Wednesday, October 1, 2014

When did the Great Commission get started?

Coming Soon! 
Jesus had risen from the dead. Over the next 40 days, Jesus taught his disciples about the Kingdom, giving them instruction on how to proceed with the mission he had taught them to live out. He was now standing on a hill giving his final Kingdom instructions to his disciples. We pick up the story in Matthew 28:18-20:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”

Many Christians, including Bible scholars, mission leaders and pastors know this verse as the “Great Commission.” There may even be a subheading in your bible with that reference.

But is this where the Great Commission gets started, with Jesus’ call to “Go…?” This passage has been taught as such but is it when the Great Commission actually got launched for “all nations?” 
Let me suggest to you that this idea needs rethinking and for a very important reason.

Taking Matthew 28:18-20 as the start of the Great Commission can lead us to miss the grand narrative of Scripture and keep us from embracing the full story the Bible communicates.

This famous Matthew 28 passage is vitally important to God’s global mission enterprise. All that Jesus taught and commanded requires our “utmost for his highest.” And, we don’t want to 
miss the two important bookends  – his authority and presence – which makes the mission possible.
This passage is important because it is our promise from the risen Lord of how the mission would proceed and be fulfilled - through, with and in the power and presence of Christ.

But it is not where the Great Commission of “making discipling of all nations” got started.

What Jesus came to do, 'missionally', was advance and empower God’s mission to “all nations.” That is the mission that God has undertaken from the beginning of human history. The cross restored our relationship with God to make Jesus-shaped mission possible and the resurrection prodived Jesus-powered mission to go forward but the Great Commission was God’s plan from the time he created humankind (Genesis 1:28).

Our great God has always chosen to co-mission his people for his mission.

Of course, we know that the Fall affected those plans. Genesis 1-11 demonstrates the unwillingness of mankind to partner with God in his mission, as they instead sought to define life on their own terms and make a name for themselves. But God’s plan kept moving forward in spite of our human tendencies to go in our own direction, except for a people of faith who would carry the mission mandate forward.

Abraham was the first to say, “Yes, Lord I will go for you” after God gave him a great commission to bless all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3). Moses, after some debating with God, also responded to his calling and God gave a great commission to a bunch of Hebrew refugees to make them into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6) so that God would be known among the nations. 

The lessons from ancient Israel demonstrate mankind’s inability to live as commanded, even with God on their side.  The solution to this problem? Christ who would come to move God's mission forward until all nations had heard the Good News.

It is important we recapture the mission as outlined in the Old Testament, so that we better understand the New Testament commission and see the Bible as the complete mission plan that it is - for the "all nations."  

Walter C. Kaiser in an article entitled, “The Great Commission in the Old Testament?” makes the point that, “Rightly understood the O.T. is a mission book par excellence because world mission to all peoples is its central purpose. It is also the key that unlocks true understanding of its message as well as for the whole Bible.”[1]

Christopher Wright in his excellent book, “The Mission of God – Unlocking the Bible’s Grand  Narrative” begins with this great truth: “Missions is what the Bible is all about.” 

The Great Commission when understood from Genesis to Revelation tells us an amazing story of how God has continued to develop his plan for “every nation, tribe and tongue” to worship him. The Great Commission takes on its fullest meaning in response to God’s plan of the ages. We would do well to understand it.


Dealing with this subject in detail is beyond the scope of this brief post so I recommend you sign-up to get my new book, “God INC – Finding Your Place in the Family Business” where I unpack this further. “God INC” will be available soon as a free download or by print copy. Here is what leaders are already saying:

"God INC is a must read for any follower of Christ living during what many believe to be the most exciting time in human history." Pat Murdock - Executive Director - Issachar Initiative  

“Brian’s passion, heart and zeal shine through his words inspiring us to live lives that matter eternally as we get about God’s business.” Bruce B. Miller, Senior Pastor, Christ Fellowship

“This book will leave you inspired and empowered to make the Great Commission your life’s work no matter your vocation.” Dr. Kurt Nelson, President & CEO, East-West Ministries

“Every Christian man, woman, and teenager will profit from this book. They will learn to see with new eyes as they view their families, their churches, their communities, and their world.” David Bowman (D.Min) – Executive Director – Tarrant Baptist Association

"I have not read a stronger narrative that so speaks to the relational bridge built to unite the pastoral and businessmen’s heart to reach the most unreached in our world today. This is a must read for every pastor and business leader." Steve Sharp - President/CEO - Global Heart Ministries

Click here and I'll let you know when God INC is available later this Fall. 

