YWAM

My Story, Gods Story, & My Theology

One of my biggest mistakes I believe that I was making as an early bible student was assuming that scripture was all about how to ‘get saved and go to heaven.’

To my pleasant surprise, (as it turned out) that was not what Featured imagescripture or God himself was concerned with trying to reveal. I’m so glad that the year I had decided to do the SBS in YWAM, a Chronological SBS was starting in Los Angeles and that happened to be the place where I was planning to go. I spent the first 6 months of the bible school trapped in the Old Testament. I was just nineteen years old when I began the CSBS and I struggled with the violence in the OT but for the first time was struck by the goodness and mercy of God. Instead of being fixated on his wrath or anger It became clear that though God interacted with violence at times mankind was constantly prone to violence, murder, lies, cheating, stealing, and many other violent and destructive behaviors. God not man is the hero of the OT.

Often people struggling with God, fixate on specif instances of his judgement. But the consistent story of the OT is about the ongoing and worsening behavior of man. Yet the primary theme emerges. Scripture when given a chance and looked at as a unified whole reveal a good God, a loving and patient God, a just and right God who does not gleefully destroy anyone or anything that he lovingly created.

The emerging theme is what we sometimes call the theme of Gods Redemptive Plan. It is evident from book one that he had a plan to turn everything around. To reverse the curse that began with mans rebellion from God. Abraham was the man God chose and his family to undo the sin of Adam and bring blessings instead of curses onto the earth and to every family in it. Just as God planned in Adam and Eve to fill the earth with Adam seed and nurture Eden until it consumed the whole earth. God wanted for Abraham to continue in that great vocation though sin and its curse had already begun to have its effect on the earth and on all the families of the earth including Abraham’s family.

The overarching story of those first 6 months of bible study told us that this chosen family was failing. Though there were many bright spots, many shining examples of faithfulness, the people of Abraham failed. They again, like Adam faced exile from their home, from the place which in Gods design they would spread out from and bless the world. When we arrive at the gospels in the New Testament Jews believed that though the had been preserved they were still in an exile of sorts. Still awaiting the day when God would act on their behalf. The day when God would restore their fortunes and make the world notice that God was for Israel.

Interesting for me that after about 5 years in the CSBS I had not developed a strong appreciating for the New Testament. I did not dislike it. But I was intrigued and drawn to the Torah and to the story of Israel and their God. But after 5 years I finally fell in Love with the gospels. In particular I fell in love with the the Gospel of Matthew. This makes a lot of sense to me since Matthew is the most Jewish Gospel. Written to Jews no doubt, Jesus engages a lot with Pharisees (with the lament of the pharisees in particular), Law (with the Sermon on the mount in particular), and Temple (with the Olivet Discourse in particular). It is a master piece seeking to convince any doubters that Jesus really is the Messiah that the Jewish people have been waiting on. But its going to be tricky cause he is a little different than expected. I found it more exciting because Jesus was not simply telling people ‘this is how you get to heaven or get saved.” It was more rich than that. He was teaching what his kingdom was like, how those who were a part of his kingdom must live, think, and feel about the world that they live in and will inherit. Only after I really grasped some of these essentials about Jesus and his kingdom, about the ongoing use of the Jewish Narrative and their Law was I able to appreciate the work of Paul the Apostle.

For many Christians, I believe, their “Christian” Theology is actually a “Pauline” Theology. Whether they worked for it or inherited it from sermons and popular teaching people understand the OT through Paul’s lens, and people understand the Gospels through Paul’s lens. Not that there is anything wrong with Paul’s lens in itself. Its just not the way Christians, I believe, should go about study and compression of the Canon of Scripture. I have heard it pointed out that our “Theology” is often based on creeds rather than on Canon. That theology is inherited from the teachings, the sermons, the songs, the liturgy, and the creeds, of the church. This is a valid point that Reformers themselves fought against. We tend to think that the reformers had a great victory in riding the church of allegiance to creeds and bring the people of God back to the whole witness of the Canon of Scriptures. But they did not once and for all rid Christianity of allegiance to creeds over Canon. They simply set an example to follow. It remains a task of Christians to follow in their footsteps and not allow Tradition to overtake fresh engagement with the Word of God. Even if that means that we challenge some of the traditions developed in our post reformation christian world. Of course I am not suggesting to throw out doctrine of John Calvin, Martin Luther, and the like. We should work with their readings and commentaries and go back to the text and have fresh insights that derive out of careful exegesis.

