Jesus

Why I LOVE Re-Looking New iOS Features

Be honest with me; there’s something to which you often return. You find yourself indulging in something and imagining how great it’s going to be. For me recently, it’s been the new features page of iOS 11 that’s set to launch this fall. This is a fantastic upgrade; it’s going to do a ton for my iPad. I’ll get to do more in-depth multi-tasking (which productivity gurus tell me isn’t true anyway). The files and dock functions are going to allow me to have a more unified approach to my workflow. It makes me want to leave my Macbook Pro at home more and more often. They’re even getting closer to convincing me to buy the most expensive pencil I’ve ever owned.

All of this is good. But when I found myself typing “apple.com/ios” rather than “asana.com” to begin my actual work for the day, I had to ask myself if I have a problem.

I do indeed have a problem (other than laziness and procrastination). This problem is called “desire.” And as Lewis notes, it’s a hat tipped to a bigger something we are all acutely aware of even if merely in our subconscious: There’s more. Lewis penned this phrase:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Excuse me for being crude or overly simplistic, but this urge to scroll endlessly through announcements about keyboards and multi-tasking might be indicative of something bigger. Perhaps, it’s alluding to our other-worldly, cosmic desires. I submit that our desires tell us something about who we are and even more about who we are to become.

The key here is vision. I’ve wasted more hours than I’d like to admit on software updates. But people and products of vision point me to one key moment: we were meant for more.

The next time you’re tempted to, or look at something that draws you, ask yourself why. Consider that maybe, perhaps, your desire is actually looking for something more than pixels. You’re destined for an update from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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5Q: Answers to a Decade (or more) of My Organizational Questions

disclosure statement: I was given a copy of this book, 5Q, by Alan Hirsch to give an honest review of it.

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I can’t put this thing down. I’ve planted a church and started a business in Taiwan, a culture which has traditionally been more resistant to the gospel’s work, with around 3% of 23,000,000 people professing faith in Christ. There have been successes in our ministry. Just a few days ago we were recounting what God’s done and noted that 34 people have been baptized since 2012.  and I’ll be one of the first to admit I often feel I have no idea what I’m doing. The reason I couldn’t put this book down is because Hirsch is putting into words feelings I’ve had for nearly a decade (which is a lifetime for a millennial). The premise of Hirsch’s latest work is that Jesus Christ has already given us a blueprint for what leadership, mission, evangelism, care and teaching should look like and how it’s done. He’s calling us to allow the latent seeds of the fivefold gifts, also referred to as APEST or 5Q, Christ gave the church to begin to grow again. APEST, or apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, are five different gifts or ministries that Christ placed in the church as a result of his ascension (Ephesians 4:1-16). He writes, “In it’s simplest form, 5Q is the synergy of a holistic recombination of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding and teaching (APEST) capacities referred to in Ephesians.” These gifts were given so that we could minister as the body of Christ and ultimately attain to the fullness of Christ. But Hirsch argues the archetypal evidence of APEST predates the establishment of the church and is actually part of the prevenient grace that God established when He created the world. Essentially, understanding and utilizing the fivefold is THE KEY to healthy, thriving organizations across the board whether in business, church or elsewhere.

By understanding 5Q, we are able to assess the health and capacity of our organizations, churches and businesses included. Hirsch traces biblical foundations, primordial forms and archetypes and ultimately the life of Jesus as the architect and builder of 5Q. Jesus shows us that the patterns of 5Q can be used to understand and assess His ministry as well as his commandments to the church. He outlines the fivefold functionality of the church and society at large. In utilizing 5Q, we have a clear trajectory for how to impart, empower and deploy the greatest move of God the world has ever seen! Hirsch gives numerous accounts of how utilizing 5Q in our organizations will invariably lead to transformation on all levels of society.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  1. It is not coincidental that this breakthrough has come at a time in my life when my spiritual life has never been better–I am experiencing God in a whole new dimension. I find myself spending whole days in prayer and meditation. My prayer life is rich to the point of overflow. In a real way, I believe that 5Q has played a significant role in this sense of overflow. 5Q feels both personal to me, but I also feel its universal significance.
  2. If you want transformational gospel movement–really want it–then you are going to have to unlearn some very ancient churchly habits and be willing to relearn some new–and yet paradoxically more ancient–more authentically biblical ones. You’re a leader; I speak to you as a leader responsible for your generation.
  3. In fact, I hope to show, fivefold-thinking (5Q) reaches into our deepest instincts for ministry by reconnecting the ministry of Christ with the Body of Christ.
  4. Jesus “gave” APEST to the church, distributing it among all the people as he sees fit. It is vital that you, the reader, feel the weight of the grammar that Paul uses to talk about the constitutional givenness of the APEST ministries to the church. The verb form used for “given” (Gk. edothe, the aorist indicative form of didomi) is an aorist indicative, a very resolute verb form perfectly suited for use in constitutions. This is because aorists reflect actions that took place in the past and as such they are once-and-for-all-time events. The effects of the past event are still felt in the present. They are historic in a similar way that the signing of the Declaration of Independence was historic—it will impact America’s self-understanding for all time…Jesus is actually present in the church, and by which he extends his own ministry through us.
  5. Because they operate within a system, each individual APEST function enriches, counterbalances, and “corrects” the particular bias of each of the others.
  6. The good news is that all five functions/callings are like seeds latent in the system. They are already there by virtue of the defining Word of God. This is a liberating idea—all the potential for a tree is actually already in the seed; we don’t need to mess much with that. What we need to do is simply focus on the environment that will allow the seed to flourish.
  7. [M]issional movements are essentially a recovery of the apostolic impulse; prayer and justice movements are manifestations of the prophetic impulse; revivals are an aspect of evangelistic; community and charismatic renewal is a recovery of the pastoral ministry; and theological renewals are largely related to a rediscovery of some lost motif in Scripture.
  8. It is this relationship between high internal resonance and explicit social patterning that this chapter seeks to address. The idea here will be to try to connect the resonance that you should feel in regards to APEST functions and callings with the community in which you are called to express faith.
  9. Giving the answer is always easier than teaching the process…I often say to leaders that we can change our structures in four to eight months, but it takes four to eight years to change our culture.
  10. We see the five marks of the church defined by APEST as follows: missional impact (A), covenant faithfulness (P), gospel proclamation (E), reconciled community (S), deep wisdom (T).

