Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for this town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:11-16, NIV)
If there’s one thing I wish God would keep away from our free will it’d be selective reading. In the context of human behavior it seems to be that part of us that ignores all that causes discomfort or even change. It’s the stuff that’s most of the time is essential, yet we chose to not regard it as such. It’s what makes us almost Christians in the most important of times.For the past few weeks the words of Jesus from Matthew 10 can’t get out of my head. They’re like a mosquito bite – you’ve just thought it’s dealt with and then you accidentally touch it… There it goes again – itches for ages. I figured I must investigate deeper the question of Why do Christians seem to never give up trying to get people into heaven? read more
It’s a question probably dating back to the days when the first overhead projectors entered the church building on Sundays. Or, perhaps, it’s not a question dating to back then. Probably it’s not even a question today. Either way, I don’t care. I ask instead: What’s your image of God? Not so much how you imagine Him, but how you see Him visually at church, on the camp, while you read the Bible to your kids…
Being actively involved with photography for more than two years now, I’ve realized more than ever before how powerful a visual image can be. Moreover, how much an image can reflect and at the same time direct our perceptions of a certain subject. Take a bottle of Coke, for instance – it’s never advertised static, dry and lukewarm, with dull colors… ‘Cause, frankly, who wants a Coke like that. It more sounds like being British tea at 4pm – boring and a thing from the past (for most people, that is). The energetic and fresh Coke image also makes you wish the Coke be that way – it kind of sets the standard for you.
There’s so much thought going into graphic design when it comes to advertising. Sadly, though, there’s little thought put into the graphics and design accompanying our faith. read more
The preacher finished his sermon and before closing the service asked the people before him “Do you want to be with Jesus right now? – Raise your hand if you are.” The multitude raise their hands, except for one man at the back row. The preacher was slightly concerned, so he decided he’d repeat the question. The result was the same. Odd, he thought, maybe the man didn’t hear the question. So he asked a third time, even louder – Do you want to be with Jesus right now? That didn’t do it either.
So after the service was finished he struggled through the crowd to find the man who didn’t raise his hand and ask him what was stopping him from wanting to be with Jesus. When he finally asked, the reply was “Oh, I do want to be with Jesus! But I don’t want to go there right now, I quite like it out here.”
It’s an example I recently heard in a sermon and it bewildered me. So I took a note of it in my mind and gave it some further thought in the days after that. Today, as I think about it again it scares me – because it’s so true. read more
They (the believers) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs wede done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47, NIV
The book of Acts is one of the books that come closest to my heart. Probably because the Old Testament is a bit farther from my personal cultural experience and Revelation simply has too many variables when it comes to interpreting its meaning. Acts, however, speaks at a level I seem to understand easier. Well, anyways. These few verses have been on my mind lately because a few weeks back I was sitting at church on a Sunday, I heard an announcement of a conference and suddenly I thought – It appears that only at conferences we come close to living as it’s described in the quote above. read more
Update: Apparently God decided to surprise me yet again. The sermon was a refreshing lesson for me both while preparing the last bits and seeing the whole thing, and also while preaching it. The feedback from the congregation was very encouraging as well. I have never had such a powerful feedback on a sermon I’ve preached, so it was a very humbling experience on top of all else. I think they believed my message. I actually think I came to believe more than when I started preparing for the sermon and all the questions started popping up.
In the past few weeks I’ve been working on a sermon about God’s mission and our part in it. It’s been a really refreshing thing for me. Especially because in the last several years the direction of my faith has been downwards. More like rolling down a hill actually…
In the midst of all the excitement around that sermon the following thought came about “Will they believe my message if I don’t believe it myself?” It actually led me to reflecting on the way we, Christians, tend to “testify” to the world today… When Christ called us to go and teach the world about Him and make disciples he pointed out two most important details: 1) all authority is given to Him (and that’s all as in ALL), and 2) He is with us as we’re going after this mission.
I know that I myself have very often been the scared Christian, or the too-careful-one. I’ve often decided to keep quiet rather than speak out the truth. I’ve often decided to pray silently, rather than disturb the secular enjoyment of others around me and show what I actually care about. I suppose this won’t change over-night either, but at the moment I’m thinking too much about it and couldn’t keep from sharing it with you all.
So, I’m preparing this sermon which is supposed to challenge the lives of young and old people and help them embrace God’s mission to share the Gospel with non-believers, love Him, and love the other people around. And I keep coming to one key moment – in order for us to carry out the mission successfully we ought to be fearless, full of faith, and entirely determined. read more