Exciting News!

Have you ever come face to face with an opportunity that is more perfectly suited to your current situation than anything you could have set up yourself?

The kind of opportunity that brings all of your seemingly disconnected visions and projects together into a cohesive focus. The kind of opportunity that allows you to use all of the strengths and gifts God gave you while also teaming up with amazing, like-minded people.

Have you been there?

Well, that is exactly what happened to us.

Why Be A Better Neighbor Series #7: Worry Free Halloween

We realize Halloween just passed, and it seems like it might be a little late to be writing about how to have a worry free Halloween. But, before you stash this article away to be read next October, you need to hear us out. 

We're not talking about some kind of quick tip to make sure you don't come across any last minute costume malfunction. Or the secret to quick and easy decorating. Or even a foolproof way to make sure you have exactly the right amount of candy for the kids.

No. This week in the Why Be A Better Neighbor Series, we're talking about how neighborhood relationships over the next 356 days will make your next Halloween more enjoyable...

Don't Worry Whose At Fault. What Can You Do?

When a person’s life is marked by some kind of deformity or hardship, it is human nature to assume someone is to blame for that person’s suffering. This is no less true today than it was during the First Century, though it might have been more openly discussed then.

As Jesus and his disciples pass by a man who has been blind his entire life, Jesus is asked whose fault it is that this man suffers. Is his blindness the result of something he did wrong, or is he suffering for something his parents did? But, Jesus says this man’s blindness is not the result of sin by anyone. He makes them understand that not all suffering is a result of sin.

It’s easy to read this and assume we would never make the same mistake his disciples do. But, stop and think for a minute...

Wine And A Whip: This Is How Jesus Celebrates

The second Chapter of John's Gospel portrays two events. And, we see Jesus behaving in two very different ways at these two events. These are probably events you're familiar with. They are two of the most well-known  in Jesus' lifetime. 

But, we're willing to guess that you've never actually thought about how they relate to each other. In these two events, Jesus responds in completely opposite ways. As you read about the way he responds, we want you to think about how you would have responded to each. Because, sadly, Jesus' responses are not the kind we typically expect from modern Christians in similar situations.

Why Be A Better Neighbor Series #6: Default Security System

"Hey, someone just broke into your garage and took your bike."

That is not the first sentence we hoped to hear when we saw that our neighbor was calling Joe's phone. But those were the first words out of his mouth. And, the next thing he said reminded us of how amazing our neighborhood is. 

Check out the rest of the story to see what happened and how you can have a neighborhood as awesome as ours!

If Your Brother Sins Against You...What Did Jesus Really Mean?

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault...And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." -Matthew 18:15-17  

What does this verse mean to you?

If you have heard anyone talk about this verse while dealing with a Christian who continues to sin after being repeatedly called out on it, then the point was probably that you should stop spending time with them. Treat them as if they are no longer part of your community, and have nothing to do with them.

But is that really what Jesus was trying to say? Nope! That's not what Jesus was saying at all. And here are two reasons we believe this...

What Does "Not Neglecting to Meet Together" Really Mean?

Hebrews 10:24-25 says:

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

And this is usually quoted when someone is trying to explain the importance of weekly church attendance. But, is that really what God is trying to say here?

Is this really a command for Christians to sit in rows in an auditorium singing together and listening to a sermon? Or is it something more than that?

Why Be A Better Neighbor Series #5: Dirty Work

"Dad! He flushed my Spider-Man down the toilet!" was the scream that started it all. But we'll come back to that in a minute.

It can be easy for Christians to get so caught up in giving of ourselves that we don't allow others to return the favor. This is especially true for those of us who feel called to make a positive impact in the lives of those we interact with.

But, when we do this, we risk missing out on amazing lessons that others can teach us. Did you know Christians can learn a lot about Jesus and his character from those who do not call themselves Christians?

This Is Not The Church We Expected To Start...But We Love It!

"It's not the church you planned on starting, but you have a pretty good congregation here." - said our neighbor while he helped clean up after our weekly block party.

He was right!

When we moved into this neighborhood, we were in the middle of starting a new church in Midtown Sacramento ("church planting," for those who need to hear the insider lingo).

We were renting space from an established local church. We were leading a couple midweek Bible studies. Within a few months of moving into our current house, we left flyers on our new neighbors' doors asking them to help our church collect school supplies for a local collection we partnered with. The flyers had our church logo on it and everything. Pretty official.

