Thanks to my friend @LanLeavell for sharing this YouTube preview with me of a new IMAX film titled “JERUSALEM.” Good stuff…

Just had to share this majestic, fly-over preview of “JERUSALEM” – a new IMAX film coming out. Worth your 7 minutes to watch. If you have ever been there you will no-doubt recognize places. If not, it will make you want to go.

Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=iPQI6Yupt48

“Five Ways to Eat the Bible Together” from @AnnVoskamp. Very much worth sharing with you…

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Yesterday on her blog, Ann Voskamp shared five “spiritual diets” she and her family have lived together. I thought they were worth sharing to encourage you and your family as you live sent together. They are below…

REMEMBER – if you are married, do not live on mission thinking you cannot include your spouse and kids. Including them is crucial. The near love of Jesus is best seen in the loving dynamic of a people on mission together. That includes the family unit. You don’t want your kids going to college one day having never seen a disciple made and having never loved the least of these. They need to define “following Jesus” as more than a prayer prayed and “church attendance.”

These family times immersed in the Scriptures are the nourishment they need for growing up in Christ. And you and I need it, too.

Make it a priority. I know I need to. Cause this “eating” is to important to relegate to leftovers, so may we do more than leave it to the energy left over when all else is done in the day.

Thanks, Ann, for this encouragement.

May we eat well and have some quality family meals, too :-)
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“5 Ways to Eat the Bible Together”
from Ann Voskamp

There are varied ways to eat healthy, and we often eat differently in different seasons… so it goes with Manna from heaven.

Here are some spiritual diets we’ve lived:

1. In Slow time…
Instead of swallowing large portions of scripture, certain seasons we eat very slowly, savoring only a few verses at a time by first listening to His Word, reading only a few verses…. then I linger, quietly meditating on those 2-3 verses, turning the words over and over…. then to lift voice in prayer, pray the Scriptures back to God… and then live the Words, contemplate on the verses long, and throughout the day, that hand and feet and tongue might do them.

For more: How to Savor the Bible

2. In Community…
In addition to meal-time meditations, there have been seasons where we’ve had personal quiet time together as a family, so children see parents savoring truth and parents can model how to eat.

For more: Communal Quiet Time

3. In Audio …
I’m making it a habit that when I clean, or run the morning routine, do domestic tasks, to always slip in another disk of the audio Bible: clean the heart while cleaning the house.

For More: Listen for free every day to the Daily Audio Bible and what I have in the stereo: Inspired By . . . The Bible Experience

4. In a Year …
There have been many seasons where I’ve read the Bible in a year. Perhaps my most favorite plan was with this plan on a bookmark, that has only 25 readings slotted a month, allowing for five catch-up days. And no flipping back and forth to find the plan…. Just tuck in the bookmarks. And begin whatever time of the year with whatever Bible you have.

Free Bookmarks for easy Bible-in-a-year Reading Plan — from John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist

5. In Book Repeat …
This way of eating Scripture has yielded very toned, healthy souls and I highly recommend it to hungry hearts. I have found “the book repeat” way of Scripture reading truly lets a soul ruminate on Truth powerfully and effectively. Simply:

a. select a shorter book of the Bible (I’ve chosen Philippians once, Colossians another)
b. read it through
c. Then repeat, twenty times, reading at a your usual pace, considering the book as a whole meal.

Do you have anyone to whom you can say, “I am discouraged?” Consider how important that really is…

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I sent a note out to some dear friends with whom I lead a few months ago. In summary, I was basically asking them for prayer and wisdom as I was in a season of deep discouragement. The responses I got reminded me of how important having those people to whom we can say “I am discouraged” really is.

Being honest, I was disappointed with most of the responses I got at that time. One-liner cliches back from folks in essence telling me I have nothing to be discouraged about. “Suck it up” or “why would you be discouraged?” aren’t appropriate responses to someone who rarely says, “I am discouraged.” Maybe for someone who says it so often you wonder when they are ever encouraged would it be appropriate to challenge them to wake up to what they are missing. But for someone whose declarations are much more optimistic or realistic at worst, it’s not an appropriate response.

So how might we respond appropriately?

Paul gives us a hint in 1st Corinthians 12 in the context of challenging the Church of Corinth regarding their unity and mission and importance together.

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
(1 Corinthians 12:25 MSG)

It’s the same as in marriage. If a fellow follower of Jesus hurts and we know about it, it is no longer just “their problem.” Like the text declared, “every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing.” It is OUR problem now.

So how are we then praying about it together, seeking counsel and wisdom about it together, carrying it together, checking in on each other to encourage each other together, and taking next steps toward restoration and wholeness and abundant life together?

We cannot do this alone. Don’t just give cliches to brothers and sisters who are trying not to do it alone. Or else they might not come to you the next time. Or else they may isolate themselves so much that no one suspects any problem until the issue sinks them in self-destruction.

May we be a people to whom it can be said, “I am discouraged.” And may we have those people to whom we can say, “I am discouraged.”

