Friday, March 28, 2014

Help Matt Papa Make A Live Record

Roughly three years ago I was part of a campus pre-launch at the the Summit Church where they were trying out different worship leaders each week, which led to my introduction to the closest thing I had experienced to Keith Green in person. Matt Papa came in and led us through song for a few weeks and although he aims to glorify Christ alone, I was immediately a fun of him as a musician. One of the things that I appreciate about Matt is that he is passionate about the nations and seeing those who have never heard of Jesus come to know and worship him.

I own a couple of Matt's albums, but agree that a live album would help bring the full experience to my car and home. Now there is an opportunity to make that live atmosphere a reality as Matt is working on funding a live album, but he needs our help. Recording an album is not cheap, but with the help of many friends this can quickly become a reality. To learn more on how you can support this album and receive some cool perks yourself go and check out his kickstarter campaign.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sharing the Gospel There and Then and Here and Now

During the three months back in the US, I have been traveling around and speaking at many churches on life India, how God is moving there, and challenging churches how they can be more involved both in their local context and the global context. Because we really are a glocal church. One question that I consistently receive is, "how do you share the gospel in a place like India?"


I understand when this question is asked that the person wants an explanation or example of how you approach an individual or a village with the goal of sharing the gospel. Most often people assume that the methods and tools for sharing the gospel are completely different in a place like India from America, but that isn't the case. People are the same everywhere, all are sinners and in need of the Savior, Jesus.

Sorry to disappoint, but I just open my mouth and share with the gospel with them like I would share anything else. Sure, there are some tools that I used in India to help the nationals remember key points when sharing the gospel, but sharing the gospel cannot be delegated to some program, tract, or magical "repeat after me."


Just the other night during the beard and moustache competition a couple came and stood by me and we immediately struck up a typical conversation. Where are you from? What do you do? How long have you been growing your beard?

I usually share that I have recently returned from living in India, which opens the door for many more questions. The conversation quickly turned to a spiritual and religious one, which led to me asking them their background, belief system, etc. The  conversation happened so naturally and within that I was able to share how and why I am a disciple of Christ and I did it in a loving way.

I didn't do some awkward transition of how my beard makes me more like Jesus (although the argument could be made) and ask them to let me share with them about him. That is why most Christians don't share the gospel because they don't know how or it hasn't permeated their life so much that it naturally flows out.

Sharing the gospel is really the same message in all places to all people. Sure there is a sense in which the message or deliver must be contextualized, but don't get hung up on this because after traveling the world I have realized that it really isn't all that different.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Being Bearded, Missional & Incarnational

Over the weekend I took part in my first beard competition and let's just say that my beard was greatly humbled going up against people that have been growing facial hair for a much longer time. The event was a lot of fun and included many different styles of beards and mustaches. To those outside of the bearded world you probably don't understand the craze with facial hair these days, but without fleshing it out the US is really going back in history to a time when facial hair was more prevalent. I don't care what color of skin our next president has, but I do hope that he has a gnarly beard.

Another growing trend that is helping encourage the growth of beards is beard and mustache clubs all over different cities. Saturday night there was at least ten different clubs represented and half of those were from five different cities in North Carolina. So, yes, it is a good time to have a beard and no they are not only for aspiring Vikings or hipsters. One of the cool aspects of these different clubs is that they are really breaking the stereotypes of who sports facial hair and in a given group one will see business professionals, bikers, pastors, and of course some hipsters.

The idea of a beard and mustache club is just one more example of how I can be missional and incarnational in my context with a group that has a common bond or interest. And when I say missional here, I mean joining a club like this because I enjoy the common art of beard growing and being an incarnational disciple of Christ amongst them. My goal then is to establish the kingdom amongst that club as it is in heaven in one of my natural "domains" of society. The last thing that I would want to do is start my own form of a "Christian" beard club. This is a horrible idea that Christians did for years, but thankfully is beginning to change.

For each of us this idea of being missional and incarnational within our areas of expertise or interest will look different because we are all naturally gifted in different areas. But we are all called to establish the kingdom in those places and to make disciples of those people as you are going. If one of your areas happens to be facial hair then check out this beard oil and this conditioner.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Help Comes from the Lord

Life is a journey with many trials and triumphs, ups and downs, and none of us can guarantee how our journey here on this earth will finish. But for those in Christ we can rest in the tireless care that comes from the Lord. Psalm 121 caused me to reflect on this idea earlier this week and I now encourage you to read it, meditate on it, and thank God for his tireless care over you.

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of mAscents.

121 vlift up my eyes to wthe hills.
From where does my help come?
xMy help comes from the Lord,
who ymade heaven and earth.

He will not zlet your foot be moved;
he who akeeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your bshade on your cright hand.
dThe sun shall not estrike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will akeep you from all evil;
he will akeep your life.
The Lord will keep
your fgoing out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Should You Be Allowed To Attend A Church Gathering With Small Children?

I read an article over the weekend in the Charlotte Observer about a mother that took her 17-month-old to a gathering at a church for the first time. This mother explained her dilemma of attending the gathering with such a young child and refused to accept the modern idea of nursery for her child because she feared she would also end up in the nursery.

The thing about this article that caught my attention is that I believe this mother represents a lot of mothers out there with young children. She expresses the desire to be part of a community of believers, but feels this sense of isolation from the community because of her young child.

