Friday, August 31, 2012


It is written in the Bible in several places that God's desire is to create a people who are priests. "A nation of priests." Every single one of his children is a priest. We do not live in obedience to that.

A priest is a certain person who represents God, who connect God to, who serves other people in their relationship with God. There are certain tasks, certain areas of service, that complete these purposes o the priesthood. A priest needs to be trained in, and to practice these tasks.

Priests are an intermediary, a go-between, for god and people. So, a priest needs to be able and to practice praying for people. If the whole family of God comprises the whole priesthood of God, then all of God's children should practice praying for others.

If a function of the priesthood is to explain the character and nature of God, how to live his lifestyle, and how to improve the relationship between a person and God, then all of God's children should teach.

If a function of the priesthood is to perform a ceremony where a person declares his allegiance to God, that he now a part of God's family, and that he renounces his former way of living (not his physical family or people), then all of God's children should baptize.

And all of God's children are part of the process to demonstrate the supremacy of God and Jesus, to persuade those not in God's family to change their allegiance to God, and to teach all of God's children what is necessary to know and to do in order to achieve transformation into his image.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Given the increasing bad feelings among Americans, the inability to discuss reasonably and peaceably differing opinions in politics and religion, I think the sentiments written about on the following link is a good step in the right direction. Hopefully, prayerfully, anyone who has given his allegiance to Jesus will adopt the attitudes expressed here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grace and Prayer - II

This understanding of God's nature provides us with a different understanding of prayer. People should not be afraid to ask God. To seek provision for needs. To ask about wants. To pray for big things.

The answers coming back may not be what I expected. My son may ask me for a Harley 900. I have have the means to get him one. I may want to give him one. But, if he is five, he is not legally able to drive. He is not physically ready or mentally ready to drive one. I would be a bad father to buy one, and say, "Here it is! Take off!"

I could tell him he was too little, and buy him a bike. I could tell him he was too little, and plan to buy him one as a high school or college graduation present. I could buy one, and show it to him. "You are too little to ride it now. But this is yours, and you can rtide it when you are older."

The are a multitude of possibilities of how God could respond to our requests in keeping with his love, his wisdom and his purposes.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Grace and Prayer

Jesus told a story about man who had a late night visitor. The visitor had come far, had eaten nothing and was famished. The man, being a good host, wanted to feed him, but he had nothing in the house. So, he went to his neighbor. He knocked on the door, and shouted out his need for some bread. Again, it was late. Everyone was in bed. And the neighbor did not want to get up.

Now , if the neighbor did not want to get up, because of friendship, or common kindness, he would get up if the man kept banging on the door. He would not be able to get back to sleep unless he got rid of the man.

Jesus drew a contrast between God and the neighbor. Many people feel like God is like the neighbor. When we bring our needs to him, we have to bang on the door, yell loud, and keep yelling until God says “For my sake, here! Take it! Now give me some peace and quiet!”

No, Jesus says God is not like that. People tend to be selfish. But even most selfish people love their children, and want to provide the best for them. And God is not a selfish person. God is a truly loving, generous person, who really wants to reach out to us, and give us the best.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Workers in the Harvest

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful. The reason there is so little produce stored away was because there were too few workers. Jesus then commanded us to pray for more workers.

  • Is this part of our prayer life?
We are probably praying -- if we pray at all -- for all sorts of things. Needs abound. And God expects us to bring our needs before him. Good things continue to happen. God expects us to give praise and thanksgiving. But do we pray for this? Is what is important to Jesus, important to us?
  • What makes a worker, a "worker"?
Jesus seems to think we need a lot of them. So, does a worker need a BA from a special school? Or does it only require a willingness to work, and a heart for people?

Certainly, at a minimum, a worker needs a heart for people. Motivation counts for a lot in God's kingdom.

Does training count for anything? We can't consider training to be nothing. Training can have a positive impact in all sorts of area: understanding Scripture, how to live God's standards, how to pray, sensitivity to cultural differences and other practical issues. But how much is enough? No amount of training can prepare a person for everything. And we will never be at a point where we will be finished with learning or changing. People probably make mistakes in waiting too long, or going too early all the time. But people seem to side mostly on waiting too long. There is probably a point that Jesus had in mind for being a worker. And it is probably earlier than we normally assume.

One reason it is earlier, is because Jesus never assumed anyone would become a worker alone. Life as a follower of Jesus is always placed into community, into family. Some will just be beginning. Some will have lots of experience, lots of training. And they will labor together -- drawing on each other's strengths and resources. And everyone has resources.

Moreover, as important as training in some areas is, there are some things we need to learn that training cannot touch the essential core. We need to learn faith: dependence on Jesus. We need to learn love: giving to promote the best in people. We need to learn to be strengthened in grace: receiving Jesus' resources which go far beyond our own. It is these heart qualities that impact people and cultures the most.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Love Never Fails

It is written in the Bible that "Love never fails." Reading it in English, I wonder if it means that love always succeeds, or if it means that love never ceases.

Since, in its immediate context, it is compared with things that will expire, I deduce it will never cease. I imagine water going over Niagara Falls. A torrent extending back to the horizon. It does not slow down. It does not decrease in its flow. There does not seem to be an end to its thundering power.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Proclaim the Gospel

There are groups of Christians who send teams out into society to pray for people. The pray for: God’s blessing on the individual, physical healing and relationships. From reports I have heard, most people who receive this prayer are blessed encouraged and grateful. Sometimes, a conversation ensues. Those praying can talk about why they are doing this, what God has done in their lives, and how God views those receiving prayer. But often there is no conversation.

