Archive for March, 2012

My inbox has been flooded with people asking me for a few quotes from this past weekends message. Here they are:

“Most people who appear to others to not want to get well actually do, but they are consumed by their powerlessness over their dependency and paralyzing fear of living without the thing that is keeping them sick. It’s not that they don’t want to get well, they just don’t believe that they can live any other way. That doesn’t make sense to most people, but to bring this to a personal level, that was the case for me at one time.
I realize how hard that is for the people around the addict to understand. I know now I always had a choice, but there was a time when I absolutely didn’t believe I did. Everyone around me thought that I was refusing to get well, and that was true for a while, but I very well remember the hopelessness of wanting to make different choices to be well, and failing every time. God saved me from that, and that’s the only reason I am well today.” – Lisa Brandenburg

“I prayed every day that God would take away my thirst for drink, and every day when I woke up my first thought was Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Then one day I realized my craving for drink was the very reason I pray every day. My weakness drives me to God.” -Philip Yancey quoting a friend in his book, “What Good is God?”

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In case you missed the announcement video last weekend or simply desire more clarity on why we are not providing NIV Bible’s in the lobby anymore and instead are providing ESV Bibles this blog is for you. The NIV (New International Version) 1984 addition has been widely used by millions of Christians and is one of the most popular english translations being used in churches today. The NIV came out with a new translation in 2011 that has continued to utilize much of the gender neutral language that the now defunct TNIV had a few years ago. Unfortunately along with releasing the 2011 they have decided to stop printing the 1984 version. So the only NIV Bible available to us for distribution is the 2011. We simply cannot embrace this new translation. If you want to have a more extensive explanation of the problems with it you can check out this article here. The English Standard Version that we are now giving out for free is an excellent, faithful translation and the one I use to study from every day. Jim and I will still primarily be teaching out of the NIV84 unless we specify otherwise.

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I asked a member of our staff who serves on our missions team, Tracee Rudd to write a short blog about Kony. Here it is.

Stop and Think before you Act
I’m sure by now you have seen the Kony video. Are you passionate to do something about it? Ready to join the campaign? Did you do any research about Kony and Invisible Children before you passed along this very moving video? I must admit-I pushed the share button right away! Then I got to thinking and deleted my “share” until I could look a little deeper into it.
I’m not writing this to share with you my conclusions on whether or not I support the Kony2012 campaign. Instead I am writing to encourage you to stop and think before you blindly jump on any ‘activism bandwagons’.
In just a few days “Make Kony Famous” has raised all kinds of conversations on blogs and in the media. Some people are questioning the organization and/or their tactics. It’s really easy to get lost in all the videos and blogs about this topic. I think it’s exciting that there is so much buzz about topics that are definitely worth talking about; Kony, and what is going on in Central Africa, as well as the who, how and why to support any specific organization.
I’m not writing to tell you what to think. I’m writing to encourage you to think! In a day and age where there are flashy campaigns popping up all over the place, we need to stop and think about the facts and not just go with the emotions that they were able to stir in us through a well done video. We need to stop and think about a couple of very important things: if a project or cause is really helping or if our “help” is actually hurting? Is our money going to what we think it is going to? Is this the best way for me to use my talents and resources to help this cause? Do I fully understand the cause in the first place?
I think an awesome outcome of this viral video “experiment” would be for people to think critically and become smart participants in movements that call to them for involvement. Even better than that would be people surrendering their talents and resources to God and asking him to use them to stop injustices around the world, to bring healing to broken people and to make Jesus famous!
I was in Uganda and South Sudan last fall and saw some of the devastating conditions that the people there exist in every day. I also saw amazing work being done to heal and teach and give hope for future generations. Actually, flatirons has a team on the ground in that part of the world right now. Flatirons was a part of what is going on in Central Africa even before the Kony 2012 campaign trended across the world.
Our team is in South Sudan right now looking at how we can partner there to help the people that have been affected by the wars in their country. Then they will head to Uganda to visit the Musana Childrens Home. Musana is an organization that we partner with and it was formed in response to the devastation that war and poverty has brought on the children of Uganda.
Leah one of the founders of Musana heard about the situation in Uganda and didn’t just buy a t-shirt or bracelet but instead surrendered her life to God and is now a part of a very smart project that is helping the children of Uganda.
I personally have never been a part of a sit in or a protest, but I would consider myself to be an activist. I have dedicated my life to causes. When I was 18 years old I dedicated my life to serving God. He has used my talents and resources to make an impact in big and small ways in different parts of the world. When I see the injustices done in our world I can’t help but want to be a part of ending them. Being involved in stopping injustice and brining healing to broken lives has cost me more than the cost of a bracelet.
Don’t just buy an action pack and wear a bracelet. Educate yourself about what is going on in Central Africa. Pray, and then do something smart to make a difference. Ask God how he wants to use your life to help stop the injustices going on in the world. There are many wonderful organizations out there doing wonderful work before you get involved–stop and think before you act.

Some Resources:
The Kony 2012 Video
The New York Times: Topics/Archives, “Lord’s Resistance Army
Christianity Today – “Deliver Us From Joseph Kony
Invisible Children – Official Response to Critiques
KONY 2012, viewed critically Visible Children
Christianity Today: Why Joseph Kony is Trending

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So… we wrapped up our series on manhood entitled Reverse Engineering. If you’re anything like me, you almost feel a bit relieved (…maybe I’ll be able to catch a breath for the next few weeks!), but mostly you feel empowered. Hopefully, if you’re a man, then you feel the heavy responsibility of leadership combined with the gracious offer from Jesus to give us strength, mercy, integrity, and wisdom. And if you’re a woman, then hopefully you feel uplifted by the last two months of teaching – I hope you feel honored, blessed, and ultimately freed by the clear understanding of the role a man should play in your life. Even more so, I hope that the men in your life live up to the standards set by God for leadership. If they are wearing a bracelet with a thin red line, I hope they continually earn it every day.

In all honesty, this series has felt like an eight-week-long kick in the… shins. Before January 7th, I thought I was doing a pretty solid job of being Ali’s husband. And to give myself an ounce of credit, that was partially true. I loved her, I listened to her, I honored her, and I didn’t hit her or treat her like crap (let’s face it… that is a reality for some of you reading this, right now). I thought I was doing well. But leading my home spiritually was a different story. ‘Seeking God’ was something I did alone in the mornings or with my buddy Luke on Tuesdays. I can talk about anything with Ali… but when it comes to God and the spiritual health of our marriage, I flinch. I don’t know why.

But I feel like things are beginning to change. Reverse Engineering has started something new and fresh in my life and – most importantly – in my marriage. I can’t even put words to it yet. I can’t give you any examples of drastic change in my home… I just know that the starter has been ignited. Something got the ball rolling. The best way I know to explain it is that I feel like I’m growing roots. When a plant grows, it’s only because there is a ton of unseen hard work going on beneath the surface; its roots are straining against rocky, unforgiving sediment to ensure the plant can flourish. The spreading of those roots takes consistency, determination, and lots of time. The spreading of those roots takes pain: stretching, splitting, and clawing through stubborn soil. But after time, something beautiful happens on the surface. I hope this is what is happening in my marriage. I hope I’m setting down roots. And just because it will be a long, difficult, and painful process doesn’t mean that it won’t be the most natural, beautiful, life-giving process to ever take place in my marriage.

My prayer is that all of the men at Flatirons who have felt similarly aloof in their roles as spiritual leaders can finally begin to set down some roots. And if we continue to set down these roots over the next few months and years, I wouldn’t be surprised if Flatirons begins to see some amazing things happen on the surface.

Ben.

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