Picking back up on “eating” as a SENT rhythm with Jesus, consider this…

Earlier this month, I began to expound on the SENT acronym that we use among our church family with regards to daily rhythms on mission with Jesus. You can look back and see the “S” posts as well as an intro post on “E” for eating. Today, following a Christmas hiatus, I pick back up with this blog series in hopes that we will all be encouraged to live a SENT life.

Jesus spoke of Himself as the bread of life in John 6. It was a hard word to hear, and many of His disciples abandoned Him after this teaching. Lord – help us not to be among those who abandon You, but who take Your teaching to heart, or better said to stomach.

Read that narrative in John 6 by clicking here. It is in The Message. Please read through the end of the chapter. Then come back for a few thoughts and questions…

Go ahead now. Read that Scripture. It is much better than anything I write :)

Did you read it? Ok.

Notice that Jesus spoke of Himself as bread. Bread nourishes. In fact, in its purest form, unlike white bread like we eat here in America, it is wholistic in its nourishment and nutrients. That nourishment gives life. So does Jesus.

Are you being nourished on Him?

Before you dismiss this as elementary thinking you are aware of this simple teaching, let me ask it another way – are you expecting anything else besides Jesus to offer what you need for life? And yet another way – have you confessed that you cannot find life anywhere else, of your own efforts or your own participation in anything else? Yet another way – are you living free to eat of Him dependent on His generous love for all nourishment or are you still living weary with obligations that you wrongly believe God expects of you in order to have a good life?

When we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we are filling ourselves on the life-Giver.

Maybe this is why Jesus valued eating with others so much. Maybe He knew that the environment of nourishment is the most opportune and most vulnerable place for supernatural Kingdom nourishment to enter the natural flows of conversation. Maybe He knew that in filling our stomachs together we could most practically discover the essential ingredients for abundant life.

This is a hard teaching isn’t it? It doesn’t seem like enough to just want to eat with and serve with folks while you discover how near God has come to be with us, to dine with us.

Is it enough? Is He enough?

May we value breaking bread together like Jesus did.

Next time – let’s consider what Acts might really be implying when it describes the early church as “breaking bread” together regularly…

A simple reminder for living sent from @TimChesterCoUK & @VergeNetwork – “10 Simple Ways to Be Missional”

The Verge Network shares some awesome resources that encourage and equip us to live sent daily. One of the authors / teachers they feature is Tim Chester of the Porterbrooke Institute.

Here is one of his posts entitled “10 Simple Ways to Be Missional” I thought was worth sharing.
———————–
10 Simple Ways To Be Missional (without adding anything to your schedule)
by Tim Chester

1. Eat with other people
2. Work in public places
3. Be a regular
4. Join in with what’s going on
5. Leave the house in the evenings
6. Serve your neighbors

Read the rest by CLICKING HERE.

Thanks to Tim Chester and Stew and the Verge Network folks for sharing. Grateful.

Here are 3 questions we may not be asking as we follow Jesus. But should we be asking them?

Quick post today.

Just wanted to suggest three questions we should at least consider asking as we follow Jesus.

1. Jesus, will you decrease me to love like You?
The evidence of our abiding in Jesus is not displayed in our personal goodness, but rather in His perfect love. Do you measure your spirituality with a mirror or within community? Read 1st John and ask which matters more – an increase in righteousness or an increase in love?

2. Jesus, will you increase wisdom to think and live like You?
This is a prayer Scripture declares will always be answered affirmatively. But may we not mistake our quest for knowing more with understanding better. May we not mistake our desire to have great understanding with our need to translate “not yet” into “right now.” And may we not mistake our yearning to explain heaven with His intention to announce “the Kingdom has come” through us. Wisdom has more to do with daily rhythms than devout righteousness.

3. Jesus, to whom are you sending me?
This is a prayer that if we are serious in praying will likely require REORIENTATION. We may have to exchange our going to church for going and being the church. We may have to surrender our scheduled church activities in order to follow Jesus in all of our activities. We may have to reboot our friendships to start up friendships with the lost rather than church-folks only. But He is sending His church.

