Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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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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Persecution in India

Warning: very graphic

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What’d he say?

I’ve been asked recently by several people outside of VI why we do dialogue teaching instead of the traditional monologue sermon. I’ll lovingly smile and then give them an answer far longer then they expected…

“For years we have been exposing Christians to scattered, random bits of biblical knowledge through our church services and Christian education classes. They hear a principle here and read a truth there, then nod their head in approval and feel momentarily satisfied over receiving this new insight into their faith. But within the space of just a few hours that principle or truth is lost in the busyness and complexity of their lives. They could not capture that insight and own it because they had never been given a sufficient context and method that would enable them to analyze, categorize, and utilize the principle or truth. This inability to systematically apply Scriptural truth produces a spiritual superficiality or immaturity that is reflected in behavior.”
-George Barna

A main problem many of us have been facing over the last several months is the facilitating of our Living Room discussion. Many members of our communities seem to be unengaged, timid, or unwilling to participate. I believe the primary reason for this is the way we (leadership) have approached the discussion. Many of us have taken the route of studying the passage, preparing a 3-point sermon, teaching it, and then asking the Living Room questions based off of your teaching. A concern for that approach is that many people, especially college students, in our society are not receptive to facts presented in monologue form. The majority of people are much more receptive to absorbing, retaining, and repeating content that is in dialogue and story form.

“The word commonly translated ‘preach’ means to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers. It should be no surprise that Jesus taught through dialogue and questions. Studies by IBM and the UK Post Office show that people who learn by hearing alone retain just 10% of what they have learned after three months. People who learn by hearing and being shown experience retain 65%. It means the only person experiencing good learning in a sermon is the preacher!” (Total Church, pages 112-113).

A culture that needs to be engaged

– 42% of college students don’t read books
– 80% of US families did not buy or read a book in 2007
– 50% of books bought are not read to completion
– The average reader will read only 18 pages of a book
– Each day people in the US spend 4 hours watching TV and 3 hours listening to music
– The average American spends 80% of their non-working time in front of a screen

Reasons for story form teaching

• We are captivated by good stories. Why do you follow certain TV shows (The Office, Prison Break, The OC)?

• After hearing a story, it is easy to repeat

• People love hearing stories

• Everyone was raised and shaped by stories

• Stories have the power to get attention

• Community promotes story telling

• Story telling promotes community

• Storying is transferable

• Story telling invites other’s to tell their stories

• Story telling is welcoming

Nick

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