a Veiled Autobiography

jesus veiled 2The beatitudes are at the very core of Jesus’ inaugural teaching in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.

They are more than an explanation of principle, or a set of ethics and certainly greater than a list of pious platitudes; they are a declaration of a person. St. Bernard referred to them as a “veiled autobiography of the character of Jesus.”

Others have commented on them as the:
• Constitution of the Kingdom of God.
• Jesus’ distillation of the entire Hebrew prophetic tradition.
• Magna Carta of the Christian faith and
• Manifesto of Christ’s alternative society.

Jesus is not merely telling us how to be Christian, but how to be human. Jesus is not only speaking as Head of the church, but as Creator of humanity.

Jesus called his disciples to follow and learn from him. We think of learning in the form of apostlesthe acquisition of information or facts, but Rabbi’s like Jesus made it a lifestyle…an internship within the affairs of everyday life.

Christ’s discipleship was the result of an accessible life…his students were eye-witnesses called upon to emulate, simulate, mimic and imitate his thoughts, words and deeds. Are you a disciple of Jesus?

No one goes sadly or reluctantly into discipleship with Jesus. No one goes in bemoaning the cost. They understand the opportunity. -Dallas Willard

Daily discipleship is to be an ongoing experience of the cross and resurrection.

The beatitudes are the Cross and Resurrection transposed into the life of discipleship.

The first half focuses on the crucifixion, where each “blessed are they ____” gives us the character and fruit of the company of the crucified–specifically crucified to the demands and dictates of the ego.

The second half focuses on the resurrection, where each “they will be _____” shows us a very real description of what Jesus produces in those transfigured by his resurrection and life…participation in the divine nature that changes us from glory to glory.

CrucifiedWhat does it look like to take up the cross and follow me? It looks like the sermon on the mount. His sermon pushes buttons, plows the soil of your heart and plants new seeds of life. This sermon will kill you then fill you. It is Jesus’ call to discipleship.

Jesus never speaks about the cross as a sit back and watch me die for you. No he talks about the cross as pick up yours and follow me…die with me. Jesus did not die instead of you – it is an invitation for you to die with him and be raised with him.

Blessed are…is better translated as “divine life” or from the classical Greek, the life of the gods…the divine enablement to walk in the Spirit, live by faith, and love by commandment.  Jesus is showing us a new way of being human.

Thanks to Bishop Malcolm Smith, Thomas Watson, Brad Jersak, Chuck Swindoll, Brian Zahnd, and a few others for their research and development of Jesus’ words that help me draft these notes.  The beatitudes are being adopted as the Core Virtues of our lives and our ministry here in Aurora, Colorado.

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Listen and Obey

Take a moment and marvel at Micah’s ability as a poet to capture in one line the essence of faith. Jesus changes “walk humbly” to “faith”  in Matthew 23:23, thus giving us the best definition in Scripture of what faith is.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

You can’t walk with God. You can only walk with YOUR God. To walk humbly with your God means that the life of faith is not just a matter of what we believe, but it is a matter practice and covenant.

GethsemeneWalking humbly means emulating Jesus, who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death” (Phil 2:8). Obedience is the virtue that teaches us to be humble.  Hebrews 5:7-8 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

Listen & Obey

We Value the accountability of humility through listening and obeying God and others in authority.

In the Hebrew (shama) and Greek (hupakouo – Hoop a coo oh). The word obedience means “to listen”…they are one in the same.

Test of your humility/faith is your obedience to those in authority over you. (Children to Parents, Husbands and Wives, Employee to Employer, Citizen to Civil Authority, etc.)

German ShepherdsIt requires us to develop a teachable spirit/attitude and as we do then we honor those who are over us and we receive the reward God gives through their position.  Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.  1 Thess 5:12-13 We urge you, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  1 Tim 5:17-18 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine… “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”  1 Kings 17:13 Elijah to the widow: “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.

