Gatekeepers Gone Rogue

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Gatekeepers gone rogue.

Gates keep people, animals, and other things either in or out. The gate keeps my dog in the yard. And the gate (hopefully) keeps the neighbor’s dog out. The toll gate keeps me from using the bridge for free. And the security gate keeps us safe from would-be terrorists or school shooters.

We also have gates in the faith community. Imaginary gates with unrealistic expectations. And these gates quite often have gatekeepers.

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The evangelical church world has been plagued by gatekeepers for many years now. These keepers of the gate feel compelled to decide who goes in and who stays out. But, to be fair, Jesus faced similar experiences in His day. So, in practice, the Church has been plagued for 2000 years, not 200 years.

In John’s Gospel, while addressing the Pharisees and gatekeepers, Jesus uses this figure of speech…

“The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice”. (John 10:2-5)

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I believe there are two misconceptions within the Church today that set us up for these rogue gatekeepers.

The first misconception is the idea that we are to bring people into the church and keep others (unbelievers, deceivers, wolves in sheep’s clothing) out. It gives the impression that we, as Believers, are the ones who are captive. We view Believers as enclosed with strict boundaries, gates, and fences.

Yet, the picture that Jesus paints for us is the idea of being called out into open spaces. He leads us into green pastures where we are free to run and explore with Him safely by our side. It is the one who does not yet know Him who is trapped behind gates and fences. Instead, Jesus tells us that he whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

And He calls us by name.

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The second misconception is our role as gatekeepers. We view our role as someone who keeps people in or out. But Jesus tells us our role is to open the gate for Him.

The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him!

Our role is to open the gate to let Jesus into people’s lives. We are called to do whatever it takes so they can hear Him calling them by name. We open the gate to let Jesus in and to let people out; to set them free!

Jesus goes into the places where people are trapped. Trapped by sin, pride, anger, and pain. Trapped by the vices and empty promises of the world. Trapped by fences, walls, unrealistic expectations, and irreconcilable differences. And we, the gatekeepers, let Him in so He can lead them out.

Only Jesus can lead them out because they recognize His voice. We can only open the gate.

In 2017, let’s be true gatekeepers! Let us fling open wide the gates so the King of Heaven can come in and lead us out into green pastures. Here’s to a new year of open gates!

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More Than Words

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We sat in the booth waiting for our pizza and talking about what we were reading. I had been wanting to expand my genres. My children, now young adults, made suggestions and shared about the books they were enjoying.

My son shared a story of how he had attempted to check out a particular book when he was in elementary school. Both of my children have always been good readers. My son, in particular, read two school grades ahead of his peers. And he tested in the 98th percentile for vocabulary and reading comprehension. So, in third grade, when his friends were reading Captian Underpants, he was reading the Redwall Series.

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It was a small school library. Michael had read almost every book for his reading level. He decided to graduate himself to the next level which included Star Wars. Michael took the book to the check-out counter, but the librarian questioned his selection. Apparently, she didn’t believe he had the ability to comprehend his book choice. The librarian challenged him and Michael assured her that he was capable. But, in disbelief, she asked him to read a random page aloud.

His reading was fluid and concise until he stumbled over a word near the bottom of the page. He knew the word and its proper meaning but had never heard it pronounced before. And, just like that…his request was denied.

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I tried to recall him telling me this story before. It was a vague recollection. He did read the series so I must have taken him to the public library to get a copy. Yet, I sat there flabbergasted.

What was that librarian thinking? A student was challenging himself to expand his reading ability. He obviously had command of his vocabulary. Was it a matter of control? Did she not have time to more fully assess the situation? Was it his precocious spirit that irritated her or provoked jealousy?

My son laughed about it with us. He certainly had not been deterred in his reading. In 6th grade, he went on to read the complete works of Sherlock Holmes. I haven’t even read Sherlock Holmes.

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There are so many times in life when we are faced with moments of discouragement. Sometimes we push against the opposition to become stronger, faster, better. Other times, we lay down and quit. My son chose to push against the opposition.

You have probably stood at similar crossroads a few times in the last year. When did you flourish because of it? When did you flounder? Can you identify why you held strong and why you gave in?

Michael loved to read. It was his why. It was the reason he wasn’t deterred. What about you? Why are you willing to press on? Why are you being deterred? It’s moments like this when we should assess the why as well as the what. If we can identify why we flourished or floundered, then we can prepare ourselves for the what.

Here’s to living wide awake in 2017! Press on and upward to become stronger, faster, better. Then encourage someone else around you.

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Recliner Recommendations – January 2017

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Oh man! It’s a new year! What??? How did we get seventeen years into the 21st century!

So here’s some recommendations to start your year with a bang:

Audiobooks:

You are a Badass – Sincero

Jen Sincero is a hilarious cheerleader/coach! You need this book if you feel like your life is stuck in the mud. The audiobook is read by the author and she will make you laugh out loud at yourself and others. She will also give you a kick in the pants to get your life back on track.

My Year of Yes – Rhimes

Rhimes is the writer of several well-known television shows including Grey’s Anatomy. The audiobook is also read by the author. She will take you on a wild ride of her own journey of learning to say Yes to life. You will be inspired to say Yes to your own life as well.

Podcasts:

The Deconstructionists Podcast

These two guys are fun and witty. They take apart and reconstruct faith issues. Each week they interview people who are reforming the faith and making us think deeper. Hope you check it out.

App:

Overdrive – a friend recommended this app to me recently. It works in conjunction with your local library. You are able to download audiobooks and ebooks to your phone. The app if free. You only need a library card and you can check out and return books via the app.

Reading:

Generation Z – White

I am only a few chapters into this book, but it is an eye-opening read. The author looks at Generation X, Y, and Z comparing them to the Boomer generation. X,Y,Z are shaped by technology in such a way that Boomers have difficulty understanding them. But Generation Z is considered to be the last of what we will be able to identify as a “generation”. Those born after Gen Z will see technology change so rapidly that there will cease to be “generations”. Instead, they will be marked by weeks and months.

Quote I’m pondering:

Our culture keeps women busy looking in the mirror so we never look outward to change the world. – Glennon Doyle Melton

Current Sermon Series:

Exodus: You are Here

Our new series begins on January 8th and we will focus on the Book of Exodus. The second book of the Bible covers only a twelve month period but shapes the rest of Jewish and Christian history. Follow us here.

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