Read the whole Bible in 20 minutes!

… kind of.

I’d highly recommend downloading and reading this article by Michael Goheen. It give an overview of the entire Bible in about 8 pages!

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Self Help vs The Gospel

by Seth Troutt, VI Worship Director

American middle class culture (aka the culture at ASU) has always been endowed the ‘American dream mentality”. The American Dream has been around for hundreds of years and most commonly could be described as a promise of prosperity and success via your personal hard work. Capitalism. I’m not going to argue with this mentality in its regards to materialistic foundations, but, what concerns me are the ways in which the American Dream, in this postmodern era, has moved beyond capitalism and material issues and has begun to infect Christianity and spiritual issues.  This ‘spiritual capitalism’ is what is commonly referred to as Self-Help.

The fundamental problem with Self-Help lies in its very definition. The contradiction with the truth of the Gospel is evident…

Self-Help says that we need help. The Gospel says we need salvation.

Self-Help says you are the instrument of your help. The Gospel says that Jesus is the only way.

Self-Help attempts to meet your needs as you define them. The Gospel defines our needs as sinners and doesn’t merely meet needs but is the power of God’s salvation.

Self-Help is self-focused. The Gospel is the holistic story of the Creator of all things.

The subtle danger here is when Self-Help bleeds into Christianity and perverts the word of God. I call this ‘Christian-Self-Help’.

In ‘Christian Self-Help’ Jesus and His cross are used by the individual to solve self-defined problems meet self-defined goals.

Christian Self-Help reduces the Gospel to a psychological process, rather than The True Story that defines and transforms the entire being of the regenerated Christian.

Essentially in Christian-Self-Help God’s Word becomes adulterated in that the proclaiming follower of Christ whores the Word by fitting it into his life as he pleases rather than placing himself under the authority of the spoken word of the Creator.

Let us not rely on our own religious efforts but rather let us seek to define ourselves by the Gospel of our murdered savior Jesus.

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What VI needs

by Nick Barker, College Director

I’ve been praying over the direction of VI this week and have been organizing and preparing for this current semester. Here is a quick list of conclusions that I’ve come to while praying, evaluating, and dialoging with other local pastors.

What our ministry needs to continue to grow

  • Continual transformation in the gospel
  • Living Rooms understanding that they are missional communities and not small groups
  • Men and woman understanding and living out their identity as missionaries
  • Obedience to discipleship – 1) submitting to being discipled and 2) then in turn discipling
  • Deep commitment to pray

What our ministry doesn’t need to grow

  • Louder music
  • A better “vibe” on Sunday nights
  • Cool t-shirts
  • Cool business card size handout (although we just printed off 500)
  • Events and mixers

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Church is not a junior high dance – part 2

by Nick Barker, College Director

A common theme amongst Christians who attend multiple churches and parachurch ministries is that they do not tend to see the harm they may be causing by not being committed to one body of believers. Here are a few problems that arise when Christians treat church like a junior high dance (see part 1).

Leadership ends up entertaining instead of empowering

It is very difficult to equip people in your Living Room (missional community) if they are 1) not committed to the mission of the church, 2) in different places throughout the week, and 3) have the primary desire to just socialize within the Christian community. Leading people who hover from place to place like a helicopter will take a different form then leading those who are planted and committed. Leadership could look more like babysitting or monitoring a 7th grade study hall because the people who are being led have different motives then the leadership. One cannot lead unless those being led have to desire to go where the leader is trying to take them.

The mission is cramped

There is a damper that is put on the mission of the church when there are people within church that are not committed to its mission.  Having an excess of “church hoppers” in a church will haze up the vision of the mission. Instead of walking out the church doors on mission, they are walking out the church doors one their way to another church. It is hard for a community to be on mission when a large amount of people exiting at the first off ramp they see.

