Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fight On!

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.   1 Timothy 6:11-12

Before I begin this week’s Gmail, two important matters:

  1. Carl Johanson, founder of PCC, passed away on Tuesday.  Carl was a visionary and prayed daily for PCC well into his mid 90’s. Most of you don’t know him, but all of us who call PCC home are experiencing the ripple effect of his life.
  2. We prayed for 300 backpacks and God raised up 700!  Over 7% of Redwood City elementary school kids will start school with a backpack and supplies because of the generosity of the body of Christ and the leadership of Angie Ibarra!  Way to go!


As summer winds down and we look ahead towards fall, can I ask you a question?  Are you ready to pick a fight? 

Around PCC, we have two major seasons, the summer and then the rest of the year!  We are currently finishing the architecture of the season that will run from Labor Day to Memorial Day. Prayers are going up, metrics are being laid down, and dreams are arising. Our desire for PCC is not where we are headed, but who we are becoming!  What type of person do we intend on being come Memorial Day 2015?  What character growth do we want to see?  How does each of us want to grow in our Christ-likeness? How central do we want Jesus to be in our life and in the relationships that matter most to us?

The delta between PCC today and PCC on Memorial Day boils down to this question: What are we willing to fight for?  What good fights are we willing to engage in?

In his letter to his key protégé Timothy, Paul admonishes him to completely shun passivity and choose his battles wisely.  Consider with me the simple progression of 1 Timothy 6:11-12.

Flee: The journey starts with running from or continually fleeing from things toxic to our spiritual growth.  The original Greek verb Paul uses is the word we get fugitive from.  Some things in our lives are not to be fought; they are to be run away from.

Pursue: As fugitives we don’t just run from something, we run towards God. Specifically, we are running towards the spiritual values of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. This is captured in the command pursue, which has the sense of continually be pursuing.  So we know that the Christian life entails continually fleeing and continually following.

Fight: Then we are called to fight the good fight. Implied is that there are some fights that aren’t good for us.  Christians are notorious for fighting battles that simply just aren’t worth it! When we squabble over preferences, when we focus on and fight about specks in others’ eyes, neglecting the care of the log in our own, when we play “morality police” for a world that doesn’t hold to the similar Authority of Scripture that we do…friends, these just aren’t worthwhile fights!  Good fights entail fighting for our character, fighting for the glory of God in our relationships (whether friendships, marriage or family relationships), and fighting for Kingdom justice, the Great Commission, the fame of Jesus and the eternal destiny of God’s creation. In short, a good fight is the fight for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. As a matter of fact, those character traits don’t come without a fight!

As we prepare for a new ministry season, I don’t want any of us to be delusional regarding spiritual growth.  None of us will wake up on Memorial Day 2015 and  “magically” be Christ-like. I know of no eternally rewarding pursuit that comes without a fight and without the wisdom to discern what fights are the good fights worth fighting.

PCC, I often describe us to others as the scrappers! Now before you take offense, let me explain. We are a church of fighters.  Sixty-two years ago, we were birthed from the fight in a disciple of Jesus disguised as an insurance salesman and his wife, who were entrusted with a vision for what is now the Peninsula Covenant Church. Every building we have on our almost 15 acres was fought for. Daily around the world, a team of PCC missionaries are fighting for the eternities of people. Here on the Peninsula, as I pray over the weekly prayer cards, I see people fighting against disease, against complacency, against discouragement and depression, and through grief.  I see people fighting for marriages, character, and the renown of Jesus in their lineage, workplace and neighborhoods.

I am anything but a USC Trojan fan--I abhor anything USC as a matter of fact, but to borrow from them I say to you today, whatever fight you are in, (and unless you are dead, you are in a fight!) FIGHT ON!  It’s worth it!

This weekend, we are going to discuss this a bit more as we look in our Heroes series at David and Goliath.  I have to tell you that I was completely upended in my preparation for this and look forward to walking through this account with you and having us all discovering critical fresh aspects that are relevant to our fight!  Want to read ahead? Sit down and read 1 Samuel 17!

I love being your pastor!