Category Archives: Current Reading

Book Review: Viral Churches

Not going to lie, I was thinking I would enjoy this book a bit more than I did. Viral Churches was a good book with tons of useful information. That is pretty much my entire review. It’s not as if I didn’t enjoy it or that it was not a good book, it was just not what I had  expected. To me, the book reads as a collection of individual books. To be fair – this is pretty much stated in the introduction so it is clearly my issue. I guess maybe I just didn’t believe it.

The audience for this book is twofold in my mind. One, it aims to be a guidebook to those who are trying to figure out what this new hot topic of “church planting” is all about. This book does a good job or using a wide-angle lens to explain what planting a new church can look like, and what the differing opinions of how that plays out are. Two, it aims at the folks who are wanting to plant a church but are unsure of where to begin or what to believe. This is not so much as a manual as a written discussion about the end result of various options. For example, the book does a basic explanation of Acts 29 and what their goal of church planting is and how it is achieved. This is quite different from how Saddleback plants churches. If you were looking for a way to start and an organization to align with, it would be helpful to read this book.

So, certainly not for everyone but if you have interest in church planting it would be good to peruse. I would not suggest sitting down and reading it as much as reading the chapters that interest you. Once again, this is stated in the introduction. I guess I just have to learn the hard way!

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Book Review: Church Planting is for Wimps

Church Planting is for Wimps by Mike McKinley is a very enjoyable book. A quick and encouraging read. I would suggest it to anyone in any form of ministry but specifically for anyone looking to plant a church or replanting a church specifically. I would not say that there was anything about this book that would stand out, however, with the simple writing style and interesting stories, it needs to be on the must read list. It will take you 2 hours tops to have the entire thing complete.

Find a copy, read it, and pass it on.

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The Pull Of Efficiency

I am currently reading Kisses from Katie and it is a good book. A very easy read written in a style that is close to daily journal entries. While the chapters are pretty much chronological, they are at the same time topical so it is an interesting format. The basic story describes Katie’s desire to, at first, visit Uganda which quickly turned into quite a bit longer.

Typically the chapters are encouraging but every once in a while there is something that catches my soul. Here is one of those statements.

There are still days when I walk through Masese and feel completely powerless and totally overwhelmed. The illnesses are more than I can treat even if I sit in the makeshift clinic in the back of my van for fifteen hours a day. Sometimes the sadness seems almost unbearable, the problems unsolvable, the wounds unhealable. This has taught me one of the greatest lessons: the tension between inefficiency and faithfulness. The assurance that I must obey and be faithful only to what he has asked of me, even when tangible, earthly results or successes are not seen.

How often do we put off doing things until we think they will be successful? Do we put off meting with that person at church you have been drawn to until you are more prepared to disciple? Do you put off starting the non-profit that you have been thinking about for years? Do we put off the next step that doesn’t look as sure as we would like?

Just some thoughts – wondering how that tension is working itself out in my life.

Selah

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Things I’ve Seen 5.30

As the Church Planting Intern for Maine I have been asked to help with the recently launched site for people interested in planting or interested in helping plant churches in Maine http://www.mainechurchplanting.com/. One of the ways that I will do this is to look through the various blogs out there for anything that would help the readers in any way. I thought I was supposed to do that THIS week however, we start the ramp up NEXT week. So, this is the week that was that didn’t get was there, but is was here. Got it?

The first is written by Chuck Lawless from Thom Rainer’s site. 5 years ago I would not have even read anything by a southern baptist, and here I am following them on twitter and referencing blogs. This s a great post about ‘Praying Evangelistically’. As you are praying for the souls of people in your town, keep these ideas in mind.

The second is from a bit of an unlikely source but I do think that there is much to say here. I am an insurance guy by day and I have taken to reading various business journals to start my day. This one jumped out at me in the context of planting a church. If you are a church looking to send out people or a core group looking to solidify your goals, take a look and let me know what it makes you think of. Which aspect of church planting do you feel this most directly speaks to?

