Update on the Wineskins.org Transformation

Wineskins1Time for an update on what is happening with long-time Restoration Movement resource Wineskins.org. For those of you who haven’t ever heard of it, Wineskins was started by a group of people that included Rubel Shelly and Steve Diggs. At that time it was called Image. Its name was changed to Wineskins and later to New Wineskins. Over the years it has been edited by Mike CopeGreg Taylor and most recently by Keith Brenton and has been one of the most significant voices in Restoration theology on the web. Keith has graciously allowed us to take the site and rework it into an updated format that we believe will continue to serve as a much needed voice within the Restoration Movement. We are appreciative of all those who have put in time, attention, heart, soul and so much more into the site over the years. We are standing on the shoulders of giants! Here is what Rubel Shelly had to say about the re-launch,

“I’m thrilled that “New Wineskins” is in such capable hands! I wish you the best in continuing to urge believers to a bold and responsible faith that is willing to take risks for the sake of the kingdom. In times this challenging, God is calling leaders with bright minds, innovative spirits, and courageous hearts to model and share the truth.”

A few months ago I was asked to take over the duties of editor and have been working with Jay Guin and Brad Palmore to do a complete revamp of the site. I have been amazingly blessed to work with these two men and have been amazed by their heart for God, abilities and insights. In order to update everyone on what is happening with the site we started a Wineskins Facebook page. If you are on Facebook I would encourage you to “Like” that page to continue getting updates on this. The support we have received has been overwhelming. In just 3 weeks over 1250 people have “liked” the page. What is more, we started a fundraising campaign to raise money to meet the future needs of the site and have already raised nearly $2000 of our $5000 goal. If you would like to contribute to this effort you can donate here. 100% of donations will go directly to the re-launch and you can get some perks with various donation amounts, explained in the donate link. These two signs of support remind us of the significant role Wineskins has played in the lives of many Christians over the years.

So what is going to be different about Wineskins? First, we have been recruiting some of the best talent out there to be featured authors, whose blogs will be hosted via Wineskins.org to help make Wineskins an amazing resource. Here are the bloggers we have on board that have been announced to this point (more on the way!)

Bobby Valentine
Sean Palmer

Jonathan Storment
Paula Harrington
Patrick Mead
Josh Graves
Matt Dabbs
Jay Guin
Brad Palmore

We will continue with monthly themed article on relevant doctrinal issues, ministry and congregational challenges, etc. This is also about forming a safe and loving community where we can discuss what is going on in Christianity, be supported by other Christians and grow in our knowledge, love and ministry. In addition to all of that we are going to continue to produce and make available some great resources for churches and Christians to use to encourage spiritual transformation. If any of this excites you please “Like” the facebook page and keep up to date with all of the latest news and updates on Wineskins!

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Use of Original Languages in Preaching and Teaching

IMG_0670It is a huge blessing to be able to study the Bible in its original languages. There are connections you can make that aren’t always as obvious in English translations. There is a temptation to take the results of studying the original languages dump it all into a class or sermon. There are a lot of reasons that is tempting. Some are harmless reasons but others are harmful. It is easy to assume that everyone finds interesting the same things we do. They may not. It is also easy to assume that digging deeper requires increased complexity. It doesn’t. An effective preacher will have discretion on which things support and clarify the point and which things are distractions that muddy the water. I appreciate the preacher who uses the result of studying the original languages sparingly but effectively. It takes a lot of wisdom to know when it is beneficial for the congregation and when it actually detracts.

In Brian Chapell’s book Christ-Centered Preaching (one of the best books on preaching I have ever read) he writes,

“Preaching should never be an excuse to display our erudition at the expense of convincing listeners that they can never really understand what Scripture says because they read only English. We are obligated to explain exegetical insights in such a way that they make the meaning of a text more obvious, not more remote.” – Christ-Centered Preaching, 124

There are two things I really like about Chapell’s statement. The first is that he uses “erudition” and “exegetical” in a statement about making things easy to understand. The second and more important point he makes is that everything that is communicated in preaching should be aimed at increasing the listeners’ understanding of Scripture. It is not about sounding clever. It is not about being funny for humor’s sake. It is making Scripture accessible, understandable, relevant and applicable.

Questions
For those of you who preach and teach, do you make use of the original languages in your study and your preaching/teaching? If so, how often do you do it and how do you determine what to include and what to leave out?

New Developments With Wineskins

As many of you have already heard New Wineskins is undergoing a major transition. There are a few things that I want to make you aware of, especially for those of you who aren’t following these developments on facebook.

Monthly Themes
The monthly themes Wineskins has been known for in the past will continue. Each month a relevant theme will be chosen and articles submitted for publication. There are a few goals with this. We hope to put some of the best minds out there lending their voice to the conversation on some of the most important topics of the day. Often, many people are asking the same question. We hope to put our finger on those things and lend a biblical voice of hope to help inform our ecclesiology, missiology, and theology. This will be a place for loving and respectful dialog on these topics as we hope that many people will read them and engage in conversation on how these things play out in various contexts.

