Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Renovare Blogging 7

The main speaker in today's afternoon session is Richard Foster. This is the first time I have heard him in person. I am surprised about some things-he speaks very flowerly and poetically, and he is wearing a suit and tie. I expected this teacher on simplicity to be a bit more, well, simple in style and delivery. But what he is saying is great.

Foster is speaking on the importance of words, as demonstrated in the wires of Moses. No other person in Scripture has more recorded words than Moses.

Words have the power to hurt or heal. Our postmodern world recognizes the importance of words, how they limit or empower. We would do well to take note of this.

The words of the gospel can be words that heal and bring hope and meaning into people's lives. May we share these healing words with the world around us.

What words do we need to share with the church, our family, and the world?

-- Post From My iPhone

Renovare Blogging 6

What is Spiritual formation? The Renovare conference put together a definition after consulting with 200 spiritual formation authors and speakers.

Here it is: Christian spiritual formation is the process of being shaped by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ, filled with love for God and the world.

Here are some sub-points that they make:

- God calls us all to become like Jesus.
- As we are rooted in Jesus and in the kingdom he proclaims, we ate progressively transformed.
- Our engagement with God's transforming grace is vital.
- Spiritual formation happens I'm community
- Spiritual formation is, by it's very nature, missional.
- We invite all people, everywhere, to embrace with us this calling to become like Jesus.

What do you think of this definition? What strengths or weaknesses do you see?

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, June 22, 2009

Renovare Blogging 5

The third speaker in today's afternoon session is Dallas Willard.

Dallas is speaking on Servanthood and the Jesus Way. He begins by saying we should ask not just What would Jesus do, but How would Jesus do it?

The basic message of Jesus was about the kingdom. Repentance as Jesus was about in this context was thinking about your thinking, not getting down on one's knees.

When we come to Jesus. We enter into an interactive relationship with God, which is his kingdom. And Jesus' life is our example of this interaction.

At the last supper, what would Jesus want to leave as a last thought for his disciples? Servanthood. He shared this "thought" by washing their feet. Jesus did this, John tells us, knowing that he had come from the Father and would return to the Father. This is a verse that has always stood out to me.

The Jesus Way is to abandon our own kingdoms for God, putting our trust in him. The desire to build our own kingdom has always been thedesire of humanity, going back to Babel.

The language of the kingdom of God and that God is king emerges out of the exile in 2 Chr. No matter what was hppening in the world, God was still king.

Is God enough? Yes. It is in exile that we discover the sufficiency of God. When we turn over the control of our lives, there is great feedom that comes. The cross relieves us from self-control and fees us to serve others.

The reason we struggle with mercy towards others is because we are not servants.

Being a servant is not about individual acts. We live as a servant of Jesus, acted coming into the kingdom.

When we cast our burdens on God, we are freed and can trust that God has our back.

What do you think is the relationship between servanthood and the Kingdom of God?

-- Post From My iPhone

Renovare Blogging 4

Chris Webb, the president of Renovare, is also speaking at today's afternoon. He is speaking on sin. He makes the point that we want cleaned up homeless people and prostitutes. We would rejoice in this story. But what about the struggling prostitute, who worships with us and then goes back out on the street? Would an AA group kick out an alcoholic? No. What about a church that kicks out all sinners? It would be empty.

David was a terrible sinner, sinning in most every chapter. But he was a man after God's own heart. When confronted with his sin, he was shattered.

Why do we pretend that sin does not exist in the church? What can change this pretense?

-- Post From My iPhone

Renovare Blogging 3

Speaking in the afternoon session is Randy Frazee. Randy is the senior minister at Oak Hills Church, working with Max Lucado. I loved Frazee's book The Connecting group, in which he highlights neighborhood and intergenerational troops.

He is talking about giving out a survey, both self assessment and from a few close to him, on Christlikeness. He said that it is too easy for us to deceive ourselves. Chtistlikeness must happen in community.

We all could be helped by asking those around us how we could grow. That is a bit scary, but the fact is that those around us that are closest to us-such as our spouse, close friends-already know our flaws.

Have you ever had the courage to ask those around you about how you can grow?

-- Post From My iPhone

Renovare Blogging 2

Tonight was the big kickoff for Renovare, the Jesus Way. Max Lucado spoke on fear. It is a subject which I have been thinking about a lot lately, along with worry. In the gospels, fear is the opposite of faith. A fearful church or a fearful Christian is probably struggling with faith.

I confess that, like the disciples in the boat, I often struggle with faith-which sometimes manifests itself in worry about the future. But hopefully God can use me as he did the disciples, and I can grow in this.

Eugene Peterson, author of The Jesus Way, spoke on several different aspects of discipleship. He emphasized how Jesus shows us who God is. We see his divinity through humanity. Our culture, on the other hand, wants spirituality to be outside of our humanity. An escape from reality. A spirituality that has no impact upon how we actually live. I am interpretting a bit here, but this is the track I think he was on.

