Ready Made, Already Finished - Easter 2019

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But teach me that I cannot satisfy thy law,
that this effort (to satisfy the law on my own) is a resting in my righteousness,
that only Christ's righteousness, ready made,
already finished, is fit for that purpose

Christ's righteousness ready made, already finished. That is the message of Easter.

I want us to ponder those words. Meditate on them. Memorize them. This is the crux of our faith. Christ's righteousness, ready made, already finished.

For millenia prior to the cross, it was only the shedding of bloody sacrifices that could cleanse people from their sin. At the cross, the Bloody Sacrifice was made in our place. He took our sin, the cup of wrath that we so deserved directly from the Father's hand and poured it on himself on the cross. With his resurrection, he put the period at the end of the sentence. Satan sits, mouth agape at the empty tomb. The victory that was his, is his no longer. No grave can hold the Savior of the world. Jesus is not a still-dead sacrifice. He's alive! He rose, conquering not only the grave, but sin and death itself! A final sacrifice.

And yet, here we are, a church, a people bent on trying to save ourselves. Each time we rely on our own strength. Each time we neglect to pray "Lord, do this work." Each time we put ourselves above others. Each time we neglect to do what's right. Each time we do the wrong thing because if feels right. Each time we put things off til tomorrow. Each time we refuse to share our burdens. Each time we refuse to enter into each other's suffering.

Each time we say "I'm sufficient. I can do it. I don't need Him. I can do it."

The culture tells us this in bold faced billboards and commercials. Be you. You can do it. You are strong.

But we are not. Strength is not the state of natural man. Brokenness is. And it is because of this, we need to meditate on the completed work of Christ this Easter, no, every day.

Christ's righteous stands in utter contrast to our wretchedness. And he offers it to us so that we can stand before the Father Justified- never to receive the cup of wrath from the Father's hand.

Christ's work is finished. It is already here. We do not have to search for it in other things. It is in an open hand. It is in the pages of Scripture.

May we live each day fully grasping that only Christ's righteousness, ready made, already finished, is fit for that purpose of taking our dead hearts and making them alive. Not you. Not your spouse. Not your good works. Not your kids, your family, your job, your righteous works. It's not enough. But the Author and Finisher of our faith has done the work. It is ready made for you. Repent. Believe.

Spiritual Disciplines Resources- Stewardship

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Another week, more resources for you. This past Sunday, Justin taught on the discipline of stewarding your time and your money. I say “your” lightly. It’s not “yours,” it’s all God’s.

  1. Jonathan Edwards preached a wonderful sermon on the preciousness of time and our use of it. Unfortunately, there was no audio or video recording of this, as Edwards preached the sermon in 1734. However, we can be thankful for the art of written sermons. Here’s the quote from Edwards that was in this week’s sermon to whet your appetite:

Eternity depends on the improvement of time. But when once the time of life is gone, when once death is come, we have no more to do with time; there is no possibility of obtaining the restoration of it, or another space in which to prepare for eternity. If a man should lose the whole of his worldly substance, and become a bankrupt, it is possible that his loss may be made up. He may have another estate as good. But when the time of life is gone, it is impossible that we should ever obtain another such time. All opportunity of obtaining eternal welfare is utterly and everlastingly gone.

You can find the entire sermon here.

2. Tim Challies wrote a wonderful book on productivity called Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. In it, he defines productivity as “effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.” We’re currently studying this book in MD|men, and if you would like to learn how to steward your time in an effective way, I highly recommend picking up a copy. It’s a short read too, so there’s that.

3. Head on over to Crown to check out tons of free and paid material on taming your finances and career. According to Crown’s vision, they “Aspire to be the most effective organization in the world at training God’s followers to be good and faithful stewards.” So set aside some time and browse their site (click on the resources dropdown) for some good content.

4. This list wouldn’t be complete without a personal recommendation from yours truly. Perhaps the best (and briefest) book I’ve read on stewarding money comes in the form of Money: God or Gift by Jamie Munson (a former pastor at Mars Hill Church RIP). This book will guide you through both the theology and practicality of what stewarding your money means. All in about 150 pages of easy reading.

Spiritual Disciplines Resources- Worship


I’ve been struggling with specific “worship” resources this week because, as Justin taught, worship encompasses many of the Disciplines we’ve already covered. So today you’ll be linked to several albums that have launched my heart into worship of God. Music that holds God up high, placing him where he should be so that our worship flows directly from him in all his majesty.

  1. Stephen Miller // Behold - I was browsing Instagram this week and a respected pastor I follow posted great things about Stephen Miller’s new album so I checked it out. Each song contains such wonderful lyrics in direct worship to God that I had to place this at number 1. I don’t often listen to worship music, but this one is definitely worth checking out.

  2. Beautiful Eulogy // Worthy - I mean, the title of Beautiful Eulogy’s new album says it all. I’m not great at genres, but this chill hip hop-esque album will cause deep reflection in your heart, stirring it toward vertical worship of God. It’s also free to download, or pay to support their efforts.

  3. Shai Linne // The Attributes of God - In a similar vein as Beautiful Eulogy, Shai Linne offers a lyrical examination of the attributes of God, who God is and what that means. I can’t think of anything better to focus on for worshiping God than on him and who he is. So check this album out. We also still have some copies available of Shai Linne’s new album Still Jesus available at church for you to have as well.

  4. The Saving // Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God - This one is for any metalheads like me. The Saving is a solo project by some guy in Florida, but his music and lyrics are so powerful. Each album focuses on a topic or concept and runs with it. This is his most recent release and it focuses on our relationship to God and is based on that famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards of the same name.

I’d love to hear from you what things help you focus on God in worship! Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add.

