Seedbed http://www.seedbed.com Gathering, connecting, and resourcing the people of God to sow for a great awakening. Fri, 29 Jul 2016 13:32:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Weekly Breather: The Joy of Color http://www.seedbed.com/the-weekly-breather-the-joy-of-color/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-weekly-breather-the-joy-of-color http://www.seedbed.com/the-weekly-breather-the-joy-of-color/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 09:30:00 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com?p=60219&preview_id=60219 I have been playing with a new artistic medium: alcohol inks. As I drop colors onto nonporous surfaces, I am fascinated to watch them mix. There is a deep richness in each color that reminds me of several scriptural references. One of my favorite colors is green.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery tells us that the color green “connotes security, sustenance and beauty.” Green is also the color of summer, which is now so prevalent in the landscape.

Encounter: Feast on God’s Presence

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters.
Psalm 23:1-2

Settle Yourself and Release

Find a quiet place outside. Sit in the grass. Take a few deep, slow breaths. Focus on the green that is around you. Examine the blades of grass. Notice that the psalmist says the Shepherd will make him “lie down in green pastures.” Now, lie down and rest.

Pray

Lord, thank You for the colors in your universe. Make me mindful and aware of each and every one. Many times I live my life through a lens of only black and white. Please give me eyes like Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), who wrote:

O MOST NOBLE GREENNESS, rooted in the sun, shining forth in streaming splendor upon the wheel of Earth. You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries. You are radiant like the red of dawn! You glow like the incandescence of the sun!

Amen.

Enjoy a moment of fun!

Click on this link to pick your favorite color and its hue.

Also, check out this new way of praying.

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/the-weekly-breather-the-joy-of-color/feed/ 0
How We See Our Pastor (Episode 13) http://www.seedbed.com/how-we-see-our-pastor-episode-13/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-we-see-our-pastor-episode-13 http://www.seedbed.com/how-we-see-our-pastor-episode-13/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 09:00:40 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com?p=60011&preview_id=60011 Listen as Jeremy Steele and Phil Tallon explore the classic roles that our pastor plays in our lives.

Subscribe to the New Room Podcast on iTunes!

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/how-we-see-our-pastor-episode-13/feed/ 0
5 Regions Across the Globe That Are Being Re-evangelized http://www.seedbed.com/5-regions-across-the-globe-that-are-being-re-evangelized/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-regions-across-the-globe-that-are-being-re-evangelized http://www.seedbed.com/5-regions-across-the-globe-that-are-being-re-evangelized/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 09:00:20 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com/?p=57866 The headlines tell a sad story! “Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?” one reads. Another blares “2067, The End of British Christianity.” And still another, “The Decline of Christianity in the West.”

It is easy to get the impression that places once home to vibrant Christian communities are rapidly headed toward a Christ-less future. From the cradle of the Church in the Middle East, to the heart of Christendom in Europe, and the “shining city on a hill” that was America, it appears that Christianity is on the decline; the victories won by the sacrifice and blood of the martyrs now seemingly coming to a sad end.

The Word of God assures us, however, that God has never been left without a witness. And Paul assures us that “He who began a good work in us is able to bring it to completion.” Mark Twain reportedly said, relative to erroneous reports of his death, “The news of my demise has been greatly exaggerated.” The same is actually true of the Church of Jesus Christ in many once-vital regions of the world that are currently being re-evangelized.

Here are five areas we can be praying for:

1. Indonesia

In the 1830s a small corps of North American missionaries sought to bring the gospel to the tribal people of Indonesia. Though the first to arrive were all martyred, others soon followed and many Indonesians became Christ followers as a result of the missionaries’ efforts. The church became established in multiple areas throughout the archipelago. World wars and revolutions, however, took their toll. Indonesia ultimately became the most populous Muslim country in the world. Nevertheless, the witness of Jesus is alive and well in Indonesia. New approaches to mission there in the last 15 years have seen some of the swiftest and most significant movements of people to Jesus in history. Some estimate that as many as two million Indonesians a year are responding to the gospel message, and becoming Christ followers.

