"...rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[a] of a servant, being made in human likeness."
To reach out, serve, relate, connect, dialogue, listen to, speak to, sit with, and fellowship. Jesus was an active seeker, the expression of God in every way. He engaged with culture, with people, by invitation and penetration. He knew what time it was, that "I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day (while the opportunity and grace is available), for night is coming (the window is closing), where no one can work". He saw people, the harvest, as white and ripe, in the most dreary places (John 4:35) and urged others to see like him as well. He entered oppressed contexts, sticky situations, twisted lives, and what mainstream culture deemed not his business and made it his business because it was his Father's business. The Eternal Word dwelt among us (John 1:14) as Emmanuel: God with us. He engaged and touched people like none before. He crossed racial, cultural, gender, and class (i.e. Samaritan) lines and drank from others cups, letting them know that nothing would keep him (who was no different) from loving them where they were, in their skin and context. Many do not believe our message because we in Christ, who is the arm of the Lord, have not allowed ourselves to be stretched out (Isaiah 53). If the first goal is reaching, the arm must be extended and not afraid of what or who it touches. We will never see transformation where we do not first engage. “Holiness does not mean separation from people in the culture around us, but separation for the sin in culture around us” -Albert Stetzer. He sat with a variety of people because he knew that even in their unique sin, there were image bearers despite what society said about them. And many times, before he preached to them, he came to them (both celebrity and common man), touched them, and allowed them to touch him before and after the cross, all so they could see that he truly understood them and because of that, they can understand his purpose. Many people do not care what you know until they know that you care. Therefore, we come, firstly, with a towel. The towel is our bridge into culture. Why? While everybody is wrestling with and for man-made crowns and titles, the job opening for servant is wide open and always on demand, and there is always dirt to wash off peoples feet. It is lowly and not a high flashy position, but is effective, which was the perfect form for Christ (Philippians 2:7) and for us to come in and engage people. The Blood of Christ cannot cleanse what it is not applied to or what is not in the light, Therefore, we come armed and dangerous, to serve.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” -1 Corinthians 3:17
To produce, make room, build, develop, expose, shape, pour, share, and minister. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (1 Corinthians 3:17). Wherever Jesus/the Word went, the Spirit went as well. The words he spoke were not simply words, they had contents, spirit and life (John 6:33). He engaged culture where it was, but also created culture, the culture of Heaven, wherever he/his word went. The content he spoke and the things he did changed the atmosphere within an environment and especially within the people who received it. Creating content is not my goal. I do not want to simply create curiosity or change, I want to create space for his presence to uniquely move inside of culture/people and for the Spirit to have his way, his way. None of this “have your way Lord” declarations followed by our ‘my way’ actions. The traditions of men, though understandable, have made the word of God null and void (and fruitless) for long enough (Mark 7:13). The plans we have for people cannot compare to what God has for them. Therefore, we must be led by the Holy Spirit because it is the spirit that gives life, the flesh, our good intentions alone, accomplishes nothing (John 6:33). Similar to Jacob is Genesis 28:16, "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not," we can mentally know God is with us in general, but not truly be aware of his presence, power, provision, and purpose in our lives until he makes himself present in the space we create for him. Jacob called that physical place, Bethel: the House of God, because God's word uniquely came to him there. However, this time, Jesus (the living word) calls your body the house/temple for his spirit no matter where you physically are. The latter is better than the former: Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:17). I don't want the blessings to come down, I want the blesser to inhabit the praises of his people. Culture is constantly changing and evolving, but the world needs to know a Savior that will not change, but will find a way to creatively enter our context, declare intent (love), and provide content (substance) based on his word that creates something new.
“And these signs will
accompany those who believe....”
