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There is a theme in freedom that it must be declared before it is achieved. American’s celebrate July 4 as Independence day but is it actually when our  forefathers declared independence which did not come until the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and after a great cost was paid between those points in time.

When Moses tells Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, he is essentially declaring their independence but there’s all sorts of activity that occurs before they are actually free from Egyptian rule.  And after freedom from Egypt is obtained, there is so much more they go through to learn how to live free.  It was easy to understand what it would be like to be free from Egypt but not so easy to know what it would be like to be free to serve God as His people – forty years in the wilderness and then all that effort to secure the promised land, which never really fully occurred.

The Israelites were told by God to celebrate a ritual every 50 years called Jubilee. It was a year for freedom where each person was to set slaves free, to free their brothers and sisters from any debts, to return to the freedom to God alone and his economy – but they never celebrated Jubilee.

Jesus walked into his home-town church near the beginning of his ministry and reads from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

then after reading this, he tells them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. He is literally declaring Jubilee and the response of his nearest friends and neighbors who had known him all his life is rejection – to the point of not only driving him out of town, but also trying to throw him off a cliff. Wow!  Freedom is an explosive topic.

It is strange though – that Jesus, who has the power to secure instantly the freedom he wants only declares it.  Why is this? When the American forefathers declared independence, they invited all Americans into the drama to gain freedom.  Jesus invites us into the drama to gain freedom too – not from an external power but to his internal reality in our lives.

In believing that his spirit has become one with our own and living in pursuit of this incarnational reality, we also find the freedom from seeming external realities.  We can’t control our world externally but the freedom Jesus brings cannot be taken away if we don’t allow it.  It is treasure where moth and rust do not destroy, not in heaven only, but in our hearts where the King of Heaven already resides for those who’ve allowed him in.

This is all nice to say but hard to do.  Every moment here, our humanity, our world and God’s enemies try to point us to the scenes around us as evidence of the futility of loving God and others.   David said in the Psalm – speaking of Jesus prophetically:

You were forged a strong scepter by God of Zion;
now rule, though surrounded by enemies! Psalms 110:2 Message

When Jesus makes us free, we are free indeed!  It is not just a declaration.  It is real freedom – we are truly like him, sons and daughters of God, princes and princesses.  We get confused and think this must mean later since we are still being told we are slaves because we are still surrounded by enemies. But who we are is not dictated by where we are.  We need to learn to ignore the temporary things of this world and keep our eyes on the son of God indwelling our life.   We, with him, are noble children of the King of all kings, God Most High.  So what if we are surrounded by enemies. We are free!

  • Do you believe you are really FREE?  If you don’t, whose voice are you listening to?
  • Can you see that Christianity is more about our NOBLE Identity than the cheap religious substitute of morality?
  • If you aren’t free, who are you enslaved to?  Who can stand against God?
  • Consider writing your own declaration of independence in agreement with Jesus.


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"You believe at last!" Jesus answered. But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
—John 16:31-33

I believe in the Lord – not just that he exist – but that he died bearing all the sins of the world past, present and future. I believe that by believing that and asking his death to count for my sins and asking his resurrected life to become my own, that Jesus becomes my Lord and my very life rather than Satan or myself. This is my faith. This I believe.

Yet, like my brothers, the disciples, how often do I leave Jesus alone and go back to my old home and old haunts. I paint pictures of Egypt and leave out what it lacks (see Sara Groves’ song, Painting Pictures of Egypt). “The time is coming and has come”, Jesus says-and so it goes with me. I am scattered by these fears and pains and I run. As Sara adds, it not about losing faith or trust – it just about being comfortable. That old home is so known and comfortable even though it is meaningless and futile. It can no longer fulfill me but it is so easy to escape to.

In 2000, I took a 10 day journey through the back country of Philmont Scout Reservation with my oldest son, Justin, and a group of Boy Scouts and adult leaders. We had to carry everything we needed for the entire journey on our backs. Our trek led us away from base camp to the furthest point away before bringing us back. For us the furthest point away was climbing to the second highest mountain in Philmont, Mt. Philips, and staying the night. The climb was well above the water line so we would have no access to water from the base camp the day we started until after the descent the next day.

