Tag Archive: Grace Coastal Chruch


Even though it is the middle of summer and we have many more days to go till fall, there is change in the air.  The change has nothing to do with nature’s seasons.  The change is for the modern day church ,and it has nothing to do with the type of music sung or which version of the Bible is used on Sunday.  Its cultural change, and it’s coming fast.

Unless you have paid no attention to the news and live in a cave, we should be aware that our culture is not changing but rather has changed.  News flash!  There is more change in the air, and we are not going to like it.  

It is a fact that the voting base will shift to the younger generations in the next election. The baby boomer generation, which is the most conservative and “Christian” of the existing generations, will lose its political clout.  Let me rephrase that.  It has lost it.  There are more people of age that we would classify as “millennial” who can vote than baby-boomers.  As the Eagles sang in 2007, “It’s Your World Now.”  Honestly, we of the baby-boomer generation don’t like it and are scared about it.  

I’m not so sure we are scared for gospel reasons.  I personally think we are scared for life-style reasons.  That’s a discussion for another day.  It will probably have gospel implications.  I’m not being a prophet, but these are some changes in the next era we will probably see, barring a revival unparalleled in our history.  Again, I don’t think they are all that bad.  It all depends on how one looks at them.

One of the first changes coming will be the loss of tax exempt status and possible taxation on certain things we never dreamed would be taxed in the church.  It doesn’t even have to be due to religious reasons.  Our government is running out of money.  If there is a pot of gold out there somewhere, they will get it one day.  It has already happened to a certain extent.  By raising the exemption level so high, fewer “givers” are able to claim their gifts and tithes as a tax exemption.  It’s only the beginning.  

As I said before, that’s ok.  We will be called to give our gifts and tithes by God’s calling not the tax deduction.  If the government taxes our properties for the right of holding religious services, then we will find out where our hearts lie.  That happens often throughout the Bible.  Look up the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.  Their heart was not with God but rather how they looked before man.  Everything really is a heart issue even if we don’t realize it.  Giving our offering is a heart issues as well even when we don’t get a tax deduction.    

I do believe a day is coming when bi-vocational pastors will be the norm instead of the oddity.  Most churches in America are small in size.  There are more pastors serving in churches under 200 than in those over 200 in attendance.  With the financial situation and the already aging of American congregations, along with the decrease in attendance by the younger generations, there will be fewer and fewer churches able to support the pastor much less have a paid staff.  If these churches want to continue, they will have to sort out the issues that will arise with a bi-vocational pastor in place.

Again, that’s ok.  I see two possible benefits.  Pastors might make better decisions since their main pay check is no longer dependent on keeping the members happy.  Along with that, members may realize they cannot replace the pastor they have so easily and therefore extend grace more than ever before.  

Along with bi-vocational pastors comes churches with less or no paid professional staff.  The burden of ministry will fall to the attenders.  Did I just hear local pastors say “Amen.”  All of this will probably put many things back in their right place.  Instead of putting on a show, we might just relate to one another.  Instead of depending on the youth pastor to show our kids the way, they will have to get it from us (of course they still do, we just don’t realize it).  Instead of being a busy church, we might become missional churches.  Paying less staff leaves more money for “the thirsty, the hungry, the naked, the sick, the stranger, the imprisoned.”  (Matthew 25).  See, it’s not all that bad.

The biggest change ahead is already happening.  It is not going to be popular to be a Christian ,much less a verbal Christian.  The shift has happened.  It happened when Generations X and Y (by the way, they are close to retirement now) walked out of the church instead of staying with their spiritual family.  Their children are growing up with very little God influence.  Therefore, it’s simple math.  It’s a spiritual war.  The apostle Paul said we are “wresting with principalities of the air,” meaning there is a constant war against the name of Jesus.  It’s coming fast.

That’s ok.  We don’t have to pay large sums of money to go on mission trips.  Our mission field lives right next door.  It is a great time to be a Christian when the lines get drawn.  It might hurt.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians about two graces given to us by Jesus.  One is the grace of salvation.  The second is the grace of suffering.  We all are aware that if something has great value we will suffer for it.  As far as I can tell, there is nothing more valuable than the name of Jesus.  

That is OK! 

