Kingdom Living

Casting Vision for the Future of the Kingdom

Kingdom Living

We Don’t Have An Evangelism Problem

October 13th, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I used to think the problem was a lack of evangelism. It turns out that isn’t it. What is the problem? We have a love problem. Back when you were in High school or college you didn’t need much motivation to go talk with the person you were attracted to. You pretty much had to figure out how to go about it one way or the other.

I am afraid we aren’t attracted to the lost and we aren’t attracted to them because we don’t love them like we should. I can only speak for myself in any direct sense but I don’t think I am alone.

We will reach out to those we love. If we don’t reach out it only begs the question of whether or not we truly love them. If we love them we will figure out an approach. There are hundreds of ways to reach out – just pick one, show people you care and see what God does with it!

This isn’t a knowledge problem – the knowledge exists…the paths and processes for effective evangelism are all over the place, open source. No cost. You can drown in unused approaches.

This isn’t a power problem. God has the power to change hearts. We don’t and God will change hearts real time as we work on people life on life.

This is a tried and true love people that has turned into something worse – a faith problem. Let that sink in!

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Exodus Always Comes Before Sinai

October 6th, 2021 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I heard this phrase in graduate school and it stuck with me – the way God works, Exodus always comes before Sinai. God delivers his people from impossible odds before he gives any hint of expectation or response. Often we view it the other way around – where we think God will only do for us after we do for Him.

Paul said it like this in Romans 5:6-8,

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

That is “exodus before Sinai” in action!

So the question for us is, what has God delivered you from?

Sin?

Death via resurrection and baptism (Rom 6)?

Specific moments in your life where God intervened on your behalf?

We all have a story and we need to learn our Exodus story…our Red Sea moment so that we can tell of the wonderful acts of God! This, like the early Hebrews on the East side of the Sea, moves us to worship! And it moves us to Sinai…to deeper, more specific response and a declaration of our allegiance to the God who liberated us from forces we were powerless to engage or overpower on our own!

I would love to hear your story…and make sure to find someone in your life to tell it to and then tell them about Jesus and invite them in!

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Running Church Like a Business?

September 20th, 2021 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

After sitting through hundreds of elders meetings I can tell there are lots of different kinds of elders out there. All of them deserve respect due to doing a volunteer job that few are ever actually trained to do and the fact that they are serving God. I have worked under some truly great shepherds and also have worked under some really challenging ones.

One of the things I have noticed over the years that was nailed home last week is that far too often elders treat leading the church like leading a secular organization. This is often true from the appointment of elders and what people are looking for in their leaders. People want success and think that people who are successful growing a business must be good leaders in the church. But often that is not the case at all.

The things that make a good business leader don’t always translate into spiritual leadership, much less Jesus’ example of being a leader. In fact, if you ran a business like Jesus it would probably fail. You would have to give away products to all who asked and even give them extra stuff (Luke 6:30).

If you listen to what Jesus said about leadership it also runs counter to worldly business leadership practice. I am speaking very broadly here and very generally…there are exceptions to what I am saying. Jesus said the greatest among you will be your servant, not your CEO.

We need to make sure the culture of our leadership is spiritually minded and discerning. How do you do that?

First – submission rather than domination. Submit to God in everything rather than expand your brand.

Second – Prayer and fasting. There is no movement without prayer and fasting. Church leaders should pray and fast, regularly.

Third – Listen. Pay attention to God, the congregation and the community.

Fourth – Don’t do a single thing unless it honors God, advances the kingdom, makes disciples, or encourages the saints. Sometimes churches try to do too many things and miss the most important things.

Fifth – Reassess your leadership and the processes that put leaders in place to make sure you are actually trying to discern God’s voice (think Acts 13:1-3).

Sixth – Look for the people among you are shepherd people and take note, those are your future elders.

Seventh – Don’t go after your elders on this – they are doing their best and doing all they know to do. They are good people repeating what all the faithful people before them did. They should be appreciated for their service.

If you want to see some of this content and a bit more in video form, you can watch that here

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Is God Calling You To Plant a Church?

September 11th, 2021 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

The week before COVID hit the US full on in March 2020 my wife and I were at the Exponential church planting conference in Orlando. We had wondered if at some point in our ministry we would plant a church but weren’t really sure if that was the case or not. We heard amazing speakers, attended impactful classes and we prayed about it and concluded at that time planting churches was not for us. We had no idea what God had in store! You have to laugh.

Fast forward several months into the pandemic. Church had stopped meeting on Sunday but we had started meeting with our neighbors outside. While so much isolation plagued our country we were in vibrant, yet distanced and masked, community right in our backyard.

We started to see that God didn’t just call us to start a church. He had already started it, we just needed the eyes to see it!

I never thought I would plant a church. Maybe you feel that same way. It is so easy to think church planting is for a select group of specially trained people But the reality is the majority of churches being planted all over the world are planted by people with little training and a big heart to grow in their love and faithfulness to God and neighbor. Many churches around the world are planted by new believers. They were converted and immediately tasked with attending Sunday school….no wait, that isn’t it! They were converted and immediately tasked with planting a church in their home!

