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What If I Don’t Think I Can Give To Beyond?

June 18, 2015 | By | No Comments

This is a common question that I have been getting over the last few weeks from committed people in our church related to their involvement in our Beyond Campaign. It takes a few different forms, but it’s essentially the same question. I thought it might be helpful to discuss it here.

At the outset, I think it’s important to note that this question often comes from people who are committed to Resonate Church, who love our church, who give their time and energy to our ministry, and who invite their unbelieving friends to join us. I would guess that many of them also are regular givers, though I don’t know or track who gives. These are often owners, not just consumers. This is why this is such a point of tension and concern in these folks’ lives — they own the ministry now and they want to own the Beyond Campaign as well. But, for various financial reasons, they don’t feel like they can.

It’s also extremely difficult (impossible) to communicate publicly, whether written or in a Sunday sermon, in a way that addresses everyone’s specific situation. It’s a scenario primed for confusion. I hope that this post will minimize the confusion rather than intensify it…but we’ll see.

Here are a few thoughts on this question:

Some who think they don’t have enough money actually do. Some people ask this question because they have been devastated by the economy. They really don’t have money. Others ask it because they are committing resources to things that they could give up for the sake of the mission if they wanted to. This is why each person needs to evaluate his or her life individually and make their financial and giving decisions with intentionality (2 Cor 9:7).

Not all people who are in financial hardship are irresponsible stewards. While there are many people in our culture and church who are experiencing financial hardship because of greed and/or poor choices, there are plenty of others who have been good stewards, given generously, and tried to be responsible who have simply had difficult circumstances come into their lives. We must guard against assuming that financial difficulty equals poor stewardship.

There is a tension here that needs to be felt and wrestled with. We struggle with tension. We don’t like tough questions. We don’t like things that aren’t easily resolved. But the Scriptures are filled with tension, especially in this area of money. Consider the tension in the following truths:

Scripture says that we should provide for our families: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8). This is serious.

Jesus commends a woman who gave all she had: “And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on’” (Mark 12:43-44).

Paul commends the Macedonians for giving beyond their means: “For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Cor 8:3-4).

Do you feel the tension?

Should we provide for our families or give generously? Both.

How does that work if, like the widow, the money I have to give is the same money I need to live on? I don’t know.

It’s a tension to be managed not resolved. That’s why I keep encouraging people to prayerfully seek godly counsel, follow the leading of the Spirit, and then do what God calls them to do.

One of the places this comes up is related to paying off debt vs. giving. I don’t think there’s a simple answer. Some say–motivated by faith–you should give and God will provide money to pay back debt. Some say–motivated by faithfulness–you should pay back debt first. Who is right? I don’t know. I’m not smart enough to issue a blanket statement that applies to everyone. But I love the questions, because they cause us to wrestle with this stuff and be intentional with our lives.

The gospel mandates that we give out of love and faith rather than guilt. Many in this situation are paralyzed by guilt. They feel like being in this place must mean that they are unfaithful or not committed. Others are overcome with the guilt of their past bad decisions. Here’s the good news: Jesus can deal with the guilt of past mistakes, and Jesus is not pleased with guilt-motivated giving. If you are feeling guilty over past mistakes, go to Jesus. If you are tempted to give motivated by guilt, either let Jesus change your motivation or don’t give. Throughout this series we’ve tried to be positive, talk about the vision, and celebrate God’s glorious grace rather than try to guilt people into giving. I feel confident that this is the right approach.

Most people can give something sacrificial. There should be very few people who give nothing. Most of us should be able to make some kind of sacrifice–no matter how small. My challenge to those who say they can’t give is that they should consider giving something. If $50 is sacrificial, give it–not because the $50 will make a huge difference in the campaign, but because it will make a difference in your treasure-following heart.

A lot can change in 12 months. We’ve been asking for a 12-month commitment to Beyond, with the hopes that we can have the project funded by the end of 2011. In the meantime, some will lose jobs and be unable to fulfill their commitment. Others will find work and be able to give more than they expected. Many will get unexpected money and will have the opportunity to give it (for example, I don’t know what speaking opportunities, weddings, funerals, etc. I will get — but those will be opportunities to give more to Beyond). If a person can’t give now, he or she should pray that God provides in a way that would allow them to give more later. This would be a way of trusting God to provide.

