This is it. The final week of our study of John. We have come quite a long way from Jesus being with God before time began. He was born and spent time among humanity He was crucified because the Jewish authorities did not understand who Jesus actually was. Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples. This week, we will finish this study with a look at the third and final time John records the resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples. Continue reading “The Gospel of John: John 21”
Last week we talked about what it meant to intentionally live a life of simplicity and modesty, so you can do more in service to God. The spiritual discipline of frugality is all about training your desires to see that you do not need as much as you think you do and to be responsible with the resources God has chosen to bless you with. This week’s discipline seems to follow nicely because now we will be giving up something we actually do need, in order to train our focus to rely completely on God. Continue reading “Getting Closer by Giving Something Up”
Last week Jesus was faced with questions and was ultimate paraded through town to a hill where he would be nailed to a cross and die. The disciples were scared. But the story does not end there. As a professor of mine has said, the Resurrection is the biggest “but” in all of history. This week everything changes. Continue reading “The Gospel of John: John 20”
It’s still a new year and I love taking a look at these disciplines to try and be closer to God. I find that every year I say that I am going to be closer to God but don’t really feel like I make progress in that direction. Last week we took a look at prayer and meditation. I felt like that was an easy place to start, as many Christians equate those practices with getting closer to God. This week, we are going to take a look at something that might be counter intuitive. This week we will look at the spiritual discipline of frugality. Continue reading “Can You Give That Up?”
The time is over for questions and wondering what all of this is about. Jesus has reached the final moment in his earthly life. Last week, we took a look at the last round of questions about the identity of Jesus. This week, his human life ends. Continue reading “The Gospel of John: John 19”
As I promised last week, the “Christian Living” posts are going to be about spiritual disciplines as we make moves to be closer to God in the New Year. You can type “list of spiritual disciplines” into your favorite search engine, and everywhere you look will have a different list; some are the same, some are different. The opinion that I keep is that a spiritual discipline is an action we do to become more like Christ, that we need God’s help to accomplish. They may start out easy, but like any type of discipline, they will become harder as you mature in their practice. This week we will look at a couple disciplines that probably appear on most (if not all) lists that I have seen: prayer and meditation. Continue reading “Are You Even Listening?”
Jesus knew this was the last night everyone was going to be together. He knew that the time ahead was going a struggle for his disciples because they would not know what was going on. Last week we took a look at the prayer Jesus gave for his disciples before the evening’s events would finish. This week is the beginning of the end. From here on out Jesus is moving towards the Cross. Continue reading “The Gospel of John: John 18”
In case you have not heard already, last week began a whole new year. Everyone’s calendars (provided you still have one of those things) either turned to the first couple months of a new year or you had to replace it entirely because it is now 2019! Every year the media gets flooded with posts and articles about setting new goals or New Year’s Resolutions. I tried really hard not to add to the myriad of voices discussing this topic, but I just can’t help myself. If you are anything like me, the words “I’m gonna be closer to God this year” have at least crossed your mind in the past week. One good way to do this is through spiritual disciplines. Continue reading “Intro to Spiritual Disciplines”
Can you find comfort in the words of Jesus? Do his actions prove that what he says is true? The last view weeks we have seen that Jesus wants his disciples to find comfort and peace within him, and to be able to trust in what they have been taught after he is gone. This week continues that trend. Continue reading “The Gospel of John: John 17”
As we look to a new year, I thought it would be beneficial if this month’s book helped us to look towards the new without fear. Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger does just that. Originally printed in 2015, the expanded edition (c2018) includes a study guide to help Church leadership discuss with each other, and the congregations they lead, the concepts and potentially scary moves they must make to survive. Bolsinger is currently a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, but uses his experience as a Presbyterian minister and church consultant to write most of this book. His thesis for this book is that Christendom is dead, and most Christian leaders have been trained to lead and work within the world of Christendom. He looks to Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery as a metaphor for how Christian leadership should behave in this brand new world.
For Christian leaders this means that ministry is not only the means to bring the gospel to the world, ministry together is how God makes a congregation into a corps that is ready to continually bring the gospel in new ways to a changing world.
Tod Bolsinger uses the research of Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky to propose the use of adaptive leadership within the Church. This model of leadership would remove the pastor as the “authority” and main decision maker within the local church. Instead, the pastor would be a leader that encourages the congregation to join into the decision making process in order to create actual change. He recognizes that this is not an easy task. Many churches are still in the mindset of the Church being the most influential voice in society. Unfortunately, as Bolsinger argues, this is no longer the case. But like most change, resistance should be expected. However, the main the main advantage for this adaptive style of leadership is that it frees the congregation to reconcile unanticipated issues, and explore new ideas that lead towards innovation.
We are called to take the hill — with grandma.
I found myself particularly excited to read this book, and I think that anyone in a leadership position within their church should read it. I wanted to go out and make wide sweeping changes and attempt to get others excited within my own congregation. However I became frustrated with the content of this book because it still feels like my local congregation will not change. This could be due to the fact that I am not the pastor of my church. However, to overcome this, I purchased a copy for my pastor as a Christmas gift! I am convinced by Bolsinger’s argument that the Church now finds itself in a world that it has been unprepared for. Yet he offers hope in the last chapter by saying, “God is taking us into uncharted territory to transform us.” We do not have to look to the changing landscape with fear. We need to merely trust in God, and take a good strong look at the way we do things. That is what this book does.