The highest level of faith is trust. Trust requires great humility because it requires you to believe God’s promises when you have no human understanding of how God will accomplish His promise.  Humble trust is demonstrated by an obedience to God’s Word before having a revelation of it.   “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Your faith/humble walk will be tested as you come under and trust authority.  Just as the test of your love for God is your love for man, the proof of your obedience to God is found in your obedience to man/authority.  I would dare you to read your Bible and take out the human element of authority, submission, obedience and then tell me what you have left over.  Here are just a few examples…

1. Centurion’s servant sick unto death (Luke 7:2-10).baptism of Christ
• He is a commander in the Roman army
• Many in a high position would never think of humbling themselves.
2. Namaan a General with leprosy. (2 Kings 5:1-19).
• Elisha did not come out and meet him.
• The Prophet sent word though his servant
• Told the General to dip 7 times in filthy river
• His pride was offended & almost walked away
3. Caananite Woman (Matthew 15:21-28)
• Jesus told her to go away (only came for Israel)
• Jesus referred to her as a dog
• She persevered & Jesus said she had MEGA faith/great humility.
• You can never humiliate a truly humble person
4. Jesus & John’s Baptism (Matt 21)
• Submitted to God’s man early & was protected later.

Humility is the opposite of entitlement. People with pride (and deep insecurity) love to hear them self talk, are always trying to promote themselves, constantly giving people their resume and worst…think they are ready a long time before they are really ready.  Give them a job that lifts them up before people, and they’ll do it. Give them a job nobody knows about and it never gets done (or is done only begrudgingly). The humble person will accept any task whereby he can help people, no matter how humble that task is in the eyes of others.

attitudePeople who don’t get what they think should be coming to them turn very sour, very quickly. The people who often say they have no expectations are usually filled with them. They play a control game of unwritten rules that they silently demand others to obey. Their unmet expectations are always the cause of deep frustration which often appear under a cloak and dagger of subtle hostility, offensive airs, challenging negativity and an attitude of aloof superiority.  Attitude is your thought life turned inside out and is the reflection of your spirit that shows up on your face, body language, and mumbling grumbling words. You can’t airbrush “attitude”.

Humble YOURSELF or God will do it through an agency of human authority in your life. God opposes your pride but gives grace to the humble. I resist Satan in humility.

The virtue of humility (root is humus – of the earth) is that disposition of will which makes us see ourselves for what we really are in relationship to God and our neighbor.  Humility is truth, but rarely do any of us live with a truthful opinion of ourselves.  C.S. Lewis wrote, being humble is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

Humility is a matter of walking…NOT running, or driving or flying, but the uneventful, non glamorous, simple practice of walking. To walk humbly with God is to see our lives as a sacred pilgrimage. Walking is an active exercise. It is actually impossible to walk with God unless we walk humbly…to know that we are capable of only one step at a time.  To walk humbly is mirrored by Paul’s repeated command to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, your calling and in conduct. (1 Thess 2:12, Col 1:10, Phil 1:27, Eph 4:1).servants heart

Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, writes: “More than any other single way, the grace of humility is worked in our lives through the discipline of serving.”  The true test of humility comes when you are treated like a servant. It is one thing to choose to serve others, but it’s another thing entirely to choose to be a servant. A servant is often to be taken for granted, overlooked, unnoticed. A servant gives up the right to be in charge of whom they serve, when they serve and how long they serve.

Test your humility by:
1. Receiving discipline or correction
2. Being treated harshly w/out cause
3. Not being treated as the leader
4. Being overlooked or neglected for opportunity
5. By being laughed or not being able to laugh at yourself
6. Not being as knowledgeable as someone else
7. By losing or being second in your field of competition
8. Not being as valued in a friendship as you value them
9. When your rights are violated & you have to die 2 self

Conversion is a set of necessary humiliations to your false self. – Fr. Thomas Keating

The greatest illustration in my opinion of “necessary humiliations” comes from the movie, The Game starring Michael Douglas.

The GameIsaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

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Seek First to Understand

This value is powerful because it focuses on your circle of influence. It’s an inside out approach. By seeking first to understand, we can turn a transactional opportunity into a transformational opportunity.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Seek First to Understand

We Value the judgment to error on the side of giving mercy to others.

