Discipleship

Four Liberating Truths

VergeNetworkLogoBlue-LargeI came across these four truths on the verge network website. The four truths are: God is great – so we don’t have to be in control. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves.

Below is a little snipet from the article on vergenetwork.org...

In Tim Chester’s book You Can Change he identified four liberating truths about God. He suggested that underlying all our sinful behavior and negative emotions is a failure to believe one of these truths at a functional level...

 

 

 

What are your thoughts on these four truths? Can you identify these truths about God in your daily struggle to walk by faith? In an upcoming four part series, I will blog about my interaction and discovery with these four truths, as I struggle daily to live them out as I walk by faith.

You can connect with the Verge Network for more great content and resources on gospel-centered Missional Communities: www.vergenetwork.org @VergeNetwork

How I see worship

cross-66700_640I want to talk about worship for a little bit...

I must admit I am not the most qualified voice on the topic of worship when it comes to worship services. I am not a worship pastor, I don't help plan worship services anymore, and I really don't like music all that much - HUH! surprised disbelief from my readers... But I am a worshiper of God...

I guess this brings me to my point. For me worship isn't necessarily about singing or musical instruments, or one hour on Sundays, or even about sermons. I have found that some of the most worshipful moments I have had were the times when I was sitting in silence, or having coffee with friends, or eating dinner with my family. Don't get me wrong I throughly enjoy worship songs and I am not advocating the abolishment of music in worship services. What I am saying is that true worship isn't about the actions of worshipping, but the state of the heart. I recently saw this quote posted by Timothy Keller on Twitter: "Worship is treasuring God." I feel this statement captures just that, the state of the heart. I believe worship should encompass every area of a person's life, not just their voice or ears.

My friend Devan Bumstead said it best this way...

"In short, we believe worship is a communal lifestyle of sacrificial obedience based on a grounded relationship with the triune God. Meet and respond. But perhaps what’s most important about this little definition is just as much what it doesn’t say as what it does. We don’t use titles around here like, “Worship Service,” “Worship Pastor,” or “Worship Songs” because we believe that kind of language limits worship to a particular time, place, person, and activity. Biblical worship is beyond that—it encompasses every area of one’s life, not just the time they offer for an hour a week on Sunday mornings. This is why we’ve chosen to call our gathering time a “Celebration Service” and refer to our time of singing as “praise”, which should be appropriately viewed as a subcategory of worship, not to encompass the whole spectrum..."

To read Devan's whole blog post on worship, check it out here.

C. S. Lewis ‏said, "Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it." When Jesus told the woman at the well that there was a time when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, I believe he was revealing to her that there was coming a time when it would be a joy to worship God and not a chore (John 4:23).

Does worshipping God bring joy to your heart or is it a chore that needs to get done? Do you treasure God when you worship Him?

This Week's Top 5...

SONY DSCIf you missed a read this week… Here's the Top 5 most read posts for this week: 1. When is being selfish in the church okay...

2. You're more beautiful than you think you are... 

3. I just can't get rid of this burr under my saddle...

4. Monday Mashup

5. What's On The Other Side Of This Life

Thanks for reading this blog. If your not a subscriber to this blog, I want to encourage you to do so. You can follow along or subscribe here... Please, comments and feedback about this blog are valued and appreciated.

Image is everything...

Image is everything web logo1I've been kind of dwelling on this "image is everything" thing this past week. I had a conversation with a friend the other day where we talked about things that really matter to God. What we both came to an agreement on was the fact that churches and "we" Christians sometimes put more value into causes, programs, movements, pioneering, and innovation rather than dwelling with HIM. I think this is because all of these things whether good or bad give us a better image or appear to entice excitement and mass numbers. In many ways in the church we have bought into the lie that "image is everything."

Being a disciple of Jesus is not about writing books, teaching at conferences, creating causes so people will be excited about church or Jesus. It's not about pioneering or starting movements through our innovation. DON'T get me wrong I know these things can help the mission of Jesus. It's just that sometimes these things take the place of what we are really suppose to be about. It's about abiding in Jesus and going where he is already at. We are then to be obedient to what the Holy Spirit is moving us to do, which is to love God with all that we have, and loving our neighbor they way God loves us, which is sacrificially through grace and forgiveness. Jesus wants us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Ed Stetzer aptly stated, "Too often we pull our cultural values into our grid for measuring church success..." While his context for this statement is talking about church size, I think it could be equally said for how some in the church value appearances or image over people and relationships. Read the whole article here: Rethinking Small Churches by Ed Stetzer

The culture values outward appearances. Success can be only ankle deep as long as it looks and tastes good. That's probably why we are a fast-food nation and why many of us can't wait for the release of the Twinkie next week.

I am not saying that image and outward appearances are all bad. These can be the very things that get a person interested or coming back to find out more about Jesus. In some ways we need to pay attention to image and outward appearances.

What I am saying is that when these things become the measurement of success for the church and for Christians, then we have a huge problem. When we critique a preacher on the delivery of their sermon instead of if they mentioned Jesus at all in their message and preached the gospel. Or if we become so Type-A about whether we kept our people in service too long or the flow of the worship service didn't go right or as we had planned. When these things become the standard bearer for success then we have stopped dwelling in Jesus. If you want to know the end result of this way then read John 15:1-8... Good gospel preaching, causes, programs, movements, pioneering, and innovation should move you to the neighborhood.

