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BRINGING THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Nothing has changed my life like discovering the Kingdom of God.  It’s sad that I didn’t really understand it until I was 33 years of age.  I knew what it was to be a good “moral” person and a good Baptist, but I really didn’t get the Kingdom of God.  I knew the Gospel of salvation, got my ticket stamped and practiced moral self-improvement – but I knew little of how the Kingdom changes everything.  The Kingdom starts from the inside out.  The Kingdom is what Jesus came preaching.  He didn’t start out by telling everyone exactly who he was, instead he said, “Do you know that you were created for more than you are experiencing and life is supposed to be better than what you see?”

For me, it was on a hill praying one day that I first heard the voice of the uninvited Holy Spirit whisper in my ear, “Bob, when will be Jesus be enough?”  Why wasn’t he enough?  I accepted Jesus and jumped through all the hoops but still didn’t see like he intended.  One day, when I’m very old, and hopefully still sane, a book about the Kingdom of God will be the last book I write – I’m still learning too much and fear writing this one too soon.  Here are some things I’ve learned about the Kingdom . . .

#1  The Kingdom of God is the internal expression of God within a person and the public expression of God to humanity.  The Kingdom has to first start inside of us.  It transforms us gradually, it isn’t a quick fix but each step depends on the previous step – it’s all connected.  The Kingdom is the present Jesus and his rule lining my life up with all that he teaches, has given me, the identity I have in him, and the freedom I experience.  But it cannot stop here!  Sadly, this is as far as it gets in those few who become obsessed with the Kingdom.  The Kingdom isn’t static and we aren’t containers of the Kingdom but channels of the Kingdom to flow through.  The Kingdom is to be present in all things, not just people – as Colossians 1:15-20 says. 

#2  The Kingdom of God transcends every life plan and preconceived notion of what God is going to do.  I knew how to grow the church, and frankly I did it quite well.  I just didn’t know how to be the church.  Dealing with people of other religions? Only a realization of the Kingdom of God would lead someone like me into that.  God loves all and wants all to hear.  The Kingdom leads us to ask, “how do we speak publicly about Jesus?”  And even more importantly, “How do others see our love for them?”  Only God could take someone like me and lead our church to become multi-ethnic.  Only God could make me love the crazy people I love – because he first loved Crazy Bob.

#3  The Kingdom of God is present at all times in all places.  I’m not taking the Kingdom anywhere – it’s already everywhere.  How do I flow with the Kingdom where it has a stronger presence?  How do people feel blessed from the presence of Kingdom citizens?  My job is not to be God.  My job is to abide in God so he can do through me what his glory creates and not fulfill my little dreams of self.  Modern Christianity is living according to your dreams for God, ancient present Christianity is living for the glory of God. These two aspects are radically different.  Most books for pastors are written to help you with your dream – which is fleeting.  Only the Glory of God is eternal.  Live for that reality young pastor and God will take you so far beyond your dreams and you’ll thank him for it. 

#4  The message of Jesus is the Kingdom of God is here, now, and within you.  My question is not what will God do in the future but how am I letting the Kingdom live in this moment as I meet this person, as invitations come.  I’ve learned that the invitations God gives us are often not the ones we would choose for ourselves and even can be costly – but they are the ones that matter the most.   God will never be experienced inside the lines we draw and the structures of religion.

#5  The Kingdom of God cannot be stopped by men without God or forced by men who think they speak for God.  The nations figure so prominently in the Scriptures.  My ancestors have fought in the American Revolution, the Alamo, the Civil War, and WWII – but NO NATION can ever be confused or equal with the Kingdom of God be it the United States or Israel.  He loves all nations – and his people are to be lights in all nations of an eternal kingdom that transcends nations.  Some Christians believe in something called “dominion” theology – they are going to take over things for Jesus.   When we have to stoop to the methods of the world to bring about the Kingdom of God – no doubt we have brought a kingdom – but not the one of God.  The reconciling, peacemaking nature of Jesus, the Sovereignty of Father God, and the power of the Holy Spirit really is sufficient for transformation.  Will it be complete in my life?  No, but may I be totally transformed in him more and more day by day to bring that Kingdom everywhere I live. 

Going to the World? Do This First!

