Let’s Climb!

19,340 feet… It gets cold on the summit of mount Kilimanjaro.  I know that.  I have the facts.  Rongai route approximately 50 miles up and down.  Elevation gain approximately 13,000 feet.  Altitude sickness can kill you. 6 days… 4 up 2 down.  5 climate zones… Gonna get hot,  gonna get wet, gonna get cold…  The mountain is in Tanzania Africa.  Malaria, Yellow fever etc.  I have read all about it and know most of the facts.

I have read the packing lists, and there are a lot of them and many different ones. (part of the problem)  It is amazing how much head knowledge we can have about something and still be overwhelmed by the unknown.

This dawned on me when I was attempting to purchase all my equipment.  Obviously I am on a TIGHT budget and am trying to figure out what I have in my closet already that “will work”.  If I had all sorts of money I could read the list and just get all the “recommended” brands and items.  Of course every recommended item is the top of the line and WAY outside my budget.

Enter the overwhelmed feeling with the unknown.  What I am discovering is that there is a big difference in head knowledge and experience.  I can read the facts about Altitude sickness but the reality is I have never experienced high altitude hiking.  I can read about the temperatures on the mountain at midnight at 14 thousand feet but I have never experienced 0 to -15 with my current sleeping bag or my clothing.

Will this outer shell, these two fleece jackets one light and one heavier and this thermal base layer work or do I need a $300.00 parka.  I have even talked to people at REI and am still overwhelmed by the unknown.  I have the factual knowledge about the mountain but I lack the practical experience to have the confidence that my gear is right.

However, if I had an experienced guide in my life who was simply providing me with the perfect gear I would not question his or its ability to do the job required to reach the summit and my overwhelmed feeling would shift to something else… probably my physical ability.. which I am responsible for not a guide or outfitter.

This has made me think about other areas of my life…   I can have all the knowledge about the Bible and God and Jesus.  I can sit in church week after week after week and gain more facts and knowledge about the word of God and God’s call for me to go and make disciples.  But I am overwhelmed as soon as I walk out the door due to lack of experience in the application of that knowledge and the use of the equipping I have received and am compelled to go get more knowledge.

However, we have the perfect experienced guide who has provided and equipped us with the perfect gear and everything we need for the mission we have been challenged with.  

I don’t need more knowledge about the mountain.  I need to put my clothes on and climb.  I need to test my boots.  I need to try on the gear and then I need to trust it and go stand on the roof of Africa.

I must say, even writing this down doesn’t remove the elements of fear and uncertainty.  Those will only disappear in the act of climbing.  However, Im compelled by the mission to climb.  The mission is more compelling in my life than the fear of the unknown.  

What unknowns out there are overwhelming you and keeping you from stepping out?  

What keeps you from climbing your Kilimanjaro?  

Chances are they will only disappear in the act of climbing?    

Im having to figure out my gear… Spiritually we have the perfect outfitter who has equipped us with everything we need to fulfill the mission to which he has called us.

Put on what you know, take your equipment that God has provided for you (it is guaranteed to be top of the line perfect for your mission) and Go make disciples.

Let’s Climb!

Coincidence or divine encounter???

On a flight a couple weeks ago I had probably one of the most significant divine encounters on this Kilimanjaro journey.  It was an encounter filled with unbelievable “coincidences” some would say.  I don’t believe it was a coincidence that the man who sat next to me had climbed Kili.  I don’t believe it was a coincidence that he was a medical dr who had answers to many of my questions about mountain climbing. I don’t believe it was a coincidence that he was investigating faith in christ and reading a book given to him by a friend about this.  I don’t believe it was a coincidence that I know his friend and that he is a Nazarene medical dr.  And that he attends a church nearby where i live.  I don’t believe it is a coincidence that he needed me and I needed him on that flight.  I believe it was a divine encounter.  God brought two lives together for each of our growth.

Out of this encounter children will be sponsored and their lives forever changed.

Out of this encounter I was educated on Kili, climbing, altitude sickness

Out of this encounter he received answers to many of his questions on faith

Out of this encounter he made some connections about human trafficking, and the difference he can make

Out of this encounter passion was stirred to make a difference here in USA as well

As our families have dinner together next week it is my prayer that what God started on a plane will move beyond us to our wives, children and ultimately to the world around us that others lives will be impacted and God will receive honor and praise.

I know this, he is excited about sponsoring some children and impacting his world and deepening his pursuit of God because of an encounter on a plane.

When was the last time you had a divine encounter?

Divine encounters are becoming a regular occurrence in my life.  I think it is because I expect them now and am always watching for them.

Thank you Jesus for showing up on airplanes and for another divine encounter.

Subtle shift – huge implications

Have you ever heard or said, “isn’t it good to be in Gos’s house”?

I am on a campaign to change this destructive phrase in the church world to, “isn’t it good to BE God’s house.”

This is a subtle shift with huge implications.  Change one word and we communicate a message that can radically impact our culture and the world around us.

The phrase, “isn’t it good to be IN God’s house” is an unbiblical phrase that has been passed on from generation to generation when Christians gather in church buildings and enjoy each others company and the “presence of the Lord”.   Nothing wrong with church buildings perse, but to call it God’s house subtly communicates unbiblical ideas and sets us up for a one day per week church where we go to meet with God.

What are the implications of changing from “in” to “be”

IN creates…

… Fights over paint and carpet and coffee in the building?..If  God’s house is to be reverenced and kept holy then let’s talk potlucks instead of carpet because BE means me!

IN creates…

… A one day a week connection with God where I go to meet him. Because that is where he is. Thus compartmentalizing my spiritual life.

