Saturday, September 13, 2014

THE BIG RED TRACTOR

Francis Chan has created this little video to teach about the relationship of the Church to the Holy Spirit. This especially for my 3D students.

Friday, September 12, 2014

WEEK 1 - ZOE

by Steve Dunn

In week 1 of Doing Discipleship Daily, we spoke of the tie between discipleship and Jesus' promise recorded in John 10:10 of the abundant life.  The Greek word for life in that text is zoe.

Strong's Concordance has this information on the nature and purpose of possessing this zoe-life.

 zoe { dzo-ay’)  Strong's Lexicon: Greek Origin

Life- the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is anim
- every living soul- of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through Him,

 zoe { dzo-ay’}
  1. Strong's Lexicon: Greek Origin
    -Life
    - the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate
    - every living soul
    -Life
    - of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through Him
    - life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, and to last for ever.
  1.  - life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, and to last for ever.

THE ONLY WAY TO PLEASE GOD

This post originally appeared in my devotional blog THRIVING IN CHRIST  June 19, 2012 - Steve

BY STEVE DUNN

 
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." - Hebrews 11:6
 
Man years ago, as a younger pastor, I stood at the door of the church and soaked up the "That was a great sermon, pastor" accolades.  We all like affirmation. It is the way God wired us.  I had hit a homiletic home run and was reveling in the "atta-boys'."  
 
But one of my elders waited until all had passed me by and then simply said, "I perceive you are a people-pleaser."  Trust me, that's not a compliment.  Before I could defend myself he said, "You work hard on your sermons.  You really like it when people tell you they like your efforts.  But here's the problem.  On every given Sunday there is someone in your hearing who should not like your sermon. They are in sin or harboring a sinful attitude and if you are doing God's work, the truth that you speak should make them uncomfortable, feel guilty, maybe even angry. If everyone agrees with what you said, you are probably being disobedient to God as a preacher."
Ouch!
 
But the more I thought about, he was right.  And since then I have been very careful that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are God's words from God's heart, not mine.  And if I speak the truth in love, then I have to accept that the truth is convicting to a person not living with God's heart.  I need to be sure my sermons please God, not the audience.
 
What pleases God?  Truth, obviously.  But faith in particular.
 
I have found that some people have a faith and others live by faith.  Some people have a set of beliefs that given them meaning, comfort, and even a sense of order.  Others live by faith -- they simply live in daily obedience to the will and purposes of God--trusting that His will is best and that He provides all things needed for those who live by His will. There is simply no other option in their minds.  They never settle for any lower expectations.
 
The former can often reduce one to a fairly static walk with God, that never really surrenders to His will because His will rarely is safe and comfortable.  His will takes us out on mission.  "A faith" often allows us to justify inaction because at least we believe the right things.
 
I think that latter is what Paul meant when he said, "The righteous will live by faith." - Romans 1:17.
 
 
Anything that doesn't lead you to pleasing God, even at the expense of displeasing men and making yourself feel uncomfortable, is not faith.
(C) 2012 by Stephen Dunn

Monday, September 8, 2014

3D - DOING DISCIPLESHIP DAILY

 BY STEVE DUNN

In addition to serving as an intentional interim pastor for the Churches of God and an adjunct professor for Winebrenner Seminar, I have a consulting and equipping ministry called BFRIDGEBUILDERS MINISTRIES.  We resources for evangelism, discipleship, outreach, leadership and tools for healthy kingdom-focused churches.

Currently we are piloting a new in-depth discipleship development tool called 3D-Doing Discipleship Daily.  Thirteen lay persons from the Barkeyville Church of God in western Pennsylvania are helping us with a test pilot for this program and its materials.

Although I have designed this as a public blog, we are using it to facilitate their learning experience and to allow them to reflect and comment on what they are learning.  The posts related to this are labeled with this symbol.




