Monday, September 21, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Priority of Prayer and THE MEDIATOR

On Sunday, I got the privilege of preaching my fourth sermon from the book of 1 Timothy. Here it is.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cultivating Missional Community

As I pray about certain changes that are on the horizon for my family, I certainly learned a lot from this post. Paul Tripp provides an answer to "What Hinders Community?" It is a great read. My favorite quote from the post is:
"You can't fit God's dream (if I can use that language) for his church inside of the American dream and have it work. It's a radically different lifestyle. It just won't squeeze into the available spaces of the time and energy that's left over."
Read the entire post here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tim Keller: We Need Missional Churches

Back in 2001 Tim Keller wrote these words about why we need "missional" churches:
"In conservative regions, it is possible to see people profess faith and the church grow without becoming 'missional.' Most traditional evangelical churches still can only win people to Christ who are temperamentally traditional and conservative. But....this is a "shrinking market." And eventually evangelical churches ensconced in the declining, remaining enclaves of "Christendom" will have to learn how to become 'missional.' If it does not do that it will decline or die. We don't simply need evangelistic churches, but rather 'missional' churches."

In the days to come. I would like to discuss the eleven marks that Mark Driscoll gives in Vintage Church as being those that identify themselves as "missional" churches stay tuned.......

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MMA to the Glory of God

"Brett, do you really need another sport to follow?" These were the words of my wife about 8 months ago when I specifically started following MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) closely. "I mean wasn't basketball, football, baseball, college hockey, golf, nascar (I follow just to know the numbers of the cars - to give a bad time to Steve Pederson and others) - isn't that enough????" To complicate matters I was watching a fight and my 2 year old daughter went up and kicked the television and tried to fight a one Joe Stevenson at UFC 95. Aunika no longer watches with me and I have not tuned into fights when my girls (all three of them) are around.

So, the question comes up, Can a Christian watching the UFC, do so to the glory of God? - as I believe we do all things for the fame and glory of our Creator. Here is how I answer that question.
  1. MMA is a sport, in my mind, just like any other. It is about competition and respect. The sport has come a long ways and has a long list of rules . Many people do not know that rules exist - because MMA used to not have any. I believe some of the more important rules are no strikes to the spine or the back of the head, no strikes to the trachea or neck area, and no head butting. Not one single death has occurred in the UFC and their have been zero life threatening or career ending injuries. The NFL has at least 2-3 of those a year.
  2. Contextualization - contextualization is a missional concept that says "Christians should be aware of the cultural context in which lost people around them live, and they should make every effort to bring the love and truth of Jesus in word and deed and be all things to all people" (Vintage Church, p. 228). I have relationships with two guys that I ref in a city league volleyball league that has developed and started with conversations surrounding the UFC. If I wouldn't have had any knowledge of a sport that they were interested in - I possibly would not have these relationships. The nice thing about knowing these guys is - they come back every week. I see them every week. Now are these guys saved - no, but relationships are formed and God may be using MMA as a bridge to the Gospel - we can't question that. There actually are many Christian men that are Mixed Martial Artists and a ministry has been started to minister to others within this culture.
  3. MEN - the former chairman of our church board is a fan as is a 29 year old single dude who works in the world of computers as a young professional. The fact is that MMA is the fastest growing sport in America and MEN - specifically young men (18-35) love MMA. If I want to teach, mentor, and train men I probably should have a working knowledge of what they are into (besides just the knowledge that men struggle with porn). The days of giving men crappy books by Max Lucado and John Eldredge and telling them to live "Wild at Heart" are over.
  4. Enjoyment and Entertainment - I can honestly say that MMA doesn't cause me to sin. I enjoy the sport aspect and am entertained by the personalities of some of the fighters.
The truth is that this sport has issues with people stereotyping it. A bunch of thugs, who are pierced, tatted up, cuss like sailors, and participate in what John McCain once called "human cockfighting". That is what the fundamental sectarianist would say. These would simply be the same people who would argue that Jesus went too far in culture. They would view Jesus' actions and involvement in culture as sinful as they falsely accused him of being a glutton, a drunk, and a supporter of sin (Matt. 11:19).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Neat Christian Guy" vs. "Godly Man"

