The God Who Pursues

Posted: April 27, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized
The Assyrians had a certain kind of pride in making their brutality known, just as lynching was a way of saying, “I hate you, I’m in power, and I’m going to destroy you.” As we saw last week, Jonah’s fear was what partially drove him to disobey God, but what really led him to take the ship to Tarshish was the fact that he knew God would show mercy and relent from the disaster if the people of Nineveh would repent, and he did not want to see this people avoid God’s judgment. Don’t we all have a little Jonah syndrome in us, thinking that there are people in our lives to whom God should never extend his mercy? In our fight for justice we should not reflect the very hate which fuels the hate we’re fighting against.
Jonas disobedience shines light on our own disobedience. Disobedience is functional atheism and a fool’s errand. Thinking that God does not exist in certain aspects of our lives, trying to live like God does not exist does not change the fact that he actually does exist and that he sees everything all the time at the same time. When you want to run from God, the devil always has a ride in the form of friends and opportunities, and he’s more than happy to take you in the direction of disobedience. Disobedience is fun for a minute but always takes you down, down, down. As we keep going down spiritually in our heart, sin keeps us longer than we want to stay, costing us more than we want to pay. Disobedience may happen alone but does not hurt you alone. How much have you been hurt by someone else’s disobedience? How much have you hurt those around you because of your disobedience? Disobedience is easily justified. Merely admitting disobedience is a bootleg confession. We are to admit and then to turn from our disobedience. Peace is not a test for what’s right. Obedience may actually take us into a place of turmoil. How does God pursue Jonah? God pursues Jonah by sending a storm, the storm of storms. Trials and danger can lead cussing men into praying men. Has God sent any storms your way? God then pursues Jonah by turning up the heat. We can’t see what God is doing in our storms because we are so bent on doing it our own ways, blinded by our sin. As it becomes clear that God’s will is over the storm and he continues to turn up the heat, Jonah actually does take ownership of his sin and turns to obedience. As a fruit of ownership and repentance of Jonah we encounter two miracles. The sea ceased from its raging, but more importantly, the sailors on the ship worship God, realizing that he is the true God who can create and calm the storm. Lastly, God pursues Jonah by rescuing him. When things are the darkest for this man, the hope shines the brightest. The God of relentless grace saves Jonah at his worst point. God is chasing after us to beat sin over its head, and he’s coming after us in mercy because the sin was judged on the cross as we put our faith in Him. You can listen to this message on Jonah 1 by Pastor Mike HERE
We’re painting the PO!  If you are available 5/1 (Fri) and/or 5/2(Sat) please email Peter Ashmore at p.ashmore@gmail.com for the details. The last work day we had at the PO there was a great turn out which made the load lighter for everyone! This will be a great opportunity to be part of the bigger vision of renovating the PO!

Lift up your eyes and see!

Posted: April 22, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized
The encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well broke every social convention. It was the most improbable meeting. However, Jesus intentionally made sure that it did happen. He went through Samaria because of her and he used this woman to bring a whole town. Jesus tells his disciples, “Lift up your eyes and see.” What was it that the disciples could not see? What is it that we cannot see? There are 4 reasons why we must lift up our eyes and see. There is a christologial reason. Jesus is our lord and he was a friend of sinners. This is why we are expected to be with sinners. There is also an anthropological reason. All people were created in the image of God, and simple for that reason, we must love on them, regardless of their shape or color. There is a missiological reason. Wherever we are going, we must make disciples, for that is Jesus’ calling for us. Lastly, there is an ecclesiological reason. The church is the instrument of God for restoration, salvation, building of his kingdom, and the demonstration of who God is. We have to do more than sociology. We have to be transformed and our theology must be re-calibrated, seeing the world in a way Jesus does. This doesn’t mean we stop being who we are. Whoever we are is God’s gift to the church, and he will use us within our own people to harvest. However, God may also place us in a areas in which we have not labored, having a whole other harvest prepared for us. He will use us in the most unlikely places in the most unlikely ways, all for his glory. Let us Lift up our eyes and see! Thank you Alex Mandes (Director of Hispanic Ministries in the EFCA) for sharing this message from John 4. You can read a helpful article by Alex on multiethnic ministry here.

