Dads, You are heroes. It’s time to step up!

Dads,  You are heroes.  It’s time to step up!  

We started weekly worship gatherings in a new church about a year ago.  For three years we’ve been reaching out to people in neighborhoods, bars, and parks. We’ve heard countless stories of brokenness. It usually starts with, “My Dad never…” Most people, especially the men we’ve met, who are far from Jesus and the church, have serious daddy issues. We hear of how most these young men never had their dad’s marry/or remain married to their moms. Their dad was never there growing up. Their dad never said, “I love you” or “I’m proud of you.” Their dads never taught them what it was like to be a man.   A growing number of people we’ve met never knew their dads at all.

If you’re a dad, you are a hero. Your kid, even if he’s 55 and you’re 72, still yearns for your presence, your approval, your love. You are either going to give them those things and prove to him that you’re the hero he always thought you were. Or you’re going to show him you’re more like a villain…and more likely he’ll think it’s because of him, that he’s not worthy of a hero’s love.

There’s some good news: It is never too late to step up and make things right.

Here’s even better news: Jesus can redeem the lost and broken years. With the help of his power, by faith in him, and the leading and directing of his Spirit we can change. God’s Spirit can transform our hearts and lead us to repent to our children in the ways we’ve wronged them. His Spirit can help us become the men and dads were are called to be. God can transform our children’s hearts to forgive us as well.

Here’s the best news: Jesus is a perfect father on our behalf who always did what was best for his children, who was always nearby, who always showed unconditional love and approval. He was the perfect father in your stead to your children. He was looking out for you children even when you weren’t. He did everything necessary to be with his children, to protect them from danger and provide for them a future.  Through faith in Jesus, His perfect record is your’s before the father in heaven.  You are guiltless for all the ways you’ve wronged your children and for every good thing you did not do for them.  You have a Father in heaven who loved you children in your stead, and, just as sweet, you have a Father in heaven who loves you.

Let’s live in that love, men!

 

Video found here

Starting “Church Starting” churches

Here’s a great article from Carol Davis on why some churches start new churches and why most never reproduce”

‘I have a question I’ve been wanting to ask you for four years,’ I said to Charles Brock, author of the
Practice and Principles of Indigenous Church Planting, when I met him in the Philippines a few years
ago. ‘You plant churches rapidly, they produce leadership from within, they are not dependent on
outside funding and they reproduce.’

‘I know others plant churches in these same areas. It takes years, the churches stay dependent on
outside resourcing, they import leadership, they say, because poverty has destroyed the psyche of
the people and they are not leadership quality. These churches do not reproduce.’

“I want to know why you can do it and they can’t.”

Read more of Carol Davis’ article here.

Jesus’ promise to be with us always is tied to us going on his mission!

One of my favorite bible verses is Matthew 28:20 where Jesus is about to ascend into heaven and says, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  I remember this verse was used all the time to remind us that Jesus is omnipresent, he’s everywhere which means we’re never alone.  You’re going through hard time?  Jesus is with you.  You’re lonely and having a hard time make friends, keeping friends?  Jesus is with you!  Having a hard time finding a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife.  Jesus is with you.  Facing an impossible challenge?  Jesus is with you!  You’re not alone. He’s there to be with you, comfort you, and help you through whatever is standing in the way of your happiness, health, or safety. Yet is that the right way to view what Jesus is saying?

A number of years ago I was reading the context of this verse again, Matthew 28:16-20.  For some reason I saw what I never saw before.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.

His very next words are:

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Jesus’ promise to be with us always is tied to us going on his mission!  He’s saying, “I’ve defeated sin and death through my death and resurrection on your behalf.  I’ve created you, my church, to bring my salvation to all people.  Go and make disciples, everywhere in the world, by baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything I’ve told you.  Oh,  Don’t be afraid, go in confidence that I’m now in charge and have all power and I’m going with you.  I’m never going to abandon you while you.  I’m on this mission with you until it’s completed at the end of the age.”

Now don’t hear what I’m not saying.  I’m not saying that Jesus is only with us if we’re “on mission” seeking the lost and making disciples.  There’s other verses in the bible that talk about God being near to all people and actively present in the lives of those who look to him.  However, this specific promise in Matthew 28:20 is given in context of mission.

