Can we make biblical, deeply changed disciples of Jesus without learning from the successes and failures of our church family over the last 2,000 years – and from the global church today? The answer to both those questions, I believe, is no. Unfortunately, many of us have a limited, often mistaken understanding of how the church unfolded since the book of Acts. This lack of historical memory has done great damage to our approach to discipleship as well as our leadership. This podcast traces the history of Christianity, looking at the two great splits (in 1054 and 1517 A.D.) and how this has impacted us in evangelicalism today. I conclude with two simple, but profound, applications: 1. Be a humble learner. We have so much to learn from our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, especially those who are very different than us. We also have so much to learn from the. Read more.
Instead of highlighting The Fastest Growing Churches, I recommend we highlight The Slowest Churches, i.e. those that help us most to slow down and pay attention to God, ourselves, and others. When our churches continually remind our people that “only one thing is needful,” we strategically position them to be a gift to the world (Luke 10:42). Here are 5 reasons why I believe this is true: Going slow makes possible… The doing of God’s best plans. I love the story, told in Wayne Mueller’s Sabbath, of a USA international agency in the 1990’s and their frenzied plan to address needs of a famine in equatorial Africa. In failing to be quiet, listen to the people, and study the soil, they developed a short-term solution that actually worsened the problem in the long term. We too are dangerous when we move at high speed. The receiving of Scripture in our hearts. According to Jesus,. Read more.
The command to give thanks is one of the more difficult spiritual practices to integrate consistently into our daily lives. Why? Part of the reason is that most of our families and cultures are strong on complaining, criticism, and fault-finding. Yet few are strong in expressing thanks. So when Scripture highlights that the sins of our families goes back three to four generations, we forget this applies to being grateful as well. The first U.S.A. Thanksgiving celebration was born out of a time of great hardship and sorrow. On September 16, 1620, 102 passengers sailed for religious freedom and a better way of life on the Mayflower, landing in Massachusetts. By spring, nearly half of the original group had died. Nonetheless, these Pilgrims held a feast of thanksgiving to praise God after their first harvest in 1621. How were they able to give thanks to God as the source of all goodness in the. Read more.
I hate conflicts and difficult meetings – like 99% of the other leaders I know. My first reaction is to ignore, distract, rationalize, or blame someone – anything to avoid investing the necessary time and energy required to remove this “roadblock.” Over the years, however, I have discovered deep gifts hidden in conflicts – provided we allow Jesus into the inner closets of old hurts, sealed-off infections, fear, and shame this new relational tension may touch inside us. Consider Jacob. As a young man, he uses deceit to steal the birthright and blessing that rightfully belonged to his older brother, Esau. After 25 years with no contact between them, Jacob begins a journey back home. He decides to face the conflict head on and reconcile with Esau – if he can. In the midst of his fears about what might happen, a man, probably the pre-incarnate Jesus, wrestles with Jacob and strikes his hip. Read more.
A number of years ago, a friend who had quit attending church asked me privately, “Why is it that so many Christians make such lousy human beings?” In other words, why are so many of us judgmental, defensive, unapproachable, and touchy? A large part of the reason is a faulty, compartmentalized understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were passionate about holiness and purity in their relationship with God. They memorized books of Scripture, fasted twice a week, gave generously, evangelized, prayed three times a day, attended worship without fail, and kept Sabbath. The problem was that in their zeal to love God, they were not equally zealous to love people. This put them on a collision course with Jesus. A Pharisee in Jesus’ day would say, “First, complete your worship to God, and then be reconciled to your brother. God is more important than humans.” Jesus. Read more.
Geri and I just returned from 7 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) area on the border of Minnesota and Canada. A motorized boat carried us deep into the wilderness. They picked us up 7 days later at the same location. There would be no emergency number for us or our family, no cell phone contact, and no ability to leave early. This was on Geri’s bucket list. She has been preparing since January and was thrilled. I was reluctant but following her, hoping for the best. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. God had a few things He wanted to teach me: His love really is found in nature. We canoed from campsite to campsite and portaged, i.e. carried our canoe and gear over land between lakes, as needed. For years Geri had been telling me to get my nose out of a book. Read more.