Monthly Archives: April 2010
I’m tired. Just plain tired.
Maybe it’s time to admit something. Something bad about me. Maybe it’s inside of you too. Maybe it’s time that all the followers of Christ, admit that there’s this little piece inside of us that just shouldn’t be there. The piece that tempts us to separate ourselves from everyone else. And not in a good, “holy” way either.
It’s a little piece of religious superiority. That piece tells us, “I have this right and you obviously don’t.” It tempts us to boast in ourselves as if we have it all figured out. It’s what we think to ourselves when we go home on a Sunday afternoon…
“I bet God really enjoyed that today. Music was great. My sermon was fantastic. I bet God saw me with my hands raised and eyes closed. I sure hope (insert name of spiteful deacon you are at odds with) saw me. Then maybe he’ll figure out what he should be doing. I’m sure glad that God is one the same page with me. I bet He was really proud of me today.”
It makes me wonder. How much different would Christianity look today, if all followers of Christ would remove that little piece of pious, self-righteousness? Would we be making a bigger impact in the world? Would we still be viewed as hypocritical or judgmental if we had a proper understanding of ourselves before God? Could it be that because we misrepresent ourselves, as better than we really are, that we miss opportunities with people that God loves?
When we live and allow this piece of sin to thrive in our hearts, eventually we begin to live above the Gospel. We begin to think that we deserved the Gospel. And that That we are worthy of the Good News of Jesus Christ and that those who aren’t as “good” as us, are either less deserving or not deserving at all.
Are we missing opportunities to share Jesus with the prostitute, drug addict, rapist, child molester, homosexual, serial killer, cannibal, stripper, thief and terrorist, because we are wrapped up in our own piety?
Read what God tells His people in the book of Amos.
Amos 5:21-23 (NLT) – I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
Can I ask you some questions? If you don’t want time to look inside of yourself, feel free to skip this part?
Sunday is coming. How’s your heart?
Is it pure?
Are you ready to be in the presence of the holy, perfect, living God?
Do you exist as a Christian for the show of your own self-righteousness or for the radical forgiveness offered to all humanity through Jesus?
Who will God hear first on Sunday morning; you or the broken person, lying in a pool of tears on their bed?
So you see, I’m tired. Tired of pretending. Tired of acting like we as Christians have it all figured out.
Are you tired?
Today was the final day of Exponential Conference 2010. I am blessed to have been able to be a part of it.
I came in the door a little late, but I was able to catch the last of Alan Hirsch and his workshop. He strikes me as a man with great humility. He knows who he is in God’s Kingdom and he has this amazing humility that comes across in his teaching. His main passion is discipleship and bringing biblical discipleship to a Western context. When his workshop was over, I went and introduced myself to him. I thanked him for his work and his teaching this week. He was very kind and chatted with me for a little bit. I was very appreciative of him taking that time to talk with me.
Then it was time for our last main session. The week seemed to be building to this point. Francis Chan was going to be closing the conference.
Before he came on the stage, there was a fantastic introduction for him. All week long, there was a funny guy who was interviewing people and making us all laugh. And this year, he decided to give Francis Chan a very special introduction.
After the laughter died down, Francis Chan blew us (me) away. He poured out his heart in a very passionate way. He shared about how God has been working in his life and where he feels God is leading him and his wife. I felt like he was letting me in to his world and shared very personally, what God was teaching him. It was very powerful.
This experience was incredible and I can’t wait to go back next year.
God is on the move in amazing ways and places. I am so blessed to be a part of it.
So this is how the morning of Day 3 looked. As you can see, we’re off to a glorious start.
First thing at the conference today was a main worship session. Ken Blanchard, a fantastic author, spoke to us for a few minutes. This lead into Matt Chandler. He is a fantastic speaker with an amazing passion. I was mostly impressed with his testimony. After a malignant brain tumor was found, he is undergoing chemotherapy. He is in a 12 month round of chemo right now. He has an amazing attitude and is boldly praying for God to completely heal him. You should Google him and follow his story. His story will inspire you.
Then it was off to our next workshop.
I made my way to Neil Cole’s session on Transformational Groups. It was fascinating study on how groups and organic communities work in the church. I am very intrigued by his methodology and am looking forward to exploring it more. One of the biggest things I took from his session was his research on how we make disciples of Jesus Christ. I don’t have the time and space to go into that here, but if you want to know more, comment me and we can chat offline.
After a quick lunch it was back into the groove with another main session.
This time around was one of the most powerful one hour and thirty minutes of my life. It started with a passionate warm up by Reggie McNeal. He was very passionate about missional churches. Missional is simply acting like a missionary everywhere you go. Rather than assuming church is a noun (a place you go), church is a verb. Church is something you do, something you are to everyone around you. In the work place, at school, in the grocery store, at the PTA meeting. The church is a verb.
