Nah… it ain’t me babe.

So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”   Exodus 3:10-12

I love me some Bobby Dylan.  I do.  Times they are a Changin’, Blowin in the Wind, All Along the Watchtower…FORMATIVE stuff for me as a song writer.  I love the honesty, chord changes, and punch they had both as a political and life commentary.  He’s right up there for me with Cash, Willie, Waylon, Michael Jackson, Vedder, Ben Gibbard and The National.  Yeah, I realize I skipped a lot in there, but I’m writing a blog and not a dissertation.  But one of my favorite lines he sang was nah nah nah, it ain’t me babe.

 

Go ‘way from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’s never weak but always strong
To protect you an’ defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

It’s so easy to say, right?  A neighbor had a tree fall down and sent a group text this week asking for some help to cut it up, and it would have been so easy to say, nah, it ain’t me babe.  It’s raining, I’m tired and I just smoked some chicken wings on the grill.  It ain’t me babe.  Or when that friend asks you to help them move, you know?  When are you moving?  Yeah, I am out of town then.  It ain’t me babe.  Or maybe when God calls you into service, to help with the proclamation of the gospel – in whatever level of commitment or context that is…. nah nah nah, it ain’t me babe…   Who’s with me on this?  It’s so much easier to just sing along with good ole Bobby Dylan.

Sometimes it’s laziness, I get that, but sometimes God calls us and we think, how could I possibly serve in that way?  The tugging, the burning in our spirit, the call from the pastor or staff, or whatever it is for us yields that same old response because WE DON’T THINK WE’VE GOT IT IN US to do that thing we’ve been called to do.  Who’s with me now?  (Maybe God’s got you reading this on purpose?)

I am not qualified, I am not stable enough, or maybe even I am not good enough to serve.  Who would ever want to listen to me preach, serve alongside me, or let me walk with them through their addiction, pain or sadness knowing what they know about me?  Nah, it ain’t me babe.

But here’s the thing.  Not one person in all of Scripture was perfectly and immediately equipped for ministry – most of whom changed the world for the sake of the Gospel.  (One could make the case for Jesus, you know, being God and all… but even Jesus spent time in the temple studying the scriptures.  Moving on…)  So, then, given that, who are we to say it ain’t me babe when God is is the one calling?  What if God is calling you to do ministry BECAUSE of who you are and who you’ve been?  Perhaps God already knows your gifts and challenges and lead you up out of that place so that you could speak directly those IN THE PIT STILL?

Serving in ministry – in ALL contexts and commitment levels – is a LIFE BLESSING.  It’s something we GET to do rather then something we’ve GOT to do.  As soon as we let go of that unqualified part of who we are, and let God take over, we GET to see great blessing through service.

And perhaps the best part of it all is that God NEVER abandons us.  Jesus said, I will be with you always, to the end of the age. (Matt 28:20)!!  That’s power right there!  That’s where our confidence comes from!  That’s where the words will flow from!  That’s the strength on which we can rely and the rock on which we can stand.  Jesus is with YOU.  So serve!  Find a place where your gifts match the church’s needs, and quit saying it ain’t me babe, because it is precisely YOU that God is looking for!  And when we fail in our work and we look to God for help, God’s response is YES, I WILL be with you, carry you, and uphold you through it!

This church and this congregation need great leaders and volunteers in order to work, sure, but even more, it’s a blessing to GET to see what God is constantly doing through people who for a very long time said, nah nah nah, it ain’t me babe.  It ain’t me your looking for babe.  Moses said it too, so you’ll be in pretty good company.  Just sayin…

+Pastor Matt

(email me if you’re up for a servant blessing)

Lord, make me a disciple.  One who is crazy enough to be redefined in you.  Call us Lord, and equip us for the journey and blessing of ministry in your church! Amen.

What a Great Celebration!

I love Easter Weekend.

I love being with those young children receiving their first communion on Maundy Thursday.  With great eagerness and anticipation, they have been waiting their whole lives to come to the Lord’s table

I love Good Friday with the darkening of the sanctuary, symbolic of sin’s presence in this world and God’s response to it on the cross.

I love the Saturday Easter Egg Hunt at Christ South with upwards to 1000 people showing up at Polo Ridge Elementary School.  It took three trips to the store for more eggs!

And what’s not to love about Easter morning?  The large gathering of the people, the beautifully decorated sanctuary, the triumphant music, the greatest story ever told and even donut holes in the Lower Commons.

