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Showing posts from 2009

Trading Blindness for Kindness

Today's opening pitch... The fruits of the Spirit.

Yes, most of us can recite them from memory or have the general jist at least; however, one fruit has defiantly distinguished itself in my mind, given a) its history of being sharply undermined and b) possessing an importance seldom (and partially) communicated.

So without much further ado.

Kindness.

A deep fruit we'd rather keep superficial and somewhat cursory. First off, we tend to give gravity to kindness as virtue, as compared to fruit or gift. Typically we'd rather associate kindness to hospitality and chivalry, while imprudently shaking kindness free of its deserving value.

Let's bring out our Scriptural contestants.

I Corinthians 13:4-5 - "Love suffers long (is patient) and is kind...love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek it own, is not provoked, thinks no evil..." (NKJV)

Paul's love talk introduction to the Corinthians here seeks to designate …

Breaking Down Communion as Worship

Breaking down Hebrews 10:19-22 in three points:

Opening Question: Communion - How do most perceive the word/action?
Opening Answer: Commemorating, remembrance, conviction + repentance, etc.

Commonly overlooked element: Worship (see note on #3)

1) v. 19 - "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus..." (KJV)

Boldness in Greek implies freedom-based assurance. The key is realizing such freedom stems from sanctification, a vertical displacement from sin on route to holiness. Sanctification, at its core, involves divine separation.

Symbolic representation: the split veil

2) v. 20 - "By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through [that] veil, that is to say, his flesh..." (KJV)

Communion leads to a consecration before God in acknowledging Christ's death in relation to both personal and corporate sin. Similarly to God's love initiative to man, the Cross was His sanctifying drive, His precedented pursuit…

Oh, You of What Faith!?!

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My latest lesson with LEGACYouth took on a new facet/attribute of God's character, due in part to a solid hook I noted from analyzing both 'Jesus vs. sea' accounts in Matthew 8:23-27 and Matthew 14:22-36.

The first account has Jesus in the fishing boat when calming the mighty Sea of Galilee, the latter has him out walking ON the same body of water, intending to pass his disciples by!

Now I'm not here to repeat a history lesson, for I'm sure most of you know what takes place in each story. However, the key passage I want to harp on momentarily is the legendary Jesus line: "Oh, you of LITTLE faith."

Some translations, discussion boards, and documentaries shed false light on this trademark line by referring Jesus' words as Oh, you of NO faith."

But it's important to recognize the difference between "no" and "little" here. I feel distinguishing the difference can open the door for both accounts to be seen on a higher pla…

Raw Verisimilitude

I’ve been marveling lately over the recoursed voyage the past five/six months (Not to sound as if my vertical climb has evaded the sporadic rocky rumbles).

Truth is the striking reality of my ‘now’ subsists in the fact I can vaguely relate to yore-ish (long-ago) thoughts, feelings, and taxing mentalities I once carried, and with that, I rejoice and exult in this fresh season of elation.

Yes, coming back to Lee had clear, principal value.

However, the sound of a bittersweet symphony has not gone unnoticed either.

For as much as I still treasure the relationships and character/skill-growth opportunities that underscored my Lee ‘term’, eluding the scar-producing memories I still see in the mirror has proven rather grueling, as if trying to pry free from a thorny bush, with no evidence of its former fruit.

Yet, such a veracity has run thick through my veins: the past four days have reminded me how much I’ve moved on.

It’s an alien feeling no doubt, but one that has brought incredibl…

The Case of Philemon

A few hours post-Gate men's retreat, I am stirringly convinced that Philemon is the most underrated book in the New Testament.

A thorough analysis of the book is enough to present and pose the argument.

In our group discussion/lecture (led by Pastor Jeff Ling), which included a steady diet of background, content, and application, Paul's appeal to the wealthy slaveowner, Philemon, on behalf of slave, Onesimus, set as the cornerstone of our Scriptural examination.

Two concepts/ideas captured my attention during our pursuit in Philemon:

1) Paul reaffirmed his position as a prisoner of Christ, not once, not twice, but four times in his letter! This is imperative to understand since Paul desired Philemon to understand how both slave and slaveowner are equal before God (see Gal. 3:28). Also, though this epistle classifies primarily as a "personal letter", Paul acknowledges Timothy's presence in part to indicate his want for Philemon's church to receive the message…

The Adamant Fig Tree

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A question came to me the other night concerning why Jesus cursed the fig tree post-triumphal entry in Mark 11.

While I succeeded in providing an adequate answer on the spot, I knew further research was in store to suffice my mental impatience/eagerness.
So today at work I managed to uncover a few fresh nuggets of insight…
Like several other instances in the Bible, the account of Jesus scolding the fig tree appears rather random, maybe not ‘Prayer of Jabez’ random, but haphazard nonetheless…at least at first glance.

But boy, how sweet and simple it is to perform a quick front and backcheck when reading the Scriptures.
A frontcheck reveals Jesus was on his way to cleaning out the ‘temple rats.’

A backcheck shows Jesus had just entered Jerusalem on a ‘virgin colt’ (had never been ridden before) on route to the temple for what would be his final week of life/mission on earth.

Before Jesus approaches the temple, the Bible says in v. 12, that Jesus was hungry and noticed a fig tree in leaf…

The Great Tragedy of Divorce

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Last Saturday as I waited to board my Midway flight to Seattle, a heartbreaking scene unfolded outside the gate entrance. As I conversed on a phone call, my eyes beheld a young boy clinching his father's jacket, bawling and sobbing despondently. Upon processing the scene, I suddenly became cognizant of the situation.

