Saturday, April 21, 2012

Truthers and Liars

My heart is very full right now with the things God is downloading this day.

Let me preface all these things by saying I’m in process like you, and joyfully admit it. Yet even in this process, I have not fully grasped the dimensional grandeur of God’s grace and truth, but every day I see through the glass less darkly.  And the more we understand the more there will be to understand. Understand?

I want to touch on a subject that is understood and misunderstood in a wide variety of ways. Mission, or as some call it missions, tends to conjure up pictures of white skinned people in western clothing, Bible in one hand and finger in the air preaching to a group of people not so white skinned. Or missions my bring to mind foreign foods that are sampled on a Saturday night, prior to hearing a missionary tell us about their adventures in another land. Some call that a missions convention. Still others picture teams of non-commissioned lay Christians traveling out of this country to construct a building that may be used as a church, a learning center, an orphanage, or a simple living structure for the less fortunate. And none of these images are incorrect, but they are incomplete. For the very notion that mission(s) is to be done elsewhere, by other people, and directed towards some heathen yet to be exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is tacitly wrong.

Mission begins in the mind of each born again believer, then emerges from a heart and life that is properly restored. But restored from what? Restoration from lies we believe to be true about ourselves. These lies keep us from living missional lives; which ultimately keep us from doing missional work so as to advance the Kingdom of God and to see souls saved and transformed, domestically or internationally. Geography means little when it comes to people bound up in lies.

I'm not going to speculate about what lie is keeping you back from God’s best for your life, not to mention God’s call to live missionally, but I will tell you that it is the greatest obstacle that must be removed before all that Christ died for can shine outward from our lives (i.e. mission). Let me ask you; when you’re around people that live, speak and demonstrate truth, doesn’t it make you feel good and refreshed to be with them? Don’t you come away with a desire to be with them more and more? I know I do. Kind of like when we expose our open hearts to the Bible, there are portions of God’s word that download tremendous amounts of transforming truth, and we then become very hungry and excited to return to those portions – as well as share them with others. That’s what happens when we are around genuine Truthers.

What do we call people that lie or don’t tell the truth? Come now, don’t be afraid to answer. We call them liars. Correct? (If you want to argue this point – call me we can talk.) And my experience has been that lies and liars produce some very unsettling feelings deep within us. Yet because we are so accustom to a life and culture of lies, we simply think, that’s how normal life feels. We’ve been convinced by lies and liars, that what we are feeling, all humans are feeling and that must be normal. We tend to think it’s an experience that everyone else has; therefore it must be right or normal. Not true! Just because something is common, or even experienced by the masses, does not make it right or true. As a matter of fact, if we’ve spent less time with Truthers than with liars, we’ll actually think the Truthers are telling lies. Get it?

My point is this: Mission(s) is all about advancing the truth of God. And it begins within our own hearts and minds – not with dollars, hammers or even inconvenient sacrifice. But with our ability to know the truth, hold onto the truth, live in the truth and then others will sense (or feel) something very special about us. As a matter of fact, they actually may ask us to give an explanation of the hope we have within our hearts. Which will actually produce a feeling within them, and that’s what they are really meaning when they’re asking about our hope in Christ.

Please don’t miss this point. If we build houses for the poor, they may ask what motivated us to do such a thing. And we could honestly say, the love of God or even, because it’s the right thing to do. But unless we ourselves have been restored by the truth and resonate it outward to those in our mission target zone, the attraction to our “missions work” will only be the physical things we are providing that they otherwise did not have. Which is not evil, or even bad, but it’s not necessarily transformational. As a matter of fact, it will tend to cause us to be dependent upon a works based outreach. Jesus did tell us the poor or those in physical need will always be with us, but lies can and should be totally eliminated from people’s lives and cultures. Because next to our salvation, of which only Jesus could provide, came the next and equally significant reason for His coming into this world – to testify to the truth (John 18:37).

Solomon prophetically penned his holy desire for what God describes and we should understand as mission (Proverbs 30:5-8). “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. 7 Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” What? It sounds like Solomon was emphasizing this very premise: TRUTH must precede PROVISION.

Yet how often are we called to give, go, do or even say something in the name of a Kingdom mission, while we are still bound up in lies? Stop right now and ask yourself, what this array of thoughts makes you feel. Does it make you feel good, bad, indifferent, indignant or what? If you’re like many, you’ve already been equipped to maintain some measure of religious composure when exposed to the truth, so you may feel nothing. If that’s the case, you can be rest assured that you will seek to do missions from a backwards view of Proverbs 30:5-8. All of which is not a sin that would lead to your own damnation, but it is definitely a sin or the missing of a mark or point that God is STILL trying to get across to people just like you and me. And that’s what tends to keep us from living the mission. And that lie is it’s all about more works and more dollars.

Let me beg His grace and truth to be upon your heart and mind. Let me ask Jesus to speak His truth to you regarding missions or rather, YOUR MISSION WHILE IN THIS LIFE CALLED CHRIST.

As we gather tomorrow at (Sunday 04/22/12), know that our visiting missionary is not here just to tell you what’s been done in some other country, but he is here to assist you in understanding the mission of truth we are each called to live in Christ Jesus.

Amen for now and see you in the morning!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vote Here!

POST EXPLAINATION: Below you’ll find my thoughts (they’re lengthy so get a beverage and settle down for a few minutes) regarding a Facebook poll I posted a few days back on our church page. If you are interested go to Facebook and "Like" our church page and take the poll.

