Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inspired to Plant! Organic Leadership: Book Review

Another leadership book? Yep. But Organic Leadership isn't your typical one.

And I am quickly becoming a Neil Cole fan. He doesn't tow the status quo in church-America, that's for sure. In fact, he challenges about every area of it. And his track record in fueling a movement of organic  churches (similar to house) is impressive and growing. It's hard to ignore his influence these days.

After reading Church 3.0, I thought this would be a repeat. Not really. While Cole repeats things in his books, that's simply the nature of the beast. What he teaches is simple and bears repeating. The principles are found in Scripture so he's on solid ground. While you may disagree with some of his conclusions, you can see he's striving to follow Scripture.

Cole tackles leadership from a disciple-making point of view. If you make disciples, you'll get your leaders. If you try to make leaders, you may or may not get disciples of Jesus. Good point!

Cole challenges status quo American church. Repeatedly. His point is that the church isn't multiplying and therefore must be doing something wrong. He thinks we need to lower the bar on what is required to do church and raise the bar on what it means to be a disciple. This strikes at the heart of the difference between mega-church and house church in his mind. 

I thought the strength of this book was it's closing chapters. His chapter on "Embracing Death" was extremely challenging. It could be a mini-book on its own. In fact, at times I felt like this book kept going on and on and tried to put it down. But then I'd give it another try and be pulled back in to it's great content. Perhaps more needed to be edited out. I'd opt for cutting it into more books. It was a lot of material.

The final chapter was mini-stories of people who illustrated "Embracing Death" by planting organic churches. These were inspiring! I wanted to go plant one myself. They were believable stories of ordinary people (not super-Christians) that I felt like I could identify with. Result: Inspiration!

I think the mark of a great book is that it inspires you to act. I am inspired to plant as a result of reading organic leadership!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is Obedience Overrated?

I don't think so. I think Jesus thinks it's essential.

“If you love me, obey my commandments." -Jesus, John 14:15 NLT

7 Biblical Commands useful for training leaders to obey Christ. (George Patterson - neat encounter with him here)

1. Repent, believe and receive Holy Spirit

2. Be baptized

3. Love God and neighbor

4. Celebrate the Lords Supper

5. Pray

6. Give

7. Disciple others

So while Patterson says these are useful for training leaders, I would suggest that they are essential for anyone following Christ. Jesus teaches these and, therefore, if we follow Jesus we obey these as well. Once again, making disciples is making leaders. Maybe said another way, leaders are disciples who make disciples.

Monday, March 26, 2012

6 Initiatives: 1 Down...5 To Go! #faith #risk

After months of prayer, discussions, prayer, congregational meetings, prayer, more discussions, more conversations, etc. we voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to bring aboard our latest pastor.[press release] Pumped!

This was one of our 6 Initiatives we began moving forward on together last year. We felt like this was a key first step for at least two reasons:

1. It would help us achieve what we feel is our most important initiative: create a culture of disciple-making. By bringing more experience, energy, time and perspective through this strategic hire, we believe we'll be able to get much more traction on accomplishing this goal. Future leaders will come from within as a by-product of disciple-making. Sweet!

2. It would require our church to act in faith...together. No doubt it's a step of faith for this family to come aboard our church. Pay cut. No guarantees after 9 months. No office to really speak of. No facility to call our home...these are not the perks you look for in a new job.

But then this isn't a normal job either. 

So, yes, our church is stepping out in faith as well. We risk unity, momentum, and confidence in our leaders to tackle these 6 Initiatives minus 1. They aren't the kinds of initiatives (other than building) that your typical church family clamors for. (not that we're typical...)

In the end, we believe this was God's direction and that we've moved with Him as a result--even though it doesn't make sense on paper financially. If God wasn't moving us this way, then yes, we'd be acting irresponsibly. But since we believe He is moving us this way--despite the numbers--we are moving forward believing. I believe this pleases God! (Heb 11:6) And that's where we want to be as a church family!

