Fight Clubs – Gospel Centered Discipleship

One of the things we strive for at CityView Church (where I am currently the Pastor for Spiritual Formation) is to live authentic Christ-focused lives that emanate the gospel in every way possible.  One way that we’ve decided to equip our people with is through implementing Fight Clubs – a type of gospel-centered accountability and discipleship group that we borrowed from some guys down at Austin City Life in Austin.  Take the time to check out www.gospelcentereddiscipleship.com for more details and to stay up to speed on what these guys are doing.  It’s a tremendous ministry and it’s been huge for me personally.

What are Fight Clubs?
The basic idea of a Fight Club is that you have a group of two or three same-gender Christians who are committed to growing in Christ in accordance with Scripture. These folks will meet regularly (at least once ever couple of weeks) and study the Bible with a direct focus on sharpening each other and living out God’s Word.

There are three rules for Fight Clubs:
– Know your sin (Where are you inclined to sin, what form does that sin take, and what is ultimately the source of that sin?)
– Fight your sin (How do you go about living in obedience/victory/redemption rather than just treating the symptoms of your sin?)
– Trust your Savior (What does the Bible say about you, your sin, and Jesus?)

The format for a Fight Club is “Text-Theology-Life” – in other words, studying God’s word in such a way as to put it directly into our lives. To begin the meeting time there is a focused Bible study (I recommend about a chapter’s worth of reading or less with a few discussion questions) and from that content the group deduces some theological concepts about God, Jesus, and themselves. The group then discusses actionable items to put into their lives before the next meeting or for a longer-term set of goals. From then on, they keep each other accountable to those items and pray for each other throughout the week. The next meeting is another section of Scripture and the same process of gleaning theological understanding that the group can put into their lives.

Where Do I Start?
The best thing you can do to get oriented to the topic of accountability/discipleship groups is to pick up a copy of Jonathan Dodson’s book “Fight Clubs.” You can only find it here for $8.50 plus shipping. If that doesn’t work for you or if you’re not in the mood to read 60 pages, download a copy of this “Fight Clubs Overview” document.

The next thing you should do is take a look at this document “Fight Clubs Orientation” that consists of bullet-point take-aways from the book, my heart for this ministry, some practical how-to tips for making sure Fight Clubs are done well, and finally some potential road blocks and benefits of doing Fight Clubs.

What’s Next?
Now that you’ve gotten a (hopefully) decent understanding of what we’re after, it’s time for you to get into your own Fight Club if you’re up for it. Talk with people that are in your life group or other close friends at CityView about starting up a Fight Club and contact us if you have any questions. If you don’t have anyone in particular that you’d like to start a Fight Club with, let us know and we’ll do our best to introduce you to other people who are in the market for a Fight Club.

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Slavery: Redemption Groups Immersion part 4

[A note of introduction:  I am indebted to Pastor James Noriega of Mars Hill Church for quite a bit of the material in this post. It is a distillation of the notes that I took during his session at the Redemption Groups Immersion I attended in Seattle a couple of months ago.]

This past weekend I had the opportunity to teach our Redemption Groups session on the Golden Calf – Volunteering for Slavery.  Now, most people in the United States don’t bow down to crafted pieces of metal or wood and burn offerings on an alter to them on any kind of regular basis.  But idolatry is very much alive and well in our culture – much more so than we would like to admit.  And here I would also like to distinguish the kind of idolatry I’ll be addressing from ‘crackberry’ addictions and being a slave to your email inbox.  I’d like to go deeper and cut more to the heart of the issue of idolatry rather than saying that certain behaviors or creations are bad.

So, for the purposes of this post, I’ll consider an idol to be:

  • Anything that is more important to you than God.
    • – What do you do to the exclusion of loving and following Christ?
    • – What comes between you and developing your relationship with God?
  • Anything that absorbs your heart and mind more than God.
    • – What do you think about or have a love for more than Jesus?
  • Anything that you look to provide only what God can give.
    • – Where/what/who do you seek approval, affection, love, atonement, satisfaction, peace, security from?
  • Anything that gives you meaning and significance other than God.
    • – How do you introduce or describe yourself?
    • – What do you base your identity in?
  • Anything that gives you happiness other than God.
    • – Where are you most happy?
    • – What defines what happiness and joy are in your life?

