Forming Faith in the Routine

The Spirit teaches me something new each time I open the Word and open my Heart at the same time. As a Dad, and as a minister to parents and kids, my mind is always mindful of how to better form faith in our kids. In many ways, I read the Bible through that lens.

With that in mind, I try to remember to read Deuteronomy 6 a few times a week. It’s rich and full of insight for people after striving after God. It’s particularly formative for us who are trying to form faith in our kids. Take a moment and wrestle with these verses:

4 Hear , O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

I want to call your attention to verse 7 and are a though with you. I hope that it encourages and blesses you. And maybe even gives you an idea or two to implement.

First, I assume that you want your kids to know the Lord and walk with him. I’m not going to try to convince you of the importance of this here. Also, I am going to assume that you know that you play an important role in the forming of your children’s faith. After all, you are with them so much more frequently than anyone else. So here’s where I’d like to lead you . . .

One of the lessons the Spirit has shown me through this text is that there is tremendous power in the routine. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that we owe it to our kids to build sacred moments into our routines. It’s in these times (that we participate in regularly) that we really unleash and invite the Spirit to work in and among us. So here’s a question for you to wrestle with: where and/when can I intentionally build space in my family’s routines where we could invite the Spirit to participate and work?

Here’s three practical ideas that you can try right away:

  • On the way home from school, before you ask your child what you learned today or how school went today ask them this “what did you learn from God today?” Or, “When did God give you a chance to shine your light for him?” And then follow up and probe deeper.
  • Put your foot down and insist that your family (regardless of what that looks like) eats dinner together every night. I can tell you from experience that when my family gets out of this routine things in our home feel out of place. And as you are eating ask your children spiritual questions. Teach them how to think about God and how he is working in their lives; and how they are responding to his work.
  • Pray before you go to bed. Always, always, always, pray with your children. Not only are you teaching them to pray and to bring everything to God, you are showing them how important they are as they listen to you cover them in prayer.

The Lord’s Supper

There isn’t a scripture that directly commands when and how often we are supposed to take the Lord’s Supper. There are two scriptures that refer to it – one directly and the other indirectly. The first is Acts 20:7. In this scripture Paul was on his way home (Jerusalem) after completing his third missionary journey. He stops off in Troas on the way to Ephesus (where he has the famous talk with the Ephesian Elders). He stays in Troas for seven days and then on the first day of the week it says they got together to break bread. Paul doesn’t use this phrase (breaking bread) much but it is fairly certain that he is talking about the Lord’s Supper. This is the scripture where most Christians find the authority to meet on Sunday. Plus, it was clearly the tradition of the early Church. We have a lot of writings from men who lived in the 2nd – 4th centuries when the Church was really taking hold – and they all refer to it this way.

Now, there is something peculiar about this scripture. Keep in mind this is THE scripture we use for our authority and there is a question about it. Read it for yourself (thru v12) and see if you catch the peculiarity then come back and finish reading what I have written.

Okay, you’re back. Did you notice when they actually took the Lord’s Supper. It says that Paul preached until midnight then the kids fell out of the window and Paul healed him. It wasn’t until AFTER this that they actually broke bread – the next day. Hmm . . . Does this mean that we don’t actually have to take the Lord’s Supper on Sunday? This is where many churches are getting the authority to do it on Saturday nights. Here’s some more info to consider.

A 24 hour day was defined differently during this time period – and actually still is, I think. The Romans were on a “normal” midnight to midnight clock. Just like us, where the day starts over at midnight. The other way to clock a day was based on the sunrise. This was the Jewish way of doing it. So the big question is, “which do we consider”? A little more info: Luke, the writer of Acts was a medical doctor from Philippi. He was a Macedonian, which was under Roman rule and jurisdiction. He was not a Jew. If Luke was writing with Roman time in mind, then they took it late. If he was writing with Jewish time in mind then they were ok.

We might ask why Luke wasn’t more specific? Well, I don’t know. He was writing to Theophilis who does not seem to have been a Jew. Does that matter? Did Luke not get more specific because Theophilis would have understood or because it didn’t matter when that they happened to take it late? I honestly don’t know how to deal with this from the scriptures. There just isn’t enough information and evidence.