BE creates a mindset of life and lifestyle incarnate every day in the world around me.

BE causes me to realize that my life is every day and all the time a representative of him.

IN creates an evangelism model that says come and get him or go to hell

BE creates a kingdom mindset that says in the real world around me where i live, work and play, may others see the love of christ in me and experience his love through me.

What would the world and culture around us look like if the church simply said, “isn’t it good to BE God’s house” and then went and lived in that reality?

Jesus is attractive… What if we lived AMONG the world around us and simply let others see Jesus instead of judgemental representatives.

Isn’t it good to BE God’s house?

In the field or in the barn?

barn and fieldAs I think about Luke 10:2 and the plentiful ripe harvest described, I am struck with a truth often overlooked in today’s church world. The truth is this…. The harvest is in the field not in the barn.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send OUT workers into his harvest field. GO! I AM SENDING YOU OUT like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:2-3

In Mark 4 “A farmer went OUT to sow his seed…”  I wonder, are we spending a little too much time trying to harvest the harvested?  Are we spending a little too much time in the barn and not enough time in the field.

I asked this question at a semenar I was doing recently and the response I receieved when I talked about spending time building relationships with those in the “world” around us, not as projects but in caring relationships, didn’t surprise me.  The response was from scripture and creates a tension in the church world.  Can you guess what the passage of scripture was?

1 Cor. 15:33 —- “Don’t be misled… Bad company corrupts good character.”

So now what do we?  There is no shortage of scriptures that call us “out” and no shortage of scriptures that call us “out”.  We are to come out and we are to go out at the same time… Feel the tension yet?

What are your thoughts on this?

Churching the unchurched??????

unchurchedI have been wondering a lot about the mission of the church and how often I read about reaching the Unchurched.   Is it our mission to “church” the “unchurched”? somehow I think we have come to believe that we have reached our goal if the unchurched cross the thresholds and sit in our sanctuaries.  We are rewarded for butts in pews and bucks in plates.  We have not so subtly created a culture where if your butt is in a pew and your buck is in a plate on Sunday morning we are not to concerned with where you were Saturday night.  We wrongly assume that all is well because of where you sit on Sunday morning.  The more we reward butts in pews and bucks in plates the more we move away from our mission as the people of God the “Church”.

We have been called to go and make disciples not church the unchurched. Unless however we redefine what we mean by “unchurched”. When we use this word we tend to define it by those who “don’t attend a church on a regular basis”. This definition leads us to try and get them to our buildings. Another definition for us think about is the church as a people verses a place. Now when we think of the “unchurched” we are talking about reaching people for the Kingdom not a location.

In fact when the “unchurched” are interviewd the discoveries in these interviews reveal that the “unchurched” are not looking for another club to attend but to be connected to authentic genuine people in community.

Ed Stetzer comments in his blog, (http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/edstetzer/2009/04/interview-with-trevin-wax.html)

“But much of what the younger unchurched are looking for is found in the character of God and what our churches are called to be. Note that I said what our churches are called to be, not necessarily what they are.”

Would it change how we did ministry if we saw people as people not as butts in pews and bucks in plates?  Would it change how we did ministry if the destination was changed from our facility to the Kingdom of God?  Are we successful if the unchurched enter the church or are we more successful when the “church enters the unchurched”?

What if you were to reach people for Jesus and disciple them in community relationships but they never cross the doorstep of your church?  Would you be ok with that?  How would you feel about them?  Would you consider them unchurched, unsaved, or even a lesser class of Christian?

Who’s YOur Daddy?

dscn2723Who’s Your Daddy? No I am not talking biologically but spiritually? Let’s start with the biological though and see what we learn about our spiritual family and God’s design for his church.

I don’t find too many parents who don’t expect their children to grow up and become parents. It is natural and normal for parent to raise their children with the expectation that one day they will have their own children and those children their own.

This is not any different than Father God’s expectations for his children.

Why is it ok to be a Christian for 30 years and never “Grow up” and leave home and give birth to a new generation of Christian children? who will grow up and leave home.

Do you see a problem with a 30 year old still drinking from a bottle?

Do you see a problem with a 30 year old complaining about not being fed and unable to feed him/herself?

Do you see a problem with a bunch of “grown ups” sitting in their “house” acting like selfish children complaining about the “radio station” dad has playing for the family, or crying and complaining about the way their “house is decorated”, or about not being “fed”.

One of the roles of a parent is to equip a child to become a parent. Isn’t that the role of a disciple. One who can “go and make disciples” who can “go and make disciples”?

One of the roles of a child is to be teachable and learn from the parent and Grow up and apply and implement the lessons taught by the parent and then become a parent and pass on that DNA and those lessons to their children who will hopefully go and do likewise.  Isn’t that the role of a disciple.  To be teachable with the purpose of application not knowledge.

So… Who’s your daddy? and Whose daddy are you?

So… Who’s your mommy? and Whose mommy are you?

Is it time you grow up… get off the bottle… move out… and pass on all that training you have been soaking in for the last ??????? years?

Oh yea “I don’t feel ready or prepared” to be a Spiritual parent… How many parents felt prepared when they went to the hospital to have that first baby? suck it up, walk out the door into that wonderful, uncomfortable, messy, rewarding world of spiritual parenthood.

I can hear some of you saying now, “not everyone becomes a parent”.  “That is not my spiritual gift”.  True, not everyone becomes a parent and maybe that is not your gift.  However, let’s be honest we are way out of balance in the church world and if the biological world operated the way the church world does we would be doomed.

Let’s be honest, that is most often said out of fear and as an excuse!

By the way, who was Jesus talking to when he said, “go and make disciples”?