Tag Archive: purpose


A good friend reminded me this weekend that if we focus on what we don’t want we will always end up there. If I focus on not being like my dad I will end up being like him or if I focus on the ditch while driving I will end up in the ditch. People do not set goals to not do or be something, they set goals in the direction they want to go.

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“…every organization eventually becomes a direct reflection of its leadership, whether for good or for bad.”
Larry Osborne, Sticky Church, Pg. 123

Knowing what we don’t want is great however one must focus on what is to be achieved. What is the purpose of Christianity and why do we believe what we do?

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“The distance between the cradle and the cross is slight”
Reverend Terry Lee

 

Over the Advent season at church we have been looking at the words of Isaiah and reminded that even though we celebrate the birth and resurrection at different times in the year they are not that far a part. Together they are the fulfilled of God’s plan to rescue the lost. Over the last few months I have not really blogged, I left part way through a series I was putting together on the two kingdoms of the already and not yet. The last few months have been some of the most stressful I have ever experienced and through this time have had many
already but not yet moments. This series has reminded me that many parts of this world remain broken and that there is something more, something eternal that needs fixing.

nativity

Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7
 

 

Part of the sermon today Pastor Terry looked at how Christ fulfilled the promise of being the prince of peace when the world seems to be so broken. The world is broken, we see that all over the news, in our homes, at our jobs, but the peace Isaiah is looking at is something more, something eternal. The world is not our enemy, God is. Our relationship was broken when man bit into the forbidden fruit in the garden. The peace that Christ brings now is peace with God. Through Christ we are reconciled to Him (Colossians 1:19-22).

This Christmas don’t forget that the baby that came from God also went to the cross for our sins.

Erwin McManus is a name I recognize as an influential speaker in the Evangelical church, however until this last week I have not really read or heard any of his work. It started with the sermon he gave at Centre Street Church (watch here) and then I watched his documentary Crave Calgary. After listening and watching I was left with a few questions and a little disappointed. I don’t want to assume that what I heard and saw was intentionally selling the Gospel short nor do I believe that McManus intended for it to be sold short. Too often today we take sound bits of people out of context and say they believe something that they don’t actually believe. I would love to sit down with a venti 1/2 sweet stirred white mocha, ask him to clear up some points and thank him for others.

Where is scripture? At some point you must cross over into Christian language. Scripture is the Word of God and as a believer or someone looking into why not go to the source instead of someone else’s paraphrase of scripture.  Present a scripture without the reference you would be amazed at how people agree with it even if they are resistant or hostile to anything God related.

The video does not seem to offer answers to the misconceptions and ideas that go against scripture. I will give it the assumption that the documentary has been designed to open the discussion however the website questions don’t go much deeper. In the book’s introduction he says “Jesus once said the kingdom of God is within us. Yet most of us even bother to explore the possibility that this might be true. It seems that what he is implying that it is that we have a better chance finding God in the universe within us than the one that surrounds us.” He was referencing Luke 17.21 which feels horribly out of context and the reference is not given. Matthew Henry describes “that the kingdom of the Messiah was to be a spiritual kingdom,and not temporal and external”(1) . The Reformation Study Bible also points to this idea saying “the kingdom of God is within you. That is, the kingdom is present as an inner reality, something hidden in people’s hearts (cf. Rom. 14:17). Translating “in your midst” (text note) would point to the presence of the kingdom in the person of Jesus” (2). McManus’ line of thinking seems to open a door to thinking that I have the power with in me to overcome my issues. How would he defend from this?

~
11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “ Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst [Or within you].”
~
The documentary is also very me-centered instead of Christ-centered. The views shown are grounded in what the culture is seeking around us and even though it points towards God it falls short in delivering the Gospel truth that it is more about God’s glory than us. It leaves the Gospel on the ground and runs the risk of being idolatry as “it is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself” (3). This seems to undermine who God is and merely looks toward what he can offer me. This is the negative side of the seeker sensitive movement. Again I would like to ask about when do you go deeper than what God can offer? Is that even a good place to start since that encourages the consumer mentality we already have?

With the concerns explained I would move on to something I truly appreciate and think too often we get caught up in. The video can be viewed for  free online with the option to buy physical copies of the documentary (the books and study must be purchased as well). Gospel for Asia does the same thing but with all their material including books. That is something that I have come to have great respect for. If you claim to have insight about God it is because he revealed it to you and is for everyone not just for you to make money off of. I think this falls into the category of failing to love your brother (1 John 4.20) or as Paul says “What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel…I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Corinthians 9.18 &23). Videos today tend to be primers or marketing tools for something else like a book or a study. However they also open doors to reach out to people who typically would not have the desire to engage in these types of conversations. I am thankful that there are people like McManus willing to push our typical ideas of church and culture to reach the lost with the Gospel.