As a result, we split gear from one of the adults, my friend, Gary, and he carried half his gear plus 5 gallons of water on his back. It was a very difficult thing for him to hike up the mountain as he had suffered knee issues before. He slowly kept going at an even pace even when the scouts would sprint faster ahead then rest from exhaustion. It was like the tortoise and the hare all the way up. The air was so thin at the top of the mountain that you would wake up from sleeping feeling as if you were suffocating. It was a difficult part of our trek.

Gary and I found a great analogy to our half-hearted walk with Christ in that place. Being at the half way point, any accident we would have encountered – it would take just as long to press forward as to go back. There was no escaping the difficulty of the journey. Gary kept pressing on because there was no option. But in our Christian adventure, we can walk in the spirit, but when we feel overwhelmed by that, we can turn our minds and hearts from him and simply return to the comfort of the couch, the TV and the tangible.

We may leave Jesus alone, but he is not alone – his Father is with him. We may feel we are alone and long for home, but we are not – our Father is with us. We need to learn to weep in those moments as men longing for our real home as the late Rich Mullins shares in his wonderful song, If I Stand. Sara gets to this idea too – “The place I had wasn’t perfect But I had found a way to live It wasn’t milk or honey But then neither is this”. We think that part of our longing for comfort is the desire to get back to what we know – but when we examine it, we find “the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I"ve learned” and that our real longing is to fully know him who we can only see dimly now.

Recognizing that we are our weeping is a longing for our heavenly home is helpful. It isn’t so much that we want those old, familiar death clothes – that we want to return. It is that we long to see Him face-to-face. Proverbs 13:12 clarifies this, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Don’t we really long for the tree of life? Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”. Also, we are longing to be free from sin and this longing that pulls us back – and on that day, our flesh and the world and God’s adversaries will no longer plague us. It is helpful to identify our longing, not for the comfort of what was behind but for the glory that is before us so we can set our minds in that direction. “But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.” Galatians 5:5

Perhaps the most fascinating thing Jesus says to the disciples in this passage is, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” If we were telling our friends that they were going to abandon us in our time of need, it would be likely that they would feel shame, incredulousness, or maybe fear. Our master has caught us in our selfishness and accused us of betrayal. But Jesus tells them that he is sharing this with them that they may have peace. He says that peace is in Him. When we get scared or overwhelmed and we look back to Egypt and to our comfortable living room couch and we scatter and leave Jesus alone, we may find a temporary comfort but we do not find what we are longing for. And we also find, amidst our comfort-seeking distractions, a voice of guilt and accusation. This voice that says, “See! That adventure toward Jesus is really not for you. You were wise to save yourself from that discomfort.” But the truth is we’ve buried our head in our comforts but that does not make our troubles go away. Jesus told the disciples to remember that, “in me you may have peace”, and he then tells them, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”.

We turn back to our comforts, we find that they do not fit us anymore and we find our adversaries ready to plague us. Shortly, we find that we long for peace more than comfort and we race back into the arms of our Savior, the source of peace and life. We are discovering our dependence on him. We cannot make our world work or find what we need – but Jesus, and Jesus alone, has overcome the world.

In another place in the Gospel of John (6:67-69), many disciples of Jesus decide to leave him and Jesus asks the twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” and Peter answers him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”. Indeed! If we KNOW in our heart of hearts that Jesus is the Holy One of God – to whom shall we go?

John 6:16-21

We ought to wait on Jesus – remain in sync with him – but sometimes we don’t. Maybe we do this because we are confused. He does something amazing and we read into it that he wants us to head off into some direction that he did not tell us to go. We get excited and forget to ask him and take the lead. We think that he is like another person and if we take off, he may follow our lead. But Jesus is always following the Father in submission so submission to him is what is always required of us.

We take off without him and find that the waters are rough. We use our strength instead of calling on him until we find ourselves in the middle somewhere in the dark, exhausted with storms raging. Fortunately for us, God’s mercy is always toward us and his glory is unshakable.

If Jesus was a mere man and we had left him behind and navigated half a journey, then realized our need, we would have no choice but to return to the beginning. The quickest way to get back on track if you’ve gone the wrong way is to turn around. But Jesus is not a mere man. He has authority over everything – even nature (including time and space) and death. He comes to us and meets us where we are. And his presence has an immediacy. By his authority, nature yields. Storms subside and we often find he immediately moves us to the place we need to be. But he does all this for his glory – which also happens to be for our best good. He alone knows our best good even if we forget this and take off without him.

