“Easter in Your Neighborhood: Here’s How”

The following information comes from the Dwelling 1:14 blog:

Each year, the Finke family teams with our neighbors to host an Easter Sunrise Gathering in our neighborhood. It is a simple undertaking that has had powerful long-term results. For instance:

• Neighbors who are not yet ready for church, willingly hear the good news of Jesus.
• Neighbors have a common spiritual experience that changes the status quo of relationships in the neighborhood. (Grace does that.)
• We have seen de-churched neighbors re-engage local churches.
• We have seen neighbors baptized in Jesus’ name.

None of this is even remotely surprising since Jesus is already on the loose in our neighborhood. And here’s the thing: He’s already on the loose in your neighborhood, too.

If you are ready to see what Jesus can do with an Easter gathering in your neighborhood, here is a simple plan for getting started. Easter is April 1 this year, so it’s not too late to plan yours. (No fooling!)

Read a step-by-step plan here: Easter in Your Neighborhood

Posted in Discipleship, Easter, Evangelism, Missional, Missionary, Priesthood of all Believers, Rural evangelism, Small Town Evangelism, Urban Outreach | Comments Off on “Easter in Your Neighborhood: Here’s How”

What’s the Purpose of Your Existence as a Person … as a Christian Church?

Have you seen the TED talk featuring Simon Sinnek, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Every One to Take Action”? His point is that businesses/organizations need to be clear about the “Why” if they hope to grow their company, or in our case, the church. A clear understanding of the answer to “why” develops loyalty in the ones who share the belief and draws people from the outside. Those who identify with the “why” will work with their blood, sweat, and tears for the leader of their organization.

Why do we exist? As individuals? As Christian congregations? What is our purpose? In other words: “what’s the answer to our ‘why?’” C.S. Lewis said, “There exists in every church something that sooner or later works against the very purpose for which it came into existence. So we must strive very hard, by the grace of God to keep the church focused on the mission that Christ originally gave to it.”

The Gospel lesson for this Sunday (John 3:14-21) reminds us “Why” we exist as individuals and as Christian congregations. “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son …”. God’s one intention is to save mankind. “Mission begins in the heart of God and expresses his great love for the world. It is the Lord’s gracious initiative and ongoing activity to save a world incapable of saving itself.” (LCMS CTCR, A Theological Statement of Mission)

A study of the Gospel of John reveals that the idea of being “SENT” is a central motif of John’s Gospel. The Father sends the Son (John 1:1-3, 14; 3:16; 15:21; 16:5; 17:23) … the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:5-15; 20:22) … and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sends us (John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (cf. 17:18)

It is said, “It’s not so much that the church has a mission. It’s more that God’s mission has a church!” C.F.W. Walther observes, “You see, dear brethren, … we are assembled here not for our own sake. We are in the faith, and by this faith we hope to be saved! But there are still millions who have no faith! This is why we are here … so that we might bring salvation to as many people as we possibly can … Only for this reason does our gracious God allow Christians to live on earth, that they might bring others to the saving faith. Otherwise God would immediately take a Christian to heaven as soon as he is converted.” (C.F.W. Walther, Essays for the Church, Vol. 2. [St. Louis: Concordia, 1992]: 60-62, Emphasis added). Our Lord sends us to our homes, schools, workplaces, and neighbourhoods to share Jesus’ love through our words and deeds so that people might have the abundant life that He alone provides!

May the prayer of our hearts and the passion of our congregations reflect that of Isaiah who, when asked by the LORD, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? responded, “Here I am, Lord! Send me! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

Posted in Christian church, Discipleship, Evangelism, Missiology, Missional, Missional Leadership, Missionary, Priesthood of all Believers, Rural evangelism, Small Town Evangelism, Urban Outreach, Witness, World Missions | Comments Off on What’s the Purpose of Your Existence as a Person … as a Christian Church?

Rwanda: A Country Undergoing Healing

In 1994, Rwanda experienced a genocide. In one hundred days, one million Rwandans (mostly Tutsis and some moderate Hutus) were slaughtered by Hutus. Almost two and half decades later, Rwandans are still impacted by the fallout of the genocide in the following ways:

1. Unresolved grief/trauma: A sizeable majority of Rwandans had family members and friends killed. The country experiences a month-long mourning every April-May. Genocide memorial sites are located throughout the country. Since the conclusion of the genocide, the Rwandan government has urged Rwandans to forgive; to not seek vigilante revenge.

2. A Level of Suspicion: Rwandans are suspicious of other people because during the genocide they were betrayed by neighbours, friends, family members, and fellow church members.

3. Many Lack the Basic Needs of Life: Impoverished widows and orphans are in need of the basic needs of life (e.g. food, clothing, education, improved housing, etc.).  In some cases, women will “sell” their bodies in order to provide for these basic needs of life.

The Rwandan government has initiated many positive initiatives that are improving social mobilisation, cultural homogeneity with an emphasis on group obligations over personal entitlements, but there are ongoing needs to address the above-mentioned challenges. The government is trying to unify the people by championing the policy: “one people, one language, one culture, one Rwanda” but as a Rwanda pastor told me, “Only the forgiving love of God in Christ will bring reconciliation, healing, and unity between the people of Rwanda.”  This is their most fundamental need.

