Category Archives: Spiritual Living

Why do we need community?

We were made to be in relationship. In Genesis 2 God created Adam and puts him in charge of the earth. He soon realized that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So God made Eve to be in relationship with Adam. Relationship and community are not just nice aids to life, but the essence of life itself. The culture we live in today, including the Christian culture, puts a large emphasis on the individual. It’s all about you. The ideology is that everything is about you, even the community you are a part of. In a lot of ways community has lost it’s true meaning and purpose. Especially in a society that focuses so much on me. staff
The main thing to understand about biblical community is that God desires to create to himself “a people.” He wants us to be in fellowship with each other with him. In Exodus 6: 7 God says, “ I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God.”  Paul writes, “Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2: 13b-14).

God does not merely want create isolated individuals who believe in him, go to church twice a week, and then spend the rest of their week with no Christian fellowship. “The church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history. On the contrary, the church is God’s new community. For his purpose, conceived in a past eternity, being worked out in history, and to be perfected in a future eternity, is not just to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build his church, that is to call out of the world a people for his own glory”  (The Living Church. Pages 19-20).

“The prevailing view of life today is that of an individual standing on his or her own, heroically ‘juggling’ various responsibilities: family, friendships, career, leisure, chores, decisions, and money. We could also add social responsibilities.”
“From time to time the pressures overwhelm us and we drop one or more of the balls. All too often church becomes one of the balls. We juggles our responsibilities for church just as we do our responsibilities for work and leisure.”

“An alternative model is to view our various activities and responsibilities as spokes of a wheel. At the center or hub of life is not me as an individual, but us as members of the Christian community. Church is not another ball for me to juggle, but that which defines who I am and gives Christlike shape to my life.” (Total Church. Pages 42-43).

What if instead of having church be another thing to juggle on our list of commitment and activities, it became the focal point of our activities and commitments?

Nick

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Gospel Explanation

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 v16 where 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 states that the mandate from Christ is to live as a counter-culture… a Kingdom-culture.

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

So how do we live in such a way?

Here are a few ways I believe we can live as a Kingdom-counter-culture that demands an explanation:

  • 9Love 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)
  • Going 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 north Tempe?

Nick

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Evidences of Grace

The beauty of the Christian life is that it solely reliant on the Grace of God. Everything is for, through, in, and by Jesus. Pride can slip into our lives if we’re not constantly preaching the Gospel to ourselves and humbly acknowledging God’s work through us.

So what are some evidences of Grace that you see in VI? What ways do you see God working? What areas is he moving in?

Here are a few that I’ve been seeing and rejoicing in:

  • God is turning a ministry led by college students into a  mission to Tempe and surrounding areas.
  • Despite our sin and mistakes God is creating communities of gospel-living young adults.
  • Living Rooms are unconditionally loving each other and outsiders.
  • The Gospel is transforming lives.
  • College students are being equipped for ministry and not wasting their college years.
  • College students are developing hearts and compassion for the lost, weak, and broken.

What evidences of Grace are you seeing in VI and your Living Rooms? Go ahead and post yours…..

Nick

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Reflections on a gospel-centered, missionally-focused community

I’ve been spending time this week reflecting on the past year, and two years of VI. It has been humbling and exciting seeing how God has guided us along this journey that has been exciting and testing at the same time.rbody-tempe-night

VI is in a season of growth. Living Rooms are multiplying and new ones are being formed. This is ironic because many college ministries take a break during the summer. It has been a blessing seeing the fruit that has come out of these communities.

I went out to dinner a few nights ago with a few close friends. We’re all in different Living Rooms now even though we all started in the same one. At dinner we talked about how amazing it has been seeing God grow our community into several different ones over the last 2 years.

On January 2, 2008, I wrote down a few prayers in my journal I had for my Living Room. Just to clarify- a journal is not a diary.

My prayers were that:

  • we would be a community that pursued living out the gospel in every aspect of our lives
  • our community would blossom into a family of communities.
  • we would be given clarity of mission
  • we would pull together our gifts, talents, desires, and resources to make an impact for the Kingdom
  • we would break down preconceived, un-biblical ‘church kid’ thoughts, ideas, and practices so that we’d be able to live Kingdom-oriented, and gospel-centered lives

Here is what God has done with this one Living Room since then:

  • birthed 5 Living Rooms
  • birthed 1 woman’s study
  • birthed 1 young couples community (not with VI, but still with GCC)
  • 10 members from the original community are now equipped and leading other communities
  • non-believers are being led to Christ
  • believers who have fallen away have been led back to Christ
  • college students are growing in gospel knowledge and gospel implications for their lives
  • mentality has shifted from attending to serving and leading
  • 5 different outreach ministries birthed from the community

It is exciting to see what God has done with a single group of people willing to be used. I pray and hope that this will be an encouragement to each Living Room in the ministry. This journey has been full of mistakes, messy relationships, and a lot of repentance and reconciliation. The beautiful thing is that God doing this work through us. This isn’t our mission. It’s God’s mission.

