Browsing Tag

community

Christian Life, Relationships, young adults

Three Keys to Kingdom Community

November 14, 2016

 

 

It’s slightly mind-boggling to think that the Christian God, trinitarian, three-in-one, has been in eternal community. A couple weekends ago at Verge’s Midwest Leader Advance our focus was on developing kingdom community, the foundation of which is the God who created humanity in his image – crafted to function in connection with others of our kind.

As he nears his crucifixion Jesus shares much of significance with his twelve closest disciples in John 14-18, and there are some incredible, counter intuitive insights into what makes (or breaks) Kingdom community. During the first session of Leader Advance we spent some time in John 17:20-26 uncovering three of these keys. If you weren’t at Leader Advance hopefully this recap is helpful to you.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Kingdom Community Requires Receiving

“ I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity”

The foundation of everything in the Kingdom of God is the humility to receive the gift that the Father has given in Christ. Here in this prayer shortly before his murder, Jesus declares that “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” The glory that Jesus gives from his Father is the means of one-ness for those who follow him, but it requires that we be able to receive. We can’t have community if we insist on staying self-sufficient. It is the realization that we are deeply in need of our good God’s gifts that opens the doorway to deep relationships.

This principle plays out on a human level as well. Heaven’s kind of relationships cannot happen unless all who are a part of the community are willing to receive from all others. There’s no room for one-way streets. The richest community member must acknowledge that they have things to learn and receive from the poorest; the most mature believer that they can be taught by the newest.

Kingdom Community Requires Glory-Giving

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one

Our God’s glory is incredibly counter intuitive. As He showed through the cross, it is in pouring out and giving of himself that God’s glory is most brilliant. His sacrificial love for the sake of others reveals the essence of his beauty, so much so that Jesus is able to say here that he has given his followers the same glory that the Father had given him.

Stop and think about that for a moment. How much of His glory did the Father give to the Son? All of it. Scripture makes clear that Jesus was God; that his glory was God’s glory. Here he is saying that he’s giving that same glory to his followers. In Jesus God gives his brilliance to his followers, “that they may be one.”

The biblical terms for glory, doksa and kabo both point to glory as the intrinsic worth or essence of a being. The Apostle Paul expands this term to apply to created beings as well as God himself in 1 Corinthians 15, saying,

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” (v.40-41)

My friends, you have a kind of glory that’s been placed in you by God. It’s not enough for us to simply receive the glory that is given to us. As Jesus demonstrates, the glory of God is revealed in the giving. If we are to have Kingdom community we must become proficient at giving of the glory that we have been given. We must give of ourselves by sharing our stories in all their gritty detail, sharing our lives in the truest forms of discipleship, and sharing our authority and responsibility.

Kingdom Community Requires Knowing and Naming

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

According to Jesus when we know the name of the Father we are filled with the love that the Father has for the Son. Biblically, names has significant meaning and reveal much about the character of the one who is named. To know the name of someone is to know who they truly are – their character and identity.

The first question we must ask ourselves is, are we listening to Jesus as he continues to make known the Father to us? Are we hearing what he is speaking, or have we blocked ourselves off and begun to ignore the things about the Father that we find inconvenient, difficult, or uncomfortable? To the extent that we stop listening to Jesus making known the Father to us, we will be unable to receive or give the love that Jesus has for us.

The second question is, are we knowing and naming those who are in community with us? Do we know their stories and how God has created them? Are we naming them for who God is calling them to be, or simply content with how things are? The purpose of Jesus’ “making known” the Father’s name is “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” The knowing is meant to lead to a change in the knower’s life. If our communities are growing in knowledge about each other and God but not changing their lives, something is missing.

To have community we must know each other deeply and call (or name) each other to be who we truly are in Christ.

Three keys to kingdom community; receiving glory, giving glory, and knowing and naming. Each of these things are have been done by the Father, the Son, and the Spirit since eternity past. Now, through Christ, we are invited into the dance and can participate in the kind of community that God created humanity for. May we do so, and in doing so bring light to this lonely world.

 

 

 

Book Highlights, Quotations

Quotes: Mike Breen – Leading Kingdom Movements

September 24, 2013

I recently finished reading Mike Breen‘s book Leading Kingdom Movements. I can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who has a passion for seeing Jesus do amazing things in and through them. Check out the 3DM store to buy a copy of the book. You won’t regret it.

Below are some of my highlights from the book. May they inspire and help you in your kingdom work.

