Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carlin spoke on Sunday of the fire devastation in the San Diego area. Her mom & dad are a part of a home church group in San Diego that is helping out with the disaster. If you sense God is calling you to help please contact them.

Friends and Family Community Connection

Psalm 25:4-5
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Kingdom Living VII: It’s A Wonderful Life!

Your death: Deny it, delay it or embrace it!

A disciple is one who has learned the most important thing to do is to live in the kingdom of God.

As a result of that they are arranging & rearranging their affairs so that will actually happen.

Israel's National Parks Authority, according to Time Magazine, "has approved a 262-ft.-long transparent bridge to be built just below the surface of the Sea of Galilee so visitors can follow in the footsteps of Christ... After it opens in August, local lawyer and contractor Ron Major expects up to 800,000 people a year to pay a minimum fee to walk on water. Lifeguards will be on hand in case anyone strays from the true path.”

Is that the only way to actually follow in the footsteps of Jesus? Or is there another way to find life in the kingdom?

If I had walked on water it’d be on my resume. Wouldn’t you want it on yours, even if was only for a short time?

Today you can be a Christian for many years and not actually be challenged to be a disciple.

What is this new life actually like?

Colossians 3:1-16
He Is Your Life
So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!

These are positive directions for the kingdom life. ‘Put to death’…

For some of us anger has been an old friend, we hate to see it go.

‘No Jew or Greek’- they had a thing with each other back in those days. They really didn’t like each other & it seemed to have something to do with who was better. Could be Hutu or Tutsi, black- white, servant- master, male –female.

The distinctions we use to control one another & put each other down- well they’re gone in the kingdom!

We’re in the process of transforming the inside, our heart, and our attitude.

We become people who are oozing forgiveness and forbearance. We are given the grace and power to live as Jesus lived, including his death. It’s not a transparent bridge we walk on to fool others or ourselves.

John 12:24-25
"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.”

You might be saying to yourself, “I just can’t do that.”

Well, you’re right you can’t but Jesus Christ can through you! Risk it!

John 14:15-21
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Obey my commands and I will send the Spirit to help you. What comes first?

“And overall these virtues put on love.” Some translations use ‘charity’- pure givingness. Love is a distorted word in our day. 'I love chocolate.'

“Peace of Christ” is in the body- not an individual thing.

Galatians 5: love, joy, peace- peace is founded on joy, which is founded on love.

Do you know real peace? Real peace is not feeling like something bad is going to happen. Some of us live in fear 24/7- something bad is going to happen. The shoe is going to drop.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” I used to think you just read a passage once. After that it’s ‘been there done that’.

Imagine a community, a group of spiritual friends where that actually takes place. Community that is focused on the wisdom of Christ. Wow, that’s what our hearts yearn for. That’s what the world will take notice of.

What songs do you naturally sing?

As an early teen I sang this song out of my loneliness...

I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I'd love you to love me.
I'm beggin you to beg me.
Didnt I, didnt I, didnt I see you cryin?
Oh, didnt I, didnt I, didnt I see you cryin?
Feelin all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin.
Oh, didnt I, didnt I, didnt I see you cryin?

For the last number of years, especially since my son James was born, I sing this song from James 1:
“Father of lights..”
Father of lights, You delight in Your children
Every good and perfect gift comes from You
Father of lights, You never change You have no turning

Turn off your MP3, CD, and tape player and actually sing with God.

This life we’ve been looking at was actually played out in Acts. Acts is a picture of the life that is not of the world- it’s genuine kingdom life in action!

In Acts the kingdom of God is taking a form that it never had before. It was unleashed from political realities.

Acts 1:6
So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

These early Christ-followers were lived Power without position. The new life doesn’t depend on human recognition or standing. (Similar to the book of Judges)

Step into His kingdom and do His commands. His power will be there. There is no position. Paul describes themselves as ‘refuse’.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Welcome to the gathering of refuse, of putricity.

No positional power. He that is greatest is the servant of all. The servant of all is the one on the bottom of the pile.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. You simply step out where you are- your neighborhood, school, workplace, family.

