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."