Category Archives: Discipleship

‘How Shall We Then Live?’

LivingForward1In our series, Living Forward, we asked the question, “What is a Life Worth Living?” and drawing from the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians, we said that it is: *A Life Guided by the Holy Spirit; *A Resilient life; and *A Generous Life.  You can listen to the sermon here. Many requested a copy of Fellowship of the Unashamed, read at the end of the sermon, so I’ll post that below. If you would like a copy of the poem that I went over, Waiting in Color, just drop me an email and I’ll send it to you.


Fellowship of the Unashamed

I am part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.”

I have the Holy Spirit’s power.

The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line.

The decision has been made.

I am a disciple ofJesus Christ.

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense,  and my future is secure.

I am finished and done with low living, sight walking,

small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions,

mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position,

promotions, plaudits, or popularity.

I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized,

praised, regarded or rewarded

I now live by presence, learn by faith,

love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven,

my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few,

my Guide reliable, my mission clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away,

turned back, diluted, or delayed.

 

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice,

hesitate in the presence of adversity,

negotiate at the table of the enemy,

ponder at the pool of popularity,

or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, back up, let up or shut up until I’ve

preached up, prayed up, stored up

and stayed up the cause of Christ.

 

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I must go until Heaven returns, give until I drop,

preach until all know, and work until He comes.

and when he comes to get his own,

may he have no trouble recognizing me.

May my colors be clear”

Just Show Up! The Necessity of being Present

 

mother-theresa-quote-just-show-up-and-things-and-things-will-happenBeing present is not an option if we want to truly flourish! Present to God, the Christian community, to the people we touch, to the needs of the world around us. I bare my heart a bit in this sermon. I trust God will use it to encourage as well as challenge us on the implications of “Just showing up.”

Our tendency in today’s church is toward consumerism and expecting God to “show up” when we need God. I survey Luke’s Gospel revealing 4 challenging and practical applications relating to life with God and his church.

The Ascension – Jesus is ‘not on sabbatical!’

Icon of the Ascension
Icon of the Ascension

The Feast of the Ascension, deserves more attention, as we were reminded in last Sunday’s sermon, Is Jesus Really in Charge? Someone has said, “Ascension isn’t Jesus ‘on sabbatical’ until the Second Coming!” It marks, after Jesus’s conquest of death, his cosmic exaltation.

In the Anglican and other traditions, prayers often end with reference to Jesus “who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.” He “lives” because of his resurrection, but “reigns” because of his ascension.

After preaching Sunday, I was reminded that Douglas Farrow wrote a whole book on the theology of the Ascension. Here is a wonderful excerpt from his recent article in First Things.

For what does…the Ascension present to us, if not the fact that God has committed to Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth? What does it propose to us, if not a corresponding revision of all our own categories and a reorientation of all our own commitments? What does it rebuke in us, if not our very secularity (in the deceptive, compartmentalizing sense that word has recently taken on)? We no longer know what the “secular” is, if we do not know that the Ascension and the (Second Coming) bracket and define the present age, making it precisely the allotted time for the proclamation to every creature—from the poorest of the poor to the lordless powers who fancy this age as their age—that in fact there is one Lord over all, Jesus Christ, to whom they are called to give their allegiance and so to be saved.

Finally for the poetic among us – a brilliant poem by Denise Levertov: The Ascension

Stretching Himself as if again,
   through downpress of dust
      upward, soil giving way
to thread of white, that reaches
   for daylight, to open as green
      leaf that it is. . .
Can Ascension
   not have been
      arduous, almost,
as the return
   from Sheol, and
      back through the tomb
into breath?
   Matter reanimate
      now must relinquish
itself, its
   human cells,
      molecules, five
senses, linear
   visions endured
      as Man—
the sole
   all-encompassing gaze
      resumed now,
Eye of Eternity.
   Relinquished, earth’s
      broken Eden.
Expulsion,
   liberation,
      last
self-enjoined task
   of Incarnation.
      He again
Fathering Himself.
   Seed-case
      splitting,
He again
   Mothering His birth:
      torture and bliss.

What makes Jesus Angry?

MakeDisciplesLogoWe know Jesus often felt sad. He wept over Lazarus and over unresponsive Jerusalem. But what made Jesus ‘mad?’ We may think only of turning the tables in the Temple, but Jesus had some extremely angry words for the Pharisees and ‘experts’ in the Law. In Luke 11:37-12:3, we see Jesus ‘in the face’ of his religious adversaries. The challenges are powerful and relevant for our day when many claim to speak for God without the integrity of the inner and outer life. The sermon audio is available here.

