Wednesday, April 13, 2016

THE LIFE OF A SPIRIT LED ACTIVIST

Jesus spoke openly about the cost of belonging with him. You cannot follow Jesus and at the same time live a self-absorbed life. You are called out of that into a community of deliberate, Spirit led activists.




You are called to a life of openly sharing in God’s salvation of the world. If that is true of us, how do work together at flavouring the world around us?


Luke 14:
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”


There is a time to ask how we are to finish what God has started in us. The answer lies in giving up everything. What must we give up in the Kingdom of God?

  • Entitlement of being served
  • Privilege and power based on our achievement
  • Reputation – we are only as respectable as what we do today, not the history of others preceding us
  • Individual agendas that do not build up the whole community

John Piper said,
What will make the world taste the salt and see the light of Christ in us is not that we love wealth the same way they do. Rather, it will be the willingness and the ability of Christians to love others through suffering, all the while rejoicing because their reward is in heaven with Jesus. “Rejoice and be glad [in hardship] . . . You are the salt of the earth.” The saltiness is the taste of joy in hardship. This is unusual life that the world can taste as different.[1]

When the church was robbed of the main office computers on Easter weekend, I instinctively knew that this was an opportunity to practice God’s presence. Instead of worrying and blaming, I had the opportunity to look to God. His people responded with generous donations to cover the cost of replacement as well as a couple computers being donated. Instead of evil winning, the opportunity to help was given. The church and the community spoke with one voice to condemn the robbery and make things right for the way we were victimized. That’s a lesson with lots of salty flavour that gives you an appetite for more.



Sunday, April 10, 2016

EKKLESIA

When you think about church, what comes to mind? Do you think about a religious organization with a specific name located in a particular building? 



That certainly is true of the multitude of local churches scattered around the world. We all have a degree of branding, affiliation and many common characteristics.

But, what really makes a church a church is God’s Presence at work in his people. There is something very pragmatic and earthly about churches; and at the same time a mystical reality that sets us apart from other human organizations.

The New Testament Greek word Ekklesia defines what the church is. In Greek culture Ekklesia referred to a group of citizens who were called out from their homes into some public place for the purpose of deliberating. In the Christian usage of the word, we are called out of home life and come together in worship and holy deliberation. We are coming together to work things out as a unified body. It is deliberate and intentional that we come together. It is God who calls us out.

A great local church is one that people feel called by God to be part of. There will be much opportunity to think and work through deliberate ways to practice the Kingdom of God in our world. There will be opportunity to listen and be heard as together we love God and neighbour. This is part of the calling of the local church. How do we address the common and specific needs in partnership with God?


What is it about Christians that makes them the salt of the earth and the light of the world? It is not wealth. The desire for wealth and the pursuit of wealth tastes and looks just like the world. Desiring to be rich makes us like the world, not different. At the very point where we should taste different, we have the same bland covetousness that the world has. In that case, we don’t offer the world anything different from what it already believes in.[1]
John Piper


This past week, I met together with the church board to deliberate about our current financial challenges. Our particular local church simply needs more people giving money to cover the costs of operation. That’s a common problem. So we met together to discuss and pray about how to respond. 

Our deliberation included moving some funds, communication strategies, prayer and asking the big questions about why anyone would give to support the work we do.

It was a good discussion. Why do a few people give to support New Song Church?

We concluded that people give because of our values and mission. We are known for our unconditional acceptance of people in all of their chaotic diversity. We foster an environment where people spontaneously help each other. We have a reputation for influencing people to live compassionately whether saint or sinner. That’s why we have people who put their money in the offering plate and other donors who appreciate what God is doing through us.

The mission of God inspires great change in the lives of people and has an effect on the surrounding world. Having started with a big idea, how do we keep ourselves moving forward in lasting ways? This is always part of the calling and deliberation of church life.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

SCARECROW RELIGION

Most people in Jesus’ time would look at the Jewish religion to get ideas of what God’s image was like.  Just as today there are many who look at your life to determine what the Christian faith represents.  



Jesus’ teaching about lifestyle and attitude brought people into a deeper understanding of who God is.

As a scarecrow would be a poor illustration of what a farmer looks like, so religion poorly illustrates the living personality and character of God.

Have you met some religious scarecrows? They are people who have an appearance that frightens and there is no life in them. The farmer on the other hand knows his/her purpose and lives to be fruitful. They live a life that multiplies life.

Let’s not be a scarecrow church, but a farmer’s cooperative living out our lives as co-creators with God.


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