Jesus And His Kingdom First

I’m 100% sure someone will read this, and project onto me things untrue and put word in my mouth I didn’t say. It comes with the territory. Its part of leadership, being part of a community in the public square, and trying to make a difference. Leading means being misunderstood by people who don’t know you, and we just have to be ok with that. We seek to please Jesus, and shun the fear of man. People see me at lunch with my Muslim friend, and assume. They don’t hear the gospel conversation. They just assume. You knw what happens when you ASSUME? Right? Take that word apart. Great lesson about assuming anything. Just sayin’.

Sooooo, here we go…

Patriotism is not a bad thing. It has its place for the Christian. Here is a good reminder of its place by John Piper.

John Piper on Patriotism

However, my first priority as a follower of Jesus Christ and student of his word is to be distinctly and profoundly and deeply and thoroughly Christian. My King and his kingdom are my only allegiance at the end of the day. I truly question if I can have more than one allegiance. If I can only have one, then I must take Jesus and his kingdom.

Why? If Scripture alone (which we’ll study Sunday) is a value and true, then the bible is our final authority. And the bible teaches Jesus will return to finally and fully subject all nations under his rule. Our constitution will be overruled one day.

There is this false dichotomy going around social media that one stands for the flag and kneels at the cross as if these are two equal gestures of honor. May I suggest that kneeling at the cross may require one to turn their back on their particular flag at some point? Standing for the flag must NEVER be equated to kneeling at the cross. Can I just be allowed to say that equating these two bother me at a level its hard to articulate? That’s an idolatry that is cleverly clothed, and potent. Be careful.

Does Jesus approve of the theft of Native American lands 150 + years ago? Sure would love to have Chief John’s land back, because it would be mine now.

Does Jesus approve of the unborn killed for convenience on a daily basis under the protection of our government and via our tax dollars?

Does Jesus approve of the tax revenue spent to prop up convenient dictators around the world that we then have to go and dispose of later when they stop being convenient?

Does Jesus approve of the possibility that little Hispanic boys and girls would be denied certain things because someone else broke the law?

Does Jesus approve of keeping black children out of stores because they are black? (I’ve had this happen to me because my youngest son is black) It happens, so don’t tell me it doesn’t? Does Jesus approve of the “right” of that person to keep us out solely because Daniel is black? Think hard on how you answer that.

So, please don’t equate kneeling at the cross to standing for the flag. Just don’t.

Anyone protesting any injustice is not automatically disparaging those who have served and died or those who have served and still bear the marks mentally or physically of their service. Protests use multiple vehicles to make aware social injustices. There are a few things Christians need to be exercising their right to protest about. That could be another post. Since we are free, we ought to get after a few things, make them known, reject our country’s participation, and work for change. We’ve been marginalized due to uselessness for too long. Time to “Rise Up”.

So, it takes a little inquiry to know reasons and strategies. Ask some questions, don’t just blanket and generalize all things. As Christians, we can’t afford do damage the name of Jesus with trite statements on social media because someone hacked us off and we failed to think, ask and obey Proverbs about speaking when we should be silent.

I’d suggest all Christians who are part of the majority become a true friend of someone not your color, learn their hopes, fears, joys and sorrows and you may become more empathetic to their plight. Do you recognize some folks have a plight? Do you care? Jesus did. As his people, we must as well. Just because it works for me does not mean it works for everyone. That’s a fact. This side of the fall, nothing but God’s kingdom is perfect.

The fact is that before I had a black son, I was blind to so much, but I had my blinders pulled off painfully, and it was good for me. I’ve traveled the world as an ambassador of Jesus’ kingdom, and had other blinders pulled off. We need to be “woke” to the kingdom of God, his Word and the value of Jesus first, dear Christian.

So, if you’re angry at this post, it may be for your good. If you’re intrigued, then think on it. Read your bible cover to cover year after year and see if God’s values conflict with those we have ingrained from the world, flesh and the Enemy’s little kingdom, and replace those values with kingdom values. If you “see” this, then don’t allow people to equate Jesus and any political stance that is not expressly his thing.

Speak prophetically to people (as the prophets spoke to soical issues in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daneil, Hosea, Amos, etc.). If we don’t know what the prophets said and how to imitate their example, shame on us if we call ourselves “Christian”. We should be students of the Word and know these things. We know our favorite sports stats, and political information in volumes stored away in our brains. So don’t tell me we can’t know God’s word and obey it.

We need to call some entities, people and institutions to repentance. Don’t do that on social media. Other than information and a little fun, social media is almost worthless for meaningful dialogue. This stuff is best done in community and in person. Blogs may be a catalyst too. I’m wondering as I write this if anyone will actually listen.

TRC, and others who may read this,  please be above the petty stuff, be of biblical substance, represent King Jesus well, and don’t make this about football or athletes, or flags, or anything that the Enemy will use to blind us from the real issue of the idolatry of values that conflict with the kingdom of God. It’s Jesus and Jesus alone we must value.

EDIT: Here is a great article I just read on Christianity Today: There’s No Dishonor in Kneeling…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sola Scriptura

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming up next month, we are studying through the tenets of the reformation called the “5 Solas” over the next 5 weeks. The first of those is Sola Scriptura.

How providential that there are 5 weeks in October leading up to the anniversary of the 95 theses being posted by Luther on October 31, 1517 so that we can study the 5 Solas! You may think that coincidental. I think not!

I’d like you to watch this clip. Pastor H.B. Charles, Jr. says it so well. We’ll unpack it a little more Sunday.

Enjoy!

Monday Funny

Ok, if you love football, you’ll love this commercial. If you don’t love football but love a good food fight, enjoy.

The best part? When Herschel spears Tebow off the table. Made my heart sing!