The followers in Acts waited. They spent a lot of time together waiting, prying and talking while they continued to wait on God. We can find a place to wait for God to come upon us.

Abraham, Sarah, Jonah, the list could go on of characters in the Bible who waited. The temptation is always to take it into our own hands.

The curse of the church is to decide to do it on our own. Good ideas not God ideas. I know, I’ve been there done that.

If we run ahead of God we’re going to have to do it on our own. Some of us are still happy to do that.

The early church showed us that We are an inhabited people. Metaphysically God is everywhere. Manifestly He is not. God will manifest Himself in our presence. Some will experience the Holy Spirit. We usually say of those people, “He or she walks with God.”

Some people are not willing to see and so often cannot see. There was a time I was too rational to see, and also fearful, suspicious, and so I missed out. I chose that. “There will be no miracles here.”

Romans 12
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Our bodies can manifest holiness or sin. Sometimes there is a conflict. In the Christ followers in Acts there was a manifest presence in the people.

This little light of mine I'm gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm gonna let it shine.

Let the manifest presence shine through you. There was real healing power in the early followers.

Halloween & power- we have nothing to fear!

Acts 8
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

Then Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me."

Repentance in action. When you start a fire you don’t just lay a match on the wod and expect it to go. Or two, or twenty matches. The temperature has to be raised for the match to ignite and light the fire.

What’s my temperature? What’s your temperature?

Do you want the fire to break out like in Acts?

Is your motto, "Come as you are; leave as you came."

Let your life flow with love. Wear it more and more...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Might As Well Jump...

Life is most definitely a journey. Henri Nouwen travelled with a trapeze group & discovered that one of their maxims was, "Trust the catcher". The flyer was to never try to catch the catcher- he must wait to be caught.

How are you feeling right now? Are you in free fall wondering if the chute will open? Or are you enjoying the ride?

Isaiah 40:30-31
God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.

Friday, October 26, 2007

the (North) American Dream

1 Timothy 6:6-12
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

spiritual busybodies

"Stay away from people who sound good but never exhibit true fruit of the inward walk. Their talk is deceptive and you will almost always find them restless, fault-finding and full of their own thoughts. These spiritual busybodies are annoyed with everything and are almost always annoying." Francois de Fenelon

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kingdom Living VI: When Did You Die?

The kingdom of God is about living life with Jesus Christ each and every day. We define it as the range of God’s effective will. If God has His way in our lives we’re in the kingdom. If he doesn’t have His way in our lives, perhaps we’re not a part of the kingdom either!

God wants you to become the kind of person whom He can trust to do whatever you want.

So what do you want?

To do what He wants.

My desire for the past several weeks was to help us see a vision for living our lives before the open heavens. Key to that is what Jesus walked around saying, ‘repent’. That’s really to have a broken & contrite heart. It’s the entryway to death to ourselves in order to live into a new reality & life that is so much better than we currently experience.

Once you get the vision we must have the intention to die to ourselves. Jesus doesn’t wrestle us onto the cross. He went willingly & expects the same for us. Honestly I had renewed my desire to be there, and God met me in profound & humbling ways in the past week.

When we make the intention to cooperate with God, to move out of our impulsive will God speaks very clearly. When we’re not liberated from our impulsive will we’ll usually attack when we encounter resistance. We’ll attack others, our circumstances, even God. We get good at these attacks too, very adept at putting in a little dagger, a little needle in someone else; give a little poison here & there.

In our every day life we’ve lost the sociological explanation of sin. We can’t say it. It’s true in society & in many communities of faith. I always find it amazing that the church of Jesus Christ, the one place where in order to be a part of it you say you’re too messed up to deserve being in, & that’s the price of admission, once you get in you start saying ‘I wasn’t really that bad.’ It’s crazy!

It’s like a farmer who can’t say ‘weed’ or ‘bug’. I planted, & I fertilized but I’m not getting any crops. The farmer says, ‘I just don’t get it.’

We are complaining about the ants at the picnic when the bears are eating our children. Blaise Pascal

Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrange­ments our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits.

What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things hewants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a pro­ducer of confusion rather than harmony? (from the Big Book)

Romans 1:28-32
Since they didn't bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it's not as if they don't know better. They know perfectly well they're spitting in God's face. And they don't care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!