—————————————

“Follow Jesus. And then teach others how to follow Jesus. He’s the compass we can all follow.”

—-

“Kingdom movement is a community that functions as a portal to the new world that God wants for all his children. Put another way, a Kingdom movement is a community of disciples who passionately seek the expansion of God’s reign here on earth through the reproduction of disciples, seeking the transformation of the places they inhabit.”

—-

“The more time I spent listening to God, and the more time I spent asking him to show me where he was already at work, the more spiritual breakthrough I saw in my life and in the life of our community. The closer I was to God, the more breakthrough I saw. It was absolutely amazing. By simply paying more attention to where God’s Kingdom was already breaking in, and by resting in him, I spent far less energy and produced far more fruit.”

—-

“Things like Missional Communities are a fantastic vehicle for mission. They really are. But without the embracing of the Holy Spirit, it’s just another thing you’re doing on your own.”

—-

“The Father’s gift to you is Kingdom breakthrough. It’s not yours; it’s his.”

—-

“Living in faith and grace needs to be the warp and weft of your life. Leaders create culture. If you want a culture that looks for the grace in Battle and responds to Frustration with faith, you have to model that for them.”

—-

“Movement leaders won’t care if their salary is coming from a church or somewhere else. Why? Because of two words that I think define Kingdom movement leaders above and beyond leaders of Christian institutions: disciplined and entrepreneurial.”

—-

“The higher the challenge, and the more difficult your purpose on the missional frontier, the more you need time playing together. Movies. Dinners. Baseball games. Times to laugh, enjoy each other, and just be team apart from any higher purpose you have.”

—-

“What Jesus tells us over and over again is to follow the fruit. Ruthlessly find the places where there is fruit (and as we just covered, when Jesus refers to fruit, he means disciples) and put every ounce of yourself in going after it. Having a big tree doesn’t necessarily mean lots of disciples.”

—-

“We need to be disciples before we become a missionary. You simply can’t be a missionary if you’re not a disciple, first and foremost. It’s impossible. But the natural outgrowth for any disciple of Jesus is the life of a missionary.”

—-

“I believe the miraculous will happen if you depend on the miraculous power of God, embrace your weakness, and say, “The cracks of my life are the places where the power of God is able to seep through.”

—-

“Massive conferences with amazing, charismatic leaders aren’t sustainable or scalable.64 History has shown us this time and time again. On the other hand, having people who know how to invest their lives in others, people who disciple others to disciple others, and who create lightweight and low maintenance vehicles for discipleship and mission have always been the principal way the Holy Spirit has created movemental change.”

—-

“I cannot say it long enough or loud enough: You must lead from your own brokenness so that, as the Lord achieves breakthrough in your life and those you are close to, he will use the overflow of that in the wider community.”

 

TF Basics, Threshingfloor

Threshingfloor Basics – Part 4 – The Four Spaces

August 27, 2013

This is the fourth post in the Threshingfloor Basics series. Read the rest here:

  1. The Mission
  2. The Disciple
  3. Discipleship
  4. The Four Spaces
  5. Our Passion

—————————–

In Threshingfloor we’ve identified and emphasized four key “spaces,” areas where Jesus claims complete Lordship and his disciples are called to live as he commands them. The first, day-to-day life, is by far the most important and the other three are all structured to facilitate whole-life discipleship.

  1. Day-to-Day Life: Christ has given every Christian the clear command to go and make disciples of every nation (Matt. 28) and that whoever gives his life to that end will find true life (Matt 10:39, 16:25, Mar. 8:35, Luke 9:24, 17:33). Our day-to-day life is the most critical space where Christ must be present. Our passion is to raise up young adults whose lives are oriented around delighting in Christ and making disciples. All others spaces are for the sake of empowering people here.

  2. DNA Groups: DNA groups are groups of 3-5, gender specific, who choose to intentionally engage in accountability and “gospelling” (applying Gospel truths) in each others lives. They may meet wherever, whenever, with whatever frequency desired, ideally at least once a week. The goal is to dig deep into the Word and life together, fight sin, hold each other accountable to disciple-making, and grow closer to the image of Christ.

  3. Communities: Communities are groups of 8-20 people who intentionally do life and  share meals together (Gospel Community/In); gather regularly to be in the Word, pray, and praise Jesus (Gospel Content/Up); and go out together to fulfill the great commission in their context through discipleship and service(Gospel Cause/Out) . The goal of these communities is to grow and multiply, sending out a core team to plant a new community within a year of their founding and thereby multiply disciples.

