Thursday, January 31, 2013

Discipleship - III

The third item is “the breaking of bread.” Jesus instituted the breaking of bread to fulfill the same function in the Christian arena, that Passover does in the Jewish arena, or Thanksgiving should do in America. Passover is a yearly celebration of a great deliverance of the Jewish nation. Jews meet to celebrate, to reflect on, and to almost relive this deliverance over again.


Jesus intended break bread to have the same celebratory, reflective and reliving capacities. It was packaged in a simpler way so it could be pjracticed more frequently and taken into every context.


Events, both wonderful and horrific, tend to fade in the human memory. That’s a good thing for most part, especially in horrific cases. There are cases of people who get caught up in a tragedy. As a result, they are unable to ocntinue with normal living. This natural forgetfulness is a compensating mechanism, allowing people to move on.


But there are some event that should not be forgotten, should not fade. (Some of these may include the horrific too.) some events are transforming. Some events are revelutionary. But they need reflection, serious consideration and then, lead to conscious, intentional decisions to change, or to continue on a particular course.


Breaking bread should lead us back to the Cross, our decision to follow Jesus and the life changes since that decision.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Discipleship - II

The second thing the disciples focused on was spending time with their new family.  The term the Bible uses is "fellowship."

Fellowship was more than just hanging out, watching TV and eating pizza. There was a sharing and a participation in each other's lives. It does not preclude hanging out, watc hing TV or eating pizza. It just includes much more. It is the definition of living in God's  family.

It almost takes the rest of the New Testament to fully define what this type of family life means.

It is a life of mutual love, service ad giving. It is a life of building, encouraging and seeing potential in people. It lives outside of the normal cultural, but also becomes the ideals of that culture. It means working God's mission together.

It was the radical nature of their life together that affected their neighbors, and their cities. It is this living in God's family, as God's family, that can show what it means to be a Jesus follower.

Monday, January 28, 2013


As always, because of the juxtaposition of a few things, I find myself wondering what does God think a disciple is.

In the Bible, there is a history of the early church, beginning with the ascension of Jesus and continuing with the lives of his earliest and closest followers. Right at the beginning, there is a list of things these followers focused on, were committed to be engaged in, and the characteristics of their lives.

First, they focused on the apostle's teaching. What was God saying to people? What was his message to his family, his followers?

Disciples need to hear what God says. True transformation is powered by the Holy Spirit, and falls within the boundaries of the Bible. I have mentioned God's design of people a lot. I don't think that God quite puts "schematics" in the Bible. (For one, people are so different from one another.) But if people obey what the Spirit guides them into, from the Bible, the Spirit will empower transformation, and the restoration of God's original design in people. (Though it will be a continuing work in progress in this life.)

Not only is there direction for personal transformation, but there is direction for the whole family of God, and direction for his mission.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Spiritual Warfare - IX

We briefly defined prayer as an opening of heart, a giving and taking of what is on those hearts, between God and man. It is in prayer that the real-time interaction of relationship takes place. Here, people agree and align their hearts with God.


I think prayer takes place in numerous places, outside of church and the prayer closet. Prayer at all times and in every situation is urged. Such prayer is probably physically impossible. But a heart focused toward God, expressing itself in coherent words and thoughts, and in incoherent emotions, can, and probably does, happen more often than we are aware of. And God responds more often than we are aware of.


Prayer is a way we can influence event and situations beyond our immediate surroundings and abilities. We can participate in God’s mission by agreeing with God’s work in people’s lives. We can counteract the devil’s work by seeking and being alert to God’s responses. We can affirm and declare as true, what we know is right, in agreement with God’s truth and God’s will.


This is prayer. And it ought to be practiced at all times, in all occasions and events. God’s truth, Spirit and love should be expressed in everything.

Spiritual Warfare - VIII

When this area is usually discussed, there is one main "item" that is usually included. I mention it this way, because I am wondering if Paul intended it to be included ... or is he changing subjects? What makes me wonder is that Paul stops using the figurative language that he was using to discuss the other items. He speaks about this item plainly.

It's not that this is is not important or relevant. It is both.

The item is prayer. Prayer is commonly defined as "communicating with God." A person opens his heart to God. He tells God what he wants, what he thinks and what he feels. He explains his perspective. He enlists God's cooperation.

Prayer is the arena where a person agrees with God. He learns what God wants. He aligns his life and direction with God's. Which means people need to be able to receive from God.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Spiritual Warfare - VII

When Satan lies to you, attempts to convince you that you have no worth, or that you are a hopeless sinner, remember the truth of God. Remember God’s love, God’s power over Satan and power over sin. Remember God’s Spirit in your life marking you as a member of God’s family.

