Saturday, December 11, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
One thing that was implied back in my days with "Sonlife", was that there was something important about the patterns in Jesus ministry - the rhythm of how He began to build the Church. (and yes, I think this is still His job!) For instance, He called the disciples...more than once, and had them do the Kingdom along with Him for two years before He sent out the first twelve. (Did you know they weren't the only ones?) They were referred to as "apostles" (a very common Greek word) because they were "sent". He later, in His third year, just months before He went to the cross, sent seventy more out the same way - This is recorded in Luke 10, which is placed in the Fall of 29 A.D. He would be crucified in the Spring, around Passover.
I wonder - was sending them out a way of helping them not to get too "clicky"? I have noticed a strong leaning toward the comfort of the familiar in us - So that when get our house church groups established, we start to forget very quickly what it is like for someone to come into someone's home where a group of people who all know each other are meeting. I have noticed that very few people can adjust and successfully come to be part of that already-established group.
So we are tugging on a plan to open up our homes again for a month in February 2011 - the two year mark of the Journey. It's how we began this thing...giving people a chance to hear and taste and see what being the Church at home is like. We'll see what happens. Everyone is wrestling with how much they are carrying at the same time - and we are trying to pay attention to whether the things we do refresh us, or leave us more tired. We have this theory that if Jesus is showing up, we will experience the former!
We are all still messy, and trying to keep it sorted out. But God keeps showing up, and bringing His healing and grace to us in ways we least expect it. Amazing. May the Spirit of of our Lord guide us all through this holiday season.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
In The Journey, we have often felt inadequate when walking into each other's "Need Zone" because there is no quick fix - It's not enough there to just pray and say "God bless you...be warm and fed". One of the three core values we have around our leadership culture is vulnerability - We lead by modeling this, sharing our own human weakness and establishing the grace of God for us first. This carves out a territory where the blood of Christ is not only spoken of as a doctrine, but relied on and leaned into by the "leader", driving away any reasons for pretending. When this happens, often there is a flood gate opened as others release all the struggles and pain they have kept hidden in the closet in the name of being "fine" (the "F-word" in a grace-based culture).
Our own learning curve right now has been in the area of sharing resources. We have navigated the use of a kind of "benevolence fund" for each house church, and found that no one really wants to be in the position of "awarding" funds to those in need - deciding how much, if any, to give to individuals. Even having a core group making that decision gives this group an apparent "power status" that changes their relationship with the rest of the group. The other problem we found is that others who give to the fund don't get to be a part of connecting with the non-financial needs of those who are asking for help.
What we have gone to now is to have people share needs with the house church, and just "pass the hat" right there at the time, as well as offer any other resources that the group members may have to offer. We have gotten rid of the "bottle neck", and maximized the accountability and ownership of needs-sharing in the house church "family". Time will tell how effective this will be, but I witnessed a great weight being lifted as the Commissioned Leaders reached consensus on this change, and I was reminded of Jesus' words:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS [Jeremiah 6:16]; For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matt 11:28-30
Sunday, October 31, 2010
1. You don’t “know” your way into “doing.” If anything, you need to “do” your way into “knowing.”
2. We can’t “blue-print” an approach to discipleship. We need to experiment into it.
3. We need to create space for this; it can't happen in the context of a typical worship service.
4. Certain ways of reading Scripture lend themselves more to this approach than others
5. Discipleship doesn't make sense apart from the margins. The way of Jesus is wrapped up with the poor and marginalized. When we do discipleship separate from the poor and marginalized, we're actually engaging in proto-discipleship.
6. All of this needs to be done in conversation with the struggles of a people in a particular place. Our experimenting, discussing, and studying needs to be done in conversation with real-life challenges that rise from a particular context.
7. Discipleship in an imperial context requires resistance. We can't say "yes" to the
8. Discipleship is revolutionary action.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
One of his quotes:
"A non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of being constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gatherings. Put another way, organic church life is the experience of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it’s the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings."
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction." — E. F. Schumacher, 20th century German economist and conservationist.
She talked about why we don't like structure, and how decentralized leadership requires learning how to use it to empower others rather than control them. More good stuff!
Ben Erickson, after sharing a couple of prophetic words with a few that were present, brought us what seemed like the key teaching of the day: Focusing on the concepts from Danny Silk's book, "Culture of Honor", he clearly laid out what it means to develop a transformational atmosphere that elevates the status of people around us - the way Jesus did with people. The message meshes so well with the "Leadership in the Journey" booklet, describing the relational dynamic of vulnerability in the face of the unlimited grace of God.
After a pizza break, Abbey led us in a time of worship that invited the Spirit of God to just come and fellowship with us. Bob then gave a summary of The Journey's path over the last 20 months, and landed on the challenge of simplifying our vision to that of Jesus and the way He empowered an organic movement of the Bride of Christ through discipleship and walking in the power of His Father's authority. For those present, the challenge was to read Jesus words in Matthew 18:19 the way a little child would read them:
"Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven."
