I Can’t Do It (by myself)!

This morning God reminded me of my need for Him as well as my need for the people around me.

My son, Joseph, was finishing his morning list by making his bed. He tried for a minute, and then he came to me and said, “I can’t do it.”

Nope. Not true. False. Completely wrong. (I didn’t say that, of course.)

The better statement would be, “I can’t do it by myself.” This statement invites others to be a part of our world. This statement gives us a chance to proclaim that someone else can do this better than we can, and we can learn from them.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

What we have…whether that’s things, knowledge, wealth, health…for the purpose of sharing them with others in need. Life is so much more rich when we share faith and life with each other.

Be thankful and remember that we need each other.

Team Tanner

checkers-4d497f146269cWhat do you get when you mix together five kids, a checkers game, and a Bible? Give up?

An incredible opportunity for our family to discover together how God would have us live at peace with one another.

This past Sunday morning, during our family worship gathering, my wife, Lorrie, grabbed what was available to her, a checkers game, and proceeded to hand out the black and red pieces to each of us. (Once I realized what was going on, I knew that this was going to be good!) She then asked who was on the red team! We raised our pieces high. Then she asked for a show of hands for those on the black team. Now that we knew who was on what team, we were ready.

Lorrie then led us all in a very thought provoking discussion about what it means for us to be on different teams competing for the status of WINNER! We then talked about how it makes sense for us as a family to think of ourselves as being on one team, rather than on opposing teams. The kids began to understand that if they spent as much energy on encouraging one another as they did fighting each other that there would be more peace in our home.

Once we all seemed to be on the same page, we were all willing to admit that we struggle to live at peace with each other. We allow little things to develop into bigger issues that eventually erupt into an all out war.

For some reason we think that if we just try harder, we can beat this. We couldn’t be more wrong.

God makes it very clear in the Bible that without him we have no hope in living a victorious life. If the Tanners want to be people of peace, we need to surrender to the Holy Spirit, see each other as being on the same team, and always remember that we’re not to fight against each other, but rather we’re to join forces and fight against our common enemy.

We read in Ephesians 6:10-13 (NLT):

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

After we read this passage of Scripture we took some time to unpack it a bit so that we all understood what God was telling us to do.

First, we learned that only God’s strength was going to help us change. On our own we are not strong enough to make the necessary changes to our thinking, our attitudes, and our actions.

Secondly, we learned that we’re on the same team and that fighting against each other doesn’t accomplish anything good. We can’t allow Satan to dupe us into thinking that it’s okay for us to fight against each other. That will only distract us and keep us from accomplishing all that God has for us to do as a family. Our full attention needs to be on standing firm as one team against our common enemy.

Thirdly, we learned that everyday we need to put on God’s Armor to help us stand firm against our common enemy, Satan. From head to toe we need to be covered with God’s strength and power. As we hold up the shield of faith and use the Sword of the Spirit (the Bible), we will find ourselves walking in victory and living at peace with one another.

As we prayed and closed up our family worship time, we put our hands into the middle, counted to three, and yelled…TEAM TANNER!

How have you been able to encourage your family to stand as a team against your common enemy?

Transform Everything

Jubilee 2013As I sat with my wife, Lorrie, anticipating the beginning of Jubilee 2013, I couldn’t help but be a bit surprised that we were there. We hadn’t planned on it, that’s for sure. It was indeed a God-thing, and I was glad to be surprised by His goodness and blessing.

We had been invited about a month earlier by a Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) worker, Billy Ferrell, when we first met over lunch to talk about what God was doing among college students in York, PA.

Once I knew that I would able to attend, I began to realize all of the opportunities that I would be afforded. I would be able to connect with several friends from the Pittsburgh area that I haven’t seen in a very long time. I would connect with a few fellow Geneva College grads as well. In addition, I was looking forward to hearing from several of the speakers and learning more about how our church, LifeStation, could partner with the CCO to help transform college students to transform the world.

