Category Archives: Church

In the Moment, I forget the Past

Sometimes, in the moment in life of something hard or difficult, I forget what God has done with me in the past. In a moment of fear or trepidation, I forget that the God I serve has been a God of peace and wisdom and has led me through these types of times in my life.

I saw the following come across my facebook newsfeed from Youversion. I have been doing daily readings with Youversion for quite some time (because they are delivered to my phone and they can be read out loud to me as I drive). I am really looking forward to this particular five-day reading of God’s Word because it will remind me of God’s faithfulness in the past. Personally, it’s something that I must get better at if I am going to celebrate God’s goodness in the future!

If you are reading the five-day plan with me, comment below!

Click here for the Five Day Reading plan focused on God’s faithfulness in the past.

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On our way to Austin

We are headed down to Austin (Chris Derstein and I are headed down a day early) to visit with Hill Country Bible Church to discover what is happening in their Church Planter residency program. God has given us a unique calling to multiply churches that multiply churches to reach our county for Christ. And on Sunday night, we voted on a new strategy that included our church moving towards a residency program that trains and equips church planters.

I’m excited about the new strategy and hope you are as well! You can view Chris Derstein discussing where we are at and what we are doing below! 🙂
http://www.facebook.com/v/544829645969


Jesus in the Old Testament

At youth group this summer, we have been discovering Jesus in the Old Testament. Those of you that are biblical scholars may argue that “Jesus was never in the Old Testament, at least not his name or his person!” And I would agree. But Jesus is all over the Old Testament in terms of pictures of Jesus through the sacrificial system, references to Jesus in prophecy, finding the trinity throughout scripture, and seeing people long for a Messiah. I have loved searching scripture to find places where the gospel is pointed to and then illustrated in the Old Testament. The people of God often lived far from him (Israelites) but they were still loved by him and accepted by him as his chosen people. God made a way for them to be in relationship with him. It was temporary and it was graphic but the sacrificial system was a beautiful picture of ‘perfect’ lambs and animals being slain and taking the punishment of sin, which was death. They took the wrath of God and satisfied God in a way that he could dwell among the people that he had chosen.

Throughout all eternity, the plan was to have Jesus, a member of the Trinity, come to earth and live a perfect life. It was the plan to have Jesus be the perfect, spotless lamb among sinful, messed up people. It pleased God to crush him (Isaiah 53.10) and it was oppressive to Jesus. I was reminded again last night of the horror of being rejected by God that Jesus experienced. As Jesus was taking his final gasps of air, he cries out asking God why he had forsaken him. It was this moment that defines what we don’t want to have happen in our lives because of our sin. We don’t want to be in a place where God forsakes us (in a just way) because of our sin. We have to have a way out. We have to escape the punishment for sin, which was illustrated in that moment as Jesus was taking the sin of the world on his shoulders and accepting the wrath of God.

The ironic part about this moment is that it was a moment of rejection for Jesus and, at the same time, it was a moment of acceptance for the people of God. Those that believe in Jesus, count on him as the payment for sin, and follow him, God accepted them as Sons and Daughters (Galatians 3:23-24). Jesus paid the penalty for those that desire to know God and follow him.

Not only did Jesus pay the penalty, he also overcame death. He beat the physical limitations of what sin brings. His body was brought back to life and he resurrected. He beat both spiritual and physical death because he was part of the Trinity, because he IS fully God and fully man.

This beautiful picture of the gospel, the good news, is why I follow Jesus and have devoted my life to him. The Old Testament is replete with examples of our sin and the punishment that we deserve. It is full of illustration of what Jesus did for his people highlighting the sacrificial system that the people of God had to live out. And I love to see the parallels of God’s Word. What parallels do you see between the Old Testament and Jesus? I would love to read what you have discovered here.


