Inside Out Blog Tour by Ryan Lassiter

13639689_10100670053310301_590207559_oOver the next couple of months Peter Horne has coordinated with a great group of church leaders and writers to explore some of the practical applications for individuals and churches of living Inside Out. We believe you’ll be blessed and challenged by their thoughts, so please make an effort to check back to this blog throughout July and August to join this Summer Blog Tour. Ryan Lassiter writes today’s post:


As I observe the Christian world around me (or maybe the entire world around me for that matter), it seems that extremes win the day. I grew up like many Christians have over the past 30 or more years in a faith tradition that was steeped in legalism. God was seen as this angry God who really did not much like his people, but he could be “bought off” with good deeds. As a reaction to that, we lean over into a world of “justification by faith” to talk about the gospel in such a way that it seems like simply an endeavor of the mind. Believe this, think that, say these words, be immersed in water, and you are “good”. The goal is simply to think certain things and confess certain things with your mouth, and then go to heaven when you die. For some reason, we never settle in the middle of these extremes with the biblical view that you are loved by God simply because, and that you are saved by faith alone. Therefore, live out your salvation and embark upon a journey of following Christ. We love the extremes it seems.

There has been a lot of scholarship over the past 30 years that has led us to believe that Paul wasn’t plagued with guilt when he wrote Romans, like say Martin Luther was when he read it. It seems that Paul’s goal was not simply to help get people to heaven when they die (though that is important), but it was to get heaven inside of Christ followers. The gospel was not simply something to be believed, or a formula for salvation from hell at death, but it was a good news event that should dramatically alter the life of those who believe it and follow after this Crucified Christ. To follow Christ is to orient one’s life toward Christ and begin a journey of being formed into His image. It is why Paul would say things about us being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).

So I don’t know if you are like me, but I find myself often frustrated. I want to be more patient, loving, kind, gentle, generous, and self-controlled. I want to react differently, or perhaps be less reactionary at times. I wish I was less impatient, less rash, less compulsive, less…well, you name it. It is a bit like my golf game.

I love golf. I don’t think my swing and my game are that bad. In my head, I know how to play the game really well and I can see myself playing well. However, I continually am amazed and frustrated when I go play and I’m not much better than the last time I played. Yet I never think that part of the problem is I don’t practice. And so it is with my faith. I wish I saw more of the fruit of the Spirit pouring forth in my life, but I do nothing toward that goal.

As Paul is concluding his theological masterpiece, he says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2 (emphasis mine). Paul seems to believe we can be different, and that we can be transformed from the inside out by the renewing of our minds. The gospel can and ought to transform us now, not just at the end. The deal is though, it isn’t a magic formula that you believe and confess and all of the sudden your life is dramatically changed. Sure there are these monumental moments in our faith, but more and more I think it is about the daily process of pursuing Christ. And it is into this thinking that I believe the spiritual disciplines call out to us. The spiritual disciplines are no magic formula, but they can position us for the Spirit to do its work.

I love the teaching of people like Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. They have a holistic and full view of salvation that it isn’t simply a one time conversion moment, but it is a journey or a process of transformation. Both of these guys also believe that the spiritual disciplines are the “practice” so to speak of the faith. If we want to see transformation in our lives, if we want to be less compulsive and reactionary and more patient and kind, perhaps we ought to do things that position us for the Spirit to make these changes in our lives. Maybe we incorporate into our daily lives what St. Benedict called a “rule of life”, or “rhythm of life” that practices the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, solitude, silence, hospitality, submission to others, etc. If the goal isn’t simply to get to heaven one day, but to get heaven inside of us, to become people who begin to look and act more like Christ, then maybe these spiritual disciplines are a very practical tool for this inside out transformation, or what Paul calls the “renewing of your mind”.

The western story of Christianity has been hijacked into one that sounds like Jesus came into the world so we could get out of it. The problem is, that is not a very biblical picture of faith. Rather, what if we let go of that story and began seeing that Christ came into this world to get His image inside of it, or inside of us. No we don’t want to conform to the ways of this world, but neither do we want to hide from it. Rather, let us be transformed from the inside out by the renewing of our minds, and through this bear His image to a lost and broken world.

I can guarantee you that practicing the spiritual disciplines will position you for this transformation because I have seen it in my own life. The deal is though, no one can teach you into this change. Rather, you will have to try it. We can talk about the disciplines, but if you really want to see how it might could work in your life, then do it. Slow down, carve out space in your life, and lean into these disciplines. And don’t be surprised if you notice yourself reacting a bit differently, perhaps a bit more like Jesus would react. The Holy Spirit wants to transform you into the image of Christ, but this can only be done from the inside out.


