Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pray for the Persecuted Church in Eritrea

If you are in Christ, these are our brothers and sisters – this is hard and humbling. They are such an encouragement, bringing glory to Jesus and living out John 11:25-26

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Hebrews 13:3 – "Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body."

On December 5 government authorities arrived at a prayer meeting taking place in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea. The thirty elderly women in attendance were arrested and taken to jail. Though the women were released ten days later, hundreds of Christians remain imprisoned in metal shipping containers, military barracks, and underground dungeons without proper sanitation and nutrition… read the rest of the post here and pray http://bit.ly/7ij5k0

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I’ve never been more impressed with leaders who aren’t the least bit impressed with themselves…

So, this article delivered a hit today, like I-just-felt-that-in-my-stomach kind of hit.

It's a strange feeling when someone writes something that encapsulates an inner soul stirring, and articulates it better than you could. This is my inner struggle to pair the head-knowledge of the gospel with a passionate delight in that same reality – with a love for the music.

"Gospel astonishment versus theological cockiness
I learned the lyric of the gospel long before I loved its music. As pastor, husband, dad and friend, living from my head has always been easier than engaging from my heart, and not nearly as messy. But leaders who delight in the imputed righteousness of Christ seem to defend it the best. Paul never seemed to have "gotten over" the hyper-abundance of grace, faith, and love given to us in Jesus. While the gospel does free us from childishness, it should make us more and more childlike in awe, joy, and humility."

Read the entire article (http://bit.ly/7cDf1v)

1 Tim 1:12-17

"12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,

13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,

14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."


Friday, December 04, 2009

Matt Chandler: tested and proven - that Jesus is enough.

A short observation;
I am a younger servant, at a church where many older saints have suffered very well. I've often said that if I ever enter into such suffering myself, that I hope I'll be that kind of person who points to Jesus and his glorious sufficiency.

I learned to hope for this, from Matt Chandler - who this week has entered into his own suffering and has been given grace to proclaim loudly, "Christ is All". Quoted below, is his hope to be the person who in suffering proves that his belief in Christ is true - who proves to make Jesus look as dazzlingly great as He is. Matt can now know that he has been made into that person.

The following was from a sermon intro from Matt Chandler in September 2007.

"...there's something really beautiful that happens when all that you
count on is gone (healthwise), and then not just gone for a day or two. Because it being gone for a day or two, I think we can be disciplined and strong and quote Scriptures to ourselves, but by day ten, all that for me, all my mental ability to press into Him had faded. And to find the Lord very, very, very, very sweet and really good in that moment was pleasing to my heart because for most of us, we never have to prove the things we say we believe. We just don't, we don't have to prove it. And we hope we'll be that person, but we just don't know."

Praise God for shining his glory through someone who is suffering well.
Pray for Matt and the rest of the Chandler family.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Call to Prayer

If you would like to be in prayer for CCC, here is what we are asking God for at CCC.  This is copied from our Call to Prayer handout.

opening passages:
Psalm 37:1-7

1Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Mark 8:27-35

27And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" 28And they told him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets." 29And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." 30And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. 31And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." 34And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."

John 15:4-5

"4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

1 Cornithians 1:18-20

"18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." 20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

Prayer Points
Pray for humility in your own heart for repentance.  To be drawn deeper into Jesus.
Pray 1 Cor 1:17-21, 2:5 for yourself, our leaders and congregation - "that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

Pray Psalm 118:18 "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."
Pray Psalm 133:1 "...when the brothers dwell in unity".  Ask God to show you where to repent and act for the good of CCC.  Ask for the grace of God on our congregation for deep loving unity and warmth of fellowship.

Pray that we would share our faith with one another regularly (Philemon 6).
Pray for the next man to be called as the Lead Pastor of CCC.
Pray for special grace and protection over our leaders and their families (Eph. 6:12-13). 

Friday, September 11, 2009


Everything in existence has a reference point in terms of its relatedness to God. Sin has caused all creation to be out of proper relationship with God’s character and being. As sinful beings we are out of relationship – “separated from God”. Sin causes death. We're all sinners, and we'll all eventually die.
Jesus wasn't a sinner, but he died, and in his death he conquered sin. Death couldn't hold him down, and to prove it, he rose from the grave.

