Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Communal Life (Read if you are a Christian)

Here is an exert from a book I just finished called From Eternity to Here. I was going to try and sum it up but Frank Viola puts it so well I thought I would save myself the work...

This maybe one of the most ridiculously thought provoking passages on church and community that I have read to date. The Bible never gives us an exact blue print of what church is suppose to live up to, but here Frank Viola may have something.

Properly conceived, the church is a colony from heaven that has descended on earth to display the life of God's kingdom.

By its way of life, its values, and its interpersonal relationships, the church lives as a counterculture outpost of the future kingdom--a kingdom that will eventually fill the whole earth "as the waters cover the sea."

God's ultimate purpose is to reconcile the universe under the lordship of Jesus Christ (Col 1:20; Eph 1:10). As the community of the King, the church stands in the earth as the masterpiece of that reconciliation and the pilot project of the reconciled universe. In the church, therefor, the Jewish-Gentile barrier has been demolished, as well as all barriers of race, culture sex, etc. (Gal 3:28; Eph 2:16).
The church lives and acts as the new humanity on earth that reflects the community of the Godhead.

Thus when those in the world see a group of Christians from different cultures and races loving one another, caring for one another, meeting on another's needs, living against the current trends of this world that give allegiance to other gods instead of to the world's true Lord, Jesus Christ, they are watching the life of the future kingdom lived out on earth in the present. As Stanley Grenz once put it, "The church is the pioneer community. It points toward the future God has in store for his creation."

It is this "kingdom community" that turned the Roman Empire on its ear. Here was a people who possessed joy, who loved one another deeply, who made decisions by consensus, who handled their own problems, who married each other, who met one another's financial needs, and who buried on another.

This community was living in the presence of the future. It showed the world what the future kingdom of God will look like, when Jesus Christ will be running the entire show.

The church's allegiance was exclusively given to the new Caesar, the Lord Jesus, and she lived by His rule. As a result, the response by her pagan neighbors was, "Behold how they love one another!"

We live in a day when the Western church enshrined rugged individualism and independence. As such, many modern churches are not authentic communities that are embodying the family of God. Instead, they are institutional organizations that operate as a hybrid of General Motors and the Rotary Club.

The spiritual DNA of the church will always lead its members toward authentic, viable community. It will always lead its members toward authentic, viable community. It will always lead Christians to live a shared life through the Holy Spirit that expresses the life and values of Jesus Christ. In other words, it will live as the family of God.

In this way, the church becomes the visible image of the triune God. By sharing in the communion of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit, the church puts God's love on public display. It becomes his family in the earth in reality.

The family dimension of the church is not peripheral. It's central to the church's life and mission.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wilderness High Lights

Key Words to My Wilderness Experience

Diversity: I was blessed to go out into the Colorado Mountians with the most diverse group of people. At face value everyone would of seemed like a well off, white, suburbuan, kid from Carmel who has everything going for them. In reality each individual and the stuff they were dealing with in their lives could not have been different from the next person.

Illogical: Thirteen high schoolers, many of which had never slept outside, two leaders, and two guides that have minimal experience and training hiking in the premiere, beautiful, and dangerous Colorado Mountains. It did not make sense for us to make it back without getting lost or seriously hurt. It rained one day. One day for mid july in Colorado is nuts! We should have been rained on every afternoon. Clouds would roll in and I would be preparing for the rain that never came. Illogical.

Honesty: Fifteen people that barely knew each other realized what it meant to be honest with themselves, each other, and most importantly with God. We sat around telling our story, telling things we had never told any one else, bringing out the crap that we hide in the depths of ourselves usually letting it eat us from the inside out. I learned that if we are to "be Jesus to the world" we need to listen to peoples' stories, dig deep, and get at their heart to discover who they really are. Jesus does this with the Samaritan women at the well. Due to our honesty, vulnerability, and the way we loved each other we became a family.

Humility: My prayer before this trip was that of John the Baptist's: "He must become greater i must become less". Man did God answer that prayer. After the night of solo's Jenna (my co-leader) and I reconvened and both had this overwhelming feeling that we were undeserving and unqualified to be in these kids lives. I have know skills, education, or experience in many of the things that the kids were experiencing. Any effort I was to put forth to counsel or improve the kids lives would have been futile. God made me the size of an ant and him and my need for him HUGE. All I could do is show up in these kids lives and point to God.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Into the Wilderness

Today I will embark on a 24 hour bus ride to a remote destination in the Colorado mountains. Once there, I will set out with 15 high schoolers with only what we can carry on our backs into the wilderness for 6 days.

Needless to say, if you think of me, pray for me.

I am so excited for many reasons about this trip.
1. I love the wilderness, colorado, hiking, and can not wait to see how much I learn and Grow.
2. There are two dudes that I spend a lot of time with that usually would go to camp this summer, but they are ready for something more challenging and I am really excited to have this awesome experience with them so early on in their high school years.

So yes. pray for me and for the kids: That we are safe but challenged and stressed to the point that we have to rely on and draw near to the lord in ways we have never experienced. Pray that bonds of friendship will be made even stronger. Most importantly pray that i can be a leader who doesnt lead at all. Pray that I can step back and allow god to do all the work. For I want to become less, and he to be become greater.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Repentance ?

I have always struggled with the idea of repentance. Not knowing what is truly means and also being scared of it for some reason or another. I tend to avoid it because I don't understand it totally in either Biblical or experiential terms.

This quote better helped me rap my mind around why repentance is not only necessary but a vital component to a follower's growth as we strive to become more like Jesus.

"Repentance means turning away from darkness to light. We must name and accept our sin, understand that it remains within us, and use it as a spur to another kind of existence." Chris Hedges

This quote was taken from Hedges book called Losing Moses on the Freeway. I encourage anyone who is interested, intrigued, confused, or ignorant of the 10 Commandments application to society NOW they should pick up this book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Wise Man Told Me

I have been struggling with this idea that I feel like there are so many areas of my life that are still of the old me, that are still of this world and are areas that I have not let die and be resurrected in Christ. Or rather I have not been able to turn them over to God. For many reasons, Fear of where it may lead, unwillingness to sacrifice, the need to fulfill my own selfish ambitions, etc. Either way I have been struggling totally putting this in words and a friend shared this passage from The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Knee with me.

"If we give ourselves unreservedly to God, many adjustments may have to be made: in family, or business, or church relationships, or in the matter of our personal views. God will not let anything of ourselves remain. His finger will touch, point by point, everything that is not of him, and will say: 'This must go.' Are you willing? It is foolish to resist God, and always wise to submit to him. We admit that many of us still have controversies with the Lord. He wants something, while we want something else. Many things we dare not look into, dare not pray about, dare not even think about, lest we lost our peace. We can evade the issue in that way, but to do so will bring us out of the will of God. It is always an easy matter to get ouf of his will, but it is a blessed thing just to hand ourselves over to him and let him have his way with us."