Saturday, October 29, 2005


"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them." C.S. Lewis "The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all of your money."

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

manifesto on christian community

There are a host of “one-another” scriptures dealing with what might be described as the building blocks of authentic Christian community life: The Gospels distinguish between the Kingdom of God and earthly kingdoms, between a life nourished within a Christian community and a life lived apart from caring, faithful friends. There are significant differences in these two realities: differences in leadership style (John 13:12-17); differences in interpersonal relationships (John 13:34-35); differences in unity (John 17:11-23); differences in the expectations of discipleship (Luke 14:26-33); differences in finding life through personal sacrifice, even death (John 6:53-57). As the years passed, and the early church spread through Asia Minor and further west, there was some falling away from the revolutionary intensity of the life-principles taught originally by Jesus. This helps us understand why the New Testament Epistles are concerned with reinforcing the qualities of Kingdom-living affirmed by Jesus. Much of the New Testament is a kind of manifesto on Christian community, addressing relational concerns among faithful members of the Body of Christ – the church. Here is the briefest of outlines:Devoted to One-another (show visible love): The basis of all the authentic relationships is being devoted to one another in love. And, since this love is to be a mark of the Christian, it must be visible to those outside the community. It must be demonstrable.

“…Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all…will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)“…over all ... virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col. 3:14 NIV)“…let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Heb. 10:24)

Accepting One-another (be open): Accepting one another involves: greeting, being open and honest, and not judging, envying, showing favoritism or being selfishly ambitious, and it involves faith or trust.

“I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” (John 13:20 NIV)

“Accept one another...just as Christ accepted you, bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7 NIV)

Serving One-another (give more than you take): Serving one another involves: honoring, avoiding any wrong or offense, acting in the other’s best interest, doing good, helping, sharing, bearing burdens, being kind. Our gifts are used best in serving one another.

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be...the servant of all.” (Mark 9:34-37 NIV)“Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10 NIV)“...serve one another in love.” (Gal. 5:13 NIV)“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:1-2 NIV)

Encouraging One-another (reassure and refresh): The word used in the New Testament, “parakleo,” means coming alongside to help, encourage, comfort, and exhort.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15 NIV)“See to it,... that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart... But encourage one another daily,... so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Heb.3:12,13 NIV)

Being Accountable to One-another (live with integrity): Being accountable to one another includes submission, confronting and disciplining in love. This also includes the calling out of giftedness, and being accountable for using wisely both gifts and other resources.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives... Husbands ... Children ... Fathers ... Slaves ... masters.” (Eph. 5:21-6:9 NIV)“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)
Forgiving One-another (experience joy): C.S. Lewis reminds us that: “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
“’Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors...’ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:12-15 NIV)“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32 NIV)
Agreeing with One-another (embrace unity): Agreeing with one another includes seeking peace, harmony, and unity.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3 NIV)“Live in peace with each other.” (1Th. 5:13 NIV)

The seven keys to the life of a Christian community are adapted from Norman Lea’s unpublished paper, “Christian Community” (1992), as drawn in part from the 4th chapter of John Stott’s One People: Laymen and Clergy in God’s Church. Inter-Varsity Press (1968).

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005


What Shackles Are Holding You Captive?, by Kelly McFadden What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer…For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. — Romans 6:1-2, 6, 11

When a captive elephant is young, its handler will place a shackle around its leg and chain it to a tree so that it will not escape. At this age the elephant is too small to pull the tree over. Try as it might, the baby elephant cannot get away. However, when the elephant is full-grown the handler can chain it to a stick in the ground and it will not escape. The elephant still thinks itself to be chained to an unmovable tree.

Think for a few moments: Is it possible that a “shackle” of some kind of habitual sin is tied around your leg? What is it that holds you back from experiencing the freedom found only in Christ? Perhaps the problem is your eating habits, your prayer habits or your thought life. It might be that your priorities are all messed up, or you are caught in an unhealthy relationship. It might seem like you are tied to an unmovable tree. Yet, I’d like to challenge you to consider that instead, that “thing” that holds you might only be a small stick in the ground. If you become comfortable with your captivity, you may be just like an elephant that was trained to believe it could not break free.

Even as Christ-followers, we’re still susceptible to sin and its natural consequences. But according to the Apostle Paul, the truth is that, by our relationship with Christ, we have died to sin. The fact is that the old shackle around your ankle can no longer hold you, if you will just recognize that you are a new creation and are no longer a “slave to sin.” While Christ can and has miraculously changed lives and immediately “set captives free” from habits and addictions, for most of us, old habits die hard. It takes a lot of work and prayer to accomplish change. But if you find yourself struggling, understand that you can break free. Christ’s death and resurrection has made it possible. In Christ, your old self is gone, your spirit has been made alive, the new has come, and freedom is within your reach.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

humility defined

This just in from Dan Wilt...