This is the theme of his book The Jesus Way. That we see glimpses of Jesus in people throughout the Bible-in Abraham, David, etc. I have bought his book and look forward to going through it.

What are your thoughts on fear and faith? What kind of spirituality do you think people are looking for?

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Renovare Blogging 1

We changed hotels today so that I could attend the Renovare conference. There are general sessions, and specialized workshop sessions. My specialized sessions are with James Bryan Smith on Becoming an Apprentice to Jesus.

In this session, Smith talks of how we change-metanoia (repentance), spiritual disciplines, community, and the Holy Spirit.

One thing that he said that struck me was that Sabbath was therapy for control. It forces us to not work-and we must trust that God is at work during this time.

We must apply the disciplines at home first. Reading Bible stories with my girls is a typeof Sabbath. I must pause and take time. This is a spiritual discipline.

We must also apply these disciplines at work and in our community.

Another thing that stood out to me-it is our nature to concentrate on the negative. The antidote is counting our blessings.

What do you think of these thoughts?

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Alamo and outdoor preaching

We ate at the Buckhorn for lunch. A ggod burger, and some good live music. Thank you to our neighbor Margie for her suggestion!

The girls wanted to go back to the science museum, so Becki gave me a 30 minute reprieve to walk around. I wandered down to The Alamo and looked at it from the outside.

I had been warned by people not to expect too much from The Alamo. Even prepared, I was struck by how small it was. Obviously, the legend is larger than real life. That made me think how God can take our small stands, like those brave men in The Alamo, and use them in profound ways years, even decades later, to inspire others.

Outside of The Alamo was a man preaching about Jesus. I did not hear a lot of the preaching, bit I did hear him singing, Precipis is the Blood of Jesus. Of is still in my head, snd I did not know thesong before he sang it.

Not many people are going to stop for open air preaching, though a really good singing group might stop some. But I thought, I wonder if this could not still touch someone. If I am still singing that song in my head, could not someone else be doing the same thing? Is it possible that God could use this to touch someone's heart for Jesus and later seek him out?

I concluded that God could indeed use this. Somehow, we need to find ways to bring Jesus into the public square. Rather, he is already in the public square. We need to find ways to help people sense his presence.

What do you think about open air preaching and singing? A good idea or a bad idea? Helpful or hurtful to the spread of the gospel?

-- Post From My iPhone

Nored family at Science Museum

Here are a few pictures from the science museum in San Antonio. There was a photographer taking pictures for the museum brochure. He took a lot of pictures of Gina and Emily for the brochure, and we signed a waver allowing them to use their pictures for the brochure. I'm glad someone else knows how cute our kids are! (Just kidding!)

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More High Pointe in Your Park Pictures

Below are four more pictures of "High Pointe in Your Park." The first two are of the Templeton group. They met in an elementary school playground and played baseball. They were able to invite some people there to pick up games.

The second set of pictures are of the Ledbetter group in the Melissa area. There was a good, diverse mix here--and it looks like they are having fun!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

High Pointe in Your Park (Pictures of Nored/Delaughter Gathering)

Tonight, the High Pointe Church of Christ spread out into parks across McKinney and beyond. We gathered people in our neighborhood who are part of High Pointe, and we invited some of our neighbors.

We had a good turnout. About half of the High Pointe members did not know each other before this, despite living very close to one another. We had a young couple come out to the park--and the husband of this couple I do not believe I have ever seen at our worship. Clearly this was a gathering that was comfortable for him, which is great.

Also, one of our neighbors came down and joined us. Our kids played together, as did some of the kids of the other High Pointe members.

After eating, talking, and playing with the kids, we ended with a prayer for the Russia Let's Start Talking misson team that is leaving on Saturday. We laid hands upon them and prayed for their mission trip. It was great to do this right out in the park.

Our kids said, "We want to do this again!" And we will do this again. It was the great start of a neighborhood gathering, and may form the basis for a new small group. But instead of just Bible study, we can gather together for fellowship with neighbors, prayer, perhaps some neighborhood service. I have also been wanting to do the neighborhood barbeque too, and Chris Chappotin's talk today reminded me of this.

All in all, a great night. We met people and interacted with people that we never would have met or interacted with if we had met in our building. It is great to get out in the community!

Have you done something like "High Pointe in Your Park"? How did it go?

