Mission, Discipleship and Fellowship: Life Reproducing Life

Last Friday was a holiday here in the United States, and Marianne and I opened our home, yard and pool for a day of family, friends and fellowship.

plantingFortunately, following my heart operation and extended hospital stay two weeks ago, several brothers in a couple of fellowships we relate to stepped forward and organized things – including a great cookout.

Afterwards, Marianne and I both said that this was one of the nicest days we’ve had in years – not because the past few years have been bad (they’ve been challenging due to some of my health issues, but not “bad”!), but because we’re seeing solid maturity arise among those we’ve been pouring our lives into.

Although we’ve always loved them deeply, now it’s actually fun to spend time with them!

In addition, we now have the profound pleasure of watching them reproduce their life in Christ among others.

As they step forward and do the work of mission, discipleship and strengthening our various fellowships, it seems more and more that God’s role for Marianne and me is to step back and serve through simple hospitality, unassuming encouragement and quiet mentoring.

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The Gospel, Up Straight and Direct

Today I was with a group of men in the jail. One of them was very troubled because his son was getting into all kinds of trouble. He couldn’t understand why, because (he claimed) he loved his son and was always telling him he loved him.

repentanceI felt something stir in my spirit, looked him straight in the eye, and said that was a lie. He didn’t love his son, he loved his drugs more – and thus had not cared enough to be part of his son’s life as his son was growing up. This deeply wounded his son, who felt unloved and worthless because of it – and was now acting out.

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Celebrating Redemption

graduationThis afternoon, I’m driving to Richmond, Virginia, to attend the graduation of a young man I first met in jail years ago. He’s receiving his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, with honors, from Virginia Commonwealth University. From jail to now has been an intense journey as Marianne and I stood with him during the hard times and refused to let him fall through the cracks. Now, we get to rejoice with him as he achieves this major milestone.

Following God’s Presence is something I wrote five years ago about him, and the church he was part of in the jail. In fact, he’s one of the brothers who asked to pray for me, as I recount in that piece.

I’m not going to use his name, because he is very humble and doesn’t like publicity. But you know who you are, and I am so very, very proud of you! Even as I write this, I’m tearing up thinking about the honor it’s been to be part of God’s plan of redemption and restoration in your life.

~ Jim Wright

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My Bible Prophecy Secret Decoder Ring

My Secret Decoder Ring

My Secret Decoder Ring

Unfortunately, I lost my John Hagee “Bible Prophecy Secret Decoder Ring”, so I was unable to determine the true meaning of last night’s “blood moon” before I went to bed.

Within nothing more to do, I decided I might as well get a good night’s sleep, wake up in the morning, and get on with my life – just like normal.

Now that it’s morning, I see that the world’s still here – with its normal complement of good news and bad news.

What a bummer. I was hoping for something more exciting, given all the hype.

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Recovery Homes

Several of our fellowships want to open additional recovery homes in the county for those putting their lives back together following abuse, imprisonment, addiction, economic distress or other major disruption. Over the last several years, we have teamed up with another ministry to support this local need, but its focus is only on addiction – which is very much needed. However, we also need similar homes for those dealing with other issues.

Our desire is to create transitional, peer recovery homes where there is functional, Christ-centered community within each house. This would involve mutual support, encouragement and accountability among the residents – with appropriate outside support and oversight.

Our experiences to date have confirmed that such a focus is essential for real change to occur among those in each home. Otherwise, the houses become little more than a warehouse for knuckleheads, and become a detriment rather than an asset for those seeking to put their lives back together.

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Liberty and Christian Cynicism

I applaud my brothers and sisters in Christ who stood firm in Ukraine against oppression and earned with their blood the right to now rebuild their nation.

Cynicism and retreat are popular today among some Christians who have never suffered national tyranny, corruption and malaise, but enjoy the ease of privileged comfort because of past sacrifices by others.

They have not earned the right to criticize those – in Ukraine or elsewhere – whose faith is big enough to redeem cultures, affirm virtue, and establish liberty.

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A Love Story

Tonight, Marianne and I will have a romantic dinner at the country inn where I asked her to marry me.

Marianne

Marianne

Our friends often kid us, because we take time to celebrate key events in our life together. Our first date, our engagement, our wedding, and other anniversaries are important to us.

We don’t go on anniversary dates to create intimacy and passion between us, but to express the amazing, ever-deepening intimacy and passion that continues to grow between us – from the first time my heart unexpectedly fluttered at the sight of her, to the profound thrill I still feel when I see her.

There is a love between us that I seldom see in others. It, and our marriage, are testaments to the power of God to redeem lives.

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Abundance

Abundance often emerges from the impossible. Many times the very fact that the impossibility exists creates the opportunity for the Lord to bring forth His abundance.

starsSometimes an act of faith is required. For Abraham, he had to believe in the midst of impossibility that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens.

Abundance wears many faces. Some assume that abundance implies health, wealth and prosperity and for some people that may be true.

However, God’s abundance does not come with a guarantee of those things. The churches of Macedonia experienced great trials of afflictions, but they possessed an abundance of joy even in the midst of deep poverty.

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The Tyranny of Tolerance

One day soon, you are going to wake up to a new world where your liberty to pursue virtue as an expression of your faith – and your right to proclaim those beliefs in the public square – are gone.

muzzleVice is now using “tolerance” to bludgeon virtue, and virtue is currently losing.

This newest weapon in the war against virtue has met with great success – and, most disturbing of all, the naïve support of many “Christians”.

Somethings, it seems, never change.

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Everyone Loves…

 

Everyone loves the poor, until asked to share a meal in their home with one.

Everyone loves mercy, until they have to embrace the actual mess of inconvenient victims.

Everyone loves justice, until it disturbs their comfort zones.

 

Everyone loves the prophetic, until it exposes sin among them.

Everyone loves grace, until it calls them to repent.

Everyone loves love, until it speaks truth.

 

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The Problem of Evil

Embrace

Someone asked if it is God’s will when evil happens.

I suspect it is God’s will that we have the right to reject Him and choose evil, because He wants us to have the related ability to freely choose the love, grace and rule He offers us.

I also suspect that He grieves with us at what some have done with those choices.

~ Jim Wright

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A Simple Cure for a Terminal Condition

Is it any wonder that a generation raised to believe it’s all about them has a hard time grasping that it’s all about God?snake-oil-salesman

They are easy prey for those peddling God’s amazing grace, love and acceptance, while rejecting repentance, truth and change.

The greatest deceptions, however, involve half truths.

Unfortunately, there’s just too much of this going around these days, and it’s terminal when it comes to healthy believers and healthy ekklesia.

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Generations

Treasures from the Past

 
This old-world clematis goes back at least three generations in my family.

It originally grew in my grandmother’s yard in Maryland, then was transplanted to my parent’s home when I was a young man, and finally came with me to Virginia when I moved here with my own family many years ago.

In all, I figure it has been cared for by a Wright, in one place or another, at least sixty years.

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The Many Languages of God

diverse-groupGod is a polyglot: He speaks to different people different ways.

Some primarily hear Him through the language of their heart and feelings, some analytically through their mind, some through the dynamics of action, some through the identity of relationships, and some through the passion of mercy and justice – among other ways.

Problems often arise among His people, however, when we think that our primary language for hearing God is His only language, or is superior to other languages He uses with others.

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