Our core issue is that we like to play God. 'They didn't want to acknowedge God.'

"The hypocrite always complains about all of the sex and violence on his VCR."

2 Timothy 3:3- 'unforgiving'. Some translations read ‘irreconcilable’ or 'implaccable'..

They cannot be appeased. They are hardened living in the pride of life. Those who make vows like ‘you will not put me down anymore to God or anyone else’.

James 3:13-18
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist there is strife. Always has been that way & always will. They are running their own kingdom & not living in the kingdom of God.

Isaiah 6
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

How can you be a sinner and yet full of joy at the same time?

It’s because we see God! It’s life in the kingdom.

"There was a day when I died, utterly died to George Muller and his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of even my brethren and family and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God." George Muller

When did you die?

We’re supposed to forgive but we usually can’t. It’s too good a feeling holding onto our anger.

But if we choose to forgive we can. God will help us. You can’t crucify yourself; if you intend it, if you will it you can because God will help you.

May be we should all lie down on the floor and symbolically die, saying to God, “I give you all my will, my desires, my wants, my needs. They can’t be mine anymore- they are yours Jesus.”

If you’ve been dominated, abused or hurt badly the way out isn’t to assert your own will- it’s to discover God’s will- the kingdom life and choose to live there.

Monty Python & The Black Knight

We're all a little like the Black Knight: we're invited into a greater story, but we want to run our own little kingdom. We'll fight whoever challenges us including God. In the end what's left?

Wonder where you have yet to die? When did you last get angry? What was it about?

Stand against injustice but don’t get angry. MLK wasn’t an angry man. He wasn’t mad.

Look at the record of the early Christ followers in the book of Acts. Paul & others were beaten, left for dead. Then they had great prayer meetings where they railed against God and invoked harm unit those who hurt them. Oh, sorry, those are just my fantasies.

They rejoiced that they could be counted to suffer.

1 Peter 3:8-17
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Let’s get used to dieing- it’s good for the soul!

Our God is a consuming fire. Heaven may be a lot hotter than hell.

As we gather for communion, consider where God is asking you to let go. Where are you still holding onto the old life?

Where are you emotions amplifying beyond the circumstances? Perhaps with grief, sadness, guilt or shame. Often it's a numbness.

Who’s in control here? is the operative question in the spiritual realm.

When did you die? Come to communion Unashamed...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

This piece of work is up for an art award. Many times we make similar vows in our own hearts, leading us to forsake experiencing God.

Have you made any vows restricting access of God in your own life?

Proverbs 23:7
For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Need a new swingset?

1 Peter 4:1-5
Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

You've already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it's time to be done with it for good. Of course, your old friends don't understand why you don't join in with the old gang anymore. But you don't have to give an account to them. They're the ones who will be called on the carpet—and before God himself.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Advent Conspiracy, no bull!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You won't find Joel on the streets...

I don't usually quote Mark Driscoll but he really nailed this one.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Takin' it to the streets...

Matthew 25:37-46
"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Kingdom Living V: Have You Accepted Your Death?

Colossians 3:1-4
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

You are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. That’s a contradiction, isn’t it? We don’t understand life. The kingdom of God is a living reality.

Who you are is identified by your place in God’s kingdom. My life and your life are meant to be hid with Jesus Christ.

Why isn’t the kingdom of God obvious?

Matthew 6:6
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Isaiah 45:15
Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.

The kingdom of God is a hidden realm.

Luke 17:20-21
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

Or 'among you’ or ‘within your grasp’.

Matthew 16:24-25
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Take up your cross- the common human way is to say with attitude, “I’m going to save my life!”


You & I have two lives. One life that looks like us where we have control. You’re hungry so you eat. You’re tired so you sleep. It’s the life we see presented to each other. Our job is to die to that life and take up the life of Christ. We usually grit our teeth as we acquiesce and say, “I’m dieing to self.”

We see, hear & experience that in a negative. But that needn't be the case. We should be happy to die!

Romans 6:4
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

This new life is the real life.