I love Easter Weekend.  Would you please comment below what was your favorite part?

This year, our attendance surpassed last year’s by almost 15%!

Sonrise:                   75

Traditional             637

The Bridge            354

Christ South          168

Contemporary      1031

Total                    2265

And what’s more, since we have been using Facebook Live for worship viewing, our site has blown up with an additional 821 watching on-line there and 768 watching the livestream from the website…and that’s on Easter Sunday!  On Good Friday, 796 watched on Facebook Live and 207 from the website.

Did I tell you I love Easter?

Thank you for a wonderful place, filled with the Spirit, to celebrate the gift of the Resurrection.  Surely, God is in the place, changing lives with the message of hope and grace.

He Is Risen!

He Is Risen, Indeed!

Pastor Scott

Resurrection Tractor

Resurrection Tractor

The last time it ran was about 15 years ago, and it was in desperate need of repair.  So, many years ago, Dad started to take our 1941 John Deere tractor apart, to refurbish it.  But he had not been able to complete the restoration.  So, last August, we brought it from Ohio to North Carolina and began the restoration process.  Several people spent many hours working on it.  Now it looks like a new tractor.  In fact, I think this 76-year-old tractor is better than new, and should last well beyond my lifetime!

It has been restored to a condition that many of us thought could never happen.  It was so far gone, that some didn’t believe it could be restored.  How could anything so far gone, possibly be resurrected?

Sometimes we may feel that our lives are like that broken tractor.  We may feel so old, so worn, rusted, or unworthy, that nothing could possibly restore us.  But Scripture tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As Easter approaches, let us remember all that God does for us, through Jesus.  And let us celebrate the joy of the resurrection that we are promised, knowing that Jesus takes all of our dirt, our rust, and our greasy sins upon Himself.  He died on the cross, and rose on Easter, so that we might be made whole, made new, made clean—resurrected—to live eternally with our Father, who is in heaven.

There are resurrection stories all around us.  Open our eyes that we may see…and believe.

Easter Blessings!

Pastor Tenny

 

 

 

 

 

Cut the Net!

A basketball net is nothing but a tangle of nylon rope. Twisted into 12 loops. Hardly anything special, right? Not by a long shot. A basketball net is an eye witness to some of the greatest sports events ever. A basketball net can produce what some people consider the world’s single greatest sound…“swish.” A piece of a basketball net is more than a snippet of rope…it’s the ultimate prize.

Last night, I watched along with many of you as players from the UNC men’s basketball team cut the net in Phoenix, Arizona after defeating Gonzaga to win the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball championship. Cutting the net is a tradition that goes back to 1947, begun by NC State coach Everett Case. Players and coaches cut the net after winning a big game to have a piece of…the victory. A piece of…the memory. A piece of…the redemption.

“Redemption” is the word being used to describe this year’s championship game. That’s because in 2016 UNC lost the championship game by a single shot to Villanova. Whether you are a UNC fan or not, it would be hard not to respect a group of college kids who, after losing the biggest sports game of their lives, returned to win the very next year. Redemption. They cut the net.

After experiencing failure, so often the world sends messages like: “You had your chance.” “Give it up.” “Tough luck.” Basketball, like other sports, reminds me that failure is a part of life. In 1993, as cancer was consuming his body, North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano gave one of the greatest speeches of all time. Often referred to as the “Don’t Give Up” speech, Valvano said, “To me, there are three things we all should do every day of our life,” Valvano said. “Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two, think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, be it happiness or joy.” He also encouraged listeners with those memorable words, “Don’t Ever Give Up.”

Redemption is a word that means “the act of saving or being saved.” As we at Christ Lutheran journey closer to Holy Week, we prepare to celebrate the ultimate act of redemption. Christ’s death on the cross for you and for me. What first appeared to be the ultimate defeat on the hillside of Calvary led to the ultimate victory—God’s love overcoming sin, death, and the grave Easter morning. We are redeemed. God’s love never gives up on us. Jesus Christ has won the ultimate victory and has given us the spoils. Cut the net!

Redeemed with you,

Pastor Drew

 

What is Your “This”?

