Archive for May, 2010
Justin Taylor recommends a very helpful two-part blog post from Keith Simon, giving biblically grounded practical wisdom on the nature of true friendship and criticism, building off of Proverbs 27:6: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
The first post explores the paradox that, according to this verse, we can often confuse a friend and an enemy. Keith gives some excellent counsel on how to approach someone with correction.
The second post explores why we often refuse to correct. He also suggests a humble and helpful thing to say to a few close friends (or spouse, or children, or parents):
I know that this sounds crazy but I really trust you and value your perspective. So I want to invite you to share things with me that will be difficult for me to hear. When (not if) you see sin in my life that you don’t think that I’m aware of, please point it out to me. When (not if) you see me making mistakes with my kids or my spouse, please tell me. Everything is fair game. Nothing is off limits.
I wish that I could promise that I would immediately respond with humility and repentance but that might not always be true. But I will promise that I won’t hold your comments against you and let it ruin our friendship. I want you to know that I will see your willingness to say hard things to me as a sign that you are a real friend and not an enemy giving false or superficial praise.
Are you a true friend? Do you have true friends? Why or why not?
This past Sunday, we had a good heart-to-heart about Being a Healthy Body. The people of Second Mile responded!
If you’d like to get involved in serving or a summer Community Group, click here.
One of the first books that began to reshape my understanding of the church’s role in culture was Mark Driscoll’s The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out. I wanted to share an excerpt from it, as I think it has some helpful ideas as we consider what it means to “embody the message and mission of Jesus in every place he sends us.”
I’m also excited about Mike and Val Kelley’s Community Group that will be meeting this summer and working through this book (click here for more info on this summer’s groups).
In the book, Driscoll coins the phrase “reformission,” which he then defines like this:
A radical call to reform the church’s traditionally flawed view of missions as something carried out only in foreign lands and to focus instead on the urgent need in our own neighborhoods, which are filled with diverse cultures of Americans who desperately need the gospel of Jesus and life in his church.
One of my favorite excerpts comes from the third chapter, “Shotgun Weddings to Jesus”:
In reformission evangelism, people are called to come and see the transformed lives of God’s people before they are called to repent of sin and to trust in God. Taking a cue from dating is helpful on this point. If we desire people to be happily married to Jesus as his loving bride, it makes sense to let them go out on a few dates with him instead of just putting a shotgun to their heads and asking them to hurry up, put on a white dress, and try to look happy for the photos.
Reformission evangelism understands that the transformed lives of people in the church are both the greatest argument for, and the greatest explanation of, the gospel. Therefore, it welcomes non-Christians into the church, not so much through evangelistic programs as through informal relationships like Jesus developed with his first disciples. In our church in Seattle, as lost people become friends with Christians, they often get connected to various ministries (for example, helping to run concerts, helping to guide a rock-climbing expedition, taking a class on biblical marriage, helping to develop a website, joining a Bible study, serving the needy) and participate in them before they possess saving faith. In this way, reformission evangelism depends on friendship and hospitality as conduits to the gospel.
As trust is earned over time, lost people will often speak with their Christian friends about “our church” before they speak about “our God.” Often they first convert to the church and friendships with its members, and second to God, whom they meet in their friendships and experiences in the church. For example, a woman in our church who knows that she is not a Christian asked if she could host a Bible study in her home and have someone else teach it, because she enjoyed the people in “our church” so much that she was excited to have them in her home.
Reformission evangelism considers it vital that lost people be brought close enough to witness the natural and practical outworking of the gospel in people’s lives. Reformission Christians are not ashamed of the gospel, and they speak about Jesus and pray to him in front of their lost friends as they would around their Christian friends; and their lost friends appreciate their authenticity. Their lost friends are comfortable asking them questions about the Christian life, and these reformission Christians have earned the right to give answers as a result of their friendships and hospitality.
At some point, God may grant saving faith to their lost friends and enable them to pass from death to life, but their salvation is ultimately between them and God, as he alone gives salvation. The precise moment of their conversion is known by God, but it is often unknown to them, because authentic conversion is experienced more as a process than as a single moment. Ultimately, what matters most is not when they meet Jesus but that at some point they begin loving him with new hearts and will continue to do so forever.
One of the most fascinating aspects of reformission evangelism is that lost people actually function as missionaries themselves before their conversion. Lost people commonly speak with lost family and friends of what they are learning about Jesus, even inviting them to church and introducing them to their Christian friends. Hence, reformission evangelism is careful not to sever lost people or new Christians from their tribe of lost friends because those relationships present further opportunities for evangelism. The only exception would be if those relationships were causing someone to fall back into habitual sin.
What stands out to you from that excerpt? What do you agree or disagree with?
In his wonderful book, You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, Tim Chester beautifully illustrates the difference between fighting sin with rules and legalism and fighting sin with the beauty of the gospel:
In Greek mythology, the Sirens would sing enchanting songs, drawing sailors irresistibly toward the rocks and certain shipwreck. Odysseus filled his crew’s ears with wax and had them tie him to the mast. This is like the approach of legalism. We bind ourselves up with laws and disciplines in a vain attempt to resist temptation. Orpheus, on the other hand, played such beautiful music on his harp that his sailors ignored the seductions of the Sirens’ song. This is the way of faith. The grace of the gospel sings a far more glorious song than the enticements of sin, if only we have the faith to hear its music.
I’m so excited about the ministry and community groups that will be happening at Second Mile this summer. We’ve got a wonderful group of leaders and I know it will be a blessing. Sign-ups for these groups and ministry teams are now open!
Here’s a breakdown of the various summer groups (download the full catalog here):
- The Schoenhardts’ group will explore the hope found in Jesus. Their group has endured a variety of trials and this will be a great look at hope from some seasoned endurers.
- The Wrights will explore God’s heart for world missions and how each person can be involved in reaching the nations in this study of Pathways to Global Understanding.
- Tabatha Patella will lead a women’s group and study Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety: Becoming a Woman of Faith and Confidence.
- The Lau’s and the Bublitz’s will lead groups that focus on building community and applying the Sunday sermons.
- The McWilliams’ will lead a group about parenting teens and adolescents.
- The Horns will lead a group through studying and applying 1 Peter.
- The Lewis’ will study Francis Chan’s in-your-face book, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.
- I will be leading a group on leading small groups that will train people to lead a church community group or start a workplace or neighborhood Bible study.
- A number of leaders will be driving home the centrality of the gospel through some wonderful books (I love that so many leaders want to dive deeper into the gospel!):
- Wilcoxsons – The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of Christian Faith by Tim Keller
- Rings – The Cross-Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by C.J. Mahaney
- Formicas – Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Tim Keller
- Frahms – The Gospel-Centered Life by World Harvest Mission
In addition to all this, we’ve got some incredible Ministry Teams where we can build friendships while serving together. I hope you’ll join us!
Justin Taylor recently posted some excellent things to pray for our church. Pray that God would move in such a way that would result in:
- hundreds of people coming to Christ,
- old animosities being removed,
- marriages being reconciled and renewed,
- wayward children coming home,
- long-standing slavery to sin being conquered,
- spiritual dullness being replaced by vibrant joy,
- weak faith being replaced by bold witness,
- disinterest in prayer being replaced by fervent intercession,
- boring Bible reading being replaced by passion for the Word,
- disinterest in global missions being replaced by energy for Christ’s name among the nations, and
- lukewarm worship being replaced by zeal for the greatness of God’s glory.
Then in a follow-up post, he shared a comment from John Bryson:
If Jesus answered all your prayers from the last 30 days, would anything change in THE World or just YOUR world?
That puts some things in perspective doesn’t it?