If you haven’t caught the twittering going on lately, I’ve been back from Ethiopia now for about one week. There’s been a lot of catching up and transitioning going on, so I’ve been pretty silent here.
Ethiopia was amazing. I will try and post some stories and photos soon, but I want to tell the stories in a way that’s fair for those who have been supporting me in prayer and through finances first. Fairly shortly I will be writing an article for the House of Friends July (or August) newsletter, so I may post that here as well. Thank you to everyone who encouraged, prayed, and gave to make this last trip possible. It was definitely not in vain.
In the Lord, I need to get back into the secret place in a major way. I’m realizing that I rely on the relationships around me as a primary conduit for revelation, insight, and motivation. And while I wholeheartedly believe that the Lord uses relationships for that very purpose I’m realizing I have grown lazy in actually hearing from Him on things that are important. I’ll probably have to confess that to my group of guys in the morning.
Lastly, I’m going to try and post here more in the future. I won’t say how often my goal is lest I fail to make it and look like a fool, but I will tell you I want to post here more than I am. It’s good to be back!
My wife and I went and watched the latest Star Trek movie last night, not because we’re “Trekkies” but because we thought J. J. Abrams would do an amazing job. The movie was good and J. J. Abrams did not disappoint.
But while I was sitting there I had a thought that I think would be helpful to share. It’s hard to deny the impact that Star Trek has had on us as a society. If you scour the internet there will be no end of articles about how the technology we “saw” in Star Trek has become what we use. This article has a great summary of some surprising ways Star Trek changed what we do.
But what struck me was how much the ideology of Star Trek has become part of our society, even more than the technology. We shouldn’t forget that the point of Gene Rodenberry‘s show was to show humanity working together beyond their boundaries to better mankind. This is why Star Trek was the first T.V. show to have an interracial kiss and why all the members of the Enterprise are from distinctly different nationalities. Rodenberry also intentionally created a world where human beings had stopped believing in anything beyond science. His depicition, no matter how comical at times, has very subtley shaped society.
So here’s my deep thought: This man created a vision of the future and sold it to the Earth in such a way that we have begun to build towards it. How should our vision of the end of the Age and the Kingdom of God change the way we live in society now? How shoud it cause us to live our lives differently?
Lately there’s been plenty of chances to be discouraged about things going on around me. So I thought I would share a few things that have kept me pursuing Jesus in the midst of disappointment.
First, there’s Paul:
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
And then…there’s Rita:
The encouragement from Jesus to me that I’m passing on to you is to be faithful and fulfill your calling in the midst of all the obstacles. God is faithful and the struggle for the age to come is worth the price paid here.
I read a lot of blogs. I read them for multiple reasons: some I love, some I mostly agree with, some I don’t agree with frequently but read because it’s good to have an outside perspective. I read all of my blogs through Google’s Reader program. With Reader, you subscribe to blogs through an RSS Feed. Every time a new post is added to a blog, the post comes strait to my Reader. The problem is the number of subscriptions I have is beginning to drive me crazy. It’s become clear that it’s time to drop my subscription to a few of the blogs that I’m not very interested in.
All this talk of unsubscribing has gotten me thinking lately. If I were forced to unsubscribe to all my blogs except for five (I think I may be subscribed to 30 or 40), which blogs would I not want to unsubscribe from? Which blogs actually are so good that I would not want to give them up? Here’s my list of answers:
Synthesis is written by Shafeen Charania. This is a blog I only discovered fairly recently but I’ve come to look forward to a couple of well-written, thought provoking posts every week. Each post (or series) takes a look at an issue of national significance (i.e. bettering national education, creating “behaving corporations,” or changing how we use energy as a nation) that Shafeen explores with great skill and thought. I don’t always agree with everything he says, but if I was ever a presidential candidate (which, thankfully, I’m not) I would keep a close eye on his thoughts and borrow as many of them as possible. I wouldn’t unsubscribe form this blog because it’s full of “the simplicity on the other side of complexity” in a time when our nation needs that kind of simplicity.