Spiritual Disciplines Resources- Prayer

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This week we have numerous resources lined up for you on the Spiritual Discipline of Prayer. Let’s dive in.

  1. First we have an article by John Piper called Tips for Praying the Word. Here, Pastor John gives us very practical steps and examples of what it might look like to pray through a passage, thus further linking prayer and the discipline of meditation. Give it a try this week!

  2. Since we’re talking about praying the word, here’s the link to one of the Elder’s favorite messages from the Living Scripture CCEF Conference from 2018. I’s called Praying Scripture: The Cry of the Longing Heart by Joe Novenson. In addition, here’s the outline that accompanied the talk. We highly recommend giving a listen.

  3. The third is one of my (Jesse’s) favorite books on prayer I’ve read thus far. It’s called A Praying Life by Paul Miller. It comes with an optional study guide to guide you through different practices and really getting the practice of prayer down to an efficient yet effective system. Plus is has a forward by David Powlison so that’s a big plus.

  4. Next we come to the Prayer Mate app. If you want to digitize your prayer lists, this is a great, free way to do so. Here’s what Nathan has to say about it from his time with the app: “The Prayer Mate app is a great app to keep track of all of your prayer requests. It not only keeps your prayer requests, but it also reminds you to pray for them throughout the day. It even allows you to add Bible verses and biblical prayers. It’s a solid prayer app that can be a great support to your prayer life.” So what are you waiting for? It’s available on iOS and Android.

  5. Finally, we come to another article, this time written by Don Whitney himself (he’s the man behind the “tome” Spiritual Disciplines). The article is called The Gospel and Prayer and it examines whether or not the prayers of an unbeliever are heard an answered by God. An interesting and tricky question handled by a skillful theologian.

Next week we’ll be examining the discipline of Stewardship so stay tuned for more resources.

Spiritual Disciplines Resources- Meditation

Well, new year, new series and we’re already through week 1! Throughout our Spiritual Disciplines series, we want to provide you with additional resources to help you as you apply the Spiritual Disciplines to your own lives throughout the week.

We have two resources for you this week for the discipline of Meditation: Streetlights Audio Bible and


Streetlights is a fantastic app that gives you high quality Scripture readings with relaxing ambient music in the background. Readers include many spoken word/hip hop artists, including members of Beautiful Eulogy, a band we hold dear to our hearts at Missio Dei.

I recommend this to you for this reason: You’ve been charged with reading the whole book of Titus every day of this series. We’re not against getting creative here at MD, so use your time wisely. Some people need to sit at a desk with their Bible and journal open as they read, others might be helped by this audio Bible. It’s completely free so give it a try.


Additionally, we encouraged you to highlight certain verses that interest you and dedicate yourselves to memorizing them. is a fantastic tool for you to utilize memorization techniques and couple that with the Word of God. They have a free app to use with multiple Bible versions available to use for a little bit of cash.

That’s all for this week! We hope to continue updating these spaces with resources for you each week!

God's Homeless People

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I should wait until this whole process is over to post…

This has been the thought pervading my mind in regards to this very post. Many times, when I consider writing or posting something, I like to write from a more knowledgeable perspective. I don’t like writing about an experience or a life event as it’s happening. It makes me feel like I don’t have control. It makes me feel incomplete. It makes me feel like I’m not qualified to talk about said experience since I haven’t finished living it yet.

I think that’s the point.

My Housing Struggle

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of stress and activity. We have been looking for a new home for our family amidst the owners of our current (my in-laws) house selling the one we’re in now. Two separate families operating on two different timelines isn’t exactly a walk in the park. While we’re packing our stuff, we’re also trying to help get the house ready for sale: cleaning, fixing, adding, removing. It has not been an easy few weeks.

Amidst all this were some health complications and crazy children on top of it all, and it has honestly brought me to my knees on more than one occasion. God, what are you doing! I cry. You see, I do not enjoy feeling helpless. I struggle with confidence mainly because I don’t want other people to think I don’t know how to do something, or think that I’m incapable of doing something on my own. I like to be self-sustaining. Ironically, God does not like me to be self-sustaining.

God has brought me through the last few years at Missio Dei, and has retooled my heart with a desire for community and transparency. As elders, though we make many mistakes, we do try to lead from this perspective as well. In my discipleship circles, I’ve learned to share almost anything, from the mundane to the extravagant with them. It truly is the, perhaps overused, phrase doing life together. All that to say, I’m honestly not quite sure why I’m having trouble sharing with you today all that I’m about to tell you. I mean, I do know why, and it’s for all the reasons I listed at the beginning. But when I sit down and just think about it, I know I have no reason to neglect sharing these things with you. You all know how broken I am. I certainly don’t need to pretend like I have it all together.

God’s Homeless People

I’m currently reading Exodus for Lent from with the website He Reads Truth. The past week or so, God’s been giving Moses detailed instructions for the construction of the Temple, along with all that goes with it. The courtyard. The relics and silverware for the interior. The Ark of the Covenant. The High Priestly garments. Reading chapter after chapter of instructions on how to build these things, the length, width and height of these things, the color of these things, the material of these things all needed to be exactly as God commanded…or else.

Moses chose skilled craftsmen of every trade to get the work done, and done well, and they built God’s house in the wilderness.

Ever since the exodus from Egypt, God made his people to be mobile. They had to pack and transport the tent during the entirety of their travels, what would be over 40 years in the wilderness prior to their settling down in Israel. Throughout that time, God provided everything the Israelites needed in spite of their own grumbling, complaining, and profaning God and His love for His people. He sent manna for them to eat, water for them to drink, and guided them with pillars of cloud and fire. While they were living in a time of uncertainty, forced to live day after day of not knowing where they were going next, God provided for them in their homelessness.

