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Archive for February, 2010

‘This is the mark of an immature church: it’s all about me and not about [those who don’t know Jesus].’ – Mark Driscoll

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Most married men – and an increasing number of married women – intentionally look at porn at least once a month. And to be honest, many of you gave up Playboy a long time ago for material far more brutal and graphic.

Gentlemen, here’s a reminder of the inevitable effects on your marriage:

I have not mentioned the effect of lust on my marriage. It did not destroy my marriage, did not push me out find more sexual excitation in an adulterous affair, or with prostitutes, did not ever impel me to place unrealistic demands on my wife’s sexual performance. The effect was far more subtle…

I stare at a Playboy centerfold. Miss October has such a warm, inviting smile. She is with me alone, in my living room. She removes her clothes, just for me, and lets me see all of her. She tells me about her favorite books and what she likes in a man.

Because I have… gone over every inch of Miss October as well as the throng of beauties that Madison Avenue and Hollywood recruit to tantalize the masses, I start to view my own wife in that light…. I begin to focus on my wife’s minor flaws. I lose sight of the fact that she is a charming, warm, attractive woman and that I am fortunate to have found her.

Beyond that, lust affected my marriage in an even more subtle and pernicious way. Over time, I began to view sex schizophrenically. Sex in marriage was one thing. We performed OK, though not as often as I liked, and accompanied by typical misunderstandings. But passion, Ah, that was something different. Passion I never felt in my marriage.

If anything, sex within marriage served as an overflow valve, an outlet for the passion that mounted inside me, fed by sources kept hidden from my wife. We never talked about this, yet I am sure she sensed it. I think she began to view herself as a sex object – not in the feminist sense of being the object of a husband’s selfish greed, but in the deprived sense of being only the object of my physical necessity and not of romance and passion.

“The War Within”, Anonymous, Leadership Magazine, Fall 1992

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Earlier this week, I was part of the Velocity Conference in Atlanta – here are some notes from Alan Hirsch’s session on ‘Missional Velocity’:

  • Missional is not just another cute buzz word–it changes everything about how we do church.
  • All communication of the gospel in the west is cross-cultural. We have to become cross-cultural missionaries.
  • Attractional churches work well to reach people who are not too far removed (culturally). When people get further away–it doesn’t work as well. Why? Because we are asking the individual to do the cross-cultural translation to come into the church (rather than us going to them).
  • Huge survey in Australia on people’s perception of…
    • God = HIGH marks
    • Jesus = HIGH marks
    • Spirituality = HIGH marks
    • Church = VERY LOW marks
  • The good news is that people give VERY high marks on God, Jesus and Spirituality. That is good news for us.
  • What has to change? The CHURCH as the delivery mechanism for the gospel MUST CHANGE.
  • The problem–90%+ of churches are trying to follow the contemporary, church-growth, attractional model that…at best…will only reach 40% of Americans.
  • The problems of the church cannot be solved by doing the same thing that got us into those problems.
  • The church that Jesus designed was meant for advance and attack–not defense!
  • Keep doing attractional. It works for 40%. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. I’m interested in finding the AND!
  • Mission precedes the church. You do mission. The church is something that happens out of mission.
  • You plant the gospel. You don’t plant churches.

HT: Tim Stevens

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From Tim Chester over in the UK:

I recently put together some thoughts on ‘missional business’ arising out of discussions we have been having in [our church] …

Missional Business Vision

1. We like business
We like business. We believe business blesses the city by creating employment, providing services, generating tax revenue and resourcing mission. We want our network to have a culture in which business is affirmed and entrepreneurs are encouraged.

2. We like business people
We like business people. We want business people interested in Jesus to feel welcome and affirmed within our church communities. We want this to be reflected in our strategies, our application of the Bible, our prayers, the people we interview in meetings, what we celebrate and our talk illustrations. We do not want to warn against the dangers of wealth in a way that portrays business negatively, nor do we want to affirm the service professions in a way that business people find excluding.

3. Money is also mammon
We recognise that money is also mammon, a rival to God for our affections and a threat to our relationships. So we believe Christian business people need to be accountable to their church community for the way they generate wealth and the use to which they put it. We want people to be generous, avoiding excessive expenditure.

4. Free to rest
Work can be a way of finding worth, identity, fulfilment and security apart for God – an attitude that often leads to overwork. Our faith in Christ’s finished work of justification means we do not need to prove ourselves through work or business success. Our faith in God’s goodness means we do not need wealth to find fulfilment. Our faith in God’s fatherly care means we do not need to worry about our needs. So rest or sabbath is a sign and celebration of God’s provision.

5. Cultural profit
We believe the gospel shapes the methods of business. So we want a ‘cultural profit’ in which our products, our employment and management practices, the design of our premises, the conduct of our meetings all shape and renew the wider culture as well as pointing to the gospel message. Being in business gives us the opportunity to exercise authority in a way that reflects the liberating and life-enhancing rule of God. We will treat employees, customers and suppliers as partners. We will ensure our activities confirm with legal requirements and relevant codes of conducts. We will ensure our businesses bless the neighbourhood in which they operate and do not harm creation.

6. Gospel-shaped goals
We believe the gospel shapes the goal of business. Growing a business is not an end in itself, whether for power, prestige or prosperity. We believe Christian business people should commit their business to one or more of the following missional business models …

Missional Business Models

1. Lifestyle business
Developing a business to support a missional lifestyle. This might involve earning sufficient income in four days a week to release time for mission or working in a role that creates evangelistic opportunities.

2. Income generation
Developing a business to generate income to support church planting.

3. Economic and social renewal
Developing a business to bless the city by creating employment, providing services, generating tax revenue and facilitating the establishment of new companies.

All three of these models can be combined to some extent. But some people will opt for one instead of another. They may, for example, not invest as much time as they could to maximise income (model #2) so they have time for church planting (model #1).

Networking for Missional Business

The following are ideas for supporting the establishment and development of businesses within a church network.

1. A mentoring scheme
linking new entrepreneurs with experienced business people to help develop business plans, access resources, generate ideas and solve issues

2. A business club
business people meeting regularly for peer support and gospel accountability

3. Investment
linking investors with missional business opportunities

4. An investment fund
pooling savings to create an investment fund for missional businesses around the world

5. A holding company
creating a central company to create economies of scale for administration and legal compliance

6. A skills bank
providing free or low-cost start-up support (accountancy, business advise, design) plus a database of government and other resources for new businesses

7. Training
providing training in the vision and practice of missional business

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Asking (most) people to come with us to church is an unrealistic expectation:

Church is where we feel safe and comfortable. Church is where non-Christians feel embarassed and awkward. We offer people the gospel, but on our terms and on our territory. Put like this, it becomes clear that we must take the gospel – and indeed the church – out of our ghetto and into the world around us.

Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, The Gospel-Centred Church, 24-25.

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From Ray Ortlund:

“Be of good courage and cast these dreadful thoughts out of your mind.  Whenever the devil pesters you with these thoughts, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some other form of merriment. . . . When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means.  For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Where he is, there I shall be also.’”

Martin Luther, in Theodore G. Tappert, editor, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Philadelphia, 1955), pages 86-87.

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Kevin DeYoung has written a helpful critique of Brian McLaren’s newest book, A New Kind of Christianity.

You can download the .pdf here.

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