We look at our good in very limited terms. We look at our most basic needs and mix this up with wants (lusts) and our glory (pride) and forget about life eternal and abundant. We are so consumed by our own limited point of view that we barely grasp just how much God wants for us and offers us, much less the endless magnificence of his glory. But Jesus is not a rabbits foot to provide us good luck, or a food stamp program to meet out basic needs or even a life coach or mentor to guide our success in the world. He is the bread of life and we must partake of that bread – the very word of the Father. It is hard for us to understand this or to take it. We want to be offended. Men don’t like grace because it highlights their unworthiness and their lack. Still, to whom shall we go? Jesus alone has the words of eternal life and Jesus alone can meet all our needs.

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Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
Psalm 116:16 MSG

Even though God saves us and we are now Hischildren serving in the family business magnifying His glory, we must continue daily to get our minds free to this reality so as to serve Him well.  To be a faithful servant is to daily come back to Him, even moment-to-moment and surrender everything and ask His help to see from His perspective (renew our minds Romans 12:1-2) and therefore be made free for His service.

Even at the moment of choice of following God or running to self and sin, we can surrender it.  Even if we don’t and we fail Him, we can reconcile and pickup with fellowship the very moment after.  This is so foreign to us.  We think we need to stay away from Him for awhile – grounded in our room, punished.  But that time is just wasted time or time which we become resentful.  If we run back into His grace right away, our enemies tell us that we are just taking advantage of Him – just taking His grace for granted.  We can answer to that – Yes, we are taking advantage of the grace He provided but No, we are not taking it for granted, just accepting in faith that IT IS.

Don’t let Satan trick you into further rebellion.  It is a sin to not let the grace of God prevent sin in you but it is also a sin to not accept God’s grace afterwards – why sin twice? Grace gives us strength to overcome sin – both in prevention (1 Corinthians 10:13) and in reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

The sooner we get back to Him, the sooner we really believe the power of His grace, the sooner the power of it keeps us from that sin forever. 

Father, please forgive my rebellion of you – thank you for the grace that encompasses and devours all my sin (Psalm 103:12).  Father, transform me by the power of your love so that I not only do not sin but that I become your faithful child – set free for your service.

When Israel came out of Egypt, 
the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
Psalm 114:1-2

Leaving Egypt is a key to becoming God’s sanctuary.  God does miracles to free us but we still must believe him and leave.  God, help me give not anything, but everything to you. The earth trembles before you – let me also always continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) – neither by way of platitudes and policies nor by empty ritual – but in the real, magnificent, uncontainable presence of the Lion of Judah. 

He is not safe, but he is oh so good.

When Israel came out of Egypt, 
the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
Psalm 114:1-2

Leaving Egypt is a key to becoming God’s sanctuary.  God does miracles to free us but we still must believe him and leave.  God, help me give not anything, but everything to you. The earth trembles before you – let me also always continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) – neither by way of platitudes and policies nor by empty ritual – but in the real, magnificent, uncontainable presence of the Lion of Judah. 

He is not safe, but he is oh so good.

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Ps 119:36-37

Bob Segar pines in his song, Roll Me Away:

Stood alone on a mountain top,
starin’ out at the Great Divide
I could go east, I could go west,
it was all up to me to decide

In this case, his song is about escapism from the complexity, pain, and frustration of life and his freedom is riding off into the sunset on a motorcycle alone – escaping responsibility and abandoning any relationship that would tie him down. 

I like the picture of standing above the noise of the day – looking east and west and choosing.  That is God’s gift and power to mankind – to choose.  The psalmist here continues to focus on that choice but instead of leaving it to himself to decide – he continues to cry out to God to turn his eyes to God’s purpose – away from the worthless things.

Segar wants to escape from responsibility – the typical passivity of man, that which is displayed by Adam in the garden when he fails to step between Eve and the serpent.  One of the techniques used in sales closes is choice – do you want A or B – focusing the customer on only two choices when the available ones are more infinite and the ones he is offering may not even be the crucial ones.  In Segar’s song, there is simply oppression to the East and freedom to the West – but the Apostle Paul says in Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  He exercises freedom from this decision – “do I follow Christ or not” and translates them to “do I follow Christ by serving in this world or by serving him in the next”  – he does not offer the choice of not following. 