One of these Post-Reformation ways of engaging with the Canon is to read through the lens of Paul rather. As inductive bible students who seek to establish a context for each book, its author, its audience, and its occasion we should not approach Genesis for instance simply with what Paul said, though we do not dismiss him. It helps, I believe, to approach these text fresh, with as much knowledge of the context as possible. To work through the unfolding story, in context, to arrive at Jesus and the Gospels still engaging with their context, and then arrive at Paul and his letters to see how he engaged with the Old Testament and the Gospels and add on to what we have already learned and perhaps adapt it where it needs to be adapted. The thing I’m not suggesting is a a sort of either or, that we either go with what Paul said about the OT or we just do it on our own. Instead we do a little of both. I believe if we learn to work with the OT in context then instead of forcing Paul to say what we want him to we become familiar with how he may have actually come to think about the OT and Jesus.

In other words, what Paul says about the use of the Law is not extensive and final. Most come away from Paul with clarity that the Law brings condemnation. He says that it does, but for those who are “in Christ” the law does not bring condemnation. Therefore the Law becomes simultaneously; condemnation for those who are not “in Christ”, a tool for those who are to know God better, to look more like God, and to bear a greater witness to those who are not “In Christ.” Multiple uses for the Law abound when we look at Paul’s explanation of the Law from the angle of how Jews in the first Century struggled with the Law and how to actually go about observing it. Paul now has the key, Jesus and the Spirit. All of these uses are evident if we study the law in context. Paul becomes more clear when we see for ourselves that the Law is about humbling the people of God, revealing God to the people of God, and making the people of God a greater witness to those around them.

It is the issue of the Law that brings me back to my own story. Just as I had mistaken all scripture to be about Salvation, or how to get saved and go to heaven. Jews in Paul’s day had mistaken the Law for a formula for assurance of their own future vindication. If they were circumcised, if they ate right, observed holy days, and followed the rabbinic teachings of the day then they would have some assurance of their Salvation. In others words for many Jews in Paul’s day they have mistaken the Law for a way of salvation. Saul of Tarsus certainly must have believed in some form of this, until his conversion, and maybe some time away in Arabia to sort things out a bit. The new Paul was able to clarify that Law on its own brings condemnation, that without Christ there is no hope of future vindication of the righteous, no matter how righteous, without Christ and also the spirit there is not hope for the people of God. So for Paul, if he were asked directly, “How do I get saved?” He might respond with well really its not about how you get saved but about how you have been saved, or better, how salvation has come into the world for the world by way of those in the world. It is a story that in Romans Paul actually decided to tell from Creation, Fall, Judgement, Law, Sacrifice, Atonement, Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Pharaoh, Prophets, exile, and Messiah. This is the story not of how you can get saved and go to heaven but about how God has brought salvation into the world that he loves and to that which he loved the most, mankind.

It would be silly of me to completely leave out what Paul says about “Justification by Faith”. Some might say well actually Paul answers the quest more basically. He says, to those who ask, You get saved by faith in the Messiah. But that I believe is sometimes the answer we give a bit to soon. Paul labors heavily to tell the story of how Salvation was provided for us by God  throughout history climaxing in Jesus the Messiah. Then when it is heavily evident Faith in the messiah becomes a reaction, and a work of the spirit, through the telling of the story of Gods Faithfulness. In other words, we are saved by the faithfulness of God. By Faith for Faith as Paul says in Romans chapter one.

Some Suggested Reading on topic

Conversion of the Imagination – Richard B. Hays

Ancient Near Eastern Thought Relating to the OT – John H. Walton

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah – Alfred Edersheim

Paul and the Faithfulness of God – N.T. Wright

How God became King – N.T. Wright

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Categories: Bible, CSBS, Doctrine, New Testament, paul, Romans, Theology, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goals for Reading, Writing, Teaching, and Creating

So Lately I have been on a writing and reading lull. I have a number of books i need to get started. I’ve also been hitting a wall with any kind of writing. A guess it is just the end of an other year for me and I am catching my breath for the next long stretch. The year for the last 7 years goes from September to August.

Thought this might be a good time to set out some of my goals for this next year. Reading, writing, teaching, creating, and personal goals need to be laid out.

Here I will mostly layout some of my reading, writing, and teaching goals because that is what I will likely be continuing with here on my blog over the next year.

This past year I ended up reading around 15 books. That actually means there are about 6-8 on my shelf that I purchased and have not finished. I am by no means a speed reader. It takes me a lot of hard work and focus to finish books. I’m have a bit of an attention disorder. I still, like when i was a kid, find myself wanting to be outside on the soccer field running. I’m the guy who’s leg wont stop twitching. This next year I think it would be cool however to actually read 15 books again. It was a good year for me in being able to get through this many books. A few of them were 500 pages or more. I read a lot in the area of History, Sociology, Philosophy, and Theology, and in that order.

