Monday, September 30, 2013

"Prayer on the Stairs"

I've been reading through Andy Stanley's book Deep and Wide and learned a great way to bring together busy families around God effectively. Andy calls it "Prayer on the Stair."

How it works is simple. At some point each night, Andy calls all the family together and they meet on the stairs. Some are hanging over the bannister, some sitting on the steps. Doesn't matter how--but everyone's there. 

What do they do? They touch base on each other and pray. No devotional material. No planned Bible reading. They simple schedule into the rhythm of their lives a time to stop and pray all together. 

Would more be better? Perhaps. But over the years this time has become so sacred that their kids don't let it go by. When the parents drop the ball, the kids call for prayer on the stair. Perhaps they are striking a chord.

Whatever you do, start. It's easier to redirect something that's already moving. 

Making disciples...together.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Unlocks True Freedom?

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32 NLT)

When people refer to Jesus' words, "And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free", they are often indicating that truth (right knowledge) precedes right action or obedience. Ok, I get that. Truth leads to belief which leads to behavior. Yep. I see that. 

When you read his quote in context, however, there's an interesting order to what is said. Jesus seems to indicate a different order. Maybe even more of a process. Or even a progression. Can you tell that I'm still processing this?

First, Jesus is talking to those who "believed in him." He's been talking to crowds of unbelievers in this chapter. But in the preceding verse it says, "Many...believed in him." So he's talking to believers here. People who have heard the truth he's spoken and responded with faith.

And if they believe, there had to be something to believe. Jesus' words. Truth. Again, right knowledge. So truth preceded their belief. But are they free? Does belief automatically result in freedom? It can, but not necessarily. Think of the Chirst-follower struggling with an addiction. Think of the one who can't seem to stop viewing porn. 

Second,he links truth with obedience. "You are truly my disciples if you REMAIN FAITHFUL TO MY TEACHINGS." (emphasis mine) That is, they show that they are truly his followers by how they follow him (his example and teachings) by living as he did. That's obedience. 

Jesus says, if you follow him in obedience--THEN--you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Here Jesus seems to say that knowing and understanding truth follows obeying the Truth (the person Jesus). That is, freedom in Christ comes through the on-going obeying and trusting Jesus. It's more than just knowing the right information. It's knowing the right person--the Truth, that is Jesus.  

Admittedly, it's a little like the chicken and the egg. Which comes first: truth or obedience. We sing "Trust and obey" and that is correct. But the Truth that "Sets you free" comes AFTER obedience that is rooted in faith.

So what?

If I want to live free (not just know truth), I need to obey the source of that truth--Jesus Christ. I need to walk with him. I need to follow Jesus' example and teachings by faith.

It starts and ends with a relationship. It grows through obeying the truth that flows from that relationship. Obedience unlocks truth which leads to freedom. That's the elusive fruit for me, it seems. I know the truth. But I don't always know the Truth. (stay in perfect fellowship with Jesus) So I don't always live in freedom. I don't always live out what I believe. So I know the truth but it doesn't set me free because I don't believe it enough to live it out.

So what do I do today? I start with the Truth (Jesus) knowing that he'll lead me to the truth (right thinking) through right behavior (obedience) that sets me free. Join me?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Beautiful Use of Tattoos

I've known Micah Hasty since he was in middle school. He's the real deal. I guess this sort of illustrates that. Anyway, I encourage you to share this like crazy. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Listen up! LOL

  • Psalms 81:8 (NLT)

    8“Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings.O Israel, if you would only listen to me!
  • Psalms 81:11 (NLT)

    11“But no, my people wouldn’t listen.Israel did not want me around.
  • Psalms 81:13 (NLT)

    13Oh, that my people would listen to me!Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!

    Listen. Obey. Lead.

    God tells us over and over to listen to his voice or his words to us. We have lots of reasons for not listening too. (time, energy, don't understand, don't know how)

    At the end of the day, we know we need this. So I'm simply going to remind you one way to keep this in front of you: 

    Listen. Spend enough time alone with God that you actually recognize his voice when he speaks to you. Yes, it's written down in the Bible. But he speaks to us through his Spirit. Would you even recognize his voice if he spoke to you right now? This is crucial to walk with God. A relationship isn't lived in silence. There is two-way communication regularly or it will wither and die. 

    Obey. What good is it to listen to a good and great God if you won't listen and obey what he leads you to do. None.

    Lead. You aren't following if you're not leading. Jesus lead others to follow himself. We will do the same if we're following Jesus. This isn't complicated, folks.

    There are many ways and tools out there for you to use to spend time alone with God. You have them on your shelf, most likely. Get a place. Get a plan. Get a partner to hold you accountable. Get started. Listen to God. LOL!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

3-2-1: Prayer-Care-Share (Mission)

updated 10.29.13, 11.18.14

Last week we introduced this memorable target to our church for personal disciple-making:

3-2-1: Prayer-Care-Share

3: Prayer. Pray for 3 people that are far from God but close to 
me. Be specific. Not-yet-believers in particular. They can be close relationally, geographically or, best, both.

2: Care. Compassionately serve people in 2 places as a demonstration of the Gospel.  (Ex. 1 - Inside the church; 2 - Outside the church)

1: Share. Share 1 priority. Follow me as I follow Jesus. It's our 
mission, after all. It's the essence of disciple-making. Sharing the Gospel verbally.

I encourage you to think of yourself as a lighthouse in your school, neighborhood and/or job. Shine there by praying for 3 people, caring in 2 places and sharing 1 priority each week. 

Integrate this into your Home Group experience as you encourage each other to live out this rhythm.

Now...pass it on!

*Note: The Prayer-Care-Share strategy comes from the LighthouseMovement.com and the 3-2-1 comes from the teachings of Neal McGlohon of the Cypress Project and Cypress Network. I have also read of this in GCM Collective training materials.