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Books / Readings, Change!?!, Spiritual Formation

The Point of Life

Here’s another thought from Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. He writes that “the point of life is character transformation.” To illustrate idea, he tells a story that life has three parts:
1) We come into the world through birth and spend several years discovering ourselves.
2) In the second stage we long for a mate, to create a family, and find ways to be creative with our talents.
3) The last stage is a time for reflection when are bodies are slower, do less work and “think about a life lived rather than look forward to a life getting started.” (p. 69)

As I approach my birthday next week, more and more I’m beginning to realize my age is getting older and my body is slowing down. I recently completed a 1/2 marathon with an injured hamstring muscle… I don’t heal as fast as I used to. My hairline is receding. It’s getting more and more gray in color. I don’t mind going to bed earlier now than a few years ago… my body needs rest.

Am I different than the general population? No. I think I’m pretty average. Our bodies change with time. No matter how much exercise we do, what kind of diet we eat, or how much money we spend on health treatments, we can’t stop the aging process. Our bodies are transforming daily into something different than they were previously.

Miller goes on to say, “The human body essentially recreates itself every six months. Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies and another is directed to its former place. You are not who you were… (six months ago).” (p.70)

So, what is the point of life? As our bodies go through physical transformation every day, week, month, and year, how is your character transformation proceeding? I believe that it constantly changes as well. Are you wiser, more loving, giving, patient, gentle and have more self-control than you were a year ago? How is your faith? Do you sense that you’re walking more with Jesus than you did a year ago?

What is the point of life? There may be many good answers to this question. What’s your’s?

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Spiritual Formation

2016 Almost Here

The New Year is almost upon us! I’m looking forward to it. This past year has been huge in the amount of transitions! I’ve moved 5 times in 2015. Now, I’m settled back in my home and looking forward to being in one place for a while.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve read my first book by Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. I didn’t know what to expect, but was quite impressed with his writing skills. It’s a very readable, thought provoking and inspiring book.

Miller writes about a movie company that wants to make a movie about his life. In the process of writing the script with two other writers, he discovers what’s important to make life better, or “how to live a better story.”

New Years is a time to reflect over the past year and consider what you’d like to be different or better for the New Year. What elements would you like to be in your life story for next year? Joy? Conflict? Adventure? Challenge? Discouragement? Opportunities? Love?

I’m sure that we’ll experience all of those elements in our story next year. The real test of a “good” story in our life is how we respond to any element we find ourselves in.

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (pronounced how-oh-lay ma-ka-hee-key ho) — That’s Happy New Year in Hawaiian. May your life’s story be brighter in 2016!

Jeff

Books / Readings, Missional, Spiritual Formation, Worship

Common Prayer

This past Spring, I attended the Church of the Brethren (CoB) church planter’s gathering at Bethany Theological Seminary. It was my first CoB event in almost 3 years. It was good to reconnect with some of the relationships I cultivated during my tenure with the Church of the Brethren General Board.

One of my big take-away’s from the conference was buying the book, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro (Zondervan Press, 2010). I have been mostly using it for my daily devotions since then. Each day has a liturgy that is like a mini Sunday worship service. For someone who enjoys the contemporary praise and worship format, I find it surprising that I enjoy this book so much!

Today, I read a prayer from the book that really touches my heart. May it bless your’s, as well.
Lord God, help us to live out your gospel in the world. We pray for those who do not know your love, tha they would be wooed by your goodness and seduced by your beauty. Form us into a family that runs deeper than biology or nationality or ethnicity, a family that is born again in you. May we be creators of holy mischief and agitators of comfort. . . people who do not accept the world as it is but insist on its becoming what you want it to be. Let us groan as in the pains of childbirth for your kingdome to come on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to be midwives of that kingdom. Amen. (p. 409)

Blessings to you!

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Missional

Viral Christianity?

Today, Ryan Braught (church planter in Lancaster, PA) posted a review of the book, Viral Jesus: Recovering the Contagious Power of the Gospel. Ryan writes, “The premise of this book is to recover the viral movement nature of the church. Rohde puts it this way, “In the early centuries Christianity was an explosive, viral movement that spread by word of mouth.” He then continues, “But today, the gospel is no longer spreading like wildfire throughout the western world. Slowly, Christianity has morphed into something much different…a stable institutionalized religion that no longer grips us with the excitement and spirituality of the early years.”

Ryan continues: “Rhode lays out 5 key aspects of a viral Jesus movement.
1. Apostolic teams found organic churches and networks that follow Jesus in every gathering. Yet every component, from individual Christians to networks, is easily reproducible and simple in design; simple but not simplistic.
2. Viral Jesus movements are focused on the kingdom, not on the church per se. This is because they are focused on the King and his commands.
3. Viral Jesus movements are founded with the fivefold ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11.
4. Viral movements, by their nature, are supernaturally powerful because they are under the authority and power of Jesus.
5. Finally, viral Jesus movements are led by Jesus alone. He is the one who provides stability and control.

From what Ryan writes, it sounds like this book is written under some of the same premises as The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church by Alan Hirsch and Leonard Sweet. In this book, Hirsch writes that when we recover our spiritual DNA and focus on Jesus, the gospel spreads quickly.

Is it possible for Christianity to spread like a virus in the U.S. today? What might this look like in your community? Have you seen or experienced anything like this?

One of the key quotes for Ryan in the book is, “I believe that Jesus gives ministry success to a person or team because they are obedient, not because they have great technique.”.

If you would like to read more of Ryan’s review of Viral Jesus, click here.

Jeff

Books / Readings, Community, Leadership

An Intriguing Quote

We all run across quotes by others that get our attention. Here’s one that struck me today:

“the moment you hand power over to other people, you get an explosion of curiosity, innovation, and effort.”

This comes from the book, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It, by Joshua Cooper Ramo.

I was taught by my parents that if something is going to be done right, you have to do it yourself. Were any of you taught to think in this way? Yet, in some of the committees I’ve served on, I’m amazed at the creativity that develops when we let go of ego and just focus on creating the best thing possible. The results can be amazing sometimes, and the event/thing can turn out far better than if I had done it by myself.

Can you resonate with this?

What quotes have stimulated you recently?

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