Dear Woodside... Love the Lost

Dear Woodside… Love the Lost

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Mark 2:17, ESV)

Who did Jesus spend much of his time with? Good people? Holy people? Not-So-Bad-But-Just-A-Few-Degrees-Off people? The answer to this question really caused Jesus a lot of trouble and tension within his community. Mark records for us in his Gospel the calling of Levi (or Matthew) to discipleship with Jesus. As soon as Mark tell us that Levi followed Jesus we find ourselves in Levi’s home with his friends and Jesus. There is Levi, the scoundrel, traitorous, thieving tax-collector, his friends… and Jesus.

The reputation of Levi’s friends was evident as well. Mark tells us that they were “tax collectors and sinners.” Mark isn’t using the label “sinners” here in the generic “we are all sinners” manner. He is saying that the people that hung out with Levi, and were at his house, in his life, were primarily known for being notorious sinners. Their lives were identified by gambling, abuse, violence, law-breaking, immorality, and every shade of sin in between. Think about this kind of reputation, they were known primarily as evil people — THE sinners.

And where was Jesus in relationship to this household crowd of wickedness? He was reclining at the table with them. He was sharing a meal of friendship with those who were sick sinners. To have a meal like this with “sinners” was a deep violation of cultural and religious norms for Jesus’ day. He wasn’t affirming their sin, but he was loving those who were known as sinners.

This is the very reason for the tension between Jesus and the religious leaders. They were frustrated and condescending to Jesus because he spent his time with them and loved them. In fact that was essentially what Jesus declared as his mission to be, “not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus was there to love the lost.

Our posture towards notorious “sinners” today can be to hold them at arms length. We might work hard to keep our distance from them because we are somehow afraid that they may get us dirty by our relationship with them. But consider the way Jesus loved the lost. He ate with them, he spent time with them, he befriended them. He came not to call the self-righteous, clean-in-our-own-eyes religious people. Jesus came to the broken, the wrecked, the sick, the sinners.

My hope is that our relationship towards sinners would be the same as Jesus’ relationship. I pray that we would be in their lives, that they would be in our lives, and that by our friendship we could share the good news of Christ with them. That kind of life with sinners might make the stuffy and self-righteous uncomfortable but Jesus came for the lost. So we, as his disciples, are called to love the lost as well.

Let me encourage you to be people who love the lost. Christ has been gracious and loved us, not because we were lovable. I long to see our church be a place where the lost are known, loved, served, and ultimately saved because we are place where broken people can come and taste and see the deep, deep love of Jesus. Woodside, let’s love the lost!

This Sunday at Woodside

This weekend we will continue our Exile series in 1 Peter by looking at 1 Peter 4:12-19. Here’s the songs we will be singing which you can listen to on Spotify before we gather:

  • 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Great Are You Lord
  • Found In You
  • Holy Spirit

Bring Candy!

Our Trunk or Treat event is coming up very soon (Oct 24). Let me strongly encourage you to bring a few bags of Halloween candy and place them in the Trunk or Treat container in our lobby. This is going to be a great afternoon of fun and grace to love the lost and bless our community. We need your help to be fully prepared and ready to do this! So bring a few bags of candy this week so we can give them away on Oct 24. We are also still in need of volunteers and help to pull this off. Let us know how you can serve by signing up —> Click here to sign up and serve on Oct 24!

As I have been spending some time on vacation this week with my family I have been praying for you and look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we gather to worship together. Please don’t hesitate to let me know how I can pray for you. May Jesus be our focus and our glory!

