Monthly Archives: April 2012

May I Serve You – Where You Play

Where you play…

Missional living where we play is all about leveraging our favorite hobbies and recreational activities for Kingdom impact. It’s representing Jesus to the kids you coach by how you coach. It’s being selective in playing golf or tennis with people far from God, as opposed to your regular foursome from church. It’s accepting an invitation to the neighborhood Bunko (or Poker) night with the hope of making new friends with neighbors who need the gospel.

What do you love to do?

Get out a note pad and write down all the things that you enjoy doing (i.e. biking, camping, fishing, hunting, playing music, sewing, painting, writing, reading, playing sports, watching sports, cooking, eating barbecue, gardening, etc.). Now, think about what you might be able to do to use your specific hobbies and interests to meet and build relationships with unchurched people. Before you know it, you’re engaged in missional living doing the things that you love the most!

(from perimeter.org/LiveWorkPlay)

Some Ideas…

  • Volunteer to coach a local sport.
  • Start a “Book Club”
  • Start a “Golf or Tennis Group”
  • Start a “Walking or Running Group”
  • Coordinate a game night (i.e. Bunko, Poker, etc.)
  • Organize a “Progressive Game Night” for kids and families.
  • Start a “Neighborhood Supper Club” (eat in or go out to eat)
  • Build a fire pit and invite neighbors over to enjoy it with you.
  • Find out what your neighbor enjoys doing, and do it with them.
  • Organize an “Ultimate Tasting Party” for neighbors or co-workers.
  • Start a “Community Garden” in your neighborhood, school, or at work.
  • Coordinate a “Yard to Yard Golf Tournament” (i.e. play with plastic golf balls or Frisbee golf)
  • Host a viewing party for the next big sporting event (i.e. College football, NFL, NASCAR race, etc.)
  • Invite one, two, or all of the families of your child’s sports team over to your house for a cookout.
  • Put on a pot of soup one Friday evening per month and invite neighbors to come over for soup, drinks, and conversation.
  • Facilitate or coordinate a “how to” workshop on gardening, bbq / smoking meats, brewing beer, holiday or home decorating, etc.
  • Facilitate or coordinate a seminar / discussion on marriage, parenting, finance (i.e. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University)
  • Organize a “Chili Cook Off” and invite your neighbors to bring a batch for the contest and to be prepared to taste and judge.
  • Have an “Outdoor Movie” using PVC pipes, a King sized bed sheet, projector, speakers, and DVD player.
  • During the winter, make (or buy) Windshield De-Icer Spray and give out to neighbors. This can be a great relationship / conversation “ice breaker!” § Recipe: Use a bottle of 70% isopropyl alcohol (50% works, too, but not as well) with a few drops of dish soap. Apply liberally to the glass with a spray bottle.

 

May I Serve You – Where You Work

Where You Work…

Missional living where we work is not so much about starting a Bible study at work (though there’s nothing wrong with that). But… it’s an even bigger vision! It’s a holistic vision to see people and “all things” redeemed for God’s glory. As one church planter said, “The reason for our ministry is to seek the restoration of nouns (i.e. persons, places, and things).

It’s about living out your faith in an attractive way such that co-workers and clients become curious as to what makes you tick.

It’s about identifying your “Channel of Cultural Influence” (i.e. business, arts & entertainment, media, education, healthcare, non-profits, legal / judicial, and government) and seeking to influence your workplace, and channel at large, such that they begin to take on the characteristics and values of the Kingdom of God. (from perimeter.org/LiveWorkPlay)

City Commuters…

Pack some “blessing bags” and keep them on hand to those you may see on the street. Stuff a simple plastic ziplock bag, a grocery bag or even a backpack with small toiletries, nutritious non-perishable foods that are easy to open, and water bottles.  Add a Bible and some resource listings if you have them. Do not be afraid to strike up a conversation or offer to pray for them as you love your neighbor.