So we continue to move forward to varying degrees on all of the remaining 5 initiatives. However, we will hit pretty hard on our creating a disciple-making culture and moving people from crisis to disciple-maker. These have a lot of overlap and since we have already been moving on these, I expect us to pick up steam and see some real progress this year.

May God be pleased in our risk-taking faith for His glory. As a fella once said, "Faith is defined as getting over your head with God." We're in!

Friday, March 23, 2012

37 Years (#Video)

Great illustration of what Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 2:2 about making disciple-makers.

Imagine if we took Jesus' commission seriously. We could finish the work in this lifetime...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's About Religious Liberty

I wanted to share this post with you for 2 reasons. 

First, because I agree that the issue isn't really contraception but religious liberty. And that's an issue for everyone no matter what you believe. Christian, Jew, Muslim, New Ager, Mormon, Atheist...it's for everyone.

Second, because I want to introduce you to the Manhattan Declaration. 

The Manhattan Declaration is a non-partisan statement of conscience in defense of human life, traditional marriage and religious freedom.

I'm simply making you aware of this "statement of conscience" to help you better think through your own positions on these issues and maybe even learn something along the way. I know I have.

Below is a quick email from Chuck Colson. A White House insider during the Nixon  administration turned federal prisoner turned born-again believer, his story is truly inspiring. As a result of his background, he has a pretty unique perspective when it comes to the crossroads of church and state.

I encourage you to read it and then check out the Manhattan Declaration website.

Manhattan Declaration
March 2012
Manhattan Declaration
Contraception Controversy

We depend on your generosity - give today

Any paper you pick up or TV show you turn on will talk about the “contraception controversy.” 
That’s how the media  and the “reproductive rights” crowd have framed the Obama Administration’s outrageous demand that religious organizations violate the tenets of their faith by offering insurance to their employees that covers abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization.  
But all you ever hear from newsmen or politicians is that this is all about contraception. And sadly, according to the polls anyway, they’ve been successful in shaping the argument.
Friends, this controversy is NOT about contraception.  It is about the ability of the government to limit the free exercise of our religion.  This is a religious liberty question.
I’ve gone out of my way in conversations with people to straighten them out on this, and it immediately changes their point of view.   What’s really at stake here is whether the executive branch of the government can enforce administrative orders that violate the Constitution and trample upon the Bill of Rights.  
If Christians are to do anything in the public square today, it is to raise the rallying cry of freedom.  Remember freedom is the created condition of humans made in the image of God, who Himself is free.  This is being taken away from us right under our noses.
You are one of the 525,000 people who have signed the Manhattan Declaration.  If you and every single signer would explain this issue in simple terms to your neighbors, we would turn the polls around.  This is a winning issue for us, but only if we do not allow the other side to frame the debate. 
Please, talk to your friends.  Visit the Manhattan Declaration website to read more about the issue.  We’ve even posted a couple of my BreakPoint commentaries that deal with this. 
The case is simple; it is not about contraception.  It is about religious liberty, the first of all our freedoms.   God bless you!
Yours and His service,
Chuck Colson
P.S. We really need to hear from you.  If you’ve had success turning people around or if you have ideas about how to get public forums where these issues can be addressed, please comment on this blog.  Movements work when we can share information about our common goals. 

The Manhattan Declaration is a non-partisan statement of conscience in defense of human life, traditional marriage and religious freedom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Humble & Proud of it!

Humility is the most illusive of all character traits, I think. Right about the time you think you are humble you realize that you just lost it (if you ever had it). 

A couple of quotes on humility are, therefore, in order:

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less." 

@rickwarren has said this many times 

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking more about Jesus Christ." 

@louiegiglio & @shellygiglio

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

James 4:6 quoting Proverbs 3:34 NIV

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
1 Peter 5:5-6 NIV

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why I Tweet (& y u should 2)

Some people don't get Twitter

And I'll admit it, at first I didn't either. I mean, how helpful can something be if it limits what you can do?! But this, it turns out, is the beauty of Twitter. 