2. Great Britain

Once one of the great missionary-sending countries of the world, and the birthplace of some major revival movements, today Great Britain’s fastest-growing faith group is “no religion,” followed by Muslim. It is sad and painful to see once proud church buildings now housing bars, mosques, or museums. But some new movements of faith and renewal are springing up in England and beginning to turn things around. One such movement, Fresh Expressions, “seeks to transform communities and individuals through championing, resourcing, and multiplying new ways of being church.”  Working across denominational lines, this youthful movement has seen thousands of new congregations being formed. More than 40 percent of those attending the new churches are previously unchurched. Additionally, four out of 10 of the attendees of Fresh Expression churches are under 16 years old!

3. Turkey

In the days of the Apostle Paul, the church was born all across what is modern-day Turkey. But the spread of Islam and the rise of the Ottoman Empire resulted in the near extinction of the church there. By the year 2008, less than .3 percent of the population was Christian. Yet a Christianity Today article that same year reported that, “For the first time in 550 years, Christianity inside Turkey is growing in numbers and influence.” Through more culturally contextualized expressions of church, Bible institutes (some online), personal witness, and the ministry of believers during times of crisis, multitudes of Turkish citizens are becoming open to the gospel. In the major cities, several large churches are growing. With this rise in attention to Jesus has come increased, open persecution of the Church and believers. The persecution constitutes an important prayer need, but is also having the effect of drawing even more Turks to the faith.

4. Russia

Although Russia has a long and dynamic Christian history, it also underwent 70 years of official state-enforced atheism under the Soviet system. Every effort was made in the USSR to extinguish faith and destroy the Church. Cathedrals were turned into public toilets, priests and pastors were martyred, and public worship was banned. Today, however, Russians are coming to faith by the millions. And they are lamenting the decline of Christianity in the West.

I was recently in St. Petersburg having a conversation with a middle-aged Russian woman. Though reared atheist, this lady has committed her life to Jesus and is living a vibrant faith. She passionately reminded me of some truth. “The US used to export the faith. Today you continue to export democracy. But you seem to have forgotten that democracy devoid of faith in Jesus Christ is just another form of godless tyranny, the tyranny of the godless masses. We in Russia know what atheist tyranny is all about. I fear we Russians are going to have to try to remind you of the gospel in the same way you tried to remind us in the last century!”

5. 

New York City

For decades, while the Church remained strong in the suburbs and rural areas of the United States, the major cities were increasingly becoming spiritual ghost towns. The last 15 years, however, have seen resurgence in urban church planting and development. New York City provides a snapshot of the results. From multi-campus Redeemer Presbyterian, to the Theater District’s Times Square Church; from Brooklyn Tabernacle to Christian Culture Center, megachurches are once again flourishing in the city. And church planting movements such as Redeemer City to City, International Project, and Global Gates have been the catalyst for well over 1500 new church plants in the city since the year 2000. The growth rate of Evangelical Christians in the city is now running five-to-eight percent per year! There are some who now believe that New York City may be poised to help usher in the next great awakening in the US.

The signs of new life are rising up all over the world. Let’s not forget that the same Lord who gave us the Great Commission also reminded us that “low, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” God is not done with His Church!

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/5-regions-across-the-globe-that-are-being-re-evangelized/feed/ 0
Why it’s a Problem when Jesus is from your Hometown http://www.seedbed.com/problem-jesus-hometown/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=problem-jesus-hometown http://www.seedbed.com/problem-jesus-hometown/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 08:00:46 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com?p=60040&preview_id=60040

July 29, 2016

Matthew 13:53-58

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed.“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

CONSIDER THIS

What if we are living in an age where we think we understand the Gospel of the Kingdom yet we do not? What if it is our present understanding of Jesus and the Gospel that blocks us from the kind of understanding that precedes the miraculous expansion of the Kingdom of God?

Sometimes—perhaps more times than not—our confidence in our present level of understanding can be the greatest impediment to deeper understanding. There is a kind of self assuring confidence that comes with thinking we get it that keeps us from actually getting it.

We see this at work in Jesus hometown. On the one hand, they were absolutely amazed by Jesus: “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. On the other hand, they could not see beyond their own understanding: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? 

They were blinded by the dim light they already saw. And when you think you see clearly, why look any further? Here’s why:

 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

You see, I think this problem of a lack of faith is not primarily about a quality of belief as much as it is about an inferior or inadequate understanding about who Jesus really is. They could not see past their own vision of him as “the “carpenter’s son.”

