Like a number of Christian ministers I know, it seems like a part of my spiritual mentorship actually comes from dead guys from the past. Yes I know; that sounds exciting doesn’t it? But by that I mean being able to glean from the writings of Christ followers in times gone by who really walked with God. Some of the men that I still read from and about are Spurgeon, Moody, Finney, Taylor, Muller and Bonhoeffer. There are other guys who I don’t read as much from, but still have a profound influence on my kingdom thinking. One of those guys is Oswald Chambers of whom I read this morning before really hitting the day. In a devotional book I got from a friend back in CA he gives a commentary over 1 Peter 2:21 which really applies to people who are engaged in serious ministry projects. The gist of the text deals with the issue of suffering for Christ, which is a reality in authentic Kingdom living. I’ve pasted the text and commentary below. I hope it’s helpful and challenging.
Well it’s obvious that I’m nuts about following Jesus and wouldn’t have it any other way. As for me, I arrived at my convictions about Jesus not because I simply grew up that way kind of like a cultural thing, but because of a point in time where I was presented with the clear evidence of Christ, and then chose to accept it and follow him. But that does not mean that I think I’m any better than anyone else or even those who have chosen not to accept Christ or his teaching. In fact, there are times when I prefer to hang out with those who would consider themselves “outside” of the Church and even joke about themselves as being “pagans” or something like that. They’re at least honest in the sense that they’re not trying to fool anyone by being more spiritual than the rest of humanity. This is one of the many things I liked about living in CA.
I got an email earlier today that I wanted to pass along to everyone regarding the disaster in Haiti. The author is a long time evangelist by the name of Reggie Thomas who has planted scores of churches all over the world. Reggie is the founder of WHITE FIELDS OVERSEAS EVANGELISM and we had the opportunity to serve with Reggie once when we lived in Russia. Below is the email that Reggie sent out this morning. Please take a moment to read it over and see if there is anything you can do to help.
Dear Family and Christian Friends:
You have heard the tragic news from Haiti. You know as much as we know. We have tried desperately to telephone some of our Christian friends in Haiti and we have emailed all whom have email. Up to this moment we have heard from only one preacher in Gonaives. Brother Solonique said that Gonaives felt the earthquake but it did not damage anything and all are okay in Gonaives. So at least we know the JESUS LOVES ME ORPHANGE home is okay. You know that we have worked in Haiti since 1971 and that we have made well over 100 trips to that nation.
Does anyone remember the movie, 2010, The Year We Make Contact? The original flick, 2001, came out the year before I was born but I remember seeing it when I was in kindergarten. I think I was a freshman in High School when 2010 came out. Well 2010 is just around the corner and we haven’t reached Jupiter yet or encountered any black Monoliths on the moon. At least I don’t think NASA is holding out on us. But we are indeed on the verge of a new year and I’m looking forward to what God has in store for us as the Kingdom of Heaven plays out in our lives.
I recently watched the second half of Return of the King with my kids and enjoyed every minute of it. I love that movie and really anything from Tolkien and CS Lewis. I’ll be honest; I can even be somewhat of a cry baby at times when it comes to this kind of genre. Once I even held back the tears when I saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in the theater back in Nor. Cal. The whole imagery of Aslan representing Jesus and going to the Stone Table for Edmond just floored me because I knew the deeper meaning of what was going on. So it is with the rest of Lewis’ writing and that of the Lord of the Rings. Yes, it’s all fiction, but it conveys something deep, something that each of us secretly cries out for way down in the catacombs of our inmost being.