A handful of us from Restore are driving down to Memphis, TN to attend the Kainos conference. Please keep us in your prayers for safe travels and that God may use this conference and our time there to better equip us as a multi-ethnic church!

 

 

God of Outrageous Grace

Posted: April 15, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

What is grace? God’s undeserving favor to ill-deserving people like us, the glorious reality that separates itself from anything else the world has to offer. But the reality is that even we as believers can get this twisted. Cheap grace? Not-them grace? Earned grace? Limited grace? The book of Jonah corrects these views as it displays the God of outrageous grace. God exceeds normal expectations to pour out His grace. As we will see throughout the book, Jonah is not the hero of the story and we should be able to identify with the fear of Jonah. Jonah being told to deliver the message of judgment over the land of Ninevah was like the Coptic Christians going to an ISIS camp and sharing the gospel. But it’s not just the fear that motivates his disobedience; it is also the hate, for he does not believe that they deserve God’s mercy. Jonah shows us our struggle to love on people whom we do not want to. As shown in his obedience and disobedience, Jonah also displays the spiritual bipolar disorder with which we as followers of Christ all struggle. This is why we must look at the main character and true hero, God himself. Throughout the series we will see how He is the God who pursues, saves, shows mercy, and loves as the true hero of this story. He is the God of outrageous grace because he is the sovereign king who reigns, because he hears and answers our prayers, because he cares for the untouchables, and because he sent his son Jesus Christ, who was rejected, and ultimately, crucified for our sins. Jesus saw our wickedness but in joy he took our condemnation. You can listen to this introductory sermon by Pastor Mike to kick off our sermon series on the book of Jonah HERE!

Speaking of kicking off, we are also kicking off Restore Flag Football this upcoming Saturday (4/18) 10 am at Hutchins School (8820 Woodrow Wilson St, Detroit, MI 48202). As Pastor Mike put it,”this is a great opportunity to love on and connect with our great community!” Even if you can only stop by for a couple of hours, we’d love to see you there!

 

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday

Posted: April 10, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized
What makes Good Friday actually “good?” That’s a great question because maybe a better expression would be Horrific/Evil/Bad/Catastrophic Friday when you think of what Jesus went through. He suffered massively! Who killed Jesus? The Jewish authorities? The Roman authorities? Us? Yes, we crucified him, but ultimately, in his sovereignty and omnipotence, it was all according to the Father’s plan that the sinless one laid down his life for the sin of all mankind. God’s purpose on the cross was to satisfy his own judgment against sin. So why did God do this? Because he loves us. The horrific events on Good Friday are gloriously salvific because God was working to save his people. Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for you. You can listen to this message from Good Friday preached by Pastor Mike HERE!

At some point in time, each and everyone of us was an enemy to God, all in need of a mediator. Jesus took our punishment so we could receive his peace. We now have the peace of God. We are to remember where we came from, separated from God and strangers without hope. We deliberately chose the life without God. But.. BUT! Once far from God, we were brought near to the love of God through the blood of Jesus. Though we were sinful, doomed to suffer in eternity, Christ brought us home. Where would we be without Jesus? Do you have this peace? Have you made peace with God through his Son? Have you surrendered your life to this Savior? Are you standing in his peace or your own righteousness? Not only did Jesus’ death and resurrection cause peace between us and the Father, but it also caused the truce with our earthly enemies. Because we have the peace of God, we have peace with one another. In our sin, not only do we build brick walls but also spoken walls.  We’re all responsible. Walls of division and hostility. Walls of race and classism. By his death, Jesus broke down these walls. What can bring together people who hate each other? The resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because he got up, the walls came down. The sacrificial death and the triumphal resurrection of Jesus Christ was the TNT to destroy all dividing walls past, present, and future. His church is revolutionary where rich and poor, black and white, men and women, all come together as one body. The body of Christ is like gumbo, some of this some of that, and it tastes like nothing else in this world! So what does this all mean? We must come to Jesus, surrendering our lives. We must tear down our walls of hostility. We must be peacemakers. What can we do to build bridges in our community? What can we put our hands on? Are we people who bring other people together or pull them apart? You can hear this message from Resurrection Sunday by Pastor Tyler HERE!