There are three factors to life: it is self-initiating; self-sustaining & self-directed. Our old life is therefore no longer self-directed or anything else.

We accept His death as the end of our life, too.

Romans 6:6-7
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

There is the actual possibility to step free from sin in this new life with Christ.

Romans 6:12-14
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Grace is a living principle- a real presence in our life. Acknowledge it!

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

You can have a vision that doesn’t change your overall vision. We can have a real experience with Jesus but still maintain a distorted picture of reality.

Matthew 16:13-20
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Peter says, “You are the Christ”. Jesus tells him that the Father has shown him this.

Look what happens right after in verses 21-25:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Peter had a vision of Jesus, but it was yet to capture his own reality. What I assume in my actions will show the reality I live in. what you go around doing mindlessly is the reality you live in, because you just assume it.

For most of us the physical world is our reality.

Hebrews 11:24-27
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

He saw him who was invisible. It wasn’t a vision he had; it was a vision that had him!

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Faith is the knowledge and vision of what is unseen (invisible).

The physical world is not our reality as Christ followers.

E = mc²

Hebrews 12:28-29
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." (Deuteronomy 4:24)

Where did they get that image? They got that image from their experience (Exodus 19).

We humans have the matter and want the energy, always focusing on the right side of the equation. Look at it from a different perspective, a higher perspective if you will, the left side: out of God’s infinite energy He created matter!

We have an active God. We don’t have a little God; we have a god of immense power. That is the energy of the kingdom of God.

Death to self is therefore not negative but rather abandonment to this great life with God. This is a good place to be. We aren’t in need of control- we can trust the Father. We don’t need to feel abandoned and orphaned, for He is with us and able to do what needs to be done.

We don’t even need to be happy, to work to achieve our identity and status. We can surrender our desire, our need, our preoccupation, and our anxiety over being happy to God.

The task is to be worthy of happiness. Happiness is more a by-product than a search for itself.

Deuteronomy 8:1-5
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

What does it mean to be humble? To get you and I where we wouldn’t go naturally!

There is a fashion line now that’s referred to as ‘disposable trendy’, especially for teenagers that literally last only a season or so, because the style will wear out. Contrast that with the fact that to, ‘Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.’

How did that happen? Powerful amazing God. E = mc²!

A scientist once said that if Jesus had turned the water into wine that there was no pot able to withstand the corresponding heat release from the process. You have to figure, E = mc² that God could figure that one out if He could change it in the first place!

What is manna? It means, ‘what is this?’

What if it was the word of God in tangible form? The absolute trust in God that took a physical form.

It’s contrary to thinking that God is not going to provide for me- so I must take care of it.

In Acts 5 there is the story of Ananias & Sapphira, who sold some land and held part of the money back. Well, they died from that. What if God were that tangible here? Bit of a scary thought!

People can die from the power of God. We can also be healed by that amazing power, too. But first we must abandon what we are and what we do to God.

Acts 5 teaches us that we shouldn’t pretend to be what we’re not. In the kingdom we get to be exactly who we are. Craig Ferguson gave us a glimpse of that last week, speaking openly about his alcoholism.

We’re into image management, because we only see the surface. The kingdom takes us beyond that. In Matthew 3:16
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.

Ezekiel 1
The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.

The heavens opened up, as in revelation. In kingdom living we get an invitation to live before the open heavens, before a reality that is always there, we just haven’t been able or willing to see it.

We get a glimpse of what is there all the time. You and I can choose to look, or choose to ignore it. It's there all the time.

Spirit is the only reality that can be seen when it wants to be seen. Babies and infants haven’t learned how to hide in their bodies yet, and it also helps us glimpse kingdom reality.

Mark 10:14-16
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

When Marcus, or Varity dances, or Mr Eisenkrein does the Chris chicken, they are responding with joy to an unseen reality. David danced undignified.

Life in the kingdom- living a life where we’ve died to ourselves teaches us to trust when we don’t get our way. We all have self-will: not just will, but the will to have it the way I WANT IT! And if I don’t get it there’s going to be a problem.

