2012

SUNDAY THOUGHT

If you desire what is right, then you can have all you want.

Matthew 6:33

WHO MATTERS?

Take this little quiz (don’t cheat)…

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies…

Awards tarnish…

Achievements are forgotten…

Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners….

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier?

The lesson: 
The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money…or the most awards. 

They simply are the ones who care the most.

h/t Kenny Rose

FAITH MY EYES

As we cast this vision we get many questions and many of them I can’t really answer. I have come to the conclusion that is OK. I don’t have to be able to answer every question.

Why? That’s a great question.

I think it’s OK because at some point in this process we have to yield to faith and trust. We have to believe that God is serious when he makes promises in his scriptures. He means it when he says that he will care for us. It seems to me that we have to come to the place where we can rest on the reality of his promises.

Contrary to my boy Stuart Smalley:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DIETlxquzY?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://safe.txmblr.com&wmode=opaque&w=540&h=405]

I am not good enough (just ask my kids and bride). I am not smart enough (just ask anyone that hangs out with me). And, if I am really honest with myself “people” don’t necessarily like me.

No, the truth of the matter is that if any of this is to come to pass it will be because the Creator God will have lavished his grace on the community that he is sending us too. This means that faith must be our eyes.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3QtKpbwGaQ?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://safe.txmblr.com&wmode=opaque&w=540&h=304]

THE END IS NOW

As I enter into this new stage of life I am realizing that I am about to embark on something unique. For the first time in my life I am the one who has to slow down and listen to God to determine what the ‘end’ is and how he intends to get us there.

I think that he is saying that the ‘end’ is ‘now’.

As our family steps out into this adventure of launching a movement we will begin with the end in mind. What do we want this movement to be? Do we want a large worship gathering to be our end?

No.

We want a movement that is engaged in their spheres of influence as representatives of Jesus. We want a community of people who are multiplying their lives and launching new movements in places we have not yet dreamed of going.

Everything we do will towards this end.

Everything.

More on that some other time…

MOVEMENT? HUH!?

I was in a great conversation with some friends the other day talking about The Antioch Movement. One of them asked me, “So you’re the lead church planter?” I responded, “Lead movement launcher.”

The next question was money, “Why not a church?”

So if you’re planting a church the end goal is to have, well, a church. A building or something, the focus becomes the Sunday gathering. We are going to try and build a movement that is reproducible and sustainable. The end goal is not the Sunday gathering, but to launch movements into the fourth generation and beyond. The “church” is a means for the expansion of the kingdom and not an end in itself.

Everything we are going to do will be toward that end. So, I am not a “pastor” or “planter” but a “trainer” of “trainers”, if you will, and at the beginning a “launcher”.

A quality response was forthcoming, “But the Bible has words for that, church and pastor. Why not use those words instead of movement and trainer?”

Fair enough. However, sometimes words lose their meaning. I think they have. When people talk of “church” they think of a building. That is not church. Pastor, is only one of the offices laid out in Ephesians 4, apostle, prophet, evangelist, being the others. I would probably prefer apostle, but that word brings along weird baggage. These words: movement and trainer; I think, embody the concepts that Scripture teaches better. I think that we can use different words for clarity. Ekklesia is probably not best translated “church ”, it is probably best translated, “called out ones”, that is clunky, so we use church, I think movement better communicates the idea of Ekklesia. 

That’s why I use these words, very intentionally.

I am also realizing that part of why I want to use these words is to have this very conversation. When we say “church” or “pastor” everyone assumes they know what those words mean. But, the Antioch Movement wants to redefine them and restore them to the kind of radical apostolic vision that they once had. We also want to level the playing field. For too long in Western Christendom we have put men on pedestals. Men with M.Div’s and D.Mins and PhDs. We call them “pastor” or “reverend” and we the church turn over the responsibility of faithfully building the kingdom to them.

In the Antioch Movement we want to embrace the reality that all of us are members of a royal priesthood. We want to level the playing field so that men and women are leading out in faith engaging a world of people who are far from God. We want to build a movement of representatives for Jesus, ambassadors, who are imploring those around them to be reconciled to God.

I am so grateful for these guys who press me and ask these hard questions. They are bringing clarity of mind and focus to something that God has been stirring up in me. Thanks fellas!

THE ANTIOCH MOVEMENT

This Sunday we shared with our community at Grace Chapel that God is calling us to follow Him to Ypsilanti, MI. It’s been a two year process of God pushing, pulling, and prodding. We have had to look, listen, live, and learn.

