Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Great Commission.9

"Whenever you are invited into a house, offer first a blessing, and say: "Peace be to this house." If those in the house are for peace, your blessing will be accepted, and they will be benefited. If not, the benefits of your blessing will return to you." 


Visiting our local high school one day, I couldn't help noticing the large number of youth lounging on the floor outside the cafeteria during lunch.  When I inquired why, the principle sighed and said, "It's the way they eat their meals at home."  I approached a strange situation: a girl, back against the wall, with a boy laying prone on the floor face down in her lap.  Using my foot I rolled the lad over demanding: "What in the world are you doing?"  He looked at me like I was an alien...

The lesson here:

behavior shaped in the home 
shapes the community!

Who shapes the home?

Better yet: who has authority to shape the home?

Door Knockers for Jesus!
(How's that for a 40-day spiritual adventure slogan?!) This same Jesus who knocks at the door of every heart, sends his followers to knock on the physical doors of the home in order to find those who are yielding to the gentle knocking of the heart.

As a field rep for the nation's largest small business organization I knock on hundreds of doors weekly looking for a certain kind of businessmen: patriots!  Searching for the "Men of Isaachar" who are described as "men who knew the times and knew what Israel should do."  We match these patriots' desire to change the political environment with the effective activity to accomplish it.

Similarly followers of Jesus are called to go find the "man of peace"; i.e., those who are dissatisfied with their present condition and want to match their desire for life with the knowledge of how to know the Life-Giver!

"Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."

- Augustine

If we are honest with ourselves, isn't going door-knocking one of the most terrifying experiences of a human being?  "Jesus you don't really expect me to do that...they'll think I'm one of those JW's!"

But if overcoming fear, discouragment, apathy and other "works of the devil", laying down our lives, looking for the lost sheep, bringing the "benefits of blessing": Light, Life and Love into dark places isn't like the Master, what is?  

Our calling into the Kingdom isn't about knowing stuff about Jesus, its about being like him: to look through love eyes, faith eyes, truth eyes into the eyes of those on the other side of the door...

Music Link:
This Is Where The Healing Begins - 10th Ave North

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Great Commission.8

"If you are not for me, you are against me; 
and they that do not gather with me, scatter."

I gather.

I gather many things.  

  • Pop bottles on the side of the road.  
  • Tools and lumber to build things.  
  • Family & friends for holidays. 
  • Small business owners for membership in the association I work for.
  • Friends who pray for friends.
  • People to meet my Lord.

My gathering is motivated by many things.  Duty. Maturity. Responsibility. Joy. Happiness. Livelihood. Ambition. Obedience. Love. Coffee.

Jesus commands us not, primarily, for activity, but for our development as kingdom citizens.  Gathering is not what we do, as His followers, it is who we are.  By the activity we become the command.  Activity empowered and guided by His Spirit.  Commands that reflect his nature.

  • "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
  • "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"
  • "Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, 'Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
  • "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,"
  • "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather."
  • "And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
  • "But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?"
  • "And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost."
  • "And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, "Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe."
  • For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them."
  • "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me.
  • One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn't even find time to eat.
  • I sent you to harvest where you didn't plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest."


Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, explains that in order to efficiently make something as seemingly insignificant as nails, it takes many workers each doing a small part from gathering ore, to melting it down, making the casts, separating the cooled metal, burnishing the edges, packaging, distribution, and sales.  If one person were to do all those activities only a few nails per day would ever be produced.  But by many people doing a small part, thousands of nails are produced daily.

Jesus has one work of the Father: building a kingdom of righteousness, faith & love.  If our mindset is His, we daily do our part of helping in the effort.  Small as it is--a kind word, a sacrifice of giving, a prayer offered for a friend, work done with integrity, a cup of cold water to a child, a testimony born of need, healing hands, gracious words spiced with a little salt--gathering activity that is marked by His nature.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Great Commission.7

Go announce to the world: "The kingdom of heaven has come to dwell among you."
Heal the sick, restore the lepers to health; raise the dead; cast out devils! Remember what I have told you: "Freely you have received. Freely give!"

Question: What, for God's sake, is the Good News of His Kingdom?

Answer:  That the evidence of the character of His Kingdom is in you, follower of Jesus!!

The angels, in a purity of strength and conviction barely comprehensible to humanity, announced Good Tidings of Great Joy: the Great Gift of God to the  World, the Only Son, the Great Prophet, Healer, Teacher, Giver of Good Gifts, Who Will Save Us From Our Sins!