Then, there was this extremely calm moment. A pastor from St. Paul, Minnesota, got up to speak. He’s kind of a quiet, shy guy. His name is Efrem Smith. If you can’t read tone, please read sarcasm in his introduction. Efrem Smith is probably the most passionate speaker I have ever heard. His style is far more motivational than anything else. I might not remember a point he made, or a specific thing he said, but I know that as I listened to him, I was re-energized to go out and “save the world.” He is the kind of guy, every Christian should have the privilege of hearing at least once. He is fantastic!
Next was a think tank with Alan Hirsch, Shane Claiborne and Neil Cole. This was an opportunity to watch them in an interview format and also ask some of our own questions. Alan Hirsch has a book out called “The Forgotten Ways.” I am going to be reading this one very soon. I have heard nothing but amazing things about the book. Alan struck me as a very humble, gentle man with a huge heart for reaching people in organic communities for Jesus Christ. I can’t wait to learn and hear more from him. Shane Claiborne was also a new name to me. He is doing some incredible things in the name of Jesus in his community. A young man was shot and killed on his street. He held the young boy in his arms right after he was shot. He was their on the front lines to bring Jesus to the neighborhood and this young man’s family. It is a very inspiring story. Neil Cole was there as well and I briefly mentioned him above. His organic churches have spread all over the world. Meeting in homes, groups of people have begun to spread. He said they lost track of how many organic communities were a part of their church when it reached 400. All over the world, 400 organic groups meet in homes under his leadership. He has experienced rapid growth in this decentralized model of church. His story is another that is very inspiring to me.
Then we were off to our last main session for the day.
It started with a lady named Brenda Salter McNeil. She has written some fantastic stuff, specifically designed for women. She was a passionate speaker and very excited about churches working in the community. I won’t offer a “deep analysis” here (whatever “deep” means for me) of what I thought of a few of her points. For now I’ll leave it at she was very passionate and inspiring to take the message of Jesus deeper into our communities. She was followed by Shane Claiborne who did some more straight forward speaking. He was also very passionate about taking Jesus into our communities. I liked him for many reasons, but my favorite reason was his dreads. I’m inspired to do that to my hair now. What do you think about that, Misty? Then Dave Gibbons spoke for the last 30 minutes or so. Most people go to conferences to either learn or to be built up and encouraged in a work. This is exactly what this entire group at Exponential have done this year. Dave Gibbons was no exception. You can hear in him a very deep passion for getting to the souls of people. He wants people to know Jesus. This passion comes out in his speaking.
As we were leaving, we were told that a book by Pete Wilson was being given away, free. There were only a couple hundred copies though. I follow Pete on twitter and enjoy reading his stuff. So I was very excited to get my hands on this book. Picture this with me if you will. You are outside with your family on a hot summer day. All the neighborhood kids are out playing in the sun. Some are riding bikes, others are shooting each other with squirt guns. Some are just running around and playing tag. Just imagine this scene for a minute. Then, in the distance, you can hear it. It’s faint at first, but it’s sound is unmistakable. It grows louder and louder. Before long, you notice that its sound can be heard even over the sound of children playing. Why? Because they begin stopping, one at a time, and putting their ear to the sky, listening intently to the sound. It’s music playing. The most unmistakable music on the planet. It’s the sound of the ice cream truck.
Now, can you picture those kids, flocking to the ice cream truck? Can you see them nearly overturning the vehicle in their haste to get ice cream? Can you hear the excitement in their tone as the pitch goes up and the volume follows. Kids scream, “Mom, look what I got. Hey dad, look. A Superman Popsicle.” Have that picture in your mind?
Now picture this. A conference with over 3000 church planters from all over the world hear an announcement that there is a free book available. But there are only a couple hundred of them. You should have seen the mad dash out of the auditorium. Running of the Bulls has nothing on this.
As I was strategically seated in this particular session, I was at the front of the line. Then, in a great moment, Pete Wilson signed my book. Yes, God has been good to me these last couple of days.
But the number one lesson of the day; never get in the way of a group of church planters and a free book.
Then it was off to dinner and some great staff bonding time back at the room. What happens in Orlando, stays in Orlando. ^_^
That’s all for tonight. I’ll hit you all up tomorrow on the 4th and final day of Exponential Conference 2010.
Exponential is a Church Planting Conference. Some of the best people in church plants come together to encourage each other and to get their hands on church planting resources. Not to mention it is in Orlando, Florida this year. That’s hard to beat.
Day started early, 5:00 am early. Not my favorite time of day to be honest. Flight left for Orlando from Washington Dulles around 9 am. Pretty sure I left my green jacket in the concourse. So if you’re at Gate B70, keep an eye out for my green, Estes Park jacket. Thanks.
