Well, it’s been an exciting ride so far with the Christ Proposal. Without a nationally recognized publisher or marketing agents, we’ve already been able to touch a lot lives and that’s worth cheering about. One testimony we received was of a woman who purchased a book on opening night. She read it in one sitting, cried, and then bought 20 more to give away to her friends. Our original intent was not to write this project with a women’s audience in mind, but that’s kind of how it all evolved. So the publisher, artist, and I have already had preliminary conversations about doing a similar work geared more toward men. In addition to the various ministries and churches we’ve contacted, Barns & Noble has picked the book up for distribution. But the most exciting thing is just imagining all the lives that can be brought to see the love of Christ through this project. If you don’t have a copy yet, you can grab one through B&N or contact us for bulk orders and ministry projects. If you need one free, shoot us an email and we’ll see what we can do. Keep praying that God will use this project to open up hearts.
If I were to entitle this post anything else, I suppose it would be something like, “The Last Will and Testament of a Young Republican.” That’s right; I was once a Young Republican a long time ago. But things are different now and it doesn’t have anything to do with age. Now before my “Lefty” friends out there get all excited, you need to know that I’m not defecting to your political party either. Rather I’m pressing the cancel button on the whole system as far as my involvement goes. While this doesn’t mean I’m never going to vote on issues I believe in, it does mean a drastic and purposeful decision to refrain from direct political involvement and commentary. Even on my Face Book page I’ve listed the “Kingdom of Heaven” for my political views. As followers of Christ we have to keep in mind that we’re part of His eternal Kingdom which supersedes the greatest Kingdoms of men. But is this stand of total avoidance too radical? After all, it would seem from the scripture that politics is a freedom issue. We even noted in Part I. of this series that we can’t separate the sacred from the secular and this would apply to politics as well. Yet considering the transitory nature of this realm, I do believe that this is an issue that Christians should seriously wrestle with. As for me, I’ve drawn the line in the sand to abstain and here are at least four reasons why.
I was blessed to be part of the Crossings “Share Fair” 2010 event this past Saturday. To me it was just another wonderful example of a local body of Christ putting their faith into practice by coming up with creative ways to serve their extended community. The “Fair” was a great success this year as we gathered donations and gifts and networking with a local school, were able to get them into the lives of families in our area who are struggling. A HUGE thanks goes out to Larry Foster who handled the goliath share of the details which made everything come together. I also want say thanks to everyone who helped with the setup, teardown, and serving throughout the day. In all, “Share Fair” was just another reason why you rock Cypress Crossings. So keep up the good work and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Alright, show of hands here. How many of you actually enjoyed taking history classes in High School? Yup, that’s probably about right. History is not the most popular subject with a lot of folks and that’s ok. On the other hand, I’m one of those wired guys who actually enjoyed the study. Don’t know, but maybe it’s just because I liked blowing an hour going to the film room at Tascosa High to watch a WWII documentary instead of sitting through Geometry. But history does have important lessons to teach us in creating a more successful future. If we take time to examine the good and bad decisions and the lives of those who have gone before us, we can learn from their victories and mistakes. So it is with the CHURCH.
I got a new book from a friend the other day to look over and I think it has some potential. The Next Level takes an honest look at the struggles in our lives and points out that we have a choice to either see them as a prison or as a testing ground in which God can develop our character. The author outlines his plan by examining the tests of 31 biblical characters and then brings some application to our lives. It’s not a bad idea and fits nicely into a month long devotion plan. But I was a bit disappointed early on when I saw what is so prevalent in countless spiritualized self-help books today. In part of the introduction, one of the authors describes his church as a place where they want to help people be “better husbands and wives, better parents, better children, employees, friends and neighbors and ultimately, better people.’” Better people? I read that and thought: I don’t want to just be better. I want to be different; radically different. I want to have a change that is way above anything a simple 5 or 10 step plan can accomplish. I want transformation.
There’s been a lot of debate recently over the building of an Islamic Mosque and community center just two blocks away from ground Zero in New York. The issue took on more steam this past weekend as President Obama endorsed the group’s constitutional right to construct the building. But then on Saturday, the President was reported as saying that while he upholds that “Muslims have that right, that doesn’t mean he believes it is the right thing for them to do.” There sure are a number of ways to look at this. I understand and have felt the same knee jerk reaction of many who have pointed out that the men who flew those planes into the Twin Towers in New York were led by a strict inner interpretation of the Qur’an (Koran). So the initial thought of a group of Muslims meeting yards away from where such a tragic event happened can cause one to wince. But when the dust clears and the heart beat slows down, I believe the group in question ought to be allowed to carry on with their plans. But my main reason for such a position may not be easy to see at first. Here’s what I’m thinking.
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.
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.
I got a link from a friend the other day to another church planter’s blog and in one of his recent posts he talked about what kind of church he’d like to be a part of. I’ve read a lot of similar things in the past and can see where this guy is coming from. He’s got a lot of good ideas and shares his heart well. But I have noticed something that’s missing a lot these days, especially with anything connected with post-modern, emerging, or emergent churches, and that’s the issue of doctrine. (Dan Kimball seems to be a great exception to this tendency) While I understand that doctrine by itself is dead, I get the feel that there are a lot of folks who are throwing out truth for the sake of emotion, relativism, and pragmatism. But what we find in the first church is that they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” (Acts 2:42) In other words, they were concerned about truth and it seems that if we’re going to be authentic church today and not simply new clubs, then we have to seriously pursue the apostle’s teachings ourselves. In short, truth really does matter.
To start with I want to clarify that when we’re talking about “church” in this section of Kingdomology, we’re talking about the CHURCH universal. We’re talking about the connection that all Christ followers have across the world and for all time. We’re not talking about a local body of believers like First Christian Church in Liverpool, NY. In other words, these are the folks who live in different parts of the world and from different time frames that may or may not have slightly different scriptural interpretations than me, but are still in the same family of God by grace alone. We’re still Kingdom of Heaven Citizens. I do believe there is a place for local body church membership. But that’s another post. For now though, there is another point which the Bible includes as being part of the admission to God’s Church, and that point deals with ‘repentance.”