the church Jesus goes to

 

I know where Jesus goes to church. Without a doubt. He goes to the church that lives deliberately, boldly, and consistently …

pursuing peace and reconciliation. Though it lives in a world saturated with anger, disrespect, snarkiness, and insult, with a will it refuses to go there. It’s done with living by rage, choosing righteousness instead. It’s not defined by its own insecurities and its ability to utter barbed wit in retort to those who mock it, but by its humble confidence in its Christ and its dependence on the provision of God’s Spirit in every situation, no matter how dark or difficult. Imagine: a church made distinctive to all by not being abrasive and hard to live with.

unruled by its wants. Though surrounded on every side by people chasing after every kind of lust and sanctifying all sorts of unfaithfulness in every relationship, it isn’t seduced to do the same. It doesn’t seek its own will, but whatever God’s will is for it. Instead of searching for meaning in whatever it perceives as sexy (not just sex itself, by whatever is “sexy”), it finds its meaning in its Lord and Savior, for he is enough, and more. Picture this: a church known to the world for its contentment and reliability.

by its words of honesty. Though the culture in which is resides is given over to dishonesty and deception, it quietly walks its talk. It practices what it preaches, not merely what’s “practical” in the moment. Its ways aren’t determined by always choosing what works out for its own best interest, but by going after the truth that true love can truly rejoice in always. Capture this vision: a church perceived as genuine and true by all who care to truly engage it.

extending mercy generously. Though its world is largely driven by retaliation and payback, fueled by fear and the never ending yearning for hard justice, it walks by faith on higher ground. It thrives on the Spirit of compassion, not the spirit of competition. Its life map is not of doing whatever would instill fear in others of it, but to do whatever would help install faith in others in the God it follows. Draw it in your head like this: a church characterized by selfless giving and costly care.

loving the unlovable. Though seemingly all of society continually calls it to elicit indifference, ill will, hate, or anything and everything else that dehumanizes, it chooses to love with the love of the divine instead. By so doing, it traffics in forgiveness, not fierceness or fighting. This is because it seeks its definition not in its enemies, but in him who allowed his enemies to spike him to a tree. Place this before your eyes: a church that will mount the cross with its Lord, and die with him. Daily.

After all, what else could a person honestly conclude after reading what Jesus candidly said in Matthew 5.21-26,27-32,33-37,38-42,43-48?

And so, I have to ask: what might a church become if it understood and made these matters its chief means of worshiping and following Jesus Christ? In a week? A month? A few years? Over the course of a lifetime? Or after several generations?

Would it not become more and more like the One it worshiped? And wouldn’t that be what both the Lord, and they, wanted most of all?

Let’s find out. Let’s go to church with Jesus!

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: That’s not a sling stone… THIS is a sling stone

“Excavated a couple of days ago at Khirbet Qeiyafa …”

Church & Jesus: Churches Converted to Jesus by Terry Rush

“We in the Church of Christ have lost our way along with any other group who has elevated stance and status over Jesus.”

Culture: Unwrapping Our Imaginations From The American Dream

“American preachers have a task more difficult, perhaps, than those faced by us under South Africa’s apartheid, or Christians under Communism. We had obvious evils to engage; you have to unwrap your culture from years of red, white and blue myth. You have to expose, and confront, the great disconnection between the kindness, compassion and caring of most American -people, and the ruthless way American power is experienced, directly and indirectly, by the poor of the earth. You have to help good -people see how they have let their institutions do their sinning for them. This is not easy among people who really believe that their country does nothing but good, but it is necessary, not only for their future, but for us all.”

Employment, happiness & ministry: The Ten Happiest Jobs

“#1. Clergy:  The least worldly are reported to be the happiest of all.”

Global warming: * The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic; * Global Warming, a New Study

“Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

“A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that ‘essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.'”

iPad/iPhone apps: Aesop for Children by the Library Of Congress

“The Aesop for Children interactive book is designed to be enjoyed by readers of any age. The book contains over 140 classic fables, accompanied by beautiful illustrations and interactive animations. The Aesop for Children interactive book is designed to be enjoyed by readers of any age. The book contains over 140 classic fables, accompanied by beautiful illustrations and interactive animations.”

Knowledge: The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge by Maria Popova

“In an age obsessed with practicality, productivity, and efficiency, I frequently worry that we are leaving little room for abstract knowledge and for the kind of curiosity that invites just enough serendipity to allow for the discovery of ideas we didn’t know we were interested in until we are, ideas that we may later transform into new combinations with applications both practical and metaphysical.”

