Thursday, August 31, 2006

fantasy church

New fantasy church game ... must see it here.

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what is a disciple

"... a disciple ... is simply someone who has decided to be with another person ... in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is." And regarding what Jesus did, "He lives in the Kingdom of God, and He applies that Kingdom for the good of others and even makes it possible for them to enter it for themselves." - Dallas Willard

So as Jesus' disciples, this is what we ultimately do. We live Kingdom lives. People around us are effected by the power of the Kingdom. And thereby the Holy Spirit causes some of those around us to enter the Kingdom as well.

How did Jesus make disciplines? Proclaim the Kingdom. Manifest the Kingdom. And teach the Kingdom.

Willard's "spin" on John 14.26;
Jesus knew that genuine understanding of the Kingdom had not yet developed in them. He was counting upon their memory of what and how He had taught - along with the assistance of the paracletos, the helper who would be with them later in a special way - to foster their abilities to teach as He taught after He was gone.

... after the "parables of the kingdom" given in Matthew 13, Jesus gives His hearers a general instruction about how to teach: "When, therefore, a 'Bible scholar' becomes a disciple to the Kingdom of the Heavens, he is like a householder who can produce from his store things old and new" (Mt 13:52). Think of all the things one collects in one's house by living in the same place for a long period of time. The Kingdom disciple teaches from his or her storehouse of personal experiences of God's rule in the commonplace events of real life.
I was in a small group recently and they were sharing reasons why they don't "witness". Often the discussion was around fear of offending and that type of thing. I had to offer that for me, it simply seems that I do not often enough realize the power of the Kingdom in my own life and therefore fail to have it overflow into the lives of those around me.

As Jesus taught in Mt 13, we must recognize the value of the the Kingdom. And then, as implied in Lk 9.62, having recognized that value, we are not suited to it if we then look back. We must press forward with all we are for our King.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

holy power

From Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy.

"The engulfment came upon them - with quite racket, right out of that sky into which only ten days earlier they had seen Jesus disappear. Peter then stood at the heart of the Jewish world and reinterpreted the call that G0d had anciently placed upon the Jewish people to be a light and a blessing to all nations. 'The promise of living in a holy power other than ourselves,' he said, 'was not just for the little group of disciples at the time. It was also to all the people of Jerusalem, as well as to their children, and to others no matter how far away, as the Lord draws them to Himself.'" (Acts 2.39)

The Kingdom of God is here. We must turn completely from our old way of thinking and acting and live lives worthy of who He is and what He has done for us. In all that we say and do we must be ambassadors of the King.

While I firmly believe this includes "signs and wonders", it flows from an inner life of right living by the power of the Holy Spirit.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Ro 14.17) The outward signs are only right when overflowing from a God empowered inner-self.

"So the Kingdom of the Heavens, from the practical point of view in which we all must live, is simply our experience of Jesus' continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days, hours, and moments of our earthly existence." - Willard

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

obese bishop

I'm in Tokyo right now but managed some time to read an article by Todd Rhodes ... Methodists have installed an obese Bishop.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006


The blogging has been slow - sorry. My wife's parents are here. We have not seen them in 1.5 years and I'd like to spend some time with them. It's good to see them.

My father-in-law is a real nice guy and he's getting a lot of little projects done around the house - the typical things that need to be done when you move into a new place.

Tomorrow I take off for Bangkok and then Manila. It should be fun but unfortunately it is too long. I'm not sure how much blogging I'll get done over the next couple of weeks but I intend to get back to it once I return.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

eye fi - internet porn

don't ask how I found this one ...

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go. love. live.

We visited Northstar Vineyard again and were again pleased (we presume God was also pleased). The mission statement is "go. love. live." That is, to go to the missing, to love the marginalized, and to live as God's kids. That seems like something I can buy into.

The sermon was on the topic of worry. Where there is worry, there cannot be worship.

Mt 6.25a, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, ..." Here Jesus gives us a command of perspective. We are to live in confidence because we know who we are and where we are going - but we know that only because we can know who put us here and that He is taking us somewhere.

God is Sovereign. he is ultimately in control of all things. Some want to hold on to "free will". I want to live in the freedom that comes from knowing that He is orchestrating all things.

We are to seek first the Kingdom of God! The Kingdom which is here and yet coming. We live for His Kingdom and we do that one day and one moment at time. We do not worry for tomorrow.

