Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

One of the high values for Brooke and I is instilling the value to our boys that our lives don’t belong to us.  If we truly believe that we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19) then we must give our lives to be used by the One who purchased us.  And then when ownership is properly established, the mission of God – to glorify Him by making disciples to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20) comes into focus much more clearly.

So whether it is using our home for ministry, intentionally building relationships with our friends and neighbors, being invitational or going specifically – we are trying to help them see that we are called to live on mission.  And that may be across the street or around the world.  Opportunities exist daily here and of course there are urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world.

We had the opportunity to travel as a family on mission to Nicaragua about three years ago.  We didn’t go with a team, but we were able to link up with a few teams that were there.  We got to visit Nelson David, our sponsored child and you can read about that here.  It was a great first step in exposing our boys to the world and needs that exists outside their bubble.

Well, this time the family joined the college team I was taking.  Most summers, I’m saying “goodbye” and am off serving and leading a team and I have to leave them behind.  But this time, we were not only able to serve together as a family, but a family on a larger team.  I can’t tell you how much this meant to me personally.  It was awesome to have my family with me and to see how they integrated on to the team.  I’m so grateful to our college students for how they embraced my family and were especially patient and inclusive to my little boys.

So there we were in Nicaragua… on mission as a family.  What a joy to see my wife and boys jump right in and find their place of service.  Seeing them catch a vision for why Dad has to leave each summer and getting to experience first hand why I do what I do.  I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity we were given.  And I’m especially grateful to each of you who prayed for us and supported this mission financially.

I’d love for you to read a review (click the links to open a PDF) of our mission.  I’ve attached our family thanks and also one that I wrote as a recap of our mission: nica thanks.  We appreciate your support and if you are local, hope to see you at our Missions Highlight Lunch on January 31!

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Today was a great day. There’s really no other way to put it. But it was also a day full of emotions. It was our last day of camp, but a different day of camp. We started our final camp by taking a journey up to Chapel Hill at Ruby Ranch. Chapel Hill has a special place in my heart as one of our previous teams initially cleared the land on that hill. We started to see the vision that day, but really had no idea what the hill would become. It is now an open air chapel with a giant cross and bench seating.

We walked up together and talked about camp, but more importantly I had an opportunity to share the Gospel. There is no greater joy in my life (and with our team) than being able to present the Gospel to the kids that participated in our camp. We finished our time with prayer – giving the kids the opportunity to respond to the Gospel message and trust Christ as their Savior. We also prayed over their lives and futures.

Then we travelled back down the hill to participate in our competitions. From the egg relay, to the crazy bat relay to other competitions, our teams had a great time playing against each other. But then it was time for the waterslide, which is a camp favorite for the kids (and our team as well).

The afternoon was a special time for us that we started last year. We invited the community out for a community event at Ruby Ranch. All the kids invited their families and we invited both of the local pastors out to join us. It was an awesome sight to see families walking in to the Ranch to get to see with their eyes the joy on their kids faces as they enjoyed their last day of camp. It was also so cool to see and catch up with kids that have “grown up” but previously participated in our camps through the last few years. We asked a local cook to prepare a meal and we fed our “five-thousand”. God provided more than enough to go around.

Our campers then picked up all their arts and craft projects and the backpacks that we brought down – loaded with school supplies. And thanks to all the flip flops we collected from the Craft Hope Ministry, we were able to provide everyone with a pair of flip flops to take home.  Pastor David shared a word with everyone and it is our hope that he will be able to capitalize on our camp and the outreach event to see kids and their families get connected to the local church.

We are continually seeing God at work all around us. Our team is starting to notice the smaller things where He is at work orchestrating and working all things for His glory.  We have been invited to participate in this process and we are grateful. To see, speak and share the Gospel is why we came. And knowing that greater purpose exists and prevails allowed us to fully give our hearts and invest relationally with the kids at camp. It was tough to say “see you later”, but we are grateful that we never have to say “goodbye”!

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.