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!

 

 

Reflections from Legacy Conference 2014

Posted: August 7, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized

Some of our brothers and sisters attended the Legacy Conference in Chicago, IL a couple of weeks ago, and we asked them if they could share a glimpse of their experiences/reflections. Here is how a couple of them responded!

Maja Golden

God really convicted my heart of many things while at Legacy this year. Not only did He pinpoint some of the weaknesses and doubts I have but He used several people to remind me of His glory and sovereignty in all circumstances, big and small.

The first workshop I took was called Life on Life and was very helpful and fitting in the current season of my life, in discipling those who are younger than me. I was reminded that I shouldn’t be concerned with what they thought of me but rather how I am modeling and speaking the Gospel to their life. There have been days of discouragement while living life on life with someone and trying to disciple them while clearly seeing that their commitment to the discipling relationship was barely there. I was encouraged to know that my efforts are not in vain because God is the one who changes the heart, not me. I was also given practical steps on how to move forward with a discpling relationship that seems stagnant and I am excited to put that into action, trusting that God will do as He pleases.

One out of the many marvelous things that I was able to witness at Legacy was when a young man working at pizza place stopped my husband, our friend Amber and me on our way back to the conference. He asked us where we were going and who we were celebrating. Everything inside me was thinking “I don’t have time for this. I want to get back to the conference.” At that very moment, God took a hold of my “always in a hurry” heart and allowed me to see Him work through my husband and our friend Amber. I stood there watching as both the people I love proclaimed the beauty and the truth of the Gospel to this young man who seemed to drop his guard with every nugget of truth shared with him. I pray that God will save this young man and that in his testimony he will see the gracious hand of God that evening during that conversation.

Peter Ashmore

Does the image of God in man matter? Now that’s a good question to consider. If I were to be honest, I’ve primarily considered that question from a very individual perspective. That is, “Am I made in the image of God?” I attended a workshop with Leshea in the track entitled “The Imago Dei and the Minority Experience.” I was confronted with the harsh reality that this great theological truth can be a sincere struggle for minorities in America. I had never stopped to ponder that my “personhood” and the personhood of my family has never been called into question. Now I find myself sitting with many whose parents were the first generation to get that kind of affirmation with regard to their personhood. Theological precision is necessary and helpful – but it was brought to my attention that the life experiences of my fellow believers made this truth a little more difficult to swallow. The fact is that every human being, no matter gender, age, ethnicity, or creed, is made is the image of God and has inherent worth and dignity. That’s what makes racism or sexism or classism so shameful – looking at another image bearer and saying “I’m worth more than you – I’m better than you…” 

Praise God for Christ! For with him “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) The imago dei does matter. It matters because people matter. And it matters because people were created to image their Creator.

When we first approached them to ask them about their experiences they all said there is just too much to share and condense it into a couple of paragraphs. I’m sure they would be more than happier to share in person as well, so don’t hesitate to ask! Let us continue to share with one another how God is working in our lives and how he continues to convict our hearts!

3 Vacation Reflections

Posted: August 7, 2014 by mikehanafee in Uncategorized

A beautiful down syndrome little girl. A broken family. A lonely graveyard. One of the great things about vacations is the opportunity, away from the frenzied pace of everyday life, to step back and reflect on what really matters in life.
Here are three things on my heart I want to carry back home next week.

1. Unplug & enjoy now.
I’ve been able to take some extended bike rides along an old rail trail. During one of my rides I saw a father pulling his little down syndrome girl in a bike trailer. She was so into the moment – full, happy, satisfied. As I looked at her, drinking in the ride with her father, I was hit by this thought; People like her very well may enjoy more of life than anyone else. Free of distractions they are fully immersed in the moment. How often do I not enjoy the now because I’m on to what is next? How often do I fail to see the actual beauty around me because I’m artificially looking at something far away through technology? “Take time to smell the roses” is more than a tired old cliche, it is a prescription for enjoying God’s glory in the present in fresh new ways. One of the many things I appreciate about my wife is her ability to see the beauty and power of God in ways I can totally look over – from the shapes of clouds to the veins on a leaf to the first toothless grins of a newborn baby. I want to be more like her. When I return from vacation I want to continue a rhythm of unplugging and enjoying the now.

