Well this stinks! Ever felt that way before? Ever said that out load before or even thought it under your breath with only yourself and God as the audience? Yup; me too. We’ve all been there. The truth is that life does stink at times and those who appear to constantly live above the fray and claim no pain are probably not dealing with reality and know a Christianity other than what I know. When I read the Bible I don’t see perfection, at least not on this side of eternity. No, I don’t see “health and wealth and lack of problems.” I see . . . stink. I see real life in the Bible and the kind of life that we experience here in the 21st century. While the Bible was inspired by God, it was written through human agents who breathed the same air and problems we face today. They were human and at times their lives stunk as well. Elijah felt suicidal. David wept bitterly. Paul spoke of anxiety regarding a dear friend near death. Even Jesus, God in flesh, spoke of the problems of his age and ours and the fact that just like they hated him, they would hate his followers as well. Yes, I see loads of stink in life and in the Bible, but I also see hope.
I’ve always been a HUGE fan of St. Patrick Day. No, not for the Guinness Green Beer. Though I can’t say I’ve ever tried it, so who knows. Some of you may know that March 17th is my birthday so that probably explains a lot. That’s why I always feel exempt from having to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. But the real reason for my fondness for this day is its name sake, St. Patrick himself and the beautiful Irish folks that he gave his ministry and life for. What do we know about Patrick? Well there’s a lot of legend and lore surrounding him, but what we do know is that somewhere around 400 AD he was taken prisoner from Great Britton by Irish raiders and enslaved. Eventually Patrick made his way back to Britton after experiencing a Christian awakening of his own and later sensed a call to return to Ireland to share Christ with his captors in the 420s. History tells us that God used Patrick in a mighty way to leads countless Celts to the love of Christ. The picture that we have of Patrick is a man who was profoundly committed not only to Christ, but to the people of Ireland as well. He loved God and he loved the people.
I recently came across an interesting blog post simply titled; Church Planting is Dead! I don’t know Kevin or anything beyond his bio, but he’s got some good points in the discussion on the ever changing face of church planting and kingdom expansion. I’ve done some time in the trenches of church planting so naturally I believe this subject should be a huge priority. Even in the established ministry here at The Crossings I’ve begun to lay the initial ground work for sending out planters and daughter churches. It’s a big deal.
In the post the Kevin notes various changes like the present phenomena of launching multiple campuses or sites by mega-churches opposed to planting autonomous churches. That subject is indeed another debate for another time. Here however, Kevin focused on individual people rather than on methods. His point being, in one sense, that every Christ follower can be involved in church planting. I agree with that assessment and would take the thought one step further. The key to really ushering in church multiplication and kingdom expansion is just going back to serious discipleship and not more machinery.
Back in 2008 a great preacher from Nor Cal introduced me to Matt Harding dancing around the globe and I loved the clip from the get-go. It was a reminder to me of how big and beautiful God’s creation is as seen through diversity and nature. Even now it reminds me of Revelation 7 where the apostle Paul spoke of the future and fulfilled Kingdom where a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, was standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Today while doing some research I saw that Matt created a new clip for 2012 and I was just as pleased. While I like the music better in the 2008 video, it was cool to see places like Moscow, Helsinki, Manchester, and other spots around the US and the greater globe where I’ve been. Either way, the picture is the same. An awesome God, who created a colorful globe, filled with majestic people, and a profound message of divine love to take be taken to the world over. My, what a wondrous world we live in.
PS, if you could visit any of these places, where would you go and why?
Like many guys who have achieved their Eagle Scout and others who care about the Boy Scout program, I’ve been watching the recent debate over homosexual leadership with some sense of emotion. Just yesterday the National BSA postponed making their decision regarding the ban for reasons we can only speculate on. What many people don’t realize is that lifting such a ban will more than likely destroy the American Scouting program which has been a huge building block in society for over 100 years. According to the LGBT community, the big push to lift this ban on homosexual leadership is based in a belief that this is really racial and therefore a civil rights issue. That sounds like a good and valid question until you realize that we are talking about a preference or propensity toward a behavior and not a skin pigment or ethnic group.