Change, convict, integrate, reorient, edify, question, point, separate, invite, love, turn the hearts of the children back to the Father. “And these signs will accompany those who believe….” (Mark 16:17). Not only do we expect miracles, signs, and wonders to follow us, but we expect minds to be renewed, lives to be surrendered as a sacrifice, and destinies to be discovered as stated in Romans 12:1-2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing/proving you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”). Transformation is the result of engaging people and creating space for God. It is not only about building up, but tearing down as well, specifically whatever hinders necessary change for the Kingdom. This is the cloth that I am specifically cut from - Jeremiah 1:10 “See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Sometimes that means cursing fruitless fig trees at the root and then planting new seed, while other times that means tearing down man-made idols that act as stumbling blocks and then establishing the Word as a stepping stone. Either way, signs will follow. Why? While everyone is looking to the left and right for help, who is looking up? While society tries to make God into our image and likeness, who is helping others practically see who they really are and who they can be in God? Jesus proclaimed to a thirsty Samaritan woman John 4:14 that he was not offering her what everyone else was, water that would temporarily quench but soon run out in her life. Rather, he would give her water that would actually transform her into a spring, a fountain, and a well with water bubbling and springing within her unto everlasting life. That is unheard of - a life that transforms and makes the receiver a conduit or producer of its abundance toward others. Water that doesn't just quench you, but makes you a well for yourself and others. The thirsty woman who had to shamefully run to Jacob's well at the hottest time of the day was now running with her own well inside of her towards her community saying one powerful sentence: "come see a man." And they believed her because they got to be transformed for themselves. We as people long for transformation in every sense of the word, but sadly, we want it to start and stay in our finite wells and our broken hands. This is why we sadly trade ‘the’ truth for ‘my’ truth. Transformation becomes subjective because the winds of culture, our experience, our feelings, how we were brought up, the traditions of men, etc. now rules and writes our stories and changes definitions with no opposition, all because we are satisfied with water that leaves us thirsty, with a culture that temporarily quenches and tickles us, but doesn’t transform us. Hear me clearly, if it is not breathed on by God, it won’t stand the test of time or the trials of life - period. It may engage ideas, but does it engage people? It may create tension, but does it create fruit? It may spot necessary rotten eggs, but can it lay good ones? I know what can and what does - “the Kingdom of God does not consist (is not a matter) of mere talk, but of power and demonstration (1 Corinthians 4:20). No one truly encounters God’s word (in whatever form it comes in) and stays the same. We aim to prove that.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
-1 John 2:15-16
When I speak of culture, I define it as the overt (openly apparent) and covert (secretly known) social norms, behaviors, habits, attitudes, world views, beliefs, values, characteristics, and manifestations (art, literature, music, etc.) within a society, system, institution, platform, community, home, and especially, person. Culture, in general, is the amalgamation and manifestation of the people who have and still shape it, live in it, and engage with it: the good and the bad. It is the atmosphere, the pervading tone or mood that moves. It exists in places where people dwell and move. Culture shifts as the aforementioned characteristics shift within the people, and vice versa. Culture is sometimes like a tsunami. You think you can move independently until it shifts and takes you along with its tidal waves. If you cannot swim against its current or you have no anchor stronger than it attached to you, you will go with it towards its new destination, posture, language, worldview, etc. whether you want to or not. If you are not rooted, you will be moved. Floods and storms (cultural shifts) come to test your roots in what you say you believe and especially your love and loyalty to it. In 1 John 2:15-16, it says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.” The love of and for the Father is distinct from the love of and for the world. How so? The world has a culture that forces its love for lust and pride upon you in your imagination, eye, and flesh, titillating you through your senses unto death. However, the Father has a culture of love that he has promised and fulfilled, one that has been poured out and shed abroad into the hearts of his people through his Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). His love has distinct characteristics and fruit of the spirit that can be easily seen by others. These characteristics can be seen in full form in the life and character of Jesus, but mainly in the way he fiercely loved the Father and therefore things the father loved: righteousness, peace, and joy in the spirit, which the world cannot understand or produce. That type of culture and love filled him up so much, there was no room for the culture