Can you imagine if God had commanded Moses to build a permanent tabernacle as he charged King Solomon years later? That thing was not built for daily tear-down and set-up! Even in the construction of God’s own house (the tabernacle), He made it mobile and ready to move.

Let’s not miss the significance of this: God made his own house and dwelling place mobile so He could always dwell in the midst of His people and provide their needs on a daily basis.


So here I am. In the midst of weeks of daily turmoil and uncertainty, reading through Exodus, not actually learning and gleaning the true significance and application to my own life until I finish the whole book. God is with His people through daily uncertainty and turmoil. Truly, He will never leave me or forsake me (Deut 31:6; Heb 13:5) and so I don’t need to worry (Phil 4:6) or be afraid (Ps 118:6; Heb 13:6). God has been faithful to His people since day one, and His character certainly hasn’t changed since then.

So even in uncertainty, I can still trust in my God, that, though I can’t see, and though I think I have a better plan, He’s directing my life, and this was for a certain reason and, surely, His plan is better than mine.

Toys and the Redefinition of Childhood

Edited Photo by  Markus Spiske  on  Unsplash

Edited Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This morning as I was waiting for the water to boil for my tea, I threw on the daily podcast The Briefing by Al Mohler. This is one of my go-to podcasts for engaging culture with a Christian worldview, and Mohler is a master at teasing out worldview themes in headlines from around the world.

There was one headline Mohler respun that caught my attention this morning: The Redefinition of Childhood as Sales of Lego Products Decline. The original headline reads Lego Will Cut 1,400 Jobs as Profit Dips, Despite Big-Screen Heroics.

I wanted to highlight Mohler’s headline because it got me thinking of my own childhood. What toys did I play with as a kid, and did it really make a difference in who I am today?

Even though I find myself designing almost all of what you see at Missio Dei, I do not consider myself to be a creative person. I cannot seem to picture something in my head and make it happen like my wonderful wife can. She is an artist from a family of artists who can make even a stick figure look life-like. My brain can’t do that, but it can rearrange shapes and patterns and colors into something like what you see here at MD. Some might consider that an “artistic style” or that I don’t give myself enough credit, but whatever. I just don’t see it in the same light.

I don’t have a terribly vivid memory of my childhood, but when I hone in on what I played with and what I liked to do, it does actually lead to some interesting correlations to my likes, interests, and passions today.

To put it bluntly, I can’t play with LEGOs for my life. I mean, I can follow directions for a model (I have fond memories of building the Millenium Falcon on my shore house table one morning), but I can’t create like other people can. However, I did like to play with action figures with various outfits and gadgets, toy cars would go zooming on the kitchen floor, and many many books would be read. However, I also grew up when console gaming was really taking off. I remember owning a PS1 and PS2 and even now in my adulthood, I’ve owned both a PS3 and PS4. I immersed myself in the gaming world probably just as much as I did in the real world. I played by myself, then, when online gaming was a reality, with a worldwide community online. Hours and hours of storylines, action fighting, puzzle solving, and exploration.

But what does that mean? Does it mean anything?

The article explains how LEGO is going to increase their efforts in smartphone and other digital technologies to keep up in the digital age, but Mohler argues that spatial, three-dimensional play helps wire the brain with spatial knowledge, and “That’s simply not going to happen on a smartphone.” That’s not just his opinion. It’s a well-researched fact that the way that children, even infants, interact with the physical world is vital to their growth and development. So it would seem that LEGOs first profit loss in 13 years might actually have implications in the way our children are growing up. What will the adults of the future look like?

Ultimately, it’s a great question and one we need to consider as we continue to grow older and change life stages. I do think there are benefits of technology that can and do help our children learn and grow, but I also agree with Mohler that three-dimensional play is crucial to their growth and development.


What do you think? Will more screens = better children? Or does playing with actual physical toys promote better growth and development? What biblical principles can help guide a parent’s decision-making in these areas? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!

Doing What the Church Does

I was done, and nothing was going to change that for me. Not prayer, not Scripture reading, not anything. Life was too hard. The kids were too disobedient. Work was too stressful. I was too impatient. And the all those factors mixed up did not make anything that resembled holiness or piety for me. 

Now, I know how writing works. This paragraph is usually the one that explains at what point in my life this was (far in the past of course) and what biblical truths have brought me through this season in some sort of life-changing way. But writing has never been my strongest strength.

All these factors of stress, difficulty, and frazzledness did not take place long ago. These took place last night, in the middle of Community Group. 

Yes, that time of the week I usually enjoy as one of the high points became a time of shutting down and frustration for me. A time where I could find solace and rest in my brothers and sisters in Christ became a time where I marched angrily upstairs to help Hannah try to bathe our crazy kids. Truth be told, I wanted to be upstairs. I didn't want to be like that in front of my friends! I'm an elder for gosh sakes! I should bear a more accurate representation of Christ-likeness than this, shouldn't I?

Shouldn't I?

How Quickly I Forget

Not 3 days ago from this writing, I sat down with a group of about 10 guys and we dove into a new MD|men study on ministry and the body of Christ. The first session highlighted our neediness. It described ministry in the body of Christ in such beautiful terms. The author painted the picture of a gaggle of his grandkids all wrestling, playing, and comforting one another in a mangled up ball of limbs on his bed one morning. He points out that it was "One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen." He goes on to mention that often we think of ministry as walking side by side with somebody down a straight, beautiful garden path, but that's not often how life actually pans out. It's more like that moving body of limbs, shouts, laughter, and tears. 

