The Cost of Doing (Christian) Business

moneyBy Brian Steele

Want to become wildly rich and successful in a start-up business?  Sorry to say but statistics are stacked against you like 5 cords of wood.  In one recent report for a business incubator 9 out of 10 new business ventures crashed and burned.

Is the business of disciple-making in the Church any more promising?  Perhaps not.

Continue reading The Cost of Doing (Christian) Business

Easter Tension

by Derek Archer@daredub

The Tension of Easter

For some it is bunnies and chocolates, for others it is reflection and relief. This season is seen differently by groups of people who recognize and celebrate Easter.

I grew up with plastic eggs, baskets full of fake grass, and family loading into the car to see where we could get as much free candy as possible.

I went to school with kids who had to dress nicely, acted miserable, and who could not attend these types of ‘celebrations’. (Hey, more free candy for me.) Their parents felt like it was an insult to God to minimize the sanctity of the day and cheapen it with pagan celebrations.

(One thing was for sure though, I had a lot more fun on Easter than the religious kids.)

 

 

CTK bunny

The Problem

There are two major camps, aren’t there? There are those who celebrate Easter as a cultural holiday, but don’t really celebrate what it means. (This group has a wide spectrum from those who have no idea how this weekend is related to Jesus to those who understand but do not want to submit to God.)

The second group is about celebrating the incredible work that Jesus did on the cross. (This group varies from those who will engage in eggs and candy, to those who will have nothing to do with any commercialization of the holiday.)

The first group sees the second as being religious or uptight. The second group can see the first group as being trivial, or spiritually uneducated. We classify each other and allow the most fantastic day in the history of the world to separate, rather than bringing us closer together.

What do you like best?

Do you know what it is that you like best about this season?

  • Is it the pastel colors and fancy outfits?
  • Is it the coloring, hiding of the eggs, and the joy on kids faces?
  • Is it what was accomplished on the cross, and the price that was paid?
  • Is it that the curtain was torn giving you access to God?
  • Is it getting together with your family? Perhaps and afternoon meal?
  • Is it finishing up the season of Lent and getting something you love back?

What would you share if someone asked you?

As you prepare for your Sunday celebration, can I remind you of something? There are many around you who have no idea of what Easter represents. Often lost in the pageantry of a busy weekend is the message of the weekend. The cross of Christ is a stumbling block which means people will trip over it. A person who trips does not often bless the object they are tripping over, that object becomes an object of anger.

It is only the person who has seen the cross for what it is, the gateway to God, that can properly express gratitude after tripping over it. It is only the person who has entered the torn curtain that can explain the significance of what previously separated the Holy of Holies from the people of God.

You cannot expect a person who does not claim to follow Jesus to love the same thing about Easter that you love, but you can still love them.

The Challenge

Can you invite one person to meet with you over coffee, attend a service with you, or join you for a meal? (I am not just asking this as a suggestion, but as a person who did not understand the story of God. I had no idea what was celebrated during the Easter season, or why Christians would get excited about their hero being killed.) When you meet with them, could you ask them what they like about the Easter season? Maybe they don’t like anything about the season.

The challenge is to build a real friendship, with a real person, and talk about stuff that really matters. If we believe that we celebrate this week that Jesus made a way to God, then others need to know. Others do not need cliche answers, but real friendship. Who can you share with, dine with, talk with, and love regardless of their beliefs?

Can you let others have their opinions about Easter, Jesus, the church or your faith without you loving them less? Can you love them even if their opinions are different than yours? You are called to.

Who is your one person?

Modern Discipleship

by Derek Archer, @daredub

(Go here for information on CTK’s one year part-time discipleship program, Mission Year.)

Disciple.

What does the word ‘disciple’ mean to you? The original disciples were fearless world changers that stood for Jesus in all things, and ultimately gave their lives to profess love and faith in him.

Have we diluted the term? Has the word become less than it was intended by Jesus when he called twelve? Have we aligned our lives with his call to go out into the world teaching the truth of who he is, inviting others to align with his death, burial and resurrection?

CTK dusty sandal

We must first lay down our lives, and exchange our idea of God for who he really is. We must die to the self-led life, and instead be filled with an unseen part of God that comes with heavenly gifts and abilities unknown to those who have never surrendered.

We hate death. Most people will do anything to avoid painful reminders of death, let alone experience death themselves. There is no discipleship, however, without death.

No one wants to die. Continue reading Modern Discipleship

How I was annoyed into the church

My room mate, and great friend, annoyed me into his small group. He did it so appropriately. He’d invite me once every two weeks (or so) and say, “Hey Ryan. I’m about to head to my small group. I think you’d really like the guys. Would you like to come check it out?”

