Monday, February 28, 2005

Describing "disciple"

Preaching now on the six traits of a disciple from Matthew 28:16-20. They are:

1. A disciple worships. "...they worshiped him..."
2. A disciple understands the authority of Jesus. "...all authority in heaven and on earth is given to me..."
3. A disciple is mission-minded. "...go and make disciples..."
4. A disciple is unbiased. "...of all nations..."
5. A disciple knows what Jesus requires. "...obey everything I have commanded..."
6. A disciple is filled with hope. "...I am with you..."

Of course, there's much more to discipleship, but I think Jesus had specific intentions in addressing the disciples with these words before his ascension. Now, if we could only live them.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

In summary...

Perhaps this is the best way to sum up what it means to be the Church -- whether our part is through a local congregation, a global missions objective, the emerging church/movement, or any other ultimately significant part. From none other than Richard Foster, written in Freedom of Simplicity a quarter century ago:

As we go, let us clearly understand that global injustice places some new requirements upon global evangelism. The Good News must be contextualized into the culture in which it is proclaimed. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has no cultural presuppositions. It welcomes those elements of the culture that are not offensive to the Gospel message and rejects those that are. The enduring task of cross-cultural evangelism is to hammer out the difference. The Good News must be free of all racism and nationalism. We are global citizens with a global Gospel. Our concern is for the well-being of all peoples of the earth, not the selfish interests of any nation-state.
The Good News must be free of all militarism. It matters little if the militarism is in defense of the vested interests of the privileged elite or is a modern Zealot movement seeking justice through revolution. We dare not allow the little tin gods of our modern nation-states to draw us into their blasphemous intertribal wars.
The Good News must be given to Christ's favorites, the poor and the helpless. We must go, like the Samaritan, among the good and half-dead -- to the ghettos of America, to the slums of Brazil, to the refugee camps of Cambodia, to every hovel and hut of the earth.
The Good News must liberate -- truly liberate. Those who are in bondage to sin, those who are in bondage to poverty, those who are in bondage to brutal social conditions need to be set free. The liberating Gospel of Christ has not fully come until there is freedom from sin, freedom from economic injustice, freedom from structural evil.

The Good News must come in the power of God. No smooth words, no easy cliches, no enticing
gimmicks! All slick image-making advertising campaigns are an offense to the Gospel. Paul said, "The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power" (1 Cor. 4:19).

The Good News must be backed by integrity in our lives. We cannot proclaim his love if we close our hearts to the hungry. We cannot proclaim his salvation if we have not been saved from our
own greed. Falmboyant, properous Christians are an offense to third world peoples by their insensitivity to poverty and human deprivation, whether they come as traveling evangelists or sight-seeing vacationers.

A plea

Tony Jones is unabashed to ask for your help this week.

A few words about words

While reading, it's common to come upon phrases or even sentences which catch my attention and become powerful meditative tools for days or weeks. But Gregory Feeley, an author and blogger, weighs in with an intriguing personal experience in which, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, he is told by a friend about a support group which promotes the phrase, "I am not broken." Quickly Feeley replies that he is definitely broken, "But I still work."

His final words in the post caught my attention:
Interesting how we can be moved by phrases that possess rhetorical power. Say it figuratively or with great concision, and it sounds true.

I think as a minister, I am guilty of doing just that. I suppose we all are at one time or another. I recognize the need for change if the Church will be effective in the 21st century. But we must continually reflect on the true meaning of the things we do and say, lest we become trapped by the "rhetorical power."

Many things inherent in what is becoming known as the emerging church feel great -- not too differently from the emergence of the charismatic movement last century. Where we fail as the Church is to do this because it feels good to us, and let true meaning dissolve.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

On the reading list

From time to time, as you've noticed, I find it important to reference books which I'm reading. In this post, I would like to make you aware, if you don't already know, of two of the most anticipated books of the year from a Christian standpoint.

First is Erwin McManus's latest, The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within.

Second is Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John and Staci Eldredge. This is the follow-up book to Wild at Heart.

Both books promise to be revelational.

Bring it on

After a loooooong hiatus, here's the first post of the new year, and the new creation known as CrossRoads. It's amazing to sense the incredible life God is calling us to, and to know at the same time that so many people either can't sense it or don't know enough to care.

I think Brent Curtis and John Eldredge are onto something when they say in The Sacred Romance:
Look at the things people get caught up in: sports, politics, soap operas, rock bands. Desperate for something larger to give our lives transcendence, we try to lose ourselves in the smallest kinds of
stories...All of these smaller stories offer a taste of meaning, adventure, or connectedness. But none of them offer the real thing; they aren't large enough. (pp. 41-43)

Today I'm reminded that the mass of men -- and women -- lead lives not just of quiet desperation, but sometimes of loud nonsense. And instead of shrugging it off, God expects those who are sensitive to realize that it's not about those who are ranting. There are spiritual forces at war, and there is a bigger battle at stake -- the battle for the hearts of those God has created.

My prayer is for CrossRoads to be an open place for people, but not necessarily a safe place. Sometimes, people don't need safety, they need exposure, so they and others can realize the forces which are working in, through, and against them.

I knew becoming a new congregation, a new community, which offers something meaningful and real to people who need healing and hope wouldn't be easy. The battle is raging, even as I type, and we can't accept any outcome except victory and progress. Anything less would be outside of God's providence and provision at this point.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.