Archive for July 2009

North Vs. South

July 17, 2009

I look at my Cluster Map every day to see where my visitors are from. Most are from the Northern Hemisphere. I have a few from the Southern but have wondered why not more.

One reason I suspect might be that fewer people in the Southern Hemisphere have computers, or at least the internet.

A second reason might be that the subjects of my posts are of no interest to the people south of the Equator.

Any thoughts?

Hard Hat Encounters

July 17, 2009

I started working for a construction company the other day. Between school semesters I look for work to carry us through the summer. I had been looking for work and was getting some yards to mow, then this job on the clean-up crew came up.

The project is a ten-story building in our area. I clean up debris, trash and litter, sweep halls and rooms, and clean the bathroom. It’s hot and dirty but it is a job. I work from 7am to 5pm, four days a week and 7am to 3:30pm two days a week.

This is the first time I have ever worked construction. The work is not terribly hard but we stay busy and it is incredibly hot.

I have driven past this construction site a hundred times. I have thought about the building but have never given a thought to the men who are building the building.

There are opportunities to talk with men on the job throughout the course of the day, but it’s during breaks and at lunch that I am really getting to know a number of the workers.

The men come from a variety of backgrounds. I hear them talking about their wives, girlfriends, children, and for some, their prison experiences. The men are friendly, they share their food around the table, they are funny and they give me safety tips and advice on how to do my job better.

My summer labor experience is giving me a greater appreciation for working men and their often un-noticed, and most times, unappreciated work.

After this summer on a construction site, I hope to be much more sensitive to and supportive of America’s working men, men who work long and hard to support the people they love, pave the roads that we drive on to get to our meetings, and build the buildings in which we conduct our business once we have arrived at our destination.

Working among working men, being “one of them,” is proving to be good for me.

The West-Mod Triumvirate

July 9, 2009

Western society, especially in the United States, can be characterized in large measure by three approaches or attitudes toward life, living and relationships:

  • individualism – “every man for himself”, “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”
  • consumersim – “what can you do for me?”, “what’s in this for me?”
  • materialism – “get all you can and can all you get”, possessions = success

The way we live our lives as Christians and pursue the missional life and incarnational community are also affected by these approaches to life. They influence the way we relate to people, our attitudes about church and what church is to “be” or “do”, and what we do with our possessions and money.

Halter and Smay, in their book The Tangible Kingdom (pp.147-155), address these issues and offer a simple statement as to how we, as Christ-followers, can live so as to tear down these “walls” that hinder missional-incarnational living.

The more we do “together,” the less individualistic we”ll be. The more we become “one” with Christ, the less consumer oriented we’ll be. The more we do for “others,” the less materialistic we’ll be.” (p.154)

In other words, we need to open ourselves more to others and community, focus more on becoming more like Christ, and be more giving of what the Lord has made us stewards of.

I can take a look at my life and see how each of these attitudes affects my life as a believer and church member. The affects are not always positive. But I do desire to be much more open with my life – in one-on-one relationships and in community, to be more Christ-like in all areas of my life, and to be much more benevolent and giving of what the Lord has entrusted to me for service in His kingdom.

As a citizen in a Western-Modern context, individualism-consumerism-materialism are ingrained in my life. To make the shift in each of the three areas will “go against the grain” in my life, but it is a shift that is necessary if I am going to live a more missional and incarnational life.

On my own this will be impossible. But, with God, all things are possible.

 

Free Rice

July 5, 2009

Help feed the world’s hungry and your mind at the same time.

Go to Free Rice and test your knowledge about words, geography and math, among other subjects. Your time and involvement helps earn free rice that is distributed to the world’s hungry through the United Nations World Food Program.

It’s fun, exercises your mind and benefits a great, very needy, cause.

Interruptions – Nuisance Or God?

July 4, 2009

Earlier this week I was reading through the Gospel of Matthew and came across something interesting in Chapter 9. It’s not necessarily unique to Chapter 9, but it really stood out to me that day.

