Gospel.

 

we have so many different concepts of the gospel. “the good news” as it has been called for centuries now. if it is good news, then why aren’t people catching on? why are people actually offended by the concepts? or maybe they are offended by the followers…

So, let’s play this out. Here’s the good news (typically represented): Hi! My name is John, I am a Christian. You are a sinner, and you are going to hell. Hell is real. BUT, God made a way to get you out of hell, isn’t that good news? I see a big problem with how the good news is presented. i mean guys with bullhorns sit on corners and scream out that Jesus is coming soon and that you must “turn or burn”. What a gospel!!!

If it truly is good news as we claim it is. Then let it be good news on its own. In the book of Colossians, the author says that Christ died once a for all. If you read the original language, it lends itself to the idea that everyone (not some selected few) in humankind has been forgiven (past, present, and future). that’s good news. everyone has been forgiven. here’s where they (the listener) come into play, whether they accept it or not. it is a choice that they have to make. we can’t force them into making it. if the choice is out of fear, rather then desire…it is not one from the heart. and many times over, in many different ways Jesus says, God wants our hearts. And then one of Jesus’ best friends later writes that God’s kind of love is without fear, in fact, it drives out any kind of fear. So, if this is good news, then where is all the fear coming from? I mean the gospel is that Jesus wants us to befriend Him. He says, no longer do I call you servants, but I now call you friends. This is the invitation from Jesus, the good news is that He died in our place to fix the mess we made, and in that is friendship with the guy who created us and insanely loves us. Now, some may say, that well, either way the gospel is being preached; yes, while Paul does say something like that…I am wondering if God is a God of love and fear or maybe He is a God of love, period.  I mean, why focus on some issue (sin) that was taken care of over 2,000 yrs ago? why not embrace the mystery of discovery and try and find out more about your creator and who he has intended for you to be. to live and drink of this life abundantly. Jesus actually talked more about the Kingdom then sin. The kingdom of God is all about restoration and relationships, sin is all about separation and brokenness. I wonder why he spent so much time talking about the utter importance of relationships over broken relationships. I think because he still desires us to be people who are driven by relationship and who focus on restoring them now and not what they were. This is the invitation…

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Missional.

 

a writer has always been someone who is exclusively and quite stereotypically one who composes work on paper. what about one who writes with words through conversation. or someone who writes word through picture. sure, we have words and titles for them too. a speaker and a painter. but, isn’t that such a thing, that writing wasn’t just meant for paper. it was meant for so much more.

the term missionary is just the same. it is quite an exclusive term. it conjures up images of a couple or family tucked into the corner of some tribal destination in a remote region preaching jesus to the lost. but, it is just that, exclusive. it forgets that the idea of mission for jesus was in his very own home town. sure, he traveled during his lifetime, but not much. especially not in comparison to Paul. Christ’s mission was close to home. Missional is one of the new “buzz words”, but before it becomes the next fad to follow, let’s figure out how inclusive it is.  Click here to see the differences.

Missional says

everyone is missional

it says missional is about a holistic gospel, not just getting them “saved”; it’s about dealing with needs of that person, its about befriending them, being equals

itis about living missionally everyday.

its’ about discovering where God is and not having to create a program to get there

it’s really about sharing the good news by loving people well, realizing that the gospel is the same as “love your neighbor”; that loving people well is the point

and learning how to live it out with other believers, not being afraid to ask questions and search for the answers and being okay with the mystery of it all

 (more info) : http://www.lausanne.org/about/lausanne.html

Hamsters with Shadows.

its the distance that keeps us safe. ~ Bryan Adams

i am realizing fighting is an essential to life. let’s use a friendlier term. passion. you need it to sustain life to sustain friendships and marriages. if you don’t have this, then you have shadows of what should be. we are creatures of habit, i mean as much i don’t like cliches, it is true, we cycle through most of our lives until we learn we weren’t made to be hamsters on a wheel. but, what we do is we engage ourselves close enough to not get hurt, but, when we do get hurt, we walk away. in fact, we run. we keep ourselves at a distance praising ourselves for not being too hasty and being wise. yet, christ did the opposite. he moved in right next door. i mean, christ become one of us. immanuel, god with us. let it simmer a little bit. let it boil and well up inside. yep, God got too close. He didn’t live at a safe distance with his creation. He got in the middle of living life and showed us how we could experience life. he invited us to try it out with him. you see, the crazy thing is we know this about him, we even know this about ourselves. we live at safe distances with one another. we are afraid if we get too close we might find fractions of ourselves that have the same issues that need help. obviously jesus didn’t have those issues, but knowing the issues and what kind of work they would take he still touched lepers, he looked prostitutes in the eye and loved them. do we do that with each other? do we even try. i think we are scared of losing ourselves in others. we don’t have enough of a foundation of ourselves to feel comfortable or risky enough to jump in someone else’s mess to pull them out. we don’t want to love that close. it might make us lose things we are not ready to give up. it might force us to rely on god and give over something we have held on to too long. yet, the invitation is to jump in the abyss that is god…are you, are you going to jump?

Lightbulb.

So you know that guy, yeah, the one with cardboard sign off the freeway underpass. him, that’s the one. or the guy in your church who is going through a divorce. or that older woman who needs a listening ear. well, what do you do? go to all three of them eventually, right? it is your job to save the day. i mean isn’t that the correct theology we have been given by our forefathers in the faith. i mean somehow jesus knew who to go to. he knew who not to. some take this to mean God plays favorites, i don’t think this is the case. i think God had to make a point and he could have used anyone, and in that moment, he used those people as examples. the truth in scripture says God really would rather all people be well.

