Let 's Make Deal Randy Bohlender

Let's Make A DealViens no maniem agrīnās bērnības atmiņām ir no TV spēli rāda, "Let 's Make Deal,"Rīkoja Monty Hall. Galvenā doma bija, ka cilvēki, ietērps ārzemniecisks kostīmi, would try and attract attention to be chosen to play some sort of game that involved trading things and making a blind choice of what was between door number one, door number two, or door number three.

In other words, make yourself look goofy, roll the dice and take your chances on the outcome.

Psalm 45 offers another deal…one that seems costly but pays out at a crazy rate. Verse 10 says “Hear, oh daughter, and consider, and incline your year, forget your people and your fathers’ house, and the king will desire your beauty.”

In a patriarchal society like the Old Testament, the cost of this is clear. Forget your people. Forget your father’s house. Walk away from all that spells security to you. Take a chance on the unknown when the known is where you draw your sustenance…where you glean your identity. An unmarried woman may grow old and lonely, but she’d always be taken care of…at least as long as her father was alive.

father and son on a beachIn our world, where fatherlessness is rampant, many people walk away from their father’s house prematurely. Those with a healthy father/child relationship to point to are far and few in between, and even in those cases, the child does not look to the father for security and identity once they reach adulthood. In many ways, our own culture has taken place of the patriarchal leader. We are not told what to do or believe or manage our lives by an earthly father – we learn those things from a television, a movie screen, or the latest music group. We take our value cues from actors and musicians. They preach a fatherly message of self worth and self inflation that is the support structure of all sorts of our social mores, including the second house, the third car, and the fourth wife. We believe in these things more than we believe in ourselves, and we’ll pay any price to get them. We’re made to believe that these things make us who we are.

To walk away from your fathers house in 2010 certainly means to walk away from all that makes us comfortable and feels normal – to live abnormally, even uncomfortably. I’m wrestling this one out myself right now. What do I do, how do I spend my money, where does my time go based on what the culture tells me is important, is a must-have gadget or a must-see tv show.

If we can learn to escape that house, there is a promise – a better deal. It’s called an audience with the King – but that’s not all.

Verse 16 promises us “In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth.” In other words, it may cost us our comfort, but the payoff comes in the form of sons. One translation of the word used there for ’sons’ is ‘children of unrighteous men’.

Which of course, leads me to adoption. Adoption in not cheap, not easy, and not without risks (although we’re working on all three of those…). However, even at it’s most expensive, it’s most difficult, it’s most risky moments, if we step beyond the ‘take care of ourselves, feed the machine mentality’, we get an amazing payback.

In adopting, we collect the sons of unrighteous men and place them in the house of prayer. We make princes in the kingdom of God out of paupers. Beyond changing destiny, we change their current reality. Everything becomes different for them – and everything becomes different for us.

The Blind SideMy favorite line from the recent movie, “The Blind Side” came during one of the lunch scenes. The adoptive mother is having lunch with her friends, who remark “You’re changing that boys’ life!” Quietly, Sandra Bullock responds “No. He’s changing mine.”

It’s true. And all it costs is everything.

Let’s make a deal.


What expense, gadget or indulgence do you have in your life that you could do without. Maybe it’s a purchase you were about to make or a Christmas gift you were going to return for exchange. As a first step, pray about doing without it – for a while, or maybe forever. Is it really a must-have, or did you just buy what you were sold by your father’s house?

If you can find it within yourself, do without it and seed it adoption by giving to an adoptive family or setting it aside as the beginning of your own adoption fund – then retweet a link to this or post it on your own blog. It gets easier to leave your fathers’ house when there are others going with you.

Randy BohlenderWho is Randy Bohlender?

I’m a Christian. I know the vogue phrase is Christ-follower and Christian has a lot of baggage, but so do I. I’m doing the best I can (most days) to reflect Jesus to the world. Some days I get close. Some days, He’s unrecognizable by my reflection, but I’m trying.

I’m a husband. July 2009, Kelsey and I will mark our 20th anniversary. She is an amazing friend who challenges me to new heights every day. I married up. Most men do. In 20 more years, she and I will still be laughing. Maybe at you. Definitely at ourselves and our expanding tribe.

I’m a dad. We have three sons and three daughters with a baby on the way. Jā, I know. We look too young. It’s the internet – it takes ten years off of everyone (ask anyone who met someone through eHarmony). Having a family of this size gives a blogger a lot of material. If you read here long, you’ll learn a lot about my kids. Perhaps more than you’d ask. I make no apologies. I’m learning a ton about life and love from them.