We’ve started a new church in the last couple years, and are coming to the 1st year anniversary of our corporate weekly worship in September.  Since God has called me back to faith, I’ve had a passion to see all people come to the God who has loved me and saved me.  Yet in the last couple years, as we’ve given ourselves wholeheartedly to, and have reoriented our lives around, God’s mission, we’ve seen God everywhere.

Every day, I wake up or leave my house and it’s like I’m going on a crazy, epic, adventure.  I say to God, “How are you going to show up today?  What are you going to do to me, for me, through me for the sake of your kingdom?”  What’s amazing is that we are seeing God everywhere as we go with his mission in mind.  His fingerprints are evident all over the lives of the people we’re running into.  It’s almost like we can see his hands bringing our little missionary band into encounters and relationship with the unbelieving, doubting, and hurting at just the right time.  Why is this?  Because he has all authority and he’s with us always in a special way when we’re seeking to see others know Him and grow up to be His disciples.

Some Christians live their lives thinking that God has privileged them, that the world and our culture should be fit to bless them and so they engage in the culture wars to make this a “Christian” or “Moral” nation.  Some even wrongly believe that God simple wants to bless his people by removing their difficulties and pain and by blessings them with all sorts of good health, a beautiful spouse, a great career, etc.

One day the world will be perfect.  Jesus will come down and save his people, his church.  He’ll give us perfect health and perfect bodies as he takes away all sickness, pain, and death.  He will give pleasure, comfort, security, and peace.  He will give us the riches of his Father’s kingdom as we live with our Creator and Redeemer face-to-face.  We’ll have everything we’ve truly ever desired and dreamed of because we’ll have him.  We’ll have the best life that we could ever dream of because we’ll have him.  Yet that’s not what we have now.

It’s almost as if our land has been captured by an enemy power.  The true king has come out of exile.  He’s liberated our town.  We’ve seen him again face-to-face. He’s going to fight for us and His victory will be our victory.  Yet he can’t stay. His mission doesn’t end with us.  There’s others to be liberated but he invites us to take up arms and follow him.  He invites us to join his mission.  Those who stay in the village might see him from time-to-time when he returns between skirmishes or if the people are in danger again.  Yet those who join him in battle get to see him every day.  The get to see Him work and fight for them.  They get to witness his awesome power as he fights for them and his passionate love and he sets captives free.  This is the calling of the church, his people.

The World doesn’t exist for the Church.  It will one day.  Yet for now, the Church exists for the World.  We exist for the mission.  When we’re on mission we’ll see Jesus in ways we have never dreamed as we walk beside him and see him work in and through our lives for the sake of bringing the world back to him.

 

If you like this post you might also like It’s Dangerous Business

Pictures found here, here, and here

Keller on The Gospel, Moralism, and Irreligion

Check out this short video from Tim Keller on three ways to view the world.  The Christian message is often rejected because it is either viewed as moralism or is presented as such.  The Gospel is really the only thing that frees us and gives us hope.

Free Church Graphics

I ran into a pretty great site called, Church Creatives.  They have some great resources and tutorials on graphics and video side of the church.  Here is their list of free church graphics:

See more….

 

picture found here

Exchange Stories: John and Alex Testimony

I’ve been away from Blogging since Christmas. Life has been busy in trying to grow a new church and disciple the people that God has given to my care. Here’s a short testimonial from John and Alex on how God is changing their lives through The Exchange Community.

If Christmas is a Birthday then It’s about a Birthday Boy.


When little Joshua opened his eyes it was still dark, yet he wasn’t tired. There was an excitement in him, an anticipation tingled in his skin. He could hardly stay still. He couldn’t wait for this day to begin. Yet he lay there in bed dreaming. You see, Joshua loved this day because of the special time he got to spend with those people who loved Him so much. He couldn’t help thinking about how they would show him love through the gifts, and the party, and, oh, the singing… More than anything, little Josh couldn’t wait for his Mom and Dad to come into his room to wake him up with a big hug and say, “Happy Birthday, Joshua! We love you so much!”

Now imagine if little Joshua wasn’t noticed on his birthday. Imagine if he was laying in bed, waiting for that birthday hug from Mom and Dad, but it never came. What if he went the whole day without hearing, “Happy birthday, We love you so much! We’re so happy you’re in our lives.” How do you think he’d feel?