The airport in Orlando is beautiful. Definitely gets you in the tropical, beach feel right away. Complete with the glass ceiling and palm trees throughout, it’s quite the place.
Went straight from there to an hour wait for our rental car at Thrifty. Thanks, Thrifty, for being super speedy.
Pre-Conference with Tim Stevens. He has some fantastic material on volunteer strategies. Maybe I’ll buy his book. Then I’ll have some new material for the plane ride home on Thursday. Tim is a part of Granger Community Church in Indiana. God has been blessing them in big ways. Great church! I even met Kem Meyer. Life might be complete if she starts following me on Twitter. ^_^
Then it was time for dinner. And holy cow, was I ready for dinner. So the search began for dinner in Orlando. Our staff landed at B. B. King’s restaurant. Put that one on your bucket list. Yum! Live blues too. B. B. King himself will be there on May 4th & 10th. Plan a quick vacation to Orlando for that.
Overall, I would say Day 1 at Exponential has been a success. Now I’m exhausted. Need I remind you I was up at 5 am. Not my time of day.
I miss my family already, but left them with a fun treasure hunt game to play everyday while I’m gone.
I’ll talk to you again at the end of Day 2.
When it comes to Christian terminology, it is interesting that most Christians think that many of the terms don’t apply to them. For instance, are you a minister? Most Christians will look at that question and say, “No, I’m not a minister. I sit in a church and listen to my minister preach every Sunday. I’m just a “regular” Christian.” Or here is another term. Are you a missionary? “Oh no, I’m not a missionary. I live in (insert name of any American city). Our church supports missionaries, but they are overseas or at least outside of the United States.
My man, Jody May, explores this topic further. The following is his blog post from over at Your Next Steps. I would encourage you to read his blog as well. He has some thought provoking stuff.
So let’s first explain what is a missionary;
Main Entry: 1mis·sion·ary
Pronunciation: ˈmi-shə-ˌner-ēFunction: nounInflected Form(s): plural mis·sion·ar·iesDate: 1625It means to view our Christian lives as;
- Living among foreigners that do not think or view the world as we do.
- That we have a purpose here which means you need to know what that is. How much time have you spent in trying to develop it?
- We are to be a part of the culture, not the world, so we have relevance. What’s the last movie you saw? What are you reading?
- This is not our home so don’t fall in love with it.
- You obey local laws but you have to answer to a higher authority that is separate.
- You do not judge others based on your beliefs because they operate under their own set of values.
- Not judging does not mean not to differentiate between right and wrong and to help them see that.
- We are here to educate, train, and lead which helps us as much as it helps them.
- Your goal is to let them know that they can belong to something bigger than themselves.It’s called missional living. Michael, the Lead Pastor at Oak Leaf wrote about it on his blog as well if you need more of an explanation.If you are a Christian you are a missionary so your job is to be among the lost and make a difference. Check out Jesus’ parting words and see what He thinks about it.“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19,20If you are brave enough today why don’t you leave me a comment and tell me who you are being a ‘missionary’ to.
What an incredible moment tonight. It isn’t very often that a dad gets a moment like I had. Well, I guess they come to fathers and mothers alike, you just have to be ready for them.
I sat down to tell my kids the Easter story tonight. I wanted to share with them what it is we celebrate and why. Grant was on my left. Ashton was on my right. And Avary was sitting attentively on my lap.
It started simple; God, Jesus, Bible. All the “Sunday School” stuff.
Then I started talking specifically about Jesus.
Me- “About 2000 years ago, some men killed Jesus.”
Avary threw her hands over her mouth and said, “Oh no.”
Me- “It’s okay. I need to finish telling you the story. These men put Jesus on a cross and they killed Him.”
Avary with her hands still over her mouth and eyes tearing up. “But I loved Jesus and now He’s dead.”
Me- “Let me finish the story. It gets better.”
Ashton- “How did He die?’
Me- “They put Him on a cross and crucified Him. They put nails in His hands and feet and He died. That was 2000 years ago. Then something happened that we will celebrate tomorrow morning. He rose from the dead.”
Avary finally removes her hands from her mouth. Her whole face lit up and she said, “Oh, I’m so happy.” She dropped her head on my chest, hugged and kissed me. Then said, “I love Jesus.”
Isn’t that just how life is? If Jesus was dead, we would have no hope.
Nothing to live for.
Nothing to look forward to.
Nothing to live for past our own death.
But then, Jesus rose from the grave through the power of God. And now, there is hope.
Our hands can fall from our faces.
Our eyes can light up.
And we can say, “I’m so happy. I love Jesus.”
Happy Easter! I hope you know why you celebrate.