kingdom.experiment.1

I decided to try to document my experiences with the Kingdom Experiment that we are doing at Thrive Church.

Week 1 – Poor in Spirit

1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:1-3)

The “poor in the spirit” are those who realize that they are spiritually bankrupt, and must rely on God alone for the ability to even fathom Him, let alone to have the choice to accept His offer of reconciliation. This poverty of spirit flavors the whole person – flowing through the persons thoughts and actions. Of course, we are mere human reflectors of the Divine Glory that flows within us. The best way to understand a poverty of spirit is to explore the idea of poverty itself, and draw some analogies, which is how we approached the teaching this week, to mirror the book’s approach. The suggested experiments follow two paths: inward reflection or outward expression.

I chose one of the “outward expression” experiments, which was to visit the Kiva.org website and “co-sponsor” a loan for an entrepreneur in a developing country. My only twist was that I wanted this to be a family project. My goal was that we would go to the site together, choose a world area together, choose a country together, and then choose a person to co-sponsor. This “twist” proved to be quite a frustrating experience to be honest.

The “together” part was a challenge. My daughter is in college and only comes home for the weekends – sometimes. Thankfully she was coming, but that meant that we were limited to Friday night and Saturday to get it done before church on Sunday. Also, my son is a fairly independent teenager who has his own agenda when it comes to how he spends his time. Then there’s my bride, Angel, who is such hard working teacher that I really hate to put anything else on her plate, especially since she uses Saturdays to work on Sunday’s children’s lessons. Waiting for the weekend proved to e extremely taxing on my patience.

I got really excited about the family project. Once everyone was home, and relatively “un-busy”, I hooked the computer up to our home theater projector and launched the website. Then I told everyone it was time to get ready to do our experiment. After some prying from their activities, we finally assembled and refreshed the Kiva page. And there it was – a dreadful message: “all loans an this site are fully funded.” Seriously??? Ten minutes ago, there WERE loans available to co-sponsor. Where did they go? Apparently, there are way too many eager lenders for the number of loans that flow through the system.

I read the FAQ that said they updated hourly. Yeah, right – on a Saturday night, I highly doubt there will be a new loan posted. I felt frustrated and defeated. There is no way that I, the pastor, can show up at church not having done a Kingdom Experiment. GRRRR! My patience is all but gone now. So, I sat there, sulking, and feeling sorry for myself. With a sense of futile resignation, I flippantly hit the reload button. VOILA! A new loan opportunity showed up! We cheered and read the bio, then eagerly processed our money.

The picture above is the person whose business we sponsored. Her name is Natalia Casalino Antesana, and she is trying to expand her booth at a fish market in Peru.

What did I learn? I learned to be patient with God’s timing. He is so wise and He is never late. Sometimes I want to do things my way and on my time table. OK, so maybe “sometimes” is a bit more generous than I should be for my OCD tendencies. I truly believe that when we seek to honor God, His faithfulness will shine. My challenge is to trust Him all the way,not just with the “what” but also with the “when” and “how”.
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In His grip!

Herb Halstead, Pastor
www.ThriveCommunityChurch.com

Posted via email from Herb Halstead’s posterous

haiti.relief

There are so many needs that we are confronted with day-by-day. The Haiti crisis is one of many, albeit an urgent one.
We are so fortunate that our globally deployed Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) was on the ground within minutes after the disaster through our network of churches. They continue to do the hard work in the field, and need our help.
If you are able to help support the Haiti relief efforts, I have a couple web addresses for you:

1) NCM.org where you can find many ways to help, including making crisis-care-kits.

2) Direct Supply Shipment, NCM partnered with Amazon.com to directly ship needed supplies to the Haiti field stations. I am already seeing some of the supplies going out of stock which is an awesome sign that things are moving!

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In His grip!

Herb Halstead, Pastor
www.ThriveCommunityChurch.com

Posted via email from Herb Halstead’s posterous

kingdom.experiment.kit

I picked up a weird habit, I think from my dad. When he was in the military he always had these kits around the house. He had one “kit” for when he went into the field for training. It contained all the things he needed for roughing it during a training exercise. He had what he called a bug-out bag (hahaha) which was basically an emergency kit that he could quickly grab that contained the essentials for dealing with some kind of emergency event. He had a first aid kit, a grooming kit (with some not-so-manly brushes – sorry Dad), and even a few tool kits for specific tasks like gadget repair, plumbing repairs, etc.

He had lots of little kits, and I’ve picked up that habit with similar kits lying around my house. I still remember my very first kit that was all my own. It was a chemistry kit. It had about 10 experiments that you could perform, and everything you needed for all the experiments was included in the kit. These kits were very popular when I was a boy, and they were fairly safe. I know, because I tried real hard to make something destructive to no avail (grin).

