Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: Here are some recommended books to encourage us as we are actually loving our neighbors…

Not to long ago, I messaged out to some folks who are actually making disciples, in my opinion, and asked them to tell me three books they recommend that actually encourage followers of Jesus to make disciples in the daily rhythms of their lives. The list is below. I have not read all of these YET. But as you and I do, may we come back and leave our thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of each. Grateful to all the leaders who responded and recommended.

Hope this compilation of recommended books is helpful!

May we see “on earth as it is in heaven” on our block as we live believing that God loves us, compelled to love others that they may know His near, life-giving love, as well.
-jason

Cultivating Daily into Family: be intentional with how you cultivate for healthy sibling relationships. How do you do that?

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It was a special moment captured luckily just because I had the phone out taking a different picture a few minutes before. A 10 year old brother loving his 1 year old brother. Caleb and Noah – the little brother for whom Caleb prayed, unbeknownst to us :)

But to say we are grateful would be an understatement. We can’t imagine life at the Dukes house without Noah’s smile and charm.

And Caleb can’t have imagined another female (he has 3 sisters). :)

With five kids, we actually work hard at cultivating for healthy relationship between the siblings. It is not easy. Two practices we have seen that have been impactful so far:

:: don’t allow for tattle tales unless the siblings have tried to work it out without any progress or unless one of them is in serious danger. We have to coach them at times in working it out, but this is a good thing. After all, we must raise our kids to love others enough to confront and resolve conflict. It is one essential of loving relationships. It is one component of a forgiving culture. And to not cultivate for this implies that you are okay with relationships that stifle rather than sharpen.

:: encourage siblings to pray together, especially when resolving conflict. It is a beautiful thing to listen in on their respective perspectives as they do. Coach them to keep it simple and relational inviting Jesus to grow them and help them as they learn to love each other. Coach them also not to pray for the other to be different, but instead for their own sensitivity and growth.

What about you guys? Those of you who are parents, what have you done to cultivate for healthy and growing sibling relationships? Please share in the comments that we may all grow in wisdom together.

Grateful.
-jason

Cultivating Daily for Unity: here’s an awesome story of one local church putting the needs of another local church above their own.

It was their first Sunday for a public worship gathering. This new church start had been preparing for this day for some time, already having walked together and grown together and served together during what most call a “core group” phase. But this Sunday they would start a weekly Sunday gathering for the people of the community they had been already loving.

One of their goals was to be a new local church that helped to start other new local churches. But for most leaders, that day will come. It’s not something you do in your first year, right? It’s not something you do at your first Sunday gathering, right? Not when you have so many needs yourself, right? Well, not unless you value generosity toward and unity around mission with other local church families.

Only if you believe that “put the interests of others above your own” stuff applies to the 2nd person plural “you,” too.

And it does. It’s the only way for we as His church to actually be the church that He intended and prayed for in John 17:18-23.

“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth. I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:18-23 HCSB)

On that first Sunday, an offering was collected, as does happen in many Sunday gatherings around the world. But on that first Sunday, this new church start did not keep a penny of it.

Visiting with them was another leader whose family and a few friends would be cultivating for another new local church expression not too far away. And without having told him it was going to happen before, the offering collected on that first Sunday was given in totality to the visiting leader of another local church family in order to help their ministry begin.

And that’s love – caring more about what someone else is becoming than what you are becoming. That’s love – being willing to give everything you have denying yourself to help someone else.

And that kind of love among local churches is what cultivates for unity in a community, is what becomes an answer to Jesus’ prayer, is what ushers in the work of God in a city.

The near love of Jesus on display, that the world might believe in the One who was sent.

May we go and do the same.
-jason

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: a few thoughts on loving the nation that happens to also be our neighbor…

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It seems so far away from Orlando. And yet it’s only about a 2 and 1/2 hour plane ride. In today’s world, that makes them our neighbor. In terms of countries, in terms of states and provinces, they are. Canada to the US. The northeastern states to Quebec. And the largest city there is Montreal.

If I told you that demographic data states that less than 1% of the population there claims to be Jesus-followers, would you believe me, or would you think I was mentioning an eastern country that is far, far away from these “Christian” nations of the west?

If I told you that there were cities, not just communities, in Quebec that did not have a visible church presence, would you think I was speaking of another continent than our own?