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A frequent reader asked if I would take a week and address “respect” as a topic. At a weekly Friday morning meeting the issue of respect constantly hits the table. So, I thought this week I would try and tackle it.
Respect is one of those topics that is hard to pin down. It’s sort of like humility. Humility is one of those topics one doesn’t want to discuss. Why? If someone thinks they have it and talk too much about it, it disappears. Respect is close. One can demand respect but not deserve it. One can give respect and not receive it back. What do we do then? I’m not sure I know.
Let’s start with a dictionary definition. The definition I found is this: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Let’s look at the Bible. I Peter 2:17 is probably the best verse that encapsulates respect. It reads, “Show proper respect to everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
Now, let’s put the two together. The Apostle Peter, along with a lot of other Bible authors, talks about our faith in Jesus Christ moving us to honor or respect others. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This is the very message of Christ when he talked about loving God and loving others. In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ moves us out of our own world and invites others, regardless of any distinction, in.
The dictionary definition says we have respect or a deep admiration elicited by someone’s abilities, qualities (positive, if I must add), or achievements. Jesus should automatically gain our respect since His achievement is the giving of His life for mankind’s redemption. This is the very essence of respect either as a receiver or a giver of it. This concept of giving our lives to others is parallel with the apostle John telling us that the love of God is to lay our lives down for the sake of another. Thus, respect happens.
The other characteristic of respect involves leadership. Many from the older generation feel that they should be given respect simply because of their generation’s achievements and age. However, when one generation demands respect without laying its life down for the next, respect will be hard to find. Respect does not really happen because of achievement. Respect happens when you know someone loves and cares for you.
President Trump is an example of this concept. He has some amazing achievements as a businessman. Being elected president is quite an achievement. However, how he handles himself tends to lose him respect even from those who voted for him. Why? There is an air of self-righteousness that diminishes any sense of true public service. This is probably the reason there is very little respect at many levels of leadership. Leadership that does not care for the underdog will not engender respect.
Jesus was constantly caring well for the underdog. In my lifetime, I think Mother Teresa is an example of someone who garnered immense respect. Everyone knew she laid her life down for the downtrodden. She was not weak. Her life backed up her words. Now, there is an unwritten element of respect.
Most of the older generation want to talk about respect because they feel it is demanded. However, get them to talk about where they have failed as parents, leaders, and followers of Jesus Christ, that is a different creature. Respect can not be demanded. It is lived.
God is the foundation of all respect. The Father gave his Son, Jesus, for his creation humankind. We can not be good enough to reestablish a relationship with Holy God. The Father gave us his Son to redeem us from our unbelief. As a parent, I’m not sure I have met any human for whom I would give my son. That’s just it. His love and action encompass what we are seeking through great achievements without sacrifice.
Finally, take Jesus out of the respect equation and what do we have? I don’t think It’s spelled, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The end result is selfishness, blind ambition, avarice and any other word that can be used to define self-absorption.
Did you catch the elements Peter gave? Love, Fear and Honor were the big three. Of course, Paul said anything without love is like a sounding gong. Take a closer look. Respect…Donald Trump or Mother Teresa?

It has been one week since Christians across the world celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Honestly, it didn’t take long for life to sap the energy out of the celebration.  Probably by Monday if not Sunday evening the celebration was over and it was off to the next event.  Don’t feel too bad.  The disciples upon whom Jesus would give authority to carry the message of the resurrection were in the same boat we are.  Literally.  

One would think that after being taught by Jesus himself and seeing the empty tomb and hearing the witness of the women at the tomb, the disciples, the inner core, would have been scanning every nook and cranny of Jerusalem looking for Him.  Well, not quite.  The next major event in the birthing of Christianity has the disciples returning to their former occupation…fishing.  

They weren’t all that great at fishing.  Let me rephrase that.  They were good at fishing.  They were not good at catching.  But that is not the issue.  The issue is that Christ the Lord is risen and they aren’t all that giddy about it.  They were a bit lost and confused as to what comes next.  So what did they do?  They went back to what they knew!  Fishing.  So much for the calling of “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  

What were they thinking?  The incredible boulder sealing the tomb was moved.  The soldiers were no where to be found?  Their story is quite incredible with the fact that their failure to keep Jesus in the tomb had their head on the line.  It was not uncommon to slay soldiers who failed in their duty to serve and protect. The women told them what happened.  John and Peter saw the empty tomb and the folded head cloth.  That was important in itself.  If someone was stealing the body they would not have taken the time to fold the cloth.  No way!  They had to hightail it out of there before the Roman soldiers caught them.  All the facts point to a risen Jesus.  

Maybe they thought he went off to heaven.  Maybe they had not clue.  Their mission for three years had come to an abrupt end and they were lost in the transition.  Have any of us ever been there?  You bet.  Was the last three years a waste?  I’ve felt like that in ministry.  I bet many who have attended a church and gotten involved have had the same feelings.  Let’s be honest sometimes great movements come to an abrupt end.  

I remember the years we provided low cost food through the Angel Food program to upwards of 325 families in the Bluffton area.  All was going well.  Suddenly, the Angel Food national program came to an instant and discouraging end.  “What do we do?” many asked.  “Nothing” was the unfortunate answer.  We knew how the disciples felt.  

So, they did what we all did Monday morning.  They went to work.  If they felt like Monday morning like we feel like Monday morning it was probably not a fun group to be around.  They hadn’t touched the nets for three years.  Their legs had become land bound.  Worse, they dropped their nets to follow Jesus to come back three years later facing the other fishermen who were still slaving away on the high seas.  Can you imagine the looks?  The comments?  The questions?  Unbearable.

Sometimes we get caught up and focus our attention on the Christians.  Many stopped going to church over the past ten or so years because they read the story and they see weary travelers on the road of life instead of triumphant disciples of Jesus.  The message of Christianity is not about the disciples.  It’s about the Lord Jesus.  

Look a little closer.  They are out fishing just like you and I would be doing on any given Monday morning.  Who shows up?  Jesus.  He once again tells them what they need to do to catch fish and catch fish they did.  That’s just it with our crazy faith.  It’s not all under control and everybody is marching to the same beat.  Quite the opposite.  We have periods of isolation, loneliness, lostness, and mediocrity in our Christian lives.  But, and I love that word when it shows up in the Scriptures, Jesus shows up and gets us moving in His direction once again.  Wherever and whatever you are doing today, from worship to work, keep an eye out.  Jesus might just show up.  It’s usually when you least expect it.