Monday, January 30, 2006

Treasures in Heaven

i have been doing a study on the aspect of a 'treasure' we are told to store up. it is an odd statement. how can one 'store up' anything in heaven? it is really possible to 'store up' treasures in heaven? and, if it is, how do we really do it? is there a procedure? why do should we store up these treasures anyway? are we going to do something with them in heaven?

these are some of the questions i had to ask.

here is what i have gotten thus far:

1. this 'treasure' is not 'material'
it cannot be material. material things rust or decay. scripture says, 'treasures in heaven' do not rust or decay.
another thing to consider is this: if heaven has gold as its roads and twelve different types of rare jewels as its walls, what need would there be for this treasure to be material in nature?

2. this 'treasure' has a great value
we view the Bible most times, from a capitalistic understanding. what i mean is simply this: treasure, we see as 'money' - something we can sell or buy. when we view this 'valuable' treasure in this manner, something happens: we find ourselves comparing ourselves with others. we look at someone like Billy Graham, and make statements like: 'he must have 'a lot more treasure' than i have in heaven.' the problem with that kind of thinking is there is an elitist mentality that evolves. God says He shows no partiality. If there are no levels of sin, there cannot be any levels of 'treasure.'
that being said, we must not forget this one thing: it is of great value.

the treasure then, i believe is this: when you and i get to heaven, God will show us how He used us to bring His will on earth. we will see how God connected the dots of our journey. we will see how a conversation led to a someone becoming a believer in Christ.

being that you and i are on earth, we are unable to understand the fullness of how God uses you and i to bring about His will.

to be able to understand this: it is priceless. when God says, 'well done, my good and faithful servant,' the treasure in heaven will be given to us. this is the treasure i believe we will see. i am truly excited to see God manifest this treasure in our presence.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An Honest look at Genesis 21:9

i find the book of Genesis to be one of the most amazing narratives within the whole book of the Bible. the people, the events -- all true --

within the book of Genesis, there was a man named Abraham. he and his wife, Sarah, were chosen by God to be the 'parents' of a great nation. and God, keeping to His word, gave Abraham and Sarah, a son who was named Isaac (which means laughter).

before Isaac was born, Abraham had relations with his concubine, Hagar. Hagar got pregnant, and she bore a son named, Ishmael.

when Isaac was born, Abraham threw a party and this is where we pick up in the narrative (Genesis 21:9)

'But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking,'

this is an interesting verse but poorly translated. i have since spoken to a Hebrew brother and he agrees with me on this subject. the last word, which has been translated, 'mocking' actually is translated wrong. the Hebrew word, translated properly, means, 'making sport.'

you might be asking, 'who cares? is this an issue of semantics or is it really a big deal?' it is a big deal and here is the reason why:

when this word, in Hebrew, is used anywhere else, it is used to refer to sexual abuse and sexual foreplay. here is the significance: if that is how it should be translated, then the verse should read like this:

'But Sarah saw that the son of Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was sexually abusing,'

this is why Sarah was so adamant about Hagar and Ishmael leaving.

here is my premise: we need to embrace the knowledge of those who have the answers we are looking for. if we are reading the Old Testament, we need to be willing to submit ourselves to those who know Hebrew and learn from them concerning the Scriptures. the same goes for the New Testament. if we are truly seeking answers concerning the word of God, seek out the answers from those who can give us the direction and understanding we need. God bless you all...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

small groups: doing it a little different

i am tired of listening to one person give their little speech about God's word. honestly. too many people sit and stare at someone giving their interpretation of the word of God and never consider for themselves the ability to divide the word of God.

if one has the Holy Spirit within them, they have the ability to divide the word of God in the privacy of their own personal worship.

don't get me wrong. there is nothing wrong with pastors or 'leaders of a Bible study.' there is a time and a place for this form of teaching. it can be a valuable learning and growing tool for the body of Christ. i worry that those who only subject themselves to this form of teaching each week, become spiritually handicapped in their personal walk with Christ.

a small group i would like to see in place would go something like this:

a group of people who are passionately desiring to grow dependant on God and grow within a set community of believers and interact with the word of God as a whole.