Im eager to read more in these categories, as they are my favorite. But I’m also very fascinated by ecology. I may pick up a few books dealing with the environment from people that I like. Bill McKibben, Paul Hawken, and Joel Salatin are popular authors and practitioners in my wish list. I’m very interested to see people who love God pointing the rest of us toward a more biblical attitude towards the environment.

That and a handful of good theologians. My two favorite currently are John H. Walton for the OT and Tom Wright for the NT. These guys both point to the whole picture of Gods design and redemptive purpose for all of Gods creation. In the beginning man had a special job of caring for and making it better. In Christ man is re-created for the same good work. I love it. 🙂

If I can manage to read more then 15 I would be happy, but we will see.

If I am reading consistently then I’m sure I will be able to find the energy to write more and continue my blog. I want to write on the issues coming up in my reading and have some fun posts but also informative with footnotes and keep myself a bit scholarly and studious.

As for the area of teaching. I want to challenge myself with a few new books in the CSBS. Im thinking I will finally get around to teaching Romans. I have a a dream of getting to fully teach the book of Exodus. Love that book. Outside of teaching in the class I will be teaching and training staff. One of the new developments for this year will to begin our media initiative of the CSBS. I want to be able to do way more in the area of media. So I have learned to do some basic editing. We are going to get a good bit of equipment and begin developing some quality teaching videos. Some short ones with solid information and some longer overview lectures. I of course will have to practice to get what we are looking for and will have the chance to develop some of my own teachings just for video. But eventually we will have our staff using it and all our incoming speakers. I’m going to incorporate it into the preparation for each staff as they prep a book. There will be 2-4 sessions working with the equipment and cranking out good media related to their teachings.

Im also looking to develop what we are calling a “Word of Hope” pamphlet for the Homes of Hope work we are doing here in Mexico. Every family that receives a Home will receive the pamphlet and someone to being to explain some of the contents. It will literally be a Word of Hope. We want to introduce the families to God not just with the home we give, and the bible we give, and the love we give. We want them to know a bit more of what is in the book we give them. We want them to begin to grasp what the Hope really is. Its not just a home to make there crappy life a little better. Its not just a book and a God that will take you to heaven later after your crappy life. But it is the hope of a God that comes into our lives and begins to show us how we can live this life to the fullest and begin to see his trans-formative work here in our life and in our families and communities. We hope ‘Word of Hope’ will make that just a little more clear and bring more light to why we gave them a Home and a Bible.

I final idea that I may be working on this summer is to create an accredited course with YWAM for the churches and the families of the communities we are working to see transformed. It would be equivalent of a small 3 week course. I think I would like to see it called a Genesis Course. We would begin in the area of Worldview. Particularly looking at Genesis 1-2 and getting a clear picture of who we are. It is important to know your value. Even in the rest of Genesis to know that even as a fallen being you have great value to God and in all of creation. The second week would give people tools for biblical studies and learning how to value Gods word and receive from it. The last week would be taking the model that God gave Abraham to bless other families. We would have them develop their own ‘seed project’. They will end the course with having one thing they will do to begin the blessing of other people. In summary gaining value of self, value of the Word, and value of giving. This I think expresses what we want people to grasp as they begin their walk. That they have value, that Gods Word has immense ongoing value, and that being a blessing to other people and our environment begins to give value to the rest of Gods creation.

These are a handful of the ideas, goals, and thoughts about the coming year. September through August. 🙂

Categories: CSBS, Mission, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Incarnation, Death, Resurrection and the End of Christian Gnosticism

mountainflowersI want to begin this blog with a reminder that the bible affirms environmental stewardship and the sanctity of human life. Gods created order in Genesis one and two reveal a God who created man to partner with God in the good care of all forms of life.

The rest of the bible makes a strong case that man not God brings harm to the many forms of life. The fate of man us intertwined with the treatment of all other life forms.  So man not God hurts God created order.

The other biblical reminder is of Gods Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection. His incarnation initiates the redemptive work in nature and humankind. The idea that the all mighty, powerful, creator putting on human flesh transforms our idea of a distorted humanity. He continues this redemptive work when he is killed, buried and then resurrected. He is reversing what Adam had broken in humanity by taking on death, and overcoming it for all mankind. That he would take on the flesh of a sinful race, die, and be resurrected confirms that Gods creation is still worthy of preservation.

We are challenged to be better caretakers of our environment, because God has carried for it, because he created it, because he incarnates it regularly, because he has future plans for its full restoration.

