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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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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Today? Yesterday? or Tomorrow?

“Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge.

“David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off.

“Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.” (1 Samuel 17:38–40, The Message)

Most of us know the rest of the story…David shot a stone from his sling and took Goliath out with laser point accuracy.

David lived in today not yesterday. The Bible says, “Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

King Saul’s armor was yesterday’s. Using it would have killed David.

But telling the king, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this,” took both self-awareness and courage.

Self-awareness allowed him get real.  David knew himself well enough to say no and to get past how that might sound to important others.

David’s courage showed long before he faced Goliath.  Courage originally had to do with telling “what is in one’s mind or thoughts,” hence “bravery.” (Online Etymological Dictionary)

In his “today” style David traveled light. All he had was a sling. He stopped at the brook to pick up some stones on his way to defeat the giant. Then he shot right past Goliath’s old school armor and stoned him before he knew what hit him.

The Bible lets us know that “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life,” (Romans 6:4) and “that is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

We are encouraged to live in today. “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15)

Finally, regarding today, the Bible says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

Perhaps it’s time to dump yesterday’s baggage and armor. David did and won the day!

And regarding tomorrow, Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” (Matthew 6:34)

It’s about today we sing, “This is the very day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24)

Giv’m heaven! – John Parker

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Friend of God

Empty seed pods of the eucalyptus trees crunched pleasantly under my feet after I hopped the barbed wire fence next to my college dorm and walked across the small grove to sit under those tall fragrant trees.  Their fallen leaves formed a thick carpet where I sat to visit with God, as a friend, for the first time.

The first time at least where I was not praying a prayer of repentant desperation asking for help to pass a school exam for which I was unprepared.  This was different, gentle, open, relaxing and as refreshing as the trees.

I’d begun reading the Bible a few weeks before. I had to escape the alcohol, marijuana, nicotine saturated party-life that I jumped into that first year away from home as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo freshman.  I’d escaped the restrictions home and church with all of its negative, boring, rule-bound, hypocrisy.  But now my judgments were killing me and I wanted to live.

The eucalyptus field trip to the wild side with God was all new. I actually wanted to talk with him. I didn’t feel forced, shamed or trapped. It didn’t seem like a religious activity. Of my own accord I was tenderly going to visit with my new friend and, in some vague way, my long lost (heavenly) father.

We had some great talks out there in the spring of 1970. It was all new, fresh, happy, free, loving, even shocking in its pleasantness, ease, and comfort. Imagine me talking with God in a friendly, familiar way! Surprise, surprise, surprise!

I was 18 then. The next year I went to a Christian university and learned the ropes of how to be what they told me was an excellent Christian in the service of the Lord.

Thankfully, I did receive a lot of Bible knowledge, but confusingly, I also was trained in religious rules by admired school leaders. They, in turn, pointed to famous successful leaders who had done the really great things for God such as designing a nation-wide outreach program, building the world’s fastest growing Sunday School, or packing out an awesome mega church. These were to be our role-models.

I hopped on that band-wagon with Pinocchio-like innocence heading down the road of success. The cost to my relational life however was horrific. What I thought was serving Jesus did a lot of peripheral damage as I rushed forward.

Instead of letting Jesus build his church I unwittingly used Christian training to help him out and make his church more interesting, attractive, and, well, successful. I thought I was doing him a favor. The serpent that enters God’s garden is crafty indeed.

For the last 25 years, or so, I’ve been a recovering ministry-holic, wanting to sort things out about work, money, ministry, and relationships.  It’s a slow go and long haul. I suspect, most recovery journeys are like that.

Ironically, it’s an old hymn that I have avoided as too traditional and tired that is with me as I write today. The lyrics are: “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

“Learn of me,” Jesus always calls.

Giv’m heaven! – John Parker

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

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Is your Life a Jigsaw Puzzle?

The following article is the one I first wrote for “The Chowchilla News Pastor’s Commentary by John Parker for January 13, 2015″   Plus, here is the link to my January 6, 2015 article.  When I first started blogging back around 2008 these articles were all I sent out.  Then I added articles about house and simple church around 2011. Today’s article includes both!

I write Sealegs for Success for my professional development clientele.  Many of you subscribe to it as well.

JIGSAW PUZZLES AND LIFE

Chowchilla Simple Church has an open forum format. Using 1 Corinthians 14:26 as our guide, we venture forth trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide and orchestrate the two hour gathering. Every week is exciting as the Lord prompts us in variety, helps us with orderliness, and reveals his theme.

Yesterday, Patrick surprised us with a beautiful, meaningful, and hilarious song he wrote last week about the problems created by alcohol abuse.  The line, “Don’t come home unless your three days sober,” got our attention!

Two weeks ago, Melody Nye, shared her story about jig-saw puzzles. We all loved it. Here it is for you.

“How Jigsaw Puzzles Are Like Life” by Melody Nye

“This is Jigsaw Puzzle Season for me.  I always receive jigsaw puzzles for Christmas, so January is pretty much all jigsaws all the time.    After years of doing these puzzles, I have put together a list of how Jigsaw Puzzles are like life itself.

