I’m getting ready for my yearly prayer and study break which I usually take during the summer. While doing the church plant in CA I had the privilege to spend that time each year on Lake Tahoe which is one of my favorite places in the world. That was a HUGE blessing thanks to the ministry of the Barnabas Factor which offsets the cost for full-time ministers. I love the mountains. This year I will be headed to the Rockies around Denver and I’m looking forward to checking out and spending some serious solo time with God, His Word, and whatever else He has in mind. In preparation for this I got an email last week from a great guy who directs church planting in the Northern Plains of America named Mike Sojka. The link for his site is at: NPEA. Attached to his note he included a doc entitled “Reasons for Unanswered Prayers” which I’ve included below. I thought that was a great resource to help people get focused for such ventures. From my observation, we all need to take a moment from time to time to weigh our motives and this tool seemed like a good start. What would you add as a discipline or exercise in preparation for a spiritual retreat?
Well we finished up Kid’s Kamp last night at The Crossings and it was GREAT. The Kamp was an excellent opportunity to plant the loving seeds of Christ in the hearts of our young people in our community. Jesus loved and loves Children and in fact taught that unless we change and become like these little children we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Wow, what’s that all about? While there are many reasons, it seems like the biggest one is just the fact that these children don’t front any arguments and simply accept Christ through faith. They hear and believe. I think that is one of the reasons why every church that is truly fruitful in Kingdom advancement has a powerful children’s ministry. So I’m thankful for our efforts at Cypress Crossing to reach and minister to the kidos.
But I’m also thankful for a guy most of you won’t know named Morris. I met Morris for the first time on a college inner city trip in Atlanta back in the spring of 89. Then I ended up going to school with him when I transferred to Ozark Christian College that fall. But Morris went home to be with Christ this past month after faithfully serving Christ for a number of years in Honduras.
There’s a lot you have to say and I like your honesty and being upfront. No need to play games here. So with everything you wrote, (and didn’t write) we’ll just tackle one point at a time.
As I noted earlier, there exists a counterfeit church today which is quite foreign from the real deal. But there is always an element of the real CHURCH in the world no matter what kind of institution is being propagated. You can read more about the authentic church here in Kingdomology under the CHURCH page. But in short, the Church has nothing to do with buildings or institutions. The authentic Church is more about God’s people called to him. When it comes to people, yes, you are quite right, there are a lot of people who make great claims about being good “Christians” but don’t seem to be any different than the rest of the world other than just being a religious pain in the rear because of self-righteousness. I get that. But here are some other points to consider.
Like a number of Christian ministers I know, it seems like a part of my spiritual mentorship actually comes from dead guys from the past. Yes I know; that sounds exciting doesn’t it? But by that I mean being able to glean from the writings of Christ followers in times gone by who really walked with God. Some of the men that I still read from and about are Spurgeon, Moody, Finney, Taylor, Muller and Bonhoeffer. There are other guys who I don’t read as much from, but still have a profound influence on my kingdom thinking. One of those guys is Oswald Chambers of whom I read this morning before really hitting the day. In a devotional book I got from a friend back in CA he gives a commentary over 1 Peter 2:21 which really applies to people who are engaged in serious ministry projects. The gist of the text deals with the issue of suffering for Christ, which is a reality in authentic Kingdom living. I’ve pasted the text and commentary below. I hope it’s helpful and challenging.
We’ll I’m just about back into a consistent “blogging” saddle again as we’re finishing up our transition from the church plant back in CA to a work in the Houston area. We’ve landed with an exciting bunch of folks in Cypress, Texas where there are some real needs and huge opportunities for Kingdom advancement. This past Monday night we had a group of leaders over at our house to watch the movie Miracle on Ice. The flick was based on the true story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team defeating the Soviet Union and winning the gold medal. Personally it was fun to watch as I remember being glued to the tube when it happened in real life 30 years ago. But we didn’t watch it to reminisce, but to learn some church leadership lessons. We came up with at least these five principles. Enjoy and feel free to add anything.