Ever since we joined the staff of CRU I have been dreaming about a movement in a college town that mobilized the whole community. Now, God has opened the way for us to engage in this dream.

What would it look like for representatives of Jesus to live together in community and invite people far from God to join them?

Hopefully, The Antioch Movement.

In Acts 11 we meet the church at Antioch. It goes like this,

Those who had been scattered by the persecution triggered by Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they were still only speaking and dealing with their fellow Jews. Then some of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had come to Antioch started talking to Greeks, giving them the Message of the Master Jesus. God was pleased with what they were doing and put his stamp of approval on it — quite a number of the Greeks believed and turned to the Master.
22–24 When the church in Jerusalem got wind of this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to check on things. As soon as he arrived, he saw that God was behind and in it all. He threw himself in with them, got behind them, urging them to stay with it the rest of their lives. He was a good man that way, enthusiastic and confident in the Holy Spirit’s ways. The community grew large and strong in the Master.

I love that in Antioch we have the gospel being proclaimed to the Gentiles as well as Jews. It was intentionally inter-cultural.

But that’s not the end of the Antioch story (Acts 13)…

1–2 The congregation in Antioch was blessed with a number of prophet-preachers and teachers:
Barnabas, Simon, nicknamed Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, an advisor to the ruler Herod, Saul. One day as they were worshiping God — they were also fasting as they waited for guidance — the Holy Spirit spoke: “Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.”
3 So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off.

The original Antioch movement sent laborers. They did so freely. They did so because they had heard the Spirit call them. The Antioch Movement in Ypsilanti will send laborers too.

What it look like for a movement to multiply every two to three years?

Hopefully, it will look like The Antioch Movement.

I think that Amy and I are hearing the Spirit calling us. We are going to go. We are going to dive into the life and community of Ypsilanti. Soon enough we will be trusting God to sell our home and provide a new one.

But, before we do, there is much work to be done at Grace Chapel. It’s going to be amazing and fun to push hard these next few months to continue to pour out our lives at Grace. To continue to dive even deeper and trust God for even greater things there. God is not done with us at Grace and while we are excited for the next horizon, we don’t want to miss the beauty that is present in the sunset.

A STORY ABOUT GRACE

“Hey Dad, why do some kids at school have ashes on their foreheads?” the kids asked.

“It’s a Catholic symbol for Ash Wednesday, the day before Lent.” I responded.

“What’s Lent?”

That’s a great question. I went on to explain what Lent is and the response quite honestly shocked me.

“We need to give something up!”

Libby, our eight year old daughter gave up chocolate. Little did we know this decision was about to transform a life.

My wife, Amy, and I are not legalists or traditionalists. We buck against kind of traditionalism and legalism. If you say we “have” to do something, odds are we won’t. Up until our kids wanted to participate in a Lenten fast it never really crossed our minds to do so.

I have been so impressed at the faithfulness of my little family. Lent has been pretty well kept in our home and that’s saying something.

However, one day at a party Libby wanted chocolate. Everyone else was having chocolate, but she couldn’t have any. She couldn’t have any because of “Lent”.

The door was opened.

Amy asked her what was Lent? Libby said something about how it’s a time to give up things before Easter. Right.

“What’s Easter?” Amy asked.

“It’s when Jesus died on the Cross and was came alive from the dead.” Libby said.

“Right, and why did he do that?”

“Because we sin and he loves us so he died for us to forgive our sins.”

“Right. That’s called ‘grace’ sweetheart. We don’t deserve it. We can’t get it ourselves. It has to be given to us. Jesus got it for us when we died and rose again. Guess what?” asked Amy.

“What?”

“He even gives you grace to have chocolate today. It’s OK. Jesus died on the cross and rose again so you have freedom to eat some chocolate today.”

“Really?!!”

“Yes, really! That’s what grace is all about. Jesus loves you and wants you to live free. You can give up chocolate again tomorrow. He knows what your heart is. He loves you.”

Grace has become something that Libby understands.

This morning I said, “Libby gets grace.”

She exclaimed, “NO DADDY! I live it!!!”