This teaching was very impactful to me (and what I assume was the rest of the group judging by the lively discussion we entertained for quite some time after). It comforted me to know that we are all to be transparent and needy with one another because it is our neediness before Christ that is the beginning point of the Gospel. Without our need, there is no Cross, no Resurrection. It is central to what we believe and central to how we are to live life together.

But I forgot all this last night. I felt compelled by my pride to pretend like I had it all together, and when that failed I wanted nothing to do with the people (my friends) in my living room. I wanted to be alone. 

God's Perfect Timing

Eventually, I carried my fussy 7-month-old downstairs to try to re-engage. Can you imagine how that went? Not well. My internals were still at a boiling point. I made no eye contact. I really wasn't even paying attention to what my friends were talking about at that time. Still shut down. They asked me if I was alright and if there was anything they could do to help. I told them no, I was not ok, and no there was nothing you can do. Perhaps I've been reading too much of Job recently, but I figured God would deliver me from all this when He saw fit. No need to fight it. 

It was then a dear brother invited the room to pray for me. "Great," I thought. "This is not what I want to do right now."

But they prayed. And I listened. And I was still angry. Nothing changed. I guess God answered "No" to that one. I got up and went into the kitchen to start cleaning up the mess from dinner. Almost immediately I was joined by the rest of Community Group. "We're going to clean your kitchen dude. Take a break." Normally, I'd resist, but I honestly didn't have it in me. I marched back upstairs to help put my screaming kids to bed.

The Whole Point

Perhaps you're wondering why I'm killing your buzz, telling you the depth of struggle and depravity in my own heart. You've got your own problems, right? You don't need to hear mine. Perhaps that's true. You noticed I titled the last section "God's Perfect Timing" but you don't get it. There was no redemption. No finality. No end to the story. What's the point?

The point is this. When I walked down the stairs this morning, I didn't feel much better. Nothing had changed for me. Sometimes, like in Job, suffering persists. But when I walked into my kitchen this morning, and saw the completed work, the fruits of my brothers and sisters in Christ, it uplifted my heart.

I'm not talking about "it made me feel happy" because that's a little too simplistic compared to what happened. I saw the work they did. I thought about their question last night. "Is there anything we can do to help?" I thought about my dismissive answer. Then, to think they didn't care. They didn't care that I didn't want help. They didn't think to just go about discussing the sermon from Sunday and leave things the way they were. They didn't excuse themselves quietly from the awkward tensions of my home last night. They thought to do something. They entered into the messiness to minister to a brother and sister who really had no idea what help even looked like.

And that's the point. It's the church doing what the church does. Entering into the tangled up ball of limbs, tears, and struggles to love and comfort one another. The helpers helping the helpless. And it is the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time. 

On Legalism: Some Quotes

This past Sunday, Justin spoke on legalism and Acts 11. This morning I wanted to know some of the method behind the madness and took a peek at the Sermon Notes from this lesson and found some gems that would be helpful for me to share with you. If you haven't listened to the sermon, you can listen to it below. I'll then leave the quotes with no further comment. Please listen to the sermon for further edification and clarification regarding context!

At the moment the really important thing seems to be that you were brought to realise (in the strictest sense) the impossibility of rejecting Christ. Of course He must often seem (to us) to be playing fast and loose with us. The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog. They misread the signs. Their ignorance and their wishes twist everything. You are so sure you know what the promise promised! And the danger is that when what He means by ‘win’ appears, you will ignore it because it is not what you thought it would be—as He Himself was rejected because He was not like the Messiah the Jews had in mind.
— C.S. Lewis
If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out and difficult.
— Clement of Alexandria quoting Heraclitus
The Legalist places the Law ahead of the Lawgiver. In so doing, he fails to enjoy the the Giver because of the assumed weight of the holy law. He seeks the Fathers things instead of the Father, and trips over the rules on his way to building a tower to the sky.
— Justin Gruber
Joy comes from a mental shift first and the doing of things second. (Phil 4:8 [think], 9 [do])
— Justin Gruber

Community Group Structure and Leadership

Recently as I've been learning and growing spiritually, both personally and as a leader, it struck me that we have very few outlets to actually develop leaders at Missio Dei church. We've been around for 4 years this November, and we have yet to implement any leadership development outlets at our church. I see that as a problem, and we elders are unified about this. However, I am excited about what the future holds in this regard.

Let me tell you about step 1, and then I'll tell you why I'm excited about the future as well. 

Community Group Facilitators

The first step is to roll out a new structure to Community Groups at MD, and to create a role in which those men and women who desire to grow and lead can learn how to do so in our local context. Enter: CG Facilitators. Now, you're CG may have had facilitators in the past, but the new CG Facilitator role has a new purpose and functions within the new structure of CG .

New Structure

  1. Scripture
  2. Article
  3. Prayer Requests
  4. Discussion Questions
  5. Close

These 5 things provide a more structured midweek meeting, but they can also be rearranged and contextualized depending on the needs of the group. Let's go one by one and explain what will happen in each step, how the CG Facilitator role fits in, and what leadership lessons will be learned with each section. 


The first section is dedicated to the Word of God. The facilitator will need to come to CG prepared to share something they have been reading and learning in Scripture with the rest of the Community Group. This has several purposes. First, it keeps the facilitator in the Word and actively engaged with it. This step is a crucial leadership lesson. Second, it provides an additional opportunity for the group to glean lessons from Scripture and engage and apply the lessons to their life in the context of accountability. Third, it keeps Scripture as a central focus for our Christian thought. 


