Kingdom Living

Casting Vision for the Future of the Kingdom

Kingdom Living

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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Five Reasons Young People Are Quitting Church

January 6th, 2021 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

1 – They don’t have a voice. In every other area of their life they are used to having a platform and a voice. From Instagram to Tik Tok they can post things and get affirmation. Not so much in the church. Their voices are not typically valued on the same level as others and they notice. It is important to ask young people what they think about what happens at church and if any of them should ever come with ideas count that as a blessing and make sure they feel heard.

2 – Culture has shifted. Culture used to value older people and experience. Today the culture values youth. I am not saying churches should compromise. I am saying be smart in considering how to value everyone.

3 – Youth ministry. We created an age segregated group that isolated them away from the relationships they would need upon graduation. When teens graduate they have to leap into the larger congregation and if the relationships don’t exist long before, don’t expect many people to successfully make the jump. We put all the burden on them in building that bridge and they just aren’t going to do it nor should they be expected to. Try to get to know them. Youth ministry isn’t a bad thing…it just became the end all for faith development for teens and that just won’t work. That leads to the next one.

4 – Parents checked out of the faith formation of their children. The youth ministry is supposed to do that but that isn’t fair to the youth minister. We need to disciple our own kids and then see youth ministry as a supplement to at home training.

5 – Hypocrisy. When parents expect things of their kids they won’t do themselves the kids will reject it.

Bonus – our gospel has been too small, just not robust. By not robust I mean not as comprehensive as the biblical gospel. We said the gospel is about getting to heaven when you die. What does that mean to you when you are 19 and think you are invincible? But the biblical gospel is more robust and comprehensive than that…the kingdom has tangible and significant meaning and impact TODAY!

We effectively planted two churches under the roof of any congregation that has a viable youth ministry instead of creating a community of intergenerational connection that would be mutually beneficial to all.

For more thoughts on this check out our video at Wineskins YouTube…if you don’t know about the channel we are pouring a lot of resources into making it helpful and are up to 300 video resources there!

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40 Days of Prayer Begins Tomorrow

January 2nd, 2021 · No Comments · Prayer

Backyard Church’s 40 days of prayer begins tomorrow! You are welcome to pray right along with us. Here is a link to the daily prayer guide that will give you a list of 10 topics (4 specific prayers per topic) and a daily scripture to go along with it!

Feel free to download the guide, use it, share it, etc. We have a group of Chinese Christians here in Auburn using it along with us!

We are also doing a daily video from various people! This will be a daily 3-5 minute thought on prayer to encourage you each of the 40 days. You can view that on the BYC YouTube channel, facebook page or our website.

Prayer guide

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/backyardchurchofauburn

Website – https://www.backyardchurch.org

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC89QHv4ZRnoIZQjPNNSB1pA

Looking forward to praying alongside you!

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40 Days of Prayer To Start 2021

December 30th, 2020 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Download the PDF of this content here. We are starting our 40 days of prayer this Sunday – January 3rd but you are welcome to start it anytime you like!

Prayer has been a core activity of the people of God since the beginning. Before we understand how to pray we need to know why we pray.

We pray because God is a personal God and He seeks relationship with us. Prayer is our end of a conversation with God. Prayer addresses God as someone we are in a real relationship with. We pray to God because God created us, loves us, and is listening for our prayers.

A Christian is someone who follows Jesus and part of following Jesus is having Jesus as our role model in all areas of life. One of the things we see in Jesus’ life is consistent prayer. This may seem odd because Jesus is God in the flesh and it seems odd for God to speak to himself in prayer, but Jesus modeled for us his deep need for connection with God the Father. If Jesus needs that then we certainly do as well! Jesus prayed constantly. There are many times in scripture Jesus escaped the crowd to find a solitary place where he could pray to his heavenly father (Luke 5:16). If Jesus, the Son of God, needed to pray so do we. To be “Jesus people” we must be people of prayer.

This prayer guide will usher us into a forty-day period of prayer together. In these forty days we will be praying over the same things and meditating on the same scriptures each day. Why are we doing this? Because we feel a profound since of dependence on God to guide us in all we do. We can’t rely on our own abilities or wisdom if we are going to move into a vibrant future together. Instead, we humbly submit ourselves to God, in prayer, on a daily basis to seek God’s guidance and blessing in all that we do.

Forty is an important number in the Bible. Moses spent forty years in the same wilderness God would later have him lead Israel through. Moses later spent forty days on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law from God. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness where he fasted and was tested by the devil. Forty isn’t a magical number but it is a meaningful number. Forty days, as in these biblical stories, remind us to rely on God in all things. The forty days are divided into ten of specific things to pray about. This puts us in line with Paul’s instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to “pray continually.” We hope that these forty days of praying together will be part of a movement that is constantly in prayer together.

Praying alone is fine but if you are able, find someone to pray with. Pray about these things together and then share your thoughts with each other on the things you are praying about. As we pray together we will find that as we draw near to God we will also draw near to each other. So let’s begin with Day 1 .