You will discover at least 4 things that make Jesus angry and poison the church:
1. Spiritual Hypocrisy around the good disciplines like tithing and prayer
2. Spiritual Pride and showmanship
3. Legalism – trusting in man-made rules and imposing them on people
4. Hindering the faith of others by misrepresenting the heart of God

 

Do you and I take seriously what Jesus is seriously angry about?

 

The Lord’s Prayer and Discipleship

MakeDisciplesLogoListen to this message (if you missed it or not in town) from Neil Botts, our Executive Pastor at Christ Church, on The Lord’s Prayer. Our current teaching series has a double focus: Learning what a disciple of Jesus is really ‘like;’ and learning from the Master how disciples are ‘made.’

Here is a helpful resource from Neil on developing a life of prayer:

Three Practical Ways to Use The Lord’s Prayer to Develop Your Prayer Life

  1. Make the Lord’s Prayer the framework for regular daily praying. Take each clause at a time, and, while holding each in turn in the back of your mind, call into the front of your mind the particular things you want to pray for as it were, under that heading. Under the clause ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, for example, include the peace of the world with some particular instances where conflict is raging, whether it be in Syria or your city or your family. The important thing is to let the heart of Jesus’ prayer encircle the people for whom you are praying, the situations about which you are concerned, so that you see them bathed in the healing light of the Lord’s love as expressed in the prayer.
  2. Use the Lord’s Prayer as a form of breath prayer. Repeat it slowly, again and again, in the rhythm of your breathing, so that it becomes almost second nature. Those of us who live busy or stressful lives may find a discipline like this very difficult; but, again, it may be precisely people like that who need the calming and nourishing medicine of this prayer to be woven into the fabric of their subconscious. Next time you make a car journey by yourself, leave the radio switched off, and try it. Yes, it takes times. What else would you expect?
  3. Take the clauses of the prayer one by one and make each in turn your ‘prayer for the day’. Sunday: Our Father. Monday: Thy Kingdom Come. Tuesday: Give us this day. Wednesday: Forgive us. Thursday: Lead us. Friday: Deliver us. Use the clause of each day into which you can step at any moment, through which you can pray for the people you meet, the things you’re doing, all that’s going on around you. This prayer then becomes the lens through which you see the world.

*There are dozens of other ways in which this prayer can be used. These are just suggestions to get started. The three listed above are adapted from The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright.

Is Jesus Vision really OUR vision?

logoIMG_8474Beginning at Advent, we are preaching through the Gospel of Luke this year at Christ Church. We are taking the first 3 weeks of the new year to explore the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry recorded in Luke, chapters 3-5. We’re asking the challenging question, “Is Jesus’ vision OUR vision?” Listen to the first sermon, If Jesus Came to Town, here. 

Our statement of vision goes like this:

Christ Church will be a diverse community that lives the
Good News of Jesus Christ for the flourishing of all people
throughout our region and around the world.

In this first teaching, we discover:
/ The vital ministry of John the Baptist as the “hinge” figure between the Old and New Testaments; pointing to Jesus through whom “ALL humanity will see the salvation of God!”

/ The importance and hope that comes from true repentance and asking the Lord, “What shall we do?”

/ Why discipleship is for everyday. “Faith at Work” matters to God! (One of our Mission Priorities is to become and make committed disciples of Christ who glorify God and embody our faith in every area of life.

/ How the baptism of Jesus reveals the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and foreshadows Christ’s death and resurrection.

/ How the genealogy in Luke proclaims Jesus as the New Adam!


Jesus has indeed “moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14) Does He find us turning to God? Eager to follow him as a true disciple? Living the Good News of Jesus’ reign? Working for the flourishing of ALL the people God loves?

Part 2 will come from Luke, ch. 4, “If Jesus Came to Church!”

Mary: Mother of Jesus; Disciple!

