The Gospel as the Foundation for Racial Reconciliation

Thanks, Urban Apologetics Community

I am honored to be leading a workshop at our National Conference. The topic is 

“The Gospel as the Foundation for Racial Reconciliation”

Under-represented groups continuously cry against injustice and inequality throughout our societies. Sin is the cause of injustice and inequity. As an immigrant from Jamaica, I will begin with my own story of learning about racial injustice and inequality in the USA. We will seek to lay out a pattern for racial reconciliation and justice based on our dependence on God’s Word. First, we will look at the issue by addressing the:

  • A pattern of racial reconciliation in the Scriptures
  • The rise of the inferiority myth
  • The black church and the backdrop of the black experience

Then we will suggest some ways to address systematic injustice and racial reconciliation by:

  • Addressing the Biblical Kingdom agenda
  • Prophetically declaring the Kingdom impact on the culture
  • Incorporating urban apologetics in our theological discipline
  • Practically addressing structural changes that are needed

No matter where we emigrate and what injustice we face, God has provided the right balance to deal with these issues. We are all made in the image of God. We are recipients of reconciliation by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We, therefore, have the suitable characteristics to lead reconciliation.

I want to thank Damion R, Adan Coleman, Jerome Gay Jr., Toney Evans, Dr. Eric Mason, Voddie Baucham Jr., and the Urban Apologist Community for resources that served as receipts to this workshop.

Several years ago, I needed information relating to Africa’s contribution to Christianity. I also wanted to be more informed about the rise of the Black conscious community and the Black Religious Cults. Also, this was in part to counter the statement “Christianity is a white man’s religion.” I was introduced to Brother Damion, who introduced me to Tomas Oden’s book, “How Africa Shaped the Christian mind. That started my journey into unbelievable discovery and understanding.

This introduction was the tip of the spare. I later got connected with the Urban Apologetics Community ( and Jude 3 Project. From there, I connected with Adam Coleman. This brother is the real deal.

Thanks to everyone for your invaluable contribution to my workshop.

The Gospel Message: Contextualization (Acts 10)

The Colonial Era Model of missions continues to today according to Paul G. Hiebert’s essay, The Gospel in Human Context. “The Churches that were planted during the Colonial Era emulated western Churches in theology, worship and Church polity.” Critical Contextualization is necessary in missionary endeavors. “The gospel must be Biblical but relevant to the context. If the early missionaries adjusted too little, these missionaries in the twentieth century accommodated too freely and the result was syncretism.”[1] Every culture possesses both good and evil, and Christianity has the potential to transcend any cultural ethos if the missionaries are allowed by the Church to do so. Even in church-planting efforts, contextualization must be an active part of the planters’ consideration. A new paradigm, or a rediscovered paradigm, has emerged. According to Paul G. Hiebert’s essay, The Gospel in Human Context, “In recent years Evangelical missiologists, especially anthropologists, have emphasized the importance of contextual hermeneutics. A contextual hermeneutics seeks to interpret the scriptures in a way that is Biblically correct but also culturally appropriate and relevant. This approach reflects the importance of the two hermeneutical questions: what did the Biblical text mean originally and what does this text mean for us today.”[2] According to Hiebert, what we need is a more “contextual hermeneutics & critical contextualization that must be informed by Holy Scriptures, guided by the Holy Spirit and discerned by the Church” if we are going to be true to the Great Commission.

In the essay by Paul G. Hiebert, he identified several types of contextualization.[3] Hiebert posited that contextualization is a critical aspect of missions. I agree with him that all of us participate in some aspects of contextualization. The world is at our doorstep, and we have to minister to people within their context without losing the essence of the Biblical message. Hiebert argues that there are “changing perceptions of contextualization among missionaries and missions scholars. Missions must include social, historical, personal and other contexts in which people are living.” He maintained that minimal contextualization is when one is unaware of the contexts in which they live or the depth to which these contexts shape how and what they think.[4] He continues to define uncritical contextualization where there is a watered-down presentation of the gospel leading to syncretism[5] (“This would mean the “old religion” would become mixed in with the new Biblical faith and that culture would have more authority than revelation.[6] Critical contextualization tends to seek a balanced approach to which missionary interactions with societies is both true to the Bible and sensitive to the cultures of the particular people group”) and Divine revelation given in human context.

In Acts 10, we see that the Holy Spirit was the guiding hand in this missionary endeavor and that the message was all about Jesus Christ. Peter did not go to Cornelius with a message of cultural change, but one of spiritual revolution. Good deeds do not complete the conversion process, but a full acceptance of the person and work of Jesus does. It was at this point in the message that the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his friends and family who were present. Lawrence O. Richards in his book The Bible Readers Companion said,

The fact that Gentiles were given this gift, just as the apostles had been on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2), was proof of God’s acceptance of Gentiles into the Church. Peter’s phrase “at the beginning” (v. 15) suggests that this event was unusual because it involved Gentiles, and speaking in tongues, γλώσσαις (glossolalia), was not a common phenomenon in the early church.[7]

It was at the introduction of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Scriptural prophecies that the Holy Spirit did what only He could do; He came into their hearts, anointing them with the evidence of other tongues, γλώσσαις (glossolalia). In Acts 10:43, Peter said about Jesus, “He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”

Before an invitation was given, the Spirit already readied the heart of Cornelius, filled him and anointing him. This process of the Anointing of the Holy Spirit began way back in Acts 10:1. It was evident in Matthew 4 at the introduction of Jesus’ ministry and at His baptism by John the Baptist. Cornelius saw something among the Jews that moved him. He practiced two out of the three virtues of the Jews at that time: prayer, alms giving, and fasting. He was obedient to the Holy Spirit and now as the full counsel of the gospel was being revealed he accepted and as a sign of God’s acceptance of this Gentile He gave them His Spirit with the sign of the γλώσσαις (glossolalia). Since these two men, the seeker and the messenger, were obedient to the direction of the Holy Spirit, Acts 12 indicated that The Good News spread rapidly, and many more became believers. The message Cornelius heard was the same message that was preached in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”[8] This is the gospel message; that there is salvation only through Jesus Christ. This salvation requires that one repents as stated in Acts 3:19 and accept Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior as seen in Acts 4:12. Here we have seen the gospel being presented in context of the culture; however, the message did not change and the requirements remained.

