The Staying Nature of God

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Roots

Second-class citizen

Perhaps like me, you have never felt a call to international ministry. Living in a family like ours, that emphasizes the ends of the earth like we do, can be tough. I have never lived internationally (does the summer I spent in the San Fransisco Bay area count?), so it is easy to feel like a second-class denominational-citizen.

With us always (& everywhere)

The going-to-the-nations part of the Great Commission is obvious, and typically the part emphasized. But at the end of the Great Commission, Jesus promises his presence wherever we may find ourselves. “I am with you always” (Matthew 18:20) It isn’t necessary to fly off to some far-flung corner of the world to find Jesus at work. 

Staying nature of God

Jesus is present, and at work, right where you are. The place you already live is the most obvious, and maybe overlooked, place to start ministry. Scholars and teachers have convinced Christians of the sending nature of God (the missio Dei). Perhaps more emphasis is needed on the staying nature of God (the incarnation). 

Staying in one place

There are amazing examples of fruitful ministries which have resulted from people staying in one place. Several I know personally are the late Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. He didn’t start there until he was 40, but labored for over 50 years at the same church. Wayne Gordon moved to the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago over 40 years ago. He is still there. My pastor, David Riemenschneider, came to Bloomingdale in 1978. I believe he has the longest tenure of anyone in our network of churches.

Simply sticking it out

Perhaps you are praying that God would bear more fruit where you are. His answer to that prayer could be through simply sticking it out. What if all God needs to produce a harvest is get you to stay put?

Title Signature Screenshot Cartoon 2015

Non-anxious Jesus

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jesus-john8

I read of an episode where a pastor had to leave a meeting with his mentor to aid in an emergency with a congregant. Before leaving the mentor said, “Remember: you bear the presence of Christ.” The words oriented the pastor, so he was not panicked, adding his own anxiety to the situation, when he arrived.

I was told of a man in a church that announced he was divorcing his wife. The news sent a shockwave through the staff. They began scrambling to determine how to remedy the broken marriage. One pastor wisely announced, “We need to settle down. This does not shake the kingdom of God.” In the face of tragedy or sin it is easy to be squeezed into an attitude that does not correspond with the reign of Almighty God.

The word anxious derives from a word that means choke, tighten, or narrow. Physiologically one can understand the word and its definition because the effect is the tightening of the stomach. Psychologically one can understand the term by a sense of options, responses, and perspective being squeezed. In the extreme, two choices seem to be all there are: fight or flight.

I think speed is closely connected to a stance that matches the presence of Christ and the kingdom of God. There are instances in Scripture where God slows down in crisis. When Israel is trapped between the Egyptians and the Red Sea, God instructs Moses and assures deliverance. However, that deliverance is suspended “all night long” (Ex 14:20). I’m sure it was a long night. Did God really need the whole night-shift to get the sea good and dry?

In John 8 is the story of the woman caught in adultery. Once the accusers finished speaking, Jesus stoops down to doodle on the ground. Jesus seems to actually slow down in the face of sin. How opposite that is to my reaction. Often I feel my energy speed up when facing wrong. I want to spring into action. I want swift justice, a quick remedy. But that wasn’t the way of Jesus in this situation.

The way of Jesus is not anxious. He is not choked by circumstances. His perspective is not narrow in the face of crisis or sin. His perspective is always wide, because Jesus is about salvation. When we join Jesus in his salvation-work we will remember that we bear the presence of a non-anxious Jesus. We will not be easily shaken. We will have the poise of Christ, to even suspend deliverance for a night or, if we need to, slow down in the face of sin.

1. Non-Anxious Evangelism in a Time of Decline
2. The Art of the Non-Anxious Presence
3. The Artist is Present Flickr feed (with the amount of time each participant stayed seated).
4. The Pastor As ‘Non-Anxious Presence’ Rather Than ‘Nervous Reactor’

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The Staggering Reality of Union with Christ

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I would contend Colossians 2:9-10 is one of the most staggering passages in all of Scripture. It states, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.” This teaches a beautiful New Testament reality: union with Christ.

A lot of emphasis and explanation in discipleship is given to the teaching of double imputation. That is the teaching that Jesus lived for me and Jesus died for me. All that his death and life provided, has been chalked up to my account. The teaching of double imputation is usually a conversation set in the past.

