Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Go To The Legacy Conference!

Lecrae says to go to the Legacy Conference...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eliminate Hurry...

This past Sunday I visited my sister & brother-in-law's church (I believe it is the Third Reformed Church of Kalamazoo). During the message the pastor told a story about a phone conversation that John Ortberg (pastor & author) had with a spiritual mentor of his. Towards the end of the conversation, he asked his mentor what type of wisdom and/or insights he could give him to grow in His intimacy with the Lord and to keep his heart devoted to Him. The spiritual mentors response was, "you need to do whatever you can to eliminate hurry from your life." In fact, the mentor made sure he emphasized that statement, eliminate hurry, by repeating it to him before the conversation ended.

I've been thinking the last few days about what that statement means, or rather what it would look like to eliminate hurry from my life. I do think that part of that means learning to say no, prioritizing your time, and potentially even cutting some things out of your schedule. However, I think that "eliminating hurry" can still include full days. The key is that the activity and the service flow out of times of communion with the Father, and out of an abiding in Christ (John 15:5).

We see the perfect example of this type of lifestyle in our ultimate example, Christ. We have looked at two key passages as a staff recently that illustrate the priority that Jesus placed on times of communing with the Father in prayer, in the midst of much activity. The two key verses (and the surrounding passages/context) are Mark 1:35 and Luke 5:16.

Mark 1:35 = And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.

Luke 5:16 = But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

If you look at the context of Mark 1, you will find that Jesus' early morning time of prayer (v. 35) followed a VERY full day of ministry. In the Luke 5 passage, just before verse sixteen it tells us that Jesus' fame was spreading and that His ministry was in high demand. Jesus modeled a perfect balance of being & doing, of worship & work, of still communion & showing compassion. His days seemed to be high-paced but He was not hurried. He was active, but He wasn't agitated. Why?...because He "often withdrew" and spent time with His Father.

Another place where you see this type of balance emphasized is in Luke 10. I greatly appreciate Warren Wiersbe's insights into this chapter. He states in his commentary on the book of Luke, "The three scenes in chapter 10 illustrate the threefold ministry of every Christian believer, and they answer the question, ‘What in the world does a Christian do?’ To begin with, we are the Lord’s ambassadors, sent to represent Him in this world (v. 1-24). We are also neighbors, looking for opportunities to show mercy in the name of Christ (v. 25-37). But at the heart of all our ministry is devotion to Christ, so we must be worshipers who take time to listen to His Word and commune with Him (v 38-42)." I love that - ambassadors, neighbors, worshipers.

I am praying for our staff this summer, that in the midst of full days we would be given the grace to eliminate hurry.

“Few things are as damaging to the Christian life as trying to work for Christ without taking time to commune with Christ (John 15:5).”
-Warren Wiersbe

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Friday Night Lights

It's happening!! Praise God!...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Renewed Burden For The Lost

As you know from my previous post, I recently preached a sermon entitled "Becoming A Courageous Church." The first point of my message was that the Church needs Courage to Communicate The Message. The main Scripture that I highlighted was 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2. It states, "for you yourselves know brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict." I love the part that says, "we had boldness in our God." In emphasizing the fact that I(& we) often times lack courage to open up my mouth, I pointed out that this passage and the Bible as a whole is clear that any boldness and/or courage that we need to share the gospel with people comes from God. The NIV translates this section, "with the help of our God we dared to tell you His gospel." It is a supernatural message, and we must rely on His supernatural power to share it. In other words = His Message + His Power = Boldness/Courage. This is what we see throughout the book of Acts in the early church.

During the sermon I challenged the congregation of Living Hope to ask God for divine appointments during the week to share their faith with co-workers, family members, neighbors, etc. I then told them that I was going to do the same. I did, and God definitely answered my prayers. During my Greyhound ride from Oakland to Los Angeles, God gave me the opportunity to have lengthy conversations with two different brothers about Christ. I was able to open up the Scriptures with them. It was awesome! Then on my flight back to Chicago I had a great conversation with the guy that was sitting next to me. He is a Buddhist, and we chopped it up about issues of faith and the gospel for probably the last hour of the flight. I don't highlight these recent conversations to illustrate what a great evangelist I am, but rather to emphasize the fact that if we ask God for divine appointments to share our faith with those whom our lives intersect with, He will answer that prayer.

Over the course of my time in California, I also began reading a book entitled "One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven" by Mark Cahill. The author of this book is clearly "on fire" to share Christ with the world. God has been using this book, my time in the Word, and these recent experiences to give me a renewed sense of burden for people who don't know Christ. I am praying that God will continue this work in me.

Here are a couple of quotes that I have come across in the last few weeks that have impacted me.

"If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned or unprayed for."
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Leslie Newbigin in his book “The Gospel In A Pluralist Society” states that, “The Christian community is characterized by hope and that hope is the oxygen of the soul.” That means that many of the people with whom we live and interact are suffocating, and the oxygen of the gospel is their only hope.”

Christians Must Suffer

This is a longer clip (10 mins or so), but it is definitely worth watching.