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Homegrown Depot Blog

Jesus McGuffin
Sep 08, 2020
McGuffin [məˈɡəfin]
 
NOUN
  • an object or device in a movie or a book that serves merely as a trigger for the plot.
    "the McGuffin in this intriguing comedy is an unpublished novel by a young writer killed in the war”
 
I was reminded of an interesting conversation by Malcolm Gladwell in his fabulous podcast, "Revisionist History." The cast is about the value of art. The great writer of thrillers, perhaps the greatest of all time, Alfred Hitchcock, while explaining a McGuffin to Dick Cavet says, “Yes. A McGuffin you see in most films about spies. It is a thing the spies are after. In the days of Rudyard Kipling, it would be the plans of the fort on the Khyber Pass. It is always called the thing that the characters on the screen worry about but the audience don’t care.” 
 
That began the wheels turning. 
I wonder if Jesus, in most cases, has become the believers' McGuffin. Meaning, I am questioning whether we as believers have made Jesus to be the object of OUR meaning and search. We have become the main character of our own faith story and subsequently, have relegated Jesus to the role of a plot prop. Let me play this out for us a bit.
*We speak to someone about our faith in Jesus. They do not seem to be blown away by our faith, or have any connection to the relevance Christ may have in their life. 
*Friends are walking away from the church. It seems as if the promises of God are not only something they don’t want to believe, but they don’t want want them even if they are believable.
*Worship seems to be lacking depth for you these days. The words are promising enough. Jesus seems to be promising victory, no more fear and Happy Days if I repeat the positive Christian Mantra enough, but where do you find the root of all these grand statements?
*Life is not working out as advertised for you as a believer. Covid, depression, joblessness, loss of identity etc… Yep. Where is the easy road?
 
I want to respond to the problem with the answer from Christ’s lips.
John 6:26

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;

Do not miss this. Jesus is surrounded by a mass of people in search of something. He tells them that He is not their McGuffin. He is instead, the real thing that they seek. He is not simply a means to their perceived end. He is instead, “the whole fulfillment.”
The people who are following Jesus, are actually not. They are following their own desires, whims, entertainments, satisfactions and results. Are you ready for this? Jesus promised them none of these. He merely pointed out that whatever their heart truly cried for would be found in Jesus. In other words, this was not ever about their story. It was, and is, all His.
This is a most subtle shift. One vantage point of Jesus has Him as a main component in our story; one frought with difficulty and reward, good times and bad. It is a McGuffin story where Jesus is the means to our desired end, and we have sold Jesus to our world as a really good McGuffin. But, we don’t care about the McGuffin any more than we are emotionally attached to a recipe for a great egg casserole. We will discard the recipe as quickly as we discover another that takes less time, costs less, seems to taste as good or decide that we like pancakes better for breakfast.
We have reduced Christ, the irreducible incarnate Son of God, to an insignificant means to our end. In doing so, we sacrifice everything for our own picture of happiness. We play a sport at the expense of bowing at His altar. We don’t tell others of Him because we fear that it is an inconvenient message. Who wants to be the bearer of uncomfortable news?
This is our weekly work. To place Jesus Christ at the center of our worship… not as a way to attain what we worship. We place him at the center of what we teach, in fact, the subject. He is not a 5 step process to being a better me. He is what I am running toward, not merely the road I am running on to another destination. 
Each week we should aim to destroy Jesus McGuffin. He is not Lord. He is not worthy and he is not eternal. Jesus Christ is.

Homegrown Depot Blog

The Yoke and the Burden
Aug 24, 2020
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
 
As I write these words from Jesus I am beginning to wonder if they are true. As a minister and leader, chosen by God even for such a time as this, I am torn between the weight of the call and the promise of the light burden. I am reflecting on the words, “learn from me.”
 
My wife and I arrived back to our home in Michigan after 3 days of emotionally charged responsibility, including a 2000 mile round-road-trip. We breezed through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. We dropped our youngest daughter off at her school in the midst of the Covid uncertainty. Three days before, we had left Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a place that generally represents repose for us, in order to collect our thoughts, put in a three day office gather and pack. 
 
I had to make a last minute decision about a podcast recording trip through Chicago, Minneapolis ending in a time in rural Wisconsin. I couldn’t get peace. Eight states in six days during the turmoil of a confidence pandemic, if nothing else, will rob you of your ability to process. 
 
My middle daughter was married in June in an incredible drive-in wedding. I had pushed the emotion of this storied day, wrought with its inherent nostalgia, promise and loss into the closet of my already cluttered heart walls. Work resumed, picked up and in fact spun at new levels. A day camp, a week at a camp emerging from  the cobwebbed recesses of a questioning Fanghorn, then to our Northwestern branch location to observe their day camp was punctuated by meeting with supporters, board members and friends.
 
