Saturday, April 29, 2006

Kingdom Causes

A friend of ours Ryan VerWies and I have been talking lately. These conversations were the inspiration for "The Simple Church" post. He participates and co-leads a ministry called Kingdom Causes. He is the Bellflower lead.

Kingdom Causes is a network of house churches and traditional churches who work together on inner city development and other projects to provide assistance to the economically struggling in the LA area.

Check it out.
God Bless,

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Simple Church

In our faith community, one of our core values is simplicity. Our value is that we live simply in order that we can wisely and extravagantly exercise generosity toward the economically poor in our community, our neighborhood and our world. The question is often posed in our groups, “How do you practice simplicity and fight against materialism in your family?” but I think churches need to ask this question as well.

What would a church that practiced simplicity look like?
What would a simple church look like?

Let’s say your church just starting and defining itself and is meeting as a small group. Is the vision of the church to live simply and practice generosity or is the vision materialistic? Is the goal to “buy a building” and then to make additions? That is how the world thinks as families and when we practice simplicity in order to be generous, we reject the “re-model” mentality? When we seek simplicity as a family, we whittle our budgets down to as little as possible. In the church, if we are able to start from scratch, we can plan a church with virtually no overhead.

What if the church had no building and no staff and yet had 100 tithing families?

Our time like our money was only spent on actually doing evangelism and discipleship. How would we then practice simplicity and generosity? The church will in this scenario have no overhead or at least very little. Easily 75% of the budget would go to missions work and community development.

Funds can be gathered for missions projects and not building projects. That 4 million dollar building project now becomes a four million dollar development project in the inner city or in a third world rural village. We are now doing the stuff and have escaped the trappings of the American Dream on the corporate level.

Here is the practice of simplicity as a corporate community. Here is the simple church of the 21st century.
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Friday, April 07, 2006

Links: Gnostic "Gospel of Judas" Resurfaces

Martin's Musings: Gnostic "Gospel of Judas" Resurfaces

More facts on the history of the Gospel of Judas...

Ben Witherington On The Gospel of Judas

Ben Witherington on the Gospel of Judas.

Ben Witherington does a good job looking at the so-called new finding regarding Gnosticism in the 2nd and 3rd Century AD. Dr. W notes that the real problem with this event is not the finding but with it's reporting. The find is a valuable find to shed light on the Gnostic heresy which developed in the 2nd century AD (denounced as heresy in 180AD). This new find reveals more regarding the anti-Hebrew nature of the Gnostic beliefs and confirms what theologians already know which is that Gnosticism was a very real sect 150 years after the founding of the church.

But for reporters and academics alike to act like this sheds light on first century Christianity or the first 200 years of church beliefs is completely disingenuous.

For more read...Dr. Ws post...

Confessions of Missional Mediocrity

(e)mergent Voyageurs :: Confessions of Missional Mediocrity...Great post on living out our ideals and the difficulty to gain the momentum to really live as a missional community...Great confessional piece.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Danger of Fault Finding

Is fault finding a big problem to avoid? Is fault finding a disease to be avoided with diligence especially if one has a tendency to be critical?
The answer is Yes!! And why?

I will write more on this later but the answer is...Fault finding is like looking for sand at the beach.

1. People have many faults. We are less than perfect all the time. Literally every sentence we say could be improved upon and many things we do and say shouldn't be said or done at all. So once one begins to look for faults, finding faults becomes like finding sand at the beach. An infinite number of faults present themselves to the mind. If we roll these over and attempt to make a case regarding someone's faults, we find a mountain of evidence and delude ourselves into thinking we must be correct. What we have failed to understand is that:
2. Fault finding is a disease. Any discipleship program must teach people the what and why's of the no fault finding principle.

Enough for now,
God Bless,

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Matisyahu - "Youth" - A Young Spiritual Revolutionary's View of The Education System

Matisyahu's new CD - "Youth" is an ecstatic blast of spiritual revolution. While U2 offers the airwaves a positive vibe and social consciousness, Matisyahu takes the same vibe to its ecstatic extreme.

In Romans 11:11, 14, Paul the Apostle proclaims his desire that the salvation of the Gentiles and our spiritual walk in the presence of God would provoke the Jews to jealousy. In a strange turn of events, Matisyahu makes me long for a Shabbat service at Chabad in Washington Square.

To put Matisyahu in context, it is helpful to read his bio from his web page. Matisyahu marries street beat box poetry to his Lubavitch-Hasidic worldview and challenges all of us to take a second look at the role of the poet in memorializing the experiences of our faith communities.

The Central Theme of the Education of the Youth
In the '90's, Kurt Cobain gave voice to a generation of bored and force fed youth, but failed to provide any solutions. In a similar fashion, Matisyahu speaks from the experience of a young vibrant mind thoroughly bored and demoralized by the educational system. As a parent, I reflect upon the poetic raps of "Youth" and have to ponder, "Do I want my children to grows up to be compliant or critical thinkers?".

