Live Intentional, Live Missional

We were blessed to have Tom and Suzie Brock speak at our church this week. Thankfully they are faithful servants who go where they feel the Lord leads them, rather than numbers and finances. They both always challenge the church to get beyond ourselves and move into a new fullness of what God has for us.

They’ve been sharing the last couple of visits about the need to get out of the pews, out of the church walls, and out to the people who need a touch of the kingdom of heaven. I hope that the people who read this blog DON’T need this encouragement, but it is a good word nonetheless.

Tom speaks deeply but also has a talent for pithy sayings. I don’t think theology should be summed up in sound bites, but in this case it works as an easy reminder when you’re out in the world and you remember what he is saying.

One point was the fact that Jesus told the disciples to “follow Him.” We do that well in the modern church, but we lose sight of the second part, “and I will make you fishers of men.” We hole up in our comfy chairs that can stack, link, or be moved easy, with contemporary music and seeker-sensitive messages, and wonder why the lost don’t flood into our churches. You have to go where the fish are to catch them. Jesus didn’t usually hang out in the tabernacle – He was out among the sinners. He would be with the Pharisees one time, then another time he was around a prostitute.

Tom encouraged us with the following: Belong, Believe, Behave. First we need to make people feel like they are a part of something, without the hope that they will just be a body for nursery or ushering. We are awfully busy anymore, but people lack community or belonging in what they do. We need to intentionally befriend people, honestly reach out and fulfill a need. If we are genuine in what we do, people will see the light in us and be drawn in to our community.

He also exhorted us about the idea of letting them belong first. Develop the relationship first. Don’t try to clean them up or force belief on them. As they spend time with us, they will come to the place where they are open to the truth, and will then come to believe. After they believe, then the Spirit will work on sanctification, and the behavior will come into line.

The other main idea was to live missionally. Tom is not a part of the “emergent church” movement, and the term missional often gets associated with it. Despite the pros and cons of the emergent movement, we shouldn’t let the idea of living missional to get overlooked. Everything we do can be missions to the people around us.

I love foreign missions, and I want to see Christians released to the ends of the earth, so that every people group can have a witness of the gospel. I would like to be involved with that one day, but I can reach people right now, where I am. I recognize all that I do can be used for His glory. I love soccer – so I coach my son’s soccer team and try to build relationships with kids and their families to show them the love of God. I use my internet time to build a case for Christ, whether here or on a Star Wars fan site. If I’m aware and sensitive of the Spirit’s leading, everyday encounters can be used by God.

So, live a life intentional: determine right now that everything you do can have a greater purpose, and go out with the intent to share the Kingdom wherever you go. Live a life missional: sharing the love of Jesus. Build relationships. Find a need and see if you can serve someone. Watch for the opening to speak about what Jesus has done for you.

I’m tired of playing church. It’s not that fun. I want to see the Kingdom come where I live right now. I’m not waiting for the sweet by and by in the nasty here and now. I can make a change for the better today. Won’t you join me?

Thanks for sharing Tom – keep fighting the good fight!

Live Intentional, Live Missional

We were blessed to have Tom and Suzie Brock speak at our church this week. Thankfully they are faithful servants who go where they feel the Lord leads them, rather than numbers and finances. They both always challenge the church to get beyond ourselves and move into a new fullness of what God has for us.

They’ve been sharing the last couple of visits about the need to get out of the pews, out of the church walls, and out to the people who need a touch of the kingdom of heaven. I hope that the people who read this blog DON’T need this encouragement, but it is a good word nonetheless.

Tom speaks deeply but also has a talent for pithy sayings. I don’t think theology should be summed up in sound bites, but in this case it works as an easy reminder when you’re out in the world and you remember what he is saying.

One point was the fact that Jesus told the disciples to “follow Him.” We do that well in the modern church, but we lose sight of the second part, “and I will make you fishers of men.” We hole up in our comfy chairs that can stack, link, or be moved easy, with contemporary music and seeker-sensitive messages, and wonder why the lost don’t flood into our churches. You have to go where the fish are to catch them. Jesus didn’t usually hang out in the tabernacle – He was out among the sinners. He would be with the Pharisees one time, then another time he was around a prostitute.

Tom encouraged us with the following: Belong, Believe, Behave. First we need to make people feel like they are a part of something, without the hope that they will just be a body for nursery or ushering. We are awfully busy anymore, but people lack community or belonging in what they do. We need to intentionally befriend people, honestly reach out and fulfill a need. If we are genuine in what we do, people will see the light in us and be drawn in to our community.

