who comes alongside others to help them see God coming alongside them, seeking to walk with them in their daily lives. God is all around us and God seeks us to live lives of meaning and purpose – to come out of our struggles, to live with hope, with joy – and that happens more and more as we discover God, not segregated to Sundays, but in the midst of our lives as we go about doing and living as we normally do.

I keep discovering as I engage people in public places, that God is best discovered, seen and experienced in the day to day going-ons of our lives. Indeed, if we have eyes to see, to notice, God is with us and God’s kingdom, God’s presence has come near to us.

My prayer is that you might have eyes to see God sitting with you, walking with you in all that you experience in life.

 

Peace,

Roland

A New Way of Pastoring

Community 1

Being Available in the Community: A New Way of Pastoring

 April 19, 2015  Roland Kuhl  0 Comments

Roland KuhlI have pastored in traditional churches for a lot of years – 20 years in fact – and I never felt quite at ease in that context. At one point I left the pastorate because I realized the way I was pastoring was actually doing harm to the people I was meant to care for – and as it goes, when you harm others, they hurt back. After that experience I spent 15 years outside of a church pastorate, kind of wandering my own wilderness, trying to discover a new way, a different way to be with people as their pastor. And though I found a community, which gave me permission to pastor in another way, there was still something that did not really fit.

And, here’s why.

The traditional way of pastoring is that a church pays the pastor to be their pastor and there is a lot of things that need doing to “run” a church. There is a whole business involved in running a church – and no matter how much I experimented with a new way of pastoring, there was still an aspect of “running” the church, doing the business of church. I did not mind so much in doing that, yet there was a sense that it kept me from the people I was supposed to walk alongside with. When I first started attending the church, which I now pastor, I came not as a pastor, but as a worshiper. My wife and I were accepted; we connected with people, we were becoming engaged and involved. But then, when they figured out that I had been a pastor (and they needed a pastor), they invited me to be their pastor. And when I said yes, I noticed that our relationship changed – as if a “wall” began to be erected between us – because I was no longer one of them as their pastor.

I have always been uneasy with that. Maybe that’s why Jesus never became a rabbi of a synagogue, or a pastor of a church – something happens that disconnects you from the lives of ordinary people. Well I got tired of that and so, I’ve stepped outside of the church – because in some ways I am done with church as well – at least the way church is being done in North America. I’ve stepped outside of church to exercise my gift of pastoring with people who need someone who can come alongside them as a pastor to guide them spiritually, to help them in times of grief or other life transitions – as one who is one of you.

So, I am discovering a new way of pastoring once again – where I am with you in your communities – without the baggage that comes along with going to church – programs, requests for donations, and feeling that you’re there to make a pastor or leader’s ministry successful. Pastoring in the community, pastoring outside the walls of the church is to walk alongside you in such a way that the focus is not on my ministry, but rather realizing that my ministry is you – to walk with you, helping to connect you with God, helping you to discover where God is leading you, so that your life might have more meaning. It may involve you connecting with other people who will walk alongside with you as well – so that you can discover the ways of God together – but not in a way that is defined by church as it is today in society.

So, Community Pastor is about a new way of pastoring in the community. A new way of realizing that ministering in the way of Jesus puts people first, rather than church programs or budgets. It’s about helping people to become part of what God is doing in the world; its about connecting with others who want to be part of what God is doing as well – in the places where we live, work, play – in our everyday lives.

So, drop by one of “office” locations and sit down for a while to chat over a cup of coffee – we’d love to talk with you to see what God is doing in your life and perhaps walk with you for a while helping you discover all that God desires for you.

Peace,

Pastor Roland

Resurrection

Resurrection

The problem that most people have with believing that Jesus Christ was resurrected is that it seems so contrary to what we experience in our day-to-day experience. But the fact of the matter is that we do experience resurrection all the time, at critical points in our lives. We come to discover that we are different, new – we experience resurrection in our own lives. I am not just speaking metaphorically.

I was once asked by a college student, “can’t I just believe in Jesus’ teachings, do I need to believe that he was resurrected from the dead?”

My response was this:

“What’s so hard to believe about the resurrection? Resurrection happens all the time when life conquers death, when living life overcomes eking out an existence.”

Resurrection is not all that hard to fathom – it indeed does happen all the time.

Christ’s resurrection was once and for all time – for through his resurrection from the dead he conquered all that sets itself against life, sets itself against that which seeks to destroy us.

In my own life, I recognize that there have been at least three times of resurrection.

My experiences of resurrection come after futile attempts of my trying to eke out a life for myself.

The first time was I was embraced by God. I had grown up in a church and around the age of 12, I was invited to make a commitment to Jesus in my life. I did. I was baptized. And then I discovered the Christian life was impossible to live. I did my best – trying to follow the rules, be as good as I can, but no matter how hard I tried I felt I was never right with God. I was always repenting of my sins, but throughout high school I could never find a way of walking with God. At the time of my graduation I decided that I could not keep living my life in this tortured way – so either I figured how to live with God or I needed to forget God.

I went off to university and got connected with some other college-aged students. They invited me to a retreat weekend over Canadian Thanksgiving and I had the most miserable time of my life – they worshiped, they studied the Bible, they listened to teachings – “how could anyone enjoy this I asked myself?” But one thing I did notice – it seemed that they had a living relationship with Christ in their lives – a relationship, no matter how hard I tried to initiate and develop it – always seemed to elude me.

On Thanksgiving Monday, I came to realize that if God was able to be in their lives like that, but God was never in my life like that – no matter how hard I tried, God did not care about me enough to take hold of my life. And so, with a deep sense of finality, I decided I was done with God.

As we gathered in a barn, the leader Brian asked if anyone had anything to share. I shared my decision of being done with God and the story that led up to that decision. He asked if he could pray for me – I couldn’t care less, but said “knock yourself out.”

And then resurrection happened. As Brian prayed, and as I gave up on God, I literally felt embraced by God. I felt accepted for the first time by God. I had given up trying – and God was able to take hold of me and fill me with life. I was indeed dead – and now I was resurrected.

The second time was in theological seminary as I was preparing for pastoral ministry. My dad warned me about going there – since it was not a school associated with the church I grew up in. He said, “You’ll lose your faith there.” And I began to discover that my dad was right. I began struggling with faith questions that were not fitting into my predetermined set of beliefs – these questions did not fit my “faith box.”

One day in class, as I was wrestling if what I believed actually was true, another professor substituted for my regular professor – who was ill or out of town, or something like that. And rather than teaching a class, jack Rogers began describing the kind of faith struggles many first year seminary students experience. He had my attention; I think I was on the edge of my seat as he described my struggle. He mentioned that there was always someone who was going to be smarter than us who would ask a question for which we would not have an answer. So what would we do – give up on our faith because we did not know how to answer the question?

He asked, “do you want to know a better way?” I think I audibly expressed a “yes!” And this is what he said: “Rather than putting your faith in your faith, what you believe about Jesus, instead, put your faith in the person of Jesus.” “Put your trust in him, rather than what you believe about him.”

That sounded so simple – and so I did. Rather than placing my faith in my own faith box or system, I placed my faith in Christ. And that was another resurrection experience in my life. Now I find I can ask questions for which I do not have an answer, and even express that I do not. But I am assured that as I walk with Jesus, that he has some insight in response to such questions. Though it may take a lifetime to figure things out, I know that I can be at peace not knowing the answers to all of life – but rather, walk with the One who is the answer to all of life. Shifting my faith from a set of beliefs to trusting Christ through a relationship was indeed a resurrection encounter.

The third experience of resurrection came after a long period of restless journeying . . .