This is the question I am posing to you the blog reader. According to my blog stats, I’ve received at least two referals through wordpress from a site called Oldster’s View. WordPress from time to time will automatically generate links to other blogs that it believes are related to your blog. The page that has received the two referals is the post I debuted my new look with glasses…which you can check out here.
And what, you ask, is the blog that is referring people to my post with new glasses? Well I’m so glad you asked. This is the primary picture on the blog:
Now you tell me…should I be offended? You can vote below.
Today, while I was at work I plugged in my MP3 player to a set of computer speakers that I brought in from home. While I do this most days, I’m usually listening to worship music of some kind. But within the last couple of days I loaded way more preaching onto my Walkman than should be allowed in any country, and so instead of listening to music at work, I listened to preaching. The great thing about it was that I found myself wanting to get back to my desk and work so that I could hear more of the sermon that was paused while I was away. It was good motivation to stay at my desk and to continue working.
The featured speaker of the day was Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Mark has a movement of young men desiring to plant churches all over the place and has done (from what I understand) an amazing job of bringing the true Gospel to tons of non-believers. This sermon was given to a group of potential church planters that were thinking of joining Mark’s Acts 29 church planting network. It had a lot of funny moments, some stuff I liked, and some stuff I disagreed with.
But what the sermon did, it did well…and that’s this…Mark described very well the nature and pitfalls of movements. He described movements as a river made up of various tributaries, always focusing on young adults, always harnessing new technology, and always bringing reformation to those outside of the movement’s reach. One of the things I greatly appreciated about Mark’s message was the single-minded focus he had about keeping Acts 29 focused on bringing the gospel to lost souls and planting churches where lost people are saved. Mark has taken great pains to make sure that nothing else eclipses that goal.
And in the process it reminded me that all true, Jesus-centered movements are on the same mission that Jesus was on–to seek and save the lost. There are no new movements (in the Kingdom, at least) where people are not being converted. We (as a house-church and as part of the larger house church movement) need to make sure we don’t loose this as a cardinal value. When we loose this, we become just another plateauing church that is part of the reason lost people are going to hell every day. But if we embrace not just Jesus, but the mission He is on as well, we reconnect ourselves with the very cause the Church on earth exits and we become a little more like the phenomenal Jesus-movements of history.
I’ll talk more about movements sometime. For now…are you part of the movement of Jesus to reclaim humanity under the reign of God?
Things around this blog have pretty much been a ghost-town since the election ended. I feel like I have a lot of thoughts about things but not much clarity from the Lord on any of it. Rather than posting whatever I feel, I’m going to wait. Thankfully the Lord is beginning to save me from by big, fat, internet mouth.
There are lots of things going on that are good right now. I really feel like the house church is in a very positive place. We’re all beginning to catch a little bit of the vision that God has for us as a family and as part of a larger movement that will culminate with the return of Jesus. I’m testing the waters with Jesus about the possibility of going to Ethiopia in June with my friend John. God is stirring the water several different ways in my job as well.
I think this blog is up for a little remodeling as well. You may notice I have a new avatar. I’ve become increasingly concerned with the abilities Web 2.0 gives to anyone whose interested to monitor what I and those around me are doing. Because of that, I removed my face and replaced it with this snappy picture. However, on a happier note, this picture is said to be of a Canadian farmer rejoicing at sunset because of the greatness of the harvest in front of him. My hope is this picture is in reality prophesying where this thing is going. I’m also hoping to develop a resource page where I can host different teachings, books, and equipping files that will strengthen the apostolic church I believe the Lord is raising up in this hour. While there is absolutely nothing there, you can check out the beginnings of it here.
Finally, the Lord has been speaking to me about continuing to write and publish and develop relationships around the themes that I talk about frequently here. Part of that will be me trying to get significantly better at describing what exactly it is we’re called to as an end-time church planting movement. If that doesn’t excite you, that’s okay, I’ll publish other stuff as well. But if it does, feel free to drop in, say hi, or get involved in the discussion.
And finally, to those of you who I’ve been bad at staying in touch with, I’m working your way.
