A picture that makes my heart smile, a thought that will raise your eyebrow, and a challenge that will, well, challenge you

This picture makes my heart smile.  On the left is Gita Owens, one of the members of the church I pastored in Middleboro, Massachusetts.  On the right is Keith and Faye Morauske, a couple from the church I served in Richmond, Virginia.  Gita is a member of the new church I am working for in Florida, and Keith and Faye were visiting that same church last week while they were on vacation.

What’s beautiful about this picture is that rarely do we enjoy the privilege of being with people from multiple chapters of our life at the same time.  In this picture are people whose ancestors are from Germany, Hungary, England, and the Netherlands.  And yet we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  More than that, we partnered together to live out our love for God and people (in two different states and in two different decades).

Here’s the thought that should raise your eyebrow.  God, in His sovereignty, sees pictures like this all the time.   He sees the people we’ve known, the people we know, and the people we are yet to know, and can right now see the beautiful ways those people are all connected.  Here’s two examples.

Eyebrow-Raiser #1: 10 years ago Gita taught me to trust God and to believe God when I prayed.  I have prayed with and for Keith and Faye numerous times over the past 6 years. Only God knows how Gita prepared me to pray for the Morauskes.

Eyebrow raiser #2: Keith and Faye, and hundreds of other people from Gayton Baptist Church sent our family off with prayers and gifts so that we could start a church in South Florida.  As we are starting Mosaix Church, I am helping strengthen the worship ministry of Gita’s church, Grace Fellowship.  Much of what I am able to contribute is based on my years of experience leading people like Keith and Faye to worship the Lord at Gayton Baptist Church.

Now, if you’re still reading (is anyone still reading?), let me challenge you.

How much of your life is influenced by the unity you have with people who have gone before you?

We may not be able to predict the people we are going to meet in the future, but we do know hundreds of people from our past.  And, perhaps even more importantly, we can learn about how people followed God in the decades and centuries before ours.  Why does that matter? Because to God, we are all part of one big, happy, family.  People have already made all the same mistakes we have, people have already fought the same spiritual battles we have, they’ve studied the same Bible, and worshipped the same God.

My best friend’s church does a great job each week remembering people who loved Jesus a long time ago.  They are smart to do so because if they have an open mind and heart they will learn how to love Jesus better today through these precious spiritual ancestors.

In the words of a great Baptist hymn (the “she” in the first line refers to the present-day church):

Yet she on earth hath union
with God, the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.

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Watch Shawn lead his funky arrangement of “They’ll Know We Are Christians”

Check out our updated pages:

  • October’s The Month in Review for a brief update on the Allens.
  • Pray to find out how to pray for us as we continue to build Mosaix Church.

Click on the picture below to watch Shawn lead his funky version of “They’ll Know We Are Christians” at Grace Fellowship in October 2012.

Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

“We cannot help but loving as we look . . . ” (my most important post yet)

Amy Carmichael’s words have gripped me ever since I read them 2 months ago.

Born in Ireland, Amy began following Jesus Christ and developed a strong sense of social concern at a young age.  She went to India as a missionary in 1895 when she was 29 years old.   In 1901, she began working to eradicate the practice of children being dedicated to temple gods by marriage ceremonies.  Among other things, once a young girl is dedicated, it is permissible for men to take advantage of the young girl sexually.

a modern-day temple girl in India

Can you imagine living with or trying to serve people who are openly practicing this form of abuse?  It may startle you as it startled me to hear how Amy described those people:

“The thing we fight is not India or Indian, in essence or development . . . It is like a parasite which has settled upon the bough of some noble tree – on it, but not of it.  The parasite has gripped the bough with strong and interlacing roots, but it is not the bough.  We think of the real India as we see it in the thinker – the seeker after the unknown God, with his wistful eyes.  ‘The Lord beholding him loved him,’ and we cannot help loving as we look.”

Amy teaches me how to look at the hundreds of thousands of people who live near me who are living life in darkness.  She teaches me not to define people by their actions or attitudes, but by the potential for light to overwhelm their darkness.

How about you?  How do you feel about people who are doing things that disgust you?  People who hurt others and themselves over and over again?

Amy quotes Mark’s description of Jesus when he was talking to the rich young man (the story’s found in Mark 10).  Jesus looked at him, knowing his heart was so far from where it needed to be, and loved him.

Isn’t that hard to do?  Anyone who has been married longer than a week knows how challenging it is to love someone whose faults are so obvious.  It’s the source of a lot of marital conflict – spouses not knowing how to treat their spouse who sins so badly.   And that’s why people leave their spouses for other partners who seem to sin so much less!

