Sunday, March 20, 2011

What Does it Mean to be Like a Berean?

What does it mean to be like or follow the example of the Bereans? When I was growing up in the independent baptist church I was taught about the Bereans in the context of everyone but the baptist's being wrong in their doctrine and the importance of always testing every teaching that is outside of the baptist church against what I had been taught in the baptist school and church that I was attending. But now that I am older and striving to follow the example of the Bereans, I have come to a different understanding of Acts 17:10-11.

In this passage we read: "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."

While it IS true that they tested what they were taught, it wasn't their doctrinal statement that they were using for the testing, but the Scriptures, and we also find that passage says they "were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica". If we look back at those in Thessalonica, we will find that they weren't as open minded and didn't receive the word, but instead got jealous and plotted against those who were bringing the word.

What the Lord has taught me as I am learning to be more like the Bereans is that I need to be more open minded to the teachings of others and willing to admit that much of what I was taught for the first 20+ years of my life was not really based on the Scriptures but based on legalistic doctrine of men, which I now consider to be false teachings. I have learned to listen with an open mind, realizing that I have butchered the Scriptures from behind the pulpit when teaching what I have been taught without first testing those teachings against the Scriptures.

This is from the Berean Bible Society Website:

So, when we say that someone is a "Berean" we mean that they do two things: (1) They have an open mind and willingly receive the Word of God when it is taught to them and (2) But then, they check out what they were taught by comparing it with the Scriptures.

Both aspects are important. Some people are so closed minded that they will not even listen to anything new or that might threaten what they already know. Others are so gullible that they accept whatever is told them without ever checking it against what the Bible says. Both extremes are to be avoided.

A Berean is one who has a balanced viewpoint. We listen to what someone has to say because we are eager to learn the word of God more perfectly. We realize that we have not learned it all. But then, we take what we have heard and compare it with the Bible. Then, if both match, we have learned something and increased our knowledge of God's Word, rightly divided.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Gathering Exists for the Going

By Dave Black

Another good reminder this morning from Eric Carpenter that we gather for mutual edification, not for worship (worship is 24/7). But why mutual edification? I put it this way to my students: The gathering exists for the going. The commission of our Lord which comes upon every believer must be given highest priority (Matt. 28:19-20). This means that, as important as mutual edification is, we must put top value upon God's agenda for the church. There's nothing wrong in coming together to be mutually strengthened ... unless it keeps us from reaching our town and our world for Christ.

We err when we place too much emphasize on the gathering. "Don't greet anyone on the way" was how Jesus put it to His disciples. The Lord had a clearly defined mission for His followers. He had told them what to do and where to go. Now He's telling them not to get involved in anything that might detract from that mission. And -- please listen to me carefully -- even good things can do that. It's called the principle of priority.

The mission of the church is to point others to Christ. The calling of every Christian is to build redemptive relationships. So, having been edified during the meeting, do we feel ready to flow into a web of relationships and network them for Christ? If not, there is something wrong with the gathering!

Evangelism is the missing link in so much discussion about ecclesiology today. God's redemptive plan is at the top of His priority list, and each of us is privileged to have a part. How do we get to that place? First, make a definite commitment to be a Great Commission Christian. Second, have faith that God will use the witness of your serving lifestyle to win the lost. Finally, don't give up! Bathe the lost in prayer. Ask God for boldness and open doors. Develop a gift-driven life. Target receptive individuals.

Friends, think about it. Our involvement with church activities does not always lend itself to becoming redemptive people. In fact, it is even possible that our "mutual edification service" is actually an escape mechanism to avoid real involvement in the world as salt and light. Here's the principle: God sows saints (edification) in order to cultivate, sow, and reap (evangelism). You are the message. No one will receive Christ through you who does not first receive you. Our attitude, our whole demeanor, will be different if deep in our hearts we expect God to use us in His great harvest!

The gathering exists for the going. Got the point?

There are millions of lost sheep out there. We're sent to find them. This involves risk. It involves leaving our little happy holy mutually-edifying huddles and getting our hands dirty in the world.

Known for his love for New Testament Greek and passion for teaching, Dave Black is a husband, father, professor, author, preacher, lecturer, web journalist, and (above all) a sinner saved by God’s sovereign grace. You can find out more about Dave and read more of his articles and blog post on his website:

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Using Google Docs to Manage your Finances

Many people set a New Year's Resolution to get their family's finances in order. I know that is one of my resolutions again this year. Since getting my Cr-48 Google Chrome notebook I have been using Google Docs more and more. I decided to search the Google Docs Template Gallery to see if there were any templates to help me with this resolution. I found they have lot's of templates available for many different uses. Here are three in particular that I found that Alison and I will be using this year to help us keep our finances under control this year.
  • The Simple Budget Planner is a simple, automatic budget planner. Starting from your monthly income, this budget planner recommends spending amounts for common categories. All numbers are adjustable to fit your needs.
  • The FPU Gazelle Debt Snowball is a worksheet based on Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU).
  • The Family Budget Planner is a yearly budget spreadsheet for family budget planning. Includes a detailed list of income and expense categories.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Cr-48 Chrome Notebook - Days 2, 3 & 4

