The parable of the ten servants who had been entrusted with a mina each to "engage in business" until the nobleman returned is preceded by the story of the conversion of Zacchaeus (the wee little man). The "punchline" of the story is Jesus' declaration that "the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10) That is the business venture that Jesus wanted to urge his disciples to engage in when we returned to the Father.
Inherent in that verse is sense of "going." "Seeking" implies going out and searching. The Son of Man didn't come to "invite" and save the lost. He came to go out into a lost world seeking souls to save.
One of the primary points of our vision at CrossPoint is that we are about helping people make bold crossings from here to there. The very tough reality for the church today is that for too many the church is viewed as irrelevant and an extremest element in society. It is more important than ever that we use what God has entrusted to us to go out and do his business in the world.
As I've been putting together the current series of messages entitled, "Entrusted," I've become more and more aware of how what God has entrusted to us must be focused and invested in moving us into the lives and situations where people need Christ.
Rather than a 30 voice choir at church (which would be great!), maybe those 30 voices could do more to reach the world being a part of the Summit County Choral Society and being light and hope there. In our packed tight lives we often can't do both. Where then do we best engage in the business of seeking and saving the lost?
When we think of the value of relationships (which is one of our core values) we, in the church, often prioritize our church friendships. The Bible clearly teaches and encourages us in the "one another" passages of scripture to connect with each other on a deep level But we also need to realize that God has placed us into relationships with unsaved people that need the investments of time and love to engage in the Kingdom business of seeking and saving the lost.
God has entrusted us with some incredible blessings! How are we engaged in doing the Kings' business? This is where we are going to be headed for the next several weeks. Seek the Lord and his wisdom for your life.
The title of this blog might lead
someone to think that it is about addressing some controversy in the church. Let
me say first and most importantly, there is NO big controversy or issue that
people are agitated about at CrossPoint … at least that I know of.At lunch the other day a young man asked me
what he could be praying for at CrossPoint. My mind went to about two dozen
issues that are on my “worry” list. Some are minor, two or three major, but probably
a majority are not worth worrying about.
As I quickly processed that
question I sensed the Lord pointing me to a deeper understanding of all these
issues that in many ways seem
disconnected and arbitrary. As I processed my thoughts with him I came to a
reality that out of all that I long to see God do accomplish CrossPoint the
most fundamental need is to see people come to Christ and be transformed by the
power of Christ. There is nothing like realizing new life and stories of lives
We’ve experienced this some over
the past couple of months as we witnessed the testimony and baptism of a couple
of young men who God has divinely changed. When you have a standing ovation for
a baptism that tells you something about the heart of people.
In talking this out with my friend,
a reality of church life came into sharp focus. When a church is experiencing
new life and life change in its people there just doesn’t seem to be much to
complain about. God is at work. What more could we want?
There is something in the heart of
every believer that longs for new spiritual life to be born out of their own life.
It’s something that the Holy Spirit does when he comes to make Jesus real in
our souls. When it isn’t happening there is a sense of irritation that rises.
We don’t necessarily know what irritation is that we’re disgruntled about …
we’re just discontented. We often target our dissatisfaction at something that
really doesn’t matter. But we’ve got to do something to let off the “steam.”
So as I’m understanding it, when
churches go through a season of discontent it’s an indication that God is at
work in our hearts. We’re bored with the routine of ministry service. We get
tired easily and begin to wander about looking for something more “fulfilling”
in church life. We may look for a new ministry, look for a new small group,
maybe even look for a whole new church. We long to be an agent of the Holy
Spirit in someone’s life to lead them to Christ and the fullness of life that
He brings. It’s not enough for us to just hear testimonies of others, we want
to be spiritual parents ourselves.
Two of the most often cited
excuses for not being a witness for Christ are “I’m not an evangelist,” and “I
don’t have the gift of evangelism.” But Christ’s commission in Acts 1:8 is not
directed just to those who are uniquely gifted or have a salesperson
personality. It is something that every Christ follower must consider as primary
in their lives.
8 But you will receive
power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses,
telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NLT)
When we fail to live this out, we
are disobeying the Lord’s calling on our lives. In my personal devotions the
other day I read this …
17 This is what
the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should
follow. 18 Oh, that you had
listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a
gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. 19 Your
descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore— too many to count!
Isaiah 48:17-19 (NLT)
I wonder how many churches are
submerged in discontentment and discord, having no peace, all because they have
failed to fulfill the command of Jesus to be witnesses to all people. We might
try to blame the lack of growth on a thousand different reasons, but the bottom
line each individual must ask of themselves is how have they lived out the
command to witness in the power of the Holy Spirit?
I put forth three areas that I
sensed the Lord wanted us to pray for in regards to Five-day Clubs. God
answered our prayers in wonderful and meaningful ways. As I’ve thought about
moving forward, the Lord clearly indicated to me that these three issues need
to be given priority in our whole church life. God’s answering these three
things are absolutes to resolving any and every other aspect of our life and
HOPE - 13 May the God of
hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the
Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)
This is not wishful thinking hope.
This is expectant hope that comes from deep within our souls from the Holy
Spirit. It flies in the face of discontentment and grumbling. It puts us into
an offensive posture where we expect to see opportunities to witness.
POWER & BOLDNESS TO PROCLAIM – Acts
1:8 calls us to rely solely on the power of God to do this. I’ve been looking
for three months for the perfect program to help us be a more evangelistic
congregation. Programs and strategies are useful. But they are not powerful. We
are in a spiritual battle for souls and human ingenuity is ineffective. We must
be empowered by the fire of God in our souls.
