Don’t worry about your life.

I taught on Matthew 6:24-34 on Sunday and it turned into a great time of discussion for many of our college students.  If you look at it in the NIV, it looks like verse 24 belongs to an earlier thought than the rest of this chunk.  I think it fits better here though, because it makes the end of chapter six make so much more sense.  Look at it together with verse 25…it says:

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?– Matthew 6:24-25

When you read these two verses together it helps you understand that serving God leads to trusting Him for your needs and serving money leads you to worry about meeting your own needs.  I don’t think Jesus is saying, “Don’t serve money because it just leads to a life of worry.”  Instead He’s saying, “If worry is a major part of your life, it’s a sign that you don’t serve the Lord…you’re serving money!”

I currently have “advanced reading copies” of two different books on my desk.  One, by David Platt, is called Radical, and the other, by Max Lucado, is called Out Live Your Life.  It’s interesting that both of them seem to attack the American Dream and expose the lie that is contained inside it.  The fact is America promises things that they cannot fulfill and things that God never promises in the first place.  Our addiction to the American Dream and our desire to make something out of ourselves has led to us ignoring what God has made us to be and how He wants to provide.

In the end…I’m realizing more and more that you can’t serve both God and the American Dream.  You can’t be anything you want to be…but you’ll love being who you were made to be!  So…which is it going to be…who are you going to serve?


The Promise of The Father Sent…Upon You!

Between Rez Week at UT and the great Easter messages I heard over the weekend, I ended up reading Luke 24 more than a few times. While doing that, I noticed something new that reminded me of God’s call on us to go and live incarnationally.  In the NIV, Luke 24:49 says…

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

As I was reading this, I felt like the conjunction word, “but” was out of place…it just did not seem to read correctly. So I pulled out my iPhone and looked up several other translations and found something exciting! All the translations use the word “but” because the original Greek word there can really only be translated that way.  However, most still translate this verse differently.  Like most of the other translations, the ESV says…

“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Do you notice the difference? In most of the translations it is easy to see that the subject of the first statement is not us, but rather the “promise of the Father.”  The other difference is that most of the other verses also translate the Greek word epi as “upon” rather than “to”.  So it can either read, “I’m sending the promise to you…,” or “I’m sending the promise upon you.” I recognize that most of my readers do not want a lengthy explanation of why I think “upon” is the better word choice, so I’ll just sum it up by saying I think it fits better with the entirety of the New Testament’s teaching.

The New Testament begins with the Incarnation of Christ.  Christ’s ministry begins with Him incarnationally going to where the people were.  The disciples’ ministry begins with Jesus sending them out to where the people were.  The Passion week begins with yet another picture of incarnational living, by Jesus fulfilling the prophesy of Zechariah…that Jesus would be the King who comes to you, rather than a king who requires you to come to him.  Acts is the story of the Church being formed, scattered and forced by the Spirit to be incarnational.  It is in Luke 24:49, that Jesus is telling us, “Look, I’m sending the Promise of The Father out to every nation and you are the mode of transportation for this promise to be sent out…I’m sending it upon you. So go wait in Jerusalem until you receive it, and then let it take you where it will.”

Yes, the promise of the Holy spirit and new life in Christ is for you.  But God’s plan from the beginning is that it would also go upon us and not just to us.

ps: Any of my former Greek professors and/or friends who know more Greek than I do are free to argue with me on this point if you like! : )

5 Things We Ask Non-Christians To Do That We Won’t Do.

Good leaders never ask their people to do something they are not already modeling.  If your church is going to be a leader in your community, is there anything you ask the community to do that your church is not already modeling? Here’s a few examples of things churches can sometimes expect more out of the community than they expect out of themselves.

1. Give – Here is a fun exercise.  Take the average attendance of your church and divide it by 4.  This will give you a rough estimate of how many “giving units” are in your church.  Now, go online and look up the average annual income of families in your city (it’s an easy google search).  Now multiply the number of giving units in your church by 10% of your city’s average annual income.  This is what your church’s budget would be if everyone there actually gave to the minimum standard that the Bible teaches us to.  My guess is that it is far higher than the actual budget.

2. Live moral lives – It is so hard for us to keep from wanting non-Christians to act like Christians…and we do it all the time!  The even greater problem is that many Christians are not separating themselves from the world by living a life of integrity.

3. Raise godly families -Too many families are dropping their children off at the church and saying, “here, raise my child.”  Parents need to realize that they are called to be their child’s primary pastor.  The Church is called to equip in doing that…not replace you in doing that.

4. Go to a church that we don’t like – This one get’s me upset quickly.  I don’t know many Christians that are willing to go to a church that they don’t like.  But we ask non-Christians to do this every Sunday.  Instead of doing the hard work necessary to discover how to connect the un-churched with an opportunity to experience the Gospel in the context of community, we spend most of our time maintaining the status quo.

Is there anything you would add to the list?

What does your church look like?

Country clubs are supposed to be a reflection of it’s members. Churches are supposed to be a reflection of Jesus. So, I’ll end this shortest blog post ever with this question:

When outsiders look at our churches…do they see a reflection of us and our desires or Christ and His desires?

ps: if you’ve ever said, “I go to my church because I like the ________,” then that’s a clue.

Good article on how to stay “great”

Here is a great article by Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway Resources.  In it he shares some discoveries from his research on churches that move from making a mediocre impact to making a great impact.  In today’s blog, however, he talks about another set of churches.  Here is a excerpt:

“The names I am seeing right now are churches that are no longer great. They have fallen from the lists. They no longer meet the criteria.  We found some of the fallen churches from statistical follow-up. We found others in consultations, and still others from familiarity with the churches. Some people told us that other great churches had fallen on tough times. And some people even questioned if our studies had validity since those churches had fallen from greatness.”

Whether you believe in the mega-church model, multi-campus model, or even house churches, I think what is highlighted here is a great caution to both pastors and lay-leaders.  Take a moment and give it a read.