Picture of the Week

Mike Cope, Walter Brueggemann and Rubel Shelly at a ballgame. What is even more impressive is what all Rochester College is doing with their Streaming Conference. Here are Mike’s reflections on Streaming. This is a conference you will want to put on your list. Did any of you guys attend? If so I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Interview with Mike Cope and His Ministry at What Really Matters

I am deeply appreciative that Mike Cope was willing to field some questions about his ministry with What Really Matters. God has really equipped Mike for kingdom work and it is a blessing to be able to learn from his perspective. He is a great thinker, communicator and is humble about how God has been able to use him for the kingdom. I was curious about Mike’s transition from preaching at Highland to working with and ministering with young adults through the What Really Matters ministry. Here is what Mike had to say:

After years of preaching, what motivated you to make the change to para-church ministry with What Really Matters:

The main motivation was a vision cast by Landon Saunders, one of my closest friends—and a man whom I’ve looked up to since I was 19 (and a student at Harding).  Landon’s great concern is for a young generation—especially those who are farthest away from faith and faith communities.  So often in ministry, I’ve found myself isolated from those very people.  I wish I knew during my decades of preaching what I know now after a couple years of sitting down with so many of these young adults.

Your new ministry focuses on growing faith in young adults, how has this generation of young people given you hope for the future?

Even those who are so far from Christian faith have a deep interest in community and in helping the world.  And it isn’t that they’ve said “no” to everything spiritual.  Many of them are at a great place for faith discussions to begin.

What challenges do you believe lie ahead for churches in reaching this generation of young adults?

For the most part, churches will have more luck with those who are already Christians but who have “taken a break.”  But for those who are truly outside, I’m guessing that creative, organic church plants are going to be a much better option.  The young adults I know will have little interest in churches trying to get big or trying to perfect a worship service.  They are, however, interested in sharing lives, understanding others, the needs of the world, and prayer.

What is the biggest lesson they have taught you while ministering to them with What Really Matters?

The church needs to leave the building.

What is one lesson you believe young people today need to hear and embrace?

For starters, they need to know that their life must be lived in community with others who will share beyond “what happened today.”  Then they need a vision of the good news and the kingdom that is broader and fuller than saving myself from hell.  (For more detail, see Scot McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel or N. T. Wright’s Simply Jesus.)

How can churches tap into the resources you are producing with What Really Matters or partner with your ministry?

I’m working on what the future of the nonprofit ministry will be, now that I’m about to start working full-time for Pepperdine, but I’m anxious to continue connecting with these young adults.  Some resources are available at www.reallymatters.net

Mike Cope’s Series – When a Child Dies

Mike Cope has been doing a series on dealing with the death of children. If you have experienced this or know someone who would benefit from reading this please pass this along. This series is touching and has already gotten nearly 200 comments total, which speaks not only to the quality of Mike’s writing but also to the importance and relevance of this topic.

When a Child Dies #1
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Gulf Coast Getaway 2012 – A Lesson Learned

I was blessed to be able to attend Gulfcoast Getaway this past weekend. It was a blessing to worship with over 1500 college students really pouring out their hearts to God. It was a blessing to hear men like Mike Cope and Randy Harris preach Jesus. It was a blessing to spend time with some of our young adults and a guy who is taking on more responsibility in our college ministry (to help sharpen him up and “talk shop” on the direction of our ministry). It was great seeing guys like Grant Azbell who I grew up with and Donny Dillon, who I have been friends with 10 years now. I was blessed to catch some time with Mike Cope and Eric Brown to talk about ministry to young adults and ways to be more effective in the kingdom. God really blessed many people this weekend and God was really praised. If you weren’t there, you missed out!

This year was a little different at GCG. When you are trying to be on the cutting edge, if you keep doing the same thing all the time it feels like it can run dry. This year they tried some new things and did so effectively. They tried to create more community by splitting the students up into small discussion groups. Worship Sunday ended with communion in these groups with people you had been discussing things with over the weekend. I thought that was a good idea. There didn’t seem to be as visible a focus on international missions this year as their had been in years past. Instead, they highlighted with various campus ministries had done over the past year. This covered everything from paying for a homeless veteran’s eye surgery to serving meals to the homeless, and reaching out to various subsidized housing developments. I thought that was an important focus because often we get the message that what needs to be done is somewhere else and not in our own backyard.