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – We have got to be
cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. The first three listed in Gal
5:22 ought to be our priority: Love, Joy, Peace. These qualities can be faked.
They must come from a deeper work of the Holy Spirit within.
Let me remind you that the power
of the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force of some kind. The essence of His
power is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. (Hope does not put us to
shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy
Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5) Read Eph 3:14-21 to
understand more of the correlation between the power of God and the power of
The first weekend of November, Dinita and I took off and visited with Lyndsay at Messiah College. There is a web site that posts the 25 Most Beautiful Christian College Campuses (http://www.christianuniversitiesonline.org/beautiful-christian-colleges/) and my alma mater, Nyack College is listed at #23. But after being at Messiah I'm wondering how in the world did they miss this place?
One of Crosspoint's Sunday morning Adult Bible Studies did a series based on the book by David Platt entitled, "Radical." The series featured a video presentation of Platt as he preached a series of messages that challenges the Americanized Christianity that we've become so comfortable with. I'd read the book and saw the positive results in other people's lives of how this teaching impacted their discipleship. I was very excited about the potential of this teaching being revolutionary to our family of faith.
I wasn't prepared for the negative reaction that came. In the video's Platt makes his case well for what ought to define a fully devoted follower of Christ. It isn't what we typically think of as the American Dream. Rather it is about sacrifice, simplicity, generosity and just simply care for the poor and broken of this world.
Where things seemed to have broke down in my expectations was that Platt evidently pretty plainly states that if you're not living this radical discipleship type of lifestyle then you really aren't a Christian and that you are going to hell. That didn't settle well with half the group. The other half were OK with it.
A number of those who were offended by his stark statements, agreed with the basic premise. We aren't living the style of Christian life that Jesus and the Bible calls us to and the challenge is a right one. What was offensive was the manner in which it was said and the guilt and fear that Platt tried to drive his message on.
This is a great example of the power of communication and the disaster of miscommunication. I'm not one who is motivated by someone trying to make me feel guilty. There are some that need that sort of leverage. I often wonder though, when the guilt is relieved if the person doesn't revert automatically back to his old ways. When the motivation is external and then removed, then there is not motivation. But when the motivation is internal it has been made a part of our soul and therefore it only needs to be maintained. Only the Holy Spirit can take teaching like the message of Radical and transform us to make it a part of who we are.
Now here's the punch line of this post. I just read a blog that my daughter Rachel posted a couple of days ago about her first field trip with her third grade class in Jakarta. He experience reveals the powerful way the Holy Spirit can transform us through experiences and teachings that align with God's Word. I encourage you to read it and let it soak in. Click HERE to go to Rachel's blog.
After reading her post I think you will agree that what we don't need is more guilt-trip sermons ... but field trips to the inner city and to the hurting people in our world. If we could just get the eyes of a third grader and quite trying to rationalize and defend our lifestyle, then maybe the Holy Spirit really could transform us!
I got this photo in an email yesterday from a friend and I found it to be quite amazing. More people living in that little circle than living outside of the circle. Within that circle is China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and a host of other Asian countries.
What grabbed me was that three of our young adults are now serving in this circle. We seem to be gaining more and more connections with people from and in this circle all the time. Chinese students who come to the US to study have found a church home at CrossPoint. The Lord seems to be developing a heart for the people of this circle in our community of faith.
Take it another step. I'd like to see an overlay map of Christianity. My hunch is that this region might be the least impacted by the Gospel. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:15-16, "We hope that your faith will grow so
that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. Then we will be able to go and preach the Good
News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working."
I'm NOT a fisherman. But I'm not dumb either. If I want to go catch fish I go to where there are the most fish. In one sense we go to this region of the world we are fishing for the souls of people in one of the most populated fishing holes in the history of mankind1
This morning I read an article entitled “8 Evangelism Lessons From a
a review of a video interview of Dr Rosaria Butterfield who was a tenured
professor at Syracuse University (which is probably why I was more attracted to
the article). She tells the story of how God reached her through a Presbyterian
pastor and his church there is Syracuse, NY. The eight lessons that the writer
of the article distills from the one hour interview are the real spiritual
weapons that we need to rescue people from darkness. I really encourage you to
take the time to read and assimilate the means that God uses to call people to
HERE to go to the web site for the article.
What gives Dr Butterfield her notoriety is a
book she wrote that is getting very good press entitled, “Secret Thoughts of an
Unlikely Convert An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith”
But this posting is about another comment
that Dr Butterfield makes that caught my attention. I watched the interview
because the article so intrigued me. The video can be viewed on YouTube by CLICKING HERE.
The context of this comment is important. In the
book she talks about how the first time she went to the Pastor’s home they didn’t
follow the script. She was nervous about going and getting “the Gospel” in four
phrases and then being asked to go to church. The pastor and his wife did
neither. That was attractive to her. They didn’t have an agenda. They displayed
genuine care and were interested in her. She found that then something she didn’t
expect to find out about The Gospel.
“The Gospel is not just a set of ideas or a
set of words. It is a powerful path by which God calls people to Himself and
redeems us and heals us. “
“The Gospel is a powerful path!” That
statement really resonates with me. I see that it resonates with many scriptures
as well …
For I am not ashamed of the
gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to
the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (ESV)
Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the
Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be
among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 (ESV)
How often we evangelize on the premise that
if we’ve given the words and ideas of the Gospel then we’ve done our job. But
this refined notion of what constitutes the Gospel tells us that the true
proclamation of the Gospel consists of life, love and the power of the Holy
Spirit, all on display through our lives.