CIOTo promote the Summer Blog Tour, we’re also giving away one set of Church Inside Out, both book and workbook. Just leave a comment below then enter over HERE.


Ryan Lassiter is the preaching minister at the Hunter Hills Church of Christ in Prattville AL. Prior to that he served as a minster at the Golf Course Road Church of Christ in Midland TX, and he and his wife Sarah have also spent time as missionaries. Ryan graduated with his masters in Missional Leadership from Rochester College and his passion is helping people join God in his mission of redemption and restoration. He blogs at www.ryanlassiter.com.

Inside Out Blog Tour by Jennifer Rundlett

13639689_10100670053310301_590207559_oOver the next couple of months Peter Horne has coordinated with a great group of church leaders and writers to explore some of the practical applications for individuals and churches of living Inside Out. We believe you’ll be blessed and challenged by their thoughts, so please make an effort to check back to this blog throughout July and August to join this Summer Blog Tour. Today’s article is by Jennifer Rundlett


Questioning authenticity ~ historical accuracy ~ contextual studies ~ foundational truths…these were the watchwords of my youth.

And there too, how many times had I practiced making statements that disqualified my faith? Statements such as:

“We can’t really know the actual day of Jesus’ birth.”

 “There must have been a logical explanation for the star that led the wise men to see the baby Jesus.”

“Since we have no recorded image of Jesus, we can’t know what he truly looked like…”

Which then led me to other kinds of statements such as:

“Of course, I don’t really believe that God created the world in a literal 7 days.”

“Perhaps there was a logical explanation for all those miracles Jesus performed.”

And even when I suspended my skeptical ways to believe all the accounts of the Bible…the angel’s visitation…Jesus’ virgin birth…

I would hear myself saying:

“That was then and this is now and those are stories of a by gone time.”

However, at some point I realized that these kinds of statements were not cultivating my inner eye of faith. These statements did not develop in me the fruits of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, patience and kindness. Instead they produced in me the fruits of skepticism ~ scoffing ~ cynicism. As a result my personal dreams became small and my inner fire extinguished.

Recently, my imagination was captured as I gazed at these pictures of The Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes that sits on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum, in a place called Tabgha, Israel. This beautiful stone church boasts the actual spot Jesus performed his miraculous feeding of the 5000 with only a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.  This event was so iconic in the ministry of Jesus and resonated so deeply with the Jewish people, that it has been recorded in all 4 of the gospel accounts of his life. (Matthew 15: 29-39, Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9: 10-17, John 6: 5-13)Pic - courtyard

Amazing to see these people living by faith and celebrating this as the actual spot where Jesus performed his miracle of abundance. (You can read a description of a Spanish pilgrim from 380 A.D. by clicking here.)

Letting my mind wonder, it was easy for me to imagine how this spot might have been preserved through the centuries.

Pic - Table and Stone

Knowing this, I began to postulate on how important this stone might have become to each passing generation. Thinking on them, I can see how this stone must have invited them to gather and to partake of the communion feast. United by their faith, the many would become one, as they dedicated their lives to God and asked for him to, bless and multiply their offerings to represent his glory throughout the world.Pic - mosaic

If I stop and silence all the voices inside my head teaching me to be logical and distrust these kinds of things…

If I step out of my comfort zone and grab hold of the thought that maybe it is true…

I can also begin to imagine what it was like for those people who traveled a great distance to sit on a hillside to see with their own eyes the miracles of Jesus. I can then become curious about their individual lives. Who were these people and how were they changed as they witnessed Jesus’ miracle? Why did they leave the comfort of their lives to seek and to hear the voice of Jesus? And if I resolve to bring the scene even closer… I might even begin to imagine myself sitting among them?

These are the kinds of spiritual exercises that can help me to grow in my faith and when I take time to do this, I am led by the Spirit to say with strengthening conviction that God is all powerful and that Jesus became human and dwelt among us performing many great signs and wonders while teaching us how to live transformed lives.

Yes! Jesus died and was buried and on the third day he rose again!!

And because I have allowed my mind to travel back and experience his miracle of abundance, I understand with a deepening faith that these things happened in a real time a place.