Next, the facilitator will share an article or reading they found helpful throughout the week. Perhaps the article pertains to Christian living, or then again maybe it addresses a current event or cultural topic. There's great leeway in this for the facilitator to get creative and drum up something helpful and useful. This will help the facilitator learn to engage with the content that goes into their eyes and ears on a weekly basis. It will also help them understand how to read a group of people and select content for where those people are at. It also provides another opportunity for the group to engage and learn from relevant context. Just think, if nothing else changed, and a member attends Missio Dei for 30 years, they will have had the opportunity to learn and grow from others at a minimum of almost 5,000 separate occasions! Fantastic!

Prayer Requests

One of the core ideas behind our Community Groups is that we grow closer to one another as a family, and prayer requests are a great first place to start. It requires the sharer to be open and transparent about the joys and struggles of their life, and it requires the hearers to provide loving prayer and accountability for the sharer. Truly the church at work! The facilitator is active and engaged with the prayer requests and directs the time to be fruitful and on track.

Discussion Questions

Traditionally the main event at CG. However, before the #askmdnj questions, the facilitator will lead a time of recap. This means the facilitator will have had to meaningfully engaged with the sermon on Sunday, as well as be able to communicate the main themes and points across to the group as a refresher. Each member has this responsibility, technically, but this will help the facilitator learn how to stay engaged at all times, as well as provide a small opportunity to "teach back" the content to the rest of the group.

After recap, the facilitator will then need to facilitate. They will lead the discussion surrounding the questions, guide each question to a close, and begin again with the next question. Facilitating meaningful discussion is difficult, however this will be a vital skill in both disciple-making and leading other small groups in the future. Once the discussion is over, the facilitator closes the night out.


As I mentioned earlier, we're excited to get this ball rolling, as well as to offer additional opportunities to foster leaders in the future. Our new Town Square will be a public space bustling with activity. I'm fully confident that we will be able to leverage that space as a space for public teaching next year. It can be our own little incubator for leaders to learn and grow in teaching. 

We also have several in house opportunities being developed that will be a great outlet to learn the skills of leadership, so stay tuned!

If you're interested in becoming a CG Facilitator, please reach out to John or Justin at Wednesday CG or Nathan or myself (Jesse) at Thursday CG to pick which days you'll try this out!

Thanks, God bless.

Equipped: Are Christians Responsible for the Orlando Shootings?

Oh the insanity...

Sunday morning we woke up to news of a mass shooting in an Orlando, Florida nightclub leaving 50+ dead. As we learned more throughout the day, it looked more and more like a radicalized Islamic man targeting a homosexual nightclub. 

Today I woke up to see an article headlined "ACLU lawyers blame 'Christian right,' GOP for Orlando terrorist attack" For real? Yes, for real. Chase Strangio hailing from ACLU responded to people's heartfelt condolences by tweeting:

This type of thing infuriates me personally. This past week, Justin made reference to a particular kind of injustice that infuriates him, the kind where the good guy is perceived to be the bad guy and is treated as such. But that's the story of the Gospel isn't it? Sorry. Rabbit trail. That's just to say that's where I feel Christians are this morning. Yet another thing that's our fault that actually has nothing to do with us. Yay.

I don't have much to say this morning. It's early, and I'm out of coffee which means there will be no waxing eloquent on my part at this point. However, I do want to equip my fellow MDers with some responses to attacks against Christianity in this vein of insanity.

Is the Bible a Book of Violence?

The following video is a debate between Christian apologist David Wood and Islamic apologist Shabir Ally. David beautifully defends the Bible (and therefore biblical Christianity) from some heartfelt attacks against its character. Please take some time to listen to it this week, and share  your thoughts in the comments below.

Switching Fridays

Luke 23:44 - It was about the sixth hour and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour


In our American Calendar there are two major Fridays we highlight. They are called by different names and I think they should be switched. On Thanksgiving we gather with loved ones (or friends or strangers) and enjoy (or make do or drudge through) interactions, and finally we overeat and then pass out, but we awake (or just don't sleep) to a Friday that is a very good day for businesses. We go out and spend way too much money on things that will end up trashed or obsolete within 3 years. The businesses call it Black Friday.

    Black Friday is an accounting term. It’s simple, when you balance your books and you are in the negative (owe money) it's called being in the red. On the flip side, if you end up with a surplus (make money) it’s called being in the black. Being in the black is a good thing. It’s overall good for the business and the economy and the person (provided you spent well and can get past the feeling of buyer's remorse).

    The Friday before Easter is actually an observation of a much more meaningful day. Before we have ham and deviled eggs. Before we search for candies and baskets. Before we wear new clothes with pretty pastel coloring. Before we celebrate new life. Before we remember Resurrection. There is what we call Good Friday. It’s the day we remember the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

    On this Friday, God the Son, who added humanity to His deity and walked the earth for 30+ years, was murdered. He was tried unjustly, spoke no lies, and sent to die by simple popular opinion in a horrific way (Luke 22-23). But none of these things were the real reason He was nailed to the Cross. 1 Peter 3:18 tells us that He suffered on the Cross to “bring us to God”. That Jesus, though He was righteous, carried our unrighteousness and bore it on the Cross so that we could receive His righteousness.

God wanted us to have peace with Him, and we couldn't reach it. He wanted us to be healed from our sin, but our medicine would never be enough.

In speaking of Jesus about 700 years before Jesus ever existed, the prophet Isaiah spoke of His sacrifice. In Isaiah 53:5 we find that He carried our grief and took our chastisement so that we would have peace and healing. It was His love and my unrighteousness that held Jesus to the Cross. God wanted us to have peace with Him, and we couldn't reach it. He wanted us to be healed from our sin, but our medicine would never be enough. So He had to come and He had to live and He had to pay the price for my selfish heart. His love for me and you and the world compelled the greatest rescue mission ever, and on “Good” Friday Jesus paid for our sins.

