July 27, 2008

Around the Word in 80 Days

Posted in better disciples at 3:31 PM by alexlozada

Mountain Christian’s summer message series is Around the Word in 80 Days, a wink at the various Hollywood spectaculars Around the World in 80 Days, itself from Jules Verne’s pre-sci-fi classic. My teammate Ethan spoke today on the Gospels – focusing on what those four books answer about the crucial questions “who is Jesus” and “what did he do”?

While MCC groups use a variety of methods during the discussion-learning-study time,  here’s a practical article, Using Parables, teaching like Jesus by telling stories.


July 23, 2008

The Pursuit of Happyness… and help for the homeless

Posted in better disciples, culture at 11:50 PM by alexlozada

The other night, Heather & I watched The Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith’s movie-based-on-the-true-story of Chris Gardner. I’m glad she “made” me watch it – I joke w/ her that I only want to watch happy movies because I already deal w/ not-so-happy stories in my ministry. As my insides churned at the struggles of the homeless dad & young son, I thought about the one place they were able to rest for even a single night at a time, Glide Memorial Church.

After the movie, I talked a little w/ Ely & Abby about their memories of daddy taking visiting youth groups to serve at Bowery Mission and New York City Rescue Mission when we lived in New York, and daddy spending the night away from home to volunteer at Welcome One Emergency Shelter here in Harford County.

For more than a century in more cities and countries than any other organization, the Salvation Army has been sheltering folks with no place to go.  Wednesday evening, July 30, my teammate Rob Arsenault has bought a block of tickets supporting the local Salvation Army’s “Christmas in July” fundraiser at the Aberdeen Ironbirds game. If you want to enjoy an evening of minor league baseball knowing your money is being donated to a great cause OR you want to be a kettle volunteer on a warm summer evening instead of a wind-chilled, wintry December day , contact Rob.

July 20, 2008

Valley of the Shadow of Death

Posted in better disciples, culture, more disciples at 10:56 PM by alexlozada

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

Though they were prominent journalists from contrasting political backgrounds, Tony Snow and Tim Russert were both men who strove to be better disciples in the glaring spotlight of the public square.

Tony Snow’s Christianity Today article on “Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings” is especially meaningful as MCC folks hear daily of new prayer requests for those fighting cancer, and our church prepares for a fall alignment entitled “One Month to Live.”

Howard Finemans’s reflection on colleague Tim Russert’s faith captures how being a better disciple can lead to making more disciples (long transcript, search for word “Jewish”)

I’m not Catholic, I’m Jewish, but I’ll tell you, if I ever thought about being Catholic, Tim would be the best advertisement for that faith that there is…. He would have been a great fisherman for his faith. He used the analogy on purpose. Obviously, his faith animated him in a way that people outside the city didn’t necessarily understand. We talked about Buffalo. We talked about his family. We talked about his love of journalism. But in whatever way he expressed it, he was a very deeply devout Catholic…. But I think the faith that he must have learned up in Buffalo from his parents that he grew up in, in that Catholic community in Buffalo, meant everything to him and helped guide and focus him and keep him grounded in this city, where way too many people pursue false gods. And Tim was the kind of guy who never pursued false gods. He pursued the real one.

July 19, 2008

Short Term Missions: prayer for DR team, Thailand

Posted in cross cultural mission at 6:15 AM by alexlozada

Heather & Olivia & Abby & I shared in the prayer time yesterday for MCC’s Student Ministries Short Term Mission trip to the Dominican Republic.  Watching them re-energized me to tackle some more organizing for MCC’s Thailand Short Term Mission trip this fall. Here’s a post about a different SE Asia mission trip that makes some memorable points that apply to this fall’s adventure.

July 18, 2008

I have enough!

Posted in better disciples, the Northeast at 11:30 PM by alexlozada

Liz Ross invited me to speak Thursday night at Indian Lake Christian Service Camp for Junior II week. Even from just a few hours there that night, I could see how much she & her staff are loving those kids, and how much fun everyone is having – the best bunk / skunk bunk videos are YouTube worthy 🙂

Their theme is Mythbusters: Jesus busts myths that you cannot get to God. Liz gave me the theme “Jesus busts the myth that you need to get more stuff” (Matthew 6:18-24). I followed the guidelines Rod Ross (Liz’s hubby and partner in kid-focused large group creativity!) gave for re-telling the Bible story and focusing on 4th-6th grade suitable application. The catch phrase for the kids was “I have enough” and we can show we have enough by saying thank you for our stuff, by not whining for more stuff, and by sharing our stuff.

To prep me to speak, Rod included Helpful suggestions for preparing a message for kids. Even when communicating to adults (small group leader, etc.) the points on “Be Passionate – Be genuinely excited and passionate about what you say, have a sense of urgency about all your words. If you do not feel passionate about the message, then find something new to say.” AND “Stories, Stories, Stories – The simplest attention spiker in the world are these 6 words “let me tell you a story.” Tell personal stories that relate to the topic.

