Tag Archive | formation

Change Is a God Thing

I’m thankful for Jeremy Myers allowing me to write a guest post on his blog, Till He Comes. I love how he writes about connecting deep theology with everyday life.

I wrote Change Is a God Thing for his blog. In this post, I share my struggles with change, but how God uses those transitional seasons to help me learn to trust in Him more. He is active and involved in the world, bringing change:

  1. Inside me personally
  2. In my family
  3. In the church
  4. In the culture

God is not about making me, my family, the church, or the culture better. He is about making all things new.

Want to hear more? Be sure to check out the full post.

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My Radical To-Do List

image courtesy of john.schultz via flickr
Cover of "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith...

Cover via Amazon

I didn’t read Radical (by David Platt) until after we moved to Allendale. So, instead of this book being the motivation for us making a “radical” change in life, it has been more confirmatory.

But even though God has used this book to encourage me in His ministry here, it has also challenged a lot of my thinking — to help me see a bigger vision for God’s kingdom, for Allendale, and for myself. For example, it has helped me think through what our ultimate purpose is in Allendale.

The Experiment

In the last chapter of his book, Platt offers the reader an opportunity to do an experiment. As a former chemist, the word “experiment” is an immediate catch for me.

I’m always up to test a new theory. “What’s the worst that could happen?” became a main motto when I was a children’s pastor. Yes, it may get you in trouble at times, but experiments create the freedom to explore bigger opportunities.

Here are the five components of this 1-year challenge:

  1. Pray for the entire world.
  2. Read through the entire Word.
  3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.
  4. Spend your time in another context.
  5. Commit your life to a multiplying community.

My Personal To-Do List

image courtesy of john.schultz via flickr

Each person will need to critically evaluate how these components may apply to their lives. But after reading this book, I don’t think any of these ideas can be casually dismissed.

Here are my thoughts.

  1. Pray for the entire world.  This component seems daunting and vague, but with over 4.5 billion unsaved people, and more than 1 billion people in starvation, we have to start somewhere. I plan to pray in general for God to send workers into the world to spread the Gospel (Matthew 9:36-38), and as a family we will use the recommended resource Operation World as specific prayer guide (using the 60 day prayer guide over the next 60 weeks — 1 country per week).
  2. Read through the entire Word.  Two or three times in the past, I’ve read through the entire Bible in a year. It’s a great way to get an overview and focus on the bigger picture, but I usually find it overwhelming, and it leaves little room for any other studying I may want to do. Recently, I’ve been stretching out a 1-year plans to 3 years. I will continue to do this, and may consider doing a 2-year plan.
  3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.  This one is a little tricky for us now, since a large portion of our income is from financial support through donations. But I know that I need to grown in my trust in God. While we do not consider ourselves to live lavish lifestyles, we are richer than most people in the world. We have no debt (outside of our mortgage), but where I struggle is the desire to put more into savings. Over the next year, I will give away a portion of our money that we have allotted in long-term savings. Any suggestions will be accepted (**see note below**).
  4. Spend your time in another context.  Yeah, we’re pretty much doing this now in Allendale. But maybe there is something else that God has in store for our family. At the least, we should be praying that we would be open to whatever God has for us in the future.
  5. Commit your life to a multiplying community.  As Christ-followers, we need to be in the process of making disciples. We need to be committed and active members of a local church. Platt writes, “We need community in order to follow Christ radically. I am convinced that one reason many of us have not taken radical steps . . . is because we fear isolation.” We are not alone in living life radically.

What about you? Have you read Radical? Have you done, or will you do, this experiment?

** I realize that this may be a touchy subject, especially among our financial supporters. For months, I have wrestled with these questions, “What will they think about us giving away some of the money they have given us?” and “If we do give, how much should it be? Does it need to be a full tithe?” I was praying about this the other week, and then continued my reading through the book of Numbers. I was struck by 18:26, where the Levites are commanded to tithe from the tithes they receive. While I may be taking this out of context, I felt like God was directing me to trust Him with giving 10%. Again, I welcome any counsel or concerns about this topic.

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Favorite Tweets for July

Not following me on Twitter? You’re missing out on awesomeness.

