Category Archives: Mission

The Kingdom Commission

Earth is in a civil war – a spiritual war, really, though we must understand that spiritual means more than religious, or mystical or emotional. Spirit is un-bodied personal power, and earth is caught in a cosmic struggle between opposing … Continue reading

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I Want to Be Like Bob

I met Bob and his wife about thirty years ago. He was just back in the states after a span of years in an east African country. Bob performed surgeries in a hospital there for people who otherwise would not … Continue reading

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Stumbling Block or Steppingstone?

Follow my example, he says. Live the way I do. Be ready to make personal sacrifices in order to help people come over to Jesus’s side. Everything you do, religious or otherwise, must make God look good – that is, “do it all for the glory of God.”

This involves both a negative (what we should not do) and a positive (what we should do). We do certain things and do not do others based on the impact our actions will have on people who have not yet come over to Jesus’s side.

Paul states what we should not do first (verse 32): “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God.” Stumbling here and throughout the New Testament, is not just about falling down but about falling away—from God. Our attitudes, actions, and words can make it harder for people to believe in God and confess Jesus Lord. We can cause them to stumble. Continue reading

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Getting Saved: An Old-fashioned Idea?

Isn’t that old fashioned? Nowadays, when someone starts talking about being saved, people cringe. Maybe it’s not racist or sexist but it sounds religionist—and that’s just as bad. Who are you to tell me I need to be saved? For that matter, who are you to tell me I’m not already saved? You are being discriminatory and narrow-minded.

Some people are offended by the idea – not to mention the assertion – that they need to be saved. And they’re offended even though they don’t know what it means to be “saved,” aren’t sure they want to be saved, and have no intention of finding out. They do have a vague idea that being saved is about getting into heaven and they have heard that not everyone is going to get in – and that offends them too. It is a cosmic violation of the Fair Housing Act!
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Telling the Good News: Answering Tough Questions

“Religious people think they are better than everyone else. They are so judgmental. I don’t even want to be around them.”

How do you answer? You go back to Jesus. “I don’t know if you know this, but Jesus felt that way too. The people he liked to hang out with most were the ones religious folks looked down on. When they put them down, Jesus stood up for them.”

Jesus had a lot to say about that too. Check out: Matthew 7:1-6; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 10:3-37 (the story of the Good Samaritan); all of Luke 15; Luke 18:9-14.

Some people say, “You know, I’m just not the religious type.” Whenever someone says that to me, I always respond, “I’m not either.” They can hardly believe it. But then you can go on and say: “And you know what? Jesus wasn’t either.” Then you can tell them about Mark 7:1-13, where Jesus distinguished between religion and knowing and loving God. Religion wasn’t his thing, but he was all about God. You might go on to say that the Bible hardly ever mentions religion – that’s not what it’s all about.

Then you can ask: “What? Did you think Jesus was really religious or something?” You will get their curiosity up. Who knows? That may open the door for further conversations – either with you or with some other person God will send along.
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Telling the Good News: Right Words, Wrong Life?

It is natural, when we are telling people the good news, to want to make sure we have all the right words – it makes us feel safer. But having the right words won’t help if we’re living the wrong life! A life with God that is authentic and satisfying is what provide opportunities.

I’ll mention three characteristics of that kind of life. (There are of course more.) First, it is genuinely optimistic. This is not a Pollyanna, turn a blind eye, kind of thing. This is a life of hope built on the certainty that God will make things right. God is so much a part of the hopeful life that it is inexplicable apart from him. If your life can be explained without recourse to God, you’re too much like everyone else.

The authentic God-filled life is also a connected life. Connectedness is largely missing in our society. Over the past few decades, social scientists have consistently found “slippages in self-confidence, growing regrets about the past, and declines in virtually every measure of self-reported physical and mental health … regardless of gender, age, marital status, and educational attainment.” This in one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

Studies have found that this unhappiness is rooted in a failure to connect. Here’s how one sociologist summarized it: “Americans over the past several decades became increasingly detached from family and friends …. There is indeed a large body of evidence indicating that social connectedness … has a powerful influence on self-reported health and happiness.”

It was God who said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We understand that, but we don’t know what to do about it. Jesus does. He offers a connected life. If we are living that life, connected by dozens and dozens of threads to our church family, we will have opportunities to tell others the good news.
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Church and Kingdom: Not a One-to-One Correspondence

The church is where the kingdom of God takes shape on earth, but the kingdom extends beyond earth, beyond humanity, and throughout creation. Saturn and Jupiter, the Milky Way, the Horsehead Nebula, MACS0647-JD (the furthest known galaxy) are all under … Continue reading

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Living Christian, Living Different.

Christians are not only different in who they are but also in what they do. I know a young woman who, after her first baby was born – I’d never heard of this before – ate the placenta. I’m sure … Continue reading

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Christians Should Be Different: Here’s Why

How do we make the teaching about God attractive to people who have never given it any thought – don’t even know there is anything to think about? How do we help them trust the unseen God, when there are … Continue reading

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The Wrong Metaphor for Christian Mission

Ideas are always context dependent. They make sense within a context. Outside of that context they may have a different meaning – or no meaning at all. The words I just used to describe our role (salespeople, promoters, advance team, … Continue reading

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