Christians become users instead of contributors

We are called be the body of Christ. God has designed us each differently and has gifted us uniquely. His intention is that we work together, do life together, and serve together (Romans 12:3-8). When a person just attends a church service and does not get involved in community, they are actually working against the body of Christ instead of with the body of Christ. Instead of being a productive part of the body, they become like weights strapped around the ankles that slow the body down.

part 3 – the solution

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Church is not a junior high dance – part 1

by Nick Barker, College Director

Ah, the memories of 7th grade! The hair gel! The baggy pants with oversized pockets!The buckets of cheap cologne and body spray! Oh, and how could one forget the dances! Junior high dances were something else, weren’t they? As a 13-year-old I remember walking into the school cafeteria on a Friday night, searching for my homeboys, and rushing over to the wall in which they were occupying. Looking across the room we could spot the young ladies huddled up. The game plan: wait for the “slow dance” song… then attack! The boys would walk across the vacant dance floor and ask a girl to dance.  I remember dancing with several different girls at each dance. The  slow songs were 3 1/2 minutes of awkwardness, to say the least. Afterward the girl would retreat back to her wall and group of gals, and the boy would do likewise. Wait until the DJ plays another slow song, then repeat. This time, find a different girl.

I share this past experience, which many of us have had, because I’ve noticed a similar trend within the local church today. There is a pattern that is common amongst many Christians. This pattern is in many ways damaging and crippling to the Church’s mission. This pattern is like the one of the junior high boys at a dance. Many church goers, especially those who are college age, like dancing (going along with the analogy) with several different churches or ministries. They will show up to gatherings, services, or even small groups one night and then move on to what the church down the street is doing the next night. I’ve encountered many twenty somethings that attend up to 5 different churches and services a week! This is a major problem within the local church. I’ll address the problems this causes in part 2 of the post.

One of the lingering issues with addressing this problem is that those church goers, who act like 13-year-old boys at a dance, don’t see any problem with what they are doing. Additionally, they will sometimes use Scripture to back up there actions and have little or no conviction.

Here are a few statements I’ve heard people say trying to justify their church hopping antics:

  • “I like being fed.”
  • “I want to learn as much as I can.”
  • “I feel part of the greater body of believers.”
  • “I like the way this place does worship, but I like the way that guy preaches.”
  • “Aren’t we all one body anyway?”
  • “My church doesn’t have anything for college students.”

And those who are really honest…

  • “I’m trying to find a girlfriend/boyfriend.”
  • “I don’t want to commit to one place.”

to be continued…

part 2 – the problems this causes

part 3 - the solution

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Explain Yourself

Over the last few weeks I’ve been wrestling with the words Jesus preached in Matthew 5:13-16. He tells us that, by being his disciples, we are the “salt” and “light” to the world. We are to bring flavor and reflect God’s light in the dark and tasteless places of our world.

What has been striking me the most is when Christ tells us to “let our light shine so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.” John Stott claims that the mandate from Christ is to live as a counter-culture… a Kingdom-culture.

This teaching of Jesus proclaims that we are to live in such a way that demands an explanation- a gospel explanation.

So how do we live in such a way?

Here are a things that have been helping me live with Kingdom-counter-culture mindset:

  • Love Jesus. Sounds simple, but can often be over looked. If we are a people that love Jesus and pursue gospel implications in ever area of life it will change our hearts and behavior. (Romans 2:4)
  • Live in gospel community. We’re intended to live together as family. Baring each other’s burdens and providing of each other’s needs will demand an explanation (Acts 2). Working together with our own unique, Spirit given gifts will demand an explanation. Loving, caring, and serving each other will demand an explanation. (Romans 12)
  • Go out of your way to bless others. God has blessed us by eternally saving us, but with present implications. God blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others. (Genesis 12)
  • Understanding that Jesus is in control. Know that God is sovereign in his placement of you in time and place (Acts 17), he has blessed you, made you a blessing, and is working his mission through you. (Philippians 2)
  • Understand that you’re called to freedom in Christ. Christ has set you free from cultural idols – individualism, moralism, consumerism, materialism, humanism. You are set free from being slaves to sin so that you may live gospel-centered, missional-focused lives. (Galatians 5)
  • Live through the Grace of God. What difference would it make if you truely believed that there is nothing you can do, good or bad, that could separate you from God? (Romans 8 )

In order to live a life that demands an explanation we must center our lives around the gospel itself.

Imagine what it would look like to have Living Rooms filled with followers of Christ living in such a way that demands a gospel explanation. What impact would it make in Tempe?

Nick

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Czech it out

Ya boy, Connor McSheffrey (also known as C-Mac Cash), is hoping to spend the summer in Czech Republic doing mission work. He still has support that needs to be raised and is in need of help. This Sunday morning there will be a back sale in Dorsey Center to help raise support for Connor. Stop by before of after The Venue and put Connor in Czech.

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