So. how did Christ just know who to go to? Well, try something will ya’? Go over to your light and flip the switch. did it work? great! (if it didn’t, i apologize, you might want to get another bulb or find another one to try this with). like that. like a lightbulb. keep in mind jesus is not under God, he is God. but that is another time and another theology. Jesus says I only do what I see God doing. Jesus in a sense is saying God is on the move here and i want be there for that movement. Jesus was not robotic. this is not an invitation to become a toaster, but learning something from one. we tend to think electronics work simply, yet it is quite a complex thing. the wires themselves have to work together to tell the actual source of receipt to turn the light on. the switch has to send this message through those wires. sort of a current. and the current follows itself all the way up to the bulb and then the light appears. Jesus heard God. God was the source. the holy spirit was the current and jesus was the receiver. they all worked together to be the very essence of jesus’ desire and ability to ‘see what the father is doing’. so, how does this work for us? well, we have to be linked up with our creator. we have to spend time with him. i realized, very recently jesus spent a lot of time alone with god. so, yes, that means you will have to intentionally turn off ipods, cancel appointments to do so. that doesn’t mean god won’t speak otherwise or that you won’t experience him in other ways. but jesus does say that we will know his voice. how do you do that with any person? you spend time and then find a safe enough environment to try it out and fail and keep trying. this is the answer, sorry no three-part sermon here. this is just simply about desire and the attempts at this desire. messy, i know. but, think about the rewards in the end. to actually be linked up as christ was. i mean, he is the shadow in which we are to be following. becoming more missional. more christ-like. these are things we need to be desiring for. a life of scandalous intrigue that wants to encounter god in new and cool ways…

Dance On The Graves.

 

the flowers outside my window are going to die sometime soon. winter is inevitable and along with that apparent occurrence comes the reality of death. of the old dying and making way for the new to wrap back around. Child are completely impervious to the idea of death. Not all, and that’s sad. But most. They don’t fear it. They don’t fully understand or comprehend it. Jesus says if you even think to follow me, the way to get to me is being a child. a little one. an inquisitive one. one who is not afraid of danger or risk. that no matter how many fallen bikes and scraped knees you receive from the pavement, you get up and you grab the handlebars once again to journey on until you conquer the dreaded bicycle. then later the Son of God tells those that follow him that sometimes following in his Shadow might actually kill some of them (which it does to most of them). that their mortality is never the point in living spiritually. that death should be an afterthought, maybe not even that. that as we pass the graveyards we dance over our very own graves. that we become epic as we are called to be and not fear for the sake of living life and being sent ones who are life givers. So, dance — when no one is looking, heck, when everyone is looking!! See you on the otherside.

Lift A Leg…Find A Tree

I went to go clean this house with one of my friends the other day and part of the house-sitting was also taking care of a dog. And so I go and change his water and fill up his food bowl and picked his poop up. And he got soaked by the sprinklers and got all dirty and his lower half just got immersed in mud. And at that point, I had to reprimand him for getting too close. For being dirty, I just didn’t want to get dirty. The association costs me too much. He is definitely fun as entertainment, and maybe that is all he is there for, to serve my need to be entertained.
Maybe it is the same for the homeless person. Maybe it is the same for the outsider, the “uncool” person. They provide us opportunity for social commentary as we drive on by in our convenient lexus cages. They provide enough guilt to toss up a prayer as we walk on by. They drive us to talk about love and that is as far as we go. They make us uncomfortable. And the association might be too much to our precious reputation. Yet, scripture says Christ was a friend “of” sinners. Not “to” sinners. This is what pissed off the Pharisees. Jesus loved the outsiders. The “dirty” people, the unclean. He calls us, from the Old Testament to the New and beyond to love the outsider, the marginalized and the poor. Who are those people in your world: the elderly person next door, the nerd in your 3rd period class, the prostitute who sits on the corner, or the guy who holds the cardboard sign…We are called to love these people. Christ even says that there is some mysterious connection between loving the outsider and actually partaking in experiencing him. Loving the outsider does not mean we give them a handful of change, it means we befriend them. Mutual reciprocity. You share life with them. Speak of your stressful day at work, your victory at golf, your frustrations with your relationship with God…

I Vote For…

Have you ever mismatched? You know, when you go to your closet and then set out your clothes and the morning arrives to find you on your way. Then when it’s already too late, you realize you have mismatched shoes and socks. And then you have those awkward moments wondering the whole time if you should say anything before someone else does…one of those days.
I believe we have mismatched our values with nationalism. We have embraced something like the American Dream and have discovered scripture to justify it. We embrace the American way as the correct way to do things. We think country pride is biblical. Ironically, scripture does speak on this. With the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Old Testament. These guys were friends of Daniel and also the same three guys who had the walk-in BBQ with Jesus as the fourth guy (Read Daniel). They were told by the King to bow down to the country idol, to serve the countries idealism of the King being God. And they wouldn’t. They didn’t back down. They did allow their country politics to dictate their spirituality or way of life. They allowed their spirituality to dictate those and many other things. Yet, we have claimed Christianity to be a republican religion. We have claimed America as a Christian nation. Christ-following is very different from Christianity. The first designates followership. The second is a religion which man has created which includes the proper way to vote. In fact, scripture does include a promotion to nationalism, but not of the physical world. All over the book of Hebrews is this idea that we are strangers of this world, but that our citizenship is of the unseen world. That our clothes are supposed to be righteousness. Righteousness in it’s depth of meaning refers to us living out our lives scandalously and discovering who we each are meant to be in Christ. That our national anthem should be worship to the King through our lives. That our politics should be advocating transformation in our lives and in the lives of others.