Sunday, November 30, 2008

Collaborating Youth Ministries in Cedar Rapids

Collaborating Youth Ministries in Cedar Rapids

A creative approach that has potential to impact Cedar Rapids schools ...



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CARE ~ Collaborating Churches Serve the City




See and hear the amazing response of the Church in Cedar Rapids t the devastating floods od the summer of 2008 . . .
  • Healing the Heartland (Long Version – Part 1) or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXCwUoy3Rco
  • Healing the Heartland (Long Version – Part 2) or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSRmz9cO94U
  • Healing the Heartland (Short Version) or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sfLW2uXowA

Use these links to embed the video in your local website.

Let me know if you have any questions,


Brent Watkins, Assoc. Pastor

River of Life Ministries
www.riveroflife.org


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The "L" in Loving Our Communities to Christ

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Love is the Center

John H. Armstrong

I believe very strongly in the principle and practice of the purity of the visible church, but I have seen churches that we have fought for purity and are merely hotbeds of ugliness. No longer is there any observable, loving, personal relationship even in their own midst, let alone with other true Christians.

Francis A. Schaeffer


The aim of the early church was the evangelization of the world. The purpose of oneness was to show the world that God loved the church and through the church the world could then see his great love. When believers, and churches, are torn apart by heresies, strife, dissensions and schisms then the world is rightly scandalized.

What Means Do We Have for Co-operation?

Christ gave us his divine life. He manifested the glory of his Father to his disciples. This was done by the gift of the Holy Spirit, the “love bond” (Augustine). This is why the earliest creeds put the doctrine of the church, and thus its oneness, in the third section where the Holy Spirit is directly confessed. And this is why John testified about Jesus with these words: “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34)

To use the words of Peter we “participate in the [mystery of the] divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3–4). This amazing grace should prompt awe. It should also become the means by which we pursue unity in Christ. (Consider further statements such as these; 1 John 3:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 12:10.)

What all this means is that Christians should never conceive of life in community apart from his divine nature. All of the riches of the Godhead are found in Christ and these riches are ours. Pardon, righteousness, love, joy, wisdom, kindness, gentleness and tenderness are in him. And they are now at work in us by the Holy Spirit’s power.

What this also means is that we have at our disposal the grace to pursue both the relational and co-operational unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17. It is only because we refuse to draw on his grace that we maintain our considerable divisions and sad disunity===> Click headline to access complete article . . .



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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PRAYER ~ Praying for my Neighborhood

Praying for My Neighborhood

by Arlyn Lawrence

When God works in a community, He doesn't just use adults. He also uses the prayers of kids! Praying for My Neighborhood includes prayers that children can pray to invite God to make a difference in their neighborhoods. Sold in packs of 20 cards.

Click here to preview a free sample of this card or place an order.


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Monday, November 17, 2008

SHARE ~ Relational Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle Training

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Relational Evangelism Training Testimonies

Dallas Anderson / September 2007 and April 2008

We are very blessed to serve alongside Dallas Anderson as we seek to bring the genuine life of
Jesus Christ to our community. The following 54 quotes tell less than half the story of what happened throughthe authentic teaching of Dallas concerning what many of us now call the Relational Prayer-Care- Share lifestyle. I highly recommend our friend and brother Dallas Anderson to any community! Please – call me with any questions you might have.
Charles P. Daugherty Sr., Pastor – Executive Director; Serve The City Resource Group Inc.

