The Power of an Orange Chair

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THIS FREE DOWNLOADABLE BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE SELFLESS, PASSIONATE, GENEROUS SERVANTS OF GREEN VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH  http://www.live58.org/7mandates

I am a hungry student of Grace.

When I began to explore grace, it changed my world. It made me less religious and more graceful (except on the dance floor).

Grace made me less critical of others and more committed to growing my heart. Grace made me less fearful.

I became less exclusive and much more inclusive after realizing grace is for everyone.

I discovered freedom.

Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth.” But I think Jack was wrong. I think we can handle it. It can be scary—counter-intuitive—but it will set you free!

For those of you who have been hurt, shamed, abused and manipulated in the name of God, I am so sorry!

My heart breaks daily as I live in this paradox of being a pastor, yet see the hypocrisy in our religious world and even in my own heart.

But don’t run away from grace. Don’t run away from the truth that can set you free.

My life changed forever in college when I discovered grace.

The rest of the world operates on Karma. You get what you deserve.

But Jesus came and offered us this amazing, wonderful gift called grace, where we get something better than what we deserve.

Since grace happened to me, I don’t judge other’s beliefs or religions; I just hope they someday discover grace, because Jesus cut through all religious ceremonies and traditions to get to the heart of the matter. We need grace.

He did the only thing that could be done to get grace. It was the crucifixion.

This book aims to bring credibility back to the church and to obey Jesus’ call to share grace in tangible ways to our world.

Credibility comes from obeying Jesus’ teaching to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the rejected, touch the untouchable, fight for the abused, and take care of the widow and orphan.

When the church begins to share God’s grace in those tangible ways, credibility will come back to the church.

This is my life mission and my life goal.

It’s all Grace,

Ken Burkey
Senior Pastor–Green Valley Community Church
burkeyk@gvcconline.net
http://www.kenburkey.com
twitter @kenburkey

THIS FREE DOWNLOADABLE BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE SELFLESS, PASSIONATE, GENEROUS SERVANTS OF GREEN VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH   http://www.live58.org/7mandates

What Will Be Said?

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WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

A generation blinded by wealth where poverty cannot be seen.

A generation who talks about feeding the hungry while paying for Weight Watchers because they can’t stop eating.

A generation that believes in sheltering the homeless, as long as they’re not near their over bloated homes.

A generation that worries about their growing status and expanding pleasures while children are worried about empty bellies and fragile futures.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

A generation that is more globally aware than any other generation yet is obsessed with celebrity reality shows and stock market results.

A generation that is technologically brilliant yet socially stunted.

A generation that knows things ARE getting better but is afraid to finish the job.

A generation that is torn between self-indulgence and self-righteousness.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

There is enough food for everyone.

Churches have more roofs than there are homeless.

Most diseases that kill are preventable.

The lack of education is fixable.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We prayed for the poor while building bigger barns.

We preached for justice while closing our eyes.

We fought sex trafficking while watching pornography.

We judged the homosexual while worshipping our idols.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We ignored building God’s kingdom while building our own.

We gossiped of our brothers and sisters while singing songs to our Creator.

We multi-tasked and networked while sitting alone.

We opened our mouths to poverty while closing our wallets to solution.

BUT WHAT COULD BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We tithed, creating a mass of wealth that stunned the world and ended extreme poverty.

We adopted the orphan, ending the foster system as we know it.

We supported organizations like International Justice Mission, declaring that the end of slavery would happen on our watch.

We sponsored children around the world ensuring them an education, antiviral HIV drugs and an introduction to faith.

WHAT SHOULD BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We decided that the gates of hell would not prevail and good would win over evil.

We decided that the most important part of a church service is what happens once we leave the parking lot.

We decided that it doesn’t profit to gain the whole world but lose our soul.

We decided that God is close to broken hearts and crushed spirits.

WHAT DO I HOPE WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We shunned consumerism and found joy in minimalism.

We ignored the American dream and pursued God’s pleasure.

We simplified our lives so that others could simply live.

We preached always and occasionally spoke words.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”
―Bono

The Day After

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It’s the day after Easter and I wonder what is going to happen?

This weekend thousands of churches put on their best show, with worship leaders showcasing their finest music and pastor’s doing their best to wax eloquently.

Lots of time, energy and resources were put into these services to make them the best they could be.

Many of the services came off in a spectacular way, but sadly, these kinds of services do not happen the rest of year.

This weekend hundreds of millions of people around the world went to church in light of the tradition of Easter.

Most people who would consider themselves Christians or believers of God made it a point to find a church and take time to hear and be reminded about the ramifications of the resurrection.

Many people, I am sure, enjoyed the music and were moved by the message, but sadly, they will probably not return next week, or the week after that, or the week after that.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if the churches that took so much time and energy to present the Easter message in a spectacular way are working just as hard on this next weeks music and message.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if church leaders know that their will be broken, hurting people showing up to their church this week who didn’t make it to church last week who need excellent moving music and a passionate, deeply thought out message.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if church leaders realize that their will be some people returning this week after being moved and encouraged by last’s weeks Easter service.

I wonder what they will experience?

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if the people who attended and were motivated by the Easter service will take the time to come back and learn more about God’s grace.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if that motivation will lead to different behavior?

Will they choose Grace over the prison of legalism?

Will they choose to forgive rather than remain in the dark room of bitterness?

Will they choose to serve others and turn away from the emptiness and dissatisfaction of consumerism?

Will they choose to work on their vices or will they fall back into destructive patterns that tear away at relationships?

Will they choose to be less fearful or will they play it safe, running as quickly as they can back to their comfort zone?

