Monday, February 28, 2011



NOW before I begin, let me make it clear again: I am NOT against the organized Church. In our consumer-oriented world, the organized Church is the vehicle that can be a solution to the many community needs-to grow up as a family, to assist parents in strengthening the family, to provide a place of worship and prayer, to address the real needs of the community-hunger, clothing, housing and counseling.

Embracing Jesus' emphasis and intention with respect to the movement He was launching continually makes it seem that He was against the Synagogue (the modern-day organized Church). But this is not true. Jesus respected the Synagogue (the organized Church). However, Jesus came to launch a dynamic movement-a few here and a few over there, gathering together in His name. This is where He promised to show up-where two or three are gathered together.

And when Jesus shows up among the gathering of the few, He changes lives dramatically. This is a very critical thing. The church of Jesus is all about transformation. My friend, Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago, has probably trained more pastors and church leaders than any other. Within the last two years Bill and his staff came to the conclusion that all they had done building their church was sorely missing the mark. They found that their ministry had been emphasizing the wrong things-asking the wrong question, which was "How many people were in attendance?" The bottom-line is that the people were not experiencing transformation! They are now reworking their approach to ministry, identifying where each person is on his or her spiritual journey and ministering to their needs specifically. This was quite an admission, to say the least, and rocked the Christian world as the news spread.

My friend, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, California, shares a similar frustration. He shared with me his consternation over the glaring fact that the big C Church is just not changing the culture. Rick has been diligently training pastors as Hybels over the years and sees the reality that the big C Church is not having the Jesus movement impact on our society. Even though the mega Churches are more visible than ever, there are still 60-70 smaller churches closing each week. The net impact on our population is not increasing. It's like the big C Church in many ways has become a holy huddle in the midst of a troubled and lost world. But we cannot settle for this.

For the most part the leadership of the big C Churches sees the vital need to make the Church experience more intimate, so they break down the larger assembly into smaller contexts. One level of the smaller context is found through affinity groups-like couples with children or singles. Another level of the smaller context is an educational approach through offering a variety of classes. Then there are the smaller groups that meet in homes during the week to study a given topic. A final smaller context is more short-term, but proves to be quite effective and transformational-mission trips or retreats.

Any attempt to get smaller is better and creates an atmosphere that invites participation. But just because you are meeting in a smaller context doesn't mean you are practicing the Jesus movement. Most small groups never reach the level of intimacy and unity for which Jesus prayed. They usually drift into gentle friendships, which are good, but are not the revolutionary fellowship movement Jesus envisioned.

There are 3 dynamic, Greek words with a message of encouragement that can help you to stay on track with Jesus and to participate in A REVOLUTIONARY FELLOWSHIP THAT TRANSFORMS THE WORLD!

FIRST-parakoloutheo-Keep on recommitting yourself to follow closely after one another! It means "to follow close up, or side by side", "to accompany, to conform to", or "following" teaching so that you practice it. There is a sense of following so closely that you can more fully know a person or persons. (Check this out in Mark 16:17; Luke 1:3; I Timothy 4:6 and especially pay attention to II Timothy 3:10.)

SECOND-katartizo-Keep on restoring one another! In I Corinthians 1:10, Paul writes: "I appeal to you that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." The words "perfectly united" are a translation of the Greek work, katartizo. It is used in several ways in the New Testament: to restore, to perfect, to fit, to prepare, etc. Possibly the most interesting use of the word is "to mend" a net. Fishermen around the world spend as much of their time mending nets as they do fishing. The maintenance of close relationships requires our attention to mending as well. It's even used for a physician to reset broken bones.

So, this word has 3 basic meanings: (1) To mend or repair the nets-Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19. (2) To complete, furnish completely, to equip or to prepare-Luke 6:40. (3) To prepare and perfect ethically and spiritually-I Thessalonians 3:10; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:12; II Timothy 3:17: I Peter 1:10.

THIRD-haplotes-Keep on reminding one another of the simplicity of Jesus! "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (II Corinthians 11:3). This is a fascinating word that has more to it than simply simple. This simplicity carries with it a sincerity, a single-mindedness, an unaffectedness. There is also a notion of generosity and bountifulness in this simplicity. In other words, the simplicity of devotion to Jesus has a single-minded abundance to it-an overflowing fullness and liberality about it.

As you can plainly see the church or gathering that Jesus intended has to do with experiencing a revolutionary fellowship with Jesus and those who are also following Him. Although this isn't the primary purpose of a week-end big C Church service due to the nature of its size, you can experience a revolutionary fellowship within the big C Church.

