Being a product of the 1980’s (young adulthood I mean) I remember when the IBM 286, Commodore 64, and Atari 2600 were cutting edge technology. So unlike the under generation biting on my heels, I still over complicate my I.T. world. My recent goal was to get a photo on my blog that was not “available” except for the odd fact that I was HOLDING IT IN MY HAND. Do I even have a scanner? Oh, yeah that all in one printer/fax we bought is also a scanner. SOOOO…I scanned the picture and said to myself – COOOOL … it even looks better than the actual photo, so I started scanning…& scanning, & scanning!!! Thus…the ministry mosaic!
What I really had going on in my mind was putting our years of ministry into perspective. Sometimes when God is manipulating you into a place of preparation for His next big assignment, He does it by totally combing back through all the lessons in your past.
As I began to comb through pictures, I began to scroll through my brain files. It was exhilarating to look back at the beginning of our ministry and see that it contained the same DNA as our current determination and vision. We are older, wiser, more seasoned, sadly more used, abused, broken, yet welded back together, reinforced, and …well… very very different…YET basically the same. Our rally cry in the beginning was “Reality Christianity”, “multicultural, multi-racial ministry”, actually doing what Jesus SAID instead of just shouting it at people, teaching what the Bible actually SAYS…not what grandpa or grandpa’s preacher said.
Truth is we ALL need to get rid of A LOT of religious garbage. My most common thought lately is, “show me the chapter and verse”, and “don’t twist & contort it into something barely recognizable”. As I combed back over our ministry the common element is this: we are more Biblically founded & “truly” reliant on the WRITTEN word than most of the fundamentalists we know…but ironically, we have ALWAYS consistently LIBERATED the people with whom we have had a meaningful relationship. I think of some of our very best long time friends commenting, “well, you can definitely tell that (our daughter) was baptized and first discipled by you! She thinks exactly like you!”
I ponder this last year of facebook reunions – basically hearing from past ministry partners a similar spiel, “we’re a bunch of misfits because nobody understands our views, our actions, our lifestyles. We don’t fit into anyone’s preset mold” So how can a theological conservative… LIBERATE people. It’s simple; just stop the charades. Stop faking it. Stop competing with your own team. We will NEVER win like that. Seriously, I’m waiting for someone to get brutally honest and just name their church Balderdash Community Church.
My answer: don’t take what THEY say quite so literally (no matter), whether they seem to love you or hate you. Usually they don’t really LOVE you that much NOR HATE you that much. Truth is, we tend to agree with people who are saying what we want them to say and we oppose people who seem to oppose who we are. To take the words from Coach Herman Boone (Remember the Titans), “I’m not an answer to your prayers. I’m not a savior, or Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, or the Easter bunny. I’m a football coach that’s all… just a football coach.”
From the 1980’s until now, Lis & I have focused our teaching and preaching on… what the Bible ACTUALLY says, what Jesus ACTUALLY SAID to do. On the other hand, our EQUAL task has included a huge burden to bring light to the very common & convenient principle that has absolutely ZERO foundation (none whatsoever) from the Bible. That of INTERPRETING God’s Word to suit OUR own ideas.
“The Bible Belt” of the USA is probably the most needy mission field we have in my opinion. WHY? Easy…the Holy Bible, PLUS a “special exclusive voice from on high” to some random dude sitting under an oak tree …equals a CULT…an antichrist. The most commonly used Bible in the world is not the Bible that has 66 books, 1189 chapters, some 31,000 verses, some 780,000 words. The Bible that is MOST common is the PEV version – The PERSONALLY EXPANDED VERSION (customized to suit our preconceived ideas & arguments) which probably adds another 30% of material to the real deal. By the time we “explain it” there is a good chunk that’s “just implied”. You know “a teenager shalteth not cometh in after midnight with some lameth excuse unless he be groundeth for an eternity…eth”
But isn’t that what we all do? Don’t we all “interpret” the Bible, present it in understandable terms, give explanation to what it really means? Use it as a two edged sword to cut what needs to be cut. NO…NOT, if we’re smart enough to recognize our human ignorance and tendencies. Yes we have to internalize it but…1) it is TRUTH… 2) WE are …well, clueless.
When I argue with my wife (which is honestly seldom) I surely NEVER argue “HER POINT OF VIEW”, HER INTERPRETATION of the subject. That would be rather oxy-moronic (and moronic). NO…I argue vehemently for what I have already blurted out and am NOW committed to. Even when I begin to see my “facts” falling apart, I tend to attempt propping it up with whatever is at my disposal.” Yeah, I KNOW… YOU don’t do that!!! Well the rest of us DO! We ALL tend to, until we finally liberate ourselves enough to admit that there actually IS an absolute truth out there, truth that is ALWAYS TRUTH, truth not always easily internalized through our personal, cultural, & behavioral norm. But, no matter how loudly we talk or how angry we get – TRUE TRUTH IS TRUE TRUTH.
There is a reason that the Bible says in 1 John 2:27 , “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” AND it warns us, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” James 3:1. BUT WHY??? If I take upon myself the responsibility of teaching, I will be held responsible for every misrepresentation that I present as truth because it taints the REAL truth. The wise goal of a teacher is to provide assistance for students to receive the written truth without twisting and manipulating it through our “approval” system. How many times have you thought – “that person is living in denial”? Real truth is the truth no matter what.
I am currently working on a holistic ministry concept which is profound only in its simplicity - BASICS CHURCH. It’s not a “church”, it’s a concept. As I continue to see the Holy Spirit flesh it out on paper, it is amazing how simple it is. Jesus had some very specific MANDATES for us and we just dance all around them. I love church history and if we take a broad look at Christianity there has consistently been an ebb and flow of adherence to these Jesus mandates.
We’ve been called by Christ to propagate the truth of the simple gospel…that through Christ ANYONE can be reconciled to God. Surprisingly, we’re not here to do most of what seems to be our priority at times. We’re not here to announce and argue about the million things we are AGAINST.
What REAL TRUTH are you willing to stake your life on? The easiest answer is NOTHING? I’ll just EXIST and MIND MY OWN BUSINESS. But, IF THERE IS …ABSOLUTE TRUTH and we MISS it…it is STILL absolute truth, we were just too “smart” to recognize it. ME – It’s simple – I’m going to concentrate on getting the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as I can before I die. I really don’t care about ANY peripheral issue at all…COMPARED TO getting people into an understanding and acceptance of a redemption in Christ. The center of my “Basics Church” basically comes from the center of the Bible.
Jesus left and told us to take his story to the world and teach people to follow His teaching – His commands. That’s found in about 150 pages – from Matthew through the 1st chapter of Acts. Most everything to the left of it sets the scene, everything to the right explains HOW to rightly apply and practice it. That’s the TRUTH ! And I’m sticking to that!
1 John 2:18-21, 26-27 Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth.
26 I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.