Micah 6 8

• Eventually God breaks every rule in the Old Testament; this is mercy. -Brueggemann.
• God sits on a seat of mercy.
• God’s throne is the place to obtain mercy.
• He visits sin to 3-4 generations but shows mercy to 1000′s.
• Mercy pursues me all the days of my life.
• Mercy is new every morning.
• God is rich in mercy.
• Mercy triumphs over judgment.
• the Chorus of history in Psalm 136 is, his mercy endures forever repeated 26 times!
• I was born in Mercy hospital…so were you
• The church is the house of mercy.
• I never bet against the mercy of God because I never like my odds. – Bill Everitt
• It is better to have to give an account to God for too much mercy than for too much severity. —–St. Antoninus.

God does not have love, He IS love! He cannot have more or less, it is not quantitative or measurable; it can’t be quenched or kindled by behavior…good or bad. God’s love is like the sun and rain it comes to both the good and the evil.

What do you do when you fall flat on your face
fall from a life of social grace,
feel the shame of Adam’s race,
your creator’s image is now mud on your face,
to everyone around you’ve become a big disgrace,
a wreck and ruin …an emotional basket case,
your sin and shame you can’t erase,
there is no place you can show your face,
you’re driven from your place,
locked away inside a tight space,
they’ve taken your photo like you were shot with mace,
like a fugitive you wish you could lose yourself w/out a trace,
your past is scattered like ashes from a shattered vase?

I am sure that we are all well informed on the scandals concerning; President Bill Clinton Scandaland his questionable relationship with Monica Lewinsky, which is nothing in comparison to King David and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and his murderous cover up of her husband.  Then there is the Tiger Woods entanglements due to his entitlements that has left him just a shell of his former self.  Then there is the Penn State football fumble concerning Joe Paterno and his prior knowledge  concerning assistant coach Jerry Sandusky who has been charged with 40 criminal counts, accusing him of molesting eight young boys.  Then there is the dictatorship of Saddam Huessin, who also by comparison was a boy scout compared to King Nebuchadnezzer, the actual head of gold when it came to ego-maniac emperors and yet he found mercy in the God of Daniel.

The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties—but right through every human heart. – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Could you believe that you were a candidate for the mercy of God after a public Sex Scandal, followed by lies, deception, premeditated murder and a year long cover up?
I mean he broke two the big ten commandments so then on what basis do you appeal to God?  On this alone…Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51

scandal-of-graceThe breaking news stories of our day and times are worthy of epic biblical responses…

The SCANDAL of our faith is God’s LOVE!!!!!!!!

As rapidly and riveting as the Penn State news broke…our news should be constantly breaking into peoples “regularly scheduled lives”. Interrupting them with the scandal of his love for them regardless of their life or lifestyle. Our Good News trumps their bad news any day!

“Even our troubles don’t belong to us exclusively; within them is the seed of another person’s comfort, hope, and inspiration. My mercy is not my mercy. It all belongs to others, and those others were once you and me.” – Paul Scanlon

• Do people instinctively look to the church when they need mercy?
• Do you believe that no one is beyond Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness?
• What if how we judged others is how we’ll be judged when we need mercy?

We are called to LOVE mercy…we must begin to see people as Jesus sees them. Jesus never sees a person’s external presentation. He never saw a tax collector, prostitute, thief, drunkard…he never saw people as SINNERS.ScandalOfGrace

In Jesus’ constitution of the kingdom of God, the beatitudes, he defines the divine life. The word blessed from the classical Greek is best rendered “the life of the gods”!  From his 4th and 5th beatitudes Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness…Blessed are the merciful…you can hear a deliberate echo of Micah 6:8 do justly & love mercy…

Later in the sermon of the mount…in Matthew 5:48, Jesus calls us to perfection and in Luke 6:36 to be merciful.  The perfection God is looking for is not the unattainable perfection of flawlessness—but the fully attainable perfection of extending mercy to those who are flawed.

Here is where my imperfections come soaring to the surface. I am so full of my own judgments, insecurities, fears, inferiority, and infirmities that I fail to be compassionate…which is mercy in motion.

For example I have people in my life (maybe you do too) that I cannot love.  They remind me that it is not them that are full of shortcomings, but me, because I am not yet perfected in love. It humbles me to recognize that after 46 years of following Christ I don’t have enough of his life and love to absorb my neighbors and enemies.

But as we continue to grow in Christ we can gain the heart ability to believe that God really does love others, strangers and enemies.  As we do our faith in God’s love will bring about his love in us for them. Empowering us to see them, serve them and save them.

