Thursday, August 30, 2012

Video: The Passion of Christ Through Sand Art

I saw Joe Castillo years ago at a Youth Specialties convention and bought some of his DVDs. He's an incredible artist who has been featured on America's Got Talent this season. Enjoy this beautiful portrayal of the Passion of Christ.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry

A Heart for the Community is a collection of essays written by those in the trenches of urban and suburban church planting and parachurch initiatives in and around the city of Chicago, IL. I very much appreciate how each of the writers opened up their hearts to share their journeys into their ministry settings, the various challenges they and their families have faced, and joys they have experienced as they have sought to obey and follow God's leading.

Each contributor shares real-life stories and distills learnings and transferable principles from their experiences. The book explores the various approaches they have taken to holistically bring the gospel to their communities. It also reveals how they have addressed the ethnic, cultural, and generational distinctives of their environments as they seek to effectively reach people with God's love in relevant ways while seeking to stay true to the heart of the gospel.

I found the book challenging, inspiring, and helpful. I would highly recommend it - especially to those who are interested in church planting.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our High Schooler & Middle Schooler!

Yesterday our girls returned to school. Claudia began 9th grade, and Natalia began 6th grade. We can't believe we have a high schooler and a middle schooler. We realized we only have three more "first days" with Claudia before she's off to college. Time flies! God, help us to maximize, redeem, and cherish these few years that we have together in this season of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Parent Rap

Friday, August 24, 2012

If You’re 100% Satisfied With Your Church Experience, It’s Probably Not Healthy. Here’s Why ...

Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."

The 75% Philosophy: A truly diverse congregation where anybody enjoys more than 75% of what’s going on is not thoroughly integrated. So that if you’re going to be an integrated church you have to be prepared to think, “Hey, this is great, I enjoyed at least 75% of it,” because 25% should grant for somebody’s precious liturgical expression that is probably odious to you; otherwise it’s not integrating. So an integrating church is characterized by the need to be content with less than total satisfaction with everything. You have to factor in a willingness to absorb some things that are not dear to you but may be precious to some of those coming in.

(Pastor James Forbes)

Curtiss Paul Deyoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey, and Karen Chai Kim, United by Faith (New York: Oxford, 2003), 81-82.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

VIDEO: Switchfoot "The War Inside" Guitar Center Sessions

Put your hands up open up wide
Put your hands up side by side
Age don’t matter like
Race don’t matter like
Place don’t matter like what’s inside

Let the kick drum kick one time
Breathe out let your mind unwind
Eyes on the ceiling
Looking for the feeling
Wide open let your own eyes shine

Yeah, it’s where the fight begins
Yeah, underneath the skin
Between these hopes and where we’ve been
Every fight comes from the fight within

- Chorus –
I am the war inside
I am the battle line
I am the rising tide
I am the war I fight

Eyes open open wide
I can feel it like a crack in my spine
I can feel it like the back of my mind
I am the war inside

I get the feeling that we’re living in sci-fi
I get the the feeling that our weapons are lo-fi
Ain’t no killer like pride
No killer like I
No killer like what’s inside

Yeah, it’s in the air we breathe
Yeah, it’s in the blood we bleed
Beneath these dreams and what we’ve seen
We are the kids of the in-between

Put your hands up open up wide
put your hands up side by side
Age don’t matter like
Race don’t matter like
Place don’t matter like what’s inside

Yeah, every thought or deed
Yeah, every tree or seed
The big things come from the little dreams
Every world is made by make believe

New Painting ... On A Moose Antler!

I found this moose antler while hiking in the Rockie Mountains in October 2010, and I finally got around to painting it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Abstract Rock Painting

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You ...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Rock Painting: John 3:16

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How We Addressed Questions Kids Are Thinking But Not Asking

This past weekend we wrapped up a 6-week series called "The Diary of a Wired Kid." The Wire is the name of our middle school ministry, and we wanted to address questions that a lot of our students are thinking but not asking out loud - things that they might wrestle with in a diary. They might not be asking it for any number of reasons - fear of embarrassment, because they just don't know if it's appropriate or not, they've never considered whether or not God might be interested in their question or have anything to say about it in the Bible, or because it's simply never dawned on them to do so.