So many of us have been in church for decades. If this is you, you have enough knowledge to plant. The question is not whether you know enough. The question is whether or not you believe the great commission and the example of the church in Acts is for you.

I want to point you to two resources that are changing lives all over the world.

The first is Zume – a free, 20 hour online training in how to evangelize and plant churches with new believers.

The second is 2414 Now – a site that is dedicated to seeing Jesus’ kingdom vision of planting churches in every nation before the end comes.

The third is Finishing the task – also determined to take the gospel to the nations per the Great Commission.

I hope and pray you will look at these three resources and ask God if He is calling you to plant new churches!

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Book Review: “Talking With Teens about Sexuality”

August 23rd, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Considering that we have ten and twelve year old boys I was grateful to read Beth Robinson and Latayne Scott’s new book, “Talking With Teens About Sexuality: Critical conversations about social media, gender identity, same-sex attraction, pornography, purity, dating, etc“!

We have had multiple conversations with our boys about sex, sexuality, and what healthy relationships look like. We still have a lot to learn and this book came at a great time. It was actually amazing that I had someone call me with a question about how to handle a topic with their kids the very day I was reading a chapter on that topic in the book! Thank you God!

First, the book is written by knowledgeable people. Both authors have doctorates and experience in counseling in this area. That shines through in the examples given in the book that come out of clinical practice.

Second, the book is thorough. It covers all the main topics you would hope it would cover and gives simple definitions for the basic terms that parents need to know. The book covers everything from what is normal sexual behavior to how our culture has changed even over the last 5-10 years to same sex attraction, gender identity issues, etc. Consider any awkwardness you feel reading the very direct chapters as warm up to having hard conversations with your children.

All of this is handled from a Christian perspective in an attempt to be faithful to the biblical witness. I appreciate that. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Third, the book is intensely practical. There are all kinds of tips and exercises for parents to do in every single chapter. These are essential to reading the book and getting the most out of the book. There are questions to ask, ways to engage hard conversations, things to consider from youth culture you may be out of touch with, etc.

You might think that your kids are too young to have these conversations – you could be right. But often our kids are already getting distorted information on these topics as soon as they enter school. I want to be right there guiding them along the way. The idea of the older generations that if you are lucky your parents will explain things one time just isn’t sufficient anymore. Things have changed and we have to get up to speed. Our children’s well being is on the line!

If you want to know how to navigate difficult conversations because you are either needing to have them or are preparing to have them, this is the book for you. If you have hesitated to have the conversations because you don’t feel prepared, this is the book for you!

You can buy the book off amazon at this direct link – Talking With Teens About Sexuality.

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Why I Changed My Mind on Gender Inclusive Bible Translations – Twice

August 9th, 2021 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

In the mid 1980s the NRSV committee decided to adjust their translation philosophy to a more gender neutral approach. The TNIV followed in the early 2000s as did the New Living Translation and finally the New American Standard Bible. When I first became aware of this I was skeptical. I figured politics had to be involved…but the more I considered what they were attempting to do, the more I appreciated it. It is more accurate, not less, to use more inclusive pronouns when referring to groups of men and women rather than the old generic masculine that I was accustomed to.

That was my first change of mind.

My second change of mind came as I dove into the specifics…what kinds of changes had they made and did it improve the translations involve or hurt them? What I came to realize was that in the majority of cases translations were improved by these moves with some exceptions and the exceptions are important to be aware of.

Here are a few examples where things didn’t go well and I am embedding a video with far more examples in it in case you want to study this further,

“son of man” in Ezekiel 2 is changed to “mortal” – this obliterates some of the OT roots of that phrase.

In Matthew 7:3 the speck in your brother’s eye is now the speck in your neighbor’s eye.

In Acts 10:26 Peter tells Cornelius to not bow before him because he is only mortal (instead of he is “only a man”). Well, Peter is a man so there’s that.

The qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Tim 2 were changed to being married once rather than “husband of one wife” – that’s a loss…completely made up.

Hebrews 5:1 now says the High Priest was selected from among “mortals” as opposed to what? From among gods? No, they were always selected from among the men. That’s a loss.

This even affects Jesus in 1 Cor 15:21.

Job 24:9 has orphans who still have their mothers all in an effort to not use the term “fatherless”. Another loss that makes no logical sense.

Psalm 119:11-12 appears to say the Bible/God’s Word has errors when they went from,

11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern his errors?

To

11 Moreover by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can detect their errors?”

Many more examples can be given and it is important to be aware of these shortcomings. They are unforced errors.

What do you think about all of this? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please watch the video below if you would like to know more on this topic. It is good to inform ourselves!

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The Center of Christianity Has Shifted: 6 Shifts

July 28th, 2021 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

The decline of Christianity in the West has been met with a rise in Christianity in the global South and East. Ministers from other countries are coming to the United States to teach us principles they have learned in multiplying movements. I heard of this possibility a few years ago but I had no idea the degree to which this is actually happening. While Western Christianity has had a lot of ministry drift toward attractional, big box models…the church in South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East is growing like crazy. Here are a few of the shifts that have slowed us down:

In the West we give permission to ministry to the highly trained. In other parts of the world ministry is expected from day 1, especially evangelism, making disciples and planting churches.

