Friday, February 26, 2010

Weekly Links

Real Life on Food Stamps - In this great Sojourners article a mom shares her experience of getting signed up for food stamps

Why single-tasking is more productive than multi-tasking
Doing two things at once, like singing while you take a shower, is not the same as instant messaging while writing a research report. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can multitask jobs that need your full attention. You're not really having a conversation while you write; you're shifting your attention back and forth between the two activities quickly. You're juggling. When you juggle tasks, your work suffers AND takes longer--because switching tasks costs.
John Carroll has assembled a great list of seminary-level learning that is available for free online. This is a great list. All of his links go directly to iTunes

Thinking of getting rid of cable and watching shows online? Check out this article from Lifehacker

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Andy McKee Video

If you're not familiar with this fella, prepare to be amazed!

Jesus & the Kingdom

Craig van Gelder ~ Jesus announced that the time of the presence of the kingdom being made manifest in the world was now at hand, and that redemption would now be brought to bear on all of life and that it was his intent to invite everyone everywhere to repent and believe this good news (Mark 1:14-15).

Friday, February 19, 2010

24 Hours of Rest

The boys are spending the night at my Mom's tonight, which means...peace & quiet for 24 hours. We have no plans other than watching some movies, maybe ordering a pizza, and definitely relaxing. Can't wait!

The Kingdom of God

We're halfway through our series on Luke's gospel at Neighborhood Church. This week I went away to St. Columba's Retreat Center to gain a little clarity on the remainder of the series. One thing I continue to learn about myself when it comes to teaching is that I always have to keep the big picture in mind. Where are we ultimately heading? Why is this series important to the life of our church? One of the big questions for me was how to incorporate the Kingdom of God, Jesus' favorite subject to talk about. So after a day away, here's where we're going.

This Sunday we're on the parable of the sower, but instead of thinking about it in terms of evangelism, we're thinking about it in terms of the condition of our own hearts. There's a great quote by Rick McKinley about this:

Pay attention, Jesus was saying, because in a mysterious but powerful way, the condition of your heart radically dictates what the kingdom is going to look like in your life. If you wrap all your hopes and dreams around it and let it sink far into your inner being, the kingdom of Jesus will live in you and bear fruit

Next week we then begin another "series within a series" on the Kingdom. Here are my tentative titles:

The "Upside-Down/Available to All" KOG (2/28)
The "Advancing/Subversive" KOG (3/7)
The "Already/Not Yet" KOG (3/14)
The "Costly/Totally Worth It" KOG (after Easter)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A New Blog

We have a carpool with Josh and Ginger Spickler on days that Walt and Adam have CLUE at Downtown Elementary School. Josh has started a blog documenting the strange and amusing conversations that go on in the backseat during those drives. If you need a laugh, check it out. I promise that it will not let you down.

Amos Story - Pt 2

Just watched this video again. Reminded me of one of the best quotes from the conference.

Aaron Ivey: Adoption is one of the clearest pictures of the Gospel that we have.

Think about that as you read these lyrics. Then watch the video again.

I'll find a way to get you here
If it takes my fleeting breath
Another sunrise hits the ground
And it's a dark lonely sight
Light years away I hope you know
There is somebody searching
For the way to get you here

Close your eyes and dream
Of a better day with me
As angels hold you tight,
May you sleep in peace tonight

Amos Story

Reflection from Verge - Day 3

The final day of the Verge conference was a memorable one. A couple of highlights of the day: First up was Aaron Ivey's music and story. He and his band played one of their house shows. Their music is terrific (I just bought their album off emusic), but it was their story that made the biggest impact. Part of the goal of their house concerts is to raise awareness of the need for adoption, especially in Haiti. For over two years he and his wife were trying to adopt a little boy named Amos from Haiti. They were finally able to bring him home two weeks ago. You can read more of the story on Aaron's blog, and below is a local news story.

Francis Chan was up next, and spoke on the topic of suffering. Suffering is all throughout the Scriptures, yet we are surprised when we experience it. Chan said that we have this backwards: we ought to be surprised (and worried) if we're not experiencing it. After he spoke the band came back up and led worship, then Matt Carter came up, and honestly shared that he wasn't sure what should happen next. It was time for break-out sessions to begin, but he gave permission to stay and continue seeking God. He sat down. Silence, then one by one, different people began shouting out the praises of our God. Later the band came back up and led us in a wonderful time of worshiping through singing. It was one of those moments where you're reminded that the psalmist said it best, that the nearness of God is my good (Ps. 73:28).

This moment, and the ones following, encapsulated what I appreciated most about this conference. The leaders were humble and dependent on God. Sure they were stumbling around at times, but when God is moving, that's the best posture to have. I am so glad that we got to go to Verge. I know that God is continuing to work what we experienced into the life of our church. So grateful for that!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Reflection from Verge - Day 2

Another long day, another good day. I'm really becoming a Jeff Vanderstelt fan. He was one of the speakers during the first main session. Key quote: "What we're getting (here in this session at Verge) is informing, not equipping. Equipping involves doing." His point was that it's one thing to do that at a conference. It's something completely different to think that we're equipping our church, when in reality all we're doing is informing. We have to create outlets for practicing.