On top of encountering God through relationships as described above and during times of worship and learning, my wife and I had the privilege of meeting a new family who was in very similar shoes as we were as we partner with a friend and his family to plant a church. This new friendship was a real gift from God. Karl & Bethany are a great example of what it means to live on mission for the glory of God and allow God to transform everything. They own Alabaster Coffee in Williamsport, PA and are committed to being a part of how God transforms that city.

Your Love Never Fails, But Mine…

I found myself struggling to love my kids today. Not sure why, just selfish, I guess. I took a break, picked up the guitar and started to worship God by singing the Jesus Culture song One Thing Remains. As I did, God reminded me very quickly how His love for me was a never ending love. Right then and there I found myself making a commitment in my heart to trust God’s power through the Holy Spirit to be a more loving husband and Dad.

I’m reminded in God’s Word that I am to Praise the Lord because he is good to us, and his love never fails. (1 Chronicles 16:34 CEVDCUS06)

Spirit of God, help me to be a person of praise because You are always good and Your love goes on and on and on.

FOOTBALL, FRIENDS, AND FRANCE

Visit us at www.lifestationyork.comAt LifeStation we’re asking God to help us establish rhythms of life that will allow us to have Kingdom impact in the lives of those who are not yet following Jesus. Therefore, the weekend of February 3rd was set aside as an intentional weekend where we were focused on creating a variety of “hangouts” to connect with neighbors. 

To be honest, it was practically a no-brainer for us since that was the weekend of the Superbowl. So we asked God to show us what we should do and who we should invite. For my family, God made it possible to partner with Brian & Julie Hoffman. We live in the same neighborhood, and have a God-sized dream to see every family following Jesus. So, the Hoffmans hosted, we all invited neighbors to join us, and we allowed God to use football to bring us all together.

The gathering ended up being a incredible mix of people we already knew, those that we kind-of-knew, and those that would become new friends. I remember looking around the room and marveling at how God had brought us all together, and the opportunities that He gave us to be a part of each other’s lives.

One of my highlights from the evening was meeting the parents of one of our neighbors who, the day before, had arrived in York having completed 44 years of being missionaries in France. Their participation in what God was doing abroad inspired me and challenged me to continue pursuing the mission that God has for me and my family. I’m committed to trusting God to establish our family as missionaries in the Wellington Greens Community, right here in York.

Football, Friends, and France reinforced to me that people matter, communities can change, faith & life are meant to be shared, God’s mission is worth living, and that following Jesus changes everything!

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO BE MISSIONAL?

This past weekend I was challenged to consider God as a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) and the ramifications that this truth has in my life. As I quickly understood the relational side of the jealousy of God, it didn’t hit me until now that God’s jealousy to be in relationship with us will ultimately stir our hearts to be on mission with God. For me, this comes to life in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, where we are given the example of not only sharing the gospel of God with others, but our very lives as well.

In his book Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal describes missional as:

…a way of living, not an affiliation or activity. Its emergence springs from a belief that God is changing his conversation with the world and with the church. Being missional involves an active engagement with this new conversation to the point that it guides every aspect of the life of the missional believer. To think and to live missionally means seeing all life as a way to be engaged with the mission of God in the world.

The last sentence in the quote above has given me fresh hope and insight as I remain committed to being a new kind of missionary wherever I am stationed–where I live, work, and play. My entire family is in the process of learning how we can see all of life as a way to be engaged with the mission of God. More specifically, God has birthed in our hearts a desire to not only connect deeply with our neighbors, but also to start intentional communities in our development that are focused on relationships where we will eat meals together and talk about faith and life.

To get us started, we’re going to spend time getting to know our neighbors by just hanging out with them. Whether its an invitation to dinner, taking a walk together as families, or talking about our hobbies or kids while we’re unloading the groceries, we are choosing to be intentional about establishing new friendships.

One of the most helpful resources I’ve found to get my family started to think missionally has been something called Simpke Ways To Be Missional. Click on the link below to check it out. There are numerous ideas for you to put into action in your neighborhood or workplace.

Simple Ways To Be Missional

How have you and your family been engaged with the mission of God in the world?