I’m an Early Adopter. And I mean this on several levels…words, gadgets, and children. Kelsey and I launched The Zoe Foundation for reasons cited here. You cannot know much about me without understanding my heart for this.

I’m an intercessory missionary. I work with the International House of Prayer and TheCall, laboring in a 24/7 prayer room as well as organizing day long solemn assemblies across the nation.

Human Conveyor Belt

Te ir reāla vienkāršs, , ka mēs bieži vien aizmirst. . .

Strādāt gudrāk, Nav grūtāk!

hauling foodNav svarīgi, kāda no SE projekta veidu jūs strādājat, iespējams, jums ir, lai izkrautu un slodzes materiāli. Pretēji izplatītajam atzinumu, I have found that you should NOT do all the preparation behind the scenes in the name of being volunteer friendly. Keep in mind, there going to be some new folks showing up to your outreach. They are really afraid of “witnessing” vai “evangelism” because they think most of the work here will be talking. Those of you that are veterans, no it is more about doing than talking. When folks gather for an outreach, they are either socializing, or fretting about all wondering if they will mess this up. Give them something to do. Here is way to encourage conversation, team building, and effective utilization of volunteers (if they are standing around they get bored then you will lose them). Let’s say you have 250 boxes of Coke Zero to move from the outreach shed into three SUV with ice and coolers waiting. Do not make the mistake you see above, where only three strapping young men heft the materials, walk it fifty yards or so, and load it.

plenty of helpInstead make a human chain. There is an art to this believe it or not. Look at the group of people you have meandering around and try to figure out how many you need to span the gap from the staging area to the truck. Next, arrange folks based on heigth and reach. Put them in a straight line from loading pile to target. Then, this is real important, have every other person turn and face the opposite direction. This will cause each person to be a “cog” in your human conveyor belt. They now face a partner. Now small boxes of just about anything (try to keep the weight under 15 lbs) will fly from one place to another via simple “pushing” of the object from one person to the next. Even better, since there is no twisting, bending, or lifting it will go smooth and easy. The nice thing about such an ergonomic system, is that it makes it easy for even kids to help out, and people can still have conversations with one another as they work since they are facing two people each.

Try it. . .you will slap your head after you see it work the first time and wonder why you didn’t do this earlier!

I Want My Name Back Fr. Joe Butler

Dažkārt atpakaļ es braucu uz leju par vienu no skaistākajām ielām downtown St. Augustine. Kā es braucu, Es paskatījos uz manu labo un ieraudzīja bufera uzlīmes, kas teica, “Jēzus glābt mani no saviem sekotājiem.” Kā es paskatījos šīs uzlīmes, vilnis emociju applūst pār mani. Es nodomāju:

“How can someone put something like that on their car?”

I got really upset with the gall of this person. As I drove on, there was another wave of emotions that flooded over me and questions began to arise in my mind. What has happened to this person that they would put a bumper sticker like that on their car? How did some “Christian” hurt them? Then I began to remember the times that other “Christians” treated me as I me as if I was not a Christian and did not even know that God existed.

I became very sad as I drove to the Post Office, because many times we so-called Christians misrepresent the name of Jesus. Several years ago a friend, Tom Pelton, preached a sermon and said that Christians have so misrepresented the name of Jesus, and not acted like Jesus, that he believed that Jesus was crying out to reclaim His name. He wants it back!

Have you ever misrepresented Jesus? Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone misrepresenting Jesus? If we were truly honest with ourselves we can all say that at some point in time we have misrepresented the name of Jesus.

1. We misrepresent the name of Jesus when we use Jesus’ name apart from His nature and character.

Let me explain. Several years ago a young man was murdered by other young men because he was gay. During the trial, a pastor and his church members were at the courthouse with huge signs saying “God hates fags.” As I saw this my blood boiled. God does not hate anyone. That is not His nature or character. But that is all that everyone saw on the evening news.

As you examine Exodus 34 we find God revealing Himself to Moses. In so doing, God reveals Himself first as loving, merciful, full of grace and then as a God of justice. So many times we as “Christians” get it backwards. We want to give out justice first and save the love, grace, and mercy for ourselves. St. Paul says that it is the goodness and mercy of God that leads us to repentance.

So, before we open our mouths and say this is what God is like we better check out His nature and character before we say anything. Let us truly become “Christ followers.”

2. We misrepresent the Name of Jesus when we move away from sinners.

The average ‘Christian’ after one year of being a Christian has no friends outside of the Christian environment. What a sad commentary. How do we reach people with the love of Christ if this is how we act? If we look at Jesus, he was a friend of sinners. It seems that he was more comfortable around sinners than around the “religious” people.

