Spiritual Degeneration

Posted: September 16, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized

What causes a next generation to follow after other gods? What causes a person who was walking with the Lord to wile out? In the second message from our sermon series Darkness & Light we see how there was spiritual degeneration when God became small in the hearts of the Israelites. This does not mean that they didn’t know who God was. They knew about God and they heard about the miracles, but God no longer had weight in their hearts. In other words, they knew about him ritualistically but not relationally. As God became small, replacement gods became big in their hearts. Those who are seeking to have influence over their surroundings must have a genuine love for God, apply the Gospel in everyday life, and glory in God’s story in their life. Is God being big in our hearts a gift or a responsibility? YES (meaning both)! It is a gift because of how divine lasik surgery enables us to see God’s glory, but there is also a responsibility in that we need to continue to pursue the circumcision of our hearts.

What is God’s response to spiritual degeneration? There is judgment. Some may find that God’s judgment is unjust, but Scripture makes it clear that his judgment is actually a token of his faithfulness as he had warned and sworn. If you think that what you’ve read in the book of Judges is too violent, there is a place far more violent, where the wicked violence of the ages fell – the cross. The cross is where God himself bore all the sins of the people who rebelled against him. However, because God bore his own judgment, he can now extend his mercy. The same God who heard the groaning of the Israelites in Egyptian slavery, who heard the groaning of his people in slavery of the Canaanites 400 years later, is the same God who hears our groaning, has pity on use, and delivers us. Jesus is a present tense savior who hears our groaning again, again, and again. We’ve all wondered and complained to God why he wouldn’t just take away the source of our temptations. As a fatherly teacher, God at times doesn’t remove the source of our temptations to test to see if we really trust him and to teach us how to fight against sin as we depend upon him. We see that the Israelites failed the test. The issue is not whether or not we struggle with our sins. Rather, it is whether or not we will fight against sin out of Christ’s victory. As we fight, we will grow in the reality of the assurance that we truly belong to the Lord. You can listen to this message from Pastor Mike on Judges 2:6-3:6 HERE.

A quick update on Pastor Clete! As Pastor Mike said during announcements, Pastor Clete was at Meadow Brook Church in Leamington, ON Canada. He had great conversations with Pastor Greg Allen and made some great connections. Let us continue to pray for Pastor Clete!

Halfway Obedience

Posted: September 9, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized

Gang rape. Mass murder in a family. Man sacrifices his daughter. What in the world? These are just some of the gruesome acts in the book of Judges. The reality is, this hard core book shows us what happens when man does what is good in his own eyes. It is also a commentary on what goes on around the world today. Thankfully, we also see in this book that in the deepest darkness there is light and hope through the True Hero Judges points us to.

In the opening chapter, we get a glimpse of what sets Israel up for a nasty downward spiral — halfway obedience. It looks good for a minute, finds excuses, involves compromise, and is ultimately and actually full-bore disobedience. In God’s mercy this can lead us to the cross, the ground zero of the New Covenant. What makes the new covenant better is that Jesus fulfills the old covenant for us, he upholds both sides of the deal! To accomplish this He wasn’t just given over to the pagan nations as was Israel the nation, but as the true Israel of God, he was given over to the wrath of God. What should our response be? We should be led to repentance, and the proof of our repentance is to turn around (2 Cor. 7:10-11). We will not obey fully in this life, but because of Jesus we can repent genuinely. You can listen HERE to Pastor Mike’s opening message from Judges in our new sermon series Darkness & Light.

 

The Final Charge – Prayer and Community

Posted: September 2, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized

How does Apostle Paul end his letter to the church of Ephesus? In the first half of the letter we saw how we are a united body in Christ and the second half of the letter we saw the practical ways through which we fulfill God’s purposes in the church. Paul closes the letter with the charge to pray at all times in the Spirit not only for oneself, but for all the saints. We are not to be gripped by fear, but to be bold and fearless in making known the mystery of the Gospel! Also, as we are aware of Satan’s pursuit to destroy and divide, we seek to walk in community, praying for one another, speaking truth into each other’s lives, and growing closer to Jesus as a body. You can listen to Charles Bovan speak on Ephesians 6:18-24 HERE.

Next week we start our new sermon series “Darkness & Light” from the raw & gritty book of Judges.  We hope you can join us for this series as we kick it off 9/7. Our nursery will be in full swing as well this Sunday.

