Who should read The Black Swan Effect

[Tweet "Ten days to go! The Black Swan Effect launches on April 5th."]

Two years of hard work, multiple phone conversations and emails, incredible co-authors, a wonderful design and editing team…. It all comes together at the end of next week.

Here’s a video I made about who should read the book.

Who will be interested in The Black Swan Effect? from Felicity Dale on Vimeo.

[pocket] Disciple: Seven Experiences with Jesus

Erik Fish, founder of Student CPX which teaches students how to make disciples and plant churches on campuses, and his family are staying with us at present. A few days ago, four heavy boxes arrived for him. They were the first copies of a new pocket manual he has written called [pocket] Disciple: Seven Experiences with Jesus.

The church that meets in our home seemed a good place to try it out. The book aims at teaching the basic commands of Jesus through seven discipleship practices. So last Friday, the group of us gathered there went through Experience #6: gather. We read through the instructions about how to use the book, discussed some Scriptures, answered questions and then experienced Jesus by celebrating communion together.

With us was a young woman, a co-worker and friend of one of the gals who gathers with us. She is from the Middle East and has no background in Christianity. It was her second time here. She went through Experience #6 with us and was full of questions. So Erik and some others took her through Experience #1: change. She wept her way into the Kingdom.

This little booklet is a great tool for discipling new believers. You can get it here.

We are different

I don’t have a problem with men and women being different. I studied medicine (I’m a physician by background) and not only are we anatomically different, nearly every system in our body is different in some way. The X and Y chromosomes make an impact. We obviously have different endocrine systems (hormones), but other systems differ too. For example, our skeletons are different. Our musculature is different. Our brains are different (men’s brains are larger, but women’s have more connections between right and left hemispheres.) When I studied diseases, I had to learn the differing rates at which diseases occur in men and women. Study any text book on pathology and you cannot get away from the differences.

It’s not hard to believe that the chemical and physiological differences impact how we think and process things.

Are there differences between men and women?

Yes.

I have no problem with those differences.

What I do have a problem with is when those differences are used to create a gender-based hierarchy, or when they’re used to limit women, preventing them from doing and being everything God has commanded them. Or when they produce stereotypes that people are expected to conform to, or when they are used to demean women.

What I long to see is for the body of Christ to welcome those differences, creating a synergy from our different strengths.

What do you think?


Photo Credit: Double–M via Compfight cc

 

How Moses is a foreshadowing of Christ to women

Someone recently pointed out an interesting passage to me. I think there are some good lessons to learn from it.

When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks. When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, “Why are you back so soon today?” “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,” they answered. “And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.” (Exodus 2:16-19 NLT)

Reuel, who we see from Exodus 18 was also called Jethro, later gave his daughter, Zipporah, to be Moses’ wife.

Here are several points:

  • Women as well as men were shepherds in Moses’ time.
  • Their father, Jethro, was the one who assigned them this task
  • These seven young women cared for their father’s flocks, bringing them regularly to get water
  • Other shepherds, not wild animals, made their task much more difficult by chasing them away from the well. (Was this because they were women?) One has the impression from Reuel’s comments when they arrive home that this was a daily occurrence. How sad!
  • Moses, who is a type and foreshadowing of Christ, rescued the women from the other shepherds and helped them with their flocks by drawing water for them
  • By Exodus 3, Moses is looking after those same flocks. It’s while he’s doing this that he sees the burning bush
What  can we learn from this?

Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc

If the world were a village…

You think you have it tough? I recently came across these figures on a site that encourages people to pray for various countries in the world. (Visit the site--it’s well worth the time.) All of us are aware of some of the injustice around the world, but these figures brought it home to me…

Picture the world as a village of 100 people.

  • Six people (all U.S citizens) own 58% of the wealth
  • 74 people own 39% of the wealth
  • 20 people own the other 2% of the wealth. If you have a bank account (with any amount) you are among the richest 30 people
  • 18 people struggle to live on $1 USD per day
  • 53 people struggle to live on $2 USD per day
  • 20 people are undernourished
  • 15 are overweight
  • One dies of starvation
  • 20 people have no clean drinking water
  • 56 people have no access to sanitation
  • 80 live in substandard housing
  • One person has AIDS
  • One has a university degree
  • Seven people have computers
  • 67 are illiterate
  • 48 people cannot speak freely of their religious faith

Of the 6.5 billion people in the world, 2 billion have never heard the Gospel.

In the light of this, how should we then live?

 Photo Credit: Great Beyond via Compfight cc

When God is silent

When Tony and I moved here to the States in 1987, probably the toughest part of our lives so far at a spiritual level kicked in. Why? God became silent. He stopped talking to us.

Back in the UK, nearly everything had gone well. It was relatively easy to know what God was saying. In fact, when he spoke to us about moving to Texas, his leading was so clear that we sold our house and moved here, knowing no one. We felt a bit like Abraham, but were confident he would continue to lead us clearly.

And then silence.

Nothing. Nada

No clear direction.

It wasn’t so much the little things. It was that clear sense of direction, knowing we were following him, in the center of his will, that was missing.

To start with, we confessed every sin, real or imaginary, that we could think of. After all, we reasoned, sin separates us from God.

Still nothing.

We tried everything. We had faith, we prayed against the enemy.

Then I got angry with God. How could he bring us here and then drop us? Needless to say that didn’t work either.

Finally, I came to the place where I realized my total dependence on him. If God chose to leave me on the shelf and never to use me again, that was his prerogative. He is the potter, I’m mere clay in his hands.

A number of things died at that point–any desire for limelight, any sense of entitlement, any hankering to be anything beyond ordinary.

It was then, after nine years of God’s kind of seminary on the backside of the desert, his training in the school of wilderness experience, that, God, in his mercy, started speaking again.

