4 Daily Preps For A Hindu World

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

When you look out the window or through your www lens, scanning your neighborhood, community, even the pews of your church, what do you see?  I see a Hindu world.  Especially in the US.

Hindus believe in many gods.  They’re functionally astute, relying on one or the other depending on the situation.  No hierarchy needed.  Just performance and unique applicability.

The US is a Hindu nation.  In fact many of those who worship with you are de facto Hindu.

Sacramental entrepreneurs — men and women seeking to start new in order to reach new people for Jesus — who grasp this reality tend to be better prepared to face the facts of a post-Christian culture.  They live with less shock and more joy, not because of the false beliefs but because they know what to do about them.

Let me suggest 4 daily preps for those of us tackling a Hindu world.

1.  Recite.  As in “I’m a baptized son/daughter of the King!”  Your baptism brought the mysteries of Jesus to bear in your real time and space.  It secured your identity.  You’re not Hindu.  You believe in one, true God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  One true God into whose name you were born in baptism.  Remember that.  Daily.

2.  Read.  As in God’s Word.  Read some portion of it.  A verse, a paragraph, a page.  Let it soak in and seep in so that God’s Spirit steeps in you.  Strong and stout like Irish breakfast tea that puts hair on your chest.  You’ll be surprised how this Word will come to mind over the minutes and miles ahead.

3.  Reflect.  As in pray over your day’s appointments and people.  What opportunities to start new for Jesus will be provided to you?  New insights, new thinking, new relationships.  Who will Jesus allow you to disciple today?  Will you be looking for that — purposeful, intentional?

4.  Respect.  As in All.  Everyone.  Hindu or hedonist.  Protestant or pagan.  Catholic or communist.  Matters not the country or color or cause. Prepare for the day intending to show respect to everyone you meet.  Be Jesus.  Better yet, let Jesus be through you.  It’s the sacramental way.

It’s a Hindu world out there, friends.  It’s a world that needs new ministries reaching new Hindu people.  Because Hindu’s not where it’s at.  It’s at Jesus.

Which R do you need to sharpen?  Which one do you need to start?  Put your thoughts in the comments.

Read More

Do You Have Sacramental Flow?

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Depending on the Christian denomination you call home, sacramental might invoke images of ancient icons and bishops in miters.  Or, if you’re like me, simply baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Whichever end of the spectrum you live on, we’ve got you in FiveTwo.  And then some.

Sacramental faith is FiveTwo’s fountainhead.  Everything else flows from this relationship.  (Yes, faith fundamentally is a relationship, not a feeling or possession, not an act or expression.  It’s a relational way of being, established by your Creator God when He gave you His Spirit.)  By sacramental we don’t mean simply the worship definition of baptism and Lord’s Supper.  We include that, yes.  But we’re expanding the footprint, widening the stream. 

Sacramental is more of a flow-based experience.

Here’s how it works:  Sacramental faith starts with the Christ that is present in the Word.  That flows into the Christ that is present in the sacraments.  The sacraments embody the Christ that’s in the Scriptures.  As you and I participate in those sacraments, we receive that Christ.  This Christ then fills us to be His presence for the world.

Word to Sacraments to Us to the World.  Sacramental flow.

It all starts in the Word, which reveals Jesus at every turn.  As Luther said, Scripture is “the swaddling clothes and the manger”.  The more we unwrap the swaddling clothes, the more of Jesus we find.  Scripture teaches us about Christ, revealing God’s heart for humanity and humanity’s need for God.

Flowing from that rooting, Christ is present in the sacraments. The sacraments are mysterious, beautiful and powerful.  In them Jesus explodes into our time and space, allowing us to experience the very real presence of Christ. 

I participate in the sacraments:  Christ participates in me.  

Baptism is a physical act, commanded by Jesus, communicating Jesus' forgiveness.  It anchors my daily life in His presence and power, daily drowning and raising me to new life in Him. How does this sacramental reality live out in your daily life?

The Lord’s Supper transports me to the cross where I experience sacramental union with Christ in His death and the covenant of God’s everlasting love (Jer. 31).  Jesus present in me, in you, empowers me for living in grace, desiring to follow, to worship, to be in His presence.  How does this sacramental reality live out in your daily life?