Today we have ‘Christian’ health clubs, stores, clothing, bowling alleys, and the list goes on and on. Faktiski, we could go our whole life without being around non-Christians if we really wanted to.

The problem with this is this is not who Jesus is or what he is like. If we are to be like Jesus we must get out among those who do not know him and be with them. It is not a time to judge them, but to share their life and get to know them. Instead of trying to get them to say ‘the Prayer’, why not ask them how their day was? Why not be their friend? If we would begin to do this and treat people with respect I believe that they would come to faith much quicker.

Lay down your Amway salesman evangelism and begin to be real with people. Get out among those that Jesus misses most. Let us truly become Christ-followers.

Dr. Martins Luters Kings diena Outreach? Dr. Zinātnieks

Dr. Zinātnieks

Cienījamie Dr. Zinātnieks,

Vai jums ir kādas idejas par SE par Dr. Martin Luther King Day?

Mācītājs Eugene Jackson
–Detroit Michigan

That is an excellent question! Lielākā daļa skolu mīlu ir locekļi savu baznīcu izpalīdzēt programmām un svinībām par šo ļoti svarīgo dienu laikā. Faktiski, why not host a parent teacher appreciation dinner at one of your local schools? It would be easy to do. All it involves is taking the normal Sunday Church social or brunch on the road during the next PTA meeting. You could expand this small outreach into a reading tutoring program. Tutoring reading is actually easier than it seems. Kids love to be read to–even older kids. As you win them over by reading a few stories, you then extend beyond that and show them how to read on their own. I will let you in on a little secret. When you read out loud to kids, visualation of the story comes naturally. Most kids that have difficulty with reading lack the ability to translate the character strings on a page into viual context in their brain. That is were you come in. Sure there are some children that have serious learning disabilities that require the intervention of a trained professional, but what they often lack even more is face time with a caring adult that models learning for them. That small investment of your time and energy will pay huge dividends in their lives. The economy is really bad right now, and families with children are really feeling the pinch. So are teachers and schools. Why not consider sponsoring a few kids or classroom with books to read for sustained silent reading? I can even put you in touch with a great company that sells book with African American themes for schools, teachers, and families of students at a fantastic price. If you drop our editor’s name, you will get an extra discount:


–Dr. Zinātnieks

Sludināšana pie McDonalds Charlie Wear

Preaching? At McDonald's?

Man bija dīvainu sapni citiem nakts. Es sēdēju pie galda McDonald restorānā. Telpa bija piepildīta ar visu vecumu cilvēkiem, no bērniem līdz pensionāriem, precētiem pāriem un singles, un pusaudzis no visas formas un izmēriem. Jo viss bija par 50 cilvēki telpā.

The smell of fries and happy meals and the sound of boisterous conversation and squeals of playing children filled the air. I had a sense of anticipation because I knew that in a few minutes I would stand up on a chair and begin to “preach” to this crowd of people.

In my dream I was turning over and over what I was going to say to this diverse group of people that would bring them to faith. I was turning words and phrases over and over in my dream-state mind, searching for just the right combination that would have the maximum effectiveness.

On another level, I thought about how my dream-character had obtained permission to preach at McDonald’s. Somehow it had been arranged. Somehow it was authorized. I don’t know the details, but it was O.K., in a minute I would stand and speak.

I moved to the front of the room, climbed on a chair, one of those plastic kind that is attached to the table and swivels and it was as I began to open my mouth that I moved from dreaming to the twilight zone between sleep and waking. I wondered about the dream as I lay there. What did it mean? What were the words that I was about to say? What would have been the effect on the crowd?

We need to bring the message to McDonald’s

So much of the program-based church is built on the assumption that people will come to us to hear the message. We spend hours preparing and then executing our weekend “services”. We are intentional (at our best) in attempting to communicate our chosen themes to the audience that will gather. But what of the majority of people who are making their way through life without ever taking advantage of what we have to offer. Is God’s message compelling enough that it can be brought into the marketplace, into the McDonald’s?

For that matter, is some form of preaching enough, or should we also be examples of what faith can mean in life? And is that preaching, that example, truly “good news?”

I received a letter written in response to one of the articles that has appeared in Next-Wave. The letter went something like this:

“I saw the… article [in Next-Wave]… and found it disgusting. Are you people so mixed up as to think that this is somehow reverence to God? Why don`t you just drive stakes through your hands and feet? It would follow your screwed-up logic. Only morons and depraved derelicts would do such things, not real Christians. [What] is the next step…? Please pray for wisdom before it`s too late. P.S. I give this counsel out of love for your soul…..Bro. Blank.”