Finally I would follow-up on the first question. He may not go as deep into the scripture as I feel is appropriate, but something that McManus does do is open dialogue about the idea that we need to learn to connect the language within the church with the language of the culture around us. He affirms the need for special language in his April 29, 2012 sermon at Centre Street Church but says we need to do a better job being able to bridge the language of everyday and with in the church. This is something so simple yet we fail so badly at it. Fields of science have their own terms, Religions have their own terms, kids have their own terms. When someone enters one of these new areas they need to learn all the special terms. Acronyms must be explained, concepts broken down into their simplest form. When we do this we become less accurate with their meaning however over time the knowledge to understand them more accurately grows. With that I would finish my white mocha, thank him for taking the time to have coffee with me, and go our separate ways.

In all reality if I had a chance to have this conversation I probably wouldn’t be able to ask any of these things and more likely would just sit and listen.

Footnotes

1) Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Lk 17:20). Peabody: Hendrickson.

2) Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). Reformation study Bible, the : Bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture : New King James Version. Includes index. (Lk 17:21). Nashville: T. Nelson.

3) Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel, page40

4) Picture of DA Carson quote from The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

The meaning of life is more than 42 and more than random chance. After my post on time a friend pointed me to William Craig Lane who looked at the PBS show I mentioned in the post. I have since listened to a few of his Reasonable Faith podcasts and on my drive home today I listened to his thoughts on The New Philosophy of Cosmology. He has an amazing gift of dissecting complex ideas, making it easy to see the issues, misconceptions, and positives about different views.

Cosmology, a branch of astronomy that deals with the origin, structure, and space-time relationships of the universe (Merriam-Webster), Dr. Craig explains why probability denies the idea that we are just the lucky winners of existence. More than that he is really looking at a struggle going on about whether science can determine meaning and Stephen Hawking’s proclamation that philosophy is dead.

How does this apply to me?

For one, it shows that the debate between science and God is not as cut and dry as both sides like to claim. This kind of debate also shows that the secular community is also at odds about where exactly we came from. The Bible is not a scientific textbook, but the details of origin, structure, and time are in there and their place under God.

 
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1.1-5

I enjoy listening to this kind of thing as it really shows the inextinguishable glory of God and the complexity of all creation. Humanity is just a part of that complexity.

 

I can’t comprehend / You’re infinitely beautiful

After All (Holy) By David Crowder Band
 

As I started out on this discipleship journey of posts I thought it would be quick. God had a different idea and led me down a path that took a little more time. I have had the chance to listen to several great podcasts, read a couple of books on discipleship, and spent time with seasoned friends learning more about the importance of being a disciple. Several of my posts over the last few months touched on this topic, but this post is a continuation of True Discipleship – Part 1 .

How do we get from a church full of infants to having a church filled with people digging deep into the Word and discovering who Christ is and who they are? How do we become true disciples, someone becoming more like Christ? What does true discipleship even look like?

Three Options for Discipleship

In Larry Olson’s book Sticky Church he states that there are 3 kinds of discipleship models. There is a mentoring model, an education model, and an apprenticeship model. Mentoring is one on one and relational. It is best over time and is not effective in a fast paced changing environment. Education is long-term and requires a large commitment. It works best with linear goal-orientated personalities and is highly structured. Apprenticeship lets people do a task and be the leader is there to help them pick up the pieces. The nature and dynamics of life demands that we really need to use a combination of the three as they all have strong advantages but fall short in other areas. For example, I love going to school and loved learning about the history, traditions, and methods of the church. Yet when I started applying the things I learned they always needed tweaking to fit the ministry of where I was at. At this point the apprenticeship model kicked in and a seasoned leader was able to help guide me through the issues in a way that stayed true to biblical principles and was able to respond to the human factor of the situation. The mentoring model is also part of my life and it keeps me in check with my motives and my own issues. These three discipleship models when in sync with each other can propel us to grow deep and stretch us in growing wide.

Building a Church Culture of Discipleship

Discipleship requires commitment from both the disciple and from the mentor. This means we must be intentional and open about how we disciple. The C&MA has put together a few examples of different discipleship plans by its member churches called Discipleship Pathways. If we want to get out of the pastor-do culture that is prevalent in the North American church today we must present and implement an alternative culture. A culture that raises Christian adults, mature followers of Christ, true disciples. As Paul says in Hebrews 5.14 “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” If we desire to grow deep we must allow ourselves to be held accountable and learn the difference between what is right and what is wrong.

