Thoughts

Holy Week Top 5

Posted by on Mar 24, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

If ever a week full of images, Holy Week paints plenty with the Last Supper, the betrayal and crowing cock, the Crucifixion and wrapping the Body in spices, and, of course, the Resurrection.  This year throw in the bombing in Brussels, complete with first person video, and the Holiest of Weeks once again comes into focus.  As you walk through this week, may the truth “He is risen!” bring hope to your suffering and joy to your soul.   Here are my Top 5 Holy Week sites and articles.  I hope you enjoy them!    1. MET Slideshow Good Friday has served as the focus of art masterpieces for centuries.  Allow these to draw you back to the cross and the gift Jesus gave there.     2. Resurrection Paintings Easter and the resurrection.  Death defeated and joy for eternity.  My two favorites from this site?  Bramantino, The Resurrected Christ, 1490 AD – a stark, angular Jesus with the sheen of death still on Him – and the always colorful, He Qi, Easter Morning, 2004.     3. Death, the Prosperity Gospel, and Me This week is holy because Jesus and suffering became synonymous.  In a good way.  This first-person account lays bear how suffering is only addressed through the cross.     4. Happiness Hack Jesus’ death makes possible the community we all desire.  Easter resurrects relationships we once thought dead. This compelling article lays out key First Article ingredients Jesus created for fulfilling friendships.     5. Easter Safari And an Easter safari, for all the folks who love off-road vehicles with crazy more power than they need. Can I have one in my Easter basket? Happy reading,...

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Wine, Urine & Jesus

Posted by on Oct 22, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Wine, Urine & Jesus

“A drop of urine in a bottle of wine ruins the wine, but a drop of wine in a bottle of urine has no effect.”  –Rozin & Fallon, “A Perspective on Disgust” In “disgust psychology,” scientists have labeled some human thinking “magical thinking.” It is thinking that makes no logical sense, yet is profoundly powerful, creating boundaries that are often irreversible. An example is the statement above: A drop of urine in a bottle — probably even a swimming pool — of wine ruins the wine, but a drop of wine in a bottle of urine has no effect. Studies show that even if that wine was filtered, most people would still not drink it because “once impure, always impure.” Logically, in parts per million measurements, this doesn’t make sense and is scientifically beyond demonstration. But once our eyes see and minds determine, the label cannot be removed. “Magical thinking” also speaks to the one-way effect of disgust:  the urine has the power to ruin “pure”, but the wine has no power to change the state of the “impure.” While this disgust mentality might be beneficial at times with food, when we apply it to people and practice, it runs counter to Jesus’ intent and abilities. He reverses the state of impurity. He is the wine that changes the nature of the urine. His blood makes our invasive imperfection perfect. When we talk of impure worship, straining gnats out of musical style or whether or not “enough” of the liturgy is present, we have moved into magical disgust talk, on an impossible trek, especially in a broken world full of impure people. When we stick some types of people with ‘disgust’ labels — homosexuals, abusers, __________ (whatever type of person you label and find yourself using that label when thinking of them), we have allowed our psychology to trump our theology. A sacramental life transforms the recipient because of the presence of Jesus, who is transformational. It offers this transformation to all, disallowing...

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A Positional Paper on ‘Sacramental’

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Blog | 4 comments

A Positional Paper on ‘Sacramental’

Over the past few months a number of people have requested information about FiveTwo’s use of sacramental, especially in light of the Lutheran Confessions.  Below is a paper the FiveTwo leadership has adopted as our positional statement, reinforcing the missional richness of sacramental. We share this to bring confidence to those inside and outside of our network, demonstrating our purposeful use of language and theology.  While diligently seeking new opportunities to reach Jesus’ lost people, we remain historically and sacramentally grounded.   While joining adjectives and nouns previously not found in the same thought, let alone same sentence, our intent is to reveal Jesus in ways that engage the listener, especially the listener outside of the Kingdom of God. ——————- FiveTwo is a sacramental multiplication movement devoted to starting new things to reach new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. From time to time, we receive questions and hear objections about why we say and do certain things in certain ways. Thus, we thought it would be valuable to clarify issues around two topics that have recently captured some attention. What it means to be “sacramental” The first topic that has captured some attention is our use of the term “sacramental.” As a movement that originated in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, we believe, along with Lutherans throughout the world, that a Sacrament is that which has a “command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added.”[1] Traditionally, Lutherans have held up Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the two Sacraments of the Church, though, in our confessional documents, Confession and Absolution is also sometimes numbered among the Sacraments.[2] The Confessions even muse as to whether or not prayer, alms, and troubles could be considered sacramental in some sense.[3] The number of Sacraments is not really the point, for the very term “sacrament” itself is determined ecclesiologically and not biblically, for the term never appears in Scripture. Indeed, our confessional documents warn us against fighting over the number of Sacraments and the definition of what constitutes a Sacrament, saying, “No levelheaded person will labor greatly about the number or the term, if only those things are still kept that have God’s command and promises.”[4] It is in this spirit that we have chosen to use the term “sacramental” in a broader way, noting the similitude between what happens in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper on the one hand and what happens when God’s people share the gospel with others on the other. We have said that, in a general sense, God’s people can be considered to be Christ’s small “s” sacraments, for, as Jesus is truly present in the capital “S” Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper according to the promise of His Word, Jesus truly lives in His people by faith (cf. Galatians 2:20). This, in turn, has implications for how His people can live sacramentally before others. Martin Luther explains it well when he says, “As [Christ] gives Himself for us with His body and blood in order to redeem us from all misery, so we too are to give ourselves with might and main for our neighbor.”[5] Luther connects the Sacramental worship of the Church to the sacramental living of her people. Luther’s statement also helps clarify our use of the phrase “sacramental entrepreneur.” When we...