A couple of lines from the closing songs ...

"Forever You will always be our God on High, the Lord in me ..."

"You're my Prince of Peace and I will live for You ..."

supper of the lord

One of their practices of Northstar Vineyard (at least based on our two visits) is to celebrate the Lord's Supper weekly. I really like that. Plus it's consistent with the Westminster Divines;

The Communion, or Supper of the Lord, is frequently to be celebrated; but how often, may be considered and determined by the ministers, and other church-governors of each congregation, as they shall find most convenient for the comfort and edification of the people committed to their charge. And, when it shall be administered, we judge it convenient to be done after the morning sermon.

Where this sacrament cannot with convenience be frequently administered, it is requisite that publick warning be given the sabbath-day before the administration thereof: and that either then, or on some day of that week, something concerning that ordinance, and the due preparation thereunto, and participation thereof, be taught; that, by the diligent use of all means sanctified of God to that end, both in publick and private, all may come better prepared to that heavenly feast.
And Westminster Confession 21:5;

Westminster Confession 21:5. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching , and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: besides religious oaths and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgiving upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner.
And in my self-serving way, also Acts 20:7, "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight."

Anyway - just a brief note to say "I like it."

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david watson

Steve Addison continues to come up quotes from the past that inspire and help keep our spiritual compass right.

The asthma persisted, so that I slept badly each night; my legs, ankles and feet blew up like balloons; and my abdomen grew at an astonishing rate until I looked like a pregnant woman. . . My arms and shoulders withered into mere skin and bones. . . I looked more dead than alive.

However God has been far from inactive in my life. At about one a.m. . . . I had a bad asthma attack. In my helplessness I cried out to God to speak to me. I’m not very good at listening to God, but between one and three a.m. God spoke to me so powerfully and painfully that I have never felt so broken before him. . .
He showed me that all my preaching, writing and other ministry was absolutely nothing compared to my love relationship with him. . .

God also showed me that my ‘love’ for him meant nothing unless I was truly able to love from my heart my brother or sisiter in Christ. As the Lord put various names into my mind I began to write letters to about twelve people asking for forgiveness for hurting them. . . It was the most painful pruning and purging I can remember in my entire Christian life. . .

Whatever else is happening to me physically, God is working deeply in my life. His challenge to me can be summed up in three words: ‘Seek my face.’ I am not now clinging to physical life (although I still believe that God can heal and wants to heal); but I am clinging to the Lord. I am ready to go and be with Christ for ever. That would be literally heaven. But I am equally ready to stay, if that is what God wants.

‘Father, not my will but yours be done.’ In that position of security I have experienced once again his perfect love, a love that casts out all fear.
These were the last written words of David Watson (Anglican church leader and author) after an "intense time of prayer for healing" with friend John Wimber and others.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

discipleship v. debate

Phillip Way posts an excellent piece on the difference between discipleship and debate.
Discipleship is the process whereby we obey the Great Commission and teach disciples all that Christ has commanded (Matt 28:18-20). It is teaching and being an example, but it is also a reciprocal relationship where both parties teach and learn.


Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” ... What is it to “sharpen?” The word means to cause to grow sharp or keen. So as iron will cause another piece of iron to grow sharp, able to cut or pierce, so too a man can sharpen the countenance of his friend. ... we notice from the text is that a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. The sharpening, the removal of rough edges, the refinement, the growth in grace that results from diligent discipleship occurs between friends. In the Body of Christ we see that much is required of us as we relate to one another. Fellowship, an act of worship toward God and an act of love and service towards each other, finds us in a loving, deep, and even spiritually intimate relationship with our “friends.”
I am fortunate to have a lot of friends interested in sharpening me.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

piper's righteousness

Randy "no-blog" continues to send me interesting stuff. Soon I will have to stop reacting in hopes that he gets his own.

He recently sent me this quote from John Piper:

Do you see why I would spend weeks of my sabbatical laboring to understand why so many teachers in the church today are replacing the righteousness that Christ has in himself with the righteousness that Christ creates in us as the basis for our justification? People who trust in the righteousness that God has worked in them for the basis of their acceptance and acquittal and justification do not go down to their house justified. People who really believe that the righteousness that God helps them do in this life is a sufficient basis for their justification, Jesus says, will not be justified. Bethlehem, this is serious. We are not justified by the righteousness that Christ works in us, but by the righteousness that Christ is for us.
The question is, "is Piper on track or is he splitting hairs?"

