“Tension Wood”

Tension Wood“, replied my friend when I asked him what the technical term was for what had happened to the below pine tree…

Let’s talk “missional” – Morgan and I became close friends with our neighbors across the street a few months ago. They are not a project. They are not a charity case. We are not their saviors, and have no desire in our own power, or by our own efforts to try & “save them”. The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, working through His followers, will gain standing in the lives of those we are in relationship with. We do not do the saving, but allow the Holy Spirit of Christ in us to work through us to capture the hearts of those who do not know Jesus intimately. We also don’t have a “covert operation” going on to convert them. We have grown to love them, and they have grown to love us. They have become some of our best friends in the city. Do we long for them to be captured by the Grace of Jesus more and more each day? Of course. Just like we long to be captured more by the Grace of Christ more and more each day.

As Christians we have fallen trap to an US vs. THEM mentality. This can hinder us from modeling the life of Christ to those we come in contact with. We are not in a competition with the lost. Jesus was not competing with those He served, healed, forgave, and saved. He desired for them to know Him, and He loved them into a relationship with Him. As Christians, in our insecurity, we feel the need to “one-up” the lost, or think we are better than them. We sometimes even let them know how right we are, and how wrong they are. This becomes dangerous when we communicate these things as if we have done anything in our own power, or by our own efforts to be right. It would be contrary to the Gospel, and we’d be boasting as if WE did something to achieve our status on the “winning team”. (Sounds like those guys in the Bible that Jesus spoke very strongly to about their self-righteous attitudes…the Scribes and Pharisees)

Again, this is not a competition we are in against other children of God, whom He does not wish to perish. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) I believe that darkness manifests itself in the form of self-righteous pride like a disease among people who claim to follow Christ sometimes more than poor, broken, adulterous women drawing water from a well.

Over the past few months we have spent five of the seven nights in a week on the front porch with our new friends. We’ve had amazing opportunities to serve them, and BE SERVED by them. We’ve been there for them, & loved on them. They’ve been there for us, & loved on us. The Gospel has been LIVED out, as well as SHARED. Scripture has been read. Prayers have been prayed. (Initiated by our new friends at times) Nothing has been forced. Our hope is that our neighbors have truly encountered Christ in us. They might not know it, but we have seen glimpses of Christ in them. Real life has been lived. The activity of the Spirit in the lives of friends right in front of our eyes is an absolutely incredible sight to see. Now, on a lighter note…

People in Vegas tend to head about 45 minutes north to Mt. Charleston to escape the heat. We went out there with them this past Sunday for a picnic lunch. This is what happens when a few guys find a limp pine tree in the woods….

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