Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Matthew 10 Missional vs Missions

Most churches give money to Missions and often have missionaries they pray for and sponsor. Many churches send members on short term mission trips to other countries or cities. Most churches believe taking the Gospel of Jesus out to the world is a top priority. All this being said, most churches are not missional in their approach to life.

Here is a short description of what I think it means to be a missional church: Creating an environment that releases and nourishes the spiritual imagination of people through diverse ministries and missional teams that affect various relationships, organizations, neighborhoods cities, and the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what is the Big deal?

A compare and contrast of Common Church Life Vs. a Missional Church life

Common Strategy: Attract people to the church building and programs lead by church board and a few select leaders.

Missional Strategy: Encourage awareness and understanding of the cultural environment and people who need to hear God's story. Equip people to engage in dialog, listening and sharing in their own missional life.

Common definition of Church: Come to a building that serves as the center for religious life. People receive teaching, preaching and belonging as religious goods and service. People come to be ministered to by experts through specific programs.

Missional definition of Church: People engaged in their context in relationship with God and each other. People are formed in living a Kingdom life together. They learn skills and habits from each other.

How does this compare and contrast make you feel?

Next face to face Thursday June 29th 6:30pm at the IkeBox

Monday, May 22, 2006

Matthew 10 Hospitality Again?

40 He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.

I think this passage needs to be seen in light of Jesus final public words concerning the sheep and the goats. Matthew 25:31-46

37-40 (below)
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

I would like to focus in on Hospitality being an extremely high Kingdom value. So high that Jesus is using it as a measuring stick for Judgment. I would quickly point out that the motivation for this hospitality must be devotion to Christ. It is the one who give the water “because he is my disciple.” I am not pushing a value in hospitality apart from our action done under and in Jesus.
So with this in mind I again want to ask us to consider our mission field and our actions as missionaries. I believe our mission field is one of isolation and anonymity. I am feeling and seeing it more and more as I am “converted to the gospel of Jesus Kingdom.” It feels wrong to talk to strangers or invade anyone’s space. It feels normal to objectify to who serve me at Walmart, McDonalds and Starbucks.

Does anyone else think the isolation in our culture is a barrier to Jesus Kingdom?
How do we begin to break the barrier?

Next Face to Face meeting (at the IkeBox) Thursday May 25 at 6:30pm

Thursday, May 18, 2006

May 14-20 Matt. 10 Hospitality

I have been living with this text for 2 weeks now and each day I see something different. Each day I find myself inspired and perplexed. I have been encouraged to live this call of Jesus, but I have also been asking myself what it looks like in Salem, OR and in my Neighborhood.

I have been thinking about the disciples going into a town and staying with someone from the Hosts perspective. To welcome these strangers in the beginning of Kingdom Ministry. If the disciple is not invited in then the town looses out on ministry. I am reminded of the Emmaus Story (Luke 24) of how the disciples invited the stranger (Jesus) in and received his peace.

I think this is a counter cultural and yet Kingdom calling to be a host to the strangers. I believe we are afraid of those we don't know and currently the circle of people we don't know is getting bigger and not smaller. To invite a stranger into our home today is Radical. In some ways I am beginning to feel that what Alan Roxburg says is true, "welcoming the stranger begins our own conversion to the gospel of the Kingdom."

As I sat on the airport shuttle and in the airplane I started asking myself the question, "what would it be like to have this or that person over for dinner?" Immediately these people became more human to me, less like strangers and more like interesting and intriguing people I had not meet yet.

What does this stir in you (fear, excitement, caution, the Holy Spirit)?

Next Face to Face meeting (at the IkeBox) Thursday May 25 at 6:30pm

Monday, May 08, 2006

May 8-13 Matthew 10 Dangerous Discipleship

This is an amazing chapter of Scripture for all of us asking the question: What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is radically different than an institution or religious system. Christianity as an institutional religion has many faults and deserves the criticism it gets. Disciples of Jesus are a whole different story. Being a disciple in Matthew Chapter 10 sounds like this to me:

A messenger of the Kingdom of God, sent by Jesus with power, warned about persecution, warned about loyalty to anyone but Jesus, and promised a great reward.

This sounds like an invitation not everyone under Christian religion has taken. It might be good to walk through this passage to see if we have fully accepted this invitation to be a disciple.

A messenger of the Kingdom.

I believe Matthew's Gospel is consumed with Jesus being the bearer of God's Kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount in the message of the Kingdom.

  1. It is open to all through Jesus
  2. ordinary people are the salt and light of the Kingdom
  3. It is a change of the heart and then actions
  4. It is hindered by a focus on Image and money
  5. It requires complete obedience to Jesus to join in the Kingdom and see its powerful reality

What words or actions tell people about the Kingdom (Verses telling people about a self serving religion of sin management)?

