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The latest Nooma is now available for free via Facebook for the next 48 hours.

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I had the privilege of meeting and hanging with JR. Woodward last month here in Austin. My good friend and unfortunate Denver Broncos fan is planting a new church here in Austin, I serve on the board (i feel powerful) and JR is the church planting coach for the Austin Mustard Seed. So we got to chat about church, culture, non-profits etc. 

JR has done the global church a true service as he compiled a massive resource of all things missional. This list is quite impressive and will be very helpful on many different levels. So swing by JR’s blog and and enjoy!

Below are some links from fellow pastors in regards to President Elect Obama. 

Bob Roberts Jr: Obama – Our President – Support Him

Jacob Vanhorn’s thoughts on Obama here.

Jonathan Dodson critiques Obama’s victory speech.

Nathan Gilmer wanted McCain to win but has these thoughts now.

Nick has some great post-election thoughts.

Anne Jackson encourages us to stop whining and start acting. I agree. 

Scott McKnigh offers a prayer for Obama.

Driscoll post some of his thoughts here.

John Piper has some good thoughts on the election.

via YouTube – John Piper’s Heart in the 2008 Election

It’s late Sunday/early Monday. I got a second-wind and I can’t sleep. So of course I read. Recently somebody told me I seemed very focused and passionate about HELP. They asked why, my response was quite simple. 

1. I saw a need. When I was in Zimbabwe I met a Pastor. His name was John, he had an amazing wife. He leads a church and two orphanages in a country that has collapsed. He treated us like we were royalty. He kept telling me how blessed he was to have us visit his home and share his vision. That night I slept under a mosquito net for the first time in my life. Over 1 million kids will die this year in Africa because they don’t have a $10 net to sleep. That is just not right. 

The next day P. John gave us a tour of the orphanages. The hugs, smiles and conversations were contagious. Then P. John told me a story; he pointed to a field and reminded me that hundreds of kids sleep in that field. They have no parents, eighth-year-olds care for their younger siblings, no shelter, no food and no hope. 

Needless to say my heart was crushed. How could I ignore such a tragedy? What was I thinking?

2. Here is what I learned in Zimbabwe. The heart of God is angry at the injustice of the world. Something is simply not right. The church can do something amazing, we can bring life, hope, clothing, shelter, food and drink. We can laugh, hug, smile and encourage. We can feed an orphan, love a family and bring joy to God. 

When Christians love, serve, give and go…In the name of Jesus, it brings joy to the heart of God. 

My prayer this past year…”God make me angry and in my anger cause me to act.” 

This is not about me…it’s about an orphan in Zimbabwe and a God in heaven.

    

This Sunday I’m kicking off a 3-week series on the Gospel. We’re going to weave this series in with our current verse-by-verse study of Luke.  Really excited about this series. I’m going to focus on how the gospel transforms the person, the community, and the world. 

Today 10-12 Vista peeps are heading to Houston to do some relief work. Proud that our church has done what we can to help this tragic situation. I think we underestimate how vital the small acts-of-service can be. 

Looks like I will be heading to Raleigh to hang with my Vintage 21 friends Nov 4-7th. Can’t wait to see everyone. It’s been way to long. If you’re a Raleigh blogger and want to hookup let me know.

For the past three or four months Jeff and I have really struggled with our vision of church and what it’s suppose to be. Of course when you’re a pastor and you have a group of people who who rely on your leadership (or lack thereof) it can become complicated.

Much of our angst was trying to grasp what a faith community should look like. How do we operate, what is expected, what fruit are we hoping for?  We desire simple, effective, organic, healthy, missional and gospeling one-another church that serves God in their domains and has a passion for the new global world that we live in. 

Here is how this looks:

1. Sunday Gathering: Time of teaching, repenting, worshiping and celebrating.  Very simple. Worship for 20 minutes, teach for 40 minutes, worship and reflect for another 10-15 minutes. This is vital to our health as a community. We want to experience God together. 

2. COM (Communities On Missional): If you’re not apart of a COM Group you will not likely find community at Vista. We don’t cater to those who want to sit on the sidelines. We’re not event coordinators. These groups are “mini-churches.” We want COM Groups to be the heart and soul of Vista. We want to pour the majority of our resources into this area of ministry. As Elders we want to spend the majority of our time with these leaders (and deacons). Why? Because these leaders will be on the front-lines of ministry. 

3. Self-Feeding: Our desire is not to gather a group of people who are addicted to the Sunday event. We simply let people know that we expect them and want to encourage them to learn what it means to feed themselves spiritually. And we will partner with them to help build that foundation. 

4. Domains: Evangelism will happen when people love and serve their neighbor in their natural habitats. We want to partner will our people and help them do that. Evangelism is not an event but a lifestyle. We do it daily. We want our people to live in the midst of culture, and help the culture see the gospel story. We want to think “send” not “come.” Go…to you workplace, neighborhood, kids school, live music venues, coffee-shops, pubs etc…And be the hands & feet of Jesus. 

5. Glocal Renewal: We believe that God is renewing all things. Our passion is to help renew Austin/Round Rock/Cedar Part/Leander. We also want to think regionally and globally. Our church is a part of a global movement. We will learn how to follow Jesus better when we learn from our brothers and sisters across the globe. We will focus on Gospel Justice. We will deeply care about the orphan in Zimbabwe and and the latchkey kid in Round Rock. We care about our friends in Houston and our friends in Egypt. We want to be a gift to those around us. 

6. Wholeness: We want our people to be whole. Their marriage, finances, addictions, parenting etc. We want to start classes and programs that focus on praxis (money, marriage, parenting) and theology ( raising-up local theologians). We want to use those in our church who have the gift of teaching to lead these classes. 

This is the kind of church that I’m passionate about. This is the kind of church that I think is reproducible. Hopefully this kind of church can spark a movement of Jesus so we can become light in the darkness and provide hope for the hopeless.

As most people know I’m really passionate about HELP. I can work all day and all night. I love it. But I wanted to make something very clear. My passion is not for a non-profit, it’s not about aid, its not about traveling to exotic locations in order to live some “Indiana Jones” kind of life. My passion is the local church. Sometimes I wish I did not care so much about the local church but the burden is deep and the call is evident

This is why HELP’s desire is to partner with churches both locally and globally. We want to do everything through the local church. We want Jesus to get the fame and the church to get credibilty. We desire to do “good works” so we can share the gospel story, so the light of Jesus will shine deeply in the darkest places and provide hope and resources. When we build an orphanage or dig a water-well, when we give micro-loans and train future indigenous business leaders and pastors, when we pass out nets to protect against malaria or support local kids so they can be fed, clothed, housed and educated. We do this for and in-the-name of Jesus.

The church will be the pathway to long-term health and healing. We just want to partner with key leaders who need support and encouragement. Therefore Help End Local Poverty is just an extension of the local church.

LEAD Conference is being hosted by Journey Church and Acts 29. This conference is designed for “city-focused” churches and they are going to do some live streaming tomorrow and Wednesday. 

I think it’s very cool that these cats are willing to bless the global church and offer this for free.

Go check them out.

I emailed my friend Steven to get his opinion on the current economy and how it will effect non-profits. His reply:

I’m sure there is some good research on this, but I haven’t seen it. My feeling is that the church/world needs a prophetic voice that encourages more and more giving to the poor, even in times of economic “difficulty” for the rich. “Difficulty” because we tend to measure our situation quite locally, and the prophet encourages a more global view.

Just my $.02 –

Whoa…very convicting thoughts. Its so easy to live by the standards of this world and allow fear to cripple a God-given-dream.