Monthly Archives: May 2010

From man-to-man to zone defense

The Gentry family is growing again. Last week, the doctor confirmed that God has blessed us once again with a baby. #3 is due December 3rd (naturally) and we are excited that the boys will have a new sibling to beat up, er…I mean hang out with.

The last 2 years, Amber and I have been lucky enough to play man to man defense at home with the freedom to switch on defense to care for and cover each child as needed. Now we make the collective switch to zone, which really is only a switch for me since she’s been playing 2 on 1 at home every day.

As I size up my opponents in the zone, Eli is the quicker one, the one with specific preferences and is unafraid to attack it (& me) whenever he pleases, but can be stopped with persistent defense. His primary move is to point out his “needs” (read: wants) and has been developing a new move, the pretend-you’re-hurting-to-get-what-you-want move so he’s definitely preparing to be a World Cup soccer player.

Calvin is more calculated and zones in on what he wants and can rarely be stopped. He’s quieter so he makes his moves more subtly and could easily be lost in the zone if careful attention is not given to him. His latest move contrasts with his quiet nature in using the volume of his voice as a deafening weapon. So my opponents are very skilled and will need more than adequate zone play by me.

Baby #3 presents the unknown as it is unclear how the boys will adjust their offensive attack in light of a new addition to the offense. So I must be prepared for anything.

The transition from 2 to 3 will definitely be challenging for us, but we are truly excited to add another member to the fast-growing Gentry clan.

Amber’s still in the 1st trimester, which means she is quite exhausted and has the queasy I-must-eat-or-I-will-puke feeling.

Needless to say, it’s an exciting time at the Gentry house.

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Do I really love people?

I’ve been reading Galatians lately and a couple of verses that have jumped out to me are Galations 5:5-6, which reads:

For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

I bolded that last part because it’s what has been ringing in my head for a month. Is my faith working itself out through love? Does my faith and hope in Jesus Christ for righteousness result in me loving people? Throughout this chapter, this same theme keeps reoccurring that for a Christian, walking daily in faith produces a freedom to love people. Over the last month I’ve developed a few gauges that have helped me realize whether or not I actually love people.

The Elevator Gauge.

Is there a more awkward environment than an elevator with a mirror? That’s my daily routine. The gauge for me works like this. While I’m in the elevator, am I concerned about the other people in there enough to look up from my phone and say hello? How unloving am I when I don’t even choose to look up and acknowledge the people I share an elevator with for 30 seconds? Maybe you’re thinking it’s not a big deal, but for me it reveals a self-centeredness that places value on myself over others.

As I’ve tried to change this, I was shocked when I asked “How is your day going?” and my elevator mate responded “Really terribly actually.” We only talked briefly, but I thought, “How many people have been having miserable days and I’ve only been concerned about my email or what these people think of me?” It was terribly convicting.

The Cashier Clerk Gauge

This involves my heart and attitude at the checkout line in a grocery store or anywhere that I’m being served. If I’ve left the grocery store or restaurant or wherever, do I even remember the name of the person serving me or did I act like they owed me service without gratitude? I too often get caught up in my own schedule and needs that I treat people as robots instead of as potential friends. For me, this gauge shows me if I’m walking in faith in Jesus or walking in belief that I’m better than others. In truth, I hate this gauge, but man I need it as a good continual reminder that Christ loved and loves me whether I give Him great service or terrible service.

The Celebration Gauge

This gauge evaluates whether I really am excited for the successes of others or if envy and jealousy reigns underneath. When I see my friends or co-workers rewarded, do I celebrate with them or secretly wish it was me or worse, complain that they don’t deserve it. If I’m really walking daily in my faith in Jesus Christ, I find myself caring more for the success of others than myself. I desire for them to achieve their dreams and be able to toast their success. If I can’t celebrate with them, it shows me I don’t really love them.

The Grieving Gauge

This gauge tends to deal with how deeply you or I love someone. Most of us will be sad when bad things happen to people, but will we sacrifice things in our lives to grieve alongside them? In the gospel, we see Jesus Christ who suffers so that He can comfort those who suffer. If I believe that Christ suffered for me and that I am to follow His example, the results should be the freedom to cry and mourn with those who hurt, to try and put myself in their shoes as best I can and whether I can or not, to be sad simply because I care about them so much. Grieving with someone is a different level of love and caring for them. As Christians, we should be the first to grieve with any and all who hurt.