On Tuesday (8/26) we hosted the third quarterly meeting for plantMIDWEST and it was truly a blast. Church planters from near and far gathered at the PO to pray and worship together, and to get a biblical perspective on homosexuality and how we are to respond in a way that shows what we are for, rather than being known for what we’re against. We thank our speaker Christopher Yuan for sharing with us his story of God’s grace upon him and the perseverance of his parents who prayed for him without ceasing. We also want to give a huge shoutout to the Restore family for making plantMIDWEST happen, sacrificially serving our fellow brothers and sisters. Thank you for joining us and we hope more of you can join us for our final quarterly meeting! If you missed the meeting, here is the audio to first session on homosexuality texts and hermeneutics, the second session on the Christian’s response to homosexuality, followed by Q&A session with Dr. Yuan.

Starting this month, we will be praying and fasting together as a body the first Friday of the month. We want to be a church that prays, prays, and prays, knowing that God that hears our prayers. So this upcoming Friday (9/5), similarly to how we prayed a couple of weeks ago, we will fast throughout the day (follow via twitter @resdetroit), praying as the Sprit leads, and then gathering for the prayer meeting at the PO 6-7pm. Please join us in prayer!

 

Gospel Combat Gear

Posted: August 28, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized

How are you going to respond in your evil day? What are you going to do when you’re the recipient of hate because of the color of your skin? A broken marriage? Wayward children? Jesus gives us combat gear, and no that is not a typo. Jesus gives us combat gear, which happens to be the Gospel. If you are Christian, you already have this gear and the text helps us how to wear the gear aright, and how we wear this gear in team fashion. Despite now having a renewed relationship with Jesus, we suffer from gospel Alzheimer’s and that is why we need to hear the same message of his saving grace every week. The six elements on Ephesians 6:14-18 are really the same thing: The gospel.  Pastor Mike expounds on this message and how we are to wear the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the combat boots of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. When we put our faith in Jesus on the basis of the gospel, all of God’s promises are active, and in the evil days, prayer is both the preparation for battle and the battle itself. You can hear this message by Pastor Mike on Ephesians 6:14-18 HERE.

Speaking of prayer, last Friday (8/22) as a body we prayed and fasted as the Spirit lead throughout the day. At the end of the day, we gathered at the PO to continue to pray and to lift up prayers, seeking the Lord and asking for his guidance. God moved powerfully in our hearts and moved many to be reminded of how essential it is to be spending time in our prayer closets. May the Holy Spirit continue to convict us to pray, for our strength, knowledge, and wisdom all come from Him!

 

I spit at a MLK sign.

Posted: August 20, 2014 by mikehanafee in Uncategorized

Nope, not in Ferguson. Just down the street. Read on before you jump to conclusions. Almost daily I jog through my neighborhood in central Detroit to burn calories (I’m really good at eating!), pray for community, invest visibility currency, and meet people. As runners know, saliva and mucus build up, causing the need to spit. (I know, yuck!).

This morning, my face dripping with sweat, eyes burning, chest heaving, 45 year old knees aching, praying for two young men I had just met, I spit as I was rounding a familiar corner park at Rosa Parks and Grand Boulevard, mindlessly aiming at a wood post. As soon as I let it fly, it hit me! On top of this “post” is a sign that reads, “Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park”. I looked around, knowing how offensive this could look to people, however unintentional my act. A white guy running down the street who spit at a MLK sign. Thankfully, none of the regulars were hanging at the park. And thankfully my shot appeared to fall short!

But as I jogged along it made me think –

How often do we spit at another race without even thinking?

Now, make no mistake about it, there is a lot of spitting going on that people are totally aware of! People can coldly dismiss the reality of white privilege and systemic injustice with trite simplistic cliches like “that happened 200 years ago!” or “the ground is level at the foot of the cross”. Just read some of the responses to Matt Chandler’s recent blogpost on white privilege. Spit. Spit. Spit. And people can harshly dismiss as “not getting it” or “you are just part of the system!” a person who publicly questions whether a particular incident may have significant variables outside of race and ethnicity (such as St. Louis pastor, Terrell Carter). Spit. Spit. Spit.

There is, however, a “spitting” we do that we may be unaware of. A “spitting” that is, nonetheless, offensive to others, and does not bring justice and reconciliation. Here are a few examples:

1. Knee jerk conclusions.
We are so quick to bring judgment on an issue, and no “side” has cornered the market on this. Wanting to take a righteous stand we fail to observe Proverbs 28:13, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Fully convinced in our minds, we become blind to the fact we are reflecting the very monster we despise.

2. Blindness to our own racism and prejudice.
We fail to acknowledge there exists within all of us latent racism and prejudice. Lacking a healthy mistrust of self we can not see how stereotypes (through culture, media, family background) have infected our thinking about other races far more than we ever imagined. With this blindness it’s hard to “count others more significant than ourselves.” (Phil 2:3)

3. Public passion coupled with everyday inactivity.
Being passionate and public (social media) about high profile events but silent and inactive over everyday injustice all around us. Perhaps this is the ultimate indictment and reflection of where our heart really is. It reminds me of the Pharisees who made a big display of their religious practices, but weren’t so hot loving at their neighbor in everyday life.