1. “In the last 35 years, this is the best information I have heard to walk out the Christian lifestyle” GC
2. “I am over 60 years old--have struggled years with guilt for not ‘doing’ evangelism, this seminar set me
free!!” FS
3. “This training teaches a way to ‘communicate’ with others my faith in Christ, not just give a presentation.”
MB
4. “Fresh way of looking at evangelism. An “I Can” way! Starts with your story and ends with the greatest
story.” JO
5. “This put evangelism in a whole new light…natural, non-threatening and easy.” MP
6. “For all who have a desire to share the Gospel, but are scared of how to start. Dallas teaches by providing
examples from experience in a way that I can see myself sharing. It is awesome that God can work through
me despite myself.” MB
7. “I think Dallas helps the listener connect with the ‘real’ people in the ‘real’ situations that we will be in.
He is extremely motivating. Lots of GRACE!” KD
#8 and #9 go together
8. “The information shared is biblical, relevant and practical. But Dallas Anderson is what makes this
seminar fantastic. His heart for the Lord, the Church and the lost under girds everything he shares.
Overall, it helps put hands and feet to the Prayer, Care and Share lifestyle.” BW
9. “I agree with this statement fully! It is hard to find someone who is both funny and humble yet passionate
in his desire to see the church mobilized to reach the lost. Dallas, you are a precious gift to Serve The
City.” GA
10. “I appreciated learning the questions to guide someone toward ‘God talk.’” JA
11. “I am 74 years young and I found your presentation very helpful. You brought it to me in a very easy to
understand way. You are like a ‘close friend’ telling me how to talk to others about Christ.” MR
12. “Something for everybody. Glad I was here. Evangelism made easy. My eyes were open that anyone can
do it. Excited about what I’ve learned and anxious to use the tools given me in sharing Christ.” CN
13. “Helped show us the way we need to communicate a Christian way of life with others.” KJ and DJ \
14. “Very educational and informative for me. Really made me stop and think about how God can use me to
witness. I just need to watch for open doors and listen to God.” HCS
15. “Seeing the lost. Think how we can serve and reach them for Jesus.” BS
16. “Dallas has an incredibly down-to-earth style of communicating Kingdom values as they relate to the lost,
the church, and the place we play in bringing the two together.” TK and CK
17. “For me, the stories of how Dallas has seen God move and use simple people were so powerful. As Dallas
taught us how God has gone before us to prepare hearts before we even get there – I felt so empowered to
take the step of faith to share Christ more.” CP
18. “Very practical seminar teaches importance of prayer and emphasizes caring for the lost and sharing our
faith fearlessly.” KJ
19. “Dallas helps make it clear—as a process—making it so practical in our everyday lives.” MB
20. “God has given me the same understanding as Dallas. I am thrilled that he is clarifying the path to
reaching the lost in such an easily understandable manner. God bless you as you minister to the churched
people. Good job! Loved the stories!” JS
21. “I feel I am being called to bring Christ to the marketplace. This affirms in me the need to respond and
share the Good News in the marketplace.” LK
22. “Dallas shared that we have eternity to worship God, but we don’t have eternity to share our faith with
those who are blind to the truth! That was profound to me.” GB
23. “The Holy Spirit used Dallas to light a fire of urgency to reach out to others with the Gospel. I knew the
scriptures he used, but suddenly there came a conviction I hadn’t had before. Overall excellent and do-
able!” JB
24. “The most impactful few hours I can remember. Dallas sheds new light on old concepts and delivers
practical tools that empower believers to more faithfully walk-out their calling.” MJ
25. “Too many evangelism trainings only teach you about the harvest. Dallas teaches you to start from the
beginning, partnering with God to be His witness to the world.” TV
26. “Dallas teaches evangelism in a clear and concise manner resulting in enhancing my teaching style of
discipleship classes.” IV
27. “I have been a Christian for 34 years and have not done all God wanted me to do in the area of evangelism
because I lost sight of the fact that evangelism is a process. I believe that truth has made a huge difference
in who Jesus has called me to be to the world.” TV
28. “I appreciate a better understanding of evangelism and feel, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can share my
faith.” FA
29. Only a life lived for others is worth living. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for me. Live for Jesus (at least
try).” FS
30. “This is the best evangelistic training I have ever participated in. It makes sharing the Gospel of Jesus
Christ so much simpler and easier. I look at witnessing in a completely different light. If this training was
shared in every congregation, I believe that the Body of Christ would increase by leaps and bounds!” LS
31. “I have attended gospel presentation training in the many years I have been in ministry. However, Dallas
speaks and teaches with clarity and passion that has challenged me to not only share my faith in Christ
more, but to teach this material to the church I pastor.” MG
32. “I have been in evangelistic work for many years, but this is the most comprehensive, yet the simplest,
seminar I have ever attended. It is very thorough and very clear.” SR
33. “This is not rocket science. Dallas has brought this in a way that is simple and practical.” ER
34. “You made the complex simple.” PD
35. “Meet people where they are. Pray for all. Let God be in control. The Spirit will show you the way.” EB
36. “I’m 39 years of age and from Newark, NJ, and basically the streets. However, by coming to this meeting,
he has shown me that I can be myself and reach others like myself, but God has placed something in me
through his training and his love to reach those I thought I never could before.” JS
37. “Engaging presentation that equips believers to practically share the gospel with those God has placed in
their lives – moving them one step close to Jesus Christ.” AD
38. “You have helped me with my struggle with witnessing.” JJ
39. “This was a nice opportunity for me to learn more about the tools of witnessing. I know now that I am not
the only one who has fears and to overcome them in Christ.” JS
40. “The practical information and tools give me confidence to intentionally pray, care and share God’s love
and truth into the people around me at the level they are willing to receive.” SD
41. “It helps to see how fully we can incorporate our witness into every aspect of our lives.” HM
42. “I feel better able to know how to speak to non-Christians about God and to share God with them.” DS
43. “Dallas opened up my heart to seek what God wants to do with me concerning evangelism, what type and
level, and he motivated me to witness more and to pray more.” LS
44. “Great seminar. It’s a release to understand the witness vs. evangelist concept. I’m one of the 90%!” KW
45. “I was overwhelmed by his speech. Learned a lot. Very good speaker. I know now that God is in my
heart.” WO
46. “Dallas gave me more confidence to share the Gospel and my own testimony by breaking them down into
portions that make sense without draining me.” LKE
47. “This teaching caused me to be more sensitive about sharing the Gospel from where people are at. After
taking this class I found the Lord creating opportunities to witness. Interesting!” JA
48. “This training has encouraged me to share, share, share! I will be looking for new opportunities to share
the gospel. Exciting!” MK
49. “As an evangelist, I was a total failure. Since I sat in on the first session, I’ve been talking to a young
neighbor man (37). He was open to my loving him and the tidbits I gave him about how much Jesus loves
him. I have visited with him twice and he was glad when I said I would come again.” JB
50. “I think Dallas has given me a great walk down the Christ path and a great understanding.” BG
51. “Wow, how simply put! ‘Everything I say and do should help others take one step closer to God.’ I don’t
need to make it complicated because it really isn’t.” LN
52. “One step closer to Christ’ makes evangelism do-able.” EN
53. “The share part was very practical and helpful. It emphasized how to discuss the gospel and not just
present it.” RD
54. “The faith stories were a wonderful way of connecting faith with everyday life.” CW
55. …and they are still coming in!

