Archive for Bible

Update from the land of Church Planting…

Posted in evangelism, missions with tags , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by gospel2live

Faithful readers… both of you!  The past year has been an amazing journey.  We have left the security of a good job with an established church to raise support and begin a new work.  God has provided for our needs in amazing ways.  We have added two new members to our family as our adoption of two brothers through the foster care system was completed in July.  We have rented out our old house and moved to a new house in the community where we are starting the new church.  As I write this, I am, quite honestly, both exhausted and refreshed, exhilerated and terrified, and depressed and enthusiastic about the future!  In other words, welcome to the bi-polar life of a Jesus follower!

As for the church plant, we are gathering on Sundays with a group that averages about 35-40 people.  All but one of the families who are regularly a part of our group are people that we did not even know a year ago.  Many of them had already left churches that had abandoned the Bible before they had heard about Cross Hill.  Many had not been involved in a meaningful way with ANY church as adults.  While my planning included a lot of thinking about training leaders and launching people into ministry, I have had to adjust to meet the needs of people who are super eager to learn, but are starting out with very little knowledge of the Bible.  Honestly, it is amazingly encouraging to see people reading the Bible in a way that a starving man attacks an all-you-can-eat buffet!

Here is the upside.  This Sunday we will see four adults dedicate their lives to follow Jesus in baptism.  We have another group of people that will likely want to be baptized by the end of the year.  We have people reading the Bible and asking awesome questions.  Many of our people are inviting friends, talking about the changes in their life that Jesus has brought, and “doing the work of evangelism” without me having to say much of anything about it!  Week after week, as we meet for a pretty “no-frills” Bible study, I see the Spirit of God at work in peoples’ lives in confronting their sin, reconciling them to God, and in helping them to find healing and wholeness in their lives.  Even after over an hour of teaching, people stay and hang out over coffee — despite many of them coming from traditions where a 50 minute gathering is “pushing it.”  Despite stepping out without even a salary guaranteed, God has stirred people to provide for our needs, often without even being solicited!  Praise God!

Here’s the hard part.  We have seen difficult spiritual opposition in discouragement and depression among some of our family and core team.  Marriages have been strained at times by this spiritual oppression.  Establishing patterns and routines has been extremely difficult with the amount of change that is taking place.  We are rapidly approaching the need to deal with structural and organizational issues that lie WAY outside of my comfort zones!  With the new people come new problems that tax our energy and our emotions as we walk with people through dark valleys to find their healing in the Gospel.  One of my most common thoughts is “Who is sufficient for these things?”

Here’s the bottom line.  Jesus Christ will build HIS church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!  I am NOT sufficient for these things!  Thankfully, God gives us his grace, ill-deserved kindnesses, so that through the power of his Holy Spirit people might be reconciled to God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Hallelujah!

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Are You Goverened Increasingly By God’s Word?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 4, 2009 by gospel2live

This is question two from Don Whitney’s book, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health.  For an index to the posts in this series, click here! 

The value of the Bible cannot be overstated.  Scripture refers to itself as water, food, light, a fire and tool, a weapon, and a seed.  The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

If this is true, why do so many professing Christians stagger through life without having the Bible make any clear difference in their day to day lives?  If you find yourself not having a love for the Bible, your spiritual health is likely to be very weak, if not dead.  One of the marks of a growing believer in Jesus, is a growing love for the Bible and an increasing role in how it shapes our day to day decisions and activities.

Whitney points to the example of Jesus, who routinely uses scripture to teach, to respond to temptation, and to settle disputes.  Although Jesus was fully God, it should be noted that the scripture he quoted throughout his ministry had been memorized as a man.  Jesus placed a tremendous value on the scriptures.

So, what does it mean to be increasingly goverened by God’s Word?  Whitney says, “Speaking in a practical way, you know that God’s Word is growing in its influence over you when you can point to increasing numbers of beliefs and actions that have been changed because of the potency of specific texts of scripture…. You remember various turning points where you stopped or started some action or habit as a result of a new understanding of biblical truth.”

Whitney gives several specific examples of how his life has been shaped and changed by the study of scripture.  The examples have a common theme of moving from practices that are simply assumed, to an intentionality in practice that arises from the exhortations of scripture.  Instead of having an attitude of accepting a practice on the basis of no scripture preventing it, he has moved towards a positive shaping of his actions by what scripture teaches.  This moves us out of an apathetic acceptance towards a proactive molding and shaping of our actions by scripture.

Whitney recomends the following practices to develop our dependence on God’s Word:

First, we need to deepen our DESIRE for God’s Word.  We do this through sitting under good preaching in our church, and through other available means.  He again calls on us to pray through scripture and to spend time to meditate on it, not merely read it.

Second, he recommends that me make time for God’s Word.  We diligently and faithfully take time to eat our physical food.  We need to exercise the same diligence in taking time to eat our spiritual food.

Third, read the Bible daily and do not close it until you know at least one thing GOd would have you do in response to your reading.  This gets us out of the trap of reading intellectually and moves us into application.  Don’t be only a hearer of the Word, but a doer of the Word!

Fourth, he urges us to list at least five areas we have not considered from a biblical perspective and to consider one each day for the next five days.  Whitney gives a long list of possible topics to prime the pump, so that you can practice exploring topics from a biblical perspective.

Finally, he urges us to train ourselves to ask “How does the Bible speak to this?”  Learning to ask this question about more and more areas of our lives reflects an increasing desire to bring glory to God and to submit to his will for us.  It will enable us to reflect not just an intellectual faith, but a faith the comes from authentic desire and affections for out great God and savior, Jesus Christ!