We agreed together that His Kingdom would come in Cambridge and Isanti County in a new way that transforms the culture here.
After we closed, most of the thirty or so that had come that day stayed for a time of ministry where many received words that encouraged, and some were healed.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I now have the ability to e-mail blog entries to this page, so I can share what I found this past week in Colossians 2…This chapter is warning believers about those who, seeing disciples who have such a tender heart toward God, would count this an opportunity to entrap them in their religious systems of legalism. I can recall one summer I was working with high school youth in a church in the west end of
So in reading Colossians 2, I found what I call the “Four No Ones”. These “no ones” are to be avoided – warned against, and the source of their message is actually demonic. In the NASB, they are found in verses 4, 8, 16, and 18. Paul warns the Colossians believers what these four no ones will try to do…
Jesus said in John 6:44, 45, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” People who have something to gain by getting “converts” will ignore this teaching of Jesus and lean on their own persuasive abilities. As a lawyer, I can certainly imagine justifying the use of argument to bring people to Jesus, but I can’t ignore what Jesus said about how people really come to him. Back in
The “elementary principles of the world” would be better translated “ranks of this world”. It’s the Greek word “stoicheion”, which appears in also in verse 20, and in Gal. 4:3 where is says that “we were in bondage” to them! There is a spiritual warfare element in legalism, taking advantage of a tender, teachable heart, and taking it “captive” to it’s good-sounding “principles”. These “ranks” are put opposite the person of Christ, not just His teaching – so it is not just a battle of words, but a spiritual battle as well.
In the very next verse, it says how these things are just a “shadow of what is to come”. These “no ones” will cast judgment on us for not keeping certain holidays and for eating certain foods. There are a lot of people who watch what they eat, or avoid eating certain things, but when they attach religious or moral “merit” to this, I can get a little ticked off. It’s my challenge to understand that these guys have been taken captive to this conviction by the very thing Paul is talking about here. They need good news – not a return dose of “judgment”.
Finally, these “no ones” will ultimately defraud us of our prize, or what is to be our real treasure: to “know” Jesus at the heart level. The way of legalism hardens our hearts to grace, because grace becomes a detractor of any merit we gain by following rules. It’s like the Prodigal Son’s brother – he found it impossible to rejoice in the redemption of his own brother because his eye was on his own comparing his own good behavior to his previously “lost” brother. Only the Father could love them both – only the Father understood the depth of grace – and the younger son was beginning to understand it because his heart was softened though hardship.
May the Lord keep our hearts soft to His grace in the midst of our struggles, and the struggles of others, and keep us watchful of the “no ones”.
The Journey, East
Monday, August 30, 2010
To Change How the Church is Led
To see the decentralized, empowering, catalytic leadership culture of the Lord Jesus Christ restored to the Church, thereby igniting a world-wide awakening to the power of the Gospel.
Decentralized - Because the Head of the Church does not lead her from a central location, but from within every member of the Body of Christ - As it says of the “mystery” of the Gospel:
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27
Empowering - Because the power of God’s presence always flowed from within Jesus to others, not from others to Him. Christ in us empowers us to establish the flow of grace, resources, life, healing, and salvation, away from us to others - as it says of God’s power:
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know … the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Eph 1:18-20
Catalytic - Because we are bringing people to a living Savior, to walk with Him, more than with us. We are called to give away the keys to the kingdom; To draw others to Jesus, share what we have to give, and get out of the way. As Jesus said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” John 14:12
Under my picture to the right is some information about a Mission-link "Summit" on September 19th. If you or your group resonate with the vision and would like to be a part of this, give me a call. We looking forward to this as a time of sharing stories and tools from the trenches as we live out the Kingdom life together.
Friday, August 13, 2010
REASON #5 - "I Just Don't Buy It" (the god of Unbelief)
It's really not politically correct (especially in church culture) to say it this way, but that doesn't mean we don't think it. It goes something like this: "If being a Christian means I have to ___________ (fill in the blank with whatever lifestyle change you are facing) then you can have it - It's not for me". It's what happens every time there is a collision of our world with the real Jesus. For anyone who has been trying to follow Jesus for any amount of years, this no doubt has happened many, many times. If we are still following, it is because He eventually opened our eyes to see that the pain of changing our life-style (again) was well worth it - if not solely for the benefit of knowing Him.
It is encouraging to see that Jesus dealt with unbelief among His twelve. In Matthew 17:17 He mentions the unbelief that left a boy in spiritual bondage. In John 20:27 He meets Thomas' unbelief with the experience of touching His risen body, but at the same time calls those who believed because of what they already knew of Him, "blessed".
