Saturday, December 25, 2010
"Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World" by Bob Roberts
(I am finishing the year with this book, and it is a great one to finish on)
"Vintage Jesus" by Marc Driscoll
"Leadership As An Identity" by Crawford Loritts
"When Helping Hurts" by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett
"Forgotten God" by Francis Chan
"The Cross Centered Life" by CJ Mahaney
What were the best 3 books you read this year?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
I posted these questions in January of this year, but to be honest I really didn't put any "feet" to these questions after I posted them. I have printed them off for myself this year, and I hope to spend some time in the next two weeks thinking and praying through them. These were initially shared on Floyd McClung's blog (he is a missionary who currently serves in Cape Town, South Africa).
1. What’s one way, you could utilize time, to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. Who are three people you can disciple more intentionally?
6. What is the most helpful way you can build community with a few other followers of Jesus this year?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing can you plan to do this year that will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
**Note on picture: I had not caught a fish in Montana in approximately 7 years, so the fact that I caught one in 2010 is a great accomplishment! So...
Friday, December 10, 2010
Saturday, December 04, 2010
I have been reading through "Vintage Jesus" by Mark Driscoll and have really been blessed by it. Today I was reading through the chapter entitled "Where Is Jesus Today?" and I appreciated the perspective he shared on our glorious "urban future" and our current perspective on an ever-increasing urban world and its significance to Gospel mission. Driscoll states the following on pp 156-158,
"As an aside it is important to note that the new creation will not be the idylic rural lifestyle that has dominated so much American vision of faithful Christianity. Rather, at the center of the new creation will be a grand metropolis from which Jesus will rule over the earth 30. The entire storyline of the Bible is not from garden to garden, but rather from garden to city. The Bible opens in its first few pages with a beautiful garden. But the Bible closes in its final few pages with the vision of heaven as a dense city filled with people - the ultimate goal of creation is an urban paradise.
Practically speaking, a city is marked by both greater density and diversity than suburban and rural areas. For the first time in the world's history, roughly half of the world's population is urban. That number is expected to swell to 60 percent by the year 2030.
Sadly, most Christians associate the city with vice, not virtue. In truth, cities have long been seen as a haven for violent crime, sexual sin, and drug abuse. But sin is often most clearly seen in the city because it is more concentrated in the city than in suburban and rural areas. As a result, the related need for God is most clearly seen in the city. The rawness of the city makes it exactly the kind of place that God would use to convince people of their need for Him. Furthermore, by revealing the unveiling of the city upon His return, Jesus intends for Christians to love cities in the meantime.
Unlike today where Christians have largely fled the cities in favor of homeschooling about the rapture amidst large stacks of canned goods readied for a hunkering down at the unleashing of Armageddon, Christianity has historically been an urban religion. A reading of the history book of the early Christianity, Acts, reveals that Christianity began as an urban movement led by Paul, whose itinerant church planting ministry was almost exclusively urban as he moved from city to city and bypassed the rural areas.
Indeed, God's people should bring the gospel to any place where there are people, because God loves all people. But since there are more people in the city, it also makes sense that bringing the gospel to cities would be a priority.
One of the reasons Christians in our day are to love the city as they await the unveiling of Jesus' city is that the city is the most strategic place for Christians and the gospel. If culture is like a river, then cities are upstream, creating culture that then flows downstream to the masses. Because government, law, education, healthcare, information, media, arts, sports, entertainment, trade, travel, population, and industry are concentrated most in a city, cities are the fountains from which culture flows. Therefore, for Christians to flee from cities then to only complain about the kind of culture that is flowing into the culture from the cities is both foolish and hypocritical. The answer is for Christians to love the city, move to the city, pray for the city, and serve the city until Jesus returns with His city from which all culture will emanate throughout the new earth."
My former urban ministry professor Dr. Fuder used to share with us that he prays that more men and women would give their lives in the city for the sake of the Gospel! Amen.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
(The above picture is our AWANA Sparks - 1st & 2nd graders - and their leaders.)
Every Monday evening I "man the whistle" at our AWANA club at Sunshine! Our AWANA night is a Bible outreach club for 1st through 8th graders. Our night contains a few elements: opening prayer/announcements, song time, Bible time (where Pastor Pete teaches a weekly lesson), handbook time (where the kids work on memorizing verses), and game time. AWANA is an acronym that stands for "approved workman are not shamed" - which is taken from the Scripture verse 2 Timothy 2:15. The main emphasis of the program is encouraging, teaching, and inspiring our young people to memorize God's Word.
This is our second year running our club, and it has been a very enjoyable outreach for us. Although we have the occasional behavior challenges (every youth/children's ministry does!), our kids are thinking about the Gospel and its implication for their lives, they are growing in their identity in Christ, and they are memorizing large portions of Scripture. I was personally involved in an AWANA club when I was in 1st through 5th grades at my childhood church. I have good memories of my days at AWANA. Not only that, but when I began reading the Bible again, during my freshman year of college, I would repeatedly read verses that I had memorized at AWANA. Those verses never left me. I may have not been able to recite them word for word from the King James like I used to be able to, but the foundation was there.
Game time and the AWANA game circle is my domain. On some Mondays I wear my game whistle all day, just to set the tone and prepare myself mentally for the evening (because let's just say you can't just turn on the "intensity switch"). We play various dodgeball games, beanbag games, balloon games, and the classic AWANA relay races. I try to emphasize competing hard, while maintaining a good attitude. I encourage good sportsmanship and the importance of both winning and losing with graciousness. These are not easy lessons for those who are competitive, but slowly some of these character traits are sinking in. I thoroughly enjoy the various perks of being the game director: wearing and using a whistle, utilizing a "5 count" to keep the kids on point, pretending to view an instant replay of controversial calls, and being humored by both the leaders and kids as they compete.
Here is a "snapshot" of our Trek (6th-8th graders) relays...
And here is a small taste of our T&T (3rd-5th graders) relays...
Sunday, November 28, 2010
One blog I read and appreciate is Floyd McClung's. Floyd is currently a missionary in Cape Town South Africa, but he has also served in Afghanistan and the Netherlands. He recently wrote a post called "7 Reasons To Go." I thought I would share part of it here, and you can check out the entry in it's entirety here.