This week as you think about your own impossible… let your experience of this miracle fill your heart and let Jesus feed your inner eye of faith with his Spirit so you might live and shine his light outward into your community.

~~~


CIOTo promote the Summer Blog Tour, we’re also giving away one set of Church Inside Out, both book and workbook. Just leave a comment below then enter over HERE.


03 Jennifer Rundlett - picJennifer Rundlett, M.M. is founder of God thru the Arts ministry and author of My Dancing Day: Reflections of the Incarnation in Art and Music. From over 15 years of college classroom experience, she has crafted an inspirational reflective approach to the arts that has inspired her classes as she shares her vision of the loving nature of God.

Now with her new book The Joyful Sound: Reflections on the Life of Christ in Art and Music, she has carefully chosen and arranged over 20 celebrated masterpieces that invite you to encounter Jesus more fully. Through these spiritual exercises you will walk among the first disciples and hear your voice join with the chorus to make a joyful sound. As a special thank you for reading this blog when you follow that link please feel free to use the insider promotional code SWG5K64H. Thank you!

Captions

Picture #1: The Courtyard of The Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha Israel. (Photo public domain, attribute David Shankbone)

Picture #2: The stone under the altar inside The Church of Multiplication. (Photo is public domain no restrictions.)

Picture #3: 5th century Mosaic of Loaves and Fishes placed in front of the altar. (Photo public domain, attribute Berthold Werner)


Inside Out Blog Tour by Tim Archer

13639689_10100670053310301_590207559_oOver the next couple of months Peter Horne has coordinated with a great group of church leaders and writers to explore some of the practical applications for individuals and churches of living Inside Out. We believe you’ll be blessed and challenged by their thoughts, so please make an effort to check back to this blog throughout July and August to join this Summer Blog Tour. Today’s post is my contribution:


I’ve come to love the story of Basil the Great. He was bishop of Caesarea in the late 4th century. Basil earned his fame as a staunch defender of the Nicene creed, what most of us know as the traditional teaching about the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He worked tirelessly to oppose the teachings of those who saw Jesus as a created being. One of these opponents was the Roman emperor Valens, who banished Basil from the Roman empire on several occasions (though Basil paid no mind to the decrees).

Important though such work was, Basil’s greatest legacy was the Basiliad, the huge hospital/orphanage/hospice/poor house that was built outside of Caesarea. When Emperor Valens came to Caesarea to confront Basil face to face, he was so impressed by Basil’s work that he donated imperial land for expansions to the Basiliad.

When Basil died, Gregory of Nazianzus declared, “His words were like thunder because his life was like lightning.

I love that imagery. I’d love to have it said of me. I’d love to have it said of the church. Words like thunder backed by a life like lightning; that’s what the church needs.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16)

Far too often our churches are cloistered within four walls, living godly lives that are seen by no one. We become consumed by inward-focused ministries. With all of our energies directed at one another, cabin fever sets in, and the church fights and feuds over minor matters. As we distance ourselves from our communities, we come to fear and distrust the outside world. In the end, having no significant relationship with outsiders, we content ourselves with trying to convert our young people.

That’s not how we were called to live! Peter told his readers:

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)

Our lives are to be lived out in the open. Non-Christians should see our lives and respect them. This is true of us as individuals; it’s also true for the church as a whole.

We’ve got to be the church inside out… insiders going out in order to help outsiders come in.

Jesus has gifted his church with gifts and with leaders to equip her for works of service (Ephesians 4:7-13). One of the main tasks of Christian leaders is to help members find and use their gifts in service to others. Leaders should be aware of the needs of the community around as well as knowing how to help members discover their own giftedness. Elders and ministers need a mechanism for communicating those needs to the body, be it through social networks, phone trees, Bible classes, small groups, or announcements from the pulpit. They also need an awareness that no church can meet every need. It’s possible that some needs will only be prayed about for now, trusting that God will raise up people for those ministries at a future date.

Leaders should be open to proposals for new ways of serving, for new ministries that better fit the current membership and contemporary needs. In the same way, some ministries should be allowed to fall dormant or cease to exist; there is no shame in moving on from a ministry that is no longer bearing fruit.

Church members should be creatively looking for ways to use their gifts to serve the community around. Where giftedness meets need, that is the Christian’s calling. Sometimes those gifts fit within existing structures in the church; sometimes new ministries will be developed to minister to the community in more appropriate ways.

It’s important that we encourage our members to experiment with new ministries. Leaders should be positive and affirming when faced with ministry proposals, especially “outside the walls” ministries. People need to know that they can try something, evaluate it honestly, and make necessary changes (including suspension of that ministry for a time). As churches step outside of themselves, they will find more unpredictability and a need for more flexibility.

