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’m amazed at how global life has become and what that all means for the Church and the Kingdom. One of the reasons why we planted a church in Nor. Cal and why we are investigating another plant in areas like North Central Dallas is because of the huge international make up of places like that. There are so many exciting things going on in the church international today that remind me of Revelation 7:9-12 where the apostle John saw a:
“great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Can all this be a reality? Can people from every ethnic, cultural, and economic background come together? You bet they can. In fact, that was God’s design all along. That’s the way it will be in heaven. That is the way it is all over the world at the foot of the cross.
For those of us who live in places like Nor. Cal, LA, or even Dallas, we can experience that today if we drop our personal ideas of “church” and purposefully come together under the banner of Christ alone. We can realize this divine vision when we reach out in sometimes uncomfortable ways to those who are different than us with the love of Christ.
We can also be encouraged to know that we are part of a much larger family that gathers publically and in secret all over the world today in the unity of Jesus. That’s the Kingdom that I’m a part of.
I found this video clip several months ago and I’m pretty sure that Matt was not thinking Kingdom thoughts when he made it, but I sure was. Check it out and then ask yourself what you can do to help build the Kingdom of God international. Have fun.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:10-11.
I love the Church. In fact, next to Jesus, my wife and kids, I can’t really think of anything that I care about as much as I do the Church. I’ve had a lot of experiences with churches and church people over the years. I’ve been part of church gatherings that have really rocked and some that have quite frankly made me yawn. I’ve seen living churches and others that should have been buried long ago. But how do we know which ones are which beyond just liking or disliking a style or observing external signs? I remember reading a Time Life book years ago about the Soviet Union and particularly paying attention to a section describing the Orthodox Church there. The opening caption simply read, “The Living Church.” Having lived in the former Soviet Union for a while, I really question that statement. Sure there was a lot of priestly activity going on, and incense flowing around. But does that mean it’s alive? What kind of church were they really talking about? Though the state authorized church provided ceremonies and rites under Communism, their existence resembled more of what Paul described as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5) So what is the church anyway and what’s it supposed to do?
A huge lesson that I picked up over the past couple of years in the church plant that we did in Nor Cal is that the “Great Commission” of Christ was not to plant churches, but to make disciples. (Note Matt. 28) It’s real easy if you have enough money to draw a crowd. (unfortunately we never had enough money anyway) But it’s another thing to really bring people into discipleship with Jesus Christ. That’s the key. When that happens, then you really reproduce and multiply at exponential levels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Church Planting and hope to encourage a whole lot more of that. But the point is discipleship, not the institution.
Aug. 17th. Two great opportunities for potential church planters:
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?
I had a great time meeting Don Novack this morning. Don is a church planter in Amarillo and is heavily involved with Christmas in Action. We talked a lot about faith, churches, and some of the spiritual make up of the area. I always knew that there was a higher percentage of folks who attend Sunday morning worship services here than in other parts of the US and Europe. But it was also interesting to see that no matter where you go, you’ll still find folks who claim the name of Christ, but only attend worship gatherings once or twice a year. Is the whole “going to church” thing just a personal preference, or is there something more to it?
I’ve been rocked over how much Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven in the scriptures. We also see that type of thinking from the apostles as they shared the message of Christ around the Roman world. Paul likewise continued that theme throughout the New Testament. One of my favorite texts that illustrate this is in 2 Timothy 4:1 where Paul encourages the young preacher Timothy. Paul states. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word . . .”
The kingdom reality is just all over the place when you think about it. So what we find is that Christ came for more than just offering fire insurance, but something totally and completely “new and from above”. (Note John 3:3) A common misunderstanding about the Kingdom is that it is something that will be established when Jesus comes back.
Yesterday while driving back from a preaching assignment I spent some time running the dial and came across a talk show detailing some of the big headlined Town Hall meetings across the US. If you haven’t picked up a newspaper or watched any of the media coverage recently, you might not know about the stories of the rebellious town hall meetings that have been erupting over President Obama’s health care reform. Some of the meetings were calm and orderly. But for others there was yelling, speaking out of turn, and even some evictions.
As for my opinion of the health reform, I tend to lean towards less government as I lived in the former Soviet Union for a while and have seen the “ills” entailed within an atheist socialistic system. But I wasn’t present at any of the town hall meetings. I didn’t watch any of the CNN stories, nor did I follow my elected leader’s websites for the latest on Obama’s strategy. Instead, I listened to it for the first time on talk radio and after a few minutes I actually CHANGED THE DIAL.
Welcome to our first official posting on “Kingdomology”, a site dedicated to expanding the love of Christ and Kingdom of God the world over. While we’re anticipating a lot of really great discussion, the purpose of this site is to encourage as many people as possible toward experiencing what it really means to live as citizens in the Kingdom of God.
Over the next few weeks I’ll spend more time further expanding on the purpose of Kingdomology, but to begin with, I want to explain more about how this blog came about.