Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Joe Racek on The Good News

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. Joe’s local newspaper is the Culver City News. Here is Joe Racek on the Good News.

THE GOOD NEWS

Just yesterday my house started shaking violently. My kids ran from their rooms and we all gathered in our living room while the house continued to shake. Although I’m used to earthquakes now, I wonder how long it will last and more importantly, will it get worse? Maybe I should have gotten that earthquake insurance.

Living and working in Culver City, it seems that most of us have stability and everything we need. Who can beat the West Los Angeles weather? The formidable Sony Studios resides here – we can always rely on entertainment. We enjoy the benefits of being in LA, yet remain our own city with its school system, fire, and police department.

We have security all around us yet it doesn’t take much to reveal that despite it all, we may still be standing on shaky ground. Maybe we only feel it during the seconds of an earthquake. Maybe we only feel it when we are thinking about the future or our declining house values.

We live in a world where there’s not much we can count on. We can’t count on our government, we can’t count on our financial systems. We often can’t count on those who make us promises or offer some type of hope. And though we are disappointed time and again, we still want to count on something.

It’s in this context where God offers us good news that makes even the best things we’ve got going for us pale in comparison. What is this good news that God offers? It’s that God can be counted on at all costs. And this is shown most of all through Jesus Christ, who has loved us with a faithful commitment, a faithful love that will last even if all else crumbles around us.

Jesus has shown the world that He can be counted on at all costs. A cross is the central symbol of Christianity, and as we look at it, we see faithfulness. We see the very definition of faithfulness which is to follow through with a commitment regardless of how difficult it gets. The cross shows someone who will be faithful to you through the toughest of times. Someone who you can count on to the very end. Someone who will love you, no matter what the cost. Someone who has defeated death itself and invites us to something new.

And because Jesus has defeated death, He invites all of us to a new beginning and a restoration that will never be shaken. The good news is much better than a bailout. The good news is not just a forgiveness or payment for debts, but an opportunity to truly correct what has been wronged- whether against us, around us, or even in us. It’s a chance to begin a restoration of who we are, our relationship with our Creator, others, and this world that was given to us. It’s something that outlasts everything, found in someone we can truly count on.

For the last 7 years, Joe has been pastoring and helping to start two neighborhood churches with the Kairos Los Angeles Network. He has a passion for creating communities where people can experience the living God and live out how God has uniquely designed them. He also enjoys playing hockey, fixing things, and being outdoors whether its trying to surf, fish, or chase the kids around in the back yard. Lisa spends her days homeschooling their four children. Her heart is to encourage women to live out their calling in life, and to help Joe in ministry wherever its possible. Joe and Lisa have been married for 9 years and have 4 children, ages 7, 6, 5, and 3. In June they will be making their big move across the country, joining back with nlcf, the church where they met in Blacksburg, Virginia.


11 Responses to Joe Racek on The Good News

  1. Lauren says:

    I LOVE THIS ONE! It’s so encouraging. Thanks, Joe!!!

  2. Dustin says:

    Joe,

    I love this quote – “The good news is much better than a bailout,” because I can imagine you saying it. You have always had that gift of simple profundity.

  3. JR Woodward says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for sharing the unshakable good news in a world of financial collapse, earthquakes and many let downs. It’s a good thing that the One who has called us to join him in the renovation of the world is the architect and builder of the New Jerusalem. For as it says in Hebrews about Moses, “he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:10)

  4. Joe Racek says:

    @Lauren – Thanks for the comment and I’m glad it was encouraging for you!

    @Dustin – Yo Big D, Did you actually combine the words “simple” and “profundity”? That’s profound. :)

    @JR – It is so rewarding to join God in His work in a renovation that will not perish. Nice verse in Hebrews! I looked it up and it’s about Abraham, but interesting especially because it says that they were living in tents at the time (something temporary, something that obviously can be shaken.) Abraham in his tent was looking forward to the city built by God. Hmmm… that reminds me of the tent my family was in right before the Santa Ana winds blew it down completely!

  5. JR Woodward says:

    Oh yeah, I mean Abraham. Just checking your memory on Heb. 11. lol.

  6. sonja says:

    Joe,
    ‘ A faithful love that will last’ such a beautyful assurance. What keeps a fire going when it already lost it flames.
    What do you mean by ‘ He invites all of us to a new beginning and a restauration that will never be shaken’ ? Especially the ‘never will be shaken’ part.
    ‘ The good news is an opportunity to truly correct what has been wronged-whether against us or around us or even in us’
    Are you saying everything is fixable?