You can read other blogs about the work Northwood Church does in Vietnam and around the world.  It has been a wild ride the past 22 years and we hope to have fifteen teams serve there next year!   I am often asked by church planters and pastors about the steps to engage a nation.  How do you pick the country? What should I do first? Can you connect me with a leader there?  Who should go on the first trip? 

These are great and important questions but I have another plan of action for you.

Everyone wants a five-step plan to engage the nations.  I resist doing it that way.  Detailed plans and programs may initialize some good stuff, but they get in the way of the awesome and radical work that God really wants to do.  So, for what it’s worth, here’s my plan of action:

  1. Start the day on your knees with God’s Word and don’t get up until you sense God’s presence and you’ve heard from Him.
  2. Tell God whatever He chooses to do with you, you’re okay with it.
  3. View every event as something God has divinely put before you.
  4. Seize the opportunity that no one else has or would do.  Chances are it will come in a phone call, a chance encounter, or some crazy idea that is lodged in your head.
  5. Watch God put stuff together.

That’s just the beginning, but it’s the crucial beginning!  I’ve written much more about this in my book Glocalization–How Followers of Jesus Engage the World in hopes it will help the Body of Christ engage their community and the world. 

GlocalNet Gathering – You’re Invited!

From NorthWood Church and GlocalNet, over 200 churches have been planted.  If you count in other ministries that have been birthed and leaders that have been equipped and sent, we couldn’t begin to count the number of people that are out there walking around with Glocal DNA.  After that,  you could try to count the churches, ministries and disciples that have come from each of those churches and leaders and it just becomes exponential.  It’s quite a big family!

In a little over a month, we are calling the family to come together.  We want to hear the stories of what God is doing around the world. We want to learn about the hard fought victories, the miraculous catches of fish, and the heart-wrenching defeats of these adventures.  We want to think deeply and creatively about loving God and loving people. We want to gather to worship God with great passion. We want to pray together believing for one another. We want to encourage and fuel each other for the next season. We want to hear loving truth and guidance from God. We want to courageously obey Him, together.  As you can see, we’re expecting so, so much from this little family gathering.

So, if you are part of the family, a part of the extended family or a friend of the family…..YOU’RE INVITED! If you are looking for a family, you feel alone, you need some brothers and sisters, YOU”RE INVITED!  If you are looking for a paradigm shift or a change of wineskins…..YOU’RE INVITED!  If you just want to get to know some great people and learn some cool stuff….Yep, we welcome you, as well.  We’d love to see you.  Sign up below!

Click on the 2017 GlocalNet Family Gathering banner below to get more details and to register.

 

The Power of Biblical Connectedness

In 2002 we started an organization called Glocal.net that focused on starting churches. It would change and morph to ultimately what we have become today – but it was a journey. We didn’t plan to start a network organization, we had just started a lot of churches and many of them wanted a way to gather and network. It quickly grew very large and far beyond my administrative ability and became several groups. I had no desire to start or run a “mini-denomination!” As a matter of fact, I did very little with GlocalNet for years. As a church, however, we kept on starting more churches and by default GlocalNet grew.  I could see the value of all of us coming together – but our first response to the way we were relating was very western and industrial.  We came together around three things we all did – and still do:  (1) start churches, (2) work with the poor in our city, and (3) work in hard places in the world.  This brought around all kinds of people from charismatic to reformed to Baptist and even a few Anglicans. We had so many stories. I knew God was doing something different, but I responded the only way I knew how — in an old western, task-driven, organizational wineskins. 

As I began to travel the world I had the extraordinary opportunity to come to know and learn from many global pastors who lead significant movements.  We would call their what they’re a part of “church planting movements” (cpms), but most of them would not be familiar with that kind of language. These leaders taught me a new way of coming together as family.

This doesn’t mean that principles are not real or do not matter. The difference is that in the global church, they don’t start with principles, they start with people.  The people are first.  You can go to many conferences now and hear someone lecture or speak of how to start a movement and what it takes: a catalytic leader, a winsome message, a complimentary team, multiple evangelist to promote the movement – and on and on and on.  Inevitably, people without movements begin to use the language of movements to get people to join a movement that doesn’t exist.  We are missing something.

