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READING LIST

The Permanent Revolution, by Hirsch & Catchim

With by Skye Jethani. - Reimagining the way you relate to God.

Cracking Your Church's Culture Code, by Samuel Chand

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's Day, by John C. Maxwell

The Forgotten Ways Handbook, by Alan Hirsch

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Brafman & Becksrom

Untamed, by Alan Hirsch

Church 3.0, by Neil Cole

The Shaping of Things to Come, by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost

Yearly Archives: 2012

Go to this clip to hear the good report after spiritual warfare equipping and being sent out bring news of the Kingdom –

Last week on Wednesday I rolled in on a 1:30 p.m. flight from Paris into the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport after spending three weeks in Monrovia, Liberia and the surrounding area. I had witnessed the birth of a new fellowship – 20 committing to discipleship and several requesting baptism.

In addition, a band of Liberian CMF missionaries were equipped with spiritual warfare teaching and returned from the field with great joy – like the 70 in Luke 10! I am so grateful to have seen this kind of fruit from my visit, and Peiwu will have additional stories to share when he returns after next week.

As the Lord provides, we will look for a chance to return to support the work, but we are confident that the Lord will see His work completed. As He said, He will build His Church – we are to make disciples. Please pray with us for the Lord’s direction and timing, and that those believers will continue to persevere with one another as they follow Jesus Christ together.

We have been meeting with our core group now every night from 7 to 8:30 p.m. going through leadership principles, rhythms of being the church, and now this week spritual warfare.

The group starts each night with some praise songs,  has appointed a treasurer and collects an offering. They are mostly 20 and thirty year old guys but women are now starting to come. This has all been through word of mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also had the chance to speak at several churches, and do a training for CMF missionaries on spritual warfare and discipleship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will be here five more days, and then head back to Minnesota. Today we will be doing some video taping so that we can share what God is doing here more effectively.

So we have been here for 4 days, and we are now meeting with a group of young men every evening at 7:00 p.m. to train them in discipleship and Jesus-style leadership. The Manual is helpful as a teaching guide, but we are of course seeking to follow the lead of the Spirit of God – and even last night we had three of the guys stay after for prayer and Spiritual Warfare. We saw freedom –  and so did they!

We are also “re-homesteading” a house outside of the city, just a stone’s throw from the ocean. 

We run a generator a few hours in the evening for lights and to recharge our computer and phone batteries. No running water so we take “bucket baths”. We cook with a propane stove indoors – because the weather here is like Hawaii: stays between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit all year round – so windows are always open and designed to keep rain out. It’s like camping in a house!

The city shows the scars of civil war yet, but is in the process of restoring infrastructure. There is a really interesting mix of native and  modern culture, and the traffic in the city truly has its own “language”:

Motorcycles are used as cabs as well as regular cars, but are totally exempt from traffic laws! They may come from any direction and weave between cars, even driving against traffic! It’s a bit scary at first.

Tomorrow I will be speaking at a church in New Georgia. Please pray for fruit to continue here, as the Lord leads you. Grace and Peace.

Peiwu and I are at the G-8 terminal in Minneapolis right now waiting for our flight to Paris, which leaves at 5:10 p.m. I finished the “Organic Church Field Manual” at 3:00 a.m. this morning – That’s why I look a little like a zombie here…

In a few hours we will be over the Atlantic and when we land the sun will be up, but my watch will say 1:30 a.m. So much for my hopes of being cured of zombi-ism. It has been 30 years since I was in Paris. I bet it has changed, and I bet it hasn’t changed. The Louvre, L’Arch de Triumph…stuff like that doesn’t change.

The really good pictures are going to be in Africa. I will save room for those. I want to thank all of you who are praying for us and supporting the mission here. God’s hand has been guiding us so clearly even in the preparation. Shalom for now.

