Posts

Showing posts from December, 2010

FROM THE HIGH PLATFORM OF CHRISTIAN CELEBRITY

Image
Downsizing for the sake of the call...
I read something on CNN a few days ago[i] that gives an example of what it looks like for one man.Francis Chan just resigned from his 4,000 member church in California to travel through Asia visiting missionaries and small churches.
He wants to disappear for awhile from the high platform he’s been given.Francis Chan is a Christian mega-church celebrity in demand at conferences and on his DVD teaching series.
In his sudden resignation he said, “I think there has been too much emphasis on me. I want to be used by God, but I think we have this desire to make heroes out of people rather than following God and the Holy Spirit.”
Chan has recognized the danger of becoming too important—gaining the whole world of Christian subculture and losing his own soul.As soon as you allow the cares of this world to take over, you begin to die.Everyone who is ever given the privilege of teaching and leading others would do well to remember how Jesus led with humility.
Ma…

GOD'S POVERTY

Image
Becoming poor is a central theme of the Christmas story.A few hundred years of prophecy, a string of angelic visitations and a handful of miracles— the long awaited dream ended up being the high King of Heaven downsizing from the throne room to living homeless.
The Hallelujah Chorus is sung because God chose to live in crisis.
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
All sorts of people have become poor against their better wishes.But who chooses to become poor when they do not have to?That is what Jesus did when he descended to live among us.He set aside the glory of Heaven for the gloom and dust of broken humanity.
When he asked the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow him, He spoke of something he was experiencing himself.
How have you experienced wealth?For some, it is cash flow and the freedom to choose how and where they spend their time.F…

DOWNSIZING

Image
As I drove past the 4,000 square foot home on an acre of land I thought, “This is the right street but that can’t be my friend’s house.”After exploring the street to its end and returning, I pulled in the driveway and discovered my buddy had done well.
We were recently reunited at his uncle’s funeral.A month later, I am here visiting a friend from my high school years.He only lives an hour away, but you lose touch with some of your dearest friends over time.
And appearances can be deceiving. He had done very well in the construction business until three years ago when recession took its toll.Within a short period of time, he lost most of his wealth and is now starting over.The huge house is on the market and a smaller home is being built.He has spent the last couple years learning a new business as a day trader.
All evening we talked about risk and dreams.We talked about friends and family who have suffered and died.It was a night about the things that matter most and what we are hoping …

THE PURIFIED HEART

Image
Matthew 5:8
"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."


Do you notice your attitude change when you are shown unexpected mercy?  While you wait for the slap of disappointment and shame, you are instead amazed by grace.  Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.
In these kind moments, your heart is purified.  This is like the refiner who heats up the metal until the impurities rise to the top where they can be skimmed off.  Purity happens through processing to remove pollutants.
Paul spoke to the church in Rome about the influence of God’s kindness on us.  It not only changes us but demands a new attitude towards others who disappoint us.
Romans 2:3But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?4Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
God’s kindness awaken…

MERCY BACK AT 'CHA

Image
You know what to expect.  Once again you have done something you were not supposed to.  Because you have failed before, you know the disappointment and consequences awaiting you.  Parent, spouse, teacher, friend or God-- we dread the moment of reckoning. 
Unexpectedly, they acknowledge your failure and then offer understanding and forgiveness.  You thought you would be wallowing and drowning in shame, but today relief floods your soul.  You are loved and the desire to change is growing inside you.  The world is new in the light of mercy.
Imagine the trauma Noah and his family experienced.  They witnessed firsthand the powerful judgment of God upon the earth.  Everywhere was buried in water.  Everyone they had known was drowned.  The nature of the atmosphere had changed and only God’s mercy could explain their survival. 
When the door of the ark opened, mercy had brought them to a new place.  It was unrecognizable from their history.  The very first rainbow[i] appeared with a message fr…

EMPTY TO BE FULL

Image
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
The first three beatitudes describe various states of emptiness that God takes note of.Blessed are the spiritually bankrupt, those who experience insufferable loss (mourning) and the ones who are gentle and undemanding.Our Father is observant of our deficit and works to bring goodness and rightness into the void.
There is great happiness in the emptying of our lives; making more room for God to fill.Food always tastes better when you’ve missed some meals.Water is most delicious when you are very parched.
What is the righteousness that we hunger and thirst for?Righteousness describes the character of God and includes the qualities of justice; truth; mercy and love.  In the emptiness you experience, is there an appetite for WWGD (What will God do?)?How will God fill your empty places with Himself?
It is not enough to be empty and broken.We need God and our desire for His presence longs to be sati…

THE REWARD OF KIND-HEARTED NEPHEWS

Image
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
How many movies and books have been written where a family gathers with an executor to hear the reading of the will?  Each of the descendants sit forward waiting to hear their name called and inheritance described.  To the surprise of the greedy and anxious cut-throats, the estate gets willed to a kind-hearted nephew who was valued just for being a nice guy.  He lacked the social prominence and worldly wit of the other family members.  He lived in obscurity and without privilege.
God is looking for kind-hearted gentlemen and women who are not asserting and demanding their rights.  The meek person is one ‘who is kind and considerate to others, even to those who oppose him, who is easily approachable, not prideful or resentful, not temperamental or harsh.’[i]
Think of Jesus’ audience on the hillside.  The three major cultures influencing their lives were Jewish, Roman and Greek.  Jews were proud of their race and believed…

OTHER WORLD ATTITUDES

Image
‘Other world’ attitudes—you know when you have seen them.  There are buried treasures that break through the crust of our worldliness and remind us of a different kind of place.  They are beautiful attitudes.
The King James translators called them beatitudes.  Jesus taught them on an ancient hillside; a preacher who practiced what He preached.  He casts a vision of a people who are salt in a tasteless world; bonfires in dark valleys.
This is not a to-do list for highly motivated and disciplined people.  The beatitudes mostly describe circumstances where we are powerless to do anything but pray and seek God.
The Franciscan priest Richard Rohr describes Jesus’ list of virtues this way:
The Eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3 - 12) offer us a more spacious world, a world where I do not have to explain everything, fix everything, or control anything beyond myself, a world where we can allow a Larger Mystery to work itself out through us and in us.  These things are done to us more than anything we …