Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters…When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying,“Fear not, I am the first and the last,and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 1:12-15, 17-18
Ever have a really good friend and, somewhere along the way in the relationship, you see him/her in his/her “natural environment” and you come to realize you didn’t know him/her nearly as well as you thought you did? You’ve been through hard times together, you’ve travelled together, you’ve met family and know each other’s triumphs and fears, and you have logged lots and lots of hours just hanging out together. But, by some twist of circumstances, you happen to catch him/her in a situation where the real “natural” self comes out and you think, “Wow. Did not see that coming.” And then it hits you…this is who he/she really is!
I believe John (the apostle and writer of Revelation) and Jesus were best friends. Best. Friends. I believe that is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the gospels. John was clearly in Jesus’ “inner circle” (along with Peter and John’s brother, James). He was atop the Mount of Transfiguration to …
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19a
I can remember pretty vividly how I felt at the births of both my daughters. Those feelings will no doubt stay in my memory long after the details of the events have left me. In both cases, God made us wait until long after we thought we were ready. So when they came, I was overjoyed and thrilled and excited and so very ready to be a daddy! With Elizabeth, my older, I can still remember taking her little hand for the very first time in Seton Hospital in Austin. I remember thinking, “What a huge responsibility this will be…I can’t wait to get started!” I had an attitude of extreme gratitude for the opportunity God had given me and of sober responsibility for how much work nurturing this child would be.
What if we in the church had a similar attitude about new friendships? What if we saw each new friendship in our lives as a God-ordained friendship and treated it as if God had given us a responsibility for it? What if we prayed expectantly for God to “birth” such new friendships in our lives and then jumped into them with both feet when He answered that prayer? Oh, how that would change the church!
We in the evangelical world often talk about “just sharing the gospel” and leaving the results up to God. I do think that is an important perspective. There is our part in that process and there is God’s part, and it agree that it is important not to confuse the two. But I also think that “just sharing and leaving the results up to God” lets us off the hook of the Great Commission. Jesus did not say, “Therefore go …
Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
I remember having lunch with my friend, Ben, who is starting new works in a particularly “unchurched” area of our city. He is taking a pretty non-traditional approach, at least in terms of denominational church starts. He is simply making friendships in businesses and schools and other places in the neighborhood, then watching as some of those friendships develop into Bible studies. The goal, I believe, is to start a number of these Bible studies in multiple locations around the neighborhood and see what happens.
So, as Ben and I were enjoying our Mexican food, we were talking about these friendships he was making. Many of them are not the kind of people who would ever feel comfortable walking into my very traditional, very WASP downtown church. As he was explaining his approach to these friendships, he said something that really hit my traditional, institutional church paradigm completely sideways. He said, “Blake, the people I am talking to about Spiritual things are not asking the question, ‘what do you believe?’ That’s not a question they care about at all. What they are asking is, ‘Are you somebody I want to be like?'”
I haven’t been able to get that comment out of my head. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It has really shaken my world.
I live and move in a world of strategic planning. I consult with churches regularly, telling them how important it is that they spend time defining who they are and what they believe. I am big on mission statements and purpose statements and vision statements and core values. If you ask me to describe my own church to you I would probably begin …