Wednesday, July 13, 2011
~There are 6,900 world languages, and 2,100 still need to start to have the Bible translated into their language.
~The percentage of all missionaries who work to serve the unreached is 2.5%.
~There are more Evangelical Christians in China then there are in the United States.
That last one-that one stopped me in my tracks. I could not stop thinking about that statement, how the country best know for it's opposition to America, liberty, freedom and democracy had so many people that were fighting against the norm, the accepted, the 100 million-plus strong Buddhist juggernaut. Not how a country where labeling yourself a Christian could result in persecution, harm and even death could still have so many people willing to do that, but how I lived in one where labeling yourself a Christian did not result in that most of the time, and we had less willing to "take up the cross."
Is America the blessed nation of Christians that we think we are? Sometimes, it is easy to think or even say that God blesses the USofA, but to what extent? More than other countries? There are more people proclaiming and practicing Christianity in China-are they a blessed country or people also? God is not an American. He is also not Chinese. He exists and lives and functions outside of our walls or country lines or divisions.
On the brink of destroying the people God had set them to do, Joshua sees an Angel of the Lord, and has this conversation with him:
"Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied..." Joshua 5:13-14
Neither, he says. Not on their side and not on his. God wins, ultimately. We cannot expect Him to line up to our side, and we must be willing to line up to His.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Help me to be the blessing you designed me to be, for as a man blessed beyond my wildest hopes I am inclined to focus inward-help me to focus outward, to be a blessing that your plans set forth so long ago for all of us.
I pray that when given a chance to speak, or stand or demonstrate your love, I do that and give that situation my all. Help me to less of a fan, and more of a teammate.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I had a conversation this last week with a friend about a lot of different Orthodoxy/Orthopraxy subject matter. In this discussion, we were able to (at least in my opinion) challenge each others thoughts and ideas, and hear what the other person said and see how they worked it into their own life. I have heard and try to practice the idea of putting what I believe "on a shelf" and hearing what someone else is saying, and I think this friend did as well.
The neat thing about it-there was no fighting, no name-calling, no childish behavior exhibited...we were sharing how we felt and what we thought and believed and how that looked in practice with an open, inviting discussion. I love that. I need that, and I think we all need that. We all need to be challenged and to challenge someone else, if it is the same person or with others in your life, you need those that fit both areas in your circle.
I appreciate the wisdom of friends, and I hope they appreciate mine. It is my hope that when we do this thing we call "church"--aka "body of believers", that it is done in a positive, engaging fashion that screams wisdom, love and Jesus to those around us.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
According to the website for Merrian-Webster's Dictionary, these are the definitions for the following words:
Orthodoxy-Conforming to established doctrine especially in religion, conventional.
Orthopraxy-Correctness of action or practice.
Most of our focus in the Western Churches is on the subject and training of Orthodoxy, and what we believe, should believe and know. The doctrine, the ideas and the proper way to process out what we think.
But what if, instead of Orthodoxy our focus was on Orthopraxy? What would it look like if the actions, the activity of my life was more important than what I studied and what I wanted to believe was the right thing to do? Instead of thinking and discussing, I acted and practiced the right way, the way I was intended to function.
For me, I an trying to be less focused on what i read and formulate in my head, and more on how I treat those around me, how I communicate God's love and His plan to the world. Today, what is your spiritual walk focused on? Are you more concerned with proper thought, or proper action?
Sunday, May 22, 2011
1. Christian or not, many people found this funny.
Yes, I know the group that originated this on FamilyRadio has done it before, and there are claims that should not be made, because no one knows when Jesus will be coming back. I agree with that, hands-down. We don't know the date, the time and should not make those predictions or promises or assumptions.
But do we need to laugh? And what are we laughing about? And why are we laughing? Don Miller, in his book "Searching For God Knows What" talks about the notion that we are all on a lifeboat, pushing someone else over the edge or "under the bus" if we can. Trying to make ourselves look better but at the expense of another. It is the school bully/bullied persona-if we can get out of the way so others can laugh at someone else, than no one will laugh at me. These are fellow Christians who need help in better understanding the Words of Jesus-they don't need us to join in with the "Rapture Party" humor and laugh at them.