We just started a new series called “The Kingdom Experiment“, and I just wanted to suggest tool-kit items (call me hokey) to help you jump-start your Kingdom Experiment. If I were going to put together a KE-Kit, here’s what I would pack in it:

1) Bible – seriously. This is not said just to make sure we maintain a certain level of “churchy” as we start this process. I truly want you to stay close to God’s word, especially the sermon on the mount, of which the beatitudes are the introduction. An iPhone or (insert other smart phone) Bible is fine, especially if it helps you keep the Bible in your kit.

2) KE Book. Now, here’s the thing: I know that you’ve all done “group-studies” before, and you know the drill: pay for a book that you will have with you at every meeting, but that you’ll never crack open except in the meetings. Please, do not let this KE become just another group-study. The weekly “devotions” are SHORT and WELL-WRITTEN. They are sometimes funny and witty, but always thought-provoking.

3) Adrenaline Shot. OK, just kidding. But, I do want you to come with enthusiasm and expectation. My biggest fear is this: that KE will be a flop for you. But, here’s the other shoe – it will only be a flip-flop, err… flop for you if you don’t come to participate well. You get what you put into this sort of thing. That means if it sucks, it’s your fault – not mine. Love ya!

4) Medal of Courage. OK, just kidding again. But, in a related way, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He loves you and wants you to enjoy a life thriving in Him, in us, and in passing it on. With His empowering grace, you will be transformed through these “experiments.” He will show you which experiment(s) to try and He will be there with you while you do it. Just invite Him into your kit.

5) Note Pad. OK, so this can be literal or not. The KE book has lots of white-space, intentionally provided for you to write directly in the book. But, you could also use writing software, or even a voice or video recorder. But, in some way, keep a log of what you are doing and what the experience was like for you. Then get ready to share when we meet again.

The Kingdom Experiment has the potential for transforming the way you live. It could radically enrich our church. It has the potential for changing people’s perceptions of Jesus’ people. My kit is packed, and I am so ready – are you?

social.holiness.hijack

OK. So, most people who know me know that I really dig small groups. For about 15 years or so, I’ve been part of small groups ministries of some kind, in some way. I’ve done a lot of reading and studying about small groups. So, as a small groups guy, and as someone whose theological tradition is influenced strongly by John Wesley, naturally, I would be familiar by Wesley’s classes and bands. I also happen to be quite a fan of Wesley. One of Wesley’s idioms, of which I have been quite fond, is being used a lot lately. But, it has been hijaked!

The phrase is: “The Gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness, but social holiness”. Unfortunately, not only is the phrase being hijaked but also mangled to the most common form: “there is no holiness without social holiness”.

I think many college students would be surprised that Wesley’s oft quoted phrase has nothing at all to do with “social justice”. In fact, I can think of at least two main-stream bloggers’ posts where Wesley’s “social holiness” was assumed synonymous to “social justice” (not linked to avoid embarrassing those well-intentioned bloggers). A “google” of the mangled form of the phrase will find its misapplication rampant. I have to admit, that in my own quest to find a more exact term that combines the notion of salvation’s grace and the resulting compulsion to help others experience that transformational grace (especially the disadvantaged of our society), I am tempted to join the throng in co-opting Wesley’s phrase for this purpose. It is so convenient.

The problem is that I know better. Contextually, Wesley absolutely did not mean “social justice” when he said that, “The Gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness, but social holiness”. What he was actually referring to was the “social holiness” experienced as people in small groups pursued a life of holiness, together, through the social interaction of discipleship (building up souls). He made this statement in a preface to a collection of hymns and poems by himself and his brother, Charles. The phrase comes as he is justifying the collection for use in worship and discipleship, in direct response to those people who think they can live faith without meeting with “the brethren” (“sisteren” too I am sure).

Sure, there is the universal appeal to “all” that he uses, but clearly as a persuasive device to combat the notion of a solitary religion, devoid of the blessed accountability of fellow sojourners. The context of the phrase is clearly about discipleship. Those who think otherwise, probably only skimmed the preface or never read it at all. This is not to say that being socially holy (in the misrepresented sense) is bad, it’s just not what Wesley meant when he said “social holiness”. Also, I am *not* saying that Wesley did not have a strong emphasis on meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the less fortunate of our society, it’s just not what he meant when he said “social holiness”.

So, no – the term “social holiness” will *not* do as a fitting replacement for the term “social justice”.

“Social justice” as an “idea” is awesome, but as a “term“, it really really sucks. The quest continues.

Posted via web from Herb Halstead’s posterous