Friday, June 26, 2009

56. Discipleship....

Discipleship is a process and a journey towards Jesus. This journey is marked by various milestones along the way. These milestones are characterized by events, experiences and engagements that allow us to, and are a result of our, participation in his life, death and resurrection.

Participating in his life, death and resurrection means a Re-Alignment with, Re-Enactment of, Re-Entering into and Re-Engagement under the story of Jesus. The Story of Jesus can be described as a story of:

FAITH: Jesus trusted in the Father to vindicate him, and his way of living. Jesus was faithful to his identity and mission and the Father was in turn faithful to him by raising him from the dead. Discipleship then is Re-Aligning of our trust away from the systems and values of this world towards trusting in the ways of God and allowing that trust to inspire us to participate in his mission.

HOPE: Jesus believed another world was possible, and his life gives us a window into what this other world looks like. Justice, healing, and new creation are just a few words that describe this other world. The rule of God was breaking into the world in a new way through Jesus, and his life is a symbol of this new reality. His death lets us know before hand how the 'world' tends to react to those who live radically compassionate lives. His resurrection is proof that God is involved in creation and that he will one day complete his work of making things right. Discipleship then is Re-Enacting the life, death and resurrection of Jesus so that we become a sign and a symbol of this new reality called the Kingdom of God.

LOVE: Jesus lives in community with the Father and the Spirit. This original community is described as Love in the scriptures. Discipleship then is learning how to Re-Enter into that original community of the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit. As we learn how to live in community with the Trinity, we are empowered to live in community with each other. This means we learn how to be weak and vulnerable, faithful, honest, and others centered.

POWER: Jesus lived in a world of violence and foreign occupation. Power, as in our day, was defined as being able to get what you want. Jesus re-defined power as the capacity to love. He engaged his world with a fierce, unconditional love. He served other people with uncontrollable freedom. Discipleship then is Re-Engaging the world under the Lordship of Jesus, using our resources and influence to bless others. We learn how to use power in non-violent ways, effecting justice, peace and goodness.

Friday, June 12, 2009

55. Principles for a Co2, church of Two (or Three)

The following is an adapted version of John Whites thoughts on simple church and Co2.

Foundational principles for Co2

1. Only fact you need to know for simple church - Jesus is present when we meet in His name. (Mt. 18:20) This is central to everything.

2. Only skill you need to master for simple church - how to listen to Him (and do what He directs). It’s His church and He is the leader (Mt. 16:18). Key principle in Jesus’ life (and ours): find out what the Father is doing and do that. (Jn. 5:19)

3. Simple church = a vibrant family of Jesus. Vibrant means full of life, healthy, transformational. Not just a meeting but 24/7 family like relationships.

Some practices that help us function this way…

1. SASHET. Principle: intimacy is the result of mutual self disclosure. “Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” (Romans 12:15, The Message)

This practice helps us grow towards being what Eldredge calls a “fellowship of the heart”. “We check in regularly with one another… out of a desire to watch over one another’s hearts (p. 200). …God is calling together little communities of the heart, to fight for one another and for the hearts of those who have not yet been set free. That camaraderie, that intimacy, that incredible impact by a few stouthearted souls – that is available. It is the Christian life as Jesus gave it to us. It is completely normal. (p. 202)” Waking the Dead

Share one or more words that most describe the present condition of their heart. (Each person shares at the level of vulnerability they are comfortable with.) Use the acronym SASHET as a starting place: Sad - Angry - Scared - Happy - Excited - Tender. (or other) (No advice giving here.) For instance, “I’m checking in today as sad, excited and tender and here’s why…” After sharing, each person expresses their commitment to the community by saying, “I’m in.” The benefit of checking in like this week after week is cumulative as trust and safety grow.

2. Listening to Jesus. After checking in (SASHET), take 10-15 minutes for everyone to listen to Jesus. What does He want to say about what was just shared? What does He want to share with individuals? With the whole group? What direction does He have for ministering to each other or to the world? Listen for His heart. Come back together and share what you heard with the group. Be tentative: "I think this is what He is saying..." Freedom to fail. Weigh what is said. Goal is to "strengthen, encourage and comfort". (1 Cor. 14:1-3) Keep practicing. Your ability to hear gets better with practice.

We have found Mark Virkler’s Four Keys to Hearing God’s Voice helpful here…

1. Quiet yourself

2. Fix your eyes on Jesus

3. Listen for spontaneous thoughts

4. Write what you hear

A short written explanation of the Four Keys is found here:

We also found value in watching as a group (DVD) Virkler’s 10 lessons on the subject

A note on spiritual practices. As Dallas Willard writes: “We meet and dwell with Jesus and his Father in the disciplines (or practices) for the spiritual life.” (xi) The Spirit of the Disciplines Practices are valuable for both individual lives and for group life. The three practices above are not absolutes. They are merely tools to help us towards the kind of Kingdom life that we desire to live. See 1 Tim. 4:7-8.

