Friday, January 27, 2012

Ahead, Behind and Beside

This year has taught me so much about discipleship. Here is one of the things that has crystalized for me rather recently...


I think that we all need to be engaged in three types of discipleship relationships:

  1. Ahead: We need to ask someone ahead of us in their walk with Jesus to come over us and dsiciple us intentionally.  You open up to them and they speak into your life, challenge you and encourage you in the faith.
  2. Behind: Inetentionally select people that are not as far along as you in their faith journey...particularly someone that is spiritually hungry and containing noticeable potential and then ask them if you can disciple them.
  3. Beside: Engage in a few peer discipling relationships with people who are in a similar place as you in the faith. Challenge each other and walk with each other in an intentional way.

All three of these relationships must be:

  1. Intentional
  2. Accountable
  3. Centered around Jesus
  4. Focussed on obedience

I personally think that each of us should enter into at least one of each of these relationhips. Are you in any of them?  


Older related discipleship posts:

Previouly wrote about obedience based discipleship which I define HERE.

I have blogged about the fact that I think we have a discipleship crisis HERE

Then, I got lots of questions about whether you should pursue discipling relationships or wait on them.  I answered that HERE.

Even earlier, I had blogged about 2-way discipleship.  Read that HERE.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Drug Dealing & Church Planting

Wanna hear a funny, but not so funny story?


For the last six months me and a group of men have been meeting with some brothers in Masiphumelele for church every Sunday morning.  We meet in one of the guy's rooms in Masi. It is a single rented room in a house. Not only did we meet each week, but we would swing in throughout the week and drop things off from time to time and visit him. 


Recently, my friend's landlord called him in and told him he had to vacate the property in 2 weeks.  He was shocked. After some prying he discovered that the reason he was being asked to move out was because she had concluded that he was running a drug ring out of his room with the white men.  Why else do several white men show up several times per week? Church?  Yeah, right!  Great excuse. 


My friend has moved and found somewhere else to live. 


This was a first.  Accused of being a drug dealer.  The truth is, I am just a Jesus dealer. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The walk to church

This is my walk to church each Sunday. Gives you a window into the community that we work in, Masiphumelele. This part of Masi is called the "Wetlands" because many of the homes are built on top of water.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sharing God's Heart

Tricia and I have now spent a year in simple, organic church community.  We are in a house church and have started other simple churches. We are learning so many things we never knew before, as we both spent our lives in larger, organized churches, where learning these types of things are less common.


Here is one really awesome thing we are learning:


We all carry portions of God's heart for each other. There are oftentimes things that you are carrying in your heart for others that God wants you to deliver to them.  And this is church!  This is encourgament.  This is mutual edification.  This is the building up of the body of Christ.


What does this look like?


Simple. Create permission and space for people to walk around the room or share across the circle what God may be saying.  It could be:

  • A word
  • A vision
  • A picture
  • A verse
  • An affirmation
  • An encouragment
  • A hug
  • Etc.

Just last night we were at an All Nations worship gathering that lasted about 2 hours.  Throughout the evening I had words of enouragement for 5 different people- several of which were rather prophpetic and confirming some major stuff in people. And all evening I watched the body of Christ roam the room spaking portions of God's heart over each other!!  It was so beautiful. There was joy.  There were tears. It is what the Body of Christ SHOULD be doing.  


But, are we? Are you? Is your church?


If not, can I encourage you to start speaking up.  I would say that at least once a week you should be downloading some of God's heart into someone else.  If we don't do it, who will? 


"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up!" I Thess. 5:11

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Miracle of the Shoes

My Mom and Sister are here with us in South Africa now...and how thrilled we are!  Let me tell you a quick story.


As they prepared to come, they felt that the Lord wanted them to gather and bring shoes for the kids in Masiphumelele where we serve. Masi is a very poor community and many of the kids have either very worn shoes or no shoes at all. They asked on Facebook and ended up gathering and bringing 55 pair of sandles, shoes or flip flops. This morning we were discussing the best way to begin distributing them to the kids in Masi...