I propose a switch. Since “Black” Friday is good for businesses, let’s call that one Good Friday. Since on the day we celebrate the payment for our sin (Jesus death on the cross) God made it black, let's call this Black Friday. If you know the freedom of His Sacrifice, consider this day a great day to pull back and remember what what our rescue cost. It’s a great day for sober thankfulness and grateful thought to our loving Saviour. If you don’t know His sacrifice or have any other questions, then today is a great day to ask. Make this Black Friday a day that you’ll learn how significant Easter Sunday is as well.

Dear Rowan- 1 Corinthians Recap

Hey Rowan Students,

It was awesome to be a part of the Rowan Vendor fair again this year. We just wanted to take a minute to invite you into our little community in your community. We are a small church with big hearts for Glassboro, and we wanted to invite you to connect with us if there is anything you need. From counseling, prayer, questions, and community, we would love to engage you and care for you in any or all of those ways. Our regular meeting times are Sunday at 6PM for a church worship service and Community groups on Wednesday at 7:15PM (Dinner at 6PM) and Thursday at 900PM.

Last Sunday was our first week teaching through a book in the Bible called 1 Corinthians. It was the first of two letters written to the church that was in the city of Corinth. It was written by Paul or St. Paul as you might know him.  A quick catch up is that Corinth was a place of great wealth and idea. It was a very busy port City allowing other ports in the Aegean Sea and further west an efficient and faster path towards Rome and east. Bottom line: tons of money flowing through the city, mixed with lots of blue collar jobs and sailors coupled with some intense Greek Philosophizing. It was crazy. Open philosophical discussions like battle raps, prostitution everywhere for the sailors who enjoyed their short lived shore leave, gods of all kinds requiring all kinds of worship, and crazy wealth like Trump, all mixed in.

Corinth was a place of great wealth and idea.

Then the People of the Way came. That is how you would have identified someone who worshipped Jesus as Lord and Saviour at that time. As they reasoned together, and some started to follow the Way of Jesus, they had to decipher what their new lives would look like given all the stuff they were involved in previously. Jesus was calling them into some very different things and the changes and lifestyles got a bit mixed.

In our first week we highlighted the main issue that the church in Corinth was having was division (1 Cor 1:10-17). Division over who they listened to. They thought that, like Greek philosophy, perhaps different leaders of the Way had different philosophies on how to live life. They got stuck here and it affected their pride. They thought each one was better than the other because of interpretation, leadership, their own giftedness, etc.; it was leading to a lot of confusion. The rest of the letter looks at how a church can get totally nuts when it begins to worship everything except for God.

So join us as we continue this journey in the weeks to come, and don’t forget to hit us up if you have any questions or need anything. Ever.

We Are Not Our Own

We are not our own… 37 hours of ministry with some sleep breaks in between.

I have been doing ministry for a lot of years. Different churches, different locations, different types of work. But this week, I have witnessed something that is like nothing I have ever experienced.

This past week our little church got uncomfortable and we got tired. About 20 of us, give or take, moved approximately 500 Rowan students up and down 5 stories of elevators into their new “homes”. We handed out about 400 frisbees and magnets and letters sharing the Gospel. We talked to them, prayed for them, prayed for opportunities to share Jesus, asked them about their major, asked them about God, invited them to church.

We then went from the beautiful new building of 220 Rowan to a different scene altogether but not far away, in fact, just down the street. Kids running around in a field, older kids on bikes waiting not for a movie but for the free food that they were about to be given. Serving food donated to grateful (and some ungrateful) parents who finally get one night that they don’t need to provide entertainment or dinner for their kids. A movie played in the background while our little church kept working. Cleaning up trash, cleaning tables, unsetting what we had set up just a couple hours before. We got to hand out gospel tracts, pray for them, invite people to church, preach that God loves them out in the air and in the open.

I watched as our senior elder, John, struggled to stand on his feet at the end of the day as the labor of love for our Savior and His people weighed down on his tired feet. I cuddled my little infant baby whose schedule has been interrupted because his mommy has been busy loving on her community for the sake of her Savior. From the eldest of our church to the youngest, I witnessed something: ministry is hard. Serving Jesus and others is tiring, and frankly there are many moments where I don’t want to work anymore and I want to retreat with my little family behind the comfort of my own door.

Why then? Why wear ourselves out? Why sacrifice our comfort, our schedules, and our muscles? For what purpose?

Something that was shared this past Sunday has stuck with me these past few days.

I Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

I am not my own. I am bought with a price. That includes my comfort, my schedule, my need for control, my sweet little family. We function under this illusion that we have control over our lives, and that we deserve to get what we want.  Jesus died for my freedom to love and serve Him instead of myself. His blood was shed so that I can live, but how often do we forget that. There are so many distractions in this world that can carry us away from doing what we were actually created to do, Worship God. But instead, we end up worshipping the creation rather than the creator. The blood that Jesus shed for us actually draws us TO him (Eph. 2:13).

I said earlier that in all my years of ministry I witnessed something different this week. Yes, I’ve been on mission trips that have been exhausting and tiring before. But this week? I got to see our little church actually do the hard stuff of ministry. They took off of work, they rearranged their schedules to help, they kept going when they were so done they could barely move. Ministry was LIFE this week. Serving our community was our LIVES for 3 days. We didn’t take a vacation for it, we didn’t set aside a couple hours here and there to check a box. Other things were sacrificed so that we could pour ourselves out. We got pushed a little bit more out of our comfort and towards the price and sacrifice that Jesus paid for our freedom from a sinful selfish life. My prayer this week has been that the community of Glassboro would see Jesus this week, that they would HEAR Jesus this week. I know seeds have been planted that God can use for His glory. But I also think something else has been revealed, we can do it. We can do the hard work of ministry. God can push us to the brink for His Glory to serve and love on His people. God can change the way we speak, He can give us the boldness to talk about Him, He can take our seemingly small acts of service and He can change lives, including our own. It makes me excited for what other opportunities He has for us to push us just a little bit more.

