Archive for September, 2005

Letter to My In-Law’s

September 24, 2005

It’s easy to take things for granted – especially your in-laws. I have great in-law’s and recently ago I wrote them a letter, pouring my heart out about the journey God is taking me on. Both have an insatiable hunger for learning and are making a huge difference in the world we live in. I’ve learned that there are some things it might be hard to share verbally that I could say on paper.

Here’s the letter: (w/permission share it here, of course)

Dear Allen and Leslee,

All the believers were one in heart.
—Luke the Physician (Acts 4:32)

The following is a piece of my interior makeup. I decided to park for a little while, late yesterday afternoon and write. In fact, this is the way I always begin my day. I write letters to friends, strangers and mostly God in my journal, most of which never see them (except God). Today, I feel the nudging of the Lord to show you what I’m writing on this night. For me, it’s always been easier to express my heart on paper than in person. So, it is my joy to write to you (probably more for me than you). I hope you’ll discover through these words the similar heart and understanding I think I have with you. Nothing here is written to you, every word is written with you. As usual, when I write, I write a lot, so bear with me. Allen – you definitely get my drift and Leslee – you can empathize from over 30 years with a writing husband. Like Amber, you ladies are very patient in giving us the best sounding board we have. You play the role well of humbling us – a much needed piece, so thanks.

Trust me, my motives here don’t allude you are going through trials. It just happens, I am thinking a lot about the gift of pain and suffering. About how to grapple with shattered dreams and how the bigger story God is telling builds an oak of depth for getting through the tough times of life. I ask God a lot of questions and He so kindly answers the ones He wants. I’m intrigued with His way of turning the broken into whole people. But before we dive into that, I’d like to share from my heart.

I think we are becoming the kind of camaraderie only God can weave together. What I like to call ONE. We are one family under one God. I love that! Think about what life would be like alone. His miraculous touch sizzles through everything trusted and obeyed. My gratefulness, in heart and depth is to you. Your visit is appreciated from the bottom of my heart.

I suppose trust will only deepen through tested time. I came into your family in a season of testing…more like an assault on His heart in you. That is Satan’s purpose, part of the reality we have to endure. I am extremely grateful that you did what couldn’t be better: got through it! Pain is inevitable and mysterious. God is inconsistent when it comes to suffering, but He’s the author so I guess He can get away with all His perplexities. Personally, it’s a little bit maddening to me, but I think I’m beginning to see the bigger picture. A place I never really understood until recently. Hope. Shattered dreams – is a tool He uses, isn’t it? But hope stands higher, and wider than that doesn’t it? I’m learning the solid kind of hope, which is the kind I like most, the hope of a better NOW is only guaranteed in heaven. What seems better may not be best…His plan is best. That’s a tough grapple for me.

God has a dream for us as a family. His purpose is perfect and unbreakable. That lifts me up! This family thing is His doing. Sure, we’re a tiny boat in a big storm. But no matter what assault or stabs are thrust upon us, its okay – just a part of the spilled blood. Don’t ever forget – you can lean on us, as at times we will lean on you. We’re a family and that’s what they’re for. Cool stuff.

“When we step into the family, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale.”
G.K. CHESTERTON

I share all of this with you for two reasons: 1) to just tell ya of my desire to become the kind of journeyers Luke writes about above and 2) for you to know how much I love you and pray for you. Mixing families has never been easy. Suddenly, you’re stuck with these stranger(s) who bring their lifestyle, even problems into your family circle. So I say a big thank you for making me feel at home, especially in the vague moments sometimes thrown on you.

Also, I want you to know that my heart’s desire is to lavish your daughter with all the love I can give. There is no one living on this planet more in love than I. There is so much pleasure in marriage to be enjoyed and we are squeezing out all we can. Together we want to walk with Him no matter the cost…and we know there will be a cost. As you know, Jesus said there would. We are striving to put “eternity on our hearts” in a much deeper place. We seek to always protect our hearts in a dangerous and beautiful world. The only way we do that is to open our hearts to God who is zealously pursuing so much more.

I really do appreciate your passion and love for the Lord. I am fortunate that He placed me in a family that puts Him on the throne. Again, thank you for coming to see us! It was a real pleasure to be with you and I’m anticipating a fantastic time with you in two weeks.