This evening while we were eating dinner, the doorbell rang. When I went to open the door there were 8 kids standing there.  They had walked to our home...from Masi, which is about a 45 minute walk...6 of the 8 were barefoot...the other two had shoes that were so badly worn, they would have been better off barefoot. 


Immediately we knew what this meant.  These were the first kids that God had prepared to recieve the shoes that Mom and Selah brought. And we did not even make it into them...they came to us!!


Here is the way felt from it all. These shoes were a prophetic sign.  I know, I know, they are shoes.  But before, you think I am cooky spiritual, listen: When God asks you to do sometning, do it!  Obey him. Then, he will acknowledge your obedience thank you for it and give you your next assignment, your next chance to show him you love him with your obedience. 


Today Mom won, Selah won, we won, the kids won and God won, because he gets all the glory. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I love my wife more than my kids

Lily, our daughter, and second child was born one week ago today. There are a lot of things I am feeling and learning already.  But, allow me to share the one strongest feelings I have had since Lily arrived.


Last Saturday, just after the birth (less than 15 minutes), I told Tricia and her Doctor that this experience has only increased my love for my wife. Listen, I LOVE my kids...with a type of love I have never felt. But, when you have spent 13 years of love and almost 10 years of marriage with a woman you've been through thick and thin with, and she is now giving you your second child, you REALLY LOVE A WOMAN!  My first response to Lily's birth was a deeper love for Tricia, my wife for life!!


She has been faithful.  She has been honoring. She is full of inegrity and honesty. She has followed Jesus radically. She is a woman of noble character.  She believes in me more than anyone on the planet. She serves our home. She sacrifices for all 3 of us. After Jesus, she is my everything.


Growing up, when my Mom would upset one of us kids, we would go to Dad, who, though he administered most of the spankings, was typically softer than Mom. While trying to get Dad to side with us, he would ALWAYS say "your Mother was here long before you and she will be here long after you"! That stuck with me and it formed me.  


Look, I love these kids with crazy love.  But not like I love their Mother.  She is top, my gem, my angel. Has been since 1999 and will be until y'all attend my funeral or we attend hers. 


While you will not find a Bible verse to say this is how it must be, you will find many that suggest that this is how it should be. God never asked you to love your kids like Christ loves the church or to become one flesh with them, did he? (Genesis 2:24 & Ephesian 5:31-33)


PS- I know this easier for Dads to say than Moms. I will leave you to  think through that.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to use your church building the other 166 hours

There are 168 hours in a week.  Most church services are under 2 hours long.  Most churches have a building.  They may even call the building the "house of God" or the "temple" or the "sanctuary"-- all fine.  Just not New Testament biblical.  But neither is McDonalds. Anyway, many of those buildings are not used very often at all other than on Sunday morning.  This results in loads of wasted kingdom resource.  This is not ok.


I will not use this blog post to expound upon why I think that we are moving away from church buildings being the primary gathering place for Christians.  What I would lke to suggest are some ways to use your church building that might glorify God the other 166 hours of the week that it sits empty. Here are some options:

  1. Transform it into a center to love and care for the poor and needy. (Isaiah 58:6-7)
  2. Convert some of the space into small apartments for singles or families with a serious calling for missional ministry so that they can quit working to pay a mortgage and start serving Jesus in their communities full time. 
  3. Start a missional training center.  Train people all week long to go make disciples and start churches. Stop all other programming and just do this. Just an idea. (Matt. 28: 18-20)
  4. Start a homeless shelter. (James 1:27)
  5. Have small groups meeting in every crack and crevis of your building all week long. 
  6. Start a prayer or worship center where your building is used for prayer and worship every day.
  7. Launch a world missions lab.  Encourage and invite people from around the world in to strategize about global possibities for mission.
  8. Start and orphanage. (James 1:27)
  9. Open your doors to handicapped and physically challenged in your area.
  10. Open a widow/widower care facility. (I Tim. 5:3)
  11. Do something to bless children all week long. (Matt. 19:14)
  12. Share your space with several other churches. 
  13. Sell the building, give the money away for the Kingdom and divide up into many small churches meeting all over your community.(Luke 12:33)
  14. Sign it over to another church or mission that will use the snot out of it. Give it away. (Luke 12:33)