His plans for the future restoration includes the present. Right now God’s Word is to be incarnate in our lives. We are to follow the model he sets, the job he gives in creation, the job he gives, “go make disciples of all nations” and again in Acts “to the ends of the earth”. So all nations, all people, all lands, all of nature is to be touched by people of God bringing reconciliation and trans-formative restoration. His holistic approach reminds us when we attempt to evangelize a man that we treat him as a whole man. We make our appeal not simply in mechanical terms of truth but in the spirit of Love. We are not appealing simply to a soul without a mind or a body. Love means physical emotional connections must be made. When appealing to the mind we must bring some facts, some reason, some absolute certainty. Yes, and the third, man is a spirit and not just a mind with a body. Man is a metaphysical creature.

Just as our appeal is not only to on part of nature, or one nation of people. It is also to all of creation, all of humanity, and all of what is human. Jesus came to bring back to life all that is dead in his created order. trinity-172175215_std

The Doctrine of the Trinity affirms these many beliefs. That God is in some way inseparable from his creation by the three facts; that it is his creation, that he acted by his word to protect and guide the future redemption of all of creation and that he has taken on flesh and entered into creation. That man is made in Gods image affirms the three part of man that are to be redeemed. Non Human nature also bears the mark of trinity in Protons, Neutrons and Electrons. These three particles are the building blocks of all physical substances. Protons have a positive charge, electrons are negative and neutrons are neutral. In the same way we have the basic particles made up of Hadrons, Leptons and Bosons.

So how is it that we can get the trinity right without getting rid of Christian Gnostic attitudes towards creation. So much negativity has been built up towards the natural order. We are ready to see it all come crashing down. We are ready to see Jesus come back and save it all. But why are we not ready to defend the earth, to defend what God made in humanity.

Maybe we need to set our eyes anew on the last book of our sacred library. Maybe Revelation has something to say. For isn’t it this book that many think confirms our fears, that it is all coming down. That when it does then the rescue comes. Why not just hold on until the end, be raptured, be rescued, and forget about trying to make a pathetic effort to fix any of it.

Just as Jesus left it to his church to go into all the world and disciple nations. Revelation 21 reveals the climax of this work. That when Jesus kingdom comes in full the kings of the nations will bring into the kingdom of God the glory and honor of nations. (verses 24-26). How sad it will be for those who simply held on until the end. There will be no glory and honor being brought into the kingdom of God. There will be no part in bringing in the kingdom of God. Discipling nations to walk in holistic renewal, not just their churches, and the souls of people. But whole people,  whole nations, and the whole of creation. Only this work will be brought into the kingdom of God when it is in its fullness.

My friend Ron Smith, says that “The trinity, is a theological hill to die on”. I think I get what this means when I consider that God also has a certain kind of wholeness. We can distort his image to being parts of the trinity. When we do this we are vulnerable further to distorting the parts of man, parts of nature, and the nature of the Christian mission. A single crack in the trinity can wreck the churches witness.

 

Categories: Authority, Bible, Church, Context, CSBS, Doctrine, Eschatology, Mission, New Testament, Old Testament, Orthodox, Salvation, School of Biblical Studies, Theology, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Divine Human Nature

What does it mean to get saved according to Genesis one through three?

This is a term I heard so much growing up in the Baptist Church. Its a term I still use on occasion. It is a word that starts to sound really weird after hearing so much.

“Do you want to get saved?”   “Are you Saved?”    “Am I Saved?”

Now nearing about 7 years of being part of the School of Biblical Studies in YWAM, I have taught Genesis 1-3  more than any other passages in the bible by far.

For the past few weeks I have been talking about the book, going through the first few chapters, with about 10-15 youth here in Mexico. All of the kids would say they are Christians. By and large, Mexican people would claim Christianity more than most Americans. It is a very religiously minded culture. Some of the boys are actually seeking discipleship and have began a real relationship with God that is evident in their life. But some of the boys are not in that place.

So I have been doing these bible studies for a mixed group, some of the boys have not been “Saved”.

So my thought has been, “what would that look like according to Genesis one through three”?  What is it to be saved?

First I have decided that its nothing to do with religion. No religiousness is needed to begin. In fact there is very little that is religious at all about these few chapters. If religion involves rules, than there was only one. Enjoy everything do everything your were created to do, just don’t eat of that tree. It brings death.

Of course God is involved. So if God = religion than maybe this is religious. But according the the great dreaded biblical scholar, Jesse Levi Evans, Genesis one, two, and three is not about religion.

It is about being a whole person. It is not until after man freely chose death for his race that man became somethingda-vinci incomplete. Before his choice, he had work that was fulfilling and meaningful. God had delegated to him the of job running everything he had set up. Not only meaningful work, but meaningful sex and relationships, and family. The very breath of the creator filled your lungs and gave you your full existence. Life was very good. Life was full. Man was whole. Man knew God. Man knew nature. Man knew himself.