So you haven’t left your spouse?  Well how about your neighbors or co-workers?  I want you to notice how you have left the people you live and work with because of how you feel about their sin.  Notice today how you feel when you look around your office, or when you drive by your neighbors.  How do you feel about the ones, you know, the ones who are really “bad” people.

We can tell we have left people when our words describe them in exclusively pejorative terms.  [How do you describe your co-workers, your neighbors, or your family to other people?]

Jesus didn’t leave anyone.  He genuinely loved “bad” people.  Amy Carmichael loved the “bad” people in India so much she knew that they could be changed if they followed Jesus Christ.

Let’s all start praying that God will fill our hearts with love for people who seem unlovable to us.  Think deeply through Amy’s words.

Or think deeply through Jesus’ words, who always says it better than I can:  Love your neighbor as yourself.   Even the “bad” ones.

Categories: Insights | 3 Comments

An Open Door

This morning I asked for folks to pray a very specific prayer: that God would open the door for me to share the message of Christ.  I went to work, and I started receiving emails notifying me that people had replied to the blog – they were praying.  All day I just kept looking forward to how God was going to answer that prayer.

After I read (or get ready for me to show my age – my kids and I took turns reading) “Officer Buckle”, I went outside to get in my amazing Acura loaner car (yes, the Hyundai is in the shop, AGAIN).  I had planned to drive somewhere and look for someone to tell about Jesus because I knew people had been praying about it all day.  (I am aware that it sounds crazy to go and look for someone to tell about Jesus, and I am aware of how sad it is that that sounds crazy).

My cool Acura didn’t even make it out of the driveway.  I saw someone who I knew was going through a really painful experience.  I expressed my genuine concern for him, and it turned into a long conversation with several members of his family.  To respect their privacy, I am not going to mention the intense struggles this family faces on a day to day basis.  But sharing about God’s love, that what we need is His forgiveness – even though we can’t earn it, sharing about God’s perspective on dying, and how following Christ is about more than a ticket to heaven . . . all of this flowed naturally into the conversation.

I don’t know any better than any of you exactly how God uses prayer to accomplish things, but it sure is exciting to watch it happen.   To all of you who prayed for the open door, thank you.

There is probably someone in your neighborhood hurting like the family in my neighborhood.  I pray that God will open a door for you to share the message of Christ. Get ready, and keep your eyes open – God loves to answer that prayer.

Categories: Experiences | 6 Comments

From 10 to 20

Wow.  In two weeks we have grown from 5 (the Allens) to 10 to 20 people.

I have been praying (and many of you across the country have been praying) that I would meet people who could be empowered to become leaders.  Leaders who could live UP, IN, and OUT, and inspire others to do the same.  Several of the people God has brought to these first two meetings seem to have the potential to be those kind of leaders.

As you continue to pray for leadership development, I want to ask you to focus your prayers this week, asking that God will grant me the opportunity to share the gospel with people who aren’t following Christ.

Would you pray these words over me this week?   (And while you’re praying for me, pray them for yourself . . .)

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ . . . 
Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders;
make the most of every opportunity.
Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.    (from Colossians 4)

If you prayed these words for me, would you simply write “praying” in the Reply box on the blog?  

Thank you so much.

Categories: Requests | 11 Comments

REPOST: Digital Influence, or, “the word on the street is to tweet”

Hilarious.  My post about digital influence had several links that didn’t work.  I love it.  Can’t take yourself or your digital influence too seriously.  All the links below work just fine now.  

The word on the street is that one of the most potent ways to build a following is through digital influence.  Since I set foot on the hot and wet Floridian soil, digital mediums I had only heard about have become personal acquaintances.   I want to invite you to check out a few of the new ways I am expanding my digital influence here in South Florida.

1) You are obviously familiar with my South Florida website and blog (jazzysaint.wordpress.com), which I will continue to update for people who want to keep up with the Allens and know how to support what we are doing (through prayer and/or resources).

2) You are also welcome to visit our  new church’s website www.mosaixchurch.com .   This website has been created for South Floridians to learn more about Mosaix Church, but you may find it interesting.  Those of you who have enjoyed following the South Florida blog may want to follow the blog on this new website as well.

3) You may want to visit and “like” the facebook page for our new church, www.facebook.com/mosaixchurchone

4) If you tweet, you can now follow me: @shawntallen

I am very thankful for the wisdom I continue to learn from others about how to use these tools.  Pray that God will use these digital influences to build His church.

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Digital Influence, or, “the word on the street is to tweet”

The word on the street is that one of the most potent ways to build a following is through digital influence.  Since I set foot on the hot and wet Floridian soil, digital mediums I had only heard about have become personal acquaintances.   I want to invite you to check out a few of the new ways I am expanding my digital influence here in South Florida.

