Thursday, August 27, 2009

Resist the Devil

James 4:7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

I was cleaning out my email and ran across an email my mom sent me. It was about my Great Grandfather Orrin Van Loon. It was a link someone had sent her about her Grand Daddy. It was a picture of “Da.” It was a picture of him from 1924. Five years after he started Berkley Community Church. Every picture I have ever seen of him he is smiling. He has a look of joy on his face. You can’t see his face in this picture. The picture is of his bare back. Now I know that most of you don’t have a picture of your Great Grandfather’s back. I do. I have that picture because it is a picture of the marks of truly following Jesus.

You see Da lead a church in a community that was an epicenter for the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK had been doing cross burnings in the city of which he lead this church.

"The Reverend Orrin Van Loon, pastor of a community church outside of Detroit, openly criticized the Klan in 1924 from his pulpit; the next night a gang of hooded men forced their way into his home and dragged him to a waiting car which sped off to a lonely spot where Van Loon was branded on the back with three large letters: KKK." - The Great Pictorial History of World Crime- Jay Robert Nash

He spoke up for those who had no voice. He was probably attacked by people sitting in his pews the day before. He was missing for almost a month. He was found in a field hours north of where he lived. He remained Pastor of that church till he died in the late sixties.

Resisting the Devil is real work. It isn’t a passive thing and it might cost you. I believe that Da’s renewed body in the life to come will have those scars on it. It is the true marks of a disciple taking up his cross. What an honor to keep that for eternity.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Journal entry November 9, 1920

This is a journal entry from my Great Grandfather Orrin Van Loon Sr. Upon his ordination.

Nov 9, 1920 – Ordained at Orion, MI 2:30 p.m. Bros. Smithee, Diller with me. “ ‘Twas a great day! Never before did I realize the full importance of MY obligation to God, especially as a minister. In my weakness, O God, manifest Thy strength – Thy Power -- Thy Glory -- Thy Son -- Thy Spirit Thyself. Make me a faithful witness of Thy Redeeming Grace. Oh, Mighty God, manifest Thyself though me – May many, many find the peace of Thy love through the earnestness of my preaching, the sincerity of my devotion to Thee. Blessed God, there is none beside Thee. This was a great day for me. Grant, dear Lord, that it will be a great day for many who shall accept Thee through the foolishness of my preaching Christ and Him crucified for the salvation of souls.”-Orrin Van Loon Sr.

I was named Timothy because of the godly people who had gone before me in reference to 2 Timothy 1:5-7. I think it is interesting that we are not defined by those that come before us but they do have influence on us. We all have both positives and negatives that are part of our heritage. Positive examples and negative patterns that are passed down to us. We still have a choice to fall into those patterns, build on the good, or break free from the negative.

What are you doing today to build a legacy to pass on so that your great grandkids will be blogging about you in 90 years?

What will they be blogging?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Church Planter?

Ok I once had a job title of “Church Planting Resident.” Veritas has been called a Church Plant. This whole thing of starting new churches in the church world is called Church Planting. Why do we call it this? It sounds so weird. Business entrepreneurs are not called business planters. New businesses are not called business plants. The world doesn’t understand this language. It is church jargon. We have leaders who are supposed to be relating to communities and trying to start a church in that community bathed in jargon. Normal people don’t talk like this! Why can’t we call leaders Church Entrepreneurs and new churches a Church Startup. I think people would more easily understand what is going on. I would much rather be a Church Entrepreneur than a Church Planter. I would much rather lead a Church Startup than a Church Plant.

But these titles don’t even come close to encapsulating what this calling means. I wore a frog costume yesterday at a busy Bay View intersection holding a sign that said “We (heart) Bay View” with our website on it. I had a couple people yell out their window “We love it too!” All I could think was “not like we do.” Yes, you love living in this neighborhood. You love the proximity of parks, independent businesses, and great restaurants. I love it that way too but I also love this neighborhood in a way they don’t understand. They don’t know the love that breaks my heart for the 30,000 people that live in this zip code. You don’t know the love that brings tears to my eyes when thinking about a zip code. You don’t know the love that when sitting at a concert with over 1,000 people all I can think about is how many of them really don’t understand how crazy in love God is with them. What would it take for the lesbian couple sitting on the blanket to come to church and feel loved? What would it take for the guy sitting alone on the grass drinking really cheap beer all alone to know someone cares? What would it take for these people to find the real Jesus?

All it takes is people who love Jesus to show that love to them. We (I) need find common ground with everyone, doing everything we can to save some.

I always struggle when people ask me what I am at Veritas. I feel like just another person in this church. I usually say I’m a Pastor at Veritas. I don’t feel like that though. I feel like a guy who’s heart has been expanded and wrecked to be able to be wrapped around a neighborhood in a city that is foreign to me. That can only be done by God and doesn’t look good on a business card. I am someone that wants to do everything I can to find common ground with people in the Bay View Neighborhood of Milwaukee so that I might be able to be a part of God saving some of them. If that is a Church Planter than fine call me that. But the talk that surrounds Church Planting is more about core teams, meetings, launch services, vision, advertising and serving teams. What I feel like I am doing is being present with people who don’t yet know Jesus to be available for God to work. One of the most recent visitors to our church I have been building a relationship with for a year now almost to the day. That relationship has been built around community concerts, birthday parties, bar shows, and an invitation over a Miller Genuine Draft in a neighborhood tavern at 11pm on a Tuesday night. She came last week to church. If hanging out in bars, going to community concerts, standing on a corner in frog costume, and going to birthday parties after I had been hosting my son’s birthday party all day is church planting than sign me up. Church planting seems complicated. What I do seems simple. Maybe we could just simplify things and just be Jesus instead of planting so much.