So, what does Jesus want us to do with the organized big C Church? Reading through the 5 gospels (Matthew-Mark-Luke-John-Acts) it is clear what Jesus and the disciples did with the "organized Church". Let's view the synagogue as the organized Church. There are four observations that seem most relevant to us: 1. You don't find Jesus or the disciples bashing the Synagogue (Church). 2. You find Jesus constantly correcting the leadership of the organized Synagogue (Church), teaching and practicing living in the Kingdom. 3. You don't find Jesus or the disciples starting new Synagogues (Churches), because of inadequate teaching or worship. 4. You find Jesus and the disciples using the Synagogues (Churches) and then orbiting around them.

Several years ago I read a book, ORBITING THE GIANT HAIRBALL--A Corporate Fool's Guide To Surviving With Grace by Gordon MacKenzie. MacKenzie worked at Hallmark Greeting Cards for 30 years in the creative department. He found that he was unable to be very creative, if he had to spend his time in corporate meetings. So he learned to orbit around the corporate bureaucracy and not be entangled in it, freeing him to create. He also makes it clear that the hairball was absolutely necessary. Without it there was nothing to power the orbit and the hairball paid the bills. This is exactly what the early fellowships of Jesus did. They participated in the Synagogue, yet they were in orbit around their Synagogue, their communities and around the marketplace. They went to Synagogue (Church) every Sabbath, yet they were there for a higher purpose. They were there to introduce more and more people to the revolutionary fellowship and person of Jesus.

There are two clear action steps here: FIRST-participate in the revolutionary fellowship movement of Jesus inside or outside the big C Church. SECOND-orbit around the big C Church, looking for those who are interested in Jesus and His movement. Once someone leans in with interest, invite them into the revolutionary fellowship of Jesus with you.



This week I want to clarify some of my thoughts on the organized Church today. I know some of you no doubt feel that I am against the Church, but this is not true. You see, I am striving to understand what Jesus intended and what Jesus did, in fact, launch as the church of Jesus. Much of the time we have added man-made doctrines and methods to His teachings. These doctrines and methods may be good in themselves, but Jesus had a better idea in mind. It's very important to say that I am not against the organized Church, but seek to support it in its many ministries and to encourage leaders and laymen alike to get back to the heart of Jesus as they conduct their Church ministries.

When I teach what Jesus said and did with His disciples and what He intended with respect to the future disciples of His disciples, it is clearly different from what we know and love today in the Church. And as I teach these things the contrasts are very clear, therefore it may seem that I am blasting the Church in the process. That is not my heart at all. I see the organized big C Church in much the same way as the early Synagogues and the Temple in Jerusalem. When you frame the Church in this way, it becomes clearer how the Church fits within the Jesus movement.

The Synagogue and Temple were the mass meeting places where believers would come to pray, confess, offer sacrifices, worship and hear the written Word of God read each week. The Synagogue had instruction for children through adults. Jesus and His disciples attended Synagogue, never spoke against it, didn't seek to change it, and didn't start another one to compete with it. There just wasn't any bashing of the Synagogue.

The Church today is the same as the Synagogue. It's a place where believers can gather in mass to pray, worship, hear teaching and enroll their children in some sort of spiritual instruction. It serves the consumer needs of the people. The mega churches provide programs that are unequaled and very helpful, especially to the needs of families.

So, the big C Church has its place in the plan of God, however it's too easy to miss what kind of thing Jesus intended. I call it the little c church. The term "church" is not a special or holy word as many believe and teach. It literally means "called out ones" and was used to describe city council meetings or any kind of assembly where people are called out to meet for a purpose. It simply is a gathering of followers of Jesus. The simple gathering of followers of Jesus on any day and at any location is a church. These gatherings Jesus launched revolved around four ingredients-fellowship, food, prayer and the apostles' teachings (teachings and principles of Jesus).

The big C Church by its very nature tends toward making most people spectators; the little c church is all about relational participation. The big C Church is founded on a set of beliefs or doctrines-a system of do's and don'ts; the little c church is founded completely on a personal relationship with Jesus and as we gather seeing Jesus show up. The big C Church is a place where you go; the little c church is not a place to go, but wherever you go you are to be the church-the gathering in the name and power of Jesus. The big C Church is an organization; the little c church is a live organism-organic in every way.

Check out these observations: FIRST-the church of Jesus is a movement. You cannot get your arms around it, visit it, or even see it. It's like the wind. You can't see the wind, but you can definitely see the effects of it. It's not a monument that one builds; it's a movement around Jesus that is contagious and must be caught. It's not a denominational or religious organization to be joined; it's a living movement through which Jesus captures your heart.

SECOND-the church of Jesus is everywhere and all around us-wherever followers of Jesus gather together in His name. No matter the location (coffee shop, living room, bar, race-track, battlefield, school, office), no matter the culture (Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian and even agnostic), and no matter the level of society (the powerful or the poor), you can find the Jesus movement making a difference in His name.