This blog, like some of the others, thoroughly surprised me when it showed up on my list. This blog is (primarily) written by Bob Roberts Jr., pastor of a mega-church in Texas known as NorthWood Church. Bob is both an author and church planter, but it seems he gets the biggest kick out of building bridges between different nationalities and religions to maximize Kingdom impact. I’ve recently heard him say that the church will only be effective if it engages different nationalities and religions in the world where the rubber meets the road and not from within their four walls. I would not unsubscribe from this blog because I appreciate the candidness Bob has when he writes about what he is learning. We get to learn lessons from Bob’s life right as God is speaking them to him and it is a treat.
I was originally drawn to this blog because the title is exactly what I consider myself to be. However, the more I read Jonathan Dodson’s blog, the more I’m beginning to realize I’m more of a novice than he is. Here’s why I would not unsubscribe from Church Planting Novice: Jonathan has his hands in all sorts of different movements related to church planting. House Churches, the missional movement, and mega churches all get some “air time” here and the thoughts and ideas are a good blend of all three. Best of all, Jonathan is constantly posting on the relevance of the Gospel to society and the church. CPN is full of both practical nuts and bolt church planting practices and ideas for cultivating a missionary spirit in the churches we plant.
Stuff I Think is written by intercessory missionary Randy Bohlender. This may have been the first blog that I read consistently that belonged to someone besides me. I started reading because I had just moved back from Kansas City and wanted to follow the little tid-bits he dropped about what was going on at IHOP. But since then I’ve come to love Randy’s blog because of who Randy is. I don’t know of another blog where I see someone having so much fun just being himself. Not only is the blog drop-dead funny on many occasions, but it’s also filled with practical wisdom, provoking thoughts on the end-times, and a clear voice calling for the end of abortion. I’m provoked to become the sort of person Randy is becoming and that is why I would not unsubscribe from Stuff I Think.
This blog is easily my favorite blog of every blog I read. This blog is full of poetry and short writings that primarily focus on Jesus himself. I love this blog because Eireen, the writer, makes me want more of Jesus in the same way that watching someone enjoy some good ice cream makes me want to head to Dairy Queen. The blogosphere is full of people who want to tell you how to do life, ministry, or church better. But rare is the individual who pulls from their delight in God to share with the world. Rarer still is the individual who causes hunger to arise in your heart based on their delight in God. Regularly she causes my heart to say “Who is your Beloved that you would charge us to love Him as you do?,” (Song of Solomon 5:9). I would not unsubscribe from He is My Delight because by reading it I’m challenged to find my delight in Him myself.
So…these are the five blogs I would not unsubscribe from. What are yours? Leave a response in the comment section.
Each of the phrases in the title of this blog could be a whole series of blogs that I continually blog about. However, tonight, it’s late and I just have one thing to say about all three subjects: They are all deeply related.
Having said that, this was the subject of a message I just shared with our house church here in Cedar Rapids. I believe we’re beginning to cross into some areas we’ve never been in before. I had something else on my heart to share, but the Lord wouldn’t let me share about it until I took the time to lay a foundation for a real culture of repentance in our church. I’m finding that one thing that is sorely missing in our churches is a true, non-religious culture of repentance.
All of that has to start with a thorough understanding of God, His nature, His thoughts about us as we live our lives as sinful human beings, and how all of those traits of God need to be reflected in the church. If I’ve piqued your interest (or you’re one of the three people that read this blog to keep tabs on our house church–yeah I know about you guys) you can check out some of the stuff we talked about by clicking here.
Maybe this never happens to you, but sometimes while I’m reading my Bible my mind drifts and I begin to think about something besides what I’m reading.
Some times I can’t get the last episode of some TV show out of my head. Sometimes it’s something going on at work. Tonight it was a question I had for the Lord. I needed an answer and it was bothering me that I didn’t have one.
So I’m kind of half-reading and praying at the same time, asking God to reveal to me the answer to the question I’m needing an answer to. Then, I look at the next paragraph in my Bible, and there in the words of the text is the exact answer to the question I was asking the Lord just seconds earlier.
You know how Paul says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)?
Yeah…he wasn’t kidding.