RSS

The Gospel in Genesis and in the City

The Gospel in Genesis and in the City

 Introduction

Genesis begins with God and ends with the dying words of Joseph who prophesied that God would visit his people and redeem them from Egypt.  Genesis is a gospel story, i.e. the entire book is the first chapter in the grand narrative of God’s redeeming grace. It begins with the story of creation which prepares us for redemptive themes as God by His word calls light out of darkness and order out of chaos.  Genesis is about blessing and loss of blessing, about innocence and loss of innocence, about exile and a longing to find rest. It is about an Edenic garden-temple and the divine commission of stewardship and worship; it is about rebellion, about spiritual conflict, and the promise of One who would triumph over evil.

Genesis 1-11 provides the prologue to the story line of the Bible in telling us of a once good world that is now fallen, broken, divided, and in rebellion. Genesis 12 begins the redemptive story of how God recreates a new people, a new land,  and a new mission of bringing blessing to the nations of the world. Israel becomes the new humanity to succeed where Adam had failed.  Israel will also fail as Adam did, and as we read the story of Israel, we yet long for the One who will triumph over evil and truly bring blessing to the nations of the world.

Genesis offers insight and encouragement to those who live and minister in urban environments. Though the world began in a garden-temple it eventually arrives at an urban temple. There are indications in Genesis that those who are made in God’s image seek community and urban living offers the promise of community. The first major attempt at city-building in Genesis represents man in rebellion against God. Contrariwise, the New Testament tells us that Abraham was looking for a city, whose builder and maker was God. Abraham desired a city designed for worship, not a Babel like monument to human rebellion. Human cities most often represent rebellion, not worship, and need redemption. Genesis offers much insight into how the unfolding story of the gospel relates to the desperate plight of urban dwellers as they seek to find rest and community in urban temples that worship the creature rather than the Creator.

 

 

Posted by on July 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

Leave a comment

Discussion Questions on Introducing Your friends to Jesus

Introducing our Friends to Jesus

Luke 5:27-39 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” 33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'”

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we remain as friends of sinners
For Levi, he has just answered the call. He hasn’t burned the bridges of relationships. He still has friends who aren’t followers of Jesus and he sees the need to introduce Jesus to them.
1. How many people are there in your life who don’t follow Jesus as Savior and Lord? Do you pray for them to come to Christ? What are some of their names so we can pray for them with you?

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we create opportunities for our friends to meet Jesus Christ.
I love the words of C. T. Studd, that brilliant young Englishman who gave away a fortune that he might go out to the jungles of Africa. He put his philosophy this way:
Some like to dwell
Within the sound
Of church and chapel bell.
But I want to run a rescue shop
Within a yard of Hell.
2. Evaluate that statement. Is it either/or? Why are both important?
3. Levi creates for Jesus a great feast to introduce his friends to Jesus. What are some things that we can do to create venues for introducing our friends to Jesus?
4. Why do we need to have an ‘intentionality’ of introducing our friends to Jesus?
5. What are some of the dangers/pitfalls in creating venues for our friends?
Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we live with the risk of criticism and misunderstanding
6. Why do you think the religious leaders criticized Jesus and His disciples?
7. How should we handle the criticism of those who question how we seek to reach our friends for Christ?

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we live with the tension between celebrating and fasting.
8. In what way is the bridegroom both present and absent for us?
9. Why should we know how to celebrate the presence of Jesus?
10. Why should we know how to deny ourselves for the advancement of the kingdom?

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we understand the incompatibility of the New Covenant with the Old Covenant.
11. What metaphors/images does Jesus use to describe the incompatibility of the New Covenant with the Old?
12. What is it about the New Covenant that makes it so radically different from the Old?

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we understand the difficulty and reluctance to give up the old.
13. What is it about the ‘old wine’ that makes sinners reluctant in coming to Christ?
14. How do we show that the new wine (Jesus) is so much better?
15. What are some of the ‘comfort zones’ we need to prayerfully let go of in order to more effectively introduce our friends to Jesus?

