re:Prayer & re:Fasting

The Clackamas Community College (CCC) Life Group will be fasting again this coming Wednesday and doing a prayer walk on campus at noon. Here’s a re:cap (I know, I’m pushing it) of the blog posts from last week on prayer and fasting. Anybody’s welcome to join in.

Prayer and Fasting (1) - Why Fast?
Prayer and Fasting (2) - Transformational Fasting
Prayer and Fasting (3) - Missional Fasting & Application(s)

Promo Video Screen Shots

Here are a couple of screen shots from the promotional video we’re putting together for the launch of re:Generātion. The video should be done by the second week of February.



God's Story

I've been reading through Mark Dever's book, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, and just read something that I found helpful in communicating God's story.

At our Sunday night training sessions, we've been challenging each other to shorten the stories: "God's Story" and "My Story." Part of the efficiency in communicating the gospel stems from Dever's writing and teaching. He writes this:
In our church in Washington (D.C.) I always ask our prospective members to tell me the gospel in one minute or less. How would you do that? What would you say the message is? Here's what I understand the good news to be:

The good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in His image to know Him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from Him. In His great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust Him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ's sacrifice and that God's wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
To give you some perspective, that story is 138 words long. At our Sunday evening training sessions, we've been quick to communicate that efficiency in communicating the good news will be a helpful tool, both in developing your own understanding of the gospel, and also in your conversation. Two weeks ago, we challenged you to communicate "God's story" in 3 minutes. Last week, two minutes. We would venture to challenge you to communicate it in 1 minute.

A few observations:

1. Time is of the essence. Attention spans are short. People are not by nature "listeners." You do not often have all-day to sit down with a friend and talk about the gospel in detail. This is, of course merely a tool to help, it is not a rule; it is not a law; it is not the right way to share the gospel. But we think it will help.

2. Evangelize in bullet points. As I read the story quoted above, I felt like I was reading bullet list, and that a lot of meat was missing. Funny--but that was the case! With a bullet point list, it does leave the door open for question--for further conversation. I have something else to talk about if a question is asked--something meaningful. This will help in your discourse with a non-believer.

3. Write it out. This week, we challenged you to write out "Your Story" in 100 words or less (for the same reasons as above, but ultimately) to help you know what is most important to communicate. Writing something will really put your thoughts and word choice under a microscope. You will notice things as you write, that otherwise would fly under the radar. It will help your conciseness and your clarity.

Good stuff! If you have "Your Story" written (in 100 words or less (we can all give each other suggestions on editing for conciseness and clarity)) please share it on the discussion board on the facebook page.

Making the Gospel “Good” (1)

One of the primary reasons—if not the most primary reason—we don’t share the gospel with the lost people in our lives is because (if we’re really being honest) we don’t actually believe that the gospel is all that “good.” Now, at one level, of course (if we’re followers of Christ), we know that the gospel is good. Intellectually, we assent to the fact and publicly we wouldn’t disagree. Our problem is that we don’t have a sense on the heart—a profound and authentic experience—of its goodness. We’ve forgotten how the gospel tastes.

I was particularly struck by this a couple of weeks ago after I shared the following story with a group I’m a part of in Portland made up almost exclusively of non-Christians. The story I told went like this . . .
For the past month and half—stretching back to about the middle of November—I’ve been spending most of my time and energy in preparation for a new project that’s going to launch in just over a month. With somewhere between two and three hundred people watching to see what happens, it’s a very public project.

I myself am one of four central leaders helping to drive the project forward and provide vision. In addition to the four of us, there’s another thirty or so that have joined in and committed to giving some sort of personal service. Of those two groups (meaning out of those thirty people), I’m the only one getting paid.

Back in December, in preparation for the project, I set a very specific, personal goal to deal with a particular moral problem in my life. With the help, support and rigorous accountability of a good friend, I met that goal in December and I’ve continued to live within its boundaries in January as well. The goal itself wasn’t anything spectacular. It was basically another step toward tightening-down an area in my life that I’ve been making meaningful advances in for a few years now.

On top of that, throughout December, with this new project clearly in view, I prayed with more intentionality, more focus and a great deal more regularity than usual. In fact, on January1st, I brought the New Year in with prayer and fasting, both of which are very positive spiritual practices for me.

