The NEW Cruciform Life Blog

March 23, 2011

Friends, this will be the last post at this site.

In conjunction with the release of  Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life we are moving to a new domain namewww.CruciformLife.org.  Go there now to see what’s going on.

The new site is a work in progress, both in design and content, so be sure to bookmark it, add it to your feed or reader, and come back to see what’s up.  Steve and I will continue blogging there (and we’ll offer some posts from the archives, too), and we’ll soon be offering a few free resources that will encourage and equip you to live the Cruciform Life.  Plus, check out endorsements for and reviews of the book.

I’ve also started a CruciformLife fan page on Facebook (http://facebook.com/cruciformlife).  Please visit that page and become a friend by clicking the “Like” button there, then share it with your Facebook friends.  And be sure to check out our Twitter feed as well:  http://twitter.com/cruciformlife.  For those of you who have enjoyed receiving our latest posts by email, stay tuned for email subscription at the new site.  I’m working on that.

As always, our desire is to journey with you as together we pursue a life that is shaped by the cross into the shape of the cross.


A River Runs Through Me ~ Amazon 2011

March 18, 2011

I recently spent a week on the Amazon River ministering in villages and towns in the Amazonas region of Brazil with a group of  students and parents from Trinity Christian Academy.  We lived aboard the Amore Esperance where we slept, ate, and fellowshipped while we journeyed down the Amazon River.  The reflection below is from a blog post I wrote while on the trip for the parents and families at home.  I thought I would share it with you.

Day Three – Divino

“Paraiso”, “Sol Nascente”, and now “Divino”.  Allow me to translate our journey for you up to this point.  Our first stop was “Paradise” (Paraiso).  We left “Paradise” and traveled to “Rising Sun” (Sol Nascente).  After “Rising Sun”, today, we entered “Divine” (Divino).  Maybe it is just the Bible teacher in me but this trip is beginning to read like something out of the Bible.  To recap: Monday we were in Paradise but had to leave (no, we didn’t eat the wrong tree).  Having left Paradise, we spent Tuesday (the day that is “full of grace”) in the Rising Sun (Son?) which was the next step before we could enter Divine.  (OH, and tomorrow…

we go to a new city…)

Divino is so named because of its incredible view.  Though we are always trekking “up” from the boat into the villages, this was the steepest climb yet.  The walk up to what I will call Mount Futebool (“foo-chi-ball”) was an extra 800 foot ascent to the Holy of Holies (a.k.a. the soccer field) at the highest point of the village, where we tied the Brazilians in “foo-chi-ball.  (It was not quite Dagon falling down before the Ark of the Covenant, but close.)

What have I seen as a teacher, parent, and team member on this trip?  I’ve witnessed faith and faithfulness, daring and patience, playfulness and earnestness, frivolity and weightiness, love and truth, joy and sorrow, light and life.  In a word, Jesus.

I’ve see n him in the hundreds of hugs, piggy back rides, high fives, and fist pumps your kids (and mine) have bestowed upon village children.  I’ve seen him in the heartfelt testimonies our students have shared.  I’ve seen him in our evening times together sharing our day and sharing our reflections from reading together Timothy Keller’s, The Prodigal God.  I’ve seen him as we’ve hugged each other, carried one another’s burdens, and as we’ve laughed at ourselves and each other in the way that people can when they are freed from self-regard and pretence by the awesome presence of redeeming, unconditional love.

Why now?  Why here? Why is the reality of Jesus so present in the midst of such trips? Can I suggest something for you to think about as I’ve suggested to us here.  The Christian God has eternally existed as a Tri-unity of co-equal Persons.  But what does this have to do with seeing Jesus in the Amazon?  Everything, actually!  In The King’s Cross, Tim Keller puts it this way, “The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are each centering on the others, adoring and serving them.  And because the Father, Son, and Spirit are giving glorifying love to one another, God is infinitely, profoundly happy…The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are pouring love and joy and adoration into the other, each one serving the other.  They are infinitely seeking one another’s glory, and so God is infinitely happy.”  God is, in His essential Being, “other-centered”!  And He is infinitely happy being so.  He made us, not to gain from us, but to share with us the love He’s always known.  He made us to spread the joy to us and He made us in His image.  Being made in that image means we will most resemble Him, and therefore share most in His happiness, when we live life centered on Him and others and not ourselves.  When we have a week like this in which we do live to degree greater than “normal” an other-centered existence, we “see” and “share” in what we were always meant to see and share.

In the biblical story, we were kicked out of Paradise because we thought it better to “be” god than to “see God” and to be served rather than serve.  Hasn’t life been grand since then?  The rising “SON” came after the dying Son who selflessly laid down his life to redeem us from the wreckage.  The only way to the Divine is by going through the risen Son. Let us trust him and follow Him on the way to the new city!

If you are interested in taking the gospel to the Amazon then I encourage you to check out the ministry of Amazon Outreach.


A FREE Cruciform Press Sampler

March 1, 2011

My publisher, CruciformPress, is offering a free sampler of their first 6 books (my book will be their 7th) on their website.  Go to their website or click on the cover here to read and/or download this sampler of gospel-centered reading for gospel-centered living.

Share


Time To Grab Family Discipleship By The Horns

February 23, 2011

My latest article at the Worldview Church Website is called “It’s Time To Grab Family Discipleship by the Horns” and introduces a new series of blog posts that I’ve begun there with this post: “The Disconnect in Family Discipleship”.