 Photo Credit: Vu Bui via Compfight cc

Covering and control

Only too often, I come across this kind of sad story of spiritual control:

“I committed some “offense”  (usually not a sin but something that went against the church’s “rules”), and the pastor /church excommunicated me. No one else in the church is allowed to talk to me. My old friends avoid me in the grocery store. The ones it hurts most are my kids, who just don’t understand….”

As far as I’m concerned this is control and abuse. It’s an application of the “heresy” of covering.

Control takes other forms too. Like baptism.  Only someone who is ordained can baptize. Show me that in the Bible! Or communion. It takes a special sacred person to give communion.

Often it’s applied specifically to women. Women can’t baptize. Where’s that in the Great Commission?

Give me a break!

 

 

 

Feet and forks, knees and mouth

As a former physician, I still maintain an interest in health. I recently read an article (I think it was probably by or about Dr. David Katz who is an authority on preventive medicine), stating we can reduce our lifetime risk of all chronic diseases by 80 percent with our feet, forks and fingers. That is, if we will exercise, eat right and not smoke.

What would be the equivalent of feet and forks in terms of seeing the moves of God that we long for? Just as with disease prevention, doesn’t it come down to the basics? How about knees and mouth? That is, prayer and telling our stories and Jesus’ story?

Feet and forks really only work if we take are intentional about using them. We have to make an effort to exercise, a decision to eat right. Just as preventive medicine only works if lifestyle choices become ongoing habits, I suspect that one-off prayers and witnessing occasionally, while good in themselves, will not produce the results we long for. However, a lifestyle composed of prayer, and deliberately going out of our way to share our faith with others will produce more fruit than just sitting around and hoping it will happen.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Making disciples

As part of my study on Disciple Making Movements, I’ve been reading through the gospels to see how Jesus approached making disciples.

Jesus invited people to become his disciples. In Mark 2:14, Jesus said to Levi (Matthew), “Follow me and be my disciple.” He didn’t tell him, “Follow me and when you’ve learned enough, you can be my disciple.” Too often, we make discipleship a teacher/learner process, whereas Jesus regarded anyone who followed (and obeyed) him as a disciple, right from the get go.

Our friend, Molong, in the Philippines has a very simple pattern of making disciples. He’ll say to someone, “You’re my friend and you believe in me, would you like to become a disciple?” Then he tells them about following Jesus. When they say “yes,” he baptizes them, and teaches them how to do the same for their friends. He now has disciples down to the 14th generation. If you follow him on facebook, you’ll come across posts like ” XXX (second generation) says they are going to baptize seven people today.” There are around 600 new believers who have become disciples in this way. Their “follow-up” consists of  living life together–not under the same roof, but as an everyday occurrence.

Within evangelicalism, one-on-one is a preferred method of discipleship . I have no doubt as to its effectiveness (wish someone had been there to disciple me as a young believer). However, recently I’ve been questioning this.

There were only two occasions I can find in the gospels where Jesus had a conversation with one of the disciples alone. One was with Peter over the paying of taxes (go and catch a fish) and the other, also with Peter, was about forgiving people seventy times seven times. As far as I can see, every other interaction that is recorded involves a group of them–of at least two or three.

There was one occasion where it specifically states Jesus was alone for a conversation with someone–the woman at the well. And we assume (although it doesn’t say so) that he was alone with Nicodemus in John 3.

Other than that, once he had chosen the twelve, Jesus worked with groups–groups of his disciples, the crowds, challenged groups of Pharisees and Sadducees. Other conversations where it appears he was talking to individuals, if you examine the context, were all within a group situation.

What can we learn from this?

Photo Credit: Travis S. via Compfight cc

A remarkably accurate prophecy

In the mid 1970′s I read a book called  Battle for Israel by Lance Lambert from the UK. In it, he describes a prophecy. The story behind this prophecy is that a bishop of the Russian Orthodox church, Bishop Aristocoli,  handed it to Mother Barbara shortly before she moved to Israel in 1911. It’s a political prophecy, and, with the benefit of hindsight, especially considering when it was written,  absolutely remarkable for its accuracy. (You can find the prophecy in several places on the Internet.) When I first read it, only some of it had been fulfilled and over the decades I’ve often thought of it as I’ve watched world events unfold.

Here’s what the prophecy says:

“Not one country will be without trial – do not be frightened by anything you will hear. An evil will shortly take Russia and wherever this evil comes, rivers of blood will flaw. This evil will take the whole world and wherever it goes, rivers of blood will flow because of it.

It is not the Russian soul, but an imposition on the Russian soul. !t is not an ideology, or a philosophy, but a spirit from hell.

In the last days Germany will be divided in two. France will just be nothing. Italy will be judged by natural disasters. Britain will lose her empire and all her colonies and will come to almost total ruin, but will be saved by praying women.

America will feed the world, but will finally collapse. Russia and China will destroy each other. Finally, Russia will be free, and from her believers will go forth and turn many from the nations to God.”

In 1911, who could have imagined the impact of Russian Communism? Or that Britain would lose her empire? (I believe Britain was saved by praying women–Britain was at the brink of financial and political ruin when Lydia prayer groups began, and Margaret Thatcher was a woman who prayed.) Who could have imagined that Germany would be divided in two? What are we seeing in America?

However, this is not the total prophecy. It was prefaced by some words concerning women:

“Tell the women they must belong absolutely to God. They must believe in the great things that are happening and that God is doing on the earth. They must prepare their souls, their children and their husbands. And they will have very much work to do for God. Oh, what a great work the women will have to do in the end time, and the men will follow them.”

Makes one think…

What implications do you think it has for today?

Photo Credit: fusion-of-horizons via Compfight cc