Loving Other Believers More Than Ourselves

Leave a Comment
We are studying 1 Corinthians in small group right now.  Last night we worked our way through chapter 6.  The first half of that chapter really jumped out at me last night as we were discussing it.  If you are not familiar with 1 Corinthians 6, the first 11 verses consist of Paul rebuking the Corinthians for allowing their disputes and disagreements to be settled in the civic court system instead of within the church.  There were a couple of verses in this section that I want to focus on here.

Paul starts off by telling them that they should not be taking each other to settle their disputes.  He tells them that if they have disputes with one another that someone within the church should settle the issue.  Then in verse 7 Pauls says this:

To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

Paul is telling the Corinthians that the very fact that a dispute has reached the point where it has to be settled by a lawsuit already indicates defeat for them.  Why is that?  Having to resort to a lawsuit means that none of the people involved in the dispute is willing to forgive the other and overlook the wrong (or perceived wrong) done to them.   Basically, a lawsuit is declaring that I am right, you are wrong, and I am going to see to it that you pay for being wrong.  This unwillingness to forgive your brother or sister in Christ is bad enough but to then take the matter to civil court and broadcast your unforgiveness to them is even worse.

Why is Paul so concerned about this situation?  What makes this issue worth addressing in his letter to the church?  Consider what Jesus Himself said in John 13:34-35:

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.


Jesus says to His disciples that the world, or those who are not His disciples, will know who they are based on their love for each other.  In this context, the "each other" at the end of verse 35 refers to the disciples.  If I were to paraphrase this verse it would read something like "Love each other.  The lost world will know you follow me by observing how you love others who follow me."  The way we, as Christians, love each other should be one of the primary things that draws people to Christ.  They should how we love, care for, and support each other when we gather.  Paul knows this and knows that what the Corinthians are doing in allowing their disputes to escalate to the point that lawsuits are needed is not behavior that will attract lost people to the Savior.  What makes it worse is that they are intentionally taking these lawsuits to the very unbelievers they are supposed to be witnesses to and broadcasting their inability to love each other in a very public way.  It is the equivalent of Christians taking their disputes and disagreements to be settled by Judge Judy today (which has undoubtedly occurred, by the way).  Paul says that we should rather be wronged and defrauded than display unforgiveness to the world.  It is better to be sinned against than to wrong the name of Christ among unbelievers by our actions toward our brothers and sisters.

The question for us today is do we interact with other believers in such a way as to attract the lost to our Savior.  Think about times when Christians are gathered together: conferences, church services, small groups, etc.  Do we really love each other the way Christ loved us?  Would someone looking on at our gathering find themselves longing for that type of fellowship and communion?  Does our love for each other act as the first step in introducing others to Jesus?

These are tough questions and I, for one, am not sure I like the answers when I consider my own life.
Do I really consider the name of Jesus more worthy of protection than my own?

Do you?

Questions Part 3: Church Growth

Leave a Comment
I am taking some time to write about a series of questions Timmy Brister posted on his blog.  You can find the full list here.  There are 21 questions and I plan to write about the 6 that I have highlighted on the list I printed out and hung on my office wall. This is the 3rd of the 6 questions I plan to take a look at.


What are we allowing to be the measuring stick of church health?

Brister gives some different concepts that are sometimes used to measure church growth. They are:
  • attendance
  • discipleship
  • seating capacity
  • sending capacity
  • gospel growth
  • training on mission
I think this question is one that must be revisited often and, as much as possible, kept in the front of our minds.  Our very nature leads us to seek out success and health in measurable ways.  We desire to be able to chart our progress with spreadsheets and year by year comparisons of attendance, membership, and giving records.  Sadly, what often happens is that these things become the goal we strive for rather than a way to gauge if we are progressing toward our actual goal.  When benchmarks become goals in and of themselves, then seeing those benchmarks become reality becomes the priority of the church.  This usually leads to soft pedaling the gospel in the hopes of not scaring people away and focusing on trying to give people what they want at church rather than what they need.

The truth is that a healthy church is one that is made up of health followers of Christ and trying to measure the spiritual health of individuals can be a tricky proposition.  While there are fruits that evidence themselves in the lives of maturing believers, fruit can be faked especially if a person is able to maintain a distance between themselves and other members of their community.  While sanctification does occur in the life of the maturing believer, sanctification is progressive and not everyone progresses at the same pace.  