I say all that to say this: I went to bed on January 1st absolutely wrecked. All of those positive behaviors and all of that healthy, spiritual living and I was awash with anxiety, unable to sleep. The reason I couldn’t sleep was simple: fear of failure. I had given my heart to the idol of personal success.

My thinking went like this: “Here I am, heading up this new and very public project with all these people counting on me to make it happen and even more watching from the stands to see if it does.” In that moment what I believed was if the project succeeds, then I’ll be a success; but if it fails, then I’ll be a failure. In other words: “I am this project. If it wins, I win, I’m a winner. If it loses, I lose, I’m a loser. And (even more wrecking) everyone watching will know.”

After some reading and prayer I eventually fell asleep and January 2nd came. A week later, I was talking to the same friend who had been helping me with the goal I mentioned earlier. I told him about all the good things I’d been doing and how despite that I’d been so gripped by fear on New Year’s Day. After I finished, he looked at me and said (pretty matter-of-factly), “You know, whether this project succeeds or fails, I wouldn’t honestly think you had all that much to do with it either way. You’ll led. You’ll teach. You’ll do your best. But why anything is successful or not is (for the most part) a mystery up to God.”

I was struck. On the one hand, part of me hated what he’d just said. I wanted to pushback: “Wait a minute, that’s great if this thing tanks, but if the project’s a success, I want people to think I’m a success.” On the other hand, another part of me (the honest, sane, less-self-promoting part of me) loved it: “If that’s the case then all I have to do is breathe and be obedient. The whole success-or-failure bit isn’t in my court.” Suddenly I saw there was freedom in what he’d said. Freedom, sanity and hope.
I finished telling the story and the very next person to speak (a non-Christian man in his mid-fifties) said something like this: “I’m one of four people starting up a new project later this year. I’m the only one getting paid. The last few weeks have been tough. I’ve been so consumed by fear, particularly the public fear of failure. I wasn’t sure why I came today and now I know. After hearing that I have a hope that ten minutes ago I didn’t know existed.” After the meeting ended we connected and I was able to talk to him more about how the irony of my situation arose from the fact that my whole understanding of spiritual reality is rooted in grace, that God doesn’t accept me because of who I am but because of who He is. (I wish I would have said more about Jesus in our conversation, but I’ll see him again and we’ll get to talk more down the road.)

What hit me about that experience was how an implication of the gospel—even though the guy I was talking to didn’t even know what to call it—was in that moment good news. It really was. After all, it’s good news to hear that our failures don’t ultimately determine our worth; it’s good news to find out that we don’t have to be controlled by our fear of people’s opinion; and it’s good news to learn that instead of judging us by who we are, God accepts us unconditionally through the worth and righteousness (i.e., the success) of His Son. The gospel’s good. It really is. And sometimes we need to be reminded.

Prayer and Fasting (3) - Missional Fasting & Application(s)

As a means of missional engagement, fasting moves us, in humble but bold dependence, to expect from God great things in the advancement of his kingdom. Matthew 6:17-18 puts it like this, “When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Of course, the question that immediately pops up is: “What sort of ‘reward’ is Jesus talking about?” Using the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13, John Piper offers the following answer:
[T]he reward we are to seek from the Father in fasting is not first or mainly the gifts of God, but God himself. . . . It begins with three main longings that we are to hope for from God. First, that God’s name be hallowed or revered; second, that God’s kingdom come; and third, that his will be done on earth the way it’s done in heaven. That is the first and primary reward Jesus tells us to seek in our praying and our fasting. . . . The supremacy of God in all things is the great reward we long for in fasting. His supremacy in our own affections and in all our life-choices. His supremacy in the purity of the church. His supremacy in the salvation of the lost. His supremacy in the establishing of righteousness and justice. And his supremacy for the joy of all peoples in the evangelization of the world (78-79).
This means that fasting (again, in conjunction with prayer, worship and God’s Word) is a means of passionately laying hold of God as the Great Giver and Rewarder of those “ask, seek and knock.”

  1. As you fast, stay aware of how your mind, body and heart are responding to your want for food. Do you find it harder to handle stress, to control your temper, to relax at the end of the day or to simply enjoy life? How has food (or whatever it is you’re fasting from) subtly replaced God as your heart’s hope and trust?
  2. Allow the physical hunger and discomfort of fasting drive you to God. Use your basic need for food as a way of reconnection to your even more basic need for God. Go to God often and be quick to admit your need of Him in all areas of your life: physical, emotional and spiritual.
  3. While fasting, ask God to move in both general and specific ways. Generally, you can use the following two prayers to help shape your time with God. Specifically, take time to pray for the lost people in your life and make sure to mention their particular needs: physical, emotional and spiritual.

