gospel

Three Recommendations From a Former Archbishop

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There is so much chatter on the line (another way of saying on the internet--you can thank the movie The Internship) about gay marriage, progressive vs conservative Christianity, women elder/pastor, should women be allowed to preach, and etc...

I'm sure these topics need to be discussed and the conversations need to be had.

But much like the WorldVision incident, the ones who get lost in the shuffle in these debates are the least, the hurting, and the lost.

I am reading a book about Pope Francis, by Michel Cool called, "Francis: New a World Pope." It's a quick read, only about 80 pages or so—it's a short biography about, well, the new Pope. (All Evangelical people can gasp now)

Cool mentions three things Pope Francis would say to parish priests when he would make pastoral visits to them, when he was Archbishop of Argentina:

"His three recommendations: practice mercy, have apostolic courage, and make yourself available to all."

 

Photo Credit: Telegraph.uk

 

These are good and wise words for all Christians to hear and practice—practice mercy, have apostolic courage, and make yourself available to all.

No matter what side of the issue(s) you rest your feet on, it would be good for all of us to undertake these three recommendations of Pope Francis, and demonstrate them to our neighbors.

When we do this, we bear authentic witness of Jesus to those who oppose us, to the least, the hurting, and the lost.

Like I said earlier, I am sure the topics I mentioned need to be discussed and debated, but may it never be at the expense of our Christian witness of the exalted Jesus and His work of forgiveness and reconciliation, and those who need to hear the message.

Restoring human dignity is more important than proving someone is wrong.

When our main objective is to prove who is right and who is wrong, we in fact create a kind of Pharisaic system that neglects the people underneath the issues. We can inadvertently drive people away from the message of the gospel and ultimately Jesus. Yes, both progressives and conservatives can become Pharisaic and cause people to stumble and fall.

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Three Recommendations From a Former Archbishop

pope selfie_2658134b  

There is so much chatter on the line (another way of saying on the internet--you can thank the movie The Internship) about gay marriage, progressive vs conservative Christianity, women elder/pastor, should women be allowed to preach, and etc...

I'm sure these topics need to be discussed and the conversations need to be had.

But much like the WorldVision incident, the ones who get lost in the shuffle in these debates are the least, the hurting, and the lost.

I am reading a book about Pope Francis, by Michel Cool called, "Francis: New a World Pope." It's a quick read, only about 80 pages or so—it's a short biography about, well, the new Pope. (All Evangelical people can gasp now)

Cool mentions three things Pope Francis would say to parish priests when he would make pastoral visits to them, when he was Archbishop of Argentina:

"His three recommendations: practice mercy, have apostolic courage, and make yourself available to all."

 

Photo Credit: Telegraph.uk

 

These are good and wise words for all Christians to hear and practice—practice mercy, have apostolic courage, and make yourself available to all.

No matter what side of the issue(s) you rest your feet on, it would be good for all of us to undertake these three recommendations of Pope Francis, and demonstrate them to our neighbors.

When we do this, we bear authentic witness of Jesus to those who oppose us, to the least, the hurting, and the lost.

Like I said earlier, I am sure the topics I mentioned need to be discussed and debated, but may it never be at the expense of our Christian witness of the exalted Jesus and His work of forgiveness and reconciliation, and those who need to hear the message.

Restoring human dignity is more important than proving someone is wrong.

When our main objective is to prove who is right and who is wrong, we in fact create a kind of Pharisaic system that neglects the people underneath the issues. We can inadvertently drive people away from the message of the gospel and ultimately Jesus. Yes, both progressives and conservatives can become Pharisaic and cause people to stumble and fall.

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

We had hundreds of millions come to our Easter gathering...

Photo Credit: Pixabay  

I had a phone call the other day from someone asking how many people did we have for Easter service at our church... My response was hundreds of millions.

To be honest for our little corner of Christendom, we had a really good turnout. Anytime you get visitors or people coming back, who haven't been in awhile, you really feel it—there is a different level of energy and excitement.

Seriously though, I really don't care about how many people came to our Easter gathering, I just care about people knowing the love that Jesus has for them... No. I am not trying to spiritualize myself or make myself feel good knowing the fact that we didn't have thousands come to our church—I just really care about people. Both for those people that came to our church, and for those people who didn't show up.

 

The Gut Feeling... You know What I'm Talking About.

It wasn't always this way for me. I would get that little feeling in my gut if the church that I worked at didn't have a covetable number in attendance to share with people from other churches. It's hard not to be a part of the competition game. It's even more difficult to suppress that somewhat awkward feeling of saying,"Well we only had "fill in the blank" people show up."

Trust me, I know it's hard—I've lived on both sides of the "playing field." Most of us hope no one asks us these questions, "How many go to your church? Or, how many were at your Easter service(s)?" Unless our situation meets the bragable (Is this even a word) criteria of being share worthy.

Feeling embarrassed or ashamed that you didn't have masses coming to your Easter gathering is sinful and comes from the father of lies. These feelings degrade and belittle the people who call your church home and those who come to your worship gatherings—especially the visitors.

I also know the fallout if you don't have "x-amount of people" show up at your church. You have payroll to meet, bills to pay, ministry to accomplish, egos to fill, and dreams of reaching the masses with the gospel.

Again, trust me I know this all to well—I live and feel these things too. I have hopes and dreams for the church I pastor.

 

We all have dreams and hopes...

At some point we need to be faithful with what has been given to us and that which is before us. This doesn't mean we don't work hard, dream, scheme, and strategize ways to grow our church numerically or spiritually. Not to do so does not honor Jesus and His mission.

