Category: Discipleship (Page 1 of 27)

Running with Word & Prayer

April 15. The day we realize that taxation with representation ain’t that great, either.


I want to share some pictures from our latest Running the Race evening here at GCR. For five straight Wednesdays we are intentionally mixing up our younger people with our older people–worshiping together, playing silly games and eating ice cream together, reading Scripture and praying together. This past Wednesday, our children and youth group again led us in worship. We spent five minutes moving around the Worship Center praying over one another and asking others to pray over us. And then we spent the last 40-minutes or so with a few Christian practices.






We set up ten stations inside and around our Worship Center and asked everyone to spend ten minutes or so at three of them. The stations were all self-led. Some of the activities lent themselves more to group participation and others to individual reflection. Some were geared specifically toward the children and others toward more seasoned Christians. But for the entire 40-minutes, there were always at least six or seven people at each station, engaging God in creative ways through prayer and the Scriptures.






Some of the Christian practices could be classified as ancient spiritual disciplines: borrowed prayer, lectio divina, praying the Psalms, discernment. Some of the stations featured newer ways to experience God through Word and prayer: eating the Word with drops of honey and wax paper on our Bibles, macaroni necklaces inspired by Deuteronomy 6,  and a couple of art projects.






J.E. Bundy said it best after it was over. The beautiful thing about these Running the Race events is that we’re not talking about what the church is or what the church should be doing. We’re just doing it. And being it. In our Church of Christ heritage, we have probably leaned a little too far into the Knowledge Zone as a way to connect with God and with one another. Now, we’re finally making room to just be the people God is calling us to be and we’re discovering the salvation power in it. Transparency. Vulnerability. Blessing others. Praying together and reading the Word together without a wristwatch or a set of goals to achieve.

That’s exactly what’s happening at GCR on Wednesday nights. By God’s grace, his people here are getting to know each other a little better around Word and Prayer, goofy games, and popsicles. We’re starting to appreciate one another a little more. We’re feeling a deeper sense of belonging. I think we’re loving each other more. And better.

I think this is what it looks like to run the race with purpose.



No End in Sight

“Happy Holy Week! Let’s make America pray again!”

I suppose I’ll never get numb to it. I’ll never cease to be amazed by it. My stomach will continue to drop into my socks in despair every time. Over and over and over again.

When Donald Trump declared eight years ago that his supporters were so loyal to him that he could murder a man in cold blood in broad daylight in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose a single vote, he was right. Amazingly, he was right. So incredibly insightful. He knew.

That single theory has been tested time and time again to the point that now it is absolute and undeniable truth. There is nothing that man can do–no crime he can commit, no person or group of people he can insult, no lie he can tell–that would cause his supporters to abandon him. If he shot a man in the middle of New York City’s busiest street, his supporters would claim political persecution and rise to his defense. That much we know. It’s been proven.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of his supporters are Christians is what I still cannot believe. I’m still surprised every time. I’m baffled by it. And dismayed.

Today, the cash-strapped ex-President is selling the “God Bless America” Bible for $59.99 plus shipping and handling. The Bible is a King James Version copy of our Holy Scriptures that comes complete with the United States Constitution, the United States Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Bill of Rights, and the Pledge of Allegiance. The holy words of our God and our Lord Jesus sandwiched in-between the founding documents of a worldly nation. The Bill of Rights literally bound together with Christ’s denial of his own rights. Jesus’ statement that his Kingdom is not of this world in the same book now as a pledge of allegiance to a rival kingdom. The Church’s Scriptures literally wrapped in a brown leather American flag.

We are told on the website: “This is the only Bible endorsed by President Trump!”

We crossed the line a long time ago and now there is no end in site. The fact that there is a market for this Bible is deeply disturbing to me. We have compromised our Christian principles, diluted our Christian doctrines, and sacrificed our Christian witness for worldly power and control.

Lord, have mercy on us.


Resurrection Power

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” ~ Philippians 3:10

The power of the resurrection of Jesus is the Gospel. Jesus lives! Jesus reigns! It’s great news! It’s the best news you’ve ever heard! The resurrection of Jesus proves the universal and eternal power of our God. Earth-shattering, history-changing, mind-blowing power. And to all of us who belong to God in Christ, that exact same power belongs to us.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know… his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” ~Ephesians 1:18-21

Scripture goes out of its way to explain to us disciples just how much power we have in Christ. Eternal power. Dynamic power. It’s like the apostle Paul pulls out his college Thesaurus and conjures up every possible word for power: rule, authority, power, dominion, title. And he says Christ is more powerful than all of it. Every power that’s ever been and ever will be, every title that’s ever been given and ever will be given, every government, every political structure, every economic system, every industrial complex, every biological reality, every financial authority, every historical rule–Christ Jesus dominates all of it by the power of his resurrection!

That’s what changes everything. If you are connected to God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the most powerful power in the history of the universe is inside you. You’ve got resurrection power.

You’ve got it. But you don’t get it.

We just don’t get it. If we do get it, it only seems to be in the abstract logical sense, not in the practical, real, living every moment of every day application sense. We’ve got God’s resurrection power inside us. But we don’t get it. How do I know?

Because I see us all over the place chasing after different kinds of power. The wrong kind of power. A far inferior power. Some of us are losing our minds chasing after regional and national power. We’re throwing our money and our energy into political party platforms and putting our names and our reputations behind elderly men in suits so they can appoint other people in robes to reach decisions that make things worse instead of better.