Here are 3 reasons why we must go...
The Lamb is Worthy
At the end of time people will gather from every tribe and tongue and nation around the throne of God to honor the Lamb of God, all worshiping in their redeemed cultures. They will gather joyously around the throne of God and celebrate the victory He has won on their behalf. The One who died a shameful death to redeem the peoples of the earth will be the object of honor and praise for all eternity. All of history will be consummated in the praise of the One who gave Himself for us. He died to make us a kingdom of priests. He set us free from religion and fear and superstition so we might freely enter His throne room of grace. Everything is headed for that day. All we do that has meaning will find its fulfillment at that celebration. May it come quickly, Lord Jesus! This is the mission of God, and that is the mission of the church of God. The church's ultimate purpose is not the programs we offer to people or the missionary outreaches we do, or our budgets or faith giving, our missionaries dressed in strange costumes, not even about the lost people or the needs of hurting millions. It is about Jesus, the Lion who became a Lamb, the Redeemer of the all peoples, the Savior of the world. He is our great goal. It is for Him. We go to others so Jesus will receive the just reward of His suffering.
The Lost Are Dying
Most of earth's population will spend eternity separated from God if they do not have a chance to hear the Good News of God's salvation. Eternity is real, and though many people believe theoretically in hell, they don't really believe that a “good God will send people to hell.” May God impress deeply on our hears the terrible reality of man's lostness without a savior. Men and women need forgiveness of sins. There is no other way for that to happen than Jesus. It is by hearing, believing and calling on His name that people are rescued from a certain, eternal, separation from God.
The Poor are Suffering
We can easily become immune to the horrendous suffering of the victims of drought, famine, poverty and injustice. It is only by the grace of God than our hearts can be filled with the compassion of Jesus. The Bible says that when Jesus looked upon the crowds, He had compassion. May we have the same response, whether it be to a neighbor in need, a child's face in a Christian advertisement, or a news broadcast from the Horn of Africa. We know the statistics, we hear and see the faces, may we not become hardened to their plight. There are only two ways to maintain genuine compassion: getting involved with the poor, and maintaining a lifestyle of personal devotion and prayer for the poor.
Friday, November 26, 2010
As many of you know I recently returned from a ministry trip to Lagos, Nigeria. While I was there I had the opportunity to preach in three different churches and to teach at a pastor's conference. It was a great trip, and the Lord taught me many things during my time there. We (Sunshine) also recently participated in the "Boxes of Love" outreach. Boxes of Love is an annual outreach sponsored and coordinated by the Agape Center, a ministry of Campus Crusade's Here's Life Inner City. A box of love contains a Thanksgiving turkey, several side items, and Gospel literature. We split up into two groups last Saturday and visited approximately 16 families (whom we have relationship with) to drop off the box, to pray with them, and to share the Gospel.
Both of these recent ministry experiences reminded me of the importance or the centrality of the Gospel message. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, says that the Gospel is of "first importance." It needs to have this same place of importance and high priority in our lives and ministries. Both followers of Christ and non-believers need the Gospel. When a non-believer believes on the Gospel of Jesus Christ a supernatural work is done in that persons' life. They cross over from death to life (John 5:24), experience a new birth (John 3:1-15; 1 Peter 1:3-5), are set free (John 8:36), and are saved and made alive (Ephesians 2:1-9) - to name a few of the transformations/effects of a relationship with Christ. They become possessors of eternal hope (1 Peter 1:3-5) and have peace with God (Romans 5:1). It is an amazing, miraculous transformation!
This amazing, miraculous transformation continues to happen in the life of the believer because of the ongoing work of the Gospel. I was reminded of this in a blog that I recently read. Jonathan Parnell wrote the following on the Desiring God blog,
"The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the salvation of those who trust him is old news. It is really old, really good news. So what are we aiming for in hearing again and again that which we've heard before? The hope in hearing the old, good news is that it would perpetually break new ground in our lives. Our hearts are like a jungle. There is untamed wilderness and darkness that has not yet been brought, as it were, under the rule of the One who has laid claim to it all. We need to hear the gospel again and again so that the old, good news of Jesus Christ would reach into these uncharted territories of our lives and fly the flag of its dominion. This is how we are "being saved." This is what it means to be overcome by the gospel."
We need to daily remind ourselves of the Gospel, and allow it to transform our lives continuously. We also need to share this life-changing message with others through personal witness. And it is the Gospel message that is our motivation to extend mercy and compassion to others and to contend for justice.
While in Nigeria I was given opportunities to pray with people during and after church services. I would either place my hand on their shoulder or hold their hand and lift their request(s) before the Father and seek to be an encouragement to them. I could tell that each brother and sister I prayed with was very appreciative of the time I spent in prayer with them (and I was blessed by it too). During our boxes of love outreach day, we would hold hands in a circle with each family and lift them up in prayer. It was such an encouraging time, and again everyone seemed so grateful for the time of prayer. Both of these experiences reminded me of times when others have prayed for me (either on the phone or in person) and how encouraging that always is. There is something powerful about praying for others and having others pray for you. It is a simple action to do for someone, but for whatever reason we don't seem to do it as often as we should.
By God's grace I want the Gospel to transform my life on a daily basis, in such a way that it overflows in my life - in my words and in my actions. I also desire to grow in the area of intentionally looking for opportunities to pray for and with others. The Gospel & Prayer: powerful, essential, transformational, necessary.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Just over a week ago I returned from my trip to Lagos, Nigeria. I travelled as part of a team from Hallomai International (www.hallomai.org), a ministry started by my good friend Blessed Madugba. Our team consisted of four Nigerians and three Americans. Over the span of our time there, I had the opportunity to preach at three different churches and to teach at a pastor’s conference. It is still hard to believe that I had this opportunity, and that I was able to play a small part in the work God is doing in Nigeria. God is crazy! As is always the case when we serve Him in ministry, I received more than I gave during my time there. My family in Christ in Nigeria blessed me in a few different ways. First of all, I was blessed by the hospitality we were shown. We were welcomed and treated as family. There is a greater emphasis there on “people over tasks.” Our family (in Christ) there made us home cooked meals, opened their homes, gave us many rides, and spent long, traffic-filled days with us. I look forward to continue to build relationships via email, skype, facebook, etc. with the brothers and sisters we met there. Secondly, I was challenged by my family’s dependence upon the Lord. For some of the pastors there is limited denominational support. The congregation may or may not be able to give enough to support both the pastor’s salary and the church expenses. The LORD provides. My family there, both the pastors and the church members, believe God for big things, and God comes through for them. In my travels now to both South Africa and Nigeria, I have seen a dependence on the Lord in both places that I do not often see here. Finally, I was reminded of the “globalness” of our God. He is the God of ALL Nations. During my time in different churches there I learned new songs, I saw joyful worship, and I heard prayers in languages I didn’t understand. It was beautiful! Christ is actively shining His light throughout the globe through different cultural lenses, and for ten days I had the opportunity to see Him at work in and through His Nigerian church. I only wish we could have more multinational, multi-cultural family gatherings to celebrate Christ and learn and build together. I was reminded afresh that we need each other!
