April 30, 2008

Prayer: Court Houses and street corners

Posted in better disciples, more disciples at 3:28 PM by alexlozada

Once a year Christians gather for the National Day of Prayer, often in high profile public locations. I’ll be attending 2 local NDoP gatherings (search here for Bel Air & Edgewood) on behalf of my church, and prayer from the heart is always worthwhile. Praying for the surrounding community becomes even more powerful when we do it the other 364 days of the year, in “undesirable” places.

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April 29, 2008

Praying May 1-10 for Global Day of Prayer

Posted in better disciples at 2:24 PM by alexlozada

I’ll be adding more resources soon, but here are 3 good resources from the Global Day of Prayer resources page for structured prayer time if you’ve signed up to pray May 1-10.

If you are unsure how you could fill an hour (or half hour) w/ prayer, try either of these (or pick your favorites from each) Jericho Walls Intl Prayer Network and Hour that Changes the World.

To save space I cut the picture from this gdop08inside-nopics but the full version is available here.

April 28, 2008

serving “outside the bubble”

Posted in better disciples, culture, more disciples at 3:41 PM by alexlozada

Dan Kimball gave a challenging call to American Christians to get outside the bubble of Christian sub-culture, and interact w/ the people around us who desperately need Jesus but who aren’t listening because of stereotypes about the American church.

My back (and other muscles) ache from weeding, mulching, etc. @ William Paca / Old Post Rd Elementary School for Servefest 08, but for a few hours last Saturday, I was outside my bubble, working alongside teachers and custodians from the school, as well as folks from MCC.

If your MCC small group wants to maintain the serving-bubble-bursting momentum from Serve Fest, check the upcoming Second Saturday Community Service Day.

April 21, 2008

staying sharp: Seminar in Christian Leadership

Posted in better disciples, servant-leader at 1:28 PM by alexlozada

On May 15-17, John Wasem, from Emmanuel School of Religion (alma mater of several on the MCC staff), will lead a Seminar in Christian leadership.  That’s a particularly chaotic time in my schedule already, but I’m looking forward to learning from Dr. Wasem again – he taught the Church Planting seminar @ MCC back in January.  The class is designed for any staff or key volunteers who lead other leaders, but like the January seminar, it will be a good opportunity for me to nudge me back towards “scholarly” frame of mind.

Quite a few of my teammates are pursuing seminary or Bible college degrees, some trying to balance vocational ministry, family, and education, but one has just chosen to go “back to school” full-time.  When a friend blogged about part-time PhD programs in his discipline, it got me thinking about how hard it was for me to try to finish just one distance learning class while juggling everything else.  So until I can finish that all-but-thesis Master’s from long ago, I need to re-sharpen whenever I can.

April 17, 2008

Willow Creek and REVEAL

Posted in better disciples, more disciples, servant-leader at 10:17 PM by alexlozada

In October 2007 my teammate Ethan Magness and I attended a regional REVEAL seminar led by Willow Creek Community Church Executive Pastor Greg Hawkins. Because Willow’s approach to the interaction between church and culture influences Mountain, I’m interested in their possible substantive focus / method shift (or re-evaluatation).

Leadership Journal’s Out of Ur’s blog compiles helpful background on Willow’s REVEAL study with the latest update from Greg Hawkins @ the SHIFT conference.

While I’m thankful for Willow’s willingness to engage not-yet-believers w/ the gospel and the vast array of worthwhile resources that have come directly or indirectly from them (for example Lee Strobel’s works explaining and defending the historicity of Christianity) – I tend to take any “latest authority” w/ a grain (or more) of salt 🙂

On the details of the blog post, Mountain’s services have probably already had more “deep worship music… prayer, Scripture readings, and more challenging teaching from the Bible” than congregations that follow Willow’s template for “seeker-oriented” services. The article’s attention-getter for me is emphasis on “theological and bible classes full of ‘hard-hitting stuff'” I need to work on giving small group leaders more tools (pre-written studies AND Bible understanding) to lead their groups into “hard-hitting stuff.”

