resurrection people – he has risen!

caravaggio_doubting_thomas

By God’s grace, we live as Resurrection people.  Through Christ, we are reconciled to God and because of Him, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation.  Do not be afraid…He has risen.

Happy Easter, everyone!

The word of the Lord from the Gospel of Matthew 28

Jesus Has Risen

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

all jesus wants is to eat with you

last supper by leonard da vinci

There are numerous significant theological and biblical meanings behind the Last Supper (Passover Seder) and while the pursuit of those meanings are worthwhile and powerful, here’s the most simple and as significant:

Jesus wants to eat with us.

Let me say that again.  The Triune God of the cosmos not only created the world and humanity but desires fellowship, communion, and friendship.  And when sin entered the world and humanity to wreak  havoc and choas, God intervened again – with the redemptive mission of restoring Shalom – all that which God intended for us.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood (John 1:14 / The Message)

Throughout Jesus’ journey, he was eating with Continue reading “all jesus wants is to eat with you”

the coming evangelical collapse?

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Some of you may have already seen this article entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse [@Christian Science Monitor].  There are certainly some good things for ruminations, discussions, and considerations but like many things written for the purposes of drawing attention, it makes some grandiose statements.

I’d love to hear from you regarding your thoughts and commentary about the article [below].  Do you agree? Disagree?  What stood out to you?

And if you believe the Western church is in trouble, here’s the million dollar question:  Why and what can be done?

Is Christianity in trouble?  It really depends on how you look at the situation.  I have shared for some time that we live and have lived in a Post-Christendom Western world for a long time.  But because we dominate the resources of the world including information, we think we still remain the cradle of all things vibrant Christianity.   Having spent some time in other countries and pastoring two years in Korea in the ’90s, the Western world is NOT the center of the world.  I’m not trying to diminish the work of the Church in the West as it’s clear that it’s still influential but the Gospel is flourishing in many places outside the Western world especially in places around Latin America, Asia, and Africa.  Furthermore, while Christianity – in its various forms – are struggling in the Western world, we should also point out that it’s not the case in every situation. For example, ethnic churches, on the most part, are still flourishing in the West…

So, are we in the midst of a collapse or a spiritual recession in the West?  Well, these are certainly challenging times but just like the current economic recession, I see this as an opportunity for the “evangelical church” to re-discover their identity and grow deeper in our mission.  What I’m saying is that decline and talks of death aren’t necessarily bad things since sometimes, those very things will wake us up.  And perhaps through ‘death,’ we see the possibility of life anew.  

In fact, perhaps this collapse ought or needs to take place in order for us to discover ourselves once more from all that which have lured us away from our identity:  both as individuals and as a larger community.

And what’s the solution?  Not enough time and energy to share all my thoughts now but this I will share:  For me, Western Christianity have become victims Continue reading “the coming evangelical collapse?”

the 7 life lessons of craig wong [1972-2009]

craig

Please do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read this and pass it on to others. I want to share 7 Life Lessons of a younger man named Craig Wong (1972-2009) who despite his arduous battle with brain cancer over the past 15 months, began sharing “Craig’s Life Lessons” to as many people who would listen…

The call of being a pastor has its ups and downs – as it reflects the ups and downs of life.  I believe in the gospel that is Christ and the good news that not even death can separate those that have claimed Christ in their lives.  But there is still mourning and grieving in the loss of a loved one.  As a pastor, there are times I honestly wish I didn’t or couldn’t be emotionally connected to my flock.  But then, that simply wouldn’t be worth it.  This past year, our church came alongside the pain of numerous in our church community. I presided over the memorial service of a newborn baby that died 3 minutes after birth.  Today, I officiated the burial service of Craig – son, brother, husband, father to two, and friends to so many.

