Friday, August 20, 2010

Swingsets & Heaven

I will never forget the moment when my son, Benjamin, didn't want my help swinging on the swings. "I can do it myself", Benjamin told me. Similarly, that is how most of the world thinks about earning the right to be in Heaven. They wrongly believe that they can or have to do it themselves.

However, one day a young, what we would consider moral or devout man came up to Jesus and ask what He must "do" to enter Heaven. Jesus challenged Him and said, "Why do you call Me (referring to Jesus) good? No one is good except God alone." Jesus didn't even allow Himself the title of being good....which basically tells me that if salvation was up to me doing enough good to be considered good.....then I'm screwed! Jesus' disciples then asked Him, "Who can be saved?" Jesus' response was, "With man this is impossible." (Luke 18:19-27).

So, one day when you stand before God, He may ask, "Why should I let you into Heaven with Me?" What will your response be?

If it's, "Well I'm a pretty good person. Haven't stolen, murdered, or cheated anyone.", "I went to church every week & gave some money.", or "I took care of my ailing grandma.", then you will fall short because the "I did it myself" answer does not make you perfect. In order to enter Heaven, you have to be perfect. And unless you are either completely full of pride, or completely ignorant, you know that you are far from perfect. You, me, we all have missed the mark of perfection, we all are defiled, prone to sin, prone to be selfish at times, prone to think evil thoughts once in a while...right?

So what will you say to God on the day you meet Him? Either when Jesus returns or when you die. What will your answer be? Is it possible for anyone to be saved or are we all lost?

Email me, or send me a message for the answer if you want. Or here are a few passages from the Bible that give the answer. Don't take my word for it, look it up for yourself:
Romans 3:23
Romans 5:6-8
John 3:14-18
John 1:12
Romans 10:9-11
1 John 3:13

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Theology of the Church

What is the purpose of the church? What is the church suppose to be doing?
There are 5 types of churches that I see:
1. Seeker church- focused mainly on winning the lost (or shuffling the sheep).
2. Country Club church- focused on fellowship and feelin' good.
3. Holy Huddle church- focused on discipleship and being separate from the sinful activities of the world.
4. Liberal church- focuses on caring for the poor, needy, hurting.
5. Dead church- doesn't really excel in any of these areas. People go because they have always gone to that church. They don't want to be like "those other churches" so they don't really do anything.

Now let's look at the dark side of each:
1. Seeker church-usually struggles with discipleship or depth (um, kinda like GCC in Mishawaka).
2. Country Club church- people are struggling, dying, going to eternity apart from Christ everywhere & they don't seem to mind much. Keith Green drew a brilliant picture of this church. ------>
3. Holy Huddle church- similar to #2 but with less joy & don't even bother helping anyone, especially those outside of the church. They are typically so individually focused on their sin, that they don't have much time for others.
4. Liberal church- terrible theology, and some become so bad at theology that they forget about the depth, richness of being in Christ. Also, they sometimes neglect their personal holiness.
5. Dead church- there is no dark side seeing that it is all the same color of black. ......I have nothing else good to say about this church.

So, what is the church suppose to do? What is it good for? What purpose does it serve? Is it more than just hanging out with sinful people on Sunday morning? Why does God want us to be a part of this messy thing called "the body of Christ"?
Oh, ekklesia- is the Greek word for church. It means the "called out". It is those who are believers in, trusting in Jesus, the Son of God, as Christ (savior) and are striving to live for Him.

This study is a brief summary of my studies & is not an in depth blog. If you want a lot of supporting verses, let's go out for coffee & have fun digging through the text.

So what is the church suppose to do?
I see 5 primary thrusts.
1. Help people come to know Jesus, so they can have peace with God (Matthew 28).
2. Help people grow up in Christ (Matthew 28). What is commonly referred to as discipleship.
3. Equip & encourage Christians to serve (Ephesians 4).
4. Care for the needy, hurting, helpless (Matthew 22).
5. Live a holy life (Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 22).

In my opinion, all Christians need to focus on: 5,4,3 (at least in encouragement), 1
According to Ephesians 4, pastors need to focus primarily on: 3,2 while not neglecting the others. People in the church, who are not called to be pastors serve in 1,2,4. Pastors equip people that they can do this well.
So, if you are a Christian, you should be about living a holy life, caring for people, encourage people in their faith, help people grow in Christ (teach a class, lead a small group, help with VBS, start a sports ministry, etc), and reach your neighbors with the good news (neighborhood Bible Study, help a neighbor shovel the snow, missions, frequent a place to share Christ, etc).

Let the pastors focus on their thing & don't leave all the work up to them. I was just talking to a Catholic lady yesterday and she asked me why I don't see a priest for confession. I wanted to tell her that I believe in the priesthood of all believers, but didn't because I wanted to keep the focus on Jesus. We all can take part in serving God. Ephesians 4 says that pastors are to equip God's people for service. A pastor's job is to proclaim God's word & train YOU to serve in various ways.

