May 30, 2007

Obedience: a choice, not a process.

I'm currently reading K. P. Yohannan's book, Revolution in World Missions. One part of the book thus far really struck me, and it got me thinking-- why can't the American Church give up their buildings, programs, and method of ministry? I find it really, really strange, in light of the millions of other Christians in the world who meet without buildings or programs, that America seems so violently attatched to their church schedules.

Here is the part of the book I'm referring to:

"This kind of miracle kept me going from village to village for those seven years of itinerant preaching. Our lives read like pages from the Book of Acts. Most nights we slept between villages in roadside ditches where we were relatively safe. Sleepong in non-Christian villages would expose us to many dangers. Our team always created a stir, and at times faced stonings and beatings.
"The mobile Gospel teams I worked with-- and often led-- were just like family to me. I began to enjoy the gypsy lifestyle we lived, and the total abandonment to the cause of Christ that is demanded of an itinerate evangelist. We were persecuted, hated and despised. Yet we kept going, knowing that we were blazing a trail for the Gospel in districts that had never before experienced an encounter with Christ" (p. 30).

Now... this sort of thing is perfectly acceptable for a preacher in Third World countries, but when you try to place a minister like Yohannan in the context of the United States, it seems absurd to us, doesn't it? Why is that? How much have we as Christians conformed to secular society? How much do we worry about retirement, investments, education, mortages, and other material concerns that bear no weight on fulfilling the Great Commission?

When Yohannan heard God's call to spread the Gospel, he didn't stop what he was doing, set up a savings account at the local bank, and enroll in a Christian University, hoping to someday make it through a Masters of Divinity so he could preach in a church full of complacent Christians, urging them to invite their friends to Friendship Sunday one day a year so that he could spread the Gospel. He heard God's call, and he listened. Simple obedience is what it really comes down to.

Now which option sounds more absurd?

May 23, 2007

It's been a while...

My brother quoted one of my favorite authors (Brennan Manning) on his blog regarding the Discipleship training that TrueVine participated in this weekend. Oddly, I was reminded all weekend of a Brennan Manning quote, as well.

"I want neither a blood'n'guts religion that would make Clint Eastwood, not Jesus, our hero, nor a speculative religion that would imprison the Gospel in the halls of academia, nor a noisy, feel-good religion that is a naked appeal to emotion. I long for passion, intelligence, and compassion in a Church without ostentation, gently beckoning to the world to come and enjoy the peace and unity we possess because of the Spirit in our midst."

I have met so many people-- Christian and non-Christian alike-- that have expressed the same sentiments portrayed in this quote. In my entire 20 years on this earth, I have never seen with such clarity the potential of the church as I saw this weekend. I have never once felt at home at any church. God drew me out of my shell more than He has in years. I have never been able to reach beyond myself and actually volunteer to speak up in the midst of 25 other people (especially 25 people who are far more interesting and mature than I am). I have never felt quite so valuable as I did this weekend.

What's more is-- I know that my feeling valued has nothing to do with myself. This was not any normal retreat, and it didn't enforce self-confidence. It was not always a HAPPY time, and it was not constantly uplifting (or as the quote says, noisy and feel-good), but it was beautiful. It was edifying in every sense of the word. It was a group of sold-out, willing, and broken Disciples who realized that without Christ, they are nothing, but with Him they are world-changers.

He convicted, He healed, He transformed, He soothed, and He provided us we REAL smiles amidst our unity in Christ. Through this, He also revealed our potential as His Church-- as His Bride. It was stunning. It was beyond comparison to any other religious experience I have ever seen.

All weekend, the idea that "What we attract them with is what we attract them to" was repeated over and over again. I have complete confidence that the weight of the Gospel and the true love of Christian brothers and sisters that we, as the Church, saw this weekend is enough to attract, romance, and transform hearts and lives.

May 05, 2007

Fulfillment in Irony

God makes me giggle sometimes.
"No girl should feel she has to trade her body for love or be an old maid"

May 02, 2007

History Lesson

It always seems that we never change history
As we read old newspapers that speak of the past
Men walking on the moon, invading another nation
Or standing so tall that they were shot down.
In these moments, the idea that we're all
Just dust in the wind becomes exemplary
We feel useless and ever so small.
It is as if we must be ten times the size
Of this world just to change it or make something work
When really, the world is changed by everything
It is changed by the wind which moves
Thin, swaying tree branches, but not mountains.
It is changed by the tear that falls
Even if there is no real reason for it to surface.
It is changed when the sun rises in the morning,
And changed again when it goes down.
It is changed as the crowd rushes through the street
It is changed, even as things are simply standing still
Because everything that isn't now or forever is history
And everything we have done leaves the world
A little different than it was originally found.

How much could your smile change history,
Creating a chain reaction of smiles around the globe?

On Aprils

Ten years ago, I sat in the dining hall of a Christian camp. A man my father's age sat with me. It was April, and I had no idea... I had...