Good Friday Service

At 6:30 on Friday evening, our church is having a Good Friday service. I have no idea why it’s called Good Friday, because frankly, it’s not good at all. It’s the day that my Lord and Savior was put on the cross to bleed, be mocked, hung, suffocated, and died, all because I sinned. All because I did things that were outside of what he wanted for me. And that’s not good. As I have reflected on the story and the account of Jesus crucifixion and death, I have been struck time and time again with the veracity that Jesus was in emotional, spiritually AND physical pain. He was overwhelmed with grief, sorrow, anguish. He was separated from God for a moment in what seemed to Jesus (I speculate) like an eternity, and he was rejected physically by men and afflicted. Beaten to the point of not being recognized, he was taken to the cross to die as a criminal. And I should have been there on that cross.

On Friday night, we will remember and experience some of the pain that Jesus took in our place. We will go back through the last several hours before Jesus died and just get a glimpse of what we deserve in all truthfulness. And then remember that it is GOOD Friday. The fact that we won’t and haven’t experienced what Jesus experienced that day is good. In fact, it’s great news that Jesus made a way for us to come close to the Father and be in relationship with him. That’s good, great, wonderful, way beyond my ability to comprehend.

I look forward to experiencing this with folks at West E. Free Church. Come on Friday evening at 6:30 and park in the back parking lot. Come through the back canopy doors and into the gym to begin this experience of Jesus’ pain. It will be good. But the Salvation that Jesus offered is amazing!


Daily Devotions for Folks at WEFC

We are currently in our series called “Built to Last” where we talk about issues in our lives that need to be addressed to be fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. One of the things that helps each of us grow is time with God and looking at his word and allowing him to speak to us. We have put together daily devotions for the series that you can check out at www.devos.westefc.org . There are family devotions there as well. You might take some time and check them out.


passionate, irrational, costly

We had the opportunity to hear Duffy Robbins speak last night. The man has been doing youth ministry for a LONG time and seems to have the spirit of God working in him and through him as he communicates from the stage (not to mention, he is really funny which makes things interesting.) He talked about Philippians 2 where Jesus gave everything (coming down to earth, being a man, and being God at the same time), humbled himself and became a servant. Duffy had some great things to say about the concept of this love that Jesus displayed for his people.

My prayer has been since we got here is that God would teach us to love teenagers better and last night was a great reminder of some things.

Love is

1. Passionate – We tend to overuse the word “passion” but Duffy illustrated the word passion with his Father who cared for his mother until she died an untidy death and he was taking care of her. Her love was worth the discomfort and pain of really “loving” her with passion. We say passion is some sort of crazy emotion about something and Duffy defined passion as more of an action.

2. Irrational – This is where I really started listening well. He said that Jesus love was and is completely irrational. He came to live and to die for people that would reject him. How irrational is that? He came to ask people to love God and love others…knowing that people wouldn’t…How irrational is that? And then he related it to youth ministry. Youth ministry is sometimes irrational. If you ask folks that don’t know much about working with teenagers and even more with those that do, they will look at you with an odd look on your face and say something like, “you do what?” It’s an irrational work of God that we have the privilege of loving teenagers. And I’m excited to continue that particular call in my life.

3. Costly – Peter said, “Jesus, I’ll do for you.” And yet, one only dies once. Duffy said, “God doesn’t need people to die for him today (he may in the future), he needs people to live for him.” (My favorite quote.) The life of following God is costly, absolutely costly, and if I am to truly live a sacrificial “costly” life it means giving up my relational comfort, my addictions and battles with things that I want to do, power in the traditional sense, and all control of who I am and want to be. I think of a people that I have studied that have spent their whole lives working with a few people, given up the “right” to success that they seemed to have and let their lives “cost” for the sake of love. I love that concept and I want to love others and God in a costly manner (now that I have said it in a blog, there is some accountability that can happen with that.)

Duffy was great. I look forward to the next 2.5 days at the conference and am itching to get to the first session. This morning Tim Timmons plays, Derwin Gray speaks, and Rick Lawrence will lead us in devotion.

God, work in our hearts today. May you be glorified and honored as we seek to love you and others in light of your love for us.