Serve Christ by Serving the City - together
“Seek the Welfare of the City where I have sent you” Jeremiah 29:7
A Mission America Coalition Partner – Serving His One Church – www.servethecity.org
P. O. Box 11333. Cedar Rapids, IA 52410-1333 Phone: 319-378-0337 Email: Info@servethecity.org

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thoughts on Collaboration

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The most serious problem the Christian witness faces today is not opposition from atheist ideologies and rival religions; it is disunity among the churches. This disunity ranges all of the way from simple lack of communication across denominational lines to outright and intemperate attacks upon the theological claims and structures of each other.

Harold A. Bosley

We saw last week how badly some have misinterpreted John 17:20-23 in their attempts to make this prayer fit with the present realty of the divided church. Even many local congregations have used this kind of interpretive approach to justify their continual divisions and arguments. The question we need to ask now is what does this text really mean, positively?

Relational Unity

So, what is Jesus really praying for? I suggest he is praying for our relational unity. If you please, the unity that he prays for is spiritual, in the sense that is it a Spirit-given and Spirit-sustained unity; i.e., it is not something that we can create on our own. (I am not using spiritual here as a synonym for invisible.) If the unity that Jesus prays for is between people in human relationships then this is a unity that can be kept or lost to divisions, rivalries, factions and church splits.

Jesus is not addressing the issue of denominations (since they did not exist) nor universal church councils (which also did not exist yet). Most biblical scholars, including modern Catholic ones, agree with this point. Remember, he is praying that all his followers will live as he lived. This has a clear reference to his own personal relationship with his Father. But you say, "His oneness with the Father was eternal." Right you are, but this is not what is in view here. Look more carefully at the text. The second person of the eternal Trinity, the Logos, was incarnated in the man Christ Jesus. Jesus lived fully and completely as a human person. In his humanity Jesus lived day-to-day in total dependence upon his Father. This relationship, lived in and by the fullness of the Holy Spirit, was one of unity. Thus this relational oneness between Jesus and the Father was a perfectly expressed unity of persons in relationship. Thus this relational aspect is clearly what is in view here in John 17.