When I first heard about these prayer teams, I thought this was an interesting segue into evangelism. I was familiar with evangelism teams. The purpose of these teams was to engage people in a conversation about Jesus. The intention was often to make a complete, clear presentation of the gospel, coupled with a challenge to receive the gospel.

The main challenge to these conversations was getting one started. People have taken surveys. (Which always seemed a bit deceptive to me, because the results were never used.) People have given a cold, straight-forward invitation to a conversation.

The prayer teams had a more open-ended purpose. The team wanted to demonstrate the love of Jesus for people. Showing Jesus’ love was the intended purpose for the evangelism team also. The Bible says people have a problem, and the problem makes them God’s enemy. Jesus provides the solution to that problem. Knowing this – the problem, the results of the problem and the solution – Jesus’ followers should be motivated by love and compassion when they shared Jesus’ message. Unfortunately, these conversations frequently end up in a debate about who is right and who is wrong. With lots of finger pointing about wrong things Christians do and have done.

I have found a place in Scripture where Jesus sends his disciple out to “proclaim the Kingdom” and “heal the sick.” It seems that Jesus encouraged his disciples to do the best of both.

A man I know defines “grace” as “God supplying whatever it is a person lacks to meet whatever need or situation he is facing.” Maybe what we need to form is “grace teams,” go and encounter people, listen to God and give what is needed. If they need to hear truth, then speak truth. If they are sick, then pray for healing. If they need to talk, then listen. If they are hungry, then feed them … both their stomachs and their souls. If they are lonely, the a community to belong to.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Full Gospel, Again?

One of the reasons many people favor this “new” view of the gospel is that it gives the church a swift kick in the pants.

God’s people have emphasized the “Four Laws” view of the gospel. Man’s sin makes him God’s enemy. Man needs to respond to Jesus’ invitation to be reconciled to God and avoid a just punishment. As someone who knows he deserves God's just punishment, I am personally very grateful Jesus paid the ransom, and I have this reconciliation.

But there has been a tendency for people to think once they have gone forward and prayed the prayer, their responsibilities consist of showing up at the meetings and paying their dues.

I know someone who likes to quote the Apostle John, who said the reason Jesus came into the world was to destroy the works of the devil. I would not argue against that. I would argue that God’s pattern is to remove the evil, then to fill the void with good. We destroy Satan’s works by filling the world with Jesus’ works. Jesus did not command us to get professions of faith. Jesus commanded us to make disciples.

Disciples are molded step by step, day by day, to think, to live, to act and to speak like Jesus. Jesus has an expectation that his disciples will greatly impact society, politics and culture. Jesus also expects that impact to happen almost immediately. It should not take years. It should not take special schooling.

There may be instruction. The further away from a Jesus centered heritage, the more concepts, behaviors, attitudes and motivations ought to be removed and new life planted. But the Spirit of God is planted in hearts. A personal revolution takes places in the hearts of people.

Some fun has been poked at George Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light” metaphor. George did not invent the concept behind the metaphor. God did. God’s Spirit in the hearts of disciples should stand out like stars on a dark night.

God has ignited the lights in our hearts. And the expectations and systems of current churches has too often put the light under the bed and in the closet, where it does no good.

So, if we include in the gospel, God transforming the world system into his kingdom, and the process of forming disciples as the catalyst to that transformation, there has to be a revolution at the heart of church, as well as the heart of people.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Full Gospel?

There are places where it is written in Scripture that Jesus traveled to different places “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God.” Does that mean there were meetings where Jesus preached his version of the Four Spiritual Laws?

There are a number of people who are beginning to think western, evangelical churches are preaching a gospel that is too small. They do not mean that Jesus coming into the world, to live, to die, to rise, and to satisfy God’s justice for our sin is not part of the gospel. This is true. This is the gospel. But is part of the gospel.

They propose that the entire gospel is – God is going to fix everything.

  • Do people have a broken relationship with God, because of sin? Yes. God is going to fix that.
  • Do people have broken relationships with other people? Yes. God is going to fix that. 
  • Do governments and countries treat people unfairly? Yes. On purpose? Yes. God is going to fix that.
  • Is the world we live in poisoned by our activities? Yes. God is going to fix that.
  • Are people poorly fed, drinking polluted water, inadequately educated, without hope or a future? Yes. God is going to fix that.
When? I don’t know. And I don’t know how I can find out. Certainly not in the time frame and manner that people would devise.

The good news is God is fomenting revolution. He is chasing out the current ruler. He is establishing, once again, his kingdom. He is bringing healing to everything that is broke.

Our relationship with God will be totally healed. Our relationship with people will be totally healed. Our relationship with ourselves will be totally healed. Our relationship with nature will be totally healed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Systems - IV

I want to take the opportunity to quick clarify a couple of things.

Systems are not bad. The nature of group dynamics requires that rules, roles, policies and procedure are formed. They can be formal. They can be informal. Just as God designed human beings with the ability to form habits, (and as originally designed, habits are a good thing) God designed groups of people to create systems.

Systems can become bad. They become bad when they have the effect of blocking god’s mission and God’s design. If a rule, policy or procedure is established to promote something God-honoring, and it is successful, that is good. But if the rule, policy or procedure has effect over time that blocks obedience to God’s Word, it has turned bad. And it needs to be examined, evaluated, reformed or maybe, scrapped.