Acts 29! While I love my church planting network, I’m actually referring to this age in which Jesus continues to build His church. In the concluding message to our series through the book of Acts we see 3 reasons why The Unstoppable Advance Continues. The Gospel is for all peoples! Busting out of the cocoon of the Old Covenant to the New Covenant was messy business for the early church. And busting out of our cocoons is messy for us too if we want to reach all peoples. Messy. But beautiful! The Gospel advances through suffering. The Gospel is not bound by suffering, it bursts forward through it. Oh, that we would understand this! The Gospel is God’s Story. When we repent & put our full trust in Jesus, our story is corrected & completed by God’s story. He takes our trashy, nasty, cheap paperback novel of a life and makes it part of a brilliantly written story that will show out & show off His glory forever. As if that is not enough, God puts you on his writing team in this Acts 29 age! Not that He needs you to get it done – He could make the rocks cry out in praise to Him – but to show His power & shower you with joy! Where are you in The Story? Check out the video below to find out (as well as to learn how not to pronounce cocoon;)
Archive for the ‘THE Story’ Category
What a two months it has been! Sunday we completed our eight week run through THE Story with Happily Ever After (No fooling!). What was lost in the garden is more than regained for all who trust in Christ! It was exciting to talk about the full reverse of the curse and dwelling with God forever. My heart was also heavy, however, for some of my friends who have not yet to come to Christ. Will you pray with us that the Spirit will continue to work in hearts?
The early church. Beautiful things. Broken things. Encouraging words. Convicting words. The fruit of the Spirit. The works of the flesh. That’s what we looked at in session 7, Soma (body) Life. In some lively discussion we address the questions of whether someone can be a Christian and yet not experience change, what happens when we try to follow Christ in our own strength, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Time has flown by! Hard to believe next Sunday will be the last session in this 8 week interactive study. We will be looking at Happily Ever After (No fooling!) this Sunday, April 1.
“Just live it up!” That was one of the answers to the question of how we make disciples. The person actually meant to say, “Just live it (your faith in Christ) out”, but in a way it does describe how we are to make disciples. Live it up–remember your new identity (Col 3:1-4). Live it up–enjoy the grace we have in Jesus that weans us from broken cisterns and brings us to drink of living water that satisfies. The conversation was not only humorous, it was piercing; especially as we discussed the difference between “believing in God” and following Jesus. Dive into End of Story? below as we look at Death & Resurrection and Mission & Power.
We have just two more sessions of THE Story before we launch weekly worship services on Easter Sunday. And this week we launched 2 new Disciples Groups. May many, many lives be transformed, and God be more and more glorified! As enemy territory is invaded with the gospel, fiery darts fly. But Jesus is unstoppable!! Please pray for and with us.
“This was the best session we’ve had so far!” exclaimed one of the participants as he stood to his feet at the end of session 5. I agree and others have said the same. It was an open and oftentimes emotional session, as we discussed Jesus’ words on the new birth to Nicodemus and the parable of the two sons. You can dive in below.
It’s been one of the most painful (I’ll save that story for another day) and fruitful weeks in Detroit between the great round 5 of THE Story and a powerful confession filled celebration Wednesday night at our last West Lodge Missional Community gathering before we launch a second group next week. It was a little bittersweet as we will not all be together every Wednesday but also a joy in knowing we are multiplying, which is sort of our goal in making disciples! Plus, in just a few weeks we’ll all gather Sundays for worship. And of course, we’ll still be connecting in different ways during the week.
Sunday we had the best attendance thus far, but even better, the interaction is increasingly authentic and open as we tell and discuss the greatest story ever. I love when people ask the kind of questions that people frequently have about God but are seldom raised for fear of what others might say – we definitely had a few moments like this. In round 4, As Promised, we look at the birth, baptism, temptation, & first disciples of Christ.
We’ve got some exciting next steps we’ll soon be taking at Restore! Standby for details.
As a young child I had Noah’s Ark themed bedsheets. Many nurseries are painted with animals on the ark. This is quite ironic, when you consider the catastrophic nature of the flood. It’s like having scenes from Hurricane Katrina on your child’s wall. And as one participant noted in Round 2 of THE Story, the great flood makes tsunamis seem like a playful splash. It is a vivid illustration of a reoccurring theme in THE Story. God, who is holy (everything He does is good, right, & perfect) must deal with rebellion. “God don’t play” was the way one guy very appropriately put it. But we also see God is relentlessly merciful. He did have an ark made after all! And years later He chooses a man named Abram and makes an incredible promise to him that is bearing fruit to this very day.
You can watch “Judgment to Mercy” below. Clete leads in scene 1, the flood, and I take scene 2, the covenant. The interaction among the 60+ attenders was great, and if you listen you’ll notice several funny moments mixed in with some serious discussion about God.
And thanks to the Pistons 20 of us were able to attend last Friday night’s game for free (& see a victory too!).
At the gracious invitation of friend & Detroit Library Duffield Branch manager Christine Peele I was privileged to sit on the panel of judges with Pastor Shaun Marshall (Citadel of Faith) and 3 others in the 34th Annual Albert H. Mallory Sr. Black Heroes Oratorical Essay Contest. It was a blast listening to over 20 3rd – 9th graders present essays on some of the great african-american leaders of the past 2 centuries. Wow, was it informative for me! Through the hard-work, preparation, and lips of these kids I learned a great deal not just about African-American history, but about American history in general. As a nearly 43 year old college educated white guy who reads fairly widely I was struck by how much of our American history I have not know about. I suspect my experience, as shaped & limited by my background & education, is not unique among the anglo population. Simply put, many of us are largely ignorant of the role African-Americans have played in our nation’s history. We only have part of the story.
And then I was double struck by how this is a bit of an analogy for the ignorance of all ethnicities – red, black, yellow, brown, & white – of the ultimate story, the Story of our Creator & Redeemer. Some have never even heard of the Living God & others have heard only part of the story about Him as shaped & limited by their traditions. The ignorance many white americans have of the role of blacks in american history serves as an illustration of the ignorance that all people have of Christ until he is revealed by His word through the Spirit.
So after chowing on the delicious buffet that concluded the contest I left not only with a full stomach but also with a renewed commitment in my gut to pursue ( & help others pursue) two things — a greater understanding of the role of african-americans in the story of our nation and a greater understanding of the ultimate story, the story of God.
Here’s two tangible action steps you can take to continue on this journey with me. First, go the Duffield Branch Library and choose a book from the african-american section. My latest read, complements of the recommendation of Mrs. Peele, is The Warmth of other Suns, a book that chronicles the migration of 6 million blacks from the south. Many have been asking me for recommendations so I’ll add three more of my own. Free at Last? The Gospel in African-American Experience by Carl F Ellis Jr (who’ll I’ll get to learn from next Friday in Philadelphia for 8 hours with about 20 pastors!), On being Black & Reformed by Anthony Carter (No, not the AC of Wolverine history. but I can’t resist – here’s one of the greatest plays of UM history.) and Liberating Black Theology: The Bible & the Black Experience in America by Anthony Bradley (you’ll need strong coffee for this informative read!). Second, participate in our interactive Bible study THE Story Sundays 3-5PM at 1926 Virginia Park Blvd. In a few days I’ll do a blogpost (& possibly post the video) from last night’s study Paradise Lost, the first of our eight sessions. We’re going to set up some more chairs so there is room for you!