Kingdom Living

Casting Vision for the Future of the Kingdom

Kingdom Living

How Funerals Skewed Our View of Death & Resurrection

April 1st, 2021 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Having preached a fair number of funerals there are a few objectives for most preachers preaching a funeral:

1 – Honor the life of the deceased
2 – Comfort the family and friends
3 – Reflect the wishes of the deceased and family

Now, that second one is well intended but often results in the construction and perpetuation of unbiblical theology. With a desire to let everyone know the deceased is okay and with the Lord there is often a big push to make death seem like a friend. It is talked about like a passageway…something that is spiritually neutral.

But death isn’t neutral at all. In the Bible death is the wages of sin (Rom 6:23). Death is an enemy Christ defeats (1 Cor 15:26). Death is tossed into the lake of fire along with the devil and is judged (Rev 20:14). How much of that have you ever been exposed to at a funeral?

Death is ugly. Death leads to decay…the marring of the visage of our loved ones (not pretty, heartbreaking really). Death is not our friend. Death is not just a pathway to be with the Lord. Death is personal…a personal force of evil. Death stands opposed to the plan and people of God.

The flip side of this is resurrection. Once you have a biblical view of death you can have a biblical view and appreciation of resurrection. Resurrection is the undoing of the effects of sin and death. To raise a dead person back to life in the body. It is our final hope – that our bodies will be raised. Resurrection is not our souls rising but our new creation bodies rising…and that is what makes resurrection the sure sign of victory over death (per 1 Cor 15) in that the effects of death are reversed and the resurrected person on the last great day is raised to be like Christ – incorruptible/undecayable.

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Vision, Intention and Means (VIM) – Boldly Pursuing God’s Vision

March 29th, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Dallas Willard often emphasized VIM – Vision, Intention and Means. You can find this in his book Renovation of the Heart in chapter 5. He said that Christians must have “the vision of life in the kingdom”, “the intention to be a kingdom person” and “seeking out and applying to means to that end” (of obeying Christ). I believe all of that is absolutely true but I also believe it is incomplete.

Here is the adjustment – where we have vision and intention to carry out the vision (through concrete decisions and actions) that God supplies the means. God supplies the means to complete the vision. There is never a time where God gives someone a vision for how things could be, the person buys into the vision and lives into the vision (intentionally) and God allows them to come up short of the vision.

Where there is vision and intention, God supplies the means.

What vision has God given to you about what He wants you to do? It is up to us to pursue that vision or not. It is entirely possible, like Jonah, to know God’s vision for your next steps and completely ignore Him. But if you are paying attention to God’s leading and prodding…then you may well have a solid intention to carry out the vision as evidenced by concrete decisions in the direction of God’s vision.

If and when you take those steps and make those decisions you will begin to watch God provide the means to accomplish the vision – one step at a time!

The vision alone is not enough…intending to carry it out without decision or action is not enough to catalyze God’s provision…God won’t put gas in a car that is going to sit idle. No. Where God gives a vision and we embrace it…and we move in that direction…God will make sure we arrive!

We have seen this happen over and over and over again – God will not fall short. God’s people are so dying for vision that they will give in response to vision. God’s people will step up to the plate to supply resources where they see vision and execution! Now, please don’t think by provision of means I am just talking about money…that is the least important (though often necessary) piece. God will provide the power. God will provide the people. God will provide the talent. God will provide the words to say in the right moment and yes sometimes He will provide the money needed as well.

If you don’t see God’s vision for your life ask Him for it. It may not be some grand worldwide adventure. It may be to live faithfully right where you are. But even that can be a challenge! So be faithful. Keep your integrity. Seek God’s vision and pursue it with all that you have and watch God provide everything necessary to reach your destination. It is one of the most spiritually affirming exercises a person can live through!

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Follow My Example By Tod Vogt

March 25th, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Tod Vogt

Josh’s Story
He grew up in a suburban church – equipped in all the ways many other young Christians are equipped.  He learned the books of the Bible, the names of the apostles, the major stories and characters of the Bible.  Josh went to a Christian college where he majored in Bible.  He learned Greek.  He learned exegesis and he even learned some basic counseling techniques.

Ten years later Josh was in his second ministry position in a suburban church similar to the one where he was raised.  Only this church presented Josh with a challenge.  The leadership had decided that their church was to become a disciple-making church. 

THAT was the challenge! 

While Josh had attended lots of Bible classes – virtually every Sunday for decades– no one had ever ‘discipled’ him the way he understood the term.  How could he disciple others if he had never been discipled?

Josh’s story raises several significant questions:

  1. What is the purpose of discipleship?
  2. What is the difference between intentional discipleship and religious education?