When we examine the ministry of Paul, we can see that he was born in a Hellenistic Greek culture, Tarsus; he was a Jew and Roman citizen. To add to the complexity of contextualization as stated in Acts 22:3, “he was educated under Gamaliel as a strict Pharisee?”[9] Yet we can learn a lot from the apostle’s presentation of truth that was based on Jesus Christ, and he was more concerned, I think, with critical contextualization of the gospel. Paul did not stray from the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He has provided a way for sinners to reconnect with God through conversion. In Acts 17, we witness Paul on Mars’ Hill, the pinnacle of philosophy, as he gently used their context to present the Gospel. Paul looked around and noticed how religious they were and pointed them to Jesus by speaking in their context. This method can be seen throughout the Pauline Epistles. It is very noticeable in Luke’s writings in Acts 15, about the story of Peter and Cornelius. On the Day of Pentecost Peter preached a sermon that had its basis in the life, work and teachings of Jesus Christ (Acts 3). What developed later was an institution that formed the basis of what we call Church today. The challenge that the early Church faced was how to contextualize the gospel. In the story of Peter and Cornelius this was evident. It took the revelation of the Holy Spirit to transform Peter.

Presenting the Gospel has to be strategic, holistic, and deliberate. This requires meeting persons in their context and applying the gospel contextually. There is a physical and a spiritual dimension to mission and the Church; if it is going to be effective we cannot continue to present a one-sided Gospel. I agree to some degree with Hoekendijk as he challenged missionaries to identify and integrate with the suffering masses, seeking to realize God’s shalom on earth, but he fell short of advocating for a holistic approach inclusive of the Church.[10] He went to the left of the evangelical community and focused on social, economic, and political liberation and less on the church as the vehicle to present the gospel message. Holistic approaches to mission are demonstrated in countries like Africa and Latin America; Asian church leaders have embraced Creation Care, an environment mission’s agency hosted by God and Creation conference in Kenya. In a recent article in the Christian Today magazine-July 2010, a “faith-based model”, in Mieze, Mozambique, they “teach rural poor how to use trade to rise out of poverty”. The founders of the program (Iris Ministries), Don Kantel and his wife, said, “We are determined to create a holistic model for transforming life among Africa’s poorest families through job creation and evangelistic outreach”.[11] Here, they were strategic and deliberate while maintaining a holistic approach to mission. They show the communities how to become self-sufficient economically and at the same time teach them about the life-transforming message of the Bible. In a unique way “the project brings together farming, animal husbandry, long-term orphan care, education, and newly planted church, all in a sustainable way with indigenous leaders”, a mission geared towards orphans and vulnerable children. As we bring the Gospel to the world we have to be aware of the context but we have to be anchored in a strong scriptural foundation.


[1] Paul G. Hiebert. The Gospel In Human Context, 100.

[2] Ibid., 101

[3] Paul G. Hiebert. The Gospel In Human Context, 82 – 94.

[4] Paul G. Hiebert. The Gospel In Human Context, 84.

[5] Ibid., 89 – 91 and 107

[6] A. Scott Moreau, Harold Netland and Charles van Engen, Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Baker Books; A. Scott Moreau, 2000), 226.

[7] Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Readers Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 718.

[8] W. Hall Harris, III, The Lexham English Bible (Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2010), Ac 2:36.

[9] Logos Bible Software. (Access 2010) – Make of Logos Bible Software.

[10] Johannes Christiaan Hoekendijk, The Church Inside Out, (London: Scm Press, 1967), 25-31.

[11] Cassandra Soars, “A Hand Up,” Christian Today, July 2010, 13.

The Gospel Message: Peter’s Address – Acts 10:34-43

The gospel message is all about Jesus and what He did and is going to do.  Peter summarized this in Acts 10:37-41.  The commission to go and preach was given by Jesus in Acts 1 and the authority and power to preach was given in Acts 2.  The revelation for mission was given in Acts 10 that laid the foundation for the selection of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:2 where the Holy Spirit instructed, after they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.”  Paul later became the face of missions to the Gentile world.  The gospel must be grounded in the Bible and consist of the message of Jesus’ life, work, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return.  Those who have first received the Gospel Message must carry out this message, and the Church is the organism that has been authorized to deliver this message.  The work of the Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus in John 16:6-11, is clearly at work in the story of Peter and Cornelius.   Jesus said But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”  The Holy Spirit was going to convict the world, in this case Cornelius.  In the case of Peter, the Spirit’s ministry of guidance and revelation of truth was demonstrated. Finally, the Spirit wanted Peter to present Jesus to Cornelius. This ministry of representation, according to John, is demonstrated through us who represent Christ here on earth.

We understand that the gospel message is sent to the world, not just to one group of people.   Matthew 28:20 said, “go into all the world” and in Acts 1 it gave more detail as to the meaning of the world: “And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Again we see the Holy Spirit taking the lead in first equipping the messengers before they were sent.  Those in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost were anointed by the Holy Spirit and sent to bring the Gospel message.  They sometimes struggled with the fact that many were accepting this message, but that did not stop the spread of the Gospel.  Peter was one who struggled with seeing the world outside of Jerusalem and the Jewish context.

The Holy Spirit however, gave him a lesson; this lesson was that God is impartial and all need the Gospel.  As the Holy Spirit taught Peter, we need to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts on this matter as stated in Acts 10:15, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”  We are to be willing to take the gospel message to the world, and have no exception.  Once Peter understood the message, he was able to go into Cornelius’ home and present the gospel and fellowshipped.  This was a remarkable accomplishment, a Jew not only going into a Gentile’s home, but he was staying for a while and eating with them.  The food was not declared clean by Mosaic Law but by the fulfillment of the Laws through Jesus Christ.  He was truly a missionary.  A missionary is simply a messenger, bringing the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.  As we endeavor to bring the gospel and assume the mantle of a missionary, there must be an understanding of contextualization of the gospel, wherein the message does not change, but the application of the message in the local context will vary.  This is true of Paul in Acts 17 when he spoke to the Athenians about their monument to the unknown God.  Paul used their context and presented the Gospel.  In the July 2010 Christianity Today issue in the article, “Love where you live”, J. R. Kerr said, “A city gets transformed when neighborhoods marked by the gospel are redeemed.  To do that, we need to stay 20 or 30 years.”[1]  This missionary enterprise is an investment, or a life commitment.

[1] Collin Hasen, “Love Where You Live” Christianity Today, July 2010, 36.