We will be starting a new sermon series on the book of Jonah! Join us on Sunday 11am at The Post Office! 


Jonah

Everyday Missionaries

Posted: March 31, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

What is the greatest rescue mission? How do people come to know Jesus? In our finale to the 4-part series on our gospel identities, we explored how everyday people being faithful in their everyday lives become the primary agent of bringing God’s people home. We are missionaries of God sent to show and tell Jesus. A mission is a special assignment given to a person or group, and if we are in Christ we all have a special assignment, but before we ever talk about what we must do we must glory in what has been done for us. God sent His son on the ultimate rescue mission as the ultimate missionary. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we would be the righteousness of God in him. The only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that required it. Nothing can wash away our sins but the blood of Jesus. What is the message of Christianity? Religion says do and God will be pleased, where as the message of Christianity is it’s already been done for you. It is hard to be overflowing with joy when we are burdened with all that we have to do. We can’t ever get over celebrating our rescue. This is the fountain head for the vibrant Christian life, being regularly amazed by what has been done for us.

Yet we are not saved to sit but to be sent. Jesus was sent to accomplish our salvation; we are to simply announce this, to declare the Savior. We might think that evangelism is something for the specialists and experts, but the truth is that we, everyday people, are all called to be making Jesus known in our everyday lives. So, where are we supposed to go? Where we are is where we have been sent. All of life is sacred, and all of life matters. And if all of life matters, how we work matters. Missionaries are not (x3) special people sent to far away places, but each and every Christian doing life right where they are. Also, we need to avoid the two ditches of (1) all show and no tell, and (2) all tell and no show. How am I showing Jesus? To whom have I told the gospel? In addition, we must drop the mask and invite people in. In other words, while we think the more together we look the greater effect we have, in our weakness is where we display Jesus Christ the greatest and we put the gospel on blast. One and done is dumb and that’s not how people usually come to Christ. We need to keep on scattering the seed of God’s word. Fortunately, our success does not ride on us. There is no plan B; God has set it up so that plan A will succeed, not because God needed us but because he calls us to partner with us to accomplish what he can do all on his own. Faithfulness belongs to us, fruitfulness belongs to God. We must also remember that we have Pentecostal power, meaning that the same Spirit that birthed the church is the one that fills us, the very power that caused a bunch of men and women to turn the world upside down. Finally, a life of witness is rooted in a life of worship. Those who have Jesus most on their lips fellowship with him most in their hearts. How many more stories will God tell as we simply live out our missionary identities of showing and telling Jesus? You can listen this message on being a missionary by Pastor Mike HERE!
This upcoming Friday (4/3), the Friday before Easter, is also known as Good Friday. So what makes Good Friday good? Glad you asked! On Friday we will be gathering at the PO 6:30 pm to answer that very question! We will also be gathering for worship on Sunday (4/5) at 11:00am for Easter, to celebrate and to remember something and someone far more significant than egg hunts and giant bunnies! Please come join us!