What we are missing is the Biblical Concept of Family. The global pastors I’ve met do not talk about movements or networks. Instead, when they talk about the church, they speak of their family and of their spiritual sons and daughters.  In many of these places around the world it’s impossible to have big meetings and gather thousands of people to hear your message.  You can only grow through relationships. Here, we often join movements through hearing preachers preach about their networks or movements.  A family requires a lifetime of relationships and a lifetime of relational work, not simply a staff and an organizational chart.  This is much more than a language shift.

As I have worked with pastors over the years, I’ve discovered they join groups for the purpose of identity or mission.  You can tell the identity groups because they have robust statements of beliefs, certain teachings, and doctrine you must agree on.  Teaching, for them, is huge because it’s critical to make sure everyone is on the same page.  With mission groups, story is the critical factor.  This is so and so and this is what happened . . . God opened this door, etc.  All organizations and tribes have a certain measure of doctrine and story but each will lean stronger in one way or the other.  This distinction is important to know and understand because it will give you the ethos and direction and values of a particular network, tribe or organization.

But here is what I’ve learned.  Most young pastors join a group because they are really looking for family.  They don’t want organizational ladders or organizational stats – they want family and they need Fathers.  This is very hard for us as Americans. Our history as a nation, our culture, our rugged (if not sinful) individualism makes family hard – but make no mistake about it – we all long for and need family.

Here’s something else that’s important to consider as a leader in this shift, people want to touch people, not worship a new king.  I’m always amazed by how these global movement leaders are so  accessible to the people.  They are not like American mega-church pastors at all.  They are humble, they are normal, you couldn’t pick them out of the crowd.  Often their clothes don’t match and they’re missing teeth! 

Finally, a family has a certain DNA – ours is Kingdom/Disciple/Society/Church.  We all share that same DNA.  It’s in our blood. We believe Jesus is leader of the Kingdom and his teachings are foundational on the Kingdom.  We define disciple as hear and obey.  We believe the grid we engage is our society through domains in the public square.  We believe the church isn’t just a worship service but a small group, a congregation, and a global church.  We build our everything around those four strands. 

When you start operating as family everything changes.  I’m having more fun in ministry today than ever before because pretty much everything I do, I do it with young people alongside of me. I’m trying to raise up a family.  I love working with world leaders at this stage in my life, but I don’t do it alone any more.  I often take a young pastor beside me, mentoring them in diplomacy, protocol, culture, or whatever is necessary at that moment. From the credibility we’ve earned over our lives we gain far more access than we had when we were young which leads to many more opportunities.  As we get older it is critical that we share our access and opportunities as we mentor young sons and daughters so when we’re gone the family and the ministry continue. 

If you want to know what our family is like, you’re welcome to join us at our Family Gathering.

 

Unleashing Vocational Influence

If you grew up in church, you heard many religious phrases that subconsciously shaped your thinking, such as “born again,” “decisions for Jesus,” or “joining the church.”  One of these is is “called into the ministry,” a phrase which I now find highly misleading.  I am convinced that God has called the entire body of Christ to ministry, nor just the few whose talents lead them to be pastors.  Some followers of Christ are called to various specialized functions, but every one of us has a responsibility to edge with God’s work in the world.  There is within each of us a longing, a deep inside that calls us to something unknown.  Throughout our lives, we may get glimpses of it, and it draws us forward to an undefined goal.  C.S. Lewis attempted to describe this longing when he first experienced it as a child:

‘It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation that came over me; Milton’s “enormous bliss” of Eden…comes somewhere near it.  It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what?…Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased.’

For most of us, calling is something like this – a deep, private, personal longing that bring everything together in a single experience of great significance.  God calls every one of us in many ways, often using these undefined longing we tend to ignore or pass over as mere feelings of the moment.  Those who wish to follow God must learn to develop sensitivity to these moments, and when they come, to tune their ears to God for his call. 

When you are seeking God’s call, your skill, vocation, and passion are critical.  But undergirding all of this are four things that are essential to hearing God’s “full counsel” for your life.

 

1) The Importance of Prayer

Prayer is where it all starts.  When our hearts are clean and our lives are an open book before God, He will often speak things in our heart that give us a sense of where he is leading us. 

 

2) The Guidance of God’s Word

Scripture is indispensable.  For most major decisions, God will often give me a verse or a particular passage of Scripture to meditate on.