It's simple and easy to use. You have to find other software to make Twitter do more than it does itself. And it's in that simplicity that I find extraordinarily beautiful. 

So why do I use it. Basically for 2 reasons:

1. To learn. I like to hear what people are saying and learn from them. Videos, quotes, blog posts, breaking news, humor, sports talk...it's all there. And you get a sense of what news is striking a nerve by how many people are tweeting about it.

2. To influence. I like to influence other people with the ideas and thoughts that I think are important. I'm wired that way. Whether it's about Apple's latest device, Kony or Jesus, I like to influence other people's lives--for good.

So why not use Facebook instead? Good question. I use both and for different reasons:

Facebook is good for influencing people I know or have known (even if just as an acquaintance). I like the conversation potential. Twitter has this but it's not as deep. Facebook has a more personal feel because I'm only connected to people that I have some personal contact with. The downside is that I'm more limited numbers-wise if I stay with that approach. I currently have 1,039 "friends" on Facebook. I just congratulated Brian on making sailor. But the growth on this is slower. My family also prefers FB which also keeps FB relevant to me.

Twitter is more content, brand and personality driven. Here I can follow whomever I want. But I'm also wanting followers so I must tweet valuable information so people will want to follow me. I find this fun and challenging. I also like the upside potential. I just picked up follower #1,501 tonight. I've been tweeting more content lately (which often goes to my Facebook page via Buffer or Hootsuite) and that has led to many more followers. 

So what? Why post this? 

I think you should consider finding your voice on the web. Whether it's Google+, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest--find your voice. Just remember, if you're going to speak, say something worth hearing. Otherwise, you're just adding to the noise.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ministries & Non-Profits I Follow on Twitter

Twitter / @DarienGabriel/ministry-charity-non-prof:

A list of non-profits, charities, ministries and mission organizations I follow on Twitter. I don't necessarily endorse them all but I can learn from them and maybe influence them for good and gospel.

'via Blog this'

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Moravian Motto

"In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love."


Controversial Statement in Church-World

"Neil Cole says of Church Multiplication Associates, "'We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple.' Their rationale was that if the experience of church was simple enough that just about anyone can do it, and is made up of people who have taken up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be to do the uncommon works of God. 'Churches will become healthy, fertile and reproductive.' If this is right, then many of our current practices seem to be the wrong way around...we seem to make church complex and discipleship too easy."

-Alan Hirsch (p. 104 of The Forgotten Ways)

I'm still processing this idea but it's ringing true for the typical church setting. Mega-churches and Excellence-Driven churches seem to raise the bar on how church is done. I'm not convinced that this is the best, even though it's very effective in connecting de-churched and un-churched people initially. As with any church, the real question is, "Are you making disciples who are making disciples?"

Neil Cole (@Neil_Cole) on Twitter


Alan Hirsch (@alanhirsch) on Twitter




Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Emergency Relief Orgs I Follow on Twitter

Twitter / @DarienGabriel/emergency-response:

My growing twitter list of organizations, agencies, and ministries built around disaster/emergency response and relief. A great way to keep a pulse on what's happening, getting prepared and learning how to become part of the solution.

'via Blog this'

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Live Confidently & Courageously Today

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
New International Version (NIV)

God tells Moses to send in some men to explore the land that He is giving to them. ("I am giving" (v. 1)) It's decided. God has spoken. But God knows the hearts of His people and, it appears, decides to test them. They fail miserably.

These twelve exploring spies travel about 500 miles over 40 days through Canaan-what God calls the Promise Land. They come back and report about the land, the peoples, the produce and the cities. Their report is accurate and compelling. 

The land is fertile and fruitful. They confirm that it is truly the land of "milk and honey". However, the land is also full of people who are larger and more numerous than the Israelites. They have great cities--many with walls. In sum, it's a fantastic land! But it's full of nations who appear fully capable of defending it against the Israelites. There are even giants in those fortified cities.

