Serie de Sermones: Jonás

Jonas

Huyendo De Dios Jonás 1

Oración De Salvación Y Gratitud Jonás 1.7-2.10

La Misericordia Salvadora De Dios Jonás 3

Cuando Lo Que Dios Hace Nos Parece Malo Jonás 4

 

 

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Cristo Nuestra Paz – Efesios 2:11-17

Hay dos tipos paz que queremos estudiar en esta mañana. La primera, la paz con Dios, es la base de la segunda la paz con otros. Sin la primera, no hay esperanza para la segunda. Y escrituralmente, sabemos que esta paz, la paz de Dios es la que tiene la respuesta para todos los conflictos y guerras de este mundo. La paz mundial se realizará cuando el Príncipe de Paz vuelva otra vez. Esto es lo que celebramos en el Advenimiento. Celebramos que Cristo es nuestra esperanza, nuestro gozo, nuestro amor, y nuestra paz que vino y vendrá otra vez.

 

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Pablo Siervo de Cristo – Hechos 9:19-32

Saulo, un hombre que estaba comprometido a destruir la iglesia del Señor, acaba de ser transformado por el poder del Cristo resucitado. Ahora ha sido comisionado por el Señor para ser su apóstol, su siervo, su instrumento para proclamar el Evangelio de Jesús.

 

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Compartiendo el Evangelio con los de corazón abierto – Hechos 8:26-40

Felipe estuvo disponible en el momento indicado para compartir con alguien, muy diferente a Felipe, que Dios había preparado para que le compartiera.

Él fue obediente a la guía del Señor. No solo compartió las Buenas Nuevas tanto en público sino también en privado en esta ocasión. Aunque el Señor le dio la capacidad de comunicar el Evangelio de una manera que llevó a la gente a creer, es la obra de Dios, no del hombre la que lleva a la salvación. Pero Él nos ha elegido para usarnos como sus instrumentos.

Su ejemplo es útil para nosotros entender cómo podemos ser usados por el Señor para compartir el evangelio. Nos muestra claramente que Dios pondrá en nuestro camino a personas cuyos corazones están listos para recibir el Evangelio. Debemos ser obedientes cuando Él lo haga.
Miremos cómo lo hace en Felipe y cómo nosotros debemos estar atentos a estas oportunidades.

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Persecución, Predicación, Peligro – Hechos 8:1-25

Este pasaje nos enseña como la persecución de la iglesia no está fuera de la voluntad de Dios y no debe alarmarnos. Las situaciones difíciles son oportunidades para serle fiel al Señor y para compartir (ser sus testigos) con otros el evangelio. La iglesia del Señor jamás será destruída no importa lo que el hombre haga y/o Satanás haga en contra de ella. Además este pasaje nos enseña sobre como el evangelio cuando es recibido y creído trae gozo a las personas. Pero también hay peligro porque hay personas que dicen creer pero no son verdaderos cristianos. Estos buscan sus propios intereses y el poder para hacer la obra de Dios. Dios siempre revelará lo que no viene de Él y lo hará a través de los líderes que Él ha puesto en la iglesia para pastorearla en el camino de su Verdad. Debemos aprender de lo que pasó en la iglesia en el primer siglo para evitar extraviarnos de su verdad y evitar el fracaso espiritual como iglesia.

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Book Review: Embracing the New Samaria by Alejandro Mandes

Embracing the New Samaria: Opening Our Eyes to Our Multiethnic Future by Alejandro Mandes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For many years now I have been documenting the demographic changes that are happening in the United States, especially among Hispanics (which Mandes documents as well). This has become a political hot topic in our society and in the church. However, I have come to the same main conclusion that Mandes shares in this book. The church has a great opportunity to engage in what he calls “the new Samaria” (“Samerica”) and properly so. It goes back to John 6 when Jesus sees the Samaritans as the harvest. This “new Samaria” is made up of not only Hispanics but those “living among us who have been marginalized, ignored, treated unjustly, or looked down upon.” These are the “immigrants, refugees, the poor, ethnic minorities, the people who have been deemed invisible or “surplus population” (30). They are the ones that we fly over as we go to other countries on mission trips. Mandes writes, “I have been asked many times by people in the margins why it is that many Christians feel the need to fly across the globe to interact with people groups that can be found on the side of the city!” (32).