Will they choose to allow their heart to be broken for the poor or will they guard their heart, staying distracted by the busyness of their culture.

Will they choose to save an extra $1 or so a day and sponsor a child thus introducing them to their savior Jesus, removing them from extreme poverty, saving them from fatal diseases and protecting them from the horrors of child slavery or will they buy things they don’t really need to impressive people they don’t really like?

Will they choose to make a new habit of coming weekly to church to learn new things, to make new friends and to grow new strength that can only happen by worshipping together?

It’s the day after Easter and people must decide do they really believe that God so loved the world that he sent Jesus do die for their sins and whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

The word “believe” that Jesus used is the Greek word “pisteuo” which means, “to trust in, to cling to, to rely on, to commit to.”

Over 80% of Americans believe intellectually about what Jesus did and said.

But Jesus says, to believe means to trust him with your life, and to rely on his Grace and to commit to his ways.

It’s the day after Easter and people must decide if they really believe(pisteuo).

It’s the day after Easter and these are my questions.

It’s the day after Easter and this is where the real work begins.

These People

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An abandoned daughter discovers her Heavenly Father.
An angry ex-con encounters authentic friendships.
A controlling mother learns to let go and let God.
A one year clean woman mentors a struggling drug addict.
A relationship destroying alcoholic gains new tools and makes amends.
A recovering sex addict finds new purpose and is set free.
A guilt-ridden religious woman experiences grace.

Who are these people?

These are the people Brennan Manning celebrated when he wrote, “There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.”

These are the people Jesus had in mind when He said, “I have come to heal the broken-hearted.”

These are the people Jesus said are the greatest because of their humility and commitment to one another.

These are the people Jesus would call the Church.

Yet…

These are the people most churches reject, ignore and outsource to other agencies.

These are the people most churches marginalize, judge, undervalue and under serve.

These are the people most churches hope go somewhere else.

Yet…

These are the people who are bringing huge blessings to my church.

These are the people who are showing us that God is still in the miracle business.

These are the people who are showing us how to be transparent and brave.

These are the people who are showing us the importance of accountability and genuine friendship.

These are the people who are showing us that we are all in recovery from something.

These are the people who are showing us that the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

These are the people who are showing us that everything is Grace.

These are the people that God is with, and if we are with them, then we are with God.

Yet…

Why are so many fleeing the church?

Because the church has rejected “these people.”

These are the very people Jesus said he would judge us by how we treated them.

These are the very people Jesus said that when we serve and love them, we will be blessed.

These are the very people Jesus said that when we serve and love them, we serve and love him.

We too often want the world to change when in reality, the church must change.

Until the church becomes transparent, inclusive, safe, brave, courageous, messy, grace-filled, humble and willing to sacrifice, serve, strategize, prioritize and make a high commitment to serve and be led by “these people”, then it will continue to shrink and be benign.

We too often want the world to repent, when in reality, the church must repent.

If the church is not serving and welcoming and allowing “these people” to lead, then it is really not the church, but more a building, more an exclusive club.

At my church, “these people” call themselves Celebrate Recovery, and they are leading the way towards blessings, miracles, redemption and an intimacy with God that is rarely seen.

Thank you for your example in humility.
Thank you for your leadership in transparency.
Thank you for your commitment to grace.
Thank you for re-introducing us to the presence of God.

May there be a revolution of “these people.”

“It is impossible to meet God without abandon, without exposing yourself, being raw.” Bono

6 Questions That I Would LOVE to hear your answers!

1. When it comes to fixing something that is broken in our world, what are you most passionate about?

2. Who have been the most influential people in your life and why?

3. When it comes to having hope, (10 being a lot of hope and 1 being no hope), how would you rate the future and why?

4. With over 300,000 churches in America (with 4000 closing their doors every year), what impact do you think the church is having in our culture when it comes to Jesus’ mission statement in Luke 4:18-19?
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
    Because He has anointed Me
    To preach the gospel to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
   To proclaim liberty to the captives
   And recovery of sight to the blind,
   To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
   To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

5. What specific things could the American church do better to represent Luke 4:18-19?

6. With all the problems in America, does the American church have an obligation to address global poverty? If yes, why? If no, why?

I can’t wait to hear what you think!

A poem and challenge to the local church

Distractions everywhere, doubters abound
Change the world? That reasoning is not sound
My face slaps reality, visions take back seat
My watch ticks fast, challenging great feats

I’m told be practical, I’m told to chill
I’m talked off my soapbox, told to stand still
Busy with mundane, busy with tasks
Children are dieing, our backs to the facts

Conversing about the day, waiting for weekend
2 days to do nothing, yet many die before weeks end
It seems strange to talk about my shallow fun
While food’s missing in ground scorched by sun

Religion in the big lights, inaugurating the next star
How do we entertain them, we have to raise the bar
While churches woo the converted, the all-ready convinced
There is a world giving up, believing God is “past tense”

We will win with arguments, we will win with laws
We will win with theology, we will win pointing flaws
Debating with bumper stickers, politicians bold and cunning
The TV preacher says we’ll get rich if we give him money

We proclaim salvation, we say we believe
Then why do we pick sides, asking others to leave
Good overcomes evil, love wins over creeds
Our hearts need transforming, touching those who bleed

Grace is messy, we all need the same
Cathedrals too clean, finding others to blame
It’s time to get dirty, it’s time for heart break
No more empty words, and a faith that’s fake

Time to serve the poor, it’s God’s investment plan
Time to open our doors to the homeless man
Time to live with less, so that children are blessed
Time to give our all, so that the world will know the rest