 

 

 

 

 

May I Serve You – Missional Living In Your Neighborhood

Where you live…

Missional living in my neighborhood is a vision to add value and build community, right where we live. It’s meeting neighbors, getting to know them, and introducing them to each other. It’s taking time to chat while getting the mail or pulling in the trash can. It’s asking “How can I help?” It’s opening up our homes, inviting neighborhood kids over to play with our kids, or inviting new (or long time) neighbors over for a cookout. It’s throwing a party, coordinating a neighborhood food drive, taking a meal to a new mom, welcoming new neighbors, and much, much more.  (from perimeter.org/LiveWorkPlay)

  • Suburban life is often very shut off from the food cycle (Food comes from the grocery store, of course!). Homegrown food is more healthy, it gives you a good excuse to be outside (see #7 below), and it provides you with a resource to share generously with your church community and your neighbors.  (Chris Smith, Ten Ways to be the People of God in Suburbia)
  • Be a helping hand to senior neighbors or single parents. When you make a meal share a serving, or bake something special for them. Assist them with yard work, house cleaning, or fix-up jobs.
  • To be human is to be poor. Or in other words, everyone has needs. The challenge of suburbia is that there are many more ways to conceal that poverty, and similarly that it will take more effort to get into a position where a neighbor can reveal their needs. Be intentional about building relationships. Share meals, play poker, have block parties, whatever it takes. (Chris Smith, Ten Ways to be the People of God in Suburbia)
  • Your family can host a free car wash for families in your neighborhood. Set-up some lemonade and treats to chat over while you wash their car.
  • Create a block/street email and phone list for safety and contact.
  • Host a movie night and discussion after.
  • Organize a carpool to help everyone save gas and God’s creation.
  • Plant a vegetable garden and share the produce.
  • Organize a block party
  • Organize a neighborhood babysitting swap to give parents a night out.
  • Bless those who work in your community  (retail, offices, gas stations, politics, fire department, school etc.) with an act of kindness. Deliver some flowers  or baked goods with a note of appreciation.

 

May I Serve You – What is Missional Living?

What exactly is “Missional Living” anyway?

One way to define “Missional Living” might be this, “when anyone, being motivated by the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, uses their gifts, talents, and training to love and serve people where they live, work, and play.” Missional Living is winsomely engaging and attractively exposing unchurched people to God’s Word and God’s people.

Missional living is living out the gospel right through serving, hospitality, and love with “no strings attached.” It’s praying for our neighbors, co-workers, and classmates. It’s seeing the things that you enjoy most as your best opportunities for ministry. It’s realizing that love opens relational doors and truth sets people free. It’s being nice to people. It’s initiating conversation. It’s recognizing that people aren’t looking for a friendly church, as much as they are looking for friends, and… it’s being that friend.

Top 10 Principles of Missional Living

1. Investing ourselves in developing friendships with non-Christians is one of the most important evangelistic activities we can do.

2. Prayer is the fuel of personal ministry. Before we talk to people about God, we need to talk to God about people.

3. Three of the best ways to make a Kingdom difference are: 1) hospitality 2) serving 3) peace making

4. Christians need to remember that we don’t need to try to be different around non-Christians, but that because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we ARE different and it’s that difference (i.e. fruit of the Spirit) that attracts non-Christians to Jesus Christ.

5. If we want people to know and love Jesus, we should make it our goal that their starting point might be that they know and love us. As Christ followers, we will have greater influence among those around us if they believe and experience that we care about and add value to their lives. People will best to understand God’s love for them to the degree that they experience love from me. Love opens the door. Truth sets them free.

6. We’ve got to be willing to not let ourselves be offended by or judgmental towards the language, actions, and / or addictions of our neighbors. The question that every non-Christian asks is, “Am I valuable and worth loving?” If we can show them that they are, then we’ve got a great chance of being able to tell them why. “Non-Christians are not looking for a friendly church, they’re looking for friends.” -Rick Warren

7. We’ve got to make tough decisions with whom we spend our time. It may be that we need to tell some of our Christian friends that we won’t be able to see them as much as we’d like, because we need to spend our prime times (i.e. Friday evenings, Saturdays, etc.) with our non-Christian neighbors.

