Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here?

So where do we go from here?

How can we transform our Christian lives from private spiritual experiences to a faith that transforms our world?

In today’s world it’s all about getting money, power, and privilege. Those with the gold make the rules. We think if we have the right answers, if we can mine the Bible for the nuggets of truth that will confront and prove wrong our adversaries we are on the right track. If only we could guide America back to the principles of our founders and regain a higher position in society then we could make a real difference.

The life and message of Jesus seems to confront all of these assumptions.

About 100 years after the death of Jesus another “messiah” came on the scene with the same sort of ideals. His name was Simeon Ben Kisoba. He sought validation from the people of Israel by leading a revolt. He minted coins with the picture of the temple on one side [it still lay in ruins, he hoped to gain political power and then rebuild it], and on the other he instituted a new calendar with the year 1 inscribed attempting to claim that history was turning on his rise to power. He wanted to place himself in the long line of the great kings of Israel. He fit perfectly into the mold of what people wanted in a Messiah.

We too fall into the trap of Simeon when we assume that success in our spiritual lives revolves around a rise to power and authority.

Jesus came and pronounced Himself as the leader of a new way, a new kingdom at which He would be the head. The expectation of a king was one that would rule with power and glory over all others. But Jesus doesn’t live by the expectations of the world.

As Christians the surest way to change our world is not by gaining more power, but by giving up that power. Stop chasing money and privilege, and instead begin by giving up that status.

The kingdom of God views power in a subversive way. When we give up power we gain more prestige. It is by sacrificing of ourselves that we are able to be successful. In many ways the kingdom of God operates in stark contradiction to the world in which we live.

So where do we go from here?

Maybe we should first ask in what areas of my life could I give to others. It is only by humbling ourselves that we are able to access the power of God.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Gospel of Sin Management

So much of our energy is spent on the avoidance of sin at all costs. We make Christianity about the avoidance of wrong behavior and the breaking of all bad habits.

Is our energy wasted?

The Christian life is not about avoiding that which is evil, but rather grasping for and attaining that which is good.

We are all called to discipleship, a long strenuous process of growth and following our master. We are not called to spend our lives ridding ourselves of individual sins. We are called to something so much greater.

As Christians we need to always be searching after that which is better.

Our call in the here and now is to reflect the image and the glory of God. We look forward to the return of God and the renewal of all things. One day our earth will completely reflect the glory of God and will be rid of the damage and stain of sin.

We reflect the glory of God not by engaging in a private pietistic personal spirituality, but rather by engaging in the world and doing the good work of the kingdom.

A private faith is only beneficial for the individual.

We should certainly flee sin and attempt to live our lives in the way Jesus. But if our faith stops there it does not challenge and change the world we live in.

We are agents in the kingdom of God. God has placed all his eggs in our basket. He has given us the greatest responsibility, to reflect His image for all to see.

Working to live a less sinful life is good, but living out our faith in the public square is far better.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Walking With God

If your like me, a fan of John Eldredge, as soon as his new book Walking With God was released, you were either on the internet, or in your favorite local bookstore ready to pick up a copy. I've often wondered what it would be like to spend a day, a week, or a month with Eldredge. Canoing the waters of the wild west, leading a cattle drive like the cowboys of yesteryear, or hunting wild elk. His books stir in my soul a yearning for the beauty of God's creation, and a longing to walk with God in deep relationship.

This book represents a unique look into the journal entries of Eldredge over the period of a year. There are no chapter divisions, simply a catalog of the seasons as they come and go. Eldredge invites us to walk with God over the course of a year with him, through the good times, the bad times, and the strange times that life offers up to us.

This book will stir your heart, and challenge your mind. It's narrative is inviting and easy to read, you feel as though you are in deep conversation with a close friend. Eldredge has the ability to share with you his life in an authentic manner without pretense. Eldredge will challenge you to view every event in your life as spiritual, from the moment you wake, until you lay your head on the pillow at night, God is intimately involved in a relationship with you.

Eldredge challenges our assumptions about spirituality, and our view of God in a non threatening way. This book has the ability to stir the deep desires of our hearts, challenge our faulty views of God, and spur us onto living in deeper relationship with God, all in a unique narrative approach.

This book will be a great help to anyone seeking a deeper relationship with God.

The Church

I attempted today to write about the true purpose of the church. As I wrote I found that I could not do a better job describing the purpose of the church better than my favorite author. So I will let his words speak to us today:

“According to the early Christians, the church doesn’t exist in order to provide a place where people can pursue their private spiritual agendas and develop their own spiritual potential. Nor does it exist in order to provide a safe haven in which people can hide from the wicked world and ensure that they themselves arrive safely at an otherworldly destination. Private spiritual growth, and ultimate salvation, come rather as the by-products of the main, central, overarching purpose for which God has called and is calling us. That purpose is clear, and stated in various places in the New Testament: that through the church God will announce to the wider world that he is indeed its wise, loving and just creator, that through Jesus he has defeated the powers that corrupt and enslave it, and that by his Spirit he is at work to heal and renew it.