Our series BIG IDEA was this: God cares about me and what I'm going through.

Here are the six questions we addressed in the series (obviously there are many more, but ...):
  1. Why am I going through all of these changes? Does God not like me or something?
  2. What should I do my friend is, or I am getting bullied?
  3. How can I talk to my friends about God without throwing up?
  4. What am I supposed to do if my parents don't get along?
  5. My parents always say dumb stuff. What do they mean?
  6. God tells me to forgive, but what if the other person really hurt me and they don't deserve it?
Understanding that God does indeed care about us and that the Bible is relevant and has practical advice about how to deal with everyday life is so crucial for students. The series was a great success, and we felt that the students were very engaged each week.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Brief Overview of Biblical History 7 of 7

The People of God in Community. God creates us for community, but intimacy often leads to conflict. It was no different for the early Christian community, which brought together people from a multitude of backgrounds and ethnicities. So for Paul and other leaders, the task becomes not only proclaiming that the kingdom of God is here in the person of Jesus Christ, but actualizing it in the lives of individuals in the all-inclusive, loving community that this message creates. Because the leaders could not be with every community all of the time and God’s purposes reach far beyond the contemporary problems, theological instruction, pastoral care, and training in discipleship are needed. Thus these first leaders instruct Christians by writing letters to the various groups, letters that continue to instruct us today.

The People of God into Eternity. The efforts of God to form an all-inclusive community of loving persons on earth comes to fulfillment beyond time in the formation of a new heaven and new earth. Old ways of oppression, alienation, travail, suffering, and mortality end, and life eternal takes their place. Worship of self gives way to worship of God. “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face” (Revelation 22:2-4). To everyone who longs to be part of this loving, nurturing, all-inclusive community: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift” (Revelation 22:17).

(From The Life With God Bible)

Related Post with Diagram: A Panoramic View of God's Purpose in History

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Wire Bowling Slideshow

A Brief Overview of Biblical History 6 of 7

The People of God with Immanuel. Into this maelstrom of political domination by other nations, which fueled age-old resentments and hostilities, Jesus is born in humble circumstances. His upbringing and day-to-day life as a resident of the Roman Empire are very conventional as he masters his father’s trade, learns Greek, respects his mother, attends synagogue, keeps the Jewish festivals, and the like.

Jesus’ ministry, however, breaks sharply with tradition. His proclamation that “the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21) breaks upon Jewish society like a tidal wave. People respond to their encounter with the Incarnate Word whether by believing and following him or by resisting and rejecting his message. Jesus’ execution as a common criminal followed by his bodily resurrection introduces a radical change in the way the People of God develop. The work of God now goes forward with a new intimacy under the direction of the Holy Spirit: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

The People of God in Mission. Once unleashed on earth, the kingdom of God cannot stand still. It bursts the old wineskins of ethnicity and ritual. Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female are all received freely. A common language, excellent roads, and an era of peace (the Pax Romana) open the doors for the growing community to take the message of the kingdom of God throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.

(From The Life With God Bible)

Related Post with Diagram: A Panoramic View of God's Purpose in History

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Brief Overview of Biblical History 5 of 7

The People of God in Exile. After Assyria overruns Israel, its leaders are deported and its political structure is dismantled. Babylon subsequently defeats Assyria and occupies Judah, taking its ruling class into bondage. Prophets are killed, and many of the people are deported. Those who remain work the land; Jerusalem and the Temple lie in ruins. The deported mourn and long to treurn to Jerusalem in hopes of rebuilding the Temple. Many begin meeting together in the embryonic synagogue. God teaches his people to pray and work for the peace of the cities in which they dwell and the people who oppress them (Jeremiah 29:7). Despite their longing and loss, new avenues of seeking and finding God are found as the people learn to “sing the Lord’s song in a strange land” (Psalm 137:4, KJV).

