108: Living in an Age of Outrage

During the series Salty: Sticking Out for the Right Reasons, we’re discussing questions related to each message on our podcast. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Bruce Wesley, and Greg Poore discuss the questions: Why do people have such a difficult time having constructive relationships with people who think and behave differently than they do? And how should Christians live in an age of tribalism and outrage?

Resources:

Love the Other – Fight Tribalism (sermon)

Blessed Are the Merciful

When my daughter received a donut-shaped palette of lip gloss for her seventh birthday, she squealed with such excitement that I questioned why I’ve ever spent money on Disney World tickets. For two dollars and fifty cents, she was thrilled.

It’s understandable then why my shoulder caught her heartbroken tears a few hours later after her younger sister destroyed her beloved gift.

I prompted my youngest daughter to reconcile with her sister by looking her in the eye, admitting her fault without excuse, and asking for forgiveness. But on this particular day, extending mercy had no appeal whatsoever for my tender-hearted seven-year-old.

“I don’t want to forgive her, Mom! She should lose something that’s special to her, too!” she continued to sob.

I’ve felt that.

In fact, I’m a lot more like my daughter than I’d want you to know. When my well-being is my sole concern, I can get so focused on my own cheap sense of justice that I forfeit the gift to my own soul that extending mercy offers.

Maybe that’s what Jesus hoped we’d experience when he taught about mercy in the “Sermon on the Mount.” To show his audience — full of followers and foe alike — what the kingdom of heaven is like, Jesus inverted everything they thought they knew starting with a list of qualities among the “blessed.” This list that praised the poor in spirit, the mourning, and the meek, would have been purposely polarizing to an audience of elites and outcasts.

In Matthew 5:11, mercy makes that list:

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”

“Blessed are the merciful…”

Mercy takes place where forgiveness and kindness collide. At least that’s how it’s felt to me as I’ve been on mercy’s receiving end.

I feel the effect of mercy when my sin hurts people I love but they still meet me with forgiveness, or when my needs are met by the kind help of others. In both circumstances, the givers of mercy fit Jesus’ description of the merciful: they are “blessed.” The blessed experience joy in the company of God because they have responded to Christ.

Joy and mercy are connected cyclically in the gospel: the joy that the merciful have in their relationship with Christ fuels their generosity, and their generosity deepens the joy they find in Christ. Mercy is as great of a gift to the giver as it is the receiver.

“…For they will receive mercy.”

Left to my natural sin-skewed view, mercy can appear weak. If I equate it to withholding consequences, I’ll scoff at the perceived lack of justice. But actually, it requires great strength.

Jesus highlights the juxtaposition of mercy by setting our assumptions about it against how it actually works; it’s not weakness, it’s strength. It’s not one-sided, it’s an exchange.

On the cross, forgiveness and kindness collided in the ultimate act of mercy. Jesus willingly died on our behalf to pay the penalty of our sin. He was merciful so that we might receive mercy, and because of his surrender and sacrifice, we get to experience joy in the company of God forever!

In the meantime, we have the opportunity to respond to Jesus’ gift of mercy by extending it to one another. And, although, it can be difficult for us we don’t have to do it alone! The gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to emulate Christ like we never could on our own.

Perhaps as we do, we’ll get a small taste of the upside-down kingdom Jesus taught about and find that extending mercy is as much a gift to ourselves as those to whom we give it.

Where is God calling you to offer mercy today?


 

107: Are We Raising Consumer Kids?

During the series Salty: Sticking Out for the Right Reasons, we’re discussing questions related to each message on our podcast. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Lance Lawson, and Aaron Lutz discuss how living in a self-absorbed culture impacts our kids. And how we can help our kids be less inwardly focused and more outwardly focused.

Resources:

Salty: Serve Others – Fight Consumerism (sermon)

106: Is Being Rich a Sin?

During the series Salty: Sticking Out for the Right Reasons, we’re discussing questions related to each message on our podcast. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Yancey Arrington, and Aaron Lutz discuss the questions: Is being rich a sin? What warnings are given to the rich in the Bible?

