Monthly Archives: June 2010


The ACT 3 Weekly: A Resource for Leaders Who Think

Many of you who regularly visit this blog are not readers of the much more important Internet writing that I do for ACT 3. Each Monday we publish a weekly article that runs from 1,200 to 1,800 words. This feature is also available as a podcast via iTunes. Many love to listen to me give this thought-provoking piece on their iPod and prefer this to reading it. Some like both methods. Either way the article and podcast are free to subscribers.

The simple way to subscribe is to go to the ACT 3 website and sign up for the ACT 3 Weekly there. Recent articles have addressed the issue of Christian worldview. What is a worldview? Where did this terminology come from? How is the concept being misused by many in our own day? How can we regain a proper use of the concept and use it more carefully?

The ACT 3 Weekly articles are sometimes part of a series and sometimes they are single, stand-alone, pieces.

Sharing a Vision, Building a Movement of God’s Spirit

pentecost1 From the inception of ACT 3 as a mission, back in 1991, I have believed in the church. I have three great loves: (1) Jesus Christ; (2) The Holy Scriptures; and (3) The Church. The church encompasses the whole body of Christ (catholic/universal). It also encompasses the congregation where you gather in worship and fellowship with others. But, as I show in Your Church Is Too Small, the church also includes the whole collection of Christians in a geographical area, thus the church in Rome or the church in Carol Stream, which is the town where I live and worship. All three of these uses are important if we are to have a robust biblical doctrine and practice of the Christian life.

But two words have come to dominate the purpose of ACT 3 from its inception in 1991. We are not the church. We are not even a para-church as some use the term. We are a missional order,

By |June 29th, 2010|Categories: ACT 3, Renewal, Unity of the Church|

What Makes the Present Moment So Unique in History?

What makes this period in human history so unique? Is even the idea that we are living in unique and unusual times really all that important? Wouldn’t people living in any previous era have said the same thing and been right, at least to some significant point? Well, of course the answer is yes but there really is something about the 21st century that has changed the world in a remarkable way. Christians are all too often unaware of this change and fail to have clear vision about the future. My book, Your Church Is Too Small, seeks to provide a way forward in the new century that might impact the mission of Christ in a wholly and completely new way.

One More Word on Love from Mount Athos

41CERB7YPBL._SL500_AA300_ Over the past few Lord’s Days, during the month of June, I have posted some reflections on love from the writings of Staretz Silouan (1866-1938), a monk who lived on the most famous site in Orthodox Christendom, Mount Athos in Greece. Silouan’s writings have been published in several small volumes, one of which is simply titled: Wisdom From Mount Athos. It is from this particular volume that I have quoted and reflected on the truth of divine love.

Silouan rightly says the Lord loves all men but: “His love is greatest for the man who seeks him.”

The Lord clearly told us to “love your enemies.” But how can we love a person who hates us, who seeks our harm and even opposes our presence? Silouan answers:

When the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem and the Samaritans did not receive Him, His disciples John and James were ready to call down fire from heaven to consume them; but the Lord

By |June 27th, 2010|Categories: Love|

Out of the Mouths of Children: “Billy Graham’s Fruit Salad”

Abbie with white gloves, tiara, etc. When we (John and me) were serving in our first pastorate, in a suburban church-planting experience southwest of Chicago, we were often invited out to dinner to our parishioners’ homes. One of our all time favorite recipes was collected from one of those dinners. It was called: “Billie Carlson’s Fruit Salad.” (Billie Carlson was, of course, the parishioner’s name!) I haven’t made it in probably 25 years, but I got out the old recipe, shopped for the ingredients, and served it to our granddaughters recently. They loved it just as much as we did ages ago! So “Billie Carlson’s Fruit Salad” became a part of our family once again. But soon it would get a new name.

A few days later my eight year-old granddaughter Abbie came into my kitchen and asked, “Grandma, do you have any more of “Billy Graham’s Fruit Salad”? Ya gotta love it!