I AM the True Vine

7 “I AM” Statements of Jesus

John 15:1-11

I AM the True Vine

Because of rebellion, and the subsequent curse on all of creation, mankind is separated from God and death is the result.

Jesus came to reconcile image bearers back to God, abolish death for those who will repent and believe, and sustain them with life.

But Jesus has just told his disciples that he is going away. How is Jesus going to sustain his people if he is gone?

Jesus comforts them with the promise of the Holy Spirit who:

  • Is Another Helper (“allos parakletos” …another of the same kind who will counsel).
  • Is the Spirit of truth.
  • Will Dwell with you.
  • Will be in you.
  • (I = Jesus = Holy Spirit) Will come to you (note the personal pronoun switch from “he” to “I”)
  • Will love his people and manifest himself to his people
  • Evidences that Father will love them, and Father, Son and Spirit will come to them and make their home with them
  • Will teach his people all things and bring remembrance of all that Jesus has said

Now, this promise of the Spirit brings some measure of comfort for these folks as they are about to experience some very painful days.

Jesus is going to give his disciples an illustration to describe this new relational experience they are about to engage in with Holy Spirit, who is Jesus with and in them.

What is that illustration? What can we learn from it?

Vine and Branches

What do we see? What does it mean?

In the Old Testament there are numerous passages that illustrate Israel as a vine, and seem to regard Israel as a faithless, lifeless and fruitless vine. (Ps. 80:8-16; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15; Ezekiel 19:10; Hosea 10:1)

Jesus, with these passages as his reference, refers to himself as the “True Vine.”

  1. Life is not found in national identity John 15

If Israel was a faithless and fruitless vine, then the disciples are not going to find life in their national identity.

  1. Jesus is the source of life John 15:1a; 1:4
  2. Fruitfulness is essential in the Christian life John 15:2
  3. Fruitless people are purged by the Father who is the vinedresser John 15:1b-2; 15:6

Matthew 13:24-30 The Parable of the Weeds

  1. Fruitful people are pruned, and pruning is what a loving Father does for his people to make them more fruitful John 15:2b; John 15:3; Hebrews 12:3-8; Hebrews 12:11
  2. Fruitfulness is not the result of human achievement…it is the result of abiding in Jesus John 15:4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10

Principles of Abiding:

  • No abiding…no kingdom fruit. 15:4
  • Abiding in Jesus produces much fruit, and much fruit glorifies God and is proof that one follows Jesus. 15:5, 8
  • Not abiding means not Christian. 15:6
  • John 10:28-29 One does not loose what they never had.
  • There are weeds among the wheat, Jesus said.
  • Abiding in Jesus, and loving his word then provides a blank check to be written and cashed for holy desires. 15:7; Psalm 37:4
  • Prayer is a direct line to the General to get supplies for the battle without hindrance or interference for all necessary to win the battle. “It is not an intercom to ring up the maid for another pillow.” – Piper
  • Abiding is also an invitation to know love for real. John 15:9
  1. Abiding in Jesus and producing kingdom fruit is joyful John 15:11

How do we obey?

  1. Abide!

We call this life of abiding the Radical Life.

  • Up – Love God/Communion with God
  • Connecting with God as Father and us as sons/daughters not slaves
  • Take God’s word into your soul “…if my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish…”
  • Hear and obey
  • Trust Jesus for tomorrow! Invest in the eternal. Trust the seasons of the Vine.
  • Prayer as our most tangible ministry strategy to achieve the mission because mission and prayer go together…actually talking with God and getting instruction from God…in the moment!
  • In – Love each other/Community in Covenant
  • Connecting to each other as family practicing the gifts (not teacher centric)
  • Loving one another (John 15:12)
  • Out – Produce fruit/Collide with the Culture
  • Tame your domain and make disciples
  • Exercise the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-20)
  • Take on your Spirit given role as a kingdom ambassador
  1. Keep Jesus’ commandments. John 15:10, 12
  • Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  1. Receive the appointment to go and bear fruit so that you can have a fruitful prayer life. John 15:16-17

Note how Jesus says this: We are given a mission so we can have a fruitful prayer life. We are not given prayer to have a fruitful mission!

 

TRC Folks Grinding out Obedience

We don’t “toot our own horn” a lot at Three Rivers Church. In fact, chances are you’ve heard of some work or labor in our city and did not know it was TRC or TRC people leading the way. I want to recognize you TRC!

A big shout out to Three Rivers Church. While many people like to Tweet and post on Facebook about their many spiritual accomplishments while, truthfully, doing very little other than building themselves up in a narcissistic ploy, you grind away at engaging your domains.

Yesterday, I posted on our FB membership page a need for us to get together a team to walk in support of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), that Jim and Bonnie Moore so selflessly pour their heart and soul into, and you responded by making it happen. No other church has joined that effort. You did!

We don’t do “ministries” at TRC for people to consume. We teach “domain engagement”, in which we seek to equip our people to engage their “glocal” domains to heal and proclaim the good news of Jesus and his kingdom and release folks to go and obey Jesus, and TRC, you work hard at learning it and doing just that.

The result? Out fellowship is responsible for some of the most community changing, city engaging, life transforming healing in the state of Georgia, and for that matter, in the United States. You don’t know it, but people feel your presence. People know who Jesus is because of that hidden service. I want you to be recognized.

Global Impact…Restoration Rome Restoration Rome

NAMI NAMI

HGUSA Higher Ground USA (Adventure with a Purpose)

Just to mention a few.

These are people who have started and operate their own business/org or organizations started and operated by TRC people or organizations meaningfully affected by TRC people’s involvement.

Three Rivers Church…I love you, and I’m proud of you.

Keep grinding away in the hidden places. Jesus sees and knows, and he’s rewarding your labor with fruit.