 

 

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4 Reasons Why You Should Sing at Church

Listen to this article here:

In our culture, singing in public is typically left to the professionals. It’s something most people enjoy listening to, but will only attempt if they are in the car by themselves, in the shower, or singing “Happy Birthday” at a birthday party.

I get it. Singing out loud is a very vulnerable thing to do. Most of us live our lives constantly managing how we are being perceived by others at any given moment. Singing in public could — in mere moments — destroy a lifetime of managing how we want others to see us.

So why do we sing so much at church?

If you’ve grown up in church, it’s just what you’ve always done. But for those new to church, it often feels weird and can be a big barrier to moving forward in your journey exploring the claims of Christ.

The truth of why we sing so much at church is that singing is a uniting action. Here are four different ways singing unites us as followers of Christ.

1. SINGING UNITES THE HEAD AND THE HEART

Singing in church unites our theology (how we think about God) with our doxology (how we praise God). It takes truths we know about God and uses them to stir up our affections for him. When we consider who God is and what he has done for us through the person and work of Jesus Christ, it should move us emotionally and drive us to praise him. Singing is a powerful way to accomplish this. Colossians 3:16 instructs us to “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly… singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in [our] hearts.”

2. SINGING UNITES US WITH OTHER BELIEVERS

When we sing in church, we are joining together to confess truths we hold fast as believers in Christ. No matter what our background or social status, we stand united as the body of Christ and with one voice declare the praises of God. And while God is the primary audience for our singing, those around us are encouraged and their faith is strengthened when they hear the people of God sing the praises of God. Ephesians 5:19 exhorts us to “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”

3. SINGING UNITES US WITH ALL OF CREATION

Creation worships God. It always has. Whether it’s the early morning song of birds chirping or the majestic glory of a mountain vista, the ocean’s waves roaring or the beauty of a starlit sky,  all of creation is giving praise to its Creator. When we sing, we are united with the rest of creation in giving God the glory that is due his name. Isaiah 55:12, Psalm 98:7-8, and Psalm 148:3 are just a few of the places where we see creation breaking forth into song and giving praise to the Lord Almighty. In Luke 19, Jesus himself says in response to being questioned about people singing loudly about him that, “if these were silent, even the very stones would cry out.”

4. SINGING UNITES US WITH HEAVEN

When we lift up our voices here and now, we are united with a heavenly chorus that is presently singing the praises of God, joining with believers that have gone before us. Myriads upon myriads of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue (Rev. 7:9-11) have, are, and will worship the Lamb who was slain — all proclaiming glory to him who sits on the throne (Rev. 5:13) and declaring his blessing, honor, and might forever and ever!

 

Ultimately, it’s not the songs or our singing that unite us; it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Singing just gives us a common way to express it all corporately as the body of Christ. When we choose to not engage with the singing portion of our corporate gatherings, we are missing out on a key component of a formative activity in the Christian life.

The next time you step into a church service and the music begins choose to engage. Sing! Be united with your spiritual family! Let the good news and gospel truths you know stir your heart and affections for our Savior. Be an encouragement to those around you. Join with all of creation and those gathered around the throne, and worship the Lord in the splendor of his glory here and now!


 

105: Why Does God Allow Suffering?

During the series Salty: Sticking Out for the Right Reasons, we’re discussing questions related to each message on our podcast. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Yancey Arrington, and Bruce Wesley discuss the questions: Why does God allow suffering? How can we walk with those who are suffering?

Resources:

Suffer Well – Fight Triumphalism (sermon

Godly Friendship (It Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard!)

Recently, I spent an evening with some friends. We spent hours catching up and talking about our lives, struggles, kids, work, and more. Somehow we got on the topic of friendships with other women. We all agreed that having friendships with other women is extremely important — a priority even — but we also agreed that cultivating those friendships is difficult. One friend even said she feels like it is impossible.

I left that evening a little discouraged, but it got me thinking. How can we, as Christian women, make this easier? I’ve mulled over this question and have come up with four things we can do.

 

1. Be Willing

With a church and community as large as ours is, it’s hard to find and connect with other women. We see them in passing, but actually forming a relationship with them seems impossible. Social anxieties, different personalities, and seasons of life just add to our isolation.

