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Culture War Fatigue, a review sampler of Jesus Outside the Lines

Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward For Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides by Scott Sauls.   This book is for those who have culture war fatigue, and who are distressed about the polarization in our world.   This book calls Christians to be healers of division and learn how to hold to truth without creating greater polarization. 

Scott Saul’s second book is Befriend, a book about how to pro-actively befriend diverse people.   I recommend both books for reading and discussing.  I rarely read books that so capture Biblical truth that I find myself praying that they shape our church, but these books found me feeling that way. 

I wish I had access to books like this when I became a Christian.  My growth in Christianity made me worse in a number of areas.  I learned how to be fault finder, even of people I loved and admired.  I was deceived into participating by what  I viewed at the time as “taking a stand”, and practicing discernment.   I came to realize that it often takes more Christ-likeness to not draw lines and not take a stand then to be sucked into battle.  Around 1997 the Lord exposed this to me through some deeply painful circumstances that nearly led me to walk away from the pastorate. But instead of walking away, these circumstances were used by the Holy Spirit who scoured out of my soul the things I hated in others that in reality had roots in my own heart.

The first part of my repentance made me think that I had fallen into some bad influences.  The second part of my repentance made me realize the problem was me, and the problem was in my own heart, not the influence of others.  Painful! But necessary. And ultimately transformational.

It led to me writing some letters of apology for things that at the time I did them I thought I was doing out of faithfulness.  I needed a leader like Scott Sauls in my life then to confront, expose and show me a better way.

Instead of a review of Jesus Outside the Lines, I’m going to give you a sampling of quotes to whet your appetite for reading further.

“Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.”

“We should feel “at home” with people who share our faith but not our politics even more than we do with people who share our politics but not our faith.” 

“as far as Jesus is concerned, everyone will ultimately “take a side.” Yet Jesus gave so much of his time, attention, and love to people who did not side with him. A journey through the Gospels shows that he was especially tender toward people who did not believe in him or follow him.” 

“Are we less concerned about defending our rights—for Jesus laid down his rights—and more concerned about joining Jesus in his mission of loving people, places, and things to life?” 

“It’s naïve to give yourself credit for hitting a triple if you were born on third base. He also said that it is equally naïve to expect a person who was born in the parking lot to get to third base without your help.” 

I grow perplexed when Christian men and women willingly participate in spin—ready, willing, and armed to follow the world in telling half-truths to promote their candidates, while telling more half-truths to demonize their opponents.

“If you are devastated or irate over the outcome of a presidential election, relax. Things will be okay. We only need, and already have, one Messiah. And he did not lose this election. If you are ecstatic about an election outcome, relax. Take inventory. We only need, and already have, one Messiah. And he did not win this election.”

“Christians should be the most affirming people in the world. Rather than rushing to find fault, we should proactively seek opportunities to catch others doing good”

Jesus Outside the Lines:  A Way Forward for Those Who are Tired of Taking Sides by Scott Sauls.  Consider reading it, and  also discussing it and digesting it.

Happy 2017 Covenant Church!

We enter 2017 like we entered 2016, shattering all our old records of attendance and giving.  Here’s a brief list of new heights in making it impossible for this community to ignore the unique greatness of Jesus Christ!  I always remind myself that God only cares about numbers because of what they represent, souls built for eternity!  There’s a book of NUMBERS in the Bible, and it’s only important because it represents God’s people.  God numbers us because we’re not just a number to Him. 

I think numbering people is different than counting masses.   Numbering people assigns to each a unique and individual space.

Each number has a name, and a new identity borne of faith.   God “numbers” us, even numbering the hairs on our heads, because He treasures us.   God also treasures each “work produced by faith”, each “labor prompted by love”, and “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

  • 2980 worshipped with us at our four  Christmas Eve services. 
  • A record of 999  people were in the building for the 4pm service and sent more than 20 people away due to no seats in the house anywhere.  We hope that many of them returned to a service later!
  • Our year end giving is still being calculated, but 2016 was a record breaking year of giving for Covenant.
  • The month of December was our greatest giving month ever!  What a way to end the year.
  • We had more people volunteering, including first time new volunteers serving than any other year.

2017 will be the year we break ground on our new facility.  And the momentum in giving, attendance and serving are all tremendous encouragements as we continue to pursue all the Christ wants for us!

Sermon Series:
This week I’ll be preaching on Acts 10.  Come find out if Italians can be saved and read ahead to discover that next to the cross Christ bore for us the gift of  bacon may be the best evidence that Christ’s love is inclusive of  absolutely everyone.

  • January 7-8th:  Acts 10 Learn how multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial churches express God’s heart for the world.
  • January 14-15:  Acts 11  Learn how God defeats religious tribalism through grace.
  • January 21-22: Acts 12  Learn how a prisoner who loves Christ is safer than a King on a throne who doesn’t love Christ.
  • January 27-28:  Acts 13   Learn how prayer and fasting allow the Holy Spirit to speak deeply into our lives to guide us in fulfilling Christ’s mission.

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