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A Letter To God’s Wonderful People of FiveTwo

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Dear FiveTwo, Six years ago, when eight men and I took the first steps in starting FiveTwo, I might have briefly thought of leading FiveTwo full-time one day. However, over the past few years and especially the past few months, the tug on my heart to give my full energy and effort to leading FiveTwo has become more than a tug, and the day has arrived. I have decided to step aside from leading CrossPoint Community Church, a ministry my family and I helped plant 18 years ago, in order to lead FiveTwo, a network that fuels sacramental, entrepreneurial people who start new in order to reach new. I’m just as scared and excited as I was when my family landed in Katy, Texas in 1997! As I looked at the state of FiveTwo, where we believe Jesus is leading us, and factored in guidance from mentors and friends, I concluded my full attention to FiveTwo could make a huge difference in this pivotal season for the network.  CrossPoint is ready for a new season as well, with a great board and staff, so it became clear that instead of trying to lead both ministries, my energies would be best spent leading FiveTwo. It’s a new day! Two questions in particular have clarified that direction and compelled me to take this step: How do we continually enlist more “starters” in reaching Jesus’ lost people? The number of unchurched people in the United States continues to rise, especially among the younger generations, while the mainline sacramental church continues to decline. We need sacramental leaders who will start new, and we need them from every walk of life. We need men and women entrepreneurial leaders who want to start a variety of new communities – small to large and urban to rural church plants, businesses-as-mission, community development endeavors, house churches, study groups, book clubs, preschools, etc. – whose end game is to be the presence of Jesus so that lost people receive Jesus. While we are not espousing changing our theology (i.e. women’s ordination), for too long we have defacto sidelined the very people God has given His Church for dry seasons such as the one the US Church is entering. FiveTwo is positioned to awaken these leaders and fuel them for mission in the harvest fields. Until Jesus takes me home, I want to play a role in equipping leaders on the growing-edge of the Church to push that edge further. How do we help those on the growing-edge rediscover the power of sacramental? As a life-long Lutheran, my love for the Sacraments has only grown over time. The intimacy of the Supper and the celebration of Baptism, both bringing the divine reality of Jesus into my physical reality, provide forgiveness and encouragement in one-of-a-kind holistic ways. Yet too often we Christians leave those realities in Sunday worship, failing to grasp the presence of Jesus in our daily lives. FiveTwo wants people to possess both a deep love for the mysterious presence of Jesus in the Sacraments of baptism and Lord’s Supper, while also believing that Jesus’ presence in us empowers us to be His presence in the world. We are His Body on earth not solely on Sundays but every day. And we do His work by the power...

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A Letter to God’s Wonderful People at CrossPoint