When I was in high school I remember a 40 year old farmer suggest that I attend Northwestern Bible College. He suggested I attend because there were many good-looking girls there that were looking for a "neat Christian guy" like me. As I listened to a recent interview by Matt Chandler - this idea came up of a "neat Christian guy" vs. a "Godly man". Matt was talking about complementarianism in the church. As I have reflected on the matter at one time being labeled a "neat Christian guy" (NCG) - my hope is that I have moved on from the fluff of that part of my life to be a "Godly man"(GM).

So, what separates the two. Here are my list of suggestions
  1. A NCG is liked by everybody while a GM has offended someone because the GM hasn't wavered on the truth of Scripture. A GM has hills to die on and will follow through with standing on core theological truths.
  2. A NCG will be pursued by the ladies (most of the time these women have a low view of what they are looking for in a man) while the GM pursues a woman because God has told him too. For the record - my pre-marriage performance falls into the NCG on this one....although my wife did know what she was looking for in a man.
  3. A NCG is the guy who cries at summer camp every year while a GM repents and owns up to his sin as "his" fault.
  4. A NCG carries his Bible (along with his highlighter and other items that make everyone think he knows what he is doing) or relies on the Scripture being up on the screen while the GM carries his Bible and actually reads it.
  5. A NCG provides for his family financially and calls it a day. A GM provides for his family financially and realizes that it doesn't stop there. A GM most importanly, leads and pastors his family.
  6. A NCG many times grew up in a "Christian" home and might not even really have a regenerated heart while a GM many times grew up with stories of grace - and can actually tell you about those stories.
  7. And finally NCG's are bored dudes who see going to church as a duty - while GM become elders, pastors, deacons, and LEADERS in the church.
The goal is to be a "Godly Man" - that means in my mind responsibility, courage, accountability, and repentence. As I look back and as I examine parts of my life that would be classified as "neat and Christian" - I almost want to throw up. Our tendency at times is to
  • Want all the benefits of everything, but take NO responsibility
  • Stand down and not fight for truth - at times we have NO courage
  • Lie to ourselves and think we need no one around us to call us out - we want NO accoutability
  • Fail to say, "It is what it is" - and I am a dirty sinner - we NEVER repent and confess our sins
My prayer is that "Godly Men" would rise up and would lead. Women will follow, good husbands and good fathers will come about, and most importantly Jesus will be glorified as he made men to be men - not "neat" with potential.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend 2009 - Evidences of God's Grace

This past weekend was a great chance for me to observe God's grace in my life within the context of my family and my church. Here are some examples of God's grace that I observed
  1. Friday night - we had a great night of worship, contemplation, and meditation on the cross. A first year teacher, a Christian radio host, and a bio-chemist shared and boasted in the cross. I got to speak to the substitutionary sacrifice of the atoning work of Jesus being our high priest. In the words of Martin Luther, our "true contemplation of the cross is that were we think of our sin and we are crushed". A great design and backdrop for our service was created from a great blogger over at Thorns.
  2. Saturday - had a great trip to the Red River Zoo with my "girls". What a great time holding Aunika up on the railings and hearing her say "hi" and then yelling at the animals. Also it was an encouraging time as the temperature cracked 50.
  3. Saturday night date night - Shannon gave me the gift of going out to one of my favorite resaraunts - HuHot - and then we went to Home Depot and Shannon got ideas for some home improvement project.
  4. Sunday morning - we got up early and got the girls all dressed up for church and gave them their Easter baskets. What a joy to jump in the car and go to church together to celebrate!
  5. Had a great Easter breakfast at the church where I got to observe many men serving and giving of themselves to serve as they made rock star french toach, sausage, eggs, and orange juice.
  6. The tomb is EMPTY! We had a great day of worship and celebration as Jesus is ALIVE! During our service I observed a song written by two of our people that was shared and was a great ministry to others. I led a rousing and passionate rendition of Victory in Jesus to conclude our time together.