Friday, November 19, 2010
This past Saturday I was given the opportunity to be the closing speaker at my Grandpa Clark's memorial service in Lawton, MI. I was honored to be able to share, and below is what God put on my heart that day...
My Grandpa instructed the family, to not “make a fuss” when he passed, but rather to keep the service simple. I think I know why he gave these instructions. He wanted the focus to be somewhere else. William Carey, the pioneer missionary to India, was known to have once said something to this effect. He said, “When I die don’t spend too much time talking about the missionary, instead focus your attention on the missionary’s Savior.” So I want to do a final summary of my grandpas life in order to point toward His Savior. I want us to think about two things as we reflect on my grandpa’s life:
(1)The LORD was his Provider And (2)The LORD was his greatest Provision
First of all, The LORD was his Provider
• Let’s start from the beginning. When my grandpa was 1 years old, his father died. His mother was not fit to take care of him. The Clark side of the family even suggested that he be put in an orphanage. But the LORD was his provider. His step grandmother insisted that she and his grandfather take in him and his brothers, so that they would indeed have a home with family. The LORD was his Provider.
• The LORD provided my grandfather with an amazing singing voice. He had a booming, full, powerful voice. In fact as an older teenager and young adult a local church paid him so sing in the choir there. It was at that church one Sunday that the preacher gave an invitation to Salvation in Jesus, and my grandpa walked the aisle and prayed to receive Christ. So at the age of 21, my grandpa experienced the amazing Gift of Salvation. He received God’s amazing grace in the person of Jesus Christ.
• That same year, 1937, he joined the military and while in the military the LORD provided an evangelistic ministry. A ministry team was formed, and they began ministering at churches in England. In God’s Sovereignty, at one those church meetings, the LORD provided a wife and ministry partner.
• Fast forward the tape a bit, and when my grandparents returned stateside, the LORD provided two more children in addition to my dad who was born in England.
• During my grandpa’s seminary training the LORD provided a job as a camp director and many young people came to know the LORD.
• My grandpa and grandma would then serve at four different churches in Michigan – Wadhams, Lansing, Novi, and Decatur. At each stop the LORD provided a home for the family, a car to drive, and loving community. They never had much, but they always had enough. The LORD was his provider.
• When they moved to California, the LORD once again provided a ministry home – this time at Foothill Bible Church where my grandpa would serve as assistant pastor.
• Even when there was no formal ministry position for my grandpa, the LORD faithfully provided ministry opportunities for my grandpa to teach and proclaim the Word of God and to encourage others with his infections spirit fueled by the joy of the LORD. The LORD was his provider.
• As my Grandpa entered his 90s, his body began to break down. The LORD provided a sound mind and an unshakable memory of the Word of God. The LORD provided peace in the midst of pain and joy in the midst of sorrow.
• A few weeks ago, on a late Friday afternoon in California my grandfather passed away. The LORD was his provider, this time providing a heavenly home in the presence of His LORD and Savior.
But not only was the LORD his Provider. The LORD was his greatest Provision. Can we thin for a couple of minutes about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that my grandpa came to believe on as a young man.
GOD – The God of the Universe created us in His image. God is all powerful and all-knowing and never-changing and eternal. He is worthy of our awe, of our adoration, and of our praise. This God created us and He created us to known Him and to have a relationship with Him.
MAN – However, this Holy and Righteous and Just God has a problem with us, or He has beef with us. You see we have offended God with our sin. The Bible says that all have sinned and that the wages of our sin is death. Our sin separates us from God! We cannot come to know Him in our sin.
CHRIST – However, God is not only holy and righteous, but He is loving. The Bible says that He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die and pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus died for us. He took on the punishment for sin that we deserved. And after dieing on the cross, He rose again three days later. He conquered death. That is good news! Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrated His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
RESPONSE – Our response is repentance and faith.
The LORD Jesus Christ died for my grandpa’s sins. He gave my grandpa eternal life. He lavished His grace upon my grandpa’s life. Jesus was my grandpa’s greatest provision, his prized possession, and his treasure. And you see when Jesus becomes that Big and that Beautiful in our lives, it radically changes our perspective on life – I would suggest in two major ways. When Jesus is our greatest possession we will have a different view or perspective of self & stuff.
First of all, when Jesus is our greatest possession we become more and more selfless. We increasingly live for His purposes and for His agenda. We increasingly give our lives for the glory of Christ and for the good of others.
Secondly when Jesus is our greatest possession we will have a different perspective on stuff. Materialism will increasingly loosen its grip on our lives. Because of His grace and mercy, our lives will increasingly be marked with generosity on behalf of others, rather than self focused accumulation of more and more stuff. This is how my grandpa lived. Because of Jesus, he lived simply. He lived generously, and He made eternal investments his entire life.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Some might say, and even some Christians might say that my grandpa was not “financially wise.” You see there is no large earthly estate that he is passing on. My grandpa never earned a home. His kids are not getting large inheritances, and neither are the grand kids. But I am reminded of what Jim Elliot once said. He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose. My grandpa made eternal investments his entire life. He invested in people – today is evidence of that. Family we did not inherit money, but we inherited his legacy of faith in Jesus Christ and if we have believed we have received that Paul calls the Gospel of the grace of God.
