Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
Sorry for the gap since my last post. I just got home from Houston, and a Disciple Now with one of my former students, Trey Fleming. He was one of my kids in Smithville, TX. It’s been great to watch him grow into a godly world changer!
Our faith community made me proud Thursday night. For those of you who have served a faith community in a full time vocational position, you’ll relate when I say it’s tough to leave town. It’s tough for two reasons:
1) It’s always hard to be away from home when exciting things are going on. In my ministry, I’ve traveled a lot, and always look forward to being home.
2) You never know what will go wrong while you’re gone. Over the course of 17 years of vocational ministry, I can tell you that things always seem to wait until you are gone to explode. It has always been that way, and I’ve somewhat assumed they always will be.
So, trepadation always sets in when I am leaving town for anthing more than an over night trip. And last weekend was no exception. I left Thursday morning for Houston, and our faith community, The Journey, was going to do our community worship experience outside the walls of our gathering place. Nathan mentions it in his latest blog. Great things are happening here, and nothing went wrong while I was gone. It’s like a Festivus miracle! The Journey has been a blessing to me and my family, and continues to be a great community of friends chasing after God. Thanks, gang, for your faithfulness!
Monday, February 20, 2006
I am a cultural missionary to West Texas, specifically Lubbock. Under that ministry calling, I do several things and have two careers. This calling as a cultural missionary is a calling to discover the pockets on non-Christ followers in our community and discover the relveant metaphors that will accurately communicate Christ's love for them. I feel that the church in general has lost the art of metaphoric communication that was a significant part of Christ's disciple-making style. Theological accuracey embodied in cultural relevance is what we are striving for. Christ was the master of building relationships that allowed Him to travel in circles that needed to hear His message. In the context of those relationships (i.e. the woman at the well, the rich young ruler, Nicodemus, Zaccheus, etc...), Christ shared the truth of the kingdom in a way that enlightened people to THE Truth, and brought them to faith. That's the passion that drives me! I want to be that man who loves on people like Christ did, communicating THE Truth with them in a way that connects them to Christ forever. In the "terms of the trade," we are committed to living missional, incarnational lives. God's desire is that the 200,000+ unreached and post-Christian people of Lubbock County hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The bigger picture is that God desires to change the world, and that starts here.
As a cultural missionary, my typical day consists of conversations with people. For instance, today, by 11:00 a.m. (CST) I have talked with a young lady who has been around the fringe of The Journey. She has become a great friend. I also spent an hour talking with a good friend and his Jewish best friend. We talked life and faith. Then, I got to talk with the girl behind the counter about the word "religion," and some of the philosophy behind Christian thought and doctrine. Later today, I'll be meeting with a young man who just got out of rehab and wants to get his life back together. Tonight I will be leading a philosophy discussion at a local coffee house just off the Texas Tech Campus. Then, at 11:00 tonight I will be playing an indoor soccer game, and getting to hang with some great guys (some of which don't know Jesus). Then, tomorrow, I'll go about my day seeing who God brings into my path, and do it all over again. I love on all of these people like Jesus did, and in the process I hope to get to share why. And that is pretty much what my day consists of.
In the context of this calling, God has opened two doors for me. My first career is as the Lead Pastor for an emerging church called The Journey. The Journey is a church plant that my wife and I have started from scratch, with nothing more than the afore mentioned calling, the help of a some great faith communities (Mosaic Arlington, FBC Littlefield, and the SBTC), and God's assurance of His care for us. We left full-time student ministry to pursue this calling. I have posted several posts about The Journey that you can read back in my August posts. The Journey serves as the faith community that we believe God will use to reach Lubbock County. I really hope you'll track back to those posts and check it out. My "work" schedule for The Journey consists of preparing for and leading the philosophy discussion group I mentioned above, leading a Thursday night worship gathering, a monthly meal, and hanging at The World Wide Headquarters of The Journey (Aroma's Coffee House on 82nd). I borrowed the nick name from my friends at iWitness ministries! The bottom line is to take the message of Christ to our culture, and for The Journey to be a place where Christ-followers join Him in that mission.
