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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Embrace Christ-mess


Christmas is a big deal! Why? Because it's the beginning of God's earthly story of putting on flesh and rescuing us. No Good Friday--No Easter. No Easter--No Christmas. Simple as that. So how should that affect my Christmas season? It should make it messy.

Remember the first Christmas was a mess for Jesus. He didn't come in a squeaky clean palace nursery. Instead, he came in a dirty, smelly horse stable with no hospital staff--just Joseph. Far away from home, too. No family or friends to add support (that we know of). Oh, and by the way, now with a social sigma that basically makes you an outcast in your own home. Remember, Mary was claiming to be a virgin even though she was pregnant. Riiiiiight. No hanky-panky. Wink Wink. She made people talk like Lady Gaga had just worn her unrefrigerated beef outfit--again! Now that's messy!

Life is messy. Especially if you're living for Christ. Just try talking about Jesus at your next CHRISTmas party. Yeah, say the J-word out loud and the party-like atmosphere will go silent quicker than Cracker Barrell after you say "pregnant" a little too loudly. Want to keep things nice and neat? Talk about anyone else but Jesus.

Does that make disciples? Does that grow the kingdom? No. In fact, we shrink as we try to ride the fence. How ironic it is that we do this during the Christmas season. 

Here's what I'm doing about it. I'm praying for boldness. I'm asking people to pray for me to be bold. I'm asking my Home Group to ask me who I've talked to about Christ the past week. I'm going public about my lack of boldness and stepping out in faith to do something about it. Will it be messy? Yep. But if messy food is some of the best tasting food, just imagine what a messy life will taste life. Dig in and Embrace Christ-mess.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Information About American's Chapter 11 Reorganization

It's time to buy tickets to go to Curacao this summer. Prices will likely only go up from here.

Trip cost = Your Plane ticket + $200

In other news...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Please Don't Call Me Pastor


Matthew 23:10

New Living Translation (NLT)
10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.



Please don't call me pastor (or preacher or reverend or bishop or elder etc.). This verse is why I prefer that you call me by my first name.  I appreciate the sentiment. You want to show me respect. I really do get this. I taught my kids to call their pastor "Pastor Eddie" years ago. (no, that wasn't me;-)) 


Now that I'm a pastor, I see it differently in light of this verse. Here's the thing: We're all on level ground at the foot of the cross. Yes, show elders and pastors double-honor (1Timothy 5:17) but remember that we aren't superior to you in any way in God's eyes. So let's not create a pecking order that God didn't create. In fact, He speaks against that.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Prayercast - Activating world changing prayer

What a great way to pray for unfamiliar nations. Watch and pray along with person from that country while watching video of that country's people. < 5 min and you've impacted the world. #radicalexperiment #prayer #missions #untilHecomesagain

Prayercast - Activating world changing prayer:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Compassion that Works

As I wrote earlier, I'm leading our church family to take the radical experiment. I've also started already myself. In fact, I've been doing some of these for quite a while now. So I know the potential they have for personal impact. I'm who I am today because I practice many of these as a Christ-follower. It's why I encourage you to do so as well...



Last week I spoke about the importance of praying for the "Harvest." (Matt 9:35-38) A compassion that works does more than jump in impulsively. It leverages our greatest source of power (God, the Lord of the Harvest) to show the greatest compassion possible.


Jesus looked over the crowds and had compassion on them. But what he didn't do is just roll up his sleeves and dive in. Nor did he send his disciples in. He told them to ask the Father to send workers into the great harvest. That's maximum compassion!


What's interesting is that Jesus didn't stop there. In the very next verse (Matt 10:1) Jesus sends the disciples out in twos to as the answer to that prayer. Not to the exact same people but to people in many towns throughout the region. 


We must move past impulsive serving to remove our guilt and past paralyzing apathy to thoughtful and prayerful compassion that truly makes a lasting difference (physically and spiritually).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Radical Experiment

I've been leading our church to read David Platt's book Radical the past two months. It's a great critique of the church and our culture from a pastor who's trying to turn his ship, so to speak, in a more Jesus-like direction. It's a fantastic read.


Fortunately, it's not just a critique. He offers great suggestions and examples for us to consider as Christ-followers.


As we near the end of this series I am challenging each person to engage the Radical Experiment for the next year. It includes the following (from the website):


The Radical Experiment is a year-long commitment to five specific challenges:
  • To pray for the entire world
  • To read through the entire Word
  • To commit our lives to multiplying community
  • To sacrifice our money for a specific purpose
  • To give our time in another context



I believe, along with Platt, that engaging these five parts of the experiment will change lives--both ours and others. So I've already begun every one. 