A Lesson Learned:
There was one thing I specifically wanted to share. On Saturday night, Mike Cope spent three hours talking about Jesus and how he fits into the broader story of scripture going all the way back to Genesis. He talked about everything from the major stories of the Old Testament (chronologically) all the way through the Gospels. Pretty much the only stuff he left out was the documentary hypothesis and Q. Other than that, he pretty much hit all the highlights of OT and NT theology. He ended with why Jesus came and what it means for us in terms of how we follow him. It was some solid stuff that should be available soon on the GCG website.

Here is what was so remarkable about it…our students wanted more. The wanted a fourth hour. Now, this is 10pm and they are wanting to hear another 60 minutes of Jesus. Often we fear boring people so much that we avoid the meat. These guys got a taste of it and wanted more. Granted, Mike is an excellent communicator who can go 180 minutes note free on how Jesus fits into the story of scripture. Not many people can do that well or keep people engaged. But their reaction really taught me a few things:

  1. Young people are hungrier for scripture and spiritual meat than I had imagined. They want this. They don’t just want it in Panama City. They want this at home. They want to read the Bible and understand it. Often they will need a guide. Will we provide that for them?
  2. Time really isn’t the issue. Maybe our presentation of it gets in the way or intimidation gets in the way or people looking at watches gets in the way.
  3. Their lack of interest is not the issue. It is easy to assume more Bible = more boredom. That is not the case. Maybe we need to step up our game in how we present it to keep people on board and engaged. We need to present it in a way that does justice to the power of the story.

Any of you attend the Getaway? What did you take away from it?

Megan’s Secrets – When Your Resume is Rejected

I just love this quote from Megan’s Secrets by Mike Cope. It is about allowing God to work through imperfect people using the examples of Paul and his mentally handicapped daughter Megan,

“And if you said to Paul, ‘Your bio is not that impressive. Your life is broken,’ Paul would say, ‘You’re absolutely right.’

Perhaps he’d even wink and add, ‘It’s broken more than you can imagine.’

But inside there’s a treasure!

My guess is that some who are reading are feeling like their spiritual resume has been rejected–because of divorce, depression, loss, mistakes, or inabilities…Weak is the new strong. It’s the ‘secret’ the message that fits our cruciform gospel. As we follow the one who was crucified in weakness, we experience the deep mystery that Paul had discovered: ‘When I am weak, then I am strong.’

Despite her handicaps and challenges–despite the fact that the world would look at her exterior and see a broken vessel, an inferior resume–Megan knew what was truly important…God had used this broken jar of clay to create a beautiful person, one who would show so manly people the love of God through the glory of the imperfect. Megan needed no other resume than that, and neither did Paul. It was one of Megan’s greatest gifts that she could know so completely and intuitively what it takes most of us a lifetime to grasp.”
p.71-72

Pride and arrogance are not the path that leads to life but that humility, gentleness, and love are qualities that show an understanding of and appreciation for Jesus Christ and all he has done for me. Jesus wasn’t proud. He wasn’t boastful or arrogant. Instead Jesus was obedient, patient, and allowed himself to be broken. Let us never resist the kind of brokenness that leads us all the more closer to the kingdom of God.

Book Giveaway in Appreciation of 700,000 views

The blog is quickly approaching 700k page views. When the blog hits it some time in the next week I will give away a copy of Megan’s Secrets by Mike Cope. All you have to do is be the person who was closest to hitting 700,000th view by commenting what # you saw on the stat counter on the bottom right corner of the blog.

For some thoughts on Megan’s Secrets see this post.

I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to stop in read, discuss, etc. I have been greatly encouraged by you all.