Brother Blank’s disgust doesn’t feel like good news to me. And he’s writing in response to an article by Christians about Christians. I wonder what message he would “preach” if given the opportunity at McDonald’s.

Paul understood

Paul, of course, understood. He knew that religion can get in the way of trusting in God. He expounds at length on this subject in the letter to the Romans, chapter 10. He describes the dangers of trying to live according to the law code, religion at its finest, as Dr. Petersen says in The Message translation: “every detail of life regulated by fine print!” Unfortunately for most of us who have been alive for a while we’ve learned that “it’s not so easy”to live right before God in our own power.

Paul says, “Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simple calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’ Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, Dievs!’ gets help.”
My McDonald’s audience

I guess that is what I would have liked to preach to my dream McDonald’s audience. I would have liked them to know that you can live a life of faith, hope and love. You can draw strength and courage to face the trials of sickness, heartache, tragedy and death. God is more than willing to help if we will only ask. I would have wanted them to know that I struggle with “right-living” but that I have the confidence that God is with me in the struggle, guiding, teaching, loving and encouraging me along the way.

I would have wished that some of them would have been willing to give God a chance to help them.

Scriptural formulas don’t mean much to those who haven’t trusted God

I don’t think I could have used some sort of scriptural formula to persuade folks that trusting in God is a good idea. Jūs redzat, people who don’t know the book, can’t be persuaded by the book. I probably would have had to rely on my own life experience, to tell them about how trusting God has helped me.

We need a different language

Somehow we need a different language to communicate God’s message to our friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow McDonald’s patrons. People are less willing to hear dogmatic diatribes that speak from a posture of disgust and superiority. The language and attitude of “winning” the “lost” should be abandoned. We should begin tell our stories without arrogance or pride and offer good news.

Years ago now,l I attended the Off-the-map Evangelism conference at the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohaio. I got to listen to Steve Sjogren, Brian McLaren, and Leonard Sweet talk about the new understandings and language needed to help our fellow travelers along on the journey of faith. Their creative ideas inspired me to think about new and different ways to bring a life-saving message to my city.

Paul asked a good question in Romans 10: “But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?”

All of us Christ-followers are sent to someone, to tell our story, by preaching or example. Will you be sent to McDonald’s?

Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Charlie Wear is the publisher of Next-Wave. He is a lawyer living and working in Southern California with his wife Loretta and his son, Ben.

Cik daudz naudas paiet Start Doing kalpam evaņģelizācijas Steve Šegrena

Lasītāju skaits ir rakstīts mums, daloties savu vēlmi sasniegt cilvēkus savā kopienā, bet neapmierinātas, jo finanšu trūkuma. Es ceru, ka šis video palīdzēs jums virzīties uz priekšu, neatkarīgi no jūsu finansiālo situāciju:

Cik daudz naudas ir nepieciešams, lai sāktu kalpu evaņģelizācijas?

Arī, you will want to check out my interview with Mike Slaughter, pastor of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, OH. We talked about how it’s time to rediscover our apostolic DNA and become the church Christ intended us to be.

Uzglabāt staigājot aizplūšana!


PS – Please let your friends know by pointing them to ServeCoach.com!

Triks vai ne, lai ārstētu Dr. Zinātnieks

Dr. Zinātnieks

Cienījamie Dr. Zinātnieks,

Mans vīrs un man ir trīs bērni. Mūsu divas meitas ir vecumā no astoņiem līdz desmit un mūsu mazais zēns tikko palika seši. Matthew, mūsu dēls tikko atbraucu mājās no savas pirmās klases klasē un man jautāja, vai mēs ticam Halloween. Mans vīrs nokāsējās, bet neatbildēja, un es sāku atbildēt, bet, piemēram, mans vīrs sapratu, man nebija īsti pārliecināts, ko teikt.

Tas jo īpaši attiecas šogad, jo mūsu draudze ir nolēmusi rīkot alternatīvu “Harvest Party” mums parasti ir, sponsorēja Bērnu ministrijas. Mums jau bija devis mūsu divām meitām atļauju iet triks-vai-ārstēšanā ar saviem draugiem šogad, bet mans vīrs, Ron, un man vēl nebija izlēmuši, ko darīt ar Mateja un to, vai mēs būtu pasniegtas konfektes uz mūsu lieveņa šogad.

