Mission and Vision

Simple Church Success exists to equip, inspire, and support those who want to know Jesus better and are hungry for simple participatory gatherings of two or more people.

We partner with Luke 10 International Ministries toward being a engaged network of visionaries, trail-blazers, church-planters, supporters, and inquirers who are learning to BE the church in simple Holy Spirit led, Christ-centered, Biblical ways.

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What Calvin and Luther didn’t know! Neither did Calvin and Hobbes!

calvin-hobbesCalvin and Hobbs, the cartoon boy and tiger, knew a lot, but not about this!

Calvin and Luther, leaders of the Protestant Reformation, didn’t about know this either.

This is what they didn’t know!  John White’s teaching on the early church! It will take you about 20 minutes to read and watch but it’s well worth it. (click here)

The world is changing fast.  The church is changing fast too. It’s going back to the basics.

John’s teaching will help you grasp the forgotten  basics that Jesus understood and practiced!

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Am I needy? I need to know!

“I’m not talking because of any need for I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in.” – Philippians 4:11

“I’m not talking because of any need…”  Imagine a person talking with you, not because they want or need something from you, but, because they want to impart a gift to you. How refreshing! No angle, pitch, con, hype or whining—just gracious generosity.

“Needy!” That’s what we sometimes call it, as in, “They are so needy!”

I searched “needy” on the internet and found this lively conversation on Yahoo Answers which I have adapted. P1 below is Person One who asks the initial question. Person Two is P2, and so on.

P1: What is being needy? I need to know.

P2: Well, the statement after your question sounds needy, for example.

P1: I wasn’t told I was needy I just was curious because I don’t want to get, or seem, that way. Thanks.

P3:  My definition: A needy person is be very dependent on others and needs them to help them with about almost everything.

P4: Being needy means always wanting to be with someone, know what they are up to, and do everything with them. And when they are not with that person they want to be on the phone with them, or talk online. They always want to be with the other person.

P5: If you have to ask people things over and over to get their take on something, you are needy.

P6: Needy means that you constantly rely on someone else rather than on yourself for your happiness and other needs. Most of us can enjoy some time alone and can handle daily life and basic problems on our own. Those of us who need constant reassurance and intervention from others to get through normal daily activities are considered to be needy, and this characteristic can be very irritating.

The above (P1-P6) interchange is about romance. But could also apply to neediness about money, work, health, and retirement, as well as about religious, family, social and educational cravings for approval.

In the second half of the verse, Paul explains why he no longer has to be needy. He confidently claims, “I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in.”

The original Greek word used by Paul for “content” is “autarkes” a compound of “auto” meaning, self, and “arkeo”: meaning, sufficient.  Paul had learned to be self-contained in the Lord.

I saw a gorgeous Mercedes-Benz Airstream van yesterday. It was self-contained and self-sufficient for living on the road. It reminds me of how Paul lived his life in Jesus – self-contained and self-sufficient without being selfish but, instead, for serving others.

Paul believes he has everything he needs as he continues writing, “I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”

Then he gives us the same promise to believe, writing. “My God will richly fill your every need in a glorious way through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Giv’m heaven! – John Parker

First Published: The Chowchilla News Pastor’s Commentary by John Parker for August 18, 2015

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Good News! Suffering Can Lead to Happiness!

SUFFERING CAN LEAD TO HAPPINESS

by John Parker, first published as The Pastor’s Commentary in the Chowchilla News August 4, 2015

The headline about him reads: “This Man Faced Unimaginable Suffering, And Then Wrote The Definitive Book About Happiness.” (Huffington Post, February 4, 2014)

The man, Viktor Frankl, M.D., Ph.D., (1905-1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist. Suffering provided his greatest credential for he survived three torturous, grueling years in Auschwitz, the most infamous of the Nazi death camps of World War II.

His “definitive book,” Man’s Search for Meaning, published in 1959, is about the power of meaning for overcoming life’s pressures, setbacks, and sufferings.

In the book he relates this story. “Once, an elderly general practitioner (family doctor) consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else.

“Now, how could I help him? What should I tell him? Well, I refrained from telling him anything but instead confronted him with the question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?”

“Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!”

“Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering-to be sure, at the price that now you have to survive and mourn her.”

“He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left my office. In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.” (Man’s Search for Meaning, Kindle, p.113)

Frankl quotes philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

This supports Frankl’s observation, “In the Nazi concentration camps, one could have witnessed that those who knew that there was a task waiting for them to fulfill were most apt to survive.”

Frankl continues, “Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has a meaning.

“But let me make it perfectly clear that in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering-provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable.

“If it were avoidable, however, the meaningful thing to do would be to remove its cause, be it psychological, biological or political. To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.” (Meaning p. 114)

It’s great to have a genuine sufferer, like Dr. Frankl, to advise us to turn unavoidable suffering into significant meaning.  The following Bible verses also help us translate painful suffering into important meaning.