Held Accountable

My wife and I love giving our kids gifts, but we also love watching them grow as they become caring, compassionate, and God centered. This is not developed by simple showering them with gifts, but also, when needed, to give correction and discipline. Too often in the church today we resist giving and receiving discipline. The Father loves giving good gifts (Matthew 7), but He also disciplines out of love so that we can grow and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12). In a blog post by Jared Wilson, he says “In discipling relationships, we are always disciplining one another, not chiefly or only in the fight against sin but largely in our encouragement of each other, edifying one another, teaching one another, and sharing one another’s burdens. In short, disciples know each other. And so Matthew 18:15 might be happening all the time, perhaps weekly within loving relationships where there is no imminent danger of somebody being kicked out of the church but rather a constant iron sharpening of iron” (5 Ways to Keep Church Discipline from Seeming Weird). To be discipled we must allow others to call us on our sin so we are held accountable for what we do, otherwise we will stay as infants and our paths will remain crooked and broken.

Why?

Discipleship gives us the tools and skills to take the Gospel out into the world. As we go we will be able to share His great name. Faith in Christ is not meant to be kept to ourselves, but shared with fellow believers and shared with non-believers as a testimony of God’s glory. Why do we attend church? Why do we go to small groups? Why do we serve the poor? Evangelism and discipleship are not the same thing however they do work intertwined with each other. “If you think your heart is growing in love for God, but your heart is not growing in love for lost people, you  are deceived.” (Chip Ingram- High Impact Church Law 8).

Are you being discipled?

Here are a few resources I found:

 How to Build a High Impact Church – Chip Ingram

 & the post 5 Ways to Keep Church Discipline from Seeming Weird

 C&MA Discipleship Pathways & Southview Alliance’s Aspen Strategy

If you think your heart is growing in love for God, but your heart is not growing in love for lost people, you  are deceived.

Chip Ingram – Law 8 – The Law of Focus

 

Download the series for free from Walk Through The Bible

 

Inside & Outside

Artist: Perugino
Year: c. 1481-1482
Type: Fresco
Dimensions: 330 cm × 550 cm (130 in × 220 in)
Location: Sistine Chapel, Rome

The Law of Liberation – Growing churches train their members to discover and deploy their spiritual gifts and passions both within and outside the church.

Chip Ingram – Law 4 in How To Grow A High Impact Church

In my attempt to write part 2 of my True Discipleship post I have started to come across some pretty great articles, books, & podcasts about what discipleship is and is not. One being the How To Grow A High Impact Church series by Chip Ingram.  We have been liberated from sins grasp so that we can fulfill our purpose to glorify God (Isaiah 60.21, Romans 11.36). “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”  (1 Corinthians 10.31). The role of the church is not to do the work, but to empower and release the workers within and outside, as they are driven by the grace that Christ has shown them.

Stay tuned part 2 will be posted soon.

You are probably thinking that I am a couple of weeks behind? However, I have a reason for being intentional about remembering the resurrection today. Two weeks tends to be the point where the what ever stirred in us on Easter will fade into the distance, but if we forget there is no real point to Easter or Christmas.

Will you forget what the Christ did for all on that day 2000 years ago?

Something that has really been hitting me since Easter is that Christ was not that meek and mild caricature we like to paint Jesus as. The “I Am”  statements Jesus makes, the “you have heard it… but I say…” statements, forgiving people’s sins, these are all direct attacks on the established order of the way things were traditionally passed down from the time of Moses and the burning bush.

Christ did not just throw in the towel and give up his spirit out from being overpowered or pacifistic. As the pure spotless lamb Jesus chose to give up his spirit to pay the price for my sin. He rose from the dead crushing Satan’s hold on the world. Restoring my relationship with the Father and tearing down the veil between us. It was costly, it was messy, and it was bloody! Everyday is Easter Sunday and everyday the glory goes to his mighty saving work so that none shall be lost. My soul finds comfort and joy in that even when the things of this world are against me.

Don’t Forget What Christ Did For You!


How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

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“I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and types of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason, too…Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do. Maybe it’s the same with people, if you lose your purpose it’s like your broken.”
Quote from the movie Hugo

The kids all went to bed so we actually had a quiet evening tonight and rented the movie Hugo. The preview looked like it would be good and it turned out it was really good. It has some great points about life, the quote above being one. The Plugged in review said it best “Hugo feels like a throwback to many of the beloved films of yesteryear. And at the same time, it serves as a powerful reminder that there are filmmakers in Hollywood who have the capacity to tell a spellbinding story without indulging in R-rated excess or crassly capitulating to commercialism. They just have to choose to do so.”

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