Easter Challenge: The Cross and the Grave

The challenge of Easter that Jesus faced was a triple challenge; He faced the Gethsemane Challenge involved submitting to His Father’s will, Calvary’s Challenge was about paying the ultimate price and the Grave’s Challenge was to leave a lasting evidence of the completed work of redemption and His promised return. Luke documented this in Acts 10:38-42,

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on he third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”

Our response to these challenges is to first submit ourselves to God’s will even when it does not seem clear.  As we face the challenges of our various situations let us imitate Jesus’ behavior.  We can apply these 6 principles to any challenge that we are facing.  I pray that you will allow the Easter Challenge to realign you to the will of God.  For this realignment to occur you must (Matthew 26):

  1. Find a place where you could meet God – verse 36
  2. You must meet your challenges with prayer – verse 36-39
  3. You should have people around you during your challenge – verse 37
  4. You should share your burden or challenges with your intercessory friends – verse 38
  5. You should separate yourself in order to be alone with God the Father – verse 38- 39
  6. Once you are alone with God submitted to His will for your life – verse 39-46

This Easter will you face your challenge with a resolve like Jesus did, will you say I would do what God’s will is for my life.

Good Friday is a day that we focused on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  What a challenge Jesus faced on that cross.  This is the Calvary’s Challenge (Matthew 28:21-59) as documented by Luke in Luke 23:39-43, One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Calvary’s’ Challenge was that Jesus had to pay the ultimate price for mankind’s redemptions.  This payment is to bring us back into a right relationship with God.  This was not an easy task; only one that was perfect could have satisfied this ransom.  On the cross Jesus faced:

  • Rejection
  • Loneliness
  • Betrayal
  • False accusation
  • Pain physical and spiritual
  • Death

His disciples abandoned Him; the people that were healed were outnumbered by the shouts of those that were in the crowd; crucify Him.  Those that did not abandoned Him followed close by but it was a stranger that helped Him carry the cross.  They humiliated Jesus, they beat Jesus, they cursed at Him, they mocked Him, and the rejected Him.

John writes in John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

We have to respond to Jesus’ death on Calvary.  This response is both active and passive.  Whither we publicly acknowledge or privately deny or turn away from the call of Calvary we are responding to the Calvary’s Challenge.  This challenge says I died for you, I paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you can become one with God the Father.   Jesus faced death for you and I and we must respond to this demonstration of LOVE.

The two thieves that were crucified with Jesus, one on the right and one on the left both had an opportunity to respond to Calvary’s Challenge.  In their response one was ushered into paradise and one was ushered into eternal damnation (Luke 23:39-41).  In a society like the one we now live in, we are faced with a selfish spirit that seems to permeate the atmosphere.  Like the first thief many are only seeking their own pleasure.  They do not consider your plight.  All they want is for you to satisfy them.  Like Jesus we Christians are commanded to love others and look out for the wellbeing of others.

Jesus demonstrated this on the cross, in Luke 23 verse 27-31, Luke state, “ and there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say,  ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” ESV

He also commended His mother and brother into each other care.  In His death He was looking out for others.  John said in John 19:26-27 “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” KJV

As an indication that the price was paid, Jesus told the thief that today you would be with me in Paradise.  This indicated that salvation purchase was complete. The symbol of the cross is one that constantly reminds us that ultimate love is calling us into a relationship. Today, what will your response be?  While there are many debates as to the resurrection the fact that Jesus died is never in doubt.  I will even dare to say that if Calvary was the finale we still would have to answer the call of Calvary.  While Jesus’ death paid for our sins, the grave left us an evidence of this purchase.

Grave’s Challenge was to left us a lasting reminder of the purchased redemption and Jesus promised return.  If Jesus had only died and not rose from the grave many would dismiss His deity and power.  They would say many prophets and great leaders lived, they did good deeds, and died but their bodies are in the grave they are still dead.  But thank God the empty grave is evidence that Jesus is the risen Lord.  The challenge was his to face on Calvary but the rest was for the Father to do.  Jesus’ obedience to the Fathers’ will led Him to Calvary, His Father exalted Him by raising Him from the Grave and accepted Him into heaven to His rightful place at His right Hand.  Once you have met the Gethsemane and Calvary challenges then the Grave is no challenge for you.  You and I must know that our responses to God’s overt demonstration of love will put us in a position where we do not have to fair Sin, Hell, Death and the Grave (1 Corinthians 1:50-58).

Jesus rose triumphantly from the Grave.  When we inspect the grave we can see that there was no fight to get out of the grave.  Jesus rose with all power.  The Roman elite solders were gone, the sealed tomb was open, the burial cloth was wrapped neatly and laid to the side, and most of all Jesus was not there, He was raised.  Many saw him and touched Him after the resurrection.  The evidence is clear, the empty tomb and a risen body. The Grave’s Challenge for Jesus was to leave a lasting reminder of the completion of the restoration process and to leave us a reminder that He will return for those that have accepted the challenges of Easter.  With the empty grave Jesus demonstrated that He has all power, He accomplished the plan, He was victorious over man’s three greatest enemies sin, death and the grave.

The evidences are glaring; we placed a dead body in the grave, left the best guards to watch the grave on penalty of their lives, the disciples were all disperse because of fear and now three days later we have an empty grave.  We cannot deny the evidences and these evidences have left us a constant reminder that Jesus loves us so much that He paid the ransom for us thereby bringing us back into a right relationship with God the Father.  And He has sealed our redemption and secured our place in eternity in the presence of God the Father.

In Conclusion we must respond to the Easter Challenge.  What then is the real meaning of Easter?  Why was it necessary for Jesus to have left Heaven, lived among humans, demonstrated His power and love, died, buried, raised, ascended and promised to return?  It is about the Full Gospel Message.  The challenge you face today is to respond to the challenges of Easter and accept Jesus Christ as Lord of your life.

Therefore, Easter is about the Full Gospel Message.  It is about the Creation, the Fall, Redemption, Restoration & Consummation.  God created the world and all that inhabits it.  There was perfection in the beginning.  Man had unhindered access to God and daily interaction with God.  The perfection of the Garden was given with the stipulation that Adam obeys God.  He could partake of everything in the Garden except from one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In this state man had no need for anything; his every need was provided for.  Picture man with ultimate dominion over all creation.  The sea had no limit and outer space had no limit.  Dominion means he had ultimate control over creation.  He lost that when he disobeyed God.  He died spiritually, separated from God and He lost his ultimate dominion and he entered time and now would eventually die physically.

