Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Disciples Share Secrets of the Kingdom


Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom. I believe the secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to us (Matthew 13:11). This kingdom message is the reason Jesus came (Luke 4:43). So I'm examining different passages related to this kingdom message.


Matt 10 is all about the instructions Jesus gives His disciples as he sends them out to preach for the first time on their own. They had been following Jesus as he preached about the good news of the kingdom of God. They have watched Jesus heal the sick and defeat evil that had a grip on many people. Now it is their turn to go out an do the same.

Matt 10:1 (NIV)

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
...

Matt 10:5 - 15 (NIV)
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
Parallel passage in Luke 9:1-6 (NIV)
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

A couple of thoughts:
  • To be a disciple meant learning the ways of your rabbi, and following their lead. The disciples of Jesus here are given the task of going out and doing what Jesus had been doing. Preaching about the kingdom of God, healing the sick, and freeing people from the bondage of evil.
  • Are we disciples of Jesus today? Should we also be about the same tasks?
  • The message was "the kingdom of God has come near." I think this is closer to "the reign or rule of God is here" than "believe in Jesus so you can go to heaven when you die."
  • The actions were healing the sick, and freeing people from the bondage of evil. Proof that the reign of God was present.
  • (I may not be the right person to point this out. But it's in this passage, so here are my thoughts. You are welcome to take it or leave it, or share your thoughts.) Freely they received, freely they gave. No talk of passing a plate or collecting tithes and offerings. In the context here, the phrase "the worker is worth his keep" does not imply earning a wage for the work they did. It seems God would find people to provide food and shelter for these men as they traveled from town to town. This passage (nor any NT passage that I've found) says nothing about paying a wage to someone hired to stay in a community and preach every week.

Challenge to myself: What would it look like if I was living like a disciple of Jesus today? How can I share with others that Jesus wants to reign in their lives now and into eternity. How can I bring God's power into their present situations to heal them from the powers of darkness that so often rule.

Related Posts:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Missional Church



I came across this great 2 minute video describing what it calls 'Missional Church'.

It poses the question:

Is the point to bring people to church?

Or is the point for the church to go out to the people?

Or maybe there is a healthy balance between the two. What do you think?

Related Posts:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Have It All Figuerd Out

It is common in Christian circles to point fingers at other Christians or groups of Christians. There are so many Christians teaching really wrong stuff on so many levels. It is common to go as far as concluding that they are a cult, or false teachers, and that they likely are not even true Christians.

I find it a little arrogant. Considering all the denominations, movements and doctrines across church history. To assume my corner has finally got it figured out the best is equally misguided.

But what is the mark of a true Christian? How can we tell if someone is really a Christian?

1 John 3:10 (NIV)

"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister."
Oooh, I don't like the sound of this. I still have many moments when I do not do what is right. What is John talking about? I'd encourage you to read all of 1 John chapters 2, 3 and 4 to see the big picture of what John is saying here. The previous chapter, the rest of this chapter, and the next are making the case that the mark of a true Christian is that they love God and love others (specifically other Christians). Here are a few snippets:

1 John 2:9 (NIV)
"Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness."
1 John 3:23 (NIV)
"And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. "

1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. "
And this lines up with Jesus' words in John 13:34-35 (NIV):
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The love of God in my heart, and the love I have for others is the sign that God is living in me. Not so much that I have it all figured out.

There I figured it out! :)

But you don't have to figure it out.

Love is the answer.

But knowing the answer isn't the goal.

Living in love is.

Related Posts:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playdough Scripture Rev 20:14-15


"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. where sinners will live for eternity in a state of conscious torment. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 20:14-15 (Playdough Version)



Why would John say "The second death" here if he meant "eternal conscious torment"?

Yes verse 10 says "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. " (NIV)

Maybe the devil, the beast, and the false prophet are not mortals. Maybe they are eternal beings. I don't know. But I know verse 14 and 15 does not use the same wording for the people who are thrown into the lake of fire.

What could second death mean? To die a second time, after the final judgment? Or did he really mean to say live for eternity... just a really bad form of eternal life?

The question is: Does Scripture teach that all mortals live for eternity?

This is just a few of the many verses that, if read literally, contrast death for some with eternal life for others.

For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die. (Ezekiel 18:4 NIV)

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28 NIV)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36 NIV)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 6:23 NIV)

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death." (1 John 3:14 NIV)
Related Posts:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Judgement Day Princess Bride Style

(Warning: If you haven't watched Princess Bride as often as me, this may not make any sense.)


God:

All right. When is judgment day?
The battle of wits has begun.
It ends when you decide and we both wait and find out who is right...and who is dead.

Vizzini:
But it's so simple.
All I have to do is divine from what I know of you:
are you the sort of god who tells us May 21st is judgment day?
Now, a clever god would hint that it may be May 21st just to get everyone to repent. But only a great fool would believe since Jesus didn't even know the day or the hour. But I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose May 21st. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not assume it is not May 21st.
God:
You've made your decision then?
Vizzini:
Not remotely.
Because there have been so many previous judgment day predictions, as everyone knows, and they have all obviously been wrong, so considering the pattern I clearly can not believe May 21st is judgment day.
God:
Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Vizzini:
WAIT TILL I GET GOING! Where was I?
God:
previous predictions.
Vizzini:
Yes, previous predictions.
And you must have suspected I would see the pattern and be suspicious this time. You would have expected this, so I can clearly should choose the date in front of me.
God:
You're just stalling now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Temple Blueprint


The Temple in Jerusalem was the dwelling place of God. It was a sacred place of worship.

The Old Testament was quite specific when it came to how God's temple was organized and built. King David claims in 1 Chronicles 28:11–19 that God gave him plans for the temple but his son would be the one to build it. 1 Kings 7:27-37 gives specific details about the temple that his son king Solomon built. Every detail is covered.

However, it is a common belief that the New Testament does not give us specific details about how the New Testament church should be organized and structured. So we get different opinions on:

  • Steeple, Cross, icons
  • Sunday or Saturday
  • Children included or separate
  • Priest, Pastor, Minister, Reverend, Brother, Father, Elder, Deacon
  • Pews, chairs, semi-circle
  • Sacraments, sermons, singing
  • Big building, small building
I've previously accepted this belief. There are not any New Testament passages that speak about the Sunday Morning church services like are common today. So we seem free to decide what they should look like, who should lead it, etc.

However when I stop and think about it. That would be pretty strange. Why would Jesus come and make a new covenant and build a new church, but not give us a blueprint for what it should look like.

However the New Testament is very clear on what the new Temple should look like.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. " (Acts 17:24 NIV)

"Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?" (1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV)

"you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Pet 2:5 NIV)

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;" (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV)
"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16 NIV)
"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. " (Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV)

I think this is very awesome and challenging at the same time. God dwells in me and in His church (people). If someone wants to meet God, they should go find God in His temple. That temple is me/us. When someone meets with us, they should see God at work.

Jesus also spoke about this to the Samaritan woman. We don't need a special building or rituals to worship God anymore.
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:19-24 (NIV)
Related Posts:
Thanks Keith Giles for a free ebook, This Is My Body. I haven't finished reading it yet, but it got me thinking on this topic.