 

Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Evangelism, Gospel, Uncategorized

Leave a comment

Factors that Shape Life and Ministry in the Local Church

Teaching/Preaching

  • Exegetically informed
  • Grace-oriented; gospel-centered; Christ-focused
  • Theologically Coherent – Generally Reformed
  • Diversity on Minor Issues – i.e. eschatology, creationism, gifts,

Corporate Worship

  • God and gospel-centered
  • Diverse stylistically
  • Celebrative and reflective
  • Blend of ancient and contemporary forms
  • Participatory not performance
  • Informal but ordered

Leadership

  • Modeling godliness and love
  • Theologically informed
  • A passion for God, for the church, and for the lost
  • Sacrificial and serving
  • Humble and deferrin

Evangelism

  • Everyday by everyone
  • Relational and Strategic
  • Relevant and Considerate
  • Prayerful and patient
  • A dance not a war
  • A process not an event

Small Group Relationships

  • Accepting and affirming
  • Committed to Community
  • Transparent and forgiving
  • Growing in grace and knowledge

Ministries

  • Committed to Serve Others
  • Mercy-oriented
  • Teamwork
  • Mission-oriented
  • Excellence and effectiveness
  • Accountable to the Leadership
  • FAT people (Fathful, Available, Teachable)
  • Involving others

Stewardship

  • Care for physical property
  • Fiscally responsible
  • Generous
  • Grace-giving
  • Pursuing Quality and excellence

Lifestyles

  • Biblically informed
  • Empowered by Grace
  • Ruled by love
  • Pursuing Holiness
  • Non-judgmental
  • Deferring to others

 

Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

Leave a comment

Sandy Hook and Human Evil

When we look at the Sandy Hook tragedy, the question we should be asking is ‘what is wrong with humanity’ that we can commit such atrocities’? If the discussion does not go beyond ‘gun control’ or ‘mental health’ then our solutions will be superficial. People murder other people because they choose to unleash their hate, their anger, and their envy.

The Ten Commandments clearly condemn murder and most of us are content to live within the Sixth Commandment.  However, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus unpacks that commandment for us and shows us that murder begins in the heart with anger and hatred. Society and civil authority do their best to restrain murder; they are powerless to restrain anger, hatred, and envy. We are personally powerless to overcome anger, hate, and envy.

The truth is that all of us have experienced and tolerated a bit of anger, hate, and envy in our own hearts.  We live with racism, class warfare, religious hatred, national and ethnic pride, offending and being offended, etc. Though we are restrained from murder by social pressure, self-discipline, fear of consequences, and lack of opportunity, the seeds of murder have been sown in all of our hearts.

Jesus Christ did not come simply to insure a ‘murder-free’ society. He came to change hearts and transform lives. He came to show us and teach us how to love God and love others, even to love our enemies.

But, He came for more than that. He came to defeat Satan who is a ‘murderer from the beginning’ and whose murderous path we are inclined to follow. He came to break the power that sin has over our hearts causing us to think more of ourselves rather than God and others.  He came to conquer death so that we can live without the fear of losing this world and the stuff of this world, knowing that we have the world to come. His death and resurrection assure us that He is victorious in what He came to accomplish.

It was anger, hate, and envy that filled the crowd as they forced Jesus to the cross, crying ‘Crucify Him.’ Yes, Jesus, the Innocent One was murdered with such intense hatred and anger that no gun control legislation or mental health system could have rescued him from the intensity of human evil.

Adam Lanza’s horrendous evil act reminds us of what is wrong with humanity. Evil exists in all of us. At times it may be restrained and confined to the inner life; at times it might lash out in in more acceptable forms; at times it reveals itself in unfettered horror. Evil exists.

The grace of God at work in our lives diminishes anger, hate, and envy. The work of the Holy Spirit creates an experience of God’s love that enables us to love in ways we never thought possible.

If Adam Lanza had known and experienced the grace of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we would be discussing a better story.  This is why we continue to preach the gospel.

 

Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

2 Comments

Why I Continue to Evangelize Other ‘Christians’

Why I continue to evangelize other “Christians”

 

‘Christian’ is a broad term that includes millions who have various understandings of the person and work of Jesus Christ, who identify with a myriad of Christian institutions, and who do many good works in Jesus name.   Yet, despite vast theological differences that exist among Christians, there is a persistent call for unity. The rise of Islam throughout the world, the deterioration of Christian values in the west, and the design to remove all vestiges of Christianity from the public sphere contribute to the growing rapprochement among those who call themselves Christians.

If Christianity is divided, so it is argued, then God’s love is misrepresented to the world and, if divided, it will be unable to withstand the social and political attacks it suffers in the 21st century. Consequently, there is a rising cry for Christians to not proselytize from other Christian groups.   This move to ‘Christian unity’ is represented by both ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) and the WCC (World Council of Churches) who call for an end to proselytizing, as well as others.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

1 Comment