Hopelogo2In Advent and Christmas this year we are teaching in Luke 1 and 2 around the theme of Hope for Everyone. Week one was Zechariah: Despite All Odds. Week two was a fresh look at the announcement to young Mary: Let it Be! (You can listen here.) Our view of Mary is one of those places where the history of the church is again afflicted with the peril of the pendulum – swinging from the extreme of overstated or excess devotion to outright neglect and understatement. I suggest that the biblical balance comes from seeing Mary as Honored Mother and Model Disciple. Mary was originally given the title, Theotokos (God-bearer or “the one who bore the one who is God.”) This was not to draw attention primarily to her, but to defend the incarnation of the God-Man, Jesus Christ! We have much to learn from Mary about what a devoted disciple looks like. In the sermon, I suggest 5 ways that Mary models being a devoted disciple of Jesus:


  1. Mary was ‘ordinary’ but chosen.
  2. Mary responded to Grace (“…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”)
  3. Mary was an obedient, humble servant (“I am the Lord’s bond-servant; may it be to me according to Your Word.”)
  4. Mary was a worshipper (“she pondered all these things in her heart;” “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!”)
  5. Mary overflowed with hope her whole life (“a sword will pierce your own soul;” she was at the cross and  with the disciples waiting for the Holy Spirit launching the mission of the church.

 

Some resources for further study:  Two books, one by Scot McKnight, The Real Mary; and Frederica Matthewes – Green, Mary As the Early Christians Knew Herlooking at well known early writings in the church that suggest traditions beyond the biblical narrative.)

Ordination to Ordinary Life and Work

As our Faith at Work Series continues, we were blessed as a congregation to take a small step toward what we call the “ordination to ordinary life and work.”  Listen to the sermon here. The picture to the right is from the 9/11 Museum and story from John Felker of Chaplain Mychal Judge who died praying over a fallen comrade. The prayer is one that he prayed to prepare for his workday. (Click on the image to read it.)  Below, is the text of the Prayer and “Ordination” language with which we ended the service.


People of God, we have come to celebrate the ministry that Christ has given to the Church in calling men and women to serve in its mission. Christ alone is head of the Church, the source of all ministry. By the Holy Spirit this ministry belongs to all who believe and are baptized, to be salt for the earth and light to the world. Because we are created in God’s image, being fully human means to rule and serve well in God’s creation.

Hear God’s word of call and promise: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” With these words, Jesus sent his followers on a mission to the whole world. We are a part of that mission still, two thousand years later and half a world away. We know the joyful obligation and solemn privilege of being called to live out this commission. We are given opportunity to serve our world in Christ’s name, and work together to introduce people and nations to our Lord and Savior. From the beginning, Christians have been a sent people and churches have been sending communities. In the Book of Acts we read that the church named Paul and Barnabas to be a mission team. The Scripture reads, “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” This is what we do today.

Do you affirm today that you are made in the image of a God and redeemed by Christ. And that you therefore want your life to be fully immersed in what Jesus calls the Kingdom of God. That when you get up in the morning to go to your job, or be at school, or care for your family, or go about your daily tasks – you are fulfilling a holy calling from God?

PRAYER OF CONSECRATION: God, who calls people to go to the ends of the earth with the good news of Jesus Christ, we join together today in sending these people out for their important work as faithful witnesses of Your Kingdom wherever they find themselves. Through the touch of their hands and the labor of their backs, through the working of their minds and the words of their mouths, do your work of communicating good news and extending the kingdom. In this time, may they grow in grace and in their knowledge of you; may they effectively and faithfully serve others in your name; may they be used in introducing people to Jesus; may they give glory to you by their actions. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Serve Christ in the Ordinary

Quotidian.001Don’t miss the obvious focus of God’s activity in His world! It is not to be found primarily in the extraordinary, but in the ordinary; the everyday. The word for it is the quotidian.  The sermon from our Faith at Work series is linked here

I want to also share a new song – written to this theme, called Before You I Kneel: A Worker’s Prayer.
(It features J. S. Bach’s melody “Wachet Auf” played on folk instruments.)

 

Here are the words:

“Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker,
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given Your servant;
I will rejoice and be glad
For the strength I have to live and breathe,
For each skill Your grace has given me,
For the needs and opportunities
That will glorify Your great name.

Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodness
To cover the work of my hands.
For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘Til Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown.

Before You we kneel, our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your great name.”

By: Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Jeff Taylor, and Stuart Townend

A Prayer to Begin Your Day

In the previous post, I shared the story that challenged me to be more tuned into the everyday, ordinary opportunities for ministry to people. I closed the sermon Sunday with a suggested prayer to put in your own words. Here are variations you might use:

A SUGGESTED PRAYER TO BEGIN EACH DAY:

Lord I want to be available, to be your hands and feet today;
How are you speaking to me
Where are you at work?
How do you want me to join you?

OR in the words of one of our ‘senior saints:’

“Good morning, Lord!
What are you up to today?
How can I be involved?

OR like the child Samuel (and Mary, mother of Jesus)

“Speak, Lord; your servant is listening.”