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Books I would reckomend to everyone to read.

 

Total Church – This small manual for doing church was surprisingly insightful and winsome to me. They cover a wide range of topics that are all essential for healthy church life. I love the focus on Gospel and community. This is must read for all church leaders.

 

The Mission of God – What is God’s agenda in the world? You’ll find it clearly and exhaustively articulated in this tome from Dr. Chris Wright. I would say this book should also be required reading for all Christians. A bit longer than most want to tackle, but the blessing will be enormous. Those of us who are passionate about the gospel will want to consume this book as it convincingly articulates God’s heartbeat from cover to cover of the Bible.

Death By Love – I have not actually read this book yet (on the list for 2009), but I have read enough excerpts to know that this book is certainly one that you will want to pick up and check out. Mark shows how the gospel applies to a variety of different and challenging pastoral situations.

The Biblical Man:

Here are some good resources on biblical manhood.

1) Masculinity Powerpoint
2) Proverbs: What it Takes to be a Man (Darrin Patrick – The Journey Church – St. Louis)
3) Proverbs: Men and Masculinity (Mark Driscoll – Mars Hill Church – Seattle)
4) Here is an interview with CJ Mahaney on biblical masculinity. (PDF here)
5) Defining Masculinity (Matt Chandler – The Village Church – Highland Village, TX)
6) For Guys Only – A Collection of Articles on Biblical Masculinity
7)What’s Your Story? Sermon. Mark Driscoll. Mars Hill Church. 1 Tim 1:12-20.
8)Life Inventory Chart.
Supplement to Sermon.
9)Biblical Man Intro Powerpoint.

The New Year always offers hope for a new start, hope for change, a new beginning. So on Dec. 31, many people make daring resolutions to do things like run 20 miles a day, from the first day, stop smoking, change they way the talk, find the perfect person and get married, watch TV less and read the bible more. With 90% failing to accomplish even one thing, change for good, finish the new year being the new person the set out to be.

Yet I hope to change, archive my resolutions, goals. Is it because I have an iron will and incredible self-discipline? No, not at all. My only hope for change is Christ.

We all love the idea of self-improvement, don’t we? The next year to be better than the last year!

People start off with good intentions with goals such as no more eating junk food for me! I’m going to eat healthy, organic only, exercise more. I’m going to rise with the dawn and conquer the entire Bible by Dec. 31, 2009. I will end world hunger, and memorize at least 100 scriptures. Launch an evangelism blitzkrieg and the devil better get out of my way! I will be a new, better person, not be negative, be an encourager to all, will not lose my temper at the other, even those bad drivers. And from now on I’m reaching out to every person I meet. Look out world, because there’s a new me this year!

And so we’ll begin the year with a bang, with the intent of kicking down spiritual doors and taking names to boot. But we know the story. Our Blog entries for January 31st begin with words like, “I fell off the wagon today…” or “I just don’t know what happened!” By February most of our lofty spiritual goals have been dropped like an old Barry Manilow CD, and we resign ourselves to another year of spiritual mediocrity. And we’re still only in the tenth chapter of Genesis.

But I have one resolution, only one, yes just one, and it is a major one, “Every thing must Change”! And I mean everything, who I am, my life, everything about me. I no longer want to be me, who I am, what I do, where I live. I wish to retain nothing of who I am. I want a new personality, character, mind, attributes, abilities, gifting’s, heart, body, career, everything must go. I want to be a totally new person. A person conformed to the image of Christ. A completely new life. Who I have been, I wish to no longer be.

This is my only New Years Resolution, my only goal for 2009, that “everything must change”, become a totally new person, become the image of Christ. I do not wish to be on this earth January 1, 2010 as the same person in anyway as I was January 1, 2009.

And there is no way I can archive it myself, this is something completely on God. So how and when does true change begin?

From God, By God

Every goal for spiritual growth this year must be approached with the following mindset: Jesus has already secured my perfect standing with God, and now He’s the one who will continue to change me. And it is Jesus will for us to become His image, for the old man to die, for us to become a new person in His image. To have His mind.

