Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Love

"The Bible promises--and history confirms--that close encounters with the lived-out gospel will be attractive and compelling." 
--Fritz Kling, from The Meeting of the Waters

Friends, that is really good news.

Because in this moment, there are some startling statistics that I can't get out of my head.

When non-Christians aged 16 to 29 years old were asked, “What is your current perception of Christianity?” here’s how they responded:
  • 91% anti-homosexual
  • 87% judgmental
  • 85% hypocritical
  • 78% old-fashioned
  • 75% too involved in politics
  • 70% out of touch with reality
  • 70% insensitive to others
Woah. Oh man, does that bother anyone else?

On this Maundy Thursday, I just got a history lesson from Facebook, and more specifically, from a status update taken from Tapestry Church of the Nazarene:
"Maundy" comes from the the latin word 'Mandatum' (from which we get the English word 'mandate'). It is a verb that means "to give," "to entrust," or "to order." The term is sometimes translated as "commandment." 
According to John, as Jesus and the Disciples were eating their final meal together before Jesus’ arrest, he washed the disciples' feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood! After they had finished the meal, Jesus "mandated" a commandent unto them:

"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 have love for one another." -- John 13:34-35

Those statistics tell me that WE, the Church that bears the name of Jesus Christ, are not doing a very good job of following that commandment.

But the thing is, Jesus wasn't really about general statistics. He wasn't really about ideologies and therums. Jesus was about people. Meeting them where they were, knowing them, loving them, and calling them to something more. 

If Jesus was about people, shouldn't we be about them to? Knowing them? It's hard to be anti-_____________ when you know the person who is identified by that blank. It starts with meeting them, right where they are, and continues with knowing. And then loving. Not just in theory, but with action.

Then, just maybe, we can be identified as disciples of Jesus Christ, our Savior who gave his life up to bear our sins and conquer death and the power of sin.

So friends, may we love recklessly, not holding anything back. This, and only this, will lead people to an encounter with the lived-out gospel. Which in turn, will be attractive and compelling for those around us who have never seen the power of the gospel.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Are The Redeemed

The two parts of this blog post made me tear up.

The F Word Part One and Part Two

And then I prayed, and I will keep praying, "Lord, help your Church represent you well. The culture wars are ugly. But we are called to love. Your disciples will be recognized by how they love. Your Church should be a people with whom love abounds. Help us, gracious Father. Your Word is truth and your Word is life, so help the people who are called by your name to bear them well. May your grace abound within our buildings, within our gatherings, within our midst wherever we find ourselves. For we are the redeemed. Amen."

As we participate in Holy Week this year, my thoughts are drawn to the Christ--Crucified and Risen. Church, have we lost our focus on our Lord? "He became sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God." 

I believe sin is very real, and it is the ugliest, most evil force existing in the world today.

And it is in me.

I deal with its force everyday. And I believe this is not a unique ailment that pertains only to me, but rather that it pervades the Church as well. At least I'm pretty sure that only confessed sinners are in need of a Savior.

So if the Savior is real in the lives of the Believers, then I believe we need to start extending the same grace we have received. Lay down the culture wars. Just stop participating, and start imitating Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are." He is absolutely right. Let's stop keeping ourselves blind by focusing on another's sin. For he or she is as entitled to the grace we have received from Jesus Christ as much as we are. I want to recognize my own failings and shortcomings so much, that I can't dare to lift up a rock to throw it at someone else, clinging so desperately to my Redeemer every single day. 

Now imagine if all of us who call ourselves the Church would lay down our rocks, cling to the Redeemer, and just bask in his love.

Something tells me that we would become a far more effective agent of His grace in this world.

Savior, help us. 

We are the Redeemed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review: Love Does by Bob Goff

Bob Goff sharing his cell phone number at the end of his book, Love Does, was genius.

Because during the course of the book, you begin to feel like Bob might be your coolest friend. At least you want him to be your friend, and you feel like he might actually want to be your friend, too.

Bob Goff is the guy who got into law school by sitting on a bench outside the dean's office for a week. He's the guy who thought it was a prank when he was asked to be Honorary Consul for Uganda. Bob Goff is the guy who never let's his phone go to voicemail. 

Goff’s book is in no way a self-help book, like some may expect, although he begins each chapter with a belief about life that he previously held, and what he believes now. He illustrates these statements with a story in the chapter, a story that makes you believe that it is possible to live a “secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.”

Each chapter reads like a stand-alone essay, but weaves a beautiful picture of a life where love is not stationary; love does.

Love Does is phenomenal, not just because of the vocabulary or the writing style; Bob Goff speaks of God’s love that compels all the rest…a faith that does

This is the heart of that love:

Love doesn't just think about it.
Love doesn't just plan it.
Love does it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Zero Degrees Latitude

It is a rare Saturday night where I find myself at home, and while overall it has been a relaxed (dare-I-say-lazy?) day, I find myself thinking about all the things left to accomplish in less than two months in Ecuador.

I have many pictures to share about what I've been up to here as I have travelled all over Ecuador in search of 40/40 candidates, but I am still looking to the future, thinking about how we still need eleven more 40/40s from Ecuador, and we don't have much time. With that said, we are definitely relying on God, knowing that he has given us the candidates we already have, and will provide who we still need!

I have had two big moments recently that I wanted to share about:

The first was my three-year-anniversary in South America. That's right, I've been a missionary for three years, living in Peru for the majority of that time, but also in Ecuador. I want to thank YOU for the prayers and financial support that have made that happen.

The second was a couple of weeks ago, where I walked into church, and realized that it was the first time during the new year that I could go to church and just BE. I could sit anywhere, and just listen, because I didn't have to get up and promote the 40/40 program and Extreme Nazarene.

It has been a busy time for the mobilization team, bussing all over the place to cast the Extreme South America vision. Last month, though, when we had some special visitors, we got to be tourists for a bit and explore Quito, visiting some of the major sites to be found in the city. We went on a bus tour of Quito and also visited the Middle of the world, more commonly known as the Equator. Being able to stand in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere at the same time was on my bucket list, so I got that checked off!

God has been so good to me! I sometimes want to get stressed out about all the work we still have to do, and meeting my goals, but when I just rely on Him, he gives me so much peace, and he ultimately takes care of everything.