Honestly, I did now know Craig well prior to the diagnosis of a brain tumor in October 2007.  He was experiencing headaches so he went in to the doctor on a regular Friday afternoon for what he perceived to be a “routine check-in” only to be told he had a brain tumor.  I remember receiving that phone call.  The brain tumor was initially diagnosed as benign but when they went in to remove the tumor several days after that Friday, it was found to be malignant and the tumor has already begun its ugly growth.  I have gotten to know Craig, his wife, and their larger groupr of family and friends over the past 15 or so months and realized that even in his 36 years of life, he left an amazing legacy.

He loved his wife, loved his children, loved his family, and was devoted to his friends.  And all those relationships were informed by his faith and love for Christ.  This was apparent today as several hundred folks gathered later in the afternoon after the burial for the “celebration of Craig’s life.”

I still remember learning about his first response once he work up from his first surgery upon learning the tumor was not benign but malignant:

“Is this hereditary?  Will my kids be ok?”

I don’t know why this has been so emotional.  I guess they all are in their own way.  Perhaps, it’s because Continue reading “the 7 life lessons of craig wong [1972-2009]”

“new calvinism” as 3rd most powerful idea – according to time magazine

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Time Magazine created a list of 10 new ideas that are impacting the world right now and #3 on their list – incredibly – is an old but new movement called Calvinism or “New Calvinism.”  Listed as some of the movers behind this new movement are John Piper from Minneapolis, my neighbor Mark Driscoll from Seattle, and Al Mohler.  I find it encouraging and phenomenal that this was on the list but think we’re missing something if we think the Holy Spirit is working exclusively through the “new Calvinists.”  Despite our cynicism and reports of the collapse of the evangelical church, the Holy Spirit is working…

Mark – on his Resurgence blog – listed the distinctions between Old and New Calvinism.  He cites four main differences:

  1. Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
  2. Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
  3. Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

While I personally roll with the Covenant denomination, I am advocating that we never be an island to ourselves.  I spent most of my early years in Reformed and Presbyterian Churches including two years in Korea at what I perceive to be one of the most influential [but completely unknown to Westerners] churches called Onnuri.  I received my Masters of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary so I have a good deal of exposure and understanding of Calvinism and Reformed Theology.  It’s clearly shaped a portion of my theology and ecclesiology.

So having said that, I like to think that we’re really all part of One Larger Team called the Kingdom of God.  Thus, if those four traits are the characteristics and commitments of New Calvinism, we should all be BIG fans.  I would certainly be and would genuinely love to see my co-laborers in the New Calvinism team be committed to being Missional, Urban Minded [and not just the Suburbs], led by the Holy Spirit, and Bridge Builders. 

How about you?  Thoughts about the article?

Here’s the article from Time: Continue reading ““new calvinism” as 3rd most powerful idea – according to time magazine”

women’s day, girl effect, and 10 reasons

womensilence

I am joining others on this day to mark International Women’s Day and in this small way, contribute to the celebration of their voices, gifts, and presence and highlight the need for continual justice.

Each year on March 8 the world takes time to observe International Women’s Day. It is a day dedicated to the celebration of women’s social, economic and political achievements worldwide. In the United States, this official day of observance is rooted in women’s efforts to campaign for rights to work, vote and hold public office, culminating on March 8, 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights, and an end to sweatshop conditions and child labor. In the early 1910s, the concept gained recognition in the international community and grew momentum as women across Europe continued to fight for the right to work and protest against ensuing world conflict.

There are also others on the blogosphere also highlighting the voices of women in the Bible.  One female voice that has recently spoken to me in surprising new ways is Lydia from Acts 16:11-15.  My church is currently going through the book of Acts and I recently preached on that text [mp3] covering Paul, Lydia, power, and transformation.  Paul went to Phillipi and likely sought out the synagogue [and men] but it did not exist.  He went outside the city gate to the river – again expecting and hoping to meet men since that was his strategy.  I love this passage because we see how it wasn’t Paul’s intent, strategy, or plan but God surprises and blesses him nevertheless by introducing him to Lydia Continue reading “women’s day, girl effect, and 10 reasons”