And there is so much more ahead. More fellowship. More tears. More joys. So much more to uncover together as one family. We’ve just scratched the surface! The journey has amazing discoveries ahead and I can’t wait.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.
— J. R. R. Tolkien

Okay. That was my first set of thoughts, now I’d like to share with you about the pain and suffering gleanings I’m drinking up. It’s changing the way I view suffering and pain, even life!

Becoming broken isn’t all that bad of a thing because it means we need transformation. God can turn our brokenness into wholeness. All of us have been broken pieces turned into whole people. Some of us are broken pieces and partly whole. All in all, life is all about the transforming power of Jesus Christ. There may even be scars left over from things but one thing I know and appreciate so much is that we (Unruh/Davidson Clan) don’t give up. In actuality, everyone has them. People have developed an American craft of hiding what they don’t want others to see. I heard our good buddy John Maxwell say the other day that there is nothing more demeaning to your self than secrets. He said never, ever keep secrets because 1) they’ll kill you and 2) God will eventually uncover them. For me, I’d rather be the CEO than an apprentice any day, but Jesus calls to be mere slaves – to be an apprentice is actually a step up.

It’s not hard to look into someone’s eyes and see hurt. In fact, Leslee, it’s not a coincidence that you have the God-given ability to see people in a special way. Some may call it a gift to look straight through people, but God has chosen to call it discernment. Your swift of intuitiveness is as powerful as I’ve ever seen. Did God entrust you with a gift or what? I think your pathway to see people’s pain reveals a lot about you.

Every day, I ask God as many questions as I can. I figure that if James is for real, in that, God will answer you if you ask then I better take as much advantage of that promise as I can. Yet God’s uncovering truth’s for me I didn’t expect. I didn’t think the only comfort I’d receive for desiring so much understanding was in knowing 100% that my perspective for the last six years was so far off the radar. He did not promise comfort exteriorly, only interiorly. He didn’t promise heaven on earth, only in the afterlife. I journaled the following lesson he was teaching me last week:

Oswald Chambers once said, “It is much easier to do something than to trust God.” The only way to know the living glorious God is to walk with him. Chambers alludes that we would rather work for him than believe him. The challenge arises to believe in him which intersects with believing him. The true litmus test for a community of followers of Jesus is to find out if they are living what they claim to believe. It’s sad when ministers water down truth and accept the condition of these confused folk. They accept it because they too don’t truly believe it. If I want to find out how much someone believes in this truth then all I need to do is find out what they care about. Do there beliefs give a slab to what they care about?

Simply put: we live for ourselves, yet we convince ourselves otherwise by listening to others over God. This year it hit me that Christianity is not that complicated when you listen to just Jesus. Here’s what I mean.

I feel truly fortunate because God has called me to write. Sometimes I wonder why more people wouldn’t do what I do but then I realize the only reason I do what I do is because He’s called me to it. Simply put. No other way around it. Our cause is obedience in faith. Writing is my obedience in faith. Tomorrow – maybe not, but today it’s the way I walk with Him.

Graham Greene in his book The Third Man he writes about how in “it Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed—but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they have brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Hmm. Don’t you think we are living in the same kind of era as Switzerland? Think about how deep and wise our founding fathers were in the midst of war, sickness and fragility.

Is pleasure the opposite of pain? The Oxford English Dictionary thinks so. Leonardo da Vinci didn’t see like that. Pain and pleasure were one, to him. For most all of my life, I have thought like the Oxford English Dictionary, that pleasure is the opposite of pain. To me, a person who is in pain was someone who lacked happiness, who had it bad. I never knew why. I just hoped I wouldn’t ever be that person. That’s the hope I had. I’ve really missed the boat. Pleasure and pain are Siamese twins according to Philip Yancey and Paul Brand. Pain is not the enemy, rather it’s an opportunity to glorify God – it even protects us. Soren Kierkegaard says it for me, “With the help of the thorn in my foot, I spring higher than anyone with sound feet.”

I think all of us are becoming a beautiful mosaic. ALL OF US. If we’re His we’re always forming in that world. Just a mosaic: broken pieces turned whole for the glory of God. Jesus hurt. Jesus died. He took up His cross, now we take up ours all for the glory of the Heavenly Father. His name. His fame.

