Friday, May 29, 2009

No Greater Chasm; No Bigger Investment

Philippians 2
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

"encouragement" "comfort" "tenderness" "compassion" all Greek words that are very deeply seeded. The latter 2 are also used for "bowels." The English translation does not do justice.

"Like-minded" (autos) "same" (autos) "one" (sympsychos). Look at the last one "Sym" like "Symphony" (one sound); "psychos" like in the head (not crazy as we have distorted that word). ONE UNITED MIND.

What a challenge as we go about individual living on a daily basis.

The following has been thought by many to be a very early hymn. Why, Oh why hasn't anyone brought this one back with music (or has someone)? A creative artist could make use of the vernacular and place this back in the hands of communities of followers.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Talk about "filling the gap..." He went from "equality" to "nothing." There's no bigger space in life. "Fulfill" is the only word to use - and that from beginning to end.

There's no one bigger; there's no one more important; there's no one more glorious because he went from top all the way to the bottom (the very pit of hell) and back to the top. He invites us to do the same and he promised to abide within in order that we may encounter such a daily transformation. This is an all-inclusive invitation.

Monday, May 25, 2009

More Fascinating Barna Insight

Here's an excerpt to generate your interest in the article at the Barna website.

The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sharing This Sunday at Trinity Fellowship

I drove by a church yesterday and noticed the marquee. It said: "Free Ticket to Heaven. Details Inside." As I thought about someone who may take a serious interest, I couldn't help but also notice that there were no cars in the parking lot and the doors were more than likely locked - being a Friday morning. I guess the person(s) who put up the letters imagined someone looking at the service times on Sunday and writing it down in their calendar?

Barna wrote an article in 2006: "Spirituality May Be Hot in America, But 76 Million Adults Never Attend Church." In the article he presents statistics from various people with differing spiritual backgrounds. Despite the variety, the main point is that a majority of people are going about their day on Sunday as if it were any other day of the week.

This fuels the passion we want to communicate as we challenge the churches where we are sharing the vision of Java Journey. We are not in a westernized "competition" with local parishes (sp?) or even coffee shops. We hope to compliment both endeavors, espcially the former.

In short, ministry opportunities have a daily - even hourly frequency. One building on one day at one location for an hour or so will not satisfy the demand presented with such a frequency.

Which would you rather say when you have an opportunity on a certain Wednesday of the week: "I'll pray for you and I'll like to encourage you to come with me to my church this Sunday. I'll pick you up." Or: "You have time for a cup of coffee right now? I'm buying." Which scenario do you think has a beater chance?

That's part of what we want to provide through Java Journey. We'll be there "any other day of the week."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Everyone’s Quiet on the Elevator

Most of us know what it’s like to enter a packed elevator. You look to see if “your” button is already pushed. Even if it’s lit, you may push it again so you can own your destination. There is little said beyond a hushed “hello” and perhaps a slight nod. Everybody is quiet on the elevator (with the exception of my mother-in-law – and despite our ridicule about her over friendliness, she may be the only one who has it right).

I’m still in the de-programming mode. I have lived all of my 55+ years with a church-structured paradigm influenced by a secular mindset. I am now experiencing the difficult challenge of breaking away from the three-foot diameter “my space” field that surrounds my being 24/7. In other words, I am just now realizing that I am not solely responsible to be a singular “change-agent” among many other singular “change-agents” in my individualistic world.

That is precisely what the “church” promotes – even in its “contemporary” wrapper (my son has observed that “seeker-sensitive” and “come as you are” is the same ol’ church, but has an added “racing strip”).

In my last “church job” I was given the task to teaching about 12-15 times per year (every Sunday after Christmas, Easter and before Labor Day and Memorial Day were always a given). There was a certain model that we followed (which I was on board with whole-heartedly) that stressed the importance of “life-application” messages. This involved a “how-to” topic which was buttressed by proof-texting. The congregants were encouraged to follow along with a fill-in-the-blank slip of paper. The only corporate aspect to this ritual was everybody filled in their individual notes simultaneously when prompted by the speaker up front on the platform. The message was followed-up with a “slow-dance” tempo worship song and a “charge” to individually apply during the week what was taught. The leader would bid the mass farewell and implore them to come back next week to continue the “series.” I’ve learned that since I left, all the small groups are beckoned to follow a centralized curriculum that is based on the current series messages.

