Q - Why does the Lord allow hurricanes that kill people?
Every day, tragic events kill people. Every day, the Lord could prevent any and every untimely death. Every day, the Lord does not prevent the death of tens of thousands around the world. The Lord has the power, and the prerogative, to prevent any death at any time.
But He does not. He allows the consequences of sin to take its toll on our world. Each person's physical death is a reminder that our greatest enemy is sin, sin's greatest consequence is death, and our desperate need is for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life from the Lord. If we have eyes to see, tragic deaths should sober us, and wake us up to our incredible need of the Lord.
Q - How do you see our current strategies of Gather, Connect, and Serve working in our Vision areas?
This good question begs a much longer answer than may be possible in a blog like this. A short answer would simply be that our strategy activities (Gather, Connect, Serve) will continue to be the "bread and butter" of our "connecting people to life-defining relationships." Our Vision initiatives of Family Enrichment and International Care will offer hundreds of opportunities to serve and love others toward Christ.
Q - Will our vision focus of Family Enrichment be a signal to those who are single that there isn't a place for them at Christ Community Church? Where do singles fit it?
Over the years, I've noticed that whenever the ministry of a local church chooses to focus on the strengthening of the family, some singles immediately wonder about their place in that church. Other singles recognize that a church's family ministry emphasis can help shape their view of and preparation for an eventual marital relationship. Most singles marry! So, while we will emphasize family enrichment, because of the central place that the family has in shaping the lives of each generation. But we need to also remind singles how important they are to the life of the body of Christ, to serving distinctively in the mission of the gospel, and to encourage them to support and gain from family enrichment initiatives.
Q - How can we intentionally pray for Christ to be manifested in the middle of disaster in Mexico and Puerto Rico?
Pray that our Lord Jesus will express himself through those who know Him, who are called to minister in these tough spots. As people experience fragility and vulnerability, their hearts can be opened to a God who cares for them and seeks to give them a life that no storm can take away, no earthquake can shake.
Q - What do the "gates of hell" look like in the lives of unbelievers who seem to be good, moral people?
C.S. Lewis once said that the path into hell for many is a "gentle, slope downward, soft underfoot, with no sudden turns." One of Satan's great deceptions is the common view that it doesn't matter what you believe, only that you try to be good and trust in your own life of goodness as a sufficient. For someone to believe that his/her own righteousness and goodness will have some credit someday before a holy and righteous God is to be under the grave influence of the Father of lies. Paul wrote, "not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to God's mercy" we are saved. The "gates of hell" have convinced too many that their good lives are the ticket into eternity with the Lord.
Q - How would you begin to approach your acquaintances who believe that the "gates of hell" and "hell" are an appealing place, just as those who worshipped the god "Pan"?
For those who think that hell will be an appealing, wonderful place to be, I would invite them to read what Jesus said about it in Luke 16:19-31.
Q - We see Jesus taking his men to the "red light" district to announce the building of his church. For some Christians battling temptation, couldn't it be harmful to enter these areas so full of access to evil? How can we know who is supposed to follow Christ's example of going into the darker places of the world today to spread the good news/gospel?
Clearly, when Jesus traveled to Caesarea Philippi with his disciples, he was taking men who had been with him for 3 years, and had seen much during those months: demon possession, advanced sicknesses, tough situations. That he took them there to speak about the need for His church is significant; he wanted to get a message across to the future leaders of his church that they would be leading a serious movement in which there would be many battles with the enemy. Disciples who are called to step into dark places for doing ministry need to be prepared. Remember when the disciples tried to cast out a demon, and could not (Mark 9:14f)? Jesus explains to them they were unprepared. "This kind comes only through prayer and fasting."
Q - Are we to FEAR the Lord?
Yes. It's the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). A sober, reverential awe of the Lord is very important. His holiness is consuming, and without a healthy fear of God, we are not sufficiently humbled before Him.
Q - Jesus called us to care for the hungry, the sick, the prisoner and those in need. How do things like bowling alleys, restaurants, and gyms meet those needs? Are we really sharing the truth of who Jesus is when we spend our money on our entertainment and not on clothing, food, shelter, and other needs?
To be sure, one of Jesus' important calls to his disciples is to care for the disadvantaged. It is an important expression of the love and presence of God. But it is not Jesus' only call to us. He modeled to us the building of relationships with people who are far from God, and He himself often did this - going to eat with them and (if you will) even recreate with them.
Meeting people on "common ground" is a relationship building strategy, and some churches have prayerfully decided that creating environments for relationship building is a legitimate use of some financial resources. To some extent, we've done this on our Christ Community Church campus, building a gymnasium for basketball and exercise.
Admittedly, if churches are simply spending resources "for themselves," i.e., to have their own recreational facilities for "Christian use," void of a "common ground" strategy toward outsiders, they would do well to reconsider how pleased the Lord is with such a "spend-it-on-ourselves" approach.