Archive for the ‘Radical Christianity’ Category

When I read my Bible I see powerful stories of long ago; miraculous events, healings, even people being resurrected from the dead! But I can’t help but think, “Why does Christianity today look so very different from Christianity in the Bible? Where’s the power, where’s the action, where’s the miraculous?

Don’t get me wrong, we have seen God do many miracles in our lives, and in our ministry. But when I think of the people in the Bible miracles seem to be more common than today. I desperately want to see miracles, healings, and especially salvations, become common place in my life and in our ministry.

The Apostle Paul has helped me put things into perspective in his letter to the church in Thessalonica. Miracles didn’t just happen then and they don’t just happen now. There needs to be action that motivates the heart of God to move in the miraculous on our behalf. Here’s what Paul said, We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)

The church at Thessalonica had an ongoing work for God that was empowered by their faith in God. They worked hard. The Greek word translated here means to toil (as an effort or occupation). The sad truth about the American church is only 10% of attendees are doing 80% of the work. Most people come to church as consumers, not as workers for God. Since very little work is being done by faith, very little power is being manifested. (I am happy to say that we see that changing in our church) When more Christians realize they can be empowered by faith more work will occur. Let’s not confuse activity with faith-work. There are a lot of activities going on in every church but very little work produced by faith. Harsh statement? Well all we have to do (if we are honest) is look at the results of all our activities.

Paul seems to be repeating himself in the next phrase, but he is actually taking work to the next level, labor prompted by love. The Geek word here is toil (as reducing the strength), pains, labor, trouble, weariness. This is hard work, where we are worn out by the pain involved with laboring for God (I know that pain all too well). What keeps us going is love. When you have genuine love for God and compassion for those around you nothing can stop you. I have quit the ministry hundreds of times but I’m still going strong. Why? Because God loves me and has filled me with an undying love for others. Don’t hate me because I tell the truth but people who quit laboring for God love something more than they love God (It’s usually self-love in various forms). If you are suffering from ministry burn-out take some time off and go back to your first love. Then get back to work!

Paul finishes his statement with a powerful word, endurance. This is a word we all need deep within our hearts. Endurance is cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, loyalty, enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). We, that have Christ as our Lord and Savior, have hope for our future and hope for all eternity! That’s something worth waiting for! I keep on working, I keep on laboring, and I keep on enduring because I have hope in Jesus. This is what my hope looks like: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared, and there was no sea anymore. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Now God’s presence is with people, and he will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone.” The One who was sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted.” Revelation 21:1-5 (NCV)

PEACE

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res·ur·rec·tion (rěz’ə-rěk’shən)
noun  1. The act of rising from the dead or returning to life.

With the Easter celebrations behind us now I guess it’s time for us to once again put the idea of the resurrection back on the spiritual back shelf and go on to the important things in Christianity; making me happy and making my life easier. Isn’t that what Christianity is all about? After all that’s what we are preaching in our churches.

I got on the websites of some of the biggest churches in America just to see what the “big guys” were talking about. Here are a few titles to sermon series of one of America’s biggest churches:

The Best Me I Want to Be

A New You

Be Rich (okay, I kind of like this one)

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not a jealous little pastor of a sad little church. We pastor an awesome church with people that love God and love each other. And there are great churches and ministries doing much more than I will ever do, and I say “PRAISE GOD!” What’s been on my mind of late is this, why do we have the types of church services in America? Are our services more American than they are biblical?

Recently I taught a lesson from 1 Peter and one verse stuck out like a lightning bolt, 1 Peter 1:9 (NIV) for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus purchased our salvation. But let’s be honest, the goal of faith for most American churches is a better life for its attendees. But Peter made it very clear; the salvation of our souls is the goal of our faith.

Maybe what the church needs, (“we” are the church so it’s what we need) is a crucifixion of our own! The Apostle Paul put it this way; Galatians 2:20 (NIV) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

By God’s wonderful grace I have been receiving revelations of His Word that has had a very powerful affect on my life. I want to know God more, and want to experience His presence more; I want to live in more of His power and more of His glory. I want what Paul wanted, and my prayer is that you would want it too…

Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV) I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Many people talk about being radical for Christ, there are even workshops and conferences designed to radically inspire us and our churches. I even preached a series several years ago about becoming radical Christians (After the series was over we weren’t much more radical).

But something changed in me in mid-December… while ministering at a men’s ministry dinner those words came rushing out of my mouth, “God is calling us to be RADICAL.” After listening to what I was saying (a habit we all should develop) it hit me, even though 2009 was a year of miracles, our church was not very radical. Without a doubt that night gave us a challenge and a mandate-live a radical life in Christ.

So began a series of messages to challenge our church, and especially me, to live a RADICAL life IN Christ. I realize this is nothing new. There are many churches and ministries that challenge their people to be radical for Christ. But that’s not what God has called us to. He doesn’t want us to be radical for Him, He wants us to be radical IN Him. That may seem an insignificant difference to you, but it makes a world of difference to me. When I am radical for Christ I may do things that are out of the ordinary, even strange. But when I’m radical IN Christ The focus is not on what I do but what Christ does through me.

Let me give you an example… there are many different techniques for evangelism, the Internet is full of them. I haven’t found our technique in a conference or workshop (maybe there out there I just haven’t found them). Our techniques is radical, based on Luke 10:9  Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God is near you.” Our strategy for evangelism is to pray for people that need healing, (as many as possible) then introduce them to the Healer, Jesus Christ. This is radical for our day, but its the technique Jesus gave the 72 as He sent them out on an evangelism campaign. As I study the Gospels this appears to be the technique of choice for Jesus. JESUS WAS RADICAL! I pray that we become like Christ… a true radical.