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Prayer and Fasting (2) - Transformational Fasting

As a means of personal transformation, fasting does two things: (1) it exposes our functional saviors (that is, our “idols” or false gods) and (2) it reorients our heart's true desire toward the one, true and living God as the only Being worthy of our love, trust and worship. John Piper, in the book A Hunger for God, writes about this two-fold nature of fasting:
The issue is not food per se. The issue is anything and everything that is, or can be, a substitute for God. . . . [W]e easily deceive ourselves that we love God unless our love is frequently put to the test, and we must show our preferences not merely with words but with sacrifice. . . . [Fasting] forces us to ask repeatedly: do I really hunger for God? Do I miss him? Do I long for him? Or have I begun to be content with his gifts? Christian fasting is a test to see what desires control us (18-19).

One of the reasons for fasting is to know what is in us . . . . In fasting it will come out. You will see it. And you will have to deal with it or quickly smother it again. When midmorning comes and you want food so badly that the thought of lunch becomes as sweet as a summer vacation, then suddenly you realize, “Oh, I forgot, I made a commitment. I can’t have that pleasure. I’m fasting for lunch too.” Then what are you going to do with all the unhappiness inside? Formerly, you blocked it out with the hope of a tasty lunch. The hope of food gave you the good feelings to balance out the bad feelings. But now the balance is off. You must find another way to deal with it (20).
In a similar vein, Richard Foster, in The Celebration of Discipline, records:
More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. . . . If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. David said, “I humbled my soul with fasting” [Psalm 35:13]. Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear—if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first, we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger. And then, we know that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ.
In other words, fasting tunes us in to what’s really motivating our hearts, what’s really driving our desires. Fasting alerts us (through physical, self-imposed deficiency) as to where in actuality we are looking to find comfort, joy, security and satisfaction. On the other hand, by forcing us to leave behind our false saviors, we are simultaneously invited (in conjunction with prayer, worship and God’s Word) to develop a fresh taste for God’s sufficiency as He comes to us in Christ.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the second reason to fast: missional fasting.

Prayer and Fasting (1) - Why Fast?

In preparation for the launch of re:Generātion’s Wednesday afternoon on-campus Life Group at Clackamas Community College, the members of the CCC Life Group are going to spend the next two Wednesdays committing themselves (amidst the business of everyday life) to prayer and fasting. In line with that aim, I’d like to first invite the other members of re:Generātion’s launch team to join with us in this venture. Second, in order to guide this process, over the next few days, I’ll be devoting some blog-time to examining what fasting is and what role it ought to play in our life and mission.

The pattern of frontloading a new ministry endeavor with prayer and fasting is well established and reaches all the way back to Jesus himself who, prior to the start of his public ministry, fasted in the wilderness of Judea for forty days and forty nights (Matt. 4:1-2). This same pattern was also carried on by his disciples in the book of Acts as the gospel began to spread (Acts 13:3). While most Christians are familiar with the practice of fasting—which we’ll define as the voluntary act of abstaining from food or other substances for a set period of time—very few of us really understand what fasting is about. Though the question, “Why fast?” is simple, it’s often a hard one to answer.

There are, in essence, two basic reasons why, as followers of Christ, we should fast: the first is transformational and the second is missional. (There is also, of course, a third, even more basic reason: namely that Scripture, and in particular, Jesus himself, tells us to. For our purposes, however, we’ll simply concentrate on the first two, which, in actuality, inform and shape the rationale behind the third.)

Tomorrow we’ll look at the first purpose of fasting: transformation.

January pre-Launch Overview

Here’s a list of the handouts from last Sunday’s (1/17) pre-Launch Meeting:

Praying for Gospel Centrality

The following prayer was one we put together for last month’s 5(hundred) Hours of Prayer to prepare for the launch of re:Generātion. I’ve been using it my devotions almost daily. It captures well the heart of what our aim in this, and all, ministry should be.

