Wherever there are labels and divisions, we tear them down.
Wherever there are outsiders, we build bridges.
Black folks in a white dominant society?
People who are gender confused?
People whose first language isn’t english?
Individuals on the autism spectrum?
Kids like me who grew up in the foster system?
All of you, ANY OF YOU IN CHRIST, have been made an INSIDER.
You are fully welcomed, fully loved, no ifs, ands, buts.
Maybe you are the black sheep in your family.
Maybe you are overlooked at work.
Maybe you have labeled yourself as an outsider because of something you’ve done.
You have been the beloved child of a loving family ALL THIS TIME.
God sees you, the FULL YOU, and he loves you.
I once felt like an outsider, but then I encountered JESUS and He changed everything.
Coolest part about grace? Grace bridges the gap. It gives Christ the power to include you BEFORE you conform to a religion, lifestyle or behavior.
Pray with me: “Jesus, I know I’m not perfect & your word says I’m a sinner. I’m grateful that you paid the cost of my sin, and you have accepted me into your family. I confess with y’all mouth & believe in my heart that God raised you from death, so that i might have new life. Please empower & enable me to walk in your ways & live as an extension of your grace & mercy in this world.”
Jennifer and I were in tears as we discussed the reality of what happened on Wednesday. After looking at photos and videos, reading commentary, watching my friends react & argue online, and considering the implications of such an event in our Nation…I am tired.
So are you.
You are tired, frustrated, aggravated, and filled with emotions that you don’t even know how to describe. I see it all over you.
Which side will you choose? This is the question that everyone feels they need to answer. Take a side, choose a team, wear the jersey, wear it proud. Some have specifically asked me which side am I on.
What jersey are you wearing, Bill?
Not yours. I’m not wearing your colors. I’m not carrying your flag. I’m not sleeping in your tent. I’m not putting your sign in my yard. I do not embrace your ideals.
I refuse to choose a side, and you will not lure me into your arms by telling me how corrupt the other side is. Your suspicions & mistrust of “those people” are not enough to convince me to embrace your ideology.
I do not have to choose a side.
I believe I can pursue racial reconciliation, while simultaneously standing up for the unborn. I believe I can listen to and love people of color, and stand for justice without being a “Marxist.” I believe I can vote Republican without being a “racist.“ I believe I can assign value and honor to the immigrant, treating them with dignity & respect, while also promoting safety & security at our borders. I believe I can love my neighbor really well while also preaching and promoting sexual morals.
I do not have to be pro abortion to be pro woman. I do not have to be anti-capitalism in order to be an anti-racist. I do not have to choose a side or accept your label.
Currently, I am on the side of grief. Instead of reacting, blaming, raging, and adding fuel to the fire of a volatile nation, I will grieve. I will mourn. I will sit in sadness and process the reality of a nation going through divorce. I grieve as some of my friends and family have chosen to sacrifice one another at the altar of their political persuasion. I grieve as the entire world feeds into the idolatry of self. I grieve at my own sin & my own eroded morality.
This is good grief, though. It’s the kind of grief that transforms a heart & shapes a future. It’s a grief that requires reframing and reforming our perspective of the world. It’s a grief that makes us grateful for those closest to us & builds steadfastness for tomorrow. I need to grieve. You need to grieve. Our nation needs to grieve. We should grieve & ask God to renew our minds & reshape our hearts.
Jesus stepped into human history over 2,000 years ago. He lived for 33 years, fully God and fully man. He is the son of God and came to bring peace to a world at war with itself.
In humility, Jesus chose to sacrifice himself on the cross so that whoever believes in him could have eternity with him in heaven. He took on the weight of all the wrong + darkness humanity had ever created and stood in the gap for us to be seen as pure and blameless in the sight of God.
Jesus taught us how to live by faith, be known by love, and be a voice of hope to the world.
His life proved to us that:
Your future is on the other side of your failures.
Your greatness is on the other side of your pain.
Your freedom is on the other side of your fear.
The reason Oasis Church exists is so that people, like you, can have new life in Christ. This new life isn’t something we attain for ourselves, it’s a free gift given to us because of God’s grace…
Ephesians 2:5 says “even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” And this new life in Christ produces a new life in you. As you and I grow, we change and our life begins to produce Christian “fruit.”
If you would like to place your faith in Jesus, can do so by simply posturing your heart in humility, and praying a simple prayer by faith.
Pray: Jesus, I place my faith in you. I admit that I’m a sinner, and I’ve gone my own way. I believe you are the son of God, the messiah, and I confess you as my Lord. Amen
Today I preached Luke 1:39-45 – the story of Mary and Elizabeth meeting and introducing their unborn babies to each other. John, Elizabeth’s unborn son, was filled with the Holy Spirit upon their meeting one another.
It’s a powerful, prophetic picture of God seeing, blessing, and finding favor with the “least of these.” It’s a story of two marginalized women, and two unborn babies, being called by name, visited by Angels, and experiencing the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
I made a few significant points today:
1- GOD GIVES WOMEN HONOR, VALUE, DIGNITY & RESPECT
Jesus obeyed his mother (Luke 2:51).