When you have accepted the fact that you don’t have to have your own way, we can also learn not to be upset when we don’t our way. Our impulsive will is aimed at instant gratification, lower levels of happiness and has a low frustration tolerance. Our reflective will is what we are meant to grow into. It is the will that chooses what is good. It will wait and see God in action in my life and my circumstances. It will enable you to stay in the fire, to endure, but know peace at the same time. We will live Romans 5:1-5.

It will see the greater story going on all around us. It will enable us to resist sin not because we have a strong self-will but because sin is slop compared to the life with God!

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Surrender today. Surrender tomorrow morning. Keep dieing to self and really find life!
Lose the burden of running the world.

Let His Amazing Grace take you today.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Justice Creed

We believe that God is just and that God loves justice.
God delights in just laws and rejoices in just people.
God liberates those who are oppressed by injustice
And is grieved by unjust people and the unjust systems they create and sustain.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
And God’s kingdom belongs to those willing to be persecuted for the sake of justice.
To God, justice is a weighty thing that can never be ignored.
We believe that Jesus came to display the justice of God,
In word and deed, in life, death, and resurrection.
The justice God desires, which he taught, must surpass that of the hypocrites,
For the justice of God is a compassionate justice,
Rich in mercy and abounding in love for the last, the least, the lost, and the excluded.
On his cross, Jesus drew the injustice of humanity into the light,
And there the heartless injustice of human empire met
The reconciling justice of the kingdom of God.
The resurrection of Jesus proclaims that the true justice of God,
Naked, vulnerable, and scarred by abuse, is stronger
Than the violent injustice of humanity, armed with weapons, conceit, deceit, and lies.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is here now,
Convicting the world of sin and injustice,
Warning that God’s judgment will come on all that is unjust.
We believe that the kingdom of God is not a matter of superficial things
But is justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Empowered by the Spirit, then, we seek God’s kingdom and we seek God’s justice,
For the world as it is has not yet become the world as God desires it to be.
And so we live and work and pray,
Until justice rolls down like water,
Until justice flows like a never-ending stream.
For we believe that God is just, and the true and living
God loves justice.
Amen. Brian McLaren, Justice In The Burbs

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Your last lecture...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Deuteronomy 8:3
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Big Ten

Monday, October 08, 2007

Kingdom Living IV

Advent conspiracy: worship more; spend less; give more; love all.

“The lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick.” Richard Foster

Our checkbooks are probably our best theological statement about our real values. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

"This could change everything."

As we surrender ourselves to the kingdom of God, of life with Jesus, we’ll see things happen. We move from reliance on things made of us, our programs, our ideas & see more room for God to move, His opportunities.

Fed Ex logo: do you see the arrow? The reality is there we don’t always see it. The kingdom is the same way.

The Fed Ex logo has a message built right into it that we don’t see. And so it is with the Kingdom of God. The kingdom doesn’t exist for us, it exists as a movement for others, and to see God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. It is an arrow, a force, and dynamic, not stationary. Hence Jesus could say that, "the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”

Being a Christian is not simply about going to heaven. It is about living in the Kingdom of God today. There is a price: everything. Our whole life.

The kingdom of God is the basis of death to self. It means letting lower levels of happiness not attempt to take the place of Jesus Christ. It means to acknowledge that our search for happiness will be incomplete without Jesus, and then to actually want to do something about that idea. We turn from a self-centered orientation to a Jesus-centered orientation. We discover the arrow in our life, the direction in our soul.

It leads us to a very distinct posture. We talked about that last week. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Posture: what’s your posture towards authority? Towards men? Towards women?

What’s your posture towards God?

Thanksgiving- thanksliving.

I think Andrew & Justyna & their families are thankful for little Ryder. He is a blessing.

But what if instead of dedicating a beautiful little boy today, instead when he was born they heard someone say, “Here is the one who you’ll lose much sleep over. He’ll crap on you, vomit on you, pee on you, cost you thousands of dollars, give you sickness, break your heart, call you names, steal from you, lie to you, and on and on…"

Would they see the joy of parenting and the gift that it is? Would they see the opportunity, the invitation to help create real life, or would they see the pain, the suffering, the dark side of human relations?