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

I’m beginning to think the church of our time, at least in the United States, has come to think of itself as Jesus’ hometown. We are pretty sure we completely get Jesus. And what we believe about Jesus we believe with great fervor, but what if our faith is inadequate. The problem is not in the wrongness of our understanding about Jesus— it’s in the incompleteness. Faith, as is commonly thought, is not how hard one believes but in who one believes. It’s why a mustard seed is enough to move a mountain. It’s not enough to believe right things about Jesus. This must become about an awakening to an ever increasing understanding of the unfathomable depths of who he most truly is.

One thing I know is sure. We don’t want this line to be the historical epitaph over our age:

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Daily Text MATTHEW 07-29-16

THE QUESTIONS

1. So do you believe there’s more understanding you need into the person and nature and mission of Jesus Christ? How are you seeking this?

2. What do you think of this idea of the church in this country becoming something of a “hometown” for Jesus. What is the danger of this?

3. How does the church in North America compensate or make up for the lack of the kind of demonstrative Kingdom activity we see in the New Testament? Could it be our building projects? Our spectacularly produced worship services?

—————-

Subscribe to receive the Daily Text email.

Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.

J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/problem-jesus-hometown/feed/ 0
Signs and Wonders in Evangelism http://www.seedbed.com/signs-and-wonders-in-evangelism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=signs-and-wonders-in-evangelism http://www.seedbed.com/signs-and-wonders-in-evangelism/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:01:15 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com/?p=60115 One of the most deeply entrenched beliefs and ministry practices in the North American church is the mindset that life-style/friendship evangelism is both the biblical and most effective way to share the faith. Some studies indicate over 80% of Christians solely use this means as their method of sharing the faith with their unsaved neighbors, friends and family members. Yet rarely do people take the time to analyze whether or not this ministry practice is actually effective in reaching the unsaved for Christ.

In my experience, living an exemplary good and godly life along with being intentionally kind and helpful and thoughtful to others rarely provides opportunities for Christians to share personally the particulars about the gospel message, nor does it even open up many opportunities for Christians to invite others to faith-based events. The vast majority of churches are not growing (some estimate 80-85% are plateaued or declining) and even those churches which are growing can account for their growth by ‘transfers’ from other churches. Verbal sharing of one’s personal faith is scarce. Twenty years ago, George Hunter found that only 1-2% of Christians share their faith (Church for the Unchurched, 1996, p. 179); Ed Stetzer recently found the number to be much higher, but still lacking. Yet church leaders consistently promote lifestyle and friendship evangelism as the primary means to evangelize those around us who are heading towards a lost eternity.

Even a cursory overview of Scripture reveals that lifestyle evangelism was not the reason why the gospel message exploded around the Mediterranean in the first three centuries. Many of those the Apostle Paul evangelized rarely knew him, his lifestyle, or that of any other believer. The unsaved had no idea whether or not his lifestyle backed up his message. Yet clearly thousands came to faith in Jesus through his ministry and those of the other apostles. Nor is lifestyle evangelism the reason why the church is thriving and growing so rapidly outside of North America.

While C. Peter Wagner remains one of my personal heroes, his oft quoted statement, “Church planting is the most effective form of evangelism,” is simply not true…it is the second most effective form of evangelism. Instead, as I unfold in By Signs and Wonders (Seedbed, Franklin, TN: 2016), church services which are marked by the supernatural expressions of the Holy Spirit (signs, wonders, miracles, visions, prophecies, etc.) are the most effective form of evangelism. This insight is true and has strong biblical and historic backing, and is presently true in Christian ministries outside of North America. Whenever and wherever the gospel message is substantiated by God’s miraculous activities, the church almost inevitably experiences dramatic conversion growth.

In 1983 my wife and I planted a church in the Ottawa, Ontario suburb of Kanata. The church began with just the two of us. (We knew 2 other people living in the community, but they were already attending another church.) Over the next 13 years, the church grew slowly at a rate of about 10-15 people/year. In 1996 I was discouraged at the meager evangelistic results we were experiencing, which caused me to do an extensive Bible study to determine what factors had contributed to the rapid growth of the Christian church in the first three centuries. The result of that study profoundly changed the way I viewed and approached evangelism. I discovered that there is little biblical evidence that lifestyle/friendship evangelism contributed in any way to the conversion process. I was shocked to discover that 50% of the conversion stories had an identifiable miracle which had just taken place. A good example is the story of the raising of Lazarus. The concluding statement in the biblical narrative says, “many … put their faith in Him” (John 11:45).