THIRD-the church of Jesus is a relational, participatory dynamic where people encounter Jesus and walk with Him together. The Jesus movement is not driven by a certain doctrinal system; it's driven by a real, personal relationship with Jesus, Himself.

FOURTH-the church of Jesus is out of control-man's control-and under the leadership of Jesus, the Head. Maybe the one most deadly move we tend to make in life is to be "in control".

We are given a strong clue to what Jesus came to do in His prayer to the Father in John 17. He said, "Father, I have finished the work you gave me to do." Let's listen in own this prayer: "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word." Jesus came into this world to invest His life in a few men and now He sends us out to do the same. "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."

This is the essence of the church Jesus came to build-a movement consisting of a few followers who gather in His name in such a way that they are able to know the Father personally and intimately. He says, "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me."

So, are you caught up in the dynamic, participatory movement of Jesus-being the church-or are you satisfied with being a spectator-going to church?

Thursday, February 24, 2011



Today I want to show you why being a believer is not enough. On the road to becoming a disciple and then making disciples, there is another level of growth and maturity. Let's rehearse the levels up to this point:

1. People who are not followers of Jesus-family, friends, acquaintances. 2. People who are interested-the seekers after more about Jesus. 3. People who are interested enough to become a believer.

Now, today we come to the final level of progression in order to be ready and able to respond to Jesus' command to "make disciples of all nations." 4. People who believe enough to follow Jesus.

Most of my life I have bought into the importance of being a believer or more specifically, a believer in Jesus. In the past few years as I have been focused on the teachings and principles of Jesus, I have come to realize that being a "believer" is probably not the best way to identify yourself with Jesus. If you perform a quick overview of the five Gospels (Matthew-Mark-Luke-John-Acts), you will discover that with few exceptions John is the only one who uses the term "believe" extensively.

Demons are said to be believers. The false teachers Jesus mentions are believers. Jesus refers to people who act like believers, but that's not good enough. Look at what Jesus says: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Here was a group of people who spoke in the name of Jesus, cast out demons in the name of Jesus and performed many miracles in His name, yet Jesus didn't know them. He had no personal relationship with them.

In addition to demons and false teachers, many of you who are reading or listening to this daily see yourselves as believers, too. So, what's the difference? There must be more to it than just being a believer!

Jesus clarifies this. Jesus makes it clear that the only ones who will enter the Kingdom of heaven are those who do the will of the Father. And what does Jesus mean by this? In the next paragraph He illustrates what this means:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

Those who do the will of the Father are those who hear the words of Jesus and practice them! That's more than just being a "believer". Don't get caught up in the clichés and sound bites of religiosity. Pray for ears to hear and eyes to see, then listen to what Jesus says and do it. Don't miss this! You must believe, but you must believe enough to follow Jesus and His teachings! Whether you are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Christian or agnostic, follow Jesus and enjoy the results!

Believe enough to follow Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus is the best identification. This ID is straight from Jesus and the writers of the Gospels. All of them use this term. It's possible to be a believer without being a follower of Jesus.

So, what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? There are many ways to describe this. Here are three habits that we have found most helpful to teach how to follow Jesus. FIRST-WALKING WITH JESUS. Walking with Jesus means you are devoted to Jesus in four ways:

1. Devoted to copy Jesus-to walk, talk, love and think like Jesus. The question to check this is "What Did Jesus Do?" (WDJD?). Follow Him.

2. Devoted to consult with Jesus regarding your personal, family and professional decisions. The question to check this is "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD?). Follow what Jesus would do in this situation.

3. Devoted to converse with Jesus throughout your day. Prayer is simply a conversation within your relationship with Jesus. The question to check this is "What Is Jesus Saying?" (WIJS?).

4. Devoted to community like Jesus-disciplining yourself to do life with a few others. The question to check this is "What Is Jesus Doing?" (WIJD?).

SECOND-WALKING WITH OTHERS WHO WALK WITH JESUS. The early disciples modeled this by spending time together, studying the teachings of Jesus, eating, praying and fellowshipping with one another. Walking with others is a commitment to be in community with a few, in conversation with Jesus with that few and in copy-mode to stimulate one another to be like Jesus.

THIRD-WAITING ON JESUS TO LEAD OUT WITH OPPORTUNITIES AND ORDERS. This may be the toughest, but is made much easier by walking together with a few others.

