Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Details and Risk

It has been a while since I have had time to write. The church I lead has sold our building and is moving to a school. This move allows us to free up significant funds for ministry and and lower our overhead significantly. It is our desire to do this portable church thing well, so a lot of energy has been going into how to develop systems to move gear and streamline setup. There is real concern that with out great thought to this area we will tire out our core group that is planting this new church. It becomes a pastoral issue as well as a logistic issue. Every decision seems to be loaded with pros and cons. Each decision carries some measure of risk.

In a movement like ours (Newfrontiers) you would expect people to identify with mission and not with a building. Yet we have discovered that no matter how much you preach and teach on mission, there are some who just don't get it. Every thing is processed through the lens of risk. What will it cost me? This will be more trouble! Why spend this much time? The answer to this question is that we need to have the resources to fulfill our mission!

The very nature of life in God has much to do with risk. Risk is a central by-product of a life lived by faith. All of the great heroes of the Bible has to forsake the secure and pursue what God had called them to with little more than a promise. Jesus in inviting men to be His followers said. "if any man would seek to save his life, he will lose it, but he that loses his life for my sake will find it again." Ignoring our instincts of self preservation and living for Christ requires great faith and trust in God. I believe that God through the ages has moved through a people that will take risks for Him. We will make mistakes surely, missteps of course, yet God moves in all of those things!
Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians wrote "all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes." To respond to a call requires some revelation or interaction with God. When we hear Him and follow Him, God works in all the circumstances of life. In my experience the more we risk for God the more we see His hand.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


The death and resurrection of Christ sits central in our lives of Christians. The cross stands as a symbol of the tremendous price Christ paid for our self directed living. The reality that our sin, and the just penalty of sin were laid on Jesus is the defining characteristic of the Christian faith.

Isa 53:4-10
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (NIV)

Due to the generosity of God we receive the benefits of a relationship that is leads to salvation and transformation. The work that Christ did on the cross is much more than some kind of cosmic transaction. It is helpful to look at the Hebrew to gain some understanding of the benefits we have received.

Benefits received by the work of the Cross.
• He was pierced for our transgressions (peh'-shah = a revolt or rebellion)
• He was crushed for our iniquities (avown= perversity, depravity)
• The punishment that brought us peace (friendship with God)
• By his wounds we are healed (rapha' ;to mend, to cure)

It is unsettling to view our lives from God’s perspective, revolt, rebellion, perversity, depravity is not something we want to own, yet that is the reality of our nature. When we have a revelation of this, the work of the cross captivates us. Friendship with God! The healing of our nature and transformation! God is generous indeed. Yet many times we settle for something less than a living relationship with Christ, and rely on ritual and form. It is in the relationship that life is given and empowerment for change takes place. Consider Paul’s description of the work of the cross and the benefits we receive.

2Co 5:14-21
We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that we recognize that one man died for everyone, which means that they all share in his death. (15) He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake. (16) No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. (17) Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. (18) All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. (19) Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends. (20) Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! (21) Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God. (GNB)

Paul in his writing described him self as the chief of sinners as he had persecuted those who were following Jesus. Yet God broke into his life, and he was forever changed. I have come to believe that the more we see and understand God’s generosity the more we will give ourselves to God’s agenda.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Confidence in God

We know that faith is central to the Christian life. The scripture tells us that with out faith it is impossible to please God. For many, faith is a set of principles for securing blessing. We are tempted to see faith as a methodology to move God on our behalf. Faith is some thing more profound.

Abraham is described as the father of faith and our ancestor. The promises made to him apply to us.

Rom 4:16-22
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring-not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
17 As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed-the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

It would do us well to look at the foundation of his relationship with God. In Gen 12:1-8, the LORD had says to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Abraham responds to the revelation and leaves for the land of Canaan. The Lord would speak again and promise, "To your offspring I will give this land."

This word from God would carry Abraham for the rest of his life. It was central to all the promises he would receive. The root of faith is revelation of who God is. His character and faithfulness is central to our putting our trust in Him. Abraham responds to God with trust and confidence. He took God at His word. Abraham allowed his dreams and aspirations be changed. Abraham’s faith wasn’t just a principled response, it was a heart response! When we place our lives in God’s hand, trusting Him, we too will have great confidence in God.

Abraham obeyed and the promise became a reality. Notice what is contained in the promise.

I will show you. --- Promise that He will lead us.
You will be a great nation.---- We will have a legacy.
I will bless you. ---- He will care for us.
I will make your name great. ---- We will be significant.
You will be a blessing. ---- We will contribute.
I will bless those who bless you. ---- Secures for us favor.
I will curse those who curse you. ---- He will avenge us. (Sarah)
You will be a blessing to the world. --- Our life has meaning.

The intent of the promise applies to you and your offspring. As Christians we have the assurance of the cross that demonstrates that God is for us. As you consider the promises of God realize that He is the initiator. Our response is to trust Him and to step forward with confidence.