If you have an itch…

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Discipleship, Theology

I once had a professor at Southwestern who impressed me in a profound way. Maybe it’s because he the first professor that had a brain and a personality. Or, maybe it was his well-rounded intelligence….He could speak a little bit about nearly any subject. Whatever it was one day after class I asked him a question (in my uniquely goofy way), “How do I get as smart as you?” His answer wasn’t exactly what I expected. He said, “When you have an itch, scratch it.”

It was obvious a follow up question would be needed, so I said “What do you mean?” He responded, “Someone I admired once told me that if was curious about anything I should read 3 books on the subject. If you read 5 you’ll be an expert. That’s because every author reads dozens of books to write their own. If you read 5 its like having read the highlights of 50 books.”

I’ve read 5 books on many subjects and never been invited to pontificate (my prof’s favorite word) on CNN, but I know I’m a lot smarter. Maybe I’ll never be like Dr. Sands, but I know I feel prepared to talk intelligently on a lot more subjects than I did 10 years ago. As a starting point for your deep journey I’m listing my favorite books on various subjects. If you finish this list you probably won’t be an expert either. But, that itch you have will be a lot less annoying after you’ve scratched it…

Prayer:
Spiritual Disciplines:

The short lived fashion trend of wearing a WWJD bracelet has been dead for years. If you’ve been a Christian a decade or more you probably owned one in your life. If not, be grateful that you can be asked that question without immediately thinking of an armband.

So, “What would Jesus do?” If Jesus were living in America in 2012 just before an election of our next President, with debates about homosexuality raging, and the national debt climbing out of control…what would He do? How would He vote, what issues would He comment on, what plan of action would He suggest to climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves financially as a country?

Nobody can really answer that question, but it’s fun to pontificate…

Have you ever heard about a servery overweight person getting kicked out of church for being a glutton? Why don’t Christian picked buffets? Are divorced people told to stay home by pastors until they are remarried to their original spouses? Do we make liars pass a polygraph before they can take communion?
If the Bible teaches the borrower is a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7), that immigrants are to be treated as one of our own (Leviticus 19:34), and that If God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), a gluttonous son was to be stoned (Deuteronomy 21:20-21), and liars are destined for a lake of fire (Revelation 21:8)…why has an issue like homosexuality so easily divided us? With this many Biblical convictions to consider, can we really pick our leaders based solely on their political party?

Maybe, Jesus would stay out of politics and hide behind His “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” comment (John 19:11), because His Dad puts people in office. Maybe, He would simply say, “Then neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11) to the woman who has had an abortion or the man who has committed adultery. It’s even possible that he would hangout with people who would prefer to murder people with fire from Heaven (Luke 9:54) rather then send them away until they matured.

So, here is my WWJD conclusion…

We are not called to judge the type, severity, and quantity of others sin. We are called to love people and share the truth. The truth we share shouldn’t be “YOU ARE A SINNER and headed to Hell!!” The truth they need is that even if you are dying for the crimes you’ve committed (Luke 23:39-43) Jesus loves you and will save you. In other words…there is hope! Hope for salvation, unification, finding our purpose, and a better future (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Train Wrecks

Posted: October 25, 2012 in Church Leadership, Ministry, Theology

There is a sentiment that continues to be perpetuated in Christian circles that we need an amazing testimony to relate to people who have made amazing messes of their lives.

I’ve often wondered, “Why are we so infatuated with the ‘train wreck?’” and I think I understand it now.

Do you really need to have an affair, embezzle money, or just do something stupid to help people who have messed up respond to the Gospel? Would Jesus have done better if He killed off a few pharisees or stolen money out of the Temple to fund His ministry?

On one side it’s true that our sin resume isn’t a ticket to rapport with others who have failed. It shouldn’t be our catalyst to being a guest speaker at a local church or conference. I’m convinced that we love the “train wreck,” because it helps us feel better about our failures when we compare our stories to others. This just shows we don’t understand happens to our sin through the Cross. An axe murder deserves the same thing as a liar, because grace is not getting what we deserve. We all deserve Hell, but get Heaven through Jesus.

So what’s so fascinating about those with gaudy testimonies of God’s grace? Why do they have an audience and have our rapt attention when they share? Why don’t we see the Gospel  as the unifying standard that shows us all that we need God’s grace. The answer might shock you…

People who have messed up just may love Jesus more than you…and that’s contagious. See Luke 7:40-43

Migrant Workers

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Ministry

I’ve heard lots of times people say, “If Jesus was on Earth today _______ is who He would be helping.”  Obviously you can fill in the blank with whatever stokes your passion and if it’s a worth cause you can feel justified in making such a bold statement. I’m not going to go there…

Maybe Jesus would help illegal and legal immigrants who make sure you get your vegetables, watermelons, while keeping your grass mowed, and roads paved.  Maybe he would turn His head, because they snuck in our country, can’t speak English, and took jobs we don’t really want anyway.

I’m not running for office, so I’m just going to tell you why Axiom Church is going to turn our effort, resources, and our passions at helping Migrant Workers and their families.  BECAUSE THEY NEED OUR HELP.