on a set week, suppose the chapter we would be studying is luke 10 (as an example). a reader would volunteer to read the chapter out loud while each person read along . after the chapter was read, we would take a few moments and reflect on what we had just heard and read. than, we would open up the floor for anyone and everyone (decently and in order - no shouting out or being rude) to share what within the chapter jumped out at them.

perhaps it was something they had never fully read before. perhaps it would be a phrase that was repeated. maybe it would be something that is encouraging or gives hope. it could be anything really. it doesn't matter how 'great' or 'philosophical' the statement was - it is the fact that people are interacting and sharing with one another the word of God. and, through this process, learning from one another with love and encouragement.

there might be questions that are raised about a certain verse or statement. this is an opportunity for the body to respond and share with one another perhaps an understanding of the verse or phrase mentioned. again, it is important to remember. the purpose is not for one person to do all the talking. it is interactive with edifying and loving conversation about the word of God.

when this time is over, there would be a time of prayer and the following week, there would be another chapter.

i find it important to do a small group in this fashion for a lot of reasons. the most important being: people need to engage and interact with the word of God. they need to feel like they can share honest questions about what the word says and receive some honest and positive answers.

we need to help people engage with God's word. if there is no place to allow them to feel the freedom to learn and grow in their ability to do so, how will they ever understand or have the ability to do so? it is up to us to try something different. if the old way worked, we would see a greater abundance of fruit from it than we are seeing. just something to think about...

- Tim M.

Monday, January 16, 2006

God, Created in Man's Image (part 3)

this is my final thoughts on this subject for now. i haven't arrived in any fashion mind you. i am just at a place where i need to move on from this subject. here are some final thoughts on 'God, created in man's image.'

His thoughts are not our thoughts
His ways are not our ways
His words are not our words
His motives are not our motives
His love is not our love

and, although my heart desires for my ways to be His, i have come to understand these points. throughout the writings of mere men, their lives were changed by these facts.

i find it interesting to note: who was it, that Jesus upset most? was it not the religious leaders of His day? and, were not those who loved Him the most, those who were oppressed and poor? i wonder sometimes if, i desiring to be like Jesus, upset the religious leaders of my day... and if the oppressed and poor find encouragement and strength, seeing Jesus in me.

He was so radical. many have tried to match His steps, only to fail and fall fat on their faces. for good reason, Jesus remains the only one to live to the fullness of His words. and that created for many, a reason to kill Him.

God, created in our image is no more. the box He fit so comfortably in has been destroyed, axed to toothpicks - burned in a fire. my only desire is to be molded into the image He has for me. though this molding, He will show me little by little who He is and the image of Himself.

i hope your box that God has fit in for you is destroyed as well. allow Him to created you into the image of Himself.

put no boundaries on how He can change you
put no boundaries on how He can mold you
put no boundaries on how He can shape you and sustain you
allow Him the very freedom to do as He pleases with you - He knows what He is doing

it is radical to not put God in a box. it goes against the grain of our society and our culture (modern and postmodern). let's be honest though. what kind of God would we be serving if we could fully understand Him? there would be no mystery. there would be no reason to serve Him. i don't want to serve a God i can understand. i chose to serve a God that allows me to learn about Him through a day-to-day experience and journey with Him. that is the kind of God i serve. to me, there is no better choice.

my name is tim
i am created in God's image

Saturday, January 14, 2006

God, Created in Man's image (part 2)

i wonder sometimes what it would be like if God came to pastor my church. what would He like? what would He not like? what would bring a smile to His face? what would make Him cry? i wonder how the congregation would welcome Him. I wonder if the people who were 'playing church' would feel uncomfortable.

i don't think God will come back and pastor the church i attend, at least anytime soon. yet, it remains a question in my mind how God would do church. i am not even going to pretend that i have 'the mind of Christ' - i don't know.

here are some questions i have been thinking about:

what would be the first verse He would have us open up to?
how would He be dressed?
what would His 'opening prayer' sound like?
how long would He teach?
would people stay awake for His message?
how would He give a call for the offering?
would He call people out, by name and convict them of their sins?
would He show us His hands and His sides?
would He allow us to touch the marks from the nails and the spear?
would He like the songs of praise we sing about Him?
would He give an alter call?
how many people would respond?

these are just some questions i have thought of. i know there are many more questions one could ask if thought about.