Learners

Posted: March 25, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

What good is a training video if you don’t actually apply the knowledge from the training? As we continued in our Gospel Identities series, we learned how important it was to apply what we’re learning, and as learners of God we pursue our growth and the growth of those around us. We are learners of God, rescued from the blindness that caused us to follow wrong authority. We were blinded to our sin but God through his Son Jesus Christ revealed himself as the ultimate authority. When Jesus spoke, he did not need to add footnotes for himself, for what he spoke was divine authority, and we now have the Scriptures that God gave us as our authority. Jesus was the payment for our sins and that is why he is the authority. How do we look at this payment?  Apart from the Holy Spirit, who does divine lasik surgery to open our eyes, none of us can truly know who Jesus Christ is and who we are. We are learners of God who pursue our growth and the growth of those around us. First, we do this by gathering information. The Bible through the Holy Spirit tells us who God is and it shows us how to live. How can we know who we truly are apart from the word? The Holy Spirit reveals who we truly are to us through the word, which is why we need to be a people in the word and be cautious about what and who we listen to. Garbage in,  garbage out. How we fertilize our souls determines what type of fruit we will bear. We also learn from watching those around us, learning from the people of faith, and we need to be able to live our lives so that others can imitate us. We can be open about our sin and repent for it for the perfect Jesus took the blame and the shame. The Christian life is not about living the perfect life, but about realizing that the perfect person Jesus died for our sins so that we didn’t have to put up a facade of a flawless life. The gospel frees us to repent and to not live in shame. Lastly, we should be imparting the knowledge of the gospel to others. Just as we take our own growth serious, we also value the growth of others. We are all making disciples, but of whom? Are we making disciples of Jesus or of ourselves? We are going to fail each other, but Jesus Christ will never fail you. We can rest in this grace of the one who has all authority and shows us his ways. When the bad things of life hit you, are you going to collapse because you have no foundation in the gospel, or are you going to be steady, sure, and sound? You can listen to this message by Pastor Clete HERE!

 

Servant: Pooper before Platform

Posted: March 18, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized
What are we willing to do for sake of the advancement of the gospel? In the second part of the series on gospel identities, we were enlightened through Scripture how Jesus saves God’s people to be servants, and we are servants of God who serve God by serving others. We are servants of God. Whether we know it or not everyone is a servant. Before Christ we were servants to sin, in slavery to sin. We were so enslaved that we didn’t even know it. How then do we get freedom? Jesus the High King of heaven left glory & came in humility to give his life as a ransom for many, and his redemptive blood was the price to set the captives free. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. We must constantly preach this truth to ourselves so that we do not go back to serving what Jesus set us free from. Just as Jesus obeyed the Father, we are servants of God, who serve God by serving others. Our service to others reflects whether or not we trust the servant who died for us to set us free. Service verifies or nullifies what we say with our mouthes – service matters. Those who serve in the way that pleases God keep no logs of what they’ve done. True greatness is service to others. It’s not about glory but about grit, not about how much you have but how much you serve. Godly service is not about notoriety. Lets leave our resumes at home and bring our tool belts, cleaning toilets more than wanting to stand on platforms. Also, we serve for Jesus’ fame, not our name. When we serve we can get a sense of entitlement which reveals that we were really serving for our name, instead of the glory of God. As long as it’s for the sake of gospel advancement, we need to be willing to do whatever we’re able to do. Lastly, we must get out of comfort zones so others can be brought home. As we gather as a body that wants to reflect #REVELATION7_9NOW what do we need to do to step across lines of dissimilarity so that other kids can be brought home? How can serve at the PO? How can my Dgroup serve our neighborhood or target group? How can I serve at my house? You can listen to this message on our gospel identity as a servant by Pastor Mike HERE!
So how CAN we serve at the PO? Here is a message from Pastor Mike regarding an opportunity to serve our body this Saturday (3/12) at 10am:
I know using caps can be OBNOXIOUS but we have a huge need (and opportunity to walk out our Servant Identity!) this Saturday at the Post Office, 10AM – 2PM. Here’s the skinny, next Friday & Saturday (March 27 & 28) a team from First Presbyterian Trenton is coming to build walls…you know, for our nursery, bathrooms, hallways, kitchen, etc on the first floor — pretty huge. BUT we have some things that need to get done BEFORE they come in order to maximize their time. We need all the stuff in the back of the auditorium moved to the house behind the PO for storage and we need to drop one last cinder block wall (the wall right near the front door). Many hands make light work. Could you commit to being at the Post Office 10AM SHARP this Saturday March 21? We are capping the day at 2PM &, with enough help, we may complete this project in less than four hours.  If you are able to help please email me back.
This is a great opportunity to put into practice what we’ve learned and have been convicted of from this past Sunday! See you all there!