Monday, August 31, 2009

Why the Misconception?

This morning I jumped on the scale for my Monday morning reveal. The digital readout displayed 202.8. I've hit another plateau, but I'm still enjoying the 20.2 lbs that are no longer part of my daily payload!

I hiked Mummy Springs trail on Mt. Charleston last Saturday. The views from atop the ridge line of the Vegas valley below were amazing. At one point on the trail my hiking partner and I viewed the oldest known creature on planet earth--a 4,000 year-old bristle cone pine. That's pretty cool to say the least.

I was hiking with a friend who was born in the states, but who has roots in Iran. When I was asking him about the religious climate in Iran he told me that roughly half the population there practices Islam. He then went on to say that it's much like what we see here in the states: some Christians practice; others call themselves Christian by name only.

"What does it mean to be a true Christian?" I asked.

"Oh, people who are practicing Christians go to church on Sundays and pray before meals."

After listening for a few moments I said, "Yes, that is a common misconception about what it means to be a Christian who's practicing faith."

His reply: "You're saying that I have a misconception?"

"Not exactly. Your perception is right on target. The misconception comes for those who go to church and pray before meals and think that's the basis for calling themselves Christians."

The whole conversation got me reflecting again on this thought: why is it that when people outside the Kingdom encounter Jesus' people, often the only thing that makes them different is their Sunday morning schedule and 20 seconds before eating? Is it that they're not getting close enough? Does the way we live not reflect anything of comparison to the rest of the world?

Here, here, to a discipleship that is so life changing/encompassing that when people encounter us they know that something is radically different about us because of God's work in us!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Redemption Continues

It's already Friday and I've been meaning to post about Sunday. Last weekend we enjoyed a visit from Rick Schaeffer, a church planter in Long Beach, who preached from Joshua 23--a great word! He's a trusted friend who's walking down the same path and season of church planting as me, so his visit was a double encouragement to me as we celebrated God's work in spite of similar mistakes on our part along the way.

We also celebrated to witness eight baptisms last Sunday! These baptisms were so significant because they were the first people who've come to faith at City-Wide Redeemer because somebody else (besides Eric or myself) was sharing the gospel with them.

Then, on Tuesday our celebration of God's grace increased with news of another gal, Tiffany, putting her faith in Jesus. Eric's been meeting with her for about five weeks. It is such an honor to stand by and watch souls being rescued from despair and emptiness as they come into the freedom and joy of union with Christ.

God is doing something in Las Vegas. City-Wide Redeemer is not the only place where He's moving. Every week I'm hearing stories of His redemption from around the city. On an entirely increased level I'm believing with new faith that we may get to see large-scale redemption come to this city in our lifetimes! To God be the glory.

We're going to begin forming missional communities in our city to further engage our culture and it's citizens. Much prayer is happening as we prepare to take steps that we believe will be pivotal in making ourselves all the more available and equipped for His service in Vegas. More details will be published soon as God's leading becomes clearer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

203 lbs and Losing

I have finally hit the 20 lbs lost mark. All thanks to the Lord for making my body feel so much better!

This is an exciting week for me on three levels. First, I've got a friend coming in from Long Beach, CA who has been planting a church there for around two years. We'll have the chance to compare notes about how the Lord is working in our respective mission fields and also to encourage each other in continued faithfulness. I'm really looking forward to that.

Secondly, Rick will be preaching while he's here. I can't wait to be encouraged by God's word as he opens it.

On a third level, this has afforded me the chance to do some different study this week. I'm thinking through many things related to getting a second worship site (eventual church plant) off the ground here in Vegas. God has introduced us to about three or four existing communities of people in whom He may be please to set the gospel loose to change many hearts. These communities would be the core of new church plants. I'll share more details in coming weeks as things get clearer.

I read a great article this week in Leadership magazine about decentralized leadership and idea forming withing different communities. The cases that were studied only solidified convictions to which I've been coming on my own about the kind of leadership that is needed with this generation of young adults. By God's grace I'll be up to the task of providing it. The missional communities that we're forming at CWR this fall will be the testing grounds for some of these principles. I'm thankful that Holy Spirit is actively working in spite of our ideas and convictions where they may be wrong.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's Monday Again

I love Monday because (my favorite day next to Sunday) because of all that the week ahead offers. Today I'm still sick, though, so I'm not feeling quite as vigorous as usual.

The scale said "205" this morning. That's up a pound from last week, but still down 17 from the beginning weight. I'm betting I'll be at 203 by next Monday, though. I'm hoping so.

Gospel conversations are breaking out all over the place again. We're seeing cool things happen at the basketball court, with some bands in town, and in the neighborhood. In fact, Eric told me that last week a well-known local band asked him to be their chaplain. Pretty cool.

Some pretty significant things are beginning to fall into place for our next church plant here in town, but many more things still need to happen. I'll be writing more about that soon. In the mean time pray about it if you think about it.

I'm in need of more bed rest, but just wanted to at least post quickly to let everybody know that we're alive.

By the way, house repairs have begun after last week's fire. We got a window replaced and the stucco is half-way repaired. The construction guys have done an amazing job with the stucco repair. I'm very thankful for what they're doing. I'll post some "after" pictures when the repairs are done. That reminds me...tomorrow I get to buy a replacement grill. (Insert manly growls).

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010