8. “Witnessing is less about something that I do and more about who I am. Witnessing is really nothing more than befriending people and telling them your story at the right time (usually when they ask you). Witnessing is being so in love with God that you eventually end up talking about Him. Witnessing isn’t coercing someone; it‘s quite the opposite. It‘s having someone coerce the gospel out of you, because they can‘t stand not knowing what‘s going on with you anymore.” – John Fischer

9. Think of “evangelism” as trying to move people closer to God, instead of trying to get every person you talk with to committing their life to Christ in that one conversation. Remember, that God uses some to sow the seed, some to water, and some to harvest. Occasionally, we’re privileged to share in all three, but often, we are one link in the chain to bring someone into relationship with Christ.

10. Fishing for men is less about “bating” a hook and using a lure, and more about casting a net (i.e. truth) in the water, and hoping and praying for fish, then pulling it up. Our yield is up to God, not us.  (from perimeter.org/LiveWorkPlay)

 

Devotion for April 8, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 16:1-20

People many times wonder what happens in the afterlife. Will we have a body, will we be just some sort of phantom spirit floating around, or will we know or be able to recognize one another? The scripture indicate to us that when Jesus was raised from the dead, that he had a real, although different in some ways, physical body. The Gospels speak of Jesus being physically touched, having conversations, being recognized, and in Luke’s Gospel we read that he even ate broiled fish. Even though there was some continuity, with his pre-resurrection body (the nail prints in his hands) there was something which had changed as well.

The good news for us is that the scriptures indicate, that for those who are in Christ, our bodies will be changed as well. The scriptures teach us that our souls go directly to be with Jesus after death until that time which he comes back to this world and sets everything right. At that point, those who are in Christ who have died, their bodies will be raised to life, and those who are still alive will be “caught up” to meet Jesus upon his return. (1Thes 4) Why is this such good news? Think for a moment what life would be like, if this world had no sin, no evil, no pain, no suffering, no sorrow. Seems like heaven doesn’t it? We read in the prophets, as well as the book of Revelation of a new order of things, a new Earth, and a new Heaven, where all is made new and perfect. We will be able to enjoy the earth in the way God originally intended. The arts will be expressed in ways and forms like we have never experienced. The creation will exemplify the beauty of Eden and perhaps beyond. Relationships will be without arguing, strife, hatred, and turmoil. Wars will cease, disasters will be stilled, and life will be truly wonderful and exciting, with never a boring moment and complete peace. We will also know fully what it means to live in unrestricted worship and relationship with God. We will be his people, and he will be our God.

Rev 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Jamie Cupschalk

 

Lenten Devotion for April 7, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 15:21-42

The Perfect Gift

Gifts, gifts, and more gifts. Often times we find ourselves struggling to find the right one; the perfect one. We put ourselves through such dilemmas trying to find tokens of our love and affection and admiration for a friend, relative, or significant other. It is our greatest desire that these gifts will be accepted with gratitude, that the gifts linger in the recipient’s memory long after the celebration. However, not even the most beautiful, lavish present could hope to surpass that given by Jesus Christ, our Savior. Through death and bloodshed has the sacrificial lamb given us the greatest gift of all, salvation.

This gift was given at great expense. Jesus gave his own LIFE for us, his freedom and all he cared for on Earth. He allowed himself to experience some of the worst types of pain and torment, just so that you and I may experience eternal paradise. He didn’t have to do it. Should he have simply chose not to die, he would not have to face crucifixion. He submitted to the will of God the Father. God’s endless love for us, his children, has saved us from our rotten-sinful lives, even though we couldn’t possibly deserve it! It constantly amazes me how much the Lord loves us. This love without limits, without rules, without exception is alien to us. None of our human relationships could match such love.

