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Is the Return on Investment Enough? The question of discipleship…

Devotional Thought of the Day:
(Luke 9:57–62)

Church Christmas Eve 2015 outdoors

18 When Jesus noticed the crowd round him, he ordered his disciples to go to the other side of the lake. 19A teacher of the Law came to him. “Teacher,” he said, “I am ready to go with you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus answered him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lie down and rest.”
21 Another man, who was a disciple, said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.”
22 “Follow me,” Jesus answered, “and let the dead bury their own dead  Matthew 8:18-20 TEV

479    Don’t let it bother you. The “prudent” have always called the works of God madness. Onward! Be daring!

If you lived back in the days of Jesus, would you have left everything behind and followed him? Would you have left your work, your friends and your family behind, and followed this man who had no home, no means of support?

Would you be afraid of people thinking you are mad?

What about today?

Or would you take account of your assets first?  Would you consider your obligations where you presently are at, and weigh them in the balance?  Would you have to know the cost, and weight it against the potential “return” on your investment?

I suppose I could give you the stories of that show great sacrifice, and how God honored such hard work and dedication.  That might inspire us to be daring, to set aside life as we know it, and spend years wondering why God didn’t honor our work and dedication.  It would focus our journey on the results, and we would put our investment into achieving the results.

Discipleship isn’t about the results, though we rejoice in them. Following Jesus isn’t about the number of responses and conversions, the size of the churches we establish and maintain. It isn’t the number of people we serve, or the cost of doing so in time, talent or treasure.

Following Jesus isn’t about the size of the sacrifice or the size of the return on our lives invested!

It is about walking with Him, knowing His faithfulness, His mercy, His love! It is about having confidence in Him, even when we don’t know what tomorrow or the next day brings, if it even will.

That’s why some count it madness!

But you know better.  Reconciliation in God’s minds is not simply accounting and balancing the books.  It is about His bringing together, about reuniting hearts, about finding the healing of brokenness. It is about the Holy Spirit bringing comfort, peace, and joy, as we realize the presence of God in our lives, as we explore the dimensions of His love.

There is no way to measure this, no manner in evaluating the measure of value of knowing and living in Christ.

Come, follow Jesus, and abandon yourself into the love which saves you! 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1173-1174). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

What We Can Learn About the Missio Dei from the Blues Brothers…

Devotional Thoguht of the Day…..

1  With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. 2  My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief 3  for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.
Romans 9:1-3 (NLT)

Jake:  Me and God, We got an understanding
Elwood:  We’re on a Mission from God. 
(from the movie, “The Blues Brothers)

466      The enemies of God and his Church, manipulated by the devil’s unremitting hatred, are relentless in their activities and organization. With “exemplary” constancy they prepare their cadres, run schools, appoint leaders and deploy agitators. In an undercover way—but very effectively—they spread their ideas and sow, in homes and places of work, a seed which is destructive of any religious ideology. What is there that we Christians should not be ready to do, always with the truth, to serve our God?  (1)

They claimed to be on a mission from God, a mission to save the home, the orphanage they grew up in so that others would have a place. 

They did what they had to do, or perhaps what they thought they had to do.  With little option, they got the band back together, did a little touring, and raised the money that it took, even though they broke a few laws along the way. They raised the money even though it meant they would suffer, that they would serve time.

I am not advocating breaking the law, but I see the same desire, the same passion in Paul’s words to the church in Rome.  He grieved over the fact that they didn’t know Jesus, that they didn’t have the peace of God.  They were cut off from life and hope, from dwelling in the presence of God, because either actively or passively they rejected Jesus.  They denied Him.

This grief was so intense that he indicated he would even take their curse, which he would be willing to be eternally cut off from God; if that is what it took for them to be reconciled. Jake and Elwood understand and would approve – they were willing to do time in the Illinois State Pen, and based on the movie – several times their efforts brought them close to death.

Josemaria asks us a similar question – what is the that we should not be ready to do, always with the truth, to serve our God?

Is going to jail a possibility?  Yes

Is jumping a drawbridge?  Of course!

