Friday, July 20, 2012

You... God's temple...

My imagination has been captured recently by something I read in my bible reading...

Do you remember the scene where Jesus cleanses the temple? We find him entering the temple in Jerusalem only to see him do… what at first seems crazy.  We see him with a whip, turning over tables, sending the merchants and bankers scurrying for the exits.  In all of this he commands the attention of the people who are coming and going.  Jesus is angry.  We call it righteous indignation, but it's raw anger none the less.  Jesus is ticked off.  He's had it.  He’s angry with what he sees.  He proclaims at one point how they’re turning a place of prayer into a place of deception and deceit… a den of robbers.

Someone suggested it was a Monday when all this took place… but that’s not the reason he goes off.  If you go back to the very first temple, King David was told this temple would be the seat of divine presence among the people.  It would be where His glory would rest.  I especially love the picture we find painted in Isaiah’s encounter with God recorded in Isaiah 6.  The temple was filled with smoke.  The thresholds shook and the whole place was filled with God.  It scared Isaiah to death.  He thought it was over or that at least his life was done… yet in the midst of his holy, awesome presence we see a picture of grace as an angel lifts a coal from the altar touching the prophet on the lips and cleansing him of all guilt.

This was the same temple that Jesus enters to discover money changers and people buying and selling.  No wonder Jesus was angry.  No wonder he threw out those who were turning that place into something much LESS.  Can you see him wielding a whip?

I think somewhere in the depths of my psyche I like it.  Jesus getting angry… it’s about time, right?  After all there is SO much hypocrisy… so many lies.  I understand Jesus is meek and mild, but there has to be an end to it, right?  There is a moment when you get ANGRY… at least I find myself feeling that way.
Yet while I love the picture of Jesus with the whip I also struggle with it.

Before I explain do you remember these words…

YOU yourselves are God’s temple…. God’s Spirit dwells in your midst.

Or these words from the pen of Paul to the church in Ephesus...

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Maybe you’re already grasping where I’m going with this… or should I say where God took me.  You see I find myself wondering what God might do on entering our temple, on entering my scene.  Would he be angry, disappointed?  Suddenly the image of Jesus wielding a whip is not so attractive.

I wonder do we allow things in our “bodies” our “temple” our “community of faith” that Jesus would take a whip to?  Do we allow thoughts, attitudes, actions in our lives that destroys the work of God; that make us into a den of iniquity instead of a house of prayer?  Suddenly I find myself looking for the angel with those tongs carrying the coal of fire from the altar.  Suddenly I’m very aware of my own sin.  Suddenly I’m aware of HIS presence and thankful for His mercy and grace.  This really is the seat of divine presence.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

GO Team...

Have you ever pondered how Paul did ministry?  He was a missionary, a catylst, a starter.  Yet the idea that he did this alone is ludicrous.  Just the other day I was reminded again of this fact.  I was studying Colossians.  If you go to the end of that short letter, you'll discover a host of individuals who are mentioned by Paul.

For whatever reason we have seen Paul as a lone ranger, someone who blazed the trail all by himself.  Yet the reality is even on his missionary journey's he was surrounded by a great team, and I'm not just talking about those on the road with him.

We probably think of people like Barnabas, John Mark, Luke, Timothy, Silas...  Yet think about it, what about the church at Philippi? Or the brothers and sisters at Antioch?  Paul was not a loner by any stretch of the imagination.  Truth is the mission of God is bigger than any one person.

We just returned from a time of deputation.  I reported, preached, shared in a number of local congregations.  I shared the story of what God has been doing... the vision he is birthing in our hearts.  Yet the reality is it was not MY report... it was our report.  There are SO many who have already come alongside us in ministry.  I think of the church at Hillsboro, Oregon.  They've entered into a partnership with us,we skype with us, we pray together, and they bless us.  I think of Oregon City Nazarene... and myriad of ways they have blessed us since our arrival in Ireland.  I think of Richland Nazarene... what an incredible group who got behind their pastor and SENT him and his family.  I think of new relationships that were formed with Victoria First Nazarene, Gateway, Whitehorse, Wildomar and Penticton. I think of Ephrata, Sunnyside, Countryside and Tillamook.(by the way they have more than good cheese... there are some wonderful people there who believe in the call to cross barriers whether in their own community or even in Ireland.  I think of Canby, Pasco, and Lakeside.  I could go on... I probably should.  There are SO many.  YOU are or can be a part of what God is doing.

I think of a great church that gives to the World Evangelism Fund - the fund that provides the foundation of our support.  2 Million Nazarenes supporting us in their giving.  I think of individuals who give monthly to support our placement here in Ireland.  I think of Virginia West and the great group that join her in praying for us and many others.  Ministry is NOT something we do alone.  God works in teams.  Think about this.  Jesus came to earth to walk amongst us, and die for our sin... but even HE didn't come alone.  All along the journey you see the Holy Spirit coming close, the affirmation of God... even the presence of angels.

What am I saying?  I believe God is putting together a great team here in Ireland.  I'm glad!  Why?  Partly because I don't have what it takes, but also because I believe God works best with people who come together with Him - the church.

If you haven't heard.  Ted & Sarah Voigt will be joining us here in Ireland in the fall.  They will be joining us, having served in Richland, Washington... Sarah was pastor of Children and Families there.  They also served in Paraguay prior to that assignment.  We're excited to have them come on board.  You can follow their unfolding story at www.voigtsandme.com. They need our prayer and support.

I'm also praying about the development of church partnerships, district partnerships and of course partnerships with individuals.  You see I'm discovering that what God is calling us to do is beyond our ability and resources.  Go figure! The Great Commission is indeed GREAT, overwhelming.  It's something that requires the investment and participation of the whole church.  God needs YOU to join HIM in what He is doing... where you live and I pray where God has place us here in Ireland.  I believe God is wanting to put together a team that will help us reach Ireland. We need people who will come alongside us physically, in prayer and financially.  I wonder... might YOU be a part of our team?

Now is the time!  We believe God has given us a window of opportunity.  Today... the doors are open.  I wonder might God be speaking to YOU about joining with us.  I think of Philippi and how they came alongside Paul, enabling him to do what alone he could NEVER have accomplished.  WOW!  Could you or your church do the same?  I think of Luke and how he supported Paul, could you do the same?

We believe that as God has given us HIS vision, he will put together HIS team.  Join us in praying, and if God taps you on the shoulder, email us at partnerships@missioneire.com.  We'd love to hear from you.  Who knows what God might do!