(un)Converted Income |LoM Part 1/4:Faith

30 November, 2015 § 1 Comment


10“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16:10-13

Jesus makes a connection here between faith, love, devotion and service that if we ignore we will perhaps inadvertently be pulled into the worship of something other than God–Jesus cites money here because the worship of money is so prevalent. To worship is to build your life entirely on or upon something or someone.   

Faith

Jesus uses the analogy of one who is a steward of a much richer man’s belongings. The richer man gives a small amount to the steward who deals faithfully with it. Based on Jesus’ other teachings on stewardship, I’m inclined to believe that the result of having dealt faithfully with another man’s possessions is to present them back in better condition and/or more voluminous than when they first came into your possession. This takes a certain amount risk tolerance on the believer’s part when they invest God’s resources into the mission. This, consequently, is where we start to be unfaithful and build securities other than wisdom (Prov. 3:4; Ecc. 7:2)  into the structure of our lives and our churches. What we have down in our little black books as God’s rightful possession, that all important 10%,  goes to God, but because of the conversion of the other 90%  from money to fuel, food, rent and leisure, we lose sight of the fact that they are still God’s possessions with which we must deal faithfully. This is what Jesus meant when He said that, “…life is more than food, and the body more than clothing,” (Luke 12:23). To seek God’s Kingdom is to assimilate yourself into God’s Kingdom where paying rent and buying groceries are seen as no less of an act of worship than  to tithe 90% of your unconverted income. Through the continual submission of all of life to Jesus, we ought to be able to count every percentage of our whole lives as tithed unto the Lord. This mindset comes only from the proper belief in God as our Father who provides for every need according to His riches in glory–even that which would cost Him His only Son in order that we would be made beloved children and extend that offer to all of humanity through all of life. What God has done to you, He desires to do through you.

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What is a Missional Church? | Part 3: Function

27 November, 2015 § Leave a comment


You’re joining us at the end of our What is  a Missional Church? series. If you want a bit more context you can start two posts back at Foundation.

In case you haven’t been getting the message; just because we know how the Church started and why the Church is the way that it is, doesn’t mean that we are justified when our traditions cause people to have a wrong understanding of God’s true nature and therefore cause them to be in sin. It is a must that we allow God’s redemptive story to overshadow Church History in the same way that we are being continually transformed into the image of Jesus. The true Church body has been saved from the penalty of sin, each individually started on the straight and narrow path of sanctification, submitting all of life to Jesus as we go. This brings us to Mission.

All Authority

The last verses in Matthew 28  are some the most famous verses among those who are striving to live on mission. What I want to cover today is the truth that led me to plant in Milford. When we isolate people from their everyday lives with the intention of affecting their position in Christ, we save only one person, but when trust that Jesus’ authority still holds weight  and obey him as we go along, then we will be fearless to speak the gospel into all of life thereby making disciples by baptising them and teaching them everything that Jesus has commanded.

As You Go

It has been a real test to apply the gospel to all of life after having been raised in the current church culture of separatism. My standby has been to hold a meeting if I want to share the gospel, or invite someone to a meeting if I want them to hear the gospel–not to speak directly into their situation and give them the God who dwells in me for all of life instead of the God who only applies in certain situations. At times I fail to believe Jesus when He says that He will be with me as I am going, or that the Spirit will be give me the words to speak, or that the Father will provide for me as His totally dependant child if it goes wrong and I lose a friend or alienate myself from a neighbor or my boss. Obedience to the mission means faith in who God says He is as the father who gives good gifts, the Spirit who channels those gifts and the Son who lends us His authority and what He has said He will do which is never leave us. When fulfilling the mission it must happen in the context of the people we are trying to reach.

Make Disciples

I need to be frank for a second. Jesus does not call us to go unto all the world and implement church structure. Discipleship precedes church structure. I’ve covered this at length in another post so I won’t beat a dead horse. My point in bringing it up is that when we are going with the gospel, we go to a people not a location. Jesus divides disciple making into two steps.

Baptising Them

Baptism is the only proper response to the gospel that we see in the scriptures. There are no post resurrection believers who come to Jesus by any other means than through the waters of baptism, being put to death (figuratively) and raised to newness in life. This is another article. It is the primary marker of having come to the gospel. The second is to be increasing in the knowledge of God.

Teaching Them to Observe Everything I have Commanded You

I think I’ve said it elsewhere, but I believe that when Acts 2 talks about the believers continuing in the apostles teaching along with prayer and breaking bread,  I believe that this is what Luke meant; that the apostles actually obeyed Jesus when He commanded them that the second step in making disciples is to teach them how to observe the commands of Jesus in all of life. To be uncertain in this point is to exude a type of gnosticism that clouds the apostles teaching in mystery so as to say that they did their own thing after Jesus ascended.

