Wednesday, April 27, 2011

His Kingdom Come

Acts 1:6-7 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

I continue to marvel at our limited understanding and perception of the kingdom of God. It is painfully obvious that these soon to be apostles held a very narrow and nationalistic view of the kingdom. “Lord will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel”, in other words are we finally going to throw off the imperialistic rule of Rome. Are the glory days of our past independence and prosperity upon us? Truthfully, I have on more than one occasion looked through the same lens and seen only what my present circumstances would allow. Amazingly enough our conditioning can distort even divine revelation. Jesus the king of the Jews has ushered in not another religious system, but a literal kingdom. With such language how could they not be guided by some personal interpretation and application of the possibilities contained in the word kingdom. Jesus always enlarged the understanding of his disciples and this discourse was no exception. Immediately he firmly injects the sovereignty of God into the conversation. The total and complete authority of the Father is clearly stated. Jesus as the king of Kings would lay out the strategic expansion of this kingdom. Of course Israel would figure prominently in the plans and purposes of the Father. However, this kingdom would not be limited to just one tribe and just the mere mention of the Samaritans would display the incredible heart of our King. Paul’s testimony of the gospel in Rome would fulfill the “to the ends of the earth” statement made by Jesus. Yet we can see a broader interpretation and application being fulfilled as we continue the work of expanding the kingdom in our generation. Today, I am struck by how limited my understanding and perception can be regarding the Lord’s plans and purposes. Like the first century church I am in desperate need of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to lead me to a fuller understanding of truth. Not to mention the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill his plans and purposes in the earth. May His will be done and His kingdom come.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

C + M = E

Alan Hirsch asserts that Christology impacts our missiology and ultimately our ecclesiology. We are dangerously close in our generation to losing the centrality of Christ in the Western church. I would venture a guess that some observers and theologians would say that Jesus is no longer LORD of His own church. However, He is unequivocally the head of the church and the center of the gospel. It is not our mission we are seeking to recover, but it is the mission of heaven's missionary. Jesus Christ....It is His mission that has been left to the church. As we place our faith in Him and receive the gift of salvation we then accompany HIM on mission the rest of our lives. "I have come to seek and to save the lost" "Preach" "make disciples (not converts), etc these snippets all reveal a glimpse of the essential components of the mission. Missio Dei....we are sent by God into every community, every work place, every store, every classroom, etc....We are sent to LIVE on mission, everyday, every moment for the rest of our lives. Living on mission will radically change how we view the church. It's practices, it's objectives, etc. We are still challenged to make disciples.....but how. "Discipleship takes place within the context of accomplishing the mission" and not in a classroom. I strongly advocate that we as leaders begin to wrestle again with these issues. If we are leaders, who are we leading, and where are we taking people. Jesus gathered a small cluster of men and led them on mission while he was here....they were discipled while living on mission. Jesus radically moved into the culture of His generation! When is the last time that a local pastor (myself) been slandered with the words, "He is a friend of sinners". I walked with a pastor to lunch recently. We had some really important issues to discuss. A man experiencing homelessness approached us and called out to the pastor by name, just as a old friend would. They exchanged a greeting and the man was invited to lunch with us. I was astonished, frustrated, and later humbled by the graciousness shown to one of the Lord's precious sons. We shared a meal and our lives with one another. Of course our invited guest was not use to more refined dining...and it showed. He was certainly more godly than my initial response to him was. I watched our host communicate with him at a level of intimacy that was by no means shallow. They were connected to one another.....they in fact are part of the same community of faith. It was a perfect illustration of what it means to live on mission! Missio Dei

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Many of you are aware and deeply concerned about the ongoing disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Unfortunately the media coverage seems to be diminishing over time, but our work there will continue! Please utilize the Foursquare website to keep your congregations informed. There are several videos that have been created that would be excellent to show your congregations. Last week we hosted Jeff Roper from FMI to give us an update on what is happening on the ground in Haiti and how our District could get involved with the relief efforts. Everyone is asking “What can we do to help Haiti”, here is Jeff’s response and plea for our help….. WE CAN PRAY…..Prayer is vitally needed for everyone on the ground in Haiti. When your congregations gather please remember to pray for Haiti. Everyone involved in the relief efforts will need a continual prayer covering (Haitians, military personnel, medical personnel, relief workers, etc) All of the leaders at every level face an enormous task and will need great wisdom to rebuild this country. Many are living in a state of devastation, and hopelessness. Haiti is a country in mourning and in about a month the rains will descend on Haiti making a terrible situation even worse. The Haitians have erected temporary shelters from whatever could be found. These shelters are not waterproof, and will not keep them dry. Pray that the Lord’s grace and mercy would be upon that nation. If possible direct the intercessors or prayer teams of your congregations to pray specifically for Haiti when they gather together for their regular times of prayer. WE CAN GIVE FINANCIALLY ……Everyone desires to do something! However sometimes our efforts can be well intentioned but really miss the mark. For instance if we begin to purchase articles of clothing in the United States and ship them to Haiti it would actually hurt the Haitians over the long run. Part of rebuilding Haiti will be rebuilding the Haitian economy. Those articles of clothing should be bought in Haiti from those Haitian entrepreneurs that emerge. FMI will be partnering with Haitian workers and local businesses as needed to provide goods/services. Also, Foursquare will be utilizing the church property of the National Leader in Haiti, Pastor Guy Thomas as a base of operations to launch our relief efforts in country. As you can imagine this property was devastated and will need significant repairs before it can be inhabited. Rebuilding this property and securing it will be a top priority of FMI. Please consider receiving a special offering to resource this project. GO, WHEN IT IS TIME TO GO…..Please contact our District Missional Coordinator or District Missions Representative (Keith Jenkins or Remi Lawanson ) regarding “Go-Teams” to Haiti. Initially the first teams into Haiti will be more specialized focusing primarily on medical needs and construction. Beginning in the early Spring other teams will be organized and sent in as well. The duration of the average trip will be no more 10 days. We will support you and provide whatever guidance you may need in organizing a trip to Haiti. I pray that this information will be helpful to you as leaders as you construct any response strategies for your congregations. Keith Jenkins

