Friday, December 30, 2011

Leapyear Project

This upcoming year is a leapyear and I came across the leapyearproject this week and it intrigued me because of the idea behind it, which is to see in 2012 what you can do with your dreams and ideas to create something that would make your life, family, industry, and world a better place. In 2013 documentation of what was accomplished in one year will be published to show just what can be done to make a difference in such little time. 

There are very few restrictions and the main point is to take a risk (leap) and make something in your life, community, or world better. The project is not faith-based per se, but the guy behind it, Victor, was a pastor, but wanted to make it open to anyone, anywhere. Personally I hope to see all types of people, everywhere get involved, but believe that the best creativity and ideas are stored within the church, just waiting to be released to make a difference because of the difference that Jesus Christ makes in peoples lives and the world.

2012 is two days away, so now is the time to start the conversation of risk-thinking and take the Big Leap. Although not narrowly defined, my big leap starts on January 1 as I move to church plant in S. Asia. I would love to hear your story of how you will take a leap in 2012 to see change happen in your context.

                 


SO 2012 IS A LEAPYEAR. "What risk will you take to change your life, your community, or your world for the better?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Church's Attempt to Be Cool

I saw this billboard the other day as I was driving that advertised a community church reading, "A church for people who do not like church." My first thought was what is that supposed to even mean? I have come to love the church as I see it being the means in which people will be reached for Jesus and his glory. As it is often said around my own church, the church is God's plan A, there is no plan B.

From what I read in Acts 2:42-47, I do not see why anyone would not want to be a follower of Christ and part of a community of believers (a church):
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day,attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Perhaps the motive behind this church's sign was an attempt to be cool or maybe be different than what many are used to in the Southeast. I understand that somewhat, but to advertise yourself as "the church for people who don't like church" is like saying we are the chicken restaurant for people who don't like chicken. This tells me that they are artificial and full of filler, existing so that you can have it your way, not God's way. 

Maybe I am being too harsh on this church and their attempt to get new people coming to their church, but to me what they are after is not true change and organic growth, but superficiality. I understand getting passed the non-essential reasons that people do not step foot in a church, but to advertise yourself in such a way as this church does is to make it sound as if you are something entirely different from the true definition of a church, which is God's plan A.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Celebrating the Savior Christ the Lord

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:1-14 ESV)

[Below is the full Christmas at the Summit service, which is about the profound simplicity of what God was trying to tell us at Christmas.]
                
Christmas at the Summit from The Summit Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Born Is The King: It's Christmas

Merry Christmas to all, I hope you enjoy time with your family and celebrate the birth of King Jesus because It's Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is It Hatred to Move My Family to Asia?

Some people have questioned me on moving my family to Asia in order to plant churches as if it is "hatred" towards my wife and son. In this video clip, John Piper discusses God, Manhood & Ministry, touching on this very idea and the lack of understanding. The key that Piper points out here is that those that question my motivation of moving my family to plant churches do not have the mind of Christ and so to them it comes across as a form of hatred or cruelty; but the reality is that in obedience to the calling of God you often have to make these tough choices and sacrifices.

       
Have We Over-Elevated the Family? from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spiritual Rejuvenation


And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
(Mark 6:31-32 ESV)

Taking a sabbath day is probably one of the most broken commands in the Bible by Christians, including myself. We are commanded to take one (Deut. 5:12-13), but we often find ourselves "busy" with ministry as were the apostles in Mark 6, which results in continuing on with ministry.

Most of us, myself included, find this command difficult enough to keep in our culture, so the thought of spiritual retreat never even crosses our mind. What we are really communicating in this neglect of a sabbath is that we think we know better than God and we show our lack of dependence on him. 

Thankfully I have been encouraged and had the opportunity in the last two months to take two separate spiritual retreats that were above and beyond a normal sabbath. The first of these came at a much needed time of exhaustion and frustration. Taking a spiritual retreat with nothing but a Bible, notebook, and pen allowed me to commune with God in a way that I normally do not, express my dependence on him, and allow him to give me the restoration that I needed.

Sometimes it can be easy to overlook the command to take a sabbath, but Jesus himself took a day of rest and told the apostles to Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while. In our rest we are offering ourselves up to God and allowing him to do the rest by communicating to him that there is nothing more important in life to us than him.

Now one of my goals for 2012 will be to take an extended spiritual retreat once a month for a time of rejuvenation and communion with God. Ministry and being on mission is important, but obeying God's command and taking a sabbath is also important. So what do you say? How about joining me in this goal and see how it impacts your spiritual life in the new year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas at the Summit

Friends in Raleigh-Durham, I wanted to invite you all to take time out of your busy December schedules to celebrate the center piece of Christmas, Jesus, at the Summit Church. There will be five different opportunities to attend this celebration between December 22-24. For complete details and information please visit ChristmasAtTheSummit.com.


christmas at the summit from The Summit Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shake The Dust Off Your Feet


But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.
(Acts 13:51 ESV)

During the last two months I have been studying through the books of Acts as part of my preparation for church planting in an unfamiliar context. In reading Acts 13:51 I came across this phrase Shake the Dust Off Your Feet. And although reading the book of Acts many times I had never quite paid full attention to the meaning of this verse. 

