“I want to have a closer relationship with God.” This is usually the sentiment from Christ followers. Many of the spiritual disciplines we practice are for us to be “closer.” We want to have that connection and to feel His closeness. The cross brings believers near. The cross makes us one with God and other followers. The cross was Jesus’ ultimate act of service for humanity. It was his purpose for coming in the flesh. The cross reconciles and makes us close but we will never feel close to Jesus unless we choose to follow him in death and service. Continue reading
Years ago, I asked a student minister to share his testimony with me. He was sitting across from me in local coffee shop. We were just getting to know each other. He told me how he read the right Bible in the right way. How he was baptized with right understanding, in the right mode. How he worshipped in the right church, with the right hierarchy, with the right acts of worship. I said, “That’s great. Could you say that again this time mentioning Jesus and his grace?” I am certain this is how many in my Christian tribe would tell their testimony today. Why? Because it was once how I told mine. Continue reading
There is a story included in both Matthew and Luke of Jesus healing a Roman Centurion’s servant. Healing someone is amazing but that is not the most amazing part of the story. Well, according to Jesus it isn’t.
“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” – St. Francis of Assisi. Did he really say that? Probably not. It sounds good, but when preaching the Gospel both words and works are necessary. The Gospel is lived and spoken. Continue reading
When I was let go from my first vocational ministry the one thing I knew I wanted to continue to do was preach. I had no idea where God would take me, but it was clear in my mind what I was to do when I got there. The urge to preach was like my second calling. The first being my original calling to ministry while still in college. God wouldn’t leave me alone about it.
If you grew up in a church you may remember being there “every time the doors were open.” It’s a cliché that many identify with in their spiritual development or their faith tradition. But those times and habits, they are a changing. You could simply say that they have changed. Even with people who are considered faithful members of a church body, the frequency of their church attendance has diminished. It used to be that that you were considered a member in good standing if you were with the church 3 times a week, today it is more like 2 to 3 times a month. Did we just move the bar?
If you are part of a club or an organization that only allowed people to join by invitation you would probably be extremely excited to accept their offer to become a member. You made it in! Conversely, after you have accepted their invitation, you might be a little upset if they decided to allow more and more people to join the ranks.
When you were on the outside you may have wished that more people would be allowed on the inside. Unfortunately, what happens often is that when you finally get on the inside you will be tempted to keep outsiders on the outside. You grow increasingly more concerned with how the club serves you than inviting more people into your club. Ironically, club growth may actually be part of the club’s mission.