What about you?

These are just instances lately that have served as gauges for my love for people in general. The verse in Galatians has really forced me to consider whether my faith is manifesting itself through love or if I have sunk into a cognitive understanding of belief that doesn’t produce the actions of Jesus Christ.

I’m glad the elevator gauge and cashier clerk gauge happen so often because they serve so well as clear reminders of my need to depend of Christ through prayer and reading the bible so that I think and act differently, so that I truly let my faith work itself out in love.

Do you have similar gauges or situations that show you whether you are loving people? Occurrences that force you to evaluate your faith?

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Filed under Church Life, Lessons in Evangelism, Life

Moving on from College Ministry

Last night was my last college ministry meeting at the Stone. College Ministry started for Amber and I by leading a community group bible study in our small Hyde Park house we rented after getting married. The summer of ’05, I met with Michael Powell to convince him I wasn’t a heretic and to let Amber and I lead a group. It started with 9 people that first night and ended 2 years later with some of the greatest memories and friends we’ve ever had.

A year after we started our group, Kevin Peck asked Todd Engstrom, Travis Wussow, & I to organize and lead the college ministry. I can never thank Kevin enough for investing in me and providing me with this opportunity to lead with my friends. It’s been an amazing experience.

We’ve known for a while that this was likely our last year in college ministry and it makes it easier knowing that the college ministry is going to better than before with Tyler David, Sarah Decker, Eric Klein, Tammie Beassie and a whole host of interns, coaches, and missional community leaders running it next year.

Last night I shared what I’ve learned over 5 years or at least tried to summarize it in 4 nice bullet points.

You never move on from the gospel, you only move deeper into it. As Christians, we believe what saves us is faith in Jesus Christ’s death for our sins and resurrection from the grave 3 days later. For much of church life, I thought there were deeper and more interesting things than that, but how do you move on from the new like that? It’s truly tremendous to think of God becoming man, living perfectly, dying in my place, and accomplishing victory though resurrection that I never could. All through the letters in the Bible, Paul and other writers are constantly reminding people that what saves them (the gospel) is also what will transform them and instruct them in life. It’s never something you move past, it’s only something you grow in understanding of.

Ministry success or failure does not define me. The past 5 years have involved failures, some success, and more failures. It resulted in some ups and downs in my life and the unfortunately reality at times is that I came to view myself in light of those successes or failures. What I’ve learned is my identity is not based on my success or failure, but based on the gospel, being saved by Christ’s work and being seen as a child of God. As a parent, I know I love my sons not because they do great things for me, but because they are my sons. For Christians, God views us as His children and He is constantly delighted in us thanks to Jesus. Do I disappoint Him at times? Surely, but He never stops loving me. I’m His son.

Ministry isn’t as complicated as we try to make it. You’ve probably seen churches everywhere use trendy and relevant gimmicks or programs to get people to listen to their message. I feel like it’s overcomplicating a simple reality. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 8, Paul writes to Christians that “having so fond an affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” Over the last 5 years, Amber & I have seen people influenced and changed by this truth, that when we offered them our lives, carrying about them through prayer and teaching the bible, having them in our home, God used it to transform people.

Ministry comes down to evangelism (proclaiming the gospel in word and deed) and discipleship (sharing your life and doctrine with people by walking through life with them).  Breaking it down further, I’d say it simplifies to prayer, understanding the bible, gospel-centered community, and being on mission together.

Lastly, I shared that there is no greater joy than doing ministry with friends. At our church we talk about missional community which is a groups of Christians actively proclaiming the gospel through evangelism and serving their community. I’ve had the opportunity to live that out with people who care about me and my family more than my contributions to ministry. They’ve reminded me of the gospel by caring about us and reminding us of and teaching us the truth of the bible.

So thank you to everyone we had the opportunity to serve with in college ministry. The list of names is too long to type here.

What’s Next?

A lot of people have been asking what we are going to do next as far as ministry. The truth is we don’t really know. We have been praying that God would show us what to do next and we will continue to do so. We do know we have a great neighborhood and great neighbors that we want to spend more time with and share our lives with as well. So we will definitely start there.

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Filed under Church Life, college ministry, Lessons in Evangelism, Life