Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Called to Prayer

prayer pic Life has been pretty hectic lately (evidenced by havig to bail on this blog the past few months), but it is a good intro to this post. I’m calling anybody who is moved to do so, to joing me, and some of the students at UC Davis, to join us in praying and fasting for the next 3 days.  Most of my readers have read a few books on prayer and fasting, so I’m not going to give an apologetic for it here. I’ll leave it to say that we are so easily consumed with the “Urgent/Important” tasks of each day, that we can slip into a place of thinking we have to muster up the work that will get things done…like reaching campuses, cities, work places, etc. with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have been reminded that I don’t have the stuff on my own to muster up anything of real, eternal worth. With that, We come before God to pray; so our perspective will be rightly placed on Him and His Soverignty, and we will call upon the promised power of God working through us, rather than living out the dilusion that we need to (or even can) do it by our own strength. Let’s go before the God who created everything and ask Him to move in these 2 areas:

1.) The Church (the whole thing…The Holy Catholic <Universal> Church): Over the past few months many people I know personally have been disabled by deep, deep anxiety/fear, while others have been side-lined by terrible sins that seemed to come on like a tidal wave. We need Your Strength, Lord, and pray for you to protect and empower us, your bride.

2.) The World (wherver you are in ministry- Home, region, workplace, neighborhood, Campus(es), etc.). While we don’t know what kind of fruit God will bring about, we know that His will involves us calling out to Him to work through us. At UC Davis, we are praying for God the Holy Spirit to draw people to trust in Jesus (in ways we’ve never seen before). Our prayer is that something would take place that cannot be explained away, so that our faith increases and Jesus’ glory is realized throughout the World.

We are going to be fasting and praying for the next 3 days (breaking fast together on Wednesday night). Please pray for the type of fast you are called to do. Some will only drink/eat water, while some will drink fruit juices, and others will fast from t.v./video games. I sincerly hope we join together in this, before our Mighty and loving Father in Heaven. Please type any thoughts/prayers that come to mind.

“Humility”

–noun the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

humility Humility is one of those words that is tragically misunderstood in our culture today.  In my understanding, based on biblical study, & largely from personal experience, to be truly humble is closely related to what it means to be truly bold/confident. Most people, I fear, picture passivity and frailty when they think of humility. On the other hand, when getting a picture of confidence or boldness, something very different comes to mind.  One either pictures a tough-guy covered in hair and/or tatoos or a cocky frat boy with shades and tons of product in his hair. In the end though, cockiness is much closer to insecurity, and genuine confidence goes hand-in-hand with humility.

In Matthew 5:3, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  To be poor in spirit is to have nothing of one’s own accord to cling to, and to come running to Jesus, empty handed, to be filled up with His identity. Consider this: on our own, we have failures, regrets, sins, short-comings, etc.  On the other hand, Jesus is God, through whom everything was created. The depths of the oceans are held in the palm of one of God’s hands. He created lions, and sharks, and little house spiders (all of which most of us are deathly afraid).

To be poor in spirit parallels the definition of humility: having a modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank {apart from Jesus I would add}, according to dictionary.com. Coming before Jesus with a low (natural) self-view, enables you and me to be restored, built-up, established in the very identity of the all powerful God described above. For me, if one is not truly poor in spirit, he/she has little cling to because we are such frail people with identities that are shaped by everybody else and the society we are enslaved to. On the other hand, if you come before God in humility, you have been expiated (imparted blessings/identity that belong to Jesus), and you carry the confidence that comes from being groudned in the creator of all that is.

The list of what it looks like to be truly humble could go on for a long time, so i’ll leave that for all of us to write about in the comment-section. Please answer these questions: 1.) Does real humility before God result in confidence/boldness? 2.) What qualities of humility can you list out and do they go along with the picuture of bold-humility I hold to? Sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote and i’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Safety

gated_community-771208

1safe·ty 1: the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury,

If you grew up around profane boys like I did, this word brings back memories of wrestling matches throughout the house after someone had chili for dinner. But that’s not where we’re really trying to go with this. I will again turn this into a 2-week series. This week, I want us to consider how we think of safety as it relates to our daily lives, and how one’s faith comes into play with such a concept. Next week, we’ll shift the word a little and discuss the frequently used word “Saved” (which will hopefully produce some fireworks on this blog and beyond).

