Saturday, November 21, 2009

Planting the Gospel extended.

Last weekend we had the chance to take 8 of our high school students to Obsession which is a retreat directed to go deeper into God’s Word and hear what it means to be more Obsessed with Christ. Megan, who I talked about in my last update, was able to be there. Me and my roommate (Scott Hansen) had to drive up late due to work and missed the opening session. We were able to catch up with everyone later that night and I had the chance to talk to, or err…brush by a pass of words that really didn’t make sense from Megan. I wasn’t able to have a chat with her until the next evening after Scott’s teaching. I saw her sitting alone by herself with her head between her hands just sitting there. So I took the opportunity to catch up with her and see what she murmured the night before. What she had said that night was, “it’s frustrating.” I asked her what she meant by that and she goes on to tell me that she’s not hearing the answer she wants to hear. She has some background of abuse and she’s carrying it around all by herself. The struggle she’s fighting is laying it before God and forgiving the person involved. What a heavy battle!

I didn’t say much but really listened to her fight. She knows what God wants her to do but she doesn’t want to surrender. Just reflecting back on this, how many times do we act before we really hear or listen to what God is calling us to do. Later that night I saw a different Megan. She was dancing, laughing and hanging out with some girls from the other church. I heard that she danced so much that she had to go back to the dorms to shower cause she was sweating so much.

I hadn’t talked to her since then until this afternoon. As I was getting ready to take a precious nap I got a random text from Megan. She asked me if I was moving soon. I had told the students of my plans of starting another church and partially why I’m not the student minister anymore is because of those plans. I asked her why she was wandering this and she replied back with, “i dnt want u to go.” That floored me. I told her I really appreciated that and it reaffirmed why I’m still here in Valpo.

Sometimes we can get so consumed by our future plans that we miss the opportunities that are right in front of us. I pray this won’t get the best of me and I see those who God has put in front of me to love and show mercy to. Please continue to pray for Megan’s battle. Pray those hurting in Valpo. Pray for the Rapha Race that’s coming up this weekend. (I will give you an update next month about the Rapha Race. It’s a 10 mile/5K run to benefit the Rapha House.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

following the mission.

Rick, Nate and myself went to a conference a couple weeks ago called Story. It was intended to remind pastors and teachers about the greatest Story ever told. One of the speakers there asked the audience something that was so great that I want to ask you guys. Turn to the person next to you and I want you to share your deepest darkest sin to that person. Do that now.

Okay so you don’t have to. That more than likely made you feel quite uneasy. But if I asked you to turn to the person next to you and share with them your relationship with Jesus, for some of you, it’s almost like sharing your deepest darkest sin. We’ve talked about some pretty heavy stuff this weekend. For some of you it’s gone in one ear and out the other and for others the Word of God really kicked you in the heart.

Every year we talk about becoming Obsessed with God and following Jesus. When we leave here some of us forget the Obsessed part and for others the whole Jesus part about being a Christian. Rick talked about being covered in the dust of our Rabi, that we need to walk in the way of Christ. This is summed up in the great commandment of Loving God and Loving your neighbor. That we need to cast down our idols that come before loving God and rethink who our neighbor is and how can we love our enemies.

When it comes to loving our God and neighbor as our agenda, as the top priority of the way we live our lives, this is when we see the Missio Dei. This is the mission of God. Or even better, the God of mission. Just as Jesus was sent from God into the world to restore it back to Him we also have that mission to partner with Him.

This has been God’s plan since mankind has been separated from Him. When we look at God’s plan through Israel we see our own.

Gen 12:1-3

John 1:17

John 20:21-23

The basic missional charge, the sending of the disciples by Jesus, the sent one. Yet notice that Jesus did not send his followers out unequipped for this mission. He breathed on them, giving the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit who forms and shapes us as individuals and believers. The Spirit at work in us produces the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). The Spirit at work through us produces the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12-14). The Spirit alive in us forms us to be more like Christ in our personal lives and in our communities.

Parable of the Good Muslim – Samaritan

Dallas Willard – The Divine Conspiracy - The story does not teach that we can have eternal life just by loving our neighbor. We cannot get away with that nice legalism either. . . . But in God’s order nothing can substitute for loving people. And we define who our neighbor is by our live. We make a neighbor of someone by caring for him or her. . . .

Jesus deftly rejects the question, “Who is my neighbor?” and substitutes the only question really relevant here: “To whom will I be a neighbor?” And he knows that we can only answer this question case by case as we got through our days. In the morning we cannot yet know who our neighbor will be that day. The condition of our hearts will determine who along our path turns out to be our neighbor, and our faith in God will largely determine who we have strength enough to make our neighbor.

