Manuscript Monday: Ruth & Relationships - Marriage

The Monday before I teach at the Awakening, I try to share a piece of my manuscript so that the community can get an idea of what we are talking about.  Here's a snippet from my preparation for tomorrow night.

We are going to discover an aspect of marriage that we rarely notice, books rarely discuss and we rarely think about.  So many people enter into marriage thinking, "Now I will be happy, Life will be exciting!"  But for those of you that want to get married someday, if you're single, dating, engaged, or even if you are married, you need to hear this. You know what's worse than being single and alone?  Being married and numb. 

Many enter marriage with excitement and crazy expectations of blissful romance and then after years of falling into routine, they realize they've become simple friends with benefits at best, and boring roommates at worst.  They are always dreaming about being somewhere else, with someone else, and doing something else.  Husbands and wives feel trapped in a perpetual  loneliness committed more for the kids or appearances then to each other.  In fact, many of us grew up in that kind of environment, and we do not want it! 

So my Question is this: How do we keep from having a marriage that leaves us numb, one that is boring and Lonely?  What can a single person do today that will give a great return on their marriage tomorrow?

I look forward to some great discussion tomorrow.  Shannon and I look forward to being interviews by YOU - the Awakening.  We are accepting emailed questions now and will have an opportunity for you to ask them at the Awakening tomorrow night.

Feb 21, 2011 Tags: , 1 comments

Why I Keep Track of Numbers

I received a great question from a friend who frequents The Awakening from time to time and I wanted to answer it here because I think it is relevant if you're concerned about the balance of Authenticity, organic growth and the cold metrics that churches often measure.  Here's her question:
How do you feel about quantitative goals or metrics in relation to ministry? For example, saying we want to start 56 new churches or we want to see 142 people trust Christ this year or have 75% of the church in small groups. If you think that they are a good thing, what is your scriptural basis for that perspective?

I think it's good to set both goals and keep track of results. It is encouraging to see growth in whatever capacity it comes and I think it's important to know if what I am doing is not "working." If the results I expect to see/God has led me to believe I would see, are not there, then I question if I miss understood God directionally, or it may be that I am not serving in the capacity that I should be (failing).

As far as scriptural support, I am not sure if quantitative metrics are something prescribed in the Bible. For example, there are prescriptions in the bible for the Church and how it should run. (Elders, deacons, serve others, First shall be last, etc.) But then there are descriptions of how those prescriptions are implemented. Like, how does a church gather? (There is evidence of several ranges from Homes, Library's, to 1000's gathered at one time).

Similarly, I don't think you can find a verse that says, "Keep track of your Numbers, and set Goals to reach this many people a year." (This would be Prescriptive) But there are descriptive passages where recording for the sake of reporting is seen.

For instance, in Acts 21:17-26 Luke shares the account of Paul, returning to Jerusalem and then reporting his work to James and all the elders. Paul shares "one by one" all the things that God had been doing among the Gentiles. The result of this reporting is in verse 20, "they glorified God." Then they report to Paul what has happened there in their ministry (most likely in Jerusalem). They report saying, "You see Brother, How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed." The point here is that records were being kept for the purpose of reporting which can lead to the glorification of God.

Where ever a number is written in the Bible concerning the work of Christ or his disciples, it is both a record that was kept, and once written for the masses (as Luke did in writing Acts 21:17-26), it is then being reported This inspired reporting is for our benefit so that we can be encouraged as followers of Christ and Glorify God for what he has done.

For other instances where records are kept and reported, see Matt.14:13-21; Acts 2:41,47; Acts 5:14; and Acts 11:24.

Imagine this gift of inspired Scripture that God has blessed us with devoid of any of the numerical or even descriptive records (like using the word multitude). What if instead of 12 Disciples, there were only "some Disciples" Or if instead of feeding the 5000, Jesus feed a bunch people? Or if we were never given that inspiring number of "3000 believers were added to their number" in Acts 2.

I think God doesn't necessarily prescribe or demand that we keep records like, souls saved, baptisms and percentage in small groups, but I think through his Word, we can see descriptions of this type of recording taking place. And when it is done well (because I've seen it done poorly too) God will be Glorified and his followers will be encouraged to continue to serve Him.

I know I said a lot, but I'd like to hear from you:

  • How would you have answered these questions?  
  • Do you agree or disagree with what I shared?

Manuscript Monday - Ruth & Relationships: Singleness

I know this is a little late, but I want to give a sneak peak at what we will be discussing tonight at The Awakening.  Below is a portion of my manuscript.  Let me know what you think.  Maybe your comments can make it into the manuscript.

One of the major transitions we go through in young adulthood is from Singleness to dating, to engagement and then to marriage.  We are starting this new series called Ruth and Relationships to let God speak to these life stages so that we can be excellent in our relationships.
            ...The book of Ruth is a Story that Honors God.  At the conclusion of this series and this book, you should see God as the hero in this story.  The book of Ruth depicts God's hand at work in the day to day lives of his people to bring about his plans through redemption.
            In some sense, if Jesus himself told this story, we may call it a Parable.  A parable has real life examples, and a heavenly message.  The heavenly message being shared is that God has a grand plan, and that he will enter into the details of life, like our relationships, to carry his plan out.  Isn't that amazing!  God works through the relationships of Ruth to carry out His plans!  In doing this, Ruth honor's God with her relationships.
            I want your relationships to do the same.  I want your relationships to honor God.  Your journey from singleness through marriage is a parable that can tell others a story far bigger than your own.  You can participate in something far bigger than your life.  That is impact!  Like the book of Ruth, the hero in our relationship story, can be God, if we will let him. 
            The book of Ruth is an intensely intimate story of two woman in need of saving and finding help in the hands of a faithful man. It is a passionate story of the exceptional relationships of Ruth and Boaz. We will learn from her "singleness" in chapter one and look into the "dating" relationship between Boaz and Ruth in chapter 2. Then we will watch the actions of Boaz as he prepares for marriage in a type of "Engagement" in chapter 3 and eventually their marriage in chapter 4.

When Helping Hurts

I just finished this book, "When Helping Hurts: How to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor...and yourself"

Our LeverageU staff is reading the book to prepare ourselves for some hard decisions about how we help our local communities.  I have to say, this is one of the best books I've read in a while.  It reminds me of my days back at the Pink House (group on FB)when I lived in Fresno.  People, we are not helping the poor by simply giving them stuff.  It is so much bigger than that!  Read this book before your next mission trip, before your next serve day, before your next  neighborhood improvement meeting.  Please.

I will write a full book review on this book sometime soon, but I wanted to at least make people aware of it now.  It's that important.  Check the blog or an update.