1) You are obviously familiar with my South Florida website and blog (jazzysaint.wordpress.com), which I will continue to update for people who want to keep up with the Allens and know how to support what we are doing (through prayer and/or resources).

2) You are also welcome to visit our  new church’s website www.mosaixchurch.com .   This website has been created for South Floridians to learn more about Mosaix Church, but you may find it interesting.  Those of you who have enjoyed following the South Florida blog may want to follow the blog on this new website as well.

3) You may want to visit and “like” the facebook page for our new church, www.facebook.com/mosaixchurchone

4) If you tweet, you can now follow me: @shawntallen

I am very thankful for the wisdom I continue to learn from others about how to use these tools.  Pray that God will use these digital influences to build His church.

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1 Gathering Down, Infinity to Go

Thank you to the 5 folks who participated in my crazy idea of a prayer teleconference call.  It was powerful to be prayed for by folks from 900 miles away (and 1 from 1400 miles away).  If you missed this one, we’ll definitely do it again.  Stay tuned.

Then, it was on to the 1st gathering of Mosaix Church.  If you are trying to figure out exactly what we are doing at this point, we are trying to gather people at our house, cast vision for what the church will be, and inspire people to help make that vision a reality.

It might seem like a small thing, but at our 1st gathering we doubled our numbers from 5 to 10 (praise God!).  Besides getting to know each other and eating some of Sara’s delicious brownies, we talked about the mission of our new church: living UP toward God, IN toward the church, and OUT toward the world.

Then we actually did it.  We worshipped God through song (UP), prayed for several people’s specific needs (IN), and wrote cards to a very sick woman in Virginia (OUT).  That’s what church is supposed to be.  Learning truth and then living it.

The UP, IN, and OUT lingo should sound familiar to Gayton Baptist folks.    If it’s new to you, here’s a 2 minute video clip from the guy who created the lingo to catch you up:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKLaKy3c_Ws .

In 15 years of ministry, I have yet to find a more simple and all-encompassing summary of the Christian life.  That’s why we’re adopting it as Mosaix’s mission statement.

And I would encourage each one of you, before you go to sleep tonight, to audit your life using these three life-directions (UP, IN, OUT).  Figure out which is weakest in your life, and make a plan to do something about it.  Tell someone (who loves you enough to be honest with you) that you are going to try to focus your life more in that direction over the next 30 days.  When the 30 days are up, ask them if they’ve noticed a change.

Since the three directions are based on Jesus’ life, you should end up more like Jesus than when you started.

Categories: Experiences | 2 Comments

What to do if you forgot to pray . . .

So I shared several requests for prayer a few days ago.  But if you are like me, sometimes you forget to pray for things that you intended to pray for.

I have a solution for people like you and me:

Join me on Sunday afternoon at 3:00pm for a Prayer Teleconference Call.  What?!?!

What in the world is a prayer teleconference call? I don’t really know, but it’s a crazy idea I had, and it’s a call you might want to jump on.

I am inviting you to spend 15 minutes praying for Mosaix Church.  We will pray specifically for the 1st gathering of the church, which will be happening 3 hours later at 6pm.

Not everyone has to pray out loud, but we will all be able to pray together.  I am pumped about praying with people who I haven’t seen in a while!

So what do you do?  It’s simple:

On Sunday, October 7th, at 3:00pm EST, call  1-213-226-0400 
When prompted, enter the Conference Code: 490479

Until Sunday . . .

Categories: Requests | 2 Comments

That new church we’re starting has a name . . .

Now you can pray for our new church by name, Mosaix Church.

If you know me, you probably already “get” the name:  one of my highest values (and I got this from a guy named Jesus) is the beautiful tension between unity and diversity.  A mosaic communicates and celebrates unity in diversity.  Hence, Mosaix Church.  Much more to come about the name, but that should whet your appetite.

Now you can pray for our new church by name, Mosaix Church.  Yes, I know you already read that line, but I was serious.  Here’s why we need you to pray:

BREAKING NEWS: We are gathering people for the first time on Sunday, October 7th at 6pm.

1) Pray for us (kids included) as we focus this week on inviting people to join us on Sunday night.

2) Try to wrap your head around the hundreds of thousands of people who live in our county who are spiritually lost and/or not connected to a church.  Pray that some of them will come on Sunday . . .  like the grocery-store cashier I invited last night.  She doesn’t attend church much, but she’s been talking more to God lately.  She’s very interested in joining us – pray that she does.

3) Pray that God will soon draw a few people to Mosaix who I can equip to start our next church.  It may be you.  I’m not kidding.

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