So do you want to grow this year? Really grow? Start every day with Christ and Him crucified.

We start with Jesus Christ. The one who faithfully kept every spiritual goal. Our forgiveness. Our power for change. Our hope for a new year.

We should use all God’s means of grace to grow, reading and meditating on Scripture daily, prayer as a way of life, fellowship as a way of life, worship as a way of life, communion daily. But our hope for change is our mighty Savior Jesus, not ourselves. I am asking for a monumental task, one that only God can do, but I know it is His will that we become the image of Christ, a new creation in Christ. So I am trusting in Him to change everything about me, but to death who I once was.

I am Looking in 2009 for a Unstoppable church to be part of, the church seen in the book of Acts. I am looking for a church filled with passionate people, a people who are passionate about God. Passionately in love with Jesus, who’s love can not be contained.

A people, a church that says and lives like you can reticule me, imprison me, stone me, torture me, kill me, nail me to a cross, do what ever you want, I will hot stop. Even in the mist of doing these things to me I will praise and worship the Lord, I will still proclaim His word to you, announcing the Kingdom of God, we will not be stopped. Because we found a love greater than life its self and we will not be stopped, for us to live is to live for Christ alone.

I want to be part of a people who are striving side by side to proclaim the gospel. Nothing can cause them to shut up, keep them from talking about Jesus, they do not care if they get beat up, thrown in prison, fired, or killed. Like Paul they are unstoppable, like the first church they are a unstoppable force. A people who are striving together for the gospel, for the kingdom of God, for Jesus. A people that says I would rather be tortured and put to death for the cause of Christ, spreading the gospel than retire at an old age with a fat 401K.

A people who says I must be like, live like Jesus. I must be in a church like the one in the book of Acts, have church like they did, live like they did, turn the world upside down like they did.

A people who believe Jesus when He said unless you are willing to pick up a cross and be crucified together, if you can do that then you can follow me. If you are not willing to do that you are not worthy to be my disciples.( Mat 10:38, Mat 16:24, Luke 14:27 )

I burn to be part of a unstoppable church like the first century church, the underground china church today. I want to be part of something like that, a people like that.

A church that knows what Paul said is true that it has been granted, given to us that we are to suffer just as Jesus did, live with the same conflict Paul did. (Php 1:29-30)

Frances Chan has the same passion for this kind of church, life, he explains it very well, listen to his message, download it here .

I so desire to find such a church this year, be part of a people like that.

My end of the month summery:

1. The last month God has been speaking to me about the importance of being an overcomer“.

Several times this month He has brought up the scriptures on it several times from many sources, through my daily study of the word as well as message I heard though out the month. He has been hammering “being an overcomer” I do not know the why, only the take note and learn what He means by being an overcomer and that it is key, important for me.

2. God has also been speaking to me all month about being a man who walks with God

“Enoch walked with God. Noah walked with God” This was the main theme of the month, learning what it means to be a man who walks with God as did Enoch and Noah. This has been at the core of my prayer the last month. To become a man who walks with God, what ever that means, what God wants it to be for me.

Bottom line, Be a man who walks with God as His friend in the same faith that Abraham had.

3. God reformatted my prayer life, gave me a new format to use as to how and what to pray. And it has revolutionized my prayer life the last two weeks. Thus effecting both my walk with God and my attitude in life.  It started by listening to Pastor Perry Noble podcast and a teaching on prayer, it was very challenge, caused me to change my prayer life that week. The Revelation from the Spirit about my prayer life and the need for change was continued, emphazised when I was introduce to Pastor Niles McPherson and started listening to his podcast and listened to his teaching on prayer also. Through those two teachings the Lord caused me to change my prayer life complete, it is on a whole new path now, and that has had a dramatic effect on my attitude and spiritual life, put me on a new course.

4. That I’m still trying to find my place in this world. And I thinking Shouldn’t I know by now what I want to be when I grow up? But it’s bigger than simply what I want to do in the future, It’s also about the right now, today, tomorrow, next week as well as ten years from now. I want to be relevant to God, to impact the world everywhere I intersect with it and maybe even transform it. But I have no clue, not even an inclination of what my place is in life, the world, the church, what my career is to be, or even reason for being here on this planet.