Here's the bottom-line! There are seekers who become interested enough to become believers. There are two kinds of believers: (1) those who stop with their declaration of belief and (2) those who believe enough to become followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus do whatever it takes to walk with a few others who follow Jesus-doing life together. Followers of Jesus can and do "make disciples of all nations"; believers who are not followers cannot make disciples, but can only make other believers who do not follow. So, are you a follower of Jesus in community with others or are you just a believer?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011



On the road to becoming a disciple and then making disciples there seem to be four levels of progression. Yesterday we saw the first level-the entire world around you who is not presently following Jesus. Our goal is that by showing Jesus off we might find people who are interested.

I want to clarify a little more who these interested people are. They are not interested in joining something. They are not interested in becoming religious. They are not interested in learning a new language. Nor are they interested in leaving their culture or religious identification to become like you in your culture. BUT we are looking for those who are interested in how Jesus might fit into their culture and how their culture fits with Jesus and His teachings.

People who are interested in this way are open to knowing and discovering more about this Jesus. I call this kind of stance 'leaning in' for more. It reminds me of becoming like a little child-open, trusting and in more of a learning mode. When a person 'leans in' in this way, he will inevitably come to the point of personal faith-to be a believer in Jesus.

Being interested enough to believe is what we want. The progression goes like this: First-a person sees Jesus displayed through the lives of those who are following Jesus. Second-once a person sees Jesus displayed, there is a good chance he will become interested in knowing more. Third-when a person follows his interest in Jesus and is leaning in, he will likely become a believer.

For most of my spiritual journey I have found calling myself a believer most comfortable. It's a clean term and has little religious baggage to it. Three observations come to mind here.

FIRST-Being a believer has become a threshold experience-the very doorway into salvation. After sharing a time of counseling a desperate man in the psych ward of a local hospital, I told this particular study group that it was so exciting to see this man's attitude of fear change into a sincere seeking for God. One of our group members quickly said, "So he became a believer?" In other words, "Did you close the spiritual deal and now this non-believer is a believer?" We seem to want this magical moment that a person becomes a believer and then all will be OK.

To accommodate this thinking and to motivate people into becoming a believer, many have created tangible ways to confirm this threshold act of belief. Some urge people to respond during what is called an altar call, such as what is done at the end of a Billy Graham service. Others have what is called an "I believe" service, where a person stands to his feet and says "I believe." Still others rely on urging a person to pray a prayer of belief. Each of these sort of memorializes the time a person becomes a believer.

SECOND-Being a believer has become a time to reference as the time your relationship with God began. Remembering the day you became a believer-your threshold experience of salvation-becomes a sure sign that your faith is genuine and not being able to nail down that date means that maybe you never actually have come into a salvation experience at all.

Recently, a pastor told one of his elders that if you can't identify that specific time of salvation faith in your life, then you are probably not a genuine believer. That night the elder interrogated his wife and she could not give him a specific day, but she felt she had come into a personal faith gradually. When the elder shared this experience with a group I was leading, he was really saddened by his discovery and it showed in his countenance. Then I asked him, "When was Peter's specific day?" The elder sat there for quite some time and said, "I don't know." I said, "Troubling, isn't it?" "What about the other disciples? What was their specific day?" The elder saw what I was showing him and said, "So, my pastor was wrong."

THIRD-Being a believer can miss the point of the ongoing process of believing. To make "being a believer" so paramount, it is too easy to miss out on what happened with the early disciples and rely on man-made sound bites and clichés. Think about it! The early disciples were not "believers" in the sense that most think of it today. They were followers of Jesus and His teachings, but were a work in progress with respect to becoming believers. By the way, that process took them over three years!

So, we want people to become interested-interested enough to believe. But there is a catch here. Becoming a believer is more than a threshold experience. It's not just a moment in time where a person has expressed his belief or faith in Jesus. The act of believing is progressive and continual. It's a journey of faith. It's important to encourage those who are interested to be interested enough to believe. Just make sure that when a person believes, this believer learns to keep on believing-living this faith out in his life.

As important as it is to be interested enough to believe I want to show you tomorrow why believing is not enough to get you into a relationship with God. On the road to becoming a disciple and then making disciples, there is one more level that must be reached.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011



On the road to becoming a disciple and then making disciples there seem to be four levels of progression. The first is found all around you-your family, friends and acquaintances. Or, to put it more specifically, the entire world that is not now presently following Jesus.

Over the years I've come to realize that God is into what I call "divine appointments." A divine appointment comes up in, at least, three ways. First is a scheduled appointment. You know you are going to see a certain person today, but you may not know what may come up there that is all about the move of God. Second is a spontaneous appointment. You know the person, but had no idea you would run into him today. Third is the surprise appointment. You don't know the person you are encountering and it is a surprise to everyone, but God that you are thrown together into this appointment. In every case God is busily setting up divine appointments for each of us all day long. All He wants from us is to show up! In other words, God has something special for you to do as you touch this person. This is why I pray: "Lord Jesus, what is it that you have for me today?" I want to anticipate these divine appointments and look for them throughout the day.