My other career is that of part-time Associate Pastor of Youth and Small Groups at The Heights Fellowship. Most church planters have to raise much of their own support and work another job while they plant, at least at first. This was a bit of a dilema for me, since I am not a great fund raiser, and I have no vocational skills outside equipping the saints. With a bachelor of arts in Christian counseling, and a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Biblical languages, there aren't a lot of career choices outside vocational ministry. I could just see the manager at McDonald's, "Well, Mr. Bishop, we don't really need anything translated from Hebrew of Greek here. We don't have much use for exegetical preaching or exegesis. And, since you have no real experience flipping burgers, I'm afraid we have nothing for you..." When God called us to reach our culture and plant a church, He also drove home the need to raise funds that would allow me to do that. During a discovery retreat where I was praying through the details of my new calling, God spoke to me about this issue. I've mentioned that before, but the short story is that I have the skills, training, and background of 17 years of student ministry to be a blessing to a church that can't afford a full-time guy. So, I have plugged in with a long time friend, Mike Martindale, to help build their small group ministry structure and get their student ministry up and running. They have really been a blessing to me. For my Sundays and Wednesdays (and some Fridays/Saturdays), I am helping to build the Student Ministry for The Heights Fellowship. During the week, I manage to squeeze in enough time to tweak the Small Group Ministry, read up on Small Group Ministry, and care for our SGM Leaders.
If your heart beats with a similar vision or passion, I'd love to hear about it. I'd love even more to help you. If you live near us, come join us! If you live far from us, join us anyway! Thanks, Parke, for suggesting Labor Day in February!
Friday, February 17, 2006
I did mention in that post an idea for a refuge ministry for dismissed staff/elders from churches. As it seems to be a growing trend, I think it would be a timely ministry. If you have thoughts or ideas on elements to include in a ministry like that, I welcome your input.
Peace - Jase
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
For all of you who faithfully read this, it's really for my wife. Those of you who know her will resonate with my testimony of her life. For those of you who don't, you can read about her here: http://thebishopsjiggymusings.blogspot.com/2005/11/amazing-woman.html
The last 10 years have been amazing. As you are fond of saying, "It seems so much longer!" In many ways, it seems that we've known each other forever. But there's also a newness to every day with you. God has blessed me through you; your encouraging words, your support, and your "never die, never surrender" zeal for life. Much has changed over these 10 years, but I see in your eyes what I've seen all along, what your dad told me about the day that I asked if we could date: you are a godly woman who makes wise choices and brings honor to those you love. I remeber that day in your front yard when I asked your dad if I could pursue a relationship with you. As he laid down the rail road tie he was carrying by himself, he said, "She's always been a good judge of character. If you're good enough for her, I've got no problem with it." I could not have imagined a greater life together. I know that we will never be rich, or have the things that make life easy, but you have made life good. The life of a pastor's wife is seldom easy, but you've handled it with grace and strength. In spite of some of the hardships we've faced, you've been a constant example of faithfulness and encouragement. There aren't words to express what you've grown to mean to me, and I'm grateful for that. If words could describe it, it wouldn't be what it is. So, on this, our 12th Valentine's Day, I want you to know that I love you from the depths of my being, and look forward to the rest of our lives together.
All my love,
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The kids came in at 7:00 a.m., we watched cartoons for a couple of hours. Then, since MeeMaw is still in town, we went to see "Curious George." It was a very family friendly flick, and my kids loved it! Kid films are always funny because it's acceptable to laugh really loudly, and to answer questions all the time.
From there, it was off to the Olive Garden where we were seated quickly enough. Seated quickly and served quickly turn out to be two different things. We were informed that the kitchen was slammed, and we proceeded to wait for an hour for our food. We were seated by a large family with a screaming kid. That was joyous. And, by the time dinner, oh, wait...by the time lunch was over, it was 3:30.
Next stop, the old-fashioned ice-cream shop, where Jeremiah and I put down a bananna split in record time, and Cayla got her signature cotton-candy sundae. The folks at this ice-cream shop know us, and always treat us well.