Since that time God has always long to be in relationship with us.  It is this desire that has moved God to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our transgressions and mend the relationship between God and man.  The penalty for disobedience is death and only the shedding of blood can remedy the sin problem.  That is why in due season Jesus Christ died for the human race.   This process is the redemption and restoration phase of this glorious message, Gospel.  That is why only through Jesus can we be made whole or right with God.  It is only Jesus that has declared His deity and He said that His death remedied the sin problem.  The Bible declared that He would die, He would be buried, He would be raised from the grave, He would ascend to Heaven and that He would return for those that believe and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.  Five of the six events have already come to past only one is left and that is Jesus’ return, are you ready to meet Him.

Easter is more that just about salvation from hell but it extends to a new relationship with God.  Restoring what has been lost.  Since there was dominion and access to God, provided in a place that provided for all man’s needs.  Restoration then is returning back to the original form.  This process of restoration begins with salvation and continues in a relationship with God.   While we do not have the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God, only the inauguration, one day we will have the full access to the Kinndom of God in all its glory, and that is our lively hope, that we will live and reign with Jesus.  We will inhabit the place Jesus went to prepare for us, that place where there will be no more dying, no more sickness, no more goodbyes and no more suffering.  The Bible describes it as a place where the lion and the lamb will play together.  This is a place of peace.   Since Jesus has promised this kind of place wouldn’t be best to try to get to this place by obeying Him and following His instructions as to how to get to this place. Campus Crusade for Christ lay out what they call the four spiritual laws documenting how we can come into relationship with God.  We must recognized and accept that God LOVES us and offers a wonderful PLAN for our life.  We are SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, we cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.  Jesus Christ is God’s ONLY provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.  We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.   This will help us to meet the Easter Challenge in a way that is pleasing to God.

Will you respond to the Easter Challenge.

The Challenge of Easter: The Gethsemane Challenge

Acts 10:38-41 & Matthew 26: 36-46

Have you ever had to perform a task that was very challenging? This task tested your will power, you were not sure that you could accomplish the steps but you determined that you would pursue the task no matter how difficult it might get. I remembered accepting the task of leading a team of 4 families to plant our current church. The magnitude of the task overpowered me, just after I signed the lease for the new worship site.

The weight of the responsibilities seemed to multiple. How am I going to do this? What if it fails? Those were some of the questions that came to mind. But in that moment of feeling powerless the Holy Spirit whispered to me that He is in charge and He will give me what is necessary to perform the task. My requirement was to remind in prayer and be faithful to the task.

This Easter season I want to focus on the challenges that Easter had on Jesus and how we can embrace the challenges that this God of Easter is calling us into.

For many of us Easter has become a ritual. We look forward to fasting through Lent, worshipping on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. We have often focused our thoughts and worship around the Resurrection Morning. This truly is the focus and it is the resurrection that has sealed our hope of eternal life in Christ. But I want to take you a little deeper past the resurrection because indeed there was a struggle before the resurrection. The challenges to get to the resurrection were many but Jesus faced them and was victorious because He determined to do the will of God the Father.

Every challenge is manageable when viewed through the will of God. So, what is the challenge or challenges that God has placed at your feet? Accept it and fulfill the will of God.

Luke documented this in Acts 10:38-42, How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  And we are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on he third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”

Our Christian walk is filled with challenges. We are always endeavoring to accomplish something. Let us look at the Gethsemane Challenge and see what truths can be applied to our everyday Christian walk.

Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem marked the final moments in His journey to Calvary. It is in the last moments leading up to fulfilling your task that the burden gets extremely heavy. The days following the triumphant entry Jesus gave may hints as to his intending purpose. His ultimately challenge was to do his father’s will. In the garden of prayer documented in Matthew 26:39, Jesus cried, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Here again, Jesus demonstrated that His purpose was to fulfill the will of God the Father. On the cross, He declared that it is finished, indicating that his mission was accomplished. The ultimate mission was to become the substitution for you and I.

Jesus was not afraid to die but I believe that the humanity of Jesus was on display in this passage. He knew of the pain of isolation. He would be isolated from his close friends and most of all, His father. This was going to be happening at the time of his greatest need. The weight of the sins of the world and the separation from his father was too much to bear. In thinking about this hour Jesus found a way to deal with the pain that he was experiencing. He found a way to always realign himself with the will of the Father. Here are six (6) things Jesus did in His effort to realign with the Father’s will.

1. Jesus found a place where he could meet God – verse 36

The verse tells us that Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane; Jesus found a place that was symbolic and meaningful but at the same time provided Him some isolation. It is important that as we continue in our journey that we find meeting places. These are places that we can pour out our heart to God. Places were we could be real with God. These are places that you will not be judged and looked down on. Jesus found a place call Gethsemane, a place of submission versus resistance. As with every aspects of Jesus ministry the significance of this place cannot be overemphasized. The meaning of Gethsemane is “oil press”. “At the Mount of Olives was a private garden which Jesus often had used as a retreat (John 18:2). Gethsemane means “oil press,” a significant name in the light of our Lord’s agony in that Garden.”[1] Your meeting place will provide room for you to be pressed into pure oil.

2. Jesus met his challenges with prayer – verse 36-39

The verse continues to say that Jesus told his disciples to “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”[2] Jesus wanted some personal time with His Father. As demonstrated throughout Jesus’ ministry, prayer was a key ingredient in his ministry. It was so pronounced that when He asked his disciples for what they wanted him to teach them they said teach us to pray. Prayer is a key ingredient in our Christian walk. We cannot face our daily challenges without prayer. We must get in the habit of praying for everything no matter how insignificant. Develop a prayer list and watch God answer those prayers. Everywhere Jesus went and no matter what he was going to do He always makes time to pray. He began his ministry with 40 days of prayer and fasting.

3. Jesus had people around him during his challenge – verse 37

Verse 37 indicated that Jesus had people around Him that He could share His burdens with. The scripture states, “And He took with Him Peter and kthe two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.”[3] In the middle of our challenges we should find people that can help us pray. Sometimes they might fall asleep during the intercession but the fact that they have come to your Gethsemane is important. Not everyone can be with you at your Gethsemane. This is a place pressing. It the pure oil is going to come out of your soul you will undergo a pressing. If you could see past the pressing and see the end you will cry out press me Lord.

Jesus took Peter, James and John with him. These three have seen Jesus up close and personal. They have witnessed His glorification on the mount of transfiguration; they have had intimate discloser of Jesus ministry. And now at the time of the ultimate fulfillment they were the ones that Jesus took with Him. Not everyone that is around you can witness your moments of challenge. These challenges sometimes push you towards the point of giving up. Therefore, you must take care as to who you share your struggles with, because it can have lasting impact for both you and the hearer.

