Monday, June 16, 2014

The Church Should Be Like the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs last night for a third straight game totally dismantled the Miami Heat. It was a very impressive display of basketball wizardry! As a basketball fan and player myself I was totally impressed at this team concept and how efficiently they passed the ball and not one player shined greater than another. The player with the highest point average on the team this year was 17 the lowest of a player on a winning team in the finals in the modern shot clock era. This proves the team concept that the San Antonio Spurs have been playing with for the last 15 years.

However I was not as impressed with the excellent basketball and team play as I was with several other aspects that I think make them great. I also wonder if the church might have a look at these areas I noticed last night. As I watched them as a team receive the trophy I thought "the church should be like this!"

1. They are Humble Team Players: 
The first thing that occurred to me while watching the spurs last night was that there is not one single ego on the team. Tim Duncan will be in the Basketball hall of fame one day (and maybe a few other players too), but his Jersey is the 14th Highest selling Jersey in the NBA. Do you think he cares? NO He cares about team, and family, and those around him. I have to say I am actually struggling with this lately. I am struggling with the need to prove myself to everybody. Why do I do that? Why can't I be completely satisfied in My Savior? What if I was a person that was actually completely satisfied in my savior? What if the Church was completely satisfied in Jesus? What if the church was a little more like this? Like Christ actually?
This team is full of unselfish basketball players, they are totally unselfish. They pass the ball better than any other team in the league. Every time I counted the passes in a possession it was always over five passes and when I counted the Heat's passing it was always under 5 usually 2-3 passes per possession. This can only be attributed to team leadership that is also unselfish. From the top down Greg Popovich their coach deflects accolades better than anyone in the NBA. He usually doesn't like to say much to the media, but to his players he demands excellence, humility, and the team concept. What if the Church looked like this? Unselfish, humble, team players?

2. They are Diverse: 
One of the reasons that you have never heard of any of the players on the Spurs is because they are humble team players, and also because they are very diverse. Most of their roster are not Americans. There are only seven Americans on the roster for the Spurs.
There are Italians, Australians, French, Canadians, New Zealanders,  Argentinians, Brazilians and one from St. Croix of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Americans are outnumbered by the international players for the Spurs. Greg Popovich has found a winning formula with this international community and great diversity. Jesus has also found a winning formula in seeking and redeeming those from every tribe and nation under the sun. As I watched the Spurs celebrate Their win, the flags of all these countries came out. It was a great sight to see all these various countries represented on the platform. I can remember a missions conference in Germany that I attended in which our worship rose to the Lord in many different languages, and then the flags were flying of every European country. It was AWESOME! There were about 30 countries represented. It was almost like the Holy roar that will rise before the throne of God, everyone singing in Heaven one day in their own language (Revelation 7:9). How can we as a church reflect the diversity that will one day encamp around the throne of God worshiping the lamb? Well maybe we could take a lesson from the Spurs and seek to reflect that diversity now.

3. They are Relentless for the Team and Goal:
Since the Spurs should have won the NBA championship last year and were robbed (I guess you can assume how I feel about last year) they have worked tirelessly and gotten better. I would never have been able to believe that from last year when they played
awesome basketball. Somehow they really got better as a basketball team. They truly pounded a great Miami team. How could we as a Church learn from their example? If a bunch of guys can work tirelessly for sport, something that will ultimately fade away, couldn't we as a Church tirelessly put our efforts to work in this world for Christ and His kingdom? I was reminded recently of a poem written by a hero of the faith named C.T. Studd. this is the last stanza of the poem...

Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, 
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

Paul also wrote about giving everything for Christ...

"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

These San Antonio Spurs give everything for the goal, the prize, the trophy that will one day not be shiny,
one day not be made of gold, one day not even be there. However, the crown of righteousness will be awarded one day, and if we have lived a humble, faithful, Christ honoring life then the Church will receive that prize that will never fade away!

Church how can we refocus and realign our hearts with the heart of Christ in Humility, embracing Diversity, and being Relentless for Christ? I pray that this emboldens the Church to be what Christ had envisioned for His bride form the beginning. Let us seek Him in these ways so that we can be a most beautiful, appealing, and effective Bride.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Christ is the Riches of God

Colossians 1:24-29 Christ the fountainhead of Life: week 3
"Christ; the Riches of God"

24) Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25) of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26) the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27) To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28) Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29) For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:24-29 ESV)

Objective Statement: The Church is Fully Complete in Christ by Receiving the Stewardship of His Ministry in Three Areas.
1. We Receive the Stewardship of Sufferings for the Church