What does it mean to be saved according to Genesis one through three? It means that being made whole again is possible. You learn what it means to be a person.

Though chapter three brings death, -death to the whole man, death to fulfillment in work, relationships, and mans relationship with his creator, man begins to set his eyes on a resurrection, on a recreation.

Studying the bible has become I hobby and a deep love affair for me. I still cry just reading specific passages. I get excited about the connections. Studying the bible is not a religious endeavor but me 1)becoming a whole person, 2) knowing the whole story, 3) knowing my environment and my role in it, 4) gaining perspective on Gods whole character.

In other words being saved is not religious nonsense found in a religious book created by fanatics. In fact that’s why I don’t use that phrase much.

Being saved becomes becoming whole, knowing myself, my environment, my friends and family by way of revelation from God and not being left to deal with only my bad choices that lead to death, frustration, toil, anger. The bible is not about becoming more religious its about become more human, which according to Genesis one through three is in the image of the divine.

Categories: Anthropology, Bible, Church, Context, Cosmology, CSBS, Culture, Doctrine, Faith, Genesis, Mexico, Old Testament, Origins, Orthodox, Philosophy, psychology, Salvation, School of Biblical Studies, sociobiology, sociology, Spiritual, Theology, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Everyone I know Needs to do CSBS

I grew up in the church. I’m glad I did. Though many Sunday’s I made the “Lords day” more like hell for my parents. I would have rather spent my Sunday mornings sleeping in until pregame started and then pure football all day.

Given some time with good influences, some within the church and most once a made a decision to go work with some wonderful people at a summer camp for a couple summers I found that the Christian life had strong merits. I’ve always been emotional about the gospel of Jesus. I cried at church from time to time as a child when we sang my favorite hymns.

logo_uofnEvery now and then my dad, the pastor, would give a sermon that really got me. And I would ask Jesus into my heart, again. I think I got saved at least 100 times as I was growing up. After summer camp I went to YWAM. I found out later lots of people feel that YWAM is a cult. Really its actually just an inter-denomination, multicultural, worldwide missions organization and its roots are actually in the Assembly of God Movement. But again, it is inter-denominational. I don’t have to speak in tongues if I don’t want. 🙂

It wasn’t until after my DTS that as I and my good friend Justin Lechner were preparing to head out to LA for the School of Ministry Development, that his mom, gently encouraged us to check out the CSBS now starting in LA. We actually said we would go look at it and we both felt strongly that we were to go for the Bible School instead.

I did not realize that I was about to make one of the best decisions of my life. I also did not realize how much I needed the story, (That’s what I may now refer to the school as).  I needed the beginning all the way to the end. I needed it in order too. And for the first time in 30 years of this school being run in YWAM it was going to be put in Chronological order.

I did not feel academic enough to start this fairly rigorous course. They said it was at least the equivalent to the study of a 2 year collage course crammed into nine months. They said, I would be graded, and that it was a school in which you could fail. Regardless, I was so ready to do this.

We began with the Gospel of the John; “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

How better to begin the story to find out that your central character God was incarnated in the Word and then later in flesh. So that you know that what you are engaging with is not a dry old book but the incarnated God later to be revealed in flesh.

Cliff Davis our school leader. A brave man who took on way too many teachings pushed us as students all throughout the OT, to look to Jesus without the name Jesus, to anticipate a messiah without injecting everything we think we know about him until you meet him afresh as a student. Though all of us Christians with his Holy Spirit in us guiding us through the school we entered the shoes of the Original Readers, the Original Audiences of the OT message. We became a little stiff-necked in the process. When we reached the book of Matthew we, along with the 1st Century original audience we wrestled with this new character who claimed he was from heaven, who spoke beautifully, and challenged the leaders of the synagogue, who was eventually crucified, and stories of a Resurrection began to spread. As students we had truly entered the ancient world of and allowed our thoughts to conform to theirs.