Near the end of the book, Hirsch quotes Peter Berger who notes, “Ideas do not succeed in history by virtue of their truth but by virtue of their relationship to specific social processes,” and as such we are called not only to revel in fun ideas, but to actually begin applying them. Thus, my personal plan to 5Q implementation: do it. In all seriousness, I am indebted to Hirsch and the rest of his team for packaging a biblical, theological treatise on 5Q. For me and my team, we typically think about church in three terms: personal growth, community growth, and missional growth. These are the outworking of pondering Jesus’ Great Commandment (love God, love others) and Great Commission (make disciples in the world). If we are affect the cultural fabric of society, speak truth to power and life to dry bones, plant the seeds of the good news and win souls for Christ, gather God’s sons and daughters, and ensure God’s Truth is passed on correctly, we are in desperate need of 5Q thinking, systems and action. APEST provides an excellent framework, aspects of which we are already integrating. We speak cultural transformation (A), share the good news regularly (E), and teach truth (T), but I have seen how we can and must grow in all areas of APEST and I’m confident with teaching and tools outlined in this book, we are already on the right path.

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and check out additional resources online. The diagrams offered are more than worth the price of admission. Hirsch will offer insights into the fivefold ministry that will shape your ongoing business and ministry endeavors.

New Breakthrough OUTWARD in 2017

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At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our second week focused on our inward relationship with the body of believers. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. Throughout history, from biblical times until now, we have seen thousands of testimonies of cultural revival happening because of a chosen group of people who set themselves aside to pray and fast. 
  2. Azusa Street Revival started in 1906 as a small prayer meeting. Since then, they estimate over 600,000,000 people who have given their lives to Christ can be connected to this prayer meeting.
  3. Daniel was reading Jeremiah and realized that the prophecy was supposed to come true in the year in which he lived, but he didn’t see any revival happening. 
  4. Daniel said no to pleasant things. The Hebrew word here is “Shemuda” (credit attributed to Bill Johnson). When the Angel visits Daniel, he says, he addresses Daniel as “God’s dearly beloved.” The word here is “Shemuda. Something happens when we give up our rights to Shemuda. It’s almost as if our release of Shemuda allows us to become Shemuda to God. Daniel denied his right to desirable things here (Earth), in so doing became desirable there (heaven). Something is added to the favor realm by saying “I know I have a right, but for this season I’m going to say no. I want to push into something that’s greater.” 
  5. Yes, Jesus loves you. No, you can’t stay the same. 
  6. Daniel repented for his friends. We usually just judge our friends. We have to be the ones who can get in the middle of a situation without becoming that situation.
  7. The Angel was sent at the beginning of Daniel’s fast. It took him 21 days to get there, because of spiritual battle. It’s almost as if the Angel was saying, “Thank you for not giving up.”
  8. We underestimate the influence our prayer and fasting has on Earth and in Heaven.
  9. God gives us specific windows of time, or opporutnities, to press into Him to see extreme breakthrough in society. 
  10. Which area of society are you called to: arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, religion?