The bottom line is that spiritual health, be it individual or corporate, is not nearly as easily measured and quantified as we would like it to be.  When we boil it down to three or four benchmarks we do ourselves and our congregations a disservice.  We can't just look at attendance, giving, or membership.  What do we do then?  I believe we humble ourselves before the throne of God's grace and ask for wisdom, guidance, and power to lead and obey as we shepherd the flocks He has given us toward health, whatever it may look like.



Questions Part 2: Members as Missionaries

Leave a Comment

I am taking some time to write about a series of questions Timmy Brister posted on his blog.  You can find the full list here.  There are 21 questions on the list and I plan to write about the 6 that I have highlighted on the list printed out an hanging on my office wall.  You can read what I wrote about the first question here.  The second question I would like to consider is below.

If the only possible means of connecting with unbelievers were through the missionary living of our church members, how much would we grow?

This question, like many on this list, really is asking a couple of things.  First, in what are we trusting to grow our church and second, are we equipping our people to actually make a difference in their worlds?  I find this to be an especially pressing question considering the prevalence of marketing/advertisement in so many church plants in Christendom today.  This is not meant as a condemnation of marketing as a means of telling people what you are about as a church.  However, the tendency can be to place a great deal of resources, both time and money, into a marketing strategy and allow that strategy to become the primary means of telling the community who you are as a church.  

In order for our church members to live in such a way as to attract people to Jesus (and then to our churches) two things must be occurring.

  1. They must be taught and equipped to be ambassadors for Christ in their communities
  2. They must be taught that there is a biblical mandate for them to be ambassadors for Christ in their communities.
In order for these two things to occur, we must spend more time/effort/resources on teaching believers to be disciples and less time/effort/resources on trying to attract people to our church.  It means understanding that our best evangelical outreach will be a body of well equipped, Spirit filled followers of Jesus Christ and not a culturally relevant, seeker friendly church service.  As pastors, it is our jobs to make sure that those in our care are being taught what it means to be followers of Christ.  They need to know how to pursue God when they are not at church.  They must be able to feed themselves spiritually.  Only then will they be able to live a Holy Spirit empowered life within the community God has placed them.  We do not help our churches or the people in them if we do attempt to make them into disciples, teaching them to obey everything Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).  The church was created to be a place for believers to come, celebrate what God has done in and for them, and to be trained and brought into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

The second thing our people need to know is that it is their job to be the witness for Christ in the lives of the people in their areas of influence.  Far too many church members today have been told that all they need to do is invite their friends and neighbors to church and let the pastors do the heavy lifting of evangelism.  Unfortunately, this is not the biblical teaching on evangelism.  Paul writes in  2 Corinthians 5:18-20 that we all have been given the ministry of reconciliation and that we are Christ's ambassadors here in this world.  We have been reconciled to God in part so that we may be used by God to reconcile others.

Without these two components of teaching in our churches, our people wind up being unable and even fearful of being the very thing Christ saved them to be: ambassadors, salt, light.  It is our jobs as pastors and leaders to make sure that this does not take place.  We have been called to equip the saints for service to the kingdom, not replace them with billboards, websites, and clever slogans.  Committed, equipped, and Spirit filled people are the key to reaching people with the gospel.




Questions Part 1: Faith and Unbelief In Ministry

Leave a Comment
A little while ago, I ran across a link to a list of 21 questions that a pastor had started asking himself.  I don't know where the questions originated from but you can read them at Timmy Brister's blog.  I have the list hanging on my office wall and I have highlighted 6 of the questions that really convicted me.  I would like to examine those 6 questions here at the blog over the next week or two. The first question I want to look at is the one that I am most convicted by.


What If?

Leave a Comment
What if we were more concerned about sharing our faith than sharing our disgust about healthcare?

Russell Moore posted an extremely timely and thought provoking piece on his blog today concerning Christians and the new health care reform bill.  You can read the whole post over at his blog Moore to the Point.  I have quoted a bit of it below.

Is it a problem that some of us who are tranquil as still water about biblical doctrine and ecclesial mission are red-faced about Nancy Pelosi and the talking heads on MSNBC? Is it a problem that some who haven’t shared the gospel with their neighbors in months or years are motivated to vent to strangers on the street about how scary national health care will be?


If we were half as outraged by our own sin and self-deception as we are by the follies of our political opponents, what would be the result? If we rejoiced as much that our names are written in heaven as we do about such trivialities as basketball brackets, what would be the result?

