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Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

Christmas — the Birth of Our Divine Warrior

06 Dec

I love the celebration of Christmas especially when it turns my focus to the incarnation of the Divine Warrior who would come and rescue us from the kingdom of darkness. Though we may sing, “Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm, All is Bright,” our theology suggests that more than that was going on that night. Hell was raging. Satan was fuming. The demons were preparing for the greatest confrontation between the powers of evil and the power of God.

Way back in the Garden, God had ordained that hostility would exist between Satan and those whom God had created in His image to worship and serve Him. The Old Testament narrative portrays that hostility in the frequent attempts of various enemies to destroy the people of God. Time and again, Yahweh fights for His people and delivers them. He chooses warriors like Gideon and David who fight the enemies of God and His people.

As we read these narratives through the lens of the New Testament, we realize that a great spiritual hostility lay behind these physical battles between nations. The attempts to eliminate the people of God were designed by Satan to thwart the coming of that One whom God promised would come and ‘crush the head” of Satan.  The Lord’s sovereign and powerful interventions in behalf of His people renewed hope that the ultimate Divine Warrior would come and defeat the great foe of mankind.

Christmas is the birth of a King, a Warrior King, a Divine King. Though He is the Prince of Peace he comes, not to appease or accommodate evil, but to destroy evil and to crush the evil one.  He is born to defeat sin, Satan, and death.  The life and ministry of Jesus vividly portray the confrontations He had with Satan and the demonic world. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus comes through every time as one who triumphs over evil.

Satan was relentless in His attacks against this One who is called “the Son of God” and within the eternal plan of God is allowed to incite the mobs to kill Jesus. Death would be Satan’s final vanquishing of the Divine Warrior.  Death was Satan’s last and most powerful weapon to bring against Jesus. However, little did Satan know that God would use this powerful weapon of death to be the very means by which Satan himself would be defeated. Satan unleashed his great fury in the death of Jesus only to have it recoil and crush the great enemy of mankind.

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Heb 2:14-15 ESV)

“Up from the grave He arose with a might conquest of His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose. He arose. Hallelujah Christ arose!”


 

Obsession with Urban Church Planting

15 Sep


Obsession with Urban Church Planting

Last night I received a tweet and a re-tweet from a conference in Alabama on church planting.  The tweet was from one of the sessions there on church planting and unfortunately tweets have no context in which to interpret them. So, I will discuss the tweet as it is. The tweet was about the speaker’s bewilderment over what he called ‘the urban obsession with church planting when half of the world’s population lives in rural areas.’

In response I tweeted: ‘Urban obsession counteracts a history of rural obsession that neglected half of the world’s peoples.’

My point and the point of any urban church planter is not that we should disregard rural and suburban church planting but that in recent history urban church planting has been a neglected focus of the church and a renewed emphasis on cities is needed. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Loving the City?

02 Sep

Loving the City?

Urban Ministry and Urban Living often attract those who are infatuated or flirtatious with the mystique of the city and even some who profess to love the city. Some of us simply love the gospel and the density (crowded neighborhoods) and diversity (economic, ethic, educational, cultural, and age differences) of people who are found in the city – offering an opportunity for a strategic advance of the gospel.

We should be cautious about the phrase ‘Loving the city’ because it can be no more than a cliché of those who either do not know the city or those who have come to believe that it is mark of spiritual achievement when you can say, “I love the city.” Read the rest of this entry »

 

The Politics of Jesus and Peter (1 Peter 2:13-25)

11 Jul

 


The Politics of Jesus and Peter (1 Peter 2:13-25)

A Christian living in the first century faced the challenge, as we do, of how to live as a Christian in a non-Christian world.  Those whom Peter addressed in Asia Minor were mindful that they were aliens of the dispersion, i.e. their loyalties belonged to the kingdom of Jesus, yet they were temporality dwelling in this foreign world as His people.

The Roman government was not a model of justice and increasingly it became oppressive toward Christians. The institution of slavery, though having a legitimate legal purpose for the payment of debts owed to society, had also become exploitative and oppressive. Even the husband-led structure of marriages had degenerated to the abuse and oppression of women.

Christians found themselves in situations where the natural response of the heart would be to either overthrow the institutions of society which had become corrupt or escape from these institutions to a safer place.

Strikingly, Peter offers direction to believers that overturns human expectations, opening up a new way of thinking and acting. Read the rest of this entry »

 

A Community of Witness

06 Jul

A Community of Witness

1 Peter 2:9-12

1 Peter 2:9-12   9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 2:1-12 offers insight to the kind of new community that God forms as believers live as exiles and strangers in this world. Verses 1-3 describe a community of the word; verses 4-8 a community of worship; and verses 9-12 a community of witness.

There are two statements in 2:9-12 that remind us of the two-fold practice of a witnessing community

  • … that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
  • … that they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Our witness must be the harmony of lip and life, of word and of action.

Good deeds without a verbal declaration of the gospel leave people interested but ignorant of the truth.

Great talking about the gospel without a credible life leaves people with information but confusion because of the hypocrisy.

Peter encourages us to become a credible witnessing community by first reminding us of whom we are in Christ (Vs. 9-10).

In Christ, God creates a new humanity, a chosen race identified by the gospel. This new people have a royal standing in which everyone has priestly access to God. Their nationhood is marked out not by geography but holiness. They are a people belonging to God.

Knowing that God in His mercy has granted us this status of being His people, we are compelled by gratitude to proclaim the excellence of the One who called us out of darkness into the light.

However, that proclamation must be more than words. It proceeds from a life which is experiencing inner grace and is expressing outward grace.

Because we are His newly created people, we seek by His grace to have a godly interior life in which our passions are governed by the Lordship of Christ instead of our former self-centered and idolatrous pursuit (v.11).

As our inner passions are governed by the Lordship of Christ, we then can enjoy the freedom to pursue exemplary living among those who do not confess Jesus as Lord (v.12)

Consequently, as a result of a consistent witness of word and deed, those who resist will experience His grace and one day will glorify Him.

May we all experience God’s grace in such a way that our lives shine brightly for His glory and our lips speak readily of His grace.