In like manner, one of the most important implications of the gospel is that it restores us in relation to God. In believing the gospel, we are brought to new life in Jesus, to the end that in him we would conquer sin and death, and be restored to God as Jesus was. By God’s design, that restoration to God has manifold implications for our lives - spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, relational, mental and social implications. These implications are seen as parallels of the story of the gospel, played out “in like manner” of the gospel in everyday life. In each of these areas the gospel motivates and models for us redemptive thought and action.

“The Scriptures provide many examples of this gospel (-centered) living. In Gal 2:14 Paul rebukes Peter for conduct that was “not in line with the truth of the Gospel” and in Phil 1:27 he urges believers to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.” In other words, one of the ways the gospel must function is by informing specific behaviors. Thus, we should read our Bibles with an eye toward detecting these connections. So, for example, when Paul appeals to the Corinthians to “flee from sexual immorality” he explicitly bases his appeal on the gospel—“you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1Cor 6:18-20). When he urges forgiveness he explicitly references the gospel as both motivation and model (Eph 4:32). When he tells husbands to love their wives he does so by linking his exhortation directly to the gospel (Eph 5:25). When he calls the Corinthians to an ongoing generosity he explicitly reminds them of God’s generosity in the gospel (2Cor 8:7,9; 9:12-13, 15).”1

Being “gospel-centered” means that as we live our lives out in the times and places God has appointed, we work to reconcile all things to God, by the gospel (Col 1:20). To do this, we maintain a holistic focus for living which seeks to shape and transform all life, conduct and ministry with the news, meaning and implications of the gospel.

1 “Gospel Implications”, Mike Bullmore http://www.alliancenet.org/CC/article/0,,PTID314526|CHID598016|CIID2168232,00.html

Missional Leadership

Modern church leadership has drawn deeply from the structures and methods of the business world.  While many of the leaders employing these methods do not typically embody a hierarchical attitude, the “CEO” or “top down” structures in churches place pressure on leaders to use power and authority in a worldly manner in order to “draw a crowd” and “get things done”.

The temptation in this approach is to mistake the execution of well-run programs, the gathering of large groups of people into events, and the swelling of budgets and specialization of staff in disparate programs as success.  This attractional mindset - that widespread participation in various programs of the church produces transformation – has been tested, found wanting, and yet prevails even in churches much larger than our own1,2.

If it is assumed that our leadership structures are effective, we will naturally measure “attraction” (participation) in and assume that equates to transformation.  Indeed, the bible mostly refers to such phenomena pejoratively3,4,5, 6 .

Biblically, groups and individuals transformed by the gospel constitute success.  The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus who have been taught to observe his commandments.  Missional leadership methods prioritize and value the missionary nature of the church over contemporary attractional programs & methodology.
Missional versus traditional Attractional Churches* 
(Missional / Attractional) :
(“Go out” mentality  / “Come In” mentality);
(Emphasis on transformation & action / Emphasis on words & information);
(“Community” formation focused / “Event” formation focused);
(Environmentally sensitive / Environmentally indifferent);
(Everything is mission-oriented / Missions one among many programs);
(Values driven / Methodology & Program driven);
(Thinking holistically / Emphasis on disparate programs);
(“Diachronic” reading of the bible / “Synchronic” reading of the bible);
(More organic, grassroots - bottom up / More business structured, top down);
(Typically smaller churches / Frequently large churches);
(Small budgets, fewer paid staff / Large budgets, many paid staff);
(Priesthood of all believers / Clear demarcation between pastors/laity);
(Younger congregations / Older, baby-boomer congregations)
 *adapted from Biola Magazine “The Church in a Missional Age”, Spring 2009

1.       Willow Creek Community Church conducted a multiple-year qualitative study of its ministry.  Please watch the 13 minute video of the findings by Greg Hawkins, Executive Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church at  http://revealnow.com/story.asp?storyid=48  
2.       An article covering Willow Creek’s changes to their “attractional model” http://www.reformationtheology.com/2008/04/greg_hawkins_tells_about_the_b.php 
3.       Matthew 15:3, 8-9.    
4.    Colossians 2:8.   
5.    Luke 11:42-43.  
6.    Matthew 6:5

Missional Communities

The term “missional”1 is a ministry buzzword that is currently used to describe all manner of vision and mission fulfillment in all sorts of churches and denominations. In my meaning of the term, and originally, “missional” is an adjective which describes the host of values, priorities, emphases and resultant strategies that come from embracing a “missionary approach” to all of ordinary life and ministry.