Are you ready?

Rowan Move-In: Why We're Here

It's simple...Glory

We are here for glory. No. Not our glory. God’s Glory. The glory is His to begin with. Consider, for a second, that the God of the Bible is real and is who he claims to be. Then it’s very clear that our purpose, and the only thing that fills us, is to glorify God, While we search for this purpose in the chasing of our comforts, pleasures, and relationships;  God is saying “I made these and here is how they work. If you want real joy, listen to me.” Suddenly, when we use them His way, these temporary, fleeting things can fill the  infinite void in our hearts. 

We here at Missio Dei want nothing more than to love and serve our communityi as an opportunity to show the Gospel. In that way we can glorify God by making much of Him to everyone, and in turn be a church that is pouring itself out for the Glory of God and the good of man. We understand that this may leave you with a thousand questions, questions we are more than excited about working through with you. We have a reasonable faith that is the best news for all people, and we would love to talk to you about who Jesus is and what that means for us, so approach us at an event, call, text, tweet. Reach out however you want. We’d love to start a dialogue

Summer Listening

Ever since High School, I've made a habit of devouring as much content as time has allowed me. Over the years, I've run into some pretty great podcasts that I thought would benefit our body if I shared them out for you guys. These podcasts are all different lengths, so no matter how much (or how little) time you have, you should be able to squeeze some good content into that summer brain.

5 Minutes In Church History


Category: Short, Information

RC Sproul's parachurch ministry, Ligonier Ministries, puts out a podcast geared towards getting church history into the hands of the modern church. Many reformed leaders would argue that if you're not learning from dead people, you're doing something wrong.

In this podcast, Stephen Nichols briefly covers a range of topics from creeds, to laymen, to church history icons in just 5 minutes. Great if you only have a short commute to work, or take a while to brush your teeth. 

Reasonable Faith Podcast

Category: Medium, Apologetic

If you've been hanging around for the past year or so, you may have heard one of the MDers talk about William Lane Craig. He's a giant in Christian Apologetics and philosophy. Not only that, but he also has a podcast for us to listen to! Every Monday, Craig and his Co-host discuss varying topics centering around apologetics and theology.

If you listen for a couple weeks, you'll probably gain some valuable insight applicable to questions about Christianity you may have had for your entire life. A great gem.

The Briefing

Category: Medium, Christian Living/Current Events

Probably my favorite recent discovery is put out by Albert Mohler every morning. This 20 minute program goes through headlines from various news outlets and picks apart the worldview issues associated with them.

This is an absolute goldmine for all Christians everywhere. I highly recommend this one. 

Calvinist Batman and Friends

Category: Medium/Long, Informational/Christian Living

Every morning Batman comes home from working the streets of Gotham and starts producing the Calvinist Batman podcast. This is a weekly podcast where Calvinist Batman gathers some big (and some small) reformed names and chats on a range of topics.

I just recently started listening and already I've gained some valuable knowledge and different perspectives. Also, Batman.

The Dividing Line

Category: Long/Looong, Informational/Christian Living

To wrap up, we come to James White's twice-a-week radio show/live stream/podcast, The Dividing Line. Dr. White is unashamed of the Gospel, and does not back down when pressure from cultural norms come storming our way. A master of exegesis, it's important to glean some fantastic snippets from Dr. White.

How MD|online Can Help You Follow the Vision

As we plan out 2015, you should plan to be involved!

As we plan out 2015, you should plan to be involved!

Last weekend, we held our very first Vision Casting as a church. We outlined what our call is individually, as a church, and how that call is to play out in our community. It was a challenging weekend to be sure, with more hours spent teaching and learning than not!

During our Vision Outline portion Saturday night, we spelled out two areas we face as a church in 2015: more events, and a potential move. Both of these things have a ton of moving pieces, and we’re all going to have to be on the top of our game if we want to carry the torch well in 2015. 

Many account holders on MD|online (located on a tab at the top of this very page) rarely ever use it. But it is here where all these moving pieces will be playing their part throughout this year. So, a committed MD attendee should wisely invest some of their time familiarizing themselves with MD|online. This article is to help you have a little focus each time you log on to MD|online. 

Finish Your Profile

MD|online has possibly one of the largest profiles I’ve ever seen. But that’s not to say it isn’t necessary or helpful. It’s not a social network, it’s a church communication platform. The more information it’s able to collect, the better a tool it becomes as we move forward with our initiatives. So plan out some time to fill out as much as you can, particularly the spiritual gifts. This will help our leaders know who has what abilities as we are seeking help in 2015. Not sure what your spiritual gifts are? Talk to an elder. It’s a good conversation to have. 

Know the Calendar

All of our MD events (10+ town events this year!!) will be on our calendar once they’re confirmed. That means we’ll need people to sign up to help out on every event. 

We are making sure to have our events scheduled out and to the town by the end of January so they can confirm each one. As soon as they’re confirmed, we’ll begin planning now to avoid any last minute rush. That means you’ll have plenty of time to see the needs and plan your schedule accordingly to meet them. 

We have three categories of events this year. 