Written 10-22-2012

In a couple of weeks the question of whether to amend the Minnesota Constitution to include a definition of “marriage” will be placed before the general voting population of Minnesota.  As an attorney who has both focused on constitutional law and worked in the family law area for the last 20 years, it pains me to see this issue being framed by a polarizing “narrative” which focuses on people’s personal feelings, or on the wording of the referendum itself, rather than on its legal and practical impact on our society. Both sides seem bent on popularizing their biases through campaign ads and sound bites, while the voters are left to their own devices to search for relevant background on the question. Not one person I have heard comment on this referendum – not ONE – has said anything about what I would consider the most important information needed to make a good decision about how to vote on this question, that is:

 

What is the State’s purpose for defining marriage in the first place?

Without an understanding of this, the question becomes purely personal – putting the focus on how people “feel” about gay marriage. The result is likely to be a tragic lose/lose situation: The amendment passes and gay people get the message that the people in Minnesota consider them undeserving of respect and value; OR, It doesn’t pass, and the courts read it as a green light to override the state’s current definition of marriage, unraveling the legitimate purpose for its historical definition.

 

So what was the State’s purpose?  For starters, it was NOT to make heterosexuals feel better, or to draft a particular religion’s definition of “marriage” into law – That would have been illegal in the first place. So what was the purpose? Let’s look at the background.

 

The “First Article” of the Minnesota Constitution reads as follows:

 

“ARTICLE I

BILL OF RIGHTS

Section 1. Object of government. Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent, together with the right to alter, modify or reform government whenever required by the public good.”

Notice that the right to “alter, modify or reform” government must be for the “public good”. So what was the “public good” served by the legislature defining marriage in what now appears as Minnesota Statutes §517.01?

“MARRIAGE A CIVIL CONTRACT.    Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential. Lawful marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex and only when a license has been obtained as provided by law and when the marriage is contracted in the presence of two witnesses and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or both of the parties in good faith believe to be authorized, so to do. Marriages subsequent to April 26, 1941, not so contracted shall be null and void.”

 

A reading of the more than 100 years of history around this statute shows that the State had an apparent interest in the “civil contract” of marriage between a man and woman as the foundation of the traditional family, which was the “building block” of society. As recently as 1973, the legislature expressed its value of the “nuclear” or traditional family in the Minnesota Corporate Farm Act (MN Stat. 500.24), which states as its purpose as,

“to encourage and protect the family farm as a basic economic unit, to insure it as the most socially desirable mode of agricultural production, and to enhance and promote the stability and well-being of rural society in Minnesota and the nuclear family.”

The point here is that the State had a very pragmatic reason for defining marriage the way it did: The strength of its “building block” – the family.

 

Aside from the historical basis for the state’s interest in defining marriage, another essential fact to note is that the language in the current marriage statute that reads, “…only between persons of the opposite sex” was added by amendment in 1997 – four years after the Minnesota Human Rights Act was amended to make “sexual preference” a protected class along with race and gender in the State of Minnesota. So the legislature’s new language in 517.01 was no doubt a response to the Human Rights amendment of 1993, which, while passed to insure respectful treatment of gays and lesbians, could also be used to unravel the State’s promotion of the nuclear family by allowing the new protected class to demand that the State abandon its definition of marriage. Likewise, the current referendum to amend the Constitution has been prompted by recent court challenges to the State’s existing marriage statute.

 

Getting back to “the public good”, some might argue that “times have changed” and the nuclear family is a thing of the past. The problem with that position is this: Statistically, those intact nuclear families in the State of Minnesota continue to prove that their members have a measurable and predictable advantage in the quest to become productive, healthy citizens who give more than they take. Findings from the New Family Structures Study*is loaded with objective comparative data on income, employment, education, personal health and safety, mental illness, civil, and criminal behavior, which support their summary statement in the final paragraph of the report which reads:

 

“But the NFSS also clearly reveals that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.”

 

So with this background, we also need to understand that if majority of us who vote in this election either cast a “No” vote, or check nothing at all on this question, the amendment fails, and we will have left it to the courts to decide if the existing marriage statute violates the Human Rights Act.  In answering this, the courts’ question will not be whether the Statute promotes the “public good”, but whether or not it complies with the legal implications of the Human Rights Act language.

