“Ministry to Jesus”

Courtney is a part of our Spiritual Family here in Austin. She’s a student who went through Student CPx last summer here in Austin, and has a passion for knowing Jesus. We are blessed to be a part of a “church family” with her and others who have dedicated their ALL to Jesus. Courtney shares some deep truth in the video below with other student church planter’s on the student church website. I just HAD to share it here for those of you who are not on the student church site. These are some great and universal truths for all of us-regardless of our context. Enjoy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Ministry to Jesus“, posted with vodpod

Advertisements

Enough of the Talking – Part 2

Continued from previous article “Enough of the Talking”.

At this juncture do I stubbornly cling to my doctrine, or do I recognize that I may not have had God quite as “figured out” as I thought I did?

How do we know what we believe? Where do we get the doctrine we cling to so tightly? Is it merely through the transfer of information, or life experience? Should it be both? I wonder if one of the reasons we are in the “pickle” we are in as the American Church is because we have successfully indoctrinated people with information about what they should believe about this or that. But, they have no idea why they believe such things, or what it looks like lived out. It gets messy when our everyday life experiences begin to challenge our knowledge of doctrine. No longer can the realities of life be explained away by well thought out doctrinal statements, or theologies surrounding this or that issue. This is when the rubber meets the road, and following Jesus starts to get adventurously crazy…

It is interesting how little information Jesus shares with many of the individuals in the Gospels who have life transforming experiences upon encountering Him. Sure, there are parables about farming, money, etc. that He shares with the disciples. He says a bit to the Pharisees while rebuking them. He is caught from time to time preaching to large crowds about things they do not seem to understand. But wait…can you think of any stories where Jesus encountered individuals and said what could be written in one to two sentences on paper? How about, “I am willing, be clean! See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matt. 8:3-4) Or, “Take heart son, your sins are forgiven.” (The paralytic in Matt. 9:2) Or, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” (Matt. 9:24) He then raised her from the dead without saying anything. He just grabs her by the hand, and she gets up. He then heals a blind man and mute man by asking if they believe He can. They say they do believe; He touched them, and said, “according to your faith will it be done to you.” All He says after that is for them not to tell anyone it happened. Interesting. These stories litter the Gospels. We could go on and on…

The point is that Jesus did not preach a sermon, give them a doctrine, lead them in a prayer, or give them books to read. These people experienced the power of God through the person of Jesus. Their doctrine would be shaped for the rest of their lives as the Holy Spirit leads them. They had not known much other than the fact that they believed Jesus was God. He healed the sick, and His disciples did they same while telling people to repent of their sins, for the kingdom was near. That’s what they knew. I can imagine most of what Jesus did made most Jews of that time very uncomfortable. Think about it…

On the evening of the last supper, or Jewish Seder, Jesus took the cup that was reserved for the prophet Elijah who was to return. Growing up Jews never touched this cup. At the end of the supper they would dispose of it and “wait until next year”. The fact that Jesus not only picked up the cup, but also then drank from it was blasphemous to the Jews! It challenged everything they had once thought, or the doctrine they had so tightly clung to. This doctrine was interpreted from the Torah, or the first five books of our Bible. All of a sudden what these disciples had believed so strongly in their heads was being challenged by what was happening in front of their eyes. Their experience with Jesus changed who they were into who they became, and were becoming. The act of the disciples drinking from the cup now meant they truly believed He was the one they had been waiting for. (As if the many healings and miracles had not been enough) That evening the doctrine or theology of these 11 men changed forever. (To us the doctrine was fulfilled. To these Jewish men it was changed. They no longer claimed the same “doctrine” as other Jews who were still waiting on the Messiah)

Perhaps some modern theologies, or doctrines might parallel this story. This is not an argument for or against Cessationism, but one of many examples of how our doctrine might be challenged by real-life experience. If I claim to be a cessationist (based upon how I was indoctrinated) most of my Christian life, but then go overseas, or right here in the states and witness countless physical healings or even resurrections then “something’s gotta give”. At this juncture do I stubbornly cling to my theology (which was most likely based upon the scriptural interpretation of a dead guy, or particular stream of denominations), or do I recognize that I may not have had God quite as “figured out” as I thought I did, or thought they did?

Again, my pursuit through this article is not to challenge having sound doctrine, but to challenge what that sound doctrine is, where it comes from, how we allow it to indoctrinate us, and which doctrines require a much looser grip. I am not suggesting that our experiences define our doctrine, and what we see as truth from scripture. However, our experiences as we pursue Jesus should shape and mold our doctrine, how we interpret truth in scripture, and how tightly we cling to “negotiables”.

Perhaps this discussion will be “easier to swallow” if we recognize that much of what we think is our doctrine can be whittled down to mere tradition, or ritual. Most of us do not realize how we have allowed that tradition to become a major part of our doctrine when it was never meant to be. This is scary and dangerous. At the same time all of our doctrines have bits that are just plain perverted, and not in alignment with the Kingdom or heart of God.