My intention was to post an update every day, but Sunday and Monday have already past and Tuesday is just about gone. So far I am loving my Cr-48! On Sunday I only had to use my Windows laptop once. I started off the day with using the Chrome OS notebook as my primary computer, I was even able to find a site that had a decent Flash stream of the Redskins @ Cowboys game and watched most of the game on the Cr-48. When their stream died in the fourth quarter I did a search for another stream, but could only find one that required the V-Stream Windows plugin, that is when I had to boot up the Windows laptop. Other than that, I was able to do everything else I needed my computer for in the cloud with the Chrome OS notebook.

On Monday it was primarily used for basic Internet stuff like GMail, facebook, twitter,, and checking out the news stories about the lunar eclipse. I also did some Cr-48 and ChromeOS research online to find some neat things to do with the browser/OS like all of the "About pages" you can find by typing "about:about" in address bar on Chrome and for the Google Chrome Cr-48 power users, here's a tip: Press Ctrl-Alt-? to display the keyboard shortcuts.

If you were following me on twitter late Monday night, you would have seen that I was passing time waiting for the eclipse by doing what I could to make the Cr-48 battery get down to 0%. When it did, the screen went blank, flashed to a "crosh" screen, then shutdown. When I plugged it back in I saw that the Chrome crash recovery restored all of my tabs I had opened and saw that it showed that it would be 2:20 till a full charge again on the battery.

I also got a Google Chrome sticker sent to me from Google via UPS. I went ahead and applied to the top of the notebook. It looks pretty cool!

On Tuesday I took my Cr-48 to a meeting to use Google Docs to take notes during the meeting. Since there IS a basic file manager I was able to download the doc as a Word document and email it as an attachment.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Cr-48 Chrome Notebook - Day One

I've just about finished my first full day using my Cr-48 Chrome Notebook from Google as my primary computer. I have been able to use it for everything I would have done on my regular computer except for two things. I had to use my other computer twice today.

The first thing I couldn't do with the Cr-48 and had to break out my Windows laptop for was to use GoToMeeting this morning for my M-DAT Conference Call. It doesn't look like they have a linux plugin for GoToMeeting yet. I was able to do a test with DimDim and it works just fine.

The second thing I couldn't do with the Cr-48 and had to use my Ubuntu Desktop for was downloading the pictures off the camera. Actually, I downloaded them straight to my Iomega external NAS, but had to use the Ubuntu system to transfer them over the home network and upload them to my Picasa account.

I have read others who were complaining about Flash not running good on the Cr-48, but I have done several tests on YouTube, and other sites and have not had any issues with Flash yet. So minus the two issue I mentioned in this post, everything else I have needed a computer for has be accomplished on the Cr-48, living in the cloud!

My Cr-48 Chrome Notebook - The Arival

You may have heard the announcement from Google on December 7th that Chrome users in the US could apply to test drive a Chrome notebook as part of their "pilot program". Here is what they posted on their site about this new Chrome notebook:

The Cr-48 is the test notebook we designed for the Pilot program. It's the first of its kind.

It's ready when you are, booting in about 10 seconds and resuming from sleep instantly. There’s built-in Wi-Fi and 3G, so you can stay connected everywhere, and a webcam for video chat. The vibrant 12-inch LCD display, full-size keyboard and oversized touchpad let you enjoy the web comfortably. And at just 3.8 pounds with over eight hours of active usage and a week of standby time, it’s easy to take along for the ride

I heard about this announcement during the day on December 7th, and filled out the application to be a part of the "pilot program" later that evening. I didn't know if I would be selected, but like all the others who applied I "patiently" waited and did more research about ChromeOS and the new Chrome notebook (Cr-48) that Google was shipping out to those who were lucky enough to be selected. After 10 days of waiting, I got a call from my wife before I went on my lunch break on Friday, December 17th to let me know that the UPS truck dropped a package off at the house for me. I have found many others, like Engadget who have posted "unboxing" videos, photos and reviews, so I thought I would post my own this weekend as I see if I my new Cr-48 Chrome Notebook can be my primary personal computer.

Here are some photos I took on my lunch break on December 17th of my new notebook:

Friday, July 09, 2010

Relationship Triangle

Here is a diagram that I drew on a napkin for someone once to help explain how every relationship we have here on earth has to be a "relationship triangle" or it won't work. This applies to every relationship; husband & wife, boyfriend & girlfriend, parent & child, brother & sister, etc. No matter how hard you try to get close to each other, you will never get closer than the opposite sides of the wall that divides you. The only way to get truly close to each other is if each person in the relationship is focusing on their personal relationship with God. As you both grow closer to God, you will both grow closer to each other.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My notes from the LIVE SENT/reSYMBOL Workshop

I had a great day at the LIVE SENT/reSYMBOL Workshop with Jason C Dukes and Doug Dees! I really enjoyed hearing them share from not only their books, but from their hearts. I also made some great "Kingdom Connections"! Here are some of my notes from the day:

Live Sent - Jason Dukes (you can order a copy of his book here)

"Live Sent" is a metaphor for making disciples.