When it comes to being obedient to making disciples of Jesus of all the nations, I think it's best to start right here where God is setting up the appointments for you. It's at this level that we are thinking in terms of exposing as many people to Jesus as possible.

So, how is this done most effectively? I mean, a street preacher on the corner or a spiritual march with signs and bullhorns may have some effect, but I know these approaches are not the most effective. As I have examined the ways we might show Jesus off, I have discovered only five in the New Testament.

FIRST-By lifestyle. Jesus says: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Your lifestyle-how you live your life-will speak so loudly to those who are watching. How you handle your problems and stresses, how you love your spouse and how you treat your family and friends are all on display. People can see Jesus in this way!

SECOND-By loving one another. Jesus says: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) People can also see Jesus by our love for one another. This is so attractive and contagious.

THIRD-By giving a blessing when you are insulted. Peter says: To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. And later, Peter says: "Always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you." (I Peter 3:8-12, 15) People who give a blessing when insulted are acting in a counter-cultural sort of way. It's moving to the beat of a different drummer by the name of Jesus.

FOURTH-By sharing your own Jesus story. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without someone to proclaim? (Romans 10:14) This is the only one of the ways we show Jesus off by our words. But NOTE that this is not you preaching to or arguing with anyone. The best thing to share is your own personal story. No one can argue with your own experience, strength and hope you have found through Jesus.

FIFTH-By ministering to Jesus through the needs of people. Jesus says something very unique: 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" (Matthew 25:35-40) Once a month a group of us feed and minister to the needs of the homeless in Orange County. I always encourage each of the volunteers that by loving and ministering to these dear people they are actually ministering to Jesus Himself.

Now, each of these actions show Jesus off to the world-living a lifestyle like Jesus, loving one another, blessing when insulted, sharing your own story and helping those in need. In fact, when you do these things, you are living a lifestyle on a different level altogether and people notice. The people who notice are all of the people who are watching you day after day. We pray that through our interactions with our family, friends and acquaintances that they will become interested.

We're looking for those who are interested. This is really the only requirement that is necessary-to be interested. By the way, if you are interested and have a passion for Jesus and how His teachings and principles work in your life, you will find all kinds of people interested in the same thing. You will find interested people in Churches, Mosques, Temples, Synagogues, civic groups, schools, gyms, in the corporate setting, and in your community. Do you want to make disciples of Jesus, orbit around your world, looking for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. You're not looking to close any spiritual deals or people to preach to; you're looking for the interested! They are all around you. God is setting up divine appointments all day long just for you. All He wants from you is to show up!

Monday, February 21, 2011



Here again are Jesus' words, giving a very direct command to those who want to continue following Him: And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Remember, there is only one command here from Jesus and that is to make disciples-to make followers of Jesus of all nations. Also, keep in mind this is making followers of Jesus, not making followers of your religious persuasion. It's not making followers of your traditions and culture. This is all about making followers of Jesus, who supersedes all religious beliefs and systems and founders. This is Jesus without religious baggage of any kind.

Most people make the mistake of thinking the command here is to go, because of the English wording here. There is no commandment to go, to baptize or to teach. These are participles giving us guidelines on how to make followers of Jesus.

The first participle is BY GOING. This has to do with initiating the follow-through on the command to make disciples. I think this action is best described for us today as introducing everyone everywhere we can to Jesus. We are not to be taking mission trips for the purpose of conversion, but to advance the conversation of Jesus in whatever culture we enter. Jesus fits and is attractive to every culture; your religious system is not. When you go to convert people to your way of thinking, persecution is inevitable.

The second participle is BY BAPTIZING. To baptize means to immerse a person into something-literally to dip into. If you take a white cloth and dip it into a bucket of red dye, your cloth will have a new identification-red. This is the essence of baptism. It is the action of identifying a person with something. John was known as the baptizer. He baptized or identified people with repentance-changing their minds about their stance before God. Jesus identified Himself with John's baptism of repentance. Then Jesus baptized or identified or immersed people with His Spirit.

Listen to how John compared his baptism with that of Jesus: And he was preaching, and saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Mark 1:7-8)

The Gospel of John puts it this way: Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, and said to him, "Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" John answered them saying, "I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.' I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water." John testified saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God." (John 1:24-34)

Jesus extends this identification with His Spirit when He has His disciples wait for the Spirit to come upon them with power: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

NOTE the spread of the message of Jesus to make followers throughout the world is natural, when His Spirit comes upon you.