I don't know about you but I find myself extremely convicted by those statements.  We too often prove ourselves to be much more concerned about what goes on in the earthly kingdom than what is occurring (or not occurring) in God's Kingdom. God forgive us and bring to our lives the conviction, courage, and desire to boldly proclaim our love for our Savior and His gospel instead of our distaste of politicians and their gospel.



The Curious Phenomenon of Success

Leave a Comment
If you are a pastor or teacher in a church, then you have probably experienced the phenomenon I am about to describe to you.  Or maybe you haven't.  If you haven't, you probably will soon.  It typically comes in two different varieties.  The first is from the people to whom you preach or teach.  The second is from other pastors, teachers, or leaders in the church.  Both share the same root:  the desire or need to quantify the success or failure of the message.

When it comes from the audience to whom you have just preached or taught it usually looks something like the following:

You have just finished your message.  Someone comes up to you and tells you something resembling this, "I really enjoyed your message" or "I really liked what you had to say today."

 I will be honest, I don't really know what to say when this happens because I never set out to preach a message that someone would like.  My goal is always to preach a message that accurately divides the Word and that comes from a desire to be obedient to what God calls me to preach.  I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will take the Word and encourage, convict, reproof, teach, and woo as He sees fit.  Nowhere in that equation does the audience liking the message factor in.  A message can be universally liked and be a gross misrepresentation of the Word.  A message can be universally disliked and be biblically faithful and God honoring.  Likability is no indicator of whether I have been obedient to Christ in my preaching.

It usually comes from other pastors or leaders in my case when I have taught or preached for them.  I then see them the next day or later in the week and they ask me, "How did it go?" or "Did it go well?"  I know the heart behind the question is pure but, again, I don't really know how to respond.  It may have seemed to go well to me, but ultimately have no lasting impact on eternity.  Or it may have seemed to me to have been an abject failure but ultimately be eternally signifcant.  There really is no way to gauge effectiveness immediately following a message.  Many might respond but end up falling away later in life.  No one may respond but seed may have been planted that later lead to an incredible harvest once someone else had watered them.

So far now I guess I will just keep responding to the appreciative congregation member with "Thank you" and to the inquisitive fellow pastor with "Fine, I guess."

Why Theology Matters

Leave a Comment
Found the following at Justin Taylor's blog Between Two Worlds:

A creative book trailer for Josh Harris’s Dug Down Deep, containing an audio excerpt from the book on why it’s good for us all to be good theologians:


DugDownDeep_Carnahan.mov from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo.

Freedom and Frustration in Ministry

Leave a Comment

I had the opportunity last night to teach my church's main Wednesday night session.  Being by trade a children's pastor, I don't have the opportunity to teach or preach to adults nearly as often as I would like to.  I really enjoyed the opportunity I had last night and I pray that God would use the foolishness of my preaching to accomplish much for His glory.

One thing that always hits me just before I begin preaching is how desperately I want my audience to know God deeply.  It is an extremely humbling, at times frustrating desire.  I know that the gospel that God has entrusted me to preach is life giving and life changing.  I also know that it's impact on the audience has nothing to do with my talents or skills as an orator.  Now, if I am a skilled speaker then I can use that skill to manipulate emotions and create an impact of some sort.  But when speaking of eternal, life changing impact of the gospel, no amount of skill, eloquence, or forcefulness of speech will guarantee anything.  That is the frustrating aspect of it for me.  I have no control over the impact of the message God asks me to communicate.  He is the one who moves hearts or hardens them as He wills.

Of course, the lack of control is also where the freedom is found.  I don't have to concern myself with convincing someone that the gospel is true.  I just focus my efforts on rightly dividing the word of truth and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict and move.  I know that God is the one who saves, God is the one who convicts sinners, God is the one who changes hearts.
So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. --  Romans 9:16
We often hear this verse quoted in relation to the sinner and his salvation but it also applies to the preacher and his offer of salvation.  Salvation does not depend on how well I present the offer of grace nor on how much I desire that offer to be received.  It depends on the sovereign will of God.

Where does that leave us then?  If salvation rests in God's hands then what do we do?  What can we do?  I can only think of a couple options:

  • Live a gospel centered life so that we experience God's abundant life and our message is not compromised by our actions
  • Rightly divide the word of truth
  • Go before the throne of our God and plead with Him over the souls of the people we come into contact with
Those are the keys to a successful ministry and life. They are also the reason ministry and life are frustrating and freeing at the same time, at least for me.

