Fear and Hate or Faith and Love?

Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash “God is sovereign so we don’t need to tell anyone about Jesus.” “I’m not called to be a missionary.” “I’m not gifted in evangelism.” It seems that there are more reasons not to talk to people about Jesus than there are reasons to do it. Everyone is looking for an excuse. Some folks are more theologically astute and make arguments trying to leverage doctrine. It turns out that all of us are invited into God’s mission. So why are we always trying to get out of it? I think there are two major reasons. The first is that we are afraid. We fear being rejected. We fear being asked a question for which we don’t have an answer. There is the fear of conflict. Many of us think that if we talk to someone about Jesus it will turn into a fight. Our fears are probably unending. The second is more insidious. We simply don’t care about people enough to invite them...
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Master the Margins

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash When it comes to being on mission we often miss it because we are so busy. We have little to no time to simply be with people. There is no opportunity to listen, pray, or to just look around. Every day we rush to the next place, to the next appointment, to the next meeting, or the next event. How can we possibly be on mission if there is not time or space to simply, “be”? I am often struck by looking at Jesus’ life and seeing that he was a master of the “margin.” Many stories in the Gospels start with, “As Jesus was walking…” There was a pace of life that Jesus practiced where he had margin to converse and to be present with the people around him. You are reading this thinking, “Yes, yes, yes, but that was the first century. There were no cars, obviously he was walking. There were no travel sports. There...
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Figuring It Out…

For the last few years I have been on a journey. It’s a journey that has cost me friendships. It’s a journey that has caused me to look pretty deep and it has caused me to evaluate my understanding of “church”. This week I had an epiphany. It’s both/and and not either/or.You’re thinking ,“That’s pretty cryptic.”You’re right. Let me clarify.The journey that I have been on has been the journey from thinking of church as primarily a “come and see” to that of “go and tell.” As per usual I have taken the pendulum of my life and swung it from one end of the spectrum to the other.I didn’t even notice.Passion does that.This week I met with a group of pastors from the area for a planning time. We were meeting to plan what our churches would do together as we participate in “E.A.C.H.”, a city-wide movement of churches that are seeking to give “everyone a chance to hear” during...
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A New Kind of Christianity

I have been reading Brian McLaren’s newest book, A New Kind of Christianity. It has totally engaged me. My mind is wrestling through the challenges that he has laid out. I am about half way through the text and I am very frustrated that he end-noted instead of foot-noted, I have a callous now from marking my place at the end-notes (OK not really, but you get my point). I am going to write ten more posts on the book and in each one I am going to interact with the question that McLaren proposes.Here’s your chance to look into the future: What is the overarching story line of the Bible? How should the Bible be understood? Is God violent? Who is Jesus and why is he important? What is the gospel? What do we do about the church? Can we find a way to address human sexuality without fighting about it? Can we find a better way of viewing the future? How should the followers of Jesus relate...
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Ethan’s Wish…

At the turn of the New Year we all make resolutions. When Ethan, my eight year old son went to school after the turn of the new year he and his classmates did a project where they made a wish. The teacher got the idea from the Japanese Daruma Doll. Here’s a quick second grade summary of the Daruma Doll: “In Japan, one way to make a New Year’s wish is to buy a daruma doll. This doll has no arms, legs, or eyes. It does have a heavy bottom. If the doll tips over, it rights itself. The doll is a reminder to never give up! When a wish is made, one eye is drawn on the doll. When the wish comes true, the second eye is drawn. The doll is kept until the end of the year.” So each student colored a doll and then responded to three questions: My wish for the year 2010 is… One way I can help make...
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What is Community?

Community. It’s a buzz-word. It’s a television sit-com. It’s a longing in our hearts. But what is it? What does community mean? There have been books, long books, written on the subject. There have been many sermons preached. There have been many university seminars given. I have to be honest with you, I have talked about community and thought about community and yet I do not think that I could define community. Community. Community. Community…Then I read Wendell Berry’s essay, “Writer and Region” in What Are People For. His definition of community is astounding: “a common experience and common effort on a common ground to which one willingly belongs.(85)” Consider with me for a brief moment what the ramifications of this definition are for us. First, a common experience. People who seek to have or be a part of community must have a common experience. This means that they must actually do something. I think that often people think community...
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The Cost of Vision

I am learning that you must be careful about what you ask for, you just might get it. That’s right, I think I am getting what I asked for. Heaven help me!In my quieter moments, a number of years ago, I would have told you that I would like to start something from the ground up. I think at the time I looked at things like history and tradition and fel that they were rubbish. I still feel that way, most of the time. However, I am learning that history or backstory is important. It provides you with a road map for the reasons why people are the way they are. It gives you insight into ministry mindsets and culture. Backstory, history, tradition: they are important.Important though they may be these things are the cost of vision. If you have a vision, a dream, a desire it comes to you in power only if you are unhappy with the status...
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Review: Compelled By Love

Compelled by Love: The Most Excellent Way to Missional Living was written by Ed Stetzer and Phillip Nation and published by New Hope Publishers. Stetzer is the director of LifeWay Christian Resources and Nation is a church planting missionary in north Metro Atlanta.Compelled is broken up into three parts. The first, “Death by Love: God and Mission” looks at how the three persons of the Trinity love and how their love applies to our relationships and ministry. The second part, “Identifying Love: The Church in the World” looks at how we are shaped by love. This section really highlights the way that love works itself out in the context of the Christian community. I would say that this is the central argument of the text. The third part, “Formed by Love: Believers and the World” looks at how the church is to interact with the non-Christian world within which it finds itself. This section I think is the most important...
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