Thank you for steering your wheel towards others instead of sitting idle in a bath of tears. You’ve experienced difficulties. And you’ve stuck it out. I’ve learned buckets of lessons simply as a bystander. Not to say I haven’t experienced pain myself. I do and will, as long as He has me here. All for His glory in His story unfolding.

Yoda in counseling his protégé Anakin Skywalker says, “The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.”

Young Skywalker responds in hurt and anguish, “I won’t let these visions come true, Master Yoda.”

The wise Yoda says, “Death is a natural part of life.”

And Young Skywalker asks, “What must I do, Master Yoda?”

Yoda, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

What did young Skywalker do? The opposite! And he was taken over in the process.

I love that! There’s so much spiritual depth in those words.

Erwin McManus is one of the leaders God has used to shape my thinking. He shares how the post-modern culture is taking us into new textures. At the same time he said the modern church sees discipleship as primarily doctrinal training. “A mature Christian was someone who knew his Bible. Good citizenship was expected of everyone. This was not an unreasonable paradigm, but it was a dangerous one. Before post-modernism, the church enjoyed the positive influence of a culture shaped by the Christian faith. Life change became a lost art because most people appeared “together,” says McManus.
He says as things evolved we are becoming powerless to help those who are hurting and have fallen into a grip in the power of sin. Now we don’t know how to make disciples any more. The church just can’t handle the culture.

“Restoring broken lives requires conviction, commitment, and community. Unfortunately, even when the church wants to help, often it assumes it doesn’t have the power to heal. We profess that Jesus changes lives, but with broken people we tend to rely on psychotherapy. We’ll entrust Jesus with the small stuff, but we refer out the really big problems to Freud,” says McManus.

So the questions arises:

“How do we begin to reclaim the power of making fully functioning disciples out of seriously flawed people?”

Erwin says it begins with a culture of expectancy.

At the ministry I have the privilege of serving with, Bread of Life, I had to quickly learn that what these people need is someone to tell them often they CAN do it. They can change. They need belief! And they need to see before their eyes because words don’t mean anything any more. When you lose your ability to provide for your family, everything changes, just like what Jim Braddick experienced in Cinderella Man. The kind of culture’s the church needs to create all over this country are healing places because our brokenness is back at all time low. As you saw yesterday, when Pastor Andy speaks, he speaks with belief, no matter where you are in life. That connects with a huge audience!

I don’t want to be the referee in our family, just a cheerleader. To cheer you on, Leslee, as you campaign all over the world for a vital cause. To cheer you, the person God made you into, as you are. To cheer you on, Allen, as you restore thousands of people to health and convictions. To cheer you on, as you articulate to the world the power of freedom and values. You have a gift to communicate and you use it like tomorrow’s opportunity is uncertain.

You can only serve Jesus when you are losing yourself in serving others. Hurting people tend to demand more from you. Whole people have more to give. That’s the way it’s meant to be. If whole people ran from the hurting ones, then they all miss out. That’s a struggle for me. I tend to run from those who make me feel uncomfortable, but I’m learning now how far that is from the directions of Jesus. “The mind is its own place, and it itself can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n,” says John Milton in Paradise Lost. I conclude this letter with two things I must continually work on:
The best thing I can do for you, as a family is to continually develop gratitude.

This is learned when I keep the perspective that I am a criminal, who needed a savior and got one. And never forget it!
I believe that the root reason why we lack compassion for others is because we haven’t received any compassion ourselves. Then too, we’ve never walked with Jesus, because a walk alongside of him showers you with big drops of compassion. Everywhere I turn I need compassion, understanding and patience from God. And he gives it. If I were God I’d shoot balls of lightning at myself, but he daily listens to me, waits on me and believes in me. As I fail, give in and give up he looks at me and says, “I’ll wait as long as I need to because you’re well-being is important to me.” Now, the one who walks with God understands the kind of well-being I’m referring to. Sure, it is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual but underlined with glory and purpose. If you walk with God you’re the first to admit that you’re completely criminalized in every way possible. That’ll change the way you see the world. And you will naturally leak compassion and understanding which is the only way Jesus preached truth (Psalms 26:3).