Verse 24-26
24) Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25) of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26) the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 
This word that Paul uses here in verse 24 has stumped Biblical scholars probably since the letter was written. He says He "fills up what was Lacking": So I wanted to look at that word for a moment. The Greek word is
G5303 ὑστέρημα
Pronounced hoos-ter'-ay-mah
from 5302; a deficit; specially, poverty:--that which is behind, (that which was) lack(-ing), penury, want.
By his sufferings Paul enters into the sufferings of Christ, who is now exalted above earthly sufferings as the head of the church (kittle) 'what is lacking' or 'what is wanting'.  
The wanting that Paul is referring to here is that he enters into Christ sufferings and becomes a fellow partaker in the suffering. For us the same when we enter into sufferings we are entering into the full measure of what it is to know Christ. We have never before seen Him in His suffering so as we and Paul suffer as a follower of Christ we "fill up what was lacking". By way of suffering Paul fulfills the suffering that Jesus went thought and presents that suffering to the church, so that they can also see and enter into the sufferings of Christ and thus "fill it up". He does this so that the church can know better their great suffering head. And be in true communion with him as suffering head. As Paul also said in Philippians, "that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10, 11 ESV). Paul was glad to receive the stewardship of suffering from Christ to display to the church. And they were many sufferings indeed. His stewardship of sufferings for the church is best expressed in 2 Corinthians 11:24-33
"Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands." (2 Corinthians 11:24-33 ESV)
If you are interested here is info on the greek word also used here for Sufferings:
G2347 θλῖψις
Pronounced thlip'-sis
from 2346; pressure (literally or figuratively):--afflicted(-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.
The Greatness of this message is that we can enter in to what our savior experienced and as Paul did He was a steward of the great sufferings that he experienced for His name. How a bout you? do you complain, moan, or resent your sufferings. We can leverage, and steward them for Christ and His glory in the Church?

2. We Receive Stewardship of the Riches of Gods Glory as Revealed in Christ (to the Gentiles)

We as modern day Christians have such an insiders, consumer, entitlement mentality. But what Paul says here is that we are the outsiders! God made His mystery that had been hidden forever, namely Christ, known to Jews first then to Gentiles (outsiders). And His mystery in Christ are the riches of God. God's riches; let's meditate on that for a while. God is the best thing in all the universe! He is also the most wealthy, because not only does he own all things, he is the inventor, creator, and manufacturer of everything in all of the entire universe! All that we see and know, and all that we cannot see and will never know in a thousand lifetimes belongs ultimately to him! So he is the wealthiest individual in all the universe. He makes the top ten wealthiest individuals put together look like they are running a lemonade stand. Let's have a look...
#1 Bill Gates $77.1 B 
#2 Carlos Slim Helu & family. $71.5 B 
#3 Warren Buffett $64.6 B
#4 Amancio Ortega $63.3 B
#5 Larry Ellison $50.6 B
#6 Charles Koch $41.2 B
#6 David Koch $41.2 B
#8 Sheldon Adelson $38.7 B
#9 Christy Walton & family $38.6 B
#10 Jim Walton $36.2 B
With a grand total of. $736.2 Billion in net worth...
Their wealth is as a drop in the bucket compared to His. If His wealth is so immeasurable it must be great to experience His wealth and receive it. Guess What...YOU HAVE! Jesus is his wealth! Jesus is his greatest prize to you! The most valuable thing God could give you is 'Christ in you the hope of glory.' Not only do you have God's wealth in Christ, but you also have a fast and sure hope of glory! An immovable mountain as steadfast as God himself that one day you will experience glory with Christ in heaven, as co-heirs of Jesus himself, he is our brother! And we His! And not to mention that...Heaven is a wonderful place (Revelation 21), I wanna go there! 
You see his riches revealed in Jesus in Vs. 27
27) To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
-God's glory now extends outside the bounds of Israel and now can be entered through Christ by anyone! 
-All nations
-all tribes
-all people groups
-all languages
And he will be The Lord and king of them all

3. We Receive the Stewardship of Proclamation (warning, teaching, and wisdom): that makes us mature in Christ

We receive warnings not touch, do not eat, speed limit 55, weather warnings, Danger signs, caution, speed bumps ahead. These warnings are loving! Sometimes we hear the word warning and do not see it as loving, but it is. Warning us of danger is a loving thing. Usually the warning comes from a person wanting our good and not our destruction. As we traveled from California to South Carolina we saw some pretty interesting things, but I loved the signs the most...
1) Do not pick up hitch hikers, prison near by!
2) Gusty winds may exist!
3) Drive safely
4) Drive carefully
5) Would u trust Indian food at a truck stop in Texas? (Literally that was a real sign!)
6) Drive friendly the Texas way
7) Road construction sign: "be caution"
8) Aircraft used! (I guess this sign is true aircraft is often times used)
Some of these signs make no sense at all. Some of these warnings were not very thought through...or passed by an English teacher, or anyone who speaks English for that matter. But the signs and warnings that Paul proclaims are the only pertinent and meaningful signs ever. Him (Jesus) we proclaim. The end game of the proclamation and warning is that he could and would present everyone "mature in Christ". How does Paul do this continually? How does he endure his trials? With "His energy that so powerfully works within me." Are you toiling on this earth in some meaningless task, something altogether unimportant? Or are you toiling, warning, teaching, proclaiming Christ? If not why not? And if so do you lean completely on Him struggling with all His energy?
Vs. 28
28) Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29) For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:24-29 ESV)

Close: the church needs proclamation and maybe it even needs people to suffer in that proclamation that Paul goes through. Lydia my five year old asked me when she was four, "where is Jesus' church"? I said, "Jesus church is everywhere all over the world in America, Germany, China, Pakistan, and lots of other countries." I said, "why do you ask." She said, "because I love Jesus." I said, "but there are lots of people who have not heard about Jesus yet, and so we have to go and tell them about him." She responded, "they need Jesus in their heart too, it's only fair." It is only fair and our stewardship of his message is of utmost importance. He has given us everything we need to make Christ known His sufferings, His riches and His message to proclaim faithfully. So let's proclaim Him and the riches found in Him!