But step out we must. The church needs to be seen by the community, seen as a force for good. We will never be able to speak like thunder, until our lives shine like lightning. Others will never praise God because of us until they see deeds that are truly praiseworthy. I’ll close with a quote from my book Church Inside Out:

As the old refrain says, they won’t care what we know until they know that we care. The world does not want to be preached at. Outsiders don’t want Christians standing inside church buildings pointing fingers out at the rest of the world. But when they see transformed lives reflected in a Christian body that serves its community, they’ll want to hear the message.


CIOTo promote the Summer Blog Tour, we’re also giving away one set of Church Inside Out, both book and workbook. Just leave a comment below then enter over HERE.


Evangelism series on Wineskins

cio booksWineskins is focusing this month on the theme “Rekindling Our Evangelistic Spirit.” Since this fits so well with the topics I address in Church Inside Out, I did a series of articles that will run this month. The first one went up yesterday, titled “To Reach Out We Must Look Out.” Take some time to read it, and, while you’re there, look around the Wineskins.org site.

Links To Go (July 14, 2016)

Black Lives Matter Too!

Those using the phrase “Black Lives Matter” do so because they’re expressing their impression that many in society don’t think they matter. They feel neglected, so they remind each other and the world that they do matter. They do have value. Of course all lives matter, but there are many people made to feel as though they’re insignificant. Sometimes it’s individuals who feel as though no one notices them. Sometimes it’s whole communities.
Did you notice that little feeling of indignation you feel when you see #BlackLivesMatter and think that you’re being overlooked or devalued? That’s a sensation these people experience as a way of life.


What a Community Leader Said He Can’t Do That Only Churches Can Do Regarding Race

Yes, some churches are part of the problem. Some churches are filled with the same racist perspectives or power plays that got us here in the first place. And some churches are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good. Some churches assume racial reconciliation has nothing to do with the gospel and thus miss their opportunity to contribute something truly beautiful to a national conversation.
But other churches, those who’ve grasped the kind of Good News Jesus walked and talked, offer something to our country in this time of crisis that no police force, no protest movement, no legislative package can offer.


Thoughts on Last Week

Can we reflect the heart of God as we move forward and get close to our brokenhearted people, all of them, all of us? Cry with all of our people, cry out to God for change, for protection, for His sovereign hand to move our country to look more like Him in all things, and that we would treat each other as He would have us treat each other. Pray that we would reflect His character, that our lives would be evidence of the blood of Jesus.


Police are safer under Obama than they have been in decades

These statements are part of a broader narrative of a “war on cops” carried out by the Obama administration and/or the Black Lives Matter movement, depending on whom you ask. It’s certainly true that some shooters of police, such as the Dallas attacker, appear to be motivated by a hatred of white police officers or a twisted urge to seek revenge for police shootings of black Americans. But the simplistic and inflammatory notion of a “war on cops” is completely undercut by one fundamental data point: Intentional attacks on police officers are at historically low levels under President Obama.


Goodbye, firstborn children: This study shows how wordy terms of service hurt users

NameDrop’s second crazy clause should’ve stopped most users in their tracks—or at least clued them in that the service wasn’t real. The second clause said all users agree to give their “first-born child” to NameDrop. If the user didn’t have children yet, their first baby would still have to go to NameDrop until 2050.
In the end, the study says 74 percent of the participants skipped reading the privacy policy. Those who did read the privacy policy didn’t spend long than 73 seconds even though it should’ve taken around 30 minutes to read the whole thing.
The average reading time of the ToS, meanwhile, was 51 seconds when it should’ve been closer to 16 minutes.


Leisure Time and the History of the American Highway

In this period immediately following the Second World War, (we) were on the road, and we were on the road hard. These weren’t hour-and-a-half trips to the coast, they were — according to the Youngs’ book — an average of 600 miles in distance and ran from a week to two weeks on the road. “The greater the family’s affluence,” the Youngs write, “the further they chose to go.”
We were traveling with the benefit of range-extending cylinder deactivation technology, GPS, Bluetooth and dual-zone air conditioning. We traveled with carburetors, paper maps, maybe an AM radio and vent windows. We stayed at “motels,” specially designed to accommodate our cars, or we hauled smaller versions of our homes with us.


Boise homeowner finds child’s C-minus report card (from 1979) hiding under carpet

Last week, Boise homeowner Tara Curl, who lives near Overland and Five Mile, said she was pulling old carpet in her home when she found an old envelope near a vent, underneath the decades-old carpet pad.
“I just thought it had to be really old,” Curl said.
The student’s unsatisfactory report card, a C-minus, had four missing assignments in Social Studies. He also had not been organized with his studies, according to his teacher


.