Megan’s Secrets by Mike Cope

I heard Mike Cope present one of his lessons on Megan’s Secrets while at the Pepperdine lectures and I knew right away that I needed a copy of this book. I didn’t get one while I was there and regretted not buying it. But then a few weeks ago I got an opportunity to get a copy to review here on the blog and I am very glad that I did. This book is about lesson’s Mike learned from his mentally disabled daughter over the short years of her life. He says she was the greatest teacher about life and God that he ever had. The stories in this book are touching…Missy and I started reading this book together and we didn’t make it 20 pages before the tears started. Around page 20 Mike tells the story of his daughter’s death. He tells how he sang over her the words to her favorite song, The Lord’s Army, and then how he recited “The Lord bless you and keep you…” over her. Now the Lord’s Army was especially appropriate because like the song says there are many things she just wouldn’t be able to do in life but that in her passing she was a full fledged member of the Lord’s army…what a wonderful blessing. Now the blessing was especially moving to Missy and I as we have started saying blessings over Jonah at various times during the day. The one we use just about exclusively is the Lord bless you and keep you. As I read those words and looked at Missy I could see she had already been crying. She was looking over my shoulder as I read aloud and saw it coming before I got to it. This is just one of many examples from this book that will impact you for the better. This book will move you and help you understand life’s obstacles a little better.

What is also great about this book is that Mike does more than tell touching stories. Now, the book is driven by story and especially stories about his little girl. But what makes the whole book fit together is how Mike takes those stories and interweaves them with the story of scripture, the teachings of Jesus, and other biblical principles to teach the rest of us things that he could only learn through experience. I had a man come by the church office today who was really in bad shape. He was nearly homeless, broke, on many medications. But he had hope and peace and told me how much God had done for him. He said he doesn’t worry and that he had learned how to trust God both from the scriptures and from experience. Mike combines both of those as well to help us learn about everything from patience to trust to hope to what true strength really looks like.

Thanks Mike for writing such a touching and inspirational book. I look forward to reading the rest of it.

Pepperdine 2011

I was blessed to be able to attend the Pepperdine Bible Lectures last week. Jerry Rushford organized an amazing lectureship where God was certainly glorified. The only thing more beautiful than the scenery was the people. I cannot tell you how many amazing people were there and how many of them encouraged me through the classes and conversations. It was great catching up with so many and meeting so many others. Thanks to everyone who supported our class on ministering to 20s & 30s. I hope it was a blessing to many. Also, I was amazed at how many young guys were speaking out there. It really gives a sense of hope to see God using people young and old to advance His kingdom.

I probably shouldn’t start mentioning names as there were so many who encouraged me this past week but I guess I will anyway. There were three men who really helped me out this week, one young and two slightly past being young: Josh Graves, Randy Harris and Mike Cope. Josh Graves had a tremendous keynote and classes. I had never met Josh and was greatly blessed by how God used him this past week. His sermon on the mount material was accurate and applicable. Randy’s insights and delivery are always great. I was blessed by his classes, his panel discussions, and his new book Soul Work. I would encourage all of you guys to read this book. I read it on the plane on the way back and I think I am going to read it again. He talks a lot about what he learned from his time with hermits…exciting stuff for sure! The two biggest blessings in this book for me were his writing on humility and contemplative prayer. Mike Cope’s final class about what he learned from raising his daughter Megan nearly brought me to tears. I just didn’t see it coming. His class  was like an emotional ambush, in a good way. I am going to have to get a copy of his new book too.

If you haven’t ever been to Pepperdine I would encourage you to make the trip next year!

John Piper on Abused Women

Thanks to Kathryn B for cluing me in on this one over at Mike Cope’s blog…I am dumbfounded. So if he says things that contradict God’s will she submits to God and not to him but if he slaps her around then she must endure it until she can talk to someone at a church about it? How on earth does he separate the two like that? He is going to lose a ton of credibility on this one.

She is “simply” going to have to endure abuse “for a season”? Come on John P. You should know better. Here is the clip…

Touching Post by Mike Cope

Mike Cope shares a touching reflection about his daughter Megan. I don’t know all the details of her life but I do know that she was mentally and/or physically limited, that she died at a very young age and that she meant the world to Mike. Read the story here.