Wednesday, December 17, 2014

[Subversive Radio Podcast] Blessed Are The Torturers?

Is Jesus for or against torture? Wasn't he arrested, beaten, tortured and killed by the Empire? How then should His followers respond when we hear that our own nation has tortured and killed people? Listen as we explore this controversial topic.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Torture Is Not Christian


 
 

With the release of the CIA torture report this week, there have been numerous conversations among Christians about whether or not torture is something that Jesus would approve of.

Some have wisely pointed out that Jesus himself was a middle eastern insurgent who was arrested and tortured by the Empire for subversive actions. How then, could Jesus – or a follower of that same Jesus – approve of such behavior?

When it comes to torture, I would see it like this: There is “The Way of the World” and  “The Way of Christ.”

The Way of the World includes War, Torture, Politics, Violence, and displays of power exerted over others to achieve and succeed.

The Way of Christ includes, Love, Peace, Forgiveness, Mercy, Compassion, and displays of humility coming underneath others to bless and serve them and express the transformational love of Christ.

Either these two paths either run parallel – so that you can follow Christ and the World both at once – or these two paths run in opposite directions, and if so, you must forsake one to follow the other.

I believe Jesus taught that we cannot do both. We cannot serve both God and the World. To follow Christ we must “think again” (the root meaning of “repent”) and turn around and go in the opposite direction.

Those two paths are not parallel, they are in opposition to one another, and we who hope to follow Christ must turn around and walk in the opposite direction from the World to follow Christ.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24)

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to destruction.” (Proverbs 14:12)

So, we must choose. And if we must choose, then I choose the Way of Christ.

Jesus did not come to sanctify or Christianize the ways of the World, he came to overthrow them and replace them and to show us a better way.

Our mandate from Christ is to love. We are called to be peacemakers in a world filled with violence. We are called to the ministry of reconciliation in a world saturated with conflict.

Every Christian is under this calling. Every follower of Jesus is expected to obey His commands. As Jesus emphasizes when he asks, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things I say?” (Luke 6:46)

Jesus asks this question directly after he has commanded us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek (v. 27-29), so it’s not vague what he specifically has in mind when he asks this question.

Do we call Jesus our Lord? If so, how can we do that and ignore His commands to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us?

Answer: We cannot.

Either we are following Jesus, and therefore we obey His commands, or we are not following Jesus and we are free to do whatever we think is right in our own eyes.

But we cannot call ourselves Christians – followers of Christ – and flat out deny His clear commands to love our enemies, or defend those who practice cruelty, violence and toture.
 
To love Jesus is to obey Him. Those who love Jesus obey and those who do not love Jesus do not obey Him. Jesus was the first to point this out. (See John 14:15-24)

C.S. Lewis, through the voice of Aslan, put it this way: And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash (Satan) whom he serves.” (The Last Battle)

Choose you this day whom you shall serve. As for me and my house, we shall serve – and follow – the Way of Christ.

Peace,

-kg

 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Making Decisions In An Organic Church



One of my favorite memories from the early days of our house church was when we asked the children to lead our meeting. We told them in advance so they’d have time to prepare for this special day. We all anticipated this special morning together for several weeks, and then finally the day arrived.

I’ll never forget, after our usual breakfast and fellowship time, we all moved into the den for our share time. The kids all sat together and we waited to see what they would do.

Then one of them said, "Ok, does anyone have something to share with the group today?"

At first it threw us off a little, and then someone laughed out loud at the irony of it all as we realized what was happening: We had modelled the open meeting so well that their “leadership” of our meeting looked exactly the same! It wasn’t about who was leading. It was only about Jesus and what He was doing in our Body that morning.

As I sit down to write my installment of the “Why Churches Don’t Need Senior Pastors” blog series, I can’t help but recall that special morning when the kids taught us an important lesson – and it was the same lesson we had already taught them – Jesus is our only Head.

Some have suggested – even within the House Church Movement – that human leaders (spiritual parents, elders, pastors, etc.) are necessary for a “healthy” organic church to flourish. I don’t disagree in theory – but in practice I think it matters a whole lot what those “leaders” do or do not do, if we are going to truly experience the Headship of Christ in our midst.

Leadership is a spiritual gift. It’s right there in the New Testament alongside tongues, healing, miracles, teaching, etc. No doubt about that. And, yes, God does provide some who serve as “Pastors” (plural) in the Church.

But what a leader does – or does not – do in the gathering and among the members of the Body makes all the difference in the world.

