Monday, April 21, 2014

METAPHORS


 
I was corresponding with someone this week about metaphors for ministry and for understanding our own calling.

Metaphors help us to take a step back and look at our experiences and our thoughts from a different vantage point. Sometimes this helps us to discover things that we never would have thought of before.

A few years ago I received a prophetic word from a guy at church that confirmed what I was asking God that same week (about whether or not to launch a new compassion ministry at our church), and the word was about me being a "Point Man" in our church, leading the people into new territory and being careful to lead them through the dangers and towards the place that God (our commanding officer) was sending us.

Of course, the whole idea of being a point man kinda scared the heck out of me. In real life, a point man is the guy who takes the bullet if the unit walks into an ambush. He's the guy who had better know where they're going or else everyone will get lost in the jungle and die.

I figured if God was taking this metaphor seriously then I should take it seriously too.

One Sunday the same guy gave me another word. The funny thing is, I knew he was going to have another word for me before he did. And no, this guy isn't one of those 'prophetic' kind of people who is always going around handing out words. In all the time I've known him, (2 years or more), this  word on Sunday was only the second thing he'd ever shared with me.

The word he gave me was about my family being like indigenous 'special forces' units within the community. There were a lot of little details, like how we're part of the community, specialized and equipping others in the community to join with us, and teaching them to train others, etc. It was exactly about what we're doing now by starting a missional house church here in a new community.

How can I discount this sort of thing? Such a specific word of encouragement at such a perfect time and place. Like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Spencer Burke ("Making Sense Of Church") talks about having a personal metaphor. For example, he said he felt like he was a fire starter. His calling and gifting were related to helping others get on fire for what God was calling them to do.

I think I'm like a magnifying glass. I help people to see things that they might not otherwise see and to magnify the urgency or amplify the vision that God is giving them.

Of course, I’ve learned over time that these metaphors all have a negative side as well as a positive side. For me, a magnifying glass, the negative is that sometimes burn holes in the things it is intending to magnify. The danger is in becoming more focused on the negative than on the positive.

Everyone has a specific calling, gifting or purpose within the Body of Christ. It's God's promise and His plan to build up the Church. Our part is to understand who we are specifically made to be and then to fulfill that calling.

So, class, the question for today is: "What's your metaphor?"

-kg
 
*Note: Originally published on the [Subversive Underground] e-newsletter.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

GOOD FRIDAY MEDITATIVE SERVICE

For several years now, our family has hosted a Good Friday Meditative/Reflective Service in our home.

We set up various stations around our home and play instrumental worship music as participants move in candlelight from station to station to reflect and meditate on the passion and sacrifice of our Lord.

Here are the stations we will observe:



Casting Lots for Christ's clothing





Tasting the vinegar and bitterness He tasted for us on the cross.




Touching the crown of thorns He wore in our place.



Driving nails into the wood to remember the price He paid to set us free.



Dipping our hands into red paint to make a collage of thanksgiving to Jesus for His amazing love.

We will also tear cloth to symbolize the veil of the temple being torn in two for us.

Afterwards we will sit together quietly in the den and each person suggest a song about the passion of our Lord spontaneously, and we all worship together accapella.

Finally, we will all hold a candle and, one by one, share what Jesus' sacrifice means to us individually, blowing out our candles as we go. We will dismiss in darkness and exit in silence.

This is always a very powerful, emotional, and spirit-filled time of meditation upon the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

If you'd like to do something in your own home, or with your own church family, I highly recommend it.

-kg

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bad News First



There is a beautiful resurgence of emphasis lately on the “Good News” of the Kingdom of God. Which, honestly, is a great thing after so many years of emphasis on escaping the fires of hell and acquiring your holy fire insurance and a lease on the heavenly mansions beyond the clouds.

But I think our newfound emphasis on the  “Good News” of the Kingdom must include a healthy dose of “Bad News” if we’re to be effective.

Here’s what I mean: The Good News of the Kingdom is that everyone has access to the abundant life of Christ right here and now. But the Bad News of the Kingdom is that the cost of admission is high.
 
It costs you everything.

