RANTING & RAVING: are we ready for what may come when we pray “Lord, please show us Your glory”? (part 4)

[ please go back and read the previous three posts for parts one, two, and three ]

The third death I would suggest that may need to precede the resurrection power coming on display in our lives and our eyes seeing the glory of our Lord is this – THE DEATH OF “GOOD ENOUGH.”

There are three common mis-conceptions in American church culture that I would suggest are tombs, if you will, holding the stinch of “I am good enough” and “I am better than you” thinking.

The first is the lie of “self-esteem.” It is a lie that American culture has taught us through our educational norms. It is a fundamental element of the “American Dream.” But it is antithetical to the Gospel. I have nothing of myself worth esteeming. If I focus my eyes on the measuring stick of “who I am,” then I will never become more than who I am and can make myself to be. If I, however, focus my eyes on the measuring stick of “Whose I am,” then I can be made to be all that I was intended to be by the One who makes me who I am in Him. I am His. My worth comes from no other source. My identity must only be tied to Him. Not my performance, but His performance. Not my accomplishment, but His.

Self-esteem is a tomb from which God-esteem must be raised, or else the stinch of “good enough” will remain.

The second misconception is that thinking that declares that people are not ready to go and make disciples and are not ready to see His glory until they cross a “readiness line.” It is this make-believe place we have conjured up that fits man-made religiosity but does not fit at all in Christ-Centered relationship. Jesus called the disciples and sent them and then coached them as He did life with them. Jesus healed the demoniac and then sent him back home to his family to tell them the story of the new life He’d been given. Jesus made the woman at the well secure in His love rather than insecure in her co-dependence on her alleged lovers and then sent her back into town to tell the story of the One who told her who she really was. Being a “disciple” is not defined by what I have learned, but rather by being a learner. Living FOR God is not His intent. Living WITH Him is. Being good for Him is not good enough. Going with Him, however, I get to live on mission as I learn and live His ways. He makes me ready more and more, day after day.

The “readiness line” mentality is a tomb from which relationally learning must be raised, or else the stinch of “good enough” will remain.

The third misconception that needs to be surrendered is that misconception that one person is a “strong Christian” while another is not. Being a “strong Christian” is antithetical to the Gospel. It pretends that grace does the saving but I myself do the growing. It proclaims that someone is better at this Jesus stuff than someone else. And Paul debunks this thinking when He declares in so many of His letters that the cross has placed us on level ground with no “better than you” distinction.

The thinking that someone is better at following Jesus or more spiritual than someone else is a tomb from which “saved AND sanctified by grace alone” must be raised, or else the stinch of “good enough” will remain.

“Good enough” is not good enough. Justifying by comparison is declared as not what God desires by Jesus Himself (Luke 18). Jesus not only did not wait for us to say we were sorry for our sins to come and die for our sins, He also did not wait for us to better ourselves. And He did not ask us to follow Him so that we could impress Him along the way. The Gospel makes it very clear. God came near in Christ loving us while we were still sinners, and the good news is that He wants to display His glory and resurrection in our lives as we walk near with the One who came near to us, as we love the One who loved us first.

Could it be the case that our own quest to be good is what is misdirecting us down a path where we will not see His glory? Could it be that you are not in the game of making disciples because you don’t think you are good enough to do so?

Do you believe that so loved the world that He gave His only Son?

Then keep believing it. And believe in His goodness. And believe you are now in Christ and even on your worst day, as John Lynch has said, you are still YOU IN CHRIST. He is making You who He wants you to be. He has declared you worth dying for. He is inviting you on mission WITH Him.

Go. Get in the game. 

“Everybody plays.”

Watch the 2011 LIVE SENT Conversation (September 9th and 10th) on “UStream” by CLICKING HERE. Participate in the “twitter conversation” by CLICKING HERE.

RANTING & RAVING: are we ready for what may come when we pray “Lord, please show us Your glory”? (part 3)

[ please go back and read the previous two posts for parts one and two ]

Diving right in – the next “death” that I would suggest precedes the Lord showing His glory and His resurrection power is the death of “philosophy only.”

James challenges us to not just be hearers of the Word but doers also. I would suggest that we in the American church, myself included, also ought to not just be talkers of the Word, either. We speak in theoretical and philosophical terms well. Missional. Gospel. Kingdom. Worship. Disciples. But are we actually doing it?

Talk must die and be raised into walk. Let me give a few examples.

We talk a good game about how “everybody plays” and how we must equip people to make disciples. But I fear that little is ACTUALLY done to equip for disciple-making. What are you actually doing to equip followers of Jesus to make disciples? More than just a class in a classroom? Our King did more than that. He got in the thick of the rhythms of the everyday and showed people how the rhythms of the Kingdom of Heaven became “on earth as it is in heaven.” Are you doing that? With people? Who are actually learning and living the ways of Jesus with lost people? If not, talking that game needs to die and be raised to actually do what Jesus intended.

We talk a good game about not wanting to have such a clergy-centered focus. Yet, we don’t actually live this way. The protestant church in America is more clergy-centered than ever, and we wonder why there is not a disciple-making movement in the west. If you are “clergy” (I prefer the word “equipper personally), what kind of energy are you putting into resourcing followers of Jesus to be making disciples among their family, their neighbors, their marketplace, and their world? Or are you just trying to motivate them to plug into your ideas and vision for the church? If you are “laity” (I prefer the word “saint” or “follower” or “one who now carries the keys to the Kingdom and is fully empowered to do all that God desires to be done by His people on this earth), are you just living FOR God or living WITH Him? Are you trying to attain to personal spiritual goodness or living on mission to share the goodness of God with others? May we die to clergy-centered focus and live as the priests and kings and sent ones that His death and resurrection have transformed us to become. This will require something very specific – a growing security in the “clergy” to let go of control of what isn’t their church in the first place AND a growing security in the “laity” to live as though they are a valuable part of the mission of God in the daily.