*If the puzzle you are working on is minus a piece and you spend all of your time trying to fit something into that space, you will never get to the rest of the puzzle.

*If a you put a piece somewhere it does not belong because it looks “close enough” that piece will eventually have to be removed when the right piece comes along.  And every wrong piece is the right piece somewhere!

*A puzzle starts out a big jumbled mess that seems impossible, but one piece at a time it all falls into place.

*Sometimes you look at a piece and try to find a place for it, and sometimes you look at a place and try to find a piece for it.

*The puzzle usually starts with the frame, but the beauty is found in the inside.

*In preparation for solving, colors and shades are put in separate groups; however, until all the colors are connected, the puzzle is not complete.

*Before the puzzle ever gets to me, many people have put in a lot of work and talent to make it; and somebody went to a lot of trouble to jumble it up so I could have the chance to put it back together again.  (sometimes machines are the jumbler!)

*Sometimes you just need to step away from the puzzle and come back refreshed and with a new perspective.

*Many friends may enjoy helping you finish the puzzle; but a true friend will help when the puzzle is at it’s most difficult point.

*The more difficult the puzzle, the greater the feeling of accomplishment.”

Thank you, Melody!

For me, the Jigsaw Solving Scripture is: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:26–29)

Thank you, Lord, for putting us back together to be like Jesus!

Giv’m heaven! – John Parker

You are welcome to meet with John and the Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla at the Carty Center, 10 AM Sundays. Contact John at: john@simplechurchsuccess.net or (209) 564-7201.

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PRODIGAL HOLY DAY! Read ASAP – Christmas Day Sensitive!

The Chowchilla News Pastor’s Commentary by John Parker for December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas! Read my article below right away, if you have time.  It will impact your sharing and caring this Christmas Day 2014!  -  John Parker

HOLY DAYS FOR PRODIGALS

“We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Luke 15:32) These are Jesus’ final words explaining to the older, obedient son the reason for rejoicing over the return of his younger, wasteful brother whom we know as “The Prodigal Son.”

Prodigal is a term rarely used outside of that Bible story. Prodigus is its Latin root and it means “wasteful.”

May the following article (calltoeden.wordpress.com), from Karen, a Simple Church leader in Texas, soften your heart, as it did mine, for your holiday ministry.

“COME HOME”

“Dead leaves cling to my trees though December wind pulls and tugs.  Gray clouds hover close, hiding the cheering sun I’m so wanting to see.  Some of the neighbors have pierced the dreariness with colored lights and holly wreaths on doors ready for the Christmas season.

“How welcome the warmth and lights of home to draw us in out of the cold.  Hearts beat eager and step over the threshold into a place where we feel we belong.  Ah-hh, home!  We come home at Christmas.  We shake off the prodigal-proud independence, pierced with knowing that spending life on our own terms did not bring life to us as we thought it would.

“Father welcomes each of us home, to live again, beloved, just as before we strayed and went our own way.  Years I wandered, wasted on self-driven effort and wishes for life according to my will. But I have come home to You, my true Home.

“Tonight several of our adult children come for lasagna and fellowship with each other and God.  These prodigals too with a road of anguish and bitter heartbreak behind them come bravely ahead, come home.  O come, blessed Holy Spirit!

“It’s Eden essentials that we are really longing for—to find joy and meaning in our work and relationships, connect heart-true with ourselves, God and others, to enjoy our food and drink gratefully, to rest in knowing that God is here in this place and so, all is well, whatever troubles plague us.

“This Christmas season may we open our lives, hearts, homes to the prodigals making their way home, one step at a time, one moment at a time.  Let us receive unfailing love that we ourselves desperately need and then pour it out lavishly on others all around us.  Someone with a mask for their pains may soften and surrender any moment to Grace.  It may be your neighbor, your son’s co-worker,  your sister who seems to have no needs.  A prodigal heart may be firmly lodged behind the eyes of the person sitting across the table from you at supper time.  Love with all you are, and watch wonders unfurl.”  (calltoeden.wordpress.com)

Wonderful! Thank you, Karen!

In our LK10.com Simple Church leadership training network we talk about divine prevenience.  Prevenience implies that Our Father is keeping the home fire burning for us and drawing us home. Once home, warmed, and fed, our joy is to join him in watching for, and welcoming, the others just like us who are coming home too.

Holding these holidays up as holy-days we watch and listen for the Lord’s love opportunities toward prodigal hearts, including our own. Welcome home!

“Let’s go out and Giv’m heaven!” – John

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Let it Shine!

Walt-Disney-Christmas 2014Let your light shine during these holidays.

Don’t let it get blown out.

Don’t hide it.

The darker the situation the more your light is needed.

Thankfully, we don’t have to go over board to make it shine.

That can lead to Anxiety, Annoyance, or even Anger…during the holidays. Yikes!

We can just be still and let it…Shine!

And that’ll be fine!

Companion Scriptures:

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16, The Message)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14–15, TNIV)

“ Men and women who have lived wisely and well will shine brilliantly, like the cloudless, star-strewn night skies. And those who put others on the right path to life will glow like stars forever.” (Daniel 12:3, The Message)

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”” (Psalm 46:10, NLT)

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