We have moved…

If it looks as though not much is happening here, it’s because we have moved.  As things have been changing in the ministry I am doing, I decided to move my blog to a more permanent location to reflect what I am developing ministry-wise.  I am still pastoring a simple church which gathers on a regular basis as a home church.  We are continuing to grow together and minister locally in Wilmington, but the Lord has been encouraging another passion in me to teach about the Transforming Life of Jesus in other place where He may open up opportunities.  I am also interested in helping churches, house churches and simple gatherings of hungry believer to discover a deeper and more liberating life in Christ.  The church in desperate need of a relational renewal as evidenced by the numbers of people leaving traditional churches to find a deeper and more relational christianity.  Our hope is not to add to layers of religious form but rather to help bring revelation to spiritual life in Christ that leads to freedom, healing, compassion and deeper intimacy.  Regardless the form of church, we want to help people discover what it is to be the church, the bride of Jesus and the apple of our Father’s eye.

If we can assist you along this journey or you have suggestions about resources you would like to see developed, please contact us.  If you are interested in seeing if what John does would fit an event or gathering you have in mind, then go to www.transforminglife.org  and send us an email.

NEW LOCATION: www.transforminglife.org

Motivation behind the NYC Mosque?

What is the motivation behind the building of the NYC Mosque?  The Apostle Paul said of our Christian freedom in Jesus, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)”  Why would our President get involved in this clearly religious matter by stating their lawful right to do so?  It may be lawful, but is it profitable or beneficial for the U.S.?  And if we do, are we allowing ourselves to be mastered by a clearly opposing religious and politically motivated world view?

The followers of Islam have made it clear that the U.S. is the infidel to them, that we are worshippers of our wealth and arrogant.  Islam is clear in both its teaching and history as a religion of violence and domination whose goal is to eliminate the infidel.  Islam is not a religion of peace.  As seen in the video below, true believers of Islam cannot be friends with non believers and it teaches them to outwardly befriend but inwardly curse them.  If this is true, how can Muslims claim to want to build the symbol of their beliefs as an honor to those that Muslims killed and to what Muslims believe was the symbol of our worship as infidels, the World Trade Center?  And again why would our President get involved, other than knowing what the Quran teaches in this regard? 

My opinion is obvious.  But I am interested in what all of you think?  The can’s open, comment away.

Please take a moment before you comment to watch this short video?

Tough Love…

We’ve all heard the phrase “tough love”, maybe even experienced it in our adolescence as we clumsily navigated through some rebellious patch of our life growing up.  Hopefully you are not still stuck there.  It can be painful both as a parent and a recipient of tough love.  I however, have been experiencing tough love of a different nature lately and this morning took a moment to meditate on it.  What I’m dealing with is how love can be tough.  It’s hard to love people sometimes.

I have had a number of instances over the last year and especially recently where I was deeply struggling to feel and be loving toward people.  I have felt like the Apostle Paul in Romans where he said:

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.”  Romans 7:18

Paul endured all kinds of things at the hands of other people and he struggled with doing the right thing, the loving thing.  He reveals our inner conflict between the spirit and the flesh in us.  I have a desire to do the loving thing but sometimes my mind is saying stick it to them.  We have a tendency to justify our feelings or subsequent actions, because after all we were done wrong, they are being unreasonable or we are the victim.  That all may be true but the conflict remains and reveals our true problem.  To be true to the Spirit in us, we must love and be loving. 

As I read Romans 5 I find the problem with and answer to my dilemma:

“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Romans 5:5

The demands of life and the demands of God are so great that I don’t have a chance to do right without Him.  God knows the selfish and self-preserving nature of our flesh.  We are without the hope of consistent love without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us.  Without Jesus and the gift of His Spirit we do not have the capacity to love the unloveable.  We will revert to our flesh and flesh will always protect flesh.  It defaults to self-preservation. 

However, even as a believer we will have to believe the promise of God’s love.  Through His Spirit He has poured out His love in our hearts giving us His capacity to love even in the harshest of conditions.  Love is tough, but its impossible without God’s love.  So before we begin to excuse our unloving behavior by what others have done to us, we need to draw deep from the well of God’s love and remember that even in moments of injustice and persecution God gives us the capacity to manifest the love of Jesus through our mortal flesh.

Love may be tough, but not impossible.

Who do you need to forgive today?

Comfort from fellow travelers..

It is always comforting to find people and things that let you know you are not journeying alone.  Outside of Jesus being the only way to the Father, I don’t usually suggest that there is a uniform pattern in life other than we were created to grow and hopefully we will do so til we die.  In the case of the article below by Roger Thoman at simplechurchjournal.com I am not saying every person who is transitioning toward a simple, organic or house church will go through everything he experience nor should you pattern yourself after or expect the same.  However, in retrospect while on the journey I am on, I have found great comfort in knowing that what Roger has observed and personally experienced has in many ways been my journey as well.  For this I am grateful to know that what God is doing in my life he has and is doing in others.

I hope you will read and comment on the following article.

November 23, 2009

Stages in the Journey of Simple/House Church IStock_000002238315XSmall I have been reflecting, for some time, on the stages that I have seen and experienced in the simple/house church journey.

I would love to have your feedback on this to help clarify and further illuminate this subject.

When I speak of “stages” I do NOT speak of progressive steps.  I am not suggesting that one stage is better than the previous nor that this is about a plan to follow.  I am simply seeking to describe some aspects of the journey itself.  However, since the journey is one of change and transformation, I thought it might be helpful to try to describe some of the experiences in that journey that may be common to most.