and lust of the world to enter. That is key because the world and its culture promises our flesh, eye, and imagination many things it cannot provide or maintain. It takes everyone a while to figure this out, but once they do, many go right back to the world because they do not know that there is a culture/kingdom that is above the worlds and available to them nor do not know that we are walking culture makers and changers. Everything we do contributes to the culture we live, work, and abide in, one way or another. We bring the culture we were born into with us wherever we go. We bring the culture of our house to our work and vice versa. We bring our work culture into our place of corporate worship. We even bring the culture of our last relationship into our new one. Healthy or toxic, we bring it in. We’re sponges. It is embedded in our livelihood, our language, our behaviors, mindset, and our heart. I long to not only bring culture (or Kingdom) with me everywhere I go, but to exercise and implement it. The one who started it gave me and you the authority to do so. “Thy Kingdom come” speaks of the desire and commitment for the Kingdom (the Heavenly King’s domain or the culture) to come down here on earth. The word, spirit, atmosphere, language, values, worldview, behavior, habits, etc. in Heaven (faith, healing, deliverance, holistic prosperity, joy, peace, etc.) needs to be present on earth. Why? That was the Father's desire for his people from the beginning and is consummate plan for his people in the end. The question is that OUR desire as well? His Kingdom come or be enforced and exercised happens when “his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” - his will meaning the Father’s will, the Father’s business. You find out his business when you know his Word and are in tune with his Spirit. Many people do not know that God the Father has business to take care of on earth and that it includes business in and with you. Jesus finished his purpose and business “on earth” with his physical body via the cross, but still moves through his spiritual body (the Church, the called out ones) by the power of his Holy Spirit who has been (since the days of Acts) and still is leading that commission. We contend for those days, the days where God's people from every culture created a heavenly culture within their generational culture, to take over our days and change the days to come.
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the
exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds
the universe by the word of his power”
"And even if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. " 2 Corinthians 4:3-7
Please allow me the opportunity to thoroughly explain what and who all of this is for. WE WERE MADE TO GLORIFY GOD - PERIOD (Isaiah 43:7). We are mirrors, meant to reflect someone greater, God, in our whole being. We are meant to glorify God. That is, to display and show off his weight and heaviness, his utterly unique splendor, and the sheer awesomeness of his being, in our whole being and with our whole life. Many mentally ascend and declare this belief when there is a stage or platform, but do not practically find joy in doing it in the small daily things, especially when him glory doesn't bring us shine. This is why we sometimes serve with hard hearts and miss the opportunity to display unseen parts of God to people with our lives because we forget that the glorification process usually looks like sacrifice. In John 12, Jesus said that his Father would be glorified once his Father's purpose for him was in its final push, more specifically, once he would be lifted up. The Father replied in verse 28 that he has both glorified it, and will glorify it again. He will get glory out of his death and will get glory out of his resurrection to come. Imagine that, God getting glory out of our temporary pain because others will see his eternal power and character. How bad do we want to display the glory of God in our entire lives? How bad do we want to reflect the life and death and resurrected life of his son, Jesus, for “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).
Our man-made glory is tempting to go after because it comes from a desire in us to acquire things, please people, basically be seen as mini gods and reach some pedestal simply to reign over a reality we have deceived ourselves into thinking we have escaped. Plainly put, many of us do things for our glory in Jesus name. Twisted but true. We use his name, but do not lift him up. Our motives get exposed when we aren’t given the credit or our precious reputation is tarnished. It ultimately shows where our treasure is stored. Our glory fades because we fade, but God's glory shines always and in all ways because he does. As Dr. Tony Evans brilliantly articulated, "God's weightiness and glory is intrinsic to his being. What wet is to water, what blue is to sky, and what heat is to fire, glory is to God. Water does not need to find wet. The sky doesn't have to locate some blue. Fire does not need a match to be hot. It is intrinsic to the nature of what those things are, meaning you cannot talk about fire without talking about its heat, sky without blue, water without its wetness, and God without his glory. God's glory is the sum total of his attributes (which depths are infinite) perfectly and intrinsically within him." Though his glory cannot really be compared to anything, these similes are meant to give you glimpses of its connection to him: they are one.
