Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2010

Catch A Falling Star

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day I need to remember the good things that happen to me and the promises from God.

Dark days and rainy days will come when I need to pull out those good things, those blessings, those promises; and look at them.

God is good, no matter what our circumstances. The negative circumstances can try to envelop us, but if we've got the good news in our memories, we can feed on that. This is different than being in denial or just disconnected from reality.

If you look at the book of Lamentations, chapter three; you will read the prayers and thoughts of someone going through a horrible season. He is pretty articulate describing his pain and he believes God is responsible for his misery. He describes his pain for twenty verses, finally writing:

I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I …

Provision

I was recently given some concert tickets, but I couldn't use them, because I had a prior commitment that night; and an exchange wasn't possible. I had to give them up. Five days past the concert date, someone else gave me other tickets that were even better for us. We attended and had a great time.

I was recently shopping on Ebay, losing three bidding contests for items I wanted. On the fourth try, after a week; I won the item I wanted, for a lower price, from a man who seemed to have more integrity than the other sellers I encountered.

My son wanted a new, lawn decoration, that really isn't in the budget. Yesterday, a relative got one for free and gave it to us.

Seasons in blogging and a Cooke book tip

For about two years I've been wanting to say something about why I do not post here as often as I used to. It seems like I had something to say almost every day back in 2006, when I started blogging. Here's what I think: Life is seasonal. There's a time for writing more and a time for writing less. Same with talking. I think my assignment has been more to think deeply these past two years rather than share constantly or often. I believe I have some sort of a hermit calling on me. Graham Cooke has a little book called Hiddenness & Manifestation where he writes about seasons of quietness and listening, even dark nights of the soul, contrasted with seasons of God's manifest presence.

I have been going through my own dark night of the soul, which I believe is part of the normal Christian life for those who ardently pursue Christ. I believe that when you are going through something, you really can't explain it or write about it. Part of the going-through is…

Unanswered prayers

Your prayer has been heard.- Luke 1:13

Asking God to do something, then seeing nothing happen is a normal part of the Christian life. It's also confusing and painful at times, when the thing we are asking for seems to be completely reasonable.

Oftentimes, we pray a request prayer, and nothing happens. We pray again, we pray times ten; and still nothing. But since we know God is good, we persevere.

If we were to try to assemble a back-story on Zach and Liz, John B.'s parents, we can say that they probably prayed for a child, and those prayers remained unanswered, until the angel appeared to dad-to-be Zach when he was doing his priestly duties in the temple that day. The request they had made, probably decades earlier, was finally being granted. For good reason, they had probably given up, but God had not.

This story is very encouraging to me because we too, being human, can give up on things we cried out to God for. God is in the business of re-calling what we gave up …

How to start a church

"You have a Bible? You can read? Then you can start a church."- Felicity Dale (House2House Ministries)

Perhaps the reason that starting a church (they call it planting) is made to be so difficult, in our western culture, is that there are a bunch of assumptions that we make that are false- totally not biblical. God is not Greek, nor is he a businessman.

People have designed lengthy curriculum, books, and guides on how to plant a church and be nurtured as a church planter. It's all complex, with hoops to jump through and barriers to keep out many and wash out the unfit. Like landing a man on the moon, only the best and the brightest or the specially and specifically gifted ones can make it.

Perhaps the reason it is so complex is that the church that we know in the west is so much more complex than the way Jesus did it and his disciples did it and their disciples did it. Maybe the key is to return to Jesus as the model of the church to find out how to be the church…

New churches across the world are simple

I've been reading Mike Frost's Exiles (p. 136-57), and he says that most new churches today, in the non-west (where the church is growing) are in a large part nondenominational, nonstructured, and nontraditional. David Barret and Todd Johnson, researchers in evangelism and mission called these kinds of churches "neo-apostolics" (2001). As of 2001, Barret and Johnson estimated that neo-apostolics numbered 20, 000 movements & networks including 394 million Christians and will grow to over half a billion believers by the year 2025.

Frost writes (p. 136) that the neo-apostolic movements are "marked by four primary characteristics:

1. They reject denominationalism and restrictive, overbearing central authority.
2. They seek a life focused on Jesus.
3. They seek a more effective missionary lifestyle.
4. They are one of the fastest growing movements in the world."

What's really important in life

I awoke on Sunday with the song Precious and Few going through my mind:

If I can't find my way back home, that just wouldn't be fair,
Precious and few are the moments we two can share...

This made me think about how there are really only two things that are really important in life to me: Finding my way home and sharing life together with the people I love.