Also, these “stages” typically refer to those who are transitioning from traditional church to simple/house church NOT to people who are discovering church-life for the first time in their life.

1. Letting go of old paradigms of church life.  This stage is described in a variety of ways from “taking the red pill,” to frustration with old wineskins to discovering what the Bible teaches about church life to…  It is sometimes accompanied with periods of disorientation, wandering through valleys of confusion, or (alternatively) great relief and a new sense of freedom.  People discover that they no longer want to “go” to church, rather they want to learn what it really means to “be” the church.

2. Exploring New Testament gatherings.  Since our old paradigm of church life has often revolved around the Sunday morning gathering, we often find ourselves on a quest to discover what “New Testament” simple/house church gatherings might look like and feel like.  In this stage, “the gathering” often remains the focus of our church-life as we seek to explore and experience small, Spirit-led, participatory, Christ-filled gatherings.  Our freedom continues to grow and we become more and more enamored with the reality that we really are 24/7, kingdom-living, Spirit-directed believers.  The dividing walls between secular and sacred continue to come down and we become excited about integrating our spiritual life with our “everyday” life.

3. Re-boot to Jesus.  Using Frost & Hirsch’s term (from ReJesus), part of the overall transformation we walk through is the re-centering of Jesus in our life.  This takes place as we find ourselves removing pieces of our religious life that have sometimes taken center stage alongside of Jesus or as mediators between us and Jesus: our church, our pastor, certain leaders, certain teachers, doctrine, our church’s culture (fitting in to the culture), religious rules for church life or behavior, etc, etc.  The result is often a personal renewal of our own relationship with Jesus, a greater longing to understand what it is to be an uncompromising follower, to hear his voice, to respond to him, and to live out of a deep intimacy and love relationship with him that is truly center stage in our life.

4. A new missional heart and longing.  It is inevitable that the process of re-booting to Jesus stirs in us a fresh desire to see his kingdom, his love, his power known and experienced by others.  However, this stage is sometimes fraught with severe challenges because our background around “missional” has sometimes been so pre-packaged and programmed that we are challenged to grasp the unique and fresh ways that Jesus wants to make himself known through us.  This is especially true for those whose spiritual gifts do not seem to fit into the “missional” spectrum.  However, for those who are more apostolic and evangelistic in gifting, this stage often leads to an entirely new excitement and fervor for taking the “real Jesus” into the streets, neighborhoods, and unreached segments of the world.  For those who have NOT seen themselves as “missional,” (in our previous church experiences) this stage can lead to some exciting discoveries of how God wants to embody himself uniquely through each of us (see stage #5).

(Side-note: It has been my experience that each of these stages may lead to changes in one’s own worship community and gathering.  For example, stage 4 may literally lead to someone moving geographically in order to better fulfill his/her calling.  Or, we may find that our own transformation draws us to connect with different people than when we started—or even NO people for a season as we become re-oriented.)

5. Fresh discovery of our own passions, spiritual gifts, and calling.  As we are freed up from church/religious boxes, we are able to more thoroughly discover our uniqueness in the way that God shaped us (passions, gifts, and calling) leading to a new understanding of how he wants to work in and through our lives.  I believe that, in some ways, this stage may lead to the most significant impact on the world as Christ’s church is renewed to walk in all of her splendor according to the unique way that each person is shaped.  This may be considered a “convergent stage,” a coming together of several stages at once: our experience of re-booting to Jesus, our missional excitement about seeing the “real Jesus” shared among our neighbors, friends, and world, and our discovery of how we are uniquely created and gifted to serve and embody Jesus.

(A second side-note: transformational journeys are perilous in that they may lead to new directions in our life that we never imagined.  My wife and I are spending much of our time traveling to developing countries which has come directly out of these converging stages.  Of course, this process will lead in different directions for different people, but it should be noted that transformation always asks us to let go of our own life and allow Jesus to re-shape it.)

6. Integration of an organic, fruitful lifestyle with organic gatherings that support it.  This is simply to re-iterate that gatherings may change as our life and lifestyle shift and that they ultimately support, synergistically, what God is doing through us as we experience stage #7

7. Our kingdom influence spreads and even becomes reproductive in its impact.  Since organic life grows and reproduces, we will discover the life that God has shaped in us not only influences others but becomes a living, reproducing influence.  For apostolic workers in unreached segments, this can lead to church planting movements.  Although our callings and influence may differ from this (and from one another) I do believe that similar types of reproductive fruitfulness can and will occur as we walk out this process of re-discovery of life in Jesus.  Ultimately, it is a transformational process that we are on.  As we are fully renewed in Jesus and he draws out of us who we really are, the Spirit’s influence through us becomes more and more dynamic, natural, compelling, and living (i.e. reproductive in influence).

Please let me know how you relate (or don’t relate) to these stages!

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Insecurity in Church Movements…

Can’t we all just get along!  This expresses how I feel so many times when I read what people write about the church and others get their two cents worth in how they think.  I am all for a free … Continue reading

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Love + Incarnational = Transformation

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I stopped by my Grand Mother’s house today to pick up some flowers she wanted us to have.  Granny Hobbs is 91 now and for as long as I can remember she has given everything away.  My daughter asked me, “Why … Continue reading

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Grace and Freedom in Christ…

For those of you who are a part of The Dwelling Place, here is a great short message by Francis Chan on Freedom in Christ and Grace. Francis Chan: “Grace, Grace, Grace”  (This and other massages at http://www.cornerstonesimi.com)

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