Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes


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The tensions of small groups – being family and being on mission

This weekend my family and I are going on vacation. We’re going to pack ourselves into our Citroën C8 (which has about 1/8th of the packing space our Honda Odyssey had) and drive to London. It’s going to be great – time together, building memories, eating together, seeing the sights, doing Legoland! But at the same time, we are a family trying to follow after Jesus and he’s sending us out to show God’s love to people. How will we balance the tension of time together and doing the things that the King would have us do? I’ll let you know.

This is also the tension that small groups and home groups in the church face. Small groups are meant to be the new family unit of God – a place of safety, growing, honesty and even conflict. But they’re also meant to be the most basic unit to bring God’s light to dark places. Most groups do one much better than the other. Some are really great at helping anyone feel welcome and comfortable. Other groups are closed both to new members and serving other. Other groups go the other way and care for outsiders at the expense of insiders and members. None of these seem quite what God had in mind.

I will not give you a formula. Instead I want to put out these two values as tensions that each leader and small group must hold up.

You are the family of God

(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

You are on mission with God

 

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eatwhatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

 

Just like my family on vacation, if we want to be true to who we really are, we must do both. Be the family of God – restoring, growing, feeding, protecting and sharing; and be on mission with with God – reaching, loving, healing, touching and giving.

What else is at tension here? What are we called to that seem to war with each other for attention and time?

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The Community We’re Building

I get really excited about Vineyard Brussels when I see the quality of people coming in to our church. People are encountering Jesus, making friends, getting healed and they’re scattering globally with testimonies that God is doing a good thing in Brussels. When I think of what’s at stake, we need the best people in the places where they can do the most good. I know that some of our needs are very urgent, God will help us.

Some of our best workers are right beside us, just waiting to be asked personally. Some need a friend more than a task – help people make some new friends. You’re not imposing on people to ask them to help – if you love this church, they will want to be part of making it great. Let’s show people that we really mean it when we say that here, “everyone can play.”

“If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could [because] the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”
Jim Collins

Building on Friendshipo

Quotes About Hiring People

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The default setting is: Pray

I have often wondered how when Jesus is so amazing – his life, his power, his wisdom – and yet most of my life I have struggled to spend time with him in prayer. I want to enjoy him, but my own brain and experience seems to keep me at a distance. It’s also easier to do things for God than to partner with Jesus and to spend the time needed in prayer.

Guilt. Shame. Hard work. Failure. Boredom. These are the words that often accompany the description of my life in prayer, maybe you Continue reading


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Learning to love

My grandma passed away about a year and half ago at the age of 92. As she faded in her later years there were fewer and fewer things that she could do, but God graciously gave her continued joy in song and full thankfulness. When I would visit, I would sing for her – it was amazing and emotional. And when someone would do anything for her, even if it was uncomfortable, she’d always say, “Thank you dear.” She is for me a picture of Jesus’ friend, coming out of the wilderness. Weak, but glorious because of the One on whom she leans.

For the longest time, I thought that love was a command that I must follow – but try as I might, it seemed impossible. Some people told me that love was a decision, not emotional, I just need to decide to love him and then work hard at it. And I really wanted to, but it’s really hard and probably ended up looking for other rules to follow.

My children are part of the curriculum to teach me to love!

My children are part of the curriculum to teach me to love!

I think we may all know someone like me, who works hard at religion, loves the truth and loves the story, but their heart has yet to love God fully. Maybe it’s you. God has been working on me for years to take the ideas of love from my head to my heart. There are 3 verses in the Bible that have been very meaningful to me in helping me transition from being someone who knows about love to someone who loves (and it’s not over yet, believe me).

1. Matthew 22.37

And [Jesus] replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect).

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Is there a point to waiting?

Dear friend,

As we prayed last night for the end of your season of waiting I thought that perhaps this is a bigger topic I need to reflect on.  Yours is just one of many stories of waiting that I’ve come across lately.  It seems that the Lord allows us to go through something and then uses it to bring help to others.  I also feel like my brief encounter with intense waiting has given me confidence that God is present in waiting.

write down what God has promised

Write down what God has promised

 Every season is a season of waiting

I walked into the post office to see if anything had arrived for us from Belgium.  It had been our 2 weeks stretched into 5 with no firm end, just empty promises.  Now Rosenort is a small town’s small town, you can’t go anywhere anonymously.

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Get ready for Alpha in August, 3 Key Activities

It’s August, nearly the middle of the month, and in spite of waiting to move our family overseas, my mind goes into “Get Ready for Alpha” mode. I’m thinking of who I’d like to invite, who’d be on my team and anticipating the joy of seeing community form around seeking God and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

If you’re thinking of running Alpha this fall, here are 3 key activities that I’d do this month.

1. Gather the team: Continue reading


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What will the church look like on the day Jesus returns?

God’s vision for the church is found in the story of Rebekah

I was excited to bring encouragement to a local congregation recently because the scripture from the Old Testament was the story of Rebekah. I knew that this woman was an example for the Jewish people, of service and hospitality. Rabbis, pastors & scholars have used this woman’s story to describe God’s people on the day of the return of the Lord. In the generation that sees God’s messiah return, a faithful people will be found that reflect the story of this mother of our faith.

Perhaps you look at the churches in your city or at the people of faith in your social circles and, like me, you wonder, “Is this really what Jesus had in mind when he came preaching, healing & loving? Is this what Jesus died for?” The current reality seems bleak, the church weak and many people of faith can’t be distinguished from everyone else by their life and entertainment choices. Two voices come to my mind:


I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.” – Ghandi
The best money has never been on the church. Yet the church has outlasted every economic and political system.” Gary Best


 

God, in the story of Rebekah, is telling us our story. You’ll find this gem in Genesis 24 and it’s the longest story told in the book of Genesis (longer than Noah, creation or Joseph). There a number of perspectives on this, but today let’s just look at this story as a shadow of our story. Continue reading