What real spirituality looks like

I was studying 1 Corinthians 11-14 with reference to the gathering of the church and came across this quote to share from S.J. Hafemann:

Genuine spirituality manifests itself in mutual interdependence and complementarity, both among men and women in view of their distinct roles, and among those within the church due to the variety of spiritual gifts. The same principals are to be manifest in dealing with their cultural diversity and economic distinctions. (Dictionary of Paul, p. 166)

Remember- the way in is the way on

“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Revelation 2:2-5

It is a truth that is a paradox that we have to remain as children towards God as we mature into sons and daughters, mothers and fathers in the kingdom. It really is all about God's love. We receive the gift, embrace the giver, and give it away. The way is being in love with Jesus and endlessly discovering how wonderful he is. This is Christ-ianity. Church-ianity or Religion is something else.

Eternity

We are eternal beings living in time. If you believe you have received eternal life from God through Christ, then how would that impact how you think and behave now? If, you will live for an unlimited time, how will you be for this limited time? The future impacts the present if you let it. So many things don't matter when you look to eternity and so many things open up.

A prayer for our time

Although our sins testify against us,
O Lord do something for the sake of your name.
For our backsliding is great;
We have sinned against you.
-Jeremiah 14:7

When I ask God to just do something, I'm not being specific with a list of requests. I'm saying that you, God know best and whatever you do will be right. I'm also saying that the situation is so bad that I need God to do something, anything.

And I'm not asking on the basis of my good behavior, or the goodness of my tribe or nation. Our sins are in plain sight. We're not walking close to God.

I and we ask God to move for the sake of his name. What does that mean? I think that means that we ask God to do something on the basis of who he is. He is glorious and he is good. God is not in a bad mood. Only God knows how to bring a backsliding people who are blinded to redemption.

A church is a network of relationships

From Ron McKenzie on "What is Church":

A church is a group of people in fellowship with each other. It should be a network of relationships.
The church consists of people. However it is not just any group of people. It is a group of people who are bound together by strong relationships. To show this more clearly, I will remove the people from the diagram (this is for illustration, I am not saying that they are not important). I have made the lines gold, to show that the relationships are precious.

A church is a network of relationships. The lines on the diagram are just some of the relationships that hold the church together. They are the supporting ligaments which join and hold the body of Christ together in love and allow it to grow up in love in Jesus (Ephesians 4:16) In contrast, relationship…

Waiting in silence

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
Psalm 62:1
Some notes from Spurgeon's Treasury of David:

To wait upon God, and for God, is the habitual position of faith; to wait on him truly is sincerity; to wait on him only is spiritual chastity. The original is, "only to God is my soul silence." The presence of God alone could awe his heart into quietude, submission, rest, and acquiescence; but when that was felt, not a rebellious word or thought broke the peaceful silence. The proverb that speech is silver but silence is gold, is more than true in this case. No eloquence in the world is half so full of meaning as the patient silence of a child of God. It is an eminent work of grace to bring down the will and subdue the affections to such a degree, that the whole mind lies before the Lord like the sea beneath the wind, ready to be moved by every breath of his mouth, but free from all inward and self caused emotion, as also from all pow…

Habakkuk 2:4 notes

Habakkuk 2:4b reads:

But the righteous shall live by his faith. (ESV & NIV)

But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive. (The Message)

Only those who live by faith are acceptable to me. (CEV)

The good man lives as he is faithful. (Moffat)

The righteous survives if he is faithful. (Charles Taylor)

The idea of faith in Habakkuk 2:4 is not talking about an inward, subjective feeling type of faith, but has to do with fidelity. He who has been justified, made righteous, is faithful.

Waltzing with God

Following God or abiding in Christ is like a waltz. It is intimate. Your face and heart are open. You are holding onto Christ, following God's lead. You are touching him and being touched. You are not hidden from God. Whatever you feel, or think, or are doing; you are aware that God knows. You keep an awareness of this and process disappointments or confusion immediately. Even though you have many unanswered questions, the answer is before you and you will hold onto that person and let that person hold on to you who holds everything.

Meeting

I read this excellent article by Lionel Woods on the ecclesiological question of how the church should meet:


So the best option would be to look at the letters and attempt to develop consistent instructions and themes to see how the church should meet. Here is what I see. All of the Pauline epistles accept for four were written to the church, yet it is odd that the letters written to individuals have been used to construct how the church should meet (pastorals?). In each of these letters addressed to the church, leaders are mentioned in passing and decision making, teaching, caring for one another, and doctrine was in the hands of all of those who met together. Each member is held responsible for the edification of his brother not a select few, yet in most of our churches it is the exact opposite. Responsibility is with the whole and never does Paul address leaders separately in his writings, yet everything happens with leaders and flows down in our churches. Meals also se…

Hope

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
(Issac Watts, 1719)

My hope is in God. God has been good to me. God is my only hope. I won't make it without God's help. Hopeless situation? Not a problem for God. Impossible situation? Possible for God. Even if "it" isn't happening, I still hope in the one who can do "it", and keep walking.