Don’t let not being able to give keep you away from the church or from these moments together. Some might be tempted to skip church the next few weeks (September 19 is Commitment Sunday) or months out of shame or embarrassment that they can’t participate. If that’s you, DON’T! We are a family. We flourish together. We struggle together. And we share these moments together.

What would you add? Other thoughts on how we should approach this?

Keys to the Kingdom

April 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

Jesus spent three years here on earth. During that time, you would think Jesus would spend a lot of time teaching his disciples about how to proclaim the Gospel. That He would have a preaching class and a ‘how to communicate the four spiritual laws’ seminar, etc. But during His three years, He often showed them in vivid images about the Kingdom. He starts with a wedding feast. He shows them what the Kingdom is like. He uses stories to tell of it. He shows them healing, feeding, loving, compassion, forgiveness, and truth. He lived the way of the kingdom. He would demonstrate it. He would proclaim it.

Most of us still view the Gospel as a systematic set of beliefs and doctrines we try to transfer cognitively onto someone else. The word Gospel simply means good news. Its a modifier. Its good news of something else. The gospel is the good news of the Kingdom of God. We tell them the good news of the story of God, and that He is inviting people into the story. Way things are in heaven, He has made a way for those things to come here on earth. As Paul would say, “the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (1 Cor 4:20)

There a piece of Scripture I’ve often missed in Matthew 16:13-20. When Jusus is talking to Peter about building His church, He turns to Peter and tells him that He (Jesus) will build His church. And what does He give Peter? Not the keys to great conversations, not the keys to winning arguments. Not even the keys to build an amazing church. He gives him the keys to the Kingdom. As if to say, “Peter, be all about the Kingdom. Be a people who are all about the Kingdom. You do that, the whole church thing will follow. I’ll build my church, you worry about the Kingdom.”

Even as Jesus is leaving them, he parts with His disciples saying “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom.” This thing I’ve been showing you, inviting you into, I am assigning you now with the task of showing it and telling people about it.

How do we do it? We remember the stories. Remember the time the wine ran out? Remember what we did? The 500 gallons we turned into wine and kept the celebration going? Remember Zaccheus? The guy that people ostracized and they chased up the tree? They hated him. Remember how we walked over to the tree and Jesus called him down and we had dinner with him? We protected people that shouldn’t have been protected? We ate with people that people didn’t think we should eat with? Remember what people thought of us? Remember what we did on the Sabbath? Everyone was going to church and doing their religious thing. We stopped and helped people? We did things that were practical. More than rhetoric. We fed and healed with no strings attached. Remember what people said about us. When we saw people who were hungry, we fed them. We should do all those things.

This is why the Kingdom is good news. You demonstrate and proclaim. They will come to you and ask you tell them what they have seen or been experiencing. You should expect people to ask about the hope in you. Not the doctrine. And do so with gentleness and patience. Paul must have known that sharing your faith is a living story and a running conversations. Keep demonstrating. Keep proclaiming.

(Adapted from Hugh Halter, Verge 2013)

Moving Beyond Social Media Awareness

April 9, 2013 | By | One Comment

I love the idea. There is injustice in the world. People need to know about this. But then what?

kony-2012Remember Kony 2012? Last I checked, the YouTube video had close to 100 million views. I remember every day logging into my Facebook and someone else had posted something about how we need to stop this guy, how big of an injustice it is, etc. Great! I agree. But it is 2013. Kony is still at large kidnapping children and enlisting them into his army, and the US has more or less forgotten about it. Remember Darfur? How about Haiti? Guess what, these areas are still either war ravaged or poverty stricken. But, we sure were aware that they were in need for a while.

Getting young people, who are notoriously reluctant to engage, to pay attention to something not pop-culture based, is quite a feat. Getting them to put aside their micro-attention spans and keep paying attention past the next “viral” thing is an even bigger challenge. Getting them out from behind their “devices” and actually taking action (as opposed to checking out YouTube) has proven next to impossible.

end-it-movementOver the past few months (coming out of Passion 2013), my Facebook has seen a few days where the End It movement has taken up a few spots on my feed. Love the idea. There is injustice in the world taking place. 27 million people are slaves today through the use of child labor, sex trafficking, bondage, and work without wages through coercion. Something must be done. But what? My worry is that awareness, particularly social media trending awareness, has done very little in the past when it comes to young people here in America.

