Category Archives: STUFF JESUS WANTS

How Wide Is Your Welcome? (Part 2 of 2)

Welcome matIn Part 1 I noted how the twelve, like us, had a hard time accepting people outside their own spiritual circle. “Those other so-called Christians might believe in Jesus but they believe a little different than us. They don’t worship enough, or maybe too much. They don’t evangelize the way we do or pray in a way that is unfamiliar to us. They’re not strict enough in their practice of faith or they’re too strict. They have a different name on their church sign than ours, so they can’t possibly be as right as we are!”

There’s a church in our community whose sign you can see from the freeway called “The True Jesus Church.” It’s a clear message to all who pass by that there is at least one church in town that presents the True Jesus. I guess all the others worship an untrue Jesus?

As we saw last time, we don’t have a very wide welcome if we seek to shut up those who belong to a different expression of the Kingdom. But, as Luke’s adjacent story reveals it becomes obvious that these same disciples had such a narrow welcome that they prayed to burn up people who reject them and their Jesus. Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 2:8-26

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We’re doing a commentary through the book of James with an emphasis on justice and the kind of Christianity that treats people equally––a “Classless Christianity.” I put some of the highlights here in the blog to pique your interest enough to check out my brief audio teaching on these key verses.

Classism is when those WITH LESS are seen and treated AS LESS!

The first part of this chapter could be entitled: “Bigots Go To Church!” That is to say that a bigot is a bigot is a bigot and some of them serve as deacons, Sunday School teachers, and ushers at the door…

Jesus taught that hated Samaritans often make better neighbors than beloved Saints…

Our neighbor may well come from a different neighborhood, but they’re still neighbors and require the same respect that we give someone next door to us…

True Christianity is Classless… There’s no room in the church for law-breaking socioeconomic bigots… Continue reading

Recovering the Christian Art of the Lament

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3)

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A year ago I did a multi-post blog on the art the lament, the first of which was entitled: Sometimes You Just Have To Go Ahead and Cry.” Recently, since I summarized those posts in a message for a church in the Bay Area, I thought I’d share that primer here.

I find that biblical lament is a tough theme for many and it’s not commonly considered in many Evangelical circles. I confess that as a pastor, unless it came up in a study through the Psalms or Jeremiah, I hardly gave it any notice. But I truly believe that Christians should cry more; if not actually cry, feel the pain that God feels for the mess we’ve made of our world. Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 1:12-2:7

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Here are some sound-bytes from my audio podcast on these verses quoted here to entice you to listen the brief teaching in the series I’m doing on Classless Christianity.

The “classless” kind of Christianity is the kind where rich and poor can look each other in the eye as brothers. It’s the kind where the haves and have nots coexist in mutuality, where each has something to share with the other…

Classless Christianity is not a one way street where the wealthy paternalistically give to the poor and the poor have nothing to offer the rich.

We’re told that “as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another”…  it’s not like one “class” of people do all the sharpening of all the other classes, who exist just to be sharpened… 

The pollutants that we inhale everyday from the world’s atmosphere include the toxins of pride, power, greed, graft, and self-indulgence…

A lot of Christians are pretty much only about sin-management. They work hard at not being worldly. They might not “smoke or chew or kiss girls who do” but make very little difference in the world and have very little chance of leaving it a better place than the way they found it…

“Real religion” is not only watching your mouth but also watching out for people who need special help, i.e. the least, the last, and the lost… Continue reading

Contemplation

 

Morning Contemplation

I’ve always been weak on waiting, not just waiting on God, but waiting on––or for––just about anyone or anything. If there’s such a thing as a “gift of waiting” I either didn’t get that one or I did but I buried it somewhere along the line so as not to have to use it.

My friend, Stuart must’ve sensed this when he gave me a copy of Thomas Merton’s book, The Seeds of Contemplation. I’m now a Merton fan. He was a pretty smart guy, but more, a guy who spent a lot of time waiting on God. That’s sort of the job description of a Trappist monk I think. They’re professional waiters (so to speak).

Anyway, on a prayer retreat last month I read the book while listening to 1970s Jesus albums (yes, the vinyl kind) that my host left in the garage of his house. The two seemed to go together somehow. Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 1:9-11

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I’m doing a commentary through James’ Epistle with an emphasis on justice and the kind of Christianity that sees everyone the same––a classless Christianity. I put the highlights here in the blog and then unpack it in my podcast.

James 1:9-11 is the key passage for this episode/post:

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. (NIV)

“Any of God’s people who are poor should be glad that he thinks so highly of them. But any of the rich should be glad when he makes them humble.” (CEV)

James learned Classless Christianity from his ½ Brother, Jesus, the King of the upside down kingdom, and Master of the counterintuitive…

God is partial to the poor in the same way that firefighters are “partial” to houses on fire…

In the world, some are disdained and others acclaimed for their socioeconomic station, but for us those distinctions are irrelevant. Christ annihilates classism… Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) Introduction Part 2

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I invite you to the series of podcasts through the Book of James I’m developing. To whet your appetite here in the blog I’m providing sound bytes of the audio episodes. The current 15-minute episode is Part 2 of 2 introductory remarks on the epistle. Part 1 is here. Enjoy!

Of all the New Testament letters, I find great value in understanding the life situation of the author, James, the half-brother of Jesus. As such, you might imagine how much he picked up from his big Brother’s teaching and lifestyle, if only at the dinner table each night, especially on the topic of money, power, and classism…

He learned from Jesus that Christianity and Classism clash! Continue reading