Blog Archives

Kids and the Gospel (video)

I’m a children’s pastor, so I’m supposed to emphasize the value and importance of children in God’s kingdom. But I’m in good company. Jesus did as well (actually, I did as well, Jesus was first!).

via Ministry-To-Children
source YouTube


The Gospel Reorients All of Life

One of Heath Davis‘ passions is helping reorient the church to the overarching implications of the Gospel. Here is a recent post from Heath:

What is the gospel?

Social justice, community reform, personal morality should never be mistaken as the gospel itself. They are actually the IMPLICATIONS of the gospel fleshed out into our life and world. Social Justice, for instance, is a tentacle, an extension, an outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A tentacle is an attachment…something that grows out of the core substance of something. Like we find on a jellyfish. . .the tentacles grow out of the core and are connected to the core, but only represent a part or an extension of the whole.

I think the same is true of the gospel. When we trace our behaviors, values, choices, thoughts back to their source, everything should be sourced in the essence of the gospel: that God is rebuilding his Kingdom precisely through His own incarnation, suffering death and resurrection on behalf of mankind.

So, feeding the poor, helping a handicapped person, saying “no” to sexual temptation, attending church, handling personal rejection, or spending money…all of these things become natural implications in our lives of coming into a right relationship with the living God through Jesus. All of these things are the implications, the tentacles, of the all-encompassing gospel of Jesus, but they are NOT in themselves the gospel. Historically, liberal Christianity has mistaken the gospel for social justice. Conservative Christianity has mistaken the gospel for personal morality. Both sides have drank different flavors of the same poison. Neither social justice, nor personal morality are the gospel. Both, however are both implications of the gospel at work, and should be tentacles in a gospel centered life. But, they are not the gospel themselves.

Our problem today, whether on the left or the right, is the need to embrace the gospel and then think through the profound implications of the the gospel. As, Tim Keller’s quote below goes on to say…a central problem in our lives stems from not thinking, perceiving, contemplating how the gospel reorients all of life. He writes:

“The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. . . . Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel–seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church”.

via A Northwoods Life

Three Cups of Tea (review)

Greg Mortenson loves kids. His passion is not fighting the war on terror (although his work, arguably, is REALLY redirecting extremism), rather it is educating children. Mortenson operates his educational initiatives in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. His organization is called the Central Asia Institute (CAI). Since the mid-1990’s, after a failed attempt at K2, Mortenson, a former mountaineer, forged a new path in his life after his connection at a village called Korphe. For all the assistance these villages gave foreign climbing expeditions on the rooftop of the world, they received no assistance or advancement in return. When Mortenson arrived in Korphe and after he spent some time in the village, he saw how children (and their parents) craved for an education. He saw students out in a field practicing math with sticks in the dirt. Mortenson made a promise: I will come back and build a school.

Many mountaineering expeditions made promises, but were largely unfulfilled. But something in Greg Mortenson made the people of Korphe believe him. Sure enough, almost a year later, Mortenson arrived in Korphe with the supplies to build a school. With the first school built, a non-profit organization created (CAI), and a team of valiant and hugely supportive Pakistani staff, this gentle giant proceeded to start many schools (especially for girls), women’s vocational centers, and meeting basic needs projects. This white American accomplished some significant things: education for villages that hadn’t seen government money ever and trust and cooperation among Muslims suspicious of this American’s long-term interest.

All Greg Mortenson wanted to do was build schools for children. His goal is to bring education to children had no opportunity. It’s somewhat coincidental that 9/11 happened and the focus on Islamic extremism and the ensuing war on terror during the time he was working in Pakistan. It has made what Mortenson is doing much more significant in light growing extremism, which is more ignorance than hatred. Through his work, Mortenson reminds us all that Muslims are a peaceful people who uphold peace and justice and love. While it’s easy for Americans to think that all Muslims are associated with terrorism, they are not. Just like Christianity has its extremes, so does Islam. Compared to all the media about the Middle East and our continual focus on the extreme element of Islam, Greg Mortenson’s story reminds us that Muslims are people just like us, who want things for our children (just like us) and to serve the world with goodwill (just like us).

If you’re looking at getting an education about the good nature of Muslims and a story about one man fighting the odds of accomplishing a goal that the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan couldn’t get done, then this book will inspire you. It will remind you that we are all human beings on this planet and that we are all responsible for each other. However, if you want to stay disconnected and don’t want to regard Muslims as people whom God loves, then don’t read this book because it will frustrate you. (I’m not saying that if you don’t take the time to read this book then you don’t like Muslims.)

I am reminded of the tension in the early church as they sought to enact the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The tension was between Jewish Christians and their Gentile counterparts. Is everyone eligible to live in the kingdom of God? Does the Gospel transcend cultures, race, social status, and gender? What about religion? Jewish Christians were frustrated that the Gentile Christians didn’t have to be circumcised and follow the rules of Judaism. Paul reiterated that the Gospel was for everyone, regardless.

So my assertion is this: What does the Gospel look like, working in our world? I would assert that it looks a lot like what Greg Mortenson is doing for remote villages in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan; bringing education and meeting basic needs through connection and the forging of significant relationships.

The G.O.S.P.E.L. (video)

source Vimeo

Doing the Opposite of What’s Expected

Quite often it is difficult to pin down the ethic of the kingdom of God in our everyday lives. Giving concrete examples of living out the Gospel that go beyond the obvious (reading your Bible and praying everyday and being nice to everyone) are hard to come by. Every now and then, I come across examples in our culture that touch us in profound ways and model to us what living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ means.

Below is one such story. You can read about the Gainesville State High School football team and/or you can watch it unfold below:

The Gospel | an entirely different kind of life

The other day I checked on Pastor Heath Davis’ blog and read his most recent post. Wow. Maybe because I interact with computers a lot, but the metaphor he used in reference to the Gospel as an entirely new operating system for our life instead of just a program you install on your current operating system, really connected with me. All too often, Christianity is a program on our current OS that we install when we need it and ignore it (or feel guilty about it) when we don’t need it. And, as Heath mentions, one can uninstall it just as easily as one installed it. Interesting implications.

CLICK HERE to read Heath’s full post.