Monday, January 30, 2006

Moved for the Unreached Part 2

Sometimes I just need to get “outside” myself to see things clearly. Having been a Southern Baptist Pastor for the last 17 years, the old ways die hard. Friday, as I talked with my church planting coach, Roy McClung, I voiced some of my frustrations about how slow the process goes. He reminded me of a couple of key things that I am keeping in mind as The Journey moves forward, and they go great with my last post, so I thought I’d share them:

1) Don’t give in to the pressure to “close the deal.” As a cultural missionary, building relationships, learning needs and ministry opportunities, and earning the right to speak are paramount to future success with potential Persons of Peace. Don’t shift into the old mode of “If you were to die tonight…” too quickly. It’s very rare for cultural missionaries to have even one convert in their first year. If I am really moved for the unreached, I must set aside my agenda and learn to move among the paths they move in, learning and earning as I go.

2) Don’t spread yourself too thin. In the last four months or so, I’ve been blessed with a bunch of new relationships with people who are not connected with Christ and with some who have disconnected from His local faith community. While making new relationships is important, don’t focus too much on making more at the expense of building the ones that you’ve established. I have about 8 people that are new to my world, and I am new in their oikos. Now, my focus has to be to know them more deeply and love them unconditionally.

3) Don’t turn your nose up to depravity. As my new friends have discovered that I am a Christ-follower, and pastor, some have tried to shock me with things they find entertaining, humorous, or enjoyable. At first I was dumbfounded, but I soon realized they're trying to see if I’m like the other Christians they've met, who will judge them and turn away because of their depravity. A healthy remembering of my own depravity keeps me from being repulsed by theirs. As Paul said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” And, honestly, "There, inspite of the grace of God, go I." Let's face it, I still blow it! It's a sobering reminder.

Thanks, Roy, for keeping me grounded and reminding me that to be truly moved for the unreached means loving people, investing meaningful time with them, and not being afraid to be in the world (just not of it).

Friday, January 27, 2006

Moved for the Unreached

I was sitting in my recliner Sunday, catching up on some reading while the kids napped. Caryn was doing The Journey’s Lady’s Bible Study. The house was quiet, as I had the sound turned down on the AFC championship game. Something really moving happened: Jeremiah came out with his stuffed dog, Scruffy. He looked forlorn. I asked him what was bothering him and he said he was too sad to talk about it yet. I assumed he’d had a bad dream. He crawled up into my lap, and began to weep. We sat in the recliner while he cried for about 20 minutes. As he calmed down, the weeping becoming gentle sobs, he looked up at me and said he wanted to be sure that when he dies that I would be in heaven with him. I was moved beyond words. He was really bothered that we may not spend eternity together, and it shook him. He and I talked about heaven, how one gets there, and how to be sure we'd be together. I also assured him that I would do my very best to protect him and make sure that we had more time here together, but that I didn't have complete control over that. He understood that God could choose to cut my time short, or even his. As we talked I realized he wasn't worried about dieing, it was about being separated. We talked a little more about my desire to protect him, and always take care of he and his sister, but he really wanted to be sure that Heaven was where I would be when he headed that way! In that conversation, God reminded me that I need to be shaken like that for the world around me! Through my little boy’s compassionate spirit, God spoke volumes to me about drive, desire, and passion for those who are separated from Christ. When is the last time I wept over someone’s separation from God? When is the last time you wept for someone’s depraved condition? See the world as it is, and allow the Spirit of God to move you to tears, to develop a sense of urgency, and move you to action.
Peace - Jase

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fun On An Elevator

This one has been around a long time, but some of them make me laugh so hard that, well…anyway, it’s not like me to re-post something that’s out there, but I really liked these, so enjoy! I’ve italicized the ones I’ve done so far, and I’ve bolded the ones that make me almost…well, anyway. If you’ve done any of these, be sure to let me know how it went!
24 Fun Things To Do In An Elevator…
1. Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering: “Shut up! All of you just shut UP!”
2. Whistle the first seven notes of “It’s a Small World” incessantly.
3. Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside ask: “Got enough air in there?”
4. Offer name tags to everyone getting on the elevator. Wear yours upside-down.
5. Stand silent and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.
6. When arriving at your floor, grunt and strain to yank the doors open, then act embarrassed when they open by themselves.