Is playing the blues, dancing like a fool, wearing a thin blue tie and a cool hat?  If that is what it takes.

Is dying?  Yes

Though we can’t give up our salvation, that desire can and should be there, if we see a friend, or an enemy, who needs to know God’s love!  

Is enduring poverty?  What about enduring being the victim of crime?  What about being humiliated? Yes and Yes and yes.

After all – we got an understanding with God.  He loves us.

And therefore we are on a mission from God.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1780-1785). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

Evangelical Catholic X: Called to being the Mission

Port St. Joe, Florida: St. Joseph Catholic Mis...

Port St. Joe, Florida: St. Joseph Catholic Mission Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Discussion/Devotional THought of the Day:
27  God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28  So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29  To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:27-29 (TEV) 

In the encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Pope John Paul II, summing up a line of development that had begun with Leo XIII’s new engagement with modernity, taught that the Church does not have a mission, as if “mission” were one among a dozen things the Church does; rather, the Church is a mission, and everything the Church does is ordered to that mission, which is the proclamation of the Gospel and the conversion of the world to Christ. 43 Evangelical Catholicism is that form of twenty-first-century Catholicism that has fully embraced John Paul’s teaching on the nature of the Church-as-mission and that declares itself and its people to be in permanent mission. 44 And as such, it is the form of Catholicism that will complete the deep reform of the Catholic Church that has been underway since 1878.

In an evangelical Catholic perspective, mission measures everything; or, in the language of management theory, Evangelical Catholicism is mission-driven. Even in the sacred liturgy— that part of the Church’s life that seems to be a step back from the world, or better, a step into the real world that is the Kingdom of God in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb— the Church is being equipped by sacramental grace for mission. Even contemplative vocations that really are cloistered, from both the world and the rest of the Church, are mission-oriented. For the consecrated life, as John Paul II taught in the 1996 apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata, is the spiritual engine of the Church. Here the energies of evangelism are refined and shared in a great exchange of gifts by which the entire Church, as the Bride of Christ, strives for union with her divine Spouse. 45 Thus the mission of the Church in-the-world is ordered to the coming of the Lord in glory and the New Life of the New Jerusalem.

If mission measures everything in Evangelical Catholicism, it also measures everyone, for as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught, “each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith.” 46 In an evangelical Catholic perspective, every Catholic is a missionary, an evangelist, a baptized disciple commissioned by the Lord to take the Gospel to every nation, calling all to be baptized in the name of the Most Holy Trinity. Thus does Evangelical Catholicism respond to the challenges posed by evangelical Protestantism (in which sharing the friendship of the Lord Jesus is understood to be everyone’s responsibility) and clericalized Catholicism (in which mission is something reserved for the ordained). (1)

I think that believers in Christ are greatly confused by two words – Church – and Mission.

You might say, “Pastor Dt – we know about church – it’s not the building, its the people that gather together to worship God.”

That’s aa good start – but it is deeper than that – the word for church is ekklessia – “those called”, and defines us by what we are into, not  just the call itself.  We are called to be in a relationship with God, a relationship that is much like a dance, where He guides us through life, and He directs how we interact with others, and indeed, where He goes – we follow.  So church is not just “the people”  but its the people of God, walking, dancing, living in Him.

That life then, is the mission.  As Wiegel asserts above, it also defines us, not in the sense of being a characteristic of our lives; rather mission is our life together. It is inviolate part of our calling, for mission is at the very heart of our relationship with God – from His sending (the word apostle is used regarding Him) Christ on the mission to save us, to the “Great Commission”, to the very revealed will of God – that none would be condemned, but that all would be transformed.

I love, absolutely love,  Wiegel’s description then – of the gathering of the church above, “Even in the sacred liturgy— that part of the Church’s life that seems to be a step back from the world, or better, a step into the real world that is the Kingdom of God in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb— the Church is being equipped by sacramental grace for mission.” For how can we encounter God’s grace, poured out through word and sacrament, and then enter a world that is dark and bleary and without hope – but filled with narcissistic emptiness?  Are we that hardened to the plight of people without God?  Are we that unaware of what life is like, without dancing with God?

