The idea of Jesus becoming flesh is a pretty basic tenant of our faith. It’s sometimes called the incarnation, but I heard something the other day, that made me think of it a bit differently. What if the incarnation is God’s example to us? Duh. That’s probably what He meant all along, but I’m so stupid that this is a new thought for me. The Word became flesh – What about our words? Are they just words? or do they actually become flesh and get played out in our lives? Our my words incarnated into my life? What if all of them were? Some would not be good, but other. . . . wow! What if I could live the way I talk? Or even better – what if I lived to incarnate Jesus’ words? Could His words become fleshed out in my life? How would my life look differently? How cool would that be?
Prayer: Lord, help your “word” to become “flesh” in my life. Help me to flesh out Your Word and live it in an authentic way. May Your Word become flesh again as I live this life.
We had a guy named Hennie Venter at our church last night. It was an incredible night! First Baptist and Hope Fellowship joined us for pizza and a time fellowship with music from a few different groups, and then we heard from Hennie. He told us about how he came to Christ after being in a gang called "Satan’s Slaves." He also shared some of his experiences as a missionary and specifically about a time when God had clearly spoken to him and yet a gang of people were coming to kill him. They were going to throw gasoline on him and burn him, but instead of running, he (by the power of God) was able to trust in what God had told him and stand up to the mob. It’s an incredible story. They recorded his talk and I attached it here so you can listen to him for yourself if you’d like.
OK – I’ll confess. I really like Rob Bell. There are all kinds of opinions about him and I certainly don’t agree with everything the guy says, but something about the way he thinks. Something about his ideas. Maybe it’s his speaking style or humor, I dunno, but something really stirs things in my spirit when I listen to his sermons or watch the Nooma videos.
Anyway, over the last few days I’ve been listening to his latest sermon called “We Already Are” about Matthew 28 which he preached April 15, 2007 at his church (Mars Hill) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here’s a link to the sermon: We already are Matthew28.mp3
Anyway, he touched on so many things this week that really struck me. First of all, Jesus said that we should “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” In studying this verse, you’ll discover that “Go” might actually be better translated “as you go.” The greek has a continuing-into-the-future tense that English doesn’t have. Anyway, he also talks about the word “baptize” which is literally translated “immerse” or “make fully wet.” (We, Methodists got this one wrong.) He also speaks of the idea that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (whom we were created in the image of) are literally a small group or community. Since we are made in His image (Gen 1:26), we long for connections and community too. Anyway, in Matthew 28, when Jesus says to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it might also be said that we are to “immerse people into our community.” I think this is why so many “new converts” don’t stay Christian very long. They’re never fully engaged into our communities. This is not a new idea, but it’s a new idea to me that Jesus actually taught it in these verses.
It’s also interesting to note that in Jewish culture, the Pharisees had been telling people to stay away from the Gentiles – to not associate with them – even to avoid them. But in this verse, Jesus assumes, that “as we go” we will come in contact with the “ethnos” (world) and when we do, we should try to “immerse” them into our community. He doesn’t say “convert” them or “make them believe.” He simple wants us to invite others into our community – to immerse them with ourselves, and to teach them about what Jesus said. We’ll end up sharing the gospel with our lives that way. Rob relates a story of a group who was inviting others into their community and how a girl asked, “Well, when should we tell them about Jesus.” Rob’s answer? “You already are.” When we live our lives as Christians and “immerse” others into our lives, we are already telling the story of Jesus.
Anyway, these are just some great ideas and teachings that I learned from Rob Bell this week.
I had a random thought today when I was in the shower. (The shower seems to be a good place to think.) Anyway, I’m not even sure why, but I was thinking about what it means to be a “Welcoming Congregation.” For some reason, that phrase “Welcoming Congregation” was in my head. I don’t know maybe it was an official title that my previous church was trying to obtain through some sort of higher organization, or maybe it was just a phrase someone used in a conference – I honestly can’t remember. Anyway, I think every church should be really good at welcoming, but I wondered this morning if we as the church might oughta strive for something else besides being a “welcoming congregation.”
Here’s what I was thinking: Instead of working towards being “welcoming,” what would the church look like if we worked towards being “welcomed?” Instead of focusing on welcoming the visitors that we have in church, what if we focused on being the visitors who were out and about the community serving others. Trying to be the kind of people that others would “welcome” into their lives. Instead of trying so hard to have our church services attract visitors so we could welcome them, what if we tried to be attractive people who sought to be welcomed? What if the church went to the community with blessings instead of blessing the community when they come to church?
Anyway, all this is to say: Lord, help me to be attractive and welcomed into the lives of the people I come in contact with. I truly want to be a blessing to others and it’s only by Your Spirit that this can happen. Fill me with You Spirit.
Here’s the info I spoke on last Sunday Night. I got it all from a DVD sermon by Louie Giglio – the founder of the Passion Worship movement.