Liam Fleming

Lenten Devotion for April 6, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 15:1-20

He Knows Your Pain

How many of us go through trials thinking we’re all alone, or “nobody would understand.” It’s easy to isolate ourselves from others, or contemplate on just how bad things really are. Yet, the truth is this: ““For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin” Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

When I read these verses in Mark, I can truly see that he really does understand our pain. To all who have ever been ridiculed for just being themselves: “And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews! (v 18)”  To all who have been abused: “Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. (v 19)”  To all who have been wrongly accused and punished for something: “The chief priests accused him of many things. (v 3)” To all who have been maliciously humiliated: They put a purple robe on him… Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him… And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. (v 17-20)”

To all who have felt pain and endured tragedies nearly unimaginable, know that there is One who understands. He endured much pain and temptation on his journey to the cross. Also know, he took that journey for You, so that one day you could experience peace unimaginable.

Challenge: Allow Jesus to come alongside you, and sympathize with you, in your time of struggle, temptation, or pain. Also, remember his painful journey to the cross was for YOU.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I thank you for being the One I can count on and trust, the One who can sympathize with my sorrow, and the One who is able to, and one day will, bring complete restoration to my grieving soul.

Robin Thompson

 

Lenten Devotions for April 5, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 14:53-72

Devotion #1

Jesus was before a council. Many people came up as witnesses to sentence Him to death, though everyone’s protests and testimonies could not be proved. One person claimed that Jesus said “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another not made with hands.” Not even this testimony could be agreed. Then the high priest said, “do you have nothing to say? What is it that these men have against you?”. The priest then asked Jesus if he was the Son of God. Jesus replied that He was. Then suddenly, the priest went on a rampage and tore off his clothes in anger. Some began to spit and cover Jesus’ face. They called him a blasphemer and the guards beat Him.

Peter was below in the courtyard waiting. A servant girl of the high priest recognized him and asked him if he was with Jesus and Peter denied it. The servant girl told others standing nearby that Peter was a follower of Jesus and again, Peter denied it. A little while later, the bystanders again asked Peter if he was one of Jesus’ followers and he denied it a third time. When he did this, the rooster crowed a second time. Peter was immediately ashamed of himself and wept and remember that Jesus had said one of them would deny Him. Jesus called it.

Matt M.- Here we see that the Sanhedrin went to great lengths to find something to convict Jesus and justify their arresting Him. When their feeble attempts failed, the high priest just flat-out asked Him if he was the “Son of God” to which Jesus replied “I am” knowing that the answer would lead to His death. This is another example of the strength and bravery of Jesus and His willingness to serve God’s will.

The opposite could be said for Peter. Peter was scared. He was afraid of what would happen to Jesus and what would happen to those who served alongside Him and followed Him. When asked if he knew Jesus, he denied it. He then remember that Jesus predicted this and was ashamed. He looked Jesus in the eye just hours before and said “Surely it will not be I” and sure enough, it was him. Our prayer is to brave. If ever given the opportunity to share our faith or chose God over all, we would be brave enough to stand up for Christ.

By Elyse Proctor and Noah Beasley (with help from Matt M.)

 

Devotion #2

 Will you stand up for Jesus?

Sandwiched within these Bible verses is the Sandhedrin trial of Jesus.  The Sanhedrin was the high court in Israel – and supposedly consisted of the wisest men in the Jewish nation.  The chief priest was Caiphas –who had plotted against Jesus for many months before this trial.

Jesus spoke little during the trial but did answer truthfully:

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The men on the Sanhedrin should have judged Jesus fairly but instead allowed the following to occur against Jewish law:

  • Conducted the trial at night, even though they were considering a death penalty
  • Asked him to witness against himself
  • The chief priest acted as prosecutor, asked for a public vote, and declared blasphemy without discussing the merits of Jesus stating he WAS the Son of God

How sad it was that some of the wisest men in Israel were so focused on delivering a sentence of death that they MISSED the opportunity to realize that the true Son of God was before them!  If one of us had been a member of the Sanhedrin, would we have spoken up for Jesus?  Would we have recognized that all the things that Jesus had accomplished in his lifetime were signs that he was the long-awaited Messiah?