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Dear CrossPoint, For the last 18 years, my family and I have called CrossPoint home. From the time we landed in Katy in January 1997 and joined 7 other families in launching this ministry until today, we have loved you, this community, and the Jesus who loves us all. It has been one of the most rewarding seasons of our lives. To see you get to know Jesus and grow in His forgiveness, to baptize many of you and your families, and to see the joy in your hearts when your friends and family meet this Jesus as well…what a phenomenally amazing time. Now I am entering another season I hope to be as rewarding and amazing: I am stepping aside from leading CrossPoint, so I can devote my full attention to leading FiveTwo, the church planting network CrossPoint helped found in 2009. Someone once told me that when you plant a church, it’s like having a daughter. And when she grows up, you will need to hand her off to someone else. I find it divinely ironic that when I say “Her mother and I do” this coming May with Abigail, I will have experienced this already with CrossPoint. One of the reasons I feel such confidence in moving into FiveTwo at this time is the leaders Jesus has in place in our congregation. They are wonderful, godly people who will lead CrossPoint into Jesus’ future. Of that I am sure. I like to think that when Jesus allowed me to help plant a church-planting network six years ago, He was preparing the CrossPoint transition to be somewhat easier for me: I am moving into a network that in many ways is a broader expression of CrossPoint, a network whose heart is to create ministries with the same love for Jesus and His lost people that we share here in Katy. This is not a decision I made lightly. I have wrestled with this move for over three years and have consulted with numerous friends and mentors both locally and around the country. While it is a big leap – there is much work to be done financially for this to work – the recent changes at CrossPoint, coupled with the continued growth of the network, led me to conclude my leadership is needed most in helping start ministries that reach their communities. The sheer number of unchurched people in the United States continues to rise, while the mainline sacramental church continues to decline. Just like CrossPoint has led the way in Katy in reaching Jesus’ lost people, so, too, FiveTwo is leading the way in helping entrepreneurial leaders start new ministries to reach new people. FiveTwo is at a pivotal point, and my full attention there could make a huge difference, Jesus willing. On one hand this new season will feel very different from the old. I will no longer be your pastor nor the head pastor; Jesus will bring someone else, as He sees fit, to that role, and I’ll simply be a parishioner. It will be a radical change for my family and me to simply come and worship, without us feeling somehow responsible for this family of disciples we helped form. In many ways you have been our life for the past 18 years....

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The #Sacramental Wok | Oct 9

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

The #Sacramental Wok | Oct 9

A weekly Szechuan mix of spicy cultural happenings, sprinkled with 1st Article insights and a dash of theological musings, all geared to help the Sacramental Entrepreneur bring Jesus to his hood. Regardless of where you live, a fascinating — but sad — read on image, identity and plastic surgery.  Nip & Tuck in Brazil, by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro “Impact investing” in the social change arena.  A Look Into Entrepreneurial Approaches to Social Change, by Jean Case Excellent post on using social media to tell story.  9 Ways to Utilize Social Media for Storytelling, by Brian Fanzo Revealing secular discussion on the sometimes offensive, always seamlessness of sacramental, allowing 2nd and 3rd article faith to live beyond Sunday.  Pagans and Christians, by Ross Douthat For the fun in you.  George Harrison Explains Why Everyone Should Play the Ukulele, With Words and Music, by Josh...

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Community: Earwig, Big Bang Theory, & Bible

Posted by on Aug 5, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Community: Earwig, Big Bang Theory, & Bible

Sacramental community is the petri dish for sacramental entrepreneurs.  It’s where the crazy idea of starting new to reach new infiltrates your brain, like that earwig from Star Trek.  It’s where you encounter a parallel universe of apostolic geeks, like Big Bang Theory meets the Bible. Sacramental community happens when a gaggle of geeks sold out for Jesus and growing in how His patented presence uniquely shapes them for kingdom-good, commit to walk together.  They are crystal on who Jesus made them to be and committed to live out Jesus shoulder to shoulder.  That, muchachos, raises the ceiling.  Lots of room for coolness. Try this on: The best way to experience Jesus is in a community of Jesus followers.  I can read about Jesus on the pages of the Bible; I can learn of Him through song and Word.  But to experience His real presence calls for me to experience His presence in His people.  Trusting His forgiveness flows from receiving that forgiveness from His people. The best way to experience Jesus is in a community of Jesus followers. @Five2 #sacramental Click To Tweet When I celebrate the sacraments of baptism and Lord’s Supper in community with other sons and daughters of Jesus, more than celebrating Jesus’ presence, His Spirit is forming me into Jesus’ presence.  He’s preparing me to be His sacrament with others. Two huge benefits of that community?  One is Relationships that lead to courage. This is the plural you of the New Testament, how being Church is not an individual sport.  This is the reality that your experience – good or bad – when shared in the context of following Jesus, brings me wisdom for how I need to walk.  When I’m in relationship with others, under the Lordship of Jesus, I discover a courage for facing the dark alleys of life.  Cue the flashlight. The other huge benefit is Camaraderie that leads to how.  Throughout life we’re faced with the how question.  When Jesus followers live in community, each growing in how Jesus has uniquely knitted her or him together, then your knowledge, your gifts, your talents become mine.  I don’t need to be an ear when you’re such a great one.  You don’t need to worry about running well when that’s my forte.  My strength becomes yours; your know-how becomes mine.  Pay the man, Shirley. Here’s another way of saying it: Biblical communities gather to celebrate His presence in the sacraments and to be a sacrament for others.   Biblical communities in FiveTwo gather to live out sacramental faith, respect for all and to be action-oriented disciples.  And when those people are maturing in their walk with Jesus, understanding His exclusive call on their lives and how He has formed them for that call so they can bless the Body and beyond, that’s community that creates big bangs, Bible...