4. Jesus shared His burden or challenge with His friends – verse 38

Once you have Identified trusted intercessors do not be afraid to allow them to help you bear your burden. In verse 38 Jesus said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”[4] Oh how we all need to have people in our lives that can hear and bear our burdens. Jesus found this in Peter, James and John. Leading up to this moment there was a sense that something was on Jesus’ mind. And now he was revealing it to His friends. Jesus recognized that His time remaining with His disciples was limited and He realized that they did not fully understand His purpose. It was here in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus was going to fully reveal the struggles He is facing.

When facing ones own mortality you can understand the pain but when you have to face your mortality in place of others imagine the pain you will experience. I believe that Jesus was at this point, the weight of what He was about to undergo was heavy and He needed time with His father to walk through this part of the journey. When we are at our point of ultimate challenge as we turn to others for comfort and consolation we should turn to God first, who alone can help us accomplish the task. As we form these small groups I pray that lasting and meaningful relationships will develop. We need others to stay and watch with us. There is strength in numbers. Do not think you can fight the battle by yourself.

5. Jesus separated himself to be alone with God the Father – verse 38- 39

In verse 39 the Bible stated, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and mprayed, saying, n“O My Father, if it is possible, olet this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, pnot as I will, but as You will.[5] Even in the company of his closest disciples Jesus still needed a more personal time with his Father. He went a little further and prostrated before God. The sense of insufficiency must have overcame him. He recognized that He needed His Father to help Him through the next level. You and I must not think we can fulfill God’s plan without God’s help. It is sometimes perplexing to see Christians claiming to be doing God’s will but pursuing it on their own terms. There is no greater help that that which comes from God. The Psalmist echoes this by stating in Psa. 121:2, “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Oh how we can learn from this example, Jesus found a place and the time to be alone with God the Father. At the moment of deepest testing He found comfort in the presence of God the Father.

6. Jesus submitted to His father’s will – verse 39-46

Imagine knowing that you have ultimate power to counter any challenge. You have full knowledge of the severity of the task or challenge and you know with just one word you can stop it. You even know, that those you are going through this process to help do not even know they need help and even when they know they will turn their backs on you. How would you react? The pressure was great but Jesus submitted to the will of the father.

We too should learn to submit to the will of the Father. Even if we determine that it is not worth the effort we should still submit to the will of the father. Three times Jesus prayed if it is possible, olet this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, pnot as I will, but as You will. That should be our constant cry; Lord, I which this too will pass, I wish I do not have to do this and Lord please pass on me this time never-the-less whatever you want, Lord your will be done. In the end Jesus was able to face his challenge he said to his disciples in Matthew 26, “Behold, the hour 9is at hand, and the Son of Man is being sbetrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” [6] He face is destiny with a resolve; no matter what I will face I will go forward in the power of the Lord. You and I can learn from Jesus’ challenge and move forward and face your destiny.

As we face the challenges of our various situations let us imitate Jesus’ behavior. We can apply these 6 principles to any challenge that we are facing. I pray that you will allow the Easter Challenge to realign you to the will of God. For this realignment to occur you must:

  1. Find a place where you could meet God – verse 36
  2. You must meet your challenges with prayer – verse 36-39
  3. You should have people around you during your challenge – verse 37
  4. You should share your burden or challenges with your intercessory friends – verse 38
  5. You should separate yourself in order to be alone with God the Father – verse 38- 39
  6. Once you are alone with God submitted to His will – verse 39-46

This Easter will you face your challenge with a resolve like Jesus had one that said I would do what God’s will is for my life.

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996), Mt 26:31.

[2] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:36.

k Matt. 4:21; 17:1; Mark 5:37

[3] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:37.

[4] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:38.

m Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; [Heb. 5:7–9]

n John 12:27

o Matt. 20:22

p Ps. 40:8; Is. 50:5; John 5:30; 6:38; Phil. 2:8

[5] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:39.

o Matt. 20:22

p Ps. 40:8; Is. 50:5; John 5:30; 6:38; Phil. 2:8

9 has drawn near

s Matt. 17:22, 23; 20:18, 19

[6] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:39–46.

Speaking into the Next Generation (1 Samuel 3: 1-21)

The church is faced with a challenge, this challenge will determine the kind of church that we will have in the future.  The ability to speak into the next generation is crucial and the challenge we face.  It is hinged on the relationship between the “now” generation and the “next” generation as demonstrated between Eli and Samuel.

It is even more crucial in this transition because the current generation is facing serious challenges and they are living in a fast pace informational time.  We call them the Millennials those 35 and younger.  The most important group in this generation is grouped between 18-35.  As David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins said in the book, You lost me, “The story –the great struggle-of this emerging generation is learning how to live faithfully in a new context, to be in the world but not of the world.”[1]  This generation he contends, is about doing their faith not just hearing their faith or doctrine; it is about faith in action.  The important thing that the older generation must accept is a new mind as Kinnaman, Hawkins stated, “Christian community needs a new mind to pass on the faith to this culture and future generation”.[2]  We can still speak into the next generation; the door is not yet closed.

So here is the challenges; how can the now generation speak into the next generation?  Are the Millinnaials willing to hear from their predecessors?  We turn to the Bible for answers to these questions.  I will tell you the story of a boy that became a man and had a tremendous impact on the course of history.  This was possible because he had a relationship with is parents and guardians.   In the book of Samuel we find a man, a prophet and a priest selecting and anointing the first and second kings of Israel.  David the second king of Israel became the symbolic forefather of Jesus Christ.  To this day, David remains the greatest leader in all the history of Israel.  His life was ministered and poured into by this little boy that became a man, a prophet and a priest.

How did this happened?

Let us step back into time into the 1st & 2nd chapters of Samuel.  The parents of Samuel were God-fearing parents (Elkanah & Hannah).  They practiced their faith, in particularly Hannah, Samuel’s mother.  Her faith in God was unshaken even when Eli, the priest, in charge of the temple worship did not understand or recognized her earnest prayer.  She kept on praying and interceding year after of year.  Her request was her simply request, Lord I need a child and if you give me this child I will give him back to you.

Parents and guardians must practice what they preach and teach.  They must remember their vow to God.  Their fulfillment of this vow or pledge will have an impact on the next generation.  When Hannah’s prayer was answered she remembered her vow and brought little Samuel back to the priest, Eli, so he could raise him in the service to God.   We should not hold back our service to God through the church because leaders are not living right; we are serving God not the leaders.