Then, to the house...but it was 5:30 by then, and our kids missed their naps. So did I. This evening, I have invited a few folks to pop in and talk The Journey with me. I was hoping to be prepared for this evening by getting a good day of rest today. Instead, God was busy doing something else. I don't know about you, but I tend to get cranky when I spend time doing something I hadn't planned on doing, and today was no exception. But, it was super important to spend the day with the family. And, it turned out to be one of those days that Christ used to work on my patience. At the movies, at lunch, and even at the ice-cream shop, God really spoke to me about how I focus on events. I could choose to see it as a wasted day of nagging annoyances (screaming kid at lunch, tired kids at home, no rest for me, and an hour wait for our food to come out), or I could see it as God developing my character. I chose the latter. There are a lot of things to get worked up about in our world, but none of these make God's list, so why should they make mine? I heard an evangelist say once, "If something bothers you, make sure it bothers God before you do something about it. If it doesn't bother God, keep your mouth shut." And honestly, none of the things in my day would bother God even a little. So, I chose to roll instead. And, as it turns out, this was a great way to spend my day; allowing God to shape my character and to do it with people I love. That's a pretty good Saturday.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Well, I mentioned earlier that my head was about to explode. But, now that I have had a moment to step back and process what I have heard over the last couple of days, I'm starting to dream a little, and it's a kind of scary thing. Some questions that I've never really thought through are starting to make sense, even though I didn't know they existed. Questions like, "Why did God lead me to plant a church?" or "What is God doing in Lubbock that He decided to bring The Journey into the mix?" I've always assumed it is about kingdom expansion. But why me? Why now? I've never really thought that thru. But today, I got it. Today He answered the question I had never asked. He wants to be famous in Lubbock. God desires that every person in Lubbock, TX. know His name. Now, that seems like a "duh" kinda thing, and in some ways it is. I've known that, but been coming at it from the wrong angle. I've been coming at it from the human need to know Him, and not His mission to send me for His glory. Jesus said it this way, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." (John 20:21) What was it that Jesus was sent to do? He was sent to go to the cross and redeem humanity. He was sent to die. In the completion of this event, God was glorified, which is the ultimate goal. In John 17, Jesus said, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." My mission, our mission as His people is to bring Him glory by completing the mission He has given us. Like Jesus, we have been sent to take the Good News of God's redemptive work in Christ to a world that needs to hear at the cost of our very lives. And, ultimately, He will be glorified by our completion of the mission. Have I lost you yet? I know this may be hard to follow. It's still rolling around in my head. I'm trying to put my hands on it and process it, but the long and short of it seems to be that Lubbock is ready for the mission to be carried out, and God will be ultimately glorified by me completing the mission. The Journey is about the mission. I am about the mission, and I will die on that hill if need be. It is a non-negotiable. God will be glorified, and people will see, hear, and sense the presence/love of Christ through me. Ready to save the universe one planet at a time? I am, and the revolution is starting in Lubbock, TX. Are you in or out?
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
The Boot Camp started at 1:00 PST yesterday. We're taking a 15 minute break before jumping into teaching session #6. Caryn and I have had a great time. Sometimes you come to a conference like this, and it's a bunch of guys selling you on their methods, their products, and very little learning happens. This has not been one of those events. So far, we've not talked methods at all. We've had some of the most successful church planters in our generation come and share the theology that drives them to do what they do in their culture, leaving me plenty of room for reflection on how that theology would look in my context. It's been great. Mars Hill has been a very gracious host-church for this event. Their staff very friendly and service-oriented. I've already gotten a bunch of useful info, to the point that my head may explode trying to process it all. But more than the info, God has continued to shape my heart for reaching Lubbock with His presence. There really hasn't been anything new to me here, but you can't go wrong getting back into the Word and having God reaffirm and shape what He has already started.
Well, break is over. Stay tuned, more to come.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Those of you who know me know that I've been talking for almost 8 years about getting to Seattle to visit the first ever Starbucks, kinda like my Mecca. Well, we started the day off right with a trip to the Pike's Place Starbucks, founded in 1971. I'll post as I have time about the trip.