Do you see the very same gift of life, or just the pain, the suffering & the dark side of humanity?

Last week we looked at the idea that Jesus called us, “to repent, the kingdom of God is at hand.”

That form of repent, to turn 180 degrees, is to have a broken and contrite spirit.

Isaiah 66:2
"For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word."

Did you pray a prayer at some point and ask Jesus to come into your heart, but it really hasn’t made any difference to you? Is it that you are still are in control, your life is pretty much the same as it was before except you’ve got a Christian veneer? If that causes you discomfort, then I’m glad you’re in turmoil. That’s the whole purpose of the message of Jesus that the kingdom of God is at hand- it better stir us up!

The good news is that God has come in Christ inaugurating his salvation in the world. In Christ (and His Kingdom) there is now forgiveness of sins that sets loose grace and forgiveness among us and to the world. In Christ (and His Kingdom) there is reconciliation with God that breeds a new reconciliation among us and to the world (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). In Christ (and His Kingdom) there is a healing that has begun through the cross among us and to the world. In Christ's Rule there is indeed a new politic, a way of being, living in the life of God made possible in Christ's life, death, and resurrection that takes shape among us and into the world. Behold all things are made new (Revelation 21.1; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Our calling is nothing more or less than to invite the world into this incredible new life. David Fitch

Working to fix our sin is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We’re going down. Jesus offers us another way, a better way, a way of real life, entrance into His work right here and right now.

Craig Ferguson- broken & contrite

I need help. Repent.

Why do you self-medicate? What do you use?

Some fear they are no longer the hero…they need to be admired!
Others feel inadequate…they need to be appreciated!
Others wonder if they are fully adult…they need to have respect!

Surrender it all to God and join others who are on the very same journey.

I still held on to the illusion that my relationship with God could be separate from the body of people I prayed with. That it could be separate from the community. I lived with the illusion that the people next to me in the pews didn’t matter, that I would go out into the desert and stand on a pole and reach up to God alone. I liked to imagine that the beliefs and recipes to get to God are enough and they exist pure and distinct from the people who enact them ...I learned I was wrong. Lauren Winner

Friday, October 05, 2007

Are you who you are?

No two lives are the same. We often compare our lives with those of others, trying to decide whether we are better or worse off, but such comparisons do not help us much. We have to live our life, not someone else's. We have to hold our own cup. We have to dare to say: "This is my life, the life that is given to me, and it is this life that I have to live, as well as I can. My life is unique. Nobody else will ever live it. I have my own history, my own family, my own body, my own character, my own friends, my own way of thinking, speaking, and acting – yes, I have my own life to live. No one else has the same challenge. I am alone, because I am unique. Many people can help me live my life, but after all is said and done, I have to make my own choices about how to live." Henri Nouwen

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Never question the truth of what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders." Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I think it is about time that we come clean with people. Following God does not always lead to the bigger and the better. Following God does not always to comfort and security. “Being in the center of God’s will or plan” is not always the safest place to be. In fact it might ask of you to have your life absorbed with a message that might destroy you. Being a follower means that we have embraced a larger story than our own, choosing to find ourselves in that larger story. It may mean that we never see the results of our efforts. It may mean that opposition and critique [even by those who claim to be speaking for God as well] might be our lot in life. Mike DeVries

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Revolution of Hope

Deep Shift

"Hope is believing in spite of the evidence and watching the evidence change."

Matthew 10:26-33
"Don't be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don't hesitate to go public now.

Don't be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.

What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.

Stand up for me against world opinion and I'll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I'll cover for you?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Kingdom Living III: The Invitation

“In terms of his personality, the gospels present a man who had such charisma that people would sit 3 days straight without food just to hear his riveting words. He loved to praise other people. He had near inexhaustible patience with individuals. He quickly established intimacy with the people he met; after a few brief lines of conversation people revealed their innermost secrets to Jesus even though they tended to keep rabbis at a respectful distance.

Jesus drew out a hunger so deep that people crowded around him just to touch his clothes. He accepted almost anybody’s invitation to dinner and had a diverse list of friends ranging from common people to Romans centurions and tax collectors, prostitutes and leprosy victims. People liked being with Jesus. Once he ate with a leper, on 2 occasions during a meal, a disreputable woman poured expensive perfume on him; twice he went to eat with tax collectors.

