8.28.2009

12 Punch Combo!

12-13And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!

13-15Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other's nerves you don't snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

16-18Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

19-22Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, The Message)

MAN!!!!

I am always blown away by passages like the one above. There are so many just like it in scripture. It is easy to read over a list of commands like this one and think something like, "Paul wants me to be a nice boy," but when you actually ponder each one, it is like getting punched in the gut, repeatedly!

Be cheerful NO MATTER WHAT!

Submission, selflessness, honesty...

Intellectual commitment, humility, thankfulness...

My friends words about "God's framing hammer of righteousness..." are echoing in my ears.

I could spend a lifetime on each one of these things, thanks for the sucker-punch Paul!

8.27.2009

Number Four?






No, just my new niece!

I just saw her for the first time this week.

Consumerism and Church

Phil Kenneson, used to say: "The church does not exist to meet people's needs; the church exists to help us understand what our legitimate needs are."

Follow the link above...

8.25.2009

Church Growth Success

'I am not called to be successful, but to be faithful."

-Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu

I don't want to get your attention. I don't want to gather a crowd. I don't want people to think I am cool.

I want Jesus.

8.24.2009

Reflection on a Hymn

Did e'er such love and sorrow meet?

'Love hurts,' so the saying goes.

Why?

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about community, how the notion of it is attractive to all people and yet the reality of it often frightens people away from it.

To love is to know and to be known. Intimacy and vulnerability are two sides of the same coin.

To be vulnerable is to expose your weaknesses to another; and to do so in a fallen world is to court betrayal and loss.

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This sheds greater light on just what it was that Jesus sacrifices for us, and what it is that He accomplishes on our behalf.

He lived in a community of divine love where this vulnerability and intimacy carried with it no taint, no threat of violence or fear of deception. There exists within the Godhead a complete selflessness without the need for protection, submission and surrender without mistrust, service and sacrificial love without suffering. All is love, and all is joy!

He left this behind to come to a world that knows only the faintest glimpses of love, our best loves are merely glimpses of shadows of the real thing. We love, even when we love truly, with one hand on our wallets. We love, if we love at all, with a contingency plan in the back of our minds. And so Jesus came, vulnerable and offering this same intimacy with us, that He shared with His Father. A baby in a blanket, laid in a feeding trough in a poor town, born to a single mother from a small people who were oppressed by one of the largest and most powerful empires in human history. Vulnerable. A man, naked, even his skin has been flayed from his body, put on display before the crowds of the capital city, pinned there, unable to escape, or to move. Barely able to breathe as he is nailed to wood, exposed. Vulnerable is not a strong enough word.

(Take a moment here and close your eyes, imagine yourself being stripped naked and tied up spread eagle in front of City Hall; imagine yourself being captured by a serial killer and being tied down as he prepares to go to work on you. Or even, less gruesome, imagine that you are to stand before a large crowd and proclaim your love for someone who doesn't know how you feel about them and you are unsure of their response. That feeling is complete vulnerability.)

Is a young man who professes love to a girl in front of the entire school vulnerable? God has become more so!

Is an animal being prepared for vivisection vulnerable? God himself has undergone such treatment!

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It was our own weakness that he accepted, our own evil world that He exposed, and the shame heaped upon this Good Man was born without retribution, and so was revealed for what it was, our shame.

It is His very weakness and shame that allows us to enter into His strength and glory...

8.23.2009

Theology 101


Don't Major on the Minors!

I can't tell you how much mileage I have gotten out of this simple, unobtrusive little maxim.

It plays out (and plays well) in so many different settings, and topics... this past Sunday we talked about the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

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We fail to recognize the majors and the minors of the work of the Spirit, whenever we mistake powerful signs and wonders, awe inspiring revelation, or charismatic experience as the goal. These are not the ends, but rather the means of the Holy Spirit's work.

We stated the four purposes the Spirit is working to accomplish (or rather the primary purpose that has three main components) as first and foremost to glorify and reveal Jesus as the Visible Image of an Invisible God, true Sovereign Lord of Creation and All Within it, and the Reconciliation of Lost Children to a Heartbroken Father.

