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Archive for June, 2008

Here in Kansas City, Missouri some families have decided to pack up and move from the suburbs to the “HOOD.” The church they attend is a church I could have easily been apart of but God saw it better for me to be a part of Christ Fellowship of KC. Some of the families at this church(Faith Community Church) have been living there for years. Jason Dawson who is a member at that church and fellow blogger lives in the Northeast part of KC with his family and others from his church have followed. (his blog is http://urbanreformation.com) We have heard of this at my church and have decided to do the same. Many at our church like myself have put their house on the market and this will be their next move God willing. I think this is an excellent sense of community that believers desire and even want to mimic when looking at the first century church. Jason wrote this article and I thought it was great! Enjoy!

 

Today started off innocent enough, we are preparing for our annual BYBC (Back Yard Bible Club) out of our home next week. One of the things I’ve noticed from living in the city for a few years now is the fact that when we moved down here, it was to bring Christ into this place. It was to bring light into darkness.

However one of the things that our flesh automatically does without our taking notice, is it has us in the same routines we used to do when we lived in the suburbs. In other words, we have not been engaged in the city like we should. We would often eat out in restaurants outside of the the North East, and do most of our shopping outside of the north east. I would go to work and come home. This is what most of America does, we live in these compartments of comfort and safety and we have been no different.

My family and I started the day off by considering these things, and making our way to Budd Park city pool not too far from our home, in order to be intentional. We have always managed to find the ability to swim outside of the city because often it’s been outside of what we know and our comfort zone. However today we went there with the intention of passing out flyer’s for the back yard bible club next week. I was surprised when there were several there who seemed interested especially one Hispanic man and his son.

It was a small pool but the whole family enjoyed themselves and well I got a little too much sun. Regardless we were able to pass out several flyers for the BYBC and we are hopeful some might come. May we continue to pray for the families we spoke to as well.

And then if I didn’t have enough I spoke with a friend of mine who’s in our shepherding group and he came over for dinner this evening. Things went very well at the pool so I asked him if he would go down to Independence Avenue with me. Little did I know what we would encounter as we went out to share Christ. We prayed and both of us having a conversation of this to be genuine sharing Christ and we desired that it not be just something wrote or disingenuous, but that the Holy Spirit would empower His people to share His Grace.

The first guy we ran into started speaking about terrestrials, and he was speaking to himself in the air before we got there. He spoke of uncloaking people. We did the best we could to speak to him but he was not receptive, we gave him a book Pursuing God—A Seeker’s Guide and just then another gentleman walked up to us probably late 20’s with a baseball cap, white guy with gold fronts. He was wanting to go “kick it” somewhere and just then Bobby mentioned that we are here to share the gospel with him. We let him speak for quite a while, it was a bi-polar conversation, and just as there was a crack for us to make our way in the bus came and he took off, yes with a book as well.

As we began to walk down the street slowly looking around finally we crossed, and there was a guy who we attempted to speak to, asking him “do you know who Jesus Christ is?” he replied, ” that’s a funny question because I think you know who I am” and then he walked off. We by this time were perplexed about our encounters.

Until we came down the block and as I prayed I was wondering if we’d encounter anyone who’s conscience wasn’t so seared by the things of this world so that they could hear a crying out for them to believe on Jesus Christ that they might be saved.

Right about this time we see this woman sitting right about where the back of this white car is now. We asked her simply, ” Did she know who Jesus was?” Almost in an instant her eyes welled up with tears. This poor haggard woman was probably in her early to mid 40’s. She had kind of colored reddish brown hair. She had one top tooth and her bottom teeth were black and crooked. She looked worn from drugs, abuse, possibly prostitution at some point.