Compliant or Critical Thinkers
In the title track, Matisyahu describes the effect of an educational system that fails to answer the questions that face adolescents.

storm the halls of vanity
focus your energy
into a laser beam streaming shattered light unites
to pierce between the seams and it seems
tear the world open, peer in the children see
rapid fire for your mind.
half the truth is just a lie,
they rub me the wrong way,
they say their way or fall behind.
seven subjects disconnect,
left out the concept as to why there's a spiritual emptiness,
so the youth them get vexed,
skip class and get wrecked fill with beer and cigarettes
to fill the hole in their chest

Secular education is incapable and thoroughly unequipped to answer the answers that plague the child as he awakens into consciousness in adolescence. Just at this time, the flame is beginning to spark and the seven subjects do not connect with the heart of the child. All this learning, but never the wisdom to answer "why there is a spiritual emptiness".

The first verse speaks also of this budding flame of the mind of the youth...

some of them come
some of them running
some of them looking for fun
some of them looking for a way out of confusion
some of them don't know what to be
some of them don't know where to go
some of them trust their instincts that something's missing from the show
some don't fit society, insides are crying low
some of them teachers squash the flame before it had a chance to grow
some of them embers do glow them charcoal, hushed and low
some of them come with the hunger suppressed, not fed them feel a death blow..

I remember when I was young. I was 100% alienated from society, and the only answer to the inner knowing that "something is missing from the show" came in my identification with the suffering of Christ and the beauty of the cross. Self-sacrificial love as the moral and spiritual principle (the logos) that defines the image of God that cries out to be heard and lived.

Such wisdom, the wisdom of the cross, is not taught in the schools, and how can they? They have no spiritual foundation.

So, how am I teaching my children? Are my children challenged to question and to seek the wisdom of the cross and the death to the ego as the path to true knowledge? Do we teach our children a compliance that doesn't question the moral insanity of the world system? Are they taught to deeply question the individualism and the materialism that drives the world and ends only in suffering?

Our Educational Motto - This is our conclusion.
We will raise our children to be critical thinkers first and foremost and to seek to answer the fundamental questions that plague humanity and that undermine the manifestation of the image of God in the people of God.

The kingdom is a spiritual revolution...
God Bless,
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Cerulean Sanctum: No "I" in "Church"

Cerulean Sanctum: No "I" in "Church":

Dan's post today is about the inherent individualism in the American worldview and how we need to re-think how this individualism has effected our ability to understand God's work with and dealings with communities. Also, are we really capable of understanding the moral implications of the community focus of the Gospel?

Here is my favorite part of Dan's post...Do you have life insurance? Health insurance? Does it cost a lot of money? Have you ever asked yourself why you have it?The reason you have it is because you've been taught you can't count on anyone but yourself to provide should disaster come. Certainly you can't count on the church to provide for you. But that is not how the Bible reads:
And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.--Acts 4:33-35 ESV


Monday, April 03, 2006

Cerulean Sanctum: Posts on Bloggers Who are Qutting

Cerulean Sanctum: When Other Godbloggers Say Goodbye...

I am not quitting BUT...there are things that seem to be pressing out blogging lately...If you can relate,...what are you up to??

It has really been hard to blog lately. I have tons of things to say and still feel like I personnally am growing and probably need to write the process out..BUT...blogging just hasn't been the #1 dicipline that I am working on right now.

What things are you trying to get done in your life????
Here is my list:

For me:
1. Develop a one day at a time method that works and is transferable.
My passion is practicing the powerful pressence of God. This my first obsession. I am naturally a very very impulsive and passionate self-centered abstract loner, so to develop a GOd-focused spiritual life is quite the battle. Oh...that is the human condition...

2. I have six children that will grow up without me if I don't pay attention.

I believe children realy need the approval of their parents or they will seek approval elsewhere (peers and sex). So as a family we spend a lot of time working on disciplines together as an opportunity to say..Great job!!!

3. I pastor a church...This to me is about discipleship relationships. If I meet with everyone I need to meet with on a weekly basis, ministry happens. I absolutely love meeting with people. Discipleship and discipling is by far the greatest joy of my life. This has been a great two years. I can honestly say these last two years have been the happiest since I was running a discipleship home when I was single.

4. Music - My mind is constantly filled with music and lyrics...Now, like blogging, to get this all down on my hard disk recorder is the task at hand....

I have decided that music is a duty for me and something I need to steward. There are few things as beautiful as music and the world needs another positive voice and well, "the revolution needs a soundtrack"...

SO I tend to not blog as much as I could....BUT

5. Blogging...I feel the need to write out the things we are learning as a faith community...This is more for our community and a memorial to the things we are learning because of this the public nature of blogging may not be the best media to get this down on paper...Lately, I have not been as willing to be so open and personal so I haven;t blogged much...

Love you all and God Bless,