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Archive for July, 2010

5th Master Class of Jesus Christ(65)

July 31st, 2010
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Scripture of the Day: Luke 9:24

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (NIV)

This is not some masochistic idea that losing one’s life was its own reward. It is strange how some have thought of martyrdom in this way. What he is calling for is a willingness to give up their lives – their relationships, their conceptions of the world and the practices that flow from this – in order to follow him in an unreserved commitment to God’s salvation purposes. One cannot cling to this life as prioritized by the values of society and also serve God and his plan of salvation.

In some cultures and countries this creates a direct confrontation. We can share this in prayer for those who have lost everything. Please look at our intercessory prayer section.

Message for the Day

Orlando Conference

July 30th, 2010
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Joe Tkach:

Simply put, the Orlando Conference was grand! I received hundreds of comments not only expressing joy and renewal, but also that we consider having it every other year instead of every third year.

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News

5th Master Class of Jesus Christ (64)

July 30th, 2010
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Scripture of the Day: Luke 9:23

23Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (NIV)

Not a very appealing calling. True, authentic discipleship will be in the same conflict as himself with this world’s values, assumptions, patterns, power centres.

In the first century they would be undermining the enslaving coercion and onerous burden of reciprocal obligation. Their daily refusal to participate in this would create its tensions. Paul himself even got offside with patrons in the Corinthian church by refusing to play this game. To really follow Jesus teaching was to be contrary to the Roman Mediterranean values. This automatically created suspicion – even of fear of a threat to the Pax Romana.

But what is Jesus saying about discipleship?

As this is addressed to all, it shows that just wanting to come after Jesus is insufficient for true discipleship. As in the parable of the sower it is not enough to hear and to even respond with faith. Judas was one of the Twelve. The parable said faith can be choked.

What did it mean then to deny oneself? Individuals in Roman antiquity were embedded in a network of relationships. To deny oneself meant that the disciple had to be willing to set aside the relationships, the extended family of origin and inner circle of friends by which one made up one’s identity. He had to be willing and open to construct a wholly new identity not based on ethnic origins or relationships of mutual obligations but in a new community that centred on God and resolutely faithful to Jesus’ message – giving without reciprocation.

To take up the cross daily is a very graphic metaphor. In the Roman context the victim carried the cross beam of the cross from the site of sentencing to the place of execution. In this sense, dead to the world that opposes God’s purpose, disciples are free to live according to the values of the Kingdom of God proclaimed in Jesus’ ministry.

It is also interesting to note that those legally condemned to death forfeited their estates and were denied burial. Thus implied in the metaphor is the willingness to suffer with Christ even to the risk of losing possessions and honourable status.

Since this is daily, following Jesus must be persistent. This was the lesson of the parable for those who produce a harvest.

Jesus is not concerned with good beginnings. He is on a journey that will result in suffering and the crucifixion. That’s what it meant to come after him.

One cannot help think that we can easily forget, because of the privilege of living in Australia, that for many people today this is a daily reality. One of the reasons I place on the Sydney church’s web site intercessory prayer for Christians suffering is to help us also walk with them in prayer.

In the unity of the Spirit, when one suffers we all suffer.

Message for the Day