What If I Haven’t Been Discipled?
It is difficult to take others on a journey you have not taken yourself – especially a spiritual journey.  That does not mean that unless you have not done the exact same thing, you cannot lead others.  Yet, if you have never submitted yourself to another Christian and invited him or her to personally guide you deeper in faith, you probably should not play that role in the life of another.  There is a sacred trust borne of the risk you take by submitting to the influence of a fellow Christian.  Those you lead should know you have taken the same risk you are asking them to take.

The Purpose of Discipleship
The purpose of discipleship is to become like Christ.  Like the apostle Paul writes in 1 Cor. 11:1, ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.’  It is important to note that biblical knowledge is beneficial for becoming like Christ, but it is not the end.  It is the means.  There is much more to say about the purpose of discipleship but learning to live like Christ tops the list.

Intentional Versus Religious Education
Religious education focuses on informing the head in hopes that it will influence the heart.  It guides the student in learning facts and proper interpretations believing that Christians will live the right way with the right knowledge.  Yet, history has shown us that just because people have Christian education does not mean their heart and their character has been formed into the image of Christ.  When we intentionally disciple others, we invite them to take a spiritual journey with us (‘follow me…’), and we intentionally guide them in the ways of Christ (‘and I will make you fishers of people…’).  Discipleship offers a personalized feedback loop that education generally lacks.

Discipleship Cohorts
Mission Alive’s intentional discipleship process, Discipleship Cohorts (DCs), invites participants on such a journey of transformation.  DCs are designed for Christians who have never been discipled themselves.  It helps them take a journey of discipleship and helps them begin to imagine discipling others.  It is highly reproducible and allows participants the freedom to adapt as they see fit for their context.  Once a participant takes DC1, the first level (16 weeks), they are invited into DC2, level 2, to learn with others how to lead discipleship groups (another 16 weeks).  For leaders whose must recruit and train other leaders who will lead discipleship groups, Mission Alive has DC3, level 3, that functions as a national learning community of discipleship network leaders – a safe place for discussing the challenges of recruiting and training local leaders.

If you want to come alongside others and help them live the life of Christ, if you are willing to open your life to them and develop an authentic relationship, if you want to develop a reproducing discipleship process, Mission Alive can help you.  Reach out to us at contact@missionalive.org.

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Flipping the Script on Church Involvement

February 15th, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

How does your church involve the members? For most of my ministry we had involvement forms that you would hand to new people and ask them to pick a few things to do.

While that is necessary on some level from an organizational perspective it isn’t the best starting point.

What is the best starting point?

In Acts 13, they are going to send out missionaries. They pray about it and the Holy Spirit tells them who to send. They didn’t start with we need three or four or five people.

Instead, they prayed and the Spirit helped me see what to do next. Three chapters later the Holy Spirit again moves them in the right direction. To do the mission before us we have to be in tune with the Spirit, be in prayer and be aware of how God has gifted His people!

Involvement should start with God – who has God sent you and what gifts has God given them that they care deeply about?

Tap into that!

We thrive when we use the gifts God gave us…and not only do we thrive, but so do those around us!

So let’s flip the script and start with God – who He sent and how He gifted and go from there!

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Legalism and Liberalism Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

February 11th, 2021 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

If legalism it taking the Bible and adding things that aren’t there…and if liberalism is taking the Bible and adding things that aren’t there…aren’t legalism and liberalism really the same thing?

Legalists add requirements and remove requirements…they “go beyond” the scriptures.

Liberals add requirements and remove requirements…they “go beyond” the scriptures.

While there are some differences in the specifics…at the end of the day the are both founded on our natural human tendencies to emphasize some things over others and to pride ourselves on knowing the truth in ways other people don’t.

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New Resource: 40 Days of Prayer Videos

February 5th, 2021 · No Comments · Backyard Church, Prayer

I want to make you aware of a resource we are producing for our church plant – 40 Days of Prayer. We just knew after a rough 2020 that we had to start 2021 in prayer…there was no question about it. So we assembled people to do short videos, 1 each day, for 40 days.

I want to pass this on to anyone who might be interested in doing this. We do it each night with our boys (ages 10 and 12) and it has been a real blessing. These lessons are short and they end with a prayer prompt and scripture for the day.

Feel free to use this as a small group, Bible study, church, etc…to get your people in prayer TOGETHER!

May this bless you in your walk today and for the next several weeks to come. Here is the link to the channel in case that is easier for you.

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Dear Church Leader,

February 2nd, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

It has been a long season…nearly a year ago everything you knew about ministry was turned up on its head. No more hospital visits. No more fellowship events. No more Bible classes. No more in-person worship.