  4. Monthly Gatherings: Once a month all of Threshingfloor’s communities gather to share stories of what God is doing, to be reminded of Gospel truth and our mission, and to respond by celebrating and praising Jesus together. This monthly gathering lets us see that we’re a part of a much bigger work that Jesus is doing in the world.
Top 10

Top 10 ED.15

August 24, 2013

 

 

  1. Mark Driscoll’s 3-part video series A Call To Resurgence (only two posted thus far)
  2. Sam Storms: Community is an Act of War – Part 1, Part 2
  3. How to move beyond stalemate in your marriage.
  4. Studies show your group leaders want direction.
  5. Russel Moore on the decline of Christianity at the Wall Street Journal: From Moral Majority to Prophetic Minority
  6. Seth McBee on seven ways to keep your community from multiplying.
  7. Ed Stetzer on why we should all care about speaking in tongues.
  8. An amazing timelapse GIF the moon rising

10. Music of the week: Alert 312 – Vice Versa

Spiritual Growth, TF Basics, Threshingfloor

Threshingfloor Basics – Part 3 – Discipleship

August 22, 2013

This is the third post in the Threshingfloor Basics series. Read the rest here:

  1. The Mission
  2. The Disciple
  3. Discipleship
  4. The Four Spaces
  5. Our Passion

—————————–

 

Discipleship is an ongoing process, and we believe it is something that begins long before a person is “saved.” Our goal as individuals and communities is to create environments where young adults, both Christian and non, are drawn increasingly closer to Jesus, to each other, and to serving others. The three sections below make up our frame of reference for our progress in discipleship.

We are greatly indebted to Bob Thune from Coram Deo Church and Mike Breen from 3DM for helping shape the language and theology of these concepts, and we highly recommend you listen to and read their stuff.

Up: connecting with Christ

The greatest command the Christian has is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” (Matt. 22:36-40) Our love for God is grown as we read and hear his Word taught (Rom. 10:17), come before him in prayer, worship him in truth, do life with other disciples, and serve the lost through gospel action and proclamation. Everything begins by connecting “Upward” to God through faith in Christ. Discipleship is the process of moving ever-upward.

Questions to ask:

Personal level: Are people growing in their passion and love for the Lord? Is their biblical knowledge deepening? Are they learning to apply the Gospel to all of life?

Communal level: Are word and prayer regular parts of the community? Do conversations naturally turn to the Gospel (what we talk about is proof of what we love!)? Is the Lord’s presence real when we gather? Do people pray for each other spontanteously?

 

In: connecting with each other

Jesus follows the Great Commandment with the words, “a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39) As we move upward by growing in love for God love for others overflows naturally. This love for other people begins, first and foremost, with a love for other believers. Shortly before his crucifixion Jesus told his disciples that is was their love for each other that would tell the world they were his followers. (John 13:35) This is why we emphasize forming communities of believers and doing life together rather than simply attending events. The “Inward” movement of the disciple connects them intimately to other believers so that there is a powerful love for each other, just as is described among the first Christians in Acts 2:42-47. Discipleship is the process of moving ever-inward into closer community with other believers.

Questions to ask:

Personal level: are people initiating get-togethers outside of official events? Are people learning that their time is not their own – that Jesus gets to direct it? Do people know the “one-another” commands of scripture?

Community level: are DNA groups forming to dig deeper into life together? Do conversations at the gathering go beyond surface level? Is there a communal love? Does everyone share the burden of life together (making meals, hosting, giving as needed)?

 

Out: connecting with the world

Love for others doesn’t stop with Jesus-followers. We follow the example that Jesus set as he gave his life to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and work as individuals and communities to serve and evangelize the people we are connected to, the cities we are in, and the cultures we are surrounded by. The “Outward” movement of discipleship pushes people to befriend non-believers, pursue justice, serve the needy, and give and go generously toward world missions. Discipleship is the process of moving ever-outward to reach the lost world that Jesus has placed you in.

Questions to ask:

Personal level: are people engaging in intentional relationships with non-believers, or are they in a “Christian bubble”?  Are they giving to world missions? Are they praying for  and discipling specific non-believers?

Communal level: Are there stories of how God is using your community to reach the lost? Are you serving together? Do you give to a cause as a community? Would a non-believer be welcomed and comfortable at your gathering? Do you have people you’re regularly praying for?

