Sunday Review: What's at the Center?

Fact: Your life will center on something. The only real question is, on what? Or better yet, on whom? This Sunday at Aletheia we kicked off a new series called Centeredwhich was my direct assault on the temptation we pastors feel to preach try-harder-do-better sermons at the beginning of each year. Each new year brings with it a bunch of unmet resolutions, promises that won't be kept, and visions of grandeur which will never be achieved. Why? Because at our core, we don't want them. Obtaining those goals doesn't live on the inside of us. What lives inside us will always, always, rule what's outside.

As a result of Sunday, a few observations came to mind:

If Jesus Abides at the Center, I Can't Not Grow Abiding isn't a word we use much these days, but it basically means "to live with." It's not a one-time word, it's an ongoing activity. I abide with my wife because we share a home, a life. Similarly, for Jesus to abide at the center of my life means that I'm in constant fellowship and communion with him. How? As my friend Steve Murrell likes to say, same. old. boring. strokes. We pray, we fast, we ask, we obey. And you know what, those little habits of drawing near to Jesus draw him near to us. The result, growth. It just can't not happen.

If Jesus Abides at the Center, We Can't Not Grow Like the first point, but for our church. I'll be honest, I hate church growth books. I've read a bunch of them, and most of the time I feel either condemned or falsely hopeful. But if Jesus is really dwelling at the core of this church, then our biggest problem will be what to do with all the fruit. We abide, he guarantees fruitfulness.

Jesus' Love Language is Obedience My love language is words of affection. My wife's is acts of service. But Jesus is different, because Jesus isn't our peer, he's our Lord. If we truly wish to love Jesus, then we'll obey him.

2013 is Going to be a Great Year I think that this year will be the most fruitful that Aletheia has ever seen. I'm not confident in this because I'm a great pastor (cause I've got plenty of problems). It's not because our "show" is so glamorous (because it's not). I'm confident because God's grace is sufficient to keep Jesus at the center of our affections this year. So, that's what I'm praying for us, church. Jesus, be the center. Everything else will take care of itself.


Today was a powerful day at Aletheia, and for that I'm grateful. Grateful to God, our awesome pastors, staff, and leaders. The last few weeks I've stepped back just a touch, since we just had a baby. Graciously and helpfully, my team has stepped up to the plate to enable me to take some time off with my growing family. So, I showed up today much later than usual, and unsurprisingly, my team did an outstanding job. In light of this, a few thoughts occur...

    1. It's not about me. Of course, I knew that before today, but walking into the church that God called me to plant and lead and watching it hum along quite nicely without me I knew it.
    2. Jesus loves those far from him more than I do. Today, people were born again at Aletheia. I didn't do that. Of course, I never do that. But I'm usually involved at some stage. Not today, and it was beautiful.
    3. Worship is beautiful when we want it. If there's anything beautiful that rises from tragic weeks like this one, it's that we are all a bit more aware of our need for God. Today, hearts were hungry for Jesus. When we come hungry, God never disappoints.
    4. We can do this. With Jesus we can do everything that he's called us to do. We cannot do it alone. But empowered by the Holy Spirit, committed to the gospel of Jesus, I'm more convinced than ever that we really can bring the truth, grace, and changing power of the Gospel, for the glory of God and the good of all people.

Watch out Boston. God is alive and well among his people, and as surely as the sun lights the day he is coming to our great city.