Monday, February 28, 2011

Sharing the Gospel and Our Lives

Recently at our Progress:Church event, I was able to share a little about my thinking regarding where the Lord might take us in coming days (and weeks and years).  Sort of preliminary vision casting.  I praise God that many among our church community are excited as well, as we partner together for the advancement of the faith of the gospel of Jesus.

I also shared my heart concerning some of my convictions about pastoral ministry.  One of the primary principles comes from 1 Thessalonians 2.8, where Paul says to the church there:

We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

As we progress together toward the future of our church, my family’s desire is that we would serve side by side with our people in such a way that we’re not only verbally proclaiming the gospel, but that we’re sharing life together in demonstrating the gospel to and with each other.  My prayer is that we would continually remind each other of the grace of God in Christ, so that we are ready to consistently worship Him, and intentionally share about Him to others.

This is partnership in the gospel.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Truth about Tough Times

In spite of the fact that many today still falsely teach that becoming a follower of Jesus makes everything in life easier, the truth about tough times has been in God’s Word for a long time.  I could point to several different Scriptures, but none are more concise than some of the first few words of the biblical letter written by James.

Consider it all joy, my brothers, whenever you encounter various trials… (James 1.2).

He has more to say about what the trials do, and what we can do during trials, but before we even look any further, we should note that these few words make some glaring considerations.

1. It is certain that we will face difficulties.

The text says “whenever” you encounter various trials.  It does not say “if.”  Again, while many today paint a rosy picture of the Christian life, James is very clear: you will face trials.

2. Our difficulties will come in a variety of forms.

He proceeds to refer to the difficulties as “various” trials.  This means that they will come in multiple forms.  There is no way to predict what might happen, because from our perspective they will appear random, and will come in a variety of types.

3. Our difficulties may come suddenly.

His word “encounter” could have at least a couple of implications.  First, it appears that he is saying that there will be times when we come upon difficulties without any warning.  They will seem sudden, without any prior indication.

4. At times we will be surrounded by difficulties.

Another implication from “encounter” is that we may feel surrounded by troubles.  The old adage is that “troubles come in threes.”  But we all know some people who have difficulties that seemingly come in tens or twenties.  Sometimes we are encircled in trials, as if we had fallen into a pit, surrounded on every side.

You’re probably thanking me right now for the reminder of this gloomy-sounding prediction.

Very encouraging, huh?  But the reality is that Christ does not call us to Himself to merely temporarily escape the difficulties of this life.  No, He has far loftier plans, and that should encourage us.  He often lets us go through tough times, or even purposely sends us through them, so that we learn to trust Him more.  It’s about perseverance, which builds maturity in us (see vv. 3-4).  It’s called faith.  And yet, He doesn’t leave us hanging.  He tells us to ask for wisdom in trials, and then He promises to give it (see v. 5).

And ultimately He will grant the crown of life to those who persevere under trials and love Him by faith (see v. 12).

I’m thankful that God tells us the truth about tough times.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Series Underway

We have had a sweet time getting to know many among our new church family at Fellowship Church in Burlington, NC.  It has also been a blessing to meet some folks who have been away during parts of the church’s transitions.  This is a great time to engage or re-engage with the church as we have begun a new series at both our Sunday and Wednesday gatherings.

On Sundays, we are taking a tour of the letter to the Philippians that we are calling Unity for the Community.  This 7-part series will help us to see what we all have in common in order to be the church that God desires that we be: a community “contending together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1.27).  The worship gathering begins at 11am.

On Wednesdays, we are looking at the story of the Ezra-Nehemiah team as we see how God coordinates His own mission.  This series, called On a Mission, will help us to see how to get on board with God’s plans.  In Ezra and Nehemiah’s day, God’s people had been living as slaves in another land, and they were ready to rebuild a place of worship and an entire city: “I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.  They replied, ‘Let’s start rebuilding.’  So they began this good work” (Nehemiah 2.18).  This prayer and Bible study gathering begins at 6.30pm.

Here is a map to our location.

Let’s join in God’s great mission together!