Beginning in 1997 we switched our focus from relying upon friendship evangelism, to an intentional focus on the miraculous activities of the Holy Spirit as the primary attraction and transforming influence in our midst. The results were dramatic. Instead of seeing 10-15 people joining our church per year, we immediately began seeing 50-100 people joining the church. Instead of primarily having transfer growth, we began to see a dramatic increasing in conversions.

On a regular basis we began inviting people to be anointed with oil for healing, and carving out more quiet/silent time in our worship services for hearing from God. We began to have people receive words of knowledge and prophecies. As a result, the non-Christian community became interested to come and see what was happening, and our people we more emboldened to share their faith. Perhaps the most dramatic healing we witnessed was the immediate healing of a lady from aggressive breast cancer. For over 10 years now, there is no sign of a return of her cancer. Just this week we were with that same lady! Stories of healing, accurate predictions of the future, and other displays of God’s power have a profound way of drawing people to come and find out what is going on, just like they did with Jesus’ ministry. My own doctoral research concluded that those who both hear the gospel message and personally experience some miraculous activity of the Holy Spirit are two to three times more likely to become Christians than those who simply hear the gospel message.

My research also led me to discover some interesting insights about the reasons behind John Wesley’s amazing evangelistic efforts. John Wesley’s services were frequently marked by signs and wonders (John White, When the Spirit Comes with Power, Intervarsity Press: 1998, p. 128). Suddenly the multitude of biblical references to signs, wonders, and miracles began to fall into place, including the Apostle Paul’s concise and unequivocal statement that the reason for his amazing success as an evangelist was because of the power of signs and miracles through the power of the Spirit” (Rom. 15:18-19).  Many of the greatest revivals of the past we marked by God’s miraculous activities and those same results are still happening all over the world whenever churches cry out for God’s presence and intervention into their midst.

I am not appealing for non-charismatic churches to suddenly become charismatic. Rather I am asking churches to place a much higher emphasis on the person and work of the Spirit. Too many churches are Trinitarian in doctrine, yet binitarian in emphasis. We speak much of God the Father and God the Son, but rarely do we even talk about the Holy Spirit. Yet so critical is the Holy Spirit to the mission of the church that Jesus told His disciples not to undertake the Great Commission until they were filled with the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.

Is your present system of evangelism reaping the results you believe you ought to be experiencing?” If not, how can your church lean more heavily into the Holy Spirit? Our post-Christian world will never be convinced to follow Christ by offering more excellence in preaching, building better facilities, using fancier equipment or more creative programming.  There is nothing wrong with these projects and ministries, but they are not nearly enough. We need more. What we need is what we see in 1 Kings 18, when God showed up in power on Mount Carmel and the people of God fell to their faces and cried out “The Lord, He is God, The Lord, He is God”. May it happen again today.

For more information, please check out Dr Elliott’s, “By Signs and Wonders: How the Holy Spirit Grows the Church” (Seedbed Publishing), which pleads for the church to place a much higher emphasis on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. It is written as a small group study (questions at the end of each chapter for discussion) and is written from a solidly Wesleyan perspective, containing some very interesting yet rarely talked about insights concerning the reasons why the evangelistic ministry of John Wesley was so effective. The book is filled with real-life stories, historic and current day research, and biblical insights which challenges the church to take seriously the need for demonstrations of God’s Spirit.

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/signs-and-wonders-in-evangelism/feed/ 0
Church Leader Podcast (Episode 3): Multisite Congregations – Problems http://www.seedbed.com/church-leader-podcast-episode-3-multisite-congregations-problems/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=church-leader-podcast-episode-3-multisite-congregations-problems http://www.seedbed.com/church-leader-podcast-episode-3-multisite-congregations-problems/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:00:54 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com?p=59644&preview_id=59644 Our team of church leaders continues our conversation on multisite ministry. Today, we explore the problems that can occur with multi-sites and strategies to handle them.