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It All Begins and Ends With Jesus

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

What does it really mean when we say "It all begins and ends with Jesus?" Find out by watching this video and please, share with your friends.

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Five Keys to Releasing The Sacramental Jesus in Others

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Blog | 4 comments

Five Keys to Releasing The Sacramental Jesus in Others

If I spent a day with you, what would I discover?  If I took a 3-day train ride with you, how would I describe you when we arrived at the station? Sacramental identity is the unique presence of Christ in you, a God-combo of your Psalm 139 knitting together and your baptism-day-Holy-Spirit washing.  It is the predestined, divinely patented you, ordained by your Creator Father for His purposes in the world.  In sacramental terms, it is the sacramental Jesus in you, the real presence of Jesus wrapped in your bread and wine. Your sacramental identity is the sacramental Jesus in you, the real presence of Jesus wrapped in… Click To Tweet When Jesus lives in you–and you get that–you also want others to realize just how Jesus lives in them.  It’s part of Jesus’ purpose for you: to  see Christ formed in others (Galatians 4:19) so that they live out their sacramental calling, blessing both those inside and outside the Church.  The Jesus living in you (sacramental faith) leads you to be the presence of Jesus in the world (sacramental faith lived out) so that the world experiences Jesus. What are some ways to release the sacramental Jesus in your family and friends? The Five 1.  Remind them of their baptism, that regardless of their feelings or awareness, Jesus claimed them and gave them everything He ever did on that day.  His presence in them is real. Sacramental. 2.  Affirm the ways they bring blessing to the world.  Point out where God’s grace bubbles out of their lives, bringing joy to those around them.  Many of us fail to connect Jesus’ presence to joy. Sacramental. 3.  Listen to their heart’s passion – when their eyes light up and voice increases — and circle that for them.  Be a mirror to their soul so that they see Jesus in their soul. Sacramental. 4.  Watch them work.  Where do they self-start? Which direction does their compass routinely point?  When are they apparently in an autonomic zone, obviously designed for that purpose?  Sacramental. 5.  Debrief after a difficulty.  Forming Christ in sacramental entrepreneurs involves helping them learn to “be” in Christ since they tend to be action-oriented doers.  Slow them down for some reflection time, a couple of timely, gut-grabbing questions, especially after a failure or struggle.  Remind them of their place in the family so they don’t believe it a spot earned by their entrepreneurial success. How are you currently identifying and developing the Christ in others?  What do you need to sharpen to see Christ formed in others?  What do you need to start doing that would help you see Christ formed in...

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Five Q’s To Begin To Discover Your Unique Sacramental Identity

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Five Q’s To Begin To Discover Your Unique Sacramental Identity

Just how different are the answers to these two questions:  Who are you?  And, What do you do? Think about that for a minute. What’s really the difference? While one speaks to your nature, the reality is that when you know your identity, what you do flows more easily and naturally.  And if you know Jesus, well, you are who you are because of Jesus. And you do what you do because of Jesus. It starts with identity. Your Jesus Identity. Meaning you understand who you are in Christ–a son or daughter of the King, yes, but more than that, a particular son or daughter with unique giftings and callings, personalities and styles.  More than just eye or skin color.  I’m talking the inner you that resonates to words and sounds different than my resonating. You have a unique sacramental you, that lives out the presence of Jesus in a unique, divinely called way. You have a unique sacramental you, that lives out the presence of Jesus in a unique,… Click To Tweet Grasping the Who God has made You is one of the most important truths to incorporate into your daily life.  You’ll discover a joy of functioning in the manner God intended.  Squirrels were designed to leap and climb, not fly. Sacramental Entrepreneurs can answer the “identity” question, realizing that Jesus has called them to start new in order to reach new.  To be His presence through new expressions of Church and community.  When they live in this awareness, they become more and more clear of their unique and necessary role in the Kingdom of God. Do you know the specific What you should be doing that flows from the Who you are? Here are five simple ways to discover your unique sacramental identity. Ask yourself these questions: 1.  If you didn’t have to worry about money or failure, family or time, what would you do? (No holds barred.) 2.  Looking back over your life, where has your heart’s passion produced fruit at the greatest level? 3.  What events or experiences have brought you the most joy and satisfaction? 4.  Try the Reverse Golden Rule:  What four or five things would you like someone to do for you?  Write them down and then try doing them for someone else. 5.  Gather two or three trusted friends and ask them to describe your particular gifts.  “If I could only be used for one or two activities, how would you use me?” Take all of those answers and add them together.  Read through them.  Let them sit and percolate.  What common threads do you see?  Can you distill them down to a paragraph?  If you had to write out your unique life calling in one sentence, what would it be? Who you are should flow into what you do.  Identity forms function. What area of your life do you need to sharpen so you can start this journey today? Put your thoughts in the comments...

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