The other scripture is an indirect reference (1 Cor 16:2). Here Paul is giving the direction to the Corinthian church to collect and keep together the specific offering that they were going to give the much poorer Jerusalem Christians. He said to do this when they met on the first day of the week. It seems like Paul was saying, “Since you’re meeting anyways, this is a good time for you to do this.” Keep in mind here that he was referring specifically to that particular donation to the Jerusalem Christians who were suffering through a terrible drought. But the point was when it happened – the first day of the week. When we combine this with the comment from Luke in Acts 20:7, it seems like they had a custom of getting together every Sunday to take the Lord’s Supper and fellowship with each other. Now it’s clear from many other scriptures in Acts that this wasn’t the only time the first Christians met to fellowship and worship. They seemed to meet throughout the week – particularly when the Church was just getting started (Acts 2:46). Also, it’s neat to point out that not once does the New Testament ever mention having a worship service on Sundays when they met. Two reasons for that – there is nothing scriptural about a “worship service” (it’s a man-made term, and the idea of five acts of worship is not a scriptural term either). They worshipped God all the time they were together.

What a long, boring answer to a short concise issue. Based off of these two scriptures, which are the only that really deal with the issue, it seems that the normal practice of the first Christians was to meet together on Sunday to share the Communion together, even though they met throughout the week for fellowship and worship. The fact that the Preacher got long-winded on that one Sunday evening and they didn’t share the Communion together until the next day was evidently not a big deal.

Five Types of Churches

I recently read Generating Hope: A Strategy for Reaching the Postmodern Generation by Jimmy Long. Here’s a few thoughts from this text that I thought were particularly helpful with discerning where our churches should be in relation to the significant culture changes.

The Church is at a major critical juncture in regard to two major cultural changes. First, we are transitioning in leadership and authority from the Baby-Boomers generation to Generation X. Second, there is a philosophical shift that is occurring (or perhaps has fully  occurred) in the western society where the culture moves from the modern to the postmodern era.

The big question is, how do we respond to the change in culture? As the Baby Boomers (and earlier generations) begin to relinquish the leadership reigns what will that look like? What kind of tension is this creating and how are we responding? From all appearances, it seems that most churches were built in and for the previous culture – the modern culture. Now the culture is changing and the church is having trouble connecting.

Jimmy Long gives the five models that help us to understand how the Church relates to the culture as it changes from modern to postmodern.

  1. Assimilating church – The church tries to make itself relevant to the prevailing culture by adopting some of the culture’s characteristics. The church supposedly does this in order to be welcomed by the culture and to encourage the culture to be open to the gospel. Scriptural reference from 1 Corinthians 9:20. If the church becomes too assimilated you can’t tell the difference between culture and church. If that happens then there isn’t much need for the church. I can get Jesus without the Church.
  2. Protecting church – Christians respond to sinfulness and its consequences with a sense of hopelessness and a desire for protection. “All of this is beyond my understanding and control. I can’t make any difference in the world. Sin is awful and powerful. My best strategy is to build a wall around myself and my family to keep out the changes and evil.” This worldview represents a dualistic approach to society that sees the church as good and the culture as bad. The protective church seem to have little faith in God’s sovereignty – Matthew 16:18.
  3. Unchanging Church – Pretty much ignores the culture. Views the church as having nothing to do with present culture. The church is above and beyond the culture. Tries to hold on to its own traditions by rising above culture. Christians in the unchanging church try to equate their own traditions, as exemplified in the above story, with Jesus’ blessings. The weakness of this model is that although the culture and the people within the culture do change, the church does not change to meet people where they are. As the culture continues to change, the unchanging church model becomes more and more marginalized and exerts less and less impact on society.
  4. Battling Church – Fears the annihilation of the church and is fighting back with all the weapons it can muster. James Dobson states, “The heated dispute over values in Western nations is simply a continuation of the age old struggle between the principles of righteousness and the kingdom of darkness and someday soon I believe a winner will emerge and the loser will fade from memory. Sees the church essentially as the new Israel.
  5. Influencing Church – Instead of seeing the culture as a battlefield and Christians as warriors, the influencing church sees the world as a mission field and Christians as missionaries. Sees itself as intimately involved in the culture. Redemption does not change their involvement in the culture, but it changes them as the character of their involvement. They see the neighborhood and the local school as mission fields, not battlegrounds. Far from being military bunkers, their homes are “havens of hospitality” with the Welcome sign displayed out front. For them evangelism comes first and cultural change comes second. The gospel message will be powerful only through showing love to neighbors and living lives of integrity. Those in the influencing church see others as people created by God and in need of God, not as the enemies of God. So their strategy in one of influence, dialogue and a prophetic voice.

