Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Doritos vs. NARAL

Gary Bauer nails it when he calls out the NARAL for their anti-science, anti-common sense view on babies in the womb:

The radical pro-abortion group NARAL is, once again, doing its best to prove that the left denies the basic science of biology. Doritos aired an amusing Super Bowl ad showing a husband eating the famous nacho chips during his wife's ultrasound. 

Frustrated with her husband's inattentiveness, she has the expected reaction. But when her husband starts waving a chip around, the baby in utero starts following it. She wants one! Watch the ad here.  

That was too much for NARAL, which tweeted its condemnation of Doritos for "using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses."  

What exactly does NARAL think a fetus is? Fetus is Latin for "bearing young," "offspring" or "young while still in the womb," all of which means human unborn baby. 

NARAL's reaction speaks volumes. The only way it can justify abortion is by first dehumanizing the unborn child in the womb. Once that is accomplished, destroying a blob of tissue is a lot easier. 

The debate is over for when life begins--it begins at conception. This battle rages on because that argument still gets some traction with those who have not thought much about this issue yet. The reaction of the NARAL shows just how out of touch with reality this organization is. 

I wish the NARAL would consider the "choice" of the baby boy or girl in the womb. I believe they would choose life every time. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oikos + Walmart/Coke Commercial (Stock Up on Joy)

This young man sings a jingle that describes what an extended family (greek = oikos) or household is and has been for millennia. Despite the modern attempt to limit family to the nuclear expression (only family living under your roof), culture is pushing back to this God-given dynamic. Witness the success of shows like "Friends."

In the Bible this extended family is called a household (oikos). It's what makes mission pleasing to God's people. Living on mission was meant to be lived out of extended families.

Meredith Andrews – Soar (Live + Acoustic) Isaiah 40:31

Lyric details+

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Prayer Guide for our Gathering

Sunday we'll begin a new journey as a church family. We'll actively seek God in making disciples who make disciples through extended families are mission with God. This is the basic prayer guide I'm following as I plan for this.

Vision: To start a disciple-making movement of extended families on mission together. (Think 3-legged stool/table and UP-IN-OUT Triangle) (10 min)

Step 1: Begin praying for our next step in implementing the vision by praying these four questions:

  1. Who is God? (<10 aloud="" answers="" ll="" min="" our="" pray="" question="" span="" this="" to="" together.="" we="">
  2. What has He done for us? (<10 aloud="" answers="" ll="" min="" our="" pray="" span="" together.="" we="">
  3. What is our identity (who are we) as a result of who God is and what he’s done? (<10 aloud.="" answers="" ll="" min="" our="" pray="" span="" we="">
  4. What do we “get to do” because of everything we’ve just heard/prayed? (5 min) We'll pray silently and possibly write down specific answers to this question.
  5. We share aloud together how God answered #4. We'll list these on the whiteboard. (20 min)

Next time, we'll spend more time here, reporting everything! We'll share wins, losses, epiphanies, new thoughts, successes and failures so far in this process.

Step 2: As answers to our prayers come in, we'll immediately begin putting them into practice. In the meantime (and as answers continue to come in), we'll continue to meet and pray through the above 4 questions. 

Our hope is that as extended families on mission begin to form and meet that they will take this same posture on how they are to proceed as well.

We are also asking people to hit their knees prayer each day wherever they are at 7:14 am each day to consecrate themselves (publicly if there). This is in light of our praying 2 Chronicles 7:14 for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. A sermon will precede this where we'll preach through this passage so we better understand what was meant by this verse. 

Covenant and Community

Recently, I had a great conversation with some friends I've been talking with about forming missional communities (extended families on mission with God together). One asked how do we hold people accountable to do what they say they are going to do. I answered that a signed, detailed covenant is my tool of choice. That sparked an hour conversation about the pros and cons of covenants. I won't recount that fiery conversation here. But I will share my thoughts on covenants in churches and missional communities a few days after it.

In no particular order...

The Missional Community (MC) process lets the members who are “all in” shape their covenant. The covenant answers the question:

        “What are we committing to as an extended family on mission this year?"

The covenant expresses and clarifies who’s “All in” and what they’re “All in” on. It’s clarifying the vision (for that church or MC) and how we’re going to flesh it out together. 

The covenant is for those who are “in”. It’s not for anyone else. Like disciples showed they were committed to following Jesus, we show our intentions beginning with a signature or public acknowledgement. 

Seth, my ministry coach, said, "It's funny that people will willingly sign a contract to get a mortgage but they won't sign a covenant for the mission amongst family."

Yes, it does create categories or levels between those who choose to commit and those who don’t yet. I believe this is ok. 

Jesus had levels of access as well. He had the 72, "the 12" and even the 3. This could easily have seemed like he was playing favorites. In fact, there are indications in the gospels that the other 9 disciples were jealous of the 3 (Peter, James and John). In Jesus' mind, he was simply giving more time to those who he perceived or observed were more committed or “All in.” The covenant has this clarifying effect. 

It’s not about the signature. You don’t have to sign anything. But a visual nod or audible "I'm in" tells others making the same commitment that you’re “All in.” How else can we know who’s in and who’s not. I think this matters. 

It's okay to have some who are still working through the concept of being a family on mission together and the associated commitments. If you are always bringing in new people to Christ, this will be a normal part of the rhythm of your missional community.

A covenant clarifies what a “win” for our family on mission is. That’s why it’s specific. Vague covenants leave you wondering if you accomplished anything. 