In this process of developing gratitude, bitterness will have to be removed. This is where the forgiveness process has to begin. Releasing the past and forging into the future is key too. George Allen once asked, “How badly do you want it?” I find myself asking the same question, “Well, how badly do I want it?” My answer is, “Real badly!” Why? Because when God gives you a revelation of truth, you can’t help but act. Stephen Leacock said, “It may be that those who do most, dream most.” I’ve discovered that in God’s presence dreams are unleashed, and that’s what I’ve been pursuing. Incredibly, it gets more exciting every day!

Today is unlike any day that I’ve been a part of. It’s a day where the challenges are greater, but the potential is huge. The only way to live the future is to find the present. The things I’ve shared have really sounded an alarm in me so maybe I am better prepared before tragedy strikes. Alarms are not meant to cause fear in us, but to infuse us with an unwavering boldness to make a difference. Every day I’m in the Word it seems, I’m turning blindness into boldness. Turning fear into faith. Desiring to turn our churches into communities of faith, hope, and love. Turning hurt to the God kind of hope. Hope is a treasure; it’s a part of our mission – to lend a voice of hope to a hopeless world.

Forward thinking people are full of joyful anticipation. In contrast, regretful thinking people spiral downward into depression. God sees the end from the beginning. He is always looking ahead and that’s how we have to model our lives. Thinking hope. Thinking promise. Trusting God for the outcome.

The other thing I must do is to develop the spirit of a servant, which will only be trusted in time.
The good thing about people who hurt is that they see value in serving. It makes them feel like they’re doing something that matters. That’s good but they have to be channeled through a healing process or they’ll never get over their issue.

I’ve got to remember that my struggles just reveal my brokenness. That will never leave me. It’s something I must embrace, simply a part of the journey. So, I put my heart in your hands, not to run from potential hurt and pain but to embrace the chance to trust and grow. And that means so much more with you.

Ahhh…time to take a breath. Now, you can feel quite sorry for Amber, Mom and Dad who have to read all my ramblings very frequently. Love you guys so much!

One more thing I have to add for Allen. I just read your letter after I had written this. I have to tell you how astounded I was by your gift for words. It seems when people do read in this super-paced culture rarely do they unless there are word pictures and stories. Actually, I’m amazed you said that much in seven pages. Just Powerful! Read every word! You have so much to teach a young writer. I guess these are my thoughts about something important, just like you encouraged us to do. At 25 I’m beginning to think so philosophical too, already. You should seriously consider hiring someone to make your thoughts into books. Not me – I’ve discovered I’m not a great ghostwriter. I’m a creative writer like your self, not a word crafter. We’re the kind of people who come up with the creative ideas and rantings – but need editors!

Your Son-in-Law and Friend,

Bryan

Branding and Evangelism

September 21, 2005

We must learn to leverage a copious of traditional and non-traditional stories alike to make a connection with the most people possible. We’ve got to leverage every potential point of contact between Christ and hearer. That’s why we use experimental marketing. Use muti-faceted, multi-sensory, multi… The greatest ministries are the best storytellers that tell it in a way that never completely tells it. They just keep adding value to them – week after week, filling up their thirst tank and they keep wanting more. That’s what Jesus did. He didn’t sit down and tell the whole thing at once, rather, he wetted their appetites to keep them coming back. That was the genius of Jesus. Everything we do is a means to a greater end. The problem arises in our strategy or lack of. You’ve got to be strategic when you evangelize. We’re good at presenting the problem, but bad at offering solutions. And we wonder why so few evangelize. The ones that do are the rare ones who maintain the right perspective.

We have the job of creating such powerful emotional ties that stick with people in a way that overlooks our humanness. That’s why the Scripture is so powerful – it takes us into a different world. We have to be careful how we handle that kind of power. Jesus did. He maintained a dependent humility even as his power with people increased. As he spoke the word his fame grew, but his dependence on God also increased. With that in mind, it’s not what we do, but how we do it. It’s not what we say, but how we say it. That’s what keeps the unsaved coming.
Whether you like it or not, we are a brand.

We must continually keep asking the questions: what are the intrinsic core values that are fundamental to our ministries? What are our guardrails for growth as we emerge into a new era? It’s important to have a deep understanding of sound doctrine and Jesus’ methodology before we develop our own dynamics for ministry. Otherwise, the brandwidth of ministry can become dangerous. As we grow into an era of globalization it’s ever so vital to keep all this in mind and sense. We must learn how people not only view us but feel us – an ever more intimate understanding of our target. As brand expert Scott Bedbury noted, “Success in the future will be achieved not just by doing things right, but by also doing the right thing.” I’d wholeheartedly agree.