How about the issue of ecclesiology, or more plainly put, “church”? Sometimes our doctrine is more defined by our actions than what we say we believe. For example, most Bible believing Christians would say that the church is not a place, but the people of God. However, their actions as a person of God have become defined by going to church once each week. Or, most of us claim to believe, and desire to pursue living out the Great Commission. This includes the act of Baptizing new believers, and distributing communion. Most people who claim Jesus as Lord have never baptized a new believer into the kingdom, or intentionally administered communion. Again, our actions prove otherwise. We may not know it, but these things define parts of our doctrine, or theology.

Let’s close with a few more practical examples of how this might play out in real life. Perhaps you were raised in a “camp” that viewed alcohol as “evil”. The truth you extracted from scripture was read through that lens. You could preach a sermon on why alcohol is evil, and combat anyone elses attempts to reason with you. Then one day you met a dear saint, and warrior for the Kingdom who you learned likes to enjoy alcoholic beverages on a regular basis. Uh-oh. You are left with two choices. Either you judge your new friend who has an abundance of Kingdom fruit in their life, or you release the tight grip you have on your “theology/doctrine of alcohol”. You might come to a much simpler conclusion that your pursuit against alcohol became quite idolatrous, and completely negated Christ’s work on the cross.

We have already discussed an example regarding the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. Perhaps we will take it a step further, and go down the same road we just took the example of alcohol. If the gifts are no more, but you meet a dear brother in Christ who speaks in tongues or prophesies you are, once again, left with two choices…

Throughout my journey following Jesus I sometimes believe the lie that I have “it” figured out. It is those moments that I cease to learn, be sanctified, and play my role in the Kingdom of Heaven coming to earth. If I operate as if my memorized set of beliefs dictates the things I do, or the things I remove myself far from I miss out on experiencing Jesus in the various ways He desires to interact with me as His child. May we remember some powerful words spoken by Jesus in response to the disciples arguing about who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3-4)

Kids do not have a well-thought out and eloquent explanation for everything they believe and why. They have great faith, which grows and changes as that faith carries them into new adventures with Jesus. I doubt you would ever hear a kid arguing doctrine with anyone. They are humble. They are students. Jesus says we should “change and become like them, or we will never enter the kingdom.” May we humble ourselves as children, cling to Jesus as Savior through His work on the cross, and be slow to think we have God figured out. I wonder sometimes how much of our doctrine to which God might say, “wow, that’s not at all what I meant”, or “how did you come up with that”? Perhaps He would just say, “You made it so complicated. I simply wanted you to come to me as a child, and let me lead you by my Holy Spirit…”

“Super-wife/mommy”

That is what I call Morgan these days. She is so incredible in so many ways. She definitely wins “wife/mommy of the year” award. (Sorry guys, my wife beat yours in the “competition”=) Haha! She went to DFW this past weekend with Eliza to help throw a baby shower for one of our friends while I stayed in Austin, and went on a solo camping/sabbath adventure in the woods. We both had wonderful weekends, but were ready to see each other when we all arrived back in Austin. I got the house all ready for her, and made her a little “Happy 1st mommy’s day” slide show. (Yes, it’s a little late, but we were out of town over Mother’s Day, so the video ad to wait=) Check out my girls…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Happy 1st Momma’s Day!“, posted with vodpod

The Shack – Don’t Hate.

I love this book, and have read it several times. It has had a bad rap in evangelical circles because a few well-known, and influential pastors have spoken out against it for various reasons. That bugs me a bit, because at least one of those pastors has admitted to not reading the book himself in a blog post about why the book is heretical. Interesting…seems to me that reviewing a book without having read it is a bit more dangerous than a novel about the a man who loses his daughter, and then has a supernatural encounter with the Triune God. I have had several friends “call me out” (Jokingly, of course) for reading the book as well. When I asked them if they’ve read it they replied, “no, but (fill in the blank of well-known pastor’s name here) said in a sermon I listened to online that it was heretical.” Wow. What a lovely culture we have created. People now think it’s ok critique (JUDGE) something based upon what someone else has said who has also judged that same thing based upon what they heard from someone ELSE. Scary.

That being said, I would encourage everyone to read this book for yourself. Yes, even if your pastor said you shouldn’t. It’s a wonderful book for many reasons. Whether you are just looking for a leisurely story, or to glean from the author’s deep insight of the Kingdom and God’s purpose for His Church you will gain much from this story.

Last night while reading I came across a section from one of my favorite chapters (ch. 12) of the book that I wanted to share with you…you will quickly see why I enjoy this book so much, and maybe these little snippets will coax you to read the entire story…

The main character, Mack, is having a conversation with Jesus about life, the Church, the Kingdom, etc.