This is where the water hits the wheel for me. This past summer, I began to ask myself what my belief in Jesus really means to me. Because if I really believe that the lost can be found in Him, that purpose is defined by Him, and that hope arrives in our lives because of His presence and His love, then would I not be burdened to take His love to both the neighbor next door and even the nation next door?

Or is this “Christian” stuff just for me and my wife and kids and our betterment and our blessing?

Please pray with me. I am not suggesting that we all need to learn a polished presentation and be armed with a truthful tract and go declare a meaningful message to a people we don’t even know. I guess what I am praying is that the Lord will awaken me, awaken us, to how His love given compels the one to whom it is given to live with personal presence embodying God’s glorious truth displayed via consistent compassion in the midst of ongoing relationships among a people we are really wanting to know. A people whom we care more about what they are becoming than about our own betterment.

This is what God did. The presentations of previous messengers had not been enough. Truth declared alone had not restored. But God in skin delivering truth in the embodiment of love, that was enough.

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 HCSB)

And Jesus said to His followers:

As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21 HCSB)

We do not save. But we are sent. And sent together simply to “make disciples.” To go be the family of God in the midst of the lost and lonely like Emmanuel has done with us. And we go as a learner of His ways empowered by His Spirit to be a lover in His way that those who have not found their way may find Him and simply believe that they are loved by a near God.

How might we embody both truth AND grace to both our actual neighbors (those in our daily pathways) as well as to our neighboring country?

Please pray, if you sense His leading to do so, for wisdom and response that we all might feel compelled to give the love that has been given to us.

-jason

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Cultivating Daily in the Marketplace: do you work for money or for mission? Consider this…

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We make our mortgage payment every other week. Groceries for five kids and one on the way costs money. Gas. Tolls. Insurance. Oh yeah, and generosity. Lots of avenues for money to go out. Which means that there must be an avenue where money comes in.

And so we work.

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” [ Proverbs 14:23 ]

Other verses in Proverbs also make it clear that work is important, laziness is bad, and God gave us abilities and energies to use in the course of how He provides for us.

But that last statement is the key. He provides for us.

“Give us this day our daily bread…” [ Matthew 6:11 ]

So obviously, in answering the question WORK FOR MONEY OR FOR MISSION, it would be contradictory to say God will provide (affirming the Matthew 6 verse) but then to be lazy and not work hard in what your hands find to do (ignoring the Proverb). But is that the purpose for work? Just to make money?

I believe that most of us philosophically agree, if you follow Jesus, that you don’t just go to work to make money. But do we get caught in the snare of making more money rather than making more disciples?

So, let’s say we should make it a priority to work for mission’s sake. What would the mission then be?

What if the mission is to live believing that God loves us, which secures us to love others like He has loved us, in hopes that they will also believe that God loves them?

Could it be that simple?

Consider these Scriptures:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” [ John 3:16-18 HCSB ]

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” [ John 13:34, 35 HCSB ]

Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” [ John 20:21 NLT ]

May we work for mission, trust for money, and live sent to be a letter of His love into the lives of the people with whom we work. And not so that we can make a spiritual presentation to them. Rather, so that we can live a spiritual presence with them, that in our nearness, both in word and deed, they may believe that they are loved by the God who came near and considered them worth dying for.

Lord, please teach us how to live sent daily with You.
-jason

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: Simple Suggestions for Engaging Your Neighbors from @JoshReeves & @VergeNetwork

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Wanted to share this great article from the Verge Network by Josh Reeves about 25 simple ways to engage your neighbor. And there’s a bonus. There is a link to a previous article from Josh with 25 more ways that was actually a prequel to the article I have copied and pasted below :)

Hope it encourages you to love your neighbor! So grateful for the Verge Network and all the great resources they share.

-jason

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[ from the Verge Network ]
Recently, Josh Reeves wrote an article with “25 Simple Ways to Engage Your Neighbors.” Because there was so much interest in the article, we decided to give a follow-up with 25 more ideas to engage with your neighbors.

Here’s a recap of the original article, along with more ways to engage your neighbors:

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I have found that it is often helpful to have practical ideas to start engaging the people around me. Most of the things on this list are normal, everyday things that many people are already doing. The hope is that we would do these things with Gospel intentionality. This means we do them:

– In the normal rhythms of life pursuing to meet and engage new people

– Prayerfully watching and listening to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is working.