Mission Alive Strategy Lab

This morning I went over and joined some of my friends at Mission Alive, a church planting organization led by Gailyn Van Rheenen, for their "Strategy Lab." These sessions are led primarily by church planters in the field, and what I heard was excellent--theologically based, Spirit-discerned, contextual, and practical.
Chris Chappotin (featured above) talked about building community. In his context, having a barbeque out in the front yard each week and inviting the neighbors has been a great way to build relationships in the neighborhood. These gatherings can help break the brokennes of isolation that is found in suburbia.
Interestingly, tonight we had geographic small groups spread out across the McKinney area and beyond0--including one in our neighborhood. Chappotin's talk fit well into this concept (more on this in my next post).
How would the weekly barbeque in the front yard work in your context for building relationships with neighbors?

Monday, June 15, 2009

We are going to San Antonio! Family Time, Renovare Conference

On Thursday, Becki and I and the kids are going to San Antonio! We have never been there, and everyone seems to love it. We'll spend a few days together at Sea World and other places. Then Sunday, I will attend the Renovare conference, which focuses on helping people become better followers of Jesus. It will have an emphasis upon spiritual formation.

Speakers include Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and others. Should be great! I am ready to get away for a few days.

Have you been to San Antonio? What do you recommend seeing or doing?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

High Pointe in Town Lake Park

Last night we had the third night of our "High Pointe in the Park" nights. High Pointe in the Park is going into parks and other public places in our community on Wednesday nights, seeking to be a visible light in the community.

It is important for service and outreach to be a part of the church's weekly schedule, such as a Wednesday night. By just moving the church outside of its walls, most of church life can be made an outreach.

Yesterday, the main attraction for High Pointe in the Park was at Town Lake, a well know park in McKinney. We had a picnic, paddle boat races, a live band, a bounce house, and the park's playground equipment. We had a great first hour of this fellowship, and some families outside the church joined us for our meal.

Unfortunately, the tornado warning hit at 7 PM, so we had to shut down an hour early. Paula said, "It was a fabulous night.....for one hour." As one of our elders said, however, "There is nothing that prevents us from doing this again."

Below are some pictures from this night.

What benefits do you see from having Wednesday nights in "parks"?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Why do we serve/bless others? Getting to our motivation . . .

I was doing some reading this week in Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster about the Discipline of Service. In my Spiritual gifts listing, the gift of service is more narrowly towards physical, "menial" types of tasks. There is, of course, a broader understanding of service that would include this, but also could be defined as simply blessing others' lives.

In his book, Foster distinguishes between "self-righteous" service and "true service." Self-righteous service comes from human effort. It is more scheming than anything else, and is "highly concerned about results"--and if these results fail to materialize, the service ends.

In contrast, true service is a lifestyle. It comes from a heart that is willing to help anyone. It both springs from and fosters humility. It is based upon compassion for all of humanity. (See Foster, p. 126-140).

I can remember talking with a church planter once at a symposium. He said that his church had tried service ministries to the poor, but he had had no responses. So he "scrapped" all of that.

I am sympathetic to the plight of church planters. They have limited resources and time, and yes, it is biblical to be concerned about "results." But I told him that my theology would not allow me to scrap all of our church's service ministries to the poor.

I am certainly concerned about results, including baptisms. We need to not just be content to hand out food and clothing. We need to also try to find ways to pray for those who have these physical needs, love them, and share the gospel with them. The Bible counts baptisms. It also, however, counts the 5000 and 4000 whom Jesus fed, and 10 lepers that he healed. Matthew 25 says that at our judment, we will be judged by whether or not we fed the hungry, clothed poor, and visited people in jail. These acts of service are themselves a type of result. As Reggie McNeal writes, we need to count these types of missional markers too.

It seems that Jesus healed people both strategically - it confirmed his message- and because he had genuine compassion upon them. And he sought to share the gospel with those whom he served, without making it conditional. It would seem that this is what we should seek to do as well. To serve with only baptism in mind is mere scheming, and to serve without seeking to share the good news is to fail to show compassion for people' spiritual condition. To fall on either side of this is to fail to fully model Jesus.

What do you think should be our motivation for blessing/serving others?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

When you sense a change in posting habits, something may be up

i was just reading the other day (in one of my many books/sites on social networking) that if you sense a change in a person's posting habits--say, they go silent or sporadic in posting for a time--they may have something else going on. This is commonsense, of course, but sometimes we fail to put two and two together.

Anyway, an elder buddy of mine came by today and mentioned that he had noticed I had been kind of quiet on the blog front. And this is true. Several things have been going on . I had a D.Min. paper to finish and turn in, we had friends in town, and then a lot of ministry stuff throughout.

This week we are leaving for OC's Quest, where I'll be helping with facillitating the missional church track and serving on a panel about leadership, following Dr. Ken Jones. So, the blogging may still be sparse the next few days. I also blog on the Missional Outreach Network and microblog on Twitter. It all keeps me hopping.

Are you able to sense changes in blog/Facebook/Twitter or other kinds of posting of your friends? What do these changes tell you?