Unbelief can be the bigger problem behind the other four reasons - and maybe we don't find out how deep the rabbit hole goes until we address the parts closer to the surface. It was this very issue that shut down an entire culture according to Romans 11. Verse 8 even describes it as a "spirit" that blinds peoples' spiritual eyes. Matthew 7:21-23 gives account of Jesus warning to us about practicing Christian-looking things without really knowing Jesus. I think this comes down to believing it is worth it - being one of His "sheep" (John 10). We don't just answer this once, but our hearts are revealed in the end. It is written in
2 Tim 2:11,12:
we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
If we endure , we will also reign with Him.
Finally, I have to give my personal take on all of this-Follower-ship with Jesus stuff. It will be 35 years for me on New Years Eve. With all that I have been through, I am more like Thomas than the other disciples - because I have seen and touched the reality of Jesus' work in my own life and the lives of others. I have no excuse - but I had to start somewhere, and for those who have not seen and yet still believe, remember He calls you "blessed". Hang in there!
Grace & Peace
REASON #4 - "They Can't ALL be Wrong!" (the god of This World)
There is no question that as we look over the vast sea of those who identify themselves as Christians, a lifestyle of discipleship, by any reasonable definition, is not the norm and is simply not assumed by this group(may I refer to it as... "Christendom"?) to be, in any way, essential.
But what did Jesus say about those who wanted eternal life?
v The rich guy in Matt. 19:16: "How do I get eternal life?" Jesus, "sell it and follow me";
v Jesus to His audience in Matt. 19:29: "Leave your family to follow me - you get eternal life."
v John wrote, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life" John 3:36
v Jesus again in John 10:27-28 - "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;
v And finally, as Jesus spoke of Himself to God in prayer in John 17, He says, "...to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life: that they may know You,...".
There is no way that we can see anyone but followers of Jesus getting eternal life. Even though we think of the word "believe" as a theology issue, it actually has the same root word "obey" in the Greek. That is why the two words seem to be used interchangeably in John 3:36. When I first found this out I have to admit, it pretty well scared the crap out of me. I knew I wasn't obeying at that point in my life. Other things still had more authority in my life than Jesus. I could talk you into a corner on theology, but I couldn't walk to the next corner and stay close to Jesus.
According to Jesus, eternal life is for followers...those that "obey". In our vocabulary, discipleship is "follower-ship" - a lifestyle of living under the authority of Jesus. This is not rule-following, it's the living Spirit of God/Spirit of Jesus that first taught our hearts who He was, so we could agree about who He is. As it says in Romans 8:14..."For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." Follower-ship defines the ones who receive eternal life.
- Three more reasons coming in the the next three days...so keep checking back - and feel free to comment!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Today I was reading in 1Samuel 13 about how the Philistines had eradicated blacksmiths from the people of God to make sure no one could make weapons. It paints this picture of Saul, the first Israelite King, and his son Jonathan leading this army with no weapons. The king and his son were armed, but the people had been completely disarmed by the enemy's strategy while they were in captivity.
I was hit with the realization that our spiritual enemy has done this to the Church. Where are those with the knowledge of spiritual warfare - those who know what 2 Cor 10:4 is talking about - who walk as Jesus did in setting captives free? Hasn't there been a great shortage of "blacksmiths" among the people of God so that while we still see people respond to the gospel, they are not equipped to walk in victory and freedom? I think we need to quickly restore the ranks of the "blacksmiths" among people of faith - We have been far too vulnerable for too long.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
OVER the last 15 months our learning curve has been through the roof - and now the novelty is wearing off and we are seeing how we need to make adjustments for sustaining the Journey.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
One of the changes we made in order to remove an obstacle for others was to take the "l-word" (leadership) out of the step that takes a person into the missional core. It has mostly created misunderstanding since most have a very definite image of what that word means and what a "leader" looks like. We are breaking that mould, but not all in one day. We find organic leadership has to be learned by doing, and the doing part needs to be free of hinderances. The change was part of "contextualizing" the path of following Jesus. So we are calling it "Follow-in" now, in keeping with the first of the three priorities of walking in the manner Jesus walked: Followership.
He followed the Father - John 5:19. Jesus only did what He saw His Father do. Only that!
He followed God's prophet - Matthew 3:13-17. He followed John the baptizer in baptism, despite John's protest.
"Follow-in" speaks of following the manner of our Messiah: coming under authority as the way to walk IN authority - God's. When our lives lack authority from God, we fall to the pattern of living from the influences outside ourselves; the pressures of life, rather than the leading of the Spirit of God within us. To follow Jesus in coming under authority is to begin living from the influence of the Spirit of God within us, who presses against the spirit of the world outside us.
We cannot lead until we learn to follow. That is Jesus' way - and there is no real debate about the power of Jesus' leadership in the history of this world. His way is rock-solid!