Monday, January 31, 2011


Jesus said that his family was like salt. Salt in Jesus' day was a very important commodity. It was a food preservative, a spice and -- given the hot dry climate -- a key to proper hydration. The lack of salt could result in a bland diet, but also disease or possibly death.

So, what if salt lost all those properties that made it so valuable? It would become just another variety of dirt. Not worth anything.
What is salt in God's family? What is this quality that preserves and enlivens? Is it our morality? Is it our proclamation of the gospel? Is it manifestations of the Spirit? Is it miracles and healing? Is it love? Is it all of the above?

Looking at the church in the US -- loss of interest, loss of respect, local churches closing, young people going to college and never setting foot in a church again -- there seems to be a lack of saltiness.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Missiology and the Gospel

I remember reading in the early 80’s about the discovery of Christian documents in the Vietnam delta dated from the 8th century. Missionaries from the early church had spanned Asia from Jerusalem to the Mekong delta in that time.

I believe in the importance of missiology. Researchers and practitioners can work together to advance the gospels in ways that we can only imagine. But the information from above cause me to ask a question. How did the first Christians without all the advances – language training, Bible translation, computers, internet, anthropology and sociology – cross all of Asia? Maybe a little radical faith and love is more important than advances in knowledge?

Monday, January 24, 2011

God's Resources

God has allocated tremendous resources on our behalf. These resources enable us to live out the “divine nature.” We are – in our physical bodies – supposed to demonstrate God’s nature/personality to the world.

Since, the world is supposed to see God in us, we cannot sit still. We need to grow in Christ-likeness. We has chosen a faith that leads to salvation. We should now choose behavior that honors God. We should be good – not good that avoids the bad things only, but good that pursues good things: service, kindness and generosity. Then, we need to increase in knowledge, so we can agree with God. We should, in ourselves, live in agreement with God’s standards. We should continue pursuing with our actions and decisions a godly lifestyle in light of difficulties or troubles. It is in the fire that what an object is really made of comes to light. And that “material” really begins to shine. And we should demonstrate real love – love that is expressed within the family, and love that expressed outside the family. Consistent expression in these areas will, as the family of Jesus lives and functions together, generate fruit and disruption of the world system.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Called Vs. Commanded

God has given different gifts, different effects, different ministries, and different passions. But we all have one God, one Lord, one Spirit and one plan. We are all given the task of extending God’s glory over the whole earth, by making disciples from all peoples. The body of Christ is given the task of reaching the world. If you are a child of God, you are part of the body, and part of the mission.

We have unities combined with differences. The question practically is "how does that work out?" The question is not “Am I called to participate in reaching the world?” The question is “What is my part in reaching the world? How do I affect over there? And how do I keeping impacting over there?”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Greatest Command

A man asked Jesus what was the greatest command. Jesus answered to love God and to love one’s neighbor. A large part of scripture goes on to illuminate and analyze love, neighbors and our behavior with others.

Real love is alien to this world. It cuts across our flesh, our desires and our pursuits. It takes us out of our routines. People love their routines more than they do other people. They feed their comforts, reinforce their view of the world and protect themselves from pain. I know this, because at the time I was thinking about this, someone challenged one of my routines, and, although it is something good, maybe there were reasons -- and listed a few -- that I should change this routine. Part of me (the selfish, want my way part) reacted quite strongly.

To really love people is to embrace otherworldly objectives and to deny what the self wants most. To love at any level is sacrifice; and the self flees sacrifice like the plague. The self rationalizes away, hides from and ignores the sacrifice of love. The self lies to itself.

There are things that provide a basis, a foundation, for love that need to be cultivated. I cannot love if I do not sleep. I cannot love if I do not eat. I cannot love if I do not strengthen my relationship with the Definition and Source of love – so I need my time of prayer and meditation. But all these things can be excuses not to love.

The challenge lies in cultivating the foundation, completing the life maintenance tasks and taking steps of love. God has created us to do all these things, and not to close ourselves to just one of them. The challenge lies in living with sensitivity to the Spirit, circumstances and people so we can act in the right sphere, at the right time.

What this will mean for my "routine" -- which involves part of how I conduct my prayer, reading, and meditation time with God -- I don't know. I would be less than honest if I said I liked the thought of changing. I would be less than honest if I did not examine the possibility of needing to change.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Breaking Walls, Building Bridges

There is a story about Jesus going to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A gentile woman comes and asks him to cast a demon out of her daughter. His response seems to reflect the common Jewish prejudice that God is more concerned for the Jews than other people. But we know from many places in the gospels that Jesus’ heart flowed far beyond the borders of Israel.