Alan Hirsch comments on spiritual practices in The Forgotten Ways: “We would not develop a philosophy of ministry per se (for their churches), but rather a covenant and some core practices. Behind this thinking was the belief that when we talk about core values, the appeal is to the head. I have yet to see a set of core values in any church’s philosophy that I cannot agree with. They are, in some cases, little more than “motherhood statements” in confessional communities. What we wanted was to covenant ourselves to a set of practices that embodied the core value and demonstrated it. Each group (and therefore the majority of the individual members of the group) had to be engaged in a healthy diet of spiritual disciplines – the only way to grow in Christlikeness that we were aware of.” P. 46-47

Thursday, June 11, 2009

54. CO2: An Embryonic, Viral Community

Been listening in on a conversation from, a community of practice for church planters. What if church was not defined by buildings or worship services? If we could no longer have buildings tomorrow, what would Christianity look like in America. Could we survive? I shudder to think about the answer to that question here in America.

John White has coined the term CO2, which means church of two. The most foundational expression of church is two (or three) people meeting together to share their heart, listen to Jesus and pray. Most churches were started in this way if you think about it. This is sort of an embryonic form of church. It is where life begins and it is where we learn to process, interpret and nurture spirituality. What if we decided to pair up with someone and do this on a daily basis? What if we took Hebrews 3:13 seriously and shared our heart through SASHET and listened to Jesus through VIRKLER, and prayed the Luke 10:2b prayer, both in the CO2 and through prayer walking?

I would say that a viral, embryonic community would begin to take shape. I am doing this once a week with someone right now, but I am feeling the call to step it up to a daily thing. What is these CO2's intentionally looked for ways to pair up with others? This would be making disciples would it not?

Then, what if these CO2's began to meet weekly with other CO2's, ate a meal together and prayed for each other?

Then what if these groups met with other groups once a month?

I think this would be a very interesting project to be a part of. I think that I will begin to listen to Jesus on this one.

Friday, June 05, 2009

53. Prayer

I have been reading a book lately by Steve Hawthorne called Prayer Walking. This book is so inspiring! Early on in the book he talks about Abraham as the first prayer walker. What a fascinating perspective. Walking around the land that God has given him. Over looking Sodom and pleading for God's mercy on them. Establishing public places of worship. Living in faith that one day he would see his children in this land that God promised.

I have never been much on the idea of "possess the land", but I can buy into the idea of God promising us "children", children in the faith. Abraham walked around to view the land and thought of God's promise that he would give him a family to inhabit this land.

Prayer is one of those things that has a way of pushing us into so many other places of God's heart and life. Prayer is sort of a front door if you will to spirituality. When we walk through it, we see a different environment. Our vision changes. We change.

As I think bout making disciples in Clarksville, one of the most important things we could "transmit" to a new disciple is dependence on God in prayer. I have been convicted lately that this is not a foundational part of my "walk" with God and a new disciple would not "cathc" this from me. I would love for my walk with God to be a prayer virus. This needs to be a part of our culture in Ikon.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

52. U2 and Eschatology

Saw this cool article on U2's music and their views on eschatology. You know their new album is called "No Line on the Horizon." This is actually a reference to the blending of Heaven and earth, which is exactly what God will do in the eschaton. No line means God's will is done on earth as in heaven. This will not totally happen till the future, but we give snapshots and previews of this in the here an now. The church is a sign and a symbol of the coming reign of God. We see the line between heaven and earth all around us. Sometimes we get a glimpse of the future though when we see compassion, forgiveness, or justice. When the line between heaven and earth gets blurry, we know the Spirit is present, for it is the Spirits role to create these blurry scenes where the difference between the now and the future of God collide, giving us a taste of the future.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

51. U2 and Justification

For those of you who like U2 out there, there new album has a kick'n song called Magnificent.

They have a sequence in this song that talks about justification. Wanna hear it, here it go....

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent

Some people say that this is their most spiritual song yet. I personally think "Where the Streets have No Name" is their most spiritual one. Anyways, later on in the song, they repeat this stanza, with a subtle distinction that is hard to pick up from the song. In fact, every web site I looked at that displayed the lyrics to this song totally missed this distinction and wrote the second stanza down wrong. Here is the second stanza:

Justify till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent

Did you catch it? Instead of justified, it is justify. I think Bono has been drinking from the well of NT Wright! The idea behind this distinction is that justification is a setting to rights what has gone wrong, and this setting to rights, or rectification, is on all levels. Creation, personal, spiritual systemic etc. The concept is that God sets things right in us through the gospel, and then we go around in the world, co-operating with him in setting things right in the world. By dying and rising with Christ, we are rectified, or justified. Then the journey begins of dying and rising with Christ our whole lives. In doing so, we begin to play a vital role in setting this world to rights. Not in our own strength or power. No, it is through the dying and rising of Christ, the gospel, that this happens. Yet it is the gospel that pushes into the world where the Spirit flows through us in compassion and love. The "setting things to rights" is what the community of the gospel proclaims and embodies. It is doing some theology!