Wanting God to get the glory in your whole life checks you at the heart from start to finish, not with condemnation, but examination, because it forces you to be honest with questions like ‘why are you doing this and for who?’ It reminds us that in the end. we will ultimately not answer to man, but to God and not to an ‘it’, but to a ‘who’. God’s manifested glory costs more, but impacts more, and desperately needs to be seen and experienced in lives right now above all. Our glory, our limelight is faceless, dulling the soul and twisting the conscience. It needs something external to make it shine and keep it shining. It cannot transform and it fades when the dependent attribute (beauty, skill, talent, money, fame, etc.) fades. However, God’s glory is eternal and self sufficient, doesn't just have features but a loving face and a permeating countenance that yearns to shine on our face and transform our identity, a faithful character that chases us even when we reject him and can keep us from falling when we come, and a powerful name that when lifted up can draw the most stubborn soul unto him. His glory is simply so unlike anything or anyone ever and awe-inspiring, and not only should be known by us, but wants us to know him. Psalm 19:1 says "The Heavens declare (clearly articulate) the glory of God; and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." They tell you about some of his attributes, but Jesus Christ embodied all of the attributes, all of the weightiness, all of the fullness of the Triune Godhead (Colossians 2:29). This is why knowing and learning and spending time with Jesus/his Word is so important. You get to learn about God not merely from his creation, but about God directly from God, the creator himself. The abstract is made concrete. The unapproachable light is now approachable, and visible, and touchable, and knowable, and understandable, in Jesus the Christ, his exact expression, his son. This is why nothing and no one compares to Jesus - period. God is not only calling us to himself, but using himself, the manifested Shekinah glory of God dwelling in human form in the person of Jesus the Christ the God man, as the calling card.
In this age of over saturation, where many perspectives are thrown at us as truths, where we are in a hurry to go nowhere, and where unbearable burdens masked as autonomous gifts are given to us, attention is hard to keep because everything is calling for us to fix our faces upon it. We are turning left and right in order for us to not look up. However, “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes and looking to Jesus, the author, founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 21:1-2). You’d be surprised how many people do not realize that “God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). We aim to bear witness of that light, the understanding that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” - John Piper. Many do not fix their face upon him because they do not know glory has a face, and something to say, and a purpose to fulfill, and business to handle on the earth and love to shed in their life. Well, he does.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you
remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
Our overall vision of MFBI focuses on using creative and Godly bridges to engage people as Christ did, create influential content (centered on God’s word), transform culture (in many ways) and turn the hearts of the people back to the Father. We are committed to purposefully contending for the Kingdom with our whole selves by meeting the needs of all the people we are sent to in the ways we are directed, engaging in the public square, and raising up generations of end time servants (with different callings) who see themselves as part of the family of God and therefore, sons, who are about the Father’s business (which is now their business). FYI: when we say sons, we mean that positionally, as in heirship. This is not gender exclusive. Sonship is for both women and men. We engage culture and people where it and they are because Christ came to where we were internally and externally; we do not run away from it. We create culture wherever we engage people because wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We transform culture as a direct result of being transformed by Christ. Everything we do is intentionally rooted in God’s word because his word is true and truth is always relevant in every culture and context, and never goes out of style. In addition, we know that he is the vine and we are the branch, and a part from him, we can have a lot of ambition, ideas, and tools, but we cannot do anything (John 15:5). Our 21st century-style evangelism aims to build up and tear down the seen and the unseen, and reignite a desire of integrity into our daily lives by connecting and convicting, relating and responding, and declaring as well as defending the whole person on the grounds that Christ did that for us. We stand on the shoulders and methods of traditional evangelical witness while also knowing that we must be wise and use the tools that God has given us in contemporary society to effectively share the gospel, and thereby the utterly unique and intentional love of the Father.