  1. Me: “Kids, who are your heroes?” Hannah: “God, Daddy, & Superman.” I’m in good company.
    1. My daughter is eating raw collard greens, grown at the community garden in . http://twitpic.com/5k367k
    2. I love that our kids refer to the Sleep Inn as a “fancy hotel.”
    3. Congrats to Lottie Lewis, who was just named Person of the Year by The Allendale Sun. Well-deserved!
    4. Hannah & I headed out on a dinner date. Joanna asks, “Are y’all doing anything else?” Really? Did she forget where we live?
    5. I had to type in an anti-spam code, that involved the sequence “7eV” — and I immediately thought “7 electron Volts.”  
    6. The other day, a kid at the Club asked me to pray for his sick mom. Oh, yeah! 
    7. 4-year-old Sender scored from first base on a grounder in kickball today. No errors, but the fielders paid no attention to him.
    8. [This was a two-part Tweet]
      1. Me: “12 years ago I asked Joanna to marry me.” Kid at camp: “If she said NO, would you have kicked her out of the house?”
      2. (cont’d) Me: “We didn’t live together before we were married.” Kid at camp: “What?!?!”
    9. Umm.. Excuse me, Housekeeping. I would like to buy one of your 4-cup coffee makers for $50. http://twitpic.com/5ukmq4
    10. “All heads bowed. All eyes closed.”
    11. Elijah’s at grandparents tonight, so we picked up a replacement son. Will anyone notice the difference? http://twitpic.com/5wuxs9

      Here are some quotes from others that I tweeted or re-tweeted:

      1. In 2009, for every $1 of net worth that white households had, black households had 2 cents.
      2. RT : I could not be more thankful that in his grace God allowed me to not care about Harry Potter. / Amen 
      3. “No sin is worse than self-pity, b/c it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him w/ our own self-interests.” O. Chambers
      4. RT : people who think they know everything can be pretty annoying to those of us who actually do / Agreed 

      Which of these is your favorite?

      Staying Connected

      image courtesy of ElvertBarnes via flickr
      We have an innate need for community. In the Trinity, God gives us the perfect model of what this should look like. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are always in unity, despite their different roles.
      Our need for community must primarily be met by the Lord who created and redeemed us. Blaise Pascal wrote that man “tries in vain to fill [his cravings] with everything around him, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object, in other words, by God himself.”

      Human relationships are not meant to fulfill us, and are powerless to do so outside of the context of gospel. 

      Nevertheless, community is important, and we have experienced this as we have struggled with isolation. In the past 15 years, 99% of my community (with peers, mentors, and those I’ve mentored) has come through Grace Church. But now with us in Allendale, many of these relationships have understandably changed.
      These changes haven’t just affected me, but my wife and children as well. In fact, caring family and friends repeatedly ask us how our children are doing with these changes, and they really have been doing well. They are at a great phase of life where they can adjust to and enjoy this mission for our family. But we also need to make sure that we work diligently to help them feel security, stability, and familiarity in this transition.
      One thing that has been beneficial is continuing to follow and teach what they would have been learning in their programming. I’m thankful that the Children’s Ministry of Grace Church publishes their curriculum outline; now on Sunday evenings, I read them what they would have learned. Though it may not be as thorough as what they would have had in their church small groups, I can tailor it to who they are and what I feel they need. No matter where we live, we need to help our children in their spiritual formation. They need us to continually lead them toward Christ.
      We also can download and print their take-homes. We do the S’moreCards together, and then they do their ROAD Bible study through the week (see the website, and look under Elementary). This routine is what we had done when we lived in Greenville, and has helped them stay connected to our “home” church.

      We have mostly attended Vision Ministries worship services (under the teaching of Pastor Joe Mole), as this is the church that Grace has been working with. But we can also get the teaching from Grace each weekend. Whereas audio versions have been available for some time now, Joanna and I are both thankful that the videos of the teaching are now available (see the Resources-Teaching page). It’s better for us to watch the teacher, instead of just listening (where we tend to be more easily distracted). Here is one example of this recorded teaching:

      And if you want to stay connected to us (besides what’s on this blog), you can sign up for our bi-monthly electronic newsletter, by checking out this post.
      So thankful for family, friends, and a church (and for awesome technology) that help us stay connected!
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