In High School Sunday School, Fuel School, we are shaking things up a bit. Four weeks ago, we looked at the latest Star Wars movie: Rogue One and asked the question, “What is so rebellious about being a Christian?” The next week, the topic was, Fake News and False Prophets and we talked about pursuing truths in Christ. The following week, we looked at a pretty cool dude from the bible, Timothy, and discussed the challenges of being a young leader in the church. This past week, we looked at the music of DJ duo, “The Chainsmokers.” Their music is revolutionizing the pop culture music scene with one of their top songs surpassing 1.3 billion views on You Tube. In Fuel School this week, there was one Chainsmokers song we looked at particularly close, “Something Just Like This.” In collaboration with the group Coldplay, The Chainsmokers debuted this hit on February 22, 2017 and it has claimed top rankings on music charts around the world.

“Something Just Like This” talks about the feeling of mediocrity in a world that seems like everyone is a mythological champion like Hercules or a super hero like Spiderman. In a world that is constantly competing and comparing our personal worth to the successes of others, where do we find our own value? When our test scores only matter when they are compared with others or when we focus on our bow in the curtain calls of the school musical relative to that of our rival, where can we find our value?

The female protagonist’s recurring theme in “Something Just Like This” in the chorus says, “I’m not looking for somebody with some superhuman gifts some superhero some fairy tale bliss just something I can turn to somebody I can miss oh I want something just like this.” In Fuel School, we looked at these lyrics coming from Jesus, not a person. In drawing from scripture, Mathew 11:28 tells us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Jesus doesn’t draw us in through our successes; you captain of the varsity team, you straight A student. Jesus calls us through our struggles and sorrows; you struggling with your identity, you struggling with expectations of yourself and your family. Jesus calls out to the weary and heavy burdened. While we may have straight A’s or success in athletics or theater, we all have burdens. It is in Christ that we find rest from these burdens.

With this blessing of a Savior who cares for our sorrows with such grace and compassion, how can we not live life with a since of joy and ease? In parting, we asked the question, “What is your THIS?” “THIS” being our faith. How can we live out our “This” so that our friends and peers can say, “I want something like THAT?” This week, High Schoolers are thinking about these questions, and I challenge you to do so as well. How do you demonstrate God’s love for us in your interaction with others?

Peace,

Ryan Carter,
High School Youth Director

The Faith Struggle

I’ve wanted to be a pastor since I was 17. The only times in which I questioned that call was not in my conversations with atheists who spouted off reasons why there was no God or among luke-warm Christians who didn’t care about God. The times in which I struggled most with that sense of call was when I met energized, on-fire, without a doubt believers whose faith was as certain and consistent as the rising sun.

Why? Because I still had questions and they made me feel like my faith wasn’t strong enough. Their faith was a part of their everyday language and mine was more subtle. Every conversation they had turned into a faith conversation whereas I struggled with talking about my faith.

Maybe I should not be a pastor.

When I went to church with them, I cleaned up nicely, said the prayers, listened to the sermon and sang the songs, but I couldn’t help but think that I was the only one who still had nagging questions and hanging doubts.  How could I possibly think I could preach and teach about Jesus when I struggled with faith while they had it all together?

Maybe I should go into retail.

It was when I came face to face with heroes of the faith and heard about their struggles that my attitude changed:

  • Martin Luther struggled with doubts and questions most of his life.
  • St. Peter denied Jesus three times.
  • St. Paul said that the good things that he wanted to do, he didn’t do and the bad things he didn’t want to do he ended up doing

If God could use the likes of these, maybe there was some room in his Kingdom for the likes of me.

What really helps me is to hear the story from Mark 9 that we will hear on Sunday.  A father brought his demon possessed son before Jesus, looking for a healing.  When Jesus said that all things were possible for those who believed, the father said exactly what was in my heart, “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.”

That’s the struggle of faith.  That’s my struggle of faith.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Lord, I turn my life over to you. Help me give up control.

Lord, I know you are my savior. Help me put my trust in you.

Lord, I know that you forgive me sins. Help me to forgive my own sins.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Luther understood faith as not something that you achieve or decide or choose.  Luther understood faith as a lifelong struggle.  And during those times in which Luther suffered through the struggles of faith, he would pound his fist on his desk and cry out, “But you promised!  I am a baptized child of God. You promised to be my God. You promised that I was your child. You promised to forgive my sins. You promised!”

That’s where the struggle lies. Are you going to trust your vacillating faith or are you going to trust the steady, ongoing, immovable promise of God?

Lord, I believe your promises. Help my unbelief.

The struggle is real.  You are not alone sitting in that pew.  If God can use the likes of Luther, Peter, Paul and even the likes of me, there is a place in his Kingdom even for you—doubts and all.