We are a culture who feels like we are doing something by clicking “share.” A culture who feels like success is measured by YouTube views and website hits. Even as I write this, the success of this blog will be ‘how many people who read this?’ We have got to move beyond awareness.

Jesus didn’t call his disciples to handle brokenness from afar. “Peter, make sure people know that there is brokenness, and have other people get involved in fixing it.” Jesus told his followers to show the Kingdom in their actions, not just point out everywhere the Kingdom is not.

How about this? Have a banquet (Luke 14). Invite all the poor and broken people. Sit down and have a meal with them. Love them, get to know them. Maybe lost and forgotten girls in this world will know they are neither lost nor forgotten.

How about this? Make disciples, teaching them to obey all that I’ve commanded (Matthew 28). Show the kingdom to them, tell them about it. Maybe broken and sinful men will have the power to overcome sin because of their faith in Christ. He is the only hope for transformation and conquering sin.

How about this? Go to all nations. Be my witnesses to the ends of the earth. Lose your life, sacrifice everything, and you might find life. How will they ever believe if they haven’t heard? How will we expect life change (with leads to culture change) without the Spirit changing lives?

Do something. Jesus never said ‘donate now.’ Jesus never said ‘just raise awareness.’ Jesus said go.

Half-Built Towers

April 5, 2013 | By | No Comments

While reading through Luke 14, I read verses 28-30 where Jesus is talking about discipleship and says:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

How substantially different Jesus operates from how we opperate in Church today. I have so often looked forward to someone going from a nonbeliever to a believer, and as soon as they are ready, we ask questions like “Do you know you are a sinner in need of grace?” “Yes!” “Do you know Jesus died on the cross for sin?” “Yes!” The problem is, as David Platt points out, even the Devil could say yes to those questions. Jesus is challenging people away from making any sort of quick or emotional decision about following Jesus. Yet, we make the doorway in our culture to follow Jesus so wide and so shallow that I think so many have ‘made a decision’ to follow Jesus, yet lie in ruins. The great preacher John Stott has a great indictment about this:

John_StottThe Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict half-built towers. The ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow Him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so called nominal Christianity. In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent but thin veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved, enough to be respectable. Their religion is a great soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism. – John Stott

You Only Know What You Obey

April 5, 2013 | By | No Comments

This is how we know him […] whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. – 1 John 2:3-6

Over then next couple of months, we at Resonate will be traveling through a study of how Jesus walked, His call to follow Him, and what that looks like. As I was thinking through this topic, I was remembering some of what Hugh Halter talked about last year at Verge. Part of how Jesus walked and how He interacted with the world was to challenge inaccurate views of what people held to be holy and sacred. He was an iconoclast, to say the least. He was sacrilegious! He worked to tear away at religion to get to what is glorious and true.

Jesus was sacrilegious with Scripture.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. – John 5:39-40

Does our knowledge of Scripture help us live it? The Pharisees were great at their study. They studied it, rewrote it, spent as much time in it as anyone in our day. Jesus sat with people like us, and said, “You are missing it.” James would go on to say “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.” (James 1:22-23). You only know what you obey. You only know what you do. James says you never really knew it if you didn’t obey it.

As a pastor, people always say they want more “meat” in a sermon. If I were to apply James’ principal, maybe we should just try one Scripture at a time. Let’s start with love your neighbor as yourself. When you finally get that one down… literally loving our neighbor and treating them as well as we would treat ourselves, then we will move onto another one. After that one, we can try James 1:27, “visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” Once we practice that, we can move onto another. Otherwise, we don’t really KNOW the Word of God.

Jesus was sacrilegious with the Sabbath
He often just did practical things on the Sabbath and it made people mad. He would heal people on the Sabbath. He would eat grain from the fields on the Sabbath. He healed and asked a man to walk and carry his mat on the Sabbath.

Austin New Church in Austin decided on a really radical idea. What if we didn’t do an Easter church service and instead served the poor throughout the city on Easter. Seriously… Easter. One of the two Sundays in the Church calendar that you don’t mess with. Imagine if CNN did a story on the fact that every church in your city did that. May that help people perceive the glory of God? How he acts, cares, and loves? May people see what the Kingdom is like?