“Safety” is tied pretty closely to “Blessed”, but i’m a little more passionate about this one.  I’d love to write a satirical book one day about how much some people cling to the idea of safety, resulting in bondage to something one really can’t control. For example, people who dead-bolt themselves in their homes like they’re waiting for the illuminati to come storming through are probably less likely to get out of a burning house (though they definitely have alarms every 12 feet in the house, so they’ll just be more annoyed while trying to unlock the doors).  All of this to say, I’m not going to try to hide my feelings on this one too much, but please chime in if you have a different perspective…don’t be scarred:).

I know I err on the other side of this extreme, as I have more confidence than my 5’6” frame really merits, but it is just difficult for me to swallow the fear that so many people live in. I’ll leave it with a few questions below, but want to first draw on 2 examples: 1.) A mentor and friend of mine, Phil, had just lost his teenage daughter in a terrorist attack in the middle east. When asked how he could possibly stay there, he said this, “I have found the very saftest place to be is directly in the center of God’s Will, so we seek that out first and move accordingly”. 2.) Matthew 6:19-34 is an incredible passage on this subject and I recomend you dwell there often if you tend to live in fear. Jesus sums it up by saying, “…Your heavenly father knows you need (these things), but seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you…Do not worry about tomorrow, for each days’ worries are sufficient for itself…”.

1. What does it really mean to be safe? I know most of us wouldn’t disagree with the 2 examples above, but how do you really view the idea of safety?

2. What is the balance between responsibility/stewardship and living a life of faith/confidence?

“Blessed”

treasurepile_shot_hugest_wide1 a: held in reverence : venerated <the blessed saints> b: honored in worship : hallowed <the blessed Trinity> c: beatific <a blessed visitation>2: of or enjoying happiness ; specifically : enjoying the bliss of heaven —used as a title for a beatified person3: bringing pleasure, contentment, or good fortune.

        How do we understand the word, Blessed, and to what degree does it affect our view of God, the World, our lives, and what we have to look forward to? I’ll briefly set the stage for some discussion on this important topic, then i’ll wait for some more insights from anybody who will chime in.        

 

The real meaning of blessed’ is very dear to my heart because it has been something i’ve wrestled with throughout my whole life. We were pretty tight financially for most of my childhood, and we were inclined to consider ourselves blessed when we got an unexpected source of income, or were cleared of a debt we thought we were still in bondage to.  For a few years I went to a church that used this word blessed so often and it was seen as a real gauge for whether or not one was obeying God and receiving the rewards that supposedly come from such obedience.  From such thinking I, like most american christians, considered myself to be blessed when I had material or social comfort, and if that stuff wasn’t there, I struggled to see myself as having Gods favor.

But is this accurate? Jesus himself used the word “Blessed” for the first part of the “Sermon on the Mount”. He said people are blessed when they are: Poor in Spirit, Gentle, merciful, peace-makers, pure-in-heart, hungry & thirsty for righteousness, Persecuted, etc.  Surely one who is being persecuted doesn’t consider him/herself to be blessed.  Of course one might think people who obeys these things will be blessed, but that doesn’t fall into line with the whole theme of his sermon. Is 2 Corinthians 4:6 the real basis for blessedness, and everything else comes as a fruit from that? I will say that I have come to live out of an understanding that is very different from what I discussed in the first paragraph, but I don’t want to go into great deal about it yet. I want to hear your thoughts on these things first and I look forward to more quality discussion:

1.) What is your understanding of the word ‘blessed’ and how does that affect your view of God, life, after-life, material possessions, etc.? 

2.) Practically speaking, how does your understanding of this word (question #1) affect your life… on a day-to-day basis?  