But union with Christ is about now. The teaching of union with Christ spells out how Christ is in each believer and each believer is in Christ. If double imputation puts the emphasis on the proposition for, union with Christ emphasizes the preposition in. Every Christian can declare, “I am in him and he is in me.”

The implications of this reality upon discipleship are rich. Especially in the context of Colossians 2 (which you should read here) has such practical and galactic meaning.

When we see Jesus, we are seeing God. When we understand who Jesus is and what he has done, we are witnesses to the work of God. Our union with Christ, makes all who God is and all that God is doing, present with us. We have been given full access to God. There is nothing held back. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.”

Can you think of anything more staggering than that?

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Silence

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If you turned down all the dials in your head, slid all the channels to zero, what would you hear? What would be left if all the noise was gone?

http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/silence?post_id=861565701_10152971000980702#_=_

Non-Anxious Jesus

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jesus-john8
I read of an episode where a pastor had to leave a meeting with his mentor to aid in an emergency with a congregant. Before leaving the mentor said, “Remember: you bear the presence of Christ.” The words oriented the pastor, so he was not panicked, adding his own anxiety to the situation, when he arrived.

I was told of a man in a church that announced he was divorcing his wife. The news sent a shockwave through the staff. They began scrambling to determine how to remedy the broken marriage. One pastor wisely announced, “We need to settle down. This does not shake the kingdom of God.” In the face of tragedy or sin it is easy to be squeezed into an attitude that does not correspond with the reign of Almighty God.

The word anxious derives from a word that means choke, tighten, or narrow. Physiologically one can understand the word and its definition because the effect is the tightening of the stomach. Psychologically one can understand the term by a sense of options, responses, and perspective being squeezed. In the extreme, two choices seem to be all there are: fight or flight.

I think speed is closely connected to a stance that matches the presence of Christ and the kingdom of God. There are instances in Scripture where God slows down in crisis. When Israel is trapped between the Egyptians and the Red Sea, God instructs Moses and assures deliverance. However, that deliverance is suspended “all night long” (Ex 14:20). I’m sure it was a long night. Did God really need the whole night-shift to get the sea good and dry?

In John 8 is the story of the woman caught in adultery. Once the accusers finished speaking, Jesus stoops down to doodle on the ground. Jesus seems to actually slow down in the face of sin. How opposite that is to my reaction. Often I feel my energy speed up when facing wrong. I want to spring into action. I want swift justice, a quick remedy. But that wasn’t the way of Jesus in this situation.

The way of Jesus is not anxious. He is not choked by circumstances. His perspective is not narrow in the face of crisis or sin. His perspective is always wide, because Jesus is about salvation. When we join Jesus in his salvation-work we will remember that we bear the presence of a non-anxious Jesus. We will not be easily shaken. We will have the poise of Christ, to even suspend deliverance for a night or, if we need to, slow down in the face of sin.

1. Non-Anxious Evangelism in a Time of Decline
2. The Art of the Non-Anxious Presence
3. The Artist is Present Flickr feed (with the amount of time each participant stayed seated).
4. The Pastor As ‘Non-Anxious Presence’ Rather Than ‘Nervous Reactor’

All the best,

Chad

Links List October 19

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  1. Leading your family with focus. [3] key areas of family life where you can show significant spiritual leadership.
  2. Consider studying a figure from church history, then give your congregation a gift of teaching them about this person.
  3. Epic Fail gathering November 8-9 in Cincinnati. I haven’t attended one of these, but I know J.R. and have heard great things about these.
  4. [7] rules for reformers. An initial list by Doug Wilson.
  5. How do you create a possibility playground? Podcast with Behance CEO, Scott Belsky.
  6. The power of purpose. The more intense and engrossing a man’s (or woman’s) purpose the safer he is, and if he has no purpose he is not safe at all.
  7. How opinionated should pastors be? “You can’t be the man who influences millions of people and sit on the fence about key moral issues like that.”
  8. Church-planting learnings. Part 1 of lessons from the first year in Flagstaff, AZ.

For Fun

The world’s skinniest house. At 47 inches wide, you can’t be claustrophobic.

Quote

“When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence.” -St. Francis de Sales