Schlitz

I realized I've been neglecting the beer part of this blog. My bad. I'm drinking schlitz because it was $9.59 for a 12 pack. And I have to say. Not too shabby for an inexpensive beer.

Schlitz and A Generous Orthodoxy by McLaren. Beer and theology. See how well they go hand in hand.

The trouble with being 'self-aware'

One thing people have said of me for a long time is that I'm self aware. It's true in the sense that I know who I am, what I believe, why I do what I do etc... But there are some pitfalls.

For example. Today I was reading a book on the Holy Spirit's role in our ministry, particularly preaching. And the author of this book keeps putting forth the idea that the weak are the heroes in God's kingdom. Not the strong. Because they are incredibly aware of their need for the Lord. So follow me if you will into my thought life as I read this:

Okay, this is a bummer because I'm good at a lot of things. I do not consider myself weak. I consider myself able. This is a bad thing in the Kingdom of God right? So maybe I should make myself weaker? No... that's probably not at all what it's saying. Probably what it is is that the heroes in God's kingdom may by all means be considered able by other's standards, but they still recognize their worthlessness when compared to God (the only one I should be comparing myself to anyhow). Okay so I need to recognize my worthlessness when standing before the Lord. If I see how useless I am without the Lord then I will be aware of my weaknesses and then know my need to depend on the Lord.

Alright. I can do that. Right?

Actually, maybe I do already do that. I feel like the Lord has overwhelmingly blessed my ministry even though I've been bumbling through like an idiot having no idea what I'm doing. Oh, then maybe I HAVE been depending on the Lord aware of my weaknesses and aware of my need for God. Wow then I'm doing pretty great.


You see how quickly I come full circle? Pondering -> pride -> awareness of my pride and need for humility -> humility -> awareness of my humility -> pride in my humility.

Ah. What a retched man I am.

A prayer (Isaiah 50:4)

"The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught. " - Isaiah 50:4

Oh Lord that we would hear your words with clarity. That you would give us clarity of mind and wisdom of speech to preach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness those you've called us to shepherd. That we would know your word clear enough to follow you with supernatural understanding.

Heavenly father you alone by your spirit speak truth and we need your truth every day. We ourselves are weary Lord and how can we hope to sustain "him who is weary" without the daily necessary grace that you provide. Lord give us what we need and give us an overflow as we approach today knowing full well we cannot do it on our own.

Bless the ministry that you have given us, and make us men after your heart, your mind, and your will. Help us to seek your Kingdom and not our own. To call men and women to be who you have called them be and not who we have called them to be.

Awaken our ears Lord to hear those who are taught. Give us the tongue of those who are taught. By your grace alone we live today.

Amen.

My power and my might have not gotten me this wealth (Deuteronomy 8:17)

"Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’" - Deuteronomy 8:17

This is a fantastic verse. It's surrounded by a reminder to the Israelites about who their God is. They have no reason to become haughty thinking they've accomplished anything on their own because it is only by God's grace they have anything.

Recently I was talking about something similar to this with a friend of mine. How often I read the Old Testament and just shake my head in awe at how dumb the Jews were. They were the chosen people of God, and yet they complain when their God saves them from slavery. They forfeit a whole generation in the Promised Land because they cant trust the God who had literally just parted the waters of the Red Sea so they could cross on dry ground. The list goes on and on, including walls falling down because they walk around a city for 7 days. It's absolutely absurd the visibility of God in their lives and yet they cant follow Him. They look again to their own strength.

You read this and it's just bewildering how big of idiots they can be. And then you look at your own life and how often you lack trust in the Lord even though He ALWAYS comes through for you. And you look again to your own strength.

The Lord has worked in my life in some absurd ways. Many of them as blatant as the walls of Jericho falling before my very eyes (though few as awesome). And yet I look to the Lord in the morning in prayer as though He's absolutely impotent. Powerless. As though who He is has nothing *really* to do with my life. If I need help I need to do it myself.

But then I remember, my power and the might of my hand have NOT gotten me this wealth, have NOT gotten me this joy, this satisfaction in life. God's power and the might of His hand are the only reason I have any hope in life. Let alone this overwhelming joy I can't help but share with others.

Lord help me not to forget.

p.s. As a side note, I just got back to the lovely U.S. of A. two days ago. I not only survived the flight I did quite well. I've been praying for courage in flying for about six months. The Lord has power to overcome even irrational fears.

To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22)

"Behold, ​to obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Sam 15:22)

This morning I'm wondering how many Christians out there are doing what they do because they believe it is a sacrifice to the Lord, but are in fact living in disobedience. I wonder how many people have been called to Africa and have said in their hearts, "Lord, I don't really want to do that, so how about I volunteer to do Sunday School instead?"

The numbers may be small, but given what I know about my nature as a sinful man I wouldn't be surprised if they were great. All these people everywhere sacrificing instead of obeying.

Its interesting to see some of the other things that are quoted as better than sacrifice too, for example take a look at these:

"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil." - Ecclesiastes 5:1

"For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." - Hosea 6:6

"Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." - Matthew 9:13

"And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless." - Matthew 12:7

"And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." - Mark 12:33

Life. Trips home. And why

Today I challenged a local friend of mine to take over the work I've been doing here. I'm excited that he's interested although it's at least a year in the figure yet. He's a good guy and will likely do an excellent job. Unfortunately the way I've crafted the position makes it near impssible for a lay person to take over (as opposed to a full time worker). So there are kinks to work out. But whatever the case this is without a doubt a step in the right direction.

In less than four days I'll be on a plane back to America. And that's always exciting. You know they have donuts, Mexican food and delicious delicious beer there? (the second delicious added for good measure)

A week from Monday I'll know if my next kiddo is a boy or a girl and in just over 4 weeks and trips to 4 states I'll be back here.

If you think of it keep me in your prayers. I don't travel too well. Which means I chose the wrong description. But whatever.

Today was our last ministry event for the year and included a trip to the country side, peaches, a mountain hike, sweat, and my baby throwing up all over the car on the way there. Some blessings come in the strangest packages and smell of the oddest things. My God loves me good.

P.s. This is my first post from my iPhone and may have some formatting issues.

What is the point of our lives, what is the great commission, and do "people groups" have special significance? (Matthew 28:19-20)

It feels like I've asked this before, but since I believe it was not avail here it goes again.
I'm really annoyed lately by some friends of mine who are die hard believers that:
1. The point of our lives is to fulfill the great commission
2. The great commission will be complete when there is someone from every "people group" who is a believer
3. Then the end will come - and this is a good thing.

My thoughts are this:
1. The point of our lives is to live a life of enjoying our savior and creator. This will include fulfilling the great commission.
2. The great commission is to preach the gospel to EVERYONE (that is, ethne in Matthew 28 means EVERYONE, not "people group" in whatever way we may describe that, but any people group is made up of PEOPLE which are included in EVEROYNE).
3. None of us have any idea when Jesus will come back, we cannot "bring it about" by seeing if we can get one believer in each "people group." And it will be a good thing when it happens, because God will be ready - not we've made Him ready.

Am I missing something? Is there a good reason for the Joshua project if this is the case?

Now don't get me wrong, some people have a heart for unreached people groups. Great. Go get em. EVERYONE needs to hear and how will they hear if we don't tell them? But that doesn't mean evangelism to a small tribe in the mountains of central Asia are more important than your neighbor Joe (unless God calls you to said tribe). God loves people. God wants EVERYONE to know Him. Not just every language so the songs in heaven are pretty enough.

Help me out. What do you think?

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them min the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." - Matthew 28:19-20