If you are not a Christian, I am not not surprised if you would “spit” in these ways. But if you know the One who was spit on that we might be adopted by grace into God’s family, we must take time to see where we might be “spitting” without even knowing it. Maybe I am so unaware of things, that this blogpost itself is a kind of “spitting”. If so, please don’t label me from a distance, love me with dialogue.

The gospel has everything to do with race, racism, and prejudice. If you would care to hear how, specifically, this works out, I invite you to check out these two series. The ONE series I preached in 2013 – One Creator: Imago Dei dismantles the basis of racism, Wrecking Ball or Cotton Ball Gospel: The Gospel destroys the basis of racism, & The Church: The place where reconciliation should be pursued & displayed. The series from Ephesians 2:11-22 I preached this year – Blood Washed Ex-pagans, Jesus the Wall Breaker, & Sister Sledge & Ephesians 2:19-22.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Revelation 7:9-10 ESV)
MLKSign

Cosmic War

Posted: August 19, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized

While there have been thousands of wars over the history of mankind, there has been one war that has raged through the ages, the cosmic battle between God and Satan. Some sensationalize this spiritual war and blame everything bad on the devil but most people are vastly ignorant of it. If we could pull back the veil between the visible and invisible we would be absolutely blown away. It would make the most violent video game look like Candyland. There is a war raging! The military imagery is hard to ignore when we read Ephesians chapter 6. In verses 10 to 13, we see who the enemy is, what the enemies tactics are, and then what our response is. Satan, the enemy, hates the fact that we were made in the image of God and that he receives the glory through the body of Christ. That’s why this glory war has spilled over into humanity. Leading a kind of military hierarchy Satan seizes footholds through which he seeks to destroy. Our response is to fight, but not with our own strength. We are to be strong in the Lord. And we don’t fight for victory, but from the victory of Jesus Christ. Satan’s opposition is very real. But the outcome has already been fixed. It is done. We have won. You can hear this powerful message by Pastor Mike on Ephesians 6:10-13 HERE.

Thank you to those who sacrificed their time over the past couple of days to make the trip out to Ann Arbor and participate in the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival with our brothers and sisters from Mosaic ChurchThe weather was beautiful and we couldn’t have asked for better turn out. Praise God for allowing us to continue to be in partnership with Mosaic Church and to serve Jesus with them by serving our neighbors!

Don’t forget, this upcoming Friday (8/22) we will be having a prayer gathering at the PO from 6 to 7pm. More info about how we want to go about praying as a body throughout the day, so stay tuned!

Who is your Master?

Posted: August 13, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized

Right off the bat, when we hear the words ‘slave‘ and ‘master‘ our ears perk up and we give extra attention to what people have to say about it and how they interpret what the Bible has to say about slavery. As we near the end of our sermon series RelationSHIFT from the book of Ephesians, Pastor Clete helps us better understand the context of Ephesians 6:5-9 in which Paul was speaking he addressed how slaves and masters were to treat each other. As we are to respect, fear and obey God with a sincere heart, we are to interact with our employers in the same manner. And if we truly believe that everyone is made in the image of God, we must ask ourselves how we treat our employees knowing that they were made in the image of the Creator. This is fundamentally a worship issue. You can hear this message by Pastor Clete on Ephesians 6:5-9 about biblical work ethic HEREWere you excited to start your week and go back to work after the weekend? Or were you dreading having to go to work where your incompetent boss awaits you to make you do the most ridiculous and unproductive things? What does hard work look like for you and with what purpose do you work? Who is your master?

Thank you for those who came out to help out with the nursery clean up! A special shout out to Emily Decker and Elizabeth Ashmore for organizing the clean up and making sure our little ones have a safe place to be tended to! We also want to thank Cornerstone Church for coming out AGAIN to the PO to help get worked done around it! We are very grateful for your help and serving hearts!

Speaking of helping and serving, one of our long time partners Mosaic Church from Ann Arbor, MI is going out into their community and participating in the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival this week, August 15-17. They’ve reached out to us to see if we could partner up with them for this event. With only a couple of more weeks of the summer, let’s try our best to seek ways in which we can serve our neighboring brothers and sisters. If you are available and would like to help out even for a couple of hours, please email Peter Ashmore at p.ashmore@gmail.com!

Lastly, we are having our last worship at the park, at Gordon Park this upcoming Sunday, August 17 11:00 am. As we always have in the past, there will be food and fellowship at the park right after service, and we are in a lot of need for food and people who can help with setup and breakdown. If you can help with anything of these things, please get in touch with one of our sisters, Essie or Josie, so that we can go out with a bang for our last worship service at the park!

May this week be filled with worship and thanksgiving as we go out to work for the glory of God!