Peace,

Pastor Scott

When We Grow Up

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Dad?”  That was the question my son Zach (age 4) asked me during the car ride to school last week. “Uh, a pastor.” I said. “But you’re already a pastor, Dad!” At that point, I turned the question around and asked “What do you want to be when you grow up, Zach?” There was a thoughtful pause. Zach searched his mind and 4-year-old vocabulary and then said “A school bus driver!”

Consider that thoughtful pause. As I waited for my son Zach to respond, any answer he gave would have been one that I welcomed, encouraged, and celebrated. “A police officer!” Great. “A construction worker!” Go for it. “The President of the United States!” Despite the current political divide, it is still the highest political office in the land with great potential to do good. So why not? I sometimes take it for granted that my two sons have a combination of supportive factors behind them that countless children simply do not have, for a variety of reasons.

  • Access to a top-notch preschool at Christ Lutheran.
  • Parents with the time and ability to read to them—a lot.
  • Family members who tell them the sky is the limit.
  • Relatively sound financial support.

These factors, along with many more, are ways that we are building strong kids. I believe the responsibility to build strong kids extends beyond our own flesh and blood.

Several weekends ago, while Christ Lutheran was celebrating the 10th anniversary of McPIE (McClintock Partners in Education), I was with 42 convicted felons between the ages of 18-25 as part of a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend. Believe me when I say, these young men have made some very bad decisions in their young lives. But believe me also when I say, few of these young men had anywhere near the support system my sons have. As I sat and prayed with these young inmates, I heard how drug-dealing was all around them from a young age, how school was an afterthought, and how violence was instilled early, and I thought: “How many of these young men wouldn’t be here if they had a McPIE program?”

How many of them would be bus drivers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers, if they had only gotten greater support? How would we even begin to provide that kind of support?

Responding to these questions is part of the mission of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice (RMJJ), a collaborative effort in Charlotte trying to reduce racial disparities in the justice system. Tomorrow night on March 15th at McClintock Middle School (1925 Rama Rd, 28212), the RMJJ is hosting a workshop called “The School-to-Prison Pipeline” from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm and Pastor Scott, Amy Daniels, and CLC members will be there—and I encourage you to go too. It’s free and all are welcomed.

What will we be when we grow up? I hope our American society will grow into one where all children, regardless of race, will be able to aim for the stars—and have all the support they need to reach them.

Growing with you,

Pastor Drew

Our New Baby is Here!

Let me just say, morning sickness is rough.  It’s no easy task to wake up early and then have to deal with the deep gut wrenching work that it takes just to be able to tackle the day.  It’s frustrating and difficult, sure, but when we keep our eyes on what we’re expecting God to do, it certainly helps us keep our heads up.  And then there’s the pain of muscles aching, back being sore and all the new changes that we have to keep up with and prepare for every day.  The world is changing fast, so just keeping up with the technology alone is crazy.  Having not done this for some years now, the way we put our plans together even has to change.  But now, having this new creation in our midst, it’s just… wow.  Amazing!  It’s such a joy to take on every day surrounded such a great church family, and we can’t wait to see this little dream come true …grow up!!

Oh.  Wait… uh oh.  You know I’m talking about Christ South right?  Of course I am!   Every Sunday morning a crew is out ready to unload the trailer into Polo Ridge, eager to see what God is going to do again this week.  The Prayer Team keeps praying, the Fellowship Team keeps planning, the Music Team keeps rocking, the Kids Team keeps loving on those little folks, and the Welcome Team keeps opening doors and hearts.  It’s hard work, but we are so blessed by our amazing volunteers.  We are developing a “Get to” mentality around giving our time and resources.  We “get to” participate in what God is doing.  What an incredible blessing it is to carry speakers, Rubbermaid totes full of shirts, pipe and drape, guitars and amps and whew!  It’s a lot, but it’s what makes it really work.  It’s that hard work, poured out for the Gospel.  The energy and life is overwhelming at Christ Lutheran and it’s set on fire (in a good way) at Christ South.  Our little creation is growing up fast and growing up strong.  We are seeing around 120 in worship on average which is pretty large compared to the average Lutheran congregation!  It’ll ebb and flow, but every day, it’ll grow!

SO, here’s what we need from you.  First, if you read this far, go buy yourself a candy bar.  That’s awesome and thanks.  Second, TELL the STORY.  This only works if we tell the story, then a later, tell the story again.  Invite, invite, and invite some more.  We’re not off the hook if we just tell on person.  This is the Good News of Jesus in action!  Tell somebody!