Gracious Father, make re:Generātion a gospel-centered community committed to conveying and communicating the centrality of Christ to the gospel and the gospel to all of life.

Guard and guide the hearts of both its members and its leaders for we are all prone to follows other gods—idols of our own making and design.

Grieve us, I pray, in those times when we forsake you, with a profound and godly sorrow and lead us in authentic lives marked by true repentance (2 Cor. 7:9).

Cause us to turn away,
From seeking our own good,
From exalting our own names,
From loving our own lives,
From playing our own gods,
From saving our own souls.

Be gracious, O Lord, according to your loving-kindness; according to the greatness of your compassion blot out our transgressions. Wash us thoroughly from their iniquity, and cleanse them from their sin!

Create within us clean hearts and renew right and steadfast spirits within us (Ps. 51:1-2, 10).

Make us righteous by your grace as a gift received by faith. Do not allow us to trust in our own works but in you, the God who justifies the ungodly through the redemption that is in Christ (Rom. 4:5).

Root us deeply, Father, in the reality that having been baptized into Christ we have been baptized into His death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through your own powerful glory, we too might walk in newness of life.

Unite us to your Son that sharing in His death we might also share in His life-giving resurrection.

Through the cross, dispel the power of sin and set us free from its slavery.

As Christ himself died to sin and now lives His life to you, so too teach us to consider ourselves in all our parts dead to sin but alive to you in union with your Son.

May sin, therefore, have no dominion over us, for we are no longer under the law, but under the reign of grace (Rom. 6:1-14).

And finally, Father, having experienced your gracious, gospel love, may we love in return.

Make us agents of your grace, sent out in the name of Christ to seek and save the lost.

What is re:Generātion?


New Life re:Generātion exists to engage young adults in gospel-centered community focused on worship, mission and leadership development.

What is re:Generātion?

Starting February 28th, re:Generātion will take shape around a weekly, Sunday-night gathering from 6:00-9:00pm made up of three, interlocking elements.

First: missionally-focused Life Groups. From 6:00-6:45pm, the church will be open and available as a meeting place for various small groups each of which will be organized around reaching a specific people-group with the gospel (i.e., recovering addicts, a particular neighborhood, CCC students, young, single-mothers, etc.).

Second: Word and Worship. From 7:00-8:45pm, there will be a time of public teaching and corporate worship aimed (in both style and content) toward communicating and applying the gospel to a 20-something audience. Because worship is a response to revelation, this “service” will be intentionally frontloaded with gospel-Word so that the last half or so can be spent in gospel-Worship.

Third: a prayer ministry. After the time of teaching, while most people will still be in worship, the Fireside Room will be open for prayer to those wanting to respond to the message or who came that night with special needs. A team of trained volunteers (led by Kevin Dickey and Crystal Carlson) will provide a welcoming and guiding presence in the prayer room in service to those who reach-out.

Who is re:Generātion for?

re:Generātion is aimed at:
  1. Reaching unchurched, young adults with the gospel.
  2. Training and equipping young adults at New Life Church for life and ministry.
  3. Training and equipping young adults from other churches for life and ministry in their local context (i.e., in their home-church).

re:Generātion Launch Schedule

January 17th
Launch Team Training; 6-8pm @ Riverfalls

January 24th
Launch Team Training; 6-8pm @ Riverfalls

January 31st
Launch Team Training; 5-7pm @ Riverfalls

February 7th
Super Bowl; Promote re:Generātion (No Meeting)

February 14th
Valentine’s Day (No Meeting)

February 21st
Pre-Launch Meeting; 6-8pm @ Riverfalls

February 28th
re:Generātion Launch; Doors Open @ 6pm

re:Generātion/5(hundred) Hours

re:Generation/5(hundred) Hours Promotional Video from New Life Church on Vimeo.

Core Values

re:Generātion exists to convey and communicate the centrality of Christ to the gospel and the gospel to all of life.


re:Generātion exists not to replace the local church but to embrace and support it by providing both small and large group gatherings committed to propelling their members into full participation within the body of Christ.

re:Generātion exists to catalyze a response to God that affects and penetrates every aspect of life.

re:Generātion exists to equip and send its members—as individuals and as Life Groups—into the world around them to “seek and save the lost.”

re:Generātion exists to produce and re-produce leaders by training, mentoring and deploying new leaders within re:Generātion itself and the church body at large.