– Looking to boldly, humbly, and contextually proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.

Below is a second list of 25 simple ways to engage your neighbors. Not all of these are for everyone, but hopefully there will be several ideas on the list that God uses to help you engage your neighbors:

1. Cook an extra casserole and give it to a neighbor

2. Buy an extra dozen donuts and give them to a neighbor

3. Start a compost pile and allow neighbors to dump their compost

4. Host a coffee and dessert night

5. Organize and host a ladies craft night

6. Organize an effort for neighbors to help take care of elderly in neighborhood

7. Become a regular at your neighborhood pool/park

8. If you have a skill, let neighbors know that you can use it to help them for free

9. Host a movie night and discussion afterwards

10. Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood

11. Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents

12. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas

13. Collect good will store items and offer to take them to goodwill

14. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer

15. Start a sewing group

16. Go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood (invite neighbors in on it)

17. Throw a July 4th block party

18. Start a neighborhood Facebook/Twitter/Google + group

19. Ask longtime residents to help you learn about the neighborhood

20. Offer to babysit neighbors kids so they can have a date night

21. Find out your neighbors birthdays and take them a card and baked goods on it

22. Setup a meet your neighbors night with drinks in your driveway/front yard

23. Ask your HOA or apartment complex if they need help with anything

24. Host a regular Saturday morning breakfast potluck

25. Host a sports game watching party

Do you have some other ideas or ways that you or your Missional Community have engaged your neighborhood? Let us know below in the Comments section!

Missional Tip:
Pick one of these ideas and act on it this week. Let us know in the Comments Section how it went!
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Josh Reeves is the Lead Planting Pastor with Redeemer Church in Round Rock, Texas. You can follow Josh on Twitter: @joshreeves

Cultivating Daily into Family: Parents, how do you respond when your kids make mistakes? Check out #MichaelJordan’s perspective followed by some personal thots, too…

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Even though I am a Duke fan and have always been a Duke fan, I grew up cheering for Michael Jordan. The first Final Four game I saw on TV was the 1982 championship that took place in my home town New Orleans between Georgetown and North Carolina. As a young freshman, Jordan hit the go ahead shot in the final minute and was a key player in the TarHeel championship run that season.

Jordan went on to mega-stardom as a Chicago Bull in the NBA, winning 6 NBA Titles and catapulting the league into international influence, also paving the way for athletes to enjoy big-money endorsements and product lines beyond their own sports. Jordan definitely is considered a significant success as a basketball player and a business man.

If this is the case, then why is one of his most famous and powerful commercials about failure? See for yourself:

What a great perspective on mistakes and failure. My wife and I as parents grapple with this question all the time as we cultivate into our kids. Do you have such an understanding in dealing with the mistakes of your children as you cultivate daily into their lives?

Consider these thoughts that we ourselves are trying to learn and practice grow in more and more daily:

:: Let the prevailing culture of your family for which you cultivate consistently be one of love first rather than condemnation first (John 3:16-17).

:: Encourage humility and confession rather than just feelings of humiliation and a consequence given. (1st John 1:9)

:: When confronting and conversing about a mistake, don’t let a child’s first response be, “But he…” or “She did this…” Remind them that this conversation is about what they can learn rather than how they can blame. (Genesis 3)

:: When there is a relational issue among siblings and humility and contriteness have been quickly displayed, let the consequence be confession to one another and prayer for help the next time. (Matthew 18:15-20)

:: Encourage the joy that comes from having to be dependent upon a Savior and Restorer rather than the guilt that remains when we keep thinking we have to fix ourselves (Psalm 32).

:: Teach each child how to deal with the temptations that come in an assertive but reliant way – take each temptation thought captive then try not to deal with it alone. Rather, drag it to Jesus, surrender to Him, and ask Him for His ways to prevail rather than my own. (2nd Corinthians 10:3-5)

May we all grow in cultivating in our families for a culture that views mistakes as opportunities for maturing rather than signs of immaturity. And may we all grow in wisdom as we cultivate for culture of grace and love in our families.

For all those Jordan fans out there, maybe this is just one more way to “Be Like Mike.” :) Enjoy that classic commercial below…