Historically, CCC has used the word “missionary” to define vocational ministry workers who travel internationally or out of the area into a mission “field”. The thought that some people are “Christians”, and others are “missionaries” who are special Christians that do the work of the ministry – reinforces an unbiblical dichotomy that has done major damage to the identity of the local church in America. We need to recover the biblical picture that CCC’s “mission fields” are the homes, relationships, businesses and neighborhoods in which our members live together. The gatherings of these “missionary groups” involve many different ordinary life activities and require the sharing of life that challenges the individualistic idols of our culture.

The typical “small group” or “growth group” in a church largely gains its identity from a regular weeknight gathering whose primary purpose is to study the bible or some other book, to pray for each other, and “fellowship”. Membership in such a group is largely a matter of regular attendance.

A missional community is a gospel-centered group of Christians who band together to fulfill the disciple-making mission of the church in their area (Matt 28:18-20). While bible study does take place in these fellowships, the primary identity of these groups lies in a shared commitment to cultivate and maintain a “missionary mindset” as they reach their neighbors and live in community with one another.  This is done through sharing the common rhythms of ordinary life with gospel-shaped intentions.  In these groups we take the regular stuff of life - eating, serving/blessing, celebrations, work, listening, rest, recreation - and seek to demonstrate the truth and beauty of the gospel through these things to one another and to non-believers.

1. The first missiologist using the term "missional" in its modern understanding was Francis DuBose in his book, "God Who Sends" (Broadman Press, 1983). By the 1990's the term began to appear more and more in such books as "Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America" (Edited by Darrell L. Guder) and the works of Lesslie Newbigin.

The Gospel

 “What is the gospel?” is a hot-topic issue within some segments of the evangelical church.  Over the last 8 years, the question has increasingly become the subject of now countless sermons, articles, conference messages, debates and books.  A Google search of “What is the gospel?” returns a list of 47,500,000 websites.  In this past year, I have personally sat under the teaching of first-rank conservative evangelical theologians who saw fit to use their time to bring clarity to this question.  “What is the gospel” is creating no small stir in America as pastors and ministry leaders struggle to reach people while clearly communicating the message that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Some have lamented the ineffectiveness of today’s church (especially compared to the book of Acts!) and concluded that an adjustment of their message is the order of our day.  This is not, however a sign of our times.  Paul wrote to the Galatian church and saw the need to immediately address this issue in their fellowship, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel… there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ”.  The temptation to change the message of the church comes anew to each generation.  Indeed, even Paul maintained “gospel-habits” to keep himself centered on the message of Grace (1 Cor. 15:31).  The need for clarity on the question, “What is the gospel?” is as old as the Church itself. 

GospelThe news and meaning of the life, substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus.

The gospel is a clear & very specific message.  Popular misunderstandings of the gospel mistake the message of grace for “instruction” on how to live morally in order to maintain God’s blessing.  Others distort the message of grace into a license to pursue our own appetites and seek the fulfillment of our will.

 In ministry, confusion about the gospel also arises from a lack of clarity between the gospel message itself and the various presentations of the doctrines of the gospel in scripture.  When this informs the study of scripture, the text is most often broken down for analysis into various disparate subjects.  So, the subjects of worship, faith, prayer, serving the needy, marriage, preaching, missions, fellowship, evangelism, eating, discipleship, and even the subject of “the bible” itself, are beheld as distinct subjects.  They are vaguely related as “things of God”, connected primarily through their proximity in the bible.