We talk a good game about wanting to really see those who are lost to find new life in Christ. But are we actually engaging the lost of our communities, coming near to them in love and friendship the way God Himself came near to us as Emmanuel, in hopes that they would see “family” lived out and desire to believe and be called one of the “children of God” along with us? Do you have lost friends who consider you more than just that “church friend?”

We talk a good game about “church” not being about Sunday morning only, and yet how much of our energy and attention and criticism and “choosing of a church” is centered upon the Sunday morning experience?

We talk a good game about our willingness to die for the sake of the glory and the mission of Jesus, but how many of us will go home tonight with little to no thought of the lostness of our cities?

We talk a good game about living sent lives wherever God would lead, unless that meant leaving the south or leaving our comforts or leaving our high-paying jobs.

We need to repent. I need to repent.

Lord, wreck me to quit talking and to be walking with You.

Last installment tomorrow and then some thoughts and insights from the 2011 LIVE SENT Conversation

RANTING & RAVING: are we ready for what may come when we pray “Lord, please show us Your glory”? (part 2)

In yesterday’s post, I suggested that death is a precursor to resurrection, which is an obvious statement. But the implications are important for our daily.

We pray prayers like “Lord, show us Your glory,” but are we ready for what may come as a result?

When we desperately desire to see the glory of God, when we then pray for His glory to be on display and His work to come alive in our lives and in our cities, then we must be aware that there will be death and/or darkness always before there will be the glorious, miraculous, resurrection-power demonstrated.

New life comes where there was no life before. That is the Gospel on display. That is the presence of the glory of God. 

I suggested yesterday that I was not and likely we all are not ready for the “death” that would precede the resurrection on display when God shows His glory here in this death-plagued world. One of those “deaths” that we are not ready for is the death of “me first.” 

In order for His resurrection power to come on display in my life and in my city, I need to confess the deadly selfishness I am infected with, and I need to surrender the me-first mentality with which I live.

This is especially true in the context of the church alive as Jesus intended. If everyone is to be making disciples, if there will actually be an environment in which “everybody plays,” then the me-first mindset must go. I cannot as an equipper, for instance, actually equip and send His church if I am consumed with ME being seen as worthy and ME being given credit and ME being regarded as a good leader and MY dream being put into motion by everyone plugging into MY system for the success of MY vision.

Love is living (after dying to self) for the sake of what others are becoming rather than for the sake of what I am becoming. 

His glory will come among us when His Spirit picks up our surrendered egos and reshapes them to be our secure selves. Secure only because of Whose we are, not who we are. Not ME. Him. And my neighbor. And the nations.

Lord, please show us Your glory in our lives and in our city. Please help us to die to self.

Will you surrender ME?. The death of “ME” provides Jesus a tomb from which to raise His intended “us” as His church, as His people. His glory on display among a people who love as He loved, selflessly and sacrificially, the interests of others above our own.

Tune in tomorrow for another suggested “death” that we may be afraid of and that may be hindering His glory to be on display in our lives and in our cities…

RANTING & RAVING: are we ready for what may come when we pray “Lord, please show us Your glory”?

The “RANTING & RAVING” series continues this week with a short post on a not so short-answer question. It comes in light of the fact that the 2011 LIVE SENT Conversation is this Friday and Saturday with a theme of “Everybody Plays.” The meaning of this theme is that every follower of Jesus is valuable in the mission of God lived out daily, every follower should be equipped to make disciples among neighbors and nations, and then every follower should actually do that for which they have been equipped.

People often pray a prayer in accordance to this kind of all-of-us-together movement of God’s people.

“Lord, please show us Your glory.”

We pray this prayer in hopes that God will do something amazing among us that will then cause “everybody to play” with Him and with one another.

However, that prayer is one that many individuals prayed in the Scriptures, a prayer that God answered yes for a few but no for most. But God told us how to bring the “yes” answer to the prayer. The problem is that it wasn’t through some individualistic desire to see God for who He really is. It is instead through His church being salt and light together (Matthew 5:13-16), through His people growing in the maturity of unity (John 17:18-23), and through His church unifying around giving themselves away together in their daily rhythms (Ephesians 4).

Rather than praying that prayer, maybe we should begin to live WITH that glorious God His mission together in unity as His followers following One Spirit’s lead every day. Maybe if we do this, we will see His glory. Maybe He will show Himself through unconditional love demonstrated via the selfless unity of otherwise self-abrobed people.

Here’s the question I am pondering, though:

<< But are we ready for the implications of what may come as a result of this prayer and commitment, if we really lived out what Jesus intended for His church? >>

I am not sure I am. I am not sure we are.

Why would I say that?

Because God throughout Scripture shows His glory via “a way where there seems to be no way” in the Old Testament and via “resurrection” (aka a way where there seems to be no way) in the New Testament. And because in order for resurrection power to be put on display, there must be DEATH present.

This is what scares us.

The death of what?

Tune in over the next three days to read and then share your thoughts about what I would suggest must die in order for His glorious, resurrection power to be put on display.

Much love.