Well I’m happy to report that that my boys have not fallen into all the hoopla surrounding the Michael Jackson movie and all his music. But it was funny this evening when they said, “hey dad, check out this video about a guy who is blue with a blue car, or something like that.” Then I remembered it; yes I remember that cold January driving from Northern Indiana down to Cincinnati for Jack Cottrell’s “Doctrine of Grace” class with my good friend Leo and listening to the Blue Song on the car radio. Its funny how our kids will bring back memories we have whether good or bad, deep or just fun. I do remember “I’m Blue” and chuckle how Leo and I laughed about it all week while having our heads crammed with theology. Well at least I was cramming; Leo was just there for the audit. When I think about it, there are a lot of songs that come to mind from different phases of my life. During the Dark Ages of my life I was a real Pink Floyd head, ok, we won’t go there. I remember some catchy tune in High School about hard working guys complaining about all their hard work while the rock stars got “their chicks for free.” I remember discovering the deep and ministering tunes of Rich Mullins when I finally got off my rear and went to Bible College. I think the biggest maestro influence for me was Keith Green who had a HUGE love for Christ. But I suppose the best parts of these memories are the people we made them with. I’m thankful for Leo and I’m thankful for the new memories with my boys who I know are going to grow up and do a lot more for the Kingdom than I ever will. So what are some songs from the past that bring memories for you?
I got a link this morning from a friend to a video clip about a new flick that has just come out called, We Live in Public. Feel free to check it out, but you might want to make sure you don’t have any kidos nearby. Though the intent its creator, Josh Harris, was to make a “cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives”, the video actually illustrated something else I’ve been saying for years. I see one of two futures for America. Either a Christ following revival and awakening or a socialist dictatorship. When “Free” information and complete “Freedom” rule and are the prime objectives in life, then chaos is the ultimate result. The only way you can be free from Chaos and its natural consequences is by some form of order and “rightness”. That will happen either by a changed, self willed choice to honor Christ in the lives of everyday folks, or because the State forces them to obey the rules it sets. Just some Free thought to chew on.
I’ve been doing a lot of different things during our interim season and one of those is just picking up odd jobs to help pay the bills. Today and one day last week I spend a lot of back breaking time digging holes around old fence pole so that we could reinforce them with more concrete. In the process, I thought about the Shrewd Manager in one of Jesus’ parables. The guy was about to lose his job and didn’t know what to do because he felt like he was “not strong enough to dig, and was ashamed to beg.” So in the turning of earth, I thought, “man I really know how that old boy must have felt.” He came to mind not because I’ve lost a job or have been dishonest, but just because I can relate to not really being built for a life of ditch digging. But I did put my back into it and was grateful for the work. I also thought about all the other jobs that I’ve had in life not including full-time Christian service. I think the best job I’ve ever had was working in the electronics department at Sears during my last year of college. I think my worst job, next to digging ditches, was working at Godfather’s Pizza between my 9th and 10th grade years in High School. I think the big issue there was that the manager was always negative toward everyone and talking behind people’s backs. It really got heated when we were all accused of taking money from the till, especially when we knew it was the assistant manager’s boy friend. What about you? What are some of your best and worst job experiences and why?
I got an interesting email from one of our readers a few days ago that I wanted to throw out for discussion. Stan, who works through his own site at Atheism-Analyzed posed the question of how we as Kingdom Citizens are to engage in the political systems that we live in here on this side of eternity. I’ll paste his question below, give a couple of responses myself, and then turn it over to you to think about and then respond back to if you like. Here you go . . .
Well things are rolling right along in our transition time between the church plant and the next Kingdom Adventure God has for us. The kids are in good schools. Deb is working in a school library; which she loves. I’m picking up odd jobs, interim opportunities, and some other ministry projects as we wait on God’s timing and move. Still looking for clarification as to whether we need to move into another plant or take an established preaching position and focus on sending others out. But during this time I’m also taking in things around my boyhood home here in Amarillo. Like Paul, I’ve looked around at the city’s Objects of Worship and have come across a number of signs like the one shown here. While I do agree with the scripture on the sign, I’m not sure that’s the best way to win people to the love of Christ. Might as well just get a bull horn and tell everyone on Polk Street that they’re going to Hell. While there is a time and place for truth and clearly articulating the gravity of sin, I don’t think that sticking a sign like this in my yard is actually going to awaken my neighbors need for Christ’s love. More than likely, whoever owns that placard is going to just be set aside on the mantel as another “religious nut” from the mid-west. Seems like a better approach is to get involved in people’s lives, love on them, and then get some healthy dialogue going. How do you go about talking about issues like sin with people who don’t use that kind of vocabulary much?