The goal of a powerful life in Christ

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4, NIV)

The goal is to fill our vision with Christ and then see his action in the world. Every day I pray that our vision would be full of Christ and not the junk of this world. My prayer each day is to hear his voice and in doing so it will cut down the noise of the world around me.

Let our vision be Christ.

Church bashing

We may not think much of the Church in our American angst. We complain. We argue. We are always quick to point out what is “wrong” with the Church. Every particular season I will come across dozens of articles about what NOT to preach on a particular Sunday. (“Make sure you avoid these THREE mistakes on Mother’s Day”, etc.) Continue reading “Church bashing”

My Great Loves

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I confess my great loves today.

First is my great love for God. I spent this weekend in a “silent” retreat contemplating Ephesians 1-3. I love Ephesians. For the past 15 plus years of my life it has been bedrock to my life. Once again I was blown away by my God’s great love for me. I am IN Christ! What a great Savior! How can I NOT respond in love? I confess I do NOT respond in love far too many times. I confess my foolishness. I confess I chase other “lovers” from time to time. But when I get back to his great love for me… I am in awe.

Next is my great love for my wife. She is absolutely incredible. We are approaching 22 years of marriage and my life is so much RICHER because of her love, her presence, her passion, her friendship. So much of who I am is a result of her love.

My great love for my wife extends to my great love for my boys. One has passed out of the teen years this month and is headed toward marriage. The other two are in high school. When I think of them, I am filled with gratitude and pride. They are great joys in my life.

I must finally confess my great love for the Church. There is something stirring deep within me, something I hope to dig out and actually put into words. To love Christ IS to love his Church. It is his Body. When we insult the Church, we insult Christ. He is the head. When part of our body feels pain, we KNOW it! When I find Christians insulting the Church, I sense the hurt of Christ.

My life is in ministry. I teach and I preach and I pastor. I have tried other things. My realization is this: I have no other marketable skills… and I don’t WANT any other marketable skills. I’m not rich. I won’t be rich. I’m not well-known. I don’t have a lecture circuit or speaking circuit. No one wants to hear from some small time pastor!

But I LOVE the Church of Jesus Christ. I love the expressions. My own expression is Pentecostal. But I have a deep love for Baptists, Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans… and more. I LOVE the expressions of the Body of Christ.

Today, I proudly profess my great loves.

Happy Valentines Day

The Heavenly Experiment — Realizing Our New DNA

I can completely understand the temptation to spend the majority of our Christian lives in the epistles. They are straight to the point, we have little in the way of cultural barriers, and we can go easily to application. Since I am teaching Prison Epistles this semester, I am immersed in some the greatest doctrine of the Early Church. I am also immersed in the most challenging practices.

The current challenge is Colossians 3. The call is to get our eyes up. We are to fix our gaze on what is above. It’s not about being “heavenly minded” in a way where we dream of gold streets. It’s being heavenly minded in that we get our eyes on the One who sits on the throne.

To have our gaze fixed on the Beautiful One, we need our eyes OFF of what we have normally looked at in our old lives. This is the challenge. There is a need for a “spiritual divorce.” Paul puts it more plainly: “Kill the old self.” It’s like a call for spiritual suicide.

We MUST starve the old life and learn about our new spiritual DNA. The old life is summed up in this thought: “I want what I want.”

Why do we have such intense battles over abortion and homosexual marriage? It’s not about “rights.” That’s the false argument. The underlying principle is serving the god of sex. Even more base is this: “I want what I want, when I want it, in any manner I want it.”

Any kind of sex in any manner in any form and in any way I choose to describe it. We worship at this altar in America.

This is so embedded in us it’s become part of our DNA.

Through Christ, we have a new DNA. THIS is what we put on now. THIS is the great challenge.

In a world that is all about violence and vulgarity, we are called to PUT ON these ridiculous traits:

Compassion, humility, kindness, meekness, patience, love, forgiveness…

How crazy is that? When we can tear down character, insult people publicly, act like idiots on TV and get instant fame, why on earth would we want to do anything else? How silly.

Well, if we want to insist on living as we want, we need to hand over the name “Christian.” It’s not our DNA. If we insist on “I want what I want,” our DNA isn’t about Christ, and we need to cease calling ourselves Christian. Our life is different in Christ. It’s his. Paul said it best in Galatians: “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

My DNA is supposed to be different. I need to know how to speak the truth in love. I need to learn how to forgive. Patience must become my hallmark. His word must dwell richly in me.

If I were new to this country and wanted to become a citizen, I would give myself to studying for this citizenship. My citizenship is heaven. I need to study the culture of my new “country.” I must take on that DNA.

Christ is my life.