Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve Reflections

It's but an hour and a half before the start of the new year, so I thought I would write a few words.

It's actually a strange and somewhat confusing time as we transition from this current calendar year into the next.

You see, my kidneys began to fad in a rather dramatic fashion in the beginning of December. Lot's of uncertainty as you can imagine. God is doing amazing things in our ministry and opening a lot of doors. I'm scheduled to go to Seattle for my first class at Bakke in 6 days -- unless their is marked improvement in the next several days, it will have to be postponed.

I'm convinced that the best explaination for what even the experts say is mostly unprecedented is that spiritual forces are at work and attacking what God has brought about. I read an interesting post on Sam Metcalf's blog that very much resonated with me and my experience. Read it here.

Many many people around the world are praying for healing. Like many people, though a followr of Jesus, the whole healing thing was not in my experiential paradigm. God has begun to change that in the last 6 months and has understandably excellerated this even more so in the past 15 days.

So, praying that God will chose to heal me, for his name sake, for his glory. If not, I pray that he will be glorified in whatever the outcome.

Thanks for praying with me and for me.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pick Up Your Mat

I love to sit around and talk about what needs to be done in the Church—what followers of Jesus should be doing to bless their communities and incarnate Christ to those who do not know him. Yeah, one of my favorite things is to get together with a group of friends and talk about what it looks like to really follow Him. I know a lot of people like me too.

It is humbling to know that God has changed my heart over the years and allowed me to see His heart for the poor in a more real way. Several months ago, I wrote to our ministry team, “[we] stand at the precipice of unprecedented times. In the past, people with spiritual inklings would turn to a Christian church; now they are turning elsewhere. More and more it seems people need to be drawn to Jesus before they will ever set foot in a church – they must see Jesus lived out in our work and in our families.” I believe those words with every fiber of my being. But, for so long, they have been just that, words.

As I said, I know a lot of people like me too, people who find it real easy – even entertaining and enjoyable -- to sit and talk and complain or encourage, all while paralyzed by fear or the unknown from doing anything. So why do I just sit there? Why am I paralyzed? The answer, although not pretty, is pretty simple: lack of faith.

Jesus’ response, when he saw the guy paralyzed for decades but unable to get to the healing waters, was to ask him “do you want to be healed?” The guy told Jesus all the reasons why he had not been able to get to the water, why he had been sitting on his mat for so long. Jesus almost didn’t seem concerned about the legitimately valid excuses – I mean the guy was physically paralyzed. Instead, He said to him “pick up your matt and walk,” and immediately the man did just that, and was no longer paralyzed.

I think I hear Jesus saying that to me and people like me. “Quit sitting there paralyzed, pick up your mat and walk.” And, I’m pretty convinced that when we do that, it will be our faith that makes us well, and not just us, but the world around us, as the light that will begin to emanate from us is seen in the darkness and brokenness of paralyzed peoples lives.

It’s time to pick up our mats and stop being paralyzed.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Smitty, bang that gong!

Ok, so there is this kind of stupid little video out there called "Smitty -- Filled with the spirit. You can see it here.

Watch the video and then do a google search. I'm serious, do it. You would think this funny (even funnier when you consider that it is actually a saddleback thing) little video, was a direct attack on the divinity of Christ!

A lot of people have spent a lot of time denouncing this as something from the devil himself.

It makes me so sad that when the world hears from Christ’s bride these days, all they hear is what we are against — and usually with a bitter and angry tone. Maybe, kind of like a banging gong?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Church or Kingdom

The Church gets into trouble whenever it thinks it’s in the church business rather than the Kingdom business.

Church people are concerned with church activities and religious behavior. Kingdom people are concerned with kingdom activities - all human behavior visible and invisible.

Kingdom people see human affairs as saturated with spiritual meaning and kingdom significance.

Kingdom people seek first the kingdom of God and its justice. Church people often put church work above concerns for justice, mercy and truth.

Church people think about how to get people into the church. Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world.

Church people worry that the world might change the church. Kingdom people work to see that the church changes the world.

When people put the church ahead of the kingdom, they settle for the status quo and their own kind of people. When they catch a vision of the kingdom of God, their sights shift outside the walls of the church to the lost and the needy; they see the life and work of the church from the perspective of the kingdom.

If the church has one great need it is this: To be set free for the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Monty Python Gospel?

I just watched, again, Monty Python and Holy Grail -- one of the joys of having teenagers. I guess humor is timeless.
Anyway, towards the end of this film there’s this scene where Arthur and three knights – they are on this quest to try to find the Holy Grail, hense the name -- have to get into castle, but there is a chasm that they have to get over and a bridge that’s the only way across. And, of course there is a Crazy bridge keeper whose three questions they must successfully answer as payment for passage.

If they can answer the three questions correctly, they can cross, if they get them wrong, get cast into the gorge of eternal peril.

So, the first knight walks up and he is real scared. The bridge keeper asks, "what's your name?" "Lancelot," the knight answers; "What's your quest?' "To locate the holy grail." What's your favorite color," the keeper askes. "Blue," Lancelot answers. "OK, you can pass."