In other words, the price for life in Christ involves death to self. Or, as C.S. Lewis phrased it:

“Nothing in you which has not died will ever be raised from the dead.”

Or, as Jesus puts it:

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples." (Luke 14:33)

Whew. Pretty steep if you ask me.

Now, by calling this “Bad News” we’re not being fair, or totally accurate. See, the idea of surrendering everything in this life in order to follow Jesus into His Kingdom only sounds like bad news to those who have yet to take the leap. In other words, once you’ve let go of your worldly treasures you discover an astounding truth – it doesn’t compare to the splendor and majesty found within the Kingdom reality offered by Jesus. In fact, those earthly “treasures” are really pretty worthless and empty, so dumping all that crap out the window isn’t actually all that difficult.

Maybe it’s easier to explain it this way: When you let go of your worries, your fears, your doubts, and your status quo, you get to enjoy the glorious life, love, joy, hope, peace, and contentment found only in Christ, Jesus.

I guess when you put it that way, it’s really not “Bad News” at all, is it?

 

-kg

 

 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Power of the Gospel?




In response to a video clip where theologian Wayne Grudem attempts to discredit Greg Boyd's book, "The Myth of a Christian Nation", Keith illustrates the foolishness of taking the position that the Gospel is not enough to overcome evil in this world.

Listen>


WATCH THE VIDEO CLIP FEATURED IN THIS PODCAST HERE:

AS I LIVE AND BREATHE



What if I were to spend most of my time seeking out the boundaries of my savior’s love? What if I were to focus my energies on plumbing the depths of the heart of Jesus? What if it were my supreme passion to know Him better today than I did the day before?

There are times when I find my heart beating faster as I begin to realize how close the Almighty creator of the Universe is to my own heart. Like swimming in the ocean and suddenly turning to realize that there is a massive whale swimming just outside your reach and you find you can barely breathe.

These realities escape us for the most part. We take such grandeur and majesty for granted, or deny it outright in the mundane sameness of our daily routine.

Think of this: The same Jesus who walked on water is alive right now within you. The same Messiah who calmed the storm with a word is listening to your heart beat this very moment. He knows your thoughts right now. He knows your pain, your fears, your doubts, and your insecurities. He longs for you to cast your cares upon him because he cares for you – yes, you.

More than this, Jesus WANTS to be found. He wants you and I to seek His face. He longs to reveal more of Himself to those who are hungry and thirsty for His presence.

You could talk to Jesus right now. He will listen. You could grow closer to Jesus – and allow him to grow closer to you – with simply a whisper of a prayer under your breath and a few minutes of silence as you drive to your next appointment.

Our imaginations are so dull. For example, we take no thrill in the fullness of the thought that we will be alive two hundred thousand years from now; just as alive – even more alive – than we are right now.

Today I am trying to remember that every breath I breathe today is taken in harmony with Christ. Every beat of my heart belongs completely to him alone.

“Lord Jesus, come live and breathe in me today. Help me to hear your voice, to see your face, and to experience your presence more and more.”

Amen.
-kg

Thursday, April 10, 2014

[Subversive Radio Podcast] What About The Five Fold Ministry?



Listen as Keith explains what the Five Fold Ministry is and why he doesn't agree with most people about it.


Monday, April 07, 2014

Shine







*NOTE: Originally published on Saturday, August 30, 2008 on the [Subversive Underground]


Shine

The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the Church. We are called the Bride, the Family of God, and the Body of Christ.

We are never referred to as an organization, a weekly meeting or a business.

In God's heart, we are a living organism. We are a Body made up of interdependent parts with Christ as our head.

We are a family, adopted sons and daughters who are blessed beyond measure to call the Creator of the Universe "Papa".

We are a Bride, the fiancee of the Son of God, radiant by His Glory, madly in love with the Groom, being made ready for a wedding feast at the End of Time.

We are carriers of the Kingdom message, empowered by His Holy Spirit, called from the four corners of the Earth, on a mission of love and service and daily sacrifice.