The People of God in Restoration. After the Persians defeat the Babylonians, the emperor gives permission to the Jewish exiles to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple. Many of the exiles make the journey and eventually rebuild the Temple, which becomes the center of their identity.

During a series of foreign occupations, Jewish leaders are appointed to political office and the priests gain power as the trustees of religious traditions and practice. Once the Roman Empire consolidates its power in the Mediterranean world, the governor of Judea, Herod, spearheads the building of yet another Temple. Now legions of priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and a shadow government, the Sanhedrin, dictate the formal expression of Judaism, but the synagogue dominates village religious life.

(From The Life With God Bible)

Related Post with Diagram: A Panoramic View of God's Purpose in History

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Brief Overview of Biblical History 4 of 7

The People of God in Daily Life. As the People of God are formed, God is able to transmit his wisdom for daily life. In such books as Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach, mothers and fathers, kings, and sages give counsel through wise sayings about situations faced by ordinary people every day - morality, romance, marriage, injustice, discouragement, laziness, and sexual purity, to name a few.

The People of God in Rebellion. Despite the people’s often extreme unfaithfulness, God never passes judgement or takes disciplinary action before warning them about the consequences of their actions. God always sends messengers, emissaries, or prophets “rising early and speaking” (Jeremiah 35:14, KJV) to warn the Israelites that their abandonment of the law, their “whoring” after other gods, and their neglect of the poor would bring disaster upon their heads. From Isaiah and Hosea, Joel and Amos, Obadiah and Micah, and Nahum and Zephaniah the people hear but still reject God’s message - and as a result suffer occupation and domination by foreign powers.

(From The Life With God Bible)

Related Post with Diagram: A Panoramic View of God's Purpose in History

I Can't Believe She Showed Up!

16 years ago today I was kneeling at the front of a church in Mexico just praying the woman I had passionately pursued for 3 years would walk through the door and join me for the journey of life. Well, OK, I wasn't physically kneeling like a scene out of a movie, but I certainly was praying internally. Fortunately, Adriana did show up and she did say yes. Happy Anniversary Adriana! Thanks for showing up and sticking with me all these years. Here's to another adventurous year together. I love you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Wire Announcement Video and Camp Pondo Recap Video 8.5.12

A Brief Overview of Biblical History 3 of 7

The People of God in Travail. Job represents human suffering for all time. “The greatest of all the people of the east” lives a life of influence and luxury, but he loses everything, including the respect of his friends and of his wife, who advises him to “Curse God, and die” (Job 1:3; 2:9). But through his misfortune and grief, throughout his doubts and questions, through his pain and suffering, he perseveres and points us to the way of being faithful to God in spite of our circumstances.

Just as Job represents human suffering, so Israel becomes a type of the suffering servant. This, in time, evolves into a crucial part of the Jewish messianic expectation: “He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering. . . . He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. . . . He was oppressed, and he was afflicted , yet he did not open his mouth; . . . The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. . . . He poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:3, 5, 7, 11-12).

The People of God in Prayer and Worship. Worship of God was formalized during the exodus with the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle. However, with the emergence of the monarchy the king established Jerusalem as the center of worship. The Psalms establish a liturgical framework for public worship with all the accoutrements - festivals, pilgrimages, a sacrificial system, a priestly class, and musicians.

(From The Life With God Bible)

Related Post with Diagram: A Panoramic View of God's Purpose in History

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Brief Overview of Biblical History 2 of 7

The People of God in the Promised Land. When the Israelites arrive on the borders of Canaan, Joshua, Moses’ successor, becomes their leader as they enter the Promised Land. Commanded by God to totally eliminate the Canaanites, the Israelites disobey, settling into Canaan and adopting many practices of their neighbors. They are obedient to Mosaic law throughout the lifetime of Joshua, but after his death its influence diminishes. When the Israelites begin to do “evil in the sight of the Lord (e.g. Judges 2:11; 3:7), the surrounding tribes attack them. Because there is no political entity to unify and protect them, the people call out to God and he sends someone to rescue them. After the crisis they are faithful to God for a time, but then they fall into disobedience again. They cry out again, are rescued again, and the cycle repeats. The phrase “all the people did what was right in their own eyes” describes these times (Judges 21:25).