Philemon, Slavery, and the Gospel

Leave a Comment
I have been reading and studying the book of Philemon this week in preparation for teaching Wednesday night at  church.  It is an interesting letter, only containing one chapter of 25 verses.  In it Paul, who is in prison, writes to Philemon informing him that one of Philemon's slaves, Onesimus, who has run way is now with Paul.  Not only that, but Onesimus has become a disciple of Christ.  Paul asks Philemon to receive Onesimus back, reminding him that he who was his slave is now his brother in Christ.  The parallel between Onesimus being once a slave and now a brother as we are slaves to sin made brothers in Christ is striking and I will dig a little deeper into that in a later post.  What interests me today is not the things Paul says in this letter but the things he doesn't say.

At first glance, this seems to be the perfect opportunity for Paul to denounce the practice of slavery.  By most accounts, Philemon was intended primarily as a personal letter from Paul to Philemon asking him to receive his runaway slave back.  Why wouldn't Paul use this opportunity to ask Philemon to stop keeping slaves or at least to release Onesimus?  I think that the answer to that question leads us to and resides in the heart of the gospel.

Slavery in ancient Rome was different from the image that immediately springs to most of our minds when the topic of slavery comes up.  The slavery we are familiar with is the result of stealing people from their homes or homelands, imprisoning them, and forcing them into labor.  Theses slaves were treated as less than human.  The bible clearly speaks against this form of slavery.  Exodus 21:16 condemns a man to death if he kidnaps someone to sell him.  In 1 Timothy 1:8-10, Paul includes slave traders in a list including murderers, liars, and adulterers among others.  The practice of willfully taking a person and forcing them into slavery was not unheard of in Rome, but it was not the main source of slaves either.  Many slaves were free people who sold themselves in order to satisfy a debt.  Most slaves arrived in Rome as spoils of war. Slaves in Rome were also treated much better on the whole than the slaves of the pre-Civil War south were.  Many slaves held positions of honor in the homes of their owners, some rising as far as being entrusted with the finances of the household.  Slaves were often trusted to tutor or guide the children of the home as well. (Of course, some slaves did not fare so well, including those who found themselves as entertainment in the Colosseum.) Despite the differences between slavery in ancient Rome and 1800's America, I don't believe this is the reason Paul did not denounce the practice of slavery.

The bible is very clear that in Christ, God makes no distinction between slave or free man in terms of the worth of a person (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11).  Yet Paul never teaches, encourages, commands anyone to free slaves nor does he encourage slaves to escape from their masters.  Paul gives instruction to slave masters on how to treat slaves (Colossians 4:1, Ephesians 6:9) and he instructs slaves to obey their earthly masters (Ephesians 6:5-8, Titus 2:9-10).   The patterns here is that instead of speaking to the institution of slavery, Paul speaks to the participators in the institution.  In his letter to Philemon, again Paul's focus in on the people involved, in this case Philemon and Onesimus, rather than the institution of slavery.  Is Paul skirting the issue of slavery?  Is he condoning it?  What is Paul's reasoning behind his method of addressing this issue?

Paul's concerns in the letters he writes in the New Testament seem to be primarily two fold: first, that the churches and people he writes to believe, teach, and preach the one true gospel and second, that individuals conduct themselves in a manner consistent with a belief in the one true gospel.  Paul knows that the gospel is the only means by which a man or woman can be saved from sin.  This message is more important to him than any other.  This gospel is so important that in his letter to the Galatian church, Paul says that if anyone teaches a false gospel, he is to be accursed(Galatians 1:8-9).  Nothing is more important to Paul than Jesus Christ and His gospel.  Paul is much more concerned with dealing with issues of the heart than he is social or political institutions.  Paul writes to ensure that the gospel is understood by, taught by, and has tranformed the heart of the readers.

A look at the ministry of Jesus reveals the same concerns.  Many of the Jews of the day expected that Jesus, as Messiah, had come to overthrow the oppressive Roman government and re-establish a Jewish kingdom on Earth.  Jesus made it clear that He had no interest in such things (John 18:36).  He even told the Jews to continue paying taxes to the very same oppressive government He was asked to overthrow (Matthew 22:21). His purpose was to do the will of His Father by becoming the perfect substitution for His people on the cross, conquering death by His resurrection, and returning to the Father to mediate on our behalf.  Jesus, like Paul after Him, was much more concerned with the hearts of men than He was their institutions (including their religious institutions at times).

