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From Fellowship, To You: Sunday 11/25

November 27, 2007 Leave a comment

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:16

I have heard from a number of different people at a number of different churches that first the body must become healthy before it can reach out to others. First people must grow up in Christ and attain a higher spiritual maturity before they can serve and work for God. I’ve even had someone say to me about a church that they were attending that they could not and should not reach out to the rest of the world until they have had deeper spiritual experiences. I’ve never liked ideas that go that direction. This verse is why.

The passage illustrates a picture of the church as a body. Each person of the church forms a part of this body. This verse says that the body will grow, each individual part of the body will grow and build itself up, as each part does its work. Essentially, to properly grow as followers of Christ, in order to be transformed into the individuals God has called us to be, we must serve the community. We have to do the work required of us. It is not about becoming who God has called us to be and then serving each other and the world. It’s about serving each other and the world while being transformed, healed, and freed by God in order to become the people God has called us to be. We all are a part of the body and have a God-ordained role involving serving Christ by serving people. All of us, wherever we are on our spiritual journey, have work to do. What are you doing?

I usually know what the right thing to do is. I really do. I don’t think that’s necessarily that impressive. Honestly, I think that despite life’s many complicated situations with their ambiguous moral complexities, Christians most often know what the godly thing to do is. For example, I know that when I have a full schedule and have neglected spending time with God, the best thing to do is not to engage myself in some mindless activity that allows me to distance myself from the rest of my life. It’s probably to spend some time in prayer and Scripture, resting instead of escaping. I know that when I’m talking to a friend, it’s not the best thing to talk about the easy things when there are deeper things, more difficult things, that need to be dealt with. I know that when I’m with others who don’t know Jesus, the best thing to do is not to meet them where they’re at in nearly meaningless conversation, but to direct it to their only hope for a life that matters. Still I do all these things. What I know to be right, I so often neglect. What I know to be wrong, I so often do. I am full of self-aware selfishness. My problem is not one of knowledge. It’s one of action. I don’t think I’m alone. Many of us daily find ourselves in situations where we knowingly choose the easier way over the godly one. It’s keeping us fearful and keeping us from the life God has for us. Let’s choose better.

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From Fellowship, To You: Sunday 11/18

November 18, 2007 Leave a comment

One idea I heard once… I have not even a vague remembrance of where or when that time was or who it was I heard it from… is that we often compartmentalize our lives. In the context of the conversation it means that we divide our lives up into individual chunks. Church is one area of life. Work is another. Family life is another. School is yet another. Finances are another. Fun is another. You get the idea. There are an infinite number of ways we could compartmentalize our lives. One thing we place into a compartment is our relationship with God.

Placing God in one part of our lives is easy to do because it’s what we do with everything else, but this is one of the most spiritually destructive things we can do. When we do this, we become different people in different places. It frees us up to be a lazy employee or hard-nosed employer in our job setting, while being hardworking and merciful at home. It allows people to justify acting considerately, kindly, and generously at work and church, and at the same time come home and be arrogant, self-centered, and aloof with our family. It allows us to submit to God with all of our heart and soul on Thursday morning by ourselves in a moment of prayer, but take it back Friday night at a party with drunken friends. Again, you get the idea. God is not supposed to be a part of our lives. He’s supposed to be the unifying link through all of it.

We cannot allow our relationship with God to be something we turn on and off as needed. We have to let God come into our homes, our finances, our passions, our relationships, our jobs, our emotions, our grocery stores, our failures, our gyms, our successes, our coffee shops, our everywhere, our everything. God is everywhere and we need to recognize that and live accordingly. If we contain God in a compartment, we will live depraved and disappointing lives, but if we let God be all-compartment-consuming, we will live a life that is more than all we could ever ask or imagine.

From Fellowship, To You: Sunday 11/11

November 18, 2007 4 comments

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

But no hope at all hurts much less.

So I try not to be overly quick

To be vulnerable by being my best.


So I’ve spent all my life settling

For much less than what I want.