Without a commitment to justice, mercy can collapse into cheap sentimentality. When the longing for justice banishes mercy we have abandoned the Jesus way.  When we bring justice to the poor, widow, orphan and foreigner, God calls that mercy. If your understanding of God doesn’t make you more merciful then you misunderstand God.

mercyJesus was merciful toward sinners…as long as their sin was not being unmerciful. So if you’re going to be a sinner, I would suggest your sin be something other than showing no mercy because Jesus was only unmerciful with those who were unmerciful.

2 Cor. 5:14 For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died; Amplified Bible.  Paul used the word “constrained” – a medical term used only by physicians probably borrowed from his traveling companion, Luke. It was used to describe the condition of a virus in the body that brought about a severe fever. The virus was so controlling that it would bring you to hallucinations. The diagnosis was “you were constrained.”

We have the virus of another life…the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  David Oxberg wrote, Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.  In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assisi asked God to help him to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Their is a biblical basis for testing your mercy quotient, its the love test.love test

  • The test of your love for God is seen in your love for your neighbor.
  • The test of your love for your neighbor is seen in your love for yourself.
  • The test of your love of your self is seen in your love for your enemy…because you are your own worst enemy.

The test isn’t given on Sunday’s at church, but in every day real life situations.


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Blessed are the Persecuted

“In a world built on free-will instead of God’s will, we must be the Freaks. While we may not be called to martyr our lives, we must martyr our way of life.” – Michael Taitpersecuted 1

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:10-12

Seven is a sound biblical number and I am of the opinion that there are 7 beatitudes. These last two statements of Jesus are technically beatitudes…offering blessing as well as the others…however

It is my understanding that these last two are unique and by reading in between the lines I think Jesus is trying to say something. If we truly follow him by living from the blessedness of his divine life in the 7 beatitudes (poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering, merciful, pure in heart and peacemaking) we will be living a persecuted life that will be exacted upon us as a crucified life.

persecution 1But as we have also seen, we will encounter the resurrected life as we live out the Christ life (theirs is the kingdom, comforted, inherit the earth, satisfaction, obtaining mercy, seeing God, called God’s sons).

What I see unfolding in these last two “blessed are” statements is they are primarily saying the same thing twice with a bit more clarity in the second statement as to how we may encounter persecution. Part of that clarity comes not to the general us, but to the personal you…you will be persecuted and you will be rewarded as the prophets, but you must rejoice!!!

But what is hidden is that accompanying the persecuted life is a life of double blessing as we respond to it with joy.

One of the clues to my understanding is that the same reward given to the poor in spirit is the reward offered to the persecuted. It’s not that Jesus couldn’t think of anything new or his kingdom ran out of benefits to offer his poor subjects. No! I believe He is saying in another way that when you follow me in this life as I live this life then you will be persecuted and I am going to ensure that you get a double blessing.

A blessing that could be viewed as both yours and His! We are joint heirs! Yours will come in the form following your ability to rejoice and be glad and Mine will come to you in the same way as I received it when I returned back to the Father, so great is your reward in heaven.

the Apostle Peter crucified upside down

the Apostle Peter crucified upside down

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:3-7

In similar fashion to the ascended Lord who oversaw the seven churches in Revelation, he sees all they are going through, but to each he offers a promise when he says (he is good to his word) “to him who overcomes I will give.” Or in the creation narrative it was on the third day that the scriptures recount that God said twice, “It is good.”

persecution 2Usually when we think of Christians suffering persecution for Christ we think of the people who actually are tortured physically, even to the point of death.  I by no means want to be cavalier about their sacrifice any more than i would Christ’s death.  That being said, it is also necessary that we understand that there is a living death in following Christ in the beatitudes that is also at the heart of Jesus’ words.  The beatitudes are a veiled autobiography of Christ’s life and how he chose to live everyday.  He calls us to follow him and be like him in all these ways.  If we do, then we should also be a part of the persecuted church.

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Do What is Right!

Culture is the shared values we act out. – Rick Warren

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Do What is Right

Dr KingWe Value the responsibility of conviction to do what is right toward others.