Specifically in Philemon we can see Paul's concern with how the gospel tranforms the heart.  Paul states that he had the apostolic authority to command Philemon concerning Onesimus but that he preferred not to.  Rather, he chose to appeal to Philemon to do what was right concerning his runaway slave (Philemon 8-9).  Paul was convinced that because of the transforming power of the gospel in Philemon's life he would choose what was right (Philemon 21).

The gospel is not about overthrowing evil or immoral institutions but about reconciling individuals back to the God who created them.  Social and political change, if it is to happen, will occur from the inside out and one person at a time.  Our calling is to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) to a world of people who desperately need the good news of the cross.

Everyday Grace

Leave a Comment
Most of the time I am pretty content with where God has me.  Most of the time I remember that I am still a work in progress and that Christ will complete what He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).  Most of the time.....but not all the time.

Every now and then I forget these things. I start comparing myself to other people or judging success and failure strictly on my own merit. I find this happens most in areas of my life that are most important to me and therefore have the most power to discourage me when I struggle.  Those areas for me are my marriage and my children.  No outworking of my faith is as important to me as manifesting Christ to my wife and my kids.  And yet I find that so often I seem to be an abject failure at just those things.

It is in the small things that I find success to be elusive.  My wife will ask me to get her a drink from the kitchen and my first reaction is not joy at being able to serve her but selfishness.  My flesh begins to try to keep count of how many times I have done something for her compared to how many times she has served me.  Even when I do serve her, too often it is with a grumbling, complaining heart.

I desperately want to model Christ's love, mercy, and humility to my children.  Yet, I find that so often what comes from me is selfishness (again), pride, and frustration.  How will learn to love their heavenly Father if their earthly one doesn't show them what He is like?  

It can be easy to despair when you realize that despite your best efforts and intentions you are not really doing what you want and need to be doing in the most important areas of your life.  As a matter of fact, the realization that I can't do those things would bring despair if not for an amazing, miraculous truth:  grace.

But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  --  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

It turns out God knows I can't do those things.  He knows I have a selfish heart.  He knows that I get frustrated by my children too easily.  He knows all those things about me.....and His grace is sufficient for me. He never intended for me to do those things because I can't.  He intends to do those things through me if I will just let Him.  Instead of bearing down and trying harder and harder to do something that I can't do, I need to go to Him and confess my weakness.  In my weakness His power is made perfect in me.  

The truth is this:  I am a terrible husband and a terrible father.  I would rather watch TV or surf the internet from the comfort of the couch than I would put in the time and effort with my wife and my children.  Trying to deny this truth just leads to more and more frustration for me and for my family as I try to do what I should do but can't do.

The truth is this:  God's grace is sufficient for me.  In my weakness His power is made perfect.  The best thing I can do for my marriage and my children is to go before the throne of grace and confess my weaknesses and allow the grace of the perfect Husband and Father to cover me and my family.

I need God's grace.  I need it everyday.  I need it in everything I do.  I need to beg and plead Him to cover me and my family with it.  It is sufficient for me.




Seek and You Will Find

Leave a Comment
Each Tuesday morning I do a chapel service for the 3 and 4 year old classes in our daycare.  As I was looking through today's lesson, the following verse came up:


The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.  - Exodus 34:6-8
An amazing verse I think.  There are two components to this verse that should in some way shape every day of our lives.  First is God's revelation of who He is.  Second is our response to that revelation.

God's revelation of who He is


The first thing that happens in these verses is that God reveals to Moses aspects of His own character and person. A couple of things stick out at me about this.  One, that God would actually reveal directly to us who He is.  He desires intimacy with us, He desires us to know Him.  He doesn't need these things, He desires them.  He doesn't need us, He desires us.  What an incredible truth this is.  Secondly, the actual content of God's self revelation is staggering.  He reveals Himself to be our Lord, merciful, full of love and faithfulness, forgiving, just, and a hater of sin.  I love how He makes no discernible transition from what we would consider more desirable traits like mercy and love to those traits we sometimes gloss over like justice and wrath.  To God they are (and therefore should be to us) all just different aspects of who He is.  None is more or less important than any of the others.

Our response to God's revelation

Moses's response to God's revelation was simple: worship.  When the God of the universe reveals himself to us the only appropriate response is to offer Him our worship.  It seems that if we are not moved to worship then perhaps we have not actually heard from God at all.  A search through scripture will show that when God reveals Himself to someone, worship follows.  Isaiah in his vision of the Lord in the temple and Peter on the Sea of Galilee fishing are just two examples.