I get by here and there meddling,

Lucky to be an idiot savant.


I’m foolish because I dream too small.

God has always had more in mind.

For the first time I want it all,

My fears of pain I let unwind.








“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Jesus

This is a verse I think a lot of us have heard. It’s also one that is very easy to take completely out of context. Taken by itself it is easy to interpret the verse as an exhortation to obey every single letter of the law and have no inkling of any evil desire or proclivity toward any evil action. It is true that we should ignore no area of imperfection in our lives and strive to be and become the people God has called us to be; however, this verse isn’t really about that. It’s about something that, while smaller in scale, often seems to be extraordinarily difficult.


In the verses just preceding this, Jesus tells us something different than what the world around us tells us… love your enemies. Love those who have no love for you – for the very people who are injuring, abusing, persecuting, seeking to destroy you. Loving only those who love you back, or don’t hate you, is something even the godless do regularly. Jesus’ command to be perfect is part of this same thought, which is having truly unconditional love for everyone.


The implications of this for our lives are huge. We have all been hurt by people. We’ve been hurt by their judgmentalism. Many of us have been physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or sexually abused. The words and actions of others have twisted our self views and enchained our lives. People have attacked our beliefs. Islamic jihadists have taken down the world trade center and continue to attack and kill people we know overseas. We’re called to love these people. Really love these people. Not just wish their best, but actually act toward them in a way that treats their lives as invaluable, indispensable, even when that means self-sacrifice. We make ourselves vulnerable with our love to potential hatred, mocking, even death. That’s what Jesus did, that’s what Jesus does. It’s difficult beyond measure, but possible… and full of life.

From Fellowship, To You: Sunday 10/28

November 7, 2007 Leave a comment

“No one is to appear before me empty handed.” Exodus 23:15


This is one of those verses I’ve read over a number of times without having a second thought about it and moving onto the next. One day, it struck me in my core. I sometimes (often?) come before God and offer Him nothing. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for blessings. I request love and joyful emotions. I ask for all things. I thank God with uncorroborated words. He is offered nothing.


It’s not about bargaining with God with to use your resources to trade for some of His, He fulfills His own needs and desires. It’s about love. In the Old Testament, coming before God with something meant the children of God gave a tenth of everything they had, sacrifices for forgiveness, and firstfruits for thankfulness as a physical representation of the people’s love for God and acknowledgment of what He’s done. Even in those times, it wasn’t about the sacrifice itself, Scripture says “the sacrifices of a God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” The act of sacrifice has always been all about the heart.


What does it mean for me, now… for us, the New Israel? It looks like losing our lives before God, having the complete willingness to give up all that we have if Jesus simply asks it. We are to offer our “bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” It’s a more mystical way of giving to God and on the surface seems more about the inner life. But it is tangible. The children of God before were distinguished by their outward actions through ritual, we are to be known by our outward acts of love. And we do know people like this. We all know people who, when we see how different their lives are and full of life they are, we just know, that person comes before God offering everything. It’s inevitable that when we come before God hands full of all that we are, we will be shaped into people whose most marked quality is tangible love.


God does. I just don’t always think that’s true or live like that’s true. Way back in Genesis, Abraham, who had and has many sons, did much the same thing. God said He’d give Abraham a son. Time passed, his wife was too old to have children, so Abraham took matters into His own hands and copulated with his wife’s servant, who conceived and bore Ishmael. It wasn’t God’s plan and God let it happen and blessed Ishmael, but God would not rest until His plan was done His way – not through the impatient and untrusting actions of Abraham. God gave Abraham a son when he was 100 and his wife was 90. It was absolutely impossible and glorious. The wonder and joy of it was so great that they named their child Laughter. This is what happens when God does.