Subscribe to the Church Leader Collective Podcast on iTunes!

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/church-leader-podcast-episode-3-multisite-congregations-problems/feed/ 0
The Doxology and the Transcendent God http://www.seedbed.com/the-doxology-and-the-transcendent-god/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-doxology-and-the-transcendent-god http://www.seedbed.com/the-doxology-and-the-transcendent-god/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:00:49 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com/?p=59987 As a child, I spent summer Sundays reluctantly trapped in the pew because “children’s church” wasn’t meeting. Sermons were long in my Presbyterian church, and the pastoral prayers seemed longer, but one element of the service made a deep impression on me: I was haunted by the Doxology. Maybe it was the ancient sound of “Old 100th” on the organ, maybe it was the mesmerizing summons of the “heavenly host” to praise, maybe it was the terrifying reference to the “Holy Ghost,” but something of eternal awe gripped my young imagination.

Many years and several denominations later, at a continuing ed event with forty of my fellow United Methodist clergy, the facilitator asked us to group ourselves around the room as to whether we stressed God’s imminence or transcendence in our ministries. Most migrated to the imminence-side; only three of us emphasized God’s transcendence. Perhaps I can’t help myself, given my Scottish Calvinist ancestry, but I take great comfort in God’s transcendence. It’s not that I don’t believe that God is radically, wildly, intimately imminent; far from it. But what’s the good of a God who comes close if God didn’t start far away? What’s the mystery of the incarnation if God was just hanging out down the street anyway? And what hope does a broken world have if God’s too busy weeping with us or cuddling us to bother fixing it? I don’t need Jesus to be my buddy or my boyfriend so much as my Savior.

And so, to this day, one of my favorite moments of a worship service is the Doxology. In these thirty-odd seconds we join the universe, both the knowable creatures here below and the mysterious heavenly host above, in the fundamental praise of the Source of all being. In this doxology we proclaim God as the sole origin of all good and perfect gifts and worthy of all creation’s praise, creatures both earthly and heavenly. We name the Creator as the Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ. Depending on the week I’ve had, I live for this moment. It’s an opportunity to lift my hands and be immersed in the continuous stream of divine praise being offered by the universe. The rocks are ever crying out, the angels ever singing, the seraphim ever declaring holy superlatives—and we get to listen in for a moment. All else fades away; or, it might, if the ushers weren’t usually trying to give me plates of money or the prayer request slips.

In our church, we sing the Doxology after the offering and as a prelude to the Gospel Reading. I initially placed it here to introduce the custom of standing for the Gospel, but my practical rationale has earned unintended theological dividends. The Doxology calls us—heart, mind, soul, and strength—to stand at attention before our Almighty Creator. Our lips join the universe in praise of the transcendent Glory. But even as we prepare to hear the Holy One speak, the Gospel-word of grace descends into our midst. I bring the Bible down from the pulpit into the congregation, enacting the tabernacling Word. The transcendent One we proclaim in the Doxology is revealed as the imminent One who takes on flesh in the Gospel Reading.

“Doxology” literally means “words of glory.” The Doxology as we know it was written only four hundred years ago by Thomas Ken, an Anglican bishop, as a repeated chorus in his lengthy hymns for morning, noon, and evening prayers ( http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-31/where-did-we-get-doxology.html ). The “Gloria Patri” is a much more ancient text, and appears often in traditional liturgies. These “words of glory” offer breathing space within the worship service for pure adoration of God. Certainly the other elements of the service—songs of praise, prayers of supplication, Scripture readings—are also designed to glorify God, and usually do. But I find myself easily derailed. I pick songs because I like them, or like their tempo; I give undue mental attention to the timing of the service or how smoothly it’s running; I think more about how the congregation is perceiving this or that element, rather than how it magnifies God or what it might mean to God’s heart. Doxologies keep us on track, keep us looking toward heaven, keep us honest about who the worship service is really for.

And I find the Doxology continues to form me during the rest of the week. A moment of pure praise can illuminate the rest of life. In the midst of this broken, sinful world, I find myself ever needing to be reminded of who God is. God is bigger than me, or any element of my understanding; God is larger than my horizons; God’s thoughts are light years beyond my thoughts. In the everlasting barrage of funerals, hospitals, fractured relationships, and poverty, I need to glimpse a God who can make a difference. The world is a mess; I need a God who’s big enough to heal it. A God lauded by hosts of heaven and creatures here below is a God worth praising with my faltering lips, as well.