So today we celebrated the life of a great man, but let us remember that he served a GREAT GOD who was both His Provider and His Provision. And may we come to know the LORD ever-increasingly as both our Provider and our greatest Provision. Amen.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
This past week we participated in a three day revival at Christ Believer's Assembly, located just outside of Lagos Nigeria. I had the opportunity to preach on Wednesday, Mike preached on Thursday, and then Blessed closed it out on Friday. Each day we were all asked to "give a word" to the congregation, and we had different opportunities to pray for different church members as well. After two days there, I realized that there was a good group of children who sit in the very back of the sanctuary. I explained to Pastor David that I lead songs with kids in Chicago, and I asked him if I could do so with the children at his church during Friday's service. He gave me the chance on Friday, and I think the kids really enjoyed it!
This Is The Day
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
This Saturday (October 30th) I will be heading to Lagos, Nigeria!! I will be traveling and ministering with a team of 6 others from the States. I was invited by my good friend and former classmate at Moody, Blessed Madugba. He grew up in Nigeria and initially came to the United States to study at Moody (back in January of 2002). The Lord has put it on Blessed’s heart to equip and empower other African pastors and leaders through an organization he is starting called “Hallomai.” Hallomai is the Greek word for the word “leap” and it’s mission is to educate, equip, and empower church leaders in Africa and Asia. During this trip we will participate in both a Pastor's Conference and local church ministry in the city of Lagos. This conference will be the first ministry initiative of Hallomai. I have been asked to teach a workshop at the conference. I will be teaching on the holistic impact of the Gospel! Lord willing, I will be sharing how the Gospel leads us to not only do evangelism, but to also contend for justice and reach out to our neighbors with compassion and mercy. I will also be doing some preaching in the evenings after the conference in various churches there.
I am so honored and humbled to be a part of this team. Although I will be teaching while I am there, I am also traveling as a learner. I know that I have so much to learn from pastors in Nigeria and from the church there! I am excited to build with believers there and to be an encouragement to one another. I covet your prayers for this trip!
Here is our itinerary:
Sat 10/30 & Sun 10/31 Travel to Nigeria
Mon 11/1 Get our "bearings"
Tue 11/2 - Sunday 11/7 Local Church Ministry
Mon 11/8 Lagos Conference
Tues 11/9 Conference Concludes/Time in Lagos
Wed 11/10 - Thurs 11/11 Return to Chicago
*There may still be some schedule changes, but this is a general guideline of our time.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
On Friday evening my Grandpa Clark went home to be with Jesus. He died peacefully, with the family at his bedside. He was 93. Over the last couple of days I have been thinking of the things that I appreciated most about my grandpa and his life.
First of all my grandpa was faithful to the LORD. He came to know the Lord at the age of 23 years old (neither of his parents were believers). He would walk with Him for 70 years! He spoke often about the Lord and His faithfulness in his life. Over the years I observed him witness to waitresses, store owners, relatives, etc. He loved Jesus and He loved to tell others about Him! He also loved to sing praises to God! I have vivid memories of him singing SO LOUD at whatever church he visited. It sometimes embarrassed us, but he didn't care...he was going to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Second, he was faithful to his wife. My grandparents were married for 64 years!! They have 3 kids, 8 grandkids, and a growing number of great grandkids. As a grandkid, I (and we) could count on a few things from grandpa: a huge hug when we saw him, an occasional mini-sermon or quoted Scripture verse, a "Reader's Digest" joke, and a lot of laughs. He loved to play games and cards at the kitchen table with all of the family! I greatly respect and admire the way my grandparents placed high value on the things that really mattered. My grandpa never had nice "stuff," but he has passed on his faith, his love for people, and the joy that characterized his life.
Finally, he was faithful in ministry. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul exhorted Timothy to "preach the word: be ready in season and out of season." My grandpa never stopped preaching the Word! When he no longer served the Lord in formal ministry, he continued to preach the Word to whomever would listen. He spent 50 plus years of His walk with the Lord serving Him in ministry as a pastor, a singer, and an evangelist. He served as a pastor at churches in Port Huron, Lansing, Novi, and Decatur MI. He was known for his passionate proclamation of the Word, and for a passion for missions. In his later years, he would preach evening services at a church in Sylmar CA, and continued to occasionally fill pulpits into his 80s.
Over the last few years, I have begun to preach at a few different churches. I really enjoyed sharing with my grandpa what I had preached on and where I had preached. Ever since I began serving in ministry in 2001, he has let me know that he is praying for me and that the Lord was using me to do a good work. His encouragement meant so much to me.
In a few days I will be giving the "memorial message" at the cemetery where he will be buried. I am so honored and humbled to do this. I know my grandpa would want me to preach the Gospel. So Lord willing, I will lift up the Name of Jesus as we say goodbye to a man who loved to do the same thing.
I love you grandpa and I look forward to singing with you in the presence of the Lord!
Saturday, October 02, 2010
During the middle of August I bought I book that I had been curious about for a while, called "Radical" by David Platt. It didn't disappoint my expectation. I quickly read through the book in a week and a half. I am revisiting the book to day, to further chew on some of the things in the book that resonated with me and challenged me.
One thing I appreciate about Platt as he writes is that he has been "marked" by his travels to various parts of the world where he has seen followers of Christ live out their faith amongst the difficulties of persecution and poverty. Upon returning from a trip to Asia where Christianity is forbidden by the government, he had this reflection to offer, "...I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves (pg 7)."
He sums up the main idea of the book on page 13 where he states, "We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist Him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, want us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream."
Later he reflects on the Church displayed in Acts and expresses this as a "dream" for the Church today. He states, "I cannot help but long to be a part of this kind of scene in the church today. A scene were we refuse to operate in a mind-set dominated by an American dream that depends on what we can achieve with our own abilities. A scene where we no longer settle for what we can do in our own power. A scene where the church radically trusts in God's great power to provide unlikely people with unlimited, unforeseen, uninhibited resources to make His name known as great. I want to be a part of that dream (pg. 53)."
I also like the way he unpacks the "great why of God." He states, "God blesses His people with extravagant grace so they might extend His extravagant grace to all peoples on the earth (pg 69)." Later he adds, "It centers on His greatness, His goodness, and His glory being made known globally among all peoples. And to disconnect God's blessings from God's global purpose is to spiral downward into an unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God's grace (pg 71)."