Part of the joy of participating in a house church is you never know what any given night will bring. Sometimes you plan to the best of your ability and try to hear the voice of the Lord and the total opposite happens—something so bad that you don’t even want to admit to the next day. Other times you’re just a mess before you gather with other believers. You bring the little bit of desire to seek Jesus to the gathering and despite your lack of planning and prayer, Jesus shows up. Sunday night was no exception.
We started with the usual meal together. The kids were full of energy and enjoying getting together again for their normal “play date.” I wasn’t feeling well at all. In fact, I was pretty surprised that I hadn’t puked by the end of the night. We had our normal conversations…sports, politics, the economy. You know…same old stuff. Chris mentioned the Jehovah’s witnesses that came to his door and asked if anyone was interested in going to a Kingdom Hall meeting next week. We all came together and Christy lead us in worship to sing a few songs.
Surprisingly, during worship our door bell rang. I snuck out of my living room and down the stairs to find Dick Speight setting outside on the front porch of our step. He had decided to come and spend the night with us and had called Chris earlier to find out where we were meeting. I asked Dick how long he had sat outside. He said not long, but later he ended up telling us that the Lord had spoken something to him for us while he was out there, so I suspect he may have been out there a little longer than he wanted to let on.
Worship ended not too long after Dick arrived. Dick said “Hi,” and then told us that the Lord had spoken something to him for us on our front porch. Earlier in the day I had prayed about whether I should share something with the church. The Lord pretty clearly told me not to be the primary speaker that night and not to worry about what we would do. It was definitely a relief to have heard the Lord correctly. After some brief adjustments (Dick had a call from his son and one of the girls threw up) we settled down to hear the word the Lord gave us. The Lord spoke to Dick out of Micah 6:5-8
“O My People, remember now
What Balak king of Moab counseled,
And what Balam the son of Beor
From Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
That you may know the righteousness of the Lord
With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with your God?”
Dick said that at first the Lord really highlighted verses 6-8 that describe the weariness of the people in their attempt to serve God. They expected God to want everything from them and they were weary in giving it. The Lord had already spoken during the worship time that some of us were feeling weary and because of that weariness we felt like we didn’t love God. The Lord’s answer to us is that the Lord only requires us to be just, to have mercy toward one another, and to walk together with humility.
But then Dick felt the Lord back him up to verse 5. Verse 5 (in Dick’s prophetic paraphrase) was about remembering where God had led us in the past. In the passage God called the Israelites to remember God’s faithfulness in their wilderness season and how he proved Himself faithful to them in enabling them to take the land. Acacia Grove (or Shittim in some tranlations) is the place where Israel gathered just prior to their second attempt at taking the Promised Land. It speaks of a place just prior to breaking into the vision and destiny God has for a people. It was a place of purification (the men of Israel defiled themselves with the Moabite women there but Phinehas struck down one of the women and turned back the judgment of the Lord) and a place of strategizing for conquest. Moses spoke the law from Acacia Grove.
Gilgal is a similar place. It is the launching place for the invasion of Palestine. It was here that the people celebrated the first Passover feast in the land of Canaan. The Israelites set up memorial stones there and consecrated themselves to the Lord again by circumcising a new generation. In our context, it again speaks of us looking back to the mighty exploits the Lord has done so that we do not forget what He has done for us. It also speaks of a new generation arising and putting off the deeds of the flesh, denying ourselves, and joining the Lords’ army (Joshua met the “Commander of the Army of the Lord” there).
How does all of this apply to us? God has a corporate promised land he has called us to reach. We must be people who see past the giants of the land and have faith to fight for it. (Bryan has been telling us this for a number of weeks now.) Dick spent time emphasizing to us that what we are doing was initiated by the Lord. We didn’t just come up with a good idea. He also was clear that even though this was initiated by Jesus, we are free to fail. If our house church just looses energy and dies, Jesus will still be ruling the universe and He will still come back to set up His Kingdom on earth. But, if we can be free to fail at what we’re doing we will also be free to succeed. He said we should spend time reviewing where we’ve been and where God has taken us to encourage ourselves for taking the land in the time ahead.
But Dick also said this is the time to begin to prepare for going into the land. It will be a season of consecrating ourselves to the Lord. He said the men especially will need to be careful to rid themselves of anything close to sexual immorality. This will be a time of cleansing ourselves of any idolatry, especially as it relates the model of church that we are attempting to pull off. We cannot make an idol of the house church movement.