7. Greet everyone getting on the elevator with a warm handshake and ask them to call you Admiral.
8. On the highest floor, hold the door open and demand that it stay open until you hear the penny you dropped down the shaft go “plink” at the bottom.
9. Stare, grinning, at another passenger for a while, and then announce: “I’ve got new socks on!”
10. When at least 8 people have boarded, moan from the back: “Oh, no, not now, darn motion sickness!”
11. Meow occasionally.
12. Holler “Chutes away!” whenever the elevator descends.
13. Walk on with a cooler that says “human head” on the side.
14. Stare at another passenger for a while, then announce “You’re one of THEM!” and move to the far corner of the elevator.
15. Wear a puppet on your hand and talk to other passengers “through” it.
16. When the elevator is silent, look around and ask “is that your beeper?”
17. Say “Ding!” at each floor.
18. Say “I wonder what all these do” and push the red buttons.
19. Listen to the elevator walls with a stethoscope.
20. Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers that this is your “personal space.”
21. Announce in a demonic voice: “I must find a more suitable host body.”
22. Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.
23. Wear “X-Ray Specs” and leer suggestively at other passengers.
24. Stop at every floor, run off the elevator, then run back on.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Underground, Part 2

We just finished a huge rally here in Lubbock with about 6,200 students and sponsors. During the Hot Hearts Conference, I spent some time with some old friends from iWitness ministries. They gave me a t-shirt that pointed me to a blog that has sparked the next step in The Underground. Here’s the excerpt from their web site:
What is the Haystack?
They huddled under a haystack. Ordinarily the five college students met under the protective branches of a large maple tree and under the cover of night to read the Word, confess their sins, sing a song of forgiveness and pray for revival on their campus. Even the minutes of their meetings were kept in secret. Tonight was different. The small, beleaguered company had been driven from their secret sanctuary by thunder that drowned out their prayers, lightning that crackled around them and rain that drenched them to the skin. An old barn with the comfort of a haystack became their refuge. There, with the storm symbolizing the hostility of their campus against them and their faith, they intuitively knew that their moment had come. Father would answer their prs. With the mysterious wind of his HS, he would bring convicting and cleansing power to Williams College, a school founded through spiritual revival but now a seedbed for sin and skepticism. A Great Awakening was on the way! The time was 1806, when our American ancestors struggled to establish the democracy that had been won in the War of Independence. The place was Williams College in Massachusetts, where Ch students had to meet in secret in order to avoid public ridicule. The people were a non-descript band of five students, who seemed to be too serious for their own good. As unlikely as the time, place and people may seem, one of the Great Awakenings in American history can be traced back to 1806 at Williams College when a thunderstorm drove five students to pr while huddled under a haystack. Excerpt from: The Coming Awakening, by David L. McKenna
So, maybe the next step is the prayer gathering that will occur in a barn here in Lubbock…

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sick as a dog...

Well, I'm sick as a dog today. After speaking last night with a throat that was already shredded, I feel like poopy today. And, today is not a great time to be sick. I have a Pastor's lunch at 12. I will also be facilitating a learning community this afternoon as well as teaching at out worship gathering tonight. Then, Hot Hearts begins! 6,000 students at the Lubbock Colesium, and I really need my voice back! Be praying!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Underground

I’m thinking out loud here, so please keep that in mind. For the last couple of days I’ve had this idea rolling around in my head that I just can’t shake free, so I’m trying to wrap my brain around all of it in the event it is the leading of Christ.
I live in a college town that has around 250k people in it, and about 30,000 of those are Texas Tech students. I know that the church I pastor, The Journey, has been mandated to reach this community, change the culture, and infiltrate the campus. As I think and pray over this, I keep coming to the place of doing something that is “undeground.” Our Worship Pastor, Nathan, mentioned it in his latest post after I brought it up at our life group last night. Here’s the idea: A regular gathering of Christ-followers that is in an out-of-the-way spot, no publicity other than word of mouth, with the purpose of encouraging local Christ-followers to be radical in their approach to how they practice their faith. I have in my mind this idea of something hidden, secret, subversive, a mystic gathering where there is an element of examination and sending. An Isaiah 6 experience in the vein of, for lack of a better term, a Rave is what I see. Now, I’m not espousing that we should try to mix a Rave and Jesus, but I’m at a loss for another way to describe it. Maybe something along the lines of the early church, meeting in out of the way places, getting their hearts in-line with Christ’s and game-plannning together, and going out to change their world. I’ve already found a barn that would work, might work…I’m still not sure that I’m not going nuts, but this idea is unshakeable! That’s where you come in. Your thoughts on content, concept, and carrying it our would be really useful.

Friday, January 13, 2006

How Did We Ever Survive?

