Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

Philippians 2:5-7 NRSV

To have the mind of Christ is to empty yourself. It means to humble yourself. It means to let go of entitlements. It means to let go of control. The other side of the same coin of emptying is letting God fill. It's getting out of the way while being completely involved without your calling cards or I owe you's.

Cigar fellowship

Fron Steve Sjogren today:
"I was shocked in Denmark when I first spoke at a conservative group. After speaking they announced it was time for “fellowship” which meant strong coffee in small cups and famous Danish pastries. Then my jaw dropped. A box was passed around and everyone, except me and my friend from the US, everyone from young men to grandmas, all pulled out a cigar and lit up! Red lights went off all over my brain on that one, but by the next day I had calmed down and realized that much of what we consider a “holy” way of living life is based on our culture versus strictly scripture."

Zero sum gain or win-win

Zero sum gain in relationships means that when one person gains, the other person loses. When you put someone down, you might feel superior, but you've just pushed the other away: zero sum gain. If your church draws away attendees of other churches, your gain is the other churches loss: zero sum gain.

Giving compliments, accentuating the positive in situations, and being generous as a life-style is a win-win style where both sides are blessed and rise up.

In the parable of the talents, when the guy buried his talent, he felt secure that it was safe and would not be lost, but his master saw it as a loss because he did not put the talent given to use: zero sum gain.

Sunday night church

Did you know that the early church met on Sunday nights?

They did so because Sunday was a work day for most people.


From Jason Clark:
"...partying. If you asked me, as I know you want to, ‘Jason what is one of the most important things for planting a church that you have learned?’, I’d reply. Make sure you party, celebrate, eat meals together as much as you can. In fact I think our church has been built on a foundation of relationships over meals, andparties, and celebtrations.
From the day I became a christian I have been involved in churches that were highly relational, and centred around hospitality. We’re relational beings...."
The whole article, Partying: Relationship and Task in Church Planting.

Sharing food

I heard someone postulate that the reason for Buca de Beppo being so popular is that people crave a family shared dining experience because of the lack of hospitality in our society. Maybe people don't even know exactly why they like it, but at Buca de Beppo, each dish is designed to serve at least four adults and you have to share and pass the serving plates. There is something good that happens when you share your food.

Some foods that have this community affect that I like:
  • Chips and dips.... nearly all appetizer plates because you have to share them.
  • Large pizzas.
  • Extra long family or party style sandwiches or burritos that you share.
  • Pitchers or large bottles of drinks you share.
  • Loafs or baskets of bread that you share.
  • A big pot of soup or chili that you share from (ladeling into your own bowl!).
  • Fondue!

Eat and drink

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." (John 6:53-58)

What strikes me is that Jesus is telling us here what it means to walk with him. He calls us to be so close to him that we partake of him all the time. It's about intimacy: "into me see" (I got that from T.D. Jakes). It's about a fully open, fully accessible life.

Yes, we do communion or the Lord's Supper in remembrance of Him. Different Christians vary in how often they take communion and remember, but here in John, Jesus is saying that eating and drinking of Him is a continual practice, if we're walking with him. We're supposed to be communing with Him all the time.

Serving under your Saul

But then a black mood from God settled over Saul and took control of him. He was sitting at home, his spear in his hand, while David was playing music. Suddenly, Saul tried to skewer David with his spear, but David ducked. The spear stuck in the wall and David got away. It was night.
1 Samuel 19:9-10

Why would God allow us to be under abusive leaders? I was thinking about this today. I remembered a book that a wise mentor of mine gave me almost ten years ago by Gene Edwards, called A Tale of Three Kings. It's a book about Saul, David, and Absolom. It's a book about brokenness in leaders. Saul was rapidly installed into office, but David not only had to wait scores of years, but he was running for his life much of the time. Why did God do this to the man after his own heart? What an internship. Talk about a prophetic word being tested.

David had something on him when God called him through Samuel. David had great skill and bold bravery when he killed Goliath and later led armies to many victories. But what did David gain through all the abuse from Saul over many years? What did he learn and how was he transformed through the trials? The answers to these questions will I hope give us some comfort as we face abuse from people who have authority over us in our lives. May God give us grace and meekness.

Why people choose their church

I am reading this book. It is based on interviews of 353 "formerly unchurched" people. The first suprising piece of data is that the number one reason that people join a church is not the music/worship style, nor the location. Those two were actually at the bottom of the list of reasons!

The top reason why people join is the pastor and their preaching! Only 3% said that the pastor did not affect their decision to join.

Here is a list of what people liked about the pastor of the church they joined:
  • Preaching that teaches (deep things from the Bible)
  • Preaching that applies to my life (practical)
  • Authenticity of the pastor (open and real person)
  • Pastor's conviction (believes what they are saying and speaks with authority)
  • Pastor is a good communicator (articulate, understandable, interesting, vision-caster)
  • Pastor is a leader (clear direction, knows what the church is for, relates well)
  • Pastor's class (personal interaction)
The author noted that 90% of American pastors only spend 2 hours per week in sermon preparation, while the pastors in his study that are reaching the unchurched spend an average of 20 hours a week on sermon preparation. More on that later.

After pastor/preaching, closely followed by doctrine, people said that friendliness was the reason they joined. Even more interesting is that the author's data bore out that churched people who change churches rate friendliness even higher as to why they chose their new church.

More on friendliness, doctrine, and first impressions later.

Restored tent

Amos 9:11, Acts 15:16
In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be.
God is a restorer. He restores things and He restores people. In these last days, God is restoring David's fallen tent. David is the man after God's own heart. God is calling out and bringing together a people who's sole concern is God's heart and going after God's heart.
The difference between David's tent and Moses, is that there is no veil.


Psalm 24
A David Psalm
God claims Earth and everything in it,
God claims World and all who live on it.
He built it on Ocean foundations, laid it out on River girders.

Who can climb Mount God?
Who can scale the holy north-face?
Only the clean-handed, only the pure-hearted;
Men who won't cheat, women who won't seduce.

God is at their side; with God's help they make it.
This, Jacob, is what happens to God-seekers, God-questers.

Wake up, you sleepyhead city! Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
King-Glory is ready to enter. Who is this King-Glory? God, armed and battle-ready.

Wake up, you sleepyhead city! Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
King-Glory is ready to enter. Who is this King-Glory?
God-of-the-Angel-Armies: he is King-Glory.

When you pray to God, when you worship God, when you think about God or talk about God; what's God's name? If it is just God or Lord, what does that mean to you? Who is God in essence to you? Eugene Petersen translates "Lord Almighty" instead to be
God-of-the-Angel-Armies, in his The Message translation. It gives you a picture of who it is that we worship and pray to and live for. This is also God who saves us and is for us.

So, when I pray, if I address God as God-of-the-Angel-Armies, it immediately changes something in me. It reminds me that God is all powerful and is a warrior king.

Sky Links, 9-27-17