RESET 2020

One of my kids sent me a text the other day that said that 2020 was like looking both ways before crossing the street and then getting hit by an airplane.  I laughed of course but couldn’t help analyzing the hidden truth from a pastoral perspective.  I’m always on the lookout for a good blog that might help my church family better process what they are experiencing in this world.  Here’s what I think. 
Everybody needs a RESET from time to time, especially after a crisis.  The brain and the body need to refocus on “life as it was meant to be” not as it has been during the last 4 months and continues to be, i.e. intimidating, confusing, violent, divided, etc. We all know how to “reset” our computers, modems, or electronic devices.  You know what I’m talking about.  You call your internet provider and wait for an hour to talk to a technician, after which they walk you through several stages of troubleshooting, only to tell you in the end to “reset” your device.  And BOOM, it works just fine again.  All it needed was a reset. 
Your head and your heart are like that electronic device.  They need a reset on a regular basis. You really do need a vacation on a regular basis, if only to reset your soul.  I think that’s what a good night’s rest is supposed to do.  It’s a reset for your body and soul.  The soul is not meant to sustain high levels of stress and anxiety without regular intervals of resting, refreshing, and resetting.  We are meant to live in CALM with our “fight or flight” mode only activating infrequently as a matter of self-preservation.  Continual assault on the mind with heightened emotion is a sure path to a stressed-out soul.  I don’t need to tell you the outcomes of maintaining high levels of stress on both the body and the mind. 
We’ve been in a hypervigilant mode for 15 weeks now and we need to reset our minds on the matters of faith that give purpose and peace to our daily lives.  Staring at a screen for too long will catch your brain in a feedback loop.  Even the most noble cause can become an obsession if you don’t stop and refocus your mind on the “things that are above” (Colossians 3:1).  
I’m not sure I’ve told you yet but RESET 2020 is my new summer sermon series.  Here are some of the topics I hope to study with you on Sunday mornings, either in person at the church or online in your home. 
  1. Advancing the Gates of Hell
  2. Facing Your Fears
  3. The Last Days  
  4. Clarity in Confusion
  5. Unity in Community
  6. The Second Coming
  7. Justice for All  
  8. Love Your Neighbor
  9. Faith and Politics
  10. The Pathology of Wealth and Materialism


The one message that I hope I don’t get to preach is number 6!  And I’m not kidding.  “Even so come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).  Be ready church family.  He is coming soon. 


Shalom everyone,

Pastor Deric

The REAL Church

I love the church! That’s not a boast, it’s a fact.  BUT the catch is, I love the “real” church, not the “imaginary” one. 

The imaginary church is the one in my dreams where everybody gets along.  It’s the one where everybody loves me, and I love them!  It’s the church where everybody looks like they walked out of the same closet, read all the same books, love the same songs, and have all same favorite teachers.  The imaginary church is the one where I feel connected because I see myself reflected in the people with whom I worship. The imaginary church is the one that makes me feel “safe”. 

Now let me tell you about the real church where you actually belong.

The real church is messy, complicated and very often deeply frustrating.

The real church doesn’t offer all your favorite programs (unless of course you actually want to lead them).  

The real church doesn’t always make you feel “safe”.  Is it possible that God actually wants to take you out of your comfort zone?  (imagine that!)

It’s demanding.  You are more than just a seat warmer, you are there to make an actual difference. 

It’s different.  People aren’t supposed to look alike, talk alike, think alike. 

It’s challenging because it’s filled with saints who act more like sinners.

It’s full of complicated, interconnected, and weighty relationships.

It requires hard work to move the mission forward.  Serving in the real church can sometimes feel enormously futile in accomplishing the mission of Jesus (i.e. “make disciples of all nations”) because, more often than not, it’s three steps forward, two steps backward.  

But it is the church about which Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  The real church has the power to overthrow the gates of hell. Do you know the story behind that famous quote?  Jesus took His disciples from their home base in the Galilee to Caesarea Philippi where there was a pagan shrine to every imaginable god in the ancient world.  Some actually called that spot, “the gates of hell”.  In effect Jesus wasn’t waiting for the devil to come after Him, He went after the strongholds of evil to “set the captives free”. That’s the real church.  Going where way too many saints are afraid to go. 

One of my mentors use to say to me,  “Bartlett, where would you rather be?  In a “safe” church populated by smiling saints who don’t’ really want to change.  Or in the one where people need real help with their messy lives?”  He was right.  I’m happier to be in a church made up of real people who are seeking after God in spite of their personal failures, who are trying to build community in a disconnected, busy world and that has the courage to follow Jesus to the very “gates of hell.” 

And oh, by the way, I’m OVER THE MOON to be part of a church community that has stayed connected and committed during a time of great crisis in the world. 

Shalom for another week church family.
Pastor Deric