Loving one another is essential to making disciples together. Navigating those seasons together of not even feeling like you can love well is so important.

I am thankful for my wife and my brother and my dad and those I call friend who are such HUGE supporters. I pray I will be the same to them. And I pray you will have that crew around you, too.

-Jason

Interested in starting a new church? Check out “what every church planter should know,” a free ebook from @PortableChurch…

I believe strongly in CHURCH SENDING. One result of church sending often can be a new expression of the church.

Church starters are faced with a unique set of challenges – mobile ministry, fundraising, creating ownership amongst their volunteers, creating momentum for survival, self-propelled leadership and building something from nothing. More than any of those, they are faced with the everyday insecurity of “what if this doesn’t work” type of thoughts. These can only be countered when our security as a leader is in Whose we are in Christ alone and when our focus in on His mission onto which He has invited us.

If you are interested in cultivating for a new local church expression, this ebook from Portable Church Industries is a valuable resource. They have asked learners and practitioners just like you to share thoughts and perspectives on “what every church planter should know” full of quick reads and provocative insights.

I am grateful to be one of the learners asked to share an article. You can read it along with all the essays by getting your own *free* copy here.

Hope it is helpful. Many thanks to Portable Church Industries for providing this awesome equipping tool!!!

-jason

a note to pastors, cont. – are you actually equipping for the church to be going near together with Jesus? Thoughts here…

Last Monday, I posted a heart-felt note to pastors. I am simply burdened that we are not actually equipping the church to be the church as Jesus intended. This is an excerpt from what I wrote:

And we certainly were not intended to just get folks in the door of “a church.” Rather, we were intended to equip folks to be sent out as the church. So how might we equip for that. Here are three pathways of equipping I would suggest are crucial if we will equip the church to be the church as Jesus intended:

  1. the pathway of personally relating with Jesus.
  2. the pathway of together walking with Jesus.
  3. the pathway of together going near with Jesus.

So, last Wednesday, I posted the first of three follow-up posts focused on actually equipping along the pathway of personally relating with Jesus. Then last Friday, I posted some thoughts on the second pathway. Finally, in today’s post, let’s focus on actually equipping along the pathway of together going near with Jesus.

I closed Friday’s post with this question:

>> could it be that only when that love for one another as His church is on display out in the midst of our communities and out engaging the various domains of our culture and out in the everyday rhythms that people will begin to consider the practice of Jesus’ teachings as more than just an equal religious alternative? 

How would you answer that? Here are my suggestions.

First, it makes sense that only when the church’s love for one another is on display out IN THE MIDST of our communities engaging the various domains of culture living Christ’s ways in everyday rhythms that people will even have the chance to consider that God loves them and demonstrated His near love in Jesus.

14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!
Romans 10:14-15, HCSB 

Pastors – in your strategies and assertions of what the church family you get to lead should be up to, are you calling them to cluster up disengaged and clean and safe outside of our culture, or are you giving them what they need to live sent together in the midst of our culture? I want to ask this of our church family. Let’s all as pastors do just that. And be ready for the response.

Jesus was not sent and did not die that we might be clustered Christians. 

Next, if we as followers of Jesus are not engaging the various domains or spheres of influence within our culture, then we are not living as Jesus lived. He lived out and proclaimed the ways of the Kingdom of God in all the fiefdoms of His region. He brought God’s love near both to high-brow Pharisee and cast-out leper, both to proud, educated doctor Nicodemus and the ashamed, searching-for-love woman at the well, both to tax-collector Matthew and we-hate-Rome zealots, both to governor Pilate and the thieves on the cross. Can this be said of the church families we lead? Or are we emphasizing the success of their church-going and the maturity of their spiritual ventures by activity on a centralized campus we unbiblically call “church.”

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 
John 20:21, HCSB

Finally, pastors, are you challenging followers of Jesus just to memorize and study the Bible, or to actually live it out? Because I would rebuke any pastor who is more passionate about teaching the Scriptures than seeing the church live them out. Two reasons why:

>> because Jesus actually intended that we live what we learn.

46 “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?
Luke 6:46, HCSB

>> because people who feel lost and lonely, who perceive the activity of those who call themselves followers of Jesus, will most likely be gripped by the near love of Jesus when they see the teachings and life and love of Jesus lived out in the rhythms of our lives, when they see it as more than just something to be learned, as more than just a religious alternative.

10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
John 10:10, HCSB

We can only live in this abundant life, in these Kingdom rhythms, by His power in us (the Spirit) as we personally relate with Him and via the presence of a local church family that loves one another as they go together with Jesus among neighbors and nations. When we go near together, people see the love of the God who came near in Christ on display in the reality of our world. That is what makes it real enough to them to expose their own selfish living, to highlight their own deep desire for love and family and togetherness, and to invite them into a life with Jesus.

Are you actually equipping the church to be the church as Jesus intended? How are you equipping along these pathways?  

Thoughts or comments?

Lord, please help me to actually be equipping Your church as You intended. This is not MY church. These people You have allowed me to pastor are Your church. May I live and lead as though they actually are. 
-jason