2. The people of FamilyRadio had a few things right.
When was the last time you had a chance to talk to someone about the Rapture? When was it out in the mainstream, or all over your facebook/twitter/work conversations? Although the date wasn't right, they gave us a chance to discuss it and bring it into the forefront. Jesus is coming, there is a plan in the future for a new heaven, and new earth and a reconcilliation with our Creator.
A local mega-church preacher was just interviewed on the news about this. And after his joke of "oops, I am here but I did not prepare a sermon", he focused on the "no man knows the hour" idea, and said that the man making the prediction "is a kook". Where is the mention of Jesus or the need to get aligned to God or so many other things? The nightly news just gave you a chance to talk about God's love-instead you used it to showcase humor and "oh, not me-it's him who is wrong"...which brings me to:
3. Many missed an opportunity.
The question needs to be asked-did you use it as an opportunity to share God's love and his plan for the world-or did you use it a chance to say something witty and funny, and loose the opportunity to share? This was a chance that you may have missed. What do we discuss now as Christians? How wrong this guy was? How we were in the "correct" camp by not saying he was coming May 21st? How about just telling someone that He is coming-have you done that to anyone recently who wasn't a believer? Really threw out your convictions and faith to them?
4. Jesus is coming.
This isn't funny. It is isn't humor. Jesus is coming. He will be here, and we won't know the date or the time-and when He comes, we will know it according to the Revelation to the Apostle John. Make sure you have all of your heart where it needs to be, and that you have done everything you can to help those around you know it as well. Love will win-Jesus will win. That is the side I want to be on.
“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” Revelation 22:7
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
In many churches around the world, there is an essence of shared experience that we go through...
There is fellowship, prayer, singing, teaching, offering, invitational
And all of those components to the experience help move US closer to God.
But the Lord’s Supper is different, isn’t it?
While all of these forms of worship move US towards God, Communion is unique in that it isn’t about us and what we do that is so important, but it is what we receive here that frames the moment
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
The words of Jesus reflect that it is HIS actions, HIS giving to us.
We understand how we do something, taking the bread and cup but we may not see how God does anything.But during Communion, God does something-He acts.
We do not come to the table to learn something with our minds---we come to meet God. God and people meet here and something happens.
Here we touch eternity. Here God gives love, forgiveness and grace and we receive.
He graces us, and for a moment we are in the presence of the Almighty reaching out to us. Heaven meets earth, like a wet sloppy kiss. There is an essence of God meeting us here on this plane, this moment and reality and it is real and it is present.
In prayer we go to God. In the Lord's Supper He comes to us.
In the moments you get to experience Communion, focus on the knowledge that God through Jesus is reaching out to you and asking you to remember, asking you to experience His presence and feel His love.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
There are a lot of opinions floating around the blog-verse, about the right answer to numerous quandaries and controversies. Each of the topics have sparked a wide variety of responses, and they range from full of love to full of malice. Currently, Rachel Held Evans is the driving force behind a "Rally to Restore Unity", and it got me thinking about what that unity looks like in light of our "virtual water-cooler discussions".
Got an opinion or idea about heaven or hell or Osama or Obama? What makes a good politician or what should those values look like? How about earthquakes, evangelicals, unity or proper ways to react to others around us? Who is Christian enough, or too Christian or too liberal, conservative or too indecisive? These are all open to interpretation and criticism-and if someone will listen, someone else will tell you what they think.
But who is asking? Who is listening? What does it look like to someone outside of the Christian-a-verse in blogs and on twitter and book-face and everything else in-between? Have we effectively argued our way into a conversation that looks nothing like the conversations Jesus would have us partake in? What do our interactions look like for those who need to hear the words of Jesus the most?
I struggle with telling my side of "how it is" because, really-it is just my opinion, isn't it? And when I strike down a flagpole of what I believe, I choose a side, and that effectively labels everything else wrong or a non-truth because it isn't my view, it isn't my way.
I am tired of choosing sides, tired of needing to think the right way or say the right things about stuff that doesn't tie into who Jesus is and how I can be his hands and feet. How much minutia do we swim around in, only to miss the focus, the mission, the ways we can unite as one?
Donald Miller, in the quote above, says it well-when "I am" is the focus-I miss out on "I AM", I miss out on you, I miss out on us and the story and the opportunity for the unity we could have as God's people-as His segula-as His treasured possession. That is the unity I want-with the Creator and with you. Let's stop being individual pieces of trinket. Let's be His treasure.