In the West the price of admission is high: buy land, hire an architect, raise millions, take a few years to build, go into debt and service the debt from the budget. In other parts of the world they are meeting in homes where there is no need to build or go into debt to advance the kingdom.

In the West we teach information. In other parts of the world they train specific skills.

In the West we consolidate authority. In other parts of the world authority structures are more diffused among more people.

In the West we pray. In other parts of the world they are fasting and praying.

In the West we have little belief in miracles and have more of a secular view of life. In other parts of the world they are seeing miracles with regularity.

These are all broad generalizations so they may not be perfectly accurate for all…but they are generally true. There is a lot we can learn from what others are doing around the world…instead of them looking to us for training we are and will be looking to them for training.

If you want some examples of this look up Shodankeh Johnson in Sierra Leone and Ying Kai and his work in China. Millions are being reached with the gospel, while the church is in decline in the West. It is important we pay attention to this.

If you want a front row seat to sit at the feet of someone who has been part of huge movements, here is Ying Kai. Let me know what you think about his presentation in the comments!

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Can You Articulate the Gospel?

July 11th, 2021 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

In the comments below – articulate the Gospel. Take as much space as you want to fully explain what you believe the good news about Jesus entails.

Second, write a briefer/twitter version of what the gospel is.

Third, give some feedback on how easy or difficult it was to write what you wrote.

Thanks!

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Our Gospel/Evangelism Problem

July 10th, 2021 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

The more I learn about evangelism the more I see we have a gospel problem. This problem is on a number of fronts:

1 – It has become culturally unacceptable to share faith – it communicates that you have a way of life that is better than what someone else has chosen.

2 – The gospel is murkier than ever – not that it is in reality…in reality the gospel is simple. However, after years and years of study and nuance it can be very easy to develop an understanding of the gospel that is basically impossible to articulate to anyone new and that hinders our evangelism.

3 – Ministers are not evangelistic. The tremendous reluctance to share one’s faith isn’t just a cultural/generational issue – it cuts across all levels of maturity and all generations and positions in the kingdom. This means people in the pew aren’t finding good models for evangelism among the more spiritually mature. We have equated spiritual maturity with knowledge over faithfulness.

4 – We lack conviction of what it is we really believe – partly because it has been made fuzzy, partly because identity has been linked to a zillion things other than Jesus, and partly because as a whole our society has lacked certainty – it is hard to share a faith you are uncertain about yourself.

There are more than can be shared but I believe these are major headwinds facing the church today. The good news is that all of this can shift in one generation and I believe that is likely to happen!

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How Cultural Shifts Affect Our Biblical Understanding

July 1st, 2021 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

I was reading through the New American Standard the other day and noticed that in some cases they had made a shift to more gender neutral verbiage when referring to groups of people that were male and female. The idea is that when the Bible says “men” or “he/him” in general instructions that it can get confusing. Why does it get confusing? People used to use the masculine generic – that mixed groups of people would be referred to in male terms in the English language. At some point in the last 30 years this shifted in the English language to use more gender neutral language when referring to groups of both genders.

The question came up in our conversation on this on Facebook of whether or not we would even be having this discussion without a broader cultural shift. I don’t believe we would. That if things hadn’t shifted in English that we wouldn’t have shifted our translation because people would understand and use the masculine generic. And that’s a good thing in this instance – a place where cultural changes led us to more accurately and actually more literally translate the Bible. Translating the Greek anthropos (where we get anthropology) to be solely masculine is not the primary definition of the word. The word is primarily about humanity at large, which is male and female. Which means older translations that used masculine generic did so because our culture did that and people understood it – not because it was a literal translation!

Cultural shifts can (not always but can) open our eyes up to see things we never noticed before. It took WWII and the Nazi persecution of the Jews before biblical scholars really started diving into second temple/first century Judaism. Instead of just reading the Old Testament through Luther and others (who missed the point on many things in Judaism because they read the OT through their lens of conflict and dispute with the Catholic church) they started reading what the Jews around the first century actually said about themselves and it was hugely helpful! This means that our understanding of parts of the Old Testament and first century Judaism was a culturally influenced view from the 1500s until the 1970s! It took a cultural shift and world war for us to begin to look at it fresh. So that’s one example of where cultural shifts created deeper biblical insights.

There are other instances where cultural shifts can lead us into places that get us further from what the Bible teaches and in my opinion this has been especially true since the 1960s on sexual ethics.

It is very important we tune ourselves into historical theological interpretations to see the flow of thinking over time so we can assess where we have landed and what has been thought in the past. This can open our eyes to either appreciate how our view has developed (or not) or to cause us to question where we have landed based on the saints of old and how they saw things. They didn’t get everything right but they should be considered. If your view has never been brought up in 2000 years it doesn’t make it automatically wrong but it should cause you to question it a bit more!

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