Section 1 (Jan 1-4): Prayers for direction and guidance

Day 1: Pray for God to guide our vision and direction. (Isaiah 58:6-12)
Day 2: Pray for God to open our eyes to see the harvest. (Matt 9:27)
Day 3: Pray God would guide each step and decision the church makes. (Psalm 25:4-5)
Day 4: Prayer for clarity of purpose and focus. (Isaiah 30:21)

Section 2 (Jan 5-8): Prayers for humility and submission

Day 5: Pray God would humble us and remove our pride. (Prov 16:18)
Day 6: Pray for us to discipline our hearts to be totally dependent on God. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Day 7: Pray for us to be mutually submissive toward each other. (Eph 5:21)
Day 8: Pray for us to follow God’s lead rather than human “wisdom.” (Prov 3:5-6)

Section 3 (Jan 9-12): Prayers for fellow Christians

Day 9: Pray for our marriages and children. (Eph 5:22-6:4)
Day 10: Pray for Christians around the world. (2 Thess 1:3)
Day 11: Pray for the elderly, the widows and widowers. (John 15:12-17)
Day 12: Pray for church leaders – elders, ministers, and missionaries. (Rom 15:30-33)

Section 4 (Jan 13-16): Prayers for non-believers (John 17:20-23)

Day 13: Pray for co-workers and class mates. (Mark 12:31)
Day 14: Pray for opportunities to connect with them. (Matt 9:35-38)
Day 15: Pray for those with open hearts and seekers. (Acts 16:14)
Day 16: Pray for boldness that we can reach them with the Gospel. (Acts 28:31)

Section 5 (Jan 17-20): Prayers for God to empower and equip us

Day 17: Pray for God to help us identity our gifts and use them for the kingdom. (Eph 4:11-16)
Day 18: Pray for God to empower our ministries. (Acts 4:24-31)
Day 19: Pray for God to raise up leaders for the future. (2 Tim 2:2)
Day 20: Prayer that God would equip and empower us. (1 Thess 1:5)

Section 6 (Jan 21-24): Prayers for God to convict and convince us

Day 21: Pray that we would be convicted about what is right and wrong. (John 16:13)
Day 22: Pray that God would convict us about righteousness, holy living, and our sin. (John 16:8)
Day 23: Pray that God would convict us about our mission and purpose. (Eph 2:10)
Day 24: Pray that God would convince us of His will. (1 Thess 1:4-10)

Section 7 (Jan 25-28): Prayers for spiritual healing

Day 25: Pray for release from our deepest shame. (Rom 5:5)
Day 26: Pray for strength to endure temptation. (1 Cor 10:13)
Day 27: Pray for spiritual transformation in our lives. (Rom 12:1-2)
Day 28: Pray for healing, peace, and wholeness for each person in the
church. (John 14:27)

Section 8 (Jan 29-Feb 1): Prayers for physical healing

Day 29: Pray for those who are sick by name. (James 5:14-16)
Day 30: Pray for the end of COVID. (Psalm 91:1-8)
Day 31: Pray for God to use us to be people who bring healing to the community. (Matt 5:13-16)
Day 32: Pray for those workers who care for our sick for God to strengthen and use them. (Psalm 18:32)

Section 9 (Feb 2-5): Prayers for our love to grow

Day 33: Pray our love for the lost will grow. (Matt 28:19-20)
Day 34: Pray our love for one another will grow. (Philippians 1:9-11)
Day 35: Pray our love for our enemies will grow. (Matt 5:43-48)
Day 36: Pray our love for who we find most difficult to love will grow. (Luke 6:27-36)

Section 10 (Feb 6-9): Prayers for boldness (Acts 4:23-31)

Day 37: Pray we will speak of Jesus with boldness. (2 Cor 3:12)
Day 38: Pray for us to live boldly for the gospel in the world. (Acts 14:3)
Day 39: Pray for God to release us of our hesitancy and timidity. (2 Tim 1:7)
Day 40: Pray for the bold message we live and speak to be clear to those who hear and see it. (Acts 9:28)

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What is the Most Difficult Verse in the Bible?

December 27th, 2020 · No Comments · Uncategorized

There are verses that you read that you just don’t know what to do with. It isn’t that the verse doesn’t make sense…it is that you know just how difficult a demand the verse places on your life.

The answer to the question in the title will be different for each one of us. For the rich young ruler it was Jesus telling him to sell everything and give to the poor and then come follow Jesus. If he had wrestled with the idol of relationships, maybe Jesus would have asked him to address that (like in Matthew 8:21 or 19:29).

One of the more difficult verses is found in Philippians 2:1-4 where Paul wrote this,

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

How does one do that, exactly? I can attempt to do this but it is very difficult to actually pull it off 100%!

Another difficult passage is found in 1 Peter 1:13-16 where Peter wrote this,

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

How can we be holy as God or Jesus are holy? Well, we cannot in and of ourselves. That requires a bit of assistance!

Or, maybe like that rich man mentioned above (found in John 18) we struggle with wealth or possessions. That teaching ended with a very important verse that we all need to keep in mind when discussing difficult verses and that is John 18:26-27,

26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

That is reassuring! There are verses that are impossible for us to fully comply with. We need help! We can’t make it on our own. To quote Paul from 2 Corinthians 12:9 God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

There are some extremely difficult verses in the Bible – difficult for us. But none of this is difficult for God! And God is willing to help us in our inability to accomplish for us what we cannot accomplish for ourselves!

Praise God for His unfailing love and infinite mercy!

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Do You Get Anxious Over Big Decisions – This Is For You!

December 14th, 2020 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

We can put ourselves under tremendous amounts of pressure in life in trying to “stick the landing” in decision making. The pressure can make us sick…overwhelmed…even paralyzed.

The logic goes like this – God already knows what is best. God knows the right decision and where each decision will take us. So if we are faced with three options, there is only one best answer and we need to pray and determine what that one thing is and do only that.

What if I told you that was oftentimes the wrong way to think about how you make decisions? What if God was waiting to bless whatever decision you decided, through prayerful consideration, was the right decision for your life?

Would that change anything?

To be clear I am not talking about moral vs immoral options. That is clear what God wants. I am talking about life decisions – like having three jobs to choose from and getting all anxious because you might mess it up.

What if you prayed about it….picked what seemed most God-honoring…and went on with your life…and what if God blessed your decision and honored you in making it?

For many of us, it would mean much less worry centered on big decisions and much more enjoyment in what we decide.

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