The third participle is BY TEACHING. This action of incarnating Jesus within the discipleship process is to teach all who will listen to observe and obey all that Jesus taught and commanded. It's learning to flesh out Jesus making Jesus your life's reference point and focal point. It's embracing Jesus as a lifestyle. This is not indoctrination, but incarnation of Jesus in every way possible.

Now, here is the key to the "how" of making disciples. There are two lines that cannot be overlooked. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

FIRST-"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Authority is the rights and power to do whatever He wants. How much is "all"? All means everything; no other authority that matters exists.

SECOND-"I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Get this! The same Jesus who has all authority, rights and power in the universe is the one who is with you always-even to the end of the world.

If you are going to be effective in making disciples or followers of Jesus, you must be a follower of the one who has all authority, rights and power and who is always present with you. If this Jesus is present with you, then those you touch will not only see it; they will sense Jesus in you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011



This week I want to revisit what it means to follow through with what Jesus commanded us to do. It has been called the "great commission." Don't get sidetracked from the primary command here. The only command is to "make disciples of all the nations." He offers three participles on how we are to make disciples-(1) by going, (2) by baptizing and (3) by teaching. Today I want to only deal with the command and tomorrow with the three participles.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Who is the target on which we are to focus for making disciples? Who are we to disciple? Note that Jesus makes it clear that we are to disciple "all of the nations." Nations would be better to translate as "cultures." We are to make disciples of people from all of the cultures of the world who are not now disciples. Disciples of what? A certain religion? A specific theological system? No, we are to make disciples of Jesus-followers of Jesus. Our audience is made up of all people everywhere who are not now followers of Jesus.

The initial exposure to the nations of the world happened on one day at the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 2:4-6: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. So, instantly the seed of the message of Jesus was planted in the hearts of men and women from the nations of the world.

Peter, trying to stick to his cultural traditions and religious Law was confounded by God to realize that God was willing and able to work with every nation or culture of the world. Check this out: Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus the Christ (He is Lord of all)-you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." (Acts 10:34-43)

NOTE Peter realized quickly that "in every nation or culture the man who fears God and does what is right is welcome to Him." By the way, that means from every religion as well. God is already at work in people's hearts all over the world in every culture, not to join our culture and religious expression, but they are welcome to God for themselves!

Paul and Barnabas entered the city of Lystra, healed a man and the people believed they were gods-Zeus and Hermes, who had come to the city. Then after hearing them speak and reject their worshipping of them, the Jews attacked them. The crowds were stirred up to attack Paul and they actually stoned him, leaving him for dead. With the disciples there in Lystra, he amazingly had the strength to get up, went back into the city with the disciples and moved on with Barnabas the next day to another city, Derbe. NOTE that their end game was to make disciples of Jesus there: After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith. (Acts 14:21-22)

When Paul spoke to the people in the marketplace of Athens, he said, "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

NOTE God gave all people life and breath, making every nation or culture of the world. He determined each culture's boundaries and activities in order that they might seek God-by groping and finding Him, since God is not far from anyone. Then Paul says, since all created people are the children of God, we ought to be able to discover and connect with God through His further revelation. This revelation is not through some image or idol, but is in fact a man who was raised from the dead. His name? Jesus.

On several occasions in the book of Revelation the message of Jesus is said to have gone out to "a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues." This can only happen if we are focused on making disciples of Jesus everywhere, not converting people to become a member of one of our religious systems. Jesus is above all of man's religious systems. Jesus, the incomparable and irresistible Jesus!

Thursday, February 17, 2011



Who were the disciples of Jesus? These were men who were trained in Judaism up to a point. Rabbis taught them, until they were not chosen by any rabbi to continue in their studies. Therefore each of these first disciples of Jesus educationally and professionally was somewhat of a "loser" and sent back home to either take up the profession or trade of their fathers or find a new one altogether. But they weren't chosen to be a disciple of any of the rabbis. Can you imagine the pressure in that early society to progress to the point of being a disciple of a respected rabbi? The Jewish mothers were so proud of their sons who had proved themselves acceptable to a rabbi and then one day would actually become a rabbi.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the call of Matthew by Jesus. Let's look at it. 9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. 10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Matthew's mom was never able to brag about her son, the rabbi. He just didn't make it! Matthew was steeped in the belief that one must perform in order to be acceptable to God and welcomed into the Kingdom. Matthew knew he was not able to match up with this kind of performance. Now this is where Jesus blew the mind of Matthew.

As Matthew sat in his tax stand at the edge of the water of the Galilee, he most likely not only heard many of Jesus' messages and saw several miracles, he also had been privy to the rumor-mill about this radical rabbi, Jesus. Here's where Jesus introduces His revolutionary message of love and acceptance.

