Saturday, October 18, 2014

CASE STUDY - PEOPLE THAT LOVE


BY STEVE DUNN




        Many years ago I pastored a church in the Midwest.  The church never had a lot of money; but it had dedicated people and a fruitful ministry with a positive impact for Christ in the community.  There were five of us on the staff-two full-time and three part-time.  The church's slim finances generally meant that we were not overpaid.  Three of us had families to support with school age children.

     One day, when money was tight, I went to the mailbox.  There was a white envelope in it addressed to me.  The address label had been computer generated.  In the envelope two fifty dollar bills and a note with more computer-generated words.   Those words?

PEOPLE THAT LOVE

     My first thought was to be astounded at so much cash being sent in an envelope with no return address.  Obviously, some trusting person wanted to be anonymous.  I thanked God for the gift and asked him to thank the giver.

       Several weeks later another envelope arrived with more cash, again from PEOPLE THAT LOVE.  And several weeks later, another.

      One day my youth pastor stepped into my office with a white envelope and cash.

      "People that love."

     "How did you know?"

     "I've had several myself."

    Some weeks later another staffer came in with the same astounded look.

     Those envelopes for almost two years.  Later I learned that they had come not only to my church staff, but others in the church family.  Altogether easily several thousand dollars--all in white envelopes with computer generated labels, always cash and always signed PEOPLE THAT LOVE.

     What prompts such generosity?

     I think we know.

3D CLASS CASE STUDY - LEGOS




BY STEVE DUNN

Are you familiar with that staple of creative children’s toy – the LEGO ® ?  The basic LEGO building brick looks like this:




On a typical brick there are 4-8 hardened raised circles that serve as the “connectors” to the other bricks.  When a connector is inserted into the bottom of the connector of another block, and then connected to another—structures can be built.   In some cases elaborate toys are created.  It is something wondrous.






      As elaborate as the ultimate construction may be—a single block with 4-8 blocks is only to able to connect with only 4-8 other raised circles.  There can only 4-8 solid connections.

     Social scientists tell us that most of us, while having many acquaintances can only have about 4-8 close relationships.  Those are relationships that are intimate enough to be enduring and dependable.  Where, to use a scriptural metaphor, “we know as we are known.”

      When it comes to building relationships that are capable of bringing people to redemption in Christ, what are the implications for people who have been Christians for more than several years?






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.