1 – milky way galaxy
Psalm 19:1-4 – New Living
“The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or a word;
their voice is silent in the skies;[a]
yet their message has goneout to all the earth,
and their words to all the world.”
The stars are shouting God’s praises – day after day they’re telling us what they know! The stars are like a billboard telling us everyday about His glory and how great He is.
Big bang – there probably was a big bang when God created it all! Science and Christians are all seeking to find the truth in this mystery of creation.
God said “let there be light.” Of course – when God asks for something, that’s what He gets.
We don’t even know how big the universe is – the telescope isn’t big enough. God is laughing at us – He enjoys when we discover more, but He has so much more for us.
Habited planets? If the universe is just for us, then it’s way oversized. What if it’s primary purpose isn’t to give us a home, but to show off the glory of God? Then it’s probably the right size.
Light Speed is 186,000 miles/second – a beam of light could circle the earth 7 times every second.
Psalm 33:6 – “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”
We live in the subdivision called the milky way universe. Consists of billions of stars. Scientists say there are hundreds of billions of other galaxies in the known universe.
Light year = 5.88 trillion miles/year
2 – milky way galaxy
If we were to count just the stars in the milky way galaxy one/second, it would take 2,500 years.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
We’ve got to right-size Him tonight. He is not our size. He doesn’t think like we think. He is working on a canvas bigger than anything we ever imagined. The heavens are telling us that, and they’re telling us that we are really really really really small.
3 – milky way galaxy
4 – milky way galaxy
The Milky way galaxy is a bard spiral galaxy which is 100,000 light years across. (remember a light year is 5.88 trillion miles)
5 – milky way galaxy with earth
Where’s earth? We’re not even in the center of our own subdivision – it’s not about you, it’s about God. You don’t wanna live in the center anyway – it’s scary there. It’s also scary in the bands surrounding the center – we live between them about 2/3 of the way out. Our solar system is too small to even put on this picture. Scientists say that our solar system is the size of a quarter and the milky way galaxy is the size of the North American Continent.
06 – earth
Earth – you don’t see any people, cities, countries. . .you don’t see the great need, the poverty, the strife, the pain, the glory, the glamour – as you step back you get this feeling that maybe we aren’t so big after all. We know the one who made this world must be huge. Maybe we aren’t as important as we thought. Maybe our plans aren’t so grand at all.
Neil Armstrong – first man who walked on the moon said, “I remember on the way home on Apollo 11, it suddenly struck me that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the earth. I put my thumb up and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out planet earth, but I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very very small.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Voyager was launched 1977 – to take pictures. In 1990, Voyager is 3.7 billion miles away from the earth traveling 40,000 miles an hour away from the sun. It takes 60 pictures, with 640,000 pixels in each image. It takes 5 and a half hours for each pixel to make it back to earth from 3.7 billion miles away. – talk about a dial-up problem.
07 – pale blue dot
Do you see earth in that one? It’s there. The “Pale Blue Dot” picture was taken – the suns rays reflected off voyager (4 billion miles away) to create the bands you see. Earth is the dot.
Famous astronomer called it a “mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam.” Our huge lives are all played out on a “mote of dust.” Not trying to make you feel small – I want you to see that you are small.
But it’s significant, insignificance ’cause as tiny as we are – we are prized my majesty. Who sent for us and knows us and loves us even though we are just tiny little specks in this vast universe that He made. Just as He can call the stars by name, He can start in this room and call each of us by name. And not only that – He could even tell you how many hairs are on your head and what you’re thinking right now and if you secretly desire to be sitting next to someone else right now. He knows us!!!!! And Is aware of us!!! And Loves us!! And Invites us into a relationship with Him that will never ever end!!! It’s amazing to think how big He is and that He still knows and cares for us.
Lets go on a journey now.
10 – sun
93 million miles out to the sun.
It burns you up. Raging ball of fire. Not the smiley face sun like we drew it as kids. 10,000 degrees on the surface. It’s like billions of nuclear explosions going off every second. It takes 8 seconds for light from it to go the 93 million miles from there to your skin. It came out of the mouth of God – He is not some kind of wimpy God. He is intense, powerful, ferocious, holy, and full of radiant splendor – He opens His mouth and stuff like this just come out. The sun is 100 times the diameter of earth.
11 – earth/sun comparison
That’s why you wanna thank God in your bed tonight that we are 93 million miles away from the sun.
12 – close up of sun
Close up of the sun from the Swedish solar institute – they’re doing studies of the sun – raging fire. Scientists say, it would take the gross national of the United States for 7 million years for our local power company to run the sun for one second – and it’s just one star out of billions in the milky way – which is only one galaxy of billions of known galaxies in the universe that God has made.
5.88 trillion miles is a light year – 440 light years out we find:
13 – plieades
The Pleiades constellation.
“Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion?
