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Lessons Learned from the Driver’s Seat

Like a lot of Americans, I have a side hustle: I drive for Uber and Lyft in the Austin area. Working on my days off, late nights, or early mornings I have shuttled random passengers wherever they needed to go for nearly four years. Altogether, I have given almost 3,000 rides and have had all kinds of people in and out of my car!
 
I began rideshare driving after reading Joining Jesus on His Mission: How to Be an Everyday Missionary by Greg Finke. I was inspired by Finke’s compelling presentation of the call to be engaged in Gospel ministry as we go about our daily work. The problem for me is that 99% of what I do is with church people! I wondered, “How can I interact with the general population on a more regular basis?”

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Ministry Partners Join District Staff

The District Council of LCMC Texas is excited to share that two new ministry partners will be joining our staff! Tim Wagner of Kerrville will step into the role of Communication Specialist while Alyssa Moore of McDade will begin serving as our Administrative Specialist. Each is a newly created, quarter-time, remote position starting on September 1.
 
A half-time position called “Program Support Specialist” had originally been posted and eight quality individuals from across Texas applied. Four of these were interviewed and during the interview process it became clear to the interview team that God had blessed us with two uniquely qualified candidates. Both were agreeable to split the half-time position equally with each serving in their areas of expertise.
 

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Teamwork

Last month the world watched as the greatest athletes of our time assembled in Tokyo to compete and display their incredible athleticism and unique abilities. It is more than entertaining; it’s awe-inspiring. As remarkable as the individuals themselves may be, I always find myself drawn most to the team sports. The goal of the athletes competing in team sports is a little different than those in the individual sports. In a team sport, all parts of the team need to function in harmony as individuals partner with one another so well that they can almost begin to function as one. This is most awe-inspiring part of the Olympics for me.
 
In faith life, I similarly spectate how disciples of Jesus live out their faith on a daily basis. I am amazed by the incredible dedication and faithfulness that individuals demonstrate in living out their personal callings and I treasure these examples of the Holy Spirit active in the lives of God’s people! And yet what I find myself most drawn to are the examples of Christians in community that unite together around common goals and work in harmony to function as one.
 

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Why Can’t Life Be Easy?

Why does life seem to be so hard? It is one of the age-old questions that can challenge our faith in God as the all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful deity that we profess him to be. Why do humans experience hardship, suffering, sickness, and persecution? How can God allow these terrible circumstances to befall anyone, let alone his faithful children?
 
In the Church, we are quick to place blame squarely on sin, and rightly so. For we live in a broken world where sin and evil cause chaos, confusion, and so much pain. But why does the God who loves us and holds the power to end our hardship and misery allow it to persist?
 

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Immeasurably More

In April of this year, we lost a brother in Christ: Pastor Peter Horn of the Hill Country Bible Church network unexpectedly died. Peter was a friend of our District who joined us to deliver a keynote speech in 2017 when we gathered in Taylor around the theme “Multiply.” He said something in his speech that I will never forget. His words were not eloquent but pierced my heart by asking and answering a simple question. He prefaced his question by referencing some basic statistics: Approximately 2.1 million people live in and around Austin and approximately one third profess Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior, leaving about 1.4 million people who profess other faiths or have no faith at all.
 
Then Peter asked, “How long will it take to reach every single one of these 1.4 million people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” I remember thinking to myself: “a really long time!” But then he answered his own question: “About 30 minutes if the 700,000 Jesus followers each took 15 minutes with two unbelievers to share the Gospel!”

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Life Review Time

It is THAT time of year… tax time! Covid-19 and our winter storm of 2021 have brought about a new extended tax season and I am guessing that tax preparers welcome the enhanced flexibility. Even so, for most people, taxes are not anything to get excited about. But I thank God for a seminary professor who gave me a new perspective on taxes. My theology professor one day explained how he believed taxes to be an invitation to review life and faith.
 
Each year at tax time, we can pause and remember with thanksgiving God’s graciousness in providing for us each day our daily bread and all that we need to sustain life. Additionally, we can take some time and reflect upon what we have invested our finances into over the past year. We remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Tax time can be a heart check-up of sorts: if your finances do not accurately reflect your faith and values, then consider re-aligning your financial priorities to better reflect what is most important to you.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.”

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