Piper is on track. Initially I thought it was semantics but Piper is right. We must understand the immensity of Christ's righteousness and in that and that alone put our trust. Our righteousness is only that which flows out of His. And worse, the moment we focus on our righteousness, we sin.

Our salvation is based on works - but it is His works not ours that matters. If we are filled with Him, we will act out His righteousness in our works. If not, we will become proud, we will fail, we will burn out, etc..

We need to keep our eyes squarely on the author and finisher of our faith.

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awaken joy

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein

Far too often I have pushed information that unfortunately did not lead to joy in anything. I think I do a fair job of sharing information. I think the thing I lack is creating the hunger for that information.

As I think about that in terms of spiritual development, that's why stories are so valuable. Or more accurately said, that is why we need to live spiritual lives - so that our actions and subsequently our stories cause people to hunger for the Spirit within.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

wimber on pain

Steve Addison just posted this excellent quote from John Wimber. Almost 10 years since his death, Wimber is still making a positive impact on me.
Don’t be afraid of pain. All my life I’ve been afraid of pain. But pain’s not so bad. I’ve been in the valley and it’s not so bad. In fact the view is wonderful. You never get to see Jesus quite as well as you do in the valley.

It isn’t prosperity that gives you the complete, the indepth, the intimate view of Jesus. It’s pain. It’s in the midst of pain, it’s in the midst of heartbreak, it’s in the midst of the rendering of relationships, its in the midst of tragic circumstances that you get the heart of God revealed to you.

So don’t be afraid of pain. If God’s allowed it he’ll have purpose in it. . . I love and know my Savior today more than I have ever known him. And I am now 31 years in the Lord. I’m so grateful for cancer. I’m so grateful that I went through it. Because I could never have known Jesus the way I now know him. And frankly I could never have known my wife the way I now know her.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Sorry - I've been gone a long time and unfortunately, this is just a test post. I'm trying to work out the new Mac world, our stuff from Germany arrived yesterday (and still unloading today), and now I'm giving ecto a trial run.

On the upside, we had a change to visit what seemed to be a great church Sunday. NorthStar Vineyard Community Church seems like a great group of people. Most of them are 20-30 somethings but Barb and I are still trying to pass as younger.

We liked it because while the "message" format was very much storytelling, the stories were of life experiences that flowed from Biblical living and were used to add application to Biblical teaching as opposed to what we saw at some other churches where the Bible was simply referenced as the speaker told of how to be a better person.

We'll see how it goes. I have to get back to unpacking. I just wanted to give this ecto thing a quick test.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

paul and barnabas and vcc

Today we visited VCC again - there is so much potential there but the sermons continue to leave us empty. The message was entitled, "Difficult Co-workers". The first half was a funny video demonstrating poor workplace behavior followed by 4 secular "tips" to better deal with difficult co-workers.
  • fix the problem, not the person
  • find the good qualities in a difficult co-worker
  • refuse to let a toxic co-worker poison you
  • make sure you're not the difficult co-worker
Well done but I'm expecting to gather with other believers to hear the word of the apostles. But then the speaker did a turn around. He did a great job of telling the story of Paul and Barnabas.
After a few days ... Paul said to Barnabas, "Let's go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let's see how they're doing."

Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn't have him; he wasn't about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia ... [Acts 15.36-41, The Message]

[Paul said] ... bring Mark with you; he'll be my right-hand man ... [2 Tim 4.11, The Message]
The speaker really brought the story to life. Too bad he spent the first half of his time with the other stuff. He could have started the message with this story instead. Then could have showed us how it is the Kingdom of God and only that, that worked in Paul (or us) to effect this drastic change of heart. Or he could have used Scripture to reveal to us how God is glorified as He works within us to bring relational healing. Or any number of other spins.

Net, we're not satisfied but we think we need to check out their small groups, seminars, youth ministries, etc.. I know a little of the history of this community and I want to believe that somewhere there is something that runs deeper than what we are seeing in the celebration services.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

specialized ministries

Randy "No-Blog" just wrote to me saying, "I'm listening to a Mark Driscoll sermon on women. During the sermon he gets to talking about how parents have given up being parents. He said that we have daycare centers to take care of small children, schools to take care of older children, and churches to lead them to Christ. He said they don't have youth pastors at their church. When people ask why they don't have youth pastors, he says they do--they are called Mom & Dad."