In Christ,


Everything That’s On My Mind (Almost) - Oct 10, 2015

  1. My wife is gone this weekend for a women’s retreat and I have the kids. Pray!
  2. My little girl is eight tomorrow. How did this happen? Next thing I know a boy is going to show up and want to take her to dinner. I’ll slash his tires.
  3. Somehow, I am now a “staff writer” for two different websites. Deadlines loom.
  4. Work hard at getting fresh views of Christ. That’s the only way we’ll change.
  5. I’ll admit that I’ve got my dad with me this weekend, so I have reinforcements. We’ll live (and eat like kings!).
  6. SF Giants are out (it’s an odd-numbered year), the Denver Broncos are undefeated (but look really suspect), Mizzou football is really suspect. So it’s going to be a disappointing sports winter.
  7. I feel like there is a “season” button for Michigan - no sooner does the actual season change and the weather does whatever it’s supposed to for that season. Unreal!
  8. Ronin Sushi in Royal Oak. Yes!
  9. Why is everyone up in arms about selfies? Instagram wasn’t the inventor of them. I’ve been taking selfies with every camera I can find for years!
  10. Read J.C. Ryle - like seriously! Get his Expository Thoughts on any one of the Gospel’s and just work your way through them.

Dear Woodside... Look To Christ

Dear Woodside… 

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17–18, ESV)

Lets be honest with one another — we need to change. Both you and I have many things within our lives, our behaviors, our hearts, our minds, and our attitudes that need change. Today on Oct 1, 2015 we are not fully mature, fully perfect, fully Christ-like people. Each of us wrestles with doubt, discouragement, anxiety, grief, greed, lust, jealousy, pride and a thousand other various shortcomings and sins. We need to change. 

So how will we do it? Some may suggest that we grab hold of the doctrine of “sola-bootstrapa” and exercise a copious amount of discipline and willpower to overcome the sin that so easily entangles us. If we just try harder, figure out the right strategy, engage in the right discipline or have the right accountability partner that change will happen in our behavior and our hearts. Admittedly, to some degree we can change our behavior by picking up and developing new habits. But can we really change our hearts? 

Last night our Missional Communities asked this question, “How do we change?” and then looked at Paul’s clear answer in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. The answer that the Bible gives is that change comes from the Holy Spirit as we put the eyes of our hearts onto Christ. Paul states that by “beholding the glory of the Lord” we are changed into Christ’s image. 

I want to encourage you to make this the regular means for spiritual growth and maturity in your life! Look to Christ. Try and get clear views of the goodness and magnificent beauty of Christ. As we saw in 1 Peter 2:9 this last Sunday we have a mission to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” To be able to proclaim those excellencies, we must see Christ as excellent. We must see his glory.

I want to encourage you to put your eyes on Christ this week. Through the Scriptures, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the amazing grace of Jesus, his power, mercy, authority, joy, and glory. That is where we will find the deepest and greatest power to change and be transformed from one degree of glory to another. It’s by looking to Christ that we will find that we become like Christ!

This Sunday at Woodside

As we gather to worship this Sunday we will be signing some great songs about Christ’s glory and power. Here’s the song list that you can listen to on Spotify:

  • Found in You
  • Christ Is Enough
  • Presence
  • Your Glory
  • This I Believe 

Dr. Bruce Ware, professor of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will be preaching this Sunday out of the book of Isaiah. I know it will be a powerful and helpful word for us as a church. 

Reaching Plymouth

One other thing I’d like to encourage you to be apart of is the “Trunk or Treat” event coming up on Oct 24. We’re very excited about serving, blessing, and loving our community. This is going to be a great way to invite and bless the neighborhood with fun games, candy, costumes, food, and other festivities. We could really use your help. You can do this by signing up to have your car available as one of the “treat” sites, hosting a game, bringing candy, and so many other things. We want “all hands on deck” to engage and love one another and our neighbors. Click here to sign up and serve on Oct 24!

We will have a large container for packaged candy in the lobby on Sunday over the next few weeks as well so you can bring in candy all month leading up to the event. 

I hope to be able to write these little letters to you each week to encourage you and connect with you more at the church. I am excited for what God is doing in our midst and how he is moving among us to help people belong to Christ, grow in Christ, and reach the world for Christ. Please don’t hesitate to let me know how I can be praying for and encouraging you! See you Sunday!

In Christ,

Summer of Books Update

I'm in the the middle of week 3 of the "Summer Tournament of Books" and I've completed 2 books already while working on a third one as well. Here's some reviews on what I have completed already. 

Sea of Crises by Marty Steere

Sea of Crises
By Marty Steere

Marty's story is about a set of sons who lost their father to NASA's "Apollo 18" project. Except, it seems, that all the details of their father's death and the Apollo 18 mission don't quite match the research given. Someone is hiding something. 

The story moves with a good pace and was an enjoyable, clever read. I think of this book as the "summer spy thriller." It's not Jason Borne, but it's a well told story. For me, and maybe this is because I've read stories like this before, there were a few things that I just saw coming. The romance was predictable, but was it necessary? Steere keeps the readers attention and continues to lead me in asking questions, but I don't feel like he shocked or surprised me in too many big ways. And actually, that's okay. It was a fun, entertaining, engaging story with some fun twists. 

For a first book into the summer it was a fun story to engage. According to Goodreads it currently scores an average 4.02 rating by readers. I gave it three stars. 


The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian
By Andy Weir

Technically this was the book I should be completing at the end of this week. Yet, it only took me two good evenings and a short third to read this book. The reason it was so quick of a read because it was so good. When I can enter into a story and feel what the character is feeling, laugh with the characters, cheer for them, hurt for them and be driven through the suspense of their crises then it's a well told story. The book itself is entering the theaters in November and I saw a trailer for it on Sunday night. The trailer was so good I figured this was "next" for me in the tournament. So a second "space" book.

The Martian is about a botanist who is part of a team of 6 on the third manned mission to Mars. After six days on Mars a storm hits the team, they have to abort the mission, and leave Mars. Unfortunately, the main character, Mark Watney, is left stranded on Mars. The book is mostly a first-person point of view story about what Mark does being stranded on Mars. I don't want to give this story away because it is too good but I laughed, I cheered, I cried, I felt with Mark Watney everything he went through. 

If the tournament was done and over tonight I'd have an immediate and easy decision to make for the winner. The Martian was that good and that fun. One question the book danced around and at least philosophically caused me to ask is what is the value of saving a human life? Certainly a good question to ponder. Goodreads readers have given The Martian an average score of 4.35. I gave it five stars. 

Week 2's Book

Week Two was pretty busy, so I am still working on reading Three Nights in August. I figure if I get behind in a book to a degree that it might be shelved I should pick up a new book each week and try and get through it. If I have enough time and the story riveted me enough to finish with space I can get caught up in the book(s) I might have left behind. If not, then like Left Behind, they too will be a abandoned. So I'll try and get this one finished this week. Keep reading!

Check out my original "2015 Summer Tournament of Books" for the full list of books (and how you can help out!). 


2015 Summer Tournament of Books

If your high school education was like mine during the summer I was loaded up with 5-6 books that I had to read in advance of my literature class starting up the following fall. It wasn’t an exercise I ever loved and I can only tell you the title of one book that I read during the summer blitz (Hiroshima for ninth grade literature). However the changed rhythm of the summer opened up some opportunities to read things I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise.

Last Friday I posted on Twitter a request, “I want to read a biography and a novel this summer. So recommend a few…” And a “few” were recommended. Over twenty if I count right. Which led to a difficult decision. If I want to read one biography and one novel, I had better make a decision. As I started looking at the list I realized that many of the offerings were pretty decent looking suggestions. So I decided to be ambitious and work at reading one book a week for 15 weeks. That would take me through the entire summer to Labor Day.

So what’s on the list? I believe some worthy entries, and like every summer a few adventure “block-busters.” There are a couple that have won a Pulitzer prize (that’s like a heavy-weight title fight!) and a few that are relatively unknown. The list is embedded below and linked on my Goodreads account so you can join up with me. One book won a “Tournament of Books” earlier this year, so it was included to see if it really was any good.

One way you could help me is by purchasing one of these books off my Amazon Wish-list so I can actually read them all this summer. If you buy it, I’ll bump it to the top of my reading list right away.

As for now, I’ve completed the first book on the list, Joel Burdeaux’s recommendation of The Sea of Crises by Marty Steere. I’ll give it some blog time first thing next week. Thanks Joel for the recommendation, good start to a summer of reading!

What are you reading this summer?