14 – vela pulsar
Vela Pulsar – 1000 light years away
what’s a pulsar? A star explodes into a supernova and can collapse back into itself into a magnetic intensity – it’s a highly magnetized neutron star – it’s center occilates 11 times a second – it sends out this intense signal:
A radio telescope captured this recording of the Vela Pulsar
The vela pulsar didn’t wanna miss out on the worship – it’s screaming “He’s Big!! He’s bigger than you think He is!! God is Awesome!!”
15 – hourglass nebula
8000 light years away – hourglass nebula – just beautiful – God is watching us.
16 – helix nebula
17 – star dust ring
28 million light years out (28 million X 5.88 trillion miles) – sombrero galaxy
18 & 19 – sombrero galaxy
Sombrero galaxy – not just a cool little frisbee thing – its 50 thousand light years wide – trillions of miles thick – why is it there? Just to glorify God – to give a small example of who He is. Showing off the greatness and majesty of God.
20 – hubble telescope
Hubble hangs out 353 miles above the earth.
21 – whirlpool galaxy
31 million light years away – grand design galaxy – hundreds of billions of stars – pink areas are star-forming incubators – every second a new star is born in our universe – God is naming them all and putting them where He wants
Let’s go far far far out! Indescribable how far out it is
22 – christ
He made everything we’ve seen tonight – and yet He chose to be hung on a tree that He himself created. The maker of the entire universe came to that pale blue dot –
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
23 – x structure at core of whirlpool galaxy
The world – the universe is all about God. Not us, but God. And He has decided to ask you and I to be a part of His big big story. It doesn’t matter how big your situation seems, God is bigger and He loves you! Nothing can shake you out of God’s hand as He holds you.
Love so amazing so divine, demands our my soul my life my all.
How should we live as Christians? What banner should we wear everywhere we go? Here’s something I found.
A young African pastor had this posted somewhere in his house where he’d see it regularly.
My Commitment as a Christian
I‘m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me–my banner will be clear!
How powerful is a journey? That’s what I’m thinkin’ about today. I mean, the disciples were regular guys until they journeyed with Jesus for 3 years. After that, they changed the world. Of course the power in that last sentence isn’t in the journey, but in Jesus.
But still I wonder why Jesus chose to use a journey to teach them? I wonder how things would have been if they had just stayed in one place instead of traveling all over? Would the disciples have gotten the experiences they needed to grow and learn the ways of their rabbi – Jesus?
What if every Christian High School graduate spent 3 years on a journey with a rabbi before going to college? Some people might say that’s what college is, but a rabbi isn’t just a knowledgable teacher. He is a wise spiritual leader. What would that look like? Who could be that rabbi in today’s culture? Are there any rabbis in the world today? What kind of man would I be if I were to follow the rabbi (Jesus) for three years on some kind of journey? Where would He take me? What would He want me to experience? What miracles would I witness? What kind of conversations would I be involved in and with whom?
My Prayer: Lord, I know that my whole life is a journey, but I want to live it following You. Show me how to do that. Give me courage to step out of the boat like Peter (out of my comfort zones) and into the next part of my journey with You. Teach me Lord! Be my rabbi, and I’ll try to be Your “talmidim” (disciple) That means I’ll try to be like You in every way.
Here are some pics of the guitars I play. Most of you aren’t interested, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. God has provided me with these fine instruments – I could never have afforded them on my own. Someone from the church actually came up to me and handed the $$ for my acoustic when we were going to start a new worship service and said, “I know you’ve had your eye on a guitar and that you can’t afford it, now, go and get it.” It’s amazing to me that when you use your gifts to serve the Lord, He takes care of things for you and even gives you the “desires of your heart.”
The acoustic is a Taylor 510ce and my electric is a Brian Moore custom “iGuitar.” The Taylor has a piezo pickup and a mic mixer (for a more natural sound) in the electronics. The Brian Moore has 3 outputs – a regular magnetic pickup (electric sound), a piezo pickup (acoustic sound), and a 13-pin midi output. (for some really funky sounds) You can also mix the sounds together.
Sorry – I haven’t posted in a while. It’s been so crazy busy trying to get ready for all our summer stuff. We just got back from Ichthus (which was awesome) and now I’ve gotta make a video for Sunday and then begin preparing tool kits for the mission trip. I’ve gotta leave here in a few minutes to take a shower so I can take the youth to the Marquee center and watch a movie today. Anyway, life is busy and I love hanging with you guys – so you’ll just have to get over the fact that I haven’t posted in a while. I’m hoping to get on here again soon and write something up about a few things I’m learning and also about Ichthus. Later.
Yep – in case you haven’t heard, cell phones don’t work too well in swimming pools. Wednesday, I got thrown into the pool at Bible Study with my cell phone in my pocket. Let’s just say, that if you had looked closely, you might have seen a little steam come off of me. We dried the phone out (along with all the other stuff I had on my wallet) but I couldn’t get it to work again. The next day, I went back to Cingular and everyone in the store had a good laugh at my expense, but I was able to get an upgrade. Now I have the new “razor” phone. Yeah! I can talk to you guys this summer.