And everyone looked to you for answers you didn’t have. And that hurt.

As a Christian leader your faith community means so much to you. You probably had a certain way you interacted with the church body that had worked for years if not decades. Because of things out of your control, it all got ripped out of your hands. It is easy to focus on how this affects the congregation but can we reflect for a moment on how this affects you?

Can we take a moment to recognize your loss?

How many funerals have you done? How many shut-ins have you not been able to see? How many sick have gone into the hospital all alone? All of this hurts…not just them…it hurts you.

You didn’t do anything wrong! So please don’t beat yourself up…as we ministers are prone to do.

You are under a ton of stress. Self-care is at an all-time low. Busy ministers are even busier than they were before. Who is looking out for you? How will you get your needs met? When is it okay to stop and take a break?

Because these are unprecedented times we are going to fail at some things. No one taught you in school how to minister in pandemic. Give yourself some grace. And give yourself a break.

The hurt of not recognizing your humanity is greater than hurt of finding Sabbath.

Remember this is Christ’s church…and if you have to bow out for a moment to take care of yourself, He will take care of His people…He will raise up others to fill in the gaps. Some gaps just don’t have to be filled. You belong to Him as much as anyone else.

So take a breather…do some delegation…put your failures behind you…and pat yourself on the back because you have hung in there when many others would have bailed! I am proud of you and am here to support you. If there is anything you need please let me know!

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Two Book Giveaways!!!

February 1st, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Thank you.

Thank you for reading the articles here. You are a blessing to me that you spend time here.

Time to give back!

We take all the money from our amazon affiliate links and give it back to our readers and viewers. Here is how to get in on the next two giveaways of the book “Searching for the Pattern” by John Mark Hicks.

We are giving away a copy every 200 new subscribers on YouTube…we gave away copies at 1700, 1900, 2100, and now 2300 and finally 2500….we are knocking on the door of 2300 subscribers! When we hit that we give away another book…if we hit that by the end of February we give away 2 copies!

How to participate
So go ahead and look at the channel to see if it is something you would enjoy and if it is, please subscribe. Totally free…no emails in your inbox…and it helps us grow! Win – win! We will randomly select a winner when the time comes…details later!

Here is the subscribe link!

Thanks for taking the time…I have more articles here on the blog coming up soon!

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Why Some Christians and Churches Never Get Well

January 19th, 2021 · 7 Comments · Church, Church of Christ, Church renewal

Our culture is obsessed with pathology. The moment you feel a symptom you rush to WebMD to find out that you think you have some rare South American fungus that is stopping up your intestines.

Anyone who studies abnormal psychology walks away thinking they have a dozen psychological disorders.

No one goes to the doctor and the doctor says, “What is going well with you today?”

No.

They ask you what “brought you in”.

We are obsessed with what is wrong. What is wrong is good to know but it is insufficient for solving problems. Imagine the doctor sends you out with a diagnosis but no prescription!?!

Knowledge is power, we tell ourselves, and knowing what ails you gives you some sense of comfort or control but there is still a missing piece.

We have clinicians and diagnosticians but few therapists in church leadership. We need more people painting a picture of what health actually looks like rather than spending ALL of our time obsessing over what the problems are.

Both are necessary – but only the later gets the attention.

I can write an article titled, “12 problems with the Church of Christ” and get all kinds of views. Or I can write an article explaining what healthy eldership looks like…something that might actually lead to health…and get crickets.

Moving forward is going to be difficult until we not only understand our problems but get a deeper insight into what health looks like.

Those who need help the most won’t listen to what the problems are or ask questions like,

How do healthy leaders operate? What do healthy elderships look like? You get the idea…

We need to spend far more time focusing on health…if anyone will stop to listen it might just work!

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Faith in a Future We Cannot Comprehend

January 13th, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

When we think about faith we often think in terms of belief – things we believe even though we cannot see those things with our eyes. We are going out on faith in our beliefs.

But faith runs far deeper than that. Faith isn’t just about believing things you cannot see in terms of intellectual ideas. Faith is also about believing in a future you have not yet experienced.

You go out on faith to a calling you believe God has given you. You haven’t yet seen where it will take you but you have faith in God to know He is going to do something great. You make the decision even though you don’t have all the answers.

You go out on faith about involvement in a ministry. You don’t feel fully equipped to do it but you trust (faith) God will give you what you need when you need it.

Faith is far bigger than just what we believe…believing what otherwise might be unbelievable things…faith is also about believing in a future that we haven’t yet seen. Faith is about trusting that God will walk us step by step into a future that is beyond our comprehension!

How have you stepped out in faith and how have you seen God respond?

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