Do some men and women feel a same sex attraction? I believe so. However, that is not the fundamental question. The real issue is whether or not it’s right to simply act out what we feel.
Well we’ve come to the conclusion of another year. I’ve thought about a number of ways to close things up for 2012. I’ve pondered a few ways to kick off 2013, but nothing really resonated. Then I came across this video link below. It has some huge application for my leadership friends and followers of Christ in general. There is also implication to the American society as a whole. The take away challenge I’d give from this clip toward the New Year is to intentionally invest in the lives of others. The particular challenge would be for older godly men to purposefully take 2013 as a year to build into the lives of two or three younger men with the hope that they would do the same in years to come. This is so fitting for the Church and the culture at large today. The answers that our world is looking for are not found in government, but in Christ and the Kingdom mentality He called us to. The answer is to actually do what Jesus said . . . “go and make disciples.”
It’s Monday morning after the evil tragedy in Newtown, CT and I’m still somewhat at a loss for words. It’s funny as I work with words on a regular basis. But sometimes they just don’t come. I’ve not been glued to the news and I’ve actually just shut it off a few times. You see, I know what they’re going to say. No, not the specific details that are coming out, I don’t know those, but I know the bottom line. The story will be the same and I just want to cry when I hear the fine points of little children being cut down in a safe school classroom in a quiet community. The story will be the same that has been played out in all kinds of places in all kinds of scenarios since the day Cain struck and killed his bother Abel. I just saw from a friend’s email that the story was played out again last night in another shooting. The story of evil in the world will be the same. While the magnitude will rise and fall; the story of evil will always be the same.
I’ve been reminded by some friends that I’m falling behind in my Kingdomology posts and they’re right. Why the delay? Well it’s partially because I’ve had a ton of irons in the fire. But I have to admit that it’s also because I’ve just been meditating a lot on the present spiritual environment of the American culture since the presidential election last month. The root of my observation is not centered on the victory of Obama over Romney, but rather something deeper. The simple truth is that the American culture we know today is light years away from what the writers of the Mayflower Compact envisioned for this new land. Obviously America still enjoys more religious freedom than most countries on the globe especially when you think of places like China or the Middle East. But the American culture at large appears to be mirroring the Roman Empire of the first century much more than the philosophy of the Pilgrims.
Now I’m not saying that the Pilgrims were perfect nor am I suggesting that we should go back to their religious dress code or imitate their legalism. Indeed they got off track in many areas like we all do. But there was something different in their core nature that is missing today in so many camps.
Today the United States will change. After Americans go to the polls and ultimately the Electoral College vote is cast, one direction or the other will be set in motion. Either the governmental philosophy of President Obama will be fully confirmed or the direction of Governor Romney will set another course. Either way, we are looking at monumental change. I have friends who are cheering for each side of this debate. I have friends from all across the political spectrum who will either be throwing a party tonight or settling in for a somber night’s sleep. Indeed this is a serious election. But after you go to the polls, here are two main principles followers of Jesus Christ need to keep in mind at the end of the day.
I’ll be honest. This election season has been a hard one for me. It was just over four years ago while planting a church in Northern California that I made the firm decision to never run for political office. While that commitment has been relatively easy to keep, the question of debate has been quite another story. The last 2012 Presidential debate has come and gone. But many of us are still debating with our friends, enemies, and even sometimes with our own souls. Debate is a great principle in our culture. However, it seems to be a whole lot easier to simply debate than actually do something. It’s easier to debate about what the government should do than actually getting out and doing something ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not turning Amish here and as noted in a post from a while back, I do believe that sometimes folks are called into public policy molding just like someone might be called into law enforcement. The great William Wilberforce from the UK is a prime example. But as a Christ follower we are all to be Salt and Light in our world even if we are not in public service or making public policy. We are called to be his hands and feet from wherever we stand on the political debates. So while this debate could take off in innumerable directions, let me simply ask what it is that we are all going to do ourselves instead of expecting someone else to do for us. Consider these to begin with: