It’s Time to SHINE

It has been a long time since we have gathered in person as a District and I am very excited about our upcoming LCMC Texas District and Youth Gatherings to be held July 30-31 at Our Saviour’s in Victoria, Texas! If you have never been to a Gathering before, then I personally invite you to come this summer for a time of worship, encouragement, inspiration, education, and fellowship. It is not just an event for pastors or church leaders. Our Gathering is intended to equip and encourage every follower of Jesus to live on mission and multiply disciples and churches!
Our theme this year is SHINE, based on Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We have a great lineup of keynote speakers including David Drum of J17 Ministries from Tucson, Arizona; Rick and Robyn Bezanson of Amazing Grace Christian Church in Glendale, Arizona; and Ted Doering of Narrative Church in Round Rock, Texas. Enrique Estrada from Monterrey, Mexico and I will be preaching at our two worship services. Each participant can choose to attend three different breakouts from 15 different presenters. And come early if you choose to attend either the Women’s or Leadership Pre-Gathering Seminars.

Christ Calls Waco Missionary Family

I am so excited to share about our latest church planting endeavor and introduce you to the missionary family who has accepted God’s call to move to Waco and replant Christ Lutheran Church! Chris Meyer has been called to live on mission and redevelop a community of faith to reach new people on the north side of Waco.
Chris hails from Thrall, Texas where he currently resides with his wife, Kelli, and their children: Wesley (13) and Claira (11). He is enrolled in Harvest Workers, our online ministry training program and serves as the program’s Student Recruitment Coordinator. He is employed full time by the State of Texas, working remotely as an EMS Specialist for the Department of Health and Human Services. Kelli currently works for an assisted living facility in Taylor and is pursuing a nursing degree.

Feeling Powerless?

Here in Texas, we are recovering from a very real crisis. An unprecedented winter storm lasting eight days brought five rounds of winter weather and record cold temperatures across the entire state. While it is true that other parts of the country routinely experience this kind of weather, this winter storm brought Texas to her knees. Due to record high electrical demand and power generation systems that were ill-prepared for cold weather, millions of Texans were left in the dark. And my family was one of them.
For over 68 hours we were without the power to keep the lights on, appliances going, furnace running to stay warm, or water systems flowing for drinking and sanitation. In so many ways, we were powerless. Literally we had no electrical power. But more than that, we were facing circumstances beyond our control. Yes, I do realize that I could purchase a whole-home generator and make sure that I always have an abundance of fuel on hand. This crisis has brought about a recognition of just how much we depend upon energy providers to power our homes.

Invitation to a Journey

I am at the beginning of a new journey. While this might surprise you (or perhaps not), finding regular, consistent quiet time to sit at the feet of Jesus and study his word and to pray is something I have often struggled with. I would suspect that I am not alone in this struggle and that perhaps you might also identify with it. If so, then I would like to invite you to begin a new journey, too.
I recently joined a formal spiritual formation group for the very first time. Our group of pastors is directed by a trained spiritual director who trains spiritual directors. I have to admit, beginning this process is humbling and a bit intimidating, but I have already grown and learned so much that I am excited for where this journey will take me and my companions as we encourage one another in our journey together in the months ahead.

Do You Believe in Miracles?!?

The 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, NY served as the backdrop for one of the most famous broadcasting calls in sports history. A rag-tag collection of amateurs made up the USA hockey team as they faced off against the best team in the world: the Soviet Union. Team USA seemingly had no chance going into the match. Yet as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the amateurs from the US had defeated the Soviets 4-3. Al Michaels famously asked his audience this unforgettable question: “Do you believe in miracles?!?”
This month we wrap up our four-part series on Jesus’ multiplication teaching from the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14. We believe that God is calling us to multiply disciples and churches and we’ve paused to learn all that we can from Jesus’ miracle of multiplication. So far, we established that multiplication starts with followers of Jesus being motivated with a burden for others; responding to Jesus’ call to do something about it by bringing Jesus what we have; and being obedient to Jesus’ command no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

Obedience… When it Doesn’t Make Sense

It is our belief that God is calling us to multiply disciples and churches. But how can we participate in God’s multiplication activity in the world today? This is part three in a series on Jesus’ multiplication teaching from the most remarkable multiplication story in human history: the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14.
In the first two articles, we established that multiplication starts with you and me, followers of Jesus, being motivated with a burden for others and then responding to Jesus’ call to do something about it by bringing Jesus what we have, no matter how meager or inadequate our resources may seem. According to Matthew, when the disciples saw the hungry crowds, Jesus commanded them, “You give them something to eat.” “But we only have five loaves and two fish,” the disciples responded. And Jesus replied, “Bring them here to me.”

Who Says It’s Not Enough?

As you likely know, multiplication is a key word that we use in LCMC to illuminate what we believe God is calling us to do with disciples and churches. Last month I began a four-part series on what Jesus has to teach us regarding multiplication from one of the most remarkable multiplication stories in human history: the feeding of the five thousand as recorded in Matthew 14.
We began learning the lesson that multiplication starts with you and me, followers of Jesus, being motivated with a burden for others. When the disciples saw the hungry crowds, Jesus commanded them, “You give them something to eat.” This month, we pick-up right where we left off: Exasperated, the disciples respond to Jesus, “But we only have five loaves and two fish!” In other words, the disciples took stock of all of the food resources that they had at their disposal and determined that it was not enough.

Multiplication Starts with YOU and ME

Recently, I received an email from one of our pastors that challenged my thinking in a good way. Here in the Texas District, we talk a lot about our mission to Multiply Disciples and Churches. He affirmed that we indeed should be talking about multiplication, but questioned whether we might be missing the heart for the strategy. What this pastor meant is that we can have the best of intentions that are indeed consistent with God’s desire and plan the best strategies for how this can happen, but if people (insert YOU and ME) are not captivated in our hearts to share the Gospel, multiplication will never happen.
I have to agree: Multiplication can only ever begin when followers of Jesus (again, insert YOU and ME) are moved in our hearts to share Jesus with others in ways that are natural and happen regularly as we go through our everyday lives. We are sorely mistaken if we wait around for someone else to do this multiplication work.

Seismic Shifts

2020 has been one heck of a year. Yes, I know, “heck” is just a polite way of saying “H-E-double hockey sticks,” but it seems to accurately describe how many have felt about this year which has been marked by global pandemic, unprecedented job loss, economic uncertainty, and racial, political, and social division. The church and the Gospel mission seem increasingly marginalized–shoved aside as our nation and world endure this cultural earthquake and its devastating aftershocks.
When the earth stops quaking and we emerge from our places of refuge to take stock of the destruction and survey the landscape which is forever changed by the seismic shifts that have taken place, we will undoubtedly cry out to God in despair and lamentation for the losses sustained and the suffering we see all around. Yet in the midst of this cultural upheaval, I believe God is at work and is calling the church to continue his restorative work. With the earth still quaking the and the world still shaking, the mission of Jesus in the world draws the faithful to emerge out of hiding and into the chaos to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

Virtually Go Where You Cannot Go

Covid-19 has taken so much from us. So many of our normal routines have been disrupted and cultural norms have been turned upside down. Businesses, churches, schools, civic leaders and servants, healthcare providers and almost every family and household have all had to learn how to adapt. Global mission activity has also been deeply impacted.
Short-term mission trips have been a powerful tool to not only do great, kingdom-building ministry around the world, but also to meaningfully engage everyday followers of Jesus in the mission of Jesus while opening their eyes to mission opportunities around them in their own communities. But how can these Jesus’ followers go in a Covid-19 era of travel bans? Recently, a member of one of our churches shared a solution for the countless now cancelled short-term mission trips that had been planned.