But, we need to be willing to seek out opportunities to meet other women and be willing to show up when we find those opportunities. Several times a year, Clear Creek launches multiple women’s groups. Step out of your comfort zone and join one! I’ve been in multiple small groups, but until recently I had never been in a women’s small group. It has been life-changing! I’ve enjoyed reading the Bible with other women and doing life with them!

A couple times a year, each campus hosts gatherings for the women of their campus. This is another perfect opportunity to meet other women and connect! If you’re already in a couple’s small group or if you serve in a ministry, plan a girl’s night! Find opportunities to connect with the women around you. And be persistent. You won’t always connect with the women around you on the first, second, or even third attempt. But, keep trying. We’ve already established that community is important for every single one of us, so eventually you will connect with someone. Don’t give up!

 

2. Be Present and Be Vulnerable

Once you do have women in your life, be present. Text them, call them, and communicate regularly. Ask questions about their life and their struggles, and, most importantly, listen without judgment. Sometimes, we just need to show up. We don’t have to say anything profound or even offer advice. We just need to be there.

Several of my friends mentioned that fear is the hardest part of making friendships with other women. Fear comes in all shapes and sizes: fear of not fitting in, fear of what others will think of you, fear of not not being perfect, fear of being left out, fear of not looking a certain way, and much more. But, instead of being fearful, we need to be vulnerable.

No one is perfect. No one. We all have flaws. We’re all sinful. Once we realize this, we can let our guard down. We no longer have to fake it and pretend that we’re perfect. We no longer have to strive. Being vulnerable leads to transparency. It leads to a place of intimacy and rest — a place where we can be fully known and fully loved. This is what true friendship looks like.

 

3. Be Gracious

Not only do we need to be open and honest, but we also need to gracious. We need to accept others into our circle, even if they don’t outwardly seem to fit. We need to be quick to forgive and slow to judge.

If a friend cancels on your lunch plans at the last minute, don’t take it personally; show grace. She might be dealing with some social anxieties or family responsibilities of her own. If a friend doesn’t respond to a text or call right away, show grace. She might be swamped at work or chasing 3 toddlers around. If a friend upsets you with a comment in a text or it feels like she has left you out, talk to her. She probably did not mean to hurt you. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Be gracious.

 

4. Be Intentional

Friendships do not happen on their own. They take hard work, time, and commitment. They won’t happen without intentionality.

Make a standing appointment with your friends. Maybe it’s every other week or once monthly. You have to decide what is best for your lifestyle. But, whatever you decide, put it on the calendar each month or it won’t happen.

We’re all busy. Every month we overfill our calendars with appointments, tasks, and to-do lists, until our days are bursting at the seams. We don’t have a moment to spare. And then we look up and the month is gone and it’s time to fill up the next one. So, make plans now! Don’t wait!

My family knows I go away one weekend in the fall and one weekend in the spring with other women to a Christian women’s conference. This is a standing “appointment” — something I do every year. It’s time I get to connect with God without my daily distractions and it’s time for fellowship with other women. I return home refreshed, restored (spiritually, mentally, and physically), and in a place to love others well.

And you don’t need to feel guilty about making these plans. God designed us for community, so we shouldn’t feel guilty for living in a way that God designed.

 

Lastly, be the friend the woman next to you needs — the friend you need.

Sit and listen. Ask tough questions and say hard things. Most importantly, don’t just give advice. Instead, point each other back to the truths of the Bible. Point each other back to Jesus. Pray with each other. Love each other well.


 

104: Should Christians Confront Sin in the World?

During the series Salty: Sticking Out for the Right Reasons, we’re discussing questions related to each message on our podcast. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Yancey Arrington, and Aaron Lutz discuss these questions:

Do Americans in general feel more positively or negatively about Christianity? If so, why is that the case?

Is it a Christian’s role to call out sin in our cultural?

Also, new for this series, you can watch the video of our podcast converation on our YouTube channel.

Resources:

Sticking Out For the Right Reasons (sermon)

To learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, visit clearcreek.org

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Yes and No: Living for Christ

I love my dear friend, Autocorrect.

