Geri and I just returned, this past Tuesday, from an eventful, seven-day trip with our ministry partners (Ministerio Espiritualidad Emocionalmente Saudavel or MEES for short) in Brazil. I always journal after a trip around the question: “God, how did You come to me, and what did You say?” The following are the top four things I heard: 1. Gift. Every culture and country in the world reflects aspects of the beauty of God (see Revelation 21:24). Brazilians offer a joy, a warmth, an optimism, and a passion for life that is a wonder to behold. I heard God’s invitation afresh to marvel and worship Him for such creativity to place such amazing gifts in so many cultures around the world. 2. Global Church Shift. We experienced first-hand, once again, the shift of the church from Europe and North America to the global South (Africa, Latin America, Asia). The church in Brazil continues to grow. Read more.
Would the apostle Paul have engaged social media for the sake of the expanding the message of Jesus? Based on the way he creatively utilized the pax Romana (Roman peace), along with Greek culture and language, the answer is, I believe, a resounding yes. Can you imagine Jesus giving us a few tips on our use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube? Based on his Sermon on the Mount, the following are a few parameters He might recommend to us: Be careful not to show off or pretend. The definition of hypocrisy is to pretend to be something we are not or to present an idealized version of ourselves that is not true. Jesus calls us to avoid being “showy” or doing anything “spectacular” to call attention to ourselves. Seek the notice of our Father in heaven. Our goal is to impress Him, to hear Him say, “well-done” at the end of each tweet,. Read more.
The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, by Rod Dreher is an important book. It serves as a prophetic wake up call to the church, challenging us to take a fresh look at what is happening around us: We must “make a decisive leap into a truly countercultural way of living Christianity, or we doom our children and our children’s children to assimilation.” “The spiritual crisis overtaking the West is the most serious since the fall of the Roman Empire near the end of the fifth century. The light of Christianity is flickering out all over the West.” “If believers don’t come out of Babylon and be separate, their faith will not survive for another generation or two in this culture of death.” “Too many of our churches function as secular entertainment centers with religious morals slapped on top, when they should be functioning as the living, breathing Body of. Read more.
The fruit of a mature spirituality is to be an incarnational presence to another person. It was for Jesus. It is, I believe, for all his followers, especially for those of us in leadership. The Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus’ interactions with individuals — Matthew, Nathaniel, a prostitute, Nicodemus, a blind man, a Samaritan woman, and many others. When the rich young ruler came up to him, Jesus “looked at him and loved him.” He listened. He was present, never in a rush or distracted. He took the time to explore stories. When is the last time someone said to you, “Let me tell you about those Christians — they are fantastic listeners! I have never seen a group of ¬people more sincerely interested to know my world, who are curious, who ask questions — who actually listen to me!” Listening is not simply a key discipleship issue. It is a core. Read more.
When Geri and I became committed followers of Christ, we learned about spiritual disciplines – Bible Study, worship, giving, community, prayer, spiritual gifts, etc. We immersed ourselves in the best of Christian training and discipleship for years. It was always confusing, however, that people in the church were supposedly growing in love for God, but they clearly weren’t growing into greater love for people. We couldn’t figure out why people with “great passion” for Christ and Scripture were often defensive, judgmental, critical, unapproachable and unsafe to be around. (Sadly, this was often true for us as well.) We gradually acknowledged a painful truth – the quality of love inside the church was not really that different from the quality of love among people outside the church. How could this be, especially when Jesus repeatedly linked love for God with love for others as the essence of true spirituality? The answer lies, I believe, in. Read more.
Over the past few years, I have become acutely aware of what may be one of the greatest problems confronting the church today: We have large numbers of people who enjoy attending church and small groups, love great worship, and serve in ministries, but do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. In a very real sense, they live the “Christian” life without Jesus. People need pastors, teachers and leaders like us to equip them. Yet if they connect to us without connecting in loving union (i.e. abiding/remaining) with Jesus, we are simply rearranging chairs on the Titanic. The churches’ effectiveness in bearing lasting fruit to impact our world for Christ will be short-lived. In this podcast I share my reflections on this massive problem and what we can do to equip our people to create space to allow God’s will and presence full access in every area of their lives. LISTEN HERE Join. Read more.