I don’t think it’s a fluke that the most effective and dynamic ministries that still take place within the confines of this specialized formed edifice, are those that occur in face to face community on Monday (recovery) and Tuesday (men in prayer) evenings.

I have greatly benefited lately from the writings of Neil Cole and Frank Viola. Here is an outstanding excerpt from Viola’s latest book “From Eternity to Here.”

One of the great problems in the Christian faith today, I believe, is that Christians are taught to be salt and light in the world as individuals. We are exhorted as individuals to change the world for Christ. We are motivated as individuals to be agents of God’s kingdom.

“Church” has been redefined as the place you attend to be educated and motivated to go out and live a better individual Christian life. Sadly, the individual emphasis in contemporary Christianity has overwhelmed and eclipsed God’s central purpose, which is corporate. To compound the trouble, we have been handed individualistic lenses by which to read, study, and interpret everything in the Bible.

Please observe that it is not the individual Christian who is the fullness of Christ. It is the church, the ekklasia. Also observe that the vast majority of the Bible was written to a people, not an individual. That includes your New Testament, the bulk of which was written to Christian communities.

Our new species lives, works, and behaves in community. We are a colony together. Thus the great need of the hour is for Christians to begin learning how to gather together and embody Christ in a shared-life community where they live. The Christian life is not about you or me. It’s about us. And that is the church.

It is so refreshing to be a part of a small cluster of followers who share their gifts and have the freedom to lead and teach as God prompts without conventional barriers in the way. It is simply amazing how free God's Spirit works and how much Kingdom work is accomplished when Christ acts as the Head of his Body. Vision and passion are shared and developed corporately. It IS so refreshing!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ready to roll up some sleeves

We're hoping to sign the lease this week. We've already got a youth group coming for 4 days in July from Greensboro. They might possibly bring a licensed electrician and plumber.

Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

July 1!

The landlord agreed to allow our lease to begin July 1st. We will get 3 months free since there is much work to do.

I've scanned a picture of the rough plans (click on it to view a larger version). The biggest project will be building the handicap unisex bathroom. Another big challenge will be running drains and supply, as well as 220v power from the back of the store to the "service" area.

The youth group from Trinity Covenant Church in Greensboro will be in Hickory for 4 days in July to help us.

Continue to pray that we will find a licensed plumber and electrician to help us out pro bono.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Lesson from Paul on "Preaching"

"Wow, that was great sermon Pastor." That had been my objective (as taught and inbred by the Institutional Church) over the last 25+ years. How did I not see the poor stewardship involved until now?

1 Corinthians 1:17

οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸς βαπτίζειν ἀλλὰ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου ἵνα μὴ κενωθῇ ὁ σταυρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ


"Not for, he sent me (Christ) to baptize. But joyful message brought - not in eloquence of speech so that not devalue the cross of Christ.


For Christ didn't send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News--and not with clever speeches and high-sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.

How have we gone astray from this? All that we've done in the last several hundred years is to devalue the richness of the cross by becoming dependent on eloquent speeches. "Preachers" all over the globe sequester themselves within the confines of a "study" for 5 or more days to plan out a weekly performance - all the while opportunity after opportunity after opportunity comes and goes beyond the partitions of their confinement.


The commercial realtor called Friday informing me that the landlord had a change of heart. He wants to rent the smaller space to someone in retail. But he will allow us to have the larger space under the same terms. Hmmmmmm.... There is much more work to be done on the larger space costing more money, but it does hold greater potential.

What is God up to on this? I guess we're going to find out. There is so much meaning to the "journey" part of "java!"

Stay tuned.