Specifics on the covenant should be things you have control over. 

For example, you don't have control over how many people you lead to Christ in a year. But you do have control over how many times you attempt to share Christ's gospel with people over the next year. You can measure both but you can't control how many trust Christ. 

Signing a covenant that includes something like, "I will share the gospel 12X/year" is simply a tool to help keep what's important in front of it. It's like coming up with your own goals for 2016 and then signing them. It just solidifies your resolve and adds gravity to something that you deem very important. The signature adds weight. (That's why we're talking about it.) Therefore, it has the power to add gravity to something that deserves it. 

Sure it can become twisted into a legalistic hammer or source of religious pride. That's why we remind ourselves and each other that it's all about grace. God is the one who graces us to succeed. He gets the credit. Even in this, the covenant can reveal our heart and again be a good tool for leading us to holiness and obedience rooted in faith.

We must be careful comparing a business (job) to the church. The church is a community of people linked together by the covenant of Christ. It is inclusive. It's NOT based on performance. It's based on being saved into the family of God by grace through faith. A business is not inclusive--it's exclusive. You apply, interview and are chosen to be hired. Then to maintain your employment you must perform. If you don't, you're let go. Accountability is important in both. But your place in the community is secure in one (Church) but not the other (job).

At the end of the day, our life is living in such a way that we make Dad visible to the world showing him off in all his glory through the way we think, speak and live. Are you doing this? Is this your mindset? That's what it means to live for the glory of God. 

We remember who we are (child of God, child of the King). We show Dad off. We show Jesus off. We shine the spotlight on him. That's what we do because that's who we are. We get to be his kids. My prayer is that we'll use every tool necessary, by God's grace, to become more faithful families on mission with God together.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Are Others Noticing?

“...that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”     -Paul of Tarsus, Colossians 1:6 NIV

Is the gospel bearing fruit in my life in such a way that it's spreading throughout my circles of influence? 

Are those around me seeing, hearing and experiencing the fruit of the gospel through me? 

Would they miss this fruit if I left?

What is God saying to you?

What are you going to do about it?

Who do you need to share this thought with today?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Impossible To-Do List

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
1 Peter 2:17 ESV


Peter gives us an impossible to-do list. It's also a picture of the three kinds of relationships we're to live out by grace through faith: Upward, inward and outward relationships. Up, in and out. (Think triangle with UP at the top)

UP - "Fear God." This is our posture in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Holy respect, honor and awe for his holiness and power.

IN - "Love the brotherhood." Peter is referring to our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Church. These "insiders" are family. We love them out of the overflow of loving our good God.

OUT - "Love Honor everyone...honor the emperor." Peter reminds us to love and respect everyone no matter where they stand with God. This is the missional impulse of a rescuing God. He calls us to join him in this great work.

(See Jesus flesh out these 3 kinds of relationships in Luke 6:12-19.)

This is what we do as Christ-followers. If you follow Jesus, you do what he did. We love God (UP) and love people (IN and OUT). But not in our own strength.

We cannot do this apart from the grace of God. Pray for His Spirit to work in and through you to accomplish this impossible to-do list.

What is God saying to you?

What are you going to do about it?

Who should you share this truth with today?

Note: The UP, IN, OUT triangle comes from Mike Breen and the team at 3DM Ministries. 3DMovements.com for more information and resources

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Fragrance Pleasing to God

“I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
Philippians 4:18 ESV

Paul has received kind and generous support from the Philippian Christians. He thanks and encourages them here for their pattern of godly behavior. 

Paul describes the abundant gifts he received from them in v. 18. He says they are:

1. A fragrant offering. 

This speaks to an aroma wafting from them like a nice cologne or perfume, or like the smell of a rose exploding in bloom. It's ultimately an offering because it's to their Lord, Jesus. In this, Paul applauds theIr effort and then elevates it.

2. A sacrifice. 

This continues down the road of sacrificial offering to Jesus. That is, a very costly gift. It's giving until it hurts. 

3. A sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 

Not just something that is costly and painful to give--it's pleasing to God. 

God accepts it because it's given in the spirit of the law of Christ--selfless love. Loving their neighbor (in this case, Paul) as themselves, they give to him abundantly and sacrificially. This is clearly something they did by faith. In other words, they did it even though they may not know where the money for their own needs will come from. The early church was full of recently impoverished people. This faith "pleases" God. (C.f. Hebrews 11:6)

So in describing the Philippian's gift to him, Paul exalts them and blesses them with encouraging words so they'll repeat this behavior and live with this attitude of gratitude and generosity. 

For me, this has at least two applications.

First, I should get more comfortable giving until it hurts--especially to those in need serving the Lord in the mission field. 

Paul is under house arrest in Rome at this point. He's under arrest because of his missionary activity. While he's learned to be content in all circumstances, it's no doubt encouraging to receive gifts and money to provide for his many physical needs. 

Second, I must remember that many brothers and sisters in Christ are sacrificially giving to the Church. As a pastor, it's easy to think that people should grow up and give as God teaches them to. It's easy to get frustrated with the lack of giving in the face of so much need. It's easy to focus on what's not happening and miss what is happening. 

Lord, help me give and receive gracefully and graciously. Give me a grateful heart! Keep me from unfair and misinformed judgments. Find me generous and cheerful in my giving. Help me live as if Jesus' words, "It's more blessed to give than to receive" are actually.

Thank you for the priceless gift of your son Jesus Christ. He saved my life. I give you mine.