Jesus was sacrilegious with discipleship
Jesus came because He desires people to walk how He walks. Now, I know the Gospel, that we all fall and don’t walk as He walks, so He came to die and be a propitiation for our sins for those who believe in Him. He was resurrected. But then He ascended and sent the Holy Spirit to us, so that we have power to overcome sin and walk the way He walks. So, He set the pattern for discipleship. He finished with His disciples and said, “Go and do everything I just taught and showed you. Continue the ministry and kingdom work that I began.” And Jesus’ discipleship was never about power or status. He did not come to be served but to serve. He showed the kingdom to be very unlikely what everyone exptected.

You have the option to change the game. We should be people who do unorthodox things. Jesus seemed to be the most unreligious person people met. He was accused of being drunk and being friends of sinners often, never accused of being friends of the religious. Jesus was sacrilgeous to sinners.

Identity in Christ

January 25, 2012 | By | One Comment

Coming off of this past Sunday’s message, its important to remember our identity in Christ. Jesus purposefully renames Simon to Cephas/Peter/Rock, and its an important identity for Peter. Our identity should always be in the Gospel, but sometimes we forget who we are as a new creation in Christ. Here’s a great list of reminders:

Who I am in Christ

Because you are in Christ, every one of these statements is true of you.

I am loved (1 John 3:3)
I am accepted (Ephesians 1:6)
I am a child of God (John 1:12)
I am Jesus’ friend (John 15:14)
I am a joint heir with Jesus, sharing His inheritance with Him (Romans 8:17)
I am united with God and one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17)
I am a temple of God. His spirit and his life live in me (1 Corinthians 6:19)
I am a member of Christ’s body. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)
I am redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
I am complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:10)
I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1)
I am a new creation because I am in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
I am established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21)
I do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
I am God’s co-worker (2 Corinthians 6:1)
I am seated in heavenly places with Christ (Eph 2:6)
I have direct access to God (Ephesians 2:18)
I am chosen to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5)
I have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by which I share His nature (2 Peter 1:4)
I can always know the presence of God because He never leaves me (Hebrews 13:5)
God works in me to help me do the things He wants me to do (Philippians 2:13)
I can ask God for wisdom and He will give me what I need (James 1:5)

Rhythms: ReCreate

November 28, 2011 | By | No Comments

From the beginning God setup a pattern of living, that included creation (work) and rest. As we talk about the concept of Rhythms, our weekly rhythm of life should be a part of this. Lets look at Soma School‘s breakdown of what it means to ReCreate as part of missional living.

We take time to rest, play, create and restore beauty in ways that reflect God and the work of the Gospel to others

After powerfully and joyfully creating the universe, God rested. We were created in his image and therefore were made to joyfully create and rest as well. We regularly take time to rest, play, create and restore beauty in ways that reflect what God is like to our community. (Genesis 1:1-Genesis 2:3; Deuteronomy 5:12; Mark 2:23-28; Hebrews 4)

In every culture and with every person we witness the desire to rest and create – although the means by which people work it out might be different, we find a universal and historical practice of ReCreating. However, apart from the gospel people remain restless in their work and labored in their rest. The Gospel enables people to rest while working because the work that justifies them was accomplished in Jesus – they don’t need their work to give them significance any longer. The Gospel also enables people to truly rest when not working, because they know that God is always working–they don’t have to worry their lack of work will stop the world from spinning.

Upward

Because God has accomplished everything necessary for our justification and is the one who will finish the work He started in us, we can rest. Whether working, playing, sleeping or creating – we rest in His work and His abilities and His power. Our rest then is not only a result of the Gospel, but a demonstration to the world not at rest in the gospel.
[lists type=”plus”]

  • How and where in your life are you at rest in the Gospel?
  • Where are you restless and what about the Gospel are you not believing?
[/lists]

We now approach work not needing validation or security – we can truly work unto the Lord and be free to do it as worship (not worshipping the job, the boss, the paycheck or the credibility we obtain). We can also truly rest – vacation or not, sleeping or not, etc… because the world is held together and run by Him and it will be restored by His work in and through us, not our work apart from Him. We can also create freely, not dependent on the quality of the creation or the validation of others to say it is good, but rather because we are already called good in Jesus Christ. Finally, we are free to play, because our Father is in charge and gives us all we need.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • How could our work be a better reflection of the Gospel to the world around us?
  • In what ways could we be ‘playing’ and ‘creating’ such that it would be an appropriate display of the Gospel to our culture?
[/lists]