Bobby and I weren’t prepared for the conversation that we had next. She said yes she knows who Jesus is, and she said that she believes in Jesus. I have counseled and spoken to dozens of addicts who say Jesus and then they love the world. This woman was different. I don’t have the conversation verbatim, however one of the first things she said is that, “God chooses people and he hasn’t chosen me.” She said she married a Christian man at the age of 33 and lived as a believer for 5 years, and gave her whole heart to God, but God would never free her from her addictions. She had heard countless stories and seen them of how people came into churches and were saved and then freed from their addiction but she’s cried and pleaded to God to free her, and she said all the immoral things I do, I’ve asked him to take it from me and he just won’t. If you could see the pain and agony in her tears, the worn face, and the tired and probably high countenance.

We had never encountered someone who had in a sense “right” doctrine and saw that in spite of her incessant crying out to God, she could not free herself, and He seemingly to her, would not help her. Bobby comforted her with these words, if you had to live in torment all the days of your life, and in agony, and pain, would your faith be worth it, is God whom you trust in? She insisted that she believes in God and that she will until the day she dies, but He has not chosen her, and so she’s given up. I tried to point her to the fact that as long as she has breath it’s not too late, and that even right now if God’s in control of everything, that us meeting her in that very moment was His purposed plan to call her back out of darkness into light.

Bobby had more words of comfort for her in the sense that he has experience with similar situations and to be truthful we were shown a glimpse of a perspective that we knew was out there but never had anticipated an articulation of theology from an addict on the streets. I pray that God will use this meeting with Donna to bring her to Himself, I’ve never seen anyone so seemingly desperate for God, and honest about it since I’ve been down here.

This was an encounter I will never forget. I’m sure Bobby won’t either, and it’s a wake up call to sitting, living compartmentally, socially detracted, and distracted from the movement of the Gospel to move men and women to engage the people around them.

We pray soon that we’ll make this a regular practice and we’ve picked out a starting point on Independence Avenue. For those of you that don’t know Independence Avenue is one of the most difficult places in Kansas City MO in regards to sin and crime. I’m still processing through everything that happened tonight so please forgive me if I’ve not articulated well, or that I leave any theological cliff hangers dangling because these are things that when they are on paper, and in the pages of books they can seem very comforting, and trustworthy but this increased God’s enormity in my life this evening in the sense that I am nothing before Him but an instrument. I hope an instrument that He might use to people to really engage people who are not like themselves.

For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. –1 Corinthians 9:16-23

If anyone knows me I don’t use this passage to justify being like the world but I view this passage as having to know and be engaged in peoples life, in their context for the genuine purpose, like Paul, to Share Christ with the lost.

So I charge all of you to pray for Donna, the lady we met this evening! And then I challenge all of you to look up, and see what we’re missing when it comes to lost souls!!!

The same savior that saved you desires for others to make disciples as an imperative in Mathew 28, in an authentic genuine way that will bring honor and Glory to His name.

If you’re interested in sharing Christ on Independence Avenue we will be doing it again next week starting here.

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Above is a picture of a board room with unlimited potential. You see I am in Corporate America and these men and women drive the vision and future of the company. Their decisions can effect the value of a companies stock, which in turn effects investors confidence, which in turn effects its long-term and even short-term status. Why do I preface this post with such statements? Glad you asked! Because “WE” as the Body of Christ are not an organization rather locally or universally. We are an organism led by one head and His name is Jesus Christ.

I was on-line looking at new churches in my area (Frisco/Denton/McKinney) and came across a site because of its billboard marketing. I was excited to see what they were about. I typed in the URL with great anticipation and “wahlah” I come to this website that is very professional and very attractive. As I read along on the site I saw a link on the side called “Board of Directors”. I said to myself “self, surely this board of directors must be a mistake”. But I was floored to find out that it wasn’t. The church “leadership” was actually called a “Board of Directors”. What! Are we serious?

If this doesn’t trouble you, then there is something wrong with your ecclesiology and searching and studying the scriptures to line up with a biblical ecclesiology should be the next step you take. If anyone is the board of directors in our church they are called the “TRINITY” and the direction they have given in the scriptures is our SOP! The funny thing is this church wasn’t a charismatic or prosperity church (Charismatic in the extreme sense not the continuationist use of the word). This was a bible church from an esteemed seminary in the area.

