There they sat in the upper room, confused, fearful and bewildered. Only hours removed from Jesus’ death on the cross, what were the disciples to do now? They were now the hunted ones and the storybook ending seemed to come to a fateful and unexpected end. Jesus was gone, and there they gathered… forlorn… attempting to configure a game plan to move forward.
Out of nowhere Jesus appears and gives them a hearty greeting. Peace be with you! Imagine the surprise and shock on their faces!! After showing them his hands and side their fear is turned into joy and the tattered group of followers is given the commissioning that will forever change the trajectory of their life.
Prayer: more than a technique but a practice of presence.
I can almost picture in my mind the scene in Mark 9: 14-29 so vividly unfolding…
Jesus comes down from the mountain (possibly glowing like Moses glowed after he met God on Mt. Sinai?? ) where he had just witnessed the transfiguration with Peter, James and John, only to walk into an argument between the teacher’s of the law and the other disciples.
Apparently, according to the story as told by Mark, the disciples had attempted to heal a boy who was demon possessed and were unsuccessful. This failure had lead to a prolonged argument with the teachers of the law. Imagine how embarrassed the disciples must have been? Jesus had given the Twelve authority to cast out demons (3:15) and they had used that power successfully on past occasions (6:13) here though something had gone dreadfully wrong. How awkward that must have been for those men!
You’ve probably all seen the movie. The community is in havoc and needs a hero to save it… Along comes Superman to rescue the people, free the city and save the day.
How often do we take the same “hero” approach in our service to the poor? We serve with a motivation to accomplish something for ourselves and for our own personal significance and gain. And in the process we reduce the poor to objects of our charity that are merely helping to perpetuate our personal pride and selfishness. We end up serving out of our own neediness, brokenness and sinfulness, not for the well being of the recipient and certainly not for the glory of God.
Seven months ago I sat with a group of men at a men’s event in Sioux Falls and shared about God’s heart for the vulnerable and poor. We read scripture, discussed the meaning of some verses, shared our hearts in worship and committed to doing something about the brokenness in our community. In the room that evening were mechanics, accountants, contractors, farmers, coaches, graphic designers and entrepreneurs.
I challenged them to dream. What could this group together do for the kingdom of God? How could these talents and skills be used to love the vulnerable of Sioux Falls? Within a matter of a few weeks Men of Action was formed.
Entry six of a six-part series
Over the past five blogs we have answered the question: “Why it is critical for the church to be involved with the poor?” (If you are just joining this discussion and want to get caught up with us start reading the first entry of our series found here)
As we end this short series it only seems fitting to share one of the incredible ways we are seeing a church embrace the call to love and care for the poor of their city.
Founded over 15 years ago, Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon is a church that has embraced the call to be involved with the poor. I spent a few minutes talking with Josh Butler, the Pastor of Global/Local Outreach about the heart of Imago Dei. Here are a few of the highlights.
I once befriended a pastor who told me a story of how he desperately wanted to get the people in his new church plant into small groups. He wanted the group leaders to be well-equipped, so he embarked on a stringent process of training. After 5 intense months, only 2 new groups were prepared to launch.
In the meantime, much of the passion for leading and joining groups fizzled.
Thankfully he didn’t make the same mistake when training people to serve in areas of outreach. One of his mentors told him, “listen man, training and equipping is important. But stop trying to control everything by over-planning and over-preparing. This time, just go do it and take your people with you.”
Entry four of a six-part series
When I think of the word servant I think of a cupbearer, someone kneeling at the side of the king ready to meet his every thirsting need. Or a farmhand, shoveling manure or cleaning off the dirty plow. The word servant is often associated with menial tasks; cleaning, cooking, washing etc. – things that most people would not prefer to do. Consider this: In the Smith’s Bible dictionary  the word servant is used in the following ways:
Entry three of a six-part series
What images or phrases come to mind when you hear this word?
As someone who has been deeply involved in church ministry for over two decades, my understanding of discipleship has gone through several rounds of refinement. (I’m pretty sure there are many rounds of refinement still underway as I continue my journey of following Jesus, but that’s another blog…)
Entry two of a six-part series
Have you ever read one of those self-help books? For those of you who haven’t or aren’t familiar with the term a self-help book is a book written with the intention of instructing you, the reader, on how to solve your personal problems. If you have a problem with shyness just read The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. With spelling? Read How to Splell Corecty. Finances? Read How to Print Your Own Money. Are you sick and need healing? Maybe Sarangetti’s Do-It-Yourself Miracle Cures will help. Whatever your problem is you can no doubt find a self-help book to steer you on your way.
Entry one of a six-part series
“Imagine for a moment how you would feel if you were in their shoes…”
It was a phrase I heard many times as a kid. I remember vividly the birthday party that really helped me grasp this concept.