We transition today from Being to Doing. In life there is a progression from Be, Do, Have…having the good life is the result of being and doing…the right thing.


• Righteousness needs to be seen but it is not for being seen.
• God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does. – Luther
• Charity begins at home and justice begins next door. -Charles Dickens
• Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. – Robert F. Kennedy

What am I to do? I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good work, therefore, any kindness, or any service I can render to any soul let me do it now. Let me not neglect or defer it, for I shall not pass this way again. -An Old Quaker Saying

We have emphasized for generations that we seem to think that our mission is to not be baptism drownedOF the world, when the accent is to be placed upon being IN the world. We act like we are scared of the world we live in and so we must separate from it/them. If you are really in the kingdom then you can afford being in the world without being troubled by it. If you are really anxious about that possibly then my recommendation is that you should have been held under the water a bit longer at your baptism.

Jesus lived among and calls us in John 17 to remain in the world as the incarnational presence of God among men.

What if…
• What if we stop segregating ourselves and share our common humanity?
• What if we become friends with sinners—because we can totally relate?
• What if we learn to share this good news in a way that’s not “us vs. them”?

The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties—but right through every human heart. – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Paul said the Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. 1 Thessalonians.1: 5

Make a list of the needs you see that disturb you.  A great place to draw some ideas is from your local news.  It is a modern altar of intercession.

Here is a cry list of injustice concerning poverty and slavery.
Global Poverty
- 16% of the world lives on less than $1 per day.
- 80% of the world lives on less than $10 per day. USA=$100 /day
- 17,000 children die of hunger every day.
- The nations of the world spend $3 billion a day on defense. (56% US)
Modern Slavery
- There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. That’s more slaves than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
- Human trafficking is the world’s 3rd largest criminal enterprise. (after drugs/weapons)
- 80% of human trafficking victims are female. (forced into sex trade)
- 50% of modern slaves are minors.
- In 1850 the cost of a slave in the United States was $40,000. (2010 dollars). The average cost of a modern slave is $90.

tomsNow ask God to show you/us ways to exercise our faith and gifts to go about doing good and making a difference. You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38

Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela who worked to rectify the social injustices of civil rights in their day. Let us look into the injustices of our day and go to work to bring about change.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Our mission is to participate in God’s mission to restore all creation to original goodness. Mission has its source in the nature and action of the Trinity…the Father sends Son, the Son sends Spirit, the Spirit sends the Church.

At Stone Table Church we go forth by expressing in everyday life God’s heart for transforming lives, renewing his church and engaging our culture.  We used the word “express” in our mission statement to call us to be moved…to take the action of love to the world all around us.  The phrase “in everyday life” is equally as important. We live our lives outside of the walls of the church and so as we go about living our everyday lives we want to be keenly aware that we are on a mission.  Our mission is not as obnoxious religious fanatics, but as authentic people whose imperfect life in Christ is being lived out in the routines and relationships of everyday life.

The question of the new millennium is, “Why do we have to choose between…Do we save them or do we serve them?”  These issues were directly addressed at the 2008 American Society for Church Growth conference, Balancing the Great Commission with Great Compassion.  Many younger evangelicals who are currently proponents of social justice are unaware that their predecessors’ quest for the social gospel ultimately led them to abandon the proclaimed gospel.

On 9.20.2011 @Rick Warren wrote; “My generation thought para-church ministries could change the world. I pray your generation realizes it can only happen through local churches.”  Fourteen months before Pastor Rick’s tweet I posted on 7.18.10 on Facebook; “For the past 50 years the para-church ministries have served as the primary social justice arm of the church.”

In response to Pastor Rick I wrote, They did change the world and that’s why so many of them grew so big. The local church was simply interested in having services at 9 & 11, but not about doing services. In fact, I am afraid that the resurgence of justice in the local church will only be a fad and will spread themselves to thin and burnout and run out of social-justicemoney…money that previously built their shrines. Churches have for the past generation been very offended at the para-church because they were taking the tithe from the local church and actually getting things accomplished on the streets, in the prisons and around the world with it. Yes a few churches are getting it right, but let’s not put down our “little brother” Andrew because big brother Peter who has the keys finally remembered where he put them down before he fell asleep.