What would it mean if more Christians understood God’s mission, as well as held a missions view of their Bible, toward completion of the Great Commission, which has always been God’s plan for his people to live out? The answer is worth exploring. 

Another question that every Christian must answer is, "When will the Great Commission get started for me?" Do you know the answer? 

[1] Walter C. Kaiser – ““The Great Commission in the Old Testament?” International Journal of Frontier Missions, Jan-Mar 1996 (Vol 13, Number 1) 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Evaluating Your Sentness - How do We Live Like Jesus Now?

Classical Greek philosopher, Socrates, famously said, "The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being." When was the last time you examined, or evaluated, your Christian life? Fortunately there's Jesus.
In John 20:21 Jesus appears to his disciples for the first time after his resurrection with these words: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Clearly, Jesus words are a call to live like him and to do what he did. But do we realize he sends us out to do what he did and to live as he did, once we decide to follow him? All indications are that too few actually do. Fortunately there's Jesus.
Jesus fully expected his followers to live as he was sent. How then did Jesus live and what did he do that should, or actually must, inform and define our lives as his followers? Answering that question can go a long way toward evaluating our sentness. 
You no doubt know the famous old Christian question "what would Jesus do?" It is offered as a way to begin to think about how Jesus might handle any given issue or challenge we face. It's a good question to ask but it is insufficient. There are issues and challenges we face that Jesus, or the Bible, does not directly answer.
The better question to ask is: "what did Jesus do?"
Jesus gave us much to consider in how he lived and modeled life for this followers. In fact, the Apostle John tells us he did so many things they could not all be recorded (John 21:25). But knowing some of the things that Jesus did do will serve us well in living like him, at least trying to do it better than we have.
I am presently reading Marvin Newell's book "Commissioned - What Jesus wants you to know as you go." Writing about John 20:21 in Chapter 2 titled "The Model for Mission", Newell provides a list of 14 statements Jesus made about himself, which can help to answer the question of the "what did Jesus do?"
Newell suggests we should incorporate these 14 points into our personal lives and mission. I think they can serve as a good metric to examine our life by. Knowing these 14 is a good place to begin to answer to the question, "How do we live like Jesus?"
To the 14 points, I have added a question to help evaluate sentness. Ask yourself how you are doing with respect to each point:
Mission: "For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost." (Luke 19:10)..."so I am sending you." - Q: Does my life reflect a desire to seek and save the lost?
Motivation: "I work for the honor of the one who sent me" (John 7:18 paraphrase)...."so I am sending you." - Q: Does my life move consistently in the direction of bringing honor to the Father?
Objective: "I come that may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10)...."so I am sending you." - Q: Does my life seek to produce Jesus' life in others?
Offer: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)..."so I am sending you" Q: Does my life serve to alleviate the burdens of others?
Focus: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinner (to repentance) (Matthew 9:13),,."so I am sending you." Q: Does my life reflect change that others can emulate?
Will: "My food is to the the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work" John 4:34...."so I am sending you." Q: Does my life demonstrate I live for God's purposes?