I’ve done block parties, outreaches, random acts of kindness.  Giving a guy who makes $50K+ a year a light-bulb isn’t likely to make them drop to their knees and accept Jesus.  Buying a lady with $100 earrings a $4 coffee probably won’t quicken her soul to the Holy Spirit’s calling. But, giving a Migrant Worker a pair of shoes or a warm jacket just might make them ponder God’s love shown through your kindness.

According to our sources there are 500+ children and 1000+ adults we can help in North Central Florida, so here is what you can do to help:

  • Send men’s shoes (size 7-9) to 5745 SW 75th St. #172 Gainesville, FL 32608
  • Send men’s jackets (small or medium) to the above address.
  • Send children’s size jackets (boys and girls).
  • Send school supplies like pencils, pens, erasers, colored pencils.
  • Send toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, soap, deodorant, and nail clippers.
  • Finally, you can donate through PayPal and earmark it Migrant using the “Make a Donation” button under Axiom Church on this page.

Benchmarks

Posted: November 1, 2010 in Church Leadership, Ministry, Theology

Lots of different ways to see the principle of benchmarks in the world and in the Christian faith.  Accordingly, they can become idols if viewed as more important than our present relationship with God.  Yet, I think Joshua’s leadership in asking the appointed leaders of Israel to gather stones was a powerful tool for recalling God’s miracle.

If you look at the story of Israel it was one of constant backpedaling.  Kind of like the saying, “2 steps forward, 1 step back.”  Of course in their case it might have been more like: “1 step forward and 3 steps back.”  Either way, they struggled to see God’s hand of protection, His will for their nation, and to stick with His guidelines for living.

We are no different today.  Accordingly, we need to write, mark down, or even get a tattoo when God speaks to us about what He said and what happened as a result.  Nothing is more powerful than God’s voice in our lives for knowing what to do.  Our sinful nature makes it tough to continue on the path He gave us and we often need reminders that God neglects to give…with just cause.  It’s like a President having to remind his staff by text about his last instruction after clearly conveying it in a meeting.  I think the best thing we can do is to go back to last time he spoke, moved, or did something in our lives as fuel to carry on…instead of asking for Him to repeat Himself.

Israel didn’t gather stones for exercise they did it for recall.

Got rocks?

Magic 8-ball

Posted: October 29, 2010 in Church Leadership, Theology

How God speaks, if He speaks, how you can tell what He is saying, what He sounds like and how you can be sure it’s God are all great questions of our faith.

As Christians we are looking for His voice to be a little bit more substantial, like a flaming paper airplane out of Heaven with a message about what degree to get, guy to marry, job to take, or business venture to undertake.  Maybe it’s whether or not our kids will ever follow Christ or if the business we started is going to make it.  I would say that no matter the request, at times, we all feel we need something more then “peace” or “fleeces” to guide us…right?  We want our relationship with God and time in prayer to be conversation and for God to let us know what He is up to.

Here is a secret…the God of the universe isn’t a magic 8-ball.  We can’t shake Him up with our prayers and force Him to speak to us.  The complexity, size of the decision, or it’s importance to us won’t force Him to send an angel or burn a bush in our front yard to get us going in the right direction.

I know God the Holy Spirit gives us thoughts, guides us through peace (or a lack of it), and helps us by reminding us of Scripture, but we all long for the supernatural.  We want concrete words, circumstances, and miracles we can use as benchmarks that will give us hope to continue.  According to the Bible even Jesus didn’t get this kind of treatment.  God sent Him to Earth with a mission, but God only “spoke” to Jesus two times in the New Testament that were audible and miraculous.  Once at His baptism and once at the transfiguration.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that it was the only time God led His Son, but it sure means that if God wanted us to have an expectation of constant, supernatural, and insanely obvious feedback to our circumstances, you’d think He would have spoke at some other huge crossroads in Jesus life too.  Like…the death of Lazurus, His arrest, His trial, and at least one or two times the Pharisees cornered Him about being a heretic blasphemer.

I’m trying to learn this reality while still looking for still hoping for “signs” and a vision for our church.  BUT, the reality is just like with Jesus,  all God may give me is a mission to plant a church in Gainesville.  Only I can decide if that will be enough…

When Jesus stepped out of Heaven and decided to take His 33 year sojourn on this Earth He had a very obvious agenda.  As I see it, it was announce the Kingdom of God, challenge people to live by faith, do miracles, and to make disciples.  This way His legacy was secure and His disciples could carry on these tenets when He left.  It goes without saying that He accomplished His mission quite well.

As we look back back on the Scriptures (hindsight being 20/20) it seems clear as crystal what He was doing.  What was shocking and provocative 2000 years ago is vividly clear to us.  So, why is the execution of it so complicated?  Why are there so many books trying to find some edge, or missing element, or uncover a lost truth.  Why has discipleship become so difficult and complicated, while producing so few people willing to execute Jesus’ teachings?  Is it simply that we aren’t divine and therefore can’t do it as good as Jesus.

I don’t think so…He said we would do more.

I think the reason is that we don’t believe Him.  We don’t believe He was serious in the Sermon on the Mount or that Kingdom of Heaven is here (and we are it’s citizens), or that His return is eminent.  Argue if you must, but if your doctor (who graduated from Harvard medical school and was the President’s personal physician) said, “eat one more donut and you will die,” you would probably never go near a Krispy Kreme in your life.  Just saying…