Why do we do this? He says it is because of our P3, prejudice, privilege and preference. This is what keeps us from engaging the eighty-five unreached people groups in the United States (32). This book attempts to help us see this great harvest and move us to engage them with gospel and social action (loving them). Our mandate from Jesus to his church is to go and share the Gospel with all “ethnos”, all ethnicities regardless of our prejudice, privilege or preference. When we do, we will see a multiethnic church like the one in Acts 13 which will culminate in the great worship in Revelation 7. The Kingdom of God will be multiethnic.

The book is divided in four parts: See the New Samaria, Love the New Samaria, Reach the New Samaria and Be the New Samaria. Each chapter is supported with examples from Mandes who has been involved in church planting and reaching marginalized communities for a long time. At the end it offers a reflection section that begins with a prayer and the H3: Head work, Heart work and Hands work. It gives a list of resources to dig in to the chapter topics.

This is probably the best written work that I have read, and in particular by a Hispanic American. It is a well-written and well-balanced view of how to reach this “new Samaria”. It is not a how-to book but it offers a good starting point for anyone who wants to engage the “new Samaria.” Like Mandes, I believe this is what we are called (the Church) to do and ignoring this will not change what God wants to do with us or in spite of us. I agree with Mandes that there is an urgency.

“Because of the trajectory of this country and our quickly changing demographics, we don’t have a lot of time to ponder the implications of these truths for the evangelical Christian church. There is urgency in this matter. The church has lost its lamp. Many Christian leaders know this is true and have struggled to figure out how to change course. But spending more money on marketing or fine-tuning our programming is not going to solve the problem. We have focused too much on ourselves and missed the blessing of the “other.” This is not about politics or economics, right or wrong. This is reality. The question really is, Are we going to be the church that will not fail? (193).

Just as we are called to go to the “ends of the earth”, we are also called to the Lord’s witnesses in our own Samaria. As an immigrant Hispanic born in El Salvador whom the Lord has redeemed in this country, like Mandes, I believe that we need to see these changes not as political issue but as missions issue. To remain passive is not an option, to pray for more workers without making ourselves available (we the Church) won’t do. It is time to be obedient.

Mandes writing is clear, practical, bold and direct.

According to Mandes, the church has drifted from our calling to be outward focused:

“We turn to politics for solutions and hope that if we elect more politicians to advance our moral agenda, we will see revival….However as a nation and as the evangelical movement, we are not seeing the changing mission field because we are looking inward and backward, not forward.” (62-62).

“The problem is, usually our plans are too small. Not only has Jesus clearly called us to open our eyes and see the harvest, but he’s also called us to look to where the Father is at work. When was the last time you asked yourself, Where is God at work around me? What if this demographic shift is from God? What if this is the Father at work, and what if we should see the movement of people around the world as his doing? If this is the case, then reacting in fear, resisting, and trying to limit their growth is actively working against God.” (75)

In my conversations with leaders I have shared what I think about the demographic explosion in our country. I have to the same conclusion as Mandes. Having failed to take the Gospel to the nations, God has brought the nations to us. I also believe that the purpose is so that they can become the next missionary force going out to the take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.

“What if this growth is part of God’s plan to reach the world? I believe God is exercising his prerogative to determine a nation’s boundaries and the time of their position or privilege in the world.” (76)

“I truly believe it is by God’s design that people from all over the world are living among us. This is the Father at work. Are we ready, as Jesus said, to work where the Father is at work?” (77)

“By 2065, nearly 20 percent of people in the country will have been born outside of American borders.’ This phenomenon is not unique to America; it is happening all over the world. If we as a church are not reaching immigrants where they are at, in all the messiness of their circumstances, then we are missing out on a my heart for spectacular missional opportunity to love and reach our neighbors.” (106)

Often we don’t want to engage with other cultures because we don’t feel we are competent. Mandes believes is simpler, and I agree with him. The issue is more with our willingness than with anything else.

“We don’t need a special divining rod to find the way through the maze of culture. The solutions are:
The solutions are (1) trusting that the Jesus we see in the New Testament had that figured out, (2) putting Christ above culture, and (3) recognizing that man-made culture does not trump the culture of Christ. This requires cultural humility and a measure of adventure. Above all, we need to be willing to submit our way to his way.” (147)

At the end of the book, Mandes offers seven multiethnic models. These are very general and they don’t offer where to begin. I don’t think these are the only models. As we engage in becoming multiethnic we will learn what works and what doesn’t. Mandes doesn’t define what a multiethnic church is, but Mark Deymaz in his book Ethnic Blends (This book Is worth reading. Deymaz has is a pioneer in multiethnic church planting.) talks about 20% of the church being from a different ethnic background. The goal would be that no group has a 50% majority. I think this depends on the location of the church. The church should reflect the demographics of the city.