I want to encourage you to read David's book and then begin the experiment too. Or maybe just begin. After all, all he does in his book is point you to the teachings and commands of Jesus. So if you read your Bible, you already know what you should do and why. 


While I've already started, I encourage you to make plans to begin sometime between now and the end of the year.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kazakhstan | Operation World

We're praying toward a summer trip in 2013. Join us in praying for people of central asia (especially the unreached people groups there).

A great place to quickly learn a lot about this country:

Kazakhstan | Operation World:

'via Blog this'

What's In A Name? by Randy Bohlender

If you get a chance to read anything about Shackleton, I highly recommend it. It's an incredible story of perseverance, leadership, and faith. I read the biography by Lansing. DG




What’s In A Name? by Randy Bohlender

shackletons men 300x202 What’s In A Name? by Randy BohlenderHistory does not tell us if Earnest Shackleton was a particularly religious man, but surely he was prophesying when he christened his ship The Endurance.  Even though he understood the overwhelming challenge he face in attempting the first march across Antartica, so much happened that he could not possibly have anticipated.
How would he have known…
  • That the ice would be early in the fall of 1914, leaving them trapped in the ice, far from their goal by January of 1915?
  • That the spring melt of 1915 would not free their ship, but that it would remain fast until October?
  • That once the ice did begin to shift, rather than breaking free, his ship would be crushed, leaving his men to abandon the craft, only to stand on the ice staring down through the hole where the ship used to be?
How would he have known…
  • That he and his men would spend 497 days either on the ship or on ice floes before they set foot on land once again?
  • That once they found their way to land, it would be Elephant Island, one of the most inhospitable places on earth.
  • That he would be forced to split the party, and a portion of them would have to once again take to their open boats for a fifteen day sail through a storm that sunk a 500 ton steamer?
  • That his portion of the party would include McNish, a carpenter that he threatened to shoot for insubordination, but recognized that he would need his skills later.
How would he have known…
  • That on their second landing, they would put ashore on an island that was inhabited, but find themselves on the opposite side of the whaling camp, separated by a glacier never before crossed by man?
  • That after climbing the glacier with little or no climbing equipment, they would need to slide down the other side through thick fog, sitting in shovels for sleds?  When his men objected, Shackleton is credited with saying “Well, we very well can’t go back…”.
In the end, Shackleton worked to collect each of his men and returned to England having not lost a life in the journey.  How could he possibly have known that when he named his ship The Endurance?
As leaders, we chart the course for our initiatives early with a hundred finite decisions that work together to establish the culture for our ministry.
  • Do you cancel an outreach because it rains?  You’ll cancel it for other reasons.
  • Do you boldly approach strangers or hang back, waiting for them to make the first move?  You’ll hang back your entire life.
  • Do you lead by example, knowing it’s going to be harder – and more rewarding – than you expected?
Ministry – as much as Shackleton’s odyssey – requires an uncommon endurance. The same goes for those of you on the adoption journey.  Going in, you know there’s a lot to it.
You can’t pre-imagine every struggle that will materialize.  At the end of the journey, you innately know it was worth it all, even if it required every bit of your endurance.
You might as well get used to the idea and call it what it is.

Friday, November 11, 2011

FaceTime: Do you have it?

This past Christmas, my brother and his wife decided to head back home instead of coming to our house to open presents due to weather concerns. As a result, we had a stack of presents from them (and them from us) but not them to enjoy opening them together with. 


So we decided to try something we've never done before. We video chatted them into our den where we opened their presents "in front of them" via computer. I think we actually used Skype that day. It was pretty amazing.


Apple created an app for it's computers, phones and tablets called FaceTime. FaceTime allows you to have a video telephone conversation or chat. 


In a day when texting seems to be the mode of the future, FaceTime really shines. While personal, face-to-face conversation is usually the best way to go, it isn't always feasible. FaceTime allows us to see the person's facial expressions along with hearing their voice giving us some body language. 


Studies show that 90% of communication happens through body language as opposed to only 10% through just verbal. There is some debate about these actual numbers but even if it's close, it makes my point. Our communication is much more effective when we can see the person in part or full. As a result, our conversation is more honest.


God wants to spend 'face time' with us each day. Moses did this serving as a great example. (Exodus 33)  Jesus' example is found in Mark 1:35


Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (NIV)


God wants to communicate with us effectively and honestly. 


