Ministry Funding Plan 2013

11 Dec

I will be addressing some of the questions we received about the Ministry Funding Plan (aka budget) via videos over the next couple of posts. If you have further questions, feel free to email the staff at home@terracelakecc.org. Thanks!

Blessings,

Danny

 

Part 1: “If the ministry funding plan is being met, does this release me from giving or can I redirect that money?” and “What happens with money that exceeds the current plan?”

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/55368443 w=500&h=281]
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Why Truth Should Hurt

29 Sep

You’ve heard the expression, “The truth hurts.” When someone begins a conversation with the words, “May I be honest with you?,” we don’t feel warm fuzzies. We know we are about to hear something that will possibly cut into us like a knife. It will hurt, and the hurt will likely linger, but the hurt from a truthful word may be exactly what we need. Proverbs 27:6 affirms, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted…”

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”[1] In essence Jesus is saying if you are willing to learn from him and accept the truth despite the wound that comes with it, you will know true freedom. If I were to add Biblical synonyms of the word “freedom”, the most prominent would be peace and joy.

My observation is that most Christians are fugitives of truth about themselves and therefore experience peace and joy only as it relates to circumstances. What they lack is depth of knowledge (truth) about themselves. They have a shallow understanding of the truth. They admit there are personal weaknesses that may occasionally cause them to miss the mark, but all-in-all they feel content with their progress as Christ-followers. The problem is we don’t have the capacity to see into the depths of our true selves. Friends may observe things we miss, but they are limited in their finite humanity just as we are. We need to be shown the deeper things of ourselves supernaturally through the “teaching” of the Holy Spirit.

Our responsibility in all of this is to show up. This can be a challenge for two reasons. First, we don’t recognize our need and are content where we are. Sometimes this challenge is overcome by difficult circumstances beyond our own resources that cause us to recognize our need for One bigger than we are.

Second, we don’t know how to be still before the Lord and wait for his teaching. We are a culture that thrives on noise and activity, and if we don’t have it, we become jittery like addicts needing a fix. Practicing the spiritual disciplines of solitude, meditation and prayer are foreign to most of us. But when we move into those challenges, God will teach us truth.

When God teaches me the truth about myself, I am appalled and amazed. I am appalled at the man I truly am and I am amazed at the man I am becoming by the power of God’s amazing grace. I am convinced to my core: apart from disciplining my life to be in His presence, God’s word and the insights of wise friends have little long term impact on my life and I miss the benefits of truth.

If times of quiet and solitude are difficult for you, discipline yourself to practice a few moments a day and increase the time each week.

May you enjoy the freedoms of His truth,

Danny


[1] John 8:31-32

The Subterranean Sanctuary

28 Aug

In spite of the relentless drought that struck our region this summer our city never became subject to water bans. That’s because Columbus sits atop a subterranean reservoir. I’ve been told you can dig twenty feet down anywhere in town and you will find water. I noticed on our church property that despite the lack of rain and water, there are areas where the grass has remained deeply green because of a spring beneath the surface of the ground.

I have recently been reading from the works of a professor of philosophy from the Quaker tradition by the name of Thomas Kelly (1893-1941). Kelly had an insatiable thirst to know the Savior, which sent his spiritual roots deep into what he referred to as the “subterranean sanctuary of the soul.” He advocates developing disciplines that orient daily living simultaneously to both the
outer life and the inner life.

And like the needle, the Inward Light becomes the truest guide of life, showing us new and unsuspected defects in ourselves and our fellows, showing us new and unsuspected possibilities in the power and life of good-will among men. But, more deeply, he who is within us urges, by secret persuasion, to such an amazing Inward Life with him, so that, firmly cleaving to him, we always look out upon all the world through the sheen of the Inward Light, and react toward men spontaneously and joyously from this Inward Center.[1]

As I strive to live more fully in and from my “subterranean sanctuary”, I find Kelly’s words personally inspiring and encouraging. Like a spiritual coach shouting from the sidelines, he ignites my spiritual passions and I want to keep at it.

While my own journey is surely in the elementary levels, I do find a connection to Kelly’s references of spontaneity and joy in my fellowship with the Lord. If you would have asked me some years ago to describe God’s holiness in a series of words, the list would have included perfect, powerful and all-consuming, just to name a few. What has surprised me as I continue to enter the sanctuary of my soul is the joy connected with the holiness of God, even to the point of gregarious joy. It has enlightened my understanding of Jesus’ words in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” There really is a joy that emerges from the “Inward Light” that I could never manufacture on my own.

This week practice being oriented toward your “subterranean sanctuary.”
Worship and listen even as you go about the business of everyday life. See if you don’t begin to experience what the prophet Isaiah declared in song: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

Blessings,

Danny


[1] Kelly, Thomas.  A Testament of Devotion. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1992. Essays on the spiritual life compiled after his death.

We Need Order

5 Aug

If there is anything one gets from reading the first five books of the Bible, it is that we are a people who need order. If the choice is made by an individual or a society to disregard order, the end result is disorder or chaos. If you have ever taught four and five year olds, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You attempt to maintain a balance between order and freedom but unrestrained freedom quickly leads to the tipping point of chaos. The idealistic teacher who entered the classroom intent on impacting the next generation exits disheveled and shell-shocked with bite marks from shin to kneecap!

There are a couple of points relating to order that I believe grow out of the message and heart of the Pentateuch.

First, one genuine lover of God is far more delightful to God than 100 “rule keepers.” Maintaining an outwardly orderly life may make us moral people but not necessarily saved people. Throughout the first five books, God repeatedly declares first and foremost we must, “love the LORD our God with all our hearts, souls and minds.”

Secondly, the more healthy the “inner person is,” the wiser the “outer person” becomes. A life of order becomes important not because of a checklist but because it draws us to an even closer walk with our Lord.

Martin Luther discovered some writings of unknown authorship entitled, Theologia, which impacted him greatly. The document came out of a German renewal movement in the fourteenth century and Luther had them published in 1516 and 1518. The rationale of Theologia is to live orderly lives by moving our knowledge of God from the “outer” to the “inner” person.[i]

According to Theologia there are four responses to the issue of order or if you wish, commands of God. I will put my own paraphrase to the descriptions.

The first type of person leads an orderly life because they are personally compelled to do so. They are moral people who believe they are “good” but have no real experiential knowledge of Christ on a personal level.

The second keeps the commands of scripture believing they will be rewarded eternal life by keeping as many of the commands as possible. The one who keeps the most commands is the holiest.

The third group believes they are enough in and of themselves and therefore have no need for anyone to speak to them about order, laws or commands. In fact, they often mock people who talk of “order.”

The final group leads an ordered life out of love. “They are not so concerned about the outcome, about how a particular behavior will turn out, how soon, and so on…they want to keep the rules, but they also know that their salvation and happiness are not dependent on the observance of rules.”[ii]

I would encourage you this week to consider the motivations behind what you are doing. Use the four people types as a guide as you process how you respond to God’s commands.

Blessings,

Danny


[i] Luther, Martin. Theologia Germanica of Martin Luther. Translated by Bengt Hoffman. New York: Paulist, 1980.

[ii] Foster, Richard and Smith, James Bryan, editors. Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. San Francisco: A division of Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.

Holy Affections

27 Jul

Welcome! I am the senior pastor at Terrace Lake Community Church in Columbus, Indiana. This blog will be a platform for me to expand on topics that I can only touch on in sermons at Terrace Lake, as well as a place for me to share what the Lord has been teaching me personally. I hope that the Lord uses these words to minister to you, and I would love to hear from you if you have questions or comments. Thanks for reading, and without further ado – my first post!

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Have you ever imagined going back to your younger years of school or business with the experience and hopefully wisdom you’ve gained in the past ten to forty years? I would guess many of us have.

Recently I wondered to myself, “What is the one main thing I’ve learned that I wish I would have had in my personal tool belt ‘back then’?” I certainly would have done many things differently, but I’m a fairly simple guy so I needed to concentrate my thoughts on one central theme. It wasn’t at all difficult for me to answer my own question: Being in constant and passionate follow-ship and fellowship with the Lord in my inner life. It is what Jonathan Edwards referred to as a “holy affection.”[i] In Romans 12:11, the Apostle Paul exhorts his readers with the words: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Using imperative language, Paul links our inner passions with our service efforts. Reflecting back on my younger years, it isn’t difficult for me to imagine the impact this would have made on my efforts both as a business man and then later a church man. Certainly, developing my “holy affections” has allowed me to experience peace and wisdom beyond myself.

With apologizes to Shakespeare, “But therein is the rub.” This all sounds very good, but what if, in all honesty, you struggle with having or maintaining a passion in your inner relationship with the Lord? How does one get to the point of “never…lacking in zeal”? This all became a pursuit of mine in the early to mid-nineties as I was making significant life transitions. I am still only a struggling student in this realm, but here are a few things I’ve learned.

First, I would recommend that you find what you are genuinely passionate about. Take a week and examine the situations in which your passion is ignited in daily life. Write them down as you go through your typical week. Many things awaken our passions from anger to fear to exuberant joy. Make note of those daily instances and your motives behind them. Even if you are discouraged about what this exercise reveals, it is important to know where we are starting from if we want to reach a certain destination.

Second, as much as possible, remove outward obstacles that are distractions from inward thought. Examples would be television, I-pods or the radio in the car. This was the most difficult and frustrating part for me because I’m hyper and like a lot of outward stimuli. I loved to crank up those great 60’s and 70’s tunes! But fostering quiet and solitude is as essential for our souls, as preparing the ground to receive seed is for the farmer. If the “soil” is not prepared the “seed” will not grow. This was about a 3-month process for me; it required work and perseverance. But eventually the desire for those moments of quiet thought became less work and more of a hunger to me. The LORD exhorted his chosen people in Isaiah 30:15, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” It is in the quiet that we repent of competing passions and attempting to make life work on our own terms. We then turn our unbelief into trust and rest in the greatest strength of all. It is in the quiet that we are transformed.

Finally, as you begin practicing solitude, focus your thoughts on those things that will help you grow in your knowledge and love of the Lord; something that connects your head and your heart. It could be a brief passage of Scripture recorded on a 3×5 card you keep in front of you through the day. It could be a list of God’s attributes that you return to several times a day to meditate on or praise him for. Practice these things even as you are going through the normal processes of your day. After a while you will be surprised how natural this will become and strengthen your “holy affections” all the more.

I first met my wife, Kim, in a group of peers in college. The more time that group spent together the more I desired to get to know Kim better. This led me to “just happen” to be in the campus library when she was there. Today I think they call that “stalking”. But I had to be cool about being where she was, meaning I would be pleasantly nonchalant. Eventually I worked up the courage to ask her for a date…then another and another. The more I was with Kim, the more I wanted to be with her.

Growing in our passion to be with the Lord isn’t going to just happen. I’ve been reading the works of men and women throughout history who were known for their “holy affections” for the Lord, and all of them incorporated disciplines that were foundational to the richness they experienced. But the more they practiced these disciplines, the more natural their pursuit became. I pray for you as I pray for myself: that God would give us a hunger for hunger, a thirst for thirst.

Blessings,

Danny


[i] Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Edited by Perry Miller. 5 vols. Volume 2; Religious Affections. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1959.