On a lighter note, I started Twittering two weeks ago, and it has been fun and has changed my world in some ways. No really! (I am still trying to get the hang of it) I am linked up with some awsome people and have enjoyed getting into their life and mind, and sharing some of mine with them.

I recently read about a book called Purple Cow by Seth Godin. The book revolves around this metaphor: if you’ve seen one brown cow you’ve seen them all. But a purple cow, now that would catch your attention. One statement in the book has profound implications: “If you aren’t remarkable you’re invisible.”

While this truth could be applied to a persons life in so many ways, it also applies to churches in every way. Every church needs to paint itself purple. I’m not talking about gimmicks or being weird or braking from the truths of God and what church is suppose to be, like the ones that are leaving out the gospel and Jesus like the emergent movement has done. I’m not talking about braking from the biblical church the one we see in scripture.

Brown churches sit on the sideline and invite the community to come to them. Do every thing they can to look like, sound like, be like the world around them. Purple churches are always going, compelling, and are an agent of transformation in the world. They seek to not look anything like the world, but to look like Jesus and the Kingdom of God. To stand out as something different, be an alternative to the world and its ways. And they are making such a big difference that they become a highly visible part of their community, everyone takes notice in a good way.  People drive by the brown churches, the churches that are invisible on their way to go to the purple church the ones that stand out from the world and its ways.

Purple churches are not a mirror of the world, but rather a window into the Kingdom of God. A refection of Jesus high and lifted up in a community of Christ like followers who live in community that is a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. When a church looks like Jesus, it stands out from the rest of the churches and the world because it is a purple cow in a brown herd.

A brown church look like the world, it’s a church that looks just like the society that surrounds it, it blends in with the same music, teachings, way of life, so no one notices the brown cow in a heard of brown cows.

After all isn’t the purpose of camouflaging something to make it fit in, go unnoticed, so that it will not stand out as different from the world around it. Well pastors have done a good job, they have made the church look, sound and function just like the world, made them brown cows, and well it worked no one notices them, sees church as different from the world.

So how do we paint ourselves purple? For starters, dare to be different from the world and look like Jesus and the Kingdom of God, make the good news, the Gospel the news.

Purple churches are where people can go to see God, get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, see the transforming effect of the gospel in the lives of real people, changed lives. See that God is alive and His power at work in the lives of people, see it demonstrated in the lives of God’s people. See a people of faith living in oneness with God. See Gods love in action, in the love God’s people have for Him, and each other. It’s a church of a different color, it stand out from the rest of the churches today, and from the world around it.

What color is your church.

A note for church planter, I read a post that got me thinking about the definition of Church, as it should be key for church planting, so I am doing my own rendition the other post, of what the word church means, my own tweak, lets start he did with how that Miriam-Webster defines Church:

1: a building for public and especially Christian worship

The number one usage Webster is listing is simply defining church according to how the word church is used by people, defined, by churches themselves. Just ask the typical Christian to define church and you will here things like, A building, A place you go to on Sunday, and institution you belong to, something you attend. And ask the people what part do they have in church and they will tell you, attend. And sadly the leader put more importance on, money, time, planing, care and into the buildings than the do the people, really giving even more credence to the fact the definition is right, the church is a building.

But, when Jesus used the term “church” He had a very different meaning in mind. The word in the Greek text is ???????? (ekklesia) a word that is defined as “those called out” or “a called out assembly of people”, this is the original definition of the word used in the Greek text, quite different from Websters. But even more different is Jesus’ usage of the word though implied something much more, He described “church” as those people walking in allegiance to him, living a certain way, people who were following Him, living with a Kingdom purpose. A people that would ultimately be known by their love for one another, as His followers called out for a purpose, His purpose. Not as a building, nor was it in His definition of church that it is something that you simply only attended, especially not a country club you come to be entertained at.