The beginning and ending verses in the passage are focused on Peter, the disciple who pledged his commitment to Jesus.  However – Jesus predicted Peter’s denial:

Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[e] you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Peter was brave enough to enter the courtyard to view the trial, but did not speak up for Jesus during the trail, and when confronted – three times denied that he even knew Jesus!  Certainly – we can feel Peter’s pain when he realizes his denials and then “broke down and wept”.

After the resurrection, Jesus met Peter in Galilee and reaffirmed him as a disciple in John 21: 15-17:

17 The third time he (Jesus) said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Challenge: Many of us will not be facing death when we “Stand up for Jesus” – telling others about Jesus, why he came to earth,  the miracles that he accomplished, the wonderful words he spoke, the love that he showed when he died for sinners like us.  Let us not deny Jesus but instead take every opportunity to proudly declare that Jesus is God’s son and gift to all who will believe in him!

Prayer Focus: Pray that God will give each of us the opportunity to tell others about Jesus.  Pray that we will show our love for Jesus by sharing him with others and can in reality “feed his sheep”!

Peg and Randy  Buckley

 

 

Lenten Devotions for April 4, 2012

Today’s Reading: Mark 14:32-52

 

Devotion #1

Jesus went with Peter, James and John to Gathsemane. Jesus told them “my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. So He went to pray and left the others and prayed, “Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not I will, but your will be done.” Then, an hour later when He came back, the disciples were asleep. Jesus told Simon to make sure they kept watch and to also pray so their bodies would not give in to sleep. Jesus went away again to continue praying and when He returned again, the disciples were asleep again. Jesus told them that while they slept “the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners”.

Judas had come with a crowd armed with clubs and swords. He kissed Jesus as a signal to the crowd to identify Jesus. Jesus was arrested. Jesus had told the crowd “every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

Matt M.- Here we learned that Jesus fully understood God’s plan for Him while praying. Jesus had, for lack of a better term, a “moment of humanity”. He prayed to God and said “let this cup pass from me” but followed it up with “Yet not I will, but your will be done.” It is our prayer that when faced with a difficult challenge, whether it be at school or work, that we remember to pray to God for strength. When faced with a problem or challenge, we should use this example of Christ’s strength and understanding to know that no matter what happens, we accept and live in God’s will.

By Conner Fleming and Connor Tracey (with help from Matt M.)

 

Devotion #2

Not what I will, but what you will

When I read the bible I don’t often think about Jesus as a man. In the first part of this passage we see the human side of Jesus.  He is distressed and troubled, knowing what is to come and he has gone with his disciples to Gethsemane to pray to his Abba Father.  He has asked Peter, James and John to keep watch and pray with him.  He goes apart from the disciples and he prays that if possible, the hour might pass.  He is praying to his Father to be spared.  Not from death so much, but being separated from God and taking on “the sin of the world” so that we can be saved.  How hard it was for him, knowing that he was going to be separated from God, yet he prayed not what I will, but what you will.

He went back to his disciples and found them sleeping, unable to stay awake for an hour.  He asked the disciples again to keep watch and said to Peter 14:38“Pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Jesus returned to prayer, returning two more times finding Peter, James, and John sleeping.  Finally on the third time he said to them 14:41“Enough! The hour has come.  Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of the sinners.”

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and he was arrested by a crowd armed with clubs.  Jesus said to them 14:49 “Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me.  But the Scripture must be fulfilled.”

How often when we pray do we remember – not what I want, but what God wants?  Jesus gave us words to use in the Lord’s Prayer – “thy will be done” and “lead us not into temptation.”  Those are the same words he used when praying to his Father and telling Simon Peter to pray.  Not only did he give us the words, he gave us the example by dying for our sins and fulfilling the Scripture.

Peg and Randy Buckley