The Mission of God – by Christopher J.H. Wright
Where do we start? The language of the “priority of evangelism” implies that the only proper starting point must always be evangelistic proclamation. But the difficulty is that…
1. it is not always possible or desirable in the immediate situation, and
2. it does not even reflect the actual practice of Jesus.

Mission_of_God-bookRather almost any starting point can be appropriate, depending possibly on what is the most pressing or obvious need. We can enter the circle of missional response at any point on the circle of human need.  But ultimately we must not rest content until we have included within our own missional response the wholeness of God’s missional response to the human predicament—the gospel.  That is why I speak of ultimacy rather than primacy. Mission may not always begin with evangelism. But mission that does not ultimately include declaring the Word and the name of Christ, the call to repentance, and faith and obedience has not completed its task. It is defective mission, not holistic mission.

John Stott on bringing a theology of love and vocation into the justice and gospel debate.
“The reason for our acceptance of social responsibility is not primarily in order to give the gospel either a visibility or a credibility it would otherwise lack, but rather simple, uncomplicated compassion. Love has no need to justify itself.”

BillyandFranklinGrahamCrowdA great example of what the Lord wants to continue to do in this hour is seen in the synergy of Billy Graham and Franklin Graham.  Between them we see the convergence of Samaritan’s Purse and the Evangelistic Association.

We are called to bring people to Christ, but also to bring Christ to the people.  We love people not because they have come to Christ, but because Christ became human.  It’s not either or, but both and.

Good Christology leads to proper Ecclesiology which produces healthy Missiology. Many in today’s church invert that order.



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Live with the End in Mind

When values are internalized (learning a playbook, rehearsing the steps in a dance) there is less need for rules and more opportunity for improvisation.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Live with the End in Mind

The EndWe Value the formation of our future by the imagination of faith in the absolute commands and principles of God’s Word.

We only know what the Lord requires as we examine the sacred text and see the life that he intends from and for all of humanity. Our life will be called into account and judged. Your life will have an end and this life will have an end…live in light of the end.

God now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. Acts 17:30-31

Imagine being at a funeral and all of your friends and relatives are there. As you walk by to view the body, you notice that you are attending…your own funeral. funeral
• Family and friends are reminiscing about your life, how will you be remembered?
• If you can imagine how you will be remembered, then you have probably come up with the principles that will order and reward your life, offer a definition of success and help you write your personal mission statement.

You might think it’s a morbid exercise, but Jesus lived in light of the end of his life. From the wedding at Cana to weeping in Gethsemene, he measured life by his final hour.
• John 13:1 when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
• John 17:4 I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.

faith imaginedTo Live with the End in Mind is based on imagination. Faith’s ability to envision what you cannot at present see with your eyes. Through imagination we can visualize the uncreated potential within us and all around us.  God declares, I am God, and there is no other; Declaring the end from the beginning, Isaiah 46:9-10

We are image bearers of the Creator, and we bear his ability to speak, calls things forth, create…

Creative faith is based on the principle that all things are created twice.
1. The mental/verbal creation
2. The physical or realized creation

All things are created twice: God said and then God saw. Our lives testify to this imaginative ability to create…we think, believe, say and do. Getting married, having a baby, training children, constructing a building, planning a trip, going to the store…etc.  A grocery list is not the same as possessing the groceries or eating the groceries.

If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then by default you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life. Don’t let others create your world for you because they will always create it to small.

If you do not believe that you have a new heart you may hold your own imagination in contempt or condemnation. Imagination is the way to recover what faith is.

1 Cor 2:9-10 “ Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. (Isaiah 64:4)

We live our lives in memory or imagination. We need healed memories and helpful imaginations.

imaginationWe need to develop a biblical imagination so that we may gain the mind of Christ, the heart of the Father and the voice of Spirit as we are: reading, hearing, studying, praying, singing, meditating and memorizing the Scriptures.
• Listen for his voice and its echo
• Look for his presence and its shadow
• Long for his touch and its memory

We orient ourselves to God by faith. Hebrews 11:6 Anyone that comes to God, must believe that He is and that he is the rewarder of them that seek him.  Faith is not a lesser or inferior way of knowing empirical data, it is just a different way to access the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in the mind/heart/voice of God. Faith is the technology of another dimension.