“God…comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5)

“When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy…when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:2–3)

“If we suffer, we shall also reign.” (2 Timothy 2:12)

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“Crazy” Søren Kierkegaard and Christian Existentialism

170px-KierkegaardSøren Kierkegaard: a Crazy, Wild Christian!

Just like you!

Since you, too, are interested in:

1. Listening directly to God, and

2. Connecting directly with people, in what you call —

simple church, house church, organic church, micro-church,  small group church. or just DONE-going-to-church-but-don’t-know-why, or…

some other radical, “Hey, we’re-not-sitting-in-rows-anymore!!” church.

(Shakespearian aside whispering — “Watch: The Dones!”)

Maybe Crazy Kierkegaard will inspire you like he does me.

Just check out Wikipedia 0n: “Christian Existentialism” and see who’s  behind such crazy “simple church” notions, clear  back in the 1700′s.

Or for safety’s sake read here my cleaned up (for religious Christians with lots of pre-conceived (that means a couple more preconceptions than I have) religious stuff) version:

“Christian existentialism relies on Kierkegaard’s understanding of Christianity. Kierkegaard argued that the universe is fundamentally paradoxical, and that its greatest paradox is the transcendent union of God and humans in the person of Jesus Christ.

“He also posited that having a personal relationship with God that supersedes all prescribed moralities, social structures and communal norms.[2] He asserted that following social conventions is essentially a personal aesthetic choice made by individuals.

“Kierkegaard proposed that each person must make independent choices, which then constitute his existence. Each person suffers from the anguish of indecision (whether knowingly or unknowingly) until he commits to a particular choice about the way to live.

“Kierkegaard also proposed three rubrics with which to understand the conditions that issue from distinct life choices: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious.”

Major premises of Christian Existentialism

“One of the major premises of Christian existentialism entails calling the masses back to a more genuine form of Christianity. This form is often identified with some notion of Early Christianity, which mostly existed during the first three centuries after Christ’s crucifixion.

“Beginning with the Edict of Milan, which was issued by Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 313, Christianity enjoyed a level of popularity among Romans and later among other Europeans.

“And yet Kierkegaard asserted that by the 19th century, the ultimate meaning of New Testament Christianity (love, cf. agape, mercy and loving-kindness) had become perverted, and Christianity had deviated considerably from its original threefold message of grace, humility, and love.”

Is this Resonating with You?

Please Get Crazy, like Søren, and Get Violent like a true follower of Jesus and Write Me!

I need to know you are interested.  Click Here and Write Me
your diatribe, polemic, or vote “Yes” or “No”!  This is way bigger than “Yes” or “No” on “Do you like,  Hillary or Donald?”  Come on! God is way past that.

“He’s got plans of his own to set up his throne when he returns!” — Bob Dylan

Tell me what you are thinking! Complacency is the killer! Hop in and Write Back!

E-mail Me!

Arrested for WUI! - John!   (W = writing! But you knew that! LOL!)

 

 

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Feeling Unstable? – Use it for Success!

Walking uses both Stability and Instablity.

The Stability of having just one of your feet planted.

and

The Instability of launching your other foot out and falling until you land.

Use both and you get somewhere even if you trip, stumble or fall. You’re going places!

Beware of “Stable Person” who has both feet firm planted.

Yes…Be Standing:  “…having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore…”   (Ephesians 6:13–14)

Yes…Be Spiriting:  “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

Yes…Be walking:  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)

 

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Sorry for putting this off! Urgent!

RE: LK10 Church 101 Sessions Starts This Wednesday!

 

Hi Simple Church fans!

 

Please join me for the next Luke 10  Church101 event on  Google Hangout.

Read about it here: C101

We always have a wonderful time together with the Lord during these Hangouts!

 

Can you join us Wednesdays 7:30-9:00 PM – July 29, (skip a week) then August 12, 19, and 26?  Let us know what works. We are flexible on the schedule.

 

Not on Google Plus?  No problem. I will help you connect. Just email me.

 

Here is the link for the first week of C101 -  Lesson 1

 

Write coachingparker@comcast.net or text or call 209.564.7201 immediately if you want to join us. 

You’ll be glad you did!  I guarantee it!  J

 

Thank you!

 

John

John Parker

209.564.7201

 

 

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Is God Good? All the time? And then some!

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, is a 1978 book by Harold Kushner. It sought to address the riddle of why, if the universe was created and is governed by a God who is of a good and loving nature, there is nonetheless so much suffering and pain in it. (Wikipedia)

God’s goodness is what the serpent got Eve to question in the Garden, by implying, if God is good why can’t you eat of the Tree of Knowledge? She bit because she agreed that God was not good, in that, he was holding out on her.

The Bible patriarch, Joseph (see Genesis 37-50) had numerous reasons to question God’s goodness.  First, his older brothers sold him into slavery after God had given him two dreams that he would be their leader. Next, he was falsely accused, convicted and imprisoned for the rape of his master’s wife.  Finally, even after enjoying Joseph’s prophesy of freedom, Pharaoh’s cupbearer’s abandoned Joseph, leaving him in prison.

