Saturday, August 27, 2011

Default Mode (Part 2)

In my last post I talked about how Jesus' disciples reverted back to their default mode of fishing. Even though they were given a much bigger call on their lives to be "fishers of men" they still slipped back into the familiar. I also have done this.

I recently received a direct call from God to plant a church in Tucson, AZ (which I have received in the past and ignored--until now)! I have worked with children and youth for more than 17 years and I always defaulted to this mode. It is more comfortable and familiar. Also, I have a lot of experience in this area and could do it without much help from anyone (or God)?!

I believe God launched me into this new adventure of planting churches to rely on Him for strength and guidance. I don't have a stacked resume in this new endeavor. I have not experienced success in this, but God is teaching me that I need to trust Him and pray for His strength...His agenda...His power. So here I am at the crossroads of a new journey. I am no longer a fisherman, but a fisher of men.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Default Mode

It's funny how when we don't know what to do or are uncomfortable with what we are commissioned to do, we many times revert back to default mode. Here in John 21 we see Jesus' disciples out fishing. This is after they saw Him raised from the dead.
"Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish."
Back in Luke 5 when Jesus originally called these disciples they were fishing. Jesus told them that from now on they would be "fishers of men." They had a new calling and commission. We see in this account in John that they are again fishing, unsuccessfully mind you. But when Jesus calls out to them to put their net on the right side of the boat, they haul in a miraculous catch.
Here are some lessons to ponder:
  1. Jesus has called all of us to be fishers of men (make disciples).
  2. When we are connected to Jesus we become successful. We are not successful apart from Jesus.
  3. We must consider the calling in our lives and go for it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thoughts on "The Hole in the Gospel"

I just started reading "The Hole in the Gospel" by Richard Stearns. Here are my initial thoughts.

I see a pattern developing in the book. The author states that the present gospel seems to have a hole in it. The gospel seems to be more about alleviating poverty and fighting injustice rather than salvation in the work of Jesus Christ, and the church is not out fighting injustice or feeding the poor (or at minimum is blind to it).

So far, it seems, that the author is confusing the gospel for the fruit of the gospel. Let me offer a simile. If the gospel is like a fruit tree, it should grow up and produce fruit. The gospel is the tree and the outgrowth (or fruit) would be an others-centered life (including helping the oppressed and poor). Now the fruit is not the gospel, but only an outgrowth of it. We can offer people the fruit but it is not the tree. I think we could mistake "the root" for the "fruit."

I see a movement happening in our culture of "social justice" where churches and denominations are leaning toward replacing the salvation message of the gospel with social reform agendas. The "hole in the gospel" is actually the omission of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross--His Substitutionary Atonement. The "world" is out trying to fight injustice and poverty (and we should join them), but they ARE NOT preaching the good news of salvation in Christ. That is the church's job.

We must not be lured away from our primary call and substitute social justice for the gospel. To be honest it is much easier to be a part of a movement of social justice than it is to preach Christ crucified. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says,

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

People do not take too kindly to the gospel as they do to the fruit of the gospel. We must preach the gospel and give away its fruit, but we must guard against presenting social justice as the gospel.

I will be continuing to read the book and will update periodically, so my thoughts may meander a bit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pawns in the Hands of God

A Poem by Shannon Huetter

At times it seems that life is cruel;
For we are pawns in the hands of God.
Whether rich or poor it is His Rule;
He reigns above with His un-spared rod.

Omnipotent is the God of love
That sees and knows all that's done.
If we should take from Him above,
Remember His Death, our souls He won.

So take my life I cry to Thee,
You, who art my God, and Ruling King.
For even Moses and the prophets could not see
What a God of love and grace could bring.

My God, My God I am Your pawn
That needs Your guidance from dusk till dawn.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Worship--What? Why? How?

Here are some basic questions that need to be asked from time to time.

  1. What is worship?
  2. Why do we worship?
  3. How should we worship?

I believe that Romans 12:1 sums it up well:
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."

How many times do we have the mentality of "I hope I GET something out of the worship today," rather than, "What can I OFFER today as worship?"

What can we OFFER in our worship, and how would that change the focus of many worship gatherings or services? Just some thoughts!!