Let us concentrate on the 3rd chapter of 1 Samuel.  The church has been witnessing a mass exodus from its pews of those between 18-35 years old.  The transition between the now and next generation, as we will see in Samuel’s life, was crucial.  The relationship between those in charge and those that will be in charge is critical.  Understanding this relationship, I believe, will help us to be more effective in the ministries of the church.  Bridging this gap is fundamental to speaking into the next generation.  Let us focus on the two main characters in this chapter, chapter 3, Samuel and Eli.  The next generation must listen (hear and do); they must pay close attention to what is being transmitted (hear) and they must follow these Godly instructions carefully (do).

The now generation is represented by Eli.  Here are four (4) things that the Eli Generation should consider as they endeavor to speak into the lives of the Samuels’Generation.

  1. The Eli Generation must not cover up the bad behaviors of their children, (1 Samuel 1:3 & 3:11-14).  Eli knew of the bad behaviors of his children and did not corrected them.  He allowed them to defile the temple and God was not pleased with this behavior.  One might wonder what it would be like if those two boys were mentored properly by Eli.  Here we see that Eli was no able to effectively minister into the lives of Hophni and Phinehas.  Parents and leaders should not cover up the bad behaviors of your children.  Some parents sacrifice the ability to directly speak into the future of their children for the opportunity to be liked.  This is a lie from the pit of hell.  You are only damaging your children’s future.  Parents if you see and know of bad behaviors speak up do not keep quiet.  God will hold you accountable for your inactions.  In verse 13 and 14 God spoke to Samuel about what he was going to do to Eli and his family because of his sin of inaction.  Parents you have a responsibility to speak into the next generation do not avocate your responsibility.
  2. The Eli Generation should recognize that there is always a second chance, (verse 1-3).  1 Samuel 1:1, samuel said that, “The boy Samuel was serving God under Eli’s direction. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. One night Eli was sound asleep (his eyesight was very bad—he could hardly see). It was well before dawn; the sanctuary lamp was still burning. Samuel was still in bed in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested.”[3]  If you have messed up in the past by not speaking into the lives of some of your children you still have a second chance.  Even if you are old and have began to loose some of your strength as long as you have life you can speak into the lives of the next generation.  The caution here is that inaction or turning a blind eye can cause spiritual decline.  Even thought Eli had failed at speaking into the lives of his sons the Bible said that Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli.   Samuel provided another opportunity for Eli to speak into the lives of the next generation.  As leaders of the church we must allow room for the younger generation to minister unto God.  Recognize the opportunity we have been presented with to speak into the lives of the next generation.  We can walk along side them and help them to serve God.
  3. The Eli Generation should be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Samuel generation, (verse 4-10).  This is a crucial time in the lives of the next generation.  It requires the older generation to accept the changing of the guard.  We have to understand that God is at work and his grand plan has you and I working at different time and place.  We have to recognize when it is time to past the baton to the next generation.  The fact that Eli a man of God, old, and seasoned could not understand the call of God on Samuel’s life, not one time but twice, is a serous revelation.  Leaders and parents we must prepare our lives in order to hear and discern when God is leading and calling the next generation.  It might be that what God has hidden from you He is now ready to reveal it to the youths.  Jesus said in Luke 10:21, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”  We have a glorious opportunity to help the Samuel Generation discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  We who are familiar with the voice of God must make it our duty to help others discern the voice of God in their lives.
  4. The Eli Generation should Recognize God’s call on the person’s life, (verse 9-10).  As the Holy Spirit is speaking there is a call of appointment on that life.  Our responsibility is to help the next generation discern the call of God on their lives.  We have little time and it is imperative that we waste no time in helping the next generation answer the call of God on their lives.  What is God leading them into is the question to answer?  Help them discern the call of God on their lives.  Samuel sought and received the instructions because he “did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”[4]  After two times of failure Eli was able to discern that it was God that was calling Samuel.  His instructions were clearer go and lie down and if you hear the call again this time answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”[5]  What a joy to know that you have walked beside a Samuel and help them discern the call of God on their lives and see them live out such call.  This is one of the most important responsibilities of the Eli Generatiuon.

Samuel represents the next generation.  Here are four (4) things that the Samuel generation should consider as they endeavor to walk into their calling and take over leadership of the church.

  1. The Samuel Generation must Serve faithfully in the church, (verse 1), regardless of the failures of the now generation.  While Eli was busy covering up for his boys, Samuel was serving in the temple.  He must have seen what Hophni and Phinehas were doing but he did not succumb to that presser.  The Bible said he ministered unto the Lord before Eli.  It is key as you serve to recognize that you are serving God first and that those in authority are second.  Therefore it does not matter what those in authority are doing.  Even if they are sinning you should not give up on your service unto God.  God might be calling you to reveal to you his plan for the future.    He has a work for you to do.  There are lives awaiting your prophetic words.  The anointing you carry is for a greater impact on history.  It is often sad to hear of people leaving the church because they were offended by what others did.  They gave up their relationship with God because of others.  Do not let anyone or anything stop you from serving and from walking into your calling.  Young people, Samuel, you have a responsibility to prepare yourself for the future.  Do not stop serving God regardless of who is not working and doing the right thing.  Your life has been ordained for this time so that the Glory of God will be seen.
  2.  The Samuel Generation should seek counsel from the older generation, (verse 4-10).  You have a glorious opportunity to get counsel from those that have past your way before.  Do not despised the older generation because they might not readily accept your way of doing church.  Seek their counsel because they too had to deal with similar issues like you are now facing.  The Bible said in 1 Samuel 3 verse 7, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”[6]  As much as you have been serving in the church there are certain things you have not yet learn.  Do not think that because you are more educated and fluent in the technology of the time that you do not have time for the older more mature generation.  The issues you face has embedded in them certain principles that are evident in every generation.  Those Elis that have past where you are can speak with more authority because of their experiences.  The wise man Solomon can teach us a few things on this matter.  Even the Apostle Paul in his instruction to Timothy and the Early Church admonished them to develop a relationship between the older and younger generations (Titus 2 & 1Timothy 3).  You might be serving but you might not have full understood of discerning the call of God.  Let those that are mature in the Lord help you discern the call of God on your life.  It is even more imperative to be able to discern God’s call in this generation.  So many false prophets are risen up and are confusing and clouding the voice of God.  Samuel you need the tutelage of the Eli generation.  Making the distinction between the voice of God and that of the world is crucial therefore seek the advice of those that are mature in the Lord.  Do not turn your back on the adults because you are aware of their past.  Listen to the wisdom and learn from it.
  3. Samuel should always Recognized your potential.  Wrapped up in all of us is a level of potential to do Gods’ work.  As you serve in the church you will begin to understand and discern what are the gifts that God has given to you.  Do not allow external sources that you do not have control of control you and limit your potential.  There are Saul and David to be anointed.  There are many people waiting to hear from you what God has to say.  There are many lives that you will impact.  You are a bungle of potentiality.  People will fail, leaders will fail, friends will fail, families will fail and your finances will fail but for heavens’ sake you must keep going on walk into your calling.  You can do all things, through Christ who strengthen you, (Philippians. 4:13)
  4. The Samuel Generation must be honest and speak, as God will let you.  No matter how harsh the truth, the truth must be spoken.  God is preparing you to be bold.  Eli was able to lead Samuel into identifying the voice of God and to ultimately speak the truth regardless of the circumstances.  It was this training that allowed Samuel to become such an effective leader.  The time you live in will witness an avalanche of people that will want you to compromise by offering position, money and prestige.  They will want you to not correct them but to stand with them knowing quite well that your very presence will signify your endorsement of their behaviors. When it was time to face the great king Saul and to look him in the eyes and tell him the harsh truth about his demise, Samuel did not relent.  I cannot help but think that the morning after Samuel’s revelation and Eli’s willingness to hear from the young boy helped developed his character.  Samuel, understand that God has put you in place to clean up the mess of the Eli Generation.  He is not looking for a compromiser like Eli; he is looking for a truth teller.  Samuel you have seen first hand what happens to those that fail in their responsibilities and now you can learn from those experiences without going through them yourself.

