Total Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse

Today, I awoke at 5:10am to watch a total lunar eclipse. This is the first time I’ve seen the moon completely disappear into darkness with no remnant of its form remaining.

As the moon slowly disappeared, I stood amazed at how the sun’s radiance reflects off the moon revealing what is normally hidden in total darkness. While in awe of this natural wonder, I considered how Jesus is the reflection of the Father’s glory, who reveals what is hidden in darkness. I realized how the sin of the world and my life sometimes overshadows the radiance of God’s glory as revealed in Jesus, but only for a moment, then glory once again scatters darkness.

One last thought crossed my mind, but this time as the sun rose on the horizon. If I were to look directly into the sun, my eyes would be forever darkened. As it is, no one can look into the face of God and live, but as the moon, reflects the light of the sun, to reveal what is hidden in darkness, Jesus reflects the glory of the Father. I can look at the moon to see the light of the sun, just as I can look at Jesus to see the glory of His Father.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” Hebrews 1:3, NIV.

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Beyond the Church Walls

Experience increases knowledge. How well can we know someone, without experiencing him or her? We can know about them. But to really know them, we must experience them.

Experiencing God increases our knowledge of God. Hearing or singing about God, during 2 hours of a 168-hour week, is insufficient to know God. To know Him, we must join Him in a journey beyond the church walls and into a life of obedience.

One of the greatest ways to grow in our knowledge of God is by sharing what we believe with others.

Philemon 1:6 (NIRV)
I pray that you will be active in sharing what you believe. Then you will completely understand every good thing we have in Christ.

Helping others experience God increases our knowledge of God.

Who are you sharing God with?

The Culturally Irrelevant Church

To be irrelevant with God’s truth is to be irreverent.

God’s Temple; Our Design

bodyHave you ever read part of the Bible and walked away asking “What the heck is up with that?” Yah?. Me too.

Yesterday, I read Ezekiel chapters 40 – 42 which provides a corner to corner measurement of the Jewish temple as seen in a vision. Talk about boring. Why would God even put this in the Bible? Who cares about the measurements of the temple?body Obviously, God does, and He has a message in these chapters, I discovered today.

The value of these three trite chapters is found in Ezekiel 43:10-11 (read it). Notice, Ezekiel was given the design of the temple so that people could see their sin.

After Jesus’ resurrection, our physical bodies became God’s temple, His place of dwelling (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are God’s temple. As Ezekiel discovered, we must see our design to recognize our sin and understand we are designed for so much more. We are designed by God, for God, to be with God. We are designed in God’s image, for His glory, to enjoy His glory.

Once we begin to understand what God created us for, we can consider our original perfection, be faithful to our design, and follow its regulations (Ezekiel 43:10-11). By doing so, we begin to experience true freedom while being restored to right relationship with God, each other, and creation. This is the beginning of fulfillment in life.

Holy Discontent

Bill Hybles’ new book Holy Discontent is page-by-page inspiration, challenging us to identify the “firestorm of frustration” that is welling up from the core of our being, by answering the question: “what can’t I stand?” Once we understand what is driving us to the point of anger producing frustration, we “ought” to take action that restores and redeems, people and culture, back to God.

We should never ignore our holy discontent. Instead, we should “feed it”, “fight for it”, and “follow it.” When we do this, we discover the individualized purpose given to us from God.

Months ago, I wrote in my journal, “God, if you are willing, will you call me to a vision that is bigger than me, a vision that you must be present in, for it to succeed. Then would you prevent me from taking credit for what you have done, so that you will truly receive all the glory.” God is continuing to clarify and confirm this vision. Identifying my holy discontent has been one more step in this journey.

What is your holy discontent? “Whatever it is, will you attack it with reckless abandon, giving it your one thousand-watt all?”

When we begin to live from the God given energy, erupting from our holy discontent, we become “increasingly attractive“. Think about it. “Who doesn’t want to hang out with someone who lives passionately, who loves fearlessly, and who embraces risk-laden change” for the purpose of righting in our world, what is wrong, to restore people and culture to God?

Buy the book, and let God awaken you, to make a difference in the world, based on your individualized purpose, that flows from your holy discontent.

Holy Discontent

Note: All the quotations in this blog come from Bill Hybles new book, Holy Discontent.

A New Book

Some people say, “I’m turning a page” or “I’m starting a new chapter in my life.” Not us! Instead, God is closing our book. Volume 1 of our life story is over. Volume 2 is now beginning and the pages are blank.