Church Planting Conference – Day 1

As a church, West E. Free has a dream to daughter churches that daughter churches to reach our county (Sedgwick) for Jesus Christ. This is a dream that was planted deep within us years ago as we looked at what God had for us in the future and the ways and methods in which God called us to engage the culture around us. When Cassie and I came to West E. Free nearly 3 years ago, this is one of the things that I was tremendously excited about and wanted to join with people in this journey of truly understanding the concept of faith, practice, and church. I was interested in joining an equipping church as we reached our county for Christ.

Today, I am retreating with elders in Atlanta, GA at the “Velocity” conference. It’s a church planting conference really tailored to speak right to leaders in Church plants or people considering church plants but there has been some awesome material that has allowed the elder board to really process our dream of daughtering churches. It has also been an affirmative time of recognizing that God’s dream through West E. Free is still very much alive. The fire is being stoked within each of the elders (and myself) to continue to ask what the next church “multiplication” might be and what that might look like and I am extremely excited about that. I’ll share just a little bit about what each of the speakers mentioned as well as some from the presenter that I went and listened to today in this post.

http://www.shawnlovejoy.typepad.com/

Shawn Lovejoy was the first speaker to step onto the stage today. He talked about how God has gifted people uniquely to really go after the mission and kingdom that God is intending to build and is currently building. He pointed out that confidence in Christ is invaluable as we walk the line in church leadership of humility and confidence. Shawn was passionate about the concept of believing that God would direct people as he wanted them to be and no where else. For me, I wrestle with knowing that my worth is in Christ and that my leadership relies on the God of the universe but sometimes listening to people or circumstances rings much louder than does the God of the universe. And Shawn reminded me that this was not the way God intended our relationship to be. It was a good opener to the afternoon and I found it refreshing to be part of a group of people on a journey contemplating what it means to really go after the calling that God has on their lives.

http://anthony-evans.com/

Anthony Evans is the worship leader (along with Todd Nichols). He is a great singer, a good leader, and seems to genuinely love God and want to lead others to the throne of grace with confidence through song. It was a great day of corporate singing and celebration together.

http://www.theforgottenways.org/alan-hirsch.aspx

Alan Hirsch spoke during the second session. Alan talked about the layering that has occurred between the “traditional” way of doing church and the culture that is so far away from that world. He talked about the barrier that is nearly impossible for the traditional church to overcome to reach the 60% of people that will never step foot in the church. There are several barriers. Language, previous experiences, perceptions. All of these are barriers that separate people from the church. But there are barriers that separate the church from people as well. The church has insulated itself from the culture in the name of “holiness” and has created a barrier between itself and the culture that it gives lipservice to serving. Hirsch demonstrated well the inability to really go after truly unchurched people. The thing that I really loved about what he had to say was that we have hope. We must begin to tackle the problem of not connecting and be innovative and creative in this world to bring the message of God, Jesus Christ, and spiritual things (all of which our culture is fascinated with) to a world in which there is no need for the traditional church. The people of God must be the people of God. It was a challenging discussion.

http://www.stevenfurtick.com/

Steven Furtick spoke last. I’m always excited to hear Steven speak and this time was no different. He did a great job talking about the section of scripture where the disciples are asked by Jesus to go get the donkey so that Jesus could ride it. And then went and did as the Lord had asked (Mark 11). He related that passage to anything that we do in ministry. Are we willing to do as the Lord has asked? Are we really willing to step out and do things that don’t like quite right to people around us? Are we willing to not know the whole plan and yet take one step at a time and follow Jesus Christ? Furtick challenged me to think about my own context of ministry. What is the next step God? Teach me!

http://hughhalter.com/

I went to this breakout session with Hugh Halter. Read his story on his blog. It’s fascinating…Challenging…Inspiring…and seemingly spirit of God ordained. Being “missional” is a buzzword, until you are living it every single day with your family.

God, I pray that you would teach me and elders tomorrow what you would have us learn and process together. May you be glorified, honored, magnified through what West E. Free does in the area of church multiplication! And may your gospel go forward with innovative and creative ways of systematic distribution. Amen.