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.”
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?
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.