The sizes of our church don't define us—its our faithfulness in loving Jesus and to loving our neighbor to the best of our ability.

I'm guessing between a thousand to two thousand people went to Easter services last Sunday in the various churches that meet regularly in our city. And Hundreds of millions of people gathered together to worship Jesus and proclaim the gospel all over the world last Easter Sunday—we are all on the same team accomplishing the same mission, which was given to us by our Lord Jesus.

I know what I am writing isn't popular and many people who read this will tell me it's just me who feels this way or that it's okay to strive for numbers and a little competition doesn't hurt anybody... Maybe these people are right—maybe it is just me. Maybe I'm being trivial and wrong. I have been known to suffer from low self-esteem at times, and I'm also highly competitive and don't like to lose...

At some point the competition and comparison game needs to stop. We are all on the same team! Let's celebrate with each other what Jesus has accomplished—despite us.

I am so thankful for the church I get to pastor. The people who make up our church family are so welcoming, encouraging (They put up with me), loving, broken, hurt, authentic, and forgiven. I hope everyone gets to experience a church family like mine.

So I'm gonna tell people that we had hundreds of millions show up for Easter last Sunday.

 

Grace and Peace, Joe

Coolest Thing I've Heard This Week

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One of the coolest things I've heard this week,

"Because your church provided dinner for us, we were able to eat together and not be spread all over the place." - A teacher from one of the schools we served.

I love it when the church helps create community. Some how and some way it's part of us fulfilling the gospel and Jesus' command to love our neighbors.

And a BIG THANKS to Eastside Church for partnering with us.

Moving Update: Oregon or Bust...

Photo Credit: Arthur Rothstein, Library of Congress, USA  

What a whirled-wind the last five and a half weeks have been!

I'm sitting here in my office trying to gather my thoughts about the adventure we have been journeying on. Racing through my mind are so many people, places, and things we've experienced since we left Longmont, CO.

a few of the highlights from our travels to our new home and ministry...

  • We drove through a blizzard in Wyoming. There was about 4 feet of visibility and the winds were awful. Yep. I thought we were going to not make it at one point.
  • We decided to not stop overnight in Salt Lake City and drive through to California... We're too old do to that.
  • We had Christmas and New years with our family in Northern California (First time in thirteen years).
  • I got eyeglasses.
  • Elle celebrated her sixteenth birthday
  • We spent three fun and eventful weeks with family in Northern California (We went to the ocean a few times, hung-out with family, went to San Francisco and had a great time, saw a guy wreck his motorcycle and I tried to help stabilize him—he was hurt pretty bad, saw the aftermath of a guy trying to harm himself at a department store, and witnessed people across the street from where we were staying get into a domestic dispute... We also tried to secure a home in Prineville during this time, but found it difficult to do so...).
  • Drove through a blizzard in Oregon as we journeyed to our new home and ministry (There was one moment when cars and semi-trucks were sliding off the road when I though it wasn't going to end well for us. Thankfully for our time of driving in Missouri and Colorado, I was able to keep going without any mishaps).

new home & ministry...

We just finished our third week of living in Oregon. We have been so blessed by our new church family. What amazing, welcoming, and loving people!

We arrived in Oregon without having secured a home to live in, so a family from the church let us stay with them for a week. During that time we searched for a place to live and eventually found a place—thanks to some people from the church.

Since then, time has been going by so fast! We are feeling our way through as we go about repotting Ascent Christian Church. This is a great church with amazing people! I have preached at three of our gatherings so far as the pastor of Ascent.

My schedule is full of connecting with people and spending time in the community. I am learning all I can about our new city and praying about finding ways the Holy Spirit can use us to be the best church for our city.

Fina and the kids are doing well. Thomas and Elle started school this past week and seem to really enjoy it. Angelica has already made a friend and has gone horseback riding, has been to a young adult Bible study, and hung-out with some friends in Bend, OR... Fina is keeping busy by focusing on the kids their schedules and routines set and getting our home in order.

a couple of exciting things going on at Ascent Christian Church...

  • We are going to have our first baptism soon, once we find a place to have it (The issues of being a mobile church...).

ALSO

  • Ascent Christian Church is already involved in helping plant a new church in Sisters, OR and I am on the management team of this new work. As the new church plant in Sisters gets underway, I hope to share more about this in the future.

We are so thankful for every one of you! Your support both in prayers and financially are a huge encouragement to us! We couldn't do this without all of you and by the grace of our Father in heaven.

We are still in need of prayers and financial support, as we seek to bring the gospel to Central Oregon and the pacific northwest.20140119_105748

Ways to Partner With Us…

We’d love it if you partnered with us prayerfully and financially. If you want to know more about our new adventure—please read the full story here: We are moving to Oregon

We always need and appreciate your prayers! But we also have financial needs. Fina and I have to raise a portion of our salary. Our commitment to the church is to raise support for two years (That’s $1800 a month for two years—a total of $43,200).

You can help by…

Send financial contributions to:

Ascent Christian Church P O Box 2117 Prineville, OR 97754 Make checks payable to Ascent Christian Church… Please indicate on the check “Puentes Missions” so we can apply it to the correct account. (Your contribution is a tax deductible donation).

OR

Online giving is available: http://www.ascentcc.com/giving/ (Be sure to check the box - "I would like to designate this donation to a specific fund" AND select: “Help Pastor Joe Puentes & Family”).

Joe