Inward & Outward

We recreate together as a way of preaching the gospel to one another. We also become a display together of the truth of the gospel to a watching world. Our resting, creating, working and playing all proclaim that our God is Creator, Sustainer, Provider and Redeemer.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • How could you and your community reshape its weekly, monthly and yearly rhythms to live out
    this rhythm?
  • Where in your culture does the Gospel need to creative, playful work of the Gospel?
[/lists]

Rhythms: Eat

November 24, 2011 | By | No Comments

Instead of ‘adding’ a bunch of missional actions to your life, why not look at things you are already doing and transforming them. I think its amazing that God has given us a daily reminder that we need something outside of us to meet a hunger and need. We get to celebrate that God that provides in a way that not only meets physical hunger, but spiritual hunger. How does Eating become a Rhythm for missional living? Let’s look at it through this Soma School breakdown:

We regularly eat meals with others to invite them into Gospel Community

Meals are a daily reminder of our common need for God and his faithfulness to provide both physically and spiritually. Jesus called us to remember him and his sacrifice for us through a meal. When we eat together, we commune around this truth. We regularly eat meals with those not in our immediate family or circle of close friends, discipling them toward a life of dependence on God. (Leviticus 23; Matthew 6:11; 26:17-30; Acts 2:46-47; Romans 12:13)

In every part of the world hunger is a daily reality – whether they have plenty or lack – we all get hungry more than once a day. God gave Adam and Eve the opportunity to demonstrate their faith through the eating of food. They choose to eat unto themselves out of unbelief and rebellion. God has likewise given every person in every part of the world a regular reminder of their need and an opportunity to eat unto themselves in unbelief and rebellion or unto God in faith and with thanksgiving.

So what does this mean for our three values: Upward (me and God), Inward (me and God’s people), Outward (me and kingdom reconciliation)

Upward

Whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we do it unto God. Every meal really is a demonstration of the gospel. We come hungry (a real need) and our need is graciously met (Whatever we have is from God). Since we eat three times a day, we get a gospel reminder over and over again IF we eat unto God. It’s interesting that throughout the Story, food continues to be the prime example of God’s provision meeting their need. And in every case, they ate unto God or unto themselves.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • How might you eat differently if your eating was informed by the Gospel and unto God in faith?
[/lists]

Inward

When we eat together we commune over our common need and God’s provision. In doing this we proclaim the gospel to each other over and over again. That is why it is so important to eat together regularly – a loving community of believers communing around the work of Christ is the best apologetic of the gospel AND eating together is one of the ways we are commanded to do this.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • Consider how you might ‘preach’ the gospel to each other through our ‘common’ meal – The Lord’s
    Supper…
[/lists]

Outward

The table for the Jews, as also in our day, is very symbolic AND communicative – who we eat demonstrates who we love. This is why Jesus was called a friend of sinners – he ate with people who were dirty, unreligious, and visibly or sociably unacceptable. The table is one of the most powerful displays of God’s love and acceptance of sinners.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • How often do we eat with those who don’t believe what we do?
  • How should you and your community shape its life around communing at the table with unbelievers?
[/lists]

Rhythms: Bless

November 22, 2011 | By | No Comments

Everyone in this world is given something, life, talents, time, resources, expertise, etc. God’s people are different in what they do with it, and to understand that we’ve been blessed to be a blessing is substantial to the missional pattern of life. Let’s continue looking at the Rhythms as we look at what it means to Bless from the Soma School.

We intentionally bless others through words, gifts or actions

God desires that all people would be blessed through Jesus. And now, as his Body, we believe we live out this mission as we bless others. We intentionally seek God’s direction for who he would have us tangibly bless each week (Genesis 12:1-3; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:8-10; 1 Peter 2:12). We all have talents, resources and time. Some of us believe we have earned these things and therefore we are entitled to them. This leads to greed and selfishness stemming from pride and causes fights, quarrels, divisions and anxiety (James 4:1-6). When we believe that all we have is from God’s gracious hand – gifts given not due to our own work – then we selflessly share what we have for the sake of others leading us to acts of service, sacrifice and love.