As a Christian, we have Christ – period.  So our choices are simple.  How will we serve him and honor him today?  We can turn away from him, but we can’t lose him.  So we are free to get beyond this escapism and serve him wholeheartedly because he is our life.

I like this image of climbing above the noise of it all and being able to decide – our quiet times with God are a great way to do that.  When we come before God in his word and look up and see from his perspective – we gain clarity over the thousands of noisy choices below.  There is all type of talk now days about the choice overload that people must swim in each day – and the insufficiency of training to enable us to deal with that.  But most of those choices are marketing lies – “do you want 42″ or a 46″ HDTV?”  When we have been up on the mountain with God and have seen Jesus transfigured as our very life and heard God’s voice – the choices of selfish worldly gain become less. 

Still, we have to be careful even here.  We have the tendency to immediately translate this experience into the creation of an alter just as the disciples wanted to do for Jesus.  This doesn’t mean we should avoid serving, just avoid needless alters or traditions as substitutes for the true Christ.  God is trying to show us we can relax and be his children – that he has done this – that Christ IS. He is revealing him in us, as us – so we can simply worship in all things and overcome the tyranny of self. 

There is another picture on a mountain that I like – that of our Lord as Satan tempts him.  In Matthew 4, Satan tempts Jesus from a mountain top offering him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would worship him.   Jesus in his response surrenders choice to the will of God.  He does not consider “do I or don’t I” because “it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” 

Segar muses that he will find freedom but his choice of escapism will only find a meaningless and wasted life.  Our Lord surrenders his choice to God’s will knowing there is the freedom in worshipping God and serving him.

Paul says in Phil 3:8-9, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”  When we surrender our choice for God’s will, we become free of worthless things and gain Christ.

Father, set my eyes on you – make me single-minded on you.  Amen.

If you attend a church, certainly a Bible Church or other conservative church, you are likely to hear the idea that “Christians are Sinners saved by grace”.  What is interesting is that this cannot  be found anywhere in the Bible. 

That man rebelled against God and became separated from him is obvious.   It is this rebellion and separation, caused by sin that makes man a sinner and before coming to Christ, we were all sinners.  However, the identity and title used throughout the New Testament for believers is Saint.

This, of course, does not mean what Catholicism has sadly caused the word to come to mean – a person who has worked to grow holy and close to God and become so pure and good that we call them saints.  But it is very clear in the New Testament that we could add that prefix to a modern new convert as well as to St. Paul or St. Augustine. 

We were once sinners, but we were saved by grace and now, we are saints.  Sainthood, like salvation, cannot be achieved by our works – it is the title of the children of God who have become God’s children through union with Christ. Christ is now their very life, their only life and Christ was never a sinner – so neither are they.  Once you are a child of God, through your faith in God’s gracious provision, you are no longer a mere mortal, separated from God – a sinner.

That we were once sinners is true, but it is not the interesting thing – the amazing thing is that we are now Saints in Christ and we can boldly go before the thrown of God.  What’s the value of dwelling on the fact that we were sinners. And certainly, identifying ourselves as sinners can only serve to make our heavenly Father sad.  If we adopted a child from the gutter and loved them as our own but they constantly reminded us that they were not our child and kept dressing in the rags of their previous life, we would be greatly grieved.  How much more grief must God bear because of our misunderstanding of his gift.

Answer these questions for yourself:

1. If I died tonight, am I 100% certain I will go to heaven?

2. If I died and stood before God, and he asked my why he should let me into his heaven, what would my answer be?

If you answered no to question #1, would you like to be certain?

If for question #2, you answered with something like “I’ve tried to lead a good life” – can you not see that you are still working for your salvation.

The gospel – the good news – that God is proclaiming to man is that all man’s works are in vain and unnecessary for he has provided the lamb and the man who believes can be certain that he will be saved.  God, unlike men, keeps his word and is completely capable – can’t you see that you can be sure of God’s power and desire to do this – so trusting in him means you never have to worry about your ability to put it together.