Years later, reading from the Isaiah scroll in the temple, all of Nazareth's finest gathered to hear their homely son, speak these sweet, gracious words, 'I am come to deliver men from sorrow and pain, ignorance and oppression, everything that makes life hard and unfriendly.' What a gracious speech, what a daring pledge to a world whelmed in tyranny and wrong!" 

 "He is the refuge of the oppressed. By its very woes, as by bitterest medicine, he is setting the world free from sin and woe. This very hour he is curing its disease, the symptoms of which are so varied and so painful; working none the less faithfully that the sick, taking the symptoms for the disease, cry out against the incompetence of their physician. 'What power can heal the broken-hearted?' they cry. And indeed it takes a God to do it, but the God is here! In yet better words than those of the prophet, spoken straight from his own heart, he cries: 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' He calls to him every heart knowing its own bitterness, speaks to the troubled consciousness of every child of the Father. He is come to free us from everything that makes life less than bliss essential. No other could be a gospel worthy of the God of men."

Would it be more or less like Him to commend his followers to the same effort?  

Heal the sick.  In the distracting debate over healthcare, with the world's best resources in science, medicine, and technology, with the ability to routinely replace vital organs, joints and hair we have lost the answer to the question: where does one go to heal a broken heart, a wounded relationship, debilitating despair, enervating evil or empty existence?  What cost to heal the body, what willingness to endure financial, emotional, physical pain for temporary relief?  Freely we have received from the treasure house of healing the things that make life truly worth living: perfecting love!  Let us give freely!

Restore Lepers to Health.  Who are the socially outcast, the ugly, untouchables longing for the gentle touch of humanity to enfold them and draw them away from their loneliness and isolation? In the Kingdom of Love there is no place for racism, bigotry, fear, meanness or misunderstanding.    In the parking lot at Walmart last night I noticed a "man of color" looking under the hood of a car and explaining something to a lady nearby.  After he shut the hood I asked if everything was alright.  He smiled and said he was just explaining how to fix a problem the lady was having with her car.  At the moment a lady of Caucasian complexion strode up offering assistance with a smile.  It was a moment in the brotherhood of kindness.  A moment to drink deeply the love that binds, overcomes, overlooks.

Raise the Dead.   As surely as the fact that there are none so blind as him who will not see, there are none so dead as him who will not live.  May we never be intimidated by the hostility of the spiritually dead but live to bring them to life. "To believe in such a man as Jesus is life from the dead!  To yield oneself, to live no more in the idea of self, but with the life of God.  To commit the creature he has made that He may live in it, and work out its life--develop it according to the idea of it in His own creating mind.  To fall in with His ways is to trust him, to believe in Him, to obey him, to be rendered capable of and receive a pure vision of His will, freedom from the limitation, from bondage to a finite existence.  Less than the liberty of a holy heart, less than the freedom of the Lord himself, will never satisfy one human soul."

Cast Out The Devils.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.  Jesus lived to do His Father's perfect Will.  Jesus died that we might die like him, die to any ruling power but the Perfect Will of God. To be a follower of Jesus is the reason every human being is born!  To live in his power and purpose is light to the world!

quotes from MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, Jesus and his Townsmen

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Great Commission.6

"If you wish to serve me, follow me; 
and where I am, there you, my servant, 
will be as well, honored by my Father."

As Jesus went out of a house, the young man came running to him, and kneeling down in the way, addressed him as 'Good Master.'  (St. Mark 10:10 and 17)

The words with which the Lord interrupts his address reveal the whole attitude of the Lord's being. At that moment, at every and each moment, just as much as when in the garden of Gethsemane, or encountering any of those hours which men call crises of life, his whole thought, his whole delight, was 
  • in the thought,
  • in the will, 
  • in the being of his Father.
The joy of the Lord's life, that which made it life to him, was the Father;
            of him he was always thinking, 
                     to him he was always turning. 

I suppose most men have some thought of pleasure or satisfaction or strength to which they turn when action pauses, life becomes for a moment still, and the wheel sleeps on its own swiftness: with Jesus it needed no pause of action, no rush of renewed consciousness, to send him home; his thought was ever and always his Father. To its home in the heart of the Father his heart ever turned. That was his treasure-house, the jewel of his mind, the mystery of his gladness, claiming all degrees and shades of delight, from peace and calmest content to ecstasy. 

His life was hid in God. No vain show could enter at his eyes; every truth and grandeur of life passed before him as it was; neither ambition nor disappointment could distort them to his eternal childlike gaze; he beheld and loved them from the bosom of the Father. 

