Monday, December 31, 2007

Resisting Enigmatic Christianity

In my preparations for starting this new church I have been in almost-constant conversations with people. The biggest question I have been asking is, "What puzzles you about today's Christianity?"

One of the recurring themes has been the way that Christians seem to want to make extensive lists about what it means to be Christian (i.e. Republican, anglo, heterosexual, fill-in-your-favorite-item-on-the-list and you know the list I'm talking about). At first when I heard this I was very defensive... angry even. I thought, that's just because the rest of you are wrong & we're right and you just can't handle the truth! Over time I am beginning to see that my approach was exactly what they are talking about.

Even when it comes to issues that the Scripture seems to address clearly, there is a temptation to beat people up with those things. I certainly don't have it all together - on any level. So, I am learning that it is the approach to those discussions that matters. Pre-Christian people are even willing (in most cases) to accept the fact that I may not share their opinion if I am willing to listen to their thoughts and not crucify them for not seeing things the way I may see them.

In the end I am beginning to see that this stance gives credence to the Gospel. It reflects more accurately the spirit of Jesus and it affords me an opportunity to help people understand things that may not make sense to them.

I remember an old preacher used to say... "The Gospel really isn't the good news if it doesn't reach those who need it." While he was talking about world missions to unreached people groups, I think the same could be said of our sometimes puzzling approaches to discussions on topics that we identify as signposts of our Christianity.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Bit Further South

First I should admit that I am (as are most men) the biggest baby when it comes to pain. Any physical discomfort is almost immediately translated as dire affliction. Our wives endure far more in bringing children into the world.

So I have this lower back thing... now I feel like one of the people I used to overhear in my grandmother's apartment complex. But seriously, what is my deal? I'm not even 40 years old and I get these crippling days where all I want to do is lay on the floor.

In this condition I hear God telling me too many things to write. One of them is that I need to toughen up a bit. Another whisper is that I need to take better care of this shell before it becomes a carcass. And though this pain is real and really frustrating, the best takeaway is that I can learn to deal with my microscopic hurt by reaching out to someone surrounded by their own immense distress.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Powerful & Effective Prayers

I have recently been re-reminded of that profound verse in James 5:16 ...the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. That little phrase continues to have more intense meaning to me as the years proceed.

Most recently I have been reminded of the importance of prayer as my family and I face this enormous task that God is calling us to... starting a new church.

Over the years I have received many (genuine) pleas for support from people in various endeavors. Because of my cynical side I always feel like when they are asking for financial and/or prayer they really mean financial support. In an attempt to avoid creating similar feelings in others, my thought was to build a Prayer Team separate from and ahead of any pleas for financial assistance. To do this well it meant hours of work to locate people and email addresses. Weeks later I am still calling on people to join us in this prayer project.

The biggest surprise has come as people have started joining us in prayer. Each Sunday evening when ministry is done I go back to my office and send a simple email message to The 300... they are our Prayer Team partners. Throughout the week I receive powerful & effective answers to those simple prayers spoken by righteous people.