When Egypt was plagued with frogs such that they were in the food and drinking water and beds and homes, Pharaoh summoned Moses agreeing to his demands and Moses asked Pharaoh when he would like God to remove the plague.  Pharaoh’s incredulous response was tomorrow.  Why in the world would he wait another day living with the frogs.   And why would we live another day being indecisive about accepting God’s infinitely better gift in Christ so we could sleep tonight certain that we will go to heaven because we can answer God’s question confidently that our basis for entry is on God’s Word, his son’s life indwelling us.

And what does that take?  Asking him for his life to count as our own. It is not merely believing – the Bible says even the demons believe.  Faith is asking his life to be your own.  If I showed you are sturdy chair and you told me you believe it could support you – but refused to sit in it – how much are you really believing in the chair?  Settle it once for all to fully engage with Christ.

Congratulations.

After you’ve given your life to Christ or if you already done that, then resolve to never again identify yourself as anything less than a child of God because no child of God is a sinner, separated from God.

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Galatians 1:11-12

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Like Paul, I did not come to faith by the preaching of men. I’m not saying that some did not attempt to share Christ with me, but unlike most people, God had to reach out to me directly – pretty much by the scruff of my neck.

Commanding a Non-conformist Not to Conform

Paul had a blinding light from above.  God chose to reach me through my own blind pride from a billboard above.  Specifically, it was a billboard that had Romans 12:2a on it.  That verse reads, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

In my foolishness, I thought of myself as the ultimate non-conformist.  I hung with a group of outcasts but I pridefully observed that I did not conform to them either: I was a self-proclaimed non-conformist to the non-conformist.  All this really meant was that I was lonely and alone; foolish & prideful; lacking everything while I thought I was wise.

In his great mercy, God somehow held this weekly rotating church sign from changing for six weeks so that I could see it long enough to first make fun of the church for their failure to update it, then move to taunting the scripture (what could hypocritical church people know about non-conformity), to disbelief that such a statement could even be in the Bible which drove me to the decision to look it up. 

Our heavenly Father has such a great sense of humor and irony in his patient and faithful love pursuit of his children.  In my life, God used my own juvenile and pathetic crown of non-conformity to get me to surrender to his Lordship so He could make me a son and crown me himself with the eternal crown of life as a co-heir to his son, Jesus.

I’ve always been able to relate to C.S. Lewis in his account of his conversion in Surprised by Joy“I came into Christianity kicking and screaming. You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen [College, Oxford], night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

About Hypocrites – Takes One to Know One

My personal claim was that Christians were clearly hypocrites in their pursuit and push for moral perfection.  My Catholic upbringing left me filled more with guilt than the grace of the Lord.  I decided I could do without them if they could not accept me.  Yet here I was opening one of our dust-collecting, Bible decorations to look up Romans 12:2.

Being Catholic, we never used the Bible, just church missalettes so navigating scripture references was a novel experience.  Growing up in church, I occasionally marveled at the exploits of missionaries who sent letters that would be read during the service.  The Priest would read a letter from the missionary to different people or churches. 

I noticed the majority of our letters were from a missionary named Paul and I used to think, “Wow, he really gets around and he really writes a lot”. Imagine my surprise to find the proliferate missionary in my Bible as I opened to “The Letter of Paul to the Romans”.  I think I might actually have exclaimed out loud, “It’s that guy!”

I continued to decode this book figuring out what scripture references meant and trying to determine what “R” and “T” meant in margins, I found myself cross”R”eferenced to the Gospel of Matthew where I discovered some of the letters were black and some were red. Examining these, I soon determined that the red letters were the words of Jesus and before I knew it, I had read through the Gospel of Matthew and had completely and totally fallen in love with Jesus.

The Only True Non-Conformist – Jesus

What I was amazed to find was that Jesus loved the “wicked” (like me) even though he did not condone their sins but instead forgave them their sins.  Also, he loved the righteous (like the Pharisees) even when they were hypocrites though he did not condone their sinful pride but instead forgave them theirs sins.  It wasn’t that Jesus took sides or that he was about us being morally good.  He taught that none of us could be good but that God alone was good and that his love alone could nullify our sins and transform us from sinners into children of God. 