I needed to see the story unfold in a powerful way, and more than seeing, I needed to study it in context as if I was a part of the story. Because at the end it became clear to me. The story I worked hard to try to inject myself into really was a story that I was a part of. The crazy thing is that this is not just a story for the few who might like to engage in it as I have. It is ‘the’ story; That takes us back to the beginning. The ‘good news’ for all humanity needs to go back to the very beginning. So that all of humanity can be sure that this message is not just for certain people.CSBS Emblem

Crazy enough, the God who created all things began with a garden called Eden. Located in modern day Iraq. God created man and women. He began to create and co-create humanity with Adam and Eve. Two people capable of co-creation. All nations came from God, all nations came from those who he created. The narrative of Genesis 1-3 shows us that Gods purpose for humanity was pretty simple. Co-Create, and Co-nurture. Gods two jobs given to Adam and Eve where to create more people, and to have dominion over the things God created. In dominion is implied not what is often misunderstood about this word. That man can do whatever he wants because he has dominion. Rather he is to nurture, to understand, to value, and help make what God created even better. It is no wonder why man has grown to love science so much, why conservation groups are growing more popular. One of the primary roles of man is to care for nature. One of the other primary roles is creating other men and women. We tend to think of things with a naturalistic framework. That makes man and woman’s role in child making purely physical. But if you take a step back there is much more of a dimension to co-creating. God made man in his image. Part of the role in co-creation is following the example of God in parenting the child in order that they too learn to function as a caretaker of nature, and creator of life. Of course one last crucial element was that God had perhaps a third role of man. That was continued allegiance to God the ultimate creator. This is demonstrated in Gods warning not to eat of the “Tree of Knowledge of good and evil” for the day you eat of it death will come into the world.

This brings us the reality we are more familiar with. Death, murder, disasters, chaos, random chance. We know that Adam decided for all of humanity that death we be a normal part of our lives. From the time of Adam man has looked in hope to the idea of a resurrection. When one dies what will bring them back. Death though is a reality was not meant to be.

The reality we are familiar with may be such a strong reality it blinds us from the hope of a Resurrection, or simply from a full life. According to the story mans hope is not in vain. Nor does the story leave out this common hope. God is not silent as to this resurrection hope. Though death is the common reality that seemingly has nothing good to do with it. It is not all bad. For when a plant dies its seeds fall to the ground and produce more life. Death is a reminder that man has fallen. It is a reminder of the garden, and there is hope for a resurrection.

All this to say, the bible in Genesis is helping us to see who we all are, what we are to be doing that brings fulfillment, why certain things don’t fully fulfill any more, and what we are looking forward to. Man has always been faced with yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Every moment is fleeting. But there is always past, and always future. Knowing where we came from and what we can rightly look forward to can help us make decisions in every moment.

The power of this story is a reminder that human choices have a special power endowed by God for creation, nurturing, building up. That our choices are however are own, that we can choose not tear down, infect, and destroy. Morality or ethics.

The Story; Origins of All, Purpose of All, Morality of All, Destiny of All

The story touches on all of these things not just for those like me who feel like giving it some time. But this is the missing link for all peoples. No one single piece can bring your life into perfect harmony. But together knowing where you came from, where your fulfillment is found, what your responsibility is, and where it is all leading is what we all need.
Christian or Not. The bible has answers for what it means to be a whole person, and what it means to be a real Christian.

Categories: Bible, Church, Context, CSBS, Ethics, Faith, Genesis, New Testament, Old Testament, Origins, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Your Desired Spiritual Temperature: Practical and Current Assessment of what is Spiritual

Socially and Historically there has always been those who desire an “intense” or “less intense” Faith. That does not mean for instance that say, Catholic Faith is less or more intense then Protestant Faith. But within Catholicism some adherents prefer a more intense faith full of self sacrifice, and service to those in need. Some prefer a more casual approach in their faith. That does not mean one is greater then the other so long as both maintain a genuine faith. It matters weather each adherent is faithful to Gods call, and committed to his work, submitted in obedience to God. The impact of the faith to the outside world will come by having these various degrees of intensity, so long as it is genuine.

Similarly, some who desire a very high level of spirituality in the protestant movement may not be content with any particular level of spirituality within his or her group. This has led to many fractions within the body of Christ. There is pushing and shoving from both sides, to be more of less content with higher or lower levels of spirituality, and for various reasons.

For our Community: Some may be content because they feel called by God to maintain a crucial role of say, Hospitality, as we have on all of our YWAM bases. Or maybe it is the role of accountant, or registrar. What then is most needed is a knowledge of the supernatural in what we do.

Because the attack comes not only on what some deem as ‘mundane’ but on the very thing God has called us (ywam sdb) to do. For instance, Is building homes supernatural/spiritual or just practical help for someone without a house? Is 20+ years of “doing the same thing” an act of God or an act of man? Should we be expecting something more? If so, how much more, and what? Do we expect mass conversions followed by mass DTS’s and the like? I will give some answers.