 

Share


Sins Of The Fathers

February 10, 2011

“Wanna get away?” Those Southwest Airline commercials of a few years back offered affordable escape from awkward situations. When I first read what I’m about to share with you, I wanted to “get away.” This post from Stephen Altrogge’s blog is sure to make some other fathers wanna get away, too. At the end I’ll add a confession from a 15th Century Celtic Christian that will help you and me “get away” to the cross with a repentant heart for the sins of us fathers.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

I was thinking about this today as I prepared for a parenting class. Here are some ways that we parents can provoke our children to anger. I’ve done many of these, and for this reason I’m grateful for the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit to change.

We can provoke our children to anger:

- By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them. When they feel they can never please us enough.
- By having double standards – Do as I say, not as I do. Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g. ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
- By anger and harshness
- By a lack of affection
- By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
- By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
- By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?)
- By hypocrisy – acting like a Christian at church but not at home
- By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
- By always lecturing them and never listening to them
- By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin
- By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them
- By pride – failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
- By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?)
- By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking? Why in the world would you do that?)
- By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).

May God give us gracious, gentle, humble, affectionate hearts toward our children.

[HT: The Blazing Center]

And now to help you “get away” with repentant faith to the good news that your Father loves you because of Christ:

Many and vast are my sins…O King, they cannot be numbered; despoil me of them, O God; break, smite, and war against them; ravage, bend, and wither them; take away, repel, destroy them…remove, scatter, and cleave them; subdue, exhaust, and lay them low.

- Anonymous, Litany of Confession (Irish 15th century)

[HT: T. M. Moore]


Share


When “Ministry” Trumps Community

February 9, 2011

We’re finishing up our study of 1 Corinthians in my 11th grade Bible class at TCA this week, and yesterday we concluded our discussion of chapters 12 through 14, Paul’s instructions about spiritual gifts. An old thought from a new passage of Scripture dawned on me as we talked, but first some background . . .

Paul has acknowledged that the Corinthian church is “enriched in [Christ] in all speech and all knowledge . . .  not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1 Corinthians 1:5, 7), but that they have allowed their gifts to become a source of division among them (1 Corinthians 1:10-12, 3:3, 4:7, 12:25, 14:12).  Two forms of pride were cropping up in the congregation:  the obvious pride of those who think there gifts are not only most important but also the only ones needed (12:21-26), and the more subtle pride that masks as low self-esteem or false humility, but is actually saying “if my gifts aren’t going to be noticed, I just won’t use them,” much like the school kid who says “If I can’t be the quarterback, I’ll just take my ball and go home” (12:15-20).  So, Paul exhorted the Corinthians to be a community unified by the gospel for the sake of their gospel mission (1:10-31, 3:1-23; 12:4-13, 12:25-27, 14:5, 12, and 25).  Paul’s instructions reflect Jesus’ desire for the church to be unified, both in their relationships and their ministry, and so show the world the unified persons and  purpose of the Trinity (see John 17:20-23).  In essence, Paul was concerned that the church was putting “ministry” before relationship to the degree that the ministry (aided by the use of spiritual gifts) was fracturing the community and as a result was hindering true ministry.

Because of Paul’s earnest desire to see the Corinthian church become a unified community on mission, it is significant that he dropped chapter 13, the “love chapter,” smack dab in the middle of a discussion about the purpose and practice of spiritual gifts.  Paul seems to be urging them to get their priorities in order: mission flows from community.  It’s as if he’s saying to them, “Your lack of love for one another is thwarting the mission you’ve been given to share and show Trinitarian love to the world!  Your spiritual gifts were meant to run on the fuel of loving service to God and others (13:1-3), but you’re using them to get God and others to serve you.  Your spiritual gifts were given to you so that you might use them build up the entire body of Christ, but have allowed your concern for “your” ministry to trump your concern for your brothers and sisters, thus destroying the body of Christ.”  Ministry without community is noisy, empty, and unhelpful (13:1-3).  In our day we might say “people take priority over programs.”

In the first half of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that the spiritual gifts are pointless without love, and find their power in love (13:1-3).  In the second half of the chapter he says that the gifts are partial, while love is permanent (13:7-13).  The heart of chapter 13 is verses 4-7, a beautiful description of Trinitarian love as it is expressed in human relationships.  Loving one another is the priority, Paul says.  Jesus didn’t say, “A new command I give to you, make sure your spiritual gifts get used and noticed,” but rather “A new command I give to you, love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34-35).  Nor did he say “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you are recognized for your ministry gifts,” but rather “if you have love for one another.”

Here’s the old thought that was confirmed in a new way in this passage:  today’s churches are too often willing to sacrifice community for “the ministry.” The modern American church is gifted, no doubt, but we’re not good at relationships.  We are in danger of spending lots of time and effort creating and designing programs that run well leaving little time or energy to disciple people who relate well.  But no matter how “quality” the  ministry is, if the quality of our relationships with one another is weak, the “ministry” will eventually collapse or cave in.

These are just some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head and heart.  If you’ve stayed with me to the end of this post, first, I thank you for reading, but second, give me your feedback.   Have you seen this trend in the church? What must we do to reverse it?

Share


Sneak Peek At Chapter One of “Cruciform”

February 8, 2011

You can now read a draft copy (not the final edit, but close) of the first chapter of my book Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life at the CruciformPress website:  Chapter One: Created to Be Cruciform.  The book will be released April 1st (no foolin’!).

Share


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.