Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Truly Surrendered Life

"Many give up everything to go into full time ministry except themselves. The unsurrendered self is the last thing we give up." (Rick Warren)
I've been thinking quite a bit lately about what a life lived like the Jesus presented in the Gospel Matthew would look like. As I read this quote, I could not help but think of Christ's words in passages like Matthew 20:28 where He states "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." It leads nicely right into the passion week account where we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane crying out to the Father in agony as He states the following two confessions; "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39) and "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." (Matthew 26:42)
As I've thought about this, I am amazed at how often pastor's are willing to publicly remind people how much they have given up to follow Jesus and serve as an undershepherd. It is as if we've settled for second best and are quick to point out how much we've surrendered for Jesus' sake. But, it would appear to me that what we remind people of,with great drama I must state, is all related to external and temporal items such as salaries, evenings at home, bigger houses and cars etc...
Rick Warren may just be on to something with his quote above as it is far easier to surrender all the worldly things that people see rather than our very hearts which King Jesus is most interested in. If Christ is truly our example, then He not only surrendered the creature comforts of planet earth but also His very heart to the Father and His will for His life. Something worth chewing on for sure...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Church on Mission

This past week, I've spent quite a bit of time in the Gospel of Matthew. What a rich and powerful portion of Scripture as it looks deeply into the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I've landed in Matthew because I am trying to better understand the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in light of the larger context of Matthew's writing. In doing so, I believe I am beginning to formalize in greater depth my understanding of Christ's commission to His disciples in light of the King/Kingdom context of Matthew.

So here is my summary as of Thursday afternoon for my message on Sunday as it relates to the church being on mission...

"The Kingdom of Heaven/God is here with one King and His name is Jesus. The King has called and sacrificially provided a way for people to enter His kingdom. Together, these people have the responsibility to be growing in Kingdom character and conduct so as to fulfill the mission of establishing outposts of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth until the King comes again."

I am thinking a great study for any church would be to take some time in the Gospel of Matthew to really flesh this out in order to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to follow and live for the King and His Kingdom in our current cultural context.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chewing on...

Currently chewing on the following two things...

The first is related to the persecuted church. To be honest, I am not fond of thinking too much about this topic as it breaks my heart, makes me feel guilty and I feel powerless to do anything about it. Horrible excuse as a Christ follower, but just being honest. I just finished speaking with Eric who is the Spiritual Life Director at Lititz Christian and my conversation has forced me once again to bring this subject to the forefront of my mind. He has been taking time with his students to pray for and grow in their awareness of the multitudes of Christ followers being persecuted around the world for their faith in Christ. We are spoiled rotten here in America. We got it so good that we lose focus as to what is really important in God's kingdom.

"Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." (Hebrews 13:3)

Secondly, there is a Francis Chan quote that is messing me up. He simply states "Our concern (as Christ followers) is more about going to heaven than loving the King."

"If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Genius of the AND Conference

Well I've been up for nearly 36 hours with a few little cat naps throughout and enjoying my time away at the AND conference at Granger Community Church. It wasn't too long into the conference that we knew our time at this conference would stretch our thinking as we dialogue and think through whether or not the Attractional and Missional models of church can co-exisit together as a catalyst for a movement.

The first speaker challenged my thinking deeply and confirmed a number of things I've been feeling in my heart for many years now. His name is Alan Hirsch and he spoke on "Living in the Land of AND." There is much to be said about his talk, but here are three concepts that caught my attention and are rattling around in my head right now.

The first concpet that got me thinking challenged me to think about how the attractional model of church reaches people for Christ but pulls them from their circles/cultures and places them into the new circle/culture of the attractional church. Thus, to pull people from their sphere's of influence and plant them within the new context of the church where they can come and enjoy a show and other people just like them, they have now been extracted from the very place where God wants them on mission to be the salt and light. I acknowledge this is a very sweeping statement that is worth much more dialogue, but statistics show that most people stop reaching people for Christ after being saved (in the church) for 2+ years.

Another point made was that people will possess a somewhat positive view of some form of God, Jesus and spirituality but reject the church outright. The church must take this reality seriously and work together to think about how to reverse this trend of the outright rejection of the institutionalized church.

One final question that really has me troubled... "Is a church a church if the church isn't doing what the church is supposed to do?" Hmmmm... Let that one keep you up a night for a while!

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Environment or New Me?

As I continue to slowly work my way through James MacDonald's new book "When Life is Hard" I came across a quote that I needed to share as it is one that has me reflecting upon life with a past, present and futuristic look.

He simply writes within the context of remaining under our trials the following statement;

May the Lord help each of us better understand this truth as the grass is usually not quite as green on the other side. Trials lived under the care and provision of God will continue the transformational process in us that comes with a life in Christ.