Second knight looking on says, “That’s easy.” He's asked the first two questions, what's your name, what's your quest, and expectantly awaits the last, "what's the capital of Assyria? "I don’t know that. (ahhhh), he's cast into eternal peril.

Third knight steps up, terrified. Again, he answers the first two. On the third he is asked "what's your favorite color?" Surprised, he says "Blue, No, I mean clear." (ahhhh), he's cast into eternal peril.

Finally, King Arthur's turn arrives. He answers the first two questions, and when asked the third, "what's the air speed velocity of a coconut laden swallow," he answers, "depends, an African or European swallow?" The bridge keeper says "Well, I don’t know that!" And, he is cast into eternal peril.

A funny scene. But, isn't that what a lot of people have reduced the gospel to? Reduced it to this:

That when you die there will be this bridge over to the other side, and the gospel is the SECRET answer to the question, that when you give it, they have to let you in, the minimal entrance requirements that so long as you meet them, they have to let you in. There is one problem with this.

Where in the bible does Jesus ever say I’m going to give you the minimal entrance requirements to get into heaven? Did Jesus suffer and die for minimal enterence requirements?

Or, did he die so that we may have eternal life, "and this is eternal life, that they may know me, and the father who sent me."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

We're Not Bad People Anymore

Wow! That feels better. I guess we arn't bad people anymore. Or, maybe that remains to be seen. At least the pool looks good now and we are in and swimming. The test or our goodness will come with the passing of time and the monotony of the upkeep. Good thing we believe in pool grace -- but not pool license!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

You Guys Are Bad People

Ok. So our pool filter and moter got messed up, and our water got out of wack and then things got busy, excuses, excuses, excuses. Yeah, so we meet this guy, John -- the worlds best pool guy. He comes over to the house and drain the pool. He looks at the thick green mess and just stands there silent. Then, he says "you guys are bad people." Yup.

The pool looked great at one time, really. And then it slowly got out of hand until we lost control of it. There is a spiritual analogy there somewhere -- take your pick.

Pictures of the clean pool to come soon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The New Pharisees -- Saved Unto Privilege?

I was reading Romans 2 today, and was struck by how much Pauls description of the religious folks fits so many of us today. Just change a couple of words to change the context and you tell me if it rings true:
Romans 2:17-26 (The Message with liberties)

If you're brought up Christian, going to church, don't assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you're an insider to God's revelation, a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God's revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I'm quite serious. While preaching "Don't steal!" are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you? The same with adultery. The same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, "It's because of you Christians that the outsiders are down on God," shows it's an old problem that isn't going to go away. Going to chuch, and having a fish on your car is great if you live in accord with God's law. But if you don't, it's worse than if no body knew about it.

It sounds so familiar, it rings so true, and I so want to yell, "hey, look!" "Look at what you are doing, stop it." And I do yell it, but I need to yell it at myself too.

But, the main point is that I think I know the reason. I think I know the reason why the Old Pharisees and the "New Pharisees" acted this way. They both think they were saved unto privelege and not responsibility. They both think that the reason they were picked, pulled out of death, brought into God's plan, was for them, was for their benefit, for their privilege.

"Let's all wait until Messiah comes to kill all our enemies and rule as king." "Until then, we will hate all outsiders, unless they become like us."

And God weeps as their light becomes dimmer.

"Let's all wait until Jesus comes back to kill all the evil people and take me out of this world." "Until then, we will hate all outsiders, unless they become like us."

And Jesus weeps as their light becomes dimmer, as his words become a distant ecco, fading into the mist "Go out and trian everybody you meet, far and near in this (kingdom) way of life that I have demonstrated to you, marking them by baptism . . . and instructing them in all of the practices I have commanded you."

And, maybe he might add, "I have saved you unto great responsibility, through and with the amazing privilege of partering with me in my rule and reign, forever."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Imagine Movements of Missional Communities


Imagine what it would would happen if in your community there sprung up 2 or 3 or 6 or 10 or 15 groups of 8 to 15 people who are all committed to being apprentices together of Jesus; to learn what it means to be in accountable community, but saw thier roles as representatives of his Kingdom in whatever setting they spend most of their time.

Imagine if each of these missional communities in learning what it means to be an apprentice of Jesus, in community, adopted a neighbor -- a low income apartment building, or single mom, or family, and just blessed them with food, or time, or whatever.

Imagine if each one of these missional communities gave birth to another missional community that did the same.

Imagine if the people who were blessed by the mercy and grace poured out by these communities began to talk to each other about the strange thing they have experienced in having thier needs met by almost perfect strangers who want nothing in return, and find out that others in need have been blessed as well.

Imagine if the only common denominator between the blessors is not race, or color, or gender or age, but Jesus.

Imagine what it would look like if God's Kingdom were done here the way it were done in heaven.

Imagine what it would look like if people actually did go and make disciples of all the nations.