Archive for May, 2011

May
22

May 22, 2011

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Categories : Prophecy
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May
18

Ten Steps Ahead by Erik Calonius

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What happens when you take hard research from neuroscience and couple it with experiential data gathered through interviews conducted with visionaries such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson? The product of that work is Ten Steps Ahead, by Erik Calonius. Calonius set out to discover what sets apart today’s business visionaries from the rest of us and has published his findings in this interesting and helpful book. In the introductory pages, Calonius writes, “the brain is a visionary device with the primary function to create pictures in our minds that can be used for blueprints for things that do not yet exist.” So far, so good. But what really makes a visionary tick? How does it work? Is the power of vision a gift for a select few who are duly endowed? Or are there some basic elements that can be developed by anyone with a brain?

The writer observes that visionaries have the ability to find something that the rest of us have been missing. They don’t need to see what doesn’t exist to change the world, they just need to see what’s already here but unseen by others. For visionaries, seeing is everything! Ideas, like images, float around in our minds. The thing that distinguishes the visionary, however, is their ability to hold those images in their minds for extended periods of time, changing and altering them as they view them.

So how does that work? As a general rule, visionaries can’t tell you. They know what happens in their minds, but can’t explain the process in a manner that can be replicated. To them it’s just the way it is. Calonius, however, has investigated the phenomena and suggests several elements that make visionaries tick, such as how they “see” and how intuition guides their inner decision making about their ideas. Beyond the ability to see and to think intuitively, additionally, is the passion, courage, and conviction that takes emerging ideas and pushes them into reality. “Courage,” he writes, “is what separates dreamers from visionaries…the contented do not make discoveries.”

Ten Steps Ahead is well researched and well written. With a good balance of data and narrative, Calonius has provided an admirable attempt at answering important questions about vision and creativity that will challenge the reader to think about their thinking.

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May
17

Will the World End on May 21?

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According to Family Radio founder and pastor Harold Camping, yes. At 6:00 p.m., to be precise. For the past three months I have received anonymous cards in the mail that advocate preparedness and warn of the impending judgment that will surround the return of Christ. These postcards have postmarks from around the nation…Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, as well as here in Iowa. Conservative evangelicals usually are quick to agree that biblical prophecy does teach that Christ will return to earth again someday. But the prophetic word is also clear in stating that no one will know the precise time of Christ’s advent (Matthew 24:36), likening it to a “thief that comes in the night” unexpectedly (2 Peter 3:10).

Albert Mohler posted an article on his blogsite about Harold Camping, providing some detail about his background that I thought was well written. You can find the article here.

May
13

State of the Plate Part 2

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Barna Research has released this new study on giving trends in American churches. The interesting statistic is the percentage of people who have stopped giving altogether. You can check out the results below:

How do these statistics line up with your personal stewardship? Are you seeing these effects in your church?

Categories : Barna Group, Stewardship
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May
05

The Price of Missions

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I think that we’re aware that missions has a price tag, but we usually think of the price in terms of the dollar amount we’ll give to the offering appeal. Denominations will make a large allocation toward missions work, and churches follow suit by devoting a sizeable percentage of their operating budgets toward the same. The point I’m trying to make is that we can affix a hard number to the price of missions, right down to the penny.

In Acts 13:1-3, God revealed an opportunity to a new church as they gathered in worship. The pricetag was high. God asked for 40% of their leadership team to be released from their teaching and leading responsibilities to carry the gospel even farther past the margins. Not only did God ask for 40% of their leadership team, he asked for their top two performers, Paul and Barnabas. Not to take anything away from the other three, but Paul and Barnabas are the names we’ve known since elementary Sunday School.

When God asks his people to make a commitment to reach the world, he’s going to ask for our best. He’s going to ask us to make a sacrifice that will be costly. God doesn’t broker in small change. He’s committed to reaching the world, and he’s committed to sending his people into the world. He’s not afraid to “ask for the check.” Come to think of it, God himself modelled this when he sent Jesus to the world.

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May
04

Where Does God Reveal His Plan?

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The church at Antioch was a worshiping community. They were sincere and devout, making worship the priority of their gatherings. Acts 13:2 reports, “One day as these men were worshiping the Lord, the Holy Spirit said…” (NLT). Here’s an important point for today’s church: God revealed himself to the church in the context of their worship. And when God revealed himself in worship, he also revealed his heart and his plan for the church. The closer you become to God to more clearly you can discern what is on his heart. So here’s a couple of thoughts about my observation.

Where do we most fully connect with the heart of God? Where do we go when we want to determine next steps for our ministries and churches? Regardless of what we say, our practice usually winds up betraying us. We seek to determine next steps in committee meetings or board meetings where little if any prayer is even offered. When the community of faith in Acts wanted or needed divine guidance, they didn’t call meetings. They got busy with their worship.

Do you expect God to speak to you in worship? Whether your worship is private and daily or weekly and corporate matters little. God has something to say if he can just find someone who is willing to listen. My prayer for each of us is that we will approach worship with an expectancy to encounter the living God who reveals himself and his plans to his church.

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May
03

The DNA of the Church

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Last weekend we began our annual Global Missions emphasis. Usually, these month long celebrations of missions and missionaries come packaged to church leaders to provide a supporting structure for the challenge to pray, give, and go. For some time I’ve personally been frustrated with missions promotions because they seem to polarize and distance the local church from the foreign field. So rather than speak on the routine subject matter associated with missions and missionaries, I chose to do some foundational work on the missional church strategy and how missions works within that model.

I chose as my text Acts 13:1-3, which reads as follows: “Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.’ So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way” (NLT).

The first observation about the text that I shared in worship last weekend was that sending was in the DNA of the church. The church at Antioch had been founded by disciples who had fled Jerusalem due to persecution. You can read about it in Acts 11:19-26. As the Holy Spirit had sent these disciples to Antioch to share the gospel, the Holy Spirit was again sending disciples from Antioch into more marginalized locations. I believe this act of sending was reflexive and natural for them because missions was in their DNA.

I’m fascinated that the church was so willing to embrace a new direction, especially given its limited history. I suppose they could have said, “We’ll engage our world when we are more established,” but they didn’t. As a people who had been together for less than 24 months, they were quite willing to respond to God’s leadership and join Him where He was at work.

I believe the more established something becomes, the more prone it is to exclusion. I can remember when my wife and I began dating. We were both in college and had a lot of friends. In the early stages of our dating relationship we could easily maintain and manage our friendships. But as our relationship deepened toward engagement and ultimately marriage, the more limited our relationships with friends became. In other words, the more established our relationship became, the more exclusive it became.

That principle is not just true of human relationships, its also true of organizations like the church. Within the DNA of the church of Jesus Christ lies the principle of sending. Regardless of its history, the church is rooted and founded with that essential component.

Tomorrow I’ll post my second observation about this important text. In the meantime, make sure to remember that establishment does not necessitate exclusion. Be true to your DNA.


Our associate found a great fund raising idea for our student ministry’s summer mission trip. It’s simple and effective! It’s called the “Wall o’ Money.” Here’s what he did. He took simple white envelopes and had the students decorate them, numbering them from $1 to $100. The envelopes were then displayed on one of the walls of our lobby outside the sanctuary. People were invited to take an envelope corresponding to the amount they would like to donate, insert the cash or check, and turn it in. It’s a simple idea, but here’s the genius behind it: if every envelope is taken, those numbers add up to about $5,000!

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