Relationships: "The Son of Man has a friend of tax collectors and sinners." (Luke 7:34)..."so I am sending you." Q: Does my life touch the lives of others who don't know Jesus?
Teamwork: "And he appointed twelve so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach" (Mark 3:14)...."so I am sending you." Q: Does my life serve well the team God has given me, where he has put me?
Servanthood: "...the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve" (Matthew 20:28)) I am sending you." Q: Does my life show a servant attitude?
Personality: "...Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29)..."so I am sending you." Q: Does my life prove that I am always learning?
Approval: "....I always do the things that are pleasing to him" (Joh 8:29)...."so I am sending you." Q: Does my life find purpose in living to please the Father?
Ownership: "....the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (John 8:20)...."so I am sending you." Q: Does my life demonstrate that I hold things loosely knowing they are temporary but hold tightly to Jesus in all things?
Compassion: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:26)..."so I am sending you." Q: Does my life demonstrate compassion for those less fortunate?
Finishing Well: "I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you sent me to do." (John 17:4"..."so I am sending you. Q: Does my life glorify God by living to do all things well?
These are some of the things that Jesus did do. These 14 points can serve as a metric to guide our lives by. I hope you did honestly examine your life against the questions? It is only be doing so that we can being to live like Jesus. Evaluating myself against this list, tells me I have much work to do. Fortunately there's Jesus.
In my first book, "Ethnic Embrace USA - Blessings the Nations Among Us" I wrote about several other things Jesus was sent to do, that he also sends his followers in like fashion to do. There I wrote:
"Jesus was sent on a mission of love and love must be our primary motivation for mission because it was his for coming (John 13:34).Jesus was sent on a mercy mission and sends us to be merciful (Luke 6:36). Sent as a sacrifice, he calls us to a life of sacrifice (Luke 14:27). He was sent as a servant and calls us to the life of a servant (Mark 9:35). Jesus was sent as a reconciler and we have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). He was sent with a sense of urgency for the least, last and lost (see the 3 parables of Luke 15) and so we are likewise 'sent.'"
"Jesus was sent as the “Prince of Peace” and sends us out in his “Peace.” His peace is not simply the cessation of hostility among peoples but a sense of wholeness for all peoples, what the Hebrews called shalom. His“Peace” is to be our message as well (Acts 10:36). He was also sent with a sense of anticipation for greater things to come and we should be motivated by the greater glory still to be revealed (John 14:12)."
Knowing the answer to the question, "what did Jesus do?" goes a long way toward answering the question "how do we live like Jesus?" These certainly are not new ideas but they are important ones to inform us daily, to help us evaluate our sentness.
Understanding life from a place of sentness moves us beyond the materialistic and meaningless into a place of motivated mission with appreciation of the magnitude of all Christ is for us, with us, through us toward living sent today. Fortunately there's Jesus.
What else can be added to the list of metrics to evaluate sentness?
Visit my personal ministry website @ There you can follow the release of my new book - "God I.N.C. - Finding Your Place in the Family Business," which will be released as a FREE ebook. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Needed: Issachar Leaders