 

3) The Council of Other People

Proverbs says that there is safety in the presence of many counselors (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6).  This isn’t to say that God won’t call you to do something that goes against the counsel of other people.  But a wise disciple of Christ will often seek counsel from people they know and love.

 

4) Divine Intersections

Finally, I frequently keep my eyes open for God’s mysterious work – those divine intersections.  Sometimes God has place something on my heart, something I can’t let go of, but I have no ability to do anything about it.  The next thing I knew there are people, resources, and situations emerging, beyond my control that are causing significant changes.

 

What is God calling you to do?   Specifically, what is God calling you to do TODAY?  Be obedient and let God fulfill the longings you have.  

 

Discover more about unleashing  vocational influence in the book: 

Real Time Connections by Bob Roberts Jr.

LESSONS FROM 9-11

Here we are in the middle or unprecedented hurricanes, earthquakes, nuclear threats, epidemics, & if that isn’t enough Elon Musk is predicting WWIII but not because of North Korea but because of artificial intelligence.  I can promise you, in the next 5 years, some really good stuff is going to happen and some really bad stuff is going to happen.  We all want the good stuff right?  Right.  But here’s the deal . . . and some of what I learned from 9-11.

 

You don’t get the good stuff without the bad stuff

9-11 was bad.  It was horrible, shook us to our core, made us recognize our own vulnerability.  I know right where I was when it happened.  Ti had just come to live with our family as an exchange student.  Because of our work in Vietnam and our ability to work with governments and domains I immediately got invitations to go to the world – but I kept refusing.  Without 9-11, I never would have come to know Muslims as I do.  Without 9-11 I doubt I’d be working with world leaders like I do.  Without 9-11, I never would have understood or experienced the world at a deep level.  Without 9-11, I never would have worked with other religions.  Without 9-11 my theology would be shallow because I was used to answering “church” questions from Christians not “hard” questions for people of other religions.

 

God uses the least likely people to do his will

I’m often referred to an expert from many people on Islam and Muslims.  I am not.  The experts know I am not.  I laugh about it.  For me working with the Communist of Vietnam was hard enough.  At least they were atheist – no competing version of God.  I think God uses us because we are open to anything, don’t live by old boundaries and rules, and we believe anything is possible.  We also keep learning because we know that we know so little.  Curiosity drives the unpretentious to ask questions, explore things, and put things together – in unexpected ways.  God also gets the glory because the novice knows they really are not gifted!

 

You will become friends with people who you thought were enemies

I was afraid of Muslims.  I believed anything bad anyone said about Islam or Muslims.  It was because I didn’t know any other Muslims and the media I listened to only focused on the crazy ones.  Then something happened – I went to Afghanistan and began to work with the people and with rare exceptions they were all Muslims.  I didn’t just work with any Muslims but the imams – some who had been trained by Mullah Omar.  I came to know them.  We laughed, prayed, shared sad and happy stories, and became friends.  No, we didn’t agree on everything but we respected each other.  I’m friends with many of them to this day.

 

Your best successes can be things you didn’t even know existed or planned on

I was going to grow up and be a global evangelist.  I pictured myself being Billy Graham when I was a young teen-ager.  I knew church work, but not peace-building.  I knew preaching to Christians with a few lost and backslidden Baptists, but I never dreamed I’d share at Muslim events with tens of thousands where I’d be the only Christian.  I wanted to live “on fire” for God, that was our language.  I came to be obsessed with loving God and other people with love, not fire, driving me.  Fire is about religious zeal – any person of any religion can do that.  Love is about relationship – with God and others.  To be a follower of Jesus, loving in the extreme is the radical, reckless way – demanded the Holy Spirit.  You had to first overcome your fear or you would never have a conversation.  I’m all over the U.S. and the world, often the only Christian being friends with people not of my faith. 

I was with a world leader of a particular nation not long ago who’s very close to the head of his country.  This man is very successful – a Christian but not of my tribe and he loves Jesus.  He’s very successful in so many ways.  I asked him, “Tell me, of all that you’ve done, what are you most proud of?”  “Bob, that’s easy.  I’m proudest of the fact that I have been born and live in a Muslim majority nation and as a Christian I am one of very few that God has placed to represent Jesus to my friends and family here.”  Spoken like a true follower of Jesus!  “Keep learning my friends”  from the most exciting man in the world!   

