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No More Know it All…Show It All

Blog: Guest post by Pastor Kevin Brown, The Perfecting Church, Sewell, New Jersey

The foundation of every faith is its beliefs.  Everybody believes something and most of us can articulate our beliefs well.  With the introduction of the internet and the forms of information-sharing it has birthed, our pulpits, meeting houses and places of worship, are filled with knowledgeable people.  We’ve all encountered people who can discuss doctrine, theology, history, Greek, Hebrew etc…, at astounding levels.

But we have to admit with all that is going on in our country and around the world, belief is simply not enough!  Most of us think belief secures our place in God’s will and we may even spend hours arguing that fact.  But the simple truth is God has never been interested in our beliefs alone.  In actuality, beliefs mean very little.  Everybody has them and all too often they don’t affect the decisions we make and the direction we take in life.

We typically use our beliefs to justify our positions and focus on what others should or shouldn’t do, giving ourselves a false sense of security.  We debate our beliefs, stick our chests out about our beliefs and even invite others to listen to our beliefs, but by and large, the day to day activities of our lives don’t look much different than those who don’t share our beliefs. Read more

Blog: Lessons of local engagement through adoption

Special guest post by Mitch Jolly, Teaching Pastor at Three Rivers Community Church

At our church the pastors are all bi-vocational and while being part of the fabric of our town I began serving as a board member for the Department of Family and Children Services. One challenge we have in our town is that we have 200-300 children from new-born to 18 years old in foster care with roughly 7-10 foster / adoptive homes available. You do the math. There are simply not enough homes for orphans or those that are about to become orphans.

In 2007, Jennifer and I had two boys, spaced 2 years apart. We wanted a third child and began to feel the desire to adopt a child from our town, being part of the solution to our town’s evident need. We began to pray and soon found our desires to adopt matched the sex, age and race of a child in need of adoption. We both wanted a 2 year old, African-American, boy. We wanted a 2 year old because that would make our boys 6, 4 and 2. They would be able to wear hand-me-downs! We wanted a boy, well, because he could wear the already boy stuff we had. Finally, we wanted an African-American child because that was our desire that we believe God put in our hearts.

This story is deeply complex and nuanced and more than can be written in a single blog, but there are 5 lessons we learned from our adoption inside the context of the town we serve that I would  like to share them with you. Read more

Blog: What Planting a Church in a Global City is Teaching Me About Religious Freedom

By Daniel Yang, Senior Pastor of Trinity Life Church, Toronto

In January 2013 my wife, children, and I moved to downtown Toronto to start a church to reflect a city that has two story lines simultaneously at play. Toronto’s a mega-city in North America that claims the title of being the most ethnically diverse city in the world. This is a city where literally East meets West and a twin generation is born. One twin looks like a native-born Canadian that can’t make sense of a 19th century-style church. The other twin looks like a 2nd generation immigrant born into the trappings of Western comfort without its Christian roots. The twins have grown up sharing the same urban home, but without a common identity. Insert us, Trinity Life Church, a new church trying to bridge the gap with the message of Jesus and the Bible. Read more

Blog: Love like He did

by Jill King

Accepting the call to follow Christ is accompanied with a standard to live by. The Christian life means that our purpose is to usher in the glory of God while we are on earth by loving others. We study the life of Jesus, and seek to emulate the passion and love He extended to every person He interacted with. It is critical that we hold ourselves to a standard of holiness and righteousness because it draws us close to the father and allows him to work in and through our faithfulness to serve him.

We represent Christ in the way we live our lives, not through our own strength but by allowing Him to dwell in us and become the overflow of our hearts.  We also know that it is God’s grace that saves us, not our actions. If we seek to live like Jesus, why does it seem difficult for us to love like him?  We might strive to live a righteous life according to the law, cautiously presenting ourselves to the world, but if we are perceived as legalistic and even cold, then we are not living in accordance to the scripture.

Read more

Blog: Choosing To Pray Rather Than Choosing a Side

Guest post by Kevin Brown

Today we are fasting and praying all day long.  We are fasting for the peace of Israel and the peace of Palestine.  Regardless of your theology and end-time position on the recent events in the Holy Land, no position could support the deaths of innocent Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the wall.  The people who are experiencing the violence and witnessing the deaths that are escalating in that part of the world need, at the very least, our prayers.

I love Israel.  I love the people and the rich heritage from which my savior was born.  I have visited there several times. But I also love Bethlehem, Palestine, the West Bank region and those who live in that part of the world.  One of the greatest conflicts of heart for us as followers of Christ is to live out the “Great Commandment” and the “Great Commission”.  The great commandment calls us to arm ourselves with love by loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and strength — but it also commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  A teacher of the law hoping to catch Jesus in this “conflict of love” asked Him, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus’ response (Luke 10:29-37) to the teacher is one that we should understand and seek to live out today.   Read more

Blog: WHAT’S GOING ON IN ISRAEL & PALESTINE?

by Bob Roberts Jr 

I’m being asked by many people to help them interpret what’s going on in the West Bank and Israel.  I don’t know anyone who can do that.  You can follow me on twitter @bobrobertsjr as I retweet articles I’m reading and about people affected.  My heart is broken.  I fear it’s only going to get worse.  I think both sides are out of control. No one news source will be able to do it for you!  They are all biased and move towards the center and you’ll probably find the truth somewhere in there – CNN, Fox, BBC, Al Jazeera, Washington Post, New York Times, and my favorite the Economist should all be listened to.

