Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Love - 1

Eloquence without love is just a bunch of noise. Understanding all the mysteries of God, revealing the future, the mission and the heart of God without love is just so much hot air. Sacrifice without love is vanity and chasing the wind.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Power Behind It All

It doesn't matter what spiritual gift, what supernatural enablement, a person possesses, if it is not motivated, exercised and applied to other people with, by, through, over, around and about love, its effect will be a big, fat zero.

The Spirit gives, blesses and empowers these gifts. The Spirit fulfills, completes and empowers his mission through these gifts. No love brings it all crashing down.

No, gifts, no training and no education can match up with the power of love.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Purpose of Gifts

A while ago, we were considering a young church that was experiencing a number of problems. I speculated that because they fundamentally had a worldview that agreed with the Greek worldview, they did not understand God's worldview. They valued different things than God valued. They valued things differently than God valued them.

This church valued gifted men. it valued them in such a way that it created factions in the church. I sometimes wonder if the factions began because people valued different gifts. They followed the man because he was especially gifted in a particular area.

When a person begins to follow Jesus, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, begins to live with the person in a special way. If the person follows Jesus, then he has that relationship with the Spirit. If the person has that special relationship, then the Spirit grants him a gift, a supernaturally empowered ability. 

In this church, these abilities caused a pulling away from one another. But that's not the plan at all. The spirit grants these abilities to pull god's family together.

Each person has needs. Each group has needs, If the group is organized in any way, they will need to address personal and group needs eventually. The group will organize and initiate something to address these needs.

If there is a group comprised of unmarried, college students, they have no need for a nursery. But put a group of college students together, there will be boy-girl pairings, marriages and children. Once, there are children, the group must develop a philosophy, a strategy and a plan of action for dealing with children in the meetings. One can follow the common plan of separating people in age related groups with it resulting issues. Or one can decide that children need to grow up, and one of the problems of modern society is too low expectations of children's behavior. So, they plan to keep the children involved with the adults as much as possible. This is one issue. And these are a couple of solutions to that issue.

God's solution is combining within a group, gifted people capable of dealing with those problems. All the resources necessary for dealing all the issues already reside within the group. And the resources are the gifted people. Some of those gifted people, God gave to equip, to restore or to train other gifted people to serve in more complete, fuller and more sure ways.

The combination of this preparation by the Holy Spirit and by other people results in each individual functioning better, and the group functioning better.

The human body functions, grows and reproduces when there is clean air, clean water, wholesome food and appropriate exercise of body, mind and spirit. If each part does it job, it will produce a more healthy situation.

But god has added something else that brings the whole thing to a critical mass, and pushes it past the tipping point.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mission and Gifts

We have Jesus' marching orders -- make disciples. We have Jesus' supernatural enablement -- gifts of grace. do they go together?

People with certain gifts inspire. Others give vision or encourage. Others can give instruction about skills, ideas or attitudes. Others heal physically or psychologically. Others serve, meet needs or provide. The overall effect is progress, growth and momentum. The overall aim is building the body of Christ.

The process of building continues until everyone has the same relationship with Jesus, the same understanding of Jesus, and the same character that behaves like Jesus. All the children of God are mature. They are not following fads. They are not following glitz.

Too often the followers of Jesus get mesmerized by shiny objects and bright lights. They major in the minors.

We are to focus on truth. We are to focus on love. By application of truth and love, we should grow to think, speak and act like Jesus. Jesus empowers each part. And as each part completes its work, the whole grows.

And because the whole grows to think, speak and act like Jesus, it has a transforming effect on its society and culture.

Isn't that the core of what being and making disciples all about?

Friday, November 18, 2011


When a person chooses to follow Jesus, God gives that person a special connection to himself. God's Spirit takes up residence in the temple of the human heart. And the Spirit gives each follower a supernatural enablement. The Bible descries it as a gift of grace.

There has been a lot of debate about these gifts in recent years. But the Bible states several things quite clearly.

(1) The gift is for the common good. One picture the bible gives of the people of God is that of the human body. There are numerous part, internal organs and bodily functions. Each of these are necessary to maintain the proper health of the group and to promote growth and reproduction. So, each gift is necessary for the health and growth of God's family. If members do not complete their function, it will weaken the group. Either it will not function well or it will become ill.

(2) There are many gifts, because there are many needs. Meeting all of the needs is vital to the group. We are not in the position to say one person is more important than another. If you are on a ship, and the engine is overheating, to the point that it will explode if nothing is done, the captain is not the most important on the ship. The most important person is the third rank mechanic who knows where the relief valve is.

(3) It is the Spirit who gives each gift. It is the Spirit who works through each gift. It is the Spirit who places each gift as he wills, according to his mission and wisdom.

If any gifts are more important, it is the equipping gifts. People with these gifts restore the life and health of God's children, so they can do the best, and be the best, at serving in whatever capacity they have. (The evangelist does not share the good news. He trains, restores and heals the remainder of the family so they can share the good news and be the good news.)

If someone proclaims Jesus as Lord, God has given them his Spirit. The Spirit has given them a gift of grace. And all members of the family, in reality, do have a capacity that must be embraced or the family falters. Everybody has a place.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Holy Spirit Makes Family

If a person declares that Jesus is king over all, that person has the Spirit of God. And no one can speak against Jesus if he has the Spirit of God.