•    He caused a riot in the temple, because the Jews had turned the part of the temple where the gentiles were allowed to seek God into a flea market.

•    He told his disciples he needed to seek out others from different sheepfolds to make them one flock with one shepherd.

•    He commanded the apostles to go to all the world and make disciples from all peoples.

Jesus touched lepers and ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus was all about removing walls, and making bridges. And yet he seems to build a wall in front of this woman.

Because he continually opens his heart to everyone, I do not think he is closing his heart to her. Perhaps he is trying to reveal to her what resides in her heart.

I am not familiar with the particular ethnic group the woman was from, but there are numerous examples of strong ethnocentricity throughout the Mediterranean. The entire region was in Roman hands. To not bow and worship Caesar, who was considered a god, was regarded as treason. The Greeks had a highly developed culture – philosophy, drama, science, literature and politics . Everyone else was second class.

Did the woman regard Jesus as just another magician? Did she regard the Jews as a simple ignorant people, an so Jesus was one of the same? Yet she opened her heart to him, and demonstrated in her words and countenance, that she realized her need and Jesus was her only answer. So, she understands her heart and responds in faith and humility.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

People Live from their Hearts

In physics, there is the center of balance, the center of mass. These centers are imaginary point that we can say if a force acts on this point, it acts on the entire mass. People have a center of personality that the Bible calls the heart. Jesus treated the heart with utmost seriousness.

There is a common belief that outside influences impact a human being and can corrupt him. Different foods, places and practices are all regarded as things they exert spiritual influences on a person and can bring blessing or corruption on him. The scripture says words are very powerful and can have a huge spiritual effect. But the effects of corruption or blessing do not come from these outside things.

Jesus says a person is defiled\blessed by what comes out of him. Defilement or blessing are products of what fills a person’s heart. It is as we live out what fills our hearts that we blessed or defiled.

Words are powerful. Scripture urges to watch our words. Words are in one perspective just vibrating air. Vibrating air has not power in the spiritual realm. But words also express a focus of the heart. That’s why they are powerful. It is the heart-focus that connects to the spirit. It is the heart-focus that gives power to spoken words. It the heart-focus that gives power to listened-to words.

There is a person of my acquaintance who is rather small and petite. No one in their right mind would ever refer to her as fat. But, when she was a teenager the boys in her neighborhood began to refer to her as fat.

(Now, as we all know, people go through tremendous changes when they hit their teens. One of the changes some boys seem to go through when they reach 13-14 is their brain turns off. And it doesn’t turn back on until they turn twenty-two. So, to a boy who wants to promote a positive relationship with a girl, it makes perfect sense to either insult her or to knock her over.)

The words were spoken to my acquaintance, and she received them. They were placed in her heart. Now, she has a self-perception problem.

Outside influences – friends, TV, news, important people, books – can have a profound impact, if we receive them into our hearts. That’s why we need to deal wisely with our hearts. We need to protect them. If my acquaintance had heard the word “fat” and responded in her heart “What are those boys talking about? My BMI is 15!! I’ll be really glad when they decide to turn their brains back on.” If she had “heard” the truth and received it, then the lie would have had no power over her.

But the defilement did not come from the boys speaking. Rather it came from the receiving the lie.

There are some outside influences that resonate with our hearts so much, they ought to be avoided at all costs. There are some influences that are almost impossible not to reach. Just as truth would have protected my friend’s heart in the first place, truth can counteract lies received in the heart. Counseling, teaching, meditation, prayer and sharing with one another can plant truth, and strengthen the heart.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Real Equipping

Jesus found himself surrounded by a crowd of people. He looked out into the crowd and realized it was characterized by a soul hunger. In a country and people chosen by God to be his dwelling place, given the Word, the covenants and continuous demonstrations of his reality, there was a failure of leadership to equip people in knowing God, in character development and in real ministry. The Sadducees were more concerned with the political situation, and their place in it. The Pharisees were more concerned with maintaining their spiritual “superiority.” No one was concerned about the common man. Spiritual abundance was for t he elites.

Except Jesus knew God’s heart for people. He invited all to become part of his family, to participate in his life, and to experience the adventure. So, his heart went out to them. And he focused on building into their lives, revealing God’s heart to them, and showing them how to share that life God intended them to live.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Kingdom Like the Earth - 3

The Kingdom of God is like “the earth produces by itself.” Since, the earth is a figure of the hearts or spirits of people, and fruit is produced from the “earth” without any intervention from the farmer, then all that is required to produce fruit is already present within the “earth.” What might be required to produce fruit: workers, finances, hospitality, love, faith, prayer, relationships, and a local understanding of culture and its connection to the gospel.