The Invitation

Friend Geoff Lawson recently posted these thoughts on Twitter (they were retweets from the music pastor at the church he serves):

“When we ‪#‎ownit‬, all who claim Christ enter the Kingdom through Him. We are then gathered together as His people.

When we #ownit, we understand that we are members of a flock. We belong to Jesus & are dedicated to those who also claim Him.

When we #ownit, we see the sheep make the flock. Everyone contributes to the whole, interconnected community.

When we #ownit, we take our part seriously in being healthy, active & participating. Everyone’s contribution matters.”

Here are my thoughts:

When we #ownit, we take joy in the invitations to participate in community with one another. We step outside of ourselves and our silos, out of our territorial selfishness because we anticipate learning and growing together. We understand that we have things to offer others, and they have things to offer us.

Paul’s instruction to the church in Romans and 1 Corinthians is clear. We are called to work together. And yet, these instructions are within the context of Jesus, whose instructions and call to both relationship and discipleship come in the form of INVITATION. Jesus invites us to join Him, then the church invites others to join us as we join Him.

One of the incredible things about this invitation is that if it is accepted, all benefit. The (so-called) individuals benefit because they take hold of God’s giftedness and truly live how they were meant to live. The Body of Christ, the church, benefits because we are many, yet one, focusing singularly on Jesus and others.

If the invitation is not accepted, then the church (lower-case) will simply degenerate into turf-wars and lines in the sand. Pride and arrogance will reign and others will see this, having their opinions, about the church, confirmed and also decline the invitation.

The church will grow, and Christ alone will be magnified, when we choose to leave behind our own desires and designs, both our pride AND our false humility accept His invitation to be part of the community that He offers and empowers. Jesus gives those in the church an open invitation to know Him and others in the body.

We decline at our peril, and accept to His glory.

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Understanding the Other

My good friend Melissa suggested a follow-up post to “A Crisis of Belief, part 3” that gave some practical advice on beginning conversations with “the other”. In a way, this post is a bit embarrassing, Continue reading

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A Crisis of Belief, part 3

March and April were CRAZY months.

Where were we (please see post 1 and post 2 of this series for some context)…

Ultimately, these crises of belief were about the concept of identity, my own. Continue reading

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A Crisis of Belief, part 2

My first real “crisis of belief” began in 1988. I went off to a Bible College that I clearly was not prepared for. I met great friends, and also the person who’d become my wife. But my immaturity and what I perceived as an over-reliance on rules and focus on the outer man was a terrible combination. So, I walked away from my faith in 91 or 92 and Continue reading

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A Crisis of Belief, part 1

I grew up in a conservative Christian environment. This shaped much of who I was and am; after high school I attended a very conservative Bible college. While I wandered from the faith shortly after this- actually I walked away from it- I remained in that sphere of influence, especially as it related to my political thinking. Continue reading

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Acts 2 and the Holy Spirit

The Rundown

The disciples have gathered in Jerusalem, awaiting the “baptism [with] the Holy Spirit” that Jesus had promised in Acts 1:5. It is Pentecost, the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover week (which was also the day Jesus was resurrected). Jews from all over the world were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks/Feast of Harvest.

At once, a sound “came from Heaven” and filled the room where the 120 believers were gathered and something like “tongues of fire” rested above each of the believers. Continue reading

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Acts 1 and the choosing of leaders

Acts 1 begins with an introduction from the writer, Luke. Originally a two-volume piece called “Luke-Acts” (10 points for originality), these books are a biography; Luke is a biographical account of Jesus and his ministry while Acts is a biographical account of the early church.

Picking up where Luke ends, we see Jesus give final instructions to the remaining 11 apostles. They are to return to Jerusalem and await the “gift”- the Holy Spirit to baptize them after which they are to be witnesses of Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Continue reading

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Descriptions, prescriptions and sufficiency

As we read through the scriptures, we are frequently challenged by the question of application. Specifically, “What is its meaning for today?” Jesus’ own words and instructions are hard enough. Throughout the Gospels in general and the Sermon on the Mount in particular, we see that the way of God’s Kingdom is more difficult to live by that we can imagine. Continue reading

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The Gospel According to Groundhog Day

“It’s…Groundhog Day!”

A few years ago, we used the movie Groundhog Day in our youth ministry. We wanted to use a piece of media that would connect with our students through humor and would introduce the concepts of joy, self, and the error of being our own authority. Continue reading

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What must I do?

Studying the story of the so-called “rich young man/ruler” for last night. In each of the three accounts, the opening question from the man is a version of “what good thing must I do to have/get/inherit eternal life”?

While I’m not an expert, my hunch (in reading through the the balance of scripture) is that inheritance was something earned and not merely given, owed or deserved. I essence, the man was asking, “how can I secure my place in heaven?”

Jesus plays along, telling him about keeping the commandments, all of them, in fact. When the man admits that he’s done so, what Jesus tells him to sell all that he has, give the $ to the poor, and only then can he join Jesus. Then man walks away sad, because of his great wealth. The disciples ask Jesus about who can enter God’s kingdom and the difficulty of it all. Then and only then does Jesus show his hand.

Grace.

Like the younger son in the story of the prodigal son, we demand inheritance based on our own works, efforts and perceived goodness. We approach Jesus proud and arrogant. And Jesus tells us, simply, that it’s not enough. There is always something else that Jesus will insist that we give up when we pursue eternity on our own terms. Jesus does this to reveal to us that there is nothing that we can do to have/get/inherit this eternal life. It’s impossible with man.

Instead, we see Jesus revealed as the father in the story of the prodigal, willing and ready to give us what is most certainly not ours to have. He gives us what is not ours, whether we keep the commands or not. He gives us that which we do not deserve.

And it is because of this gift that we respond open-handed, broken, despondent into the arms of a loving Father who wants us to simply come home.

This is grace. Shocking, offensive, and beautiful grace.

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