Well it’s obvious that I’m nuts about following Jesus and wouldn’t have it any other way. As for me, I arrived at my convictions about Jesus not because I simply grew up that way kind of like a cultural thing, but because of a point in time where I was presented with the clear evidence of Christ, and then chose to accept it and follow him. But that does not mean that I think I’m any better than anyone else or even those who have chosen not to accept Christ or his teaching. In fact, there are times when I prefer to hang out with those who would consider themselves “outside” of the Church and even joke about themselves as being “pagans” or something like that. They’re at least honest in the sense that they’re not trying to fool anyone by being more spiritual than the rest of humanity. This is one of the many things I liked about living in CA.
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.
My oldest son was reading an article the other day in the National Geographic about a city in Siberia which has exploded in growth over the past few decades due to its growing oil production. Because Debi and I lived in the former Soviet Union for two years after college, I’m always drawn to things happening in that part of the world. This article was particularly interesting as it seems that nothing ever really happens in Siberia, especially growth. But because of the natural resources and great leadership, this town which used to be not much more than wooden shacks 40 years ago has grown into a modern city of some 300,000 people. But the one thing that really ran through my head was, “Wow, someone needs to move there to plant a church.” If I were in another stage of my life, I would probably; (definitely) have looked into that possibility. But then it happened; the flesh fought back.
I got an email earlier today that I wanted to pass along to everyone regarding the disaster in Haiti. The author is a long time evangelist by the name of Reggie Thomas who has planted scores of churches all over the world. Reggie is the founder of WHITE FIELDS OVERSEAS EVANGELISM and we had the opportunity to serve with Reggie once when we lived in Russia. Below is the email that Reggie sent out this morning. Please take a moment to read it over and see if there is anything you can do to help.
Dear Family and Christian Friends:
You have heard the tragic news from Haiti. You know as much as we know. We have tried desperately to telephone some of our Christian friends in Haiti and we have emailed all whom have email. Up to this moment we have heard from only one preacher in Gonaives. Brother Solonique said that Gonaives felt the earthquake but it did not damage anything and all are okay in Gonaives. So at least we know the JESUS LOVES ME ORPHANGE home is okay. You know that we have worked in Haiti since 1971 and that we have made well over 100 trips to that nation.
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.
Does anyone remember the movie, 2010, The Year We Make Contact? The original flick, 2001, came out the year before I was born but I remember seeing it when I was in kindergarten. I think I was a freshman in High School when 2010 came out. Well 2010 is just around the corner and we haven’t reached Jupiter yet or encountered any black Monoliths on the moon. At least I don’t think NASA is holding out on us. But we are indeed on the verge of a new year and I’m looking forward to what God has in store for us as the Kingdom of Heaven plays out in our lives.
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.
I got a link from a friend the other day to another church planter’s blog and in one of his recent posts he talked about what kind of church he’d like to be a part of. I’ve read a lot of similar things in the past and can see where this guy is coming from. He’s got a lot of good ideas and shares his heart well. But I have noticed something that’s missing a lot these days, especially with anything connected with post-modern, emerging, or emergent churches, and that’s the issue of doctrine. (Dan Kimball seems to be a great exception to this tendency) While I understand that doctrine by itself is dead, I get the feel that there are a lot of folks who are throwing out truth for the sake of emotion, relativism, and pragmatism. But what we find in the first church is that they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” (Acts 2:42) In other words, they were concerned about truth and it seems that if we’re going to be authentic church today and not simply new clubs, then we have to seriously pursue the apostle’s teachings ourselves. In short, truth really does matter.
Well I was planning on getting to this issue sometime this year, but the Germans beat me to it. Last week in Berlin, the Lutheran Church of Germany announced that it had elected Margot Kaessmann as its first woman to lead the church where she received 132 out 145 votes in their general assembly. Some of the folks there described her as a “cross between Mother Teresa and Demi Moore”. I like Mother Teresa, but I’m not sure how being like Demi Moore qualifies someone for church leadership. Ok, honestly I really don’t know anything about Kaessmann and don’t have a lot of time to do homework on her. But of course it all does bring up that tumultuous question of how women fit into church leadership. Like just about everything else with theology and practical ministry, there are extremes. But where’s the balance? Where are the Kingdom principles? I don’t have all the answers, but what we’ll do for now is look at three Biblical observations and then follow that up with six practical points. So grab a cup of java and let’s go.
Well I’m happy to report that that my boys have not fallen into all the hoopla surrounding the Michael Jackson movie and all his music. But it was funny this evening when they said, “hey dad, check out this video about a guy who is blue with a blue car, or something like that.” Then I remembered it; yes I remember that cold January driving from Northern Indiana down to Cincinnati for Jack Cottrell’s “Doctrine of Grace” class with my good friend Leo and listening to the Blue Song on the car radio. Its funny how our kids will bring back memories we have whether good or bad, deep or just fun. I do remember “I’m Blue” and chuckle how Leo and I laughed about it all week while having our heads crammed with theology. Well at least I was cramming; Leo was just there for the audit. When I think about it, there are a lot of songs that come to mind from different phases of my life. During the Dark Ages of my life I was a real Pink Floyd head, ok, we won’t go there. I remember some catchy tune in High School about hard working guys complaining about all their hard work while the rock stars got “their chicks for free.” I remember discovering the deep and ministering tunes of Rich Mullins when I finally got off my rear and went to Bible College. I think the biggest maestro influence for me was Keith Green who had a HUGE love for Christ. But I suppose the best parts of these memories are the people we made them with. I’m thankful for Leo and I’m thankful for the new memories with my boys who I know are going to grow up and do a lot more for the Kingdom than I ever will. So what are some songs from the past that bring memories for you?