You are welcome to read these posts and comment upon them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WHAT WILL KEEP YOU FROM MOVING FORWARD

Michael Kelly's most recent post in FORWARD PROGRESS is a must read for all of us on a discipleship journey. - STEVE

 
The New Testament calls us to a different kind of ethic – it’s a new kind of obedience. It’s not one measured in adherence to a code, but an obedience that’s through and through – not just doing right, but being right. Not just acting with love, but truly loving. Not just willingly acting but feeling it as well. But in the middle of all of these demands, there is one that isn’t quite as exciting:

Keep going.

Don’t give up.

Persevere to the end.

Or, as Journey might put it, don’t stop believin’:

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us…” Hebrews 12:1

“If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us…” 2 Timothy 2:12

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13

During those days, these verses were read largely in the context of persecuted believers, or in the prediction of persecution to come. Faith was or would be challenged with loss, and in light of the cost, many would abandon their confession. They would reject what they believed. They would give up and stop running the race of faith.

But I don’t currently live in a persecuted state, and I’m not often tempted to give up my beliefs based on threats of property seizure, social loss, or outright violence. Likely, if you’re reading this, you might not either. But the exhortations to remain in the faith are still there. It seems like a good time, then, for me (and others who live in relative freedom like me) to ask the question of our own selves:
If not persecution, what will make us give up our faith?

You could probably point to many things, so here’s one more to throw into the mix: materialism. Greed. Prosperity. This is what might make us give up our faith. To understand why, though, you have to dig in a bit to the basis of Christianity, and then how prosperity puts a challenge to it.
Christianity is, from the beginning, a humiliating religion. To come to Christ, you can be full of all kinds of sin. But the one thing that you cannot be full of is pride. That’s because the message of the Christianity is a self-debasing one – you are dead in your sin, and you can’t ultimately help yourself out of that condition. You are a person in the worst kind of need.

Understanding that helps us see why prosperity might be the thing in prosperous nations of the world that might most make us abandon our faith. With money comes misplaced security. With money comes misplaced confidence. With money comes the altered sense of self that makes us forget or neglect why we came to the cross in the first place.

Money makes us forget our need of God, and with that forgetfulness comes the abandonment of the gospel.

So be careful, all of us who are rich. Be careful that your money does not replace your God. Be careful that your money does not keep you from believing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

LOVE IN A PIZZA BOX

Tim Bistline is the Senior Pastor of the Church of God of Landisville.  He has a deep love of Jesus and a heart for discipleship and his family is a great example of the idea of being missional. US AND COMPANY is his blog which is followed by718 people.  This recent post expresses the heart of what this blog, IMMEASURABLY MORE seeks to communicate to the 21st century church of Jesus Christ.

love and a pizza box

photo

BY TIM BISTLINE
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:37-40 (NLT)

My oldest daughter, Emily, spent a week of her Christmas college break on a mission trip to the Bowery Mission in New York City. Sixteen young adults went on an urban adventure to love God and love “their neighbor’s” in the Big Apple. Something amazing happened to my daughter which solidified the entire purpose of the trip; something so small that you and I might miss it, but my daughter “caught the God moment” with both hands and her heart. Here is her story…

On Tuesday, the team of college students were sent out to an area in the neighborhood known as Thompson Park to set up a “make-shift” food market where homeless people could come and shop for fresh food and produce. Along with the portable market, a food line was set up to distribute hot food for the taking. It was a cold, damp and rainy morning
Emily began serving soup in the food line; sandwiches were being served along with drinks. Other students moved crates of food out of a delivery truck o keep the portable market shelves filled with food for those who came to shop. The mission team kept busy despite the outside conditions growing worse.
Midway through the morning, Emily served a homeless man who was struggling to communicate with her as to what he wanted; there seemed to be a language barrier despite her efforts to speak Spanish to the man. He kept pointing down, looking under the table as if to point at her feet. She nodded, kept her composure and tried to remain polite but was confused by his actions and attempts to speak. After a short time, the man-made his way through the “soup line” and disappeared into the large crowd that had gathered for the food.