Featured Authors
One of the biggest changes to the site is the addition of Featured Authors. We are going to be hosting some of brightest and best voices from within the Restoration Movement. There are so many great voices out there that there is no way we can accommodate all of them but we have recruited the help of some great people. A few of them have already been named: Bobby Valentine, Patrick Mead and Paula Harrington. More will be named in the near future. These bloggers will be hosted through the wineskins site. Our goal is to create a place on the web where you can go and find as much quality content as possible within the Restoration Movement. One way that is going to happen is through the combination of past New Wineskins articles/archive and the addition of all the past posts of all the Featured Authors we host along with the new content they produce.

More Features On the Way
There are more features we are going to incorporate that I will let you all in on soon. Brad Palmore is still working through a lot of this on the tech/web development side of this and the creative process continues. I will keep you all up to speed as the information becomes public. These additional features will provide some phenomenal resources for you all to tap into on the site, develop community, create a lot of quality conversation and disseminate information that is helpful to the edification and expansion of the kingdom.

Also, we are doing a book giveaway on the Wineskins Facebook page here if you comment on this post before 8pm tonight.

Financial Support
We have started to raise funds in order to pay for the initial launch and upkeep of the site. You can find out more about that and/or donate by clicking the picture below.

Wineskins

What Is God Waiting For?

In Judges 10 the people have rejected the Lord and chased idol after idol. 18 years of oppression and their hearts were so hard that they still hadn’t repented of their sin. When they finally do, God tells them that he isn’t going to help. Instead, they need to ask their idols for deliverance. Then the people get desperate. Judges 10 tells us they finally got serious and paired their cry for deliverance with personal action and responsibility…they finally put aside their idols. How did God respond this time? The Bible says God responded “with impatience over Israel’s misery” (10:16). That was when God’s heart and attitude toward his people turned.

Sometimes we ask “What is God waiting for?” The answer may be that we aren’t really ready for Him to show up yet. We cling to our idols, as if they have anything to offer. In those times, God is unwilling to show up because He doesn’t really have our trust yet. We talk like He does but He knows the reality of what is in our hearts and it doesn’t line up. So God waits until it does. If you want God’s deliverance, it often takes action on your part and more than just a cry for God’s help while keeping a few idols in your back pocket for comfort. Deliverance comes to the repentant and true repentance comes through complete and unequivocal trust in the Lord.

Confirmation

I love it when God gives you the confirmation you need. He doesn’t really confirm every detail but He gives you enough to let you know His hand is in something. Maybe it is that other person who has the same idea at the same time and everything fits right together to where your efforts in ministry are multiplied like they never have been before. Other times God gives you a sense of peace about something. Still other times it is the opposite…God really unsettles your spirit about something. You can’t assume that God is going to do it the same way twice. God works in whatever way He needs to in order to help us follow the ways of Christ. It isn’t easy. It is challenging. It is risky. It is also worth it. I love when I get a glimpse of confirmation from God, a reminder that He is right in the middle of my issues guiding, leading and blessing it all.

Last, I am not talking about superstition here…like asking for God to send you a sign and you see a billboard along the highway that has a word in it that you think is the Lord trying to speak with you. If God is that poor of a communicator we are all in trouble! I am talking about prayed out, fasted up, scripture-aligning confirmation from God that convicts you of what God wants you to do.

Psalm 37 (ESV)

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;

    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

12 The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16 Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.

18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.

20 But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

27 Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33 The Lord will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Big News Regarding New Wineskins Online Magazine

WineskinsA few weeks ago Keith Brenton announced that he was no longer going to run New Wineskins. When that news came out there were a lot of people who wanted to see the work continue and some conversations started taking place, dreams were dreamed, plans were laid and something new is underway in regard to the future of New Wineskins. Jay Guin, Brad Palmore and myself have been discussing a resurrection and complete overhaul of the site (now called just “Wineskins”). The idea is to develop a comprehensive resource of Restoration Movement resources, discussions, connections, and so much more.

The specifics are all still being hashed out and the conversations have been extremely productive. What is most amazing to me in all of this is how some of the ideas that we are working on had been weighing on the hearts of various people before we knew how it was all going to fit together. I look forward to sharing more information with you all about what this is going to look like going forward but I do want to assure you that this is going to be a major blessing to many people. I am appreciative of Keith Brenton for handing us the keys. I am in awe of Brad Palmore’s ninja-like web skills. I am grateful for the heart for God that Jay Guin has in his helping to push this project forward. Last, I am appreciative that several people thought of me to be the editor of this new project.

Two things you can do at this point.

1 – Pray. Pray that God will guide our thoughts, our vision and our hearts to help create something that will have a monumental impact on our movement. Pray for Keith as he makes some transitions in his life. Pray that all that is done is pleasing to God and beneficial for Christian growth and unity.

2 – Get in the loop. Until the launch takes place, the main avenue for communication about what we are up to is the Wineskins facebook group. You can “Like” the page here. It already has nearly 500 likes in about a week. Very exciting stuff.

ACU Summit 2012 Videos Are Up on Youtube!

I am sure many of you will enjoy watching everyone from Randy Harris to Walter Brueggemann…Enjoy!

ACU Summit 2012 Video

Here is one to get you started, Mitch Wilburn’s “Children of the Living God”