Monday, February 28, 2011

Marching Orderss III

There are two parts to making disciples. First is “baptizing them.” There is a lot of thinking around baptism. There are many theories and speculations. In its core, it is an identification with Jesus. It is saying “I’ve died with Jesus. I have risen with Jesus. I am living with Jesus.”

A person hears some teachings of Jesus, learns of some aspect of who he is and what he has done, and it speaks to his heart. It convinces a person that there is some reality, something authentic about Jesus. And they listen to how he explains the world, defines its problems, and the solutions to those problems. And the person comes to some sort of agreement.

Baptism is a symbol of that agreement. This agreement touches a deep part of the heart. This agreement convinces concerning a need to change a lifestyle and a worldview. Baptism takes place at the birth of something new.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Marching Orders II

Part two = “make disciples”

Train people to follow Jesus in such a way that they are motivated, trained and practicing how to introduce, demonstrate and train others how to follow Jesus.

And, of course, actually doing it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Marching Orders - I

Before returing to the Father, Jesus gave the infant church their marching orders. Those marching orders fall into two parts.

Part one = “Go”

The operative word in most churches seems to be “invite” or “come.” The idea seems to be that if we can get people into a church meeting, the spirit will break through or they will be confounded by the church’s superior programming. Let’s not misunderstand. The Spirit does speak to people inside a church meeting. And, as a result, people do change their allegiance to Jesus. It happens just enough that most followers of Jesus are led to believe that they are accomplishing God’s work.

But Jesus’ instruction was “Go to the world.” Engage the world in dialogue, conversation. Rub shoulders. Live and love like Jesus in the world. Apply the gospel ot people and society.

We all engage the world on some level. We go to work, to stores, to athletic events or to the library. In all there situation, we need to learn to point people to Jesus.

Perhaps the most spiritual thing we could do today is join a bowling league – and make sure the glasses and litter are cleaned up afterward.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kingdom - II

God’s work always moves inside out. He moves deep inside a situation, changes the heart and aloow the natural results of the heart change to flow out.

That’s one reason we often miss God working. Work in the heart is not obvious. If you mix yeast in the dough and watch, you won’t see anything happen. But if you go away, wait for awhile, and then come back, something has happened.

Of course, people are impatient. They want results now. They want to see something move now. So,  they begin to push from the outside in. It is a lot easier to agitate from the outside. To picket. To have voter drives. It is much harder, more sacrificial to adjust a lifestyle to create the atmosphere for heart change.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


God’s work always starts small, like a seed resting in the ground. Given the right ingredients and proper care, the results become a massive sequoia or oak. We expect overnight, dramatic results. Seeds don’t work that way. Once planted, we will not see anything happen for some time. And we are too impatient and give up too soon.

Jesus was born into the world. The King of the universe had come to ransom the world back to himself. So, he lived as the son of Mary and Joseph for thirty years. And we know very little of what he did. Most of it was probably ordinary.

Then, he did serve for three years, culminating with his execution as a criminal, by jealous men.

And yes, he did some amazing things in that time. But most of the time, he lived and spoke with a small group of men. He invested his time and energy in them, so they might demonstrate, portray, represent Jesus when he left this life.

And something happened to these men. In Jesus’ life, their paradigm shifted. Their world view changed. And in Jesus’ death and resurrection, everything coalesced.

Jesus planted a seed of twelve men in the world.

Friday, February 11, 2011

World at War

God plants his word into the world in order to promote his purposes. The ground receives the seed and fruit is produced.

The enemy also plants into the world. His purpose is to disrupt the production of fruit. The weeds compete with the word.

While we remain in this world, we will always exist in a shadowed state. We will see God work clearly. And it will be obscured by the enemy. We experience life and joy through the Spirit. We will experience pain and loss.

It is proof of the struggle we are in. Success and failure. Gain and loss. We are at war. It is only at the end that a final sorting will take place.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Salt - V

Maybe there is no saltiness, because Christians have stopped being real.

Christianity turned the world upside down, because they got off the couch, turned off the TV and loved people, proclaimed truth, prayed, engaged people without an agenda – no Bible study, no church, just being friends in Jesus’ name. I’m not saying never have a Bible study, or never invite someone to church. I’m saying do not engage in drive-by friendships. “I’ll be your friend as long as you show interest in Jesus. If not, I’ll drop you like a hot rock.”  No one would like it if someone expressed interest in us for ulterior motives. Even if that motive was for the greatest of reasons. That is a scam pure and simple. And Christians do it all the time.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Salt - IV

Maybe there is no saltiness, because we have started depending on the world's systems.

After Constantine, Christianity grew to become a dominating force in Europe and America. In Europe, it had tremendous political clout. In America, it exercised a large moral influence. However, its power has wavered. Christianity in Europe is virtually non-existent. In America, more churches close each week than are opened. More and more, people walk away from Jesus. And those still sitting in pews are worried about the moral swamp things are turning into.

Christians lament the loss of influence. The church was a revolutionary force for good in the first century. And "somebody" needs to "something" to restore order and moral decency. And "somebody" is somebody else. The pastor. The government. Mary. Rob and Judy.

Has anyone noticed that the first century was the golden age of the church? Has anyone noticed that the first century was a cultural and moral swamp? There were no civil or political protections for Christians. Being a Christian was good way to become an appetizer at the Lion's club.

Those following Jesus turned the world upside down by obeying Jesus, speaking truth, loving one another and loving those outside the family.

Welcome to the first century!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Salt III

Maybe the is no saltiness, because we have stopped taking the word of God seriously. We read the word and are delighted to review and rehearse the blessings. We are a blessed people. But we forget we are bless to extend God's glory.
  • Make disciples.
  • Give to the poor.
  • Pray for workers.
  • Pray for open doors for the gospel.
  • Always speak graciously.
  • Walk in love.
These are a few things God commands us to do that will demonstrate the person of Jesus to the world. How much preaching, teaching, planning and coordinating of church resources are churches giving to these thin? They will all require time and energy. They may require sacrifice.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Salt - II

Maybe there is no saltiness because we have stopped following Jesus' mission. When Jesus left the earth, he gave a command. "Go and make disciples." Most of the time, people read this a "make converts."
Yes, getting people to say "yes" to Jesus is important. So is the birth and delivery of physical children. But ask any parent, birth is just the beginning. There is feeding, diapers, cleaning up messes, little league and driver's ed.

The point of making disciples is not just getting them into the Kingdom. It's getting them Kingdom, preparing them to function on their own, and enabling them to make disciples on their own. And we will really only know if the job is done riht when the "grand-children" have "great grand-children."

If this is Jesus' mission, then TV and huge stadium events will not cut it. Children cannot be mass produced. Neither can disciples.