Some things a leader, pastor, elder might do in the gathering are:

*Gently nudge the talkers to wait for the shy ones

*Gently nudge the shy ones to share what God has place on their hearts

*Initiate prayer for someone who is obviously in need or hurting

*Prayerfully remind the church family why we are here

*Point everyone back to Jesus

Here are some things a leader, pastor, elder should not do in the gathering:

*Tell people what to do

*Dominate the conversation

*Establish the order of service

*Get in the way of the Holy Spirit

*Attempt to create an environment that caters to their own personal bias

If I had to write a hundred page book about how to lead an open meeting in an Organic Church, it would contain 99 pages of “Things Not To Do” and only about a page of what you should be doing.

Why? Because the more we do, the less room we allow for Jesus to move and work in our midst.

But this blog series is all about answering the question: “Who Makes Decisions In An Organic Church?”, especially if there are no “Senior Pastors” around who can just tell us what to do.

Here’s the short answer: “Ask Jesus”.

The longer answer would contain a few suggestions about how to facilitate that in the gathering, but essentially you, as a church family, would take the time to pray together and wait on the Lord and see where and how He is leading you to act or move.

It would be faster to simply elect someone to make all those decisions for you. Obviously. But do you want expedience and efficiency, or do you want accuracy and obedience to Christ?

If your desire is to hear from the Lord, and if your church family really wants to experience Christ at the Head of the Body, then together as a Body you need to stop and listen to the Head, who is Christ. It’s really that simple.

There’s an African proverb that says: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.”

I would urge you, as a brother in Christ, not to go quickly, but to go together and to seek the Lord as a Church Family.

Does it work? Yes! It does work. It has worked several times in our own house church family, and it has worked spectacularly for others as well.

For example, one young couple who we know started an organic church recently after visiting with us only a few times. After their group had been together a few months, someone donated a large sum of money to them. Seeing as Organic Churches don’t need money to operate, they were unsure of what to do with the money. So, they came together and prayed and asked Jesus what they should do. Here’s what happened next:

“We bowed our heads and a few different people prayed aloud for wisdom and discernment for all of us to come to an agreement on what to do. After a long period of silence, we asked if the Spirit had put any specific direction on anyone’s heart. One woman spoke up and said, “I kept thinking of the numbers, 60-30-10″ and someone else said, “I sensed the numbers 600, 300, 100,” another “60-30-10,” and finally, a fourth, “6-3-1, double.”

“The woman who sensed “6-3-1, double” went on to explain that the 6 meant $600 and was to go to one need. The 3 meant $300 and was meant to go to the other need, and the 1 was $100 and needed to be kept back. The she went on and said something like, “The ‘double’ is because we are meant to give our own money and double what has been given to us because right now this gift hasn’t cost us anything and we are meant to give out of our own resources.”

“We returned to group dialogue to check with everyone’s spirit to make sure there weren’t any “red flags” in anyone’s hearts, and, surprisingly, everyone was on the same page. We were then able to discuss how to be people of generosity throughout the week and to plan to “double” what had been given to us by giving back to needs we experienced in our circles of influence.

“A sense of excitement and peace permeated that living room as we reflected on the fact that the Spirit had spoken, and not only that, but He had chosen to do so through different members of our group while the rest tested His voice. People remarked to one another that they felt a part of something significant and how amazing it was to observe and participate in the body responding to the movement of the Spirit.” [From “Sixty, Thirty, Ten, Double” by ChristaMcKirland]

The more your organic church practices this sort of thing, the more common and “normal” it will become. But it will only work if everyone in the church family works together to submit to the Holy Spirit, and to one another, to arrive at the answer that the Lord desires for you.

Who makes decisions in an Organic Church? Jesus does! He’s the Head. He’s the Senior Pastor. The rest of us are all brothers and sisters – and members of His Body – who submit to Christ as Lord, both in our personal lives, and in our corporate times together as a Family.

Once you hand all of this over to an expert or a Senior Pastor, it’s the last corporate decision your Church will ever make together.

Do you want to go far? Go together. Just make sure you’re all following Jesus.

-kg

NOTE: This blog is part of an ongoing series. Read the two previous posts by Jon Zens and Richard Jacobson HERE.
 

 

 

 
 

 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

2014: THE YEAR IN REVIEW



I always look forward to writing these “Year In Review” blog posts. It gives me a chance to refresh my memory about the blessings God has poured out on me over the last 365 days, and I’m always amazed how much favor is lavished on me by my Heavenly Father.

Fair warning, this is a long one so pour yourself a nice hot cuppa coffee, grab a chair and settle down for the long ride. 

Here we go!

MY TOP 10 BLOG POSTS OF 2014
As chosen by you, my readers, based on the number of page views received.

PAGE VIEWS: 13,018


PAGE VIEWS: 2,316

PAGE VIEWS: 763

PAGE VIEWS: 723

PAGE VIEWS: 705

PAGE VIEWS: 702

PAGE VIEWS: 635

PAGE VIEWS: 628

PAGE VIEWS: 609

PAGE VIEWS: 590

 **

OTHER COOL STUFF
There is life outside the blog you know.