I conclude with these two reminders.  In order for the Eli Generation to impact and speak into the lives of the Samuel Generation it is imperative that they develop a relationship.  The common thread in this story was that there was a relationship between the older graying priest and the younger boy; the now and the next generation.  Samuel could feel okay with approaching Eli with questions and Eli was able to speak into his situation.  It was that relationship that allows Samuel to follow the instructions of Eli.  Both generations must make it a priority to develop a relationship between them. Dallas Willard, author of Knowing Christ Today, said “we must connect spiritual wisdom with real-world knowledge and teach through experience, reason and authority if we are going to pass on the values and principles to the next generation”.  While there is an effort to classify groups of people around birth year I believe that what we should be focusing on are the principles that can impact any generational transition. Kinnaman, Hawkins said in their book, You lost me, All is not lost, they said, the ‘Millennaials’ (Samuels) are looking more to historical forms of their faith and the younger generation needs the older generations to help them identify the voices of God like Eli and Samuel.  It is about helping fewer people go deeper in their faith rather than mass evangelism.

[1] David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins. You lost me: why young Christians are leaving church– and rethinking faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: BakerBooks, 2011, Kindle location 128.

[2] Kinnaman, Hawkins. You lost me, Location 3432. 

[3] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), 1 Sa 3:1–3.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Sa 3:7.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Sa 3:9.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Sa 3:7.

Kingdom People Living By Kingdom Principles – Part 3

Part 3

As the Church develops a comprehensive and practical understanding of missions, this will propel Christians to act out their missional call.  For example, this message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ transforms not only Cornelius, but his entire family, and Peter as well, as stated in Acts 10.  God was the underlying connection between Peter and Cornelius.  God is both sending the seeker, Cornelius, and preparing the messenger, Peter the missionary, the disciple.  This circle of missions is the thrust of the project; it begins with the call of the Church and then the commissioning of the church.  As the Church carries the gospel to the world the Church is being transformed and then is re-commissioned.

Refocusing the mindset and view of missions requires change.  In order to foster a new paradigm we must deal with the issue of change within the Church with regards to the understanding of missions.  How does understanding the theology of change contributed to this process?  Theology of change refers to the understanding of all aspects of change and the philosophy that is buried in this word “change”.  We have to consider several aspects of change but will maintain as the foundation, what I term, the Circle of Missions.  This involves looking at the community where the work of missions is carried out, the congregation where training is done and the core (people) that is doing the work of missions.   Change is the agent that gets one from one quadrant to the next, form community to the core.

While there are many stories of individuals throughout Church history that have demonstrated a holistic approach to missions; our time is not void of individuals that are continuing this process.  These individuals are demonstrating in practical ways the Biblical understanding of missions and the Kingdom of God.  They are from different backgrounds and operate in different parts of our culture but are stirred by the Holy Spirit to carry out God’s mission.  Lives are being transformed and the Kingdom is expanding.  The application of Biblical missions will result in transformation, growth, and will bring glory to the name of God.

The Church must take the lead in being holistic in its approach to mission.  Fulfilling the call of mission requires the Church to approach this call from a holistic point of view.  The Church has done an excellent job in preparing people for the afterlife; but one of the areas in which we are lagging behind is preparing the church for end of life experiences and even traumatic experiences.  In order to address these issues adequately there has to be a deliberate effort taken to look at the religious structures and spiritual practices at work in the context of the community the church is ministering.  I believe issues of death and dying, euthanasia and Advance Directives as discussed by Dr. Martha Jacobs[1] in her book a Clergy Guide To End Of Life Issues is important as it relates to missions.

[1] For an informed discussion on end of life issues and information to assist the pastor in educating the church read Martha A Jacobs book, Clergy Guide to End-Of-Life Issues, (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2010), 17.

Book Review – David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins. You lost me

David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins. You lost me: why young Christians are leaving church– and rethinking faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: BakerBooks, 2011.

This is a must read for Senior Pastors, Youth Pastors and anyone that works with youths.  You Lost Me is a frank look at the reality of the church and the relationship with the Millennials or Mosaics (youths under 35)[1], particularly those who are 18 to 35.  These youths were basically born between the 80s to now. This is an inside look at the struggles of the next generations of Christians.  Kinnaman and Hawkins stated, “The story –the great struggle-of this emerging generation is learning how to live faithfully in a new context, to be in the world but not of the world.”[2] This generation they contends, is about doing their faith not just hearing their faith or doctrine; it is about faith in action.