The primary method by which the Spirit accomplishes this task is through the Church. This then means that the Spirit is also working towards transformation of individual Christian women and men into the likeness of Christ. Making you and I look like His Son. The Spirit is at work within us to make us holy because this both glorifies and reveals Jesus. The Spirit also is the source of unity in the Body. If the Spirit has joined me to Christ, and the same Spirit has joined you to Christ as well, then we are now joined to each other. The Spirit is at work creating the mystical community amongst all believers because this both glorifies and reveals Jesus. Finally, the Spirit is at work in the Church in mission. The proclamation of the Kingdom in both word and deed is the reason for the existence of the Church, and this is the Spirit's work within us; compelling us, equipping us, guiding us, and empowering us to usher in the Kingdom in all the earth. The Spirit is at work within us to proclaim and perform the Kingdom because, this too, both glorifies and reveals Jesus.

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So a focus on the majors (instead of the minors) allows us to see that the Spirit indeed does perform signs and wonders, anoint individuals for powerful ministry, as well as provide individuals with euphoric experience, yet these are not His focus, but merely some of the ways He works to accomplish His primary aim; (1) glorifying and revealing Jesus through (2) making individual Christians christ-like in character by uniting them to Jesus, (3) uniting individual Christians to each other as they are joined to Jesus, and (4) preparing, empowering and organizing the Church to accomplish God's redemptive purpose on the earth.

Ministry Pornography

8.15.2009

Where is True Power?

"Today there is the wide spread conviction—and corresponding levels of practice—that sin wins."

Dallas Willard

8.14.2009

Responsibility: Individual and Corporate

"...no one should go broke because they get sick."

-Someone you've probably heard of

What do you think?

8.12.2009

The Alpha

"Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee."

Charles Wesley

8.09.2009

Rebel Against... ?

'In our fear and desperation we do the only thing we know how to do: rebel.

Standing up tall we proudly stick our middle finger in the air for the whole world to see as we pat ourselves on the back with our other hand and think about how authentic we are.

We then look to our left and to our right and realize that the whole world is standing up with us, flipping us off along with everyone else.

We then began to get scared again.

We then remember all the problems around us and we shrink back into our shadows and remain there until further opportunities of courage arise but they don’t… because this is the world we live in.'

-Hermano

Mis Hermanos de Santa Cruz


What an amazing 10 days!

We really got to see some amazing things take place, here are some highlights:

Community BBQ's were a great success, free food, free games and face painting for kids, tons of conversation with neighbors, and LOTS of opportunity to pray over many people. We followed the BBQ with worship, and had a great time praising an amazing Savior with neighbors watching, or joining in...

Cory launched his Friday night street ministry the last night of the trip. We were invited into homes (and offered a host home if we needed one!), prayed with TONS of people. Prayed over people who were drinking/smoking, prayed with people who were hurting, prayed with people who were praising; prayed for muslims, prayed for christians, and agnostics... We spent about an hour and a half praying over people, and had to stop what we were doing to go home, but we could have stayed there for... well, forever! Almost everyone said, 'yes' and even the ones who said, 'no' seemed blessed that we offered.

Two of the people who came to Buffalo from Santa Cruz were still 'counting the cost' of following Jesus when they arrived here. But before they left they made a determined choice to give their lives to Jesus and His purposes! (Wild ride ahead!)

Went to the top of City Hall, on the observation deck where you can see for miles and prayed over the whole city.

The real depth of community that took place between two different groups of people from opposite sides of the country! Amazing times of intimate worship, prayer and prophetic words for each other.

'God help me, I'm addicted to crack!'
One of the men from a neighborhood we minister in confessed his addiction, and spent several days with us staying clean until he could get into a year-long Christian Discipleship/Rehab.

We had a couple of people from different neighborhoods show up to church on Sunday, and discipleship group on Wednesday, after connecting with us at one of the neighborhood BBQ's, both of them were moved by the Spirit to tears.

Sunday night, seeing a whole room full of people, praising God, and laying hands on one another in prayer.

I could go on, and on...

God spoke, healed, touched, called, encouraged, convicted, welcomed, included, and saved!

Jesus is ALIVE, and He is LORD!!

It was an amazing 10 days!

Tres Monos Locos








8.04.2009

Cultural Drift

"One of the most astonishing volte-faces in my lifetime has been the change from a liberalism which sought to be counter-cultural, anti-establishment, ‘agin the government’, protesting against the drift of society, and the present would-be liberalism which insists that because society has now drifted in a new direction the church should follow where that culture, the new ‘establishment’, and now even the government, are going."

NT Wright