Lastly, this great Christ Lutheran family shares our DNA across our campuses and is well in tact at Christ South, but of course, like most children, looks a little different.  We’ve got 4 incredible expressions of worship here at Christ, and what a blessing that is!  We’re able to bring the Gospel to life in so many wonderful ways.  We celebrate that!

Ok, you excited yet?  Well, here’s something to keep in mind, with any child, there will be growing pains, challenges with growth, and yet, as God is in control, we know we will see Christ South grow well and thrive based on the incredible support, strong vision and calling of our congregation.  Here at Christ Lutheran, we’ve got a good thing going.  We believe that God will build this church and grow it according to God’s great plan.  I can’t wait to see what every day holds for this sweet bundle of joy!

Anticipating,

Pastor Matt

Where Two or Three are Gathered…

Mathew 18:20 reads “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am with them.” (NIV). This past Sunday, we talked about what is church? Before worship on Sunday, the high schoolers of our church experienced a different kind of church. This past weekend was the high school lock-in turned lock-out. The purpose of the event was to look at poverty through the eyes of hunger. For dinner on Friday, we had meals representing global hunger trends. Most of the 32 students had a scoop of poorly cooked rice and beans, a handful got just the rice, and four received rosemary chicken from a nice restaurant. Before dinner was served, a challenge was presented to the four students who received the chicken dinner. A fifth chicken dinner was added to their meal with the addition of Mathew 25:31-40 (the one about doing unto the least of these!). The students could do whatever they wanted with the meal. Appropriately, they divided the meal among the entire group.

The group played games, ranging from glow in the dark capture the flag/minion to 6 on 6 on 6 basketball and had devotions on topics of “What do we hunger for?” and “Patiently waiting and anticipating.” The big surprise came when the group was “evicted” for the evening and spent the night outside in cardboard shelters. The competition in the games was intense and struggle for sleep was real in the brisk and windy night. The conversations around the campfire about our faith, the challenges of high school and life in general were raw and real. Throughout the entirety of the night and all its different emotions, we were together, and, in the spirit of Mathew 18:20, Christ was with us. Our hungering for food and for warmth at night allowed us to focus on the things that we hunger for in our own life journeys and invite Jesus into our consciousness.

This was our church. This is our church. When we were bearing with one another in our struggles during devotion time, Christ was with us. When we were struggling for sleep at night, Christ was with us. We were intentional in bringing Him into every activity we did and grew in our collective faith because of it. The Experience sings a timeless song that starts with the very words of Mathew 18:20. “We gathered in the name of Christ and Christ was with us.” The question that led the weekend was, “What do you hunger for?” In today’s world, it is easier than ever to stay abreast of each other’s happenings, yet we struggle, arguably, now more than ever to build and sustain meaningful relationships. This group of high schoolers took a stand against this trend this weekend. We hunger for community and we are finding it in Christ. What is it that we hunger for? See Mathew 18:20 for the answer. We hunger for the church and we are finding ourselves sustained in bearing with one another in it. So I ask you; what do you hunger for?

Hungering for more,

Ryan Carter
High School Youth Director

We Are Going Nuts!

As Pastor Matt and I prepare for the coming of our new baby, we are childproofing the house. Because our other children are 11 and 16, we have not had to be concerned about where to store cleaning supplies and about making sure the knives are out of reach. Nevertheless, when you think about bringing a little one into your home, you want to do all you can to make sure it is a safe environment for them. My older children have learned that the colorful looking beads that we put in our washing machine to enhance the fabric softener is not candy. For a little child these dangerous products resemble Sixlets or large cookie decorating sprinkles.  Therefore, Pastor Matt and I are making sure all these poisonous products are out of reach or put behind locked doors.
We try to do the same thing at church.  We lock away poisonous cleaning products and toxins that can harm children so this can be a safe and loving environment where our children can focus on growing in their faith. But, there is still a product out there that can cause harm to a handful of children we have at Christ. This is a small ingredient in little items that we don’t think about when we bring them from our homes or from the store and offer them to groups or classes — they are nuts. Yes, nuts! I can say that I’m a big fan of the nut. When I’m in a hurry, a peanut butter sandwich is easy and cheap. I love nuts in breads and in cookies. They are healthy but not for all. We have children in our church family that even being exposed to someone that just ate a peanut butter sandwich may go into anaphylactic shock and kill them. This is the same as leaving a poison out and exposing them.