I Am With You

We cannot forget this point. We are able to make disciples because Jesus gives us the authority first to be Children ourselves and then to extend the offer of salvation and adoption to the rest of humanity. He remains with us through the entire experience of life. Jesus supplies what He demands of His Church. If we ask anything in His name He will do it. We can rest in His work because we know that while we work He is alongside of us reassuring us of His power and presence.

I hope this series has helped clarify for you the identity of the missional church. If you have any questions please comment.

What is a Missional Church? Part 2:Feast

24 November, 2015 § Leave a comment


Welcome to part 2 of What is a Missional Church. You’ve joined us in the middle of a series. If you want to catch up check out Part 1: Foundation.

Generally when people hear about missional communities their brains explode trying to figure out how they can add it to their mosaic of religious practices. It is enormously frustrating for believers who are under the illusion that they are already massively involved in church programs to hear that it is not enough. This is where the Pharisees of Jesus’ time found themselves; busy doing everything but obeying God in all of life. A missional community is a family of servant missionaries on mission in all of life to see the knowledge of God’s glory cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. This brings us to Feast.

If I were to tell you that communion is supposed to be a feast you might pressure wash my face with the coffee from your red star bucks cup. For me growing up, I had heard of “love feasts” and only ever been in one church who practiced this, but the communion part was as it is in any church; a cracker and a shot of grape juice. I won’t go into the gruesome details of the symbolism of the stage in the passover supper that Jesus enacts communion because that is another long article for another day, but the bottom line is that when God in the flesh desired to put into place an event specifically designed to remind us that His death made it possible to have union with God and man, he fulfilled the feast of passover which foretold of this event and revealed what passover looks like for the AD believer. Theologians and church secretaries have struggled with the “As often as you do this…” clause of Jesus’ command for thousands of years, even going as far as carrying the elements to the sick and in prison whenever it was that they decided “as often as you eat/drink” meant.

I believe that we have been asking the wrong questions about communion. We ask, “How often,” when the question ought to be, “When should we not claim to be one with Jesus?” When the Apostle Paul deals with communion He never admonishes the Church for taking it too often, (Hint: it was daily back then. See Acts 2:46). No, Paul warns against unbelievers and those who intentionally hold bitterness in their hearts towards a brother or sister; in other words, those who are not one with God and man. (See 1 John for more teaching about oneness with God and man). We also ask the question “How much,” which I believe to be irrelevant as well. We acknowledge Paul’s admonishment to the church for the manner in which they took it which was heaping curses upon themselves, not because of overdoing it, but because they thought that communion should be more of an experience, so they made it a private affair inviting only those who they considered influential in the church to their private communion parties and would drink to the point of drunkenness and think that they were experiencing some sort of Holy Spirit high. We tend to focus on the part where they neglected the poor and stuff their faces and ironically have decided that the problem was how much bread and wine they were partaking in not that they decided that some are more deserving to be one with Christ than others who appeared to suck off the church. What we believe about God ought to influence what communion looks like. If we really believe that our God is a generous God who gives good gifts to his kids then why do we remember him in as austere a fashion as possible? Our celebrations ought to make harikrishna’s look like a bunch of kids shaking maracas and babbling nonsense. By examining our hearts to see if we are one with God and man and by examining what we believe about how generous God is we will come to the point where we celebrate with generosity which will overflow into our everyday lives.

What is a Missional Church? Part 1: Foundation

20 November, 2015 § Leave a comment


There is a lot of misinformation within the Church when speaking and writing about being Missional. Christianity Today has been running articles written by Ed Stetzer defaming the majority of Missional Churches as being rather unguided and silly, claiming that to be missional in these churches is paramount to reading chaotic ink blotches (See Rorschach Test) and making inferences about the world around us without the Scriptures. I’m reminded of Romans 3:7-8

7But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.”

If what Stetzer says is true, than his condemnation is just, but is seems to me that he lacks any basis for his allegations, he makes no reference to the churches based around the fallacies he is denouncing. But the reality is that for a Church to be truly missional, it must first be repentant of the way that we have turned the body of Christ into the Business of Christ. It hits us first in our pocket and is revealed most evidently in the way that we  go about expanding the Kingdom of God as if they were franchises of a Fortune 500 Club business. In order to move forwards, the body of Christ must first breath in and examine the roots of Christianity.  We have one foundation, one feast and one function and when we stray from these three we cease to be missional. Let me be clear. A missional church must first be a repentant church. Let’s examine our foundation.