1 Chronicles 12:32, says that the men of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do. That's called leadership.
In 1 Chronicles 12 we also find a list of the tribes readying for battle. Each tribe is listed with the number of men preparing - in several cases tens of thousands. But it is only of the men of Issachar that we read "200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command" were ready. That is leadership influence.
We are not told how large the tribe of Issachar is relative to the other tribes. It is interesting though that Issachar stands alone as both understanding the times and knowing what to do, which I think we can safely assume was due to their "chiefs", whose priorities were no doubt in line with their king. Leadership matters.
There is direct correlation between leadership and readiness. The chiefs of Issachar understood the battle they were entering and what was at stake. Because they did, they knew what to do and had the confidence of "all their relatives" who followed them to go do it, 
Today, as leaders, do we understand the times and know what to do? If you're reading this I assume you are a leader, at least in some capacity. Are your priorities in line with the Lord's for such a time as this? Let me suggest we need to do better.
Many Christians are looking nervously at what is happening in the world today, with ongoing conflict in Gaza, the horrors of Iraq, broader Ukraine war a looming possibility and global problems elsewhere. Apprehensions grow due to the rise of radical Islam and a growing threat of mother Russia. Many express troubled doubts and dismay about the future of our world.
On the homefront, we have many issues - a border crisis, economic woes, a lack of moral clarity and a dysfunctional Federal government. Ebola is now being talked about as a threat to the U.S., St. Louis riots, and the dollar may collapse at any time even as the cost of living consistently increases. Few Americans have confidence in the leadership of our nation to bring hope and change.
Those are the things we see in the news every day. As Christ followers, however, we are not called to live by sight but by faith.
What we need today are men and women of Issachar, offering informed leadership for the family of God to follow. Presently, however, best estimates are that only 1 in 100 Evangelical Christians has any meaningful role in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), the very thing Jesus told us to invest our lives in. Too few are really following our Commander-in-Chief the way he modeled and calls his 'family' to.
Regardless of what we see happening in the world around us the task that Jesus gave us to do is where we must focus until he comes again. The problem is that task isn't well understood, so it's easy to see only the rising storm clouds. But it is not like our Lord didn't tell us what was coming.
Jesus told us to expect wars and rumors of wars, turmoil and tumult, growing chaos through this present age. Just read Matthew 24 for the signs of the end of the age. The Lord also says though, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:22). It may get even worse than we see today but Jesus gives us great hope for the future. Real change is coming!
The tribulations will not last forever, a new day will break forth, Kingdom order will be established and Eden will be restored (see Revelation 22). Of that we can be sure. And what's really amazing is that King Jesus gives us a role to play toward that end when he says: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14). Until that "end" we have work to do.
Understanding the times must give us an "all nations" focus because that is Jesus focus, as well as his command in the Great Commission. Knowing what to do today must serve a Great Commission priority to those who have no knowledge of who Jesus is for them, because that is God's priority. The knowledge of his glory will fill the earth (Habakkuk 2:14).
We need to understand God has each of us here for a reason, which has everything to do with his plans and purposes - not our own. Could be it that these "end time" battles are intensifying because we draw near to the completion of the Great Commission and so the enemy is making one final assault before these days are "shortened"? Perhaps.
We don't know the time of his coming (Matthew 24:42) or when we will be able to say the task is finished. What we do know is the following:
4,000 languages remain without a completed Bible
3,000 people groups remain without a single Christian worker
1 million villages remain without a single Kingdom outpost, better known as a church.
Jesus told us that "all nations" will hear and be given an opportunity to respond to the Gospel of His Kingdom. The word "all nations" is translated from the Greek 'panta ta ethne' which means that every nation, tribe and tongue will receive the Good News. God also gave us the "end" of the story to give us assurance that the task will be completed (Revelation 7:9).
Understanding the measurables of the unfinished task of the Great Commission should help us to know what to do toward the "end" Jesus speaks of. Understanding the times also means we have to understand the issues that confront us, the Church, today. Let me suggest there are two major issues that need our, Church leaders, immediate attention.
First, the majority of Christian leaders today lack understanding of all that it means to follow Jesus as he laid it out for us. Fairly audacious thing to say, right? But think with me here, if this were not true, would there not be more than 1% of his followers actually following his plan to make disciples of "all nations?" Did Jesus really mean for his followers not to follow what he laid out for us to do, to just gather in barns instead of working in the harvest field?
Second, we take his salvation as a personal gift for us, based on a decision we make. Too many of God's people lack understanding that Jesus left us here for a reason so much bigger and grander than ourselves, our personal ambitions and goals. Following Jesus is not our life plus Jesus. It's Jesus is my life so lead me Lord and I will follow you to "all nations."
Christopher Wright, one of the world's most respected Old Testament Scholars, put it bluntly: "To confess Jesus as messiah is to commit yourself to His mission to the nations. You can't have one without the other - not if you believe the scriptures and read them as Jesus taught His disciples to."
To paraphrase Wright, you can't actually say "I follow Jesus" without embracing the nations and committing your life to God's global cause. That's not works based theology but Biblical missiology. Pastor John Piper put it this way, "To belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with him."
Needed today are Issachar leaders who understand God's plan for "all nations" and know what to do to mobilize, prepare and release workers for the coming harvest. It's time to understand the times and know what to do!
Are you ready to be an Issachar Leader?
Reaching "all nations" does not mean we necessarily have to leave home when God has brought the mission field to us. My first book "Ethnic Embrace USA - Blessing the Nations Among Us" was written for this purpose.
My new book, "God I.N.C. - Finding Your Place in the Family Business" was written for that purpose. It will be available as a FREE ebook in early September. More information coming soon.
Learn more about the unfinished task at the Issachar Summit coming to Dallas on October 7th. Click here for more information.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Who Will I Obey? More Thoughts for Rethinking Your Immigration Position