Other ideas?  What are some ideas that you either carry or have heard of?  Please comment. I would like to start a long list to share with longing churches that I may work with in the future. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A year ago tonight...

It is hard to believe it, but we posted this video on YouTube one year ago tonight! One year ago tonight we were packing our final bags and preparing to depart for South Africa.  (Still thankful for my Sister, Joeley and Brother in Law, Eamon for letting us launch from their pad!)


Within this year, Jesus has opened our eyes, enlarged our hearts, changed our minds, grown our family and set new visions and dreams in our hearts for the future. There really are not words to say how thankful we are to be in the will of God serving here in South Africa. It has been a year where God has kept His promises and fulfilled his prophecies in our lives.


You can see the pain of sacrifice in our eyes in this video. It is not easy to follow Jesus when it hurts--when it means leaving people you love. But I am here to speak up as a testimony that the reward is far greater than the sacrifice.


And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29 // We have found this to be true in more ways than we would have thought.

When Good is Bad

At the center of the garden in Genesis was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This was the tree that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from.  There is so, so much significance to this! The location of the tree, the name of it, the prohibition to eat from it....all carry signiificance.  


I am currently reading a book entitled "Repenting of Religion" by Greg Boyd. Loving it. Almost always love Boyd's stuff.  In it, he is opening my eyes to some new things.  I want to share a few nuggets with you:


  1. We were never intended to be judges, only lovers.  Givers and recievers of the lavish and unmatchable love of God.  We were not even intended to have the "knowledge of good and evil"-- because with it, we die by it. And the knowledge of good is every bit as bad as the knowledge of evil. Boyd says this: "We are not satisfied being God-like in our cpacity to love; we also want to become God-like in our cpacity to judge, which is how the serpent tempts us.  But in aspiring towards the latter, we lose our capacity for the former, for unlike God, we cannot judge and love at the same time." 
  2. Our obsesison with our righteousness misses the point.  This is when good becomes bad.  The goal of the gospel has never been to get your bad behavior to turn good.  It is rather about recieving the love of Jesus, the righteousness of JESUS (not you), and living into his righteiousness. "God is not first and foremost interested in acquiring a people who believe all the right things and act all the right ways. God's first concern, and really his only concern, is to have a people who are united with him in love."
  3. How we treat overweight people in the church versus how we treat homosexuals in the church is a great example of our tendency to live with the knowledge of good and evil at the center--instead of the tree of life. Boyd says: "The sins a particular religous community is good at avoiding tend to be the ones identified as most important to avoid in the mind of that community, while the sins a community is not good at avoiding seem to be minimized or ignored altogether- regardless of what emphasis the Bible has put on those sins." 

There is so much more profound stuff to push out.  But the bottom lins is this:


When we live our lives with our eyes and hearts focussed on the "good and evil" of ourselves and others, we are religious and majorly missing the point of God's plan for us...we are not recieving Christ love and we certainly are not carrying it to others. 


Your journey with Jesus has nothing to do with your righteousness and everything to do with HIS!  That is the genius of God's brilliant plan! 


Our righteousness is as filthy rags. Isa. 64:6

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome Lily Raelynn!

This blog post is dedicated to the most beautiful, little, sweet, precious, white African-Ameican baby in the entire Republic of South Africa!


Tricia, Davis and I are thrilled to anounce the arrival of our sweet daughter, Lily Raelynn Kaye.  


