Fright night

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Houston Astro fans got an early Halloween. It was truly fright night in Houston as the Astros gave up their chance for a World Series championship to the upstart wild card Washington Nationals. It happens often. It has happened seven times since 1997. The team that has plodded along winning consistently all year long ends up losing to a team with much fewer wins (the Nats didn’t even win their division), but is surging at the end. That’s how my Angels won a championship in 2002.

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Posted in family | Tagged | 4 Comments

Family portrait

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Everybody hates it, and everybody loves it. We hate getting ready for it; we love the result. We all mostly do this for Marti. It was her idea and she’s the one who makes it happen. I’m talking about the family portrait. It’s family portrait day, and amidst some private eye-rolling, we’ll do this again. This gets harder and harder to do as our family gets bigger and more spread out as Anne has moved to Hawaii. But Anne is visiting this week and Christopher is off work recovering from an operation, so Marti jumped at the chance to set this up.

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Posted in image of God | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A group of people meeting somewhere

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Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker — also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier — and to the church that meets in your home: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philemon 1:1-3

“… and to the church that meets in your home.” How long did it take for us to see this? For as long as I can remember, the church has been a building, a denomination, an institution, a cathedral, a liturgy, a Eucharist, a committee, a general assembly, a rock concert followed by a TED talk — anything but a group of people meeting somewhere.

I’m not saying it isn’t all those other things, I’m just saying it doesn’t have to be. That even if it is all these other things, the essence of the church is a group of people meeting somewhere. The church at Notre Dame is a group of people meeting somewhere. It’s the same thing as a bunch of people meeting at Philemon’s house. The art, the inspiring architecture, the choir, the praise band, the sermon, the nursery, the order of service are all well and good, but when you strip it down to what it really is, the church is a group of people meeting somewhere. And if what happens when a group of people meet somewhere can’t happen in what we now call “church” then there needs to be some serious reconsideration of what the church is doing.

The Millennials get this. They get it better than anybody right now. In fact, that’s what they want. They want the stripped-down version. The church has been all the other stuff for so long that they are leery of it all, and well they should be. The tangible can so easily become an idol. The music, the charismatic speaker, the dynamite worship band, the stained glass — even the cross — can all become idols if they take the place of the Lord Christ. Not to say that they do, but they can.

When the church is a group of people meeting somewhere, it guards against idolatry. There’s no spotlight, no certain individuals getting all the attention. Everybody has a chance to talk, to question, to challenge, to worship, to pray. The focus is where it should be — on the Word and on people — on everybody, to be exact. Sure, there are “up front” gifts such as teaching and leadership, but these are not the only people we hear from.

I can see in the not-too-distant future a lot of hollowed out, empty church buildings, while meetings in homes and rec. centers flourishes. It’s already happening. We need to follow the Millennials on this one. They have the inside track. And why not, when you realize that the church is nothing more than a group of people meeting somewhere?

Posted in church, Millennials | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Are we keeping them waiting?

by Marti Fischer

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People are waiting for Jesus.

Jesus can be seen in us when we are unmasked.

We are unwilling to be unmasked over what people might see.

Jesus remains hidden.

People are still waiting for Jesus.

 

When we think our sins are less despicable than those of our neighbors, we are greatly deceiving ourselves, and worse, those around us. When we see our sins as mere flaws needing improvement, we are hiding behind a self-made mask that prevents onlookers from looking into the wicked sinner we truly are and finding Christ.

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Posted in freedom, Old/New Covenants | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Re-writing the rules of leadership

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Ron is not perfect, and this is not only common knowledge, but one of the main reasons why he is such a good mentor.

Leaders are naturally strong personalities and they’re going to butt heads with other strong individuals around them; it comes with the territory. And the temptation among leaders is the need to be 100% right. What if they are not? Fear drives us to have to be right because we are afraid to be real. If people are going to be following you, they need to know they can place their confidence in you. But is that confidence based on you or on the Holy Spirit in you? This is the big question of the new covenant.

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Posted in discipleship, walk by faith | Tagged | 2 Comments

Left behind

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I almost turned around and went back up north to see Ron again yesterday. I got to thinking about what I wrote about in yesterday’s Catch — how I went there for myself, to renew the blessing I received from him years ago — that maybe I need to go again, focused on him this time, and his family and their needs. Ron is such a big person in so many people’s lives that I can imagine everyone going to see him hoping for one last touch from him. I think we may need to also focus on giving that last touch instead of just receiving it. Besides, of all people, I should know that whatever I’ve received from Ron is not coming from him anyway, it’s coming from the Lord in and through him, and the Lord doesn’t need Ron to bring it. How many times have we said it recently: Everything from God; nothing from us. God is not dependent on any one of us. He can use anyone. And Ron would be the first one to tell us this.

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Posted in Facing death, Tragedy | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Pilgrimage

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Anne Marie.

There was no question. As soon as I found out Ron Ritchie was under hospice care at home, and his sons had been called in, I had to go. It was not a nice thing to do; it was a requirement. Not fully knowing why at the time, I just knew I had to be there. So I threw a few things into an overnight bag, grabbed a cup of coffee to go and started driving. It was almost midnight Saturday.

I did know enough to know it was for me I was going; it wasn’t for him. It was for me, so when I pulled into town around 4:30pm the next day and found out his Timothy group of 6 guys was coming for his last visit of the day at 5pm, I decided I would have to stay over. I did not want shared time.

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Posted in discipleship, Friendship, walk by faith | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Faith more real than faith

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It was most likely my last time to see Ron Ritchie. His body is shutting down. They are not trying to treat the cancer, only to keep him comfortable, which they are doing. As of yesterday, at least, he’s in no pain. A few days ago, he slept for six days. But he was surprisingly alert and upbeat when I finally saw him. He was funny, and teaching the word. Just like always. What else would you expect? He had an audience.

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Posted in Friendship, walk by faith | Tagged , | 11 Comments