Imagine what He can do with 8-10 Living Rooms if this is what He’s done with just one! Can’t wait to see what this next year brings!

Nick

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A glimpse inside the Kiwanis Living Room

There has been a lot of exciting things going on in the Living Rooms this semester! I just wanted to take a moment to recognize what God has been doing with the Living Room that meets in the Kiwanis Park Neighborhood.

This LR has been truly living out the four pillars of the ministry (gospel, community, prayer, mission). They have been able to not only grow in numbers, but also in the gospel of Christ and living missionally where they have planted themselves. The goal is to have the ministry structure of VI reproducible. This has been proven true with this particular Living Room as they are about the birth another Living Room.

This community has been strategically placing themselves within the city and campus. They have decided to start serving the Kiwanis Park Neighborhood and as a result created a new ministry called Project: Kiwanis. Through this they have been able to serve many people in need by doing yard work, tutoring, pulling weeds for the needy, and much much more.

In addition a few of them along with other VIers have been meeting up Tuesday nights at Vista Del Sol (on Apache south of ASU) to engage the ASU students there. God has moved through both of these callings and has brought much fruit.

Spend time this week to pray for the Living Rooms as we all continue to engage the places where God has placed us. Pray that we would be unified with one mind, spirit, and mission (Philippians 1:27).

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Real Life Spirituality

by Tim Chester from The Resurgence Blog

What images do spirituality or spiritual activity conjure in your mind? I guess many people think of praying alone away from the noise of the family, or sitting in contemplation on retreat in a rural place. It’s about what I do alone, rather than what I do with other people. Spirituality has come to be about solitude, calm, silence.

In reality, though, this is spirituality for the well-off. It’s only for those who can afford to go on retreat or have space in their home where they can be quiet. It won’t work for the single mother in a small apartment. It won’t work for the migrant worker who goes to work at six in the morning. It’s not urban spirituality. And it’s not biblical spirituality

Biblical spirituality is about:

* Bible meditation, not mystical silence

* Passionate engagement, not rural retreat

* Growing together, not individual solitude

In other words, biblical spirituality, at its core, is about the word of God, the mission of God, and the community of God.

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What’s love got to do, got to do, got to do with it?

OK, sorry for the title….

The 2nd step towards actually being missional is loving. This seems like a no brainer, but it’s really not.

First, God calls us to leave. Then he calls us to love the people he is sending us to.

Here is an example of God calling his people to leave and love:

In Jeremiah 29 a letter from Jeremiah is sent to “the surviving exiles” that were taken captive and we now under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. The Jews in exile simply are not adjusting well to their new homes in a foreign country with a different religion and world view. They simply don’t like being there. They don’t get along with their neighbors, many of them are trying to relocate to the suburbs, and I’m sure there is a movement growing to get good, “solid” Jewish education started so their children don’t have to go to public school. The culture is uncomfortable and unpleasant.

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Here is the letter that God wrote (through Jeremiah) to them:

“”Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” – Jeremiah 29:4-7

Here are a few observations of the passage:

  • God’s people are living in comfortable Jerusalem where everyone around them has the same beliefs, lifestyle, value, and nationality.
  • God send them into a culture full of rowdy nonbelievers that look and talk differently.
  • God instructs them to stay.
  • God instructs them to care for the welfare of the city. The actual word for “welfare” is shalom. This is the Hebrew word for  God’s blessing and overall peace.
  • God calls them to pray to the city.
  • God calls them the love the city and the people in it.

Do you love where you are? Are you seeking shalom for your school? Your work? Your city?

Just as God sent the people in Jerusalem into Babylon, he sends us into Tempe and ASU to not only be there, but love there.

We can be a college ministry that despises ASU, flees from it, and has a safe, comfortable ministry.

Or, we can be a college ministry that plants itself  in the middle of the culture and seeks it’s shalom.
In what ways are you fleeing from where God has placed you?

How can you love the culture God has placed you in?

Nick

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