“Unified”

1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  So we are left asking, “What does it mean to be unified?”
unified people-holding-handsWe’re shifting gears a little bit this week. The apostles creed has a section that says “…One Holy Catholic Church”. In this case, the word Catholic means Univesal (which is defining all people who have trusted in Jesus, are following Him, and are considered to be a part of His Church). Within “The Church” there raises the question of what it means to be Unified.
In my experience within The Church, people have missed this charge in 2 primary ways:
  • We hold every single one of our convictions so tightly that we fail to acknowledge a greater element to God’s body than that which we are personally a part of. Issues with this arise from categories such as Calvinism/Arminianism, Speaking in Tongues as evidence of filling with the Holy Spirit, If, When and How Jesus will return, and who wrote the book of Hebrews.  I’ll once again hold my thoughts a little closer to the vest at the start in order to encourage your input and direction in this post.
  • On the other hand, people see any expression of worship-variance within disciplines, denominations, and even cultures as a result of sin, and therefore, something to be resisted with great zeal. As a staff member of Campus Crusade for Christ, i’ve experienced this kind of extreme more than the other (but I tend to experience the first with people who share my particular, biblical convictions on certain hot-topic issues).  My question here is: Are denominations and different para-church ministry groups the result of sin, and something we should strive to overcome?

As I wrap this up, I just experienced a little fuel for the fire.  My bible is sitting out on the table here at Starbuck’s and a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said, “God bless you brother”.  Should I have asked her where she stands on Calvin, Pre-minellialism, Spiritual Gifts, the writer of Hebrews before acknowledging that i’m a ‘brother-in-Christ’? Or should I have asked what church she goes to in order to forsake our sinful division and start worshiping together in one giant, unified auditorium? Dive in and share your thoughts.

“Unity”

1: a condition of harmony : b: continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action)3 a: the quality or state of being made one : unity2
UNITYis a word that has come up a great deal over the past 12 years. From bumper sticker-laden Subaru station wagons to circles of old men from various social clubs, Unity has gotten the attention of most people.  The above definition from the dictionary gives some great pictures of what it can be, but i’m afraid each person is embracing a different view of unity and the result is chaos and intollerance…in the name of the pursuit of unity and peace.
I’ll take our conversation to two places over the next 2 weeks:
1.) For this week: What does real Unity look like and how it can exist on a larger scale (in the world), while continuing to hold to specific beliefs/convictions? Next week will be more specific to Christian Circles.
While in high school I was an athlete and a student councel member, but I also hung out with the drama-kids who wore costumes and spoke in fake accents, and I usually ate lunch with a few different groups.  I was voted as the “Nicest person”, though my biblical faith in Jesus was known to everybody and I never strayed from intense conversations about it.  I think this was the case because I love people and I am compelled to enter into civil, though sometimes heated, conversations in an effort to understand one another (James 1:19).
I fear that people saw me as kind because I wanted to pursue social awareness rather than biggoted cruelty that they usually associated with Christians…and jocks…and conservatives.  Further, most of my friends from those sub-cultures saw my other friends from the ‘other side’ as weird, outspoken, and self-absorbed.  In the end, we were very un-unified in many of our beliefs/convictions, but we shared a desire to listen to others, while holding strongly to our own convictions.
Think of it like the “I’m a PC” commercial…(though I write this from my superior Mac), where people are very different, but they’re unified as PC users. That’s pretty trite in the bigger scheme of things, but we can learn from it?  “I’m a person, created by God…and i’m going to treat you as such whether you believe in Him or not.”
If you call yourself a Christian, we especially need to take this to heart. Regarding ‘The World” what hills are you willing to die on? Do you put up walls for ideals that are not clearly taken from the Word of God, or are you willing to engage people of different demographics, while standing firm on your commitment to Jesus and His Holy Word?  I want to be clear that I will never endorse any kind of unitarian/universalist perspective and I am commited to learning/defending/living by Truth (hence my blog name)…but i’ll always do it in a loving manner.  The gospel is offensive enough by nature and design, but we are instructed to carry it in love.
I’ll post this question and really look forward to your thoughts…whether we agree or not:).