By |June 26th, 2010|Categories: Humor, Personal|

Take What You Find Useful and Leave the Rest

book_r29 Several months ago a reader of this blog wrote me a gracious email encouraging me in my work and mission. He added that he had read C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity again and as a result of this reading he had come to realize that the posture Lewis was teaching from was one that he rarely saw these days.

My friend further noted that as he read Lewis he realized the numerous times he acknowledged that his own explanation might be inadequate, thus it might not help everyone who read his work. Lewis openly stated that people should not be bothered by either of these problems because it is the reality of the thing that he wrote about that really mattered much more than the clarity of human understanding.

My friend suggests, rightly I believe, that C. S. Lewis always seemed willing to do what many people seem unable to handle psychologically.

  1. Admit his personal limitations.
  2. Humbly put forth his best explanations and understandings in
By |June 25th, 2010|Categories: ACT 3, Books, Personal|

What Does the Millennial Generation Have to Give to the Church?

RHE-headshot-square Rachel Held Evans is a young woman with an unusual talent to express the Christian faith in ways that relate to her own generation with power and clarity. I discovered her blog last August in the midst of the conflict over the Lutheran Church (ELCA) adopting a sympathetic position on same-sex practice. She was particularly chagrined by the reaction of some conservative Christians, linking the lightning strike on a Lutheran Church in Minneapolis where part of the church-wide assembly was held with evidence that this was God’s judgment. She was asking the kind of questions that I feel too few Christians are willing to ask. I began to read her work and became even more interested after we “met” via the Internet. (I found our Rachel was also an Alabama Crimson Tide football fan so that made things even better!)

Rachel recently finished her first book, Evolving in Monkey Town (Zondervan), will be out in only a matter of a few days. I

Christian Community Development is a Kingdom Priority

John-Perkins gordon-lg Christians in America have far too little interest in  economic and community development. We have generally argued that our mission is spiritual and the saving of communities is not our concern. I personally cared next to nothing about community development until I got to know my good friend John Perkins (photo left). An evening with John in my home, some years back, was memorable and life transforming. But even before I got to know John as a friend, and visited his work in Jackson, Mississippi, I was touched by the story of Wayne Gordon (photo right), a Wheaton College peer who launched a major effort for community development in Lawndale, a West Side neighborhood in Chicago known for poverty and violence. John Perkins and Wayne Gordon are my heroes, my role models, in showing me how the gospel is relevant to

Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit

Growing the Church Below the surface, unseen to most who attend the church on the typical Sunday, lies the fundamental question: How can leaders and churches be enabled to discern and obediently cooperate with the guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit? The kingdom of God is an active expression of the reign of Christ on earth. That reign is presently revealed in weakness and power. This is the paradoxical nature of the present expression of Christ’s kingdom. His kingdom comes, on earth as it is in heaven, when individuals and churches seek and submit to the will and purpose of the Triune God. This requires the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, the silent person in the Trinity that we rarely talk about or seek.

How do leaders and churches seek the empowering of the Holy Spirit? Is there a necessary precondition for discerning and cooperating with the will of the Spirit? Should

By |June 22nd, 2010|Categories: Books, Renewal, The Church|

What Is the Role of Tradition in Church Unity?

I grew up in a background that had little or no regard for Christian Tradition so it seems more than a little odd that the name of my mission, ACT 3, stands for Advancing the Christian Tradition in the Third Millennium. More than one person has asked, “Why on earth do you want to advance tradition?” Their assumption is that tradition is unhealthy, even opposed to the Bible. It was when I began to understand that “tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living” (Jaroslav Pelikan) that I saw how important tradition really was for a living, healthy Christian faith.

Jesus did not oppose tradition. He opposed “vain human tradition.” The two are not the same. I believe the confusion created by the typical American reaction against Christian Tradition is not only unhealthy but it promotes a kind of faith that will be inherently disconnected from the renewal that we desperately need in the church in 2010. This is why I devoted so much to this subject in my book:


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