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Archive for December 2010

Isaiah was right

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

Isaiah 9:1-5

Isaiah was right. There are so many details that came true. I did no have time for all of the examples in my “Christmas Conspiracy” messages, but check out verses 1-5 as an example.

Notice that Zebulun and Naphtali will get trashed. They were the northern tribes of Israel. This happened in the Assyrian invasion a few years later. But Galilee (right next door) is slated as a place from which honor will flow.

Of course, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee. He set up his ministry HQ in Galilee, in the city of Capernaum. Isaiah was right.

He was right about the Virgin birth, his lineage, his godhood, his servanthood, his ministry, his kingdom, his destiny, his brutal death, his resurrection, his eventual honor and power. And he is right about what is still to be realized in the return of Christ

Verses 3, 4, and 5 have not yet been fully realized. But if Isaiah was right about everything else, these things will come to pass. I can’t wait for the day when God will shatter the weapons of war. I yearn for the day when Military outfits will no longer be necessary.

When peace is known and God reigns everywhere, all will be made right. I want that, don’t you? He will reign forever and ever. And we will reign with him. Good news! Enjoy it!

A Social Network Christmas

Worth the watch…

Access Worship

“SO…did we ever hire a worship leader for our Access venue?” somebody asked me last Sunday.

I was happy to reply “You bet!” Ryan Shields, a worship leader originally fromLouisiana and currently in Arkansas will be joining us to lead worship on January 9. Ryan has some roots in Nebraska as he attended UNL and his wife grew up in Lincoln. Ryan knew that God was preparing him for a new opportunity and the CCC/Omaha environment is perfect for him.

Personally, I am grateful that he is not only an outstanding worhip leader, but he is also a great developer of people. He is eager to help multiple venues in the church to do worship well and to develop emerging young leaders in for our next sites. When he gets here, be sure to welcome him with open arms!

Launching in the Jail

Two days ago, we did our very first ‘practice service’ in the Douglas County Jail. Mike Goett is the staff member who led the way for us. Every-week services begin in January. Here is the report from Mike!

We just got back from our first service inside DCJ. (It was supposed to be Sunday – got bumped up). Here is the Great News. We had access to Pod 18, one of the largest. It houses 60 men. A full third of them came to worship (more will later). 11 of them received prayer after the service (50% of those in attendance)! It was absolutely amazing. These guys are hungry and eager to hear more. They are also very grateful and have been anticipating our coming for weeks now. They are very disappointed that we won’t be returning until after mid January. It was very difficult to tell them that we would not be back ’til then.

Interestingly, at this campus you can’t say “I hope I see you next week”. You have to say, “If you’re still here and I hope not, see you next week”.

We had about 6 latinos and are converting the sermon series and music sheets to Spanish. Fortunately on our maiden voyage, In God’s wisdom, we had Alejandro Duran (Alex)along from Venezuela who interpreted for me. The Latino population is especially open to Christ.

I tell you it was abundantly clear to me today that the nearer we came to this point, that Satan was intent on derailing us and yet by the conclusion of the service it was more than obvious that God had his hand all over this service. It worked out beautifully, but started with “Wrong day, bad communication, horrible weather, no badges, forgotten equipment etc etc.” I had determined before going in that it was going to be difficult and to expect complications and a persistent continual effort to take us off task and that no matter what happened short of a guard escorting us out, we were going to have worship. God prevailed! He delivered on every count in amazing fashion.

I have shared with the inmates that the entire CCC congregation considers them and all the members of Pod 18 to be an extension of the church at large and that they matter specifically to the Old Mill Campus. I told them that CCC has been actively pursuing the opportunity to worship with them for 18 mths. and that it is because we earnestly believe this should be the next campus for Christ Community Church. I could tell by the expressions on several faces that this may have been the first time in quite a long time that anyone demonstrated that they actually cared for them or desired to be in their company. Or maybe it was just that they couldn’t quite gather why CCC – Old Mill would care about inmates they have never met.

Hirsch on the mission of the church…

Enjoying a session with missiologist Alan Hirsch here in KC today. You can check out the mQuest event I’m writing you from. We’re struggling with what it takes for the church to accomplish it’s mission in the world. Hirsch identifies five aspects surrounding the core of the conviction that Jesus is Lord:

Core: the claim that Jesus is Lord. Nothing else is Lord. Jesus is utterly unique as God’s only son and God’s ultimate strategy in mission.

1 The church must make disciples. If its outreach and growth strategies are leading people to become disciples that know how to reproduce themselves… lights out. The church will not grow.

2 Missional-incarnational impulse. The very same strategy that God chose in sending Jesus to humanity’s context is exactly what he expects of every member of his church. Every person in the church should have the inner drive to embody Jesus in every human context that knows him not!

3 Apostolic environment. If we’re in fact building the church God’s way it will look like the way the church grew in the apostolic age before it was institutionalized and identified as Christendom.

4 Organic systems. The structures serve and follow the growth, the growth isn’t driven by the organization. Example: the church in China!

5 Communitas (not community). Communitas is better than community in that it is community with the right uniting passion. When a group owns a goal bigger than itself and lives for purposes beyond its own consumerist interests, then it experiences communitas.

Some very stimulating thoughts Christians can challenge our current understanding the church about. Are we still stuck in institutionality as a church or are we a living, thriving organism capable of doing the mission of Jesus everywhere God situates us in society.

How about you? If you’re Christian this could really bug you! Are you just a member of a club, or do you really have the DNA of being a Christ follower?

If you’re not a Christian, you’re probably bugged by Christians whose affiliation seems somehow off-track from the person of Jesus and what’s he’s all about. As someone who can probably be one of those annoying Christians my apologies for giving a distracted impression of the one I claim I follow.

In Intersections we’ve been experimenting with a Gospel outline that you might find helpful. A guy named James Choung has written a book and a companion booklet called True Story. Like hundreds of people before him, James is searching for a way to communicate the big story of the Bible. People find it helpful to summarize the Bible’s message in a short, visual way. I think James has done a great job.

If you’re familiar with Gospel outlines – probably the one that you hear the most about is the Bridge Illustration. A great tool. Simple. Yet not afraid to tell the story in a fresh way. One of the things I like the most about it is the emphasis on God’s mission for believers. Most outlines communicate the Gospel as a message of personal transformation. Getting saved. Getting the individual right with God. Dealing with personal lostness.

But the Gospel of the Christian Bible gives us a story that goes well beyond personal transformation. As soon as someone says “OK, God, I’ll settle – I’ll give you my soul, forgive me my sins, and let me go to heaven when I die.” God says, “Wait a minute, did you read the fine print?”

There’s a mission you’ve bought into! You’re now a part of my plan to bring hope and healing to the planet you people have been corporately tearing up for millennia! And the coolest thing about it, is that if you really get this thing called forgiveness, you can’t help but want to be involved in healing a sin-damaged world.

Give James’ Big Story a listen and give me your thoughts. I think you’ll find it pretty cool. Most people I’ve shown this to find it compelling and refreshing. Some Christians I’ve shown it to haven’t actually liked it! More on that in my next few posts.