  1. The truth is “mass conversion” is a myth. Growth rates in the early church was about 2% by the year and over 250-300 years a 2% growth rate took over more then half of the total population of the Roman Empire. This illustrates that a “mass conversion/Revival” expectation is not realistic and not even needed. However, human pride says that, “a complete turn around must happen in my lifetime or it must never be going to happen.” We want the results now and we push others to have a more intense faith because we don’t recognize the necessity of a job that one might consider mundane and irrelevant to ‘the situation’.
  2. As well, 20+ years of YWAM San Diego Baja “doing the same thing” is to be praised not to glorify man, but to recognize the supernatural at work through human obedience, endurance, and commitment to the call of God. The supernatural reality of what just a few people in relationship to the all-mighty God can accomplish is breathtaking and awe-inspiring. If there is a need to push others into a more intense faith the language used aught to be that of; commitment, endurance, and obedience to the call of God on a life.

The work may ‘seem’ slow to some. It may seem ‘simplistic’ or even ‘non-spiritual’ to some. But those who have committed themselves year in and year out are to be praised for their Christ like devotion to serving the poor. Nothing has been more “heaven meets earth” then Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. And nothing says that the All-Powerful God of the Universe Loves you and has come to earth like, -when Christians make a sacrifice of their time (20+ Years) and resources (4,000+ Homes) to give hope in Jesus name.

Even in writing this I realize that I only know a fraction of the cost in dollars, actual blood, sweat, and tears. I hope for those reading that this brings to mind those moments of sacrifice, maybe for some its every day. But to also call to mind those times when you were inches from saying “I’m done, I’m going home”. Instead you stayed, and you build someone else a home. God Bless you for that a million times over. What an honor it is to serve alongside all of you.

Final thoughts for us; This comes at a time in our community where we are growing: New Staff, new schools, high level of interest in our training department from incoming students, teams who want to come to Mexico to build and give, large donations for base facilities, favor with authorities, open doors, and miracles all around us. My challange is not to press in for a  ‘mystical/unknown spiritual height’ but to press in to know the Lord, to recognize his work/miracles. Often we seek something that is already right in front of us.

In YWAM we maintain that we are inter-denominational. Often people treat the mission as though it is set on having particular high level of ‘spirituality’ thus pressuring some to limits that he or she is not willing to be pushed to and thus ostracizing some of genuine faith and love for God and people. When teaching, prophesying, and guiding the community do so with humility and honor so that God can use your gift to build ‘up’ and not tear down.

At YWAM SDB we maintain that “We Serve the Poor”. We do this because God said to. “God Said” is the most repeated words in all of scripture. It is a belief that the highest spiritual power in all of the universe actually speaks to man. Our brush with the supernatural begins here. And to gauge our own true spiritual temperature, you need only to look at yourself and ask one question; “Am I being obedient to what God Said?”

If your still interested some final ramblings on history and a few of the wonders of God that we may be passing on to the next generation:

What made one generation of Christians greater then the next? To answer that question I begin by asking another one; What defines greatness? One generation of Christians may seek to raise the bar of intense spiritual commitment. This is not bad. One generation may pursue innovative ways of doing things because God made us to be like him. This is not bad either. The first may see more converts in his or her lifetime, but the other may see more outside of his lifetime because his new idea was put into practice; it saved lives, it Glorified God, and many more came to a saving knowledge of God and deeper conviction of who God is and how much he cares about this world and his children living in it.

What we are doing on our base has the potential to do both. Reach as many in this generation as possible and build new things, have new ideas, and leave something better for those after us to use for reaching the world. goth

Aquaponics is one of these things that may seem really dumb to someone not considering the potential benefits beyond giving someone a meal, much like we do once a week in Zona Norte. But the potential it has for communities, families, orphanages, prisons, schools, churches, community centers, business, and our own base is huge. Also it encourages us to foster care for what God has made to know God better by learned lessons from what God designed to give life. Fish, poop, water, food, and a bunch of other ‘sciency’ stuff. Its Gods design, created a specific way in order to give life. But there are more innovations waiting for a person to try them, test them, and better understand Gods creation in order to bring more life for more people. Innovation is at the very heart of God for us as Christians to be at the forefront of, as dozens of Christian Scientists were long before the “Enlightenment & Renaissance” lade claim to the such innovation.

CSBS: We study the bible. Boring right? -Like thats not being done already. 🙂   We study the bible using a method that teaches our students and staff that before you take scripture in your hands to be used as a weapon for self satisfying “truths” you must admit that you are ignorant of its original purpose, that, that ignorance can cripple you from accurately applying that to your life, your culture, your family, your church. Its nerdy stuff, no doubt. But its necessary. What using this method begins to build in students is a principle much needed in the body of Christ today. That is, a desire to know the culture, history, and world view or common philosophy of our own day in order to rightly apply the principles of truth found in scripture, rather then literal/direct uniformed application of the words in scripture. This can fix some of our churchy problems, and lead the way to bringing in line some of our educational problems, family problems, and various other social issues. The bible is Gods tool for bring Godly Transformation to church, government, education, arts and entertainment, family, science and health, business and economics.