My wife Dawn and I moved in and out of empty-nesting like a neurotic eagle on an egg shaped rock. Something should be happening but it didn’t seem to be. I’m still kind of afraid to move,
 
We limped into a time of vacation that became consumed with other mandatory responsibilities news on the next immediate wave. We limped out.
“My yoke is easy. My burden is light.”
 
I sit in the tangle of tasks that enshroud my day. Doesn’t seem light to me. The busyness that we find ourselves swarmed under has come from the good intentions of fixing this mess for God. It was not mine to fix. It is light when Christ has it. In retroflection I question if the weight of Christ’s call was indeed, easy or light. The burden of the cross, nearly subjugated Jesus to depression, crying tears of blood for us.
 
No. I think that the weight spoken of in Matthew 11 must be of something other than ease and self sufficiency. It is a comparison to those of us still weathered to the judgement of God. 
 
LEARN FROM ME.
 
Ministers have been guilted into a covid-Savior role. We have to fix it all, figure it all, without grief, reflection or process. How in a day of consulate shifting sand do we as leaders, lead?
 
Learn from me.
 
My thoughts are a few, but I’ll share them  as they they are restoring my soul.
  1. Perhaps living in a spiritually generous society has softened 
  2. Being attentive to all of the contentious voices around me, giving ear to their opines may actually be sin. This is shifting sand.                                                                                                     I am carrying the call of God on my life. I should then, in prayerful submission to HIs leading, His quiet nudge in my spirit, move to the next place. I can ignore all the rest as noise.
  3. Consensus is an objective that always leaves both extremes wallowing in discontent. 
  4. The question is not, “if?” It is, “How?” We are called. We have a God who understands and speaks into into times like these. As I rest in the cleft of the rock, I am not moving until I hear His voice.
  5. I should learn from Jesus. He celebrated the process. He enjoyed the company. He relished God’s answers. He created the new vintage wine at the underprepared wedding. I rest, celebrate, grieve and breathe deeply of the life God has surrounded me with. 
  6. I reject the hurry and the urge to leap because someone is urging me to do so. I breathe deeply. I rest in prayer on this ledge. 
  7. In 30 years, the movements, viruses and elections will be history. The decisions we make, calm we demonstrate and the faith we show will be the legacy of those we lead.

Homegrown Depot Blog

The Woeful Bear
Apr 09, 2020
The Woeful Bear

There were three animals who came to the rescue of a bear. He had been going to the river to catch his dinner and had tripped on a root, breaking his leg, and throwing him into a painful roll where he incurred more injuries. As he lay there he lamented out loud, “Oh! and now I shall starve! From mighty to worthless!” 

A bird was hopping by and showed his broken wing to the bear. “Do not despair giant. I am unable to fly but I still hunt. Grubs are my meal for this time while my wing grows strong again. I know what it means to be hungry. 

The bear took a small amount of courage from the words of the bird with the broken wing and began crawling toward a log. He was able to overturn it and found many grubs and, for a time was sustained and strengthened. It was not long however before he grew despondent again. 

“Oh. I shall never taste the sweetness of salmon again. I am a shadow of myself, crawling and groveling from dead stump to dead stump. I was the king. Now I crawl like a crippled bird.”

A badger came up from her den and regarded the condition of the bear. After a time she said, “Cousin, I understand that for a time you forfeit the thing you love the most. I too, must go underground for months during the winters. I desire the meals I basked in during the high weeks of summer. For a time, I rely on my memories of the goodness. I know that winter is not the end. It is only a season.”

The bear took heart again from the thought that he was merely enduring a season. He would once again be reunited with the thing he loved most. He continued to gain strength each day, but soon he was in despair again. “Oh, that I were strong enough to climb a tree and harvest the honey from the bee’s hive. Life is not worth the struggle without honey.”

A squirrel was at the very moment passing the limb with the honey hive attached. “Bear! Have hope. You only have to ask, and I can be your claws and strength.” And with that statement the squirrel pushed the hive from its high place to the ground. The hive broke open at the feet of the bear spilling all of its rich sweet gold. The bear relished the honey. 

In time he developed a relationship with the birds, squirrels and badgers. He soon was basking in the cold waters of the river.

He had learned lessons that he never forgot. He learned to be sustained by grubs, because they were the gift of the bird. He rested in caves waiting for spring, but appreciated even those hungry days in reminiscent anticipation. This was the gift of the badger. He learned that sweetness was a gift from the squirrel who became his claws and strength at each hive. Although these friends had been strangers to him, his crisis brought him into a new relationship with each, who understood his plight in different way.

God understands our plight.

