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Archive for September 2011

Make Disciples who do the mission of Jesus.

Coming to you again from K. C. Sentralized missional church leadership conference. Tonight we’re listening to Mike Breen talk through his ideas. I’ll try to give you a bit of it here.

Mike begins asking: Could it be that we have left the age of the Soldier and Athlete and are now in the age of the Farmer and the Engineer? Consider how the gifts of the soldier and the athlete have a pioneering impact on taking new ground. Yet it is the farmer and the engineer who have to take over to create that which is sustainable.

Are we willing to integrate these four images in our sense of mission to places where the kingdom of Jesus is unknown? Mike describes his early efforts to reach the streets of Brixton ghetto, London. Awkward, halting and even hilarious he slowly saw God use the efforts of some his Anglican Church members to reach people and bring transformation through the Gospel.

Mike goes on to say how his early efforts were focused only on the soldier/athlete image – charging up the hill, taking ground, but not planting anything or building anything. As his work has grown over the years he’s emphasized the need to build a deeper disciple. He had to learn to leave something more than just a frantic plunge toward the needs of a community. He learned to impart missional DNA to the people God led him to.

Mike is wrapping up with some heartfelt exhortation to the group of approx. 600 church leaders gathered here. “Leave something greater than yourselves. Something that will last.” Grow things that bear fruit. Build things that last.

Future Shock & Pop Culture

One of my first introductions to the concept of Judgment Day was from the film Ghostbusters. It’s a scene late in the film, where Ray and Winston are talking about God. The conversation veers into the concept of Judgment Day, and whether or not they are about to experience it. Even though Ray (Dan Aykroyd) gets the scripture reference wrong (it’s Revelation 6:12, not 7:12), it’s a fun scene. Well, a fun scene for those of us who are old enough to have seen it!

Obviously, for a better explanation of Judgment Day, be sure and follow the current Future Shock series.

What is the Mission of the Church?

Down here in Kansas City at the Sentralized Missional Leadership conference listening to Dr. Michael Frost. “The mission of the people of God is not first and foremost to make the Church bigger. The mission of the people of God is to proclaim and demonstrate the reign of God. Could it be that we have become preoccupied with the tools God has given us (community, worship, Bible study, training, etc) and forgotten the real purpose of God’s people? What is the Gospel? It’s the active reign of God in all the world! Like a movie trailer, the Church should be a visible sample of God’s cosmic aim – the regeneration of all things in his son Jesus. Churches will grow when we learn our true purpose and expose the world around us to it!”

I’m sitting next to Steve Walters along with a number of other CCC leaders. We’ll try to keep you posted over the next couple of days. Looks like it will be a great time!

Thoughts on 1 Timothy 6:6-8, Investing Your Life & Minimalism

I’ve been reading through 1 & 2 Timothy lately, and there have been a few parts of it I’ve kept coming back to. One of those is from 1 Timothy 6:

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. -1 Timothy 6:6-8 (ESV)

One year ago, I was challenged to pursue a minimalism lifestyle after hearing Joshua Becker speak about it. Knowing that it has been one year, I wondered if it had made a difference in me?

Well, financially, it made a difference. I think every month we paid less, than the previous year, when it came to our various utility bills. We changed insurance companies and are saving $1,000 over the course of a year.

Jana and I took countless boxes, and bags, of books, dvds, clothes and more to Half Price Books and Goodwill that had been cluttering up our cellar. We gave stuff away to friends, neighbors and strangers. We made due with things when it would have been easy to not. For instance, we didn’t get a newer car or fix the air conditioner in our current car. I shave my head so I don’t have to pay for a haircut. I try to steer clear from fast food and junk food. We set limits on what we spend on the boys.

It’s been beneficial because we’ve had expenses this past year, like with the birth of Gideon. Beyond that, does any of it make a difference? Yes, I feel better. I don’t feel superior to anyone, I feel freer. I became more content.

Stuff isn’t bad, but stuff can be a waste. Why hold on to stuff that’s just gathering dust and weighing you down? I can’t take it with me once I die, so why not do something with it now?

I think back on the money and time I have wasted. The activities that were time fillers. The things to have because they were cool or added to my status. The activities and things themselves weren’t bad, but it was a waste. What am I doing now with that time and stuff I used up? As the axiom goes, “The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.”

Gavin Johnson put it well in his recent message, “Invest your life, don’t spend it.”

This isn’t to say that you can’t waste time, or you can’t go out and spend some money on some incidental thing. It’s not about being a legalist with minimalism.* Big picture, though, what are you and I doing with our time, treasure and talents?

*It was interesting, once I started telling people about my desire to pursue this lifestyle there were some people who were intent on pointing out everything I spent money on and how in their opinion it wasn’t a part of the minimalism lifestyle. I was surprised by who was criticizing and why they felt the need to do so.

What’s important? What’s priority? You can say one thing, but what does your schedule say is important to you?* What does your bank statement say is important to you? What do your activities say is important to you?

*Another factor in why I recently hit reset with my schedule.

We didn’t bring anything into this world, and we aren’t going to take anything with you. Don’t spend your life, invest it. Invest in a non-profit, a charity, or someone who is in need. Invest in a friend or a coworker. Invest into your family.

As I get older, I realize the limited time I have. What am I doing with that time? Am I just filling time so I can stay busy and/or numb? I don’t want to do that. I would hope you wouldn’t want to do that either.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. -Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV)

Invest your life.

This post is republished from Robert Murphy’s personal blog, RamHatter.