Par laimi, šķiet, piemēram, Mateja galvenās rūpes bija par to, vai ir vai nav es būtu gatavs padarīt cupcakes par savu klases partijai oktobra beigās. Acīmredzot, Ms. Debbie, viens no istabas mātēm devās uz kādu no tirādi par ļaunumiem Helovīna priekšā viņa klasei, kad skolotājs samaņu roku-out lūdzot vecākus palīdzību throwing klases puse. Viņa ir pat sāka petīciju, ka viņa vēlas audzināt nākamajā PTA sanāksmi. Man ir bijis Kristus-sekotājs uz ilgu laiku, bet ja godīgi man nekad nav īsti bijusi spēcīga sajūta nu tā. Vai jums ir kāds padoms par to, ko cilvēks cenšas būt āru vērsta un līdzjūtīgs vajadzētu darīt vai teikt?

Dear Melody,

Ar atvainošanos Viljama Šekspīra, Es jutu nosaukums bija atbilstošs. Tā ir vārdu spēle uz slaveno līnijas no viņa populārākajiem play. Tāpat kā Hamlets, daudzi no mums saņemt paralizēts uz bezdarbību, jo mēs pārāk daudz laika pavada pondering, ko darīt tālāk. Šeit Serve! mēs mēģināt nevis izsmej ļaudīm to vērtībām. Mēs saprotam, ka ne visiem ir tāda pati pielaide tradīcijām cilvēki ir daudzveidīgā sabiedrībā. Harvest puses ir brīnišķīgi obligāciju veidošanas pasākumi ģimenēm konkrētā pagastā vai draudzes, bet mēs vienkārši neredzu tos kā lielisku līdzekli evaņģelizāciju. Nav nekas nepareizs ar tiem, tas vienkārši nav dzīvo aizplūšanu Dieva laipnība, lai izvairītos no mūsu kaimiņus par vienu no retajām reizēm tie var būt, un par to.

Personiski, Man patīk izmantot šīs brīvdienas, un ir mazliet vairāk kā Jēzum–iet izklaidēties ar grēciniekiem, ja jūs. Kas ir labāks brīvdienu nekā vienai oktobra beigās? Cilvēki mēdz būt svinīga rudenī, un atklāti, kad viņi sastopas ar Ms. Debbies mūsu baznīcu, labi tas atstāj garšu mutē, kas ir sliktāka nekā piedeguma popkorns bumbiņas. Melodija, Es aicinu jūs un jūsu ģimenei riskēt. Call to vienu gadu eksperiments. Iet visiem, un tiešām patīk jūsu kaimiņiem. Dodam no papildus speciālas gardumus un varbūt pat noteikti kādu sidru vai karsto šokolādi par chaperones par maz bērniem, kas triks-vai-ārstēšanā jūsu apkārtnē. Neliels žests laipnības un vienkāršai sarunai iet garš veidi šajās dienās.

Esi godīgs ar Mateja un vienkārši izskaidrot savu dalītas jūtas par brīvdienu un to, ka ne visi piekrīt. Ļaut viņam pievienoties ar jums jūsu eksperimentā. Nav svarīgi, ko jūs nolemjat, uzturēt sarunu ar viņu un jūsu meitas. Tas ir labs mūsu bērniem, lai redzētu mūs strādāt mūsu ticību. Attiecībā uz klases pusi, Es būtu labākos cupcakes tu spēj–un pārliecinieties, ka jūs sūtīt maz, lai Ms. Debbie. Viņa, iespējams, ir noslēpums salds zobs.

Dr. Zinātnieks

Turēt uz Galdu… Mērķa grupa ar Charlie Wear

In 1998 Man bija sadedzināti out. Three years earlier, I had taken over as the interim pastor of a local Vineyard church. Par manu trīs gadus pastoring baznīcu, everything that I had previously learned about church growth and leading a church stopped working. As a person who believed that cause and effect were a predictable process, this was a hard lesson to learn. I also found out, like Charlie Brown, that “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.”

I had every possible kind of bad experience, from church splits, to church rebellions, to gossip and slander. I was kind of cheered up when I read a book on pastoral burnout and realized that I hadn’t ended up on the floor of my bathroom in a fetal position, like the author of the book. Eventually, the church had “grown” from about 125 to 30. It was time to call it a day, and start over. We released the remaining church members and decided to re-launch in a few weeks.

Skateboards at the foot of the cross
Skater’s “cast” their broken boards at the foot of the cross at the Skate Ranch in Moreno Valley, Kalifornija.

I had become a pastor because I wanted to see people “saved”, birthed into the kingdom. I hadn’t seen much fruit from those efforts. We had tried some outreach efforts, mostly on a small scale. Simple servant evangelism projects, like handing out cokes on a hot day, on a hit or miss basis but with no sustained commitment. I had heard of Steve Sjogren, the guy who cleans toilets for Jesus, I had read his books, but I hadn’t really become outward-focused in my daily life.

