Sunday, November 18, 2007

Seeking the Heart of Jesus

I’ve been blessed to be in fellowship with some Christian brothers who’ve taught me a lot about reading Scripture to find Christ, rather than reading Scripture to find rules or church structure. While we can certainly discern how to live and organize our corporate gatherings by reading the Bible, we don’t find eternal life in those things. We find life in Christ alone. I’m learning to read Scripture to discover who Jesus is, who I’m to become, and what God wants to do in me. And somehow—as I’m shaped more and more into the image of Christ—a lot of those other questions are answered as well.

So this morning when I was reading Luke’s version about Jesus sending out the Twelve and afterward feeding the five thousand, I was struck by Jesus’ heart. He sent the Twelve out to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick. When they came back, he took them and withdrew to Bethsaida. Word got out and they were overrun by the crowds. So Jesus welcomed the masses, likewise speaking to them about the kingdom of God and healing the sick. When the Twelve told him to send the people away to get something to eat, he told them to feed the people themselves. You know what happens next.

Here’s what hit me: To Jesus, healing the sick and feeding the hungry was an integral part of preaching the kingdom of God. No big surprise there, but I wondered if the apostles were more interested in preaching than in ministering. I wondered why there seemed to be a disconnect between their ability to cure diseases (and drive out demons) and their willingness to feed the people. Maybe they were tired. Maybe they never considered that they could—through Jesus—multiply food. I wondered if after preaching from village to village they were ready for a break and a bit resentful that they didn’t get one.

All those questions, but I really couldn’t find strong evidence in this passage to support my line of thinking.

And then it occurred to me that my questions had revealed the weakness of my own heart. That maybe sometimes I’m more interested in “preaching” than in ministering. That there’s a disconnect between what God has empowered me to do and what I’m willing to do. That sometimes I let my energy level dictate my ministry. Or that I can't even imagine what God wants to do through me. That sometimes I’m ready for a break and a bit resentful when I don’t get one.

I confessed all this to God, and now I’m confessing it to you. I want to have a heart that can’t separate the message from the ministry. A heart that always welcomes the people around me. A heart that isn't too timid to entertain the possibilities of God's redemptive power. I want to have the heart of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture

You might be interested in a radio interview with my new friend, author Mary DeMuth, on the subject of parenting in a postmodern culture. The interview and her recent book are largely based on her church planting experiences in southern France--a generally secular and atheistic culture. You can tune in online at Moody Midday Connection ( Click the link for Nov. 13, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture.

You can also order Mary's book at:

Some Days

Some days what we are doing feels so slow-going . . . even insignificant. —church planter Jared Looney of the Bronx Fellowship, from an email I received this morning

I needed to read that today. Needed to discern a little bit of the melancholy in Jared’s full email. Not because I want this friend and mentor of ours to ever be the least bit discouraged, but because I find myself a wee bit discouraged this week.

Of course my discouragement is not quite so noble as the feeling I might get because we're not seeing rapid progress in the network of home churches we’ve planted . . . because we haven’t planted a network of home churches, though God-willing we’ll do so in his timing.

I suppose what I’m feeling is rooted in loneliness. Right now, we’re between two worlds: not fully enjoying the familiar comforts of our Christian culture, and not yet established enough in the kinds of relationships that make the sacrifice seem worthwhile. In Jared’s words, we’re intent on being the kind of missionaries that move “into the high rise in Tokyo or into the village in Kenya, that [live] among the people and incarnate the Gospel there through relationships. But in this case . . . [we’re] simply moving out into relationship in a lost world right here among the broken and the blind in the U.S.A.”

I can live with that. In fact, we’ve chosen to obey God’s call to do this very thing. Some days I’m giddy with the possibilities of what God’s asked of us. And some days I’m lonely in this calling.

Some days, I need emails like Jared’s. Emails that remind me that no matter how I feel . . .

. . . We are following a missionary Lord and participating with Him in the work of redemption.

. . . Mission and incarnation is certainly not a place of comfort or safety, but the impact of a missionary people is immeasurable.

. . . Generations will be set free as we persist in serving the cause of Christ in our city.

Some days I need more prayers than other days.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hey, loved ones . . . It's not exactly a website, but I'd love for you to visit my profile on Shoutlife. Shoutlife is a networking site that anyone can join, however, it caters to Christian authors, musicians, comedians, etc. I stumbled upon it through my agent, Terry Burns. You have to sign up if you want to view my photos or make comments, but if you do, be sure to leave a message in my guestbook. I'd love to hear from you there!

Loving Much

Lately I've been pondering the story in Luke of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears. In my heart of hearts, I both admire and am shocked by her humility. Seriously, can you picture anyone doing such a thing today? I want to have that kind of attitude toward Jesus, but I'm more like the Pharisee than I want to admit.

You see, I was probably in my mid-thirties before I really believed I had all that much to be forgiven of. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I was pretty sure I must have been one of God’s favorites. After all, I was a compliant kid. I’d never lived a wild life. I was nice.

But then I started asking God to reveal my sin to me. Ouch.

To be honest, though, I can’t thank him enough for humbling me by doing so. When I finally began to realize the extent of my hopelessness without him, I began to truly belong to him. I mean, right there in that same passage in Luke, Jesus said, “He who has been forgiven little, loves little. He who has been forgiven much, loves much.”

Of course the truth is that we are all hopelessly sinful without Christ. We just don’t always realize it. And until we realize it, we love little.

It’s that simple.