There seems to be much confusion about the law, as it relates to the issues of immigration and the crisis at the border. The complexity of the issue certainly makes that understandable. However, we need to allow this crisis to provide the opportunity to inform and challenge our thinking and presuppositions. 

Yesterday, in response to my prior post, I received a text from a friend who asked, “…. if we as Christians provide assistance (to these children) are we aiding in breaking the law?” The position of my friend was that we are “commanded to obey the laws of authority - aka the U.S. Constitution.”

Where do we begin to rethink this question of who will I obey? Let me begin to unpack this with three simple points to consider: 

First, the U.S. Constitution does not in itself tell us what kind of immigration policy is right and just. What the Constitution, the 14 Amendment, does tells us is that anyone born here is a citizen (and those born to U.S. citizens have the same status regardless of where they are born.) The 14th Amendment was needed to address the citizenship rights of those brought here as slaves under prior "laws of authority." Think about that for a moment.  

Second, nowhere in scripture are we commanded to obey the “laws of authority,” as opposed to the laws of God. If that were true, the Church would have died in the 1st Century. I'll get back to this point. 

Third, some confusion arises from a misapplication and misunderstanding of what Paul is saying in Romans 13:1-3. I have seen this passage appealed to a number of times in recent days. There Paul writes:
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Paul was writing to the Church of Rome – an “illegal” church! The Christian movement during the first three centuries from Christ was an illegal, thought to be subservice, movement in the Roman Empire. It was not until April 311, that Roman Emperor Galerius, who had previously been one of the leading figures in the persecution of Christians, issued an edict permitting the practice of the Christian religion under his rule.

Prior to that time Christians were prosecuted and persecuted for their faith, but the movement grew from a handful to over 25 million in the first centuries. For Paul to take all this time in his inspired letter to the Romans, of how to live the Christian life, and then conclude that it was unlawful to do so would be irrational.

In Romans 13:1, the word “subject” is the Greek word “hypotassō” which means to subordinate oneself. Paul’s advice is to subordinate ourselves to the governing authority, because they have been established by God. The opposite would be rebellion but is rebellion against the governing authority, in all cases, rebellion against God? 

Governments are established to maintain civil order and protection of the citizenry. That is the proper role of government. The rebellion of which Paul speaks is to disturb and disrupt civil order. Paul earlier, in Roman 12:18, instructs “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Certainly, that is great advice, for it maintains a level of civility for human flourishing.

But is everything that a government does good and right before the Lord? Of course not. What do we do when government fails to protect civil rights? Do we simply subject ourselves to the “governing authorities”? The precedents we find in Church history and in Scripture tell us otherwise. 

Daniel had been ordered not to pray, by governing authority. He went directly against a king's decree because it was the right thing to do. He did so in a way that was publicly noticed, standing firm on his right of freedom of worship. If we take Romans 13 to mean that we are subject to every whim of government, every decree issued, all laws of the land passed, Daniel was obviously in grievous sin. 

In Daniel 6 verse 5 we read the legislative conspiracy to entrap Daniel: “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” That led to the unrighteous degree issued by King Darius, that anyone who prayed to any god or human being during a thirty day period, except to the King, would be thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6:7).

Daniel needed to decide whom he would obey. His response needs to inform us: “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10). 

If we know the rest of the story, we know that God rescued Daniel from the lion’s den. Daniel’s experience also tells us that often there is a price to pay for doing the right thing, for obeying God, but if God is with us that too will be made clear. If God is for us, who can stand against us? 

Ray Stedman, speaking to the Romans 13 passage, writes: “Governments have authority over what we do with our property and how we behave with one another, but our Lord clearly indicates they have no right to touch what God has put his image on, which is the spirit of man.” The image of God in the individual takes precedence over the right of governments. Responding to and respecting the “imago Dei” is always the right thing to do.

