Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Best City

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Different Kind of Excess

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:20

“You are not being very Christian.” Have these words been spoken to you? They normally come at the moments where you really need God the most, instead people you love are charging that He has abandoned you and you have abandoned Him. Surly, they will remind you that he waits patiently for those that come to him, put away this double life. But really, what makes this any different than trying to earn your way to God? It seems the message is “Do good stuff and God will love you, do bad stuff and he won’t.”

What does it mean to “exceed” the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? At first glance you might think the moralists have some power in this verse, but what is Jesus really saying?

First, Jesus is the only righteous one.
Jesus main point was to reveal that even the most holy rollers in the world couldn’t make the cut. They were in trouble just like the rest of the people in the world. The moral leaders of society were just as lost without Jesus as the down and outers.

Second, Jesus wants to give his righteousness to you. Jesus wants your righteousness to exceed moralism. He wants it to exceed indifference. He wants it exceed anything else of importance in your life. He wants so much more from you than a failed attempt at “doing life right”. He knows, you know, and I know that failure at life is a daily occurrence. I can go from having a great time with my kids in one breath to yelling at them in the next. We fail, we are broken and Jesus cleans the slate daily, hourly, and by the second.

Third, Jesus wants us to be empowered. The excess in righteousness comes from getting out there and attempting to be Christ like. Through the Holy Spirit we can attempt to be patient, kind, loving, humble, self-sacrificing, and all of those great attributes important to building community between one another. However, when we fail, which we will, Jesus will be there to wipe the slate clean, pick us up, and send us back out.

The greatest gift Jesus imposes on us moment by moment is grace empowering us to move forward in his Spirit.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ultimate Things

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beyond Comprehension

Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend – it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehension, and I will help you to comprehend even as I do. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing wither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge, and cared not for his own and thus he took the right road and came to his journey’s end. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire – that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple. If you do that, there is acceptable time and there your master is come” ~Luther

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Humbling Moment

I am a pastor. These words rung through my head on my drive home from “pastoring” in Oakland one afternoon. I couldn’t shake it, I am a pastor. On my drive I began to think who am I a pastor too? I am certainly not everyone’s pastor. Who does God ultimately want me to pastor in this lifetime?

First, I pastor my family. My family is a mirror reflecting the effectiveness of my pastoring. Everything about me is mirrored through them. They are my first congregation. The gifts that I have been given through the Holy Spirit must be displayed in my own four walls before they take a single step onto the street. I need to be a pastor to my wife and her faith. I need to be a pastor to my boys and their faith. I need to build a home that represents the church for all who enter it.

Second, I pastor my friends. Jesus spent his entire ministry entrusting the gospel to twelve men, one of which ran from the call. Every time I read about Jesus calling the disciples his friends I am humbled by the importance placed on friendship. Friendship is the gospel practiced in real life with real people through the Holy Spirit. Friendships are relationships driven not just by two, but three. The Holy Spirit operates in our friendships and should act as a guide for how we treat one another. The Holy Spirit will act as a guide reminding us of Jesus and his call to draw towards one another.

Third, I pastor my neighbor. I was talking with a neighbor and realized they had no idea what I did at the church. They had little idea of what it meant to be a Christian. It was the easiest, yet most difficult conversation at the same time. I did not need to know a lot of answers to big questions, just simple expressions of my faith that he could understand. Yet, it was difficult because it requires investment out of my comfort zone. It is someone out of my circle. It is a call for me to move beyond those who will benefit me and moving to a relationship that is closer to selflessness than I am usually willing to go. I normally think of mercy in terms of helping the poor physically, not spiritually. Isn’t mercy simply bringing the gospel to those who can’t access it? Whether that be physically, emotionally, or spiritually?

Fourth, I pastor myself. My temptation is always to let any of these three things mentioned above distract me from really looking at me. Looking at me is the most difficult thing I have to do. It requires a routing process that I really don’t like. It involves looking at the sin that corrupts me and doing something about it. Working together with the Holy Spirit to change who I am at the core and rebuild me through Christ.

In actuality ministering to my family, friends, and neighbor is ultimately about my relationship with God. Jesus calls me to die to myself and replace myself with him. See the world through his eyes, no longer my own, nor others. See the world as he sees the world. This is what it truly means to pastor, to be transformed by the Holy Spirit to see the world through the eyes of the gospel of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.