Archive for August, 2012

Traveling at M.O.Ch. speed

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Think about some of the things people say related to church. “I have to go to the church.” “We are going to have church at 11.” “Let’s go out to eat after church is over.”

But the church is not a place or something you have. And it certainly should not “be over.” The church is the Body of Christ, and as such it a living organism. It is made up of people who are “followers of Jesus Christ” and who have been made alive by the Holy Spirit.

We sometimes talk about “mega churches” and “super churches”, and now even multi-campus churches. I want to cry out for there to be “Mission Outpost Churches”. I am talking about churches that are in strategic places and see themselves as more than one local church. Rather they see themselves as Acts 1:8 commissioned fellowships to launch other fellowships.

According to the surveys, about 60% of the average community is outside of the reach of the traditional church model. In the community I serve, the government census from 2010 says there are approximately 200,000 people withing ten miles of the building where we worship. I don’t think the largest of churches in our community is able to reach the multi-ethnic, multi-generational community. We must become missional in our own communities, even as we also are missional to the ends of the earth.

There is a lot that could be said to this, but what I would love is to generate a conversation. Will you jump in?

Identity Theft

Posted: August 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

Let me ask you a question this morning: Who are you? Are you what you do? For example, if your vocation is as a doctor, are you doctor? Is that who you are? Not are you A doctor, but are you doctor? Or are you what the voices in your head tell you that you are? Maybe as a child you constantly heard negative messages, “You will never amount to anything.” So are you what those messages say?

Maybe you have taken your identity from other people’s words. Do you find your identity in what other people say about you?

The Bible says that “man” was originally created in the image of God. So let that sink in. We were created, everyone of us, to bear the image of God. The problem is “sin messed it up”. Some speak of total depravity, meaning the image of God was completely eradicated. Isaiah 52 says of Jesus that on the cross he was “marred” beyond recognition. I think that describes the image of God in us. It was “marred” beyond recognition.

The Word of God teaches that God equated our value individually as equal to the blood of His Son being shed in our behalf on a cross.Let that sink in. God finds me to be of extreme value in His eyes. When I receive His love by placing my faith in Christ, God begins restoring the His image in me. So this morning: Who are you?

I am an “image bearer” of God. I was created in my mother’s womb by the hand of the Almighty to let my light so shine before men that they might see my good works and give glory to my Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16). And I am pretty valuable. God says so. I am equal in worth to the shed blood of Jesus Christ. That is what God set my price at. That is what He agreed to pay to purchase my redemption.

I am not what I do. I am not what the voices of my past may say in my head. I am not what other people say about me. God says I am His image bearer and I am worth the blood of His Son. What about you?

Cooking Church Frogs

Posted: August 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

I cannot imagine anything much grosser than a boiled frog. Well, maybe boiled okra, or green eggs and ham, sick I am. But somewhere along the way I read Barna’s book about the Frog in the kettle. Supposedly a frog thrown into a pot of boiling water would jump out and one placed in luke warm water gradually warmed to boiling would cook to death. I have no idea whether that is really true or not, but it is a relevant image.

I was out of the professional ministry from 1991 until 2004, and the world changed. The community and culture of American society changed in major ways. But the majority of churches remained the same. We continued to sing our 17th century songs to 17th century bar tunes and we did things the way great grandad did them in the 1950’s. The result, most of the churches dotting the landscape are either dying or barely surviving.

The message of the Gospel never changes. God’s Word is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword and cuts through the generation gap and the cultural distintives. But our methods of delivering that message has to change. You don’t travel to work in the same vehicle your grandaddy’s grandaddy did. You probably have a car that is a much better ride than the model T or even the donkey pulled cart.

We label anything new and different as liberal. We call the innovaters cult leaders or just nuts. But what amazes me the most is when you try to do things the way Jesus did 2000 years ago. He said, “Make disciples.” How did He model that? He taught with stories (parables). He explained them to His followers. He sent them out to apply the lessons to life and share the Gospel. He gathered them back to talk about the results and to keep challenging them. That method still works. Ironically, while attempting to do it, people say, “Why do we have to do these new things?”

Who’s Your Daddy?

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

I was having a conversation with a good friend yesterday about our identity in Christ. He said, “I’m just a sinner, saved by grace.” I do not agree. Yes, I am a sinner saved by grace, but not “just”. God has made me so much more in Christ. When a person trusts Jesus Christ to be their Savior, the Bible teaches that Jesus is in them, and they are in Jesus. We become one.

In Matthew 23:9, Jesus said, “Call no man on earth your Father.” He went on to say our only Father is in heaven. When Jesus gave to us what we call the Lord’s prayer, we translated the Greek Word, “Abba” as Father, but it is more closely akin to the term Daddy. So I raise the question, ‘Who’s your Daddy?”

The Bible says that we were created to bear the image of God. That image of God was marred by sin. Isaiah 52 says that on the cross Jesus was marred beyond the point of recognition. Because of that the image of God can be restored in us. And God said, “You are worth the blood of my son to me.”

So who is your Daddy? My Daddy says, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” My Daddy says, “There is no condemnation for you because you are in Christ.” My daddy says, ‘Nothing can separate you from my love.”
Because He was forsaken for a moment, I will never be forsaken. Because He bore my sins and shame and guilt, I am free to be who God says I am. I am a blood bought child of the King. I am here to be love and share love with a lost world. I am here to bear the image of the Light of the world in the darkness all around me.

Default Setting

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Default Setting.

Default Setting

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

The other day I was discussing something related to church life with a friend, and he said, ‘They are operating from their default setting.” There is a basic problem with our default setting, however. We all default to the “flesh”, or to “self”, however you might want to say it. Think about it for a moment, self-centered, selfish, self sufficient, self-righteous, self focused. Jesus told us we need to “die to self”.

In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptizer says, “As for me, I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” We are limited by our human ability. Jesus, on the other hand, has no limitation. We can only baptize with water. Only He can give the Holy Spirit to indwell us and to empower us.

There is absolutely no way to do the work of God from our default setting. It is at the point we come to the end of ourselves that we can depend fully upon God and experience the move of God through us. It matters not what part of our lives we apply this to. Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” I often hear people say, “I know God can, but . . .” There should be no “but” in that statement. There is a significant “but” however that needs to make up our heart and will. I am able to do such and such, but He can. . . Until we come to the end of ourselves, we are not prepared for the movement of God through us.

With mustard, please.

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

With mustard, please..