We are sons and daughters. We are fathers and mothers. We are housewives and computer engineers. We are musicians and artists. We are mathematicians and scientists. We are poets and truck drivers and marketing executives and elementary school teachers and airline pilots.

We are the global ambassadors of God's love to a hurting and dying world.

We are the Church when we are awake and when we are asleep. We are the Church when we are driving on the freeway and when we are talking on the phone. We are the Church when we are in line at the Grocery Store or eating a cheeseburger in the food court.

We are the Church - Agents of change who have one simple command to fulfill; "Love one another".

If we could really understand this. If we could really see who we are every minute of every day, there is nothing that could stand in our way, not even the very gates of Hell.

Can we defend the cause of the orphan and the widow? Can we speak up for the abused and the enslaved? Can we share what we have been given with those in our own community who have nothing? Can we lay aside our petty differences and learn to forgive and love and befriend those who are right in front of us?

Can we learn to love others as Jesus loved? Can we give the way He gave? Can we lay down our lives, our wants, our needs, our comfort, for the good of someone else?

All of Heaven holds it breath in anticipation, awaiting the outcome of this drama of life we find ourselves in.

The Kingdom is in motion. Your assistance is required.

Don't miss your chance to shine.

-kg

Thursday, April 03, 2014

THE BLACK SWAN EFFECT



[GUEST POST BY FELICITY DALE]

Tony and I used to have a dog named Sugar—a faithful and loyal companion, though of dubious parentage and limited intelligence. We live in a house with a fenced yard and an electric gate across the driveway. Sugar used to hide, lying in wait until a car went through the gate. Then, just as the gate was closing the final few inches, she would make her bid for freedom. She would return several hours later, exhausted but very happy.

We live near a busy road and eventually decided to put a stop to her adventures. We installed an invisible fence (which works by giving the dog a small jolt of electricity if it approaches too close) across the driveway. After a couple of, shall we say, shocking experiences, Sugar learned to stay within the confines of our yard. In fact, long after the battery in her collar had died, Sugar would sit, wistfully gazing at the liberty that lay on the other side of an open gate without making any attempt to escape. She had become conditioned to her limitations.

As women, we too, have become conditioned to live within boundaries. Even within the simple/organic/house church movement, where there are no boundaries for what a woman can do, women still rarely take the initiative. There’s an inbuilt misconception that we have to wait for a man to step up to the plate.

But imagine what might happen if women really understood that they are free to make disciples, baptize, start churches, teach…. They can function as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. What might happen if men and women partnered together for the harvest?

The Black Swan Effect, a book I recently compiled, presents a vision for what can happen as men and women work together in the Kingdom of God.  The authors (both male and female) encourage men to champion women as equal co-laborers and partners in the harvest. They give women permission and inspiration to follow the Lord—to reach their own full potential and encourage others to fulfill God’s call. The Black Swan Effect equips both men and women to bring an informed and positive contribution to the increasingly crucial conversation on gender in the church.

This book was written for men as well as women.  Fourteen different authors contribute to these themes in The Black Swan Effect, each of them writing from their own area of passion and expertise, the whole being woven together into a single narrative. Encouraging stories of women who are doing marvelous things for God today accompany each chapter.

If you are like most Christians, one of three primary motivations might propel you into a discussion about women in ministry:
§  Many Christians have come to the conclusion that there is no better way to increase the size of God’s missions workforce than to fully deploy women to use their spiritual gifts and God-given capacities.
§  Some are asking theological questions. They are investigating how the Bible portrays women, especially women leaders. How did Jesus treat women? Were the New Testament writers—in particular, the apostle Paul—misogynists? Are there alternative interpretations for some of the really difficult passages of Scripture? 
§  Others are drawn to this discussion because of issues related to justice and human dignity around the world as well as in the church. As they study Scripture, they are assured that God cre­ates all men and women in his image, and they can’t even imagine a God who would discriminate against women.

What might happen if men and women worked together, side by side, for the Kingdom? 
Does our traditional view of the Scriptures concerning women overlook something powerful? 
Could the role of women be crucial to the church’s future? 
Are we on the edge of a new era in missions history? 
Change is coming. Get ready!