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    Culture & Conflict

    This Sunday Pastor Steve and I kick off our fall series, “With All Due Respect: When my Views Clash with Yours.” With all that we have planned, the music, the testimonies, the discipleship and connection opportunities, I can’t wait for this Fall season to begin in earnest.

    The series is designed to help us navigate our way through the battle of ideas gripping our nation with the reminder that Jesus faced similar challenges. On at least nine occasions Jesus was asked for his opinion on the culture war gripping the nation. On each occasion Jesus responds with such wisdom that the folks listening to his answers couldn’t help but think their own ‘stuff’ through. I sense that Jesus’ words may have the same effect on us too.

    Reggie McNeal in his excellent book, “A Work of Heart: How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders” wrote, “The leader’s school … is his or her own life. The curriculum includes experience, observation and participation… The ultimate test of spiritual leadership, then, centers on its own heart matters.” In his book McNeal suggests that God shapes the leader’s heart through a number of forces which include both culture and conflict. If McNeal is right, and I think he is, the culture war and ensuing conflict is playing a part in shaping our calling and our Christian community. McNeal continues: “These heart-shaping dynamics do not operate in the leader arbitrarily or haphazardly. Nor does the leader get to designate which ones will be engaged… God is the producer of the leader heart-shaping drama. He has chosen the plot and the subplot elements of the story. He has marshaled the scenarios that challenge the leader in each and all of these arenas… Heart-shaping is an interactive process. Heart-shaping hinges on choices. How the leader responds to God’s initiatives codetermines how the story plays out.” (p.188). 

    I love that. I have returned to McNeal’s book many times over the last decade. I love the balance between God’s control of world affairs and the leaders’ responses to the challenges they faced. What was true for Moses, David, Jesus and Paul is certainly true for us. God has led our nation and the church to this exact place. Culture and the conflict it brings are, in some mysterious way, part of the plot and sub-plot of a story in which we are important characters. How we respond to what’s going on around us codetermines how the story plays out.

    So how are we responding to culture and conflict? How is what is happening around us shaping our heart and sharing our Christ?

    We hope you have time to join us on this six week tour through the way Jesus handles culture and conflict. We are told that “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Gal. 4:4-5). God’s control of history didn’t end when He sent His Son. It continues today. As troubling and challenging as our world may be, God is calling us to embrace the conflict not only for the world’s sake, but for ours too.

    See you this weekend,



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