The Christian church is vibrant in Rwanda and church leaders and laity are making significant contributions to the revitalization of Rwanda but they request our help. They request our prayers. They are eager to study God’s Word in more depth with particular emphasis on the unconditional love of God in Christ Jesus.  They invite us to help address the needs of widows and orphans by supporting the ministry of an organization like, “Lift Them Up.” — a Christian not-for-profit striving to alleviate the effects of post-genocidal poverty through educational sponsorships and charitable giving by living out James 1:27. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” 

Posted in Rwanda, Uncategorized, World Missions | Comments Off on Rwanda: A Country Undergoing Healing

“When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan T. Anderson

I attended a workshop on the transgender movement. The speaker recommended reading a recently published book by Ryan T. Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

The transgender movement has hit breakneck speed. In the space of a year, it’s gone from something that most Americans had never heard of to a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights.

But can a boy truly be “trapped” in a girl’s body? Can modern medicine really “reassign” sex? Is sex something “assigned” in the first place? What’s the loving response to a friend or child experiencing a gender-identity conflict? What should our law say on these issues?

When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment provides thoughtful answers to all of these questions. Drawing on the best insights from biology, psychology, and philosophy, Ryan T. Anderson offers a balanced approach to the policy issues, a nuanced vision of human embodiment, and a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.

He reveals a grim contrast between the media’s sunny depiction and the often sad realities of gender-identity struggles. He introduces readers to people who tried to “transition” but found themselves no better off. Especially troubling is the suffering felt by adults who were encouraged to transition as children but later came to regret it.

And there is a reason that many do regret it. As Anderson shows, the most helpful therapies focus not on achieving the impossible—changing bodies to conform to thoughts and feelings—but on helping people accept and even embrace the truth about their bodies and reality.  …

To continue to read this book review  and/or to purchase it, click on: When Harry Became Sally.

About the Author

Ryan T. Anderson is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He is the author of Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom and the co-author of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense and Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination. Anderson has made appearances on ABC, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and Fox News. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and his research has been cited by two U.S. Supreme Court justices in two Supreme Court cases. Anderson received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his doctoral degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Posted in Gender Identity, Transgender, Transgenderism | Comments Off on “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan T. Anderson

The Voice of the Martyrs Resources: “I am N” Curriculum Kit and other “I am N” Resources

The Voice of the Martyrs has produced a number of I am N resources. One such resource is the “I am N” Curriculum Kit. This engaging video curriculum presents true stories of Christians in various parts of the world who are facing challenges due to Islamic extremism.  Ideal for small groups, campus ministries, as well as churches, I am N curriculum includes the I am N book, a participant’s guide, a facilitators guide and a six session DVD.

Each 15 minute video includes interviews with persecuted Christians, plus commentaries and teaching messages from leaders from The Voice of the Martyrs and other leading mission organizations. As you explore the six themes of sacrifice, courage, joy, perseverance, forgiveness, and faithfulness, you will be inspired to grow deeper in your relationship with Christ and, as a result, become a more effective witness to your friends, family and coworkers.

The Voice of the Martyrs has also produced an I am N devotional, a I am N wristband, an I am N  book and CD.

Posted in Christian persecution, Christian-Muslim Relations, Persecution, Voice of the Martyrs | Comments Off on The Voice of the Martyrs Resources: “I am N” Curriculum Kit and other “I am N” Resources

Lutheran Bible Translators Serving in Cameroon

There are two missionary families serving as Lutheran Bible Translators in Cameroon.

Rev. Mike and Kara Kuhn have been Lutheran Bible Translators of Canada (LBTC) missionaries since 2012. The Kuhns come to LBTC from Calgary, where Pastor Mike was serving as Associate Pastor along with Kara’s father. From the beginning they shared interest in Bible translation, and later on Mike enrolled in the linguistics programme at Trinity Western University in Langley BC. The Kuhns were deployed to Cameroon to work with the Nizaa people, and in their short time in Galim they have made good progress. God has blessed the Kuhns and their team with some wonderful discoveries of translation work that had already been done. Mike hopes to bring some Bible to publication very soon. The Kuhns have three children, Tobias, Gideon, and Gloria.

Martin and Joan Weber have been LBTC missionaries since 1983. The Webers have been a fixture in Bible translation and literacy training in Cameroon for close to 40 years. They raised their three children while in Cameroon. The Webers have supervised two LBTC publications, a New Testament in the Kwanja languages in 2003, and a lectionary (Bible lessons of the day, often used in churches) in 2016. Once the Kwanja NT was completed, they made available to many persons portable audio players that read Bible wherever desired. Hundreds of “Proclaimers” and “Megavoice” players are now in the hands of persons who can hear the Word anytime they desire. The Webers’ work has been a great blessing to all those that heard the Bible in their heart language for the first time. They returned to Cameroon in June 2017 after a successful year-long furlough. The Webers have three grown children: Sarah, Nathan and Samuel.