Israel has security concerns that must be addressed and the Palestinians have a responsibility to respect their existence, and I believe should say that publicly. Palestinians have been under occupation way too long, have had their land continuously taken from them, experienced illegal settlements, jailed without representation at times for many years, it the list goes on and on and on.  It isn’t just Palestinians that are concerned about it. There are a great many liberal and orthodox Jews both here in the US and in Israel that are challenging their own government at this point.  I also know Palestinians who are challenging Palestinians.   These kinds of things give me hope.  No conflict is resolved by vilifying the other – only by partners who are willing to challenge the wrong from their own tribe.  The people in Gaza were driven out of their homes from other parts of Israel when Israel established a nation in 1948.  So the little town of Gaza then has grown to 1.7 million today.  There are a few million Jews and a few million Palestinians and neither side is going to be driven out – which means they will have to negotiate and resolve.   Read more

Blog: The Problem of Jesus Followers Loving War

by Bob Roberts Jr.

I hate war.  Most people do.  James Hillman wrote the book A Terrible love of War in which he studies the psychology of war.  Though we hate war, we romanticize it or view ourselves nobly while vilifying everyone else.  Jesus told us to be peacemakers, yet I’ve seen Christians sometimes get caught up in war mongering.  How can that be?  There are few living people that remain since WWII, so we don’t remember what it’s like for the entire world to be at war, and that’s dangerous.

The problem of war is its justification – once it’s justified, then using any means necessary is ok.  It’s not ok.  I’m not a pacifist.  I would be the first to defend my family or country from an invasion, and where the wholesale slaughter and genocide of innocents is concerned.   We should as Americans and human beings do all we can to stop the loss of life.  To let a single man or regime destroy life out of madness and not confront them is sinful in itself.  The whole world is erupting in war, and it will continue to do so.  The Central Africa Republic, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, drug wars in Central and South America, Ukraine, Russia, Chechnya, Pakistan, proxy wars, Mali, Israel, Palestine, and others are  countries teetering on the brink of war . . . . this will not slow but only increase in the foreseeable future.   Read more

Blog: Blowing Your Horn and Hearing Things Differently

by Scott Prickett

When I was in the ninth grade, I played the trumpet. While I don’t think I ever played it particularly well, I played it well enough to be invited to go on a trip with the high school band to London, England. We were living in Germany at the time (my father was in the Army), but still, this was a pretty cool opportunity.

We traveled around London playing concerts for English elementary schools. Sometimes when we got done with the concert at a particular school we would hang out with the kids and play soccer. There were times that when we got done and were leaving, the children would want our autographs, as crazy as that sounds. They apparently thought us as some kind of celebrities and apparently looked up to us.  Read more

Blog: Getting Out of the Way Without Getting Out of the Action

By Scott Prickett

We make it so unnecessarily difficult. We carry a burden which was never for us to carry and actually believe, with largely good intentions, that we are needed for things to advance. We mistaken our skills as abilities we have developed as opposed to gifts we have received and then are proud to offer these gifts to the Gift-giver as if we have something original to offer. It’s a cycle of narcissism fueled in pride that creates unnecessary disappointments and allows for unwarranted credit.

The Kingdom of God will advance in the timing and planning of God. He’s got this. The Kingdom doesn’t need a single one of us, yet the King chooses to include us. The purpose He provides us in the inclusion of His Kingdom is life-giving. It’s a pleasure to serve the King.  Read more

Blog: EVERYDAY MISSION: BAIT AND SWITCH?

by Bob Roberts Jr

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I am convinced that we as followers of Jesus unintentionally and unnecessarily turn people off from Jesus.  We go into preacher mode, or we view people as projects.  That not only turns someone off to Jesus, it isolates us from other people.  One of the things I realized long ago was the reason we like to give “gospel” presentations to others is because we don’t want to take the time and effort to be a friend with someone.  If someone is a friend, they’re a friend because of who they are, not what they can do for me or I can do for them.  We want to share the Gospel without benefit of relationship – and that simply doesn’t fly anymore – not that it ever did.  If I view God’s kingdom as a blessing to all, then I naturally share it as it naturally comes up.  I’ve shared the good news of Jesus to some of the most unlikely people in some of the most unusual public squares in various nations where people of another faith rarely share their faith.  It’s because they’re legitimate friends and they want me to know their friends and they have me explain who I am and what I believe.  I have explained how I became a Christian and what I believe about God to my next door neighbor, to my yard man who’s from Mexico, to someone in Iran, to several leaders in Saudi Arabia, to people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Laos, India – literally all over the world.  I’ve often thought if someone even thinks you’re “witnessing” you’re probably not witnessing really good.  It really should be a part of everyday conversation.  By the way, in a real conversation, you listen to them as well and to their story and what they believe –because they’re your friend and you love them, not because they’re your project.     Read more