Coldplay and God

September 19, 2005

“I went through a weird patch, starting when I was about sixteen to twenty-two, of getting God and religion and superstition and judgment all confused. I think a lot of our music comes out of that. I definitely believe in God. How can you look at anything and not be overwhelmed by the miraculousness of it?”

– Coldplay singer Chris Martin –
Rolling Stone, August 25, 2005, pg. 42

Survival is Dangerous

September 17, 2005

If there ever was a time to stop scheming myself into writing revolutionary thoughts it is now. I have to admit that I’m coming off a two-month journey through what I’d call the wasteland (normal thinking living) – caused by doing what I need to do to survive.

I became a survivor when I said yes to a writing job that God was nudging me to say no to. I took it to survive, to pay the bills, and to take up a great opportunity, but at the time didn’t realize that fulfilling my commitment to finish the job would have a huge toll on me. It was good, but not freeing. It was productive, but not powerful. My spiritual walk like vaporized and I couldn’t figure it out. I’m not talking about a spiritual walk where I ‘feel’ great, I am referring to the kind where Jesus is walking through you all day long and it’s like a sailboat all the time rather than a paddle boat or a boat that runs out of gas at times.

The desire for survival is what takes us all down – unless we find some way some how to stay free in a spiritual walk. Models. Systems. Programs. They kill the spiritual walk. Then why do we continue to create them? For one reason alone: to survive. Suddenly, we sense that our freedom is gone, yet we’re confused at what it could be, so it’s natural to find something – some kind of outlet, to get by. At least then we can look like we know what we’re doing. At least then we feel successful.

The thing for me is, God did not call me to get by, he called me to walk with him, and walking with him is always above and beyond getting by. Walking with him is on the cutting edge. Walking with him is a conversation. When the conversation depletes, you know something’s wrong. Today, I am afraid not to keep the conversation going. My conversation with God is my lifeline, my spiritual walk, my freedom. Millions of believers lack these things, yet don’t have a clue that there’s so much more to life.

How many people live long lives surviving? How does the surviving mentality affect the spiritual walk? How dangerous are survivors to the cause of Christ, particularly the leadership?

To be literal, survivors kill the message of Christ.

On a bigger scale, as a whole the reason most people don’t understand this is because pastors and church leaders don’t get it. Their own leadership models are just surviving, and the only reason they’re successful (if) is because the word of God prevails. Yet, there’s ministry burnout and the reason they is because they have a messed up paradigm. On far too many days, my wrong paradigm needs a transplant. They need it. I need it.

The spiritual leaders we read and read about have a quality that separates them from the rest of the world. That quality is the strength to do whatever it takes, and never just survive. The day they start simply surviving is the day their ministry dies.

I am tired of allowing survival to creep into my mind and life.

• Not surviving is having the willingness saying “no” when needed.
• Not surviving is listening to God and obeying, no matter how crazy it sounds or what it takes. *Remember how Jesus called his disciples to follow him. And it wasn’t a popular or normal thing to do in that culture either.
• Not surviving will look strange to the world. *Remember Jesus was the most peculiar of people.

Survival vs. Thrival
• Lynn, who left his high profile job to work with abandoned children for little money rejected survival.
• Lee, who once pastured a mega church and was president of a large bible college decided to pour his life into small groups of disciples rejected survival.

Too Smart

September 15, 2005

Was thinking about why it seems so hard for smart, gifted people to follow Christ.

Do you agree at such a notion? If so, why do you think this is? Does such a thought have biblical backing? I am surprised at what I unveiled.

Is the price too much? Is it too easy to get by, or live for ourselves? Is it culture? Is it temptation too much? The temptation to make our own decisions. The temptation to be self-reliant.

The Voice

September 15, 2005

When Jesus called out his disciples he doesn’t tell them to figure everything out on their own (Matthew 10:5-6), he tells them to go where they are sent. In other words, when God calls us to go somewhere He doesn’t have to explain why, we are just supposed to be obedient. It’s not a matter of it sounding right but a matter of us knowing what the right thing is to do. We spend a lot of time trying figure out evangelism while God wants us to know that He will tell us what to do.