 

On the other hand, if a majority of voters check “Yes”, then the Constitutional Amendment will stand on par with the Human Rights Provision as a statement about the public benefit of traditional marriage. While it is still likely to be challenged for consistency, a Constitutional provision will demand equal footing with the Human Rights Act provisions on the question.

 

It is my hope that this information will help empower voters with the information needed to make an informed decision on this question. In my opinion the last thing we need is another issue that divides or devalues Minnesotans in the name of conservative or liberal agendas. I hope that we can keep our eye on the ball – that is, what the basic language of the Constitution states is important: the “public good”.

 

R.C. Roby

 

 

 

* “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study”, Social Science Research Volume 41, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 752–770

 

 

 

I never seem to expect it, but on some regular rhythm under the direction of the Spirit of God alone, it is brought back to my attention that most of the battles I have lost in trying to follow Jesus have been simply for a lack of margin.

Last night as the church gathered at Meg’s house, we read how Peter (yes, the one singled out by Jesus, sifted by Satan, worker of every miracle in the Book) could not believe he was being freed from jail by an angel. Really? Was he still lacking in faith by chapter 12 of Acts?

We talked about faith. I said that I thought of faith as the ability to see (perceive) God. It’s been the only way I have understood it that actually fits all the ways it is used in the Bible. So the “mustard seed” of faith is just that little bit of vision I have, that gives me just enough to go forward – Like when my car has been sitting out on a winter night and I am late for work, and I don’t have time to let the defroster do its work or do a nice clean scraping job, so scratch off just enough to peer out of my “freezer on wheels” and make my way down the road. Not the safest way to drive, but hey – this is Minnesota.

So here is where margin comes in: Protecting time to listen – to perceive God each day – It’s difficult for me. And every time I survive the trip down the road with a last minute scrape job it seems to prove that it’s enough to get by. In my saner moments, I have to recognize that my chances of hitting a parked car were greatly increased by doing this. So it is with my habit of diving into the day with the last minute scrape-job on the “windshield” I look through to see what God is doing in my life. Which brings me to the value of a garage…the one thing that could save me from going out to thaw my car a half an hour ahead of time.

A garage represents “margin”. It takes time and resources to build one – a gesture of value to whatever we put in it. When it comes to time with God – I would really rather just borrow someone else’s garage. All the books I have bought hoping that someone else’s view of God will help me figure out how to get through the day – the week ahead. Maybe we all hope pastors will do it for us with a great sermon – and if they don’t come through, there are a hundred others on the web with a pod cast for us.

To build a garage around my own time with God is work – and it costs me something. For those of us in Minnesota, it’s either build one, or spend a half an hour each frosty morning clearing your windshield. Maybe having that illustration of the importance of margin is why God saw to it I ended up living here. I need the reminder of the cost of not building a “garage” of time in the morning where I listen to the One who I need to direct my life.  It is written, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14

In our Organic Church Best Practices discussions on the 2nd Thursdays of the month (see current events) we have been forming language around the movement of “organic church”. Even the meaning of “organic” when applied to “church”  is still anyone’s guess – especially when we get to describing what it looks like. One thing we have noticed is that we all look to our own back yard – our own experiences – when we hear these terms.

The literal meaning of organic is: “Of, relating to, or derived from living matter”. Jesus declared Himself “the Living One” in Revelation 1:18…perhaps what we are talking about is the presence of the Living One among us.

For those of us who come from a contemporary church background, “sustainability” is about maintaining attendance, budgets and programs. These ways of measuring  just don’t do it if we are really looking for the “living presence” among us. In the journey of walking out simple church, “sustainability” suggests a whole different thing: Sustaining our relationship with Jesus, and with each other – It’s about sustaining relationships. The two are worlds apart.

The institutional application requires two things: novelty and momentum – You have to “re-cast” vision every year or so –  It has to sound new and exciting. The programs have to be different from last season, while at the same time scratch the “itch” people have for new ways and “connect” with others. The worship has to be new enough to be interesting, and familiar enough to participate in.

