If you do not know what you are fighting for, you are bound to make mistakes.
In the last post, I talked about the kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven, as the terms are interchangeable in the Bible). The term gets thrown around a lot. We Christian folk are always talking about “kingdom work,” “advancing the kingdom,” being “kingdom focused,” and the list goes on and on. Perhaps we see that it is important, or perhaps we think the word sounds cool. Whatever the case, we describe a lot of things as kingdom work without ever really defining our term. And in doing this, we have created some interesting definitions of the kingdom that are nowhere to be found in the Bible.
At the risk of offending sensibilities, I think it is perhaps best to consider first what the kingdom is not. Continue reading
Jesus is concerned about his kingdom.
It is pretty easy to agree with that statement if you read the gospel account of Matthew. The kingdom of heaven is possibly the most prevalent theme in the book, and is most often recorded off the lips of Jesus himself.
Yet, for most of us, the kingdom of God is a vague, confusing title we may not understand. When it is discussed, it either sounds so theologically stuffy that it is boring and unhelpful, or it is done so simply that it is vague and serves no real purpose. Instead, we must find a road between. Understanding the kingdom was a big deal to Jesus, so it must be pretty important. My hope in writing my next few posts is bringing the kingdom of heaven out of the clouds so that people who have never been to seminary can get excited about it too. Honestly, the idea is only as complex and boring as we make it. Jesus got excited about it, and so should we. Continue reading
The parable of the day laborers has always been difficult for me to comprehend. Perhaps I make it too hard. More precisely, perhaps I do not like what it teaches.
In chapter 20 of his gospel account, Matthew retells a parable that Jesus told. In this parable a landowner goes out to find day laborers for his vineyard. At the beginning of the day, he hires men for an amount of money they all agree upon. Several hours later, he goes out and finds more men. He does this again, and again, and again. At the very last hour of the day, he goes and finds a few more men and hires them.
Now, as the day is finishing, it is time for the payout. The men line up to receive their money, and the foreman walks up to those who had only worked an hour and hands them the full amount of money. Continue reading
I am currently staring out the third floor window of my new home, overlooking the busy, downtown streets of Washington, DC. Well, it is my new home for half the week, at least.
This is why:
Since the dawn of modern international missions, this task has largely seen people leaving the United States in search of foreign lands absent of a gospel proclamation. While the above manifestation of the Great Commission is still paramount, a new day dawns in sharing the gospel with the nations. Once, an ocean separated us from the peoples of the world. Today, the nations increasingly come to us.
This is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote as part of an ongoing research project at my seminary. I would suggest you go read that post, called Nations in our Midst, if you plan on finishing this one
But since most of you did not click on the link to read that post, I will try to sum it up for you in a few sentences.
For the past year, I have been running point on the development of an international church planting strategy at Southeastern. However, this international church planting strategy is different from any I have ever seen in one way. It is not taking place internationally. This church planting effort is happening right here in the good ol’ US of A. Continue reading
This post is the conclusion to a two-part series. It will probably not make much sense unless you go read the first post: Will I be dumping Starbucks?
I concluded the last post by asking if there was a better way to approach cultural issues than this ban on Starbucks.
This is how I answered:
In order to win the right war, sometimes we have to stop focusing on the wrong one. Sometimes, it is best to lose a battle in order to win a war. And I fear that our insistence on fighting so hard in the cultural war is causing us to lose the eternal war.
What good comes from gaining the top of the cultural mountain; if in gaining it, you have lost the ear of the very people you are trying to reach? Our task is not cultural superiority. It is gospel proclamation.
Our job as the church is not to “beat” gay rights activists, or liberals in general for that matter, in some imaginary game. Our job is to proclaim the gospel to them and continue to proclaim it to ourselves.
And that is where I want to pick up. If by reading my first post on this, you got the impression I felt we needed to be silent, then let me clarify. I do not think we should do less about cultural issues like same-sex marriage. I think we should do more. Continue reading
Now, I can sense the blood pressure rising in most of the people reading this. That is, if it is the usual crew. Yes, I did hear what the CEO of Starbucks said, and I do understand their stance on same-sex marriage. And no, my views on this issue have not changed. My prayer is that personal reasons never shift my view on something when I feel the Bible has an authoritative stance on that issue. In all things, I want the Bible, not culture or my own feelings (or even my own reason and logic) to be the source of my beliefs.
Yet, I will not be boycotting Starbucks. If you will permit me to explain, I will share my thoughts on this whole fiasco. Do not read this as condemnation to those who have in good conscience chosen to boycott Starbucks. The issue is simply too complex for one post, so I will start with some thoughts about the problem, and in the next post, I will provide my humble suggestions for a better way. In short though, I think I can sum up the problem in one sentence.
You are a slave to something.
That was the point of my last post, and this post will make a lot more sense, if you go read that one first. In sum, we are created to serve something. Everyone has a master, and they serve it with their life. Last week, I stated that even skeptics, those people who claim to serve nothing and no one, are really just deceiving themselves. Simply calling your “god” something else, does not mean you do not worship it.
However, this week, my sights are aimed at those of us who actually claim to serve a god. In specific, those of us who claim to serve Christ.
Christians, this post is for you. Continue reading
You are a slave of something.
So am I, and so is everyone else you know. It’s how we are designed, dare I say, how we were created.
For the more skeptical reader, the one who claims complete independence, or the one who thinks my religious banter is simply that, permit me to make my case before you dismiss this post. Continue reading
This is the continuation of a previous post. If you have not read part 1, I would suggest you do so here.
So, if missions is not about you, and it is not about them, then what is the purpose of missions? Why do we go?
Simply put, missions is about a name.
This mission goes to the very core of creation. From “In the beginning” until the trumpet sounds, there has been a grand overarching purpose for all of history. God created space and time for a reason. He created the earth and all that is in it for a reason. He created man in his image for a reason, and all the events of history that followed were for a reason. He created a nation through Abraham for a reason. He delivered them out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt for a reason, and then he sent that same nation into exile for a reason. Continue reading
Missions is not about you.
To some of you, that may sound a little harsh. And for others, you may completely agree. Whatever the case, I had an opportunity this past weekend to speak at a conference on the topic of God’s mission, particularly as it relates to work overseas. In preparation, I pulled together some thoughts on the motivation behind international mission work and thought it fitting to post those here. The topic is just too big to discuss in one post, so I will use this first point to look at what missions is not about. Next time, we will look at what it is about. Continue reading