My Poll Response

I wanted to post a note (or a novel) on the poll taken below. Granted there were only 23 people who clicked on the options, but I have some thoughts on the responses.
It’s not a surprise that most of the respondents clicked “Mostly Positive”, because most church folk are relatively content with and have positive feelings about their experiences in church.

The 3 “Mostly Negative” and 3 “Neutral” and my 1 “Confusing and Irrelevant” responses were not surprising either. What I find surprising is our ability to gloss over the positives and the negatives within our church experiences, in the name of what? Maybe grace? Maybe forbearance? Or maybe just apathy?

I’m not sure which is the case? But I do know that looking back on all my church experiences, for the most part, I would say they were positive at the moment, but in the long run, they were actually “Confusing and Irrelevant”.

Let me explain. I was the only one that clicked on that button. Not because I was trying to be oppositional or counter-church-cultured, but because in hindsight I have realized few if any persons within my church life, took the time or effort to actually confirm if the Seed got planted properly.

You see, despite the presence of Seed or not, or even a question of the soil quality; systems, steps, programs and our involvement therein, were the typical barometers of one’s church experience. And usually that gauge was read from the vantage point of the churches attendance and participation rolls and not the participant themselves.

Not once do I remember anyone asking me if I had genuine peace in my heart. Granted, there were times following my responses to altar calls for repentance, that I came away feeling more peace between myself and God, and rightly so. But you know what? I never remember anyone clearly explaining the doctrine of repentance. All I remember about repentance was telling God what I did wrong and saying please forgive me, then going home and trying my best not to do it again. But never do I remember anyone clearly teaching the biblical meaning of changing ones thinking, beyond simple will power.

But for anyone to show that kind of concern or interest in the heart of a young man, looking back seems like they just didn’t care or know themselves, how that process was to occur. To do so would have been an anomaly or rather unusual, because once we left the church property there was little contact from the churches side of the relationship. I understand that, but the process of grace filled, truth filled relational discipleship only really occurred in the later years of my adulthood, and that was because the church up until then had failed to meet my real need.

Now here’s where the dominant voice of unrestored church folk would fit well. They would place the blame or onus upon me, the hearer or the one in need. Yet never would they consider they might be part of the problem, and not much help with the solution. I mean beyond the simple salvation message. Anyone can find that message on a 3 point graphically illustrated Jack T. Chick salvation tract.

I’m not complaining, but I can tell you based upon hindsight; I really was at times very confused as to what my life was supposed to be like, beyond the “dos and don’ts”. And as far my experience being relevant, it really wasn’t. It was like they were selling something I didn’t need.

Please don’t mistake what I’m saying, I needed salvation, I needed a regular reminder to stay “right” with God, but I really needed so much more. I needed things much deeper than I was receiving, but I didn’t know it, and apparently neither did they.

My heart’s prayer, and my life’s passion is to provide access to exactly what each person needs, for each particular situation, yet I am NOT able to give it, because that can only come from Him. That can only come through the Holy Spirit’s leading and Jesus speaking to the need and the pain in their life. My duty and my privilege are simply to facilitate moments and times where a connection is made between them and God. And if I am willing, courageous and obedient enough that will happen. Oh yes, and if I am equipped for the task; s many of my church relationships were not.

Confusing? Yes it was. Irrelevant? Most of the time. But if I were to have ever openly acknowledged those thoughts or feelings, it’s likely I would have been shamed or condemned, back into my nutshell of Christian seclusion, for safely sake if nothing more. Who wants to be shamed or condemned into better thinking or better being? It usually doesn’t work very well.

Granted; I understand some of the office works of the Holy Spirit here on earth. Convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. But my read on that text, is it’s referencing the “world” in regards to sin. And sometime way back in 1967 I left the “world” and entered the Kingdom of God.

So the work that was being done in me, even while in misbehavior, was a work of grace, not a work of sin conviction, for in Him I was not guilty. What I needed was brothers and sisters who were actually “spiritual” enough to take loving action to “restore” me (Galatians 6:1). Few tried, and for who did I’m grateful for their ministry, but the bulk of the rest did not. And those that did left little impression that the process was doable on a daily basis or could be lived out moment by moment.

For the things I had deep inside me; questions, doubts, fears, and painful feelings; no one was able to go there (or willing for that matter). Ergo my multi-decade struggle, not with sin, but with feelings that affected my behavior and relationships.

I’ll stop you before you say I needed counseling or something like that. I’ll also stop you before you say I needed to read the Word more, because I did read it and take it very seriously, but what I did not have was someone who was enough at peace with God, to take on the hard questions without throwing cliché or duty back in my face.

I’ll close my thoughts with a few questions. Are we prepared to “restore” those who find themselves in chronic trespass? And not just by tossing more rules at them. Are we prepared to “restore” those who come, after all other methods and means have failed? I know I am ready. And I’m getting more and more ready day by day, with a deep passion to prepare others in like manner.

The time has come for His Church to be the REMEDY.

Now go back in your mind and heart and ask yourself if most of your church experiences were positive, and by positive I mean transformational? And not in some lengthy protracted way, but was the light regularly coming on? Were things regularly improving within your feelings and outlook on life? Or were you like many, just pushing those bad feelings down further, with one more praise and worship chorus and one more holy-to-do-list?

Thanks for your thoughts!
Russell A. Kinney
Restoration Pastor –