 
1 Chronicles 28:9 says exactly this.
"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 
 
Christ understands our suffering. The Father understands our loss. The Spirit understands our hearts. Three parts of the Godhead each with a slightly different perspective on these days. We pray to a God who understands.

Homegrown Depot Blog

Drywall Buckets
Jul 12, 2019
His name was Lance. He was one of two students that showed up at the first prayer breakfast for Crossroads Farm. It wasn’t much of a breakfast.
 
I had forgotten that the house we were meeting in was under renovation. It was the farm house on the property where Crossroads Farm South-Central now operates. I had to arrive at 5:30, and using my flashlight, worked my way to the generators sitting outside, I fired one up and began to string the extension cords together in a winding snake-route through the downstairs and up the steps to the second story. I plugged the construction lamp into the cord and there was light. A power strip allowed us to power a toaster. I arranged the drywall buckets in a semi-circle around the toaster which I had perched on a ladder rung. Toaster Strudels and orange juice comprised the first monthly prayer event.
 
Lance and Noelle, praying for God to show this start-up ministry, favor.
 
That was 20 years ago. 
 
Tonight I sat on the stoop of our home, the same place where that first prayer breakfast took places. I was getting ready to take a walk with my wife and a red SUV pulled into the driveway, stopped and a family piled out. It was Lance, Christie and his boys. They were standing in the home of those prayers over 20 years ago. A death in the family had brought Lance back to us. We walked through the Shed, a million dollar dream and prayer 20 years before. Lance and Christie beamed. Dawn and I did as well. 
 
We talked about that prayer breakfast so many years ago. We introduced Lance to the new space, the Milking Parlor, The Gamer’s Mow, The Barnyard, and he smiled. We explained that since the first prayer breakfast over 6000 students had heard the gospel here. A few times I caught all of the adults wiping tears away.  We prayed for each other and then they were back in the family ride and gone. It wasn’t much of a breakfast, but it was an incredible prayer.
 
Today I took two messages from leaders across the country. I gave the tour to a couple that is interested in considering a ministry launch in another region. We get to do this about twice a month. Inevitably, everyone wants to know what the secret is to launching a rural ministry. I think I have my answer.
 
You need to find a few drywall buckets. Fill them with students who are willing to ask God for something impossible. Stay at the plow until you can show them the answer to their prayer. Let them know that they began a legacy. 
 
Yep. We need more buckets.

Homegrown Depot Blog

Why Rural?
Mar 20, 2018

Why Rural?

I read an article a little while ago.

Well, actually I have read a few more than the one. This particular article was written to express that rural ministry is worth it. I wondered what the “it” was. Time? Money? Manpower? Prayers? The premise of the article I’m sure was to bring to light a need in a community that most have forgotten about. It reminded me of a conversation I had a few months prior. A Christian leader talked about how the concept of rural ministry was likely to become a new trend. I had to digest that for a little while.

In the end, I was a bit offended by both the article and the statement.

For the fifty-eight to sixty-two million people (equivalent to the number of residents living in Great Britain) living in rural communities, we already knew that we were worth ministry. Frankly, we are not sure that we want to become a ministry trend. Those seem to last for a handful of years. You see, when we determined that God had placed a call on our lives, it was only a matter of where he would send us. Somehow, in our cultural evaluation of whether a ministry is valuable, we have forgotten that God does not evaluate the worth of ministry based on population or location.

Jesus went out of his way to a well in order to encounter one woman of eternal worth. God transposed Phillip from what amounted to a revival in Jerusalem in order to win one Ethiopian official on a road through a desert. For our God, ministry to the one lost sheep has always been something he does.

This phase of our ministry development has been exciting. It has allowed us to meet and share love stories with leaders, pastors, and students from rural communities. Whether it is a fifty year old with memories of the days when men went to work in the mines, thirty-two year olds who recall the day that the crop was bumper, the eighty-three year old that remembers when the football team went to state, or the sixteen year old that can’t wait for the county fair in the fall, these are stories of love. The smell of the combine dust, the vision of the sunset over the herd of whitetail, the sounds of the stands filled with cheering classmates are tales that resonate more deeply than a sonnet.

There is plenty of nostalgia here. Maybe there is more than in most suburban places. After all, families have names on road signs and class pictures filling school hallways. These rural places are home. They are valuable. They are filled with history and hope.

You see, whenever you take the time to hear the stories, some tragic and some wry, you see the value of the ministry. It happens when a shepherd falls more in love with Jesus. The shepherd begins to chase the sheep into the hills, women of ill-repute to out-of-the-way wells, and Ethiopians to the edge of deserts. It is always worth whatever cost the love demands.

I can’t wait to hear the end of the story.

Philippians 1:3-6

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

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