How To Kill A Mission


[ee-goh-sen-trik, eg-oh-]  Show IPA


1.having or regarding the self or the individual as the center of all things: an egocentric philosophy that ignores social causes.
2.having little or no regard for interests, beliefs, or attitudes other than one’s own; self-centered: an egocentric person; egocentric demands upon the time and patience of others.


[eth-noh-sen-triz-uhm]  Show IPA


1.Sociology . the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture.
2.a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one’s own.
What to know what prevents a group from achieving success? Simple . . . not following and working consistent with its’ vision and mission. Want to know what kills a mission or vision as fast as anything else? See above.
In a group context, the idea of being on a mission is fundamentally opposed to egocentric behavior and attitudes. It’s really quite simple. If I am determined to think only of myself, then by nature, I can’t think of the mission of the group. The mission, by default, becomes secondary. Now all you need for conflict is to get more than one egocentric person in the same room together.
This is demonstrated with the incarnation of Christ. And it’s really clear when you consider his last few hours on earth. When Christ was in the garden he had the choice of egocentrism or mission. He hung in there, as difficult as it appeared to have been, and chose mission. He was on mission and he was intentional about seeing it through.
Aside from the whole divine and sinless thing, that may be the biggest difference between Jesus and the modern leaders of his church. We can come up with some pithy slogans, slap them on our letterhead and maybe even a sign or two. But when you start talking about actually choosing mission over self, well that’s something altogether different. So instead of approaching issues by asking, “how do we best seek after our mission,” we decide instead to choose personal preference and ask, what do I prefer? What allows me to remain the most comfortable.
This seems to manifest itself most often when we begin talking about what church should look like. Or, how we should do church. So as a result, churches continue with outdated ministries and programs not because they are the best way to accomplish the mission, but because have become comfortable with them and appreciate their own preferences over the cause of the mission. There’s few things that can be as frustrating than dealing with egocentric folks who have placed themselves at the center of the church (or at the center of the purpose of the church).
In other words, church is not for me. I am the church for the glory of Christ. What I want and prefer really should not be on the table for discussion – because if I’m following Christs’ lead (i.e. in the garden), all I am going to want is that my Father’s will be done. Not that I get what I like, prefer or want.
Thanks so much to the Fort Walton Beach Fencing Company for sponsoring my blog!

Reflecting on God’s Handiwork

It’s been about three years since my wife and I got back into ministry and moved to Curry, AL. It took about a week for us to fall in love with all of the people there. That love remains, and I’m sure will always remain. For some reason they chose to love me, embrace me and accept me as part of their family. We have been blessed with life-long friends and people we hold so dear that are now part of our family. For that I will be eternally grateful.

I must admit that I was heart-broken when the circumstances there began to change and eventually led to us leaving Curry. I was certain that we would be there for a long time (as were many of the people that we left). I was sure that God had purposefully sent me there to teach and help them grow past some of the things that I felt were holding back many of the Churches in the area. Maybe that was arrogant of me? Maybe I was right? Or perhaps God did have a purpose for us there and we fulfilled and then He sent us on our way. To this very moment, I’m not sure which it is. I mean that. Sometimes I wonder if Satan didn’t enter the picture and infect a few people who messed everything up. Then there are other times when I feel like they just weren’t ready yet. I just don’t know.

But a year later, here’s what I do know . . . God’s good at His job. He knows what he’s doing. I am seeing his hand prints all over my life and the lives of the people in my church family. He’s using me, and that makes me happy. It doesn’t erase all of the hurt and disappointment, but it helps. I now have a new church family who loves me and cares for my wife and kids. So I didn’t give up anything in the trade. But what I do have now that I didn’t have then is the freedom, support and encouragement to be myself. There’s a lot to be said for sleeping well at night.

My church family now embraces my doubts and my questions. They accept that I’m not perfect and they don’t expect me to be. They haven’t created a mold of a preacher and asked me to change so that I fit inside that mold. They will never know how grateful and appreciative I am for there grace. Because of their attitudes I have been able to grow more spiritually in the past year than in my previous 19 years of being a Christian. I’m not exaggerating. I’m dead serious. How can you put a price tag on that? Or possibly demonstrate the value of that for your life? I will struggle with adequately saying thank you for as long as we stay here.

As I reflect on the past couple of years I see God’s handiwork. I still don’t know what He’s up to. I really don’t. I still wonder why He’s done the things He’s done. But I marvel and remain in constant awe of what He’s done with me and all that He’s doing in spite of me. Be certain of that one thing family, whatever good comes out of my ministry, God is at the center and in complete control of all of it. For that, we should all take a moment and reflect on His handiwork.