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Blog: Understanding the World

by Jill King

What is it that you desire most for your children? To feel loved, to make a contribution to society, to walk with God, to become great mothers and fathers, to lead, to serve, to excel, to be popular, to become educated? The opportunities and pressures parents experience in regards to what they can and should be pouring into their children must feel overwhelming at times.  As I’ve grown older and have lived out of my parent’s household for several years, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the values they instilled in our family. It went without saying that character is more important than achievement, faith is greater than a moral code, and extending love to others should take precedence in the way we live our lives. I’m fortunate that my mother and father took their roles as parents seriously, always concerned about how we interacted with the world, and made sure we had opportunities to experience it.

Ambitions to rear a child to perceive and understand the world with wisdom from an early age might seem intimidating, but as an adult I can identify the practical steps my parents took to nurse my hunger for it. Do eager parents not send their babies to Sunday school before they can even speak, anticipating the first time their child can articulate “Jesus loves me”? In the child’s early stages of development and exploration, parents also have the opportunity to begin instilling values, which shape the way children view the world and grow in their relationship to it.  Here are five things my parents incorporated into my upbringing that I believe helped me to embrace our diverse world and love people from every background. Read more

Blog: I LOVE YOU MARK DRISCOLL

by Bob Roberts, Jr.

I remember the first time I met you – you were in your 20’s and I was in my 30’s.  Our mutual friend Dave Travis introduced us.  We were in that first church planting learning community Leadership Network put together with maybe ten of us.  Bob Buford was a gift to us, not so much in the finances but in bringing us together to learn from one another.  What set us apart were not our networks,  we didn’t have them, but that each of us as pastors were starting churches out of our churches.  I still believe that is superior to any network, denomination or organization and is the only way we will ever see a legitimate movement (for another blog).  Read more

Blog: Less Is More

By Jill King

Are you tired? Me too…kind of.

Overwhelmed? Bombarded? Fatigued? I don’t know the most appropriate word, really. But I do know that this communal drag we experience is the result of excess. We accidentally seek it, our flesh desires it, but we don’t respond well to it. The misery inflicting collection of excess is our misguided approach to fulfilling our call to abundance. 

In considering this thought, I’ve begun to identify this specific drain that comes from overload that we routinely succumb to. I sense it as my eyes glaze over while my thumb is involuntarily sliding up and down my phone screen, not even paying attention to the words on my Facebook mini feed. NOTHING IS WRONG WITH FACEBOOK. I love social media, and I confess I judge the bashers (my bad). But get with it people- connect with the world. It’s how we do things these days. Our social media addiction is just as sufficient example as our longing for approval by the way we dress, the cars we drive, the compliments that our starving ego tries to live off of. We collect all of these things in an attempt to fill ourselves until our beings become so tired. When we reach this place, there is no oil, no patch, no drink mix that can waken us in the way our spirits were intended to be alive.  Read more

BLOG: WHEN YOU SEE ALL THESE GLOBAL CONFLICTS . . . DON’T FORGET THE PEOPLE

By Bob Roberts Jr

Bob in Iran with a Jewish doctor who is a member of the Iranian Parliament (picture of Ayatollah Khomeini in background)
Bob in Iran with a Jewish doctor who is a member of the Iranian Parliament (picture of Ayatollah Khomeini in background)

People are like money, we put different values on them.  We value our life most, followed by our family, friends, and tribe.  Those people we don’t know or have a relationship with, we don’t value that much, if at all, and are quick to believe anything negative said about them.  It’s true of all of us.  We simply don’t value life equally.  The better we know someone, the more likely we are to have a higher view of them.  Only God looks at all people and loves them the same.  It’s easy to hate a Hitler, a serial killer, or a terrorist and long for their death – it can be said it’s even just.

I support Israel and have ever since I can remember.  I love the Jewish people – as a little boy my teacher moved me from sitting near a little Jewish boy because I tried so hard to convert him.   I can’t help it, it’s my Baptist roots.  We did the same to everyone, Methodists included.  Over time, I came to equally support the Palestinians.  It wasn’t a quick thing.  I grew up knowing no Muslims, Arabs, or people from the Middle East.  When I did see them, they were in the news and not viewed so highly.  But then I came to know them in Afghanistan when our church did some relief work there.  Not the kind of place you would expect to become friends with Muslims, especially if you’re a Baptist pastor from Texas.  But that’s exactly what happened.  I learned of their faith, their geo-political views, how they viewed Christians and especially evangelicals – it wasn’t good.  They had a different view of the Middle East, I sought to correct it as quick as I could (like any good Texan) and that didn’t go over real good.  I’ve always tried to support the Jewish people.  Not long ago I was in Iran and spoke on their behalf.

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Blog: Working within the Law to Hope for the Heart

By Scott Prickett

What if the key to success is failure? What if the only hope for people to believe the things that you want to share with them is in a culture of laws which are contrary to those beliefs? What if the spread of good news is best suited to a culture of contrary laws?

The fight for preservation of conservative values has raged in the legal system and political landscape for decades. Those values are largely based in Biblical foundations. Those that champion the Biblical foundations being influential in our system of laws have been losing significant ground in recent years. The moral majority is no longer a majority at all. What if that’s actually OK? Read more

Blog: 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.

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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