I like that and I'm good with the concept in general. Clearly we err to substituting the youth pastor for parent. But I do not think it is necessary to eliminate the role. The role as well as the ministry should be kept in perspective. Too often we make too much of these ministries but overall, youth ministries, women's ministries, men's ministries, etc. could have a useful purpose.

As those that know me can attest, I think these ministries can be very good for bridge activities (i.e., outreach) and they can help with people that culturally expect these things. The key is that they remember their focus and flow people into the community of believers overall. Unfortunately most people that run these see the ministry itself as the goal and try to become all things to those that fit the target demographic. No good!

With that said, small groups are different. They are "wholistic" communities within the community design to do in the personal space what the larger community does in the public space.

As a final comment relating back to Randy's note, I once heard a person request our pastor to consider renting some space to expand our ability to provide foodstuff to the needy. The pastor's response was classic. He asked her how large her pantry at home was. Then he asked her roughly how many families she thought attended our church. He then multiplied both figures and asked her if she thought that would be enough space - end of conversation.

We need to stop looking to the organization to provide what we as individuals, families, small groups, etc. should be doing as a natural outflow of our worship toward God.

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it's just like christmas

It's just like Christmas around here - well, except for the thousand degree temperature and 300% humidity. Today my blog moved up to "wiggly worm" in the Truth Laid Bear tracking - very prestigious, only 19800 blogs ahead of me. This is far better than my technorati ranking of 151350 - so I'm sticking with the former if anyone asks.

Then, as if that wasn't good enough, my first ebay purchase arrived today. I picked up a legal copy of PhotoShop CS2. Yes, I'm finally doing it. I've been convicted (by God not the US courts) and I'm moving to 100% legal software. So I've moved from the dark ages by getting on board with ebay and I'm now ok in the sight of God. Wow! Can it get better?

Yes! It gets better. I also received 3 (that's right 3) HP PhotoSmart C3180 printers. Why? Because with my order of 3 (yes that's right, 3!) MacBook Pro's I get a rebate equal to the price of the printers so why not?

So that's the big news, we got two of the three MacBooks in. All three are the 17" 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo with 7200 rpm 100GB hard drives. Two are for Angela and Isaiah so I left them at 1GB of memory but I put mine at 2GB - 'cause I'm the Dad. Mine hasn't arrived yet because it is so special - well, that's what I'm telling myself.

Isaiah will run his alongside a 19" VGA monitor we had, Angela will use a 17" and I went with the 23" Mac Cinema HD Display.

Now we just need to figure out how to run all this stuff. Until then, I will continue to plug away on my Dell Latitude ...

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passion of christ versus the ballad of ricky bobby

Gibson Controversy Prompts Pastor to Refocus Message
by David at Horn+Swoggled

The controversy over Mel Gibson's drunken tirade has prompted a pastor in Louisville to stop talking so much about the events depicted in Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ."

David reports that this pastor is considering focusing more on movies such as The Ballad of Ricky Bobby because it "shows a family sitting down to pray, and that's pretty good Christian values. Plus, it will be nice to think about something light-hearted for a while, instead of all that blood." [more]

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

human life is about god

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name ..." Mt 6.9

Dallas Willard - "Human life is not about human life. Nothing will go right until the greatness and goodness of its source and governor is adequately grasped. His very name is then held in the highest possible regard. Until that is so, the human compass will always be pointing in the wrong direction, and individual lives as well as history as a whole will suffer from constant and fluctuating disorientation" [The Divine Conspiracy, p. 259]

God's name must be honored - until then our world will remain out of whack. His honor and glory is our primary concern. Our sense of reality is not correct.

I look forward to seeing Him face to face in all of His glory.

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sunday school options

The latest LarkNews is out. Here is one of the headlines ...

Nurseries offer first-class option

"People want choices of service," says pastor Ron Jacobs. "If we can offer 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship times, why not first class and economy class Sunday school?"

"We want to open our doors to everyone in the community," he says. "Some people expect a higher level of service. If that will bring them to the gospel, I'm for it."

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