Time passed. Emily kept serving soup. A light rain turned into a slow drizzle of showers; more time passed. And then, out of no where, the man returned to the soup line with an empty pizza box. He made his way around the table, moving toward Emily; she felt some concern rising up in her, but did not panic. She did not feel as though he was posing any kind of threat. After all, he was only caring a pizza box. He stood beside her, gently pushed her to one side and put the pizza box on the ground where she had been standing. She watched the man in action; she began to notice that where she had been standing, a puddle of water had formed around her feet. She then began to realize that her feet felt cold and wet. The man motioned for her to step on to the pizza box; she did and once again, began serving soup. Then it “hit her”… the God moment.

In an effort to love and serve God by loving and serving her “neighbor”, Emily realized that the “neighbor”, with nothing more than some street smarts and ingenuity, returned a favor of love with the gift of a pizza box to keep her feet dry. (It is the wisdom on the street… to survive, you must stay warm and dry and it is very important to take extra care of the feet.) A simple, small, kind act of love from a stranger changed the heart of my daughter that day. The power of love through serving others can make a big difference in our lives and in the communities in which we live, and change our hearts. Let us ALL learn to lead with love!
For more info in the Bowery Mission, check out their website… http://www.bowery.org

Friday, December 27, 2013

JOHN ORTBERG--SEVEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT SPIRITUAL FORMATION

In a few weeks I begin teaching a group on "Speaking Into a Life". It's about mentoring some in their spiritual formation.  These words from John Ortberg are a good  reminder to all of  us who presume to take on this task. - STEVE

The phrase "spiritual formation" expresses the most important process in the world. But it also drives me crazy. Although I grew up in the church, I never heard the phrase until I was out of college. Now it's a subject I find myself writing and thinking about a lot. But like all language, the phrase has a way of taking on baggage and barnacles and misunderstandings. So here are a few items I need to get off my chest.

 1. I hate how spiritual formation gets positioned as an optional pursuit for a small special interest group within the church. People think of it as an esoteric activity reserved for introverted Thomas-Merton-reading contemplatives. I hate that. Spiritual formation is for everyone. Just as there is an "outer you" that is being formed and shaped all the time, like it or not, by accident or on purpose, so there is an "inner you." You have a spirit. And it's constantly being shaped and tugged at: by what you hear and watch and say and read and think and experience. Everyone is being spiritually formed all the time. Whether they want to or not. Whether they're Christian or not. The question isn't if someone will sign up for spiritual formation; it's just who and what our spirits will be formed by.

2. I hate how spiritual formation gets equated with certain restricted methods. So, for example, someone who grew up in a traditional evangelical spiritual context will swap out meeting at Denny's at 6:00 a.m. for inductive Bible study for lectio divina and learning about the difference between meditation and contemplation and engaging in Ignatian exercises. Any technique is just a technique, and always only a shade away from becoming a new legalism. There is no magic formula, just life. Wise method is always needed, in spirituality as in auto mechanics. But the goal is always love. Better to be a loving person without knowing how you got there, than an expert no one can stand to be around.

 3. I hate how easy it is for people to become "champions" of spiritual formation without actually becoming transformed. Sometimes in churches somebody will discover a particular vein of spirituality and seek to recruit others into it, or assume a superior position because they have found certain techniques—but no one actually wants to become like them. I hate it when we forget that the goal is producing truly good people, not becoming experts at certain spiritual activities, or advocates for certain writers.

4. I hate it when people misunderstand the nature of spiritual disciplines. I read an author recently who wrote that the problem with spiritual disciplines is that they turn transformation into a merely human enterprise; for instance, if you struggle with lust you can simply begin to practice fasting as a way to alter your appetite. That's a little like saying the problem with eating breakfast is that it turns nutrition into a merely human enterprise. If you have become a Pelagian breakfast-eater, the solution isn't to stop eating breakfast. It's to start doing it with the right mind, recognizing my dependence on God's presence and goodness and provision in it. That's as true for fasting as it is for eating.

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