The third is from the Gospel Coalition. As you are looking to reach people in your community, please make sure that you are acknowledging those who WILL see things differently than you. I know that this is a specific way that I tend to struggle. I am absolutely guilty of thinking in ways that can discourage an artist. Artists can and should help bring us to the throne of God on a regular basis. How can you include instead of exclude?

Well, there you go. The week that was. Let me know what you think.

-Selah

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What Stories Do

This was sent to me in response to my last post. What a great follow-up to that idea. Thank you Lori.
The original story can be found here.

What Stories Do

by 

Almost overnight, my eight-year-old niece went from being a vivacious little girl who sang her way through life—as if she were singing the soundtrack of her own life the movie—and became a frightened, withdrawn child who spoke so softly you could barely hear her. It was as if she were literally losing her voice, losing herself. And then we found out she was being bullied at school.

Later, she told me that she thought she wouldn’t get in trouble if she tried not to be herself. It broke my heart, and I wished she had a book to read before school to hear what God says about her, not what those bullies were saying about her. So I thought I better write one—it’s called Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, and it has become a book of hope for children.

Children look to us for everything. But in all that we’ve given children, have we forgotten to give them hope? Have we left them in despair, looking at what they should do but don’t? Looking at who they should be but aren’t? How, then, do we give hope to children?

By helping them take the focus off themselves and put it back on God where it belongs. By telling them truths such as these:

God holds the oceans in the palm of his hand. If he can hold the oceans, he can hold you. (p. 106)

If God cares for the tiniest sparrow— how much more mus t he care for you, his child? (p. 152)

If Jesus can calm a storm on a lake, he can calm the storm in your heart. (p. 181)

God sees not just who you are— but who he is going to make you. (p. 145)

We give hope to children when we tell them what matters most.

They don’t need to be told to try harder, believe more, or do better. That just leaves them in despair. Taken by itself, the moral code always leaves us in despair. We can never live up to it. We don’t need a moral code—we need a Rescuer.

When I go to churches and speak to children, I ask them two questions: First, “how many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you?” They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them. Second, “How many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you?” They look around and again raise their hands.

These are children in Sunday schools who know the Bible, and yet they have somehow missed the most important thing of all. They have missed what the Bible is all about. They are children like I once was. I thought God couldn’t love me because I wasn’t doing it right.

How, then, do we help them? What can we do? We can teach children that the Bible is not about them.

The Bible isn’t merely about them and what they should be doing. It’s about God and what He has done. It’s not merely a book of rules telling you how to behave so that God will love you. It’s not merely a book of heroes that gives you people to copy so that God will love you.

Most of all, the Bible is the Story—the story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them. And in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost Him— God won’t ever stop loving His children with a wonderful, neverstopping, never-giving-up, unbreaking, always, and forever love. Are we telling children the Story—or teaching them a mere lesson?

My niece didn’t need another lesson. What she needed to know was that she is loved—with a wonderful, never-stopping, never-giving- up, unbreaking, always, and forever love. What she needed was to be invited into the Story. What she needed was to meet the Hero and become part of His magnificent Story. That is because the rules don’t change you. But the Story—God’s Story—does.

How, then, do we instill a love for God in children? Simply by telling them the Story—the Story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them. By telling it well. Telling it faithfully. Telling it simply. Telling it without dumbing it down. Telling it without explaining it to death. Telling it without drilling it down into a moral lesson.

Stories don’t tell the truth confrontationally. They don’t coerce you. They don’t argue with you to believe them. They just are. The power of the story isn’t in summing it up, drilling it down, or reducing it to an abstract idea. The power of the story isn’t in the lesson. The power of the story is the story.  (Emphasis mine)

When God sent the prophet Nathan to King David (2 Sam. 12:1-4), Nathan didn’t confront David with a sermon about his sin but told him a story. David didn’t see it coming. The story got by his defenses.