Do we take our own salvation so much for granted, that we do not desire the world to know?

Last January, I went on a “mission trip” sort of, a chance to go to China and preach in a church there, for a friend.  A chance to visit others, who teach English, and share their love of God with those who ask why they have such hope.  It was amazing to see a hall that through which a million people would pass each day – as they cleared customs from Hong Kong to Mainland China.  But there, as odd as it seems, the work seemed easier, people desiring to know about God, wanting to learn, asking the hard questions about their faith, and desiring to learn how to give others the hope they only recently encountered.  O how I wish we could bring that attitude here…  I thought.  WHat would do it?

I think Wiegel’s words give us the clue, it’s not another seminar on apologetics, it’s not another program/class on evangelism.

It’s standing at a baptistry or baptismal font, and knowing the Lord who cleansed us there, who opened our eyes – who guaranteed our lives with Him.

It’s kneeling at an altar, wondering why God decided to bless us with an invitation to feast with Him, to feed us the very Body and Blood of Christ.

It’s staying there, crying, as we realize we can pour everything we are, our pains, our sorrows, our hurts…. as He revives and renews our trust in Him…..

Then, as we leave there…. looking at our neighbor, hearing the pain in their voice.  Seeing the anxiety building in the young mom at the market,  visiting our friends in the hospital….

Seeing them, not as numbers to get to church, but as people to bring to that altar, to that font, so they can know the rest and peace… that we celebrate and rejoice in.

We are those called, we are those led on a mission…. it is who we are,…. already… in Christ.

(1)Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (pp. 85-86). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

The Virility that takes Christ’s message Viral

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day

It’s been on my mind since on of my members did the math in Bible Study.

If 5 people each told 10 people, 5 of whom would listen, and each one listened and told 10, 5 of whom would listen…… 25 the first day, 125, the second, 625 the 3, 3135, 15625, 78125, 390K, 1.9 mill, just shy of 10 mill, 48+ mill, 244mill, 1 bill + and in 12 days, everyone in the world would have heard…..of God’s love, of His peace, of His mercy, of His desire to be present in our lives.

That’s viral –

One wonders though – if the math is that simple – why doesn’t it happen?  Even if the rate of expansion was half as large… 1/10th as large….we aren’t talking about each of us doing a Billy Graham.. but just telling our friends, our family, why we have hope in this life, and for the next.  Why we have peace in the middle of storms, why we find gathering with others who trust in Christ, or who need encouragement to trust, so much a part of our lives.

Which brings up the question of virility – a related word that talks both a greater than normal strength, and energy.

For certain, in these days it seems the church lacks virility, at least in these parts. ( it seems much stronger in persecuted and impoverished areas)  We seem weak when confronted by society, we bow to political pressures and are often a tool for those who have agendas different that sharing the hope of glory found in being in Christ, (see Colossians 1)  As one set of lyrics regretted, “we lack the power, we once knew in our prayers…”  It is as if our message of hope has been stripped from us, as we take a fatalistic approach to the future of the church, finding excuses like that we are in a post-christian age, in a post denominational era.  We rationalize our weakness, rather than turning to the source of our strength.

St. Paul writes:  “3:14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen!
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT)

Our strength comes from experiencing Jesus’s love for us, the very love of the Father, even as we realize we cannot begin to comprehend it.  Yet that love completes us, empowers us, breathes life into us.

As we know that love, we begin to love more deeply those around us… even though we cannot comprehend the strength that flows through us to do so.  We find that source of love comes from living in Christ, being part of Him, even as He claimed us, when we were baptized into His death, that we might be revived, resurrected into His life as well.

And at the end of the day, as we found our virility in Him, we shall find that His love, which is the gospel, which is the power to rescue those broken and dwelling in the darkness… has indeed infected the world, that it has gone viral, that it has become part of our “dna” of who were are….

Let us then focus on Him, receive His mercy, commune with Him, rest in Him… for the Lord is with us!  AMEN

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