I just came across a recent post at Bill Donahue’s blog titled Community as God’s Central Program. In this post Bill hits on some very strong tenets of community and the value of community not only to our culture, but for our theology as well. Opposing a “concordance approach” to understanding God, Bill uses Stan Grenz as a jumping off point for merging the core ideas of community and kingdom of God. He concludes:

Restoring the relational core to our theological understanding of the Kingdom will create an environment for guiding one another into truly redemptive relationships with God and others. And it will dramatically influence the way we “do church” for decades to come. That’s my hope.

It seems that the practice of inter-dependence has been lost within a culture of self-reliance. From the earliest ages we’re challenged to be anything but dependent—which when applied correctly is very healthy, but taken to extremes can lead to isolation. The notion of “truly redemptive relationships” referenced above must become part of our small-group DNA. Give this post a read and consider the implications. You can read the the whole post by clicking here. Follow Bill Donahue on Twitter at @bdonahue80.

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Merry Christmas! You can probably blame the lack of activity around here on the fact that LifeWay empties out faster than you can say, “Ho ho ho” during the Christmas season.

We do, however, stay somewhat active on Twitter, so find us there!

The Navigator: @rickhowerton

Agonistes: @bcdaniel

Nomad: @chinavols

Philo: @philbdavis

Syeira: @vanderbiltwife

You can also follow Steve Gladen, the general editor of Small Group Life, or Pete Wilson, who was featured in the Canvas videos.

I am a Twitterer.  I tweet therefore I am…

1) instantly alerted to new small group blogposts

2) learning of and connecting with other small group types not daily but minute by minute

3) constantly receiving info telling me of a new small group book that has been published, a small group conference that has just been announced or a concept that a small group peer just thought of

4) asking a question and getting multiple answers back within minutes from other small group pastors and gurus

If you’ve been considering twittering but have been saying things like, “I’ll go into that kickin’ and screamin.” it’s time to put on your steel-toed boots and enter a sound-proof room. Or maybe your phrase has been, “I’ll start twittering when I become one of those nerdy tech types.” Buy an iPhone, replace your PC with a Mac and get a t-shirt that announces, “I Tweet.”   Or maybe you’ve been saying, “When I have time I’ll join the twitter movement.” You may find out, like I have, that being a twitterer may save you time as you are constantly getting the answers to your questions (or being directed to a blogpost or article that can) in 140 characters instead of having to read an entire book.

Because I long to learn from everyone doing good small group ministry, I am constantly working to build my small group tweep list. Below you’ll find 48 small group pastors and gurus that I am connecting with through Twitter. If you’re the small group point person for your church and you don’t see your name (these are in alphabetical order) and you twitter, please, oh please send me your twitter account name so I can follow you by responding to this blogpost. Another option…. go online and follow me (rickhowerton). When I get your request to follow my tweets I’ll choose to follow you.

Feel free to use this list to build your own. I think every person on this list would be honored if you join this network of gifted small group aficionados.

@adamworkman

@AlviRadjagukguk

@AlanDanielson

@allenwhite

@bdonahue80

@benreed

@BrettEastman

@carybranscum

@chiapperino

@colonkevin

@DaveTreat

@DavidBuckner

@DavidLermy

@deantwan

@doyleBrookshire

@Eddiecberry

@eddiemosley

@ericdunaway

@gary4n

@gatortodd

@gregmbowman

@heatherzempel

@HerschelT

@Huddude

@JBBRAUN

@jimbotts

@jimmeldrim

@joelcomiskey

@johncatkinson

@johnratz

@JoshSurratt

@kedamak

@maclake

@marcharvey

@markchowell

@MattWHarmer

@mbstockdale

@micmac1900

@mscottboren

@pkspratt

@reid_smith

@RGNeighbour

@RicDiefenderfer

@scottim

@ScottWilliams

@secondchair

@SteveGladen

@timweems

justice2It often surprises me when I Twitter (@chinavols), or post on Facebook, which posts get the most attention.  I can always count on a lot of “thumbs ups” if I mention my children or if I brag on my wife.  If I post on my favorite college football team (Go Vols!), I can get a lot of cheers as well as jeers for sure. But the topic most likely to bring lengthy columns of conversation is politics. Since that’s such a small part of my life (especially considering the fact that I lived in a communist country and couldn’t have an opinion for eight years ;-)) it seems really strange when I look back and see it monopolizing my space. And then I’m even more surprised to see me filling other friends’ spaces in the same way! So why is politics one of the “big three”? What is at the heart of politics that brings out our passion?

While trying to think through this as objectively as I am able, it seems that at the heart of politics is really the idea of justice. Regardless of which side of the aisle we are on or which side of the issues, at the heart of most political debate lies the concept of justice. Those on the Right want justice for unborn babies. People on the Left want justice for unwed mothers. Those on the Left want minorities to be given an extra boost to be fair. And those on the Right think it is unfair to give one group a leg up. Conservatives see war as a way to bring justice to bear. And Liberals see war bringing much injustice to innocent people. While I have strong opinions about all of these political issues, for once I want to stand on the fence and try to understand what really makes us tick…all of us.

It seems that it really boils down to a sense of justice that dwells deep within our souls. Perhaps it is a key attribute of the image of God that remains with us, quietly working while waiting to fully come alive. Whether it is rightly or wrongly applied by one side or another, I will leave for another day or just leave for you to decide. One thing is certain: we are powerfully moved by our strong desire for justice.

The Bible has much to say about justice in the Old Testament and the New.  Deuteronomy 16:20 reminds us to “Pursue justice and justice alone, so that you will live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.” One of the key things that help me to step back and stop vilifying those who disagree with me on political issues is to remember that there is something deep inside them that echoes the heart of God. When awakened by the Spirit of God, redemption will make all things new and hopefully we will all make decisions, political and otherwise, that fully reflect His righteousness.

So, what are some things that you recognize in those with whom you disagree that are really a glimmer of the heart of God?

Any other thoughts on justice?