And we sign ourselves up for voluntary slavery to these idols by:

  • Trading the Truth for a lie (Romans 1:25)
    • – Knowing what Truth (theologically and biblically correct worldview) is and still choosing something that is contrary to it.
  • Being seduced by a lie
    • – Knowing Truth but listening to and being wooed by something else.
  • Choosing to be a victim by your slavery
    • – Explaining away or justifying a victim mentality (“I’m so abused and hurt that I don’t think I’ll ever get out of this sin”)
    • – Being victimized, though it is horrid and awful, is no excuse to continue making the situation worse.
  • Allowing something else to give you identity
    • – Your sin does not determine who you are (divorcee, rapist, addict, pornographer, rape victim, etc.)
    • – God determines who you are, not someone who has either sinned against you or who has endured your sin against them.

Is your sin defining you?
Are you allowing sin to happen in your life?
Are you in voluntary slavery?

A story about Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War holds that he bought a slave woman at an auction and then immediately set her free.  She asked if she was free to go wherever she wanted and do whatever she pleased, and he said that she indeed was.  She then said that she would follow him wherever he went, because she wanted to be with the person who set her free rather than anyone else. (1)

This illustrates the principle that we find in Romans 6:17-18:
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (emphasis added)

So for our situations – no matter what they are – where else would we rather be than with the one who has freed us from our slavery to sin?  What more desirable set of circumstances could we find ourselves in than to be with the one who exercised his authority and power to release us from our pitiable situation?

Repent, be reconciled to God because his grace is immense, his love is pure, and his desire is for us to live in joy-filled freedom.

This repentance process should look something like this:
–    turn your heart away from your sin and toward God
–    understand the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the weight of your sin against an almighty and holy God
–    confess your sin to God, your community of believers, and anyone affected by it
–    restore any damages or losses that have been incurred because of your sin (this is NOT atonement, but rather only repairing what you’ve damaged)
–    rejoice in your forgiveness and freedom, and praise God for giving you the gift of repentance

1 – This story occurs in many places, but I found a pretty good rendition of it here:  http://www.leaderu.com/common/porn.html

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D-Day + 66 years – This Day in History, June 6th

Today is a big day for me as an (amateur) historian, a Texas Aggie (whoop!), and as an American.

One of the most iconic moments in United States history occurred 66 years ago today:  the amphibious assault on the Bayeux region in Normandy, France which began the Allied invasion of Europe (‘Operation Overlord’) in World War II.

Late the night before on June 5th, several airborne divisions landed behind enemy lines and got into position for the main assault the following morning.  Early in the morning on June 6, 1944, 5,000 vessels carrying over 160,000 Allied soldiers (nearly 75,000 Americans) landed at various beachheads along the northern French coast.  Though it was by no means the beginning of American involvement in World War II (we’d already fought in the Pacific and North African theaters), it did represent the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

A whole host of factors came together in a perfect storm to make the D-Day landing a success, including: Hitler sleeping late because he was coming down from the moral equivalent of a crystal meth high, a brilliant fake-out involving General George S. Patton and a cardboard army in southern England (‘Operation Quicksilver’), and a daring assault involving a 100 ft. climb up a rocky cliffs under enemy fire.

Though there are many cool stories surrounding the D-Day invasion, I’d like to tell you of one in particular that struck me as extra awesome.  Pointe du Hoc lay directly between the American-assigned Omaha and Utah beaches on the western edge of the Allied assault.  There, on a ridge overlooking the sea was a large fortified battery of German artillery with a commanding view of the entire invasion force.  After a bit of pre-invasion bombing, Lieutenant Colonel James Earl Rudder (a Texan) led a force of Army Rangers up a100 foot steep, rocky climb under fire to directly attack the enemy artillery position.  Rudder lost half of his men in the initial assault, but after capturing their objective held off enemy counterattacks for two days until American soldiers from the Utah beachhead fought their way to the point.  ‘Rudder’s Rangers’ ultimately suffered 70% casualties (Rudder himself wounded twice), but accomplished a pivotal objective in the Normandy invasion which helped the largest amphibious assault in history to succeed.

Rudder went on to become one of the most decorated soldiers of World War II, and also served as the president of Texas A&M University – my alma mater – from 1959-1970 (the main auditorium and meeting room complex at A&M bear his name).

I had the opportunity to visit the Bayeux and Caen area on a long weekend during a study abroad trip in the summer of 2004 (I missed the 60th anniversary ceremony by just a couple of days), and it is a beautiful area.  The rich history of a united Allied effort against a tyrannical dictator and an oppressive fascist permeated the beautiful rural region, which still bears the scars of naval and aerial bombardment.

So whether you love history or Texas Aggies, or don’t care about either, please join me in remembering and honoring the heroism that 66 years ago today helped establish the freedom in which we as Americans now live.

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