 


WANT TO HEAR MORE FROM BOB ROBERTS?  CONSIDER ATTENDING THE GLOCALNET FAMILY GATHERING. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.


 

LEADERSHIP BY OBEDIENCE

Most of my ministry I have lead by vision. We are headed somewhere. There is a future destination, a mission, a goal. It’s about accomplishing something great for God that we all do together. It’s hard, but it’s fun. Everybody gets excited about it.

We’re going to start a church. We’re going to engage a nation. We’re going to bless our city. We’re going to multiply churches. We’re going to reach out to a new people group. We’re going to make disciples. We start doing it, small successes turn into big successes. Everyone starts talking about it, everyone celebrates it, everyone wants to mimic it – you even wind up going to tell others how they can also “do it.”

This isn’t bad – it’s good. Without a sense of shared commitment and enthusiasm and excitement you aren’t going to start or accomplish anything. People have a shared sense of destiny programmed in them from God to make the world a better place. Innate within every follower of Jesus is a bent to glorify God and exalt him.

The biggest challenge to the leadership in this form of leadership is egotism, arrogance, and self-centeredness. You have to resist the temptation to believe your own press and what others say about you. Deep down we all know who we are, but in our desire to be more than we are – humanly speaking – we can succumb to glorifying ourselves.

The past six years, I’ve discovered another form of leadership – I call it leadership by obedience. It’s not something you seek or even want. It’s hard. It isn’t something new, it’s something as old as creation. It doesn’t start with a dream of what can be but is the gradual realization that something is wrong, we’ve somehow gotten off the path. Everything is going great, everyone is excited – and now, maybe after a long busy work, you slow down enough to think and reflect. Is this the way it’s supposed to be?

Leadership by vision is very nuanced and “time sensitive” execution – which doesn’t always allow you to stop and look beyond what you can see with your physical eyes or immediate context.

Last month for two and a half weeks, I was alone in an ancient room in Bethlehem, Palestine. No air conditioning, no TV, just a fan, my Bible and journal – and prayer. It’s been a busy life. Though I start every day in God’s Word, prayer, and personal worship as soon as I’m finished I pick up where I left off the previous day.

Leadership by vision comes by a dream. Leadership by obedience comes from a divine nudge that calls you challenge something that’s wrong. It’s the prophetic role of leadership we don’t really practice that much in American Christianity or understand – me included.

I first experienced it when God convicted me years ago of my fear, disdain, and dislike of Muslims. I had to be reminded from God’s Word that they too were created in the image of God and were sacred as all human beings are. I had to be reminded from the Holy Spirit that God is love and I am to love and he wants me to love them. It required some necessary heart work inside of me personally. I pastor a few thousand people – they have those same negative feelings that I’ve had – how do I bring them over? Not to say I agree with everything Muslims say and do but neither for us to be driven by fear and hate, and thereby not fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. It was a very hard thing to do. So, I eased into the water. There is no map for this. Whereas leadership by vision is very focused and clear leadership by obedience is always in ambiguity. You can only follow the truth of God’s word and the direction of the Holy Spirt.

This isn’t like changing your worship style, leadership structure, or ministries – this is changing culture. Changing culture demands the highest level of leadership because you have to hear God moment by moment and you are going somewhere that you can’t raise money for or fire people up over. “Hey everybody today is going to be awesome – I want you to think of the person you are most fearful of or that you dislike the most and we are going to bless them!” I wasn’t ready for all the attacks I received both from within our church and outside of it.

I experienced it again when God began to speak to me about how me and our church works all over the world, but for the most part our church was anglo. There are over 50,000 non-Anglo’s that live in my area of nearly 500,000 people – do they matter? It’s just 10%, they can come to our church if they want! It took more than that – we began to intentionally and ethnically diversify our church. It was also a very hard thing to do, but the right thing to do. It would have been easy to just let happen what happens, but this was something that would never change on it’s own, it demanded intentionality. Nobody is going to encourage you to address things like this – if anything they’re going to tell you to be careful, change is slow and long, and in time it will change. Don’t believe that lie – change doesn’t happen without intentionality. Neither believe that change doesn’t come without a price. You can have all the action steps and change theory you want in place but know this, change always has a price, especially when you are dealing with cultural change. Sacrificing money is easy compared to what you will have to sacrifice with leadership by obedience.

