Book Review – Everyday Church

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 by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

Summary:  The church is at the edge of society. We need to accept it and redefine church as small groups of people living life deeply together with a purpose to spread the gospel.  Our main thing needs to be small groups sharing life and mission together instead of Sunday morning.

Good Stuff:

“We have a loose connection with Christians on Sunday but then largely we go back to living our everyday lives on our own.”

True Biblical rebuke and correction can only happen when people share everyday life together.

“The church leader is someone who is sacrificed from the front life to equip everyone else for the front line. “

Law says “You Should…”  Gospel says “You need not…”

“We need truths we already know pushed down into the everyday realities of our lives.”

“Many Christians function as if the church is a meeting…an entity with structures such as constitutions, ministers, elders, committees and so on.”

Ministry is something done by ordinary Christians with the support of pastors.

An interesting section on how to speak gospel ideas into everyday conversations.

“A good church is a church in which the believers share their lives together as an alternative and authentic society.”

“This is what we are all about: just hanging out, doing nothing spectacular, but with gospel intentionality.”

“If the bulk of a church’s time and energy goes into the Sunday meeting, then everyday church will not happen.”

Complaints:

Some of their suggestions for how to do everyday mission sound like it is only for super social outgoing people. They say you should eat meals with other people as much as possible, walk places and be a regular at certain stores so you can strike up conversations with strangers and you should be exciting not boring.  “You will never attract people to Jesus if you are not excited about Jesus.”  “Our job is to have fun to the glory of God!”

In their conclusion they say groups of believers living together on mission must be more important than Sunday mornings for it to work.  But then they suggest you could keep the current model of church and just add some small gospel community groups to it. Which one is it?

Conclusion:

Overall a good book. They ran out of steam a couple of places, but most of it is useful.  It goes over the standard missional church story but doesn’t spend too long on it. There is lots of practical advice and examples.  If you have no idea what missional church is or are confused by it like most people, this is a good book to read.

Are You Ready to be Attacked?

Tetsudo - shield

Did you prepare yourself for war today?  In Ephesians 6:10-20 Paul encourages Christians to put on the complete armor of God.  Paul believed that this world is a spiritual battlefield. Bad things happen for no apparent reason.  This is because human beings have an enemy.  Satan is not a guy with red skin and horns. That was always just a metaphor and seems hokey today.  Satan is spiritual being of great evil.

Paul wants us to see life this way.  The world is not just what we see.  We should prepare for battle every day with the armor given to us by God.  We may not be attacked every day, but we will be attacked.  We should not be surprised when bad things happen.  We should expect it and be ready. 

What is this armor?  The belt of truth.  The breastplate of righteousness.  The shoes of readiness.  The shield of faith.  The helmet of salvation.  The sword of the word of God.

When we envision this armor we usually think of a medieval knight.  But that is the wrong metaphor.  Paul was writing during the first century AD.   He was not thinking of a medieval knight, but of Roman soldiers.  This is important.

Medieval knights had armor and weapons designed to fight alone.  They had huge swords, armor covering every inch of their bodies and shields they could easily swing to deflect a blow.  Roman soldiers had armor that was designed to be effective only when fighting together as a unit.  Their shields were large and covered the soldier holding the shield and also part of the soldier on his left. Their armor did not cover every inch of their bodies but only those parts that would be exposed when they were in battle formation.

The armor of God protects not only you, but also those around you.

Consider the shield of faith.  Faith is the ability to believe that God can and will answer prayer and help us.  When hard things happen many Christians throw down their faith and run.  Then the battle is lost.  Instead at those moments we need to take up our faith and declare that we believe God will help us.  This will protect not only us but those around us.

Or consider the Word of God, which is the sword of the spirit. This is our weapon against spiritual evil.  We need to prepare by constantly training ourselves to use it.  When evil attacks us we need to pull it out and use it.  Imagine you are in the middle of a fight, or that something terrible has happened to a family member or friend.  It is extremely difficult at those times to go to the Bible, but it is powerful.  Bring the word of God into that fight or tragedy, use it properly and watch how the situation changes.  The battle will not end instantly, but now at least you are fighting. This sword will defend you and everyone else around you.

Isaac Whiting

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How To Buy a Used Car

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Want to save thousands? Want to drive a better car and be debt free?  It isn’t that hard.