2. A zero tolerance policy for 3rd party negative talk.
My parents have been divorced for several years (one is remarried). Out of pain, one tends to speak negatively about the other to the children and grandchildren. I’ve been struck by how infecting this is to relationships. It is exactly like the writer of Hebrews says. Bitterness, unchecked at the cross, defiles many. Negative talk about others is not healthy, it is hurtful and harmful. It is not life giving, it is zombifying to the soul. I can see that in the brokenness of my biological family but how often do I tolerate that in my eternal spiritual family? How often do I give my ear to a person talking negatively about another? How often do I talk negatively about a person to another? Convicting! I’m adopting a zero tolerance policy about listening to or sharing negative talk about another person, even if what is said is true, unless there is a clear pastoral reason to do so. Yes, we are broken people. But we have experienced grace! This grace gives us the spiritual cajones to talk directly to a person, not about that person. And other times it just motivates us to eat it and shut up. I’ll flash you the zero tolerance sign if necessary. Do me a favor & do the same for me.

3. Embrace not being known so that He can be known.
I love graveyards because they are smelling salts to the allusion that life is about us. It is so easy to get drunk with the delusion that if I am recognized for what I do (whatever my vocation), then I will be happy. Of course we “sanctify” this obsession for self glory with the rationale, I’ll have a bigger impact for the kingdom. Nick Nye, in his blogpost The Pastor’s Platform, deflates that lie with this to the jugular quote. “I want to build a bigger platform, so I can tell more people about Jesus…Yeah, and I want to eat more pizza, so I can win a middle-weight UFC fight.” On my bike rides I have come across several old graveyards. As I walked through the cemeteries I saw grave markers from the 1600s and 1700s, barely legible and covered with moss. Hundred and hundreds of springs, summers, falls, and winters have come and gone. Nobody now knows who they were and what they did. Probably no one a century after they died remembered them. And for the very rare exceptions of people who were famous and are remembered, among the billions who have lived and died, their grave is still a grave, just like everyone else’s. Cemeteries shout out to us in their deathly silence, embrace not being known so that He can be known! Jesus told us no man can serve two masters. Which one will it be for me? For you? The biggest high we get when we are recognized for accomplishing something will be nothing compared to the feeling we will have when we step into His presence knowing we sought to make Him known. He is the center of Revelation 7:9-10, not us! Cemeteries remind us to live that way now. CT Studd (what a name!) put it this way, “Only one life ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Trusting He who is the Resurrection and the Life frees us to lose ourselves so that He might be known.

I’m really thankful to have a few more days of vacation but am looking forward to being back home in the great city of Detroit next week. May I not forget these reflections.

Bullseye with a Crooked Stick

Posted: August 4, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized

We were all children (and some of us still are) at one point in our lives, and some of us are currently parents and soon-to-be parents. How do you raise your children? What is the relationship like with your parents? We as parents are always trying to figure out how to make sure our children grow up to be responsible adults, and as sons and daughters, we want to make sure we appease our parents and not get in trouble. There is also a growing interest in the role of the father in the household and the importance of a father figure in a child’s life. In many of todays homes the children seem to be dictating the nature of parenting but the parents don’t seem to know how to battle against that. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that we live  in a world in which we are told and taught something different everyday, whether that’s cultural, societal, educational, or governmental; even advices from friends and family change by the hour.And when it comes to proper parenting there are a plethora of theories and methods of effective parenting that are constantly thrown at us. Pastor Clete goes straight to the Scriptures which has, is, and will continue to remain unchanging.  We see in Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus how he makes it clear that children must obey their parents, and how fathers are to discipline their children. You can hear this message on children’s and father’s relationship with one another from Ephesians 6:1-4 HERE

Our last worship at the park for this summer will be in two weeks, August 17th at Gordon Park. Make sure you get in touch with Josie and Essie and ask them how you can help with the food, setup, or breakdown!