1.) How are you at interacting with people who hold different beliefs from you and (honestly) are you in such relationships right now in your daily life?
Next week we will shift our focus quite a bit, while using the same word, but I think this is an important place for us to stay this week. This could go many different directions, so don’t hesitate to take it that way if you’re so led. -Dave G.

“REACH”

reaching-out“REACH” = 1 to stretch out : (extend or thrust) 2 to touch or grasp by extending a part of the body (as a hand) or an object <couldn’t reach the apple> b: to pick up and draw toward one : to extend to 3 to make an impression on: to communicate with from merriam-webster.com

After a great weekend with dear friends and colleagues, i’ve had a relaxing day at home with my family.  Though i’m going to sign-off here pretty quickly to spend more time with them, I wanted to first get the ball rolling on my blog.  While it’s my nature to word-smith till i’m blue in the face, i’m realizing how that can keep from just getting my posts done and ready for discussion.  So, with all of that said, let’s dive-in to this 1st edition of “What’s in a Word”.

A good friend of mine, Dan Birch, used to point out various words that were used ALL the time within Christian circles.  As a non-Christian, and somewhat of an ‘outsider’, Dan was very sensitive to these words.  Now, as a committed follower of Jesus, Dan is continuing to point out aspects of Christian culture that many of us fail to see.  Words such as, Bro, Awesome, Sweet, Testimony, BC-days (before I trusted Christ), etc were tossed around so often that we didn’t even realize it until Dan would use some phrase completely out of context.  Ever since, I have developed a distaste for using words with such careless disdain.

The word I’ve picked up on these last few days that is used like the one’s above, but with even greater implications, is the word REACH. Consider how we use it on a day-to-day basis:  “Reach out and give me your hand”, “Reach out to a friend in need”, “Reach this desperate generation of troubled youth”.  In most Christian circles, we hear this: “Reach the world with the gospel,” and more specifically in my Campus Crusade for Christ circle, “Reach Every college student…”. Though the meaning may seem pretty obvious to many of my readers, I ask that we take a step back and dissect this word a little bit.  If you’re reading this and you’re not an insider with Campus Crusade for Christ, I value your opinion just the same.  In fact, I am really looking forward to hearing how it sounds to somebody outside of our culture.  Below, i’ll list out a few reasons why I think it’s so important for us to arrive at a unified understanding, then i’ll list a question or two for you to respond to.

Whether we say something like, “We’re reaching over 100 countries in the world with the gospel,” or “Our desire is to reach every college student at XYZ University,” it is absolutely essential that we know what we mean when we say “REACH”.  In order to evaluate success vs failure we must know what we’re talking about.  Even further, we need to know the meaning in order to move forward.  We can be faithful either way, but whether or not we’re being faithful to the right thing depends on what we seek to see accomplished.  If reaching means that we have held a ‘spiritual conversation’ with every student, then we know what we’re setting out for.  If reaching means that we see people pray a prayer at the end of a presentation, then we know what to shoot for and can move ahead accordingly.  On the other hand, If we are talking about genuine submission to Jesus as the Lord of one’s life, then we would go about things pretty differently from the previous definitions.  Even as I write this, I am feeling my blood boil a little bit and I am tempted to run down a few different rabbit trails.  So, i’ll leave it there, fairly broad, and invite your input through a couple of questions.  As always, I value your thoughts, unfiltered, as they are, and I hope to have a diverse forum here:

1.) When you hear the term “Reaching somebody (a culture, a university, an individual)”, whether the term is used by a social worker or a missionary…what comes to your mind?

2.) Specifically in a Christian-use of the word, what does it mean when you hear “Reach somebody (the world, an individual, a culture, a university, etc.) with the gospel of Jesus”?

3.) Based on the definitions you came up with above, Are there any criteria you can think of for whether or not somebody has been “REACHED”?