We have to acknowledge we are confronting a growing number of “American Dream” believers in our churches. They are believers in Jesus but not necessarily disciples. They’ve accepted Him as their Savior. They attend church faithfully. They contribute financially and occasionally serve. But they are not disciples (in the biblical sense of the word) who orient their entire lives to follow Jesus, surrendering to His will and love, allowing Him to change him/her for the sake of the world. Their decisions, priorities, and commitments are shaped by their pursuit of the American Dream for them and their family. A typical “Rule of Life” for a father of two may look something like the chart below: Os Guiness has written that, due to the combination of capitalism, technology, and modern communications, the most powerful civilization ever—a global culture—has been formed. This global culture is the beast (as described in the Book of Revelation) that threatens. Read more.
Silence and stillness are the two most radical spiritual disciplines that need to be injected into a paradigm shift of how we do discipleship in our churches. They are indispensable to slow our people down so they cultivate a first-hand, personal relationship with Jesus. My transformative experience with these disciplines took place in 2003 with a community of Trappist monks and the Taize Community in France. I remember sitting at Taize, and struggling, during the 8-10 minutes of silence that was part of each morning, afternoon and evening prayer. Yet my relationship with Jesus has changed dramatically as I slowly learned to integrate silence and stillness into my daily life. Scriptures such as the following came alive: He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Ps. 46:10 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Ps. 37:7 Moses answered, “Do not be afraid… The Egyptians you see today you will. Read more.
God invites us to practice the presence of people within an awareness of His presence. That is no small task, especially at this time of year. How then can we do this? By intentionally practicing His presence first. No greater teacher can offer us insight on how to do this better than Brother Lawrence, a 16th century Carmelite from Paris. I reread The Practice of the Presence of God every couple of years to remind myself of his simple, timeless wisdom. Here are a few of his gems for you to prayerfully consider this Christmas: I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence…which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, a habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God. The time of business does not differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of the kitchen, while several persons. Read more.
There are three main branches of the Christian church in the world today–the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, and the Orthodox Churches located primarily in the Eastern part of the world. There is much we can learn from Catholics and Orthodox believers—even though they have plenty of problems and we do not agree on a number of points. This is especially true when we consider Pope Francis. Here are a few of the top lessons I am learning from him: 1. Humility “I ask you to pray for me. Don’t forget!” Pope Francis says repeatedly. It is disarming. Luis Palau, a friend of his, notes in a Christianity Today article that he was always asking people for prayer. In a visit to prisoners in Philadelphia: “ I come to you as pastor, but mostly as brother. No one is perfect and without need of forgiveness.” He refrained from using the perks of his. Read more.
God’s kingdom always appears small, always appears insignificant, and always appears powerless. God’s ways are always slow. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches. Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus’ life and ministry modeled the slow, hard ways of God. How can we expect it to be any different for us? I was asked, after returning a few days ago, from a one-week trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil: “What was the biggest thing you learned on your trip?” “God’s ways are slow… and hard,” I responded. I surprised even myself with my answer. Our trip was rich, fruitful, and powerful. We partner with Willow Creek Brazil and their gifted staff in bringing EHS. Read more.
Measuring ministry impact with numbers is biblical. The book of Acts uses numbers to describe the impact of the gospel — about 3,000 baptized (Acts 2:41), about 5,000 believers (Acts 4:4), crowds coming to faith (Acts 5:14). We have a whole book in the Bible called Numbers. So, in the context of the church, it is good to measure things like attendance, baptisms, membership, number of small groups, and financial giving. The problem comes when that is all we measure. Measuring deep, beneath the surface transformation in people’s lives is also critically important – if not more important. (Consider Paul, Gal. 4:19, Jesus mentoring the 12). The specifics of these internal markers will differ from ministry to ministry and from context to context. The following are several examples we set to measure at New Life Fellowship Church: Each leader at New Life will develop his or her relationship with God by spending ten to. Read more.