It has been eight years since God first gave Stefani and me the vision for church planting. Ten months ago this vision began resurfacing in our hearts. On August 16, 2007, God gave us the final confirmation we needed to step into church planting without reservation. This final confirmation came at the end of three days of the most emotionally demanding process I have ever willfully submitted myself to – the Church Planters Assessment with the Church Planters Assessment Center (CPAC).

Stefani and I are absolutely stoked about this life transition into church planting. We know that our lives will never be the same again as this new book is written.

Our life passion is to live Jesus’ mission (Matthew 28:19, 20) by restoring people back to relationship with God and others. Now we get to do this through church planting as we live Jesus’ mission while envisioning and inspiring others to do the same individually and in Christian community as together we authenticate Jesus.

So what is next? We are continuing to take steps to partner with the Independent Christian Church Movement and with Stadia, an organization committed to planting new churches. In the next two weeks, we will have more information with the specific next step with recognition that it could take a few months to put all the pieces together.

To learn more about our plans click here.

Preventing Young Adult, Church, Drop Out

LifeWay Research recently completed a study and report that identifies why most young adults are leaving the church and what causes the few to stay.The purpose of this blog entry is to amplify the positive, by identifying in the LifeWay Research report, what causes the few to stay. This information is based on the article by LifeWay Research titled LiveWay Research: Parents, Churches Can Help Teens Stay in Church.

Young adults who continue attending church have…

1. Integrated Faith
Integrating faith is more than attending church, joining in on youth group events; or praying a prayer for salvation. Integrating faith requires moving from observer to participant, from going to church to being the church, by personally embracing Jesus’ mission.

As presented by Stetzer, in the LifeWay article, “Teens are looking for more from a youth ministry than a holding tank with pizza…. They look for a church that teaches them how to live life. As they enter young adulthood, church involvement that has made a difference in their lives gives them a powerful reason to keep attending.”

2. Heard Relevant Teaching
To be reverent to God, the church must be relevant to the culture. If the church’s teaching isn’t relevant, then it is irrelevant, and this is irreverent. For young adults to stay, they must grow up relating to God’s timeless truth in real life ways. Relevant teaching doesn’t minimize God’s truth; it amplifies the application of His truth. Reggie Joiner puts it this way “use what is culural to communicate what is timeless” (Max Q, by Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall, page 45).

McDonnell states in the LifeWay article, “Attending worship is the basic level of involvement for most who attend church at all. Many never add to or go beyond this as teens…. If as teens they can’t relate to the sermons at their church or don’t enjoy the worship style, then as young adults they can easily fall away from their only connection to the church.”

3. A Spiritual Mentor, Who Is An Adult
Relationships create staying power. As Bill Allison of Cadre International states, “No Relationships = No Ministry; Know Relationships = Know Ministry”. But these relationships must exist in context of Jesus’ mission. The mission to “make disciples.” This is spiritual mentoring, and it takes intentionality. Adults must authenticate Jesus to the younger generations.

As McConnell says in the LifeWay article, “Meaningful relationships with adults at church help teenagers see church as a place they belong”…. “Investment time in young people lives out the love of Jesus Christ in a tangible way”….”It proves that a young person belongs at church. It can help connect the dots to help a teen integrate their faith into their life. And it gives the teen a connection to church after graduation when many of their peers are no longer around.”

4. Parents Who Authenticate Jesus, In All Arenas Of Life
In twelve years of student ministry, I have observed a consistent pattern – students who are passionately in love with Jesus and live His mission, have parents who are passionately in love with Jesus and live His mission. The LifeWay Research substantiates my observation that these students seldom exit the church upon graduation – instead they continue to grow in loving God and loving others as active leaders in the church and community. For additional thoughts on this read: A Strong Word to Parents and Parenting Teenagers to Passionately Love God.

As stated in the LifeWay article, “Teens who, at age 17, have parents who are authentic examples of Christian faith -proactive and consistent in living out their faith – also are more likely to keep attending as young adults. Across the board, 20 percent more of those who stayed indicated they had parents or family members who discussed spiritual things, gave them spiritual guidance and prayed together.”

When children and youth integrate faith in Jesus, into the core of their being, they gain staying power. This integration must begin at home, through parents who authenticate Jesus. It must be completed by the church, through spiritual mentors and relevant teaching. This partnership for spiritual formation will engage today’s younger generation to continue as active participants, in the church, when they are young adults.