Oh, the countless spelling errors Autocorrect saves us from when we haven’t had enough coffee yet and words are hard. Actually, it still comes to the rescue when we’ve had plenty of coffee and still don’t know how to put letters into words.

Autocorrect always knows whether the “i” goes before or after the “e” without hesitation. Without even using the “I before E except after C” rule!

Autocorrect even picks up our slack when we’re too lazy to capitalize our words or use apostrophes. Sure, Autocorrect isn’t the most helpful when it can’t even pick up on what we’re trying to spell, but that one is really on us for being that bad at spelling!

But the problem is Autocorrect isn’t always correct. The real issue comes in when it keeps trying to change what we truly want to say to something else entirely.

I have struggled with my own internal autocorrect. At times, I wanted to say no, but I would autocorrect to “yes.” Over time, I started to see a negative impact on my mental and physical health from continually autocorrecting to “yes.”

Saying yes to invitations or requests certainly isn’t bad, but sometimes, I was saying it for the wrong reason or with the wrong heart and wound up spreading myself too thin. I was saying yes because I feared disappointing someone or leaving them in a bind. I was saying yes because I felt like my reason to say no wasn’t adequate. I was saying yes strictly to please others.

It got to the point where it almost hurt to say no, even if I knew the reason was valid.

Then one day, with my schedule chalked full and my energy tank approaching empty, I heard something that contradicted my internal autocorrect.

“No is just as valuable of an answer as yes.”

It was like a slap across the face.

I had been told countless times before that it was okay to say no but could never fully accept it because it still seemed like a lesser answer. I was convinced that saying no would mean letting someone down.

I was more concerned about pleasing others than anything else. More than my own health. And more than my limits and boundaries.

Looking back, I think it all ultimately stemmed from my pride. I wanted affirmation and needed acceptance from those around me.

But, as the apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

I had lost sight of who I was truly serving. I had lost sight of the absolute affirmation and perfect acceptance I have in Christ. I needed to shift my driving focus from pleasing people to pleasing God.

So, I finally decided to turn off my internal autocorrect and learn how to rightly and honestly respond with yes and no. I learned how to stop saying yes for people and start saying yes for God.

For example, a few months ago, someone asked me if I could disciple them through the summer. First, I prayed about it. I looked at my schedule. And then, I said yes. Not to please this person, but to serve and please the Lord.

Then a couple weeks later, I was asked to speak at one of the college gatherings. I did a heart check, prayed about it, and said yes. Again, not to please man, but to hopefully bring more honor and glory to God.

Amongst these opportunities, I also felt the freedom to say no. I’ve learned to believe that no is a valuable answer, but also not a crutch to lean on just because my comfort zone is challenged.

When asked if I could make a dessert for the student navigators going to camp, I politely declined because I recognized my limits and knew that would be one too many things on my plate that week.

Recently, a friend asked me if I wanted to have a girl’s night, and I technically could, but already didn’t have much time with my husband that week because of our busy schedules. So instead, I asked if we could do it the next week.

These may seem like simple examples, but it’s simple moments and choices like these that reveal our hearts, and I want my words and my heart to always be set to please God.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

– Psalm 19:14

I still have to keep myself in check and make sure my pride hasn’t turned my internal autocorrect back on, but with the help of the Spirit, my responses to things are more and more devoted to pleasing God, not people.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still thankful for my dear friend, Autocorrect. But I think I’ll keep it on my phone and not in my head.


 

103: Parenting Teens Today

“You aren’t raising kids, you’re raising future adults.” School is back in session, and even though the stress and strain of 2020 isn’t gone, the new school year feels at least reminiscent of the rhythm of life before COVID. But how, if at all, has that changed teenagers and how we parent them? And how can parents lead their teens to re-engage and move forward? On this episode, Jon Coffey talks with Clear Creek’s director of Family Ministries and Church on Wednesday Campus Pastor, Lance Lawson, and 528 Campus attender, former student ministry volunteer, and parent of four kids, Stacey Morgan, to talk about raising future adults in 2021.

Resources:

Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark