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A Tale of Two Leaders

Charles Kiser —  September 27, 2018 — Leave a comment

Mega Vs. Movement

Leader #1

  • He was probably the most famous religious leader in the 18th century
  • Newspapers called him a marvel of the age; he was a golden tongue golden boy
  • He was a brilliant orator – he grew up in the theater – and in his prime famous actors publicly expressed envy at the way he captured audiences
  • People compared him to David, Moses and called him the second morning star of a second Reformation
  • He went on preaching tours in England and the American colonies; ignited the Great Awakening in the American colonies
  • During one preaching tour in America he ended up preaching the gospel to nearly half the population in the American colonies
  • He would stand on the steps outside and 20,000 people would show up to hear him preach
  • In fact, he was one of the first to do “open air” preaching – namely outside of a church building – and the reason he did was because many of the lower class members wouldn’t come into a church building
  • Hundreds of thousands came to faith through his preaching
  • It’s estimated that in his lifetime he preached more than 18,000 times to 10 million people

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Isaiah’s prophecies are popular because they address people who feel like they are living in the wilderness — a dry parched land where we wait for God to do something, to change things. And God does something indeed: he shows up in the wilderness with us, and something happens…

Listen to the message here.

Sail Boat

I had a conversation with a mentor and teacher of mine – Monte Cox – a few years ago that keeps coming up in my mind.

Monte shared with me some teaching he had developed about the Holy Spirit and spiritual formation.

He likened spiritual formation in the Holy Spirit to sailing a boat.

Our role in spiritual formation is simply to raise the sails and catch the wind of the Spirit. The key question then is what does it look like to “raise the sails” and be carried along by the Spirit to become more like Jesus?

Monte shared five different ways to raise the sails, but one of them stuck out to me the most.

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Lunch with a Black Pastor

Charles Kiser —  September 1, 2016 — 9 Comments

Every once in a while I become acutely aware that I am in sacred space. The ancient Celts called it “thin space” — where God’s world and our world come into contact and even merge.

My recent lunch meeting was one of those times.

I had the opportunity to share a meal with a friend who is a Black Christian pastor. I was most eager to talk with him about his perspective on recent events in our nation: the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castille, Black Lives Matter, and the shooting of five police officers in Dallas.

The truth is that I have long observed from the sidelines. I haven’t engaged the conversation because it hasn’t been urgent — because I haven’t been subjected to oppression. But it’s time to engage. I have so much to learn, so much to become aware of, so much growing to do.

The question that’s been rumbling deep in my soul the past couple months is: how do we — the church in Dallas, in all its diversity — enact the gospel of King Jesus?

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THE Defining Story

Charles Kiser —  June 1, 2016 — 11 Comments

Last week I reflected on how we live out of defining stories that we constantly rehearse. These stories are based on experiences and are the basis of our beliefs about ourselves and the world. Our stories can be true, false, or probably in most cases, somewhere in between.

This week I want to share a fabulous quote from James K. A. Smith about the “narrative character of our faith” from the book Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?

The following excerpt articulates why we named our faith community Storyline, why instead of a “statement of faith” we share the story of God, why we use the lectionary to guide our worship gatherings, and how God’s story is the definitive story that shapes disciples of Jesus.

…Too many Christians have bought into the modernist valorization of scientific facts and end up reducing Christianity to just another collection of propositions. Our beliefs are encapsulated in “statements of faith” that simply catalog a collection of statements about God, Jesus, the Spirit, sin, redemption, and so on. Knowledge is reduced to biblical information that can be encapsulated and encoded….

….But isn’t it curious that God’s revelation to humanity is given not as a collection of propositions or facts but rather within a narrative–a grand, sweeping story from Genesis to Revelation? Is there not a sense in which we’ve forgotten that God’s primary vehicle for revelation is a story unfolded within the biblical canon?

….Why is narrative important, and how does it differ from propositional knowledge? First, narrative is a more fully orbed means of communication (and hence revelation), activating the imagination and involving the whole person in a concrete world where God’s story unfolds. Second, Christian faith–unlike almost any other world religion (with the exception of Judaism)–is not a religion simply of ideas that have been collected. The faith is inextricably linked to the events and story of God’s redemptive action in the world….The notion of reducing Christian faith to four spiritual laws signals a deep capitulation to scientific knowledge….

.…Crucial for our discipleship and formation is being able to write ourselves into the story of God’s redeeming action in the world–being able to find our role in the play, our character in the story. To do that, we need to know the story, and that story should be communicated when we gather as the people of God, that is, in worship.

In your experience, what are effective ways of locating ourselves within God’s story?