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Excerpt from "Untamed" Alan and Debra Hirsch

From mine and Deb's book, Untamed (released next week (!!) by Baker). The Shema is a major theme throughout the book, hence a small explanation of why this is the case.
________________________ can we ensure we have a true understanding of God? Or even better, how can we know God? We believe Jesus is the answer and points us in the right direction when he says,
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” [and] “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29–31)

The power of Shema spirituality, or what Scot McKnight creatively calls “the Jesus Creed,” sums up the central revelation of God in Scripture and provides us with a worldview in a sentence. In other words, it is not just a simple description of what true worship means (and it is that), but also a description of a disciple’s basic orientation to the world.

• The Shema contains the revelation that God is one.

• The Shema shows us that God wants to be loved and worshiped in every aspect of life and with all of our being. The clear implication is that nothing in life, culture, and the human experience lies outside of this all-encompassing claim. No false dualisms, no sacred- secular splits—all of our lives, including our sexuality, work, play, home, politics, and economics, can, and indeed must, become aspects of our worship to the One True God.

• The Shema is expanded by Jesus to explicitly include the love of people, for it has always been a temptation of “religious” people to see religion as purely devotion toward God. Jesus will not allow this. Discipleship in the way of Jesus must include the love of people.

Furthermore, we suggest that Shema-spirituality helps us do the following:

• Rediscover the true nature of worship (we must love one God, not many—no idols and images, please)

• Learn what it means to love God in and through the whole of life (with intellect, passion, family, culture, money, sexuality, and so on)

• Understand our relationship to the world and our obligation to “the other” (we can never come to a true discipleship in isolation from the love of people)

• Recover an authentically monotheistic worldview, out of which we can rightly interpret our world (operating with a unified worldview around the kingship of God)

The Ten Commandments show us this truth. The first three of the ten have to do with one God and the prohibition of idolatry. The fourth has to do with the sanctification of time, thereby safeguarding the God-relationship. The rest of the commandments move straight into what it means to live together without killing each other—straight into ethics, or lifestyle! No grand philosophies, no eloquent speeches . . . just holy living in the whole of life-under-God.

In contrast, the Western spiritual tradition has tended to limit discipleship to issues relating to our personal morality, thereby neglecting our missional involvement in the world. But discipleship must include both and everything in between. We would argue that if we truly understood Shema spirituality, we wouldn’t even have to talk about mission because it is all contained in the primal confession—loving God and loving others as ourselves! To worship God involves loving God in all and every arena of life. Mission is implicit throughout the creed. And discipleship in the way of Jesus is all about living out the Shema. It is missional to the core! Hence, no mission, no discipleship.

Excerpts taken from, Alan and Debra Hirsch, Untamed, p.28-9 and 63-4

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some talk, while others do!

Living in Los Angeles has increasingly made me aware of the conditions that people live in who are confined to the urban context. Not to mention the challenges that the churches face who serve these communities. I recently had the privilege of traveling to Austin, Texas with a friend of mine to a "Missional Community" conference. (He was Korean-American) It didn't take us long to realize that we would be a minority at this conference. I noticed a long line extending from the registration table, and there was not one minority in sight. As the conference began the presenters were passionate, knowledgeable, and there was a strong sense of God's anointing on them. No women were presenters at this conference and one presenter was a Chinese-American! So, needless to say there was very little diversity represented at this "missional" conference. After spending some time with the organizer of the conference late one night it was plain to see that this was not his intention and yet there was no diversity. Why not? Where are the other voices? Why haven't they been engaged in the dialogue? A pastor in our District (Los Angeles) pastors in Compton, CA. He pastors on the frontline of the urban context and serves his community faithfully. They weekly feed the homeless, provide clothes, and other services for the community. Not to mention his church has paid for far too many funerals of young African-Americans. It is very likely that his experiences would have enriched everyone, and given us a different view of the mission of Christ through his eyes. But would he have actually taken the time to travel to Austin, Tx to "engage in the dialogue" (catch phrase from the conference) about the missional church? He is living what others are talking about everyday!!! He is listening to his community, he is finding ways to incarnate the gospel in his community, and they are discipling men/women and sending that back into the war zone called "South Central LA". Could it be that the lack of diversity and inclusion at this conference has more to do with priorities and geography than discrimination? These conferences are often held in the suburbs, seemingly in another world. When you serve on the front-lines, how can you take time to have "dialogue" about what is seemingly obvious. Of course more needs to be done to bring other voices to the table but maybe we could move the table a little closer to those we desire to include. Part 2 of this dialogue will address the gender gap!