Isa 42:6-9

Isa 61:1-3

Luke 4:16-21

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Planting the Gospel.

This past weekend at the teen service we had a very intense lesson about God’s righteousness and mercy. Starting with small groups, the teens were asked to look up certain scriptures that talk about justification, mercy, righteousness, truth, holiness and love. Each small group has its own flavor from their leaders guiding the discussion. Beth and Erik who are just recently engaged have started helping out leading worship and a small group with high school students. They’ve had their own struggles with church but have been wanting to get more involved.

One of the girls in their group was Megan. She’s been coming for almost a year now but just tagging along with her sister. Rarely talks in the group and doesn’t really relate to anyone in the student ministry. She’ll come in, find a place all by herself and wait for the service to be over. She’s very short answered to anyone who tries to have a conversation with her and is fine with just being, alone.

During the discussion in their small group while reading the Bible, things just clicked in all the right ways. From the stories of Eric and Beth to the discussion from the other teens, things got very emotional. While the others in the group had their eyes reopened to the Gospel, for Megan it was like for the first time. In the groups they were using object lessons to relate to those big words like justification and righteousness. During the main lesson, Traci, the family minister, was teaching and asked the students what they got from the discussion. While some of the students were distracted by other things, other than the lesson, for Megan, she spoke. Everyone stopped what they were doing and listened as she explained how the thermometer shows how much God loves her. She described that the “red stuff” when it gets closer to the “light” rises and it’s like us when we get closer to God.

There are plenty of times that when we read or hear God’s Word it goes in one ear and out the other. Megan heard what God is communicating in His Gospel. It reminds me that when we set out to start Life Bridge we weren’t trying to plant a church. What we’re striving to do is plant the Gospel into the hearts of those in this world who are alone like Megan. I’d love to say that Megan instantly became included in the student ministry, but there are plenty of us who fail to hear that Word from God. This coming weekend we’re taking some of the students in the group to a retreat called Obsession. It’s a time to get away from the norm and become obsessed with God. Megan is still considering whether she’ll go or not.

Monday, November 2, 2009

individual community.

what makes an individual healthy and the same for community groups. When gauging whether a group is healthy or not, there needs to be standards as to which to be held accountable to. Each for the individual, small group and church body. This is at the core of the wholeness to the body of Christ. So each group should be held accountable to these "standards." Not that they should be judged or deemed unhealthy but it should be the drive towards in the hopes they should be more and more like the body of Christ. I think that the next iConnect would be a great time to cast this vision of what each group should drive towards. Right now there are 3-4 things that are at the heart of the individual and the community of being the body of Christ. Transformation, Connection, and Movement. All encompassing the surrender to Worship God with our whole lives. I know this is a dump but it is really at the forefront of my thoughts and passion to see lives transformed through community.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

missional community dna

This has been something that's been growing and developing within me for quite some time. When looking at the missional communities, the merging of community happens when it's centered around being sent. The purpose that it has of going into the community to restore it back to God is the uniting mission that draws people together in community. At the core of the group is the DNA. The DNA is the lifeblood of what Jesus was about and this is what the church should reflect.
The D in DNA stand for Divine Truth. This is the transformation into the likeness of Christ through God's Word. This truth is a major strand of the DNA. Jesus is the divine truth. Jesus said, "I am the... truth" (John 14:16). No one can come to the Father except through him. When we bear this truth in our lives it leads to loving communities with purpose and mission, which are the rest of the DNA. The transformation of the Truth is at the heart of worship (Romans 12:1).
N in DNA stands for nurturing relationships. This is a continual building into each other of love, mercy and joy. Being a self-pastoral community the needs are met from the community not just one person pastoring the church. "Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay his life down for his friends. You are my friends" (John 15:12-14).
A in DNA stands for Apostolic Mission. Just as Jesus was sent into the world to restore all things back to Him (John 3:16) so are we to join him in this mission. "As the Father sent me, I am sending you" (John 20:21). The DNA does not function in linear fashion. Working together, the Divine Truth is flowing into Apostolic Mission (Acts 1:8). Apostolic Mission is propelled by Nurturing Relationships. (John 13:35). Being together in Nurturing Relationships drives one another toward a unified Mission.
Pretty much this is Neil Cole's book Organic Community summed up. Not only does this serve as a drive from mission it is at the heart of the church. This can be compared to the Tangible Kingdom of Communion, Mission and Community. Then again it can be applied to Rick Warren's 5 purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism. Not matter what scale you're at these purposes are at the individual to the corporate. But it starts with the individual first.