Here is where the story gets interesting

At the first meeting of our re-launched church an amazing thing happened. In preparation for that evening, I asked one of our teenage boys, “What if we were to rope off an area of the parking lot for skateboarding, and set up for your band (a Christian punk group) to play, would you be into that?” He said yes, and that he would invite some of his friends.

I didn’t think a whole lot more about it until that night when nearly 60 skateboarders showed up! At one point there were more people participating in the skateboarding and watching what was happening in the parking lot, than were inside for the things I had planned for the launch of our new church.

I have learned from the scripture and from experience that you have to keep your eyes open to see what God is doing, and then to act on it! God was doing something with skateboarders! One of my fellow church members, Marv Schuler, jumped in that night, picked up a microphone and began to run a skateboard contest. Viņš un viņa sieva, Karen, were called that night to reach out and to minister to these kids.

The re-launched church became a small group that met on Sunday evenings and eventually that became just four of us who became truly committed to serving those skateboarding teenagers.

Bird's Eye View of Skate Park at the RanchThe Schulers’ own 10 acres in Moreno Valley, a place we affectionately learned to call the Ranch. We poured some concrete and built some ramps and skateboarders began to come most every Thursday night for skating, snacks and to hear us explain what Jesus was all about as we gathered around the fire pit. We committed to serving and showing God’s love to those skateboarders, no strings attached.

In 1998, when we held the first Christmas party, Karen prepared and served a dinner, and desserts consisting of several pies. A professional skateboarder came and shared the gospel. The Christian punk band, CIP (Christ in Progress) played. And over 100 kids showed up on a winter night!

I told Karen that night, God was going to save some of these kids with mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. That’s the only gospel presentation they are going to need. When I told her that, she said she just to see the kids come to Christ! Marv spent 4 months constructing a half-pipe. Karen and Marv took some of the kids who needed a place to stay into their home.

We shared the gospel every week over that long fall and winter of 1999. I had taken a job and was commuting daily by train about an hour and a half from my home. I wasn’t enjoying my life very much and we hadn’t seen much evangelistic fruit from our efforts with the skateboarders. I’ll admit it, after about 26 weeks of altar calls in the dirt around the fire pit, I was ready to throw in the towel.

God speaks through Steve Sjogren

It had only been a few weeks since I had stared out of the commuter train window and had uttered this simple prayer, “God, get me out of this mess.” I was offered a new job, easier commute, less responsibility, more money and with the break between jobs I decided to attend the 1999 Vineyard Pastor’s Conference in Anaheim.

On Tuesday evening, Steve Sjogren spoke on the topic, “Six Things I Learned When I Almost Died.” I had read Steve’s books and had dabbled in Servant Evangelism. The skateboard ministry was taking the principles of Servant Evangelism to the max, targeting a specific people group, concerted and focused service in the form of a skate park, food, skateboard repairs and more. But I was ready to quit.

Steve told the amazing story of his medical accident and his encounter with God. His positive attitude in the face of his ordeal was inspiring in and of itself. But near the end of his talk he used a story from the life of Moses to encourage all of us to simply be faithful to the ministry that God had placed in our hands. He explained how Moses argued with God about his ability to do what God was asking him to do. Steve was talking to pastors who did not know what to do next in their ministries, and he quoted God’s question to Moses, “What is in your hand?’ He drew the parallel that we should look to the things that God has placed in our hands and be faithful to using those things and doing those things. He told us that God “will change the world through the simple thing that he has placed in your hand.” In the case of Moses, it was his staff, but from the burning bush forward when God did something significant in Moses’ life it always seemed to involve that staff. During the prayer time after his message I became convinced that I should not quit the skateboard ministry.

Keeping on…

What was happening at the Ranch was not normal church, but the kids (mostly teenage boys, with a few girls who like to be around the boys) were experiencing the gospel through servant evangelism (the skate ramps and food have been presented as a gift from God); through personal evangelism (there is plenty of opportunity to talk with the kids one-on-one); and through proclamation evangelism (the kids hear the gospel around the fire pit every week).

This was not your normal youth group, most of the kids had no church affiliation and did not come from homes where God is an active presence. But God did something great. We even have had the opportunity to pray for healing for parents, and for broken ankles!

A lot of raw material…

I was not sure at the time if we would ever get a church out of what we were doing at the ranch. I did know that we had a lot of raw material to work with. It was fun to be in on the ground floor of something that God was doing. It was also fun to be part of an adventure, especially when we didn’t know how it was going to turn out.

Eventually the small group got smaller…

The small group which was hanging out at the beginning of The Ranch consisted of the Schulers, my wife and I, two couples of the former parishoners of my church and my former worship leader. Our early conversations concerned whether we would allow the skaters to smoke cigarettes or not, and whether we would resist allowing the skate ministry to be turned over to the children of Christians. Eventually my wife and the two couples stopped coming to our weekly meetings.