He also exhorted us about the idea of letting them belong first. Develop the relationship first. Don’t try to clean them up or force belief on them. As they spend time with us, they will come to the place where they are open to the truth, and will then come to believe. After they believe, then the Spirit will work on sanctification, and the behavior will come into line.

The other main idea was to live missionally. Tom is not a part of the “emergent church” movement, and the term missional often gets associated with it. Despite the pros and cons of the emergent movement, we shouldn’t let the idea of living missional to get overlooked. Everything we do can be missions to the people around us.

I love foreign missions, and I want to see Christians released to the ends of the earth, so that every people group can have a witness of the gospel. I would like to be involved with that one day, but I can reach people right now, where I am. I recognize all that I do can be used for His glory. I love soccer – so I coach my son’s soccer team and try to build relationships with kids and their families to show them the love of God. I use my internet time to build a case for Christ, whether here or on a Star Wars fan site. If I’m aware and sensitive of the Spirit’s leading, everyday encounters can be used by God.

So, live a life intentional: determine right now that everything you do can have a greater purpose, and go out with the intent to share the Kingdom wherever you go. Live a life missional: sharing the love of Jesus. Build relationships. Find a need and see if you can serve someone. Watch for the opening to speak about what Jesus has done for you.

I’m tired of playing church. It’s not that fun. I want to see the Kingdom come where I live right now. I’m not waiting for the sweet by and by in the nasty here and now. I can make a change for the better today. Won’t you join me?

Thanks for sharing Tom – keep fighting the good fight!

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I’m a big superhero fan. I’ve always daydreamed of doing something extraordinary to help people. So I have been a long time fan of comics and superheroes. I had the Super Powers series as a kid. Basically I’m a sucker for the resurgence of superhero movies over the last several years.

I will admit to liking the first Fantastic Four movie. It wasn’t high art, but a fun enough popcorn flick. I think the fun was seeing them discover how to use their powers and to work together as a team. Some comic movies aim for dark and brooding. Some carry a powerful theme, like the Spiderman movies. Others are meant like FF, just fun summer fare.

Unfortunately, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, can’t seem to find a groove and stick with it. It tries to be light at times. It tries to show the importance of relationships and the value of self-sacrifice. It tries to entertain. It fails on all counts.

I like Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba as actors, but they really don’t have chemistry and don’t show much interest in this movie. Alba in particular shows up to look pretty, but the acting is mailed in. The actors playing the Thing and Johnny Storm don’t take things as serious and they are the main parts worth watching through the film. Because the film tries to focus on the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, it falls flat.

The Silver Surfer as the titular bad guy is amazing from a CGI aspect. Doug Jones does a great job with the movements of the Surfer, but the voice of Lawrence Fishburne only goes for gravitas without much else going for it. The action is fairly limited, and the payoff at the end of the movie with the arrival of Galactus is wasted, as we don’t really see the main baddie who threatens the Earth.

Doctor Doom wasn’t very popular in the last movie, but I thought he worked well until he started throwing one-liners. His return this time is pretty much limited to the one-liners, so he becomes a big disappointment in my opinion.

Overall, FF: Rise of the Silver Surfer will make an okay rental movie sometime this winter on a cold fall day (if there’s no football on, that is), but isn’t worthwhile as a summer movie experience.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I’m a big superhero fan. I’ve always daydreamed of doing something extraordinary to help people. So I have been a long time fan of comics and superheroes. I had the Super Powers series as a kid. Basically I’m a sucker for the resurgence of superhero movies over the last several years.

I will admit to liking the first Fantastic Four movie. It wasn’t high art, but a fun enough popcorn flick. I think the fun was seeing them discover how to use their powers and to work together as a team. Some comic movies aim for dark and brooding. Some carry a powerful theme, like the Spiderman movies. Others are meant like FF, just fun summer fare.

Unfortunately, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, can’t seem to find a groove and stick with it. It tries to be light at times. It tries to show the importance of relationships and the value of self-sacrifice. It tries to entertain. It fails on all counts.

I like Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba as actors, but they really don’t have chemistry and don’t show much interest in this movie. Alba in particular shows up to look pretty, but the acting is mailed in. The actors playing the Thing and Johnny Storm don’t take things as serious and they are the main parts worth watching through the film. Because the film tries to focus on the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, it falls flat.

The Silver Surfer as the titular bad guy is amazing from a CGI aspect. Doug Jones does a great job with the movements of the Surfer, but the voice of Lawrence Fishburne only goes for gravitas without much else going for it. The action is fairly limited, and the payoff at the end of the movie with the arrival of Galactus is wasted, as we don’t really see the main baddie who threatens the Earth.