When I share this with people often they become frustrated because I may sound vague to them, so here’s what I tell them: “I’m not the one who sounds vague, Jesus doesn’t have to paint clear pictures of exactly what we are to do. What Jesus wants us to know is that His voice is all we need. We will hear his voice. All we have to do is position ourselves to hear his voice. You will know what the right thing is to do. If you aren’t clear on what to do, then wait. It’s that simple.” Evangelism becomes most natural as we become familiar with the voice of God.

Switchfoot

September 14, 2005

I couldn’t wait for the release of Switchfoot’s new album, “Nothing is Sound”. I bought it and love it! Once again, they delivered non-superficial music with depth and amazing sound. I thank God for these guys who are the real deal and live for the name and fame of our Lord Jesus. They represent exactly what the body of Christ needs today. I could go on and on…

Go get it today!

Is Raising Support Crazy or Biblical?

September 9, 2005

Question: What do I do if God calls me to do something but I don’t have the resources to take care of my family? Paul answers these questions for us in I Corinthians 9.

{Note in introduction: Acts 6 – leadership genius of God. Separating everyone into there call and gift mix}

v6″Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?

Paul and Barnabas had a trade they could do to support themselves, while the other apostles didn’t. I have friends who have a mission from the Lord yet they also have a skill or gift in something that helps them pay the bills while serving the Lord in other ways.

When my Dad left the pastorate for the first time in 32 years last year to expand his ministry from a community to communities as an evangelist, he didn’t know how he was going to support themselves. He raised some funds for his overseas trips but didn’t feel right about raising his full salary until his vision had matured a little more. In the meantime, he continued to preach and serve where he could. Walking away from a capable and flourishing ministry to do what God called him to go out and do was no easy task, but he persevered, refusing to give into the temptations of other things. A vision was maturing, that’s for sure, just not at the pace he or any of us would have preferred. But God does things in “due time” so we did the best we could with what we had.

Dad, the natural salesman he is, felt the Lord leading him to take some real estate endeavors in Panama City, Florida where he had lived for over four years before moving back to Atlanta. He had dozens of quality contacts and the area all of sudden became one of the most booming in the country. Not only did his condo double in price, but in one month he connected over ten people to buy pre-sale condominiums. All he asked for was a finder’s fee. Dad had discovered that real estate could be his skill to support him while he began planting seeds for the vision God had given him. He’s even becoming a licensed agent in Georgia and Florida. Yet he continues to preach and will most likely be immersed into that again very soon.

I meet people all the time who are laboring with the vision God has given them and it’s easy to become confused when it relates to a money issue. It seems like everyone has a different outlook on it. I’m encouraged once again that the Word of God has all the answers to all my questions and I’ve got an ocean of em. I ask, “God, how? Should I really raise my own support or get a job or…?” The entire time I think God is looking right at me just simply whispering or many moments shouting in my ear, “My answers are found right there, see it…it’s called My Word…aka the Holy Bible, the spot where I said they would be.” “Oh! That’s a life-changing grip I now have.”

When God speaks to us all we have to do is trust and obey. And let me say, it’s not like this is a struggle we have to endure alone. Paul said in the next chapter, “And remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.” David journaled about his constant struggle all the time, “O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most?”

And I think it’s just plain healthy to tell God exactly how you feel. When He says to cast all burdens on Him He means it. It’s a beautiful thing to me that men like David and Paul and Moses wrestled with God. He wants to be wrestled with. He’ll win but we’ll have answers and freedom and the knowledge that we are obeying our Heavenly Father. Read the Psalms and tell me he’s not fighting with God. He says things like, “Don’t rebuke me in your anger!…because of your anger, my whole body is sick.” If I were God I’d be annoyed, but our Heavenly Father is patient and understanding. Amazing.

7″What soldier has to pay his own expenses?”

The roman soldiers were paid in money and other things like corn. He’s using some common sense word pictures here.

“And have you ever heard of a farmer who harvests his crop and doesn’t have the right to eat some of it? What shepherd takes care of a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? 8And this isn’t merely human opinion. Doesn’t God’s law say the same thing?”

This is God – not only human reasoning.