It should amaze and humble us that God would choose to speak to us, that He would enable us to know Him intimately as He knows us.  Thanks to Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection that is exactly what Has been made available to us who believe.  We are fools when we do not take advantage of this.  We are fools not to seek Him diligently in His word and through prayer.  He desires to reveal Himself to us, He promises that when we seek Him with all our heart we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).  Make time to seek Him today and everyday.

Worldviews and Lake Itasca

Leave a Comment

The picture on the left is of Lake Itasca in Minnesota.  Nothing extraordinary in and of itself really.  Just a lake with what looks like a small stream flowing from it.  Except that the small stream flowing from it is the very beginning of the Mississippi River.   The Mississippi river flows from here in Lake Itasca all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  It widens from approximately 25 feet here to a maximum width of nearly a mile.  Here, the Mississippi is 3 feet deep.  The deepest point of the river is in New Orleans and is 200 feet deep.  In total length, the river stretches over 2300 miles on its journey from Minnesota to the Gulf.
What does Lake Itasca and the Mississippi River have to do with worldviews, you ask? Our worldview is the Lake Itasca for your life.  It is the source of everything else.  Everything in your life flows from your worldview.  The way you approach difficulties, the way you interpret information, the way you set about making decisions, everything.  So, then, what exactly is a worldview?

Dictionary.com defines a worldiew as:

  1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
  2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.



In other terms, your worldview forms the lenses or filter through which you view the world around you.  Whether you have spent any time at all thinking about it or not, you have a worldview.  Everyone does.  The problem is not all worldviews allow you to accurately see and interpret everything in your world.  In, fact, I would argue that only one worldview does.  The reason this is important is because at the root of every ill, every issue, every anything in your life is your worldview.  Unfortunately, in many churches today it is assumed that everyone is operating with a biblical worldview.  That is, that they are seeing and interpreting the world strictly according to how the bible says the world operates.  Because of this assumption, many problems in the lives of church goers are addressed with surface level answers.  It is like trying to change the course of the Mississippi River where it is  a mile wide instead of at its source where it is only 20 feet wide.  It just doesn't work.

The reality is that a great deal of church goers, maybe even a majority of them, are not living with a biblical worldview.  Usually they operate under a non-biblical worldview that they have labelled with biblical terminology.  If we are serious about seeing God move and transform people, we have to stop making worldview assumptions and start intentionally teaching what a biblical worldview looks like and how to live according to that worldview.  What this looks like in practice is teaching people the whole council of God, teaching and preaching the Word of God instead of religious self-help.

We have to start pouring into the Lake Itascas of our people lives and changing things from their source, not trying to play catch up 1000 miles downstream.

Undercover Boss

2 comments
Katherine and I watched a new show on TV the other night.  The premise of Undercover Boss is that the boss of a company or organization goes undercover as an entry level worker in his own company.  A pretty interesting show.  The episode I saw featured one of the owners of the White Castle fast food chain.  When this particular undercover boss was explaining to the rest of the White Castle owners why he decided to go undercover he said something to the effect that when the owners visit their restaurants they only see the best of the best.  When the employees know that the boss is there, they all bring their "A" game.  He wanted to see what they were like on a normal work day without the presence of a big boss.  Of course, he saw some good things from employees and some not so good things.

This got me thinking about the ultimate Undercover Boss scenario that took place just over 2000 years ago.  The King of the universe left His throne and came down to earth.  And just like the White Castle employees, almost no one knew who it was who was walking among them.  It is hard to blame the Jewish people  for not recognizing God in the flesh.  Their God was a holy God whose very presence would destroy any unclean, sinful person in the near vicinity.  Only one person in their society could enter God's presence (the high priest) and he could only do so once a year after extensive purification rituals.  The last thing they would fathom would be their God becoming a man and coming to dwell among them.

I think we have lost some of the awe surrounding the incarnation of Christ.  We have downplayed the holiness of God so much along with emphasizing our "personal Lord and Savior" that the incarnation seems reasonable to us.  It is anything but reasonable!  God was in no way obligated to save any of us.  We were all sinners justly and rightly deserving eternal punishment for our unwillingness to give the King of kings the glory He rightly deserves.  That He would choose to save us when He didn't have to, and do so by becoming one of us is unfathomable.  To become the very thing that rejected Him and would torture and kill Him in His incarnate state is the epitome of love, mercy, and humility.

Jesus became man.  The boss went undercover and experienced the worst of His creation.  In His infinite love and mercy He still chose to redeem some for His name's sake.