Most of our day was spent listening to Hugh Halter. I first heard Hugh almost two years ago. Soon after that I went through MCAP. What I learned there, and through his and Matt Smay's book The Tangible Kingdom, has had a huge impact on Neighborhood Church. Both Josh and Joe had read The Tangible Kingdom, but hearing Hugh in person was great for them.

He shared a lot of the stories that I've heard before, but what I really love about these guys is that they're practicing this in a way that some of the other speakers aren't. They continue to flesh this out, which I really appreciate. Some of what they might have said two years ago they aren't saying today, because they figured out that it doesn't work as well as they thought. But the fact that they continue to experiement, and then implement, is good.

If you've read the book, you know about the three circles: Communion (spiritual formation), Incarnational Community, and Mission. One of the biggest takeaways for us is realizing that we do incarnational community and mission pretty well, but almost all of our weekly activities feed the communion circle. The problem with that is that whatever we invest our time, energy, and resources in reveals what is most important. The good news is that we are not stuck. Hugh reminded us that pilots never fail. We will continue to experiment. We'll shelve things that don't work. We'll continue to implement what does. Continued innovation is crucial.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Reflection from Verge - Day 1

Yesterday was a long travel day. Josh, Joe and Steve got to my house at 6 am, and we drove to Little Rock. After a layover in Dallas, we finally arrived in Austin with just enough time to get our car, drop our bags off at the hotel, and get to the conference for the first session. The main sessions are going to be organized around the six themes of Alan Hirsch's The Forgotten Ways. Last night's was "Jesus is Lord."

After a great worship time led by Aaron Ivey, Matt Carter opened things up by talking about the dangers of loving your mission more than your Savior. He spoke from Revelation 2 (church of Ephesus). When you look at what Jesus commends them on, it seems like an awesome church. But Jesus says that he is no longer at the center of their lives. And the warnings of continuing this are that he will remove his blessing and presence from them. The question he left us with was, "If everything was taken from you, and all you had was Jesus, would that be enough?"

After communion Francis Chan spoke. The one thing you can count on when Francis speaks is that passion is going to pour out of him. You don't really outline or take notes when Francis speaks. He's really all over the place. But God speaks, so occassionally you write something down, knowing it's quite important.

His main points were that we just need to go back to the Scriptures to learn how to live out the Christian life. We've added so much to it. He brought us back to Acts 2. This group of 120 saw Jesus raised from the dead, and it radically changed their lives. They told everyone about it. The things that had seemed important to them before no longer appealed to them. That's why they gave their stuff away to others in need. This made perfect sense to them. What wouldn't have made sense is for this community, after seeing Jesus raised from the dead, is for them to come to a church service once a week for some singing and preaching.

When I listen to Francis speak, he reminds me of how simple things should be. Simple doesn't mean easy, but it does mean simple. This isn't rocket science. We just need to come to God through his Scriptures, and do what he says. He ended our time by calling us to pray for God to move. Earlier he had asked the question, "What power would I believe in if I really read the Bible?"

I'm still a little tired this morning, but am ready to learn. Grateful to be here with Josh and Joe, and look forward to going through this with them.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Weekly Links

Scot McKnight writes about homeschooling with, get this, a Germany and Memphis connection

Making lemonade out of lemons - found out about this movie on Seth Godin's blog. The idea is that sometimes the best entrepreneurial moments come out of times of crisis

Starting a Church Without Losing Your Soul - by Ed Stetzer

Audio & Video from the Acts 29 Church Planting Bootcamp in Raleigh

Ten Reasons why Churches Stall - Tim Chester

10 Tips for Missional Communities

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Church in Need of Recalibration

Alan Hirsch & Michael Frost: We believe that the church must constantly return to Jesus to find itself again, to recalibrate, to test whether we are indeed in the faith. The inference is that by and large the church as we currently experience it in the west has to varying degrees lost touch with the wile and dangerous message that it carries and is duty bound to live out and to pass on. As Jesus' disciples we are called to a Christlike life, and no matter how we configure it, that must surely mean that somehow our lives and our communities must be in significant congruence with the life, teachings, and mission of Jesus. The degree that we are living the life laid out by our Master is directly proportional to the degree that we can call ourselves authentic disciples (ReJesus, 64)

A Community is Forming

Last night we had several families over for pizza and discussion. The topic of discussion: Peabody Elementary School. Three years ago my desire was to one day send my children to our neighborhood public school. At the time I hoped that one or two others would decide to join us. Last night I realized that my dreams have been two small. There are currently 10 families leaning towards sending their children to Peabody next fall. We have known a few of these families for awhile, but some are new friends. But the cool thing is that with all, the hopes and dreams are the same. It's definitely an exciting time!

Mandy has done an excellent job leading and facilitating these discussions. Check out her blog, as I'm sure she'll be writing about this.