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/the-doxology-and-the-transcendent-god/feed/ 0
Select Sermons – “When the Rubber Meets the Road” http://www.seedbed.com/rubber-meets-road/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rubber-meets-road http://www.seedbed.com/rubber-meets-road/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com?p=60142&preview_id=60142 Jim Kinder, Pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, offers a great sermon on treating all people as valuable–a good word in these divided times.

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/rubber-meets-road/feed/ 0
The Difference Between Thinking I Understand and Actually Understanding http://www.seedbed.com/the-difference-between-thinking-i-understand-and-actually-understanding/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-difference-between-thinking-i-understand-and-actually-understanding http://www.seedbed.com/the-difference-between-thinking-i-understand-and-actually-understanding/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:00:41 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com?p=60039&preview_id=60039

July 28, 2016

Matthew 13:47-52

47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

CONSIDER THIS

“From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”

These familiar words come from the Apostles Creed. Anyone who has affirmed the Apostles Creed for any length of time knows how easy it is for these twelve cataclysmic words to roll right off our tongue with the ease with which we might ask for another donut.

On the final judgment and the consummation of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth the Bible speaks clearly, consistently and unapologetically. If, indeed, the final state of affairs will come to such a day as this, would it not be the most merciful act in the world to share it with us in advance? This “not yet” dimension of the Kingdom is meant to incite and encourage us to align ourselves completely with the “already” dimension of the Kingdom. E. Stanley Jones, one of the greatest missionaries of the twentieth century put it this way:

“Two sets of passages teach the method of the coming of the Kingdom:  One set teaches the coming as gradualism:  “First the corn, then the blade, then the full corn in the ear,” “The Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which grows into a great tree”; “The Kingdom of God is like leaven which leavens the whole lump.” These and other passages teach that the Kingdom will come gradually. Then there is another set of passages which teaches that the Kingdom will come suddenly, by apocalypticism, at the return of Christ to set up his Kingdom: “The Kingdom of God is like a nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom and return”– this obviously depicts Jesus going to the Father to receive the Kingdom and to return to set it up.

Some pick out one set of passages and some the other. But to do so disrupts the account, for both are obviously there. And we need both. Gradualism gives me my task. I can be the agent of the coming of that Kingdom now. It can come through and as me. Apocalypticism, the sudden coming, gives me my hope. The last word will be spoken by God, and that last word will be victory.”

Talk #3, Jesus’ discourse on the parables of the Kingdom, began with the “already;” the soil and seeds. It ends with a vision of the “not yet;” fish and nets and the end of the age. We know what is to come and we know what is immediately before us. Jesus doesn’t stop there. He finishes with the most important question of all. It’s the one we will end with today.

“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

How do we answer this question? My answer: I think I’m beginning to understand but I still have a lot more questions.

And you?

There’s a big difference between thinking I understand and actually understanding. That’s why seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness is what matters most now.

Daily Text MATTHEW 07-28-16

THE QUESTIONS

1. So how about it– have you understood all these things?

2. What do you better understand about Jesus and his Kingdom than you did before? Take time to articulate this.

3. Where might the gaps be in your understanding? What are your questions?

—————-

Subscribe to receive the Daily Text email.

Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.

J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/the-difference-between-thinking-i-understand-and-actually-understanding/feed/ 0
The Deep Magic: A Free Movie Lesson on the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. http://www.seedbed.com/the-deep-magic-a-free-movie-lesson-on-the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-deep-magic-a-free-movie-lesson-on-the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe http://www.seedbed.com/the-deep-magic-a-free-movie-lesson-on-the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe/#respond Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:30:00 +0000 http://www.seedbed.com?p=60089&preview_id=60089 Sacrifice is confusing, and can seem to turn the world upside down.  In a world where self-centeredness and greed reign supreme, willing sacrifice breaks that evil order.  Or, in the words of Aslan, “when a willing victim who has committed no treachery, is killed in a traitor’s stead, the stone table will crack, and even death itself would turn backwards.”