One last thing (for this blog entry at least) that I liked was how he challenges his congregation with the question of whether they are "receivers" or "reproducers" of God's Word. In other words, are you going to church to get "YOUR" Word, or rather to take what you've heard and passing it on to others (making disciples). He asks, "What if we began to think, how can I listen to this Word so that I am equipped to teach his Word to others?" Although, I realize that God can speak to us individually through the teaching of His Word and convicts us and challenges us to change. However, too often we stop here and limit it to only personal application. I like that he is pushing ALL of his congregation to be teachers of the Word by having a "reproducer" mindset.
I may write some additional blog entries as I continue to chew on this book. It is definitely worth picking up. Stay tuned...
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Lecrae’s long-awaited fourth album, REHAB, is now in stores! The album features Tedashii, Trip Lee, Sho Baraka, Sonny Sandoval, Anthony Evans and many more. You can check in by picking up a copy of Rehab now on iTunes or at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Mardels, LifeWay, Berean and Family Christian. For more information on where to find Rehab in-store click here.
Check out my favorite song off of the album, "Boasting" featuring Anthony Evans!
Monday, September 20, 2010
This past weekend I had the opportunity to preach on Micah 6:8 at New Hope Fellowship in Lawton MI. This Scripture has had a big impact on my life and philosophy of ministry (and the ministry of Sunshine) over the past 9 years or so that I have become familiar with it. Preaching from it, gave me the chance to really dig into the book of Micah and see the big picture of the book and just how Micah 6:8 fits into the context of the book (I definitely recommend reading the book of Micah!). I am still chewing on what it means to truly live out the "Micah marks of grace" found in Micah 6:8. Below is a summary of my message from Sunday...
"Do You Micah 6:8"
Passage: Micah 6:1-8
(1)Verses 1-3 = The LORD presents His case against His people
(2)Verses 4-5 = The LORD reminds them of all that He has done on their behalf
(3)Verses 6-7 = The Big Question: “What does the LORD require?
(4)Verse 8 = Our Response to His Redemptive Work
The Micah Marks of Grace
(1)Justice (do justice)
Justice (Hebrew “mishpat”) is much more than legal equity; it refers to the entire scope of God’s government of His world. Thus to “do justice” involves, on the part of government, a fair and just use of power and proper functioning of a fair judicial system, especially to protect the weak from the strong. On the part of individuals, “justice” involves honest and fair business dealings and faithfulness to keep one’s word, as well as not taking advantage of the poor or those with less power or protection.
We must contend for justice individually and corporately, personally and systemically!
(2)Mercy (love kindness)
Mercy is the Hebrew word “checed” (pronounced hesed) which means goodness, kindness, and steadfast love.
"The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus touching those declared untouchable, speaking to those who were not to be spoken to, befriending those who were thought not to deserve a friend.” - taken from United By Faith
(3)Faithfulness (walk humbly with your God)
(a)One cannot “walk humbly with God” apart from a relationship with Jesus.
(b)A Biblical view of who God is will always lead to humility
(c)We must disciple others to walk humbly with God
67% of the world’s population does not know God (the Lost)
40% of the world’s population lives on less than $2/day (the Least of these)
People are poor (in Scripture & in life) for 3 reasons:
People who are experiencing injustice and oppression need others to contend for justice (personal & systemic)!
People who are reeling after a personal tragedy need others to lavish mercy on them!
People who are in bondage to personal sin need to have their eyes opened to what it means to humbly walk with God!
Do you Micah 6:8?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This past Sunday morning I once again "competed" in the Chicago Half Marathon. As many of you might remember, I ran in the race last year for the first time. I really didn't know what to expect last year, and my goal going in was simply to "run the whole time." Going into this year, I put a little more pressure on myself. I began training earlier in the summer. I was stricter about my diet. My goal was to get my time under 2 hours this year. Therefore, the morning of the race and even in the days leading up I was "feeling the pressure" so to speak. One of the best things about this year's race was that I had a good friend, Curtis "CZ" Zackery, come into town to run with me. Although we didn't run together during the race (he moves at a much faster clip), it was huge to be able to talk through training practices, morning of routines, diet, etc.
The weather was perfect on Sunday. There were once again approximately 20,000 runners. I was able to finish the race this year with a time of 1 hour and 56 minutes (Praise God!). It felt so good to cross that finish line!!
Here is a "race footage interview" done by Sarah Murphy & Nikki Blodgett...
Here is a "post-race interview" of myself and Curtis "CZ" Zackery done by Nikki Blodgett...
I once again ran to raise money for Sunshine. I want to thank everyone who has either already sent in a donation online, or who is planning to soon. We are still accepting donations! Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested, and I can send you the donation instructions.
Lord willing, I hope to stay in half-marathon shape and continue to do other runs/races throughout the coming year. I'm a runner, so...
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Each fall I have the opportunity (along with other staff members from Sunshine) to do volunteer training with primarily college students and young adults. In addition to "program specific" training, such as discipline, how to tutor, etc - we teach sessions on the historical context of our neighborhood, seeing and celebrating the image of God in other cultures, educational inequities in urban areas, a Biblical response to poverty, and last but not least...The Gospel. For those coming to us from schools like Moody, I know that the Gospel and exegeting the Scriptures will be emphasized in their four years there. However, one thing I have emphasized this week (that one of my mentors, Dr. Fuder, use to stay to us in class) is that we must not only learn how to exegete the Scriptures, but we must also learn how to exegete our city, our neighborhood, cultures, people, etc. We must be cultural learners. We have to intentionally study (and re-study) the historical context and current social trends and challenges in the area in which we serve. In humility and with graciousness we must approach the realities of race, culture, and class as learners in God's school. This type of ongoing education is crucial for us as Christ-followers in the 21st Century. The integrity of the Gospel is at stake because we have an "all nations" commission and a "love our neighbor as ourselves" mandate.