*SIMPLE CHURCH: UNITY WITHIN DIVERSITY
I was honored to be invited to share a chapter in this book which features 23 other authors, bloggers and thinkers – all involved in Simple Church. So far the book is already in the Top 10 at Amazon and it only just published! Yowzers.

My chapter in this book was about how our little house church got started and how we give 100 percent of our offering away to the poor in our community and how our motel ministry started.


*HOUSE2HOUSE MAGAZINE
I was also very blessed to help launch the new and improved House2 House Magazine in an online format late last year and it grew into something pretty awesome in 2014.

Very proud of this little online magazine.

*MOTEL CHURCH
We had some very, very troubling and difficult times this season, but we endured and emerged stronger in the process. Here’s hoping – and praying – for a much less dramatic year in 2015.

One of the most amazing things that happened at the Motel Church this year was what God did with Tommy.

Sometimes God does something so beautiful and so amazing all you can do is just sit back and smile. This was one of the highlights of the year for me.


*PODCAST
It was pretty cool to do interviews, and thanks to our one and only donor, Layton Lynch, we were able to purchase a BlogTalkRadio premium account for a few months in order to do just that. Thanks, Layton!

PODCAST INTERVIEWS
I interviewed some pretty incredible people this year on my Subversive Podcast:









"WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT CONSTANTINE?" THE AL BAKER DIALOGS:
It was a great blessing to get to know NT scholar, Al Baker, through a series of podcasts about Constantine and his impact on the modern church today.

PART 1


 **
THE BLOG SERIES OF 2014:
Sometimes there’s a topic that requires more than a single post.
These are the ones I spent the most time on in 2014.

“WHO MAKES DECISIONS IN ORGANIC CHURCH?”
This is still ongoing, but so far it’s been a blast to collaborate with Neil Cole, Richard Jacobsen, Dan Herford, and Jon Zens to discuss the concept of making decisions in an organic church setting. Richard’s video was a great kick-off which spawned some great discussion and I can’t wait to read what everyone else has to say. Plus, we’ll wrap it all up with a video Skype round table.



THE SEASON OF LOVE BLOG SERIES
A series of blog posts about how love is our mandate from Christ and how loving your enemy begins with learning to love like Jesus.










THE DIDACHE [PODCAST SERIES]
This First Century document, which pre-dates the Gospels, was used by the Disciples and the early Christian church to train those who wanted to become followers of Jesus and the Way of Life.

PART 1




DISPENSATIONALISM REFUTED [PODCAST SERIES]
Way back in the 1800's, John Nelson Darby invented a crazy system of theology called "Dispensationalism". Coincidentally, the same year that Joseph Smith introduced his crazy theology called "Mormonism". Sadly, Darby's "connect-the-dots" theology has now become the dominant view of the Church in the West. Here's why you shouldn't swallow it.
PART 1

PART 2




JESUS THE PROPHET [PODCAST SERIES]
A study of the Olivet Discourse from a Partial Preterist perspective.





ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH [PODCAST SERIES]
What's worse? To replace Israel with the Church, or to replace Jesus with a religion and Nation State that denies he is the Messiah? Let's discuss.
*THE OBSOLETE OLD TESTAMENT





AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS

*VIDEOS

OUT OF BUSINESS [video]

My collaboration with Richard Jacobsen on the “Out Of Business” video was very well received and is something I’ve quite happy with.






*

GUEST BLOG POSTS
Sometimes it’s good to hear from other voices. This year we had some excellent guest posts.



So blessed to have my youngest son contribute a blog post.

I am always blessed to hear from my Indian friend, Vilbert. But this post is my all-time favorite.

*MARY EMILY DUBA: “THE INCARNATION OF LOVE”
Honestly, I watch this video about once a week. It’s really such a beautiful expression of the peace-making work of Christ. Maybe one day I can interview Mary? Hope so.


*

*SILVER ADDY AWARDS
Several of my creative projects at work (where I write marketing and advertising copy for technology vendors like Cisco, Microsoft, etc.) were recognized, including:

MICROSOFT: 78 UNFAMOUS PEOPLE [VIDEO 1]



MICROSOFT: 78 UNFAMOUS PEOPLE [VIDEO 2]





*CISCO: FLY HIGHER VIDEO
http://subversive1.blogspot.com/2014/05/video-fly-higher.html



*APC: POWER IS OUR MIDDLE NAME VIDEO
http://subversive1.blogspot.com/2014/05/power-is-our-middle-name.html



MY PERSONAL FAVORITE BLOG POSTS OF 2014
I know there’s a Top 10 list already. But these are MY favorite blog posts. Shouldn’t they be yours too?