Foundation

When Jesus left the original disciples on the mount of Olives, He did not leave them as a foundationless, unorganized people with commands to obey but no foundation or blueprint with which to build His church. Earlier in His ministry He established the foundation of the Church as the fact that He is the Christ the Son of the Living God.(Mtt 16:13-18) He acknowledges this from His disciple Simon whom He gives a new identity to, because God had revealed this to him. Jesus changes his name from Simon, meaning, “like the grass,” to Peter which means, “Rock”. This is pretty basic, most Christians have no issue confessing that the foundation on which we build is Christ. But our confession doesn’t match our practice. If we are under the impression that God left the design of His kingdom in the hands of a bunch of fishermen and tax collectors, and zealots to come up with a brilliant, reproducible, interdependent organization with which to continue the ministry of reconciliation to the world, then we need to read our Bible again.

Our practice reveals our belief in a God whose sol purpose was to dictate what we believe about Him, but the end justifies the means. I have heard teachers waffle about what the teachings of the Apostles were to the church that they were continuing in along with prayer and breaking bread. I tend to think that they were obedient to Jesus when He commanded them to make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe everything that He had commanded them. (Mtt 28:16-20) I also tend to think that they were listening to the Spirit who was reminding them continually of the things Jesus taught them. (Jn 14:26) We, however, are under the impression that they immediately came up with their own gig. That right out of the gate they built on Jesus as the foundation but that the structure itself was man made. We proclaim this to the world by the fact that the only thing that links some of our churches is what we believe about God (some of it). We have white towered the truths about who God is and what He has done and not let it define who we are and as a result where we live, what we drive, where we work, who we marry, how we parent, how we do business and ultimately how we structure the church. For us to move forward we must repent of building with wood hay and stubble and repair the breach in our practice that exists because the fiery darts of the devil keep burning a hole in our defenses. In order for people to be the living stones that the Church is built out of, they must actually be be built up in the gospel (Eph 4) otherwise they’re only bundles of kindling and hay bales masquerading. The way that we return to our foundation is through repentance of wrong belief in God. I won’t say that I have completely repented because there are still areas that God pulls me on but here are a few that started me down this path.

Repent of my unbelief in who God says He is.

Repent of believing that God’s blueprint for the church won’t work in the 21st Century.

Repent of decentralizing myself from the mission.

Repent of centralizing my belief in God around a location instead of His people.

Repent of making church a mere Bible Study, Support Group or Activist Group.

I’ll work on bringing Feast and Function in the coming days. In the meantime don’t forget to comment.

Location, Vocation, Frustration

14 September, 2015 § Leave a comment


thirdPartyImgI don’t believe in locational, or vocational callings from God. The 10 pound theological term for this heresy would be “The Secret Will of God,” I don’t think it exists in scripture in the way that we have perverted it. The long and short of it is that location and vocation are byproducts of our calling to reach people with the gospel.

There is a disconnect between what we see in the world and what we read in the Bible about God’s will and I believe that it comes from the wrong belief that God must operate for our benefit or for the benefit of our enemies.

In Joshua 5:14, Joshua, the newly appointed leader of the people of Israel meets the preincarnate Christ outside the camp overlooking Jericho and he poses this question to what he sees as a battle-ready soldier, He asks ““Are you for us, or for our adversaries,” and Jesus says, “neither,”. This is a classic false dilemma. God says, “I am for me,” He builds His own kingdom and is third party to our meanderings. It isn’t that He doesn’t care, because otherwise He wouldn’t legislate that all things should be done in love and for His glory. It is that He is not about building our kingdom or anyone else’s kingdom, He is about building His own kingdom. This is why He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The proud person thinks more of himself than he ought and so is out to build his own kingdom. This is why we understand that we do not war against flesh and blood as if two nations were warring. God pulls our attention from the natural to the supernatural and presents His own dichotomy that is justly in place which is that if we are not building His kingdom, we are building a kingdom  arrayed against Him. God’s will remains the same, it is that His glory should be spread over all the earth as the waters cover the sea.

With this in mind, I refute that God calls us specifically to a vocation or location, the one vocation that God has given us is to be disciple making disciples the location He has called us to is the whole planet. He specifically made it impossible to do without Him or without other believers because otherwise we would think that it was our kingdom which we are building. This is not to say that God has not given the church certain disciples to be over us in order to edify and equip us to do the work of the ministry, it is to say that the diversity that exists in the church is due to each one being at his own level of growth in his sanctification process. The work God gives us to supply our physical amenities is of little importance and of great importance because it involves the people whom we are to be making disciples of and it is on the earth which God wills to cover with His glory.

Comeuppance Culture

2 September, 2015 § Leave a comment


Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

Matthew 15:1-3

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The world says, “hate your enemies, boycott those who curse you and begrudge those who persecute you,” Jesus says, “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you.” We are steeped in a comeuppance culture; a culture of fate, karma, revenge, ostracization and boycott. We are obsessed with  our own sense of justice to such a degree that if I were to pay attention to every microagression campaign that is in vogue right now, I would live off-grid in a grass hut eating locusts and honey for the rest of my  life (or at least until teachers get a fair pay). But my abode, diet and other various and mundane facts will have to wait for another article. The point is, I don’t boycott.

