Monthly Archives: January 2011

Just 1 Word!

In just 1 word, how can I pray for you today?



What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.  So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.  But I need something more!  For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!  I realize that I don’t have what it takes.  I can will it, but I can’t do it.  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.  My decisions, such as they are, don’t results in actions.  Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.  It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.  I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn’t that the real question?  the answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different…here’s a word that you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.  I’m proof – public sinner number one – of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy.  And now he shows me off – evidence of his endless patience – to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.

-the Apostle Paul (Romans 7:15-25; 1 Timothy 1:15, 16 MSG)

Missional Living!

Ephesians 4:11-15 says…

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  Then we will no longer be immature like children.  We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.  We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.  Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.  *emphasis mine

There are so many applications to this passage it seems.  There are directives to those who lead the church.  People in positions of leadership who shepherd God’s people.  But there is an even greater emphasis here.  One that lies at the heart of an issue I seem to continually wrestle with.  There is a huge emphasis in this passage not on the leaders of the church, but on every person who calls themselves a follower of Christ, a Christian.

What we know from this passage is that Christianity is not a spectator sport.  Over the last 2000 years or so, the church has done a really good job at making church a spectator sport.  “Sit in our pews.  Listen to what we say.  Do as your told.  Follow these rules.  Preacher knows all the answers.  You are dumb.  You can’t speak to God, I’ll do that.  Come to our potluck dinner.  We’ll make it all happen for you.”  And it seems to me that we have done a great job at creating spectators, fans, those who simply watch the show but don’t actually take part in making it happen.

That is changing.  Winds of change are beginning to blow in the world.  Everyday people, normal, ordinary followers of Christ are starting to make a difference.  They are living different.  They have a different mindset.  They aren’t sitting idly by and letting someone else use their gifts and talents, they are actively pursuing God’s mission and purpose for their life.  They are living life on mission.  They are living, well, like missionaries.

Take a look around at the community you live in.  What are some of the needs you see?

Is there a homeless shelter nearby?

What is the percentage of homelessness in your area?

Are there hungry families?

What percentage of families live below the poverty line?

How many people are struggling just to pay for groceries?

Are there food banks nearby working hard to offer a simple meal?

What about abused moms?

Are teens in your neighborhood struggling?

I wonder, what would Jesus’ office look like if he were here, doing ministry today.  I wonder if he would have the corner office with a nice window and a good view of the city.  Maybe he would have a comfortable couch with a few plants and a picture of his mom and dad on his desk.  He would be furiously typing out the “Sermon on the Mount – Part 2” on his MacBook Air.  His iPhone would be buzzing constantly with emails and demands from people.

But it doesn’t take long to notice something different in the life of Jesus.  Let’s just say, you have to be pretty close to a prostitute for her to pour perfume all over your feet, to wipe you down with her hair and to cry on your shoulder.  You have to be pretty close to the traitor to share a meal with him or to receive a kiss on the cheek.  There isn’t much room in his life for an office space when there are thousands of people feed.

In every aspect of the word, Jesus lived as a missionary in the world.  He was a missionary to mankind.  And in every aspect of the word, I can’t grow to be like Christ until I am doing the same thing.  I can’t live like a missionary in my world when I don’t even have “non-Christian” friends in my life.  It’s hard to be like Jesus when I don’t share a meal with people who don’t share my values.  It’s hard to be like Christ when I don’t rub elbows with anyone who doesn’t think, feel, believe and look like me.  When it comes to being like Christ, I have a long way to go.  But it starts with a belief, a belief that translates into action.  It’s the belief that I am a missionary right where I am.  I am not here to spectate and watch the world go by, I am here with a purpose and mission to help make a difference and to share Jesus with people.

So what about you?

How would you feel if I told you that you were more than “just a Christian,” but that you were a missionary for Christ right where you are?

Would that change the way you view your world?  Would that change how you act toward people?  Would that change who and how you interact with people?

Over the next few weeks, I will probably talk about this topic a lot more.  I have a lot of thoughts on my mind about this very issue.

Just 1 Word!

Today, I posted a status update on my Facebook.  It was a simple post.  It looked like this…

Facebook status update

I thought a lot about the responses.  I have prayed for every single one of them.  Even a couple of responses that came from people who aren’t even my “friends” on Facebook.  I thought that was really cool that they posted a one-word prayer request.

As a result, I’m going to do this every Friday morning.  I’m going to ask for one-word prayer requests every Friday morning.  I wanted to post this on my blog as well so that those who aren’t on Facebook can still have the opportunity to be heard.  So if you’re out there reading this, please comment below with your one-word prayer request.

For those of you who might be interested, you can find me on Facebook or Twitter as well.  I can’t wait to pray for you.

The Face of God!

Meeting of Jacob and Esau (1844) Pinacoteca To...

Today, I sat down to read my Bible.  Day 11 of my “Read through the Bible in a Year” plan.  The plan starts in the book of Genesis which seems to me to be a pretty logical place to start.  I have been blown away at many spots about God’s interaction with man.  The relationship God wants to have with us is pretty special.  Today I read Genesis 31-33.  We’re really starting to get to the heart of some of the Patriarchs and some of the greatest stories of faith in all of Scripture in these chapters.  Joseph’s story is just around the corner and I can’t wait to read it again.

I digress.  In Genesis 33, there is a verse that reached up and slapped me in the face.  I mean that in the best way possible.  In this chapter, there is a reunion of two brothers, Jacob & Esau.  It’s a beautiful reunion after an ugly break up around 20 years earlier.  Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright and the last time they talked, Esau had committed his life to killing Jacob.  Now, Jacob was going back home with his family; wife, children, servants and animals.  Their reunion is one of the heart-warming stories of the Bible, full of restoration, forgiveness and love.

Verse 11 really got me thinking.  It says…

But Jacob insisted, ‘No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me.  And what a relief to see your friendly smile.  It is like seeing the face of God!’

The night before, Jacob had wrestled with “God.”  In fact, after the wrestling match, God renamed Jacob, Israel because he had fought with God and men and had won.  Jacob, now Israel, named that place, Peniel, which means, ‘face of God.’  To me, that’s fascinating.

This made me ask myself the question, “When people see me, what do they see?”

Seriously, when people see us (followers of Christ) coming toward them, what do they think?  Are they excited because we are coming?  Do they see us and light up because they know they are going to have a positive encounter with someone when life is tough?  Or do they look at us and think, “Oh crap, not him/her again”?

What face do we give to people?  How are we helping them see God in the way we live and in the very smile on our face?

Does the waitress go home sad because of her encounter with you?

Does the flight attendant have to send someone else because of your bad attitude?

Do your co-workers dread sitting next to you in a meeting?

What face are we giving God?  Because when we say we believe in God and that we are Christians, then we follow that up with anger, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit or a constant frown and pessimism.  And when people make that connection, how does that change their view of God?

I have more questions probably than answers, but this verse really got me thinking.  I want people to see God in me.  When I come into Starbucks, I want the workers to be excited that I’m there.  When I walk into church, I want people to see me and feel glad that I work with them.  I want friends who are hurting to be able to see me coming toward them and know that they are going to get a dose of encouragement and love.  When I come home at night, I want my wife to smile.  I want my kids to meet me at the door with hugs.  I want them to feel that when dad comes home, when hubby comes home, then so does a piece of God.

Maybe we all need to think about what impression of God we are giving off.  Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way.  But when two brothers, estranged for 20 years, threats of murder the last time they talked, can see each other for the first time and proclaim, “Your smile is like the face of God,” how much more should we be the face of God to people in our broken world.

What do you think?

Examples I missed?

What would you add?

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