Although Jesus did not really say much about how it was to be organized or how to do meetings. But rather His focus was on a lifestyle of loving others and obeying Him: saying things like “Go into all the world…” ” Heal others…. “Let your light shine…” “Wash the feet of others…. “Do what you see the Father doing…” “Love one another…” “Make disciples….”My house shall be a house of prayer… “Preach the Gospel… Church, as defined by Jesus, was simply His followers living life for and with Him. “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:15 The things that obvesly were core to what church was about, what matted most to Him.

I believe this is why the Apostle Paul chose not to use the word “synagogue” a word he was most familiar with, and had used his whole life. Synagogue was the word used by Jews at the time to define where they gathered for study and worship outside of the Temple. But the word by definition referred to a building used for an assembling together. Synagogue (1) always was used to refer to the place, building where they gather together, not the people themselves or even what went on inside because the building was used for so many other things. So I can see very well why Paul used a different word, because church to Jesus, to the disciples and Paul was never to be a building or a place, it was a people so he used a new name for it, based on the what the real definition of church was according to Jesus. A called out people with a purpose, to follow the Life of Jesus on God’s mission.

But today only a minuscule number of churches embrace Jesus’ definition of Church, with the these things I list above as the core of what they are about, why they exist. This I do not get it, one can simply read the scriptures as to how both Jesus and the Apostle Paul define church, pick up a Greek dictionary and lookup the word ekklesia and read the definition, and find Church is not a building or an institute or even a set place or time. Because the place and time are fluid, it can be anyplace and any time two or more gather together, and it does not require a building or paid staff or set of programs to happen ether.  We must read everything Jesus said and did, read the description of the first church gatherings and read what they where doing. Read all of Paul’s instructions to the church and body telling us what it is all about. And get our definition from Jesus, the scriptures Not Websters or even the American Christian church for that matter.

So how did we ended up with this thing we have and are trying to pass off as church? Why can’t church planters simply pick up the owners manual, the blueprint of what church is, that is the Bible and do, plant what it says church is.

1. Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, Macmillan

My post inspired by a post in the simplechurchjournal titled: Defining Church Websters has it wrong.

We must think of everyday activities of our life through the lenses of Gospel, Community, and Mission. Seek to live in such a way to apply these three elements to every aspect of our lives.

The gospel must be and is most effectively proven by it being lived out in everyday life, its effects on us lived out. Community life cannot be simply restricted to a Sunday morning service and/or a mid-week gathering. It must extend radically beyond these events to accomplish all the “one another passages” and what we see in passages like Acts 2:42-48, just as it is true that evangelism (mission) cannot be accomplished through programs nor by only a hand full of “professional evangelist”. Our missionary methods must expand into the ordinary everyday activities of our lives if we are to follow the scriptural models we read of, and Jesus’ life example. We must purposely form our everyday lives around the gospel and Christ. We’ve must move away from the program-based way of “doing” the Christian life, and doing church, move to a more ordinary, real and organic everyday way of life.

Begin by looking at all your daily ordinary activities through a tri-fold lens of community, mission, and gospel, things like going out to dinner, grocery shopping, going to the mall, taking the kids to the park. You want to seek out how you can take these activities and infuse each of these three elements.

Lets take going out to dinner, to add the community element you invite a Christian friend, someone from your church gathering. The gospel element can be added in a natural but intentional way as you converse throughout dinner, by partaking in the breaking of bread and the cup of the new covenant. Community is achieved by the very nature of coming together and have a meal together, you intentional engage in the one another’s of Christian fellowship. The mission element is accomplished by your intent of being there with a mission purpose, to reach, take the gospel to the world around you. By engaging your servers and possible those around you with the gospel.