He walked up to Matthew and delivered one of the most revolutionary messages ever-FOLLOW ME! These two words have changed the world! What this meant was, "You have heard from your upbringing that you must perform in order to be accepted by God and you have certainly fallen short. Now, I want to dramatically shift gears. I want you to know that I accept you just as you are and you are welcome into my Kingdom. Now, come along and FOLLOW ME."

NOTE that Matthew was so thrilled to be chosen by a respected rabbi and especially this unique teacher named Jesus. This is why he immediately responded to Jesus. And, this is why he immediately threw a party. He wanted to show off this new rabbi and the fact that he was going to be following in His steps. This was something that would make his mother proud.

Jesus was making a greater point here...that God was primarily looking for the sick people, the losers, the down and out, and Jesus' focus was not on the "righteous" but on the sinners. This is still the revolutionary message of Jesus. All of the religions have set up a system of do's and don'ts to be followed in order to be accepted and welcomed by God. Jesus says, "I accept you, so now come and follow me." "All who are weary and heavy-laden, come to me and I will give you rest."

Again, this reminds me of this comparison. All religions say, "Do, Do, Do. Do more. Do better." But Jesus says, "It's already done, now come along and follow me." So, where do you fit on this spectrum? Are you still exhausting yourself with all of your performance of "do, do, do?" Or are you discovering that Jesus' call on your life is the call to rest?

The unknown God is knowable and He requires the following. 1. That you are sick. 2. That you are interested. 3. That you understand His great love and acceptance of you.

I love this story. "Matthew, I accept you and welcome you into the Kingdom. Do you want to come along and follow me?" This is the same call Jesus is making on your life. Now, will you come along and follow Him, too?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



We keep using WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) and that is a most helpful measuring stick for living our lives more effectively. However, WDJD? (What Did Jesus Do?) may be even more helpful in understanding what Jesus' intent is for our lives. My good friend always says, "Watch what Jesus did and said and do the same!" I want to walk through 3 scenes in the life of Jesus where people from a non-Jewish background came to faith in Him.

I've come to realize that it's possible for a person to be a Catholic and be a follower of Jesus and still be a Catholic. A Mormon can be a follower of Jesus and still remain in his Mormon culture. A Muslim can be a follower of Jesus, a Buddhist, a Hindu can all be followers of Jesus and still remain within their cultural backgrounds. I want to now show you how biblical this is.

FIRST-When Jesus was in Cana of Galilee, He was confronted by a royal official who needed Jesus to heal his son. Jesus told him that his son would live. What's interesting is that this royal official believed that Jesus was the only way, the only hope for his son to be healed. It's important to note that this royal official was probably a Roman citizen with the cultural background of seeking many gods and signs from them. Jesus didn't tell this man to make sure to repent and go renounce the many Roman deities or his faith would be for naught. Why not? Because the most important issue here is that this man and his family would come to simple faith in Jesus. After this expression of faith, this man was a Roman who believed in Jesus.

SECOND-When Jesus conversed with the Samaritan woman, He didn't make certain to warn her of her false beliefs and be sure to change the mountain where she worshipped. There was no renunciation of her false doctrines. Why not? Because Jesus was reaching out to her to bring her to faith. She is still known as the Samaritan woman who believed in Jesus and told her entire village about her encounter with Jesus. This, too, resulted in many more Samaritan followers of Jesus.

THIRD-When the God-fearing Greeks were encountered, they were not taken to this point of renouncing their deities to express faith in Jesus. The Syrophoenecian woman is a perfect example, a gentile and from a godless cultural background. What's happening here? She comes to faith in this most attractive Jesus. She is now a Syrophoenecian who was a follower of Jesus.

I'm reminded of one more incident, not in the life of Jesus, but in the Acts of Jesus. When the Ethiopian eunuch was approached by Philip, sent by God to do so for this Divine appointment, why doesn't Philip bring up the renunciation of his Ethiopian culture? They had already built many temples to some gods back then, so why not a call for renunciation of these gods; especially before baptizing this eunuch, making him feel he was now OK and a follower of Jesus. So we have here the Ethiopian official who was a follower of Jesus.

You see, it's very possible for people to come to know God without losing their cultural backgrounds in the process. The early disciples grew up in Judaism with all of its add-ons, yet they were attracted enough to Jesus to follow Him and His teachings. Were the disciples of Jesus believers? Were they born again? The answer, if you are honest with what we know, is no. They weren't believers until after the resurrection. And, they weren't "technically" born-again until Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon them. Now that was pure, unadulterated discipleship with a group of men who were interested in Jesus enough to follow Him and learn His teachings and principles. This is precisely what we are experiencing among Buddhists, Hindu, Muslim and Jews! We are starting with those who are "interested" in Jesus enough to follow Him and learn His teachings and principles. As they walk this path, the Spirit gets hold of their hearts and transforms them. That's the way it should be! Discipleship is not Christianizing people or worse yet, Americanizing them, but introducing them to Jesus.