For contrast, the doctrines of the gospel are; the incarnation (life), atonement (death), and eschatology (resurrection - new life unto the restoration of all things, Col 1:20) of Jesus.  We see these doctrines presented explicitly and thematically throughout the entire bible.  The meaning and implications of the incarnation, atonement and resurrection are the “subjects” which generate the writings of the entire New Testament.  The news and meaning of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – the gospel – informs every word and theme in the bible. 

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Shack

You would make fun of me if I you knew how slowly I read.

I've taken to reading more fiction lately and I'm learning to read a little more quickly. Tom Clancy is really fun. I wanna be like Jack Ryan sometimes…

So, I haven't made it to reading the Shack yet.

But in reading about the shack, and its being so popular that I haven't even had to read it myself because I've had others read it to me (thanks Joel), this is the best take I've seen on how to handle its good points and bad points together.


Friday, September 04, 2009

what happened...

Two thousand years ago, God wrote himself into human history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
He lived a perfect life, yet many people did not recognize him. He was killed by those people.
Three days after his murder, he rose from the dead.

Sin causes death. We're all sinners, and we'll all eventually die. Jesus wasn't a sinner, but he died and then conquered sin. It couldn't hold him down.

We can't interact with God the way we were meant to because of our sin.
Through trust in Jesus' death as the substitute for our sin and impending death, we are connected anew to God and spiritually salvaged from death itself.
This new relationship with God so radically changes everything, its as if you were born all over again and sin can't hold you down. Its a brand new way to live.

Now, imagine that... and hold, keep and maintain that vision in your mind and heart. Trust the beauty and truth of what happened two thousand years ago, follow Jesus, trust him alone to save you, and walk with him in new life.

Men Like Trees Walking

Last night I taught through one of my favorite chapters in the bible.

That sounds weird - a favorite chapter?

You better believe it, just act like you know… this is really cool.

See, the people who wrote books of the bible didn't fall into a trance and pull a "Stairway to Heaven" and mysteriously produce a bunch of stories.

Things are written in the order that they are, to make a point.

So Mark 8; One bread miracle, next to an account of an argument with religious jerks, next to an illustration about multiple forms of "yeast", next to a weird halfway-then-all-the-way-healing of blindness, next to a confession from Peter that Jesus is the Messiah, next to that Messiah referring to Peter as Satan because of his bad yeast.

This whole chapter shines light on God's provision and Jesus identity, the sin of legalism and how it misses that identity, how the disciples can be so blind as to miss the truth and meaning of Jesus identity, next to an illustrative healing of how receiving "sight" itself works, to Peter's correct "sighting", to Peter's blindness to the implications of his newfound sight… to Jesus correcting Peter sight (for a "second time") by telling him that the coming kingdom and following Him involves bearing a cross…

Friday, August 28, 2009

Playing around in Genesis… true parables.

So, I'm thinking about stories.

Not fake stories, but real stories, that really happened. Real, stories, with real meaning.

Stories - that have nothing to do with postmortem-postmodern ideas of seeing-through-everything-so-as-to-see-nothing-and-so-we-make-stories-say-whatever-we-want… kind of stuff.

I want to GRASP the meaning of a story, as it really is meant to be taken and seen. So, as to see, what is supposed to be seen, through it.

A parable is a story with a point. Jesus used them all the time to tell the truth. His parables seemed to be untrue stories, with a true truth behind it.

But we're never actually told whether the stories he told we're true. The truth they pointed to was true, but we all readily accept that the story was just a story.

But if a parable that Jesus told, was a story that really happened - that actually happened – AND pointed to something else that was true, that would have to be okay too.

So, Genesis 45:20 has a story of a King who tells those who are about to receive from his hand and grace "Have no concern for your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours." What does this point to as a – true parable?

So, if something really happens, can it still be a parable?

The bible screams, yes.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Afraid to Dance?

Several times in my life I have overcome my own dignity, and danced.
"Dance like nobody is watching", I've heard. The invitation to hear and respond, to be silly, and expressive, and to be transparent... all for the fun of it.
Pure joy is offered to all who get over themselves.
Does this remind anyone of the Story?