A LESSON

The quote below intrigues me. I think that this kind of “serial disruption” is required by churches. We must keep on “re-planting” ourselves. If we don’t then we become stale and lose our saltiness. The church needs to keep looking to the future and not allowing any sacred cows to keep us from being on mission.

emergentfutures:

“The lesson here is that a company that disrupts does not necessarily survive. Long term survival depends on the ability for serial disruption. Serial disruption is an uncomfortable state for an organization to exist in. As the story above shows, disruptions are usually enabled by “desperate” necessity. Desperation is not something management is trained to aspire for.”
The parable of Nintendo — Horace Dediu and Dirk Schmidt via Asymco
(via paperbits)

ETHAN’S ESSAY — MLB BREAKING BARRIERS NATIONAL ESSAY CONTEST

Ethan and Jackie

Hi, my name is Ethan and I learned in school that Jackie Robinson lived his life by nine values and used them to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. This is a story about a time that I used those same values to overcome a barrier in my life.

At my school football got banned because some kids weren’t playing safely. I was very mad. It seemed unjust. I went back to my house that night to talk about it with my family. My father suggested a petition. At the time, I didn’t know what a petition was. So I asked.

He explained that a petition is like a letter stating what I think should happen. It also should have signatures of the people who think the same as me.

I decided to do it, but I was anxious. I couldn’t believe what I was on the verge of doing.

When I woke up the next morning, my dad was still sleeping, so I tried to make the petition myself. It said:

Dear Ms. Lilly,

I am one of the many who would like football back. Here are some reasons why:

1. The school wants us to be active. Football is a safe-fun way to be active.
2. Without football kids get in arguments over games.
3. Exercise makes you better in school.

On the following pages you will see the signatures of the people who think the same as me.

“Yeah, I think that is good.” I said to myself.

The next day I asked my friend Jacob to help me.. Using teamwork, we got the signatures in one recess. Then we turned the petition into Ms. Lilly. I went to bed happy that night, thinking that tomorrow would be a great day. I would have a talk with Ms. Lilly and then football would be back! Well, did I get a surprise!

Days went by and no word from Ms. Lilly. I was getting pretty worried. What if she didn’t get the petition? What if she didn’t care? All of these possibilities were flowing through my head. Then, one day, during math, over the PA system I got a call from Ms. Lilly, saying that she wanted to talk to me.

Ms. Lilly said to make a committee of three third graders, three fourth graders and three fifth graders. We would meet and make the rules for football. She said, “You will contact me when it’s done.”

I left her office feeling very worried. I didn’t know any fifth graders, let alone three of them! But I had to do this. I had to do this for my school and for my friends. I was determined.

Finding kids from each grade to join the committee took a lot of persistence, but with teamwork, we got it done. Now all that needed to happen was the meeting. I couldn’t wait.

At the meeting the next day, we started thinking of rules, voted on them, and then wrote them down. Soon we had a page full of rules. When we presented them to Ms. Lilly, she said, “Great job,” and told me to speak on the announcements the next day. 
The next day, on the morning announcements, I explained that anyone who wanted to play football would need to sign a contract to follow the rules that the committee had written. Twenty-five players attended the meeting and signed their names. And that’s how I got football back for my school!

***

To get football back, I had to use Jackie Robinson’s values. I was very committed to overcoming this barrier. Using a petition was an example of good citizenship. It took courage to talk to Ms. Lilly. It took determination to find fifth graders for the committee when I didn’t know any. I had to be persistent. My friend Jacob and I used teamwork to get the signatures. My school is very diverse, and football is a sport that we all play together. Getting football back for all of them felt good. Well, I got the job done, didn’t I? That shows excellence.

BLUE LIKE JAZZ…

Blue Like Jazz

One day in the spring of 2002 I returned home from a long day on campus. I was in the midst of my first year as campus director at Illinois State University with CRU.

I was tired.

In my mailbox was a little package and inside was a book entitled, Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. I hadn’t ordered this book, it just arrived.

The next day I sat outside a coffee shop and read.

I kept reading.

I kept reading.

I finished the book in one sitting.

I read it again.

What I discovered afresh in Blue Like Jazz was clear call to gospel living. I realized that I had become more about convincing people of a worldview and winning an argument than I was about introducing them to Jesus.

This book re-introduced me to radical grace.

God used it to change my life.

The gospel stopped being “Jesus and…” and became a clear call to Jesus himself. Legalism quickly became a thing of the past and in the pages of the Bible I finally saw freedom to live life joyfully.

God used Blue Like Jazz to awaken my soul to the joy of grace, freedom, and life with Jesus. On April 13 a movie adaptation of the book hits screens. I hope that God will use it to begin conversations about these very things.

I can’t wait.

A SERVANT OF THE LORD

simplyorthodox:

A servant of the Lord is he who in body stands before men, but in mind knocks at Heaven with prayer.
-St. John of the Ladder