Find a good place. Set a time and guard it tenaciously. Go in with a plan but hold it loosely. Meet with God face-to-face. You'll end up with a more effective and honest conversation with the One who created you to know and be known by Him.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Living Bread

"Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." - Jesus


John 6:35, NIV84




Jesus is speaking to a crowd that included people from the feeding of the 5,000 men the day before. They'd pursued Christ around the lake to Capernaum to find Jesus. 


Jesus understands why most of them are pursuing him. And it's not because they want him--they want what he can give them. And even that is pretty base. They want his food and miracles more than they want him. He gets this. And he addresses it. 


What we hunger and thirst for are food and drink. That's not all but that's a pretty base desire we all have. It's why we eat and drink. Because God has hard-wired us to need this and graciously made it potentially pleasurable in the process. But it's also instructive. And Jesus uses it here to teach about himself.


Jesus uses their hungering and thirsting to illustrate a greater truth. Just like their hunger and thirst shows that they were made to consume tangible food to sustain their lives, their spiritual hunger and thirst shows that they were made to consume a spiritual food that sustains their lives--The Bread of Life aka. Jesus.


Our desire for significance, acceptance, unconditional love, joy, peace, etc. are ultimately and eternally met in a faith-relationship with Jesus Christ. However, we tend to pursue these desires in inferior ways. And we're left unsatisfied. That's why we should pursue him above all else in life. Nothing else truly satisfies.


So what do I do? 


I pursue Jesus Christ.


I "seek first His kingdom and his righteousness". I "abide in him", the True Vine. I "keep in step" with his Holy Spirit. 


How?


By practicing the spiritual disciplines that help me most consistently abide in Christ. And I do these believing that God will sustain me as a result. 


Fasting
Prayer
Feasting on the Word (Bible)
Journaling
Giving
Practicing silence and solitude
Resting
Worshiping
Serve out of my spiritual gifts
Sing/create/write for His glory


Lord, I truly need you more than food and drink. Without you I am forever lost and dead. Cleanse me from my self-sufficiency and fill me with your Spirit that I will live out of your infinite provision and sustaining life--abundant and eternal. I'm alive because of you!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Nationwide Emergency Alert System Nov 9


I share this to alert you that we all need to be alert and prepared for national scale emergencies and disasters so that we can be part of the solution instead of making things worse. Please scan this article and make any necessary preparations you think you need to at home and at your church. Darien


Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test Scheduled

 

Phoenix, AZ – On November 9, 2011 FEMA along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will be conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. This system is most commonly known for its weekly or monthly “test of the emergency broadcasting system.” There has, however, never been a nationwide test of this communication system. That will change on November 9, 2011 at 2:00 PM EST.

The test will reach all fifty states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa. The test will be conducted across all radio and tv broadcasts. The test will allow FEMA, the FCC and NOAA to determine a baseline of the emergency alert system that will enable better communication during times of disaster and potential areas for improved communications.

In the instance of a national emergency, such as large regional earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., this system will be used to communicate important next steps to best respond to the situation.

As Christians, the most important response to any given situation or crisis is to be ready. Ready to respond and ready to share the hope of Christ within us. You can get more information about what it means to be a ReadyChristian and how to begin the process by visiting our website.


About the drill

Here are some important things to know about the drill:
  • The nationwide test will begin at 2:00 PM (1:00 Central, 12:00 Mountain and 11:00 Pacific) and will last up to 3 minutes
  • Some local areas will also use the drill to test sirens and other communication avenues depending on the scenario. For instance, Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant will test their warning sirens in a 10 mile radius of the plant.
  • Because this is a national drill and varying communication codes are being used, the alert may not be identified as a drill.
  • Visit the FEMA blog for more information
     


In case of actual event

Here are some things to do to prepare in case of an actual event:
  • Take the FREE ReadyChristian training that will walk you through how to be prepared
  • Put together a "grab and go" kit
  • Discuss emergency plans with each member of your family
  • Set up meeting places outside of your home in case you are at work/school when an incident occurs
  • Research potential threats in your area and find out what to do
  • Sign up for local notification systems through your local emergency management department
Copyright © 2011 Christian Emergency Network, All rights reserved.
CEN is a network of Christian volunteers, community leaders and emergency professionals uniting to equip the church to be aware, ready and there to respond to crisis and disaster. For interviews with CEN please contact Misti McHatton at (800) 260-5637 or misti.mchatton@christianemergencynetwork.org
Our mailing address is:
Christian Emergency Network
39506 N. Daisy Moutain Dr. STE 122-614
PhoenixArizona 85086

Monday, November 07, 2011

What's Your Faith In?


"It is not the
strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you." 



-Tim Keller aka @DailyKeller on Twitter.com



...the object of my faith is a person. He's Jesus Christ. DG