New Breakthrough INWARD in 2017

Embed from Getty Images

At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our second week focused on our inward relationship with the body of believers. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. God doesn’t want us to be unaware. He wants us to be fully aware (1 Corinthians 12:1)
  2. God is close. He’s close to us through the life of Jesus in the gospels (John 1:1), and He’s close to us through Holy Spirit (John 14:16), and He’s close to us through each other (John, 20:22, Matthew 18:20). The world knows us by our love (John 13:35) for each other. 
  3. Our life in Christ can’t be fully realized unless we do it within the context of Christian fellowship. 
  4. Only in this crucible can our commitment to Christlikeness be lived out. Interestingly enough, this context, the fellowship of believers (Acts 2:42-47), is both where God’s Presence Manifests (UPWARD) and where people get saved (OUTWARD). 
  5. “Struggle drains you of the illusion of self-sufficiency.” Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell
  6. Fast on behalf of someone for the purpose of seeing cultural, systemic change in yourself and in them. The motive is love, not your way. Consider their needs above your own (think Esther). Declare a new season of breakthrough. 
  7. Fast in order to strengthen the word of the Lord on a person’s life. (think Paul being sent on his missionary journeys after they laid hands on him (Acts 13). Receive words and pictures that you can share with people. 
  8. Fast for extreme breakthrough in the community (think “the number was added to daily” from Acts 2:42-47). Pray people in to the family of God. 
  9. Fast together by sharing what you’re going through and praying for each other (think community in Matthew 6). Use what you know to intercede for that person.
  10. Fast on behalf of someone to receive biblical insight in an area (think 2 Timothy 3:16). Use Scripture to declare life over that person. 

New Breakthrough UPWARD in 2017

Embed from Getty Images

At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our first week focused on our upward relationship with God. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. Fasting is giving up something physical to pursue God’s spiritual best.
  2. God has presents for us. We often have to be willing to let go of what we’re holding on to in order to actually receive what He wants to give us.
  3. Relationship with God is a radical and well-rounded pursuit.
  4. Our life is often a tension between two things. There’s absolute truth in God, and there’s an in-absolute journey of God getting us there. It’s the joy and pain of life.
  5. You don’t get anywhere by being half something. The world is looking for a radical picture of life abundant.
  6. The goal of fasting is disciplining yourself so that you’ll receive. Abide in me. Discipline yourself. Then, you’ll bear fruit. Man doesn’t live on bread alone. Do we really believe our spiritual is as important as our physical nourishment. All of these say, “Trust God first. Rely on God first. Then, you’ll get what you need.”
  7. Manna, or God’s supernatural provision in your life, happens in the desert (Exodus 16:1-12).
  8. God is drawing us to an intimate relationship with Him. He’s inviting us upward, to abide. He’s inviting us to receive daily manna, or supernatural provision, in our lives for him. He’s inviting us to deny, even the good things in our lives, so we can walk in His best.
  9. Your taste buds physically reset after 21 days.
  10. Jesus is the only one tempted in every way as we are and yet without sin. One of the greatest examples of temptation he went through happened in Matthew 4. As he was fasting, Jesus was tempted with personal gain (loaves from stones), fame (angels’ care), and political power (the authority over all the nations in the world) (from Redeeming Sex).

Leadership Development: 7 Must-Have Relationships

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Learning and growth is a lifelong experience. God’s training in our lives is useful for more than we know. Our word “discipleship” comes from the word “discipline.” God disciplines his children for their benefit so that they’ll grow into all He has prepared them to be (Hebrews 12:8). Discipline isn’t punishment, it’s growth. In my context (Aroma Coffee and Church), we want to walk with each other through a process of training and preparation for the greatness God has planned for each person. Although no process is perfect, we seek to strategize a method for preparing leaders through three stages of discipleship. Each stage has different trainings, opportunities for service, and overall outcomes.

Leaders in Training will follow a process similar to this. We know life is complicated and busy. We’re not trying to inundate our people with a long list of things to do. In fact, we believe much of this should happen in the context of relationships and life connection. Thus, we’re outlining a list of 7 major relational steps. Leadership development is done in the crucible of relationships, not by accomplishing a list of tasks or attending a number of classes. In the context of these relationships, we learn about life and leadership. We are formed into the character of Christ and learn to walk in the capacity of our gifts. We clearly define vision for your life and see how that fits into our ministry contexts. These seven relational steps were outlined for ongoing discussions in our coffee shop and church.

As you read through this, imagine yourself in your own context. Then, ask yourself where you’re at and what it would take for you to pursue the next step in relational leadership development. 