I came across an interesting article today highlighting a decision of the European Union to open up a “transparent and regular dialogue with churches, religious associations and secular groups.” The reason this caught my eye is that Europe, and especially France, is one of the most secular regions of the world. I have a heart for world evangelism and England and Europe have always been a part of that. It’s sad to remember how many of those countries in the EU once led the world in sharing the love of Christ. People like Hus, Luther, and Wesley stood and proclaimed the grace of Jesus Christ and lives were changed. But over the years Europe, more so than England, has gone to the extreme of total government led secularism and has pushed Christianity and any form of religious thought into the deepest corners of the closet. If anything, religion was a personal matter not to be discussed in public. Yet according the article, the political experts of the EU are beginning to see how much faith really intersects in the lives of people around the globe and how that even has ramifications in their own back yards. Apparently, September 11, 2001 is a date that stands out for the EU proponents of this measure as it “shattered a widespread belief that faith was a private matter due to wither away in modern societies.” For them, they understand that the spiritual drive behind the attacks in New York also fueled such events as the bombings in Madrid and London. So I generally agree with the assessment of the EU. A strong faith does affect society either for good or evil and I’m glad to see these folks recognizing this reality. But I believe the ultimate key for Europe is not more politically driven dialogue, but individual Christ followers fully living out their faith in their daily walk. There is nothing more transforming than the love of Christ being displayed in one of his children. Well I don’t live in the EU, at least not now anyway. But here are some things that I can do. What would you add?
-Pray for a spiritual awakening in the EU and England.
-Pray for the true Christ followers in the EU and England.
-Pray for the missionaries who are there in the EU and England.
-Help support those missionaries through our resources.
-Begin to dialogue ourselves with other people who don’t know Christ.
-Live out a Christ centered life where we are today.
I recently watched the second half of Return of the King with my kids and enjoyed every minute of it. I love that movie and really anything from Tolkien and CS Lewis. I’ll be honest; I can even be somewhat of a cry baby at times when it comes to this kind of genre. Once I even held back the tears when I saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in the theater back in Nor. Cal. The whole imagery of Aslan representing Jesus and going to the Stone Table for Edmond just floored me because I knew the deeper meaning of what was going on. So it is with the rest of Lewis’ writing and that of the Lord of the Rings. Yes, it’s all fiction, but it conveys something deep, something that each of us secretly cries out for way down in the catacombs of our inmost being.
To start with I want to clarify that when we’re talking about “church” in this section of Kingdomology, we’re talking about the CHURCH universal. We’re talking about the connection that all Christ followers have across the world and for all time. We’re not talking about a local body of believers like First Christian Church in Liverpool, NY. In other words, these are the folks who live in different parts of the world and from different time frames that may or may not have slightly different scriptural interpretations than me, but are still in the same family of God by grace alone. We’re still Kingdom of Heaven Citizens. I do believe there is a place for local body church membership. But that’s another post. For now though, there is another point which the Bible includes as being part of the admission to God’s Church, and that point deals with ‘repentance.”
Welcome everyone to our first official “Guest Author” post on Kingdomology. The post comes from a friend of mine named Todd Owen who served in Papua New Guinea for over 10 years as a Bible Translator and now lives out the Kingdom in IA. Yes, people really do live in Iowa. Todd’s a lot smarter than me and I look forward to his contribution to our efforts in days to come. So enough of me, here’s the ball Todd. . .
I was once a missionary in New Guinea. Life there was rugged, absent the conveniences I enjoy in the U.S. Power came from the sun, water from the rain, companionship from a very rare and special people living on a mountainside at the edge of the world. One of the more tedious and challenging tasks I faced was learning an unwritten language, which involved finding patterns in endless strings of utterance, attempting to understand the building blocks of language; wrapping myself around alien ways of viewing the world and verbal means of expressing that world view. I learned a few things about the Kingdom of God along the way that are worth repeating.
Another great thing that I’m doing during this interim season is working with an adult Sunday School class at my home church in Amarillo. They’re a fun bunch of folks and are somewhat in a transition time themselves. I see them coming out the other end with a lot of new vision and vigor to really reach out into their community and make something happen for the Kingdom. Two weeks ago we took up a study over the book of James which is something that I think a lot of Christ followers in the West ought to camp out in for a bit. While in essence, authentic Christianity is all about what Jesus did for us on the cross and every inch of our righteousness is totally dependent upon His grace, the reality is that a life changed by God really does work that faith out in daily life. In other words, we don’t “work” to earn our Salvation, but because we are saved from the consequences of our sin, we then “work” to serve Christ and others out of love. It’s all about living a real, transformed life with no games about it. So for our 9:30 Sunday morning crew, keep going folks and live it up this week. For everyone else, how do you live out authentic Christianity in your community?