Humility is an accurate perception of your strengths and weaknesses, given in submission to God for the benefit of others.

True humility builds community; humility is made to go somewhere.

We die to our own I sense of right and wrong, for the sake of developing us.

We are called to live in a subversive humility — a humility that is an affront to the self-absorption of the age.

The secret motive behind so much of our chatting and talkativeness is a hidden attempt to glorify ourselves. Humility is our fight against this.

What more could I possibly add?

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thoughts on community

“…much grace was upon them all..” Acts 4.33

“Truth is sought and found only in community”, from the preface to Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh’s book, Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age. The authors then add, “…we experience truth most fully, not as solitary individuals, but through healthy relationships with others, and supremely, when we live intimately with God.”

In his VineLine article, The Quest for Community, Gregg Finley writes, "In these circumstances, we tend to give more, and take less. Life-in-community means we are more available to others; we are free to be honest, free to confess our mistakes, open to be encouraged, edified, even inspired by friends. I am persuaded that finding the truth about ourselves and the world around us happens best when we are surrounded by people we care about and who care for us. I know this idea is neither new nor astonishing. But let it “hit home,” and it has a special poignancy about it. Happy is the person whose life is renewed daily because she belongs to a genuine community of faith.”

I continue to be amazed by the unity found in the Bible regarding the topic of community and even more amazed at how the organized church continues to miss it. We work to counter paradigms built on old structures by implementing new structures - leading only to frustration on both sides. When will we learn?

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

angela cookies

Angela did some baking today. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful, creative daughter - and funny too!

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life together

"He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrifial." Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is a tough one for me. I love community and strongly desire for that community to reach all that I think God has for it. Yet in my zeal to reach that goal I achieve only frustration with the community. Lord help me to keep love for your people second only to my love for you.

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sovereignty of god

Philippians 2.13 "'Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure,' which made God the will beneath my will and the worker beneath my work. The question was not whether I had a will; the question was why I willed what I willed. And the ultimate answer – not the only answer – was God." - John Piper

This is an amazing design - I get to choose, but the Spirit within me is effectual in causing me to now choose rightly.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

sovereignty of god

From John Piper's Desiring God Conference - Session 1; “It is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things but that He does so always and without exception." What an awesome God we serve!

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“Mentoring is more about impartation than it is about information” – Joel Balin 1 Thess 2.8; “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” The Christian life is clearly one of community. We must live life together. First, to demonstrate that even through the tough stuff of life, we can live in unity and love. By this we show the principalities and powers that God's plan is good. And second, to fulfill the commandment of making disciples, i.e., truly devoted followers of Christ capable of replicating themselves ("bearing fruit", "giving birth", etc.).

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

proclaiming the truth

"As we proclaim truth, we must package it in a new way for a new generation. The most effective way I have found is to both show and share truth in relationships -- through friendships -- which develop in a community of small groups. People also respond to stories. That's why testimonies are such an important part of churches now, where real people share how the real life truth of Jesus has changed them. Remember, we have truth on our side. Don't be afraid to deal with difficult questions. In the Gospel we have a defensible faith built on a foundation of fact, not wishful thinking. Truth does matter -- and Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life." - Lee Strobel

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lonely in Euskirchen

I've been in Euskirchen, Germany this week for business. Nothing exciting...I miss my beautiful wife and wonderful children. "Today's problems cannot be solved if we still think the way we thought when we created them." - Albert Einstein

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

god's lavish grace

I just finished an excellent book by Terry Virgo of New Frontiers Ministries titled, God's Lavish Grace. Terry is by far the best teacher I have ever heard/read regarding the topics of grace and justification.

His word picture of the law as a perfect yet overbearing, impotent husband makes it so clear how the only way for us out of that marriage is for us to die and then, once dead, we are free to marry Christ who gives us the ability to now bear fruit! But it doesn't stop there because we now understand that we do not please our new lover by meeting the expectations of our old husband.

He then has an excellent word picture using movement between time zones to help us understand how we are now fully righteous and what our attitude and behaviour should be toward that.

Finally, he has a simple but tremendous chapter about giving in which he shows us from 2 cor 8 that the basis for financial giving is the grace we receive from God.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

the cost of discipleship

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship,... "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as the living Son. … There is trust in God, but no following of Christ." "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." May my attitude be right and reflected in how I handle time, energy and money.

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contagious christian

In preparing for leading the becoming a contagious christian course, I am reminded of that great passage:

" “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16, NIV)

So much is said regarding whether or not the salt is a preservative, a flavoring, or whatever, but I think Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg really hit it when they teach that the point of the story is the potency of the salt and the proximity of the salt to that which it affects. They then link the light to clear communication. Together this yields the simple concept:

HP + CP + CC = MI

hp = high potency cp = close proximity cc = clear communication mi = maximum impact

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

new blog

thanks to my friend marlin for the encouragement...he has helped me spiritually and practically. i hope that this blog accurately reflects my growth...