Expastors.com looking to bring wholeness to broken leaders

I recently became involved with a fantastic group of guys that are looking to bring healing to so many of us that have been hurt in ministry.

Here is one of our latest posts, in which we look at some of the issues that so easily divide in the church.

http://bit.ly/1h3BokV

Take a look around the site. If you would be interested in providing content, please let us know.

Blessings

Innovating Discipleship by Will Mancini (Book Review)

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So anyone that knows me knows that I am practically a junkie when it comes to ministry development and organization. I remember when I first got my hands on Church Unique. I was immediately a fan and wondered why this wasn’t  prerequisite reading for anyone that is considering launching a church or for that matter overseeing any sort of ministry. It is truly that good a book, however if your not a structure and development junkie like me. You may find it a bit overwhelming because there just seems like so much that needs to be done.

The latest book by Will Mancini, Innovatiing Discipleship seems to have hit the perfect balance in my estimation.

At 94 pages long this book is a quick read. When you dig in, you notice almost immediately that this could have easily been a two or three hundred page book. But this is a practitioners book that has had the fluff stripped away. There are no long introductory narratives or puffed up stories of his consulting success. Mancini, Get straight to the nuts and bolts of bringing vision clarity.  He uses a great equation

1+2+4+16= ∞

One Whiteboard Drawing

defined by 

Two Vision Decisions

reveals 

Four Paths to the Future

that provide

Sixteen Super Questions

for

Limitless Ministry Innovation

In his book Mancini takes the idea of you can date the model but should marry the Mission 10 steps further. He show you how to clarify and define the mission, then how to develop a model that will get you there. Some of the things that I love about the book are the fact that the vision and footwork are left to the reader. Mancini isn’t trying to sell or pitch the latest ministry model or set of buzz words. What he does so well is showing us some of our fatal flaw in ministry design, such as our lack of clarity about results, as well as our low competency in ministry design, to name a few. He then takes you through a fantastically simple diagnostics tool utilizing seven elements in our pattern of engagements. At this point in Innovation Discipleship you should be looking intentionally forward and Mancini helps us in defining our destination and fine tuning our trajectory,

My only critique of the book is that in the beginning Mancini states that the average pastor is looking for more of the same thing the same way. In other words we want to do the same thing we always do and experience greater results. Although I agree that this is what is probably being said verbally as well as what is being expressed in actionable terms. I think most pastors really don’t know what are the right steps to take or they would, I think that there a huge population that dreams of the incredible effect that they could have in their community. But because they aren’t sure how to climb that mountain. that sit and do more of the same.  I do think that Will knows and expresses that later in the book but when you first start reading you may feel a little sting. But that very well may be intentional.

So if you are looking for a great book to get you and your church moving again, if you are looking to re-ignite your passion for ministry, or if you are looking for a truly practical guide to getting your church un-stuck, this is it

At $5.99 for the Kindle or $8.99 for the paperback you can’t go wrong.

Get your’s on amazon here.

Joseph Atwill’s new book Covert Messiah bound to rise quickly and fall even faster

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So I want to start by saying simply this, don’t panic. For those of you that don’t know who Joseph Atwill is let me tell you. He is a Self Professed Bible Scholar that has tried to take down Christianity before and failed.

He will not be exposing evidence that Jesus was invented, exactly what he will reveal isn’t known. This is very interesting because if he did have evidence (or even really thought he had evidence) he would be going through a peer review process before jumping into the public with a book and symposium.

He is seeking to shake the faith of a few and stir up the fervor of the skeptics and militant atheist. Atwill wrote a best seller before “Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus” was published by Ulysses Press in 2006. This book although selling a ton isn’t on the radar of academia. It is written well but not on the shelves of true Biblical Scholars or Historians as a reference. In short it has been a few years and he is looking to pad his pockets and make some noise.

Also as you may or may not have picked up on Joseph isn’t a trained biblical scholar he just claims to be. His background is in computer science.

I am placing a few links here for you incase you would like to read about his theory and some of the gaping holes that he has in them.

After the 19th there will be a huge stir and then he will be shut down again as he was in 2006-2007

As Joseph’s so-called evidence comes out, I’ll keep you updated on what sort of smoke and mirror show he is presenting as well as how the Scholars respond.

Here are a few links for your entertainment and education of people who are already showing the weakness of the Covert Messiah.

Joseph Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah: A Critique

No, Joe Atwill: Rome Did Not Invent Jesus

A response to the work of Joseph Atwill “The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus?” 

Ceasar’s Messiah Conspiracy Theory is Easily Refuted

Dr. John Warwick Montgomery Responds to Covert Messiah (Podcast)

Is the Killing of Women, Children & Infants in the Bible the Action of a Loving God Part 2

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So the question that I hope to tackle in this post is “Do we have a proper perspective on death?” Before I get to far down the road I would like say, that this is by no means a feeble attempt to goad you into feeling better if you lost someone you love. I am not seeking to make cheap excuses or to hide the tragedy of the loss of life, I will try to look at the issue of death and dying in a logical manner that maybe we could reconcile some of the perceived tragic and sometimes brutal events that seemed to be committed in the bible.