That’s the thing a true story does—it doesn’t come at you directly and raise a wall of defense. It comes around the side and captures your heart.

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Hiking in 2012

In 2012 I am going hiking.

“Brilliant post Don, absolutely brilliant!” Yeah I know. Here’s the deal. I started Bible college in 2000 because no other school would accept me. One semester into it, I wanted to be a pastor/teacher/student of the Bible. My life has been a working towards that goal. Every job I have had was a step towards that goal, not a place of ministry. Sure I shared the gospel with people I worked with, but it wasn’t ministry to me. My life has been the pursuit of vocational ministry and until recently, that was my calling. Well, I say calling but it was actually my idol. You see, anything we put as ultimate other than God is idolatry. I sacrificed my family at the altar of vocational ministry. I sacrificed my jobs at the altar of vocational ministry.

In Genesis 22:2 God calls Abraham to climb a mountain and sacrifice his love. His son that he had waited for. God promised that he would raise up a nation from his offspring Isaac, and then asked Abraham to kill him.

God is calling me to go hiking with my idol vocational ministry and kill it. This year I’m going hiking.

Here is the hard part.

He might not provide a ram in the bushes.

Sometimes it is easy to act when we see a picture in the Bible already. We hear preachers ask us if we are willing to give up that which we love the most and we always say yes. We might nod in the affirmative as we hear the Word preached, but it is only because we know how the story ends…Abraham didn’t end up having to do it. There was a ram in the bushes.

Some of you need to go hiking with me. Pray about it. You might not find a ram.

 

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Stress? What Stress?

I have written and rewritten the first line of this post 3 times and I can not come up with a sentence that does my thought justice. On Saturday my bride of 8 years almost died. Next thing you know, she’s taking a stroll around the hospital. I am sure that God is doing amazing things both here in Southern Maine and in many other places. There are people recognizing their need for something more. There are people recognizing their need for community. There are people who are taking this opportunity to live their lives to honor our creator God in all that they do.

There are so many people who I have come in contact with this past week that I have never met and I am sure that I never would have met them had this not happened. There are people who have been drawn to the waiting room as if pulled by an unknown force. There are people who have been drawn to contact me who I haven’t seen or talked to in years. This is the work of the Holy Spirit who has been sent to minister not only to me; but to anyone who would humble themselves and realize that there is something bigger than themselves in control of everything.

 I can not help but wonder how many people will end up being touched by this one occurence. In truth, I know that it will not be until Heaven that Laurie will fully see the impact that she has had on not only this community but others as well. This is where it gets tricky. We so badly want to lift up Laurie as a wonderful Mother/Wife/Person without recognizing where her help comes from. Milton Vincent says, “Outside of heaven, the power of God in its highest density is found inside the gospel.” The gospel is called the power of God in Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes and in 1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Nothing else is called the power of God except Jesus Christ Himself in 1 Corinthians 1:24.

When we realize that we are not center of the gospel but that God’s glory is, we can truly live in the power that is promised to us. We do not live for our own glory but for the Glory of God. We realize that it is because God first loved us that we even have the opportunity to love others. 1 John 4:19 says it plainly when we read – We love because He first loved us. I want to make it clear that the only thing you’ve seen when I don’t look stressed is God. You may think I’m handling it, that I am being a wonderful husband and father but I assure you that it is because of God’s grace and mercy that I am able to continue day-to-day.

I pray that you would learn about this gospel and seek God in all you do…ALL you do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says – So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. There isn’t anything you can do any day of the week that can substitute for getting involved in Christian community and seeking God in all His glory. There also isn’t anything you can do to disqualify yourself from Christian community. We are all sinners who need a savior. We all need to hear the gospel on a daily basis both preached to our selves and from others in community.

I would love to chat with you sometime about why this is so important to me and why it is the center of my life. Let’s grab a beer sometime.

-Cheers

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