Monday, June 29, 2009

"Hell, Yeah!"

A group of us from Encounter, recently got together and talked about ways we can continue to Engage Culture in Helena. The group had some great ideas and I am really excited about continuing to impact our community and about being a positive agent of change here where we live, work, play, and explore living a life following Jesus.

We've already been involved in Washing Windows at the Helena Walking Mall, and gathering Gift Packages for St. Peter's Hospital O.B. nurses, Broadwater School staff, and the Elkhorn Rehabilitation Center workers.

Two new project we're working on is Making Helena Greener by planting donated flowers at the YWCA, and Serving Friends at Memorial Park by hosting a rock wall, inflatable, and other booths at Memorial Park. We'll let you know more as the details come together.

One of our favorite things to do is to extend Simple Acts of Kindness by handing out free Tootsie Pops and other giveaways like bottled water at various community events such as the Vigilante Parade and Alive@Five. It's such a simple way to brighten someone's day and let them know you care — no strings attached.

It's interesting that more than once as we've given free stuff and asked "would you like this free thing?" — we've gotten the response "Hell, yeah." I love that! It means that we're touching people's lives in a simple, yet relevant way.

In a culture that looks at church agendas and organized religion and says "Hell, no!" We're catching people's attention and allowing them to say "Hell, yeah" so they can eventually move forward in a faith journey with Jesus — we're freeing people to Encounter Jesus.

This is just one way to be a burning bush. It's just one way to be something out of the ordinary that captures the attention of a city so that people can hear the voice of God.

And to that I say "Hell, Yeah!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crazy Thoughts From Helena's Prayer Vigil

Last night, Andrea and I gathered with at least 300 others from the Helena community to pray for peace and healing. In response to last weeks' shooting, Helena's faith-community gathered people together at Anchor Park to offer a forum of reflection and healing through a Vigil of Peace.

During the event, we sent positive words to encourage those we know. If you received one of my texts, please be encouraged in this...

Although we are a broken, lukewarm people, although we have pasts that cause us pain, God can make us complete. He wholeheartedly loves us and is changing us — even this very moment — into a people who will love God back and love others with His crazy love.

Pastor Rick mentioned the John Mayer song Waiting for the World to Change

me and all my friends
we're all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there's no way we ever could

now we see everything that's going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don't have the means
to rise above and beat it

so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change

While we understand Mayer's sentiment, we disagree. We believe that it's time to STOP waiting. It's time for us to fulfill the purpose for which God created for us — to take an active role in seeing His kingdom move forward through us.

I challenge you to take a moment to ask God what He is preparing you for — and then let His crazy love shine through you.

Monday, June 08, 2009

On Boats And Safety

Since we've been talking about boats and safety recently, I found the following entry this morning in Oswald Chamber's My Utmost For His Highest. It's quite interesting. He writes...

"If you yourself do not cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will have to use a storm to sever them and send you out to sea. Put everything in your life afloat upon God, going out to sea on the great swelling tide of his purpose, and your eyes will be opened. If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy, but always tied to the dock. You have to get past the harbor into the great depths of God..."

Are we spending all our time in the calm waters? In the safety of the harbor?

Don't get me wrong, Jesus died to bring us peace. He came to give us rest and comfort. But that safety is found in Him alone – not in our retirement plans, not in our job security, nor in our convenient participation of church activities. The safety we seek is granted within and despite the chaos of the raging storm.

I see this daily as I am reminded how crazy it is to launch a new church in a city that already has dozens; when I am reminded that we are in economic hard times; when I am reminded that Helena is not immune to the violence and heartbreak of tragic events like last week's shooting.

While we find peace and fulfillment in Him, may we remember that Jesus didn't die to make us safe. He died to make us dangerous — to the storms, to spiritual apathy, to the evils of this world, and to the status quo.

Perhaps God is moving you right now to sever the lines of complacent safety. Perhaps He's calling you to take an active part in being a positive agent of change in Helena. We would love to talk to you about what Encounter is doing and how we plan to conquer these storms through Jesus.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Getting Out Of The Boat

We are in a boat. We're in the boat of our lives.

For some of us, our boat is going to church, reading our bibles, listening to the message, listening to the music, and trying to be a good person. All these things are our little boat.

They keep us safe.
They keep us afloat.
They keep us from drowning.

It's a good little boat to be in — but isn't there something more?

Our little boat does make us comfortable. It's a nice little boat to be in. We don't make anyone angry. If people ask us about Jesus, we'll tell them. We think "yeah I'm going to heaven. I'm saved. I know how to do the Christian thing." So what's wrong?

Why do we feel like there is more?
Why are we dis-satisfied with the status quo?
Why are we NOT dis-satisfied with the status quo?

In Matthew 14, Jesus was on the shore, praying. The disciples were out in a boat when the winds began to pick up and waves began to crash on the side of the boat. The sky got dark and the storm began to pour down on the disciples. Of course, the disciples began to be afraid for their lives because they thought the boat was going to flip over and they were all going to drown.

One of the disciples looks out onto the water and he sees what he thinks is a ghost walking on the water. And then they hear a familiar voice that says "Take courage, it's me. Do not be afraid"

It was Jesus!

Jesus was walking on water out in the middle of the storm. And then Peter says "Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water."

And Jesus says "Come."

So Peter steps out and he is miraculously able to walk on water and walks toward Jesus. While he soon begins to doubt and begins sinking, Peter calls out for help. Jesus grabs his hand and pulls him up.

Peter never had to leave the comfort of the boat. He could have easily hid with his life jacket on, hid from the storm, and stayed in the boat. But there was one problem.

Jesus wasn't in the boat.
Jesus was out in the middle of the storm.
Peter knew he needed to be with Jesus.

We too, have a choice to make. We can continue on staying in our boat — with our family, with our friends, with our schools. We can pray to God everyday. We can read our Bibles. We can try to be nice people. But if we do, we never leave our boat. We never say Jesus is worth risking our life for. Jesus is worth drowning for.

Jesus told Peter to come.
And He's telling you to come.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Get out of your boat.

And come walk on water with Him.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wanna Start A New Church in Helena?

Last week, we held our first-ever Encounter Informational Meeting at the Placer Center, downtown in the Helena Walking Mall. The May 28 event was an opportunity to share our strategy to impact this generation and beyond – to invite others to "step out of the boat" and join in with what Jesus is doing in Helena.

A lot of our friends meeting for the Encounter Discussions at the Staggering Ox really stepped up and helped make the Informational Meeting a success — Thank you guys!

Highlights of the evening for me were hearing from others what a church like Encounter in Helena means to them. It was fun to answer Encounter questions from text messages sent during the meeting for Q&A. And finally the door prizes were just plain cool — powerful little red LED flashlights (think burning bush).

We challenged the nearly 30 people that attended to:

PRAY regularly
SHARE financially
JOIN the launch team
TELL others.

I will be posting what these mean and adding links over the next week. For now, I suggest you check out the "Hot Topics" and "Encounter Links" in the sidebar to the right.

Our worship is edgy and engaging, our culture is relational and outward focused, and our theology is grounded in the Scriptures. We seek to be a burning bush that captures the attention of a city — something out of the ordinary that draws people in, so that they can hear the voice of God.

View some pre-event photos here.