What I hope to accomplish is that you see that God’s charter is consistent throughout the bible. I also want to qualify that I am trying to write this in a brief setting that is accessible to anyone that might stumble upon this post. I could write a book going into incredible depth on this subject, so if it seems as though I’m not going as in-depth as I could you’re right  ( I would welcome your comments or questions and I promise I will respond)

So with all that being said lets dive in. When I initially looked at these text where God orders the death of these women, children and infants, I was shocked and thought wait a minute this is a little extreme here. Why would God do that,  As I thought about it and tried to align myself with God’s potential perspective, I came to the conclusion that this could be a loving act if this was the best thing for all that were involved. My next hurdle was; Ok how can death be the best thing…

Here is what I came up with, When I/we look at death we see the end of something. Generally we see the end of growth, beauty, potential, relationship… (This list can go on and on I’m keeping it short on purpose) God on the other hand, is one that is outside of time, at least the way we see it, so there is no loss, there is only fulfillment. Let me show you what I mean. Lets look at one of the things that we mourn; “potential” for example ( We can do this with anything that we could come up with on our list)

We might say in death someone loses the potential to impact the world and others. God says I am creating the most effective impact in their death. We see things in the here and now. God sees the from the beginning of creation to the end of this world all at once and he has orchestrated each life and death in a way that it might have the most effective impact. Especially in this situation that has been recorded for all to see. The question that we have to ask is what is the impact that these deaths as well as the deaths of others will have upon us. Will we carry on their legacy by telling their story and its effect on our lives and others? Or does their effect end when their life does?

You might say but they have been robbed of seeing their potential impact and understanding of how their life and death impacted others. Well the Bible speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 13:12  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. It seems that after death that we will have a more clear understanding of our effect than we ever could when we are alive. Imagine if you could see how you actions would affect the next 4 or 5 generations would you life differently? Let me give you a snippet of an example. As a teenager I had moments where I was not as kind as I could have been to others. There response then has effected me today as I have grown in understanding. There is no way that these people could ever know the effect they had. They may even have a false view of my perception of them. I think we can all agree that on this side of the veil we are limited in our view.

Well what about the potential of relationships, When we die our relationships are severed. God see’s it as the opposite. As we live here on earth we are in a constant state of competition with one another. We misunderstand each others motivations and communications and our insecurities always cloud our ability to truly experience intimacy, trust and community. God has a plan where we will be in the most pure and perfect relationships. There won’t be competition or misunderstanding. Our security won’t be in how pretty we are or how successful we are but in whose we are. We will all celebrate the King as well as our citizenship of His Kingdom together. And our relationships won’t even be the best thing. We will be in the presence of the one who not only loves but is love. It will be glorious.

But what about their potential success you might ask? Well you have to fall back on the impact paragraph somewhat because although success in a career or anything else is ultimately just away to make us feel better about our selves, it’s a grab for significance. And for what? This could get depressing. Solomon Expressed it this way vanity of vanities! All is vanity.  What does man gain by all the toilEcclesiastes is a book that really examines this question look at Chapter 2 here. When we die is when we will receive our reward from a just God that sees the impact that your life had. They way we see success may ruin us as well as our impact. The way God sees success has eternal rewards. Well what about the potential of developing our identity? Well we are doing a horrible job at that aren’t we, People suffer from every self-induced ailment under the sun because they think they have to create an identity for themselves.

My son is 9 and already is getting lost in wanting to impress friends and teachers to perform in school and in sports. A few short years ago he could rest in just being my son, knowing that he was always loved, always protected and always provided for by his mom and dad. We don’t develop identities, we rob people of them. Your identity should rest in being a beloved child of the King.

I would like to share 3 verses with you  on death that will hopefully give you a little clearer view of how we are to see death. The first is  2 Samuel 12:22 He said, “When the child was still alive, I fasted and I wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? Yahweh may have mercy on me that the child will live.’ David mourned the dying of his son, He wanted to have time to love and invest himself in his son, to watch him grow, maybe even to watch him become a king. But he knew that the death of son was not cruel to his son. David was the one that was hurt, David was the one that in which he said maybe the Lord may have mercy on me? It is appropriate, it is good to mourn the loss of the ones that you love. But is their dying that we should mourn not their death. In death David knew his son was in a better place and that he would see him again.

1 Corinthians 15:55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” After Christ rose from the dead, we see Paul almost mocking death, for there was no more mystery, no more fear, no more power that you needed to fear or mourn. We should miss those that pass put we no longer need to question their end, They are in the hands of a loving and just God.

Of course we have to look at the easiest verse in the Bible to memorize John 11:35 Jesus wept. I love this verse because although Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead He wept, Why because he knew the pain that was caused he saw the broken hearts of those he loved. Death was is the enemy that Jesus came to overcome, it is our greatest reminder of our sin and brokeness. When those that we love die although Jesus is their security I believe he still mourns for you and for me He cares about our pain.