The clergy / laity problem

From Jason White:

In some ways, I believe that the way seminaries are “training pastors” is undermining development of healthy, interactive, communal church bodies. They way we teach ministry here creates a distinction between clergy and laity. Because of this distinction it seems that the focus is put on the pastor to study a text and give it to the congregation in a nice packaged form, on top of doing other duties like visiting people in the hospital, deacons meetings, and all the other stuff they do that isn’t found anywhere in Scripture. The church body expects the pastor to do these things because they’re paying him. In turn, they get lazy. They diverge into coming to church on Sunday and Wednesday to “hear a message”, or “get blessed”, or “hear some good preachin’…”, do these terms sound familiar? Its become a take, take, take relationship. Whatever happened to the take, give, give, give, tell, tell, tell relationship? My point is not to bash Seminary in gen…

Church for God

I think that (church) services should be for a purpose, like a wedding or a memorial, or a celebration. Gathering services should be serving one person: God. After God is served, people get served because God loves people.

How can we call it a "worship service" when the bulk of the time is given to a speech where we may or may not glean some insights into a passage of scripture. What about continually lifting up the author of the Holy scriptures? We've actually put learning about God or His ways above knowing God. Wouldn't it be absurd to be studying The Lord Of The Rings in a fellowship where J.R.R. Tolkien was present, or rumored to have been present in the past, but never or rarely asked to speak to us?

We have church and mission backwards

I believe that one of the reasons why some churches in America are ineffective and irrelevant is that we have let church forms and functions dictate our mission. God calls us to first be missionaries - not first define who we are and what we do (we're this type of people and we do these types of things), and then out of that; form our mission.

A lost message, lost doctrine, lost way of the Christian is that all Christians are missionaries. As soon as you believe, you are a missionary.

Most Christians in America go to church services a lot and go on missions a little. It should be the other way around.

You might be asking, "where does mission come from?" The answer is God. At the center of everything is God. In the beginning, God. God created man and man fell. Then God began to reveal his plan to redeem man, culminating in God's sending his only son on the mission that we read about in the four Gospel (good news) books. For God so loved the world that he s…

Spiritual warfare strategy

You're on your mission and you're under attack. What to do? Check your sub-mission. Are you submitted to God? Are you submitting to God in the battle? Your soul is under attack. You might be tired, sad, angry, frustrated, or confused. But where's your spirit? Where's your anchor? What are you anchored in or grounded into when lightning is striking? When you're submitted to God, you are connected in the deepest place; where your enemy can never go and never touch you. The truth about God is flowing to you through that back channel. That is where your inspiration comes from.

"Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7

Still waiting

Though it linger, wait for it.
It will certainly come and not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3

Some prophetic words are "now" words, but many and perhaps most are future words.
Some people have taught that after you receive your word, things will go in the opposite direction.
Some people have taught that the bigger the word, the longer the wait.
I think these are true, but you also can't trap God in a logical "system" of how words are fulfilled.
God can and does fulfill a word in a very different manner than what you expected.

So, how does a verse like this encourage us? It tells us that God is faithful and that God is good, no matter what.

When I've been waiting and it seems like it's so delayed, but God says wait, it will not delay; I have a choice to come into God's perspective. I do not go into denial, but exercise faith. I don't shut my eyes to my circumstances, but open them to God. God is my provider for everything, because he is my Father, God t…

Don't let him steal it from you

I had a dream that I was in a crowded passenger car with a bunch of men. Suddenly, I felt someone pulling my wallet out of my front pocket where I keep it. I reacted and it was too late, the wallet was gone. I managed to turn around and a there was a man with sunglasses on and facial hair (beard or goatee) and I knew he did it. I grabbed his sleeve and saw a mechanical device that he used to get into my pocket. I began to tell him out loud that I know what he did and that I wanted my wallet back. None of the other men around us seemed to care one way or another. They were oblivious.