If you are interested in serving as a missionary with Lutheran Bible Translators, please visit: Go!

Posted in Bible, Bible Translation, Lutheran Bible Translators, Lutheran Bible Translators of Canada, Missionary, World Missions | Comments Off on Lutheran Bible Translators Serving in Cameroon

Tired of Sunday-only ‘churchianity’?

Tired of Sunday-only ‘churchianity’? Want to transition your group or church from Sunday-only engagement to everyday mission and discipleship?

Verge is offering a Master Class to assist you in this process.

What’s in this Master Class?

  • A 6-Module Course Designed To Guide You Through Transitioning From Sunday-only ‘Churchianity’ to Everyday Mission and Discipleship
  • Field-tested Processes For Transitioning to Become a Missional People
  • Simple Methods For Transitioning Your Church, Leaders, Metrics and Culture
  • The entire course is based on field-tested and biblical principles for transitioning.
  • You’ll get a proven process for helping you identify exactly where to start, but better yet…where NOT to invest your energy and efforts.
    Identify the areas your group or church needs to transition and exactly how your leaders, church, culture, and metrics need to change.
  • Don’t waste your time focusing on the wrong methods – find out exactly which methods will help your leaders, church and culture transition. Learn the 3 methods of transitioning… and how to leverage each for your context.
    Find out more at: Masterclass.
Posted in Bible study, Discipleship, Evangelism, Missional, Verge | Comments Off on Tired of Sunday-only ‘churchianity’?

Retreating with Lutheran Bible Translators in Cameroon — What a Privilege!

I was privileged to travel to Cameroon to be the Bible study leader for missionaries serving in West African countries for Lutheran Bible Translators. The retreat was five days and there were forty people that attended. The LBT(C) missionaries are pretty isolated and it had been many years since they had been able to get together for a retreat. We studied 1 Peter with the theme: “God’s New Israel: Chosen … Called … to Sojourn and Suffer in the Wilderness … but with living Hope!”We began and concluded each day with worship.

A team consisting of lay people from the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church — Canada were essential to the formation and implementation of the retreat. The team members’ first project was to finance and plan the retreat for LBT West Africa Missionaries.  The team members traveled to Cameroon (at their own cost) to offer the children of the LBT missionary families a VBS type program while the parents were in the Bible study sessions.

Rev. Dr. James Keller, the Executive Director of Lutheran Bible Translators of Canada, led the morning worship services and delivered the homilies.

The missionaries and their families were very grateful for the opportunity to come together for Bible Study, worship and fellowship. It had been several years since they had been able to get together and they really appreciated their time together.

 

Posted in Bible, Bible Translation, Lutheran Bible Translators, Lutheran Bible Translators of Canada, Lutheran Missiology, Missionary, World Missions | Comments Off on Retreating with Lutheran Bible Translators in Cameroon — What a Privilege!

“Christian Involvement in Public Ethical Issues” by Peter J. Scaer

In For the Life of the World, there is an article by Peter J. Scaer entitled “Christian Involvement in Public Ethical Issues.” The following excerpts are from that article.

“Some might argue that we cannot impose our beliefs on others. But this is foolishness. Almost every law has something to do with morality. Driving fast may not be immoral in and of itself, but driving recklessly puts the lives of others in danger. No one would question that there should be a law against armed robbery.  While we may have different views when it comes to gambling, the abortion matter is crystal clear. This is hardly a matter where Christians can agree to disagree. Science confirms what the Bible teaches.  Life begins at conception and we are called to defend it.”

“This is not simply a matter of abstract ethics.  There are spiritual consequences. To turn our backs on the unborn is to turn our backs on Christ Himself, who defines our humanity and died to redeem us all.  We can no more be silent about the fate of the unborn than we can walk past a man who lies half dead alongside the road.  The unborn child needs an advocate and a Good Samaritan. …”

Posted in Abortion, Jesus Christ, Lutherans for Life, Lutherans for Life -- Canada, Prolife, Unborn child | Comments Off on “Christian Involvement in Public Ethical Issues” by Peter J. Scaer

Reserve the Last Sunday in April for Hands-on Outreach

The Men’s Network of Lutheran Hour Ministries is encouraging you to participate in the sixth annual Men’s Network WORK DAY on Saturday, April 28.  It’s a day that you go off your church campuses and into the your local neighbourhoods and communities to help those in need.

In the past, men’s groups have set their hand to yard and landscaping work; Habitat for Humanity builds; trail clean-ups; building handicapped ramps; school and community park projects; helping seniors — those who have lost their spouses or are confined to their homes.

Go to WORKDAY to find out more about this WORK DAY.  There you will find a customizable flyer to post your project; a link to a Facebook page dedicated to WORK DAY; bulletin inserts to create interest at your church. There are even project suggestions if your group is stumped on what to do.

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Lutheran Hour Ministries, Lutheran Laymen's League, Missional, Social Ministry | Comments Off on Reserve the Last Sunday in April for Hands-on Outreach