Somehow the mission grew larger…

For years Karen’s dream had been for the Spirit to fall on Moreno Valley and for the Valley to be saved! The Ranch played its part in fulfilling that dream. In the early weeks I gave “altar calls” at the fire pit. I never saw much fruit from that sowing of the gospel. Marv spoke every week and told the kids: “This is a God thing.” “God is building these ramps, God is building the Ranch.”

We never made a conscious decision to live in community, bet…

We never made a conscious decision to live in community, but about one year after we started the skate ministry my wife and I separated and I rented a room from the Schuler’s. Tom Chapman, the former worship leader at our church, bought an RV and parked it at the Ranch. So there we were, the four of us living in community! We encouraged one another, ministered to one another, and made all of the ministry decisions effecting our mission.

One sign of mission is opposition

Early on the next door neighbor made it clear that she didn’t like what we were doing at The Ranch. She hired a private investigator to video tape our preaching time and file investigative reports. She filed complaints with the City of Moreno Valley. She called the police. We went to court in that first year and won our case, we weren’t operating a church illegally, nor were we disturbing the peace. A few months later, the neighbor sued Marv and Karen for nuisance. At that point we had been cussed out, hauled into court, Marv was punched in the face and cited for assault!

Eventually we saw thousands come to Christ…

The skateboards at the foot of the cross signify the skaters who have surrendered their lives to Christ at The Ranch. My new ministry position was defense attorney. We settled the suit out of court and agreed to move the skate ramps over 150 feet away from the neighbor’s property line. We had already been asking what God’s will was in the midst of the opposition. We were convinced that he wanted us to continue to serve the skaters and preach the gospel. When we moved the concrete slab and the ramps we made the area bigger. Soon, we were joined by two young men, Mark and Matt, an evangelist and a teacher, who began sharing regularly. Ministry was opened five days a week. The “altar calls” began to yield more fruit. Over a 12-month period we gave away 3000 New Testaments to young people who responded to Mark and Matt’s messages.

I wish I could report that the opposition decreased. While we thought the police calls would end, they continued. The code-compliance complaints continued. Eventually the neighbor got the ear of two city councilmembers and the City brought their full weight and authority to bear to close the Ranch.

Living in community has ebbs and flows…

Eventually my job took me to another geographic location. The code complaints made it impossible for Tom to continue living at the Ranch in his RV. We moved away from the Ranch, but others took our place. Tom would always be the businessman who funded much of the early construction. I continued to be the defense attorney. I defended the Ranch before the City Council and before a Superior Court judge.

Others came alongside Marv and Karen and ministered to the skaters. However, in 2005 the injunction went into effect and the Ranch skate ministry was closed.

We saw God work…

As Marv says, there are many stories of how God has worked in the lives of the skaters. I know he has worked through the prophetic, in evangelism, healing, dreams and visions over the last five years. He has poured out financial blessings. While there was opposition, there was also favor. As we tried to obey what God had asked of us, he was always faithful in spite of our lack of faith.

Being missional…

We didn’t set out to have a mission to skaters. That was God’s idea, and we saw what he wanted, listened to his voice, and obeyed by serving them week in and week out for several years. We learned that a few people can accomplish a lot when they are on a mission from God. We didn’t set out to live in community, it just turned out that way. I know my life has been changed for the better because of that experience. We didn’t start out with a lot of faith, but our faith has grown as we have seen God move, with resources and fruitfulness.

Tas ir Medium, Dummy Steve Šegrena

Visas komunikācijas vārīties uz leju, lai divas vienkāršas lietas: Ziņa un vidēja.

One president in our generation won his election in a come from behind victory as his election manager wrote on the central white board, “It’s the economy dummy!"Ar šo uzmanību prātā, the campaign supposedly hammered on that single message for the remainder of the campaign and squeaked by with a victory. We too have a single word that is in need of clarification – Medium. Tas ir, we understand the good news of Jesus. Face it, if my friend Dr. David Wheeler’s six year old daughter can lead ten kids in her neighborhood near the campus of Liberty University where he teaches, your people can share this message with clarity (she has been busy since August! – her approach – popsicles of kindness to open the door of relationship, then it’s only a matter of time…)

Live In The Flow

As someone who has had a huge value for being an inviter of not-yet believers into the kingdom – and seeking to show others how to live that way as well I now realize I modeled Part A and missed the far more important issue, Part B. Tas ir, the message is simple stuff. By and large, nearly all reading this would agree on the content of the simple gospel, the good news of Jesus is.