Doctor Doom wasn’t very popular in the last movie, but I thought he worked well until he started throwing one-liners. His return this time is pretty much limited to the one-liners, so he becomes a big disappointment in my opinion.

Overall, FF: Rise of the Silver Surfer will make an okay rental movie sometime this winter on a cold fall day (if there’s no football on, that is), but isn’t worthwhile as a summer movie experience.

The Dangers of Writing

I didn’t realize when I started this journey that there are hazards involved. Sure, I could expect a few brave writers would be taken down by a cruel attack of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Others might succumb to Writer’s Cramp. Paper cuts can be pretty vicious in the right setting, mind you.

Undaunted, I proceeded. Unaware of the dangers awaiting me as I pursued this craft. Alas, I have fallen into this trap, and I am not sure how to free myself from its grip.

I’ve become a critical reader.

It seems that honing my craft has trained my eye for certain things to look for in a book. I do it unconsciously. I’m looking for active verbs, strong adjectives, and tired cliches. I analyze what I am trying to enjoy. I think it is a natural process-handymen usually start out by taking things apart to figure out how they are built. Novels operate under a similar pattern.

Before I tried to understand writing, I wouldn’t recognize a change in POV if you hit me with it (I wouldn’t even know what a POV was). The author could head-hop and hip-hop for all I cared.

Now I’m reading an otherwise really good book, but the POV changes in each new paragraph keep pulling me out of the fictive world the author is trying to portray. I have to stop and figure out where I am: “What? I thought it was Suzy who was the POV character. Now it is Joe.”

I’m really not trying to be so picky. It is operating under the hood anymore. I read, and I critique.

“Oh, that works.”

“What were they thinking?”

“Brilliant!”

Thinking back, there were sage writers who warned of this pitfall. Your reading may not be the same, they said. Ah, how I wish I could go back to the innocence of reading a bad novel and not knowing it…

On the other hand, I don’t think so-but be warned, you who strive to write. This fate could befall you as well!

The Dangers of Writing

I didn’t realize when I started this journey that there are hazards involved. Sure, I could expect a few brave writers would be taken down by a cruel attack of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Others might succumb to Writer’s Cramp. Paper cuts can be pretty vicious in the right setting, mind you.

Undaunted, I proceeded. Unaware of the dangers awaiting me as I pursued this craft. Alas, I have fallen into this trap, and I am not sure how to free myself from its grip.

I’ve become a critical reader.

It seems that honing my craft has trained my eye for certain things to look for in a book. I do it unconsciously. I’m looking for active verbs, strong adjectives, and tired cliches. I analyze what I am trying to enjoy. I think it is a natural process-handymen usually start out by taking things apart to figure out how they are built. Novels operate under a similar pattern.

Before I tried to understand writing, I wouldn’t recognize a change in POV if you hit me with it (I wouldn’t even know what a POV was). The author could head-hop and hip-hop for all I cared.

Now I’m reading an otherwise really good book, but the POV changes in each new paragraph keep pulling me out of the fictive world the author is trying to portray. I have to stop and figure out where I am: “What? I thought it was Suzy who was the POV character. Now it is Joe.”

I’m really not trying to be so picky. It is operating under the hood anymore. I read, and I critique.

“Oh, that works.”

“What were they thinking?”

“Brilliant!”

Thinking back, there were sage writers who warned of this pitfall. Your reading may not be the same, they said. Ah, how I wish I could go back to the innocence of reading a bad novel and not knowing it…

On the other hand, I don’t think so-but be warned, you who strive to write. This fate could befall you as well!

CFBA Tour – The Divine Appointment

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT (Howard Books June 5, 2007) by Jerome Teel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. He is also the author of The Election, another political thriller that we reviewed November of ’06. Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children…Brittney, Trey, and Matthew…and they reside in Tennessee where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“They aren’t hiding just one something, but a bunch of somethings…”

Small town southern lawyer, Elijah Faulkner is a dying breed…an attorney that actually takes pleasure in fighting injustice by working hard for the little guy. But when he takes on a case to defend a philandering doctor with a pregnant wife in a seemingly open-and-shut murder trial, Eli is not so sure he is on the ‘right’ side.

Back in Washington D.C., supreme Court Justice Martha Robinson has died, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for conservative President Richard Wallace to impact the direction of the highest court in the land. He believes God put him in the presidency for just such a time as this…to make a Divine Appointment. Not everyone is thrilled with the president’s nominee, however. And some will stop at nothing, including murder, to prevent his confirmation by the Senate.