Where do we start? Mandes suggests we start by asking ourselves these questions:

“Who is not represented? Who are we missing? Whatever your answer, start there.” (174)

I agree.

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En Sus Pasos – Hechos 7:51-60

Nuestro Señor caminó el camino de la muerte. Él murió y resucitó. Nosotros somos llamados a seguirle en sus pasos. Sus pasos pueden incluir el dar nuestra vida al Señor, al que dio todo por nosotros. Vivir y dar nuestra vida como la dio Esteban.

¿Cómo hace Esteban frente a la muerte y por qué? ¿Qué le impulsa o le lleva a arriesgarlo todo por la causa de predicar las buenas nuevas de Cristo?

Aunque la respuesta es obvia, miremos detalladamente cómo sucedió. ¿Cómo fue que Esteban siguió los pasos de Jesús y cómo nos enseña a nosotros a vivir para Él como sus seguidores?

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El Primer Cristiano Que Ganó su Corona – Hechos 7:1-50

Esteban presenta la historia de redención del pueblo de Dios comenzando desde Abraham hasta el tiempo de Salomón. La relevancia de esto es que al recontar la historia mostrará que lo que el enseña va de acuerdo con el plan de Dios y que ellos están en el error al rechazar al Señor Jesucristo.
Parece raro que Esteban tome este estilo retórico para defenderse, pero cada parte del recuento muestra la necesidad de la obediencia a Dios, algo que ellos no estaban haciendo.

Para nosotros es relevante ya que nos muestra de igual manera, que la obediencia a Dios es fundamental en nuestras vidas. Además, nos enseña la necesidad de aprender a comunicar la verdad de una manera clara y directa a los que necesitan escucharla.

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Thoughts on “Finding my Way Home” by Henry Nouwen

Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the SpiritFinding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Four essays by Nouwen on power, peace, waiting, living and dying. Nouwen was a Catholic Priest, a mystic. He offers a lot of insights into the Christian life. Obviously he writes from his Catholic background and his writings reflect his theology. I don’t agree with him completely of course, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from him.

His insights into human behavior are spot on. For example, he writes on power: “God looks at us and weeps because wherever we use power to give us a sense of ourselves, we separate ourselves from God and each other, and our lives become diabolic, in the literal meaning of that word: divisive.” (29) He goes on and says, “The most insidious, divisive, and wounding power is the power used in the service of God.” (31). I find this to be true.

I agree with this theology of weakness, I see this in the New Testament. He writes:

“A theology of weakness challenges us to look at weakness not as a worldly weakness that allows us to be manipulated by the powerful in society and church, but as a total and unconditional dependence on God that opens us to be true channels of the divine power that heals the wounds of humanity and renews the face of the earth. The theology of weakness claims power, God’s power, the all-transforming power of love.” (42)

My favorite which makes this book worth reading is his essay on peace. He uses the example of Raymond to whom he becomes the primary caretaker. Raymond is completely unable to do anything by himself and yet as Nouwen becomes his caretaker everyday, dressing him, bathing him, putting him to bed he sees the value in him. Raymond’s “particular gift of peace is rooted in his being and in his heart and it always calls forth community.” He goes on to explain how he does it.

Nouwen explains that Raymond has taught him that peace “is not primarily about doing. It is first of all the art of being.” (65). Philosophical but he makes sense as he discovers this with Raymond. Peace comes from the Prince of Peace when we focus on him and we are who we are meant to be. That will bring us peace.
He gets philosophical in many respects, which I enjoy but again don’t agree with everything. One thing is certain about Nouwen, he lived what he preached. His struggles were just as real as all of us are.

My least favorite essay was the the one on living and dying. A lot of focus is on the death of Jesus and sending the Spirit which he makes analogous to our dying. Don’t think that’s so. The death of Jesus is not where we draw our hope but on his resurrection. Jesus was clear, “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me though dead shall live.” There is really no Spirit of Love that remains with us from people. Nouwen get really metaphysical here. He is trying to hold on to those have passed on to eternity (from what I read his theology is that all people go to heaven because everyone is a child of God).

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