Nevertheless, when Joseph indeed becomes a ruler with the power to punish his brothers, he refuses, explaining, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19–21)

Joseph is clear. He lives above the intentions to harm and confesses God’s intentions “for good” and for “saving many lives.”

We have a familiar promise that helps us with our own puzzling and painful riddles. The promise declares, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  Let’s look at four key words in this verse: know, love, good, and purpose.

  1. We Know (Greek: oida): This knowledge is not based on how much we know but upon who we know. It comes instinctively and intuitively to believers through God’s Holy Spirit.
  2. Love God (Greek: agape): Greater than the three other Greek words for love, this one was popularized by Christianity. It lives above and beyond the fickleness of earthly love’s affections, emotions, circumstances and benefits. Its source is the unrelenting committed love God gave to us when he “so loved the world.” (John 3:16)  We don’t create it or work it up. It is a fact. It is God’s gift. “We love (the agape way) because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
  3. Good (Greek: agathos): Unlike the orderly and beautiful good of the Greek word “kalos” from which we derive the word calligraphy, agathos is more about a pure and virtuous good that is at work even when things are terrible and ugly. This is the good we confess from the core of our being about God, even in our darkest hour.
  4. Purpose (Greek: prothesis) This word focuses on living in God’s presence for his purpose, not ours.  The Bible claims, “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) and “You are not your own, you have been bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) As we embrace the truth of living out God’s purpose in God’s presence our strife and arguments cease.

God’s peace rules as we hear, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

 

Email me your thoughts if you’d like. I’ll enjoy reading them – John Parker.

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Are they misunderstandings? Or mysteries?

Getting past the misunderstandings of our logical and earthly judgments and  discerning the same events in the mystery of the Spirit is our great opportunity.  We are called to be “managers of mysteries” rather than conveyors of misunderstandings.  (1 Corinthians 4:1)

Jesus summarizes this way, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”” (John 7:24, NLT)  Solomon writes, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, NLT)

Jesus’ Resurrection Morning helps us see Misunderstandings and Mysteries:

Jesus rose from the dead in the dark.

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” (John 20:1)

The darkness was even darker within Mary’s heart.

“She ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”” (John 20:2)

Peter and John came running, but remained in the dark, and went home not understanding.

“So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed (Mary’s report). Yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” (John 20:3–9)

Mary stayed, and wept, and looked back inside the tomb trying to understand.

“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”” (John 20:11–13, ESV)

Then Jesus appeared but Mary did not understand that it was him.

“Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

The light finally dawned when she heard him call her by name.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Then “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18)

Misunderstanding and Mystery accompany Jesus’ resurrection:

Misunderstanding darkens it. Jesus’ resurrection was beyond human understanding so everything was misunderstood.

Mystery reveals it. A word from Jesus bursts with light.

Faith listens past misunderstandings that confuse and understands mysteries that infuse love and light.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52)

Let’s press past misunderstandings until the mysteries becomes clear. His voice is calling! We can all be changed!

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Passion for Community! How do you Be?

“Hey, scram! Two’s company and three’s a crowd. Beat it! You’re not part of our group!” So goes the familiar childhood rejection with the pain of fractured community.

During this Easter Passion Week, we remember that Jesus suffered unto death to save and restore his community. To do that he was “despised and rejected…he was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities; he took the punishment to bring us peace, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3–6)

He calls his community “my church” declaring, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) He identifies it as the place, “where two or three are gathered in my name,” and validates it by his own presence, saying, “there am I among them.”” (Matthew 18:20)

In his book, “Community the Structure for Belonging,” Peter Block writes, “Community…is about the experience of belonging. We are in community each time we find a place where we belong.” His two meanings for the word belong are membership and ownership.

To belong means membership that provides the benefits of inclusion and assurance. Members are recognized and included. They have assurance that they belong and can rest in that.

Jesus invites us into membership with full benefits. “Come unto to me all you that labor…and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28) and, “Whosoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)  “Allow the children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Luke 18:16)

But wait there’s more! Jesus assures us, “No one can pluck you out of my hand,” (John 10:28) “I will be with you always,” (Matthews 28:20) and, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

To belong also means ownership of the community. This focuses on our response-ability. Block explains, “To belong to a community is to act as a creator and co-owner of that community. What I consider mine I will build and nurture.”

Jesus emphasizes our community ownership when he calls us to, “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:35) He calls us to the creative work of owners  by saying, “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.” (John 14:12)

Block saves the best for last as he writes, “Belonging can also be thought of as a longing to be. Being is our capacity to find out deeper purpose in all that we do. It is the capacity to be present, and to discover our authenticity and whole selves.

“This is often thought of as an individual capacity,  but it is also a community capacity. Community is the container within which our longing to be is fulfilled. Without the connectedness of a community, we will continue to choose not to be.”

To be, or, not to be? That is the question.

Jesus’ community answers, “To Be!”

Jesus’ community invites, “Where two or three are gathered Jesus is here so let’s come in, stay, get real, and learn to love.”

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