Remember your standing in God. You have entered into a love relationship with god, based on the death of Jesus. And if it seems like you are far from God, remember he is not far from you. It is a relationship he chose with you.

Remember the peace God established with you. He has called you. He began the relationship with you, so now you are no longer his enemy.

Remember that although the penalty for sin has been paid, we are still living in the midst of sin. Sin has not been totally eradicated. We are in process.

Remember God’s command. Remember God’s promises. Remember God’s declarations. Act on them. Practice them.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Spiritual Warfare - VI

We cannot remove the penalty for sin. We cannot negate the power and effects of sin. Only God can do these things. It is the power of God's Spirit in individuals, in societies and in cultures that create transformation.

And it is God's Word that expresses the means and results of that transformation. God's Word is compared to a sharp sword, cutting through all that opposes it. The Spirit uses God's Word - his commands, promises and declarations - to cut through opposition. It also defines how God's kingdom is composed and built.

These are the two entities that God uses to build his kingdom: his Spirit and his Word. We talked about vital truth is. God's Word is an expression of God's perspective on truth. God's kingdom will be created in agreement with God's Word
This is why we should know God's Word. This is why we need to practice it and obey it. A life of obedience  counteracts the schemes of the evil one, because it lives in agreement with God's kingdom. It loosens Satan's hold in our lives. It strengthens God's flow through us.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Spiritual Warfare - V

Salvation is, of course, the process of being rescued or delivered. In the teachings of Jesus, there if, in fact, three salvations, although, we generally focus on one. The first is being saved from the penalty of sin. The second is being saved from the power and effects of sin in this life. The third is being saved from the power and effects of sin for all time. The theological words for these processes are respectively: justification, sanctification, and glorification.


Each of the processes follows the order given above. A person will never need to “clean up their act” in order to be justified. A person will always be going to through the power and effects of sin in this life. Defeating sin for all time will only come at the end.


Some people become concerned that the process of justification will be reversed because they continue to experience the process of sanctification, and the process is unsuccessful. In other words, “God is going to get mad at me, because I keep falling into sin. He is going to revoke his justification, if I don’t stop falling into ‘ABC.’”


There are several false assumptions here. One, “ABC” is somehow a worse sin than all the others. Condemnation before God’s law comes from breaking God’s law … any part of God’s law. People especially think about this concerning certain addictive or sexual sins. Sins is sin. God does not tolerate any wrong doing. God condemns all wrong doing.


People talk about all sorts of addictions nowadays. Alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling are the most common. But addictions also include: aspirin, adrenaline, attention, work, hoarding, food, shopping, television, video games, and money. Evidently, if something exists, people can get addicted to it.


The truth is, there is only one addiction. People are addicted to sin. And they will continue to be addicted to sin until Jesus returns. If we are not addicted to one thing, we will be addicted to another. If we are not addicted to opium, then maybe it’s adrenalin or endorphins.


Two, God is somehow surprised or unable to deal with all this sin. God has a solution for sin. It is called “grace.”


Let’s not be mistaken. I am not saying we should ignore sin, or not be serious about sin. I am saying we should be more serious about the gospel and grace.


Understanding and living in our salvation is a defense against the devil. He wants us to view God as a harsh judge. He want us to live in fear. He wants us to focus on ourselves as failures, and our inability to live right, instead of God, others and God’s grace, given to live right lives.


Sanctification is a process that will take all our lives. And at the end of our lives, we will still have not made it. But God continues to work with us. God continues to be active in our lives. If God is still active, still encouraging right behavior of any sort, then God is still encouraged with us. God still believes we will make progress. God believes in us. And we should believe in, what God believes.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Spiritual Warfare - IV

We have truth: the nature of God, the nature of the world, the nature of people, what pleases God and what displeases God. We have specific truth about how we are positioned in God and how we are status in God’s family. But truth needs activation. And faith is the activator.


It is our choices that demonstrate what we believe in – whether truth or lies – and give power to what we believe in. If someone walks into a dark room, and he wants light, he shows his belief by wiggling a small piece of plastic by the door. This wiggling releases power and light into the room.


So, we need to learn to activate the power of the truth. To activate truth a person needs to be reminded of it. So, a person needs to be familiar with it. That’s why continuous reading and memorization are effective helps.


Once, reminded, a person should act on the truth. This could mean taking a specific course of action. It could mean a simple affirmation and confirmation of the truth in your heart. It could mean – to make the truth more real, more definite – making a verbal, out loud proclamation of truth.


Activating truth will always require a realization of truth and an acting on the truth.