Thursday, February 28, 2008

"If the devil was a man" song

I remember this classic song from when Ross King sang it at Ft. Caswell in '97. Chris Tomlin sings it with him here. You can't even find this song on iTunes. What a great blog...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New location this Sunday

I'm very excited about our new location at the Dorchester County "Faith Sellers" Senior Center in downtown Summerville! This newer facility will give us more room to grow too over the next two years.

Come check us out as we launch into a new series "Shaped for Significance" where we'll learn that we were made to make a difference!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Church: What really matters?

I thought Alan Hirsch's response to this question was profound.

I'd like to look specifically at the disciple-making element for a moment. You mentioned in the book that disciple making is a crucial, pivotal element in the process. What makes it so important?

It seems to me that if we fail to make disciples—that is, people who can become like Jesus Christ, which is a very simple definition of discipleship—if we can't get that right, then in doesn't matter what else we do because there will be a fundamental weakness in our ministry.
And if a disciple is someone, "Who can become like Jesus Christ," are we doing that in our churches? Is that the priority in the church you go to? Is it talked about? Is time and energy and money put towards that end?

How to you measure how effective you are? Is it by attendance? Some other criteria? (See previous post)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Which came first: the church or the mission?

Great article on this. Click on link above for entire article. Check out this excerpt.

Alan Hirsch is an experienced church planter and the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network. His most recent book, The Forgotten Ways, represents an contemporary interpretation of the missional explosion of the early church and the recent house-church movement in China.

What does the term missional mean to you?

Well, that's one of those very difficult terms because it's so widely used. But for me, it primarily refers to a church that organizes itself around the mission of God, or the misseo dei, which refers to God's involvement in the world—his redeeming it to himself. In The Forgotten Ways, I say that it's not so much that the church has a mission, but that the mission has a church. So when I think of the term "missional church," it's in that order—that a church has somehow bonded itself or identified itself as a primary agent of the mission of God in the world.

Which came first: the mission or the church? I think I've normally thought "The church, silly." And then Jesus gave us the Great Commission and we go and do that now. But actually, when we study scripture we see that the missio dei (mission of God) precedes the church big-time. This is big for me because it reminds me of where I really am in perspective to God's mission. First God. Then sin. Then God's mission. Then the church to carry out the mission. Humbling.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How do you know if you're growing spiritually?

Willow Creek Church in Chicago defines spiritual growth as, "An increasing love for God and for other people." (Reveal, p. 29)

Do you think that's a good definition? Share with me your thoughts.

By that definition, how are you doing?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

YouVersion::Is it 4 u?

I've been watching this new website called YouVersion that is an interactive online bible. Here's what they say about themselves:

Welcome to YouVersion

A revolutionary online Bible that enables community and collaboration like never before.

Organize - YouVersion empowers you to organize the content that's important to you!

Share - Simply share meaningful content with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Community - YouVersion makes it easy to connect and collaborate with others.

Contribute - With YouVersion you have the power to share your content with your closest friends, family, or anyone online!

I'm eager to find something online that is truly a tool and help for online bible reading and such. This site seems to approach that although it has a way to go. I like the use of technology but it's still pretty restrictive in what you can do. Kudos to Lifechurch.tv for their pioneering efforts here. I noticed that Northpoint.org church has plugged it as well.

Anyway, check it out and get back to me here. Tell me what you like and what you don't. Tell me what you wish it had that it doesn't. I'm trying to figure out how it can help us and how we should promote it. I'd like to promote it when we do our series through Romans when I challenge our church to really dig into God's word.

Another tool that I found very helpful is echoprayer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Desperate for Love

The following is by Chuck Colson of BreakPoint and Prison Fellowship. He does a great job of opening our dull eyes to the reality all around us. I hope you'll read this. Darien

Desperate for Love

The Tragedy of Sexual Trafficking

February 14, 2008

Note: This commentary contains sensitive information that may not be suitable for children.

Tonya was only 12 when she was approached by a man as she walked down a city street. Over the next few months, his gifts and compliments impressed her—and soon, she thought she was in love.

The minute he gained Tonya's trust, the man—who was actually a pimp—took her to another city and forced her into a nightmare world of sexual slavery. She was forced to sell her body to countless men. To keep her in line, the pimp beat her violently. He kept all the money she made—which came to a great deal because, as Tonya put it, "I looked like a baby."

Tonya lost her childhood to this pimp. He controlled her for five years, until he was finally arrested.

Why am I talking about Tonya on Valentine's Day? Because her trouble all started with false love and false promises that exploited a little girl's dreams of romance.

Tonya is not the only child who becomes a victim because she is desperate for affection. Shared Hope International, which rescues girls and women from prostitution worldwide, believes there are as many as 300,000 girls just like Tonya in the United States alone.