We also must begin to prepare for going into the land by taking positive steps. We must develop strategy for going into the land and destroying every idol and every high place. I believe this speaks of our need to be clear about our DNA and our discipling process, which is something I will talk about more at a later time. God also uses the time between Acacia Grove and Gilgal to order the camp. He births tribes and orders people skilled in their individual gifts to their place in the camp. We’ll need to use our short window here to find everyone’s place in the camp and get them functioning there. I also think we need to look at ways to do justice, exercise mercy, and walk with God in a humble way. This is a season of great change for us, both in shifting away from the bad and realigning ourselves for the task ahead.
So house church is fun because Jesus shows up. We didn’t expect Dick to come. We didn’t expect a massive encouragement to prepare for what’s ahead. But Jesus sent someone into our midst with a message for where we are going. I think we would be wise to hear it.
Amen, let’s stand.
(Note: We talked a lot Sunday night because the Lord was doing a lot of things through this message. In a very general way, the Lord was doing what we talked about the week before. He sent someone with the word of the Lord to declare that God is with us and encourage us to go forward in what God has called us to. I’m going to try and summarize our discussions in a few paragraphs. Please feel free [especially if you were there] to leave a comment in the comment field below about any aspects I’ve missed.)
So it occurred to me while I was mowing that in the same way that women enjoy being complimented on a good haircut, I think men like being complimented for keeping their lawn in a good condition. However, this is rairly ever done, in part I believe, because its a very difficult thing to word. What should you say? “Hey, nice grass?” There’s always the very cumbersome “Good mowing!”
So I submit to you two new phrases to use the next time you see the king of his castle working tirelessly to defend his kingdom. The first is fairly straight forward. You walk up to a guy and say “Hey, nice lawncut.” But if you really want to give the dude a compliment, offer him this encouragement: “Dude, nice mancut.”
Of course, this could have serious consequences, as you’ll see below. Once guys are complimented, they go to great lengths to hear the same compliment again. The following picture needs no more commentary than the caption.
Okay…here’s the deal. If you’re going to have a blog and you’re famous for writing and singing, you ought to at least be considerate enough to post a feed on your blog so that guys like me don’t have to truck out to your individual blog site every day. Let’s get with it gentlemen!
(Note: This is a tongue-in-cheek blog to show how unusually spoiled I have become)
So today I had a random but well-timed meeting with one of my 50,000 coaches, Dick Speight. We had a great time at the world’s greatest fast-food restaraunt (how could you not?) and caught up with what was going on in each others’ lives. As I was sharing, though, I became very clearly aware that I have avoided some much-needed maintenance on my spiritual life.
Let’s be clear about one thing-I’m not happy about this. There are probably a ton of reasons why I’m not happy about this but here’s two good ones to start. First, I thought I was doing better than this. There have been times in my life where my disciplines were right on and people could feel the affect of my time in secret with the Lord. Lately that has not been the case. Because I lack time in the secret place, I have nothing to give when I’m in the world. No one knows I’ve been with Jesus and I’m not content to live that way.
The other real bummer is that I hate maintenance. I’m not good with it. I love to start things. I love to improve things. I love to resurrect things from the dead. But I’m not very good at routine maintenance. I typically just don’t have the focus and the stamina to stick with a routine that I have mastered. My length at any one position in my job is directly related to the amount of time it takes me to understand the position. Then I move on. To be clear, this has not happened with God in any stretch of the imagination, it’s just that I want to be further along my walk than continually retooling my devotional life.
So, its time to take some time and get under the hood of this car I call my life in God and see where the kinks are. Mostly this will look like me scheduling in time on my calendar where I cannot be bothered distracted. I’m needing to find time to get some communion in with God and get some vision about where my family, the church I belong to, and my life are all going. Pray for me as I start out on this journey…it will mean some definite changes for me and for us as a family. Pray that I’m able to stick to a routine that doesn’t become routine…a continual encounter and drawing away with God that propels me into the harvest field. Pray also for grace for my family to help me in this. I won’t blog a ton about what’s going on, it is still the secret place after all…but who knows? Maybe God will give me something sometime. Who knows whats under that hood anyways?