I told the students this week that regardless of where they end up serving, whether it be rural, urban, or suburban that thinking Biblically through issues of race, culture, and class will always be relevant if we want to live missionally in a way that truly exalts Christ. However, studies are showing that the world in which we live is increasingly becoming urban. A recent Christianity Today article entitled "Urban Urgency" reported that more than half of the world's population now lives in cities. In 1950 fewer than 30 percent of the world's people lived in cities, but it is projected that by the year 2050 almost 70 percent of the world's estimated 10 billion people will live in urban areas (according to the United Nations). As God is sovereignly moving people to cities (Acts 17), He is bringing the Nations to these cities. As this happens, Ray Bakke likes to say that "other nations" are no longer geographically distant, but rather culturally distant from us (as believers). It not only becomes about crossing cultural divides to reach people for Christ, but also about learning from our global family (those who know Christ) as we begin to do life together and celebrate our differences.
We have to ask God to give us a "glocal" mindset and heart (that's local and global). We need not juxtapose the two against each other. It is both/and. This new growing urban reality is going to require believers to have an ever increasing Christ-centered compassion for both the neighborhood and the nations.
Friday, August 20, 2010
On the early morning of September 12th I will be running the Chicago Half Marathon on behalf of Sunshine Gospel Ministries! I am looking for people to sponsor me in this endeavor. All of the money that I raise will go directly to Sunshine!
The race is 13.2 miles long. So you could sponsor me per mile (example of $1/mile), Or you could simply pledge a lump sum (example $100) of money.
If you are interested in donating towards this, go to www.sunshinegospel.org and click on the “Donate” link. Then click on “Donations To Sunshine Gospel Ministries.” Make it a “general budget” donation, and please indicate that it is “Clark Half Marathon” or “Clark The Runner.” All donations are tax-deductible.
Thank you for supporting me in this worthy endeavor!!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
(This is a picture of OJ, 16 years old.)
(This is a picture of Damian Turner, 18 years old.)
On Saturday evening I was driving home from a BBQ with my roommate CW. A block away from our house we saw what is sadly a familiar scene on weekend nights during the summer, police cars and police lights. This particular scene included not only police cars, and several of them, but also an ambulance. I said to CW, "somebody got shot." It wasn't until the following evening that I discovered what happened. The shocking part of the news was that the young man who was shot and killed was a former player of mine, 18 year old Damian Turner. He had played for me on three different summer teams. Even after his playing days I would see him all the time, as we only lived a block or so apart. He was a cool kid, liked hanging out with his friends, like to write and record music, and was active in a local community organization called STOP. He had so much potential! He was shot in the back on Cottage Grove around midnight on Saturday, and he died shortly thereafter.
Tragically, Damian is not alone. Earlier this summer another one of my former players, OJ, was shot multiple times in the head and his body was dumped on some remote railroad tracks. The number of young men (although young women are dying too) who have died in the streets this summer alone is alarming. Chicago has now surpassed New York and Los Angeles as the youth homicide capital of the United States. At a funeral earlier this spring, Pastor Corey Brooks was quoted as saying, "hurt people, hurt people." This is where we are at right now in Chicago. We have a lot of hurting young people, who are acting out of that hurt. There is a conditioned hopelessness that sets in, creating an emotional numbness, and leading to acts of desperation.
Whenever there is a string of shootings, all of the experts chime in. Sadly, oftentimes, there is a lot of finger-pointing that happens. I read and hear statements like this:
We need less guns on the street.
Parents need to parent their kids.
We need more police on the street.
If we could just get the gangs under control...
The kids need more positive activities.
The church no longer has the presence and impact that is once has.
We need less drugs on the street.
The mayor needs to allocate more funds to youth programs.
The interesting thing is, I would agree with all of these statements. We need all of the above! We need involved parents, less guns, just police, more outlets for youth, more engagement from local churches, less drugs, and more funding for after school activities. The underlying factor in all of this is the need for long-term, preventative, life on life investment. We don't need more marches, we need more mentors - coaches, teachers, parents, police, block club leaders, and especially pastors and Christians all working together on a long-term consistent basis. The cry after each shooting is for Intervention, but really the call needs to be for more long-term investment in Prevention.
What about the Church? I think we need to re-think how we do church in our American context. As my friend Allan would say, "we have made it too much about the Sunday morning show!" The city and suburbs are full of "drive-in spiritual service centers" where we "fill up" and then retreat to "normal life." I really believe we need to re-think how we can BE the church Monday through Sunday on our blocks, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, and on our jobs. The service on Sunday then is only the beginning, it is only the huddle, but we should look forward to "breaking huddle" each Sunday and heading into the battle of the coming week. We have lost this sense of battle, this sense of mission, this sense of urgency!
This recent shooting has also reminded me of the eternal weight of the Gospel message that we possess. Our blocks, neighborhoods, and cities need us to both proclaim the Gospel (Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God) and portray the Gospel message (justice & mercy). It must be a both/and commitment on our behalf. To put it simply, people need Jesus!
Tomorrow morning I will be attending Damian's funeral. Please lift up his family and friends in prayer.
Continue to pray for Churches and Christ followers here in Chicago, that we would work well together for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of our city.
Monday, August 16, 2010
(The following video was done by Adam Thomason of Red Revolution. I met Adam at the Legacy Conference this year. He taught a workshop I attended called "Living Out Biblical Community." I am still unpacking all that I learned!)
During my time at Moody Graduate School I became aware that historically and currently in America we have bought into and lived out a very individualized, "me and Jesus" Christianity. It is focused primarily on the vertical reality of what Christ accomplished on the cross (reconciling us back to God), while either excluding or minimizing the horizontal reality of the cross (reconciling us one to another). When this happens, the church mirrors society's emphasis on individualism and materialism. The church than also becomes infected with our cultures "caste system" built around race and class.
Although, this "one-sided" Christianity has unfortunately plagued the Church, it is not found in Scripture. I like what Mark Dever says in his book entitled "What Is A Healthy Church." He states, "It should be no surprise then that Jesus said that 'all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments': love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. The two commandments go together. The first produces the second, and the second proves the first. Through Christ, then, being reconciled to God means being reconciled to everyone else who is reconciled to God." I am thinking a lot lately of what it means than to practically love our neighbor as ourselves, and exploring afresh what it means to truly be this new blood-bought family of God. How can we best reflect Christ to a watching world as His covenant people? How do we sacrificially love and bear with one another the way it is described in Acts 2?