When we participate in the Sacraments, the Christ present in the sacraments becomes the Christ present in you and me.   Word to Sacraments to Us.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Finally, the flow culminates with Christ coming to life in the spiritual community – when the “I’s” join together into “we” the sacramental nature of community comes alive.  As our awareness of His presence in us increases, we live out His presence more and more for the world.  Our hearts follow His heart, loving the people He loves, sacrificing for the people He died for. 

Living out His sacramental presence leads to a life of generosity.  Generosity that flows from the heart of God through the cross of Jesus into the waters of our baptisms and through the bread and wine of the supper, through our hands, feet and dollars into a world that ignorantly ignores its Creator and Redeemer, to it’s eternal detriment.

How is Jesus flowing through you into your community…for your community?  How's your sacramental flow?

Tell us your thoughts below!

Read More

This Makes Me Mad

Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Blog | 10 comments

I was on a church's website the other day.  Large, happening place in San Antonio.  Scurried to the "We Believe" page.  Curious.  They listed eight chief parts of faith.  They didn't call them chief parts, but for my sacramental brethren, you get it.

Each part had three sentences max.  Nice, tight, commercial-snippet savvy blurbs.  Fair enough. 

But for part number 8, there were paragraphs.  And scriptures.  Three columns of scripture passages.  A variety of verses so that you would fully grasp the subject.  

This must be important.

The faith topic?  Fasting.  Yup.  Fasting.

Now, please, no hate mail.  I'm not contra-spiritual disciplines.  Quite the opposite.  

But I think we'd all agree fasting is not a matter of salvation.  Not even close.  I can be a great, God-fearing faster but know not Jesus and Satan, fix me a bed.

I guess I expected more fleshing out of Jesus instead of fasting.  Just seems bass-ackwards.  Kind of like focusing on the little overhead light instead of the 4.2 liter, super-charged power plant that takes you from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.  Now that's cool.

After simmering some, I decided to check out their click-through baptism statement.  At level two they had nice paragraphs about who and what and how.  

Nice symbolic, non-powerful understanding. "Nothing new to see here, folks.  Move along."

But then I stumbled on this and Mr. Farenheit climbed a little. 

What Is The Meaning Of Baptism?

It illustrates Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day…”(1 Corinthians 15:3–4) “Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12)

My wonderment here flows from using a scripture passage like Colossians 2, which speaks so mysteriously about how in baptism you were buried with him, in those wonderfully passive Greek constructs, like a dead man being buried by someone because, you know, he can't crawl out of the coffin himself and do it.  How and why would one draw that conclusion — that baptism symbolizes Jesus' death and resurrection but not that it ties you to Jesus' death and resurrection?  Help me here.

Mr. F took off, though, with this one:

In the Bible we find parents bringing children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told us to welcome them. But he did not baptize them, and he did not tell anyone to baptize them. 

Please.  At least treat me with some respect. "Jesus never baptized children nor told anyone to." So roll credits and tie a bow on it? 

So when Peter told the crowd "the promise is for you and for your children" then proceeded to baptize 3000 people that day, or when Paul answered the Philippian Jailer's "What must I do to be saved?" question with "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household," and scared Jailer Man that night got baptized with his entire family, so they were wrong?  Because Jesus never said (that we know of) baptize children?  C'mon.  Even though at age 8 days old, the male Jewish child would receive the sign of the convenant upon his body, and Colossians 2 compares baptism to that same circumcision rite?  "Well, Jesus never did it so neither should we."  Please.

How much better — how much truer — to at least say "There are a number of passages where entire households were baptized, and in that culture, since even the slaves belonged to the owner of the house, chances are everyone — every, last, one — of the people, of all ages, would have received this washing."  That would at least show you know your history.

Bottom line: best to stay away from passages like Colossians 2 and Romans 6, where crazy, mysterious trans-location stuff happens when water and Word are joined over a spiritually dead, "let's bury 'em" person.  

Yeah.  Avoid those.  It will make me happier.

 

Read More

Knowing Me Like Jesus Knows Me

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

My wife and I have three kids and each time my wife gave birth, it hurt me a lot.  Seriously.  Ok, maybe not as much as it hurt her.  But watching her hurt, I wanted to help somehow.   I tried on child #1: “Dear, the needle on the meter says you’re about to have another contraction!”  Her response: “I know I’m about to have another contraction!  I can feel it!!!”  For child #2 and child #3, I simply sat and prayed.  Occasionally offered her ice chips.  Rarely touched her unless she wanted it.  Never uttered useless, pedantic wafflings of words intended to allay pain.  Mainly just sat and prayed.  I, after all, am a smart man.

