Posts Tagged ‘acts’

Nicolaus Zinzendorf, the great German pastor and reformer of the 18th century, gathered together a group of Christ-followers that were known as “The Lord’s Watch”.  In 1727, this community of believers started a round the clock “prayer watch” that lasted unbroken for 100 years.  There were about 300 people in this community of faith at the beginning, and various ones covenanted to pray for one of the 24 hours in the day. In 1792, 65 years later, with the lamp of prayer still burning, the little community had sent out 300 missionaries to the various unreached peoples from the West Indies to Greenland and even to North America. They, as a community of believers, understood that they were on mission together and they were utterly, and radically dedicated to making Jesus known.

I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be a part of a community like that… a community of faith that is marked by their persistence in prayer and their radical devotion to the mission of God together.

It’s been a privilege for me to step in to our pulpit during this “On Mission/Transformission” series we’ve been in through the book of Acts at Wildwood Church.  It has become my prayer that we as a faith family would better understand what it means to be the sheep (people) of God that are united as the flock (church) of God gathered together and launched out on mission together to impact the world with the Gospel of God for the glory of God!

In preparing to preach Acts 20, I had the privilege to travel just outside of Tallahassee to a farm to get a better idea the imagery that is used throughout Scripture to describe the people of God and the church of God.  Some 700 times we read about sheep, lambs, flocks and shepherds.

But what transforms our perspective of being a flock together on mission is when we realize how highly Christ has valued the sheep that He has bought. You know, what’s interesting about this whole imagery Scripture gives of the people of God as sheep is that we have this tendency to think of sheep as cute, cuddly animals. But in reality, sheep are dirty animals filled with parasites, lice and all kinds of worms. They have to be washed in different chemicals to cleanse them. They are obstinate, senseless, dumb animals, which is humbling when you realize that this is the image that God has used throughout Scripture to describe us. But don’t miss the beauty of the Gospel: that Christ came to die, not for the strong and successful, but for the weak and sinful; not for the clean, but for the dirty.

If you’d like to listen to the sermon in it’s entirety, you can do so here: http://wildwoodchurchonline.org/sermons/

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From what I’ve observed these years I’ve spent in public ministry and even in my own experience during my high school years… I’ve found that the church has a difficult time just resting in the Gospel alone.  There is something within us that just drives us toward feeling that we’ve got to add something to the Gospel equation.  So we start on our formulaic journey to make the Gospel = Jesus + something.  For some it is Jesus + church attendance, good works, moral behavior, family heritage, traditions, keeping the law, religion… and the list goes on and on.  We want “Jesus plus” when the Gospel is never a formula.  It can never be Jesus plus anything for the Gospel is simply Jesus!

I had the opportunity to preach in our “On Mission” series here at Wildwood a few weeks ago on this idea of Gospel Re-Orientation from Acts chapter 15.  The epicenter of the early church had moved from Jerusalem to Antioch and a group of teachers called the Judiazers had moved in.  The message they were preaching was a ‘Jesus plus’ message.  They didn’t reject Jesus as the Gospel, they just felt that they needed to add to the Gospel (always a bad idea)!  So they were teaching Jesus + circumcision.  Basically, they were calling for the Gentiles to respond to the Gospel by becoming Jews first.

To intro the sermon, we produced this video:

Isn’t it amazing that some 2,000 years after Jesus commissioned the disciples to take the Gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, it has made it.  I sit here today in Tallahassee, Florida with a changed heart and life because of the obedience of many to the Great Commission.  May we be likewise challenged to share the Gospel in word and deed both across the street and around the world.

And if you’re interested, you can listen to the sermon in it’s entirety here.

Boldness

Posted: October 8, 2014 in Thinking Theologically
Tags: , , , ,

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The disciples and the early church were distinctively marked by boldness.  Boldness in a supernatural kind of way.  Boldness that was beyond personality, intelligence or even personal preference.  It’s a boldness that couldn’t be mustered up or created, but it was one that was desired and pursued.

They were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and the religious leaders“saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”  When challenged to not preach or teach the Gospel anymore they responded: “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”  After returning to the rest of the disciples and other members of the early church, they talked about the persecution they were facing and knew it was best to pray… And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” [Acts 4]

I had the opportunity to preach this text this past Sunday as a part of our church’s journey through the book of Acts to discover what it means to live “on mission.”  This is both a personal and corporate pursuit.  We are called individually and communally to the mission of God… to advance the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Reading this text is incredibly challenging.  Would anyone characterize my life or your life as one marked by boldness in the Gospel?  Why are we ok with the disciples and early church fueled by such power from the Holy Spirit but our lives being so different?  Should there be such a disconnect between what we read in Scripture and our own experiences? These and other questions continue to challenge me and I pray you as well as we better understand what it means to walk in the Spirit and give our lives wholly over to His use.

But be warned… as you start asking these questions and allowing the Spirit to probe your heart know that things will change.  And that change begins to look a bit scary as we realize we must lay everything on the table for this mission.  Safety, security, material possessions, job, location, dreams, desires… and the list goes on and on.  But when you stop and think about it… how is it scary to lay these things before the Lord when He holds our very life in His hands?  How are we so willing to trust Him with our salvation and eternal security but not with our lives for His purposes while here on earth?  In laying these down are we not trading the perishable for the eternal?  Are we not investing in things that will last for eternity.

There is great work to be done.  Billions who have yet to hear and respond to the glorious good news of the Gospel.  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” [Romans 10:14-15]

God, would you empower us with your Spirit to live and speak with boldness for your great name and your glory and for the advancement of the Gospel to the ends of the earth!

If you missed the sermon, you can listen or download the sermon here.