I would love to chop it up if you have thoughts, questions, etc. Also, do you have any books you would recommend on Biblical community? I just purchased "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Let's chop...
Thursday, August 12, 2010
We just returned from our annual discipleship trip to Montana. For me it was my 9th “pilgrimage” west! Over the course of these nine years, I have developed some great relationships with the people of Springhill Presbyterian Church in Bozeman, MT. I have come to view many of the people there as my “Montana family.” However, just before I departed on the trip this year, I was reminded of the impact of the Gospel on our horizontal relationships. In the opening verse of the book of Philemon, Paul refers to Timothy as his “brother.” In the Gospel of John (11:21), Mary refers to Lazarus as her “brother.” The difference between these two passages is that Lazarus was Mary’s biological brother, while Timothy was Paul’s brother in Christ. The interesting thing is that both passages use the same Greek word, “adelphos.” This word literally means, “of the same womb.” Take a second and think about the significance of this! Mary and Lazarus were biologically related, while Paul and Timothy were Blood related. The Gospel had caused a radical paradigm shift in Paul’s life. Remember Paul was of Jewish descent and was very proud of his ethnic stock (Philippians 3). However, when God rocked him with the Gospel on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), his perspective of horizontal relationships was radically altered. He became the “apostle to the Gentiles.” He confronted racism/ethnocentrism (Galatians 2:11-14). He acted compassionately on behalf of the poor (Galatians 2:10). Paul’s new birth in Christ caused him to view all believers as “family.” This family perspective superseded any racial, ethnic, or economic differences that existed. That is true Gospel transformation!
So when we travel to Montana, we realize that there are geographical, cultural, and economic differences between us, but we quickly recognize that we are family. We get to know each other, we sharpen each other, we laugh together, and throughout the year we pray for one another. As followers of Jesus we are adopted into a multi-national, multi-ethnic family! Lord give us the grace to be family!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The last Thursday and Friday in July, just before departing for Montana, I attended the Legacy Discipleship Conference here in Chicago! I have been to every one thus far, and I have to say that this year's was the best. The workshops I went to were so meaty and the main sessions were challenging! I will be doing some additional blogs on the content that I am still chewing on from the workshops.
Thabiti Anyabwile did a great review of the conference on his blog. Much of what he said resonated with me!
Saturday, August 07, 2010
In Sho Baraka's song, "Kobe Bryant On Em" he has a line that says, "When life throws you curve balls like Nolan Ryan on em, don't give up in the field...Detroit Lions on em!" During the months of May and June, I feel like I got thrown a curve ball. Honestly, it felt like a bad dream that I wished would end. What made this "curve ball" particularly challenging was that there was nothing I could to to change things. I cried, I cried out to God, I sought counsel. My circumstances didn't change, but in and through it God has been changing me.
It is now August, and in some ways I am still struggling. However, in the midst of this I have experienced God's grace, faithfulness, and love in powerful ways. It is always amazing how during painful circumstances/seasons, there is an intimacy with Christ that is stronger than that of sunny days. He is chiseling me and challenging me in different ways. He seems to be asking me two questions: Do you trust me? and Do you love me?
I recently came across some verses in the book of Joshua where he exhorts the Israelites to "cling" to the LORD (Joshua 22:5, 23:8). I love the imagery of "clinging" to the LORD as my Father, my Rock, my Refuge, the one in whom I put my trust. The word cling means to adhere to, to follow close, to pursue hard. The Israelites were still struggling with the uncertainty of the future, despite the promises God had given them. They needed to hear Joshua's words of "cling to Him." As I wrestle with concerns of "the future" I need those same words - cling to the LORD. By God's grace I want to learn how to cling to Him a day at a time, and to cultivate a "crazy love" relationship with Jesus, where He is my first love.
Monday, July 26, 2010
First, here is a sermon entitled "Is This Really Church?" This is 58 minutes long, but it is worth watching.
Secondly, here is a short excerpt from the book "Forgotten God":
"A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church.
After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn't come anymore, he gave the following explanation: 'I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren't just nice to each other once a week - we were family.' That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body.
The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community. A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers. A place where when one rejoices, everyone rejoices. A place where everyone experiences real love and acceptance in the midst of great honesty about our brokenness. Yet most of the time this is not even close to how we would describe our churches.
Without the Spirit of God in our midst, working in us, guiding us, and living and loving through us, we will never be the kind of people who make up this kind of community." Later he adds, "As for me, I am tired of talking about what we are going to do. I am sick of talking about helping people, of brainstorming and conferencing about ways we can be radical and make sacrifices. I don't want to merely talk anymore. Life is too short. I don't want to speak about Jesus; I want to know Jesus. I want to be Jesus to people. I don't want to just write about the Holy Spirit; I want to experience His presence in my life in a profound way."
-"Forgotten God" pp 152-153
Finally, here is a copy of the "Church Values" of my dear friend Pastor Aaron Roy's church, Living Hope Neighborhood Church in Richmond, CA. These values really resonate with me!
1)Christ Centered - We want to promote the supremacy of Christ in all that we do (Colossians 1:15-20).
2)Outward Focused - We will live out the "great commission" as a command and not an option.
3)Multi-Cultural - Embracing and celebrating the diversity of the body of Christ here on earth
4)Holistic - Our conviction is that the Gospel is concerned with the "whole" person and that the church is to meet the special needs of the diverse urban community (Acts 2:42-47).
5)Missional - We desire to view God as one who is intentional throughout the whole world. The church can/should engage in "global" transformation.
6)Local/Parish - We will strive to better our local community in the areas of schools, housing, and over all health (spiritually and physically) of its residents.
"The success of a church should ultimately be defined by the degree to which it changes its neighborhood." - John Perkins
Any thoughts, insights, Scriptural references that have shaped your "ecclessiology" or your view of the Church?
Friday, July 23, 2010
Wanted to give a quick Youth Outreach summer update…
Erica has still been working really hard networking, seeking to mobilize churches, Christian families, and social service agencies to take part in the ministry of Safe Families. We are one of the top performing hubs (amongst the new hubs trying to be established). Please continue to lift up Erica and the ministry of SF in prayer.