Therefore, my family in Christ, Jesus says “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.” Let us work together to make Christ Lutheran a welcoming place for all. Please, help Christ Lutheran strive to be nut

free. And may we together go nuts— nut free that is!!

Blessings,

Pastor Melody

More Than a Valentine

Today, I’m thinking about people who are lonely.

It’s Valentine’s Day.  And for some, it’s a day of joy and romance.  It may bring pleasant memories from days gone by.  But for others, it’s a day of melancholy or sadness.  Not everyone has a “special Valentine” with whom they can share the day.

Some lovers are separated because of travel for work.  Some people have lost their spouses.  Some people don’t have a relationship with someone they would consider their Valentine.  And for some, Valentine’s Day brings sadness from a loss, or anger from a relationship gone bad.

Your pastors have all taken classes in seminary to help us learn how to minister to people who are hurting. Our Stephen Ministers at Christ Lutheran have received extensive training in helping people who have gone through loss, or are grieving.  Still, having the training doesn’t prepare us for dealing with some of the hurt that comes on days, like Valentine’s Day, that can trigger strong emotions,.  So, we listen.  We pray.  And we spend time together, just trying to work through the pain, the anger, or the grief.

For those of us who have a special someone which whom we can share Valentine’s Day, remember to give thanks to God for the joy and the gift of intimate relationship, and maybe, take a moment to pray for those who are hurting.

If Valentine’s Day brings feelings of loneliness, remember that you are in the presence of One who always has, and always will, love us—no matter who we are or what we do.  Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39).  For Jesus gives us this promise, “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Remember, even if you are lonely, you are never alone.

May your day be filled with the love of Christ—it’s more than a Valentine.

Love,

Pastor Tenny

Don’t Take the Bait!

A recent story came out about the couple who stars in the HGTV show, Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna Gains help couples who are looking for a home to find one that can be redesigned and remodeled. The story however, which was released on a popular entertainment and social news website called BuzzFeed, wasn’t about the Gains’ remodeling skills. It was about the fact that the Gains attend a church that holds a position about a controversial, “hot button” topic.

The story was true. Why the Gains’ church affiliation became the basis for a story is the question. Chip and Joanna Gains had not discussed this issue on-air during their show. Nothing about their day to day dealings or the
way they treated people was unusual. The BuzzFeed story seemed like…bait.  Bait, to possibly entice the Gains to go on the defensive or maybe even the offensive about their personal views on this topic. Bait that would provoke a response said with perhaps too much emotion and too little forethought, sensitivity, and care.

I’m amazed by how often I see this kind of bait on social media, websites, and newspaper columns, whether it is intentional or not. I understand that when it comes to the media, bait sells! But how easily we can be tempted to take the bait, and suddenly tempers flare, misunderstandings happen, and the divides deepen. The way that the Gains responded can be summarized simply as: “Don’t take the bait.”

Instead of reacting (however strong their beliefs are), they responded with grace. “We are not about to get in the nasty business of throwing stones at each other,” Chip Gains wrote on his blog, “don’t ask us to ‘cause we won’t play that way…Jo and I feel called to be bridge builders.” Instead of taking the bait, the Gains responded by trying to build bridges. “Do you want to talk about healing and compassion and kindness and restoration…we can make time for that.”

Here at Christ Lutheran, the staff has talked about purposefully not taking the bait in the world around us. While all of us have opinions and beliefs, some of them strong, we realize how quickly baited questions can desolve into damaged relationships and people. We feel that there is a time and place for caring conversations where people can share honestly, listen thoughtfully, and maybe walk agree disagreeing…and yet, not divided. Unfortunately, social media rarely provides that special time and place.

You won’t often see those of us on the Christ Lutheran staff responding to hot-button statements on social media, not because we lack beliefs but because our driving concern is the one expressed in Romans 12:16, “Live in harmony with one another.” Speak the truth in love. Act in ways that bear witness to the truths we profess to believe. But don’t take the bait. When we refuse to, we help to curb the chaos and turn the trends toward restoration. We can make time for that. We hope you’ll join us.

Making time with you,

Pastor Drew

https://magnoliamarket.com/chips-new-years-revelation/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/kateaurthur/chip-and-joanna-gaines-church-same-sex-marriage?utm_term=.sq896B861#.jg02Ye8Yx