Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Live Sent

Jesus sends us all out. That’s it. If you are a Christ follower then you are following Jesus on his mission to reach lost people. If he is going, then we are following. So if you are not “redemptively rubbing shoulders” with lost people then you are not following Christ. At least not as you should.

Read Luke 10:1-16

Jesus talked about reaching people like workers “reach” the harvest. Do you care about the harvest? Do you look at people with compassion because they are helpless and harried like sheep without a shepherd? Can you pray earnestly for the harvest?

Do you feel out of your league? Good! You are in prime position to go in humble dependence upon the Lord.

Do you bring good news? Do you know how to have a spiritual conversation? Can you talk to people about Christ and his cross?

Are you “good news”? Do you come to people with a blessing? Are people happy to see you because they know you love them?

Do you demonstrate the kingdom? Do you pray for people when they are sick? Can you walk into people’s pain and messes and not feel you have to fix them? Can you just “be Jesus” with them?

The Answer: Yes! Yes you can! Yes you are! Yes you will! Jesus has given you everything you need to say yes to all these questions!

So where is your harvest field?

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,
Pastor Tom

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What James and John got right..

I want a cool nickname. “The Rock” has a cool nickname. “The Black Mamba” has a cool nickname. “Ole Blues Eyes” has (er..., “had”) a cool nickname. And James and John had a cool nickname. Jesus called them the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). That sounds like a biker gang, not followers of Christ! How cool is that?!

Maybe that’s why they got so mad at the Samaritans when they refused to welcome Jesus. “Those ungrateful half-breeds - how dare they disrespect our Rabbi!”. What they actually said was: “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54 ESV). They wanted to go Elijah v. Prophets of Baal on them! (1 Kings 18:20-40)

Is that all wrong?

Jesus did rebuke them for their vindictiveness. That’s never right. But maybe they also got something right.

I don’t know their hearts, but I do detect something that is virtually vacant in modern Christendom. I detect a jealousy for the respect of their master, Jesus. They were jealousy for Jesus’ fame and honor. And they got ticked when he was belittled.

Kind of like Paul, who felt sick to his stomach when he saw glory and devotion going to idols and not to Jesus where it belongs (Acts 17:16). Paul was passionate for the fame of Christ - that’s why he prayed that the message of Christ would spread rapidly and be honored (2 Thessalonians 3:1). Nothing wrong with that heart attitude!

So where is that jealousy and passion today? Where are the hearts that ache to see Jesus honored in West Orange county? Where are the schemes, efforts, and plans to reach our friends, neighbors, and co-workers for Christ? Where are the prayers of those who can’t stand to see Jesus dishonored by the casual unbelief that is so thick all around us? Where are those who say “Your name and your renown are the desire of our soul!” (Isaiah 26:8)

Where are the “Sons of Thunder”?

I’m not talking about calling down fire in judgement. I’m talking about calling down holy fire in revival.

Family, we must lay down our right to vindictiveness. We must not demonize, but pray for those who reject Christ. We must move forward in mercy, forgiveness, and grace even to our enemies (or perceived enemies!).

But don’t lose the fire!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,
Pastor Tom

Monday, March 14, 2011

For Lent...

The last couple of weeks we have been learning some “lessons from the valley” from Luke 9:37-50. After the “mountain top experience” of the transfiguration, the disciples meet some epic fails in the valley of ministry. But solid lessons a can be learned:

A Lesson about Faith: v.37-43a “Power lies not in the person praying but in the person of Christ.”

A Lesson about the Cross: v.43b-45 “Before the crown comes the cross”
A Lesson about Humility: v.46-48 “As we serve the weakest and least significant, we serve Christ”
A Lesson about Solidarity: v.49-50 “Kingdom work does not have the luxury of division”

So for Lent this year let’s forgo the usual things we give up, vices of the body, and focus on giving up some crucial vices of the soul that correspond with our "lessons":

For Lent, give up:
Unbelief – Reject unbelief at every turn, every thought, every unanswered prayer. Instead focus on taking up faith by looking more to Jesus and fortifying your soul with the promises of God!

Self preservation and preoccupation – Instead of choosing the path of least resistance in the pursuit of instant gratification, take up action, sacrifice, and risk for the sake of Christ.

Pride – Lay down all thought of congratulation and esteem and rather take up serving “the least of these” and the freedom of humility.

Judgementalism – Put down the tribalism and smug superiority and take up unity with the larger body of Christ & forbearance with those hard-to-live-with Christians!

And as we lay these down, my the image of our Savior shine through our lives!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,
Pastor Tom