Where he was, joy was. Pharisees believed that touching an unclean person polluted the one who touched; but when Jesus touched a person with leprosy, he did not become soiled — they became clean. The contagion of holiness had overcome the contagion of uncleanness. He commended a troubling tax collector over a God fearing Pharisee.

The first person to whom he revealed himself as messiah was a Samaritan woman who had a history of five failed marriages and was currently living with yet another man. With his dying death he pardoned a thief who would have no opportunity for spiritual growth. Yet he himself was not a sinner. We are amazed at this uncompromising blend of grace towards sinners and hostility toward sin.” Phil Yancey

Matthew 4:17
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Matthew 4:23-25
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Those that had need came searching for him. That still goes for today. The kingdom is there for those who admit need.

James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34)

Mark 1:14-15
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

Repent. The Kingdom of God is near, available, accessible. The Kingdom is near and you’re not in it. Then let’s just put “yet”, because the invitation is repent so that you can get in. That’s how simple that message was. You say what about the cross, what about the atoning work of Jesus? That is all anticipated because that is the way Jesus is going to open the door to the Kingdom. Let me tell you something. As important as the cross is, as central as the cross is to the Christian message, the Kingdom was the heart of the message of Jesus. The cross is the shape of the door into the Kingdom.

We have to be careful that we don’t make more of the door than we do of what it is the door to. Now you’ll never hear me, in any way, ever minimize the cross. I absolutely love the cross because it is the ultrasound of the heart of Jesus and the heart of God. It tells us what our God is like as well as what He’s willing to do on our behalf.

What image comes to you as you hear the word ‘repent’?

Psalm 51 is the context to hear.

A broken and contrite heart

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

God wants to be known as God and allowed to lead. So when Jesus says the Kingdom of God is here, it feels threatening to us. It always has, it always will - it always does. When God comes near, when God comes down, when God is available, when God confronts your life, it always feels like God!

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Jesus was at the house of a proud person in Luke 14.

Luke 14:12-24
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."

Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'

"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'

"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'

"Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.

"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'

" 'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'
"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'

Jesus had, still has this strange kind of holiness that was profoundly attractive to nonreligious people and offensive to religious ones. How do you think this little story went over at the prominent, proud Pharisees house?

The Kingdom of God is like a party and Jesus consistently portrayed it that way. Tony Campolo wrote a great book by that very title. It’s a good place to be- the very best actually.

Let the Holy Spirit puncture your image that He is not a God who laughs or has fun. He is planning a future in His Kingdom that is the most incredible fulfillment for human beings possible.

In one episode of The Ultimate Fighter, Matt Hughes asks the guys to read a Bible story about inspiration. The other team leader Matt Sera says, “He’s trying to make them Christians! I can’t wait to fight him.”

They cut to a scene of a fighter who’s lost his fight and has to leave the show, & he talks about how hard the house is to live in. They can’t really party like he’s used to, and he’s away from his girl. He’s concerned his girl won’t be faithful. “Six weeks is a long time,” he says.

Does that sound like a life-giving reality to live in?

What’s your definition of a good party?

We are invited into the kingdom of God! It’s a great place to be. The price of admission? Everything!

Luke 14:25-35
"Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be my disciple. "Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it's useless, good for nothing. Are you listening to this? Really listening?"

What images, messages or thoughts drive you to avoid God’s invitation?

Do you see a ‘Scary Jesus’? Or ‘Jesus the sadomasochist?’

What images, messages or thoughts inspire you to accept God’s invitation?

Right where you are God is moving to draw and connect people in the depth risk and reality of knowing Christ.

Try this next week becoming more conscious of Jesus and His invitation to the Kingdom. Some people have found the idea of ‘breath prayer’ as an aid in doing this. As you go about your day whisper a phrase such as ‘Lord Jesus have mercy on me’, or ‘your love endures forever’; or ‘Our God Reigns’. Repeat the phrase under your breath as you go through your daily tasks.