It was hard to imagine but I discovered that Jesus loved me just as much as all the good Christians who I thought were condemning me. I thought non-conforming through rebelling against the establishment was who I was but I discovered that my non-conformity was not non-conformity at all but merely living in the same sins as everyone else: lust, greed, and pride.

Our Father was so gracious in the way he revealed his son to me.  Jesus Chris is the one and only true non-conformist because he is the only conformist to God, the Father. I discovered that night that Jesus was the greatest non-conformist who ever lived and I decided to give my life to him fully.  That radically changed my life and I will be eternally grateful.  Romans 12:1 says, Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

27 Years of Real Non-conformity

All of this happened when I was 18 and my life has been a river of blessing flowing to the sea rushing bigger and more powerful in Christ each year.  Besides having a wonderful wife and four amazing children that each have come to know Christ through the Savior’s leading, I have a had a life of increasing purpose and joy.  It is not that I have not had hard times because I have – but when I have them, I know the one who can give the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, and will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7.

I have also been blessed to love so many people and watch them grow in Christ by the work of Jesus in my life.  This is not from me – anymore than what I received was from other men.  God uses people to reach others but it is always his work. 

I can promise you this – if you are reading this, the God of the universe is pursuing you mightily.  How can I say that?  First, that’s what the Bible says 2 Peter 3:9, .  Secondly, we are having this conversation through my blog or some other means.   Since the Father loves you and is pursuing you, I pray that our Father will reveal his son in you as he did for Paul and as he did for me.

Galatians 1:15-16

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me

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Attending Ministry 2.0 this weekend, Dr. David Foster kicked off the conference with a talk titled Advancing Your Church in the Brave New Wall-less, Wireless, Worn-out World.

We as Christians have a choice in our rapidly changing world.  We can advance the church of Jesus Christ or we will become increasingly irrelevant.  It depends on our attitude toward the world we live in and the way we embrace the way it is changing. Here are a few thoughts:

Does community happen only when we meet at the church?

If community only happens in the church building or our small groups, what happens when gas prices top $4/gallon and some don’t come?  What if some illness or circumstance prevents attendance?  Does the church community cease to exist for them?

The church I attend has an exciting focus on church planting enabling them to plant churches that can tailor themselves to a local community.  This seems to them to follow an Acts 2 model – However, community in today’s world is increasingly not based on geography. 

Living in the bedroom community of Hutto where more than 85% of the people leave town to work elsewhere, it is already clear that their tie to the geography of Hutto is limited. But more than that, people clearly find their community around their interests and their relationships and the technological advances in our world make that increasingly easier to do.

Community in the Church or Church in the Community

Jason Reynolds shared a Case Study of an Online Church Campus. Their experience with offering this type of campus has caused them to redefine Community as “What God does in the midst of people to change lives.”

Community – What God does in the midst of people to change lives.

Their online simulcasts complete with chat communities and more have enabled them to empower those who cannot attend church. These member have not only found fellowship with a body of believers but have also established purpose that they previously believed impossible by being able to minister to others despite circumstances that isolate them physically. 

As we move from the attractional church model of providing community in the church to the missional model of living church in the community, we need to realize our community is not bound by the geography of their daily walking distance such as existed in Acts 2.  They are free agents who are free to participate in any culture, at any time, on whatever terms they desire.

Reaching Across the aisle or Reaching across world

Today’s modern technology now enables people to transcend simple information retrieval to find true, authentic community with people of any geography, culture, or time of their life.  In fact, they often seem to feel free to be more authentic and transparent in these communities than in the brick-and-mortal ritual of forced smiles and greetings imposed upon them during the church program.

If we are to reach people with the life-changing reality of Christ, we are going to have to continue to let our lives be changed to reach people in the communities in which they live.  Today’s social networking platforms may seem foreign – but that they are way less foreign than those communities that Paul and the other early missionaries had to breach. In fact, they are more like a personal guide to the culture of each and every person we meet – providing a platform to more easily speak their language, interact with them on their terms and overcome many of the barriers that previously limited our reach.  These tools can be a time-machine, a teleporter, a translator/guide, and a facilitator to real relationship that can make a difference in peoples lives.

This is just a little of the promise in Ministry 2.0.

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