Archive for December, 2011

Missional Starts at Home

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Yesterday after opening all her Christmas presents my six-year daughter Brenda, paused by the Christmas tree to pray. When she was done I asked what she said. She told me she wished Jesus a Happy Birthday. This beautiful moment actually started a couple of weeks ago. We were hanging out in the living room looking at the Christmas decorations. She asked me, “Daddy, on Christmas Day after breakfast, can I come out here and worship God?”

A couple of months ago, I was eating lunch with someone I used to attend church with. He asked me what I do to “train up my children in the ways of the Lord.” Yes that’s a very churchy way to ask that question but I still got the point.

That was a really hard question for me to answer. I immediately started thinking about specific times where I sit down with my kids and talk about God and how to live like Jesus. There aren’t any. We don’t have a set rhythm where we all sit down and talk about living like Jesus. Yet Brenda, of her own volition, regularly talks to her baby brother about Jesus. She regularly talks about God with me and Jen. She applies biblical teaching to life situations. God is working in Brenda’s life and I can see her responding by the way she acts and talks about God.

We don’t have a “family devotional time” (although every night Jen reads a Bible story to Brenda and I pray with her before she goes to sleep). We simply live out our faith and talk to Brenda about what we’re doing and why we do it. We talk about living like Jesus when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up (Deut. 6:7).

In my opinion, that’s what the “missional/incarnational” life is all about. It’s about living like Jesus and then when the time is right, explaining why we do what we do. It starts at home. The first people to whom God has sent us is our family. We share the Jesus life with them and then together we share it with our neighbors, our city, and the world.

What about you? What are you doing to be missional at home?

How the Evangelicals Lost Christmas

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

This Christmas season in evangelical churches all over the United States you’ll be able to hear amazing well written sermons about how Jesus was born in a manager, lived a perfect sinless life, died on the cross to atone for our sins and arose on the third day proving he had defeated sin and death. While all of these things are biblically true they have nothing to do with Christmas, except for the born in a manger part.

We evangelicals have lost Christmas. We are so caught up in the atonement that we forget the incarnation. Even in our Christmas sermons we blow by Christmas to get to Easter, because that’s the good news after all. Or is it? Jesus sent John’s disciples back to him with the message that the good news was being proclaimed (Matthew 11:5). The message that Jesus proclaimed wasn’t that he was going to die to save us from our sins (Although this is very good news and I don’t mean to minimize it). The message that Jesus proclaimed was that the Kingdom of God was near (Mark 1:14 and many others). The Kingdom of God was manifested in the life of Jesus.

The incarnation is about communication. The incarnation is about displaying a life lived in the Kingdom of God. Jesus lived his life in full submission to the Father and invites us into that life, the life that the Apostle John termed eternal life. Christmas is about God “making his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). The incarnation shows us how to live in relationship with God. The incarnation is a model for our lives. Then on the cross Jesus redeemed us restoring our relationship with God and after the resurrection he ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to live that life.

As Christians, we’re called to live our lives from the perspective of the incarnation. The community we’re forming in Ann Arbor is all about this kind of incarnational living. Agape Ann Arbor is a community experiencing and expressing God’s love as modeled by Jesus in the incarnation. We would love for you to join our community. There are several ways you can be a part of this incarnational ministry. You can contact us to find out about our next meeting. You can join our prayer team and commit to praying for us. You can support our ministry financially.

More importantly, however, you can make the choice this Christmas to reclaim what we’ve lost. During this Christmas season, don’t skip to Easter. We will celebrate the glorious resurrection of our messiah soon enough. This Christmas, celebrate his incarnation.