We claim to be “One nation under God.” What should that mean for us as we respond to the needs of the foreigners and fatherless at our border? Do we allow our immigration laws, that gave us our broken immigration system, compounded by an Executive Order of the current President, to be the supreme authority or do we obey the Word of the Lord, which is meant to best serve the “spirit of man”?

Today, if we are to submit to all governing authority, do we not as Christians need to rethink our opposition to 'gay marriage' and abortion? The conclusion of being subject to all governing authorities would lead us to acquiesce to laws that damage and or destroy the image of God. I don’t think that is what Paul had in mind.

Why then do many want to uphold the U.S. Constitution as above the law of God, and his many decrees for the foreigner and fatherless? Because they are not citizens? Is that a valid reason? Not according to the precedents set in the Bible.  

What is our motive for appealing to our immigration laws as supreme, when migrant children are in harm’s way and being abused? 

We need to take those questions before the Lord, understand his Word, and know what to do about this crisis. We are not "aiding in breaking the law" especially since these children might be rightly considered refugees. These children also have at least temporary status here under the law for their protection.  But there is an even higher law we are subject to.

Paul goes on in Romans 13 verse 10 to tell us, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Do we really need to ask again, “who is my neighbor?” We need to take this opportunity to rethink our position on immigration as we follow Paul’s advice in Romans 12:1-3:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7 Reasons Glenn Beck is Right: A Brief Biblical Survey for Rethinking Your Immigration Position

Immigration is making the news again. The debate rages again. I blogged about this issue last year here. 

Of course, this issue has been in the news often over the last two decades but sadly not much progress has been made in improving our immigration system. Now this policy failure has become a crisis with tens of thousands of children flooding our southern border.

Yesterday, I was at a meeting with over 250 Evangelical leaders where the border crisis was discussed. It was reported these children are fleeing conditions that are deplorable in their home countries - extreme poverty compounded by oppression and the human tragedy made worse by drug wars and murderous gangs. Parents are having their children flee to the U.S. for a chance at a better life, often at great personal risk.

Compounding this issue is also a misconception about U.S. immigration policy being exploited by "coyotes" to traffic drugs. Central America remains among the world's most violent regions. The problem is real and needs our well thought out response. 

These children arriving here are literally corralled into inadequate facilities and treated like prisoners. They come with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Many arrive with diseases that are totally curable in the U.S. – head lice, scabies and the like. Some arrive with more serious but treatable health conditions. The border patrol is overwhelmed by the needs and unaccompanied children are off limits to NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) assistance, at least at present. It is a crisis like none the U.S. has faced before.

Regardless of how we might feel about this crisis politically, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins reminded us at the meeting yesterday that these are children, created in the image of God and precious in his sight. They are not “economic immigrants” but truly the “least of these” in our midst – 2000 are coming to Dallas, my home region. How we, the Church, respond will make a huge difference to these kids. Just as important, it will make a huge difference in our witness to a watching world. 

Will we see protests and picketing when these kids arrives in Dallas, as has happened elsewhere, or will we respond with the compassion of Christ and work together to make sure these kids have their needs met and know God loves them. At this meeting, I could not help but to think of the dual meaning of the Chinese word for crisis and opportunity.

I don't make it a practice to follow Glenn Beck but over at Revangelical there is a very thoughtful post about Beck’s recent response to the crisis. Brandan Robertson begins with this thought:
Last Wednesday (7/9) “….Glenn Beck, the uber-conservative, tea party-ish, Mormon political commentator and personality took to the airwaves to announce that he was going to be making a “potentially lethal” career move that would put his new television network and non-profit in jeopardy. But with tears in his eyes, he looked directly in to the camera and said, “I have never, ever taken a position that is more right than this.” Following the emotional build up, Beck announced that he would be loading up a tractor trailer with teddy bears, soccer balls, and hot food and driving it down to McAllen, Texas to encourage the nearly 3,000 undocumented immigrant children whose lives and well-being are trapped in the middle of the intense immigration debates in Washington. This action by Glenn flies directly in the face of all of the right-wing’s positions on immigration and border control. In essence, he’s aligning himself with the pro-immigration movement and against his own audience. That’s a pretty gutsy move.”
Gutsy? Perhaps for Glenn but as Brandan points out, Beck has plenty to fall back on if his audience flees over this issue. The responses I have read on blogs shows some movement in that direction. That’s truly sad. But perhaps the Lord is using this counter-Right-wing-cultural move by Beck to get the attention of those who profess his Name but don’t know to follow his Word, at least not on this issue.