Session 4 Synopsis

The White Witch learns that Aslan has assembled an army and is preparing for war. Edmund again reveals information to the Witch that endangers his family and Narnia. The Pevensies meet Aslan, the great lion. Aslan tells Peter he is destined to be High King and of the Deep Magic. Edmund escapes the White Witch and come to Aslan. Aslan accepts him and tells the other to as well. The White Witch comes claiming her right to take Edmund’s life for his offenses. Aslan makes a deal with the witch to take Edmund’s place to die on the Stone Table. Aslan is bound, shaved, and killed by the White Witch while Lucy and Susan watch from a distance.

WATCH THE MOVIE   Start – 1:46:10   End – Conclusion of Movie

OPENING ACTIVITY

Play a game where you change the rules occasionally during the game to create frustration and confusion.

Some game suggestions: Bring from home or select from supplies we will have on hand Sunday morning.

UNO – Play normal rules. Once play has begun introduce new rules one at a time such as “draw cards are doubled” or “you can play red on any other color if you are a guy” or “if a guy draws a Wild Draw 4 card, he must pass it to the person on his right.” Introduce new rules whenever you want and remove them as you want.

BLACKJACK – The object is to beat the dealer and get closest to 21 without going over. The dealer MUST draw if the total is 16 or under with the original two cards. Dealer stands on 17 or higher. Face cards are worth 10 and Aces are worth either 1 or 11. Introduce a new rule occasionally such as “one-eyed face cards are now worth 12” or “the dealer can decide whether to draw or stand” or “any player other than the dealer who gets a diamond is an automatic bust and loses the round.”

OR – Play a favorite game of yours and make up your own rules!

DISCUSSION

  1. What did you think of the way the rules changed during the game?
  2. Is it fair to change the rules in the middle of play? Why/Why Not?

In the movie portion we saw today, Aslan changes the rules. Without any charges against him—Aslan takes on the death penalty reserved for Edmund – a lawbreaker.

Read Romans 5:6-8

  1. How did Jesus do the same?

Leader’s Note: God is greater than the law. While we deserve condemnation for breaking the law, he loves us so much that, while we were still sinning against him, he took the punishment upon himself and saves us according to his grace.

Aslan secures Edmund’s redemption by making a pact with the White Witch. He will pay the price for Edmund’s unlawful behavior (which is deserving of death) by sacrificing his own life. In doing so, he fulfills the law. But he proves that the law of death is not the last word, and that death is subject to his will. He conquers death and rises again, demonstrating that the witch’s greatest weapon cannot stop him from bringing blessing and honor to his children.

Read Matthew 28:1–10 and John 20:11–18

  1. How does this compare with how Lucy and Susan mourn the death of Aslan?
  2. What does Aslan’s return from death prove, and what does that mean for his children?
  3. How did Aslan’s demonstration of love for Edmund change the boy’s perspective and how he lives?
  4. How does knowing God loves you and extends you grace and mercy influence the way you live your life?

Aslan does not seem to show any mercy whatsoever to the White Witch at the end of the film. (In fact, it appears he kills her)

  1. What does this say about God’s character and God’s relationship with evil?

The children are given titles at the end of the film.

  • Queen Lucy the Valiant
  • Queen Susan the Gentle
  • King Edmund the Just
  • King Peter the Magnificent
  1. How are these titles appropriate to the characters?
  2. If you were to be crowned King or Queen, what would you want your title to be?

At the end of the film it is said that Aslan is not a tame lion, but he is good.

  1. Would you say this is accurate?
  2. How can we apply this same description to God? Can we? Should we?

WRAP-UP DISCUSSION

  1. Why do you think we’re all so drawn to stories of good versus evil?
  2. Which of the four Pevensie children do you most relate to? Why?
  3. Which of their four journeys most resembles your own?
    1. Peter’s journey from fear to courage and leadership
    2. Edmund’s journey from bitterness, arrogance, and dishonesty toward humility, confession, and servitude
    3. Susan’s journey from reason and logic toward steps of faith and believing in things unseen
    4. Lucy’s journey of simple, childlike faith into a deeper, richer understanding and faith?
  1. What does the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe impress upon you most powerfully?
  2. Does it help you understand anything better than you did before?
]]>
http://www.seedbed.com/the-deep-magic-a-free-movie-lesson-on-the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe/feed/ 0