Worse yet, imagine if Everyone threw Josh a huge amazing party. What if everyone in town showed up, they even sang some songs about him and hung his baby pictures up in their own homes, but the rest of the year, no one really talked to him? They never said, I love you even once.
They really didn’t notice him or pay any attention to him.

Imagine another scenario. What if Joshua was laying in bed waiting for his birthday greeting and hug from his family and he heard his parents voices from outside, and Joshua got up, went and opened his window to hear his parents and siblings praising the neighbor boy, Nick, telling him how great and special he was and how they were so thankful for him? What if, on Joshua’s birthday, he came down the stairs and saw the house decorated for a party, but It was his neighbor, Nick’s, name written on the banners and it was his pictures hung all over the house?

All these scenarios are true. There’s a poor little boy named Joshua or Jesus, who is forgotten about every year on his birthday. Sometimes his loved ones make a big deal of him for his birthday and forget him the rest of the year. Other members of his family show up to his party and say it’s only magical, special, and meaningful if Nicholas (Santa Claus) is there and so they talk about Nick , and tell stories and sing about him rather than the birthday boy.

The amazing thing is, because Christmas is about Jesus it’s about us as well. Imagine if little Josh, on his birthday, got up and was full of excitement, not because of what people would give him, but because of what he would give them. What if he gave all his presents away? Imagine if he spent his the entire day serving, and giving and loving others. Imagine if Joshua made his birthday all about everyone else.
On Christ’s birthday, he did just that.

On Christmas Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t receive gifts. Rather, he gave them. He gave us the greatest gift, Himself. He’s given us Love, joy, peace, and hope. Let’s make Christmas about him. In fact, because he’s so great and because all he’s done, lets make life about him as well.

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Pictures found here, here, and here

The Big Picture: The New Testament and The Mission of God

The other day I shared the conference audio from Calvin Theological Seminary’s conference: A Missional Reading of Scripture.  The video here seems to be an extra that N.T. Wright did in the evening at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI.  If you don’t have the time or interest to listen to the Conference Audio, you should still check out this talk.

Disclaimer:  I think what Wright has to say is great concerning the Mission of God and is spot on.  However, I do not agree with what Wright says about The Fall and who Adam and Eve in the Q & A at the end of this talk.  A literal Adam and Eve and a Fall into is essential to understanding the Gospel. 

Questions:

  1. What did you think the Bible was primarily about before you heard this talk?  How did this change your view?
  2. What surprised you about this talk?
  3. How does this help you understand the full bible Story?

A Missional Reading of Scripture: Free Conference Audio

Calvin Theological Seminary, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, recently held a conference on reading and understand the whole of the Biblical Narrative through the lens of mission.  Here’s what the say about it:

Over the past century a number of scholars have recognized that mission is not simply a peripheral theme in the biblical story. Rather, it is a central thread in the biblical writings and central to the identity of the church. Thus, a missional hermeneutic is a way of reading Scripture in which mission is a central interpretive key that unlocks the whole narrative of Scripture. It does not simply study the theme of mission but reads the whole of the biblical canon with mission as one of its central themes. This conference will explore what it might mean to read both the Old Testament and the New Testament with a missional hermeneutic, and what that might mean for missional praxis of the church, specifically preaching, theological education, and the life of the local congregation.

The Conference featured speakers such as Christopher J.H. Wright, Michael W. Goheen, N.T. Wright, Darrell L. Guder as well as many others.

Here’s a link to the Conference Audio. It’s well worth checking out.  Or you can always read, Christopher Wright’s 500 plus page definitive work on the subject, The Mission of God.

Gospel Identites

Identity.ours.

In our new church in Jackson, Missouri, The Exchange Community, we spend three weeks talking about God’s Identity.  We just finished four weeks talking about our Identity in the Gospel.  We believe you always need to begin with Who God is, What he’s done through the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Who we are because of it, and then What we should do.  If you get this messed up, you’ll live a life full of stress, regrets, and worries.

Family Identity

Missionary Identity

Servant Identity

Disciple Identity

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We owe much to Soma Communities for these teachings and Identities.

Family Friendly Faith

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