On several occasions, as Jesus was either teaching, engaged in healing ministry, or walking from one place to another, He was interrupted by people.

In verses 14 – 17, He was teaching about fasting. We read in verse 18 that while he “was saying these things to them,” a synagogue official came to Jesus and appealed to Him to come and restore life to his daughter who had just died. Jesus rose from His teaching and followed the father toward his home and daughter.

As Jesus was on His way, a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched His cloak. Sensing her touch, need and faith, He stopped, spoke to her and she was healed.

Jesus then proceeded to the synagogue official’s house, in verse 23, where He restored the daughter to life.

The interruptions continued. Verse 27 tells us that as Jesus was “passing on” from the official’s house, two blind men who had been following Him cried out for His mercy and healing. The miracle of the men receiving their sight at the touch of Jesus is recorded in verses 28-30.

Jesus then left the house in which the blind men had been healed. As He was “going out,” a dumb, demon-possessed man was brought to Him by friends or family. Jesus immediately cast the demon out of the man and he was able to speak.

After that healing, Scripture records that Jesus went into all of the cities and villages, continuing His ministry of  teaching the people, proclaiming the kingdom and healing many people.

So, what did I learn from this chapter that records four “interruptions” in a day in the life and ministry of Jesus?

I learned that Jesus always had time for people. Regardless of what He was doing, or where He was going, He gave time and attention to people. He was never so rushed or pressed by a schedule that He could not take time to meet a need, hold little children, or spend time with friends. Why? Because Jesus loves people and one way that it was expressed was by His willingness to be interrupted.

So many of us are driven by our busyness and held to our schedules by our day-timers. The calander that I used to use broke my days into quarter-hour segments, beginning at eight o’clock in the morning and running through 6pm each day of the week.

I’m not saying that it isn’t important to schedule things or that we shouldn’t have order to our days, but, are we open to people and interruptions as they occur throughout the course of each day?

Who knows, that “interruption” might be God trying to break into my day. It might be a God-appointed moment to learn more about Him,  to discover and meet a need, for His kingdom to be advanced here on earth, and for Him to receive glory.

How many times have I missed God because I was too busy to be interrupted?

Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal

July 3, 2009

I have just started reading Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal. I believe this is going to be Missional Renaissancean excellent follow-up read to his Present Future: Six Tough Questions For The Church.

What I would like to do is post quotes and comments as I read through the book. I am only half-way through the fist chapter and I am already stoked.

So, let me begin with a few things from the Introduction.

McNeal says that missional is “a way of living, not an affiliation or activity” that “goes to the very heart of what the church is, not just what it does.” To live missionally means to see “all (of) life as a way to be engaged with the mission of God in the world.”

Missional, as defined by McNeal, makes such a sharp break from the prevailing notions of church that it is impossible for us to think of church in the terms that we used to, as something that we “went to” or “participated in”, “joined” or “attended.”

It is suggested that if the institutional church is going to go missional, we will need to make three shifts in our thinking and behavior.

The shifts are:

  1. From internal to external in terms of ministry focus
  2. From program development to people development in terms of core activity
  3. From church-based to kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda.

The content of the book is built on and expands on these three premises.

As Reggie closes the Introduction, he makes this statement about the shifts:

They point you into a new world. They will move you from doing church as primarily a refuge, conservator, and institutional activity in a post-Christian culture to being a risky, missionary, organic force in the increasingly pre-Christian world in North America.”

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I am really looking forward to reading Missional Renaissance. I believe that it will provide us with guidelines and encouragement for making the critical shifts in our thoughts and behavior that are necessary for making Kingdom impact in today’s “pre-Christian” America.

Ready? Shift.

My “Crowded House”

July 1, 2009

Pray. Pray hard!

Our four kids, the babies my wife keeps every day … Talk about “the crowded house”!

We need a bigger house!