A lobbyist with a vendetta, a small-time Mafioso, an investigative reporter with a Watergate complex, and a powerful Washington political machine combine to create a fast-paced suspense novel that explores the anatomy of a murder, and the ripple effect that it creates across the country.

“Jerome Teel has crafted an intriguing political thriller…nice twists and turns to keep you reading. he paints vivid mental pictures that bring characters and locales to life.”–Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee’s 7th District

CFBA Tour – The Divine Appointment

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT (Howard Books June 5, 2007) by Jerome Teel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. He is also the author of The Election, another political thriller that we reviewed November of ’06. Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children…Brittney, Trey, and Matthew…and they reside in Tennessee where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“They aren’t hiding just one something, but a bunch of somethings…”

Small town southern lawyer, Elijah Faulkner is a dying breed…an attorney that actually takes pleasure in fighting injustice by working hard for the little guy. But when he takes on a case to defend a philandering doctor with a pregnant wife in a seemingly open-and-shut murder trial, Eli is not so sure he is on the ‘right’ side.

Back in Washington D.C., supreme Court Justice Martha Robinson has died, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for conservative President Richard Wallace to impact the direction of the highest court in the land. He believes God put him in the presidency for just such a time as this…to make a Divine Appointment. Not everyone is thrilled with the president’s nominee, however. And some will stop at nothing, including murder, to prevent his confirmation by the Senate.

A lobbyist with a vendetta, a small-time Mafioso, an investigative reporter with a Watergate complex, and a powerful Washington political machine combine to create a fast-paced suspense novel that explores the anatomy of a murder, and the ripple effect that it creates across the country.

“Jerome Teel has crafted an intriguing political thriller…nice twists and turns to keep you reading. he paints vivid mental pictures that bring characters and locales to life.”–Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee’s 7th District

TL Hines Carries On

If anyone’s read any of this blog, you’ll see that I am a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. It is a group of bloggers who hope to highlight new books in Christian fiction. We are readers and writers. Some just like a good book, others want to review fiction, and yet more are studying the craft of fiction. It is a great little community, and I invite you to check it out if you are interested.

The thing is, it wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for TL Hines. Tony is the brainchild of this group as a way to spotlight Christian books on the web. He’s an author and marketing guru. He figured out how to use our blogs’ collective influence to get a book noticed on Technorati, a major internet player. We had the privilege of featuring his first book, Waking Lazarus, a year ago. Tony got too busy to be in charge of it, but a lot of what my blog is about is due to him and the CFBA.

I’d like to ask you to keep Tony in your prayers.

Today on Infuze they posted that he has been diagnosed with a serious form of lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands). I don’t know Tony personally, but have interacted with him over the web, and he is tackling this in true TL humor and style.

Read the TL lymphoma blog for more!

It would be great for anyone you know who is dealing with such a chronic, potentially fatal illness. However, it is also just great writing and an insight into an intelligent, funny, and poignant man.

Keep an eye out for his next book, The Dead Whisper On, and the accompanying blog tour later this summer. And remember Tony in your prayers as he battles. I’m sure he will fight the good fight, but we can lift his arms and spirits as well!

Blessings, Tony.

TL Hines Carries On

If anyone’s read any of this blog, you’ll see that I am a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. It is a group of bloggers who hope to highlight new books in Christian fiction. We are readers and writers. Some just like a good book, others want to review fiction, and yet more are studying the craft of fiction. It is a great little community, and I invite you to check it out if you are interested.

The thing is, it wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for TL Hines. Tony is the brainchild of this group as a way to spotlight Christian books on the web. He’s an author and marketing guru. He figured out how to use our blogs’ collective influence to get a book noticed on Technorati, a major internet player. We had the privilege of featuring his first book, Waking Lazarus, a year ago. Tony got too busy to be in charge of it, but a lot of what my blog is about is due to him and the CFBA.

I’d like to ask you to keep Tony in your prayers.

Today on Infuze they posted that he has been diagnosed with a serious form of lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands). I don’t know Tony personally, but have interacted with him over the web, and he is tackling this in true TL humor and style.

Read the TL lymphoma blog for more!

It would be great for anyone you know who is dealing with such a chronic, potentially fatal illness. However, it is also just great writing and an insight into an intelligent, funny, and poignant man.

Keep an eye out for his next book, The Dead Whisper On, and the accompanying blog tour later this summer. And remember Tony in your prayers as he battles. I’m sure he will fight the good fight, but we can lift his arms and spirits as well!

Blessings, Tony.