Beyond The Message: Evil, Evil, And More Evil

Here we go! As I mentioned yesterday, Tim Perry and I sit down to talk some more about his recent message “Evil, Evil, and More Evil”. Some of things we discussed:

“How do I talk about this with my children?”
“How do I contend or endure when this evil comes?”
“How do I approach and/or study this topic?”
“What are some other biblical resources about this?”
And more…

New Project with “Beyond The Message”

One of the things I wanted to do when I launched the Online Campus was to have some informal conversations, and Q&A, with people about what’s going on at Christ Community Church. And when I mean informal, I mean informal. Informal as in propping up my iPhone on some paper, and an iPad case, to record two people conversing over various background noise.

Thus, the eloquently titled Beyond The Message.

I hope to do follow-up on recent messages, at CCC, with the pastors that delivered them. We’ll have some fun along the way as well.

The first time with Beyond the Message, I sit down with Tim Perry to talk more about his recent message “Evil, Evil and More Evil”. I’ll post the video here tomorrow.

Getting ready to record Tim and I discussing his recent Future Shock message.

Jesus made famous in Village One

The first day of our CCC energy and focus in the North Omaha community we call Village One started this last Sunday. Over 600 of you mowed lawns, painted houses, painted Bridge Church, started demoltion inside the Village One Mission home, and more. Then it all concluded with an amazing neighborhood block party at Franklin Elementary School that exceeded our wildest expectations. Its hard to say exactly how many people came, but we conservatively estimate 500 from the local neighborhood not including people from CCC. That was about double what we were hoping for – so Praise God!

So what is the Kingdom fruit? Well, only God knows for sure, but here is what we do know. Most of the people in Village One do not know about Bridge Church even though its only 5 blocks away. So hundreds of families are now aware of this place called Bridge Church and where its located. More importantly, the name of Jesus was made famous on this day as dozens of people from CCC stopped by about 200 homes and prayed with people in Jesus name. Finally, our light shined brightly as God blessed people in the community through CCC as they were showed love and attention.

Ron Smith, one of the leaders at Bridge Church said to me after the block party, “Kids in this community don’t even know what it means to have fun like this. You guys blessed their socks off!”

Below are some great pictures from Village One. Be looking for many more opportunities to serve, starting in October.

painting a neighborhood house

demolishing the walls at the Mission home

block party

block party

lots of food at the block party

praying together at the block party

Let’s break some wicked arms here!

Yesterday in my message Evil, Evil, Evil, I made mention of persecution. I was taking some time this morning to read about Juma Naradin Kamil. You can read about Juma’s story at this link to Voice of the Martyrs. It puts a gut-wrenching face on the world of troubling evil that confronts many Christians today. Take a few minutes to look at this picture of evil. Then I dare you to pray a little more boldly than you might otherwise. Let Psalm 10 be your guide. This is serious stuff, people! Pray!

Break the Arm of the Wicked! (yes this is in the the Bible)

Psalm 10:10-18 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.” Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out. The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

The shocking truth is that there are hundreds and hundreds of Juma’s being harassed and crushed for their Christian witness whose stories won’t be found out or told. But that’s not the point for you and me. Are we going to get involved or not? We can pray. We often don’t. Change that.

We also can speak up about our relationship with Jesus. Few of us will encounter scarcely more than an insult from a neighbor or a co-worker if we talk about Jesus. Let’s not hold back. People like Juma spur us on. They say to us “Go for it, friend! Don’t hold back. Even if they hate you for it, don’t shrink back.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of shrinking when the battle is raging around me. Let’s get at it, Christian. The world is too dangerous a place to pretend we’re on vacation. God, thank you for Juma’s courageous life – make us more like him.

If you want to read all of Psalm 10 click here and take a few minutes to break some wicked arms through prayer!

Around Town

Earlier this month, I wrote about the merger of Core and Coram Deo. In this recent video, Bob Thune and Ethan Burmeister share about what brought the two churches together.

It’s another example of churches and people doing something for the greater good of the community. Something that betters the city of Omaha. It’s not about bringing glory to oneself or to a church.

It’s one reason why I like Christ Community Church’s partnership with Bridge Church. It’s helping out another church that already has influence in its community. CCC doesn’t have the influence in North Omaha that Bridge does, but both churches want the same thing. So why not help Bridge out in reaching and serving the people in its area? It strengthens unity amongst area churches and people, it better serves people in the community, and it’s a tremendous reflection of Jesus.

Churches coming together to represent Jesus and advance the Kingdom of God. Brilliant.

Thoughts on 2 Timothy 2:20-21 and Overcoming Addiction

I am a part of a cohort, at Christ Community Church, that meets every other Wednesday evening. One of our first projects centered around the Book of 2 Timothy. I was reading through it, and a passage stuck with me.

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
-2 Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV)

If you’ve been reading the Bible for awhile, you know that passages can take on new meanings to you. You will have read something a hundred times before, but then you read it again and something clicks. Something new. A new insight that sheds a whole new light on what that particular passage of scripture means. Perhaps its due to a new experience, maturity, or something else. Whatever the impetus may be, passages of scripture can have new meanings to us. This happened to me with this passage of scripture from 2 Timothy.

If you read my personal blog, you’re probably familiar with my addiction story. In 2007, I finally was able to break free from a porn addiction. One of the things with that story is how God told me, “Before you can take the next step with work, I need to do a work inside you.”

Four years later, and I’m meeting with CCC’s Governing Board of Elders. I realize that God has done the work inside me. I was humbled. I was now prepared to do the work of the Online Campus.

This passage from 2 Timothy takes on new meaning to me. It encapsulates the past few years. God cleansed me of what was dishonorable so I could be a vessel for honorable use. I will be useful, ready for every good work.

God is faithful.

Click here to read the original blog post about my story of overcoming addiction.