1 Timothy, Christian Life, Commentary, Threshingfloor

1 Timothy pt2 – The Law

May 22, 2013

 

In my previous post on Paul’s first letter to Timothy I talked mainly about the need for love to be the driving force behind our ministry. That’s exactly where Paul’s emphasis lands in his first several sentences to Timothy as well, however, Paul anticipates the same problem that I do when telling someone something like “the aim of our charge is love.” Our conception of what love is and how it plays out towards other people is far from the biblical picture of love. In Paul’s day and in ours being loving towards someone is generally interpreted as doing whatever makes the other person happy. That’s a far cry from real, biblical love.

Love, as Paul points out in 1 Timothy 1:8, includes the law; “Now we know that the law is good”. Just because the aim of our ministry is love doesn’t mean that we do away with the hard truths of God’s law. No, “the law is good.” It’s a useful tool and an essential piece of a loving Gospel community’s life. The problem with the people who in verse 7 are “desiring to be teachers of the law” is not that they want people to know God’s truth and are doing away with friendly, cuddly loving-ness. It’s that they aren’t using the law in the right ways. The law is good “if one uses it lawyfully, understanding this, that the lawy is not laid down for the just but for the lawless”.

Point #1 that Paul makes is that the law is good. Just because we’ve entered into the new covenant and are in Christ doesn’t mean that the Old Testament commands are shuttled off into storage. The law is something that is useful even now, in the new age of Christ’s grace.

Moses_Commandments

Point #2 is that the law is primarily for sinners. He writes, “the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners…” and goes on to list a swathe of evil that ranges from homosexuality to murder to disobeying your parents. The law, Paul says, is a tool that is used to bring the lawless to conviction of their sin. As he writes to the church in Rome, “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.” (Romans 7:7)

This has huge implications for our life in community together as believers. The law is not a bat used to beat each other into conformity to Christ. It is an x-ray used to reveal the sickness that we wouldn’t see otherwise. Unbelievers need to know the truth of God’s law and judgment in order to see the infinite value of Christ’s love and forgiveness. Even we who are believers , despite the fact that we are primarily “new creations” in Christ, return occasionally to our lawless living when we choose to sin. In those moments we need our friends and family to remind us of God’s law and point us to repentence.  Confronting our own sin and idolatry and the sins and idolatries of the culture is a critical part of gospel proclamation. Without it there is no real love present, no matter how nice we may be.

I would be remiss if I didn’t make a side note about some of the particulars of the sins that Paul lists here, given recent events in our state and country. Paul makes a radical statement by placing “the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enlsavers” side by side. In Minnesota homosexual unions are on the way to being legalized, but here Paul places homosexuality and being a slaver on the same level. I know of no one who applauds the selling of another human being into slavery, yet there are tens of thousands who passionately applaud the homosexual community. Scripture leaves no room for the adjustment of what is right and wrong.

God’s law cannot be thrown out from the Christian community. My prayer for the Threshingfloor family and for believers across our country is that we would be people who grasp the balance of what the Apostle Paul is saying to Timothy in these sentences. The aim of our charge is love. The law is good. In a culture where sin is applauded we must be the people of Christ and lovingly, straightforwardly confront the sins around us so that the great surgeon can use blade of his word to sever the chains that hold sinners captive, whether they be the sin of enslaving others, homosexuality, murder, or even disobeying parents. Where grace, love, and law are held in their appropriate balance, freedom is present. We want to be a people who bring the glorious freedom of our King’s reign into the places he has sent us. Let us do so.

 

 

Commentary, Leadership, Threshingfloor

1 Timothy – PT1 – The Aim of our Charge

May 13, 2013

Over the last year or so with Threshingfloor, spending much of my time investing in and training up leaders, shepherding small communities of believers, and doing my best to follow Jesus’ lead I have come to love Paul’s letters to Timothy. In the past few months I’ve read its 6 short chapters through well over a dozen times and received much help in shepherding the Threshingfloor family. A couple weeks ago I decided I would begin a deeper study of 1 Timothy in order to get beyond just reading the text. For me that means writing about it. For the next few months I will be posting the thoughts inspired by my studies for those in the Threshingfloor family and whoever else wants to listen in to benefit from. My prayer is that it will help us live better as people who are growing in our understanding of Gospel Content, living in Gospel Community, and living out Gospel Cause.