July 16, 2008

All one in Christ Jesus

Posted in better disciples, culture, more disciples, NACC at 4:05 PM by alexlozada

“for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:27-28

Some Mountain Christian Church folks attended Dudley Rutherford’s NACC presentation on diversity in the congregation he serves, Shepherd of the Hills Church. This energized the already-present desire among MCC’s leadership to reach more disciples by becoming better disciples by genuinely welcoming those from different cultural, racial, socio-economic backgrounds.

In the Spirit’s providence, the very next week, MCC’s Student Ministry, led by Matt Silver and Jenna Howell and some great volunteers (including my wife Heather), guided our 8th & 9th graders through a Short Term Mission trip. In partnership w/ Youthworks, many of the students (including my daughter Olivia), came to a deeper understanding of the race-based sins of the past, and the need to become better disciples in reaching & connecting w/ others across all barriers, the way Jesus did. Heather & Olivia told me about learning the story of civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth, seeing the tragically historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and meeting and hearing the “Yay God” life testimony of Stephen Manyama and Family
Life Center.

As Olivia & I talked about the trip, I asked, “now that all this happened, what would you like to do?” – a tough question to turn around on myself…

July 10, 2008

NACC: better disciples and Bible tools

Posted in better disciples, NACC, servant-leader at 11:10 PM by alexlozada

More NACC take-aways from disciples a step or ten ahead of me in walking w/ the Word:

Chatted w/ Jon Weatherly (friend and NT professor @ Cincinnati Christian University) about his blog – check this recent post about free resources available from Institute for Christian Research, one of which is his lectures on Introduction to the Gospels.

As an example of the “making connections” that happens at gatherings like the NACC, MCC teammate and co-blogger Ethan Magness mentioned ICR director & Ozark Christian College NT professor Mark Moore’s How to Read and Study the Bible (soon to be available to MCC small group leaders via our Adult Small Groups resource library).

I also had the privilege of sitting next to Bruce Shields at the European Evangelistic Society Walker Lectures breakfast (thanks to my host MCC lead pastor Ben Cachiaras).  Bruce’s influence led Ben to prompt me to explore storying as teaching method for MCC small groups.

These connections were just a fraction of the many at the NACC – no wonder it’s titled The Connecting Place.

July 9, 2008

Dangerously Transforming the World

Posted in cross cultural mission, NACC at 12:55 PM by alexlozada

At last week’s North American Chr Conv, Wed PM speaker Ajai Lall (preached @ MCC in the past ) spoke passionately about the our “Dangerous Call”, especially highlighting our brothers & sisters around the world suffering persecution. And then last Sunday in our Cook Auditorium venue, Rob Kastens (who will be making a Short Term Mission trip to work alongside Central India Chr Mission later this year) prayed for those around the world who don’t have the same freedom to worship that we Americans have prized since July 4, 1776.

This spring Mountain committed to Transform the World – and we’re doing it w/ prayers, dollars, and people: Short Term Missions for adults and students (Dominican Republic July 18-26) AND Mountain folks going long-term like Sandy & Valerie Lamm. MCC’s partnership in the Dominican Republic takes another step forward because they answered the Spirit’s “dangerous call.”

July 8, 2008

NACC take-away: tech tips + blog

Posted in NACC, tech at 2:58 PM by alexlozada

A friend jokingly posted on my Facebook Wall “teach me oh lord (small “l”) of the internet” – suffice to say I am not nearly that net-savvy. One of the many blessings of the North American Chr Conv is interacting w/ those who are a step or two ahead of me in different walks, including using tech for ministry.  I’ve added Chris Blair’s blog to my blog-roll, check his site for material from his two workshops – you probably know someone (net-newbie-parent of net-savvy-adolescent?) who could benefit from Virus, SPAM and Porn Oh My!

July 7, 2008

Short Term Mission: Love NYC Day – Aug 2

Posted in better disciples, cross cultural mission, men, more disciples, NYC at 11:05 AM by alexlozada

poster for Love NYC Day Aug 2008

poster for Love NYC Day Aug 2008

Check out details about the short term (1 day!) mission trip to the Big Apple in this matt-berry-info-email. If you’re interested, post a comment here on the blog, or email me.

Because we’ll be serving-reaching NYC folks by “small acts of kindness [that] can nudge [people] closer to God, often in a profound way as it bypasses [their] usual defenses” – wear comfortable shoes and clothing to deal w/ the sweltering sidewalks of Manhattan in August 🙂 With that in mind, this trip is better suited for mature students and adults.

If you ride in my minivan – transport is free 🙂 If the Spirit blesses us w/ more volunteers, we’ll carpool. As short term missionaries, I’m asking you to give $50 to cover Forefront Church‘s costs for the day (materials, give-aways, etc.) , but if money is a problem – let me know so we can explore options. My tentative plan is to depart MCC 7a and return by 11p.

If you are already planning on attending “Party Like A Man” – MCC’s men’s ministry celebration wrapping up the monthly Sat AM breakfast study of Tony Dungy’s Quiet Strength – by all means follow through with that!

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