Can we honestly think that God is at all concerned with our comforts and conveniences we too readily take for granted when tens of thousands of children are fleeing the poverty, preponderance of violence and prevailing evils of their homelands to come here at great risk? 

Regardless of the political decisions that led to this crisis, as Christ followers our call is to respond with Jesus’ love and compassion as he gives us opportunity. Yes, we need to do something to improve border security, that is obvious from the ability of children to cross, but we must not allow politics to be our response to the needs of these “foreigners,” who are very much the "fatherless" in their distress (James 1:27a). 

We need to understand what God would have us do. We need to consider, firstly, that we as people of the Word, are required to know it and live it as best we can.

Could it be that most Evangelicals do not really understand God’s concern with respect to the immigrant and orphan? The Bible does tie together these two groups, the foreigner and fatherless, eighteen times in the Old Testament. This crisis provides an opportunity to rethink our immigration position through a Biblical perspective. 

I don’t know that Glenn Beck was thinking about a Biblical response when he decided to send truckloads of soccer balls to the border. I am not saying that is the right response - helping can hurt. But we must consider the counsel of the Lord and allow the Word to enlighten our thinking.

Therefore, let's briefly explore 7 Biblical reasons that Glenn Beck is right, at least to respond compassionately, and perhaps sacrificially concerning his career, to this crisis:

What does the OT tell us?

1.  God desires to be worshiped by all foreigners. From the very start of the nation of Israel, God desires that all peoples have the same access to freely worship him. Immediately upon making their exit from Egypt, where the rights of the Hebrews to worship had been burdened and oppressed, God directs his people to provide the same level of access to worship to the foreigner they would enjoy in their new found liberty. In Exodus 12:49 we read:

“The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”

What law? The law the Lord was establishing in how to live as his people and worship him. God does not have a special plan for one people over another, as he is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). Our Lord desires that we all have the same freedom to worship and history demonstrates he is always moving people in that direction. 

At the meeting, it was mentioned that many of these children are asking for Bibles.

2. God’s fair treatment for foreigners. Upon exiting Egypt, the Israelites are instructed in a number of ways so as to demonstrate the fairness of God for all people. Only when all people can see the impartiality of God can the true knowledge of who he is be more widely known. Treating other peoples as the unwanted "other" impedes this witness and therefore God establishes rules of conduct early on for the Israelites. We read in Exodus 22:21:

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

Moses repeats this command in Deuteronomy 10:19 reminding the Israelites that they were to love those who are foreigners” for they themselves “were foreigners in Egypt.” I am often reminded of my own family’s immigration story, how they fled an encroaching German occupation prior to World War I.

These children at our border are fleeing drugs wars and murderous gangs.

3. God’s justice for the foreigner.  God had told the Israelites that they were no better than others and in fact had been foreigners themselves, so they were not to think of themselves as somehow exceptional. Doing so would certainly bring the judgment of God.  God desires equal justice for all. We read in Deuteronomy 27:19:

“Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.”

Later in his discourse, Moses warns the people of Israel that their failure to obey the Lord and respond to the foreigner with compassion will result in judgment. The result will be a reversal of the good futures the Lord would bless his people with for their obedience (Deuteronomy 28:43). The history of ancient Israel tells us of their disobedience and the resulting judgment, directly resulting, at least in part, from their mistreatment of the foreigner and fatherless (Ezekiel 22:7,29).