Recently we bought a 2003 Pontiac Montana in excellent condition. Transmission rebuilt two years ago, a $2000 job.  115k miles or 185k kms.  The Blue Book value is $4000 from a private party or $5600 from a dealer.  Our cost, $1900.

Here are some rules to follow when buying a car.

1. Don’t Buy a Brand New Car

Recommended by everyone from Dave Ramsey to my dad.  A new car loses a huge percentage of its value when you drive it off the lot.

2. Don’t Buy From a Dealer

Dealers make their money on convenience and confidence. Think about it.  The Blue Book value for any car has two numbers, private party and dealer.  The difference for my van is $1600 or 40%!!  The dealer will claim you are getting a similar deal to a private party, but it is obvious you are NOT.  Cut out the middle man.  Who wouldn’t pick 40% off over full price every time?

3. Do Your Homework and Use a Mechanic

People buy from dealers because they are afraid of problems.  They want the car inspected and they want a warranty. But what has the dealer actually done and what is the warranty really worth?  What they have done is cleaned the car, had a mechanic look at it and fixed things that are obviously wrong. You can do the same thing! 

Check out the car yourself.  Drive it, listen and look.  If you aren’t a mechanic then have one inspect the car.  Any mechanic will inspect a car for around $100.  No legitimate seller will refuse this and you often find something that will let you negotiate the price down at least $100.

Check the car out online.  In BC you can run a VIN search on ICBC website for $20 and know every accident associated with the car. I did this and knew more about our van than the seller.

4. Be Patient and Negotiate

A dealer will get you a car in a matter of hours.  Finding the right car the right way might take a couple of weeks.  It is worth it.  Be patient. You will end up with a better car for far less money. You won’t find the perfect car, but make a list of what you want wait for one that is almost exactly right.  It is easiest to decide on a make and model, a narrow range of years and price before you start looking.

Once you are looking at the car with the seller, negotiate.  This isn’t as scary as it sounds. Don’t try to be super impressive or salesman-like.  Be nice but firm.  Don’t talk too much but ask lots of questions.  Simply ask them if they will come down on the price.  They usually will. Sometimes if you ask enough questions and have done your homework the seller will talk themselves down.

Isaac Whiting

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Why You Should Never Grab Your Children

ImageWe have three-and-a-half children.  Sometimes we want to run away screaming.  However, we consistently get compliments about their behavior. A dozen times old ladies have given them candy or money because they were so impressed. Being a parent is complicated, but here is one rule that goes a long way.  Don’t Grab Your Children!

I see it constantly. A child is doing something that embarasses her parents. Maybe they are running in church or going after that fragile decoration on a friends coffee table. Mom or dad tells them to stop and is ignored. So they grab her. The parent physically stops the kid from doing whatever it was. This is always a mistake.

Now, I am no bleeding heart.. I am a believer in spanking at the right moment and age. The problem with grabbing your kids is that it doesn’t work. The child is out of control. They need something to control them. But when you grab them the point of control is outside their mind and body.

Imagine you are the child. You know you are doing something wrong. That is the seed of responsibility and self control. As soon as mom grabs you it is taken away.  It is mom’s responsibility to hold you back, not yours.  You learn that you can do whatever you want and someone else will make sure you don’t go too far. That is a super bad lesson to learn.

But you say, what else can I do?  The answer is simple and bears incredible fruit.
Don’t Grab Your Kids!
I like to think of it as a game.  Here are the rules.

1) You must get them to stop if you said no.

If you say no you have to deal with it.  You face it head on every single time, even if it is small.  If little Billy is climbing on a table and you have never told him he can’t then fine, you can let it go on.  But if even once you say ‘No climbing on tables’’ you MUST confront Billy until he stops.

2)  You cannot touch them  

You can’t grab Billy and pretend to hug him so he doesn’t climb up anymore. You must use your words. You can promise consequences as long as you follow through.. This means Billy has to think. The point of control is inside himself.  You are giving water and sunlight to that seed of responsibility. The choice is his.

3) You can punish them in appropriately

Billy is going to ignore you. He must have consistent consequences just like he will later as an adult. Spanking and timeouts can be good, but be creative. Most times there are more important things you can take away. Don’t think of this as doing something against your child.  You are helping them.

That’s it!  Win the ‘Don’t Grab Your Kids Game’  and soon your children will learn responsibility. They will respond when you say something and little old ladies will love them.

Tell me what you think –  Isaac