Why is this important? I am glad that you are inquiring about such matters! Our ecclesiology effects the way we operate as a gathering, and the way we operate as a gathering effects the way we interact with one another. When a “Board of Directors” are driving the “vision” of the church, church becomes a thing not who “we” are and worship becomes a commodity and so do the people of God. So people who can’t keep up with the well oiled machine (or people who refuse to anyway) they are treated as assembly line workers and are pushed aside for young more energetic more “gifted” individuals. This is what happens in corporate america. The “vision” of the company becomes the driver not the “people” of the company.

You see when we have a “visionary” sidebar here with a high level of frustration! Can someone please show me in scripture where there is a “visionary” in the gathering of believers. Can someone please give me the address of this verse? This is really troubling to me and I am not using hyperbole here. Nowhere and I do mean nowhere in scripture is the word “visionary” ever used to describe: elders, pastors, deacons, or anyone else with leadership capacity. This is crap folks and it needs to stop today. Now back to the program at hand.

You see if the vision of the corporation is to grow by 25% in markets that we are not currently in and everyone is not on board with such aggressive growth then that person is a hindrance to the “vision” and must be replaced by those who can “get on board”. This is much like I see in “local” churches. The believers are stretched thin trying to keep up with the “vision” of the “senior pastor” (where in the heck is this foolishness) or the “elder board” (where in the heck is this foolishness), or now the “board of directors” (now at least elder and pastor are in scripture you should be stoned for this foolishness). So instead of being able to minister and serve one another, we spend most of our time building programs and being “missional” (what is this foolishness).

We have but one vision and it is found in Matthew 28. How that if flushed out I believe we are given flexibility. But when “organization” takes precedence and vision becomes the driver of the gathering then we have devalued what Christ has but infinite value in, namely His “bride” which is also His body. So in short I am troubled by such “clubs” as a board of directors, pastoral board or even deacon board. We have lost the priesthood of believers and have ignored Christ commands in which He says:

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Lets take Jesus’ words serious. He died so that we can become His body and that we can be all one in Him. We don’t need board of directors and visionaries. We need leaders who will serve and humble themselves. We need leaders with feet in their hands with a bucket of water near by. We need shepherds who actually “know” their sheep and we need a body of believers who really desire to fulfill what is found in the New Testament. Lets stand and applaud the Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Immutable and Eternal board of directors…..The Godhead!

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Self Destruction

Three Things

1. Hip Hop had a message
2. I believe the 90’s was the worst dressing decade ever (at least the 80’s has some redemption)
3. MC Lyte has the illest verse!

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I have come to the conclusion that very essence of the “Priesthood of All Believers” is beginning to erode! Why do I say such a thing? Well as usually I am glad that you have asked. I actually didn’t coin this phrase. I borrowed it from our Calvin Clark someone who discipled me years ago and still mentors me and is the family pastor of my home church. I just wanted to clarify. But I say this because of the dependency of those labeled “laymen” today.

This year or maybe late last year I saw the release of two books that greatly troubled me. Both were books on how to read books of famous theologians. Now for some that may not be an issue but for me it seems a bit crazy. So not only do I need to read the old theologian now I can read a book that helps me read the theologian. How about this, I go to the bible and read God’s word myself. That may seem arrogant and forgive me if you are reading it this way; however I feel very pressed to write this and allow the chips to fall where they may. There has been some adverse effects due to this also.

1. Flocking to the best teacher syndrome.

I have been reading some blogs lately and have been heart-broken. I don’t know where to begin. For starters, I know people individually who go to one church for the teaching and another for the fellowship. Some people even recommend that if your pastor is not a great “expositor” (can somebody show me a great expositor in the scriptures please or even the word exposition) then you have the right to leave your local gathering. Now for one thing you are no more responsible to stay at one local gathering as you are to wear the same pair of underwear but this is a different topic. But to abandon a group of believers that know you and can help “spur you on” because you are not being “fed” is downright horrible! To recommend they leave is even worse.