This becomes particularly clear in verse 23 where Jesus prays that his disciples, "will be brought to complete unity." We already have perfect spiritual unity in our relationship with Jesus but we do not experience this unity relationally unless we are "brought" into it through our day-to-day experience. This tells me that there is a process going on in our shared life with the Trinity and our fellow believers. When Christians respond to one another in the way that Jesus prayed for the results will be exactly what this prayer asked the Father to give to them: "Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (verse 23).

Divide and Multiply

Theologian Ben Witherington, III, has noted that the first law of American Protestant ecclesiology seems to be: "Thou shalt divide and multiply." I learned this principle in my first pastorate. In Chicago my denomination desperately wanted to plant new churches. As a result of this desire the church I served as pastor had split from another church that had once been part of a different church where I had previously been a member. Confused? Simply put, here were three congregations, all within a few miles of each other in two suburban cities. In each case a church split had been brought about by quarreling, petty personality disputes and jealousies. I had been a member of one of these churches and now pastored a split church that came out of that congregation. And we all worked together to reach Chicago for Christ in the same church fellowship.

One day I decided to ask our denominational executive what this was all about. He eagerly told me that dividing churches was a healthy way to reach people. I expressed my concern about schism and the obvious lack of holiness I saw in these three churches. Later I would hear this man tell ministers that dividing churches, through any means, would multiply churches and this was a good thing. To put it mildly, I was appalled.

I couldn't imagine how encouraging schism could ever be right. But this is America.

There is always a tension in the church between unity among believers and truth as it is understood and held by believers. Protestantism has tended to hold up Truth, with a capital T, while intoning unity with a lowercase u, with the end result that Protestant churches and denominations have proved endlessly divisive and factious. On the other hand, Catholicism and Orthodoxy have held up Unity with a capital U, and at least from a Protestant viewpoint this has been at the expense of Truth. In others words, no part of the church has adequately gotten the balance between truth and unity right, it would seem.1

While one can question the simplicity of this observation the conclusion remains helpful. Deep inside I knew for many years that the stance I took for capital T truth, verses capital U unity, was a false dichotomy. One could choose to embrace both Truth and Unity. But it would be awhile before the Spirit broke thorough my pride to teach me how my view opposed Christ.

I do find it surprising that the famous German liberal Rudolph Bultmann, in his commentary on the Gospel of John, wrote: "the actual division of the church . . . does not necessarily frustrate the unity of the proclamation." (This is one of those odd instances where the most serious conservative separatists, who despise Bultmann, agree with his faulty interpretation!) But the late Lesslie Newbigin understood this correctly: "A proclamation which is contradicted by the practice of those who proclaim it is not what Jesus here prays for. This attempt to justify the fragmentation of Protestantism is not a legitimate exposition of the text. Jesus is praying for visible unity among [all] those who believe."2

Conclusion

Frankly, it never ceases to amaze me how so many Christians will argue positively for division and schism and then attempt to prove that this is precisely what Christ wanted in the light of John 17. As odd as it may seem the citation from Rudolph Bultmann I just quoted really is closer to the view of many conservatives than almost any of them will admit. Bultmann is no conservative role model for biblical exegesis and the authority of Scripture. When we deny the obvious meaning of a text, in order to justify our sin and division, it seems that we will go to almost any measure to support our sinful conclusion.

1 Ben Witherington, III. John's Wisdom: A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995), 274.

2 Lesslie Newbigin, The Light Has Come: An Exposition of the Fourth Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 235. The Bultmann quotation is cited by Newbigin as well.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

A lifeverse for a lifestyle for a lifetime

I have chosen a new decadal life verse! Since 1997 I had claimed Philippians 3:10- "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings".

Even now my mind reflects back to the last 10 years of trusting, sinning, repenting, despairing, and hoping. God has been with us. We are glad, and we hope. Marie and I would say that the 10 previous years have been more trying and yet more fulfilling than our first two decades together.

But now, I happily claim *Psalm 96:2, 3*:
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim good news of His salvation from day to day.
Tell (Publish- ESV) of his glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all peoples.

I am the most fortunate man on the planet. Because of the way God has built me, and because of the enormous privilege of serving him at the Billy Graham Center with some of His finest servants, these verses live in me. I can sing of his love, proclaim his salvation, and tell and publish of his mighty deeds to all His people. I pray and hope through His grace and ever present Spirit to become skilled at all three of the verbs above- singing
praise to his name, proclaiming the glorious message of salvation in Christ alone, and publishing his truth among the nations and all his people.

On behalf of the team at the Billy Graham Center, and my family,
Lon Allison, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College

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