in the past post, i have shared how we have created God in our image. i decided to take it a little father here and raise some questions. it seems to me, that there are those who seem to believe they have answers for the above questions. somehow and some way, they have been able to fit God into a 'box of understanding.'

many churches seem to brag about how they are doing things 'God's way.' that scares me a lot. considering God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not ours, i am in serious doubt we are 'doing' church in the fullness of Christ's desire.

doing church takes serious prayer and an awesome leading of the Holy Spirit. in all aspects of church, we need to be willing to confess we don't have 'all of our ducks in a row.'

there is a quote that goes something like this. 'there is no perfect church because you and i are in it.' its true. and, although we do not have the 'perfect church,' i personally believe God honors our efforts to make a place where people can experience God, learn His word, grow in the fellowship of community, and where salvation exists.

we need to allow God to be God though. my encouragement to those who might read this post is this: take whatever 'image' you have created God to be, and smash it. shoot it. destroy this image of God and allow God to create you into the likeness of His image and allow the word of God to show you His image. it is in His image, we find the One and True God.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

God, Created in Man's Image

we know who God is.
we know what God looks like.
we know His height and depth.

there are people who believe this.
there are people who believe this because they have created God in their image.

God is in fact, whoever we want God to be
God is who we say He is

unfortunately, we have committed identity fraud.

identity fraud is illegal. punishable to the fullest extent of the judge.
we have been found guilty
we have to pled guilty
this 'God' we have created does not exist.

we are like a young boy, who wanted to impress his friend. he took a picture from a magazine and made up a story that this girl is, in fact, this boy's girlfriend. he goes on and on, telling those around him, that they are a couple.

those he tells aren't fooled
people today aren't fooled with the God we have created either. they might not know who God really is, but they know God is not who we have fabricated

we are going to look at who God is
what is His identity?
who does He say He is?
what do the narrative stories of the Bible say Christ is?

this is a serious issue. we have a chance to make it right. Let's show people the true identity of God we say we know - not the one we have created.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Missional / Discipleship

i am taking a class at biblical theological seminary called, 'discipleship.' so often, we hear the word discipleship in our churches, and think, 'small groups' (something i think has become outdated and misrepresented in modern churches). it isn't even close to what discipleship means.

discipleship involves following someone.
discipleship involves learning from someone.
discipleship involves giving a vast majority of your time to someone.
discipleship involves being life-learners.

as a Christian, i don't want to be discipled by someone.
i want to be discipled by the One. the One who called, Himself, God.

as a Christian, i don't want to point people to me.
i want to point them to the Jesus.

i learned a new term this week. a term that seems to be a major theme here at this college.

'missional' - to be honest, i had no clue what this word even meant.
soon, i got my answer:

dEf: i am a missionary in the culture i live in. - that's it.

do you believe that? do you believe you are a missionary in the culture you live in? if you do, you can label yourself (if you like labels) as a 'missional Christian.'

how do we put this into practice?

We need to stop counting conversions. We should be counting conversations.’ – Brian McLaren

i think that is key: the modern drive for people was 'winning souls for Christ.' there is nothing wrong with that. in fact, it is our responsibility to share our faith, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through the life of an individual - bringing about salvation.

we need to also keep a count of how many times we have 'spiritual conversations.' the more we share, the more people will hear. the more people will hear, the more will come to know Christ.

finally, we should be encouraging our pastors to get out of the office. the more the pastor is in the office, hidden away from the world he associates, he is not missional. pastors who are missional, have starbucks or a corner diner as their office. they are out and about - out in the open.

‘You can’t do ministry well unless you have at least 10 close relationships outside of the church and Christian community.’ – Bill Hybels

is that true with you? do you have 10 close relationships with the outside world - those who are not saved? are you so immersed in your 'holy huddles' of Christian relationships, you have lose focus on the purpose - our mission?

we need to be salt and light.

salt contrasts with bland food for the benefit of the eater; light contrasts with darkness for the benefit of those who are in darkness.

just as very little salt goes a long way to flavoring a recipe and as very little light is necessary to penetrate darkness, even so just a few genuine Christians in a community improves greatly the morale of the whole society.

missional...

discipleship...

we need this...