The biggest challenge of leadership by obedience? It isn’t self-centeredness or glorifying yourself. It’s disillusionment with what you know the truth to be but bald-faced rejection of the people who say they love God giving reasons why we don’t have to love or reach out to others. It’s discouragement – when we speak prophetically we can expect people to get angry and leave us. If you’ve built your entire ministry around God’s blessing is equal to a growing crowd – you’re really going to struggle in this season – I have. It’s hard to see people leave because your expanding the gospel beyond your own “culture” or “tribe” to all people. It’s despair – wanting to give up and quit – it’s just too hard and no one really cares.

But, I’ve also hung in there long enough to see the fruit from “doing the right thing.” I am connected to the world and minorities in ways that I never would have dreamed. It has opened doors that I never would have imagined or knew were even an option. Here’s something else, leadership by obedience is incredibly critical because it sees a future harvest. If things are not put right, there is no future for a loveless discriminating church. Even now, millennials are so turned off by church in America because of the hypocrisy and that will not change anytime soon. No amount of lights, smoke, and celebrity leaders will lead us out of this desert. Things were going so good in Isaiah chapter one, big attendance, fasting, great offerings – but God wasn’t pleased. The corporate nature of sin even in the church eventually catches up with us.

I would also say that leadership by obedience demands a stronger walk with God, a focus more on his Kingdom and the eternal. I’ve learned that the world is reached not because of a pure church but in spite of a flawed church – read Acts & Corinthians. These things are not new. Acts is the story of the church growing, coming up against various prejudices, dealing with them and growing more. In American Christianity we’ve settled for crowds without realizing who isn’t present – as long as someone is present. The result is the church is very tribal, partisan, vs being an entity that embraces and makes space for all wanting to follow Jesus.

This is more about who we “are to be” for God than it is what are “going to do” for God.

HOW TO GET HUNDREDS OF MUSLIMS TO YOUR WORSHIP SERVICE ON SUNDAY

(Skip to 16:10 to see the interview with Imam Zia)

 

The church I pastor, NorthWood, celebrated MLK Day not just last Monday but Sunday as well.  We are in a series called ANXIETY in which we are looking at how we deal with it as people.  On January 15, we looked at how we deal with anxiety when community issues arise.  We had a guest band that was awesome, we had ethnic food tables from all over the world, and we had Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, and even an Atheist who came out of curiosity over an “evangelical church that would invite all those people to come together.”

I preached on standing together out of Romans 12 and in the sermon even brought up a friend from a mosque in Irving, Imam Zia.  He shared what Muslims believe and I explained what we believe about the birth, death, burial, resurrection of Jesus, and how to accept him as Lord and Savior.  We had hundreds of Muslims with us.  I LOVE preaching to people of other religions about Jesus – kinda what Paul did.

Paul would be shocked at what he would find in American Christianity with it’s isolationism and tribalism.  Paul was a frequent speaker at synagogues, other religious temples, philosophy gatherings, universities, markets, and countless other public square gatherings.  As a matter of fact, all of Paul’s evangelism was in the public square generally being asked to speak at their request.  Frankly, I get asked to speak at many non-Christian and other religious events and I’ve come to love it.  You’ve not preached until you’ve preached to a packed house of people where you are the only Christian!  It’s like skiing on the black slopes.  A little scary at first, but then – wow it’s incredible!

The reality is, any evangelical pastor, in any city in America can do what I do.  The truth is, it would be easy.  The reason is that so few evangelical pastors reach out intentionally to people of other religions, and most of those people of other religions as minorities want a relationship with us.    Keep in mind the early church didn’t grow through sheep swapping, better music, celebrity pastors, or backslidden Baptist and Methodist but from people from many other religions who loved the message of Jesus.

