Friday, January 8, 2010

An Example of Acting Shrewdly

One of the craziest, and probably most misunderstood parables in all the Bible is in Luke 16:1-9. This guy is a terrible financial manger who was wasting his masters money. When his master finds out and gives him the pink slip, he decides to make friends with his masters debtors so he will have a place to stay tomorrow. He devises a plan to cut their debts to his master, get on their good side, and then they would welcome him into their homes. When the master finds out he ........has him executed?.....No...."the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly"(Luke 16:8). Jesus goes on to say in verse 9 "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when it fails, they may receive you into an everlasting home."

Now, Jesus is not condoning the managers sin, but he is telling His disciples that we need to have the same forethought and quick-thinking when it comes to using what God has given us, to reach the lost. The "unrighteous mammon" Jesus speaks of is the things of this world. Jesus called it "unrighteous", not sinful. He is talking about our money, time, talents, hobbies, personalities, etc. These things, in and of themselves, have no reedeming value, they are inademit objects and/or things that are neither good nor evil. These are the things God has given us to be used for the glory of God and to reach the lost. We are always to be thinking ahead and quick on our feet to use them to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ....as we go, as we live our lives (missional). Jesus tells us to use them, so that "when it fails" (at the end of time when money, time, etc. are of no more use), the people we reached with these things, will be there, welcoming us into Heaven. So many times we think we can only use righteous things (hymns, Christian music, church services, tithes, etc.) to do righteous things.

Here is probably the best, real life example, I have seen of this parable being lived out. Last week (1/3/2010) there was a volunteer mission group going to India to do a musical mission trip. These folks are not going to hold concerts in auditoriums, but going to the slums in Mumbai to use their talents (mammon) to reach the lost. Well, there was a huge setback in Newark airport. As you may recall, some knucklehead bypassed security, threw everything into a panic and they shutdown the terminal looking for the guy. Half of the mission team was already in the air and on their way, while 11 members of the team were stuck in the shutdown terminal. People are ticked off, missing flights, loosing luggage and are crammed together without being able to leave. The mission team in the terminal have their guitars (unrighteous mammon) with them, and so one of them decides to entertain the people. Think quick....act shrewdly...what should he play? Amazing Grace? Jesus Loves Me? Something by Chris Tomlin or Casting Crowns? Watch the clip and hear for yourself.

video

Most of the time we hear the story of how the guy sang a Christian hymn about Jesus, people booed, and the guy went on the rest of his trip bragging about being "persecuted for his faith" in the airport. The dude in this video acted shrewdly, using a song (unrighteous mammon) that most everybody knows (at least the chorus anyway) and was able to not only lighten the mood, but later give his testimony to people who wanted to know more about him. He was an instant novelty to those stuck in the terminal. "Who are you, where are you going, why are your going to India........". The group was able to share their faith with individuals by acting quickly and using what God had given them (guitars, time stuck in a terminal, talent, and yes, even the Beatles) to have an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people who were now willing and wanting to know more about them.

"And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when it fails, they may recieve you into an everlasting home." Luke 16:9

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Son or Slave

One of the things I recently realized about why I had become so legalistic and judgmental was because I saw myself as a slave, not a son. For most of my life I would be proud to call myself a slave to God. After all, we were "bought by His blood", He "paid our ransom" and so we are indebted to Him with our very lives. All this is very true, but thinking of ourselves as only slaves leads to legalism and works based blessings.
This was what Jesus taught against in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31. We usually stop after the younger son comes home and is welcomed by the father. They walk off into the sunset, hugging laughing and heading to a grand party. Well, there is an older brother in the story. The younger brother was showing us the Gentiles, the sinners, the nonreligious. God has a desire to welcome them (us) home as sons into His kingdom. The older brother was directed at the Pharisees who were there that day, and the Pharisees who are here today.
It's for the person who thinks the sermon is for someone else in the church that day. The person who teaches a Sunday School class or keeps the nursery because it's their duty as a church member.
The older son was ticked off because his dad was throwing a party for that wasteful younger brother who came home. Why was he mad? Because he was a good slave!!! He didn't squander his dads money, he didn't run off.....in fact he said "Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders....."(Luke 15:29). He saw himself as a slave, and his dad as a master.
When we see our relationship with God like that, we get mad too. A deathbed conversion of a nasty sinner is despised, why? It's because we think "why should he get into heaven at the last second while I have been a good slave all my Christian life". We fail to see our relationship with God as a Father/son, but instead think we are Master/slave. A slave does his masters bidding because of fear, indebtedness, or to get on his masters good side....to receive his blessings or promotions. A son follows his fathers bidding because of his love and his relationship with his dad. It's no longer about labor, it's about being "about my Fathers business." His passions are my passions, His concerns are my concerns, His tasks become my priority.
I have never heard of a master going out into the field to labor with a slave. Jesus gives the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20; the urgent task at hand for all believers. But He also says "I am with you always, to the end of the age." Not watching you, "with you", beside you. Why would Jesus say that....because He sees us as sons, not slaves.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome

Just what the world needed…..another blog! To give you some feel for why I am starting this blog, let me give you some information about me.
I am an associate/youth pastor that is trying hard to impact the lives of those who I come in contact with, whether at church or in the community. I am trying to live a missional life for Jesus Christ. What is missional? The best definition I have seen is taken from “The Contexting Blog” and it goes like this:

“Missional is a word that describes an incarnational approach to Christian life and ministry. Modern Christianity is very attractional- it focuses on inviting people to church, inviting them to faith. A lot of effort is put into making Christianity attractive. Megachurches with lots of programs are designed to attract people to maturity in Christ.

Attractional is the opposite of missional.

There's an alternative to attractional Christianity. It's a little more difficult than the attractional kind, but it will change your life. Being missional means engaging people where they are in redeeming personal relationships. Instead of inviting people to hang out with us Christians in the "safe" places we construct. Missional believers hang out with people on their turf, even if it means that we might be exposed to ungodliness. It means living among the people in our communities and looking for relevant ways to live out our faith.
In short, being missional is applying biblical missiology to our everyday existence.”


What’s different about this “Christian blog"? Well, I’m a pastor…..and sometimes I get it right, and sometimes fall flat on my face, and I’m willing to share it with you so hopefully we can grow together and not make some of the same mistakes. I’m trying to live out missionally in this culture while at the same time, trying to reconcile my life with my faith, my witness with my passions, my walk with my work. One would think that this would be natural for a “preacher”, but it’s not. Those of us who come from traditional, attractional based churches bring those ideas with us and we struggle, some succeed, many fail. I don’t have all the answers, as a matter of fact I have more questions than anything else, but I want to enter into conversation with others on this journey and seek to find answers from the Word, His Spirit and from each other’s lives.

So please, comments are not only welcome, they are what makes a conversation. So please feel free to leave comments whether you agree, disagree or are chewing on what was said. Just be nice, keep it clean.