  7. Joe Racek says:

    @Sonja

    Thanks for your excellent questions. I will offer a short response to two of them but invite anyone if they want to chip in with some thoughts!

    I do need clarification on your first question though. One of the aspects of our Father in heaven that I was trying to bring across is that His faithful love endures forever. He is faithful even when we are unfaithful. In that way we can be assured that His faithful love will last — outlast. Your first question I believe asks “What keeps a fire going when it already lost its flames.” I am unclear on what you mean by “it already lost its flames.” Whose love are you referring to?

    In regards to your 2nd question I am referring to the new creation that we can now enter through what Jesus has accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus is the “first fruits” of this new creation.

    1 Corinthians 15:20-28)
    20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.* 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end,* when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For ‘God* has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

    So even though we have not seen the fulfillment of this new creation, we can be assured that Jesus has defeated every power, including death itself. Of course we experience all kinds of trouble and pain because the fulfillment has not yet come. So by “never be shaken” I did not mean to say that we would never experience hardship, weakness, uncertainty, or pain. The contrast is to what we often can put our trust in that can easily be shaken and crumble beneath our feet, while Jesus Christ offers us a foundation of a new life that will not come out from underneath us. Psalm 37:23-24)

    Does that make sense Sonja? Maybe “shaken” is not defined enough in my story.

    As for your final question: ‘The good news is an opportunity to truly correct what has been wronged-whether against us or around us or even in us’
    Are you saying everything is fixable?

    Great question. Let me first give you the heart of what I was trying to communicate. It is good news that Jesus offers us the ability to forgive those who have wronged us. This not only shows love to others, including our enemies, but also this releases us from a bondage never intended for us. The power of the resurrection can also bring new life to our relationships. Jesus transforms us (transforms that which is wrong within us) to become more loving people, helping restore and renew relationships that have been broken.

    Is everything fixable? I would say that everything, through the power of Christ, can be renewed.

    Will everything be fixed? God is a God of Faithful Love and a God of Justice. God will bring justice. He will ultimately correct what is wrong even if it is not “fixed” in our lifetime.

    But perhaps the best thought I could give would be the hope we have to participate in now and look forward to in Revelations 21:

    “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”

  8. sonja says:

    Joe,
    Thanks soo much for taking your time to respond to my questions.Just to know the first two lines i was just trying to express an image i saw in my spirit,but it was a bit hard to explain it in english.I will try again.
    I really was moved by your line ‘ a faithful love that will last’….
    It reminded me of a campfire before the yellow and orange flames are noticible what sometimes can reach up high.It reminds me of the ‘ passion’ to have for life.
    The important part is how to keep a fire going and still feel its warmth without the need to see it lighten up to flame…
    I even watched the movie ‘waterproof’ which translated the commitment and a seal to a marriage what was ready to end into a divorce, but were the father of the man handed him a booklet were he just needed to invest an act of kindness to his wife even when it would not return.To continue to stay faithfull to these principles God drew him to Himself and after 43 days of waiting and praying his wife came back to him.Just to mention how a passion can die soon,but to find a friend who is faithful is hard to find…
    I will continue to read the rest of your response now..

  9. sonja says:

    Joe ,
    Thanks again for the insight i gained on the answer you gave.
    About Jesus being the first fruit who conquered death..and the last enemy be destroyed is death and how we can be assured that Jesus has defeated every power, including death itself.
    I just desire to witness more of His power among the main world religions, sometimes i become impatient why to have to wait so long and why the justice play seems far off the scene…in fact i don’t believe in the ‘american dream… ,but its rather an irish story’…The concept of trust in God and knowing the scriptures and the practise to step out in faith and the planting of seeds of what is the right thing to do stands out to me more again and again.
    I loved how you explained the contrast.
    And i learned something about forgiveness again today.It does make more sense now.

  10. Joe Racek says:

    @sonja

    Thanks for the clarification on the 1st part of your response. I had misunderstood it for a question. I appreciate the imagery that came to your mind. And I pray that God will bless your desire to see His Kingdom come in a greater way to your neighborhoods!

  11. sonja says:

    Joe,Thanks for the blessing prayer.
    I have to make one correction.Sorry for this.
    In the 8th comment to you i mentioned the movie ‘ waterproof’ to you which has to be’ fireproof’.

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