There is little that is better on this side of death what is, is mostly bad; selfishness, vanity and conceit. But there is something that we can do better here and that is to serve and to sacrifice, Some pour themselves out in an instant and through death and others over a lifetime.  Paul put it best in Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I think about this verse like this to live is Christ…. His name reflected who he was, His character, His purpose, His passion. Which means while we are still here we are to be about Loving one another, bringing unity and hope to all that we run into, To lifting up those that are down and speaking truth in love to all those that we can impact. We are to be a servant to all and we are to be bold about the hope and future that is found in Him and His sacrifice.

So I am sure you noticed I have not addressed the potential or certainty of Judgment in death. You can be assured that I will peal that onion next time or this is longer than I wanted already. Today we looked at understanding death in a general sense

So our next post we will look at Does this do something for those that are being killed (are they in a better position than if they lived and what sort of judgment should they get)

Blessings

An Unconditional Love for You

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So often we feel alone and unworthy. So often we push away from the idea that we might be accepted because we can’t accept ourselves.
Here is a great reminder for you of God’s loving pursuit for us.

So thankful to my friends at Explore God for producing such fantastic resources like this video. Check them out at http://www.exploregod.com

Is the Order to Kill Women, Children & Infants in the Bible the Action of a Loving and Gracious God? Part 1

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So here we go, lets see if we can tackle what I think is one of the most controversial and maybe difficult subjects in the Bible. The idea of God commanding the killing of woman, children and infants. I will say in being someone that interacts with Atheist both on line and off. This is one of the subjects that comes back over and over again, and with that being said I had to come to a understanding of “how could a just and loving God command the killing of these people”?

So here is how my quest started. When I was a young Christian and came across these text and sought out council, I would generally just get the “His ways are higher than ours and we can’t understand why God would do these things.” Or occasionally I would get the answer that “God had to protect His people from the heathen influence of these pagan worshipers.” Although neither of these answers really sat well with me I didn’t know where to find the answers or who to ask so I came to the point of just pushing it to the back of my mind.  It seemed almost impossible to reconcile why God would kill especially the little infants, it just made no sense. 

So lets look at one of these texts and talk about it, just in case someone wants to say no God doesn’t say that. Or what he means is young men and not children or infants, It is just not so.

1 Samuel 15:3 So then, go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all that is his! You must not spare him, but kill both man and woman, both child and nursing infant, both ox and sheep, both camel and donkey.’” The Lexham English Bible makes it pretty clear as do all the other versions, everyone is to die. 

Normally I would spend a ton of time tying in context and trying to set the stage so people can see what is going on here, And normally this is where people trip up, they don’t understand context. But sot so much here; This is pretty straight forward. There are many amazing things to be gleaned from the story and Saul’s disobedience and crazy choices of who and what he chooses to spare. But God’s command is pretty clear, Kill everything.

So why? Why would God act so cruelly, or better yet have his chosen people act so cruelly? So lets go back to this idea that His thoughts are not our thoughts, they are higher, that God’s thoughts  are elevated and superior. Isaiah 55:8-9. This doesn’t mean that we can’t understand His thoughts, but that we have to reach, that we have to be intentional to have a mind that thinks beyond what we normally would and I don’t mean being so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.

Here is what I mean, So many of you know I have done a ton of  hot topic discussion groups where I would take on these types of issues with no prep and just let it fly. It really helped me over the years in developing a critical thinking process that deals with this type of issue more quickly and effectively. So now I look at this type of text and think hmmm let me look at this from multiple angles. Either God is cruel and vindictive or I am missing something. Let me do an inventory of my thoughts… Let me slow down and question what are my presuppositions, where are my emotions taking me? Am I in a good position to access the text before I start questioning God? So I ask…

#1: Could this be a loving act?

# 2: Do I have a proper perspective on death?

#3: Does this do something for those that are being killed (are they in a better position than if they lived)?

#4: Does this do something for those that do the Killing?

#5: Is this supposed to do something for us?

#6: Why kill the people and the animals? is there something to having these grouped together that I am supposed to see?

There are other question that could be asked of the text but this is a good start to clearing the hurdle of God’s character. 

So #1: Could this be a loving act for everyone involved? Of course it could. Now if it is or not has yet to be determined, But could it be, yes. It has to be said that when we say love we don’t mean affection in the sense of cuddling up in front of the  fire eating chocolates together. But commitment to the affect that the action has on someone. If God is loving then what he does is best for the objects of His Love / action/ commitment. Therefore if we can see that His action is what is best for the individuals being affected then it is loving.  If we start here  this places us in a position to receive with open mind and we can determine if this God is consistent with the God we want to trust with our souls. We will control our thought and not let our thoughts control us.

Our next post we will start to determine if this is a loving action that God has taken. So be ready for  #2 Do I have a proper perspective on death? And let me just say this will get really interesting, this one always forces people to do a double take!