Youth Street: Once a week I go into ‘Antorcha’ with Omar who runs “Youth Street” and about 12-18 youth each week get picked up and brought over to the YWAM base were they have 15-20 minutes hearing a word from Omar then 2+ hours of soccer on our awesome soccer field. The potential of this ministry is growing in the heart and mind of Omar and those who assist him. He has taken a handful on a missions trip to England. A handful are beginning to work along side of the aquaponics program. Most of these boys have received homes through ‘YWAM SDB Homes of Hope’ program started over 20+ years ago. How many of them will graduate college, graduate DTS/CSBS at YWAM, join staff, and begin to acknowledge and respond to the hand of God on their lives? We don’t know yet but these are people that we may be able to observe the fruit of our own work within the next 5-10 years. Some works we will not see the fruit in our lifetime, some fruit will come at the very end of our life, some will come in the next few years, some we see right now, and of course some we will not see this side of eternity. But potentially there is a way in which we can observe and have hope in the fruit all around us by recognizing the work and the gifts of others as something that the Holy Spirit is doing.

Our work is not a spiritual competition. Our encounter with the supernatural happens everyday in the natural. Our God is invisible yet always present in every believer by the Holy Spirit, and is active among all unbelievers. In our immaturity we look for signs. Not that God refuses to give signs, he already has, they are all around us, and in our immaturity we will not recognize them.

I apologize for some reading this who are not a part of YWAM because it has more relevance for us working within this community. However, I hope those who have read have gained something. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments, or corrections if needed.

Also I apologize to staff reading this because I have only touched a fraction of what we are all doing and acomplishing by each of our commitments to Gods call on us individually and communally. God Bless you guys. Be encouraged.

Categories: Church, Mexico, Mission, Philosophy, Society/Culture, Spiritual, Supernatural, Worldview, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Having a Mission

So I have been working with the organization ‘Youth With A Mission’ now since 2007. Over six years. For the past 6 years I have mainly worked with a Bible School in which our primary focus has been to study the bible in its original context. That means lots of time researching. However, not researching opinion on how to interpret the bible. But researching the cultural and historical world of the bible. Then you go through the books interpreting ‘as if’ we were in the shoes of those people to whom the bible was originally written to.

Lots of work. Or at times there may have been short cuts. This no doubt would result in bad theology or just uninformed opinions about the bibles meaning. But when we are not cutting such corners this pursuit ends in the discovery of ‘Truth’. If its really true true, then it ends in the pursuit of Love for God and people.

This I feel is revolutionary. That we can say that something is absolutely true and still love people. Its anti-pluralistic which I realize is anti-my culture. Which may make me an enemy of some. This is where of course I realize that my revolutionary idea is not thrilling to most. We don’t want to make ourselves into others enemies if we are to be displaying the love of Christ to people. Yet I realize its just going to happen, but my mission is still double sided. Its truth and it is love. I can bring love and by doing so hope to communicate truth. Or I can communicate truth in the Hope that for some that will be the most loving thing I could do.

My next step in this mission, I am happy to say will not be about burying myself in a cave to study more, (as was my plan) but I will be taking a practical step in more mission.ywam

2014 My Goal is to partner with each ministry associated with YWAM San Diego/Baja (Mexico). That includes children after school programs, youth boys ministry, educational program for kids, homeless and prostitute ministry in the red light district of Tijuana, building homes for the poor about 10 weekends out of the year, partner with the aquponics (with my wife) gardening system for developing poor communities, and sports ministry. It is my desire to embrace a range of practical ministries such as some of these mentioned. My main focus will be closely related to my experience in inductive bible study and teaching. I will continue overseeing the work we are doing in the bible schools, training new staff as teachers of the word, teaching in our Discipleship Training Schools, serving local pastors and churches, and developing church based higher education.

I am so thrilled to be working with a group of people who take the name to heart and are actually striving to be in the mission of Christ in effectively bringing the truth of Jesus by extension of his love.

I have had a mission the whole time in YWAM. God made sure I was, and I am so grateful for CSBS and for the emphasis on the trans-formative power of the word in the real world. I am encouraged to be a part of a community centered in a common mission for serving the poor. By the years of active mercy, many doors have been opened for ongoing transformation of Mexico. Im excited to be a part of what I believe is a missions success story that is not complete.

Categories: Mexico, Mission, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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