Lust: * Lust: A Topic We Just Don’t Talk About…and Are Dying Because of It by Matt Dabbs; * Hey Married People: Quit Checking Out People You’re Not Married To by Trey Morgan; * Can Porn be Used Responsibly? by Kurt Willems

* “The only thing I can really remember really being taught about lust in church  growing up (aside from the above story) was that it was the phrase, ‘It is okay to let a bird land on your head but don’t let it build a nest.’ In other words, seeing someone and thinking they are attractive is one thing but taking that a step further in your mind was a sin. The next logical question in the mind of a teenage boy is this, ‘at exactly what point does the bird’s nest building begin?'”

* “Whoever you’re married to, is what you should be ‘into.'”

* “… porn always removes God from the center replacing the Divine with lustful desires. Porn never glorifies God or embodies what St. Irenaeus proclaimed: ‘The glory of God is humanity fully alive.’ Porn distorts God’s image-bearers, thus misrepresenting our perception of God’s glory.”

Politics & morality: Parting the Red (and Blue) Sea by Cameron Nations

“The Church remains its strongest and purest when it holds a ‘from the margins” mindset.'”

Relationships: 21 Ways to Upgrade Your Relationships by Jim Martin, parts one, two, three & four.

“What are some practical ways to invest in the relationships that really matter?”

Small groups: Create a Caring Church by Brett Eastman

“If you want to create a church community that really cares for one another, the best way to do it is through small groups. When small groups become the vehicle for care-giving, the whole church gets involved in sharing one another’s burdens—a much more personal approach than relegating the task to a committee. The whole congregation should be making hospital visits, taking meals to people when they’re sick or something’s happened, doing childcare when someone’s in crisis and giving money when somebody’s lost a job. The best way to make this happen is to get everyone in groups where they love and care about each other.”

The Christian objective: Who Moved the Goalpost? by Dan Bouchelle

“… somehow, the goal of becoming fully formed in Christ got reduced to ‘going to heaven.'”

Violence: And Brief (and let’s hope final, but If I know me probably not) Comment on God’s Violence in the Old Testament by Peter Enns

“I am taking the time to talk about God’s violence in the Old Testament because it is a window onto a large and perennially central theological topic that can be expressed as follows: What is the Bible, anyway, and what are we supposed to do with it? To put it another way, What do we have a right to expect of the Bible as the Word of God? Or yet another way, Does the Bible give us unerring, brute factual information, or are we seeing something more complex and subtle there?”

this went thru my mind

Archaeology: Graffiti is not a new thing. Archaeologists Unscramble Ancient Graffiti in Israel is fascinating to me.

ChurchHow’s Your Church Doing? by John Ortberg.

Church conflict: Amen, Joe McKeever. Curing a Church Conflict Before It Starts.

Church music: A Variety of Religious Composition by Lawrence Mumford.

Drinking: If you’d like to see some of the latest statistics on drunk driving, check out this infographic.

Environment: Eugene Peterson never fails to give me good food for thought. This interview of Eugene Peterson and Peter Harris (The Joyful Environmentalists) is good stuff.

Humor: I’ll never forget the day my friend Brent Franks introduced me to the V-neck T-shirt, the memory of which makes Jon Acuff’s post V-Neck Syndrome all the funnier to me. Don’t stop there; read his more serious post entitled Complaining.

Islam: Joshua Graves’ brief post Crescent and Cross is required reading. The second paragraph is spot-on and needed to be said. While on Joshua’s site, also read his excellent, brief post entitled What About You?

Note-taking: Want some guidance as to how to take good notes during a sermon? Peter Mead offers some solid advice I bet you’ve never heard before. It was new to me. If You Must Take Notes.

Parenting: N.T. Wright is one of my favorite Bible scholars, actually my very favorite outside of the heritage of Churches of Christ. His 3 1/2 minute video entitled Look At Jesus captures him, at his best, answering a crucial question the way I would hope to answer it, but of course, I could never express it nearly so well as he does here. Enjoy, be moved deep within, and share. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/ma4OGY

Regret: If you had a great deal of experience in closely working with the dying, you would hear their life regrets verbalized. What do you suppose the dying tend to regret most about their life? A post by Wade Hodges steered me toward a piece by Bonnie Ware entitled Regrets of the Dying will tell you. Serious food for thought.