1 Timothy was written to a young leader of a young body of believers, something that I certainly identify with. Paul sent Timothy to oversee the church in Ephesus in order to ensure they remained faithful to the Gospel which had been preached to them. As the Expositor’s Bible Commentary notes, 1 Timothy is “primarily practical rather than theological,” therefore we will delve with Paul into many of the ins and outs of overseeing the Christian body, a work that constant.

Paul opens his letter with a direct command to the young leader;

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:1-7 ESV)

Apparently there had risen up in this young church in Ephesus men and women who were distracting the believers from the primary truths of the Gospel with “different doctrine…myths and endless genealogies.” We don’t know exactly what kind of heresy was being taught there in Ephesus, but it’s clear that the church was being drawn away from essentials and into speculation rather than stewardship. There are huge implications in this text for those of us here in the 21st century.

While we in the western world generally don’t get caught up in arguing about people’s lineage, we’ve had over two thousand years to develop a wide array theological systems and doctrines that there’s an infinite amount of disagreement over. In our communities where the majority of people have grown up in church and feel like they have a grasp on the “gospel basics” I’ve noticed a powerful tendency to get caught up in “deeper” things. We turn from gospel essentials to debating things like predestination, spiritual gifts, eschatology, and others that seem to have depth because of the difficulty of fully understanding them.

That kind of fruitless debate is exactly what Paul insists that Timothy prevent.  Things which “promote speculation rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” are things that need to be pushed out from the community’s discussions for the sake of focusing on the core truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Satan can use a passion for “deep” theology to prevent us from truly following Jesus. For those who are leading the family of the Lord it is essential that we keep the main thing the main thing. Jesus is to be the center of what we do, not calvinism or creationism or whether marijuana should be legalized or if prophesy still takes place. We have been given a stewardship from God and must steward it well.

Community leader, watch out for people who are constantly making “confident assertions” but don’t live up to their talk. The mark of a true follower of Christ isn’t the ability to converse about theological systems. It’s their lives are increasing conformity to Jesus in action. As Edwards says in The Religious Affections, “Godliness in the heart has as direct a relation to practice as a fountain has to a stream.” Talk is of little worth if there is no action to prove it.

As Paul tells Timothy, “the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Our goal in Threshingfloor is to create communities where people are growing in their love of God and love of others. Love is what will motivate people to live as Christ has commanded, therefore it is the aim of our charge. We should constantly be asking ourselves whether or not what we are demonstrating and leading our community in is fostering love in our community. If love is not present and growing in your community, Paul gives three things to watch for when he says that “love issues from a pure heart…a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”

Where love isn’t present it is because one or more of those things are missing. If there is a person in your community who is constantly drawing others into “vain discussions,” it is probably because they have impure motives, have a conscience stained with sin, or are putting their faith in something other than Jesus at that moment. As their brothers and sisters in Christ it is our job to help shepherd them into the restoration of those broken places. We must lead them to Jesus and remind them of his all-sufficiency. He’s the center of what we’re doing in Threshingfloor Communities. Our passion is to see His fame spread all throughout the nearly 70,000 young adults here in the FM area, and we must not let anything – even good things – distract us from that. So like Paul did for Timothy, I urge you who are leaders of communities and you who are a part of a community, do not wander away into myths and vain discussion. Instead, let the aim of your charge be love that flows from a heart purified by the blood of our beautiful savior. Then, and only then, will your community be a place where people from all walks of life can come together to experience the grace and power of our God. And that, my friends, is very good.

 

 

 

Christian Life, Poetry

Body

March 16, 2012

There is no I in You. Only We;
body of bodies
each with legs, eyes, tongues,
hair, and fingers which are no longer

Our own is gone. Here there
is no black, white, rich, poor,
or strong or weak. All are born in
a past statement present fact.

We still wear our grave clothes
but that doesn’t make us corpses.
You have made all stones roll back, and we
are together learning how to be skin
full with all Your fullness,
abiding in all in all
living again

Poetry, Spiritual

Self Forgetfulness

September 2, 2010

There is a common experience, or less
than individual sense of self
when the fullness of one
fills and in all; the head forever blessed.

So walk, measure out immeasurable greatness
and beg a vision’s expanse
to grasp at the edges of
the hope, the promise, and the power of the God
who put his hands down into a grave
and rose to take his rest.

Then we all, seated now within himself
and forgetting about ourselves
are cast by grace into faith
to stand before the Name of names
and resound in the perfect voice
all the glory’s praise.