Unlike many of the women I knew at the time, my wife opted for “epidural-less” deliveries.  Hers was the full-throttle pain variety, desiring to suffer all for the sake of our kids so they could enter the world drug-free.  Personally, had I been her we would have gone for the epidural.  “Stick me, please.” Instead, ours were vocal deliveries.  Just ask the others on our floor.

In Galatians 4:19 the Apostle Paul writes: “Oh, my dear children!  I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.”  Moms get Paul’s words.  Delivery is about a baby, yes, but with it is born a world of dreams.  Future dreams begin with cries of suffering – from both mom and child.  And sometimes dad.

Paul’s words reflect a reality known as “the Jesus in you.”  His ultimate dream for the Church in Galatia was that it mature into a group of people in whom Jesus lived, moved and had His way.  In whom Jesus was present not only in spiritual ways, but also in real, everyday ways.  In ways where beliefs formed behaviors. 

Each of us baptized followers of Jesus possesses this same “Jesus in you” reality.  Your baptism gave you everything Jesus had to give.  But in His sacramental way of doing faith, Jesus wrapped His presence in your flesh, with your blonde hair, bronze skin, and quirky love for cars.  How He fleshes out in your life will look differently than the flesh on me.

This is a fascinating reality in the Body of Christ: the Jesus DNA in you has the same heart, the same Spirit as the Jesus DNA in me.  But it will express itself in wonderful, uniquely YOU ways.

What are those uniquely-You ways of living out Jesus?  What passions has He given you?  What abilities, natural instincts, and strengths has He poured into you?  What do you bring to the Jesus party?

If you’re a sacramental entrepreneur – one of those crazy people who like to start new in order to reach new – the Jesus in you has a unique footprint.  You tend to love new people; risk excites you; change is a resource.   The sacramental presence of Jesus in you leads you to create new expressions of Church, especially in ways that connect with people outside of Jesus’ kingdom.

Understanding the Jesus that is being developed in me – knowing me like Jesus knows me – that’s the key first step in living out Jesus’ calling for me.  At FiveTwo, we believe this happens best in community.  Jesus is best experienced in community.  When we gather with like-minded followers in a local community, we discover relationships that lead to courage and camaraderie that release us to be His sacrament to the community.

Where is Jesus calling you to be His sacrament?  What unique expression of His presence does He want to reveal to your community, through you?

When others like you join in community, learning from each other, helping each other to discover the Jesus in you, we’ll see a multiplication of sacramental entrepreneurs and sacramental communities that will change the culture of denominations and nations, providing renewal and reformation for the global Church.

“Oh, my dear children!  I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.”

We at FiveTwo are laboring over you.  We invite you to join us in that labor.

Read More

3 Values To Help Entrepreneurs Start – and End – Well

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

When I ask you for the common values that tie the likes of Estée Lauder, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Oprah WinfreyRichard Branson, Madam C.J. Walker, Jeff Bezos, Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck, you might rightly guess: they all loved to start things.  These are/were all people who got ‘er done, made something out of nothing, and persevered when most thought them a loon.  From cosmetics to computers, from delivering household goods by wagons or by drones, these individuals saw a need and answered the need by starting something new.

New was not to be feared.  New was an answer to a problem.

That’s the attitude the sacramental Church needs today: “New” is an answer to a problem.  “Change” is a resource.

Often missed in entrepreneurial success, however, is the “why?”  “Why?” is a values question.  Vision is where you’re going.  Mission is how you’ll get there.  But values pre-date both of those.  They are the why for your mission and the heart behind your journey.  Values flow from who you are, tugging you out of bed when you don’t feel like being tugged.  They energize you when the mission changes or target gets missed…again.   

Values reside deeply inside of you – are frankly part of that “knitting together” David refers to in Psalm 139.  They are the Christ that is being formed in us.  In FiveTwo lingo, they are the presence of Christ in me, for you. 

Apostolic leaders innately know that when you’re starting something, you need to start with values because values are integral to shaping culture.  They function as both foundation and fences.  While people write tomes about teams and companies uniting around mission, people united around values cause movements to happen because they are speaking the same heart-language.  Similar soul songs.  Common divine threads that define their view of the world.

