Sunday, February 15, 2009


I hear from all points that the church is not doing community. Community is missing from the church and is an essential ingredient to kingdom growth.

Yet, I see churches “committed to” building community… community is even in their name and kingdom growth is not happening to any appreciable extent.

I’m sure I could Google community and find many valuable definitions, characteristics and points to be made about what community is and how to do it.

Here’s mine.

I believe that community is like the wall on which a mosaic is cemented, the fabric on which a cross-stitch is sown. Community is an environment – not un-like the agar in a Petri dish… wholly conducive and pristine for growing the things desired. (Oh, and by the way, you can’t make things grow!)

In our contexts – the world and the church – community is the medium in which kingdom growth occurs most verdantly, freely and purely.

Community is life-on-life intimate relationships among Christ-following believers. It is characterized by, in a word, love.

In Christian community there is sacrifice, investment.

Community comes at a high price.

Community is messy, mysterious and frustratingly unpredictable.

Community is not something that can be forced or hurried.

Strategies and tactics are often of little use in the grand scheme of community. A thorough look at the life of our Community Exemplar – namely, JESUS – and one sees very little “plans” and “process.”

That is because community nearly defies a recipe! (By the way, don’t forsake planning, setting goals, praying for results, making outlines and lists! Recall: The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9)

Jesus chose some friends, allowed them to live with Him, gave them things to do commensurate with their readiness for ministry and then he … kinda just … LIVED. And DIED that others might live.

And his friends – having been in community with Jesus and having grown to trust and obey Him because He had been found to be TRUST-worthy – began to act like Jesus.

Better yet, they began to LIVE like Jesus did. Outsiders “recognized them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13) – community was successful, and the kingdom of God grew.

Ya just gotta get in there and get dirty!

Yet, community is the only environment in which true Kingdom Growth can take place. It is where believers practice new and godly forms of behavior with acceptance, patience and encouragement from others.

It is not simply an act of our will. Yet, we must simply will to be with Jesus. Willing community is skipping a step. Community is only possible in and through those who have experienced the personal acceptance of Jesus (both in solitude and community). Then and only then do Christ-followers have something (namely, love) to give to others.

In sum: For those who want to do and be about community.

1. “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim 4:7b). I would suggest this where you decide to do things like pray, be alone with God, listen, fast, read your Bible, go to church, worship and so on. Seek both to learn about all these things and to practice each of them deeply, earnestly and regularly.
2. Pray for God to direct you into a true experience of community – the kind in which you can give and receive true love.
3. Live life with other Christ-followers.
4. Seek others – particularly those outside the faith – with whom you can influence as you live an intentional godly life.

5. Read the New Testament and pattern your life after Jesus’. Find out how He lived, who He chose to hang out with, what He saw as important, what He did, then … go thou and do likewise!

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Find a quiet place where you can be alone.
Get in a comfortable position with your back straight.
Reduce distractions – pictures, things. Don’t turn out the lights.

Sit and relax.
Shut your eyes and focus on as little as possible. Breathe.
Wait until you are aware that you are physically and mentally calming down. This may take a few minutes.

You will be distracted. Deal with each one with repentance – acknowledge each one and return quickly to your task of prayer.
Recall the father’s reaction when the Prodigal Son returned – open arms of acceptance and joy!

Read these words slowly and with a “listening heart.”

This is what the Sovereign Lord,

the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me
and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.”

So the Lord must wait for you to come to him

so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help. Isaiah 30:15,18

Be aware that you are relaxing and focusing.

Take a few moments to tell God Who He is – how wonderful He is.
Use your own words. If it is not too awkward, speak aloud in a soft voice.
Don’t allow negative thoughts to enter your mind about the “quality” of your words to Him.

Read these words slowly and know that in praising God we draw near to Him.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!

Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
Go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
And his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100

Confess your sins to God.
Be specific. Start with these words: Read slowly.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23,24

Have mercy on me, O God,

because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51:1-10
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9

Know now… try to experience the fact that you are forgiven, clean and pure before God!

Take a couple of moments to thank God. Thank Him for the things in your life that have eternal significance. Be specific.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

Wrap up this time of prayer with ASKING.
Ask whatever you want!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. James 4:2

Remember the words of Jesus to Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:51):


God is asking you that! Give Him an answer.

Ask God for a humble heart.
Seek a heart which says,”God, I want what You want for me.”

Maybe start a list of friends to pray for.
Ask God to bring your friends to mind during the day.
Ask God for ways to bless your friends.

Finish your time with the Lord’s Prayer. Concentrate on each and every word.

Tell yourself: Regardless of how I feel right now, this has been a Good Time!