The People of God as a Nation. In spite of the Israelites’ many failings, God remains faithful to them. When they ask to be ruled by a king, God tells them the consequences of their choice. Even though their request indicates that they do not want God as their king, in time Israel is transformed into a nation with a monarch. The second king, David, consolidates his power and brings the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, the political capital. Under David’s son Solomon, Israel becomes a center of commerce and trade, and the Temple is built. The people survive the division of the country into two parts - Israel and Judah - and a succession of corrupt rulers. Still they continue their pattern of alternately forsaking and returning to God. As a consequence, God allows Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and then Judah (the Southern Kingdom) to be conquered and their ruling class taken into captivity. God’s presence (shekinah), which had been with the People of God since the exodus, departs.

(From The Life With God Bible)

Related Post with Diagram: A Panoramic View of God's Purpose in History

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Brief Overview of Biblical History 1 of 7

The panoramic view of biblical history helps us understand the progressive nature of how God has mediated his presence with individuals and groups over the ages to form an all-inclusive community of loving persons. In turn, a brief overview of biblical history helps us grasp how the divine drama took concrete forms in each age as people encountered God. These forms are determined by social context, the idiosyncrasies of individual characters, the specific purpose of diving action, and the limits of human response.

The People of God in Individual Communion. In the beginning God creates the world and places the first humans in the Garden of Eden to work and care for it. Here we see Adam and Eve in partnership encountering God face-to-face. “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22, NIV). But Adam and Eve disobey God’s instructions, are banished from the garden (Genesis 3:6-7), and suffer social and physical consequences: domination, alienation, travail, suffering, and mortality. For generations God’s Spirit continues to strive with human beings during a downward spiral into immorality and political chaos. Finally, God destroys everyone except Noah and his family (Genesis 6:1-7:23).

The People of God Become a Family. With God’s appearance to Abram (Genesis 12:7), God promises to work through a nomadic, ethnic, patriarchal family to bring blessing to all peoples on earth. But Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all struggle with the promise: Abraham tries to force its fulfillment, Isaac lies about the identity of his wife, and Jacob tricks his brother out of his birthright. Joseph completes the next step in God’s plan as he brings his family from Canaan to the land of Goshen, in the nation of Egypt, where they multiply and develop into tribes.

The People of God in Exodus. But eventually a new king who “did not know Joseph” comes to power in Egypt and enslaves the Israelites, whose “cry for help rose up to God” (Exodus 1:8, 2:23). God hears their groans and responds by sending a reluctant, tongue-tied Moses to lead Abraham’s descendants into the Promised Land. During their journey, God gives the people the Mosaic law, the tabernacle, and the ark of the covenant to remind them of his presence.

(From The Life With God Bible)

Related Post with Diagram: A Panoramic View of God's Purpose in History

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Vision Thing: 7 Ways to Help Your Teen Become a World Changer

  1. Invite people who are pursuing God’s vision into your home. Ask them questions about what God is doing around them.
  2. Put as much effort into involving your children in ministering to others as you do into getting them to play sports of the piano. Have a family project to expose your children to a suffering world - feed the homeless, sponsor a child, visit a juvenile jail, host international students, or take a missions trip.
  3. Even if you have to change churches, involve your family in a body of believers where the worship is alive, the Bible is talked about warmly, people tell what Jesus is doing, and the youth program is geared toward ministry, not entertainment. Support the church by driving, cooking, praying, or whatever is needed.
  4. Take your children to camps, conferences, and missions trips where they can deepen their understanding of God’s vision for them.
  5. Pray for the Lord to bring along other adults who will take an interest in your children and support you in discipling them.
  6. Decide on a ministry activity that you can do with your children weekly.
  7. Take a training course with your children in how to share your faith, and then do it together.
From Ignite the Fire by Barry and Carol St. Clair