Now I have to take a sidebar here that may cause some of you to get upset and I am fine with that. What we call teaching today ain’t teaching! Plain and simple. I wrote this on Pulpit Magazine also. To have someone come and “expound” scripture to you for 45 minutes to an hour while you sit there and listen isn’t teaching the last time I checked. When I teach my son how to ride a bike, I don’t get on the bike ride it for an hour then say here have at it. Teaching first requires interaction, feedback, answering of questions and the like. Today we have made Sunday School or different small groups this but Sunday is the day to showcase exposition skills and you become a spectator not a pupil! Now back to the original program

What this has caused is the “I am of Peter” and “I am of Paul” Christianity. So we have guys not quoting scripture and coming to it to find their answers but going to their “Rabbis” and getting answers. Doesn’t seem much different than Jesus’ day to me but I will regress.

2. People come to the fisherman not the lake!

What we have then is people now becoming dependent on teachers instead of going to the word themselves and getting an answer from God. This is sad. Hence the welfare system. Feed someone for free long enough and they will not have a desire to work for it. This is what we have today. People pop on an Ipod instead of their bibles. People read books instead of their bibles (nothing wrong with reading but you better come with a heart to wrestle with the text they provided and get your own answer). Their doctrinal convictions come from those who have published work instead of the one who published the source of their work, namely God. The dangers of this can be huge. It is funny that the Reformers fought to get a bible in everyone hands and we turn around and give it back to our “pastors” so they can tell us what is in it!

3. Pulpits are not the Center of the Church Christ is

I actually wrote on this before but will touch on it again. Christ is the center of the local gathering not the Pulpit. When the writer of Hebrews is telling them not to forsake the gathering please read the reason why found in Chapter 10:

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The purpose is to spur one another on, not to have the scriptures expounded. If that is a time of just prayer, bible study methods, testimonies, coming to evangelize, or just partaking of the Lord’s Supper and discussing the word then all of those would fall into this category. This is what they did in Acts 2. Sunday has now become like a close Lakers game. Give Kobe the ball and let everyone stand around and watch. We have given our “pastors” the bible and everyone stands around and waits. This would be foreign to anyone in the first few centuries of the church where the gatherings would have been interactive.

So how does this erode the priesthood of all believers? We see it with clergy/laymen distinctions. We see it when the teaching is only in the hands of the “pastors” and that teaching is more like a presidential address than it is a teaching. We see it because believers can’t stand on their own legs but must quote one of their famous theologians, and we see it because people would rather read a book than spend a few hours in their bibles wrestling with the scriptures. In turn most Christians come like the seal or whale at the zoo! The wait for the zookeeper to toss them some fish until they are hungry again, instead of being out in the wild fighting for survival. Our current teaching style is making stronger Christians maybe more heady Christians but their dependence on man not the Spirit!

 

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Okay I have had this album for a long time and wanted to give  a quick but needed review. Flame is probably my favorite Holy Hip Hop guy. His lack of fear of using deep theological truths, while simultaneously speaking the language of the culture most influenced by Hip Hop has been amazing. I have actually met a couple of people who were so influenced by the music especially “Give us the Truth” and “Real One” that they left their churches and the very destructive and heretical “Word of Faith Churches” that our destroying the gospel in our communities (Dollar, Bynum, Bryant, Price and other very lost man).

With that said here is a quick review of the Album. I will start with my favorite song. “I Been Redeeme”. The track is pulsating, head banging, and the lyrics well… Trip and Flame together over the midwest 808 is no brainer. Flame says “From the Abrahamic Covenant back to Noah’s Flood, back to Genesis 1 back before the World was, even before the serpent was even lurking in Eden’s grass, before Adam ate in eterity past” Say what!!!! He is speaking of God electing us before the foundation of the world but the world play is ridiculous. So this is maybe my favorite song.