9″For the law of Moses says, “Do not keep an ox from eating as it treads out the grain.” F46 Do you suppose God was thinking only about oxen when he said this? 10Wasn’t he also speaking to us? Of course he was. Just as farm workers who plow fields and thresh the grain expect a share of the harvest, Christian workers should be paid by those they serve.”

God cares about us as he does oxen. There is a reward in our work.

11″We have planted good spiritual seed among you. Is it too much to ask, in return, for mere food and clothing?”

Every man has a right to support his family through others or work.

The rest of the chapter should be an encouragement as well. I’ll tackle it another day for sure…v. 12-27

Jesus was a Homeless Rich Man

September 7, 2005

Did you know Jesus and his disciples chose to stay homeless?

You know, while we were house hunting for the first time, my faith muscle got a workout. I had been putting off buying a house for 3 ½ years – mainly because we’re learning to save and felt God wanted us to live light & simple –something I didn’t have experience in, unfortunately. Lots of folks have opinions about when/why/how in the house-buying arena, particularly b/c SO many are building tremendous wealth in this real estate boom.

One morning I was struggling b/c God was trying to get my attention and teach me something.

Out of desperation I asked him for guidance and I think he gave me an answer. As I kept asking God “What?” I looked down and realized I accidentally (more divinely) grabbed a book on the way out and stuck it in my bag. It was Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship”. So, I picked it up and noticed he had an entire section on how to live & use our money. I was awestruck. And so I decided that no matter what house we buy we’ve got to live like this.

Here are the notes I took from it: (Keep in mind – unedited notes between God and I always carry an extra dosage of boldness, bluntness and rambling. And any of you who know Bonhoeffer understand his passionate words)

We I think this home could be used to take my allegiance from where my heart is supposed to be – in Jesus Christ alone. I can’t let that happen as a love for myself, and protection from temptation that I might give into. No possession should stand in the way of my love and focus on Him. Worry twists the mind which puts a tremendous hinder on my heart. This home could become a possession I don’t need to store up. Even though it brings a great potential in equity, it will cause my heart to set on an accumulation of wealth, which is a wall between the Father and I. Where my treasure is, my heart is, Jesus said. A treasure includes anything my heart is set on. Intentions. People. Things. Anything! It becomes a treasure if it stands in the way of complete obedience. For me, that’s living by pure and complete guidance as he leads me each day. Anything that can cause worry should be avoided because worry saps our relationship with God. Bonhoeffer says it “dethrones God” and “puts ourselves in His place.” He wants us to be led by Him and Him alone. He wants to take care of us – to protect us. We try to help God and when we do we are saying don’t need Him. He wants to be needed. We should dare not try to get ahead of Him, nor stay behind Him, rather just walk with Him.

Bonhoeffer said, “Jesus does not prohibit possessing material goods, but they are to be used, not collected…the Christian must rely on God every day.” “When we store up our possessions, we not only spoil the gift but ourselves as well. When the heart is set on the accumulation of wealth, a clear barrier is put between the believer and God.”

How can I teach others to intensely focus on Christ while I am even remotely focusing on trying to accumulate wealth and live a misperceived more abundant life? Is an abundant life found anywhere besides our Lord? Now, there is nothing wrong with wealth or possessions, but the motive behind having them is essential. Are we using our possessions or collecting them for our own use?

“Earthly possessions dazzle our eyes and delude us into thinking that they can provide security and freedom from anxiety…when we seek for security in possessions we are trying to drive our care with care…the way to misuse our possessions is to use them as an insurance against the morrow…the only way to win insurance is by leaving tomorrow entirely in the hands of God and by receiving from him all we need for today” Bonhoeffer said.

Don’t Forget: Jesus and his disciples chose and stayed homeless, but they knew they were accumulating wealth that would last forever.

Tomorrow I want to touch on the area of raising your personal support team, and what the Bible has to say about it. You’ll be blown away. I was.

Gotta Read

September 1, 2005

I came across this very informative interview between Rick Warren with nearly all of the top news agencies. I admire Rick’s thoughts on new trends, church, culture, theology, social issues and even politics. They cover a lot in this session. And you’ll gather some questions and perspectives from reporters representing the Times, NBC, New Yorker, Atlantic, USA Today, Post, etc. Very genuine and perplexing material here. I think you’ll draw some good “thinking” from this. It’s worth the read – it “made me think.”

The Link is: http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80

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