I usually ask, "How did we ever survive?" in reference to technology. But, tonight I got to thinking about that in a different light: We did some pretty stupid things as kids. I remember it being cool to "jump off the roof." Why? Who knows! From riding our go-cart around town like a car in traffic, to chasing cows, it's a miracle that we survived childhood. On more than one occasion, my near-death experiences included motorcycles. Two funny/how did we live moments come to mind. The first actually includes my little brother, Josh. We were riding a dirt bike in the field behind our house. It was a pretty big bike (a 250 if I remember right). At one end of this huge field was a drainage ditch that we would jump out of, either on the go-cart or on motorcycles. Once, as we jumped my 2-seater go-cart out of the ditch, Josh flew out and in front of the go-cart, where I ran him over! Anyway, on this particular day, my little brother decided to "open her up" with this big bike. It was amazing! He went by with a terrified look on his face, disappeared into the ditch (which was about 7' deep), and when he came out, he was doing an unintentional handstand on the handlebars. He and the bike flew through the air, and landed only long enough to bounce into a barbed-wire fence. Josh got a chunk torn out of his cheek, eyebrow, and lip! After some stitches, he was fine. Tthe amazing thing was, as we sprinted to check on him, Bruce (my best friend at the time) ran straight to the bike to make sure it wasn't hurt! Even more amazing is that Josh didn't break his neck, or any other necessary limbs!
The other incident was a little more personal, and not for those with a weak stomach. I was in the middle of a BB gun war (yes, before airsoft, we used real BB guns and no protective gear). I was actually riding away on a Kawasaki 125 that belonged to a friend named Randy. Randy thought it would be cool to know if a BB could catch me, so he shot me in the back of the head as I was doing 60 mph across a field. I had no idea what had just happened to me, other than a sharp pain in my neck, just below my head. I reached back with my left hand...blood. I didn't panic, though, until I got the bike stopped. After a while we got the bleeding to stop. It was a miracle that I hadn't just dumped the bike. But the worst part was that the wound got infected. A couple weeks later, as I examined the nasty "head" that had covered the wound, I thought it looked weird. I couldn't see it clearly, but I leaned over the sink and squeezed...out popped the BB. Not only had I survived the near motorcycle wreck, but I didn't die from blood poisoning from the copper BB lodged in my neck. I hope and pray my kids are smarter than I was! How about you? What was your "I'm so stupid I shoulda died" moment?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Crumbling Culture

Well, something has been stirring in me for the last 48 hours. I've been reading Reggie McNeal's, "The Present Future." Good read so far. I ended up on this book because people keep saying that the things I'm teaching sound like this book. I figured I had better read it! I am also spending the first 20 minutes or so of every day in THE Word. And, yesterday, I had a conversation with my good friend, Mike Martindale, about the way people set aside kingdom thought and goals for their own glory and ego. Each of these elements were already simmering in my mind, but sometime Tuesday evening, the two readings and this conversation colided, and began boil.
Early in his book, McNeal comments on a mine collapse in 2002. He says, "In the summer of 2002, the country spent several anxious days concerned about the fate of nine mine workers trapped in a mine in Pennsylvania. Rescue efforts involved several innovative strategies, including pumping heated air down a shaft. As the workers emerged from their ordeal, so did the story of their survival. One key element was their decision to huddle together to stay warm and in touch with one another in the cold darkness of the collapsed mine.
The Church of North America far too often resembles these miners. Feeling trapped in the collapse of the church culture, club members are huddling together in the dark and praying for God to resuce them from the mess they are in. This is the refuge mentality of many congregations and church leaders. Instead, the church needs to adopt the role of the resuce workers on the surface. They refused to quit, worked 24/7, and were willing to go to plan B or whatever it took to effect a rescue." (McNeal, p. 18-19) Man, do I resonate with his observation. But I took it a step farther: What if the rescue team on top only fought with one another about which method was right, correct, appropriate, and blocked any ideas but their own? The obvious answer: the miners would have perished because of the inability of the rescuers to see the big picture. I've been dwelling on this illustration for days. And, as Mike and I talked yesterday, we spoke of people with no kingdom vision, only the hopes of their own glory, or their own victory. Meanwhile, the miners perish.
Then, during my Quiet Time, I read Jude 8 - 11: "In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority, and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!' Yet, these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals - these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them!..." (NIV)
WHOOSH, the simmer reaches a boil...There are people who have infiltrated the church, who rage and speak abusively of things that they don't understand, opting to espouse ideas that gratify their own desires/instincts of self-preservation, self-gratification, and self-glorification. And their raging costs the miners their lives. "Holiday or Christmas" "Guitar vs. Organ" "Couches vs. Pews" The main stream of American Christians choose to huddle, not in the mine, but on top of the mine, afraid that someone might try to resuce the perishing with methods they don't approve of, protecting the ground they have gained even though that ground stands in the very opening of the mine. Meanwhile, those who need it most, those whose lives hang in the balance, perish because of the feud at the mine opening.
As this melding pot of ideas simmers down in my mind, the residual left behind tastes bittersweet. People are perishing, the rescuers are floundering, but a glimmer of hope winks on the horizon. For God's glory, and the sake of those perishing: Awake, church, and rush to the rescue!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Court to rule on Jesus' existence?