Why? Should she feel this way? No, but I believe that he dilemma most likely comes from within the church. It comes from an attitude of not interrupting the sacred service of a Sunday morning church service because after all that's what its all about, right?

I am not against or for children's church, I think a lot of that will depend on your context. But I did come across a church recently, a very large and well known church that actually will not allow you to take a child into their worship "experience" with you unless you get special permission for a child under six months old (if it's granted).

Yes, many churches offer great children's ministries or forms of entertainment for your children so that you and all the other adults will not be bothered during your worship experience, but is it really all about that? Should a mother have to wait until their child is a certain age to feel like they can attend a gathering without being ridiculed?

Post your thoughts below and let me know whether or not you think you should be allowed to attend a church gathering with small children and tell me why.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weights That Hinder Us All

Dr. Daniel Akin has written a short biography on the life of missionary Eric Liddell, whose career as an Olympic runner was made famous by the 1982 film Chariots of FireThere is much of Liddell's life that is commendable to all of us but he would want to be most known for the race that he ran as a follower of Jesus. A notable quote by Liddell is that he said, "We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ."

In order to run the race well, Liddell would turn to Hebrews 12:1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

In order to be the missionaries that we are called to be, Liddell would identify some "weights" that would hinder us:

Prejudices - I believe it is God's will that the whole world should be without any barriers of race, colour, class, or anything else that breaks the spirit of fellowship.

Distraction - If you are not guided by God, you will be guided by someone or something else.

Rebellion - Surrender means the end of the great rebellion of our wills.

Disobedience - Sin is anything we know we should do but won't or don't do. It is therefore disobedience.

Persecution - The only way to face persecution is to rejoice. Any other way of facing it fails to come out victorious. The apostles rejoiced "that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name (Acts 5:41).

Lordship - To speak of Jesus as Lord means that I give him the control of my will... I say "Lord Jesus," meaning Jesus is now Lord of my life to lead and dictate. My greatest joy is just to do what pleases him.

Unexpected hardships - Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God's plans, but God is not helpless among ruins.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Carolina Beard and Moustache Competition of North Carolina

Just a reminder for all of you that the Carolina Beard and Moustache Competition in Charlotte, NC is coming up on March 21-23. Find the website here.

2014 marks the 3rd annual BAM competition and the first that I will have an opportunity to attend and compete. The charity recipient for this year is the Safe Alliance Charlotte Domestic Violence Shelter.

This year there are seventeen different competition categories and I will be entering the 6"-12" natural full-beard category.

Each competition features beard and moustache art showcase, live music, local food and local brews. If you don't have a beard then no worries, just come out to have a good time with your bearded community and support a good cause. There is even a ladies fake beard competition so there is no excuse for not coming out.

It's not to late to register to attend or enter a category. See you there!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Redeemed To Redeem

There are so many conferences available now that it is hard to discern which one is worth the time and money to attend. Unfortunately at the moment I am not in a financial situation to be able to afford any of them, but on the top of my list would be Verge. I love what I have seen come out of this conference and the speakers that they bring in for it. Thankfully this is one conference that allows you to stream the entire thing live from your living room, office, or gathering space. To learn more on the conference and how to stream live then go here.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Living Between Two Worlds

I am almost three months removed from my return to the US after living life in India for the two years prior. Moving to India was one of the hardest things that I had ever done in my life. It was not so much the going that was difficult because I was and am confident in the calling that God has placed on my life; but the moving away from the community of family and friends and the comforts of life was hard.

Since returning in December I have faced many surprises and much reverse culture shock, but I never imagined that returning to my "home" country would be as difficult as it was to leave it. On the surface I think I look exactly the same and to most people I probably do, maybe a little fatter, but generally the same. But the reality is that I am forever changed because of the life I have lived and experienced...a life that most people cannot simply understand.

Ever since I returned I have at least one moment a day where there is a vivid contrast between this world and that world. Between America and India. A contrast that takes me into a state of living between the two worlds. I really do not know how to describe it other than it reminds me of the flash backs that the characters on the show Lost experienced between the life they had lived and that of the island. These moments seem to come a lot when I am alone, driving, or at the grocery store of all places.

This week I had a moment, a day really where all of this hit me really hard. It may have been the lowest day since moving back. I am not sure that it was triggered by any one thing or event, but just a combination of things that finally caused me to collapse. And as much as these moments cause me to lack the feeling of normalcy, in some ways I hope to never completely lose them because I feel as if it helps me to stay connected to that world.

For example, I was on a walk with my son at the park the other day and we stopped to look over the hill at a pasture full of cows grazing with a barn that had mud all around from the recent rain. Instead of fully enjoying the scenery in front of me, I immediately thought of "My Timothy's" and the life that they live in the village. And I suddenly find myself in America where most of our animals live in better conditions than my friends in the villages of India live.  

As I have started to slowly process all that I experienced the last few years and figure out what it is that God really showed me, I have been reminded that America too is not really my home. I am seeing that in a new light now as I am realizing that I am just a sojourner in this land too and that God has moved me back to this place now as my mission field.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spring Reading List

This Spring I am spending a lot of time finishing up my thesis for my second master's degree, which means I have less time for reading. I do have three books that I am in the process of working through right now and would like to finish during the Spring season. I've really enjoyed what I have read so far and look forward to working through all three of these books in the coming months.

Spring Reading List

Community: Where God Dwells by Eddy Leo

The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches by Bob Roberts Jr.

Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World by JR Woodward