Monday, August 30, 2010

Blessed are the Merciful and the Discipline of Mercy

The teachings of Jesus are immersed in a handful of foundational principles. One of these principles is that the follower of Jesus is to be an expert at showing mercy from the heart. The source of this mercy is our abiding awareness of God’s mercy toward us and our continual, frequent and recurrent need for mercy. 
Foundational Principles
Before, we jump into the discipline of mercy, let’s review Jesus’ way of discipleship. First, the first principle of all Christianity is that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus taught us that it is upon this rock, this first truth, that He will build His church. To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to have faith that the answer to the human predicament is solved by Jesus Christ. Jesus came to set the world right. Our faith is that by believing and following Jesus, we will experience a new quality of life. This quality of life is called the “Kingdom of Heaven” or the “Kingdom of God”. This kingdom is from the inside out. Jesus’ teachings center on heart management and life transformation. He teaches us to love our enemies from the heart. He teaches us to be humble and meek and merciful. By following Jesus, the King, we enter and experience His kingdom. This process of following Jesus and experiencing the kingdom is called discipleship. We experience the kingdom as we begin to pattern our lives through the teachings of Jesus. Therefore, we apply the teachings of Jesus in order to enter the quality of life called the kingdom. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jonathan Edwards on Law and Affection

The Jonathan Edwards makes this incredible point concerning why the law actually drives us to sin and the gospel to holiness. There are certainly people on this earth that are a gift from God and JE is one such gift...
The natural reason why it is as Romans 7:8 ff. [says], "But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence," etc. [The]9 reason why man

David Brooks, Dick Cavett and Mayor Bloomberg on the Manhattan Mosque

Numerous articles are being written in response to the Islamic Center in lower Manhattan and the on-going debate about the civil liberties of people of faith. It seems to me unreal that we are even having this discussion in America. Here are a few articles:
A Case of Mental Courage -
Brooks' point is that, in America, we have lost a theological belief that the battle against sin requires strenuous mental work. This belief led to a strenuous intellectualism. But today our politics betrays an ignorance and a laziness with respect to understanding even the most basic issues like when to raise taxes and when to defend people's civil rights.

This is a must read. The behavior of people who claim the same Lord as I do are so blatantly refusing to follow Him. The racist and fear-based responses of some people of faith is sad indeed.

A highlight of course is Bloomberg's speech.
Hopefully, I will get time to write a more thorough treatment of this topic. I think it is important with respect to mission. People who are confident in the victory of the resurrection of Jesus do not resort to hate and fear as a means to accomplish our mission.

Review of Dave Matthews Band Live August 23, 2010 Hollywood Bowl 8/23/2010

When you wake up the next morning and all you can say to your wife is “WOW, that was pretty amazing”, then, ahhh, you probably saw Dave Matthews last night. Dave Matthews really is that good.
Jam Band Related

Tim Reynolds! It is hard to overshadow Carter Beauford but Tim Reynolds on electric guitar is the one that steals the show. Tim’s tone is perfect. His rig is usually either a strat or a Les Paul through a pair of Mesa Boogie rectifiers. It sounds to me like he is probably playing through the classic mode on the Mesas. The tone is just filled with the classic woody yet nasally midrange. Reynolds job is to make the main riffs that the songs are built around stand out and he does the job perfectly and never misses a beat.

Jeff Coffin from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones really does add a lot to the jam band side of things. It is just great to hear a band that gives a platform for good musicians to play improvisation. On #41, the opening song, Reynolds, Coffin and violin player, Boyd Tinsley, all took extended solos and set a great expectation for the night.

The return to real jam band numbers didn’t come until the end of the show but WOW the last 6 or so numbers at the end was just incredible.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque and American Values

This subject deserves a full essay but for now lets just state the themes. First, it is a threat to American values and our liberal democracy to deny freedom of religion to anyone. Christians should be standing up for Muslims to build a center or a Mosque anywhere they please. Secondly, as Christians, we will. It should be impossible for Christians to be baited into fear politics. We have nothing to fear from the world.

It is a sign of the weakness of our faith and the shallowness of our love that Christian leaders are not standing up for the freedom of other faiths. Now that would be a good witness.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Doing Mission Like Jesus - First Impressions

Our Universal Pre-existing Condition
The principles that guide our mission methods differ from the principles of discipleship. Mission is relating to people on the basis of our common humanity. All humanity is in a predicament. Some aspects of this predicament are beyond our control and some aspects of our predicament are self inflicted. Humans suffer from sickness and our natural inability which are thrust upon us by our common humanity. While at the same time, other aspects of our predicament are caused by our sinful and foolish lifestyle choices. In mission, we are not concerned with such matters. We do not question the causes of an individual’s tragic circumstance. Love covers a multitude of sins. We are all the same under the gospel. We are all victims of our own humanity, and we are all responsible to some remote degree for our suffering, but, in mission, we are not concerned with the causes of people’s predicaments. Jesus’ love to humanity is unconditional. The only question that Jesus asks during the mission process, the process of introducing Himself to human beings, is “where does it hurt?”. We all suffer from a pre-existing condition called humanity, and we all need the healer to come set us free. The gospel has no interest in condemning people because we are all already condemned and suffering from the fruit of the folly of our forefathers. Therefore, since we are all the same and there is no distinction, there is no use asking any questions to triage who is qualified for God’s love and mercy. Either we are all qualified for grace or we are all disqualified for grace. The cross of Jesus proclaims clearly, “we are all qualified for grace through the work of Jesus” to the glory of God.

In Mission We are Giving People a First Impression of God
All of us need to build our life with God on a foundation of His grace and love for us. Therefore, in mission we are giving people a first impression of God that is unconditionally loving and gracious. We do not ask the prodigal son or daughter how they got so stinky and dirty. We do not expose but, instead, we cover their shame. We do not interrogate the woman or man caught in the very act of adultery. We simply say “I do not condemn you”. We advocate for sinners and the weak. We bring healing. We are the spiritual Red Cross. The Red Cross brings nursing to both sides of a war. Injured Nazis get medical care from the Red Cross to the exact same level of care and urgency as the American liberator. This is an incredible metaphor for mission. When a dying soldier sees a Red Cross nurse or doctor, he is filled with a glimmer of hope in the midst of his suffering. This is the impression the church is to give to a dying world.

We have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Doing Mission Like Jesus

I am doing some study for a sermon. The sermon is going to be on doing mission like Jesus. My friend and pastor keith says, "Jesus got invited to all the good parties". This is a great probing phrase because it begs the question, "Do we get invited to all the good parties?" If not maybe we aren't doing mission like Jesus.

So here is a great blog post from Rob Wilkerson on the subject of "Doing Evangelism Like Jesus". Let the revolution begin.