These are not girls who have been trafficked from other countries, but girls who were born right here—girls just like your daughters and my granddaughters. They are tricked into prostitution, like Tonya. Many runaways are forced into it—often because they are hooked on drugs. Others, including many middle-class girls, meet men online, arrange to meet them at the mall, and are then drugged and taken to faraway cities.

There, they are sold at hotels, on the streets, and in parking lots all over the country to everyone from business executives to political activists to truck drivers. Former Congresswoman Linda Smith, who founded Shared Hope, says many people know the trafficking of underage girls takes place—like hotel staff and taxi drivers—but they look the other way.

It is a human-rights tragedy, and it is only going to get worse. Our society seems to have an increasing willingness to regard other people as objects to be used and manipulated—bought and sold on the market. This worldview is evident in everything from embryo-destructive research to organs bought from the poor by the rich—and little girls bought by adult men.

As a society, we have come tragically far from the Christian worldview, which says all of us—no matter what our station in life, no matter how poor or small or helpless—are made in God's image and are worthy of respect. Trafficking of children may be illegal, but if everyone turns a blind eye, it is clear which worldview is prevailing.

Tonya was one of the lucky ones. She was rescued out of sexual slavery. Shared Hope is now assisting in her healing; she is finishing high school and plans to become a doctor.

On Valentine's Day, when we typically think of our one true love, I hope you will also think about people like Tonya, whose desire for love is tragically used against them.

You can contact Shared Hope to find out how you can help stop the buying and selling of our little girls—and help bind up the broken lives of the victims. Come to our website or call us here at BreakPoint (1-877-322-5527) for information.

Another great avenue to help is through Stop The Traffik at http://www.stopthetraffik.org/help/declaration.aspx

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Investing that Returns

I spent four days in Curacao this week. For those geographically challenged, that's in the southern Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. I went to scout out and plan much of our summer mission trip there.

Most of my time there was spent listening and talking to people. Some were friends from former trips. Others were first contacts. Here are a couple...

Cesar. Mechanical Engineer at Xerox. Speaks 4 languages. Moved to poor neighborhood 8 years ago to take Jesus to the 80+ families living there.

Emma. Cesar's husband. Works at international school. Leads much of the ministry in theirs neighborhood using her creative prowess. Loves animals and children.

Caroline. Christian counselor, radio host and local missionary who was born in Curacao. Loves dogs and swims in the Caribbean regularly for exercise. Has passion for discipling ladies.

Herman. Along with wife Bep sold everything except suitcase of clothes, toolbox and sewing machine moved to Curacao from Holland. Had never been to Curacao. Started ministry from scratch totally on faith--children's hospice. Orphans & children dying.

Ferris. Retired banker. Member of Holiday Beach Church. Filling in the gap left by missionary pastor who left several years ago. No training so far. Is having more fun than ever.

What do all these people have in common? A couple of things.

1. They are investing in other people. Poor people. Rich people. Singles. Lost. Followers of Jesus. US airmen. Children. Orphans. Dying children.

2. They love what they do.

These people are taking their most valuable resource--time--and giving it to other people. They are showing their love for God by loving people.

They shame me.

How much time do I spend investing in other people? How much time do I spend doing other things?

As I hear their stories, I am inspired by them. So I must ask myself, "Self, why do they inspire me?" The answer must be that are allowing God to change lives through them.

Does my life inspire anyone, I wonder.

Take-away: Invest in people. Jesus did.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pre-trip: Day 2

Monday we spent in the Savannah and Miami airports (mostly waiting). We left Savannah at 8 AM and arrived in Curacao at 8 PM local time (7 PM EST).

Our first flight was delayed 2 hours due to fog. But our connection was unaffected.

Flights were fine and uneventful.

We ended up paying a little tax on the pots and pans we brought. But it was worth seeing the look on Emma's face when she opened up the two suitcases of linens, school supplies, brand new underclothes and socks, and kitchen supplies. Thanks to all at Grace who helped with such a generous offering.

We made it with few problems arriving about 8 PM (7 PM your time). We had to pay extra tax for the pots and pans ($36) but that was okay. We were delayed in Savannah 2 hours because of fog too. But that just meant we didn't have to spend as much time waiting in Miami. Savannah is a much nicer airport.

The neighborhood they live in is called Fuik (pronounced Fike). We got a tour today (Tue) even seeing the land they are praying to buy to build a community center for this neighborhood they are reaching out to.

Today we are trying to make sure we have a place to stay when we come this summer. We'll be going to Camp Braakeput soon. We found some alternate lodging options which are nice but pricey. I'm praying for Braakeput to work out.

We've met a few people here from the church in Alabama. They are building concrete a patio and wall.

To follow the rest of our week in Curacao, go to our blog at www.mission-curacao.blogspot.com.