Jesus said "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)

"Church leaders, it's not what you teach, it's what you emphasize."

We need to do more than just say the church is not just a building. We need to emphasize that and live as though the church is PEOPLE and that Jesus intended the church to LIVE SENT.

Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This "letter" is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Questions to determine if you are a self-church or a sent-church
  • Do people ask, should I quit my job to surrender to ministry?
  • When people in your church family think of "church" what three words come to mind?
  • Are people in your church family generally retreating from or engaging with the culture around them?
  • When you talk about missions do people think about a distant city, everyday life or both?
  • When discipling is said, do people think of a classroom or daily life?
  • How many people in your church family have friends who are lost, whom they introduce as friends.
Maybe we should invite people to "be the church" instead of inviting them to "come to church".

"Sometimes we are too busy trying to make the bride attractive when we are supposed to be bringing people to the groom, not the bride."

Jesus said we are known by our love through our togetherness, but our togetherness can't be the purpose of the church.

Ekklesia - people who unite around a common purpose.

We should come together around the purpose of "sentness" not the purpose of "togetherness"

What is "make disciples"?
  • lecturing vs. life coaching
  • linear program vs. ongoing process
  • get you ready vs. listen as you go
  • preachers vs. conversationalist

We are reaping what we have sown. So what we are sowing must change.
  • Don't say "church" in connection to certain prepositions like to, in and and from.
  • Don't say "We won't have church tonight because of ___________."
  • Don't spend the largest percentage of your week focused on Sunday morning prep, or 1/168th of your week.
  • Don't create more "church" stuff to take up everyone's time trying to "do church" keeping them from being able to "be the church".
  • Don't emphasize becoming a pastor or missionary as the highest calling.
  • Don't believe that local and global missions will happen if and only if the pastoral team creates and manages it.
  • Don't ever say "They are doing well now that they are back in church."
  • Don't get upset when someone in your church family doesn't show up to your "Sunday morning" gathering because they are out in the community "living sent".

Four Ways to Help "Live Sent"
  1. Pray for wisdom on how to love those I live by and work with.
  2. Connect with them over real life
  3. Serve together locally and globally
  4. Learn and live the ways of Jesus together.
We should be cultivating loving community on our street.

Our Sunday gatherings should be to celebrate the body "living sent" during the previous week and preparing to "live sent" in the upcoming week.

reSymbol - Doug Dees (you can order a copy of his book here)

Note: this session was very interactive so I didn't take as many notes.

Our churches are full of good people doing what they have been taught for many years.

Quit Comparing His Church Parts
Quit Frankensteining His People
Quit Squeezing His Bride

Discipleship: A disciple needs to be increasing in seeking the face of God, exhibiting the characteristics of Christ and following the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Honest Question about "House Church"

One of my friends recently asked me the following question on twitter:

How does a house church not grow into a "Sunday morning church" so to speak?

I think this is a great question that everyone learning to live our Christian lives outside of the walls of the legacy churches should be asking ourselves on a regular basis. This question applies to us whether we call our expression of the Body of Christ a "house church, a "simple church", a "organic church", a "missional community" or even if we choose to avoid any type of label for the way(s) in which we gather with other believers for the purpose of mutual edification and spiritual growth.

Here is how I responded via twitter in four tweets of 140 characters or less:

Many legacy churches started as house churches, they just never called them that & they started w/ the goal of being BIG churches

I like what @felicitydale said on her blog: House churches should be neither independent, nor permanent or they will not multiply

She went on to say: Each house church is a debriefing center and a sending center that sends people out.

So I guess to answer your question, the best way is to be outward focused and "missional", learning to "live sent" together daily

I thought this question deserved more than a few tweets for a good response, so I thought I would post it here on my blog so I could invite others to join in on the discussion here in the comments. I myself have learned that for those of us who have spent most of our lives in the legacy church it would be very easy to let our "house churches" grow into something more traditional or to find another legacy church full of great brothers and sisters that we can become a member of and worship together within the walls of that legacy church.

But, I have also learned that God has commanded us to make disciples as we are going and "living sent" in the world that God put is in. I have learned that God can work through us much better when we are learning to "be the light" in the darkness, instead of only gathering to shine our lights with other lights. I think the key to not growing into a "Sunday morning church" as the original question is asking is for us to be very intentional about being outward focused and multiplying and not inward focused and simply growing in numbers.

Please join this discussion and share your answers to this question, How does a house church not grow into a "Sunday morning church" so to speak?