Sent with power (healing and spiritual authority)

Disciples of Jesus are seeing peoples lives healed physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When someone is filled with the loving and restoring spirit of Jesus people around them will get changed. People will be thirst for the new life that a disciple posses.
Institutions are afraid of anything that makes them look foolish or radical. Loving those who do not expect it is something radical. When I helped my new neighbors move into their house they thought I was a little crazy. They kept wondering what I wanted from them or was trying to sell them something. Those with the spirit of God inside of them do not always realize how self absorbed a person is without Christ. To give ourselves out for others will bring Christ to their front door.
I believe we lack spiritual authority because we are on our own missions and not those commissioned by Christ. If Jesus sets the agenda for your day you can be sure that he is going to clear the way for you to accomplish what he has for you. We always offer prayer for people at Emmaus, but there are nights when God has been telling me all day that I better be ready to pray for someone (because he wants to reach out and tough them through me) and I need to be ready and confident in God's activity.

Warned about Persecution

There is great persecution happening in the world at this very minute. I think it is important to be mindful of those being persecuted and recognize our responsibility to pray for them. thepersecutedchurch.com is a great place to hear the stories.

What does persecution look like in your life, Job, family?

Allegiance to Jesus alone

It was important for me to remember this week that I will never be the Husband, son and Father I should be if Jesus is not my first love and lord. I will not know the true depth of love a sacrifice for my wife without having the change of heart Jesus offers. I will not be able to be the Father God calls me to be without knowing Him as the ultimate example of a loving Father.

To put others before Jesus is not to love those around us more, but to love them less and less completely. When anyone distracts us from our relationship with Jesus the whole world is loosing out on the blessing of a true Kingdom servant.

What are the biggest distractions to your relationship with Jesus?

We are promised a great reward

I find it heard to speak with confidence and authority when it comes to rewards. I always feel like I am slipping into a merit based or manipulative system. I think this is just the baggage associated with humans using rewards to get what they want from other people.

Last Thursday I went to the Salem Leadership Foundation banquet. Many awards where given at the banquet and in a way it redeemed some of my misconceptions about awards. The awards were for faith leader, city leader, and faith institution of the year. The reality was no one was trying to earn these rewards they were simply an acknowledgement and honoring of the great service and character that had been exhibited in the last year.

How do you feel about rewards for simply doing and being what we were created to do and be?

Monday, May 01, 2006

May 1-6 Matt. 8:5-13 Faith

Our Faith in God’s Authority

There came unto him a centurion. A Roman military officer, corresponding to our captain. All Palestine was under Roman military government at this time, with headquarters at Cæsarea, and soldiers in every leading town. This centurion probably commanded the company stationed at Capernaum. He was, of course, a Gentile. We learn from Luke 7:3, he came to Jesus, not in person, but by Jewish elders, whom he supposed would have more influence with the Lord.

It seems to be acceptable for people of great faith to ask others to pray. Do we feel we are being more or less faithful to Jesus when we call on our friends to pray for us?

The centurion answered. Through friends whom he had sent for this purpose (Luke 7:6). I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. This humility was partly due to his consciousness that he was a Gentile. Rigid Jews did not hold social intercourse with Gentiles, and the centurion may have supposed that so holy a Jewish teacher as Jesus would hesitate to come under his roof. Speak the word only. "Speak only a word" is the idea, and "my servant will be healed." Not even Martha (John 11:21) thought that Jesus could have saved her brother Lazarus without going to him. His faith was great.

The Centurion understands authority better then I believe we do today. He determines that if he can move men by the command of his word over great distance Jesus authority over healing must be as great or greater. If the incarnated Jesus had to touch a person to heal them his power would be similar to a low level solider who gives the command personally to his front line troops. This is a person who does not make the decisions but communicates them.

It seems clear from this story that the only hindrance to Jesus authority of healing and reign is the faith of those involved. Those with Faith in the commander of the army move without hesitation to accomplish the missions he calls out. Those who doubt the commands hesitate, the missions stall and even fail. It is fun to imagine the power and reign of Jesus in our church today. Where there is great faith in Jesus plan and purpose in the world he is doing miracles and changing lives. Where there is great doubt and hesitations the missions seem small and often failing.

Does this image of Faith and authority make sense to us? Is there another image or illustration that helps you understand Jesus’ authority in the world?

Many shall come from the east and west. The terms, "the east and the west," the extreme points of the compass, are taken to indicate the regions that are far away, the whole world. The Lord means not only those who are geographically far away from Israel, but those who have been far away spiritually, Gentiles as well as Jews. Shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. The Jews were accustomed to speak to the delights of the Messiah's kingdom as a feast with the patriarchs. The language implies intimate domestic intercourse and fellowship. The kingdom of heaven refers, here, rather to the eternal blessed state than to the church on earth.

This passage speaks to a sense of surprise at who will be at the heavenly banquet with God. What does Jesus seem to be implying is required to join God at the table?

Next Face to Face at Ikebox May 25th at 6:30pm

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