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IT’S BEEN A WHILE …

I don’t know if anybody’s noticed, but it’s been a while since I’ve written anything original here. It’s not that I don’t care, or have a lot of stuff welling up within, because I do – on both counts.

It’s just that my wife and I have gone through several serious life changes in the last six months or so – including a job loss and nine months of unemployment (and counting), a painful separation from our church of 16 years, significant family issues, critical health challenges, and a general re-evaluation of everything I’ve dedicated my life to during the last 30 years.

However, a few things have remained constant:
1) God, and His unending love for us, in spite of our many failings.
2) Our kids, who have been constant rays of support, hope and light. Boy, do we love you!
3) Faithful family and friends. Thank you to the few who almost daily pray for us, talk with us, challenge us, encourage us and love us no matter what.

I can honestly say that it’s during these times we discover who really loves us. We find out who our friends really are. We experience the sacrificial love of God through people (usually the poor, because they empathize), and what’s better than that?

For this, I’m thankful. And I hope to start writing more soon. The Rich Man and the Prayer Warrior has been sitting too long, and needs to develop. I can’t wait to see how Chris and Ming’s journey to Kaifeng goes. Did you know that Jews lived in Kaifeng for almost 1,000 years? Are there any left? I want to find out.

If anybody’s actually reading this, thank you. I’d love to get your comments and hear how this blog has been an inspiration to you or provoked you to think about things in different ways. Ways that open you up to revolutionary avenues of service in the Kingdom of God.

That’s what it’s all about: Serving God and helping to expand His kingdom in the earth. Let’s join together in reconciling the world to God through Jesus Christ, but let’s break out of centuries of self-serving thinking and building monuments to men.

Cast your eyes outward, outward to those around you who have needs, who don’t yet know Jesus. That’s where God wants us to go. That’s where we should pour our time, money, labor and tears.

Why waste all our strength, ideas, talent, empathy and love on an inwardly focused fiasco? That’s what “church” has become for the most part. That’s what we’ve made it through the centuries, and it will be difficult to think in new ways without being called heretics, backslidden, traitors, compromisers and sinners.

Believe me, I know. Because the ones who now make big salaries from the work I helped freely build for 16 years were “blindsided” when we left their church, even though I spent the last two years sharing my anguish and frustration with them. I was stifled. They just weren’t listening. Shouldn’t church leaders listen to the people?

My inability to accomplish the vision God was pouring into me arose because there were no “acceptable” avenues to carry out this vision – it would have interfered with the self-absorbed nonsense that passes as God’s will. Do we really need teaching after teaching after teaching, and endless prayer meetings and altar time? We sit there week after week, month after month, years upon years, and what do we have to show for it?

A bunch of fine teachings, powerful prayer times, sweet fellowship, a new burning and a desire to grow closer to God. And what’s wrong with that?

It’s all inward.

If we’re being honest here, we’ll admit that after our twice-weekly church meetings, men’s or women’s Bible studies, morning prayer meetings, ushering, greeting, tithing, donating and giving, we just don’t have any time left for those ugly, stinky, needy, selfish, greedy people all around us who are lonely, scared, abused and lost.

C’mon now, would Jesus just be a regular church-goer today? Would you overhear Him saying during fellowship hour: “That was a great teaching today – I can’t wait ’til next week.” Then saying virtually the same thing most weeks after that, and never putting those teachings into practice.

Being a good teacher doesn’t make you a good discipler, and what did Jesus command us to do right before He ascended to the Father? “Go, and make disciples of all men.” And when He said “go” He meant “in your going.” He wasn’t telling us to go – He was assuming we’d go. He knew we’d go, constrained by the love of God for the world.

But He does expect us to make disciples as we go. Not just teach people. Not just feed people. Not just pray for people. But make disciples. Train others, lead them by example, give them plenty of opportunities to teach, preach, lead and fail.

Fail? Yes, fail. How else do we learn anything of value without failing hundreds of times first? Maybe it’s just me …

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