How do you do it this?  The clip above of the Sunday service illustrates this:

  1. Intentionally be friends with people of other religions.  If you’re an American evangelical pastor you are the majority – not the minority.  THEY DON’T BITE!  I’ve yet to get a bad reception from someone of another religion that you try to just be their friend.  Ask to go drink coffee, probably tea is better, or eat a meal or just hang out.  ALL THE APOSTLES DID THIS!!!  That’s how the Gospel spread to so many nations. My wife is in a cooking club with Muslims and Jews.  There are so many ways to build friendships.  Zia and I have been friends for years.  All good things come out of relationships.
  1. Visit their place of worship.  They will let you.  As a matter of fact it shows honor and respect that you would do that.  It would be a great education experience for you.  Paul did this – don’t let other Christians who live by fear and isolationism leading to judgmentalism keep you away.  It gives you chance to speak intelligently to them and to your members about what you believe.
  1. Let them share their view!  Paul did this as well.  Leave your rhetoric at home, have a conversation with people.  If the strength of our faith is keeping other faiths away or not allowing other faiths to speak – we must have a very small view of the power of the Gospel and of the Trinity.  Be gracious, listen, ask questions, be kind.
  1. When you’re asked to speak, smile a lot.  Take off your preacher face and your oratory.  Don’t let others tell you everything you need to say.  Let the Spirit guide you.  Be kind.  Self-depreciating humor helps.  Take a long term approach to what you say and do.
  1. State what you believe but be kind about it.  Share where you disagree but don’t disparage the other person.  Everyone talks about look at all the commonalities, frankly I believe the strength is in how much we disagree but how well as followers of Jesus we can still be friends with others.  As a friend of mine says, “Lift up Jesus!”  You don’t have to trash others, just tell your story and the story of Jesus.
  1. Eat a meal together and keep hanging out.  You don’t know what God might do with building relationships.  I’m sorry to say I used to see other religious clerics as obstacles to overcome in order to engage with others – I’ve come to see them as the most important people I should be friends with.  We have access to masses that can lead to all kinds of things in terms of standing up for one another, etc.
  1. Work together for religious freedom.  The whole world is connected.  What you do here affects there.  I get to help persecuted Christians around the world, and other religious minorities, because of my credibility with Muslims here in America.  Would to God, we American Christians and especially evangelical pastors would realize that when you speak and spout hate, you make it incredibly hard for believers around the world.  But, many pastors in America have been told this and still don’t control their tongues.  I guess they don’t really care about believers around the world that much as long as things are ok with them.

People talk a lot about going back to the early church – this is how it started.  They didn’t have revival meetings, seminars, books, not even a Bible – just a few letters passed around.  But they did have the Holy Spirit and Love.  The formula has not changed – but we have.  It still works.

TRANSFORMATION CHURCH – Being the Church on the Hill

There are all kinds of words that we would use to describe what “church” should be like.  My favorite word is transformation, because it’s the direct result of a church based on the Kingdom of God.  That transformation changes us, our families, our communities, our nations, and the world.  That transformation will not be complete until Jesus comes. As a result, some give up on seeing transformation beyond personal spirituality and a walk with Jesus because it won’t be complete until he comes.  This is a wrong response.  The kingdom has begun; we are to move with the kingdom as it comes.  It has been coming since Jesus came, it has come throughout the New Testament, the Early Church, church history, and even now.  Jesus set the direction and pattern for the church in the Sermon on the Mount and his parables in what he expects of us.  Paul further takes the Kingdom to new levels in Colossians 1:15-20 when he talks about glorifying God in all things, all dominions, all principalities, being transformed as a result of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  We should never give up on people, cities, and nations.  A church that is built upon the kingdom will see lost people come to follow Jesus – but it will not stop there.  A Kingdom church will engage the person, the family, the city and nation at all levels.  Read more

MORE INFORMATION & LESS KNOWLEDGE

I was at a meeting in Doha a while back on things that are happening globally with world leaders from many domains and disciplines.  It was truly an incredible meeting.  It wasn’t a huge conference, a couple of hundred people and was kept small on purpose.  I’ve actually come to love gatherings like this more than speaking to thousands of people.  Most of the time those big gatherings are pep rallies or marketing in disguise!  Smaller groups of thinkers and practitioners gathering and learning from one another is always more impactful.  There were some panels in 3 or 4 main sessions then we would break into groups and ask questions, challenge each other & debate.  It would get tense but it was really a lot of fun – you could pretty much share whatever you wanted – it was a safe place.  I was one of only about 3 evangelicals there so man were we bombarded trying to explain all of the “nuts” in our movement.  Funny how we want to define an entire group of people by a few nuts no matter what tribe! Read more