Note, this same phrase is also used at least three other times before the book of Acts in three of the four gospels (Matt. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). In each context that this phrase is used it is referring to a situation in that you are going to share the gospel with someone, but upon them not receiving you or the message of the gospel to basically move on to another person or place.

This tells me that I don't have to carry the burden of that person not being saved at that moment or feel like they were rejecting me. Many times in the past I have beat myself up over someone rejecting the gospel once presented, but this verse tells me not to be upset, but rather to leave the burden there and move on to the next person that needs to hear the gospel.

Recognizing this has been so freeing to me because it does not give me an excuse not to share the gospel with all people, but it does give me reason to move on after a clear gospel message has been delivered and rejected. It points back to the reality that it is the Holy Spirit that needs to go before you to initiate the relationship and Jesus alone that saves. 

I've personally experienced this in my own life in the last year as I have been preparing to leave the country. Knowing I would be leaving, I wanted to be intentional with my family and friends and although not sharing the gospel with all as I should, I have shared with many and with some I have had to "shake off the dust from my feet" and move on to the next person. 

Now to you I say share the gospel with all people, but don't waste your time too long on those that are not receiving what you are saying. Rather move on to the next person or place because time is getting short and there are many who have  never heard the good news that the Holy Spirit of the almighty God has prepared for you to share with as they are ready to respond.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Disciple Pattern

On yesterday's blog post I mentioned attending the Universal Disciple seminar by Dr. Thom Wolf and discussed some of the insights that he gave into discipleship the way in which we see Paul doing it in the New Testament. Today I wanted to share what Dr. Wolf calls the Universal Disciple Pattern.

Key to The Universal Disciple Pattern:

ROCK:
In one way or another, you introduce people to who Jesus is: the Rock to build your life on. Jesus taught and the apostles developed the 'rock theology' as the foundation for our faith: Matt. 7:24-28; 16:13-20 with Deut. 32:1-3, 15-18, 30; 21:33-46; 1 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 2:19-22.

WORSHIP:
Through whatever process and time, the person must come to a personal commitment and surrender to Jesus as Lord and God. John 20:26-31; Acts 8:26-40; Romans 10:8-15.

WALK:
Personally the new believer must begin to walk worthy of Christ. To do this he/she must put off the old style of living-old vices, and put on the life of Christ-new virtues. Col. 3:5-15; Eph. 4:17-5:17.

WORD/SPIRIT:
Socially, there is a spiritual response or reaction to the new life of the new believer. Some are attracted, some are repelled. Matt. 13:5 and 20-22; 1 Peter 4:1-5; 5:8-9; Acts 14:21-22; 1 Thess. 3:1-5. But the personal transformation impacts the convert's circle of influence.

The core experience here is:
Word: "let the Word of Christ dwell in your richly"  (Colossians 3:16)
Spirit: "be filled with the Spirit"                            (Ephesians 5:18)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Pattern to Universal Discipleship

This past weekend I had the privilege to sit under the teaching of Dr. Thom Wolf, who is the international president and professor of global studies of University Institute, New Delhi, India. The topic of the seminar that I was part of was on the Universal Discipleship Pattern that Dr. Wolf has been presenting since 1994.

I wanted to briefly share some of the highlights from the seminar with you:

He starts by saying, "It is perplexing that Paul and his church-planting team were often only in a city a few weeks, a few months, or at most a few years. How did they do it?"

Q: How did Paul establish leadership?
  • so quickly
  • so solidly
  • so reproducibly that became the basis for the Christian church? 
A: Paul had a pattern, a standard:

  • that could be remembered easily
  • that could be received personally
  • that could be reproduced strategically

We see from Paul that his discipleship pattern was remembered easily, received personally, and reproduced strategically. Now my question is do most of us or our churches disciple in such a way? I would think not or otherwise I believe that we would see a very different result from our discipleship, but instead 80% of my generation leaves the church once getting to college.

So instead of you or your church seeking the next way to do discipleship that may work, try instead to make it quick, solid, and reproducible. Then it will be remembered easily, received personally, and reproduced strategically that may result in more disciples being made and disciples that make disciples.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Are We Really Here to COEXIST?

I was recently in conversation with a coworker/friend who brought up the topic of the ever popular COEXIST bumper stickers that are seen on cars everywhere. I had an opinion, but told her that I honestly hadn't researched the meaning behind the sticker enough to give a fair evaluation. She then proceeded to tell me how her and her fiancĂ© were going out one night and happened to be behind a car with a Summit Church bumper sticker (My Church) and a "Coexist" sticker right next to it, as to the reason for her question.