I like how Eugene Peterson said about Jesus in The Message, "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood..." - John 1:14

People > causes, programs, movements, pioneering, innovation, sermon delivery, tight rock concert worship services... The church's mission is people and sometimes people get messy, life gets messy and all we really have in the end is LOVE. Causes, movements, and programs will never take the place of a life spent abiding with Jesus. We must reveal to people a life that is dwelling with Jesus not our latest shiny new ministry toy.

Honestly "image is NOT everything." The heart of the matter is "what image are you displaying to people..."

When is being selfish in the church okay...

(This post has not been edited for errors. These are my raw, honest thoughts.) Okay here you go...

One of the hardest things for me to hear and something that is really bugging me is hearing people talk about the church as if it is something that is consumed rather than something to be actively living out in our lives and community. I hear from ministry friends from all over the country that share in this frustration.

I get sad when I hear people church hop because the church community/family they have been a part of is no longer meeting their needs or no longer is the cool flashy place they can invite friends to. I guess in reality they really don't see church as a community or family, instead it is place to meet personal needs and desires... We people abandon a church for these reasons they show their true colors, they were only seeking to be a part of God's kingdom for selfish reasons i.e. "what can I get out of church." They are like the kid in high school who only hangout with certain people because it will benefit them socially, but once that person(s) can no longer benefit them they move on to a different friend or group...

I also get frustrated when people leave churches because of conflict they have with a pastor, church staff, or another believer. How can we expect to rule and judge alongside Jesus if we can't even settle hurt feelings, disagreements, character clashes, disputes, and the like amongst ourselves, the body, house, bride of Jesus? I think the Apostle Paul said something to this affect in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. When someone abandons the church they were a part of for these reasons, they are like the kid who doesn't like it that the pickup game of football isn't going their way so they get their football and go home...

The problem is that our North American culture allows for this kind of flippant Christianity, and our churches do as well... I dont judge a person's desire to keep from going to hell, but I do judge their selfish and consumeristic motivations for being a part of the body, the house, and the bride of Jesus.

DON'T get me wrong! Sometimes the only solution to a problem is to leave and find another church to be a part of, that is not what I'm talking about here. I am referencing people who for selfish-consumeristic motives leave churches.

The solution (Your are correct to assume that I have already premised the former is incorrect, unhealthy, and not what God wants His Church to demonstrate to a world that needs His grace and mercy)... Well there are many things that can be done to help the situation, but lets just take a glimpse of three ideas for this blog post... Abide in Jesus (John 15:1-11 ESV), Love one another (John 15:12-17 ESV), and do good works (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV). If we do these things then it becomes hard to be selfish and have selfish-consumeristic motivations, and people might actually stay at their church and BE the church. To answer the question in my title of this blog post - I'm not sure it is ever okay to be selfish if it blemishes the church...

Okay and done...

What's On The Other side Of This Life

journey Journeys are not something to be taken lightly. I remember when my family went on a journey to Joplin, MO it began over twelve years ago. We left all that we had and all that we had known back in Sonoma County, CA. We journeyed through the Southwest part of the United States on our way to the heart of the country. My wife and I had never ventured that far out of our motherland before, so we took as much safety and precaution as we knew how; and hit the road with our three little kids in-tow.

We saw beautiful country along the way, desert, mountains, high country forests, and big open blue sky. It wasn't before long that we found ourselves on winding detours, tornadic storms, and even experiencing bad gasoline for our van. In between the serendipitous and tumultuous moments we found a rhythm that centered us back on the purpose of our journey...

We were headed to Joplin, MO to attend Ozark Christian College and prepare for fulltime vocational ministry. Or more precisely, we were moving out of and with the overflow of our love and passion for God and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit - we were being obedient because of love and devotion, not because of obligation and duty.

 

The real purpose of the journey was to grow deeper in our love and passion for relationship with the Father, it was not the destination to the college nor the vocation of ministry.

 

The Journey Is Still Going...

In many ways the journey is still going. We have moved geographically again on this journey and have found a home Colorado just like we did in Missouri, and the journey could very well pick us up and change geography again; who knows... However, what is still on going is the internal part of the journey, and this is the hardest part of the journey, moving through the constant ebb and flow of understanding our relationship with God, keeping our passion for Him, and obediently living out our love and devotion to Him.InnerJourneys

Too be very frank. Changing geography isn't hard to do! Moving from Northern California to Southwest Missouri and then to Northern Colorado isn't that difficult to adjust too. Leaving friends and family is hard, but eventually you make new friends and thanks to Facebook and vacations you can still see the people you love and care about...

What's hard is keeping focused on growing deeper in our relationship with God... Let me be even more upfront. I mess-up my relationship with God sometimes. I let everything else take precedent over this relationship, things like the type of ministry job I have, money, pleasing people and being who they want me to be,making a name for myself or for others, cars, electronic gadgets, vacations, things to complain about, ideas, philosophies, ministry methods, what we're having for lunch or dinner, and the list could go on...

 

I've let all these things whether good or bad corrupt the rhthym and purpose of my journey... The reason for the journey isn't the journey or the desitnation, the reason for the journey is the person we are on the journey for. I am learning not to take journeys lightly, but to cherish every moment and keep focus on the one who was the reason for the journey.

A good friend of mine, Brian Mavis, shared with me a prayer that I am going to pray first thing every morning, that's if none of these other things get in the way...

Here it is:

"I will live every day as if it is my last, knowing by God's grace and love the Savior waits for me beyond the grave." -- Chuck Colson

Ugh! It's so easy to forget that there is something else on the other side of this life.