As I said, I often live and think like Abraham. I know what God’s will is… He wants to bless me with a wife… He wants life in all my relationships… He wants to bring people to Himself through me… He wants to bring healing in the lives of those around me. I too frequently move on these things in my own timing, with my own effort, the responsibility on me. The result is always less than what God has, sometimes heart-wrecking and destructive. God accomplishes His purposes, and though He allows me to participate in them with Him, He doesn’t ask me to do it all myself. We actually become more effective when we focus more upon obedience to God and let Him do what He needs to do in His time. And it’s a lot freer. I don’t have to be trying to make a relationship work, marketing Jesus, or staying up until 4:00 AM (like I was last night) with anxiety about how to bring healing to my friends. God accomplishes infinitely more than I can anyway and when we have the opportunity to be a part of His Movement we are full of awe and our hearts well with overflowing Laughter.

From Fellowship, To You: Sunday, 10/21

October 25, 2007 Leave a comment

Matthew 17:14-21

This story is not about Jesus doing something the disciples could not do, but about what they could have done, but didn’t. Jesus came along and cast out the demon they couldn’t get rid of, but Jesus doesn’t tell them it was from lack of ability when they asked him why they couldn’t do it. Jesus tells them their faith was too small. It was not their imperfections or incapacities, but their miniscule belief in what God can do. And more than that, what God can do through them. Their reality is not big enough. Their reality fails to take into account the infinite power of God that, because of His love, He wants to display to the world through us. Jesus doesn’t stop with a chastisement, but tries to enlighten them and enlargen their view of the world.

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

These are not idle words. They’re an invitation, an urging, to see a bigger God. To understand that God is active – living, moving, breathing in this world and that He wants to live, move, and breathe in us, and through us, into the world. I have always dreamt too small. I often fail to believe not that God can do, but that God can do through me, that God will do through me. Sometimes it’s just hard for me to believe that through me God wants to do the impossible. He wants to perform the supernatural in ways that are like the movement of mountains. He wants not only to perform the daunting task of building my character and working through me to build others, but He wants to cast out demons through me, He wants to heal people through me, and if I have the faith, all is possible. Is your world big enough? Is your view of God large enough? Do you believe?

A generous man will prosper;

he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

– Proverbs 11:25

We live in a world that hoards. It’s the richest time in the history of the world, and what do we have? Not an end to world hunger (although that is feasible with the resources available), but more amenities, more toys, more crap. Our world keeps what it has. People have a very difficult time giving things away they think they have a right to. It’s our money, our time, our resources, our friends, our energy, our stuff. We like to keep it that way. We get upset when that is not the case. We cling so strongly to that which belongs to us and it keeps us so chained. We are not refreshed, we are uptight, we are nervous about losing some of what we have. It’s a life where we have a ton, but it doesn’t feel like prosperity. It can’t, we’re putting our treasure in the wrong place. Real prosperity comes when we give generously so often that it becomes a descriptor that applies to how we interact with the world all the time. Refreshment comes when we refresh others. If we live in a way where we are seeking to refresh others with all that we have (more than just finances), it changes the way we see things. We begin to see just how worthless it is to cling tightly to and not want to give up what we have. As we release our hold on ownership, it releases its hold on us and finally free from that, refreshment comes and we’re opened up to live in the prosperity God has for us.

From Fellowship, To You: Sunday, 10/7

October 18, 2007 Leave a comment

Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2

So often in life, I get caught up in the activity. I find myself wrapped up in getting things done and passing the time, all the while focused on it seems like everything but God. At the start of this week, that’s all I did. Satan moved upon seeing my weakness (complete lack of focus), and I started living a very self-centered, self-protective, self-devoted, self-indulgent life which leads to a lot of the things found in verse 5 if you read the passage. It wasn’t really a good start. It’s so easy to lose focus. It’s so vital not to. How can I think of heaven, how can I think of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ enthroned and remain selfish? I can’t. How can I live as God has called me to if I’ve set my mind on earthly things? I can’t. Therefore I must, we must, do whatever it takes to have our minds ever set on Jesus, letting everything He is about rule in our minds and hearts, and in so doing die to the evils of this world and bring to it the goodness of the kingdom where Christ reigns.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. – Jesus (John 6:38)