Here is the new paradigm, discipleship is not about mass production but it is about relationship, it is about building disciples one person at a time.  Kinnaman and Hawkins identify three kinds of young Christian dropouts; “NOMADS are those youths that walked away from church engagements but still consider themselves Christians, PRODIGALS are those youths that have lost their faith and are describing themselves as no longer Christians, and EXILES are those youths that are still invested in their Christian faith but feel struck between their culture and the church.”[3]He challenges the church to rethink its approach to disciple making focusing on building relationships, vocation (calling) and to help the ‘Mosaic’ value wisdom over information.

There is an abundant of information but little ‘know how’ to wisely apply this knowledge.  Kinnaman and Hawkins also posited that the church is facing a shift or major shifts regardless of our age or generation.  They continued to talk about the fast-pace changes that are being led by the fast-pace and volume of information that is present and available by a click of the mouse.  The next generation, they argued, is living in a new and fast technological, social and spiritual reality; three words, access, alienation and authority can characterize this reality.  Access involves this digital age, downloadable books, direct TV, Internet, tablets and PDAs.  Alienation includes the breakdown of the family with absent fathers, the transition to adulthood by the Millennials, and skepticism of institution and Authority surrounds the changing spiritual narrative in North America.

Social media has shown a different view regarding authority.  They do not think music downloads and file sharing over the Internet is wrong as long as you are not profiting from it.  The influence of the Bible is still to be decided, many are trying to sort between what they are told in the mass media and what the church is teaching. They have not yet separated their values from the Busters’ generation.  The Busters are still deciding the role of Christianity on the culture.  Kinnaman and Hawkins said, “the digital revolution, endemic social change, and shifting narrative of faith in our culture have deeply affected the cognitive and emotional process of “encoding” faith.  Many Millennials are seeking authority outside of the conventional Christian forms.

All is not lost, they said, the ‘Millennaials’ are looking more to historical forms of their faith and the younger generation needs the older generations to help them identify the voices of God like Eli and Samuel.  It is about helping fewer people go deeper in their faith rather than mass evangelism.  They quoted Dallas Willard, author of Knowing Christ Today, that “we must connect spiritual wisdom with real-world knowledge and teach through experience, reason and authority if we are going to pass on the values and principles to the next generation”.  These principles can be applied in all areas of our time, sexual relations, job, family and social environments.  Kinnaman and Hawkins posited that sexuality is a major point of contention in the new environment. The good news, they concluded, is that the Millinnaials are open to the historical values of our Christian faith.  The important thing that the older generation must accept is a new mind as Kinnaman and Hawkins stated, “Christian community needs a new mind to pass on the faith to this culture and future generation”.[4]  We can still speak into the next generation; the door is not yet closed.

[1] Here is the generational division as describe by Kinnaman and Hawkins; Millennials (18-27), Busters (28-46)(Gen Y), Boomers (47-65), Elders (66+).

[2] David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins. You lost me: why young Christians are leaving church– and rethinking faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: BakerBooks, 2011, Kindle location 128.

[3] Kinnaman, Hawkins. You lost me, Location 325.

[4] Kinnaman, Hawkins. You lost me, Location 3432. 

Kingdom People Living By Kingdom Principles – Part 1 of 7

Reflection of Missions

The challenge to be truly missional requires that persons consider themselves to be disciples, and begin to engage their communities in their everyday life, to be incarnate.  This has posed a challenge to the church and seeks to answer the question: how will missions and being missional in the 21st century be any different from the Colonial Periods? The challenges that seem to be facing the local churches are similar to those which face the North American Churches.[1] Some of these challenges are diversity of the harvest, an increasingly large harvest, lack of harvesters, lack of focus in the Church, a dying Church and an unclear presentation of the Gospel. In the Book of Luke chapter 10 verse 2 it reads, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  This was Jesus’ view of the many souls that were not saved.  This picture is true today of the North American Church and begs the question “Has the Church lost its focus of the Great Commission?”  Many churches are declining, and even dying, while the ‘unchurched’ population is increasing.  Ed Stetzer and Mike Dobson state that three denominations – Assemblies of God, Nazarene, and Southern Baptists – all reported a decline in their membership.[2]  While many churches in these denominations are growing the greater portion is declining.

We do not have to travel miles and overseas to some foreign country to locate the mission field.  Right here, literally in our backyards, the world has come to us, as Sadiri Joy Tira, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization senior associate for Diasporas, said, “The world has become borderless.”[3]   The next challenge that Jesus identified was that the laborers are few (Luke 10:2).  Many churches lack disciples or self-feeders (Christ-centered persons) that are harvesters.  According to Ed Stetzer and Mike Dobson in the book entitled Come Back Churches, 70 to 80 percent (70-80%) of North American Churches are in decline and 3,500 to 4,000 U.S. churches close their doors every year.   To be truly missional requires a holistic approach that includes the Great Commandment, Great Commission and the Great Compassion, this I call “The Circle of Mission”.  It is about ministering to the total person and requires an investment into person’s lives of our time and our finance.

[1] In their book Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples, Geiger, Eric, and Thom S. Rainer, researched and present a clear and detail picture of the North American Church community.  The book is published by Kiev Russia: B&H Publishing Group, 2006.

[2] Mike Dodson,  and Ed Stetzer in their Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Too evaluated 300 churches that were declining and undertook a process that led to their turn around.  The book is published in New York by B&H Books, 2007.

 [3] Sadiri Joy Tira, “Evangelism vs. Missions” Christianity Today, July 2010.

A Higher Call to Love

The fundamental principle of our Christian calling is LOVE.  This love is one that brings us into a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savor.  This is not an abstract love rather it is a practical love.  To truly love, we have to first experience the love of God.  This now holds us to a higher level of our calling.  This is greater that our consciences and motivations.  Since as Dr. Mohler stated that one would not know oneself to a level that you separate yourself from our motivations. This idea says that the judge or the politician cannot ignore his religious and non-religious worldview and make decisions in an abstract way.  John laid it out this out in 1 John 3:20 & 21, “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.”  Therefore, the call of love is greater than our own desire.  This call has to respond to the demand of God to love God and our neighbors.

It is this higher calling that requires us to love.  This love is demonstrated in our daily acts, loving God by keeping his commandments.  Jesus said that the greatest commandment is this, Matt. 22:37-39, Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we truly love God then our actions are filled with obedience, our lives are free from willful sinning and, we love our neighbors. I trust we can truly live up to this standard of living.  Love is the foundation of our faith.  Can we find someone in our community to truly love?

It is this love that will allow us to fulfill the Great Commission and practically demonstrate the Great Compassion.