It was not for himself he came to the world—not to establish his own power over the doings, his own influence over the hearts of men: he came that they might know the Father who was his joy, his life. 

The sons of men were his Father's children like himself: that the Father should have them all in his bosom was the one thought of his heart: that should be his doing for his Father, cost him what it might! 

He came to do his will, and on the earth was the same he had been from the beginning, the eternal first. He was not interested in himself, but in his Father and his Father's children. 

He did not care to hear himself called good. 
It was not of consequence to him. 
He was there to let men see the goodness of the Father in whom he gloried. 
For that he entered the weary dream of the world, in which the glory was so dulled and clouded. 

'You call me good! You should know my Father!'

from The Way, Unspoken Sermons II, George MacDonald

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Great Commission.5

"Even greater works will you accomplish, 
for I must return to my Father in Heaven."

Where I Belong (click on link for a powerful music video)

For the past few weeks I've worked in an area far from home. The hospitality of my father-in-law has made the time away easier...but it is still not home.

If Home is Where the Heart Is it must not surprise us that for the entire time Jesus walked this planet, surrounded by a faithful earthly father, loving mother, admiring followers, and countless beneficiaries of his amazing grace and power, he yet longed to be where He belonged.

His message was a simple one: if you think I do great things, you should know my Father!  He dwelt for a time in the shadowland, but his heart beat for the Land of Truth and Reality where there is no shifting shadow, no misunderstanding, no illusion, pretense, falseness, impiety, meanness, unfairness, lying, deceit, carelessness, indolence, greed, envy, immorality, impurity, cowardice, infidelity, mockery, murder, anxiety, indifference...

His "must return" is our beacon light to follow as we climb the summit of faith ever closer to the place where He dwells -- in Oneness with the Father of Light, Life and Love.  As we travel our legs grow stronger, our love gets better, our works look more like His, so that even the smallest act of kindness to the least of his brothers multiplied by the innumerable count of faithful followers shines like the stars of heaven!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Great Commission.4

If you believe in me, you will do the same works that I do. 

Immerse yourself, for a moment, in this proclamation by our Elder Brother, Friend, Savior, Lord and Master.

Now combine that thought with this MacDonaldism:
"Jesus has a right to our absolute obedience."

If you, lover of truth, can handle the truth.  
If you, lover of truth, allow truth to stand in judgment of you 
              and resist standing in judgment of truth.

Then let this truth fill your heart: God has a design on our lives that goes beyond occupation, degree, matrimony, parenthood, community standing or history.  It is our birthright.

Notice at the top of this blog page the words: "Will and Obedience the perfecting link between God and man."

Think on the relationship between Perfect Father and Perfect Son.  Perfect Will.  Perfect Obedience.  Obedience is as divine as Will, Service as divine as Rule.  They are one in nature; they are both doing of the truth.  The Fatherhood and the Sonship are one, save that the Fatherhood looks down lovingly, and the Sonship looks up lovingly.  Love is all.

Think about the requirement of the kingdom of God: childlikeness.

Why childlikeness?  Consider the dull disciples arguing about "greatness" in God's kingdom.  Consider our own insecurity in relation to others of skill, wealth, humor, passion, leadership, athleticism, intellect, persuasiveness, experience, position or purpose.
Jesus tells the dull of all ages that the nature of His kingdom lies in the virtue of childlikeness. The very idea of ruling is excluded where childlikeness is the One Essential quality. It is to be no more who rules but who serves; no more who should look down upon his fellows from the conquered heights of authority, but who should look up honoring humanity, ministering unto it, so that humanity itself might at length be persuaded of its own honor as a temple of the living God. Nothing is required of man that is not first in God. It is because God is perfect that we are required to be perfect.

Stop then, this very hour, being a salesman for the local church you attend, the party you rally for, the team you cheer, the race of your birth, the ideology you hold, the doctrines you claim.  Be, from the core of your existence, the thing God designed you for and is perfecting in you: the obedient child of his heart.  Let your "belief" not be demonstrated in the loudness of your words, but in the quiet confidence of the works that tell the world I am like my brother, Jesus. I do his works.  I help, heal and save just like my Father.  Bring Light to dark places.  Bring hope to the hopeless.  

Be the sign of truth that lies in your childlike heart that the eyes that see you and the ears that hear you should be channels to the heart and wake in them the love that peculiarly belongs to the kingdom of God.
(from MacDonalds Unspoken Sermon vol. I, The Child In the Midst