The church exists, in other words, for what we sometimes call ‘mission’: to announce to the world that Jesus is Lord. God intends to put the world to rights’ he has dramatically launched this project through Jesus. Those who belong to Jesus are called, here and now, in the power of the Spirit, to be agents of that putting-to-rights purpose.”

--N.T. Wright Simply Christian page 174.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008



We all long for connection with others. We all long for community. At the very beginning of the story man is alone, and this is not acceptable. God creates for him a helper a companion, someone to share the good times and the bad times with. No one is an island, we all want connection with someone else.

The same is true with our relationship with God. If we are serious about our faith we long for a connection with Him.

The Bible could be simply and accurately described as the story of God and His people. In Scripture we encounter those who encounter God in a deep and intimate way. From burning bushes to fantastic visions the characters of Scripture are profoundly changed in their encounters with God.

So why is that not true for us today?

Why do we have so few mountain top experiences with God?

Unfortunately the Bible has been transformed from a radical narrative of the work of God to an answer book to solve all of life’s problems. It provides “basic instructions before leaving earth”. The problem with this view is that it radically distorts the purpose of the Scripture. The Bible does provide us direction and insight, but it does so much more.

In prayer we find an area where heaven and earth overlap. Where we are in direct work with God in our world, and area where the curtain is lifted and we are able to speak to God face to face. The same is true in Scripture.

For too long we have used Scripture as an elevated sort of answer book, and not the living Word of God. We engage in arguments over the meaning of certain passages and miss the point of the passage.

The Bible is not a deposit of timely truths that we smugly possess. The Bible is the ongoing narrative of how God is working in the world. Reading Scripture is not about mining for devotional truths, but rather about lifting the curtain that divides heaven and earth.

The Bible is there for us to be equipped to join God in His work in the world. When we read its pages we are engaged in the continuing narrative of God’s work with His people. We are a part of a living and active community of God.

So the next time you open up your Bible stop looking for “answers” and start looking for how God is using you in His work in the kingdom.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Prayer is one of the simplest and one of the most difficult of spiritual disciplines. Every Christians knows that he should pray, but implementing that discipline is a constant struggle for many people.

We can easily ascribe the happenings of daily life to chance or even luck.

Prayer cannot be tested or proven. There is no criteria or system to evaluate the effectiveness of our prayers. And yet millions of Christians engage in this ancient practice every day. We have only a few postures to take in referent to prayer, and understanding them may help us in communing with God.

The first posture we can take is that of the pantheist. God is everywhere and in everything. Prayer then is not the practice of engaging with a distant reality, but rather getting in tune with the deepest realities and the world itself. In Pantheism God is near, but He is not distinct. He is in all, and all is God.

A second posture is that of the Deist. This particular view of God is very popular in today’s culture. In this view God is distant. We call across a great void to heaven not knowing if God is really listening or not. This God arbitrarily decides to intervene in the world on different occasions, but shows no consistency. Prayer in this posture is bleak hope.

A third posture can be found in what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.”
Matthew 6:10

In this view Jesus is not off in “heaven” somewhere, distant and detached from the earth. Nor is He completely absorbed in the created world. Rather heaven and earth are overlapping. We stand in a unique place where God is both beyond us, and intimately involved with us.

Prayer then becomes not calling out to a distant God and asking Him to take over while we sit back and relax, but rather us joining in with the work of God in the here and now. In prayer we become part of the work of God in a unique way. There is no great chasm between God and us. In prayer we actively become part of the work of God’s kingdom.

Prayer is not wishful thinking, but rather a joining of forces with God. We are able to join in the kingdom work of God through prayer. As we petition God in prayer, He in turn looks to us as His hands and feet to accomplish His work here on earth.

Friday, April 18, 2008


What is at the heart of Christianity?

What practices and beliefs truly set apart followers of Jesus from those who do not believe?

Everyone in the world engages in some sort of worship. Those who are spiritual or religious direct their worship toward a divine being. Those who consider themselves non-spiritual direct their worship to what is most important in their lives. But what is worship all about?

To worship is to acknowledge the worth of something or someone. It means recognizing, and saying, that someone or something is worthy of praise. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse into true worship.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,
Who was, and is, and is to come.”

Revelation 4:8

In this scene the whole creation is worshipping God. Even the animal kingdom recognizes his worth and majesty. God is worthy of our worship because He is greater than us, and in control of our world.

At this point some may want to object to the majesty of God by proclaiming “but our world is a mess! Where is God in the midst of all this suffering?”

We find in Revelation 5 the answer to the problems of our world. We live in a world full of injustice and suffering, but we have hope that there is a Lion of the tribe of Judah that is able to deal with the problems of the world [Revelation 5:5].

God is able to deal with the problems of our world, and in an even more surprising move he has enlisted us as His people to be agents of His good work in this world.

We worship God because we know He is worthy. We worship God because He is in control. And we worship God because we know that He alone can overcome the evil in our world. But as we worship God we must remember that He has enlisted us to be agents of His kingdom in the here and now.

We worship God because the power to change the world comes through Him, and we are enlisted in with God in doing the work of the kingdom.