For those not aware, the letters that spell coexist make use of totally different religious symbols to characterize the completely different religions. Listed below are the letters used and what religion they really are for:
C – It is a crescent moon that represents Islam
O – It is  the peace symbol or pagan/Wiccan pentacle.
E – It’s the male/female symbolic representation or a scientific formula.
X – This can be  the Star of David and symbolizes Judaism.
I – It’s a pagan/Wiccan symbolic representation used.
S – This can be a Oriental yin-yang symbolic representation.
T – The cross is utilized to represent Christianity.
The word “Coexist” actually means to exist in the same space as anyone else. Indicating that all beliefs plus religions ought to try to live together in peace. The Coexist Foundation aims to increase communication plus cooperation among Jews, Christian believers and Muslims. 

The meaning in and of itself does not sound bad at all and I'm all for increased communication and cooperation. But in order to clearly answer my friends question, I want to say that I personally would not put a "Coexist" bumper sticker on my car. The reason being that we are not here to merely exist with others. 

Rather we are here to proclaim a message (the gospel) and make disciples. We are to be set apart followers of Christ who yes, coexist in the same space with people of all backgrounds and faiths in love, but we do so not in a way to say that all peoples religious paths are equal, but in a way to show that Jesus is the only way to real knowledge and truth.

So we as Christ followers should coexist with all people, but do so in a way to have an opportunity for increased communication and cooperation that quickly leads to the gospel and changed lives. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Missions Offering


This time of year at my local church, the Summit, always proves to be an exciting time with a lot going on. One of my favorite parts about this time of year is that the pastors seem to set higher and higher goals on how much to take up as our Christmas missions offering. This is money that is entirely given away for church planting and local outreach. In other words, none of it is kept internally to benefit the local body of the Summit Church, but it all goes so that the gospel can be spread to many places where the name of Jesus has never been named. 

The few years that I have been around the Summit, we as a church have gone far above the set goal. This blew me away the first couple of years because I had my doubts with such large numbers in the midst of an economic downturn. But year after year I have watched the goal get met and then almost double in its final number. Now, I know it is not about numbers or dollars, but the money taking up at Christmas represents lives changed and churches planted. And those are the kind of numbers that I can get into all of the time!

This year the Christmas Missions Offering means perhaps more to me than it ever has meant before. Why? Because my family and I are now able to plant our lives in S. Asia to be church planters in a large part due to this offering. We will be able to move our lives there, pour into national believers, and send them out to see churches planted.

The goal this year is set at a higher amount than ever before with a goal of $625,000. This amount is broken down into two categories. $468,750 of that amount goes directly to Church Planting, from this amount is how we are able to go and plant churches in S. Asia. The remaining $156,250 will be used locally in RDU with the week of ServeRDU and helping to see things such as i58 come to fruition.  

So if you are a part of the Summit Church then I highly encourage you to be on mission with the church and to live sufficiently, give extravagantly. Give huge amounts to the Christmas missions offering, not so that I can go live in another country, but so that peoples lives can be changed by the gospel and churches can be planted all over the world. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why Pray?


Let me start out by being honest up front in saying that overall I feel as if my prayer life stinks! But it is out of that realization that I have started to sense even more the need for prayer in my life. Aside from that I printed off 2500 prayer cards of my family that I am fully expecting people to pray for us when they see, but I don't think that I should expect that from people if I myself am not praying. 

In my process of realization of the importance of prayer, I came across 19 reasons on "Why Pray" that was given out at one of the orientation sessions I attended recently. These 19 reasons have helped me see even more reasons why to pray, which I hope will also be of help to you. 

WHY PRAY:

1. Prayer discovers the secret of Christ's evangelistic success (Mark 1:14, 35).
2. Prayer follows the example of the early church (Acts 4:31).
3. Prayer acknowledges dependence upon God (Psalm 40:1, 4).
4. Prayer conforms our will to God's (1 John 5:14).
5. Prayer opens closed doors (Colossians 4:2,3)
6. Pray grants victory over Satan (Ephesians 6:12, 18).
7. Prayer unleashes divine power (Ephesians 3:14-16).
8. Prayer begets boldness in witnessing (Ephesians 6:18,19).
9. Prayer brings wisdom about what to say (James 1:5).
10. Prayer replaces anxiety with peace (Philippians 4:6,7).
11. Prayer brings fullness of joy (John 16:24).
12. Prayer produces fruitfulness (John 15:5,7).
13. Prayer causes growth in new believers (Philippians 1:4,6).
14. Prayer raises up new workers (Matthew 9:37, 38).
15. Prayer generates revival (Chronicles 7:14).
16. Prayer impacts the world (Psalms 2:8).
17. Prayer accomplishes amazing results (Jeremiah 33:3).
18. Prayer delights the Lord (Proverbs 15:8b).
19. Prayer glorifies God (John 14:1). 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Going Where the Gospel Has Not Been Heard

 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
Romans 10:14-15

This is a moving video that I came across this week that basically speaks for itself... It is hard to fathom that there are 2100 full time workers for every million people in the Christian world, but only six foreign missionaries for every million people in the unreached world. 


Beautiful Feet Project from AsiaLink HistoryMaker on Vimeo.

I encourage you to pray about how you will respond in light of this video you have just watched. Perhaps God is calling you to go to Asia, be a partner, give, or pray. We each have a part in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth as we see in Acts 1:8, I just hope that you respond with obedience to yours.