Faith is the orientation to following God through life. Our orientation to God gives meaning to our movement, or else you end up disoriented. New students in school take an orientation class in order to give direction to their new life, how much more do we all need an orientation (catechism) to our life of faith.

word of lightThe Scriptures are our primary means of orientation. The best way to learn faith is to imitate people of faith (Hebrews 11) then you will get better at it. Faith is like playing golf: I have clubs, balls, might even be a member and I attend occasionally, but I’ve never taken a lesson so I’m not very good at it, but I can get better if I will practice.

Performers, dancers, artists, chefs, athletes, etc…are visualizers. They see it “in their mind’s eye” before they do it. “If you can sense it then it is only a matter of time until you will see it.”  Bishop T.D. Jakes

Faith grows because it has the nature of a seed. Like a seed it is not suddenly or sensational, but a slow motion miracle…you’ll need a time lapse camera to watch it unfold.

Faith is to bring about what God wills not what I want. It is not to meet our greeds, but our needs. It gives us the power to alter things around us, and we should start with things that are rooted in our life that do not belong there: attitudes, actions, fears, anger, shame, addiction, etc.

Faith speaks…faith comes from hearing the Word (not just listening, but to him who has ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking…a rhema – a now present timely word. God’s word has creative, evocative power…Jesus said, ask me and I will give it to you.

John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  The Greek particle and tense indicates that if there is something that you desire that is not yet created, ask me and I will create it for you.

Faith creates the possibilities of the other dimension to be experienced in this life. Faith walk on watersees the invisible and does the impossible.  We should by faith expect to find access points into the realm of God and the prayer of faith asks for the will of the Father to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  For example, what if walking on water is something that we forgot? What else have we forgotten?

• We don’t walk on the Water, but we can Walk on the Water of the Word.
• We are not looking for footprints in the sand, but on the water
• The word was spoken before it was written so that what was written would be spoken.
• The content of the Word is limited, but the revelation of the Word is limitless.
• The only way to release faith is to speak it.
• God wants what he spoke to be spoken again…by you.

Jesus changed life all round him by the words that he spoke and told us to do likewise.  Mark 11:23-24 I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

bible becomes fleshWe get to invent our future. We are invited to write a script out of scripture.  A script that is healthier, more congruent with our deepest values and the heart of God, which means that we need to be in the Word in order to rightly order our hearts and lives.

The real Bible is the one that has become flesh in your life. The word that you have received in your life…it has authority. Speak from it and add to it.  We confess more than we can explain which is why a Sacramental theology is necessary in order to keep the faith incarnational.


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Live from the Heart

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

“Our values set our future.” -Brian Houston

Live from the Heart

Heart of fireWe value the capacity to live from our hearts after the heart of God in pursuit of the good life.

When Jesus was called Good Teacher, he responded, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. When Moses longed to see the glory of God the Lord passed by in Exodus 33:19 and declared, I will make all my goodness pass before you.

What is good? Everything that comes from God is good.  Every good gift comes from the Father…James 1:17.  In Genesis every day of Creation was declared good!  The will of God is to restore all of creation to its original goodness.

The Father’s pinnacle project is us and our hearts.  He wants us to return to ruling and reigning in this life and to bring about his goodness on the globe by transforming lives, renewing the church & engaging our culture with the Gospel.

Our heart has been the scene of the epic battle of good and evil since Eden (think of your broken-heart-less-ron-gamblefavorite movies, they are all a battle for the heart of what is good). We have been caught in the crosshairs, shot, and cruelly wounded so as to have lost heart, or live faint hearted or half hearted. To lose heart is to be buried alive. Habitual half-heartedness is the death of love. Our condition is declared as being brokenhearted…think of a ceramic tile that has been shard.  -John Eldredge

Our cure is Christ’s first words in Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

Haven’t you noticed with what deadly accuracy the wound, your wound was given? Those blows you’ve taken— they were not random accidents. The wound is too well aimed and far too consistent to be accidental. It was an attempt to take you out; to cripple and destroy the image of God in you.  -John Eldredge

Do you know why there’s been such an assault? The enemy fears the image of God in you. If you ever really got your heart back, lived from it with courage, you would do a lot of damage…on the side of good.  -John Eldredge

The subject of the heart is addressed in the Bible more than any other topic—our deepest thoughts are held in our hearts. Scripture itself claims to judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)

Satanic flesh or better known as religion is used to show you how bad you and your heart are.

• Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; Who can know it?
• Romans 3:10-12 There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who does good, no, not one.
• Yes according to the Scriptures, the heart can melt like wax, be foolish, stubborn, rebellious, wayward, vile, jealous, angry, bitter, wretched, fearful, cowardly…

But the question is; Do we have a new and better covenant with God. We had to have a new covenant because the old one didn’t work, we couldn’t obey it.  The new covenant (Ezekiel 36:26) says I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  If a new and better covenant was to be made then a provision for securing obedience had to be made.  The unfading glory of the new covenant provides a GUARANTEE for our faithfulness and obedience.

worship at crossJesus gives us a new heart, a heart that the Law could be written upon. I know the covenant is better not because I am perfect, but because I’m troubled when I am not.  Love then is the perfect obedience of the sons and daughters because if you love you will obey. Love then is seen as having substance.

In Christ I call you to proceed by believing that your heart is good. Remember Paul in Romans 7 and the struggle that he faced?  He understood and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us, This is not me!  If you think it’s you, a reflection of what’s really going on in your heart, it will immobilize you. The fact that you do not see your heart as good is only proof of how effective the assault has been.

We must fight to get our hearts back. So long as we imagine it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about—He is looking for us. – Simon Tugwell

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (that is where life starts) Proverbs 4:23

There is a secret set within each of our hearts. It often goes unnoticed, we rarely can put words to it, and yet it guides us throughout the days of our lives. This secret remains hidden for the most part in our deepest selves. It is simply the desire for life as it was meant to be.

Isn’t there a life you have been searching for all your days? You may not always be aware of your search, and times when you seem to have abandoned looking altogether. But again and again it returns to us. It is elusive, to be sure. It seems to come and go at will. Seasons may pass until it surfaces again. And though it seems to taunt us, and may at times cause us great pain, we know when it returns that it is priceless. There is nothing of greater importance than the life of our heart.  -John Eldredge

The Christian life is a love affair of the heart.
• It cannot be lived primarily as a set of principles or ethics.
• It cannot be managed with steps and programs.
• It cannot be lived exclusively as a moral code leading to righteousness.

It takes courage to live from your heart. It is easier to count the hairs on your head than the movements of your heart.  Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, “Through the heart’s wound, I see its secret.” How would you live differently, if you believed your heart was the treasure of the kingdom?

Dolk_-_Heart_ManThink about the part you find yourself playing, the self you put on like a costume. Who cast you in this role? Most of us are living out a script that someone else has written for us. We’ve not been invited by the world around us to live from our heart, to take risks, live dangerous, be on an adventure, to be who we truly are, so we put on these false selves (pretenders and posers) hoping to offer something more acceptable to the world, something functional, something safe, predictable, calculated cautious.


In the C.S. Lewis classic, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe there is a discussion about the great Lion, Aslan.

Susan (a visitor to the new world): “Is he—quite safe?”
Mr. Beaver ( a resident of this magical kingdom): “Safe?” “Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

God invites us in his magical world, the kingdom of Christ to live from our hearts after his father-and-sonheart. He longs to see what he put in you come forth back from you. He loves you, likes you and wants to see what he put in you come to life (like parents with children / like seed in the ground).

I give you permission to be who he created you to be, to become your true self, to live from the heart. Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, because what the world needs is people who are fully alive.

A heart fully alive is defined by Jesus as, Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Where shall they see God? In their hearts where the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts.

In the end the least misleading icon is to be found, not in the physical world outside us, but in the human heart. – Metropolitan Kallistos

heart mosaicIf the value of our church is “to live from the heart” then we each get to put our broken piece of tile down as a part of the mosaic. We all get to be a part of something that is greater than the sum total of all the parts.  I will add my personal values, but so can you, because the value is people and the heart and gifts that the Lord has given to all of us.

Unite our hearts to fear your name. Psalm 86:11.  As are hearts are united both personally and corporately then our heart’s capacities also grow and expand…You shall enlarge my heart. (Ps. 119:32)

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