*ULTIMATE NINJA JESUS [PODCAST]: This is one of my personal favorites.

**

COMING SOON: 2015
Who knows what the future holds? “If the Lord wills…” these are the things I hope to put my hands to in 2015:

*NEW COVENANT BOOK
I’ve been stewing and percolating on this one all year long. Hope to get started writing this during the Holiday and finish it mid-year in 2015.

*LEADERSHIP BOOK
The only way to finally get everything off my chest about this insane “Christian Leadership” movement is to write my own book about what true New Testament Leaders look like.

*PACIFIST FIGHT CLUB
My plan is to have quarterly PFC gatherings in 2015. So, we’ll kick things off in February with a PFC Movie Night and watch “Dirty Wars” together. Details soon.

*MOTEL CHURCH
I am praying right now about how to engage more with people like Tommy and Jim and a few others who, technically, are homeless and do not live/stay at the motel but still participate and serve at the motel. These guys are hungry for the Word of God, desperate for connection, and interested in growing nearer to Christ. Seems like a good idea to put my hands to that!

*MISSION HOUSE CHURCH
I think the Lord is urging me to abandon myself more to Himself and to really let go and learn to love others and allow others to love me. Our house church family is the best place to start with that.

*MORE PODCASTING
I’ve really loved doing these podcasts and so we’ll continue to do more of these in the year ahead.

*MORE COLLABORATION
One thing I’ve learned this year is that working and partnering with like-minded people is much more interesting and rewarding, and ultimately more impactful, than just writing and working all by myself. The Round Table podcast with Neil, Jon, Herb, and Kent was so amazing, and the current blog series on making decisions in Organic Church with Jon, Richard, Dan and Neil is also creating great conversations. Plus, the multiple authors approach of the book “Simple Church” where I got to contribute a chapter alongside some of my favorite bloggers, authors and thinkers, was an incredible experience. So, in the year to come I want to collaborate with more people! More round tables, more gatherings, more linked blog conversations, etc. Next year will be the year of Collaboration.

*PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
For my birthday this year I invited a handful of guys who resonate with me and inspire me. It was a great blessing for all of us and we all expressed a desire to do this kind of thing more often. So, we will.

*

THANK YOU!
One thing I really, really want to do is to say “THANK YOU!” so much for reading my blog, listening to my podcasts, watching the occasional video, and sharing my posts with your friends and family. Writing in a vacuum is no fun. But hearing feedback from all of you means so much to me. In fact, I keep a folder called “Warm Fuzzies” where I save each and every comment and word of encouragement I receive from you guys. It’s true! You guys keep me going when I sometimes feel like giving up.

I look forward to where the Lord takes us in 2015. I hope you’ll be along for the ride.

Peace,
Keith

Thursday, December 04, 2014

TURN! TURN! KILL?




There's a famous song written by Pete Seeger, yet popularized by The Byrds way back in 1965, called "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

You've probably heard it before. It takes the words from Ecclesiastes, chapter 3 and sets them to a groovy tune and says:


“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up…

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”


 On Saturday of last week, driving around in our car, my family sang along to this one. The next day, when our church family came together, one of our members actually referenced the song and read from the verses in Ecclesiastes where the song is derived.

That made me think.

What especially hit me was how often I hear Christians refer to this verse as a way to justify violence. "It says in the Bible, 'there's a time for war and a time for peace; a time to kill and a time to heal', so obviously God makes room for violence when it's necessary," people will say.

But is that really so?

I would argue that there is a time for war and a time for peace, but that Jesus (our Lord) has established for us what "time" it is now.

Jesus showed up and announced that the Kingdom of God had come. Then he gave us - his followers - a very specific command: "Love one another."

Next, Jesus commanded us not to hate our enemies, but to love them.

Then, he rebuked Peter for using a sword by saying, "Put that away! Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword."

Then he told Pilate "My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were my disciples would fight."

So while there may very well be a "time to kill" and a "time for war", Jesus has made it very clear that we are now living in a "time of peace" and "a time to love".

The question is: Are we following Jesus?

One last thought: What if our Judgment Day before the Lord Jesus consists of Him calling our enemies forward to ask them if we loved them as He commanded us to do?

What would they say?

How would we defend our lack of obedience?

The time for love is now. We are in a season of love, not a season of war or hate.

Let's get busy loving.

-kg

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

PODCAST [Subversive Radio] WHO DECIDES? ORGANIC CHURCH LEADERSHIP



Is the idea of a church without a Senior Pastor unbiblical? Do we need "Spiritual Parents" to guide us? Or was Jesus serious when He said, "Not so with you!" regarding the practice of lording over one another in the Church?

Listen as Keith responds to a recent post from house church leader, John White who believes that human leaders are necessary for healthy churches to grow.