Date: Saturday, January 7th, 2012 (EXACTLY 5 years after Davis- get ready for some MAJOR birthday partying January 7th, 2013)

Location: Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa

Time: 2:14pm

Weight: 6lb, 7oz

Length: 18.5in


Lily's name is spiritually means beauty and purity-- indicative of her future.  We belive that the Lord has great plans for Lily.  She will be a radical, Holy Spirit led, Jesus lover.


Lily's name is also practically significant in that she is our "Lily of the Valley"-- we live in the Fish Hoek Valley of Cape Town.


She is a miracle and an answer to prayer and prophetic words over our family. Read about it HERE when we announced our pregnancy.


Join us in praying for Lily's life-- that it would shine for Jesus.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Older Leaders

I want to share some thoughts about older leaders. Why? The purpose of this blog post is to increase grace, honor and understanding for leaders that are further along than you. But a few things need to be said first...


  1. First of all, these reflections are from my own expereince serving under the spirititual authority of older leaders. They may not be consistent with your experiences, but they are mine.
  2. Second, I am choosing to not define "older".  I will let you do that based upon whether you find the reflections applying to "older" leaders you have served with. Of course, these are gross generalizations that you can judge for yourself.
  3. Third, this email is not describing any one leader I have served under, but rather a sampling of a few. And I have been BLESSED to serve under some dynamite leaders. 


Older leaders can seem inflexible. Be careful before you conclude that. What you see as inflexibilty may actually be wisdom and commitment to integrity. They have more years of practice at standing firmly on what they believe in than you do. You would waiver and call it "good" and "flexible".  They just know what they believe in, get it said, and stand by it. What is wrong, is when they communicate their commitments with a pride or beligerance lording over others. 


Older leaders can seem stubborn and unwiling to see and consider other options and opinions. Let us imagine that you are working with a 60 year old leader and you feel that they are acting this way.  Stop and remember this: that 60 year old has had a solid 35 YEARS to learn and form their values.  Their values are based on what they have seen work and fail, please God and displease Him.  So, there is very little conversation when something has worked for 35 years and now you want to try to convince them otherwise.  Sure, there is always a slim chance that their personal value is wrong. But, 1) you will not change it and 2) the chances are higher that they are correct and you just have not had that "class" yet. So, let it go. practice submission and honor and see how you behave in 20-30 years. 


Honor and respect are totally different beasts. You give honor. People earn respect. Honor your leaders regardless of how much they bother you.  Keep pouring out honor as long as you serve them. Leaders often rise to the level of honor they have been given.  You can impact them this way.


Stop taking things personally. When they question something you do or suggest or propose, they are not attacking you. You will do yourself a major favor if you would get yourself out of the center of everything. Most of the time, it is not about you. And even when it is, it is their job to make you aware of it, not your job to assume it.


Stop slamming your leader.  If you are talking negative about your leader behind their back, you will have no confidence when you are in their face and your relationship will never be healthy. Honor them bhind their back. Even with your spouse.  In fact, your spouse will almost always follow your emotions.  If you do not like a leader, she/he will not either. If you honor them, so will they. 


Older leaders are a well of wisdom and stories....but if you are not interested in receieving what they have, they will be mature enough not to just force it on you.  Desire it.  Ask for it. Don't just sit there. You have to ask questions so they feel invited to share what they have.  Older age can be a very vulnerable time....give the leaders ahead of you the confidnce that you care to hear their hearts! 


How do you think I learned these lessons? Yup. The hard way. No reason for you to do the same.  Please share this news with others you know that need to read it. Save them some heartache.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Let's do this! Welcome to 2012!

Hello my dear blog-reading friends,


I just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and tell you that I look forward to the year ahead of learning and sharing together online. 


I deeply value the online presence and ministry that the Lord has entrusted to me and I long to use it to the glory of the Father this year more than ever. It will be a wonderful year together!


"Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness." Psalm 115:1