So what does this mean for our three values: Upward (me and God), Inward (me and God’s people), outward (me and kingdom reconciliation)

Upward

Just like Abraham we have been blessed – we have received unmerited favor and provision. This is not because of anything we have done, but because of all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ. We are co-heirs with Christ and blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • Take some time to write out and meditate on all that God has blessed you with in Jesus Christ…
[/lists]

We are not blessed just for our own good. We have been given what we have so that others might also receive. We must regularly take account of what has been given to us and realize that it is not ours, but God’s to steward. Then, in light of the gospel that reminds us that He become poor so that in his poverty we might become rich, we are freed up to pour out our lives and things so that others might be blessed and taste and see that the Lord is good.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • Identify all that God has given you to bless others with and ask Him to show you what to do with it…
[/lists]

Inward

When we believe the gospel and realize that I didn’t gain what I have nor do I really own what I have, and then see that our Father in heaven provides for his children through sharing what we He has given us each other. Then I come to see that I don’t really own anything and yet at the same time I have more than I ever dreamed (brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, houses, cars, clothes, food, etc (Luke 18:29-30)). All that we have is His and all that is His is ours.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • Identify the needs of your family as well as the resources given to the family and then ask God how you are to take care of each other.
[/lists]

Outward

God’s intent in blessing His people has always been so that those who don’t know Him and his grace might see Him at work in and through us and come to Him through our lives. We must direct our eyes outward and begin to believe that He has given us everything for life and godliness. He has resourced us with what we need to do the gospel work of blessing others who don’t know Him yet.

[lists type=”plus”]
  • What does the culture or community you are sent to really need and how has God blessed you and your community to display the grace of the Gospel to them?
[/lists]

Rhythms: Celebrate

November 21, 2011 | By | No Comments

If our story is the Good News, then we should be known of the most celebratory people in the world. It should mark who we are. As Jeff Vanderstelt said, “As missionary people we are sent into a culture to engage in the celebrations with the people, but we bring the better wine. We’re the ones who bring what is lacking, whether that means we put a towel around ourselves and we wash the feet or clean up the mess, or we bring what’s lacking to the party. We bring redemption to things that are broken. Let’s continue with our look at the Rhythms (from the Soma School).

We gather together to celebrate God’s extravagant blessings in Jesus

God’s calls people to regularly celebrate his goodness and grace. We gather weekly in missional communities and regularly as a larger family, to share stories and celebrate all that God is doing in and amongst us. We invite everyone to these celebrations as a way of displaying and declaring God’s Glory, exhorting each other in the Gospel and encouraging each other in Mission. (Leviticus 23; Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:24-25)

We are created to worship and one of the ways is through celebration. Every person in every part of the world celebrates. The question is: To whom or what is the celebration directed? Because of sin and idolatry we are prone to celebrate the creation instead of the Creator.

So what does this mean for our three values: Upward (me and God), Inward (me and God’s people), Outward (me and kingdom reconciliation)

Upward

If we truly understand and believe the gospel, we should be the most celebratory people on the planet. God regularly called his people to celebrate through feasts and parties because he did not want them to forget His grace and abundant provision. The very celebration wasn’t just a response – it was also a demonstration of what God is like and has done. We must enter into a regular rhythm of celebrating God’s extravagant blessings.

Part of my ability to live out the gospel is dependent upon my regular reflection on the gospel. I need to regularly set my affections on things above – the work of God in Jesus Christ and what is now true of me because of Him. I should ask myself:

[lists type=”plus”]
  • How is gospel celebration a part of my everyday life? How should it be?
[/lists]

Inward

We are called to not give up meeting together so that we might spur each other on to love and good deeds. Jesus himself demonstrates this through his first recorded miracle – at a wedding feast where he affirms the celebration of life together because celebrating life together demonstrates the working out of and one of the purposes for the gospel. Ask yourselves:

[lists type=”plus”]
  • How often are we gathering together to celebrate and how does the Gospel inform it?
[/lists]

Outward

The people God has sent us to are also celebrating – they happen to be celebrating a different god and a different story. We need to enter into their celebrations and do it unto the true God, fully aware that even this celebration is within His Story. Then, within the celebration we are to look for ways to serve, redeem, bring gospel light, etc…

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  • What celebrations should you and your community be participating in as you seek to bring the Gospel to bear within the culture God has sent you to?
  • What celebrations should you be creating in order to invite others into the celebration of the Gospel?
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