Introduce people to Jesus and wonderful things happen. It's still happening today! Maybe instead of WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) or WDJD? (What Did Jesus Do?), we ought to think in terms of WIJD?-What Is Jesus Doing? Remember, see what Jesus is doing and get there as quickly as possible!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011



To continue examining the UNKNOWN GOD motif, I want to walk through an amazing event that happened to Peter. Remember, Peter was probably the leader of the early disciples while hanging out with Jesus. Many believe most of the disciples were in their late teens while Peter was most likely in his early twenties. After all Peter had experienced with Jesus, he was sold out to Him as the Jewish Messiah. You might say he was a very religious follower of Jesus. Now, with this in mind, note what happens.

Acts 10:1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!" 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea."

NOW note what happens on Peter's end of things. 9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." 14 "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them." 21 Peter went down and said to the men, "I'm the one you're looking for. Why have you come?" 22 The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say." 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only human myself."

27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with Gentiles or visit them. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?"

Cornelius told Peter what had happened to him, being visited by an angel. 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."

34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached- 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen-by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

It's interesting to me that AFTER Peter comes to realize that God shows no favoritism, but accepts those from every nation who fear Him and do what is right. THEN Peter shifts into a very relevant gear. He moves into sharing his experience, strength and hope in Jesus. Then NOTE that Peter begins closing his remarks with "All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name."

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 "Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

OK, do you get what's happening here? Cornelius and his family were Romans. The Roman culture was filled with a mixture of gods and goddesses, many overlapping with the Greek culture. They had a wide spectrum of festivals and feasts as well as a great interest in the occult world, depending upon good or bad omens. Now, here we find a Roman family who is said to be God-fearing and those who earnestly and frequently prayed. Peter was forced to drop his religious add-ons and to go against the commands within his religious system in order for God to get to these foreigners.

NOTE 3 observations: 1. God's man needed for this mission had to step outside his religious and cultural box. Peter was not to "convert" this Roman family into Judaism.

2. God accepts those from every nation who fear or reverence Him and do what is right. This is an amazing statement of what is necessary for God's acceptance.

3. Peter shares that everyone who believes in Him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins. This forgiveness is for everyone who believes Jesus. This is Jesus Plus Nothing at its best!

Every story like this I read really perks me up to the amazing grace of God. It's too bad that Christians don't embrace this understanding more. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

Monday, February 14, 2011



I want to return to the message that Paul gave to the very religious, without-the- Bible group in Athens in Acts 17. This was the first time Paul has spoken to a group that was without Old Testament Scriptural knowledge. His approach is masterful and teaches us a lot for our communication today.

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean." 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship-and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

29 "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead."

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

So, NOTE the response. Some sneered, others said we want to pursue this further and some became followers and believed. How did they come to the point of belief in this case? I want to consider a few things:

FIRST-Paul didn't reject their religiosity, but affirmed them for being so religious. I don't know many Christians who would feel comfortable doing it this way. Can you see how this applies to our present world today with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and the new age spirituality?

SECOND-He didn't quote any Scripture at all. The Bible meant nothing to this audience. To use the Bible as a source of authority or credibility would have been futile. Yet, today we think we must tag everything we say or do with a Bible verse. I know some who believe that you must use a certain kind of Bible in order to be most effective-the King James version! Their thinking is that if it was good enough for Jesus then it should be good enough for us today! Never mind that the King James version is a 16th Century document and not in the time of Jesus!

THIRD-He quoted a well-known poet. He used their credible sources to unpack the truth about this UNKNOWN GOD. In fact, this poet was known for his writing of the worship of Zeus.

FOURTH-He didn't even mention Jesus' name explicitly. He had been speaking of Jesus in the synagogues, but in this speech he doesn't use His name.

FIFTH-Paul seems bent on using their symbols, their authorities, and their cultural traditions to teach the Athenians about the God of gods. He skillfully used the little bit of light that they had-a monument to the UNKNOWN GOD-and shared his thinking on who this unknown God might be and that He can be known to some extent.

THE RESULT? Some believed! NOTE that they didn't have a litany of doctrines to believe; they exercised a simple belief-all that they knew that they were, trusting in all that they knew about this God of gods who created the universe.

This brings me to a very critical principle. UNLESS YOU RELATE TO YOUR WORLD, THEN YOUR WORLD WILL NEVER RELATE TO YOUR GOD. We are so hung up on our little spiritual check-lists that we continually miss the opportunity to share the person of Jesus to the world.

We have become content in talking to ourselves. We judge the world and talk to ourselves, when we ought to be judging ourselves and talking to the world.