What's unsaid, but equally true, is that Israel has no fortified cities filled with giants. Israel is smaller numerically. Israel had survived Egypt but that wasn't really a war they fought. They simply left when God told them to. God's words seemed irrelevant to this conversation (if not completely forgotten).

So ten of the twelve spies report this way. It's truly the best place to live on the planet. But we've got no chance of taking it in this lifetime. How true their words would prove to be.

Meanwhile, two of the twelve spies, Joshua and Caleb, see it very differently. 

They remember how they got where they are. They remember God's words and works over the last few months. They are looking at this from a perspective that is radically different from the other ten spies. They look at it through the eyes of faith. 

Caleb is likely an imposing figure. Like the rest of the spies, he was a tribal leader and someone with great respect and power in Israel. So when he speaks, people listen. 

So with Moses, Aaron, Joshua and the rest of the tribal leaders, along with many others, Caleb silences the crowd and speaks. His credibility is about to take a major hit. His reputation is about to get trashed. And he's probably tempted to stay silent himself. But, by God's grace, he speaks confidently and courageously.

"We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

On the surface, this comes across arrogant, presumptuous and self-confident, if not suicidal. The reaction is more towards the latter. But it's not confidence in himself that moves him to speak in such an apparently rash way. It's confidence in the LORD God who's proven himself many times already.

Caleb says, "(We) should go up (trusting God) and take (what God said he would give us) possession of the land (promised to us by God) for we can certainly (guaranteed) do it."

Caleb is not denying that it will take great effort. It will! But there will also be great results. God is giving them the land--but he's expecting them to act as if they trust him by their obedience. The book of Joshua is the story of how that eventually happens.

However, Caleb's words have barely ended when the opposition quickly takes over. "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are" and "the land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size" and "We seemed like grasshoppers" became the rally cries of a nation that was pre-occupied with their own limitations instead of their unlimited, faithful God.

And so they paid the consequences of not trusting and obeying the Lord. 40 years later, only Joshua and Caleb survive out of all Israelites 20 years and older as judgment from God. (Moses and Aaron lived too)

God is testing us as well. 

What has God promised us? Can we trust him that his promises are true? Will we demonstrate our faith in him by our obedience to his words to us?

Caleb calls us to take possession of Gods' promises as well. He would tell us that "we can certainly do it" in Christ who gives us strength. But do we really believe it?

What promises does God give us in his word?

A generous life will lead to abundant life.

God gives grace to those who humble themselves.

To walk by faith with God is to walk with God forever.

To fear God is to grow in wisdom and knowledge.

When we fully lean on God, he will guide us.

When we walk through dark times, he will give us courage and strength.

And hundreds more...

So what circumstances are you looking at and thinking, "There's no way I can do this. I'll get crushed!" Are you looking at it from your limitations...or from God's unlimited provision?

God is faithful and he will do all that he's promised to do. Will you trust and obey him today? Will you follow God with a confident, courageous faith?

If you say you want to but ask "How?", what would Caleb say?

I think he would say, look at God's track record. Hasn't he always come through? 

God is great! Therefore, there's nothing he can't do. God is good! Therefore, he will do the right and best thing. Therefore, God is trustworthy. You can trust him. 

So how do you live out a confident, courageous faith? You courageously live as if you confidently believe his words.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

KONY 2012


KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.

Join TRI or Donate to Invisible Children: http://bit.ly/yp5Ffv
Purchase KONY 2012 products: http://invisiblechildrenstore.myshopify.com/
Sign the Pledge: http://www.causes.com/causes/227-invisible-children

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

If Your Husband Was Software...

Warning! Absolutely no value unless you need to laugh or are married and need a swift kick in the pants. 


Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as NBA 5.0, NFL 3.0 and Golf Clubs 4.1.

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?



First, keep in mind, Boyfriend 5..0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html, try to download Tears 6.2, and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If those applications work as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0, or Beer 6.1.

Please note that Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0-program. This is an unsupported application and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Cooking 3.0 and Hot Lingerie 7.7.

Good Luck!

Tech Support