Cool. I’m imagining this in my own life and it is absolutely beautiful. Can you picture it? Imagine having no spiritual thirst inside of you. Imagine liquid life making up the essence of your being. Can you comprehend the freedom? Can you feel the joy? Can you sense the wholeness? The peace? The power? To add to it, if you read on in the Scripture it says that these streams of living water (note the plural) are the Holy Spirit. If you look back at what Scriptures in the past have used the metaphor of living water (even specifically streams of living water) to describe, it is God Himself (see, I believe, Jeremiah 2:13). Yahweh inside of us. The great God of everything, streaming through us like living water, and not just that, but flowing “from within.” This implies an outward movement. This includes an inner life full of the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, but is not limited to that inner life. Jesus paints a picture of this inner world brimming with so much life that it flows into the world around us. It changes the world around us, the people around us. The overflow of God’s life in us always has a Godly impact on the people around us.

May our inner lives be filled. May we always recognize that the great I AM abides in us and equips us not just to be alive, but to bring that life into the lives of others. May we live with such obedience, such understanding of God’s love for us, such Spirit-filled faith that the God of life flows through us into the world. And May He alone be glorified.

From Fellowship, To You: Sunday, 9/30

October 18, 2007 Leave a comment

Now…

Now is the time to repent and be baptized. If you have anything against anyone, forgive them in your heart and actions. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. This moment is the perfect one to let Christ heal your wounds. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to be free from addiction. Today is the day to be free from everything. Get over yourself. In this very moment Love Himself is here, be afraid of nothing. This is the hour of real, Spirit-empowered life change. Preach the Gospel to the poor, the rich, the disabled, to all creation. Humbly give your all to the God who is jealous of all that you give to another master and experience being lifted up by the very hand of the Father. The Kingdom of God is here. Heal the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Give generously of your finances, time, gifts, and who God has made you to advance the Kingdom of Jesus against everything that opposes it: unbelief, sin, shame, the world, the flesh, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Nothing will prevail over a man or woman equipped with the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Love everyone deeply, tangibly. Move. Move. Move. What is the next step, struggle, or action in front of you? Take it, overcome it, and take the next. Fix your eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfector of your life in Him, and run deeper into Him – all the while faithfully resting at peace in the presence of Christ’s immeasurable Love.

Luke 18:15 The Little Children and Jesus

This little snippet of the life of Jesus Christ is extraordinarily beautiful and sometimes just as difficult. The disciples tell the mothers and babies to get away from Jesus assuming that Jesus doesn’t want to deal with kids, Jesus is obviously above such things, he’s grown up, he’s too old and important to spend his valuable time with kids. The disciples push away, and Jesus calls out to the children, telling them to come, so now, in addition to mothers and their babies, he’s got a bunch of other kids near him. Just picture him. He then teaches using the children, mildly rebuking the disciples by saying that the kingdom of God is just as much for kids as others. Then, he goes beyond this (it’s the difficult part) and says that “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

This is convicting and often difficult for me to live by. I believe that there are many of us who simply don’t want to enter the kingdom like a child. We’d rather enter with our heads held high like an adult. We don’t want to be that helpless. We don’t want to be that small. We don’t want to be as inept, dependent, and undeserving as the babies in their mother’s arms. Earning what God gives sounds a lot better than just receiving it. I’d love to receive the kingdom of God like a deserved knighthood, with God bestowing upon me what I have worked and fought incessantly to acquire. But it doesn’t work that way. I cannot earn what God offers. It is far too marvelous. I have to come to him humbly accepting my own incapacity to deserve him or I will never enter into his kingdom. When I do this, letting go of my delusions of grandeur, I feel so free. I no longer have to stay away from God to become better. I don’t have to be full of shame and anger toward myself for not living a life good enough to be in God’s presence. He accepts me when I come to him as grateful, fully dependent, incapable, and desperate as a baby in his mother’s arms. After trying over and over again to live like Christ on my own, I know that truly I am just like that baby. And it’s so peaceful in God’s arms.

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