Sexuality: Let’s not pretend that lust is always someone else’s problem or that it’s all on the woman. Dan Martin does us all a good service by speaking clearly, candidly, and kindly regarding lust and clothing in his post entitled To My Younger Sisters

Vocabulary: Did you notice how Dan Martin, in the preceding entry, is at pains not to miscommunicate? The words we choose to use make a difference. Words that communicated well twenty years ago can convey something entirely different, perhaps even undesirable, today. This is especially tricky ground for those of us who have some gray hair for we’ve grown accustomed to certain words and they work well for us. However, by using what works well for our mind, rather than deliberately starting with others in mind, we, at best, miscommunicate. Sometimes we even build walls unwittingly by our poor choice of words. An example: “committee” sounds like a “neutral” or even “constructive” word to those in their 60’s, but is virtually a guaranteed turn-off to those under age 35. Kem Meyer’s six-year old post In Other Words succinctly captures one church’s attempt to be deliberate in updating the language it uses. Good stuff. Adopt the list.

this went thru my mind

Archaeology: Unless you’ve been in outer space you probably encountered in the news this week the report that “one of the largest and best-preserved collections of ancient sealed books has been discovered in a cave in Jordan and are believed to be some of the earliest Christian documents.” Don’t bother believing any of that “fair and balanced reporting” for a minute; it’s just more of the usual sensationalism that gets labeled as “news.” For the low down on what’s up you’d be well served to read Todd Bolen’s post Early Christian Lead Books Discovery: Some Problems. If you’re interested in reading still more, Larry Hurtado‘s posts entitled Other Views on the Lead Codices and More on the Lead Codices would be a good place to go. Hurtado is a highly respected New Testament scholar, particularly in the area in question (Christian origins and early Christianity). His “chill dude” and “this is all soooo bogus!” comments alone are worth the price of admission. Or hey, just cut to the chase and read over at PaleoJudaica exactly how we know they’re f-a-k-e.

Churches of Christ: I really like Mike Cope’s take on Ted Campbell’s post Why the Churches of Christ Were RightCampbell is a church history prof at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

Climate change: Merely mention the phrase “global warming” in most of the circles I frequent and you’ll instantly lose track of all the eye rolls you get in response. You’ll also risk going deaf from the sound of minds slamming shut. Let’s just say I’m living in the land of skepticism. However, I am a believer in global warming and believe we humans play a huge role in it. And now that you know such, you can understand why I like John Cook’s simple post How to Talk With Climate Change Skeptics.

Fasting: As appears to be the case, I’m finding virtually everything Richard Beck writes to be required reading. His post entitled True Fasting is certainly no exception. In fact, one of his posts regarding all of the ongoing hullabaloo regarding Rob Bell and the upheaval in the evangelical world concerning such is the best thing I’ve read on the matter.

Internet pornography: My sermon this coming Sunday morning at MoSt Church is from Matthew 5:27-30 and deals with the subject of lust. Powerfully relevant to that discussion is just how pervasive is Internet pornography in our digital age. Take a look at this infographic on the matter from 2010 and get on your knees and pray. Incidentally, I’ll be displaying the infographic via PowerPoint during the course of Sunday’s sermon.

Marriage: Trey Morgan‘s post entitled Nine Big Lies About Marriage is good, good stuff every couple would do well to read together. And along the lines of marriage and family, take a good look at Dale Hudson‘s four-part series of posts entitled Post Modern Family Ministry. Here are links to all four parts: 1, 2, 3 & 4).

Tony Campolo: I need only say his name. Whether you always agree or not with everything the man says, he is fearless in his stating matters and never fails to make you think, and I enjoy both of those qualities immensely. Join the enjoyment by reading Losing Faith: Life’s Questions and Why Christians Don’t Like Jesus.

War: Timothy Archer’s brief post entitled Deadly Mirage is worth your consideration. Katie at WIT penned a spot-on post when she wrote Who are the Soldiers of the Body of Christ? And what about doing what we’re doing now in Libya? I appreciate Rachel Held Evans’ transparency in her post Rachel, The Worst Pacifist. And is if often the case with outstanding posts, the comments that follow them are often filled with gems not to be overlooked. Such is the case with all three of these fine posts.

And just for fun: Stand on MoSt Church‘s front steps and you can see the ships going up and down the Houston Ship Channel not very far at all away. Which usually brings up the question, “I wonder where in this old word that ship came from or where she’s going?” Well, now we can know, and we can know, quite literally, globally. My good friend Bill Ehlig clued me in on MarineTraffic.com Imagine ships of every size (all the way down to tugs and yachts!) positioned in real time all over the earth and linked with photos and descriptions of such and you’ve got it. Fascinating stuff, and potentially addictive to all sea lovers.

Never stop reading. Never stop thinking. Never stop being open to growing in your awareness of what is. And never, ever stop being willing to change your mind.