In contrast, relational sustainability is rooted in the words of Jesus, “Abide in me” (John 15). It’s not sexy or novel. And in our culture,  “abiding” in relationships is not getting easier – it is getting harder – and more counter-cultural with every year that goes by. For example: in Minnesota, 2011 marked the first year in history when more couples who live together were unmarried then married.  Sustaining relationships is work – sometimes agonizing – and requires going through conflict without bailing out.

I do not think it is overstating anything to say that the kind of god our culture worships would never ask anyone go through “agony” to remain in a relationship. This creates a problem the person who wants to be a Jesus follower. Why? This Jesus is the one who said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matt. 16:24. Could there be a better definition of “agony” than a cross?

If we are honest, we cannot separate our willingness to go through pain in order to follow Jesus from our willingness to go through it for other relationships. It’s like Jesus’ friend John wrote, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother , he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”1 John 4:20.  The way we sustain relationships is too instinctive, and with God it’s even less accountable! The measure of how we are doing with “abiding” in Jesus is going to be seen in how we “abide” in other relationships – especially those that tend to give us a taste of the “cross”.

Finally, I want to encourage any who read this not to lose heart. I have experienced that God doesn’t waste anyone’s pain – So we don’t need to fear it – it is the furnace of our soul, and necessary for our growth. the grace and peace needed will be with you.  

Know God, Love People, Don’t Give Up! 

REVIVAL…

It’s when Christians stop talking about Jesus like He’s not in the room,… and stop living like He’s not in their hearts.

Up to this point in Acts, the witness of the Scriptures about leadership in the early Ecclesia has really only described the selection of an “apostle” to replace Judas. The criteria for that selection was clear – it related to one being an eye witness of the life of Jesus, from His baptism to His resurrection. (Acts 1:21-22) The number of those who fit this description was limited in time and geography. Those who could be this kind of witness would only be around for so long. And while you could draw fair implications – there was no mention of any character qualifications for that position.

Now in Chapter 6, there is a need for a specific kind of service:  to see that the Greek widows were provided for in the food distribution. We noticed that at this point there were at least 5000 in the company of the disciples (4:4), and Jesus had earlier set the precedent of serving food to this number with the twelve near the  Jordan River (Mark 6:41, Matt 15:29-39); But now the twelve find they cannot give the attention needed to avoid overlooking the Greek widows among the disciples, and still continue giving witness to the life of Jesus (serving up the “Word”). They need to delegate this “ministry” to others.

Two things struck us about this passage:

1. Here is the first time that character qualifications are mentioned in selecting disciples for a specific task – Seven who were:

  • of good reputation,
  • full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

The requirement of being full of the Holy Spirit is impressive to us – this was not mentioned in the selection of an apostle to replace Judas in the work. We think of this Acts 6 passage as the selection of “deacons” – people who would “wait on tables”. Today if we thought that someone was “full of the Holy Spirit”, we would more likely make him Pope, or at least a pastor of a very large church…but they were selecting table waiters. What the heck?!

2. The other thing we noticed actually helped us make sense of this. When we studied through the life of Christ, we noticed that He dramatically opposed hierarchical leadership. He made a point of contrasting it with His own way of leading when He taught the disciples in Matthew 20:24-27, and when He showed the disciples in the washing of their feet (John 13). The reality was, the Twelve didn’t think of this as a “lesser ministry”!! The selection of the seven was not an appointment of a spiritual “B-Team” as we suppose, but a recognition and delegation of disciples to carry the apostolic mission to the Greek widows. The text bears this out not only in the qualifications stated, but in how it refers to the two tasks. Both the “serving of the Word” and the “serving of tables” (6:2 and 6:4), though translated “ministry” and “serving”, respectively, are described with the same Greek word: diakonai. The point of this is that the twelve eye witnesses of Jesus’ life and resurrection did not think of themselves as superior to the seven – That’s OUR bias, not theirs!

For our part, I think we need to repent of our hierarchical view of leadership in the Kingdom of God, and return to Jesus’ teaching on this. It has corrupted our reading of Paul’s instruction to Timothy about appointing leaders (1Timothy 3), and so our whole view of leadership in the Church.

May the Lord restore us to simple, servant leadership.  Amen