Also, some people, who say they are Christians (cough), separate themselves from the local church & still think God is happy with them. Nope. God has called us to community. These people need to put away their angst & get plugged in. Is the church often annoying & full of hypocrites? I certainly hope so! Hypocrites & annoying people need Jesus & need to grow up in Him, just as we educated, sophisticated, near perfect people do (I smell a bit of sarcasm here).

Anyhow, in order to be a healthy church, which fires on all cylinders, we need to put focus on all 5 of these areas. In order to be a balanced Christian, we shouldn't put all of our focus on one area. So evaluate yourself to see if you are living out a healthy theology of what it means to be a Christian.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bedouin Hospitality

So we were hiking in Israel & came upon a Bedouin (Muslim) community. We asked if we could join them & they very quickly said yes. A few observations-first, the women immediately broke out a fire & cooked us some bread and hot tea. Second, the kids and women tried to communicate with us. We were welcome to stay for a long time. I found out later that we could have probably stayed for up to 3 days...all 18 of us. After 3 days they would start to put less sugar in the tea, which would be a hint that our time to stay had come to an end. However, we didn't stay for more than an hour.
These people didn't know us. We were of a different religion, custom, culture & who knows what our "business" was. However, in that culture, you take in guests because you never know if God is sending you a messenger.
In the Bible you see this with Abraham & Sarah (Genesis 18). You see this principle taught in Hebrews 13:2 and Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Peter 4:9 and more. Jesus taught that we are to even love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44)and that a faithful person needs to invite strangers in (Matthew 25:35). Having strangers stay in your home should be normal for Christians; we should look forward to it.

Excuses people give to not obey Christ in this area:
1. But what if they are dangerous? Then use common sense.
2. But they may steal something! So what. Then hide what is valuable to you. Better yet, sell the stuff that is expensive and give to the poor. What about being more concerned with saving something...their soul?.
3. But I am not a person who likes guests. Well, grow up in your faith. Hospitality (which means inviting strangers in) is a normal Christian thing. Chances are you have bought into some of our cultures problems. You need to spend some time with the Lord and work this out so that you are one who likes guests, or at least is open to having strangers in when an opportunity comes.
4. But they might be dirty. Probably. That is why God gave you money. You can clean the stuff AFTER they leave.
5. But God has called me to be a good steward of my stuff & this is bad runs the risk of damage. See #2. I personally think that Christians should put less value on stewardship & much more value on people and advancing his kingdom.
6. What might people think? Well, this would set a great example for you to follow.
7. I don't have the time. Perhaps we US people should be less busy and "tithe" our time to do things such as these.
8. I am out of town. That is understandable.
9. There are more important things to focus on. No, I disagree. People are to be #2 on our list of important things. Remember what Jesus said about the sheep & the goats. This is a common conservative Christian response. Well, we aren't called to be conservative but generous.
A good illustration of this is the Hebrew Bible law. Farmers were to leave the corners of their crops for the poor. In other words, they weren't to harvest all the stuff they planted. That way they could help care for the poor.

Hospitality is a great way to care for your neighbors & to share the love of Jesus with them. Who knows, they may accept Jesus because of YOU. And who knows, they just may be an angel or more yet, Jesus.

Convinced? Contact

Monday, August 2, 2010

Alright, Jesus is messing me up

So, this morning I am reading Luke 6:20-26, and on several levels this is breaking down a lot of the "religion" that I have been taught. Here is the passage:
And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.
23 “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.
25 “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
So I used to actually read verse 24 like this, "But woe to you who are rich(er than Jeff Korhorn), for you are receiving your comfort in full." I also took this & have read this context, especially verses 20-21 as those who are spiritually poor, hungry, weeping. However, that interpretation doesn't make any sense with the rest of the context. Because that would mean that those in verse 25 who are spiritually rich, spiritually well-fed, and spiritually happy now will suffer later. Is Jesus saying that there is punishment for those who are spiritually vibrant? I don't see it.
Here Jesus seems to be talking about physically poor/rich, hungry/well-fed, weeping/laughing.

So is it wrong to be rich? Is it wrong to be well-fed? Is it wrong to laugh? What is rich? What is well-fed? What does He mean by "laugh"?

A few thoughts, as I think through this out loud on my blog-
1. This verse in Mark comes to mind right away.
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
37 “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
I think Jesus is teaching, as He typically does, at the heart of man. He's challenging our hearts.
Possibly, and this is the part that is bugging me, is He teaching that we should give up our excess: our possessions, our food, our money, our hearts to those in need? Then, what is excess?
For the sake of not becoming a checklist, I am gonna keep what I think I should do to myself. But I will say that I think I need to live radically different. I tend to live in fear of not having enough, I am often discontent (needing just one more thing), we (by looking at our weight) spend more than enough on food and I am probably overweight because I eat when nervous & bored. All that to say, I am often self-centered. There are people in Findlay living on the street & the "danger patrol" says that I shouldn't have anyone live at our house because they might kill my children. To me, the people I see on the street, would not & last I checked, God was sovereign & good. We can always find excuses not to do good.

Anyhow, there is a lot for me to think about. Jesus still continues to mess up MY life.

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Mk 8:34–37). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Lk 6:20–26). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.