The dad, slightly greasy and decored with an array of tatoos and sleazy outdoorsmen garments, clearly emanated the "incompetent father" appeal. Seemingly indifferent to incompleteness, his emotional aroma smelled more of mere melancholy than actual devastation. Perhaps time and unseen circumstances had numbed the grief.
As I watched tears stream down his son's face, I couldn't help but crack. The pure yet raw emotion of the instant combined to produce a snapshot in time I can (and will) never forget.

Moments later, as I searched for a window seat on board, there was the boy, only a few rows in front of me. I heard a flight attendant utter his name…

Thoughts on Robert Clinton's "The Making of a Leader"

Reflecting further on leadership guidance and ministry maturing the past few days, three critical points in Robert Clinton's concluding chapters in "The Making of a Leader" stuck out.

In discussing multi-phase ministry processes, Clinton provides insight to what he calls negative preparation, a process item that involves God's use of conflict and hardship. The purpose of negative preparation is to break and humble a leader in a way that launches him/her into greater freedom. As negative preparation is experienced, God can use the time to develop perseverance and integrity in either an emerging or seasoned leader.Clinton admits that despite its necessity, this particular component of guidance processing is not meant to be viewed as an easy escape for those who often place themselves in difficult situations. Instead, the emphasis should be focused on release and "new season" preparation.

Negative preparation essentially leads to brokenness - a pathway to grea…

"The God They Never Knew" Book Review

In "The God They Never Knew", George Otis sheds light on his interpretation of grace and its relation to real faith. Upon inspection, many readers can agree he offers a solid understanding of what grace looks like in addition to how it should be interpreted and applied.

First off, he dismisses the idea of salvation having to be paid for, citing this notion as a major division in the modern day church. He notes that if Jesus paid for our sins, then forgiveness is impossible by means of retributive justice, a lacking of mercy and compassion. Many denominational splits occur over the concept of grace. Believers associate the ultimate debt of sin as having been paid for on the cross. Interestingly enough, many of those believers claim to abide by forgiveness and grace, which contradict the point Otis is making in his book.

Grace cannot be understood in terms of penance, and Otis captures the idea by comparing release to fulfillment. Grace loses purpose and meaning if God slaps …

The Case for Discipleship

Today's generation of young adults have slackened in their passion and faith, having strayed from God's calling as true disciples. Discipleship, as well as mentoring, have been negatively impacted by the distractive influence of a materialistic culture fueled by media and peer pressure.

Passion has been replaced by passivity. Students, teenagers, and young adults alike have forgotten what a hunger for God looks like, and why it's essential to the Spirit-filled life. Young adults are spiritually starving but have lost the sense to recognize the urgency for Jesus. And ultimately, even in the case for most Christians, the idea of an active, passionate, and vertical relationship with the Lord has been abandoned - forgetting a love relationship with Christ is the only aspect of life where one can both be filled and hungry simultaneously.

Christians are struggling to define and live out hunger - an unbinding, unshakable desire to experience and connect with God. Hunger is an el…

Keys to Effective Leadership

Effective leadership calls for a collection of certain active qualities, either developing or fixed, that are rooted in the Word. Whether in an entry, training or mature ministry stage, successful leadership must have a face with select features. In analyzing its facets, leadership can be boiled down to four main principles and characteristics: 1) An understanding and knowledge of authority and submissiveness illustrated by the walk and life of Jesus 2) Consistency in complete obedience 3) Faithfulness and devoted drive in light of challenging circumstances 4) Daily repentance as a lifestyle.

The following is not merely a set of instructions on how a leader should act and behave; it is a God-centered outline in keeping a vertical relationship with the Lord alive and animate.

Whether by dominant leading or influence by example (following), a leader must live out an understanding of biblical authority. In ministry, Jesus modeled authority by humility, submission and integrity, weaved to…

The Making of Mentorship

I can't imagine life without mentorship.

Not only is it foundational in terms of discipleship, but it bears unique power to shape, mold, influence, and counsel. Many of us are who we are due to appointed people who guided and crafted our minds and hearts when we were younger.

To counsel, at its core, is to extend God's authority to others, strengthened by the ability to relate and associate.

And tonight, as I craft Sunday's lesson plan, I'm reminded how essential it is to integrate reality with personal application, whether story telling or outside interaction. A wise man recently told me that to be "real" is the highest compliment a leader can receive, largely in part it provides weight and lift to being a genuinely imitable disciple of Christ. Our ability to model the Gospel is heavily handicapped if one lacks the aptitude and drive to be real to others.

This past week, I've continued to ride the waves of last week's trip to California, an excursio…

A New Battlefield

Calm are my seas now, my course reset.

The directory has indeed altered, but time and placement have become allies again.

I'm starring out on a familiar setting, sincerely decomposed from the past four months. The year has truly been a jaded battle fought on estranged territory. And yet I feel almost victorious by some miracle, no doubt sustained by redeeming grace and surpassing faithfulness.

With my days at Lee officially sealed, I've begun to find myself again. Amidst the rubble, I've seen new light. And for the first time in months, I'm believing again.

All year long my resolve has been tested and tried.

Coming into this final semester, having been rebuilt and retooled in 2008 in making the leap from battered vagabond to illuminated pillar, I found myself standing at the pinnacle of my college career. I felt confident and complete, a byproduct of cohesion with more inspiriting and synergetic people.
The climb back to wholeness that highlighted much of last fa…