“No thanks Aaron,” was my typical answer. Except one time I went.

Finally getting over myself and going, my first group experience was very disappointing. Looking for reasons to not come back, the guys disappointed me. Aaron was right; I liked them.

They were so normal. Good guys with a sense of humor, pursuing integrity, and being very honest and raw with each other. I was both loved and challenged by them. Darn it.

The simplicity of friendship
The simplicity of friendship

My first small group leader was Continue reading How I was annoyed into the church

Each One Reach One

by Derek Archer, @daredub

What is God’s will for my life? Dealing with new and young believers, this is one of the most common questions I am asked.

When I was a new believer in college, trying to figure this out myself, I read a line from a Henry Blackaby devotional that said we need to quit asking, “What is God’s will is for my life?”, because it is ultimately a selfish question. Instead, we need to ask, “What is God’s will?” and then adjust our life to do whatever that is.

With that line of thinking it is much easier to know what God’s will is for your life.

CTKcoin Continue reading Each One Reach One

The problem of great, personal friendship

Several of my fellow church-workers and I are reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s “Life Together.” It’s amazing, and I highly recommend it.

Do what I say, friend!
Do what I say, friend!

This long quote, among many others, has stuck out. Every time I read it, I think of it in context of parenting my children.

How does it speak to you?

“Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them. As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself.

“This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is, as one for whom Christ became man, died, and rose again, for whom Christ bought forgiveness of sins eternal life.

Continue reading The problem of great, personal friendship

Enter the Fog

by Derek Archer, @Daredub

You may have been robbed.

There is a chance in your journey to find faith, or to see God, that you have been given some sort of list of what to believe or how to behave. These lists are fine, and can be helpful at times, but there is a chance that in another person’s attempts to equip you to believe, you missed a very essential step.

You did not enter the fog.

Enter the Fog

 

Each of us must step into the unseen, and each of us goes alone.

Continue reading Enter the Fog

The Key to Time with God

by Derek Archer, @Daredub

What if there was one way to radically change how you connect with God?

I have talked with hundreds of people about how their time with God is spent. Similar themes emerge including:

  • Confusion over how to structure time
  • Uncertainty over how much time to spend
  • Guilt or shame if time is missed
  • Not feeling as if the time is productive

CTKKey

What can we do to both make time spent with God more productive, and feel that it is? Continue reading The Key to Time with God

What I’ve (re)learned with 20 years of parenting

My babies are 17 years 11 months and 2 weeks apart. To answer the questions that always come after people learn this bit of information: 1. Yep, same mom and dad. 2. Nope, no other babies in between. 3. Yes and No, she was planned for a decade, but definitely not expected when she finally came along.

My babies
My babies

It’s been interesting, going through the baby stage almost two decades apart. In some ways, so many things have changed. In fact, most days, I’m surprised my first baby lived! Imagine that we let him sleep on his tummy, had bumpers in his drop-side crib, and faced him forward in the car seat at one year of age. And speaking of the car, he didn’t even ride in a booster seat past the age of four.

No, I’m not a negligent parent. This is how we did things back then. Popular wisdom, parenting books (there were no blogs) and the doctor’s offices all said it was ok. There were no weekly emails to tell me what to feed my baby and how he was growing. No video monitors to keep watch throughout the night. No Pinterest® to help me plan the perfect first birthday party. Oh, and no Amazon ® to deliver diapers and wipes right to my front door. Come to think of it, how did I survive?!

So knowing that most of what is so important now will be all wrong by the time our kids are grown, how do we focus on the stuff that will still matter? At times, I’m so overwhelmed by the advice, I just want to crawl into a cave and leave it all to chance. But somewhere between killing yourself trying to get it “all right” and throwing in the towel, I think there are a few things every parent can focus on that will still matter 20 years from now.

  1. This too shall pass, so make it count. In the middle of the Continue reading What I’ve (re)learned with 20 years of parenting

Your Heart is Stupid

by Derek Archer, @Daredub

Your heart is stupid. I hope this does not come as a surprise to you, but more and more people today are shocked to find this out.

Seriously people, let’s agree about this. We want to believe we are noble, we like to imagine ourselves as having pure intentions, but the sooner we can recognize that our hearts are stupid, the better off we will all be.

Kid listening to his heart

Do you realize that when you were younger, you were a little scientist? You might not have had the white lab coat and safety goggles, but I promise your little heart was gathering data. You were viewing the world and determining what was safe, and what was not safe. You were testing activities that you enjoyed. You were researching ways to find love, and testing your hypotheses in laboratories of relationships. Continue reading Your Heart is Stupid