Some of us have bought into the fear and anxiety. We worry about not having control or losing our influence. And when we’re told that if we don’t vote for the right guy or support the right agenda the Church of Jesus Christ will be in big trouble, we swallow it hook, line, and sinker like Jesus Christ is somehow still in the grave! He isn’t! He is risen! And he is our King! And if his resurrection power is more than enough to destroy forever the forces of sin and death and Satan, why in the world would any of us think for a second that his eternal Kingdom could ever be impacted by whether there’s a Democrat or a Republican living on Pennsylvania Avenue?

No wonder this is the focus of Paul’s great prayer: I want you to know the power. I want you to understand it. To grasp it. To own the staggering truth that the same Holy Spirit power that brought Jesus out of the grave to reign supreme forever at the right hand of God is the exact same power we have in us and at our disposal as his disciples.

What might happen if we really believed that? Oh, man. Everything would change. Everything!



Resurrection Revival

We live differently when we live in the risen Lord of Heaven and Earth. We act differently. And it’s obvious to those around us. Things of this world don’t matter as much. The fact that Jesus is alive today and reigning in all power and authority at the right hand of God guarantees that we will defeat death, too. And it changes everything. Everything.

“The Resurrection addresses those who insist on protection and security of the individual, institutions, and country. Such persons set up mechanisms of defense along economic, racial, and national lines. In sharp contrast, the life of the Spirit, with its hope in the Resurrection, does not, indeed cannot dwell on preservation of the flesh–personhood, institutions, nations. Rather, the corporate life of the Christian becomes one of risk. A Christian hospital can accept more welfare patients than economically advisable because it knows God’s love for the poor does not depend on its continued existence. Christians can call for total disarmament in the middle of a cold war because they know the future of the world does not depend on the survival of their nation. A Christian can risk his or her life because a Christian knows this life is not the end.” ~ Graydon Snyder, 1992

If we’re promised by God to be raised like Jesus, then we can live like Jesus. You’ve got resurrection power! It’s in you, empowering you to teach, to help others, to encourage, to forgive, to make peace, to sacrifice and serve and love. If you’ve got resurrection power–and you do!–you can be bold and risky in inviting your neighbors to church. You can be bold and risky in giving to Family Promise and volunteering at Mission Agape. You can be bold and risky in denying self and sacrificing self, knowing that the salvation of your soul and the salvation of the whole world is safe in the powerful arms of our God who promises and delivers resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus is a big deal in the Bible. And it’s a big deal today.

If we’ll embrace the resurrection, if you’ll claim the power of the resurrection as your own, it will change everything. We won’t think twice about our feelings or our fate. You won’t blink when something threatens your reputation or your rights, your status or your popularity. Resurrection power strengthens you to live like our King, to live with our King, and to live in our King, right now today and forever.

May our God overwhelm you today with the peace and grace that comes from our risen Lord. And may he grant you the blessings of an eternal perspective grounded in the resurrection.



Our Only King

“The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” ~ Matthew 4:8-10

It’s election season in the United States–tomorrow is Super Tuesday here in Texas–and a whole lot of Christians are losing their minds. And their hearts. And maybe more. I appeal to all followers of Jesus everywhere to remember that we already have a King, he has already come and defeated all our enemies, and he is reigning in all power and glory at the right hand of God. Not only is Christ Jesus our King, but he is our only King. We only have one. And he has made it unmistakably clear how we are to behave. If we act in ways he never acted, if we say things he never said, if we seek power when he never did, if we fight for perceived rights while he willingly laid his down–he’s not really our King. Not really.

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” ~ 1 John 2:6

I see Christians struggling mightily against flesh and blood, their eyes fixed on the here and now, desperate for worldly power so they can rule an earthly kingdom. I see Christian churches hosting political rallies and selling t-shirts in the lobby proclaiming, “Let’s go, Brandon,” the well-known euphemism for a vulgar and violent profanity aimed at the sitting President.

You know, the same President the Bible tells us to honor. And respect.

Most Christians I know would never stand for that kind of vulgarity to be displayed inside their homes, shared around their workplace, or shouted at a ballgame. But increasingly more Christians are just fine with spewing and promoting and wearing that kind of filth in the context of national politics. To get their guy elected, to get their platforms approved and their laws passed, lots of Christians are using decidedly un-Christian tactics. And they are openly eschewing the ethics of our King Jesus. I used to worry when it was subtle and under the table. Today, though, Christians and Christian leaders are publicly declaring they don’t believe in Jesus or his Way.

The pastor of the biggest Southern Baptist Church in Texas says, “I don’t want somebody who’s going to turn the other cheek. I want the meanest SOB I can find to protect this nation.” In other words, I don’t want Jesus. Salvation for this country has got to come from someone else. And Christians are applauding. If it’s about national politics and “saving” the nation, they’re happy to compartmentalize their discipleship, to fight and cheat, to insult and lie, oblivious to or apathetic toward the obvious hypocrisy that is destroying our Christian witness to the world.

“My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight.” ~ John 18:36

It’s not that we don’t know the Scriptures–of course, we do! It’s not that we’re ignorant of who Jesus is and what he came to do and how he came to do it. We all know he came not to condemn the world, but so the world would be saved through him. And we know he did it with love and sacrifice and service, he did it with forgiveness and mercy and peace. Why are the ways of Christ Jesus adequate for destroying the powers of sin and death and Satan for all eternity, but they are not enough to protect us from political opponents?

Christian brothers and sisters, let us all reflect carefully and prayerfully about the ways we are representing our Lord during this election season and what we are communicating about Christianity to a watching world. Many of our loves are disordered. Many of our priorities are misplaced. These things shape us. These actions carry far-reaching consequences. We already have a King. And he has already shown us his Way.

As the ancient baptismal confession states, let us renounce the ways of the world and of the devil, and embrace the Way of our Lord Jesus.



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