But it didn't take long for God to show us the real reason he had moved us to this particular area of Midtown...

Who Cares About Your Stupid Christian Bumper Sticker? - Unfiltered Joe

DISCAIMER: This is an Unfiltered Joe article...proceed with caution.

How do you display your faith? Is it obvious to everyone around you that you follow Jesus? Or is that something that only those close to you can see? And is one better than the other?

How should we demonstrate our faith in Jesus? What impact does this decision make?

My feelings about this subject have changed significantly over the last couple decades.

Let me explain...

Why Be A Better Neighbor #4: Handyman Skills You Lack

Christians have a tendency to act like we always have it all together. Like nothing could ever go wrong for us, and we don't need nothing from nobody.

Sometimes, we get so focused on offering help to other people that we become unwilling to allow them to do the same for us. And we rob them of the opportunity to bless us.

Well, at some point, we have to come to terms with reality.

You see, there are 2 kinds of people in this world...

Leave People Better Than They Were: We Made It Easy For You

Today is an exciting day for us.

Bless Like Jesus: Stop Trying to Convert and Simply Show People They Matter, the book we wrote and published exclusively on Kindle in January, is now available for purchase in paperback! So, for all of you who have told us you want a physical book to hold in your hand, now is your chance.

PLUS: if you still haven't grabbed a digital copy, we are celebrating the release of the paperback by giving away the Kindle version of the book for FREE! 

And, that is not the most exciting thing that happened today...

5 kinds of christians that cause the most damage

Do you know the most common reason people aren't interested in Jesus? It's Christians. That's right. The main thing standing between an unbeliever and Jesus is most likely a Christian.

We know that nobody following Jesus wants to be the reason others refuse to do the same. So we made a list of all the things we could think of that a Christian might do to turn others away from Jesus. Because, if you're developing a missional lifestyle, then you'll want to do everything you can to avoid pushing people further away from him, right?

Now, we know that sometimes people are just turned off by Christianity regardless of what we do. But, we still need to make sure we aren't doing anything to give them more reasons to reject Jesus.

So, we decided to count down the 5 most damaging kinds of Christians and...

Why Be A Better Neighbor #3: Keep You Out Of Trouble

As Christians, we typically think of helping people in ways that everyone would agree are good. We fix something. Or we provide an item or service. We teach someone a skill or a concept. We provide help in ways that everyone would agree is good.

But what about when the kind of help someone needs borders on the line of being illegal? Can you still offer that kind of help? Would you be okay accepting that kind of help?

Well, luckily for us...

Published in 3 Months: Behind the Scenes of Our First Book

You probably already know this, but we published a Kindle book in January titled Bless Like Jesus: Stop Trying to Convert and Simply Show People They Matter. What you might not know is that we are re-releasing the book in paperback next month with a new foreword from our friend Scott Nelson and a few other added bonuses. 

Since the first release of the book, we've been asked a lot of questions about...

Are you Part of the Problem or the solution?

A week has passed since the unfortunate deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men who lost their lives during contacts with police officers. We have been following much of the aftermath from these two events and talking with people we know as we tried to decide on the best direction for this article. 

There are many things that could be said, and most of them have been said many times over. But, since our focus here is to help Christians ...

Why Be A Better Neighbor #2: Eliminate Unwanted Guests

What do you do when somebody shows up to your house that you aren't comfortable with? If you're going to start hosting events for your neighbors and other people you meet (like we talked about in this article), this is going to happen to you at some point.

And when it does, we hope you've developed a close bond with your neighbors.

Today we're going to share a story from our first year of truly living on mission...

Do You Care More About Their Sins Than Jesus?

How do you think Jesus wants you to interact with non-Christians who have a different understanding of morality than you do? Does he want you to yell at them about their sin? Make them feel terrible until they repent? Anyone familiar with the crap spewing out of the mouths of the Westboro Baptists knows that’s not right...

Introducing Unfiltered Joe and Simply Sarah

When we started writing, we anticipated that everything we wrote would be a joint venture. That one of us would write and the other would add to each article, book chapter, and anything else we published.

After all, the missional life we live is one that we have grown into together. We've helped shape each other's thinking, and we are a team in every sense. 

But, sometimes...

Why Be A Better Neighbor #1: Share Gourmet Meals

You like to eat, right? Of course you do. Everyone likes to eat.

What if we told you that you could be more missional in the way you live and enjoy better meals in the process? What if you could have a feast with your neighbors without breaking the bank?

This past Memorial day we...