________________________________________________

Mack, just asked Jesus about heaven…

“Mack, our final destiny is not the picture of Heaven that you have stuck in your head-you know, the image of pearly gates and streets of gold. Instead it’s a new cleansing of this universe , so it will indeed look a lot like here.”

“Then what’s with the pearly gates and gold stuff?”

“That stuff, my brother, is a picture of me and the woman I’m in love with.”

Mack looked down at Him to see if He was joking, but He obviously wasn’t.

“It is a picture of my bride, the Church; individuals who together form a spiritual city with a living river flowing through the middle, and on both shores trees of growing with fruit that will heal the hurt and sorrows of the nations. And this city is always open, and each gate into it is made of a single pearl…” He opened one eye and looked at Mack.

“That would be me!” He saw Mack’s question, and explained, “Pearls, Mack. The only precious stone made by pain, suffering and-finally-death.”

“I get it. You are the way in, but-” Mack paused, searching for the right words. “You’re talking about the church as this woman you’re in love with; I’m pretty sure I haven’t met her.” He turned away slightly. “She’s not the place I go on Sundays,” Mack said more to himself, unsure if that was safe to say out loud.

“Mack, that’s because you’re only seeing the institution, a man-made system. That’s not what I came to build. What I see are people and their lives, a living breathing community of all those who love me, not buildings and programs.”

Mack was a bit taken back to hear Jesus talking about “church” this way, but then again, it didn’t really surprise him. It was a relief. “So how do I become part of that church?” he asked. “This woman you seem to be so gaga over.”

“It’s simple, Mack. It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life. What we are doing right now-just doing this-and being open and available to others around us. My church is all about people and life is all about relationships. You can’t build it. It’s my job and I’m actually pretty good at it”, Jesus said with a chuckle.

For Mack these words were like a breath of fresh air! Simple. Not a bunch of exhausting work and long lists of demands, and not the sitting in endless meetings staring at the backs of people’s heads, people he really didn’t even know. Just sharing life. “Bit, wait-“Mack had a jumble of questions starting to surface. Maybe he had misunderstood. This seemed TOO simple. Again he caught himself. Perhaps it was because humans are so utterly lost and independent that we take what is simple and make it complex? So he thought twice about messing with what he was beginning to understand. To begin asking his jumbled mess of questions at this moment felt like throwing a dirt clod into a little pool of clear water.

“Never mind,” was all he said.

“Mack, you don’t need to have it all figured out. Just be with me….”

“…I really do want to understand. I mean, I find the way you are so different from all the well-intentioned religious stuff I’m familiar with.”

“As well-intentioned as it might be, you know that religious machinery can chew up people!” Jesus said with a bite of His own. “An awful lot of what is done in my name has nothing to do with me and is often, even if unintentional , very contrary to my purposes.”

“You’re not too fond of religion and institutions?” Mack said, not sure if he was asking a question or making an observation.

“I don’t create institutions-never have, never will.”

“What about the institution of marriage?”

“Marriage is not an institution. It’s a relationship.” Jesus paused, his voice steady and patient. “Like I said, I don’t create institutions; that’s an occupation for those who want to play God. So no, I’m not too big on religion,” Jesus said a little sarcastically, “and not very fond of politics or economics either.” Jesus’ visage darkened noticeably. “And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three? Put simply, these terrors are tools that many use to prop up their illusions of security and control. People are afraid of uncertainty, afraid of the future. These institutions, these structures and ideologies, are all a vain effort to create some sense of certainty and security where there isn’t any. It’s all false! Systems cannot provide you security, only I can.”

“Woah!” was all Mack could think. The landscape of how he, and just about everyone he knew, had sought to manage and navigate their lives was being reduced to little more than rubble…

________________________________________________

It’s just keeps getting better and better. Not sure if you noticed it or not, but there was a section in there that I can see why it would “threaten” the power and control some have over others through the institutions they have started and are in charge of. What the book is suggesting threatens to “reduce that to rubble”. I can see why the book is “warned against” inside the walls of institutions….

I hope you will get the book and enjoy the heck out of it. It truly is a touching story, one that will bring tears to your eyes, and new life to your heart. If you have any comments regarding the book, or this post please refrain from sharing them if you have not read the book (in FULL). If you have, and feel the need to share then please do. I am sure the book is not “theologically perfect”, but what is. We have the Holy Spirit in us to discern truth and untruth. There is a lot of TRUTH in this book. There is also some things that may need to be read with a “grain of salt”, as in any book you read that is not the Bible. Enjoy!

Embarassing.

This is funny, sad, and true all at the same time. Those of you who have worked on staff at churches before know this routine all too well. My heart hurts a bit to watch it. It doesn’t have to be this way…I MIGHT go as far as to say it SHOULDN’T be this way…but I won’t, actually.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about ““Sunday’s Coming” Movie Trailer“, posted with vodpod