I thought of this verse: "After all, we don't want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we're not oblivious to his sly ways!", 2 Corinithans 2:11

The Greek word translated mischief means "ripped off" or "to defraud". The enemy tries to steal our joy, our peace, or our faith right from under our noses. The context of Paul's words are …

Your burden is very heavy

I'm hearing the word "onerous". Some people are under heavy loads. These people feel oppressed or overwhelmed by obligations or responsibilities. You may feel like you are in a covenant or binding agreement where the amount of difficulty and pain outweighs the benefits.

Remember that God only calls you to love, not to know it all or be an unlimited dynamo. 1 John 5:3
Remember that Jesus calls each one of his into a place of rest in him. Matthew 11:28-30
Remember that God calls others to help you stand and walk through your difficulties. Galatians 6:2
Remember that Jesus' mission statement is to "turn around" onerous things dealt to you. Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61.

Always be giving

Cast your bread upon the waters. For you will find it after many days.
Ecclesiastes 11:1

Christ followers are generous because the one we follow is generosity incarnate. "God so loved the world that he gave his only son". Part of the message of the kingdom is generosity. Recipients of the King's generosity themselves in turn are generous to those in need. The scriptures promises that when you give to the hungry or poor ones, God will repay you. That's not the reason we give away stuff, but a benefit. Giving begets giving. That's a kingdom principle, "give and it shall be given".

Bringing church to the people

Many of us have grown up in churches where we were told to bring people to church. We brought them to Sunday services or outreach events. We hoped something catalytic would happen to them there. But all along, the better way has been to bring the church to the people. Many Christians can't get their minds around this concept because they don't understand that they are the church, they are God's outreach to the world. The Christian is the city on a hill, the light of the world. All Christians are commissioned to go out into the world and make disciples.

When you bring church to the people, you have to leave the building behind. You are going out into the world where they don't speak Christianese. Any seasoned missionary knows that you need to understand the language and culture of the people you are going to. When the church goes to the people, it cannot insist that the people understand; but seek to understand the people. We need to learn to listen and be wit…

The church I would build: a freindly church

Real quotes from real people:

"I am secure in the love of my Father, but I’ve been unsure about the family of God. My relationships in every single church I have ever been a part of have been based on ministry performance.
My phone rang off the hook when I was in the swirl at our former large church. But once I pulled the plug and pulled back, the little red light on my answering machine stopped blinking. What happened? People I thought I had a caring friendship with were suddenly no longer all that interested in me. But how could they be? Our only context for relating was in church and in church related busyness. They loved me when we were in the building together. Sundays were awesome. For ninety minutes. But then, when the doors were closed and it seemed like I was usually one of the last ones to leave, I’d head home and for the next six days my life was disconnected. The phone quiet. Messages unreturned. Emails ignored."

"I go to church in search of my relationship wi…

Signs, signals, and tokens: coincidence and synchro-convergence

Sorry for the long title.

Twenty years ago, I heard a prominent prophetic minister say that all believers need to be receiving signs, signals and tokens. He was confirming what I intuitively already believed. I do believe that God and His angels can do things in our natural realm to guide us, protect us, or to confirm things. However, I do not believe all things or even all coincidences are signs from God. My overarching belief about these things is that I do not follow signs. I might see signs and ponder them or consider if God is behind the coincidence.
Signs are confirmations. Spiritual signs are like signs on the road. They are neither the road nor the destination. But signs are a good thing.

Jesus had stern words for religious people who demanded a sign from him and ignored those who taunted him for signs when he was being crucified. However, Gideon was permitted to ask for a sign (Judges 6:17. Zechariah was rebuked for asking for more of a sign when God had already given …

Brothers and Sisters and Friends (Oh my)

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Friends love through all kinds of weather,
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
A friend is always loyal,
and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 17:17 KJV, MSG, NLT

I talked to a couple friends and my brother yesterday. I love both my friends and my brother and my friends are like brothers. But what's the difference or is there one? The word here makes the observation that while a good friend loves you through thick and thin, your brother or sister is there at your worst times. It doesn't mean that your friend is not there when you are in trouble, but that your sibling is there. Another way of saying it is that God gives you friends or sends you as a friend to give unconditional love and support to another person, but God gives siblings to be there no matter what.

Advice if you feel trapped in dullsville

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 MSG, NLT

The new year has begun, but how do you cope with that fact that you are still standing in the old? Whatever our personal circumstances are, if we are Christ-followers, these verses apply to us. The exact word that I'm considering is to, "give thanks on all occasions". We don't give thanks for everything that happens, but we give thanks to God no matter what happens and no matter where we're at. It's an attitude adjustment or an alignment. Wherever I'm at, I will align myself with the fact that God is good; and thankfulness does that or expresses that. I am thankful (to God) no matter what.