4. God protects the foreigner. The Psalmist speaks of the protection of the Lord for the weak, the helpless and hopeless. In Psalm 146:9:

“The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”

It is primarily through God’s people that he accomplishes his plans and purposes (1 Corinthians 12:27), as well as provides his protection. From the time of the Exodus, the people of Israel were expected to provide protection of the foreigner (Exodus 23:9). They failed.

How should these first four points inform our response to this crisis? Yes, this is Old Testament stuff but consider: would God be righteous to judge the nation of Israel for their failure to respond with his heart of compassion to the foreigner and fatherless and allow this “Christian nation” to do likewise? Actually, we are called to a higher standard. 

[Note: In the OT, the word ‘foreigner’ is translated from the Hebrew word ‘ger’ which means stranger, not one of us, different ethnically and culturally.  A ‘ger’ was a newcomer lacking inherited rights.]

What about the NT? 

The OT sets the precedents. The NT sets the example we are to live by. Let’s look at just three passages in the New Testament to help inform our thinking. 

5. God requires we love the foreigner. We know that Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves, although this too was an Old Testament command (Leviticus 19:18). However Jesus heightens this requirement to also loving our enemies (Matthew 5:43). This removes any exception to who we are to love.

Jesus also gave us a new command (John 13:34) that also heightened the requirement of love – requiring sacrificially giving to “one another.” His new command makes it an imperative to demonstrate our love for the foreigner and fatherless in tangible ways based on the blessings we have received. To whom much is given.... 

6. God requires we welcome the foreigner. All of the above points call us to welcome the stranger. I saw a Facebook post today that read, “We don't mistreat the legal foreigner.” Does that make it okay to mistreat the “illegal" foreigner? The lack of critical thinking expressed in such a post should make us cringe. 

Jesus gives us two options, regardless of how we might perceive our present laws - to welcome the “stranger” (Matthew 25:35) or not (Matthew 25:43 ). But he also gives us the results of our choice saying, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” But wait, many will insist, "I said the sinners prayer and trusted in Jesus for my salvation." It will be dreadful to hear on that day, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Hey folks, I'm just the humble messenger. 

The Bible lays out for us a very clear and direct response to the plight of the foreigner and fatherless. Many will argue, no doubt, “but what about our own problems here, what about the homeless of our inner cities, the children in need right here in my town?” No one is suggesting that we do not have systemic issues of our own. What we need to consider, each of us, is exactly what we are doing to meet those needs and what we, each of us, can do to minister in this present crisis. It’s not an either/or choice but an and/both.

Now let me conclude with the 7th reason Glenn Beck is right in responding to this crisis: 

7. God moves the foreigner where he wants them. This border issue has broader implications concerning our understanding and acceptance of God’s sovereignty. God is not more concerned with our national border than he is in making himself – his mercy and justice - known to the foreigner and fatherless. In fact, history demonstrates that God moves people where he wants them to be for his purposes. The Apostle Paul understood this when on Mars Hill he says:

“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. 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.” (Acts 17:26-27)

God sets the boundaries of nations for the purpose that none should perish apart from the knowledge of who he is for them, in his timing, according to his will.

That is not to argue for open borders. It is to say we need good policy and must think critically about the challenge before us. First, we need to meet the present crisis. Could the Lord be using this crisis to challenge our priorities and preconceived ideas about what we think is important, juxtaposed against what he desires to do to make himself known? 

Let us pray

I for one WILL allow that question to shape my thinking as well as my prayers. How about you? 

Brendan concludes his post suggesting we pray... 
"...that our leaders and that each of us individually would be willing to sacrifice all that we have to do what’s right, to work to establish the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Because until we are willing to do that, transformation will never come to our communities, our culture, or our world. God is calling us to follow in Jesus’ example. It’s a way of pain, suffering, and marginalization. But it’s also a way of abundant life and extravagant beauty." 
America has done some wonderful and compassionate thing in our history. Let us pray our response to this border crisis is one of them. 

* This amount is calculated by dividing the $3.7 billion  request of the President on 7/13 to address the costs of this crisis by 100 million Evangelical adults = $37.00/12 months  =  $3.08 a month or about the price of a "Tall" Latte.