You see it in the way Jesus addressed his mother in a respectful tone “my dear woman” (John 2:4).
The Samaritan woman at the well in (John 4:1-42).
Jesus offered forgiveness and acceptance to a sex worker (Luke 7:36-50).
He defended the woman “caught in act of adultery.”
Jesus didn’t judge or condemn these women. He treated them with respect.
This expression of commitment and compassion toward women began in the womb.
2- WHEN IT COMES TO HUMAN LIFE, GOD CARES ABOUT EQUALITY.
We are all equally made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28)
“The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord made them both” (Proverbs 22:2)
All are born under sin, have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
Every human being is the object of the love of God (John 3:16)
Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2)
Men and women are equal in God’s gift of new life (1 Peter 3:7).
James 2 reminds us not to treat some people better than others.
3- GOD GIVES UNBORN BABIES HONOR, VALUE, DIGNITY, AND RESPECT.
βρέφος – (Brephos)
The same greek word for “baby” is used by Luke each time he references an unborn or post born baby. In Luke 1:41, 1:44, for the unborn, and the same word is used in Luke 2:12, 2:16, Luke 18:15-16, and Acts 7:19.
John the Baptizer in Elizabeth’s womb is the same word used for newborn baby Jesus, it is the same word for the children brought for Jesus to pray over. Pre-school age, infants, unborn, born. All of it.
The big idea? Life begins at conception, and God holds that life with honor, value, dignity, and respect.
Lastly, GOD GIVES SINNERS (of which I am the chief) HONOR, VALUE, DIGNITY, AND RESPECT.
God, I take shelter in you. You are the Most High, and I will rest in your shadow. I will live and reside and dwell in your presence, because you are the almighty. Lord, you are MY refuge, MY place of safety, and MY God. I trust you.
I believe you will rescue me from every trap and continue to protect me from deadly disease. Cover me with your feathers, hide me under your wings. I will wear your promises as my armor and protection.
I am not afraid of the terrors at night, nor the arrow that flies in the middle of the day. I’m not afraid of the disease that stalks in the darkness, or the disasters that destroys in the middle of the day.
I see thousands falling all around me, and it seems like evil is winning, but I declare it will not touch me or my home.
Your word says that when I take refuge in you, and I make you my shelter, no harm will overtake me, no disaster will come near my home or my family. You said you will command your angels to protect me, to guard me wherever I go; they will hold me up in their hands and keep me out of harms way.
I trust you, Lord.
I believe that your power is greater than Satan, the prowling lion, and your foot has crushed the head of the ancient serpent. Therefore, I can walk in confidence over hell, satan and all all his ways.
BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME, RESCUE ME, & PROTECT ME, I will continue to uphold your name. I am calling on you, believing you will answer me, and you will BE WITH ME if any trouble comes my way. I’m confident you WILL DELIVER ME AND HONOR ME.
Lord, thank you for blessing me WITH A LONG LIFE. For as long as I live, I WILL LIVE TO SATISFY YOU as you are MY SALVATION.”
The other day I was telling someone I was looking forward to seeing them, as I typed I hesitated…
I paused with “looking forward” typed into my text thread. I asked myself the question, am I really? What does it even mean to look forward? Is this just something I say, or do I REALLY “look forward”?
Seems like I’ve been spending a lot of time looking backward. I’ve wasted a few hours a week looking the wrong way.
As I consider 2021, the team & church I lead, here’s how I’m looking forward…here’s how we will look forward organizationally…
We will not measure future results based on past performance.
Comparing what we have now to what we “used to have” is a discouraging trap from Satan.
Let’s build with what we have, but don’t lament over what was. That is wasted energy.
Let’s just say it like it is…
Oasis has taken a hit, but we will come back, and there is great potential that we will come back stronger than ever.
Our future depends on the combination of 1) the power and favor of God and 2) the intentionality of our leadership.
We will continue to make decisions without the ability to see around the corner.
My dad describes it best, he said he feels like he’s “rebuilding an airplane while it’s still flying.”
Essentially, what we are gonna have to do is be flexible, agile & and be willing to pivot when we need to.
Our vision is our compass for true north.
Our operational decisions are short term and reasonable.
This will minimize the potential consequences if we make a mistake. We can adjust and adapt quicker, make course corrections if necessary, and keep moving with minimal losses.
I’ll continue to take the lead for most things, but ultimately every decision we make should be preceded with PRAYER.
We will cultivate a healthy and productive team culture that solves problems.
We will stick together, believe the best, and remember where one person is weak, another is strong.
We’ve lost our gathering
We’ve lost some of our best volunteers
And we’ve lost momentum.
These are tough problems & there are no fast or easy solutions.
We won’t get stuck waiting for a perfect and certain decision; there isn’t one. But we will pray, listen to Jesus, & do what he says.