Are you living sent?

Thoughts???

shift 1 of 5 suggested shifts to be made if the American church hopes to actually make disciples as Jesus intended…

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This week on the blog, I will be re-posting five posts from LiveSent.com from summer 2011. These are five suggested shifts (one per day) that the American church must make in order for us to actually be making disciples as Jesus intended.

These are merely suggestions. They are not dogmatic assertions that if read and not believed will result in eternal damnation. They are not end-times prophetic announcements that will usher us into the ultimate day of “Good News” on December 20-something-or-other. They are simply this simple guy’s perspective as I am begging God for wisdom on what we must do to actually equip people to be making disciples in the daily.

AND, I really would value your feedback, since the ways of the Kingdom are learned and lived as we follow Jesus together.

SO, here goes the first one…

How do you think of “the Gospel?”
Do you think of this “good news,” this most-important message, as a presentation that Christians should make so that other people can choose to be a Christian?

While it certainly is a “good news” message that we now as “letters from Christ” (2nd Corinthians 3:3) present to a world full of “bad news,” I would suggest that it is more than just something we present.

And I would suggest that in order for us to actually be making disciples, we must make a shift in how we think of “the Gospel” if we think of it only as a presentation we make or a tract that we hand out.

First, the Gospel is not a presentation we make as much as it is a presentation that has been made to us.

4 All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.
(2nd Corinthians 4:4, the Message)

Second, this Gospel was made known to us not just through a presentation but rather through an actual presence.

14 The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. 15 John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.” 16 We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. 17 We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding-all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. 18 No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.
(John 1:14-18, the Message)

Next, this Gospel, this “presence” of God coming near with His love to a people who had not acted very lovable, both wrecks us and restores us day after day after day as we move from death to life and are compelled to show a love that has been shown to us.

14 For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. 15 And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised. 16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know [Him in this way]. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, [he is] a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
(2nd Corinthians 5:14-21, HCSB)

And finally, we never quit needing this Gospel and we never quit needing to tell the story of how this Gospel is wrecking and restoring us. However, we don’t just need to present it. We need to share this story while living this story with presence.

9 Say the welcoming word to God-“Jesus is my Master”-embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. 10 With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” 11 Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this-heart and soul-will ever regret it.” 12 It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. 13 “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” 14 But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? 15 And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims, A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!
(Romans 10:9-15, the Message)

Just like the God who came near to us right into the middle of our darkness, may we go near daily into the darkness and shine His ever-present light.

May we make more than a presentation. May we show the same love that has been shown to us with actual presence.

Thoughts?

Type at you tomorrow…

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 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…

Cultivating Daily for Unity: do you ever pray in worship gathering for the ministries & ldrs of other local churches?

Jesus prayed for the unity of His church together in John 17:18-23. Ever since, for the most part, we have ignored His prayer for us together and instead prayed for personal awakening and revival. It might be that awakening and revival would come if we prayed earnestly and cultivated intentionally for unity among the followers of Jesus in our communities.

Here’s one very simple way to do that:

PRAY FOR THE MINISTRIES AND LEADERS OF OTHER LOCAL CHURCH EXPRESSIONS IN YOUR COMMUNITY DURING SUNDAY WORSHIP GATHERINGS.

Do it every week. Highlight the leaders and a few things those ministries are up to. Even encourage the families who make up the church family of which you are a part to engage in those activities, to serve those ministries and leaders. And make sure every time you do this in worship gathering that you mention why you are doing it. And why might that be?

…for the sake of cultivating for unity among the followers of Jesus in the city where we live so that the work of God might come about (or even awakening or revival) in the city where we live.

Maybe even go one step further. Call or email or have coffee with the leaders of the local church expression for whom you prayed and ask them how you can serve them. Putting the interests of other local churches above your own might actually make the local church family of which you are a part stronger. It might actually make you all stronger. It might actually be what Jesus intended.

May we cultivate daily for unity.
-jason

PS _ this Saturday night, “unite” with me to cheer for the New Orleans Saints. Here’s their playoff preview video :)