  1. Crowds are people who are attracted to something but might not even know why. To these people we say, “See you Sunday.” Our hope is that if you’re aspiring in leadership you would regularly make it to church on Sunday. Don’t forsake the fellowship of believers (Hebrews 10:25). Here you’ll learn about your identity in Christ and be challenged to receive from Truth in Scripture, sing songs to Jesus, and pray for each other.
  2. Friends are people who are interested in a little deeper connection. They are willing to go deeper with God and people through Small Groups. The early church cherished these small meetings as some of the most transformative times of life (Acts 2:42-47). Some people became believers in this context. Others grew deeply in their personal life and longing for loving each other. We also encourage you to go through a new believer’s class, get some basic discipleship understanding and form a habit of reading the Bible and praying everyday.
  3. Committed people are willing to Serve in an area. Some forms of service are wildly life giving. We will get to those soon. But first, we want to encourage you to serve somewhere in Aroma. Choose a simple place. Remain committed there for a season. Show God and those around you your willingness to stay committed to him even without accolades or fun mountain-top experiences (Matthew 10:42). Oftentimes, this is where people begin to sense a life calling. When we respond to what God is doing by humble service, He shows up in amazing ways. Committed people serve together.
  4. Followers go through a season of Learning and Growth. We realize that we have committed to something way beyond our own capacity. It stirs in us a hunger for more. This is where your character formation continues in Spirit and in Truth. We want you to understand more about spiritual gifts, walking by the Spirit, and living in the fullness of God. In this time, you read through the entire Bible, read other books, go to trainings, and spend time discussing leadership together, including how to make strategies and handle difficult situations and people. It’s at this time, if you haven’t already, that you need to grab some kind of a mentor figure and hold on to them tightly. Have at least one person in your life of whom you can ask questions and who will support and challenge you on your journey.
  5. Family is a strong word. We’re reserving it for a group of people who have made a deeper commitment to the Lord and each other. These people have covenanted together. Even Jesus had a process of walking with people from being merely friends to becoming followers and eventually family. In this season, we encourage you to make a commitment to a track of intimacy in relationship and ministry preparation. This includes things like joining a Huddle, committing to being a Core Member in small group or going through a year-long training called Support Team. During this time, you form more mentorship relationships and begin to fill something called the Table of Support, an outline for how to maintain healthy mentoring relationships. You open yourself to challenge from others. You show their ultimate willingness to submit and surrender to God by submitting to the leadership that God has put in place at Aroma.
  6. Core describes a group of people who go through another season of extended Learning and Growth. Like the disciples Peter, James and John, core people are taken to greater depths in their walk with God for a purpose, similar to the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17). They had special experiences with Jesus and as such they were given more difficult responsibilities. Jesus always takes us through seasons of invitation and challenge. His ultimate goal is that we would be shaped into His image, to represent Him to the world so that Heaven can come to Earth and all people on Earth can go to Heaven. During this season you grow in your capacity for ministry in a particular area through things like training certifications and deep coaching relationships. You develop a high capacity for leadership and see yourself as long-term leader in The Aroma and beyond.
  7. Faithful Creators are people who pursue a legacy. They live for something beyond themselves. They long to see their [spiritual] children’s children flourish. They live out a full Table of Support, initiating and sustaining relationships that fill their life with meaning and purpose. By this time, you are learning to pass on your character and capacity to those around you, raising up others (Ephesians 4:12) to do the greater works Jesus promised (John 14:12). As you humbly walk before God, you are given increasing authority for the purpose of raising others up and serving the people.

Where do you fit in right now? Are you simply showing up as a member of the crowd? Or have you shown an intense interest in covenanting together with your people even to the point of producing legacy beyond yourselves?

Gallons of Grace

  

We just got the car from heaven. It’s not because it’s really the most amazing car.

Knowing we were coming back to the States for three months, we decided we needed to have a set of wheels to help us get around while in Minnesota. We reached out to family and friends to see if anyone had anything available and a couple of people started looking around. 

In the end, my father in law decided to buy us a vehicle. We started looking around for options. His price range was set a little higher than I felt comfortable with. I explained that I’d always grown up working hard for things and earning them. 

Dave sat at the kitchen table and explained that we’re part of the family. He credited God for providing what they have and talked about how proud of us they are. He said it was no big deal, but that he really wanted us to be taken care of. 

As we went car shopping, he constantly asked my opinion of things and then negotiated a deal for a great vehicle that was indeed outside of our personal price range. 

The next morning, as we were preparing to take our new Lincoln Aviator on our first trip, Dave stole the keys and filled up the tank. 

We’re literally driving down the road a vehicle purchased by grace and fueled by grace. 

This is the kind of life I want to live. Andy Mason talks about the “cycle of Sonship” in his quick, but profound book entitled “God With You Work.” 

 In the family, we are connected and receive an inheritance to increase 
He understands that in the kingdom, we begin with the value of family. It leads to connection with God, the Father. In our relationship with Him and through our connection to Him, we receive an inheritance and learn to increase it. 

I have a strengthened desire not only to use this vehicle well, but to increase it, to invest in it. My hope is that I would learn how to live by grace, which freely receives and can freely give, but also expects more than “earning it,” because grace empowers. Our vehicle has been purchased by the blood of Jesus our tank is filled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What’s stopping us from driving right into what He has for us today?