Lets change up the situation a little: To add the mission element to your dinning out would be to invite a non-Christian friend, neighbor or co-worker to join you and your Christian friends. The community element is added in by both having community with the Christian as well as the non-Christian friends, but also the non-Christian getting to experience first hand real Christian community happening before them between you and your Christian friends. Allowing them to see a glimpse of the Kingdom life lived out by you. The gospel element can be added in again in a natural way as you converse throughout dinner. By you and the believers partaking in the breaking of bread and taking the cup, and explaining what is happening and why, and how this effects you life and who you are. And by them hearing how God and the gospel effects and directs your daily lives. And of course the mission element is also accomplished by the fact you are proclaiming the gospel through natural conversation and community with the intent to expand the kingdom by making disciples. And you still add in the active mission element of reaching out the your servers and others around you.

See how easily this way of living where we think of everyday activities through the lenses of Gospel, Community, and Mission, can be applied to basically every activity of everyday life, everything we do. Perhaps the element of community cannot be always applied to every situation but the gospel and mission can be applied to every thing we do in life.

Continuing my discussion of Why do you want to plant a church?

The right Why as I see church planting would be you are all about community, mission – reaching the lost with the gospel and you see church as where mission and community intersect. Therefore you are passionate to seed the world with Christ-following communities that can confidently and are capably of transforming the cultures they live in and beyond. To see the community you live in impacted with the Gospel on a one-on-one personal way.

That you are you hungry for the true biblical community life, to see a church that looks like 1Cor 14:26 and Acts 2:42-48. Hungry to see lives transformed by the gospel both inside and out of your plant.

That you are passionate about the great commission, is it your life mission statement. The deepest desire of your heart is the same as Paul in what he said in I Col 1:28, it is your co-mission statement, that you desire that Jesus be proclaimed, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that you may present everyone mature in Christ.

And the Key, you burn with desire to join God in the harvest, to proclaim the gospel to the LOST and disciple them in Christ. To see them usurered into the family, Kingdom of God, to warn everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that you may present everyone mature in Christ.

And that is not accomplished from a distant, from a pulpit looking at hundreds or thousands of nameless faces, in a huge building with its own Starbuck’s, not accomplished by discipleship and evangelism being a set of programs, or by connecting with the people though a staff of 25. You heart is like Jesus’ that you must connect face to face daily with each person, it is personal with you, you want to life with each one.

It is accomplished when you decide that Growth and multiplication is NOT  measured by the need to add on to or get a bigger building or even to get one. But by Growth being measured in the spiritual maturity, the growth of the people into the image of Jesus, buy the Lord adding to it in newly saved followers of Jesus, and in sending out people who go and start their own church.

Read part one here

Why

I have come to see that in church planting the First thing one must do is answer Why do you want to plant a church? And the Second is to define church. Because your definition of church and why you want to plant one is foundational to what you do, A.K.A. plant. They both combined will define what it looks like and how it functions and its purpose for existence. I have come to understand how these two issues are so critical, they will set in motion the chain of events that determine what is created, the answers will mold and shape what you do.

First, The Why? So Why do you want to plant a church?

First off one must understand Church Planting is about Jesus, about having a passion for the community life and reaching the lost. I have met so many “church planters” that the only place that they want to plant a church is in the rich parts of a metro area, I would say 99% of all new plants in the last five years have occurred in the rich areas of my cities metro area, and I believe that really reviles the planters heart and motives.

Like one young planter I challenged to plant in the poor or even the blue collar areas instead of the rich (high income) area he was targeting, he replied “there is no money in starting a church there” the truth came out as to the why he wanted to plant a church. It was all about money, he was approaching it more as an entrepreneur stating up for a for-profit business. Approaching it like starting a career to provide for him, in monetary ways, to fund his big material dreams of what a church is all about, and his personal desired income.

(I have an idea how about if we say that for the next few years we only plant churches in the inner city and blue collar areas of our cities.)

If you see church planting as a income providing career, something better to do than try and get a career in corporate America, to a be your own boss instead of working for and answering to someone else, you have a very wrong motive.

You must ask yourself, what is my motive. Why do I want to plant a church?

If your vision is a church of 10,000 with a Starbuck’s in it, see a mega complex starched and a nice six figure income with book deals in your future, you are doing it for yourself, only for self gain. You not only have the wrong Why you want to plant, but also the wrong definition, an un-biblical definition of church and motive.

I will continue this in my next blog read here.