June 21, 2020
Once Dallas Willard was talking about Islam. He dropped this little thought virus: "Remember in a pluralistic world, a religion is valued by the benefits it brings to its non-adherents."
The virus has taken hold in my thinking, bringing to mind sayings of our Lord, like "the birds of the air" nesting in the branches of the kingdom of God, people seeing the light of our good deeds and "glorifying your Father in heaven," [and] "by their fruits you will know them."
How different is this missional approach to the "rhetoric of exclusion" that worked so well in modernity: "There are blessings to being on the inside. You're on the outside and so can't enjoy them. Want to be a blessed insider like us?"
In contrast, missional Christianity says, "God is expressing his love to all outsiders through our acts of kindness and service. You are invited to leave your life of accumulation and competition and self-centeredness to join us in this mission of love, blessing and peace. Want to join in the mission?"
The final essential characteristic of a God lover we will be exploring is exclusivity. How can we understand a God lover as exclusive in character? I hope you will join me Sunday as I share how that exclusivity is part of who we are called to be as God lovers.
Grace & Peace,
Fishing for People
June 14, 2020
A young mother was taking a course in sociology. The class was assigned to go out and smile at three people and document their reaction.
The next day, she and her family were in a McDonald's on a cold, clear morning. She writes, "We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch. An overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside me as I turned to see why they had moved.
As I turned around I smelled a horrible 'dirty body' smell, and there standing behind me were two poor, homeless men."
One of them smiled up at her, looking for acceptance. The second man fumbled with his hands, obviously mentally deficient and totally dependent on his friend. They had a handful of coins and bought only coffee because that was all they could afford. They had to buy something in order to sit down where it was warm.
Acting on impulse, she bought two extra breakfasts and took them to the table where the men sat. "I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman's cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, 'Thank you.' I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, 'I did not do this for you, God is here working through me to give you hope.'"
This week I will be sharing about another essential characteristic of a God lover. This week’s characteristic is that of a harvester which shapes who we are in this world and how we behave in this world.
I hope you will be worship as we engage in discovering the harvester characteristic of a God lover.
Grace & Peace,
June 7, 2020
The Shack by William Paul Young tells the story of Mack Philips whose young daughter is abducted during a family vacation. Evidence indicates that she was murdered in an abandoned shack.
Four years later, Mack gets a mysterious note inviting him to the very shack where the crime was apparently committed. The note purports to be from God. In his visit to the shack, he meets God in the form of a wise woman. At one point, Mack questions God about the trinity, and God speaks about the need for being three persons yet entirely one. In explaining this to Mack, God says, "All love and relationship is possible for you only because it already exists within Me, within God, myself. Love is not the limitation; ... I am love."
Over several conversations Mack picks up a phrase used extensively by God, "You seem to be especially fond of a lot of people. Are there any who you are not especially fond of?" She (God) lifts her eyes as if running down a list of every created being then says, "Nope, I haven't been able to find any."
This week we begin a three-week series on the Essential Characteristics of a God Lover. We begin with the characteristic of a Awe-some which the above passage from The Shack illustrates, as well, as this Sunday we celebrate the Trinitarian expression of God as: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I hope you will join me in worship as we celebrate the awe-some, the Holy Mystery we live into as God Lovers.
Grace & Peace,