Next up is “Power in His name” it is one a very Christ exalting, worship song beautiful hook and lyrics, “Pluck us out His Hand” and “Joyful Noise” are tied for third for me. Lecrae says “Yo boy’s been a Christian quite a few years, victory in faith but I failed in my fears, I heard a lot of words that have tickled many ears, that why I praise God for the word that we adhear”. Flame verse is just as fire but don’t have the time and don’t want to misquote the lyrics.

The rest of the album is very good. The album features Shai Linne, Future, Izrael, and others. The album is so Christ Centered I don’t know where to begin. I put this album up against any and I do mean any, secular hip hop album and any Gospel worship album (for those who think Christian Hip Hop is an Oxymoron). Bring your best hymns out and lie them beside this album and I will bet apart from the 808 and keyboard, and baggy jeans, this album and some of the songs could be consider great hymns for years to come.

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If you have read much of anything I have written you realize that Tyris and I both hold a high view of the New Covenant. This high view effects the way we see the Law greatly. I love reading the Puritans and I have many great brothers in the faith that would say with ease “the Law is a tool for sanctification” .They would somehow separate the 10 commandments from the Old Covenant thus rendering it trans-covenantal. I will be clear. I punt that idea as far as I possibly can. Why?

Well there are many reasons the primary one being we are under a NEW COVENANT. I have asked the question numerous times and I usually get some logical and non-biblical answer; however, the question is “when the bible says new just how new is it”? Or better yet when the writers of the New Testament say the Old Covenant has passed away, has been abolished, or has been deemed useless, what exactly does those terms mean. Where am I going? Glad you asked.

My home church is going through Ephesians and I have grown to love the book more and more each day. Calvin and Steve have done an excellent job expounding the text and just making it very practical. I am also co-teaching (well I have been doing the listening and Steve has been doing the teaching) bible study methods at our church and it has been lovely to see people fall in love with God’s word. There are some drawbacks of not first understanding the metanarrative of scripture and understanding the overall redemptive view of the scriptures but all in all it has been really good.

So as I am studying my methods and doing a structural analysis/diagram these verses jumped right off the page, found here in Ephesians 2 (not to mention Calvin preached it so well).

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (ESV)

There is enough to eat on in this text that it is unbelievable. But I want to focus on what actually divided Jews and Gentiles. It is found in verse 15. What was the dividing mechanism under the Old Covenant? Ding, ding, ding. The Law expressed in ordinances. So what did Christ do to make two people one new man? He ABOLISHED IT! From the study of the Old Testament it was clear that Israel was the covenant people of God and that covenant wasn’t intangible. It was clearly tangible and could easily be identified. No one could come to an Old Covenant Jew and say you are not the people of God and if so prove it. They would have to go no further than the tabernacle or the temple and talk to the High Priest. They could show you the tablets handwritten by God.

Many will tell you to run away from the Law for salvation by faith and then in turn point you back to the Law for sanctification. This is something very difficult for me to understand. Not only do we begin in the Spirit but we continue on by the Spirit. We are not under law but Grace. We don’t run back to ordiances in order to be transformed to Christ-likeness. Those things were a shadow. We not turn to Christ through the Spirit. The Law brought forth condemnation and death, why turn to it for life? However, the Spirit brings liberty and life why turn from Him?

This is but a short exhortation to flee law based sanctification. Turn to the Lords Spirit for purification. It is He who empowers to live for Jesus not the Law. The ordinances have been done away with in the New Covenant. Walking in the newness of Life! These passages also show the biblical truth that there is but one people the Church. No more Israel/Gentile distiction. God ONLY HAS ONE PEOPLE! And they are those who have put faith in Christ. I have tackled that numerous of times and it isn’t the focus of this post. For this trip lose the Old Covenant Law and turn to the New Covenant Law of Christ which is a better promise because we are given the ability to obey by the Spirit.

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Please check this out. It is Sho Baraka’s “Higher Love” video off of his debut album “Turn My Life Up” You can puchase the album at www.reachrecords.com or Itunes

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Here is my review of the Album

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