Three values that drive my life and undergird the ministries I’ve started are:  Sacramental Faith, Respect for All, and Action-Oriented.   These are my governing values.  I test everything I do against them, and the programs or congregations (CrossPoint Community Church) or networks (FiveTwo) I’ve started have all launched with these values coursing through their veins.

Over the next three posts I want to unpack them for you.  I have seen the power of these values in adding longevity and unity to startups.  I hope you embrace them for your own life and for the ministries, businesses and community development starts you undertake.  

Value #1: Sacramental Faith.   I’m from Lutheran lineage, of Germanic descent that landed in Central Texas in the 1800s.  When we hit Galveston, we brought not only a love for sausage but also a love for the sacraments.  They are core to who we are.  Everything we do revolves around what Jesus does in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and what, in turn, He does in us.

Sacramental faith means that while we emphasize what we’ve historically held dear, we also add a nuance that ups the ante.  We not only believe that Christ is present in the Word, that Christ is present in the sacraments, and that Christ is present in me; we also believe – with passion – that Christ is present in me, for you.  For my family, my community, my world.  You and I are the sacraments of Christ for our worlds.

Truth #1: Sacramental Faith flows from the Word of God.  This Word…

·      Teaches us about Jesus. No WOG, no Jesus.

·      Reveals God’s heart for man, and man’s need for God.  Both microscope and telescope.

·      Occupies a one-of-a-kind status.  No other book like it exists.

·      Self-authenticates.  The more you read it the more you realize how incredibly unified and true it is.

·      Provides the life-giving power of the sacraments.  It transcends calendar and GPS to bring the living Jesus to us who are defined and confined to longitudes and latitudes and chronographs.

Truth #2: Sacramental Faith trusts Jesus is really present in the sacraments.   Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are more than simply motions we go through.  They are real-time journeys of Jesus to us, in us, for us.  Baptism gives everything Jesus ever did (Romans 6).  His history becomes my history, daily anchoring me to His presence and power as I am daily drowned and raised. The Lord’s Supper offers me the really-present Body and Blood of Jesus, transporting me to the cross.  The new covenant Jesus fulfilled is poured into me once more in a tangible way I cannot deny, filling me with grace, reminding me of my place in His family.

Truth #3: Sacramental Faith means Jesus is really present in me. This means I am forgiven, called, and uniquely gifted for a unique time and place. I am a son/daughter in the Kingdom with a God-given destiny to fulfill in the family business of reconciliation.  I bring the cross to people so they see how suffering reveals God’s glory and pain brings about true healing.  I live daily in that forgiveness, enjoying it, celebrating it.  Daily Jesus’ kingdom comes about in my life.

Truth #4:  Sacramental Faith means that I am Jesus’ sacrament to the community.  Jesus is present in us for our salvation but also for your salvation.  We are the real presence of Christ given for our communities, lived out especially with lost people, in the moment, in their lives, for the sake of their souls.

Being the sacrament of Jesus for the community means that what I took part in on Sunday, I give out during the week.

This is the most important nuance of sacramental faith for the sake of reaching the world, because if the world cannot see Jesus living in you, the world doubts the value of Jesus to you.

If Jesus is really present in me, then I’m really His presence for you.  I’m here to bring you blessing, not a curse.  I’m here to give, not take.  I want to astound you with Jesus’ forgiveness, not break you some more.  I want to get to know the leaders in the community so they can get to know how to use their leadership for Jesus’ sake.  I want to get to know the poor in the community, so they can receive some of His riches here and now, in material, sacramental ways.

This sacramental faith means my orientation to people is full of G words, like generosity — I give of what I have even when it leaves me with nothing.  Like goodness.  When people think of me, they should think of me bringing good to their world — good food, good words, good feelings.  I throw confetti instead of dung.  And G words like Grace.  No matter where you live, throw a stone and you’ll hit someone who needs grace.  If I’m the sacrament of Jesus for you, I never apply God’s law to a broken and contrite spirit.  That’s not what it needs.  So I listen for your brokeness.  I’m constantly seeing where you need grace.

This is sacramental faith, the first of 3 values that will help you start well.  Next time, values 2 & 3: Respect for All and Action-oriented.

Read More
Page 1 of 3123