The Spirit of God marks, claims, motivates, teaches and transforms all those who know Jesus. God downloads himself into any and all who choose to align themselves ith him, who give him their allegiance and become part of his family.

And if you are part of God's familyu, anyone else who is part of God's family is part of your family. It does not matter how they act. It does not matter if their practices, their religious label or their style is different from your. They are family.

Make Disciples

At the end of Jesus' time on earth, he instructed his disciples to go to the end of  the earth and make disciples. Decisions to follow Jesus are important. Decisions to become part of Jesus' family are important. But is that what becoming a disciple is?

Jesus said that when a disciple is fully trained, he will become like his teacher. So, the process of discipleship is not simply the passing on of information. The intersection of teacher and disciple molds a life. Transformation flows into every area of the disciple's life. It changes speech, thinking, goals, the way he works, the way she approaches people, and the way he spends his money.

If a disciple is supposed to become like his teacher, then Jesus' disciples should become like Jesus.

  • Jesus, at times, prayed all night.
  • Jesus consistently rubbed shoulders with the outcasts of his day.
  • Jesus consistently gave his time, energy and love to serve those who came to him.
  • Jesus consistently spent time with a small group of people to love, transform and equip them.
  • Jesus always spoke truth.
  • Jesus always kept the goal in mind, and always walked toward it.

Again decisions are important. But the job Jesus gave us was not to secure decisions. It was to make disciples.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Individualized Grace

In a number of places in Scripture, Paul asks his audience to make certain to make sure to pursue a certain lifestyle. To pursue certain qualities. He knows it is not what people say that matters. It is what people do.

Speaking is part of doing. It is an important part. This “speaking” and “doing” that Paul is concerned about are the things that arise from everyday living.

A philosophy has no worth if it can’t be brought into the real world. It has to be able to be practiced at work, at school or in the home. It must be doable playing football, baking bread, writing a program or writing a symphony.

One of the main qualities Paul calls us to pursue is unity. When a person chooses to follow Jesus a number of factors enter into his\her life that cause him\her to become aligned with all the other who follow Jesus. There are differences, just as there are in any family. Even identical twins have differences. But our commonalities ought to produce enough centripetal force that it is stronger than the centrifugal force.

But unity does not mean uniformity. Paul says Jesus gives each one an individualized allotment of grace. Jesus’ family is not a mass produced army of clones. Rather, each one is a hand-crafted masterpiece. Each one is set into a beautiful mosaic; precisely placed to maximize the wonder of the artwork. Gifted men are given, not to do the work, but to train the family so the family can do the work.

With all the members of the family doing the work, each in his\her individual way, the value of each person grows in importance. With all the members of the family doing the work, each in his\her individual way, the potential for transformation of society and culture increases.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


God has given gifted men to “equip” the saints to do the work. “Equip” in the original language is used in a medical sense to denote the setting of a broken bone. It has also been used to denote the mending of a torn fishing net.

It is a term of restoration. To take something that is broken, that does not function as it should and renewing it to work as it was originally designed to do.

Monday, November 07, 2011


God is different than people in two fundamental areas. One, God is infinite and man is finite. Two, God is holy and man is not holy.

Man was designed to be finite. We understand that is part of man’s nature. But man was also designed to be holy. And we do not understand that part. All we know is man’s imperfection.

What is holiness? What does it look like? We can define it somewhat: righteousness, moral perfection, glory. Having an understanding is another.

Because Jesus was God, we know he was holy. As we see Jesus’ life, we see holiness.

Because the Holy Spirit is God, we know he is holy. To understand the results of the Spirit’s work and presence is to understand what holiness looks like.

Part of God’s fundamental nature is his attribute of holiness. So, Jesus always acted in holiness. The Spirit always acts in holiness. They cannot deny their nature.

The Bible explicitly states that the result of the Holy Spirit moving into a situation is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Holiness looks like these things.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Wallking With God: The Sinai Blessing

There have been several phenomena that have gotten many Christians very excited in the last several years. These Christians look at these Phenomena as an indication of God's anointing and blessing.

They seem to forget when God was leading Israel back to Canaan from Egypt. God personally led them. By day, he stood in a pillar of cloud. By night, he stood in a pillar of fire. And when they camped, his presence resided in a tent that was specially made for the purpose. It could be argued that God has never displayed his presence in such a public, consistent, long term manner.

Yet this blessing did not lead to greater holiness. Indeed, none in that generation, except Joshua and Caleb, not even Moses, lived to enter the Land of Promise.

Anointing and blessing are wonderful to have, but walking with God is more than just anointing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Joseph: Position vs. Character

The Bible tells the story of Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of Joseph. His father clearly favored Joseph above the other. So, they sold Joseph as a slave to a group going to Egypt, and told his father he had been killed by a wild animal.

In Egypt, he was sold to an Egyptian official. He worked hard, it was said that God was with him, and he rose to stand in authority over the official’s house.

But because of a false testimony, he was sent to prison. In prison, he worked hard, it was said that God was with him, and he rose to stand in authority over the prison.

Finally, he helped an official in prison, and the official recommended Joseph for an important job to the King. And the King not only used him for that job, but gave him a bigger job. He worked hard, it was said that God was with him, and he rose to stand in authority over all Egypt.

It did not matter where Joseph was. He was positive. He was faithful and trustworthy. He was diligent. God’s grace flowed through Joseph and had transforming, blessing effects.

Which is more important, a person’s position or the attitude, energy and character a person displays in that position?