If you weren’t aware of it, stats have held steady for several decades now, that even among the most “evangelistic” congregations in the U.S., only about 3% in such churches will even one time in their lifetimes share the gospel with someone outside of their immediate family. Put it another way. If you have a church that runs consistently 100 on the weekend, chances are, only 3 people in your congregation will in their entire lifetime explain the gospel to one more people.

Four words come to my mind each time I read that stat: That makes Jesus cry. The close of Matthew 28 makes it clear that God’s family can’t be large enough to satisfy his aching heart for those he is longing to see join his family.

This begs the question – “Why is this so?” And, “Why is this not the case in the Church of the three-quarter’s world?” (Indeed the stats there are dramatically different.) This matter is one that could fill a book easily, but let me touch on one simple issue here.

Turn On The “Screen” Once Again

At one time all of us noticed others far more than we do now – at least in most of our cases. The busier we become, the less we notice others. The less we notice others, the more calloused we become. Calloused people are the opposite of the ones who live like Jesus. It is a simple progression.

Call it the “Noticing Screen” or the “Inner Radar” or whatever you wish. Until we slow it down a bit, until we begin to pray the “Jesus, I’m willing to be interrupted by your invitations” prayers, there is little chance we will see our lives be used by Jesus as a pipeline to hold the hands of others as they come into his family.

This is not a program. We aren’t “on” at times and “off” at times. We live invitationally 168 hours a week.

You live that way first. You will discover this life is amazingly energizing no matter what you may be thinking at this moment. Do this for six months and see what happens in your church. No doubt there will be a polarizing effect as you tell your stories – the good ones, the funny ones, the ones when you fall on your face, but since when didn’t the kingdom polarize?

Heading toward retiring? Forget it. It’s time to refire!

Go with those who are willing. Hug the rest and pray they get it.

Looking Izvešana Steve Šegrena

Es nesen sēdēju uz divu stundu lidojumā blakus puisis, kurš sākotnēji bija mazliet miffed, kad man jautāja, vai es varētu sēdēt pie loga, kur viņa biļete lasīt, jo man ir lielas grūtības piecelties un uz leju lidmašīnās (manas bojātas kājas un visu). Šis garš puisis negribīgi piekrita. I am no little person myself. As we got airborne I engaged him in conversation and the mood shifted. He was wearing the shirt of his company. I have been a big fan of their culture, their founder-CEO, his amazing pioneering spirit that is rare these days. I asked him a number of burning questions I had about their inner workings. In short, we were engaged in conversation quickly.

As we spoke he mentioned he had recently moved to Tampa from Ohio… specifically Cincinnati. I asked if he had ever heard of something called the Vineyard. He said “Everyone in Cincinnati knows the Vineyard.” I told him Janie and I got the ball rolling with all the Vineyard churches in Cincinnati a bit over twenty years ago. He was unbelieving. He said, “I don’t think so – nobody started the Vineyard – it has just always been there…” I laughed! “Well, everything has a tendency to start if you think about it… Look up my name in Google.”

He started to look at me differently – like I was “them” and he was “us.” I’m used to that look. I quelled that quickly by telling him my story – how starting at age seven when my mom very rarely drug me to a certain Lutheran church I would tell her “Please don’t take me back there – that guy who speaks is a flipping hypocrite!” Since then, my challenge was not entirely with God and his reality, but with what turned out to be the linear, Americanization of the message of Jesus. Now I realize that has been the problem all along… That continues to be the problem. That will likely be the problem for a long time to come. We parted as friends. We have been emailing. He has read one of my books and we are setting up lunch that will take place soon.

Why Toxic?

If you have taken a sociology class in college you are familiar with a helpful word that described an aspect of the brokenness of all the sons and daughters of Adam – all people groups on the planet are ‘ethnocentric.’ That word means we all think our culture, our way of life is the best way of life. Further, if all the rest of the world could just see things the way we do, life on the planet would be oh so much better. If you are an American do you see how our well intentioned efforts have not been necessarily been equally received worldwide?

Arī, can you see how it is virtually impossible for teachers of the scriptures in the western world (namely the U.S.) to present the scriptures without laying a lot of the U.S. – western perspective upon our teaching – impartation to those we are influencing?

That influence is what amounts to us as leaders being toxic.

Freedom from toxicity is an encyclopedia full of discussion. Step one – humility. We come before God and his word with a heart of honesty. Our prayer (in general) follows:

“On my own I will simply regurgitate what I have seen with my own eyes. I will simply react and place upon your word my humanness and my culture. Holy Spirit give me your capacity to see as you see…”