Here’s why.

As a believer I field calls to action against immorality and injustice every day. Strictly speaking, I shouldn’t drink Starbucks, eat Ben and Jerry’s Icecream, shop at Target, support Sin Fein, be found in a pub of any sort, be seen smoking in any context, vote democrat, mow the grass on Sunday or grow my hair over my ears or past  my collar–all of which go against someone somewhere’s biblical principles. This is where I give an answer for why I do what I want.

As a society, we have developed a tradition of cleansing which rivals that of ancient Israel, but at the same time have ignored God’s commands as mentioned above.

Here is the hope that is in me:

Romans 5:6-11 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

While I was still an active enemy of God, Jesus died for me. I campaigned by my lifestyle against everything He stands for, and yet He served me in such a way that for me to not buy a coffee from Starbucks for an opportunity to share the gospel with my fellow customers or with my barista would be a shame to his name and to his work on the cross. He served his enemies, so I will serve mine.

Matthew 5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 

For those who would say that I am only supporting the moguls at the top to be more wicked. I say that I am only being like my Father by giving custom to the righteous as well as the wicked, praying for their souls and taking every opportunity to share the gospel.

Those are two basic tenets of the gospel that apply to this. Do you have any others? Maybe you disagree. Tell me about it in the comments.

Transformed by the Gospel

29 August, 2015 § Leave a comment


 Do not be conformed to this world,
 but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
                                       Romans 12:2 (ESV)
     I recently read an article written by a pastor from Alabama called Paul Alexander that was republished by IndependentBaptist.com dated May 15, 2014. It is entitled “Why We Don’t Have Contemporary Music in Our Church,” It lays out a few biblical principles for why we shouldn’t sing contemporary music in our churches and cited such stalwarts as
  • Do not love the world
  • Do not be friends with the world
  • Do not be wise like the world
     All true of course and well documented in scripture, but all improperly applied. This article, to me, epitomizes the danger of applying biblical principles without the gospel.
Here is the article as seen through the eyes of the story that Pastor Alexander puts forward.
Creation Fall Redemption Restoration
Worship music as separate from the World’s Influence.
1980’s-Present Contemporary Movement
Spoiled by Worldly Influence
  • Dissonant
  • Harsh
  • Sensual
  • Suggestive
  • Seeker Friendly
  • Promotes Conformity
    • Church
    • Christian
  • Diluted Message
  • Ignores BP’s
Worship Based on Biblical Principles
Undefiled Holy Worship based on Biblical Principles
   In short Pastor Alexander’s answer for why his church still sings hymns is that He doesn’t want to conform to the world. Now, if the apostle Paul had wanted to he could have written, “Be not conformed to the world but adhere faithfully to the traditions passed down to you,” but no, the direct attack against conforming to the world that Paul gives us is to renew our minds with a transforming knowledge. What knowledge is this? The knowledge of the gospel.
    In a conversation about the gospel Paul uses the same word in 2 Corinthians 3:18 whereby when we behold the glory of the Lord we are transformed–same word in the Greek (Strong: GK3339). In Romans 12 Paul is talking about being transformed by the Gospel.
Now, let’s be clear. The gospel overhauls systems, reactions, relationships, vocabulary, motivation, location, transportation, affiliation–everything. God’s motivation for saving you is out of love for His name, and therefore love for you as His creation. The Roman’s passage talks about the reality that when we are transformed by the gospel we will be able to discern the will of God. It is no secret what God desires, it is that all people should be saved so that all people will glorify His name. That you are plumber is of both little and great consequence, that you are a stay at home parent is of equal significance. The reality of the gospel ought to make us ask why we live where we live, why we drive what we drive, why I work where I work what I work. If we cannot honestly answer these questions with the gospel; that we are actively positioning ourselves to be in the way of non-believers so that we can give an answer for the hope that is in us, how can we possibly claim to belong to the one who is the good news?
     To be transformed by the knowledge of the gospel is what it means to not be conformed to this world.
  I listen to and worship to contemporary Christian music as much as traditional hymns, but that is besides the point. What the author has communicated in his article is not the gospel. He has not given an answer for the hope that is in him, he has given an answer for why he is still striving to be transformed via his works. This I do have to say, that if you still think that you can be sanctified by your works, you don’t have the gospel. If we continue give answers from the scriptures that are not the gospel and continue pretending to belong to God it will be an almighty surprise for a lot of us when God says at the gates of Heaven, “go away from me, you evil doers, I never knew you.”
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