April 16, 2008

Days of Prayer

Posted in better disciples at 10:20 PM by alexlozada

I don’t pray enough: I don’t spend as much time praying as I should, I don’t pray w/ a submissive heart open to the Spirit’s transformation, I don’t follow up when I say I will pray for someone….

I don’t pray enough.

The National Day of Prayer Thursday, May 1 (I’m most moved by this part) and the Global Day of Prayer Sunday, May (local celebration at Grace Assembly of God on Rte 22 in Churchville) are opportunities for individuals and small groups to focus on prayer.  Even if you don’t feel called to use the suggested prayer themes, you can set aside part of either of those days to pray more and pray better.

April 14, 2008

Christ-like care, one special need at a time

Posted in better disciples, culture at 1:00 PM by alexlozada

My Mountain Christian teammate Ethan Magness posted about Amy Julia Becker’s rebuttal to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ethics recommendation on Evidence-Based Standard of Care.

Jesus reminds us to do good for those who can’t repay, for example Mountain’s Special Needs Ministry.

April 13, 2008

Jesus (and your small group) make house calls

Posted in better disciples at 9:39 PM by alexlozada

During Mountain Christian’s Grace Anatomy message series, Ben Cachiaras and Rob Kastens have used stories of Jesus’ miracle healings in the Gospel of Luke to teach about God’s grace.  Today Ben continued using medically oriented illustrations with the phrase “Jesus (still) makes house calls” to describe his resurrection of the widow’s son at the city gate of Nain.  Unlike the miracle Luke records immediately before it (Roman centurion seeking out Jesus on behalf of his servant), Jesus initiates this life-changing encounter.

Friends that are helping you become a better disciple (whether they are in a “formal” small group or 1-1 or w/ people w/ whom you serve in a ministry or …) make house calls in a similar way.  Whether it’s something as practical and meaningful as bring over meals and helping w/ childcare in crisis times, or encouraging you to follow through on spiritual growth – friends take the initiative to come to you.

April 12, 2008

Creation care and community reaching

Posted in better disciples, more disciples at 4:15 PM by alexlozada

Though my muscles ache a little from bending over to pick up dozens of cigarette butts, styrofoam containers, plastic bottles, and I needed to check for ticks from thrashing through the underbrush – I’m glad I participated in my local elementary school’s Adopt-A-Road clean-up day.  I have to make an intentional effort to reach outside my circle of Mountain relationships so I need events like this.  I re-connected w/ the leader from last year’s clean-up, and I paired w/ someone who is the parent of a classmate of Abby and a former MCC attender.

Trash clean-up is also a small but concrete way to practice “creation care.”   Rusty Pritchard makes a thought-and-action-provoking challenge (link to summary, article is PDF) about conscientious rather than fear-mongering engagement on the responsibility of disciples to be better stewards of the Creator’s creation.

Some of Mountain’s ServeFest activities and Edgewood initiatives provide small groups w/ more opportunities to combine creation are and community reaching.

April 11, 2008

ServeFest 08 and spiritual anatomy

Posted in better disciples, more disciples at 10:30 PM by alexlozada

By now, Mountain members (and especially adult small groups serving together) have heard the call to volunteer for ServeFest 08, Saturday April 26.  This quote from Rick Warren captures some of the motive behind Mountain spending large chunks of time and money on serving our local community:

The New Testament says the church is the body of Christ, but for the last 100 years, the hands and feet have been amputated, and the church has just been a mouth. And mostly, it’s been known for what it’s against. … I’m so tired of Christians being known for what they’re against.

In keeping w/ the medical analogies from Mountain’s recent Sunday message series “Grace Anatomy” – serving others (both those w/in the church and those outside in the community) re-attaches those amputated hands and feet.

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