My wife e-mailed this to me on Friday, and I thought it was an interesting read. I'm really interested in hearing your thoughts.

Did Jesus exist? Italian court to decide
By Phil Stewart Wed Jan 4, 10:28 PM ET
ROME (Reuters) - Forget the U.S. debate over intelligent design versus evolution.
An Italian court is tackling Jesus -- and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.
The case pits against each other two men in their 70s, who are from the same central Italian town and even went to the same seminary school in their teenage years.
The defendant, Enrico Righi, went on to become a priest writing for the parish newspaper. The plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, became a vocal atheist who, after years of legal wrangling, is set to get his day in court later this month.
"I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression," Cascioli told Reuters.
Cascioli says Righi, and by extension the whole Church, broke two Italian laws. The first is "Abuso di Credulita Popolare" (Abuse of Popular Belief) meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second crime, he says, is "Sostituzione di Persona", or impersonation.
"The Church constructed Christ upon the personality of John of Gamala," Cascioli claimed, referring to the 1st century Jew who fought against the Roman army.
A court in Viterbo will hear from Righi, who has yet to be indicted, at a January 27 preliminary hearing meant to determine whether the case has enough merit to go forward.
"In my book, The Fable of Christ, I present proof Jesus did not exist as a historic figure. He must now refute this by showing proof of Christ's existence," Cascioli said.
Speaking to Reuters, Righi, 76, sounded frustrated by the case and baffled as to why Cascioli -- who, like him, came from the town of Bagnoregio -- singled him out in his crusade against the Church.
"We're both from Bagnoregio, both of us. We were in seminary together. Then he took a different path and we didn't see each other anymore," Righi said.
"Since I'm a priest, and I write in the parish newspaper, he is now suing me because I 'trick' the people."
Righi claims there is plenty of evidence to support the existence of Jesus, including historical texts.
He also claims that justice is on his side. The judge presiding over the hearing has tried, repeatedly, to dismiss the case -- prompting appeals from Cascioli.
"Cascioli says he didn't exist. And I said that he did," he said. "The judge will to decide if Christ exists or not."
Even Cascioli admits that the odds are against him, especially in Roman Catholic Italy.
"It would take a miracle to win," he joked.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More Bueno, Anyone?

I was driving home from Starbuck's where Kyle and I had a great time talking when I realized that I hadn't mentioned the big event of last week. It's not too long, so Austin J., keep reading.
Last Thursday, Marcus and I were at Taco Bueno (the one that we camped at back in August) ordering our lunch when our friend, Rosalinda, the general manager there, asked why we weren't at the new store. We asked her about it, and it turned out a new store was opening on Friday, and they were again giving away $500 Bueno Bucks to the first 10 customers! We were so giddy we couldn't even order! Well, we ordered, but couldn't eat. Rosalinda called the new store, and there was no one in line yet. We rushed over there, called Nathan, Max, and our wives, and ended up first in line. Nathan was so excited that he got out of his bubble bath (don't ask), and rushed up there. Max joined us shortly. So, we ended up numbers 1, 2, 3, and 7 (Max was a little later than us), and each received the $500 of Bueno bucks. It was a great thing because my last stash was down to $25.00. And, in the process, we met some new friends (David, Troy, and Charis). We played X-box, Trvial pursuit, more X-box, and slept in our tents in the 25 degree weather. Martindale brought Marcus a sleeping bag. Carter showed up with Trivial Pursuit Lord of The Rings ed. Kyle brought us a table, and power strip, and me a zero degree mummy bag. Austin Mc brought us a 32" TV. And our wives brought us cookies, clothing, tents, blankets, Xbox and games, and all the other stuff we didn't have time to pack! All in all, the Bueno Brigade had an outstanding time. We eagerly look forward to the next grand opening because all this free food makes life MORE BUENO!