Next week will be our final week of Summer Blast (our day camp for 2nd through 5th graders)! We have been averaging between 30 and 40 kids each day. We have had a good group of “returners” as well as built some new relationships with some new kids and families. The summer staff have done well, and we are thankful for all of them serving with us this summer.
Summer SWAGG (Students Worshiping a Great God)
Next week will be our final week as well! We have been averaging 20 to 25 6th through 8th graders on Monday and Wednesday night! We have also made some new relationships, as well as strengthened some existing ones. Brittney & CW have done a great job!!
We took a record-breaking 75 kids to camp this year!! They were between the ages of 7 and 14. The theme for this year was one love, as we unpacked what it means to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. We had a great week building with the kids, and many Gospel conversations were had. The kids are already asking when we will be heading back to camp!
We had a junior high team and a high school team this summer! The Jr High team (which I coached) ended the season with a record of 1 and 10. We also bowed out early in the season ending tournament. Although our record wasn’t ideal, the time I was able to spend with the guys was great. I look forward to following up with them in the weeks and months to come. Seeds were definitely planted in each of their lives.
The high school team ended the season with a record of 5 and 5. Pastor Brad (Bethel Church) and Pastor Brown (from First Baptist Church) co-coached the team. We are all excited to continue to build into the lives of the high school guys as well.
We will depart on our annual pilgrimage west on Sunday August 1st (returning on Tuesday August 10th). We will be taking 6 young men and 4 young women. Myself and Mike Avery will be the counselors for the guys. Sarah & Erica will be the counselors for the girls. The Blodgetts will also be coming to work with both the guys and girls. Praise God, the church from Montana is sending us a very generous check to help with various trip expenses!!
Fall Staff Editions
I have revamped the 2-5-2 Director position, and am hoping to have filled this vacancy by mid-August.
Brittney Rost is heading back to Elkhart during the month of August to continue to raise support. Lord willing, she will join our staff in September.
CW Allen could potentially be coming on in the fall as well to work with jr. high/high school. We are still working through a potential “youth staffing partnership” with Young Life to see if we can leverage our collective resources in order to bring on a youth staff team.
Please pray for all of the above concerning staffing.
I just thought I would try to give everyone a “snap shot” into some of the “hustle and flow” of the Youth Outreach ministry this summer.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
On the morning of Sunday July 4th, I had the opportunity to preach at Lawton Evangelical Mennonite Church in Lawton, MI. You can check out the sermon audio here. Since preaching the message (and while preparing it), I have really been challenged to "walk it out."
We went to camp this past week. I have spent time at Christian camps in different capacities since the summer of 2000. That being said, the thinking can easily go, "I know how to 'do camp'." But John 15:5 says, "apart from me you can do nothing." In other words, apart from Christ I cannot bear real fruit, Kingdom fruit, eternal fruit. Apart from Christ, and abiding in Him, we merely spin our wheels. We can be busy, we can be active, but there will be not true impact apart from abiding in Him. I need this reminder EVERY day. I will be preaching this message again on Sunday the 25th at a church just outside of Chicago, so I will be chewing on this once again. I am grateful for what the Lord is teaching me through this message/passage.
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,that it may bear more fruit. 3Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide 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. 6If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you,ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The Legacy Conference will be here soon! I am looking forward to it! If you are interested in attending, and you need a place to stay, let me know. I will keep as many people as I can at my place during the days of the conference. It is Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 29, 30, & 31st. For more information check out the Legacy Conference web site.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Abide In The Vine
Abide is taken from the Greek word “meno” which means, “to stay in a given place or state, or to continue in, or to dwell, to remain” OR “to be held or kept continually”
I. The Roles of Abiding
v. 1, v. 5
God the Father is the gardener, Christ is the vine, & we are the branches.
II. The Requirement of Abiding
v. 4, 9, 10
III. The Repercussions of Not abiding
v. 4b, 5
v. 2, 6, 8
“The thought of a person calling himself a “Christian” without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd…Is this idea of the non-fruit bearing Christian something that we have concocted in order to make Christianity ‘easier’?”
- Francis Chan in "Crazy Love"
IV. The Result of Abiding
a)The Purpose is Fruit
v. 5, 7
b)The Process is Pruning
v. 2b, 3
“He prunes” gives a picture of painful but necessary removal of some interests and activities in order that the remaining branches may bear even more fruit.
1)Joy for the believer
2)Glory to God
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I was first exposed to this when I bought the Ambassador's album "The Chop Chop" a couple of years ago now. I have just been reminded of this afresh in the last month or so as God has been humbling me (breaking me) and reminding me of just how dependent I am upon Him. In the Gospel of John, it says that those who bear fruit, God prunes so that more fruit can be born. The end result is beautiful, in that God is glorified and the believer experiences true joy in Christ. But the process...whew!
Listen to this sermon track. I have also tried to copy most of the words below.
A Theology of Brokenness by Pastor Eric Mason
If you are going to walk in the implications of the Gospel, then you’re gonna have to be married to the understanding of the principle of brokenness.
Brokenness is the mark of a person that is qualified to be used by God. But at the end of the day people that are being used by God in a crazy way, in an off the meter way are people that have been cracked at, who have been lunged at by God and God has done something to them.
Broken can mean…
Devoid of arrogance
Brokenness, based on the Scriptures, is the spiritual state by which one is disarmed of one’s self dependence and pride, therefore leaving one disabled and in desperate need of help, thereby making one a viable conduit for the glory of Christ.
Monday, June 28, 2010
This September I will once again be running on behalf of Sunshine in the Chicago Half Marathon. (If you would like to join me, check out the Flashlight). Last year I didn't start training "seriously" until August. However, this year I am starting now. I am watching my diet (except for the cookies and milk), I am lifting much more consistently, and I have begun running along the lake again. Lord willing, I will be in better shape come September 12th this year. We are looking for more runners to run for Sunshine this year. Would you be interested?
Monday, June 14, 2010
As many of you know I recently preached a message on Biblical Hospitality at two different churches. It was recorded at City Lights International Assembly on Sunday June 6th. If you are interested in listening click here.
I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to share this message, and humbled by the way God worked! It was definitely all Him!