  • Town-run Events- These are the traditional marketplace events that we’ve attended in the past. They are put on by an organization or sponsors, and we set up our tents and material and attend.
  • MD Events- Last year we only had one MD event: Movie Night. This year, we’re bumping it up to five movie nights called “Fourth Friday Movie Nights.” They’ll start in May and run through til September. These are our own events. We’re responsible for finding support and vendors.
  • MD-run Glassboro Events- This is where we are the organization running a town event. This is by far the most responsibility we’ve ever encountered with an event to date. We will be responsible for pretty much every aspect of the event. We are looking to run Unity Day, arguably one of the town’s largest events of the year.

This means that, now more than ever, you’ll need to be plugged in to MD|online. 

Set Up Recurring Gifts

The last thing we need to talk about regarding our vision and MD|online is giving. 

Over the weekend, we announced that in order to maximize the Gospel to our community, a time change should be proposed. If we want to change the time of MD, we also need to change the home of MD. We mentioned that the town has several options lined up for us, but before we do anything, we need to be good stewards of what God has given us. 

Missio Dei has always been about using as much of the funds we receive for ministry outside of our bills and in to our community. We have no paid staff, and rent is very affordable in our current location. 

We proposed that we would require at least $1500 a month giving increase in order to sustain a move with some wiggle room. 

If everyone at MD (estimating average attendance at around 30/week) gave $12.50 more a week (some committed regular attenders give $0), we would be making enough to move right away. Just last weekend, I spent $18 at Wawa for myself and Hannah (and I even forgot her drink!), so we know this is a doable goal for pretty much everyone that attends our service each week. It's unreasonable to be committed and expect others to cover your week's giving that you regularly "forget" at home. We have a solution for that!

The easiest way for you to give and give consistently is by setting up a recurring gift in MD|online. Just log in, click give, and set up a recurring gift. If everyone did that this week, we would be so much closer to maximizing our Gospel efforts in our town.

Never Lose Sight of the Goal

None of this means anything if we lose sight of what’s important. We’ll be posting the notes from our weekend on our website shortly, but Justin taught in his session that we have two main calls for our lives found in Scripture. One is called the Cultural Mandate, that is, to steward our resources well for the Kingdom. The other is the Great Commission, where we are to make disciples of all the nations.

If we lose sight of these two things, all that we do is in vain. So please, don’t just get plugged in to MD|online for the heck of it. Get plugged in so you can steward your time and money well for the kingdom so we can maximize the Gospel this year in Glassboro.

Marital Musings

Recently in Community Group, we had a fantastic discussion on marriage.  I figured rather than letting that content end there, it should be documented! My wife, Hannah, and I were the only married couple there so we were put on the spot as far as input goes. We hope that 

It Comes Back to Context...

We started off with the question "What would keep someone from getting married?" We discussed things like spiritual maturity, career path, and financial stability. That was when it hit me. 

Not all things are subjective, but some are. What if the context of two people coming together in marriage is subjective? What if there is no magical checklist that needs to be done prior to marriage? But if there is no checklist, then what should prevent two people from getting married?

The role of protector/provider is best understood in the context of the woman you’re protecting/providing for.

To gain some better traction, we took a look at my relationship and the events surrounding our marriage. I wasn't making bank. I wasn't in a career job. I was busy. Working full time, school full time. The situation was not ideal. But we got married anyway. Was it wrong? We didn't think so. So what made it right?

I suggested that the role of protector/provider is best understood in the context of the woman you're protecting/providing for. This seemed to shed some light on the situation. 

Hannah and I had been dating since 8th grade. I knew her better than I knew many of my friends. I knew what she liked, and what she didn't. What she loved, and what she feared. What she needed, and what she had. It was in that context that we examined if we could get married, and in that context I proposed. In that context she said yes, and in that context we got married. 

What Should You Do?

Below are some simple... "recommendations", if you will. My hope is that they will help guide you in your relationships, and that they will culminate in a God-honoring marriage!

  • Stay in community- The best place you can be is in a community of fellow believers. At MD, we're a close knit bunch, and we have each other's backs. That's exactly the kind of support you'll want while you're dating/courting.
  • Date in community- Don't become "that exclusive relationship" once you start dating! You and you're date are officially invited into community at MD. If you haven't been in community before, now's the best time to start. 
  •  Marry in community- You can feel like you want to be "on your own" when you get married, kind of like moving out of your house for the first time. Marriage definitely takes some adjusting to, but that doesn't mean you seclude yourselves from your church family either. We're here for your growth, so don't shoot yourselves in the foot/feet!

Hopefully you've found this little article helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below or reach out to us on social media by clicking on the Connection Center tab at the top of the page. 

The Importance of MD|Online

This past week we announced the launch of a brand new service called MD|Online. This is going to be every MDer's one stop shop for giving, online community, and events. It took the elders several months to review a few different platforms to find the perfect fit for Missio Dei. Listed below are why we picked MD|Online, and why it’s so important to sign up for a free account.

  • Access to what you need- Like I mentioned earlier, MD|Online is a one stop shop. No more searching facebook groups that you may or may not have access to, missing event invites, or anything of the kind. Users have access to our calendar of events, event sign up, online giving, and groups. What more would you need?
  • Better event processes- Very few people actually sign up for events. We know this purely by experience. MD|Online integrates the events with our public calendar, as well as RSVPing for each individual event. Events are listed on the main page of the software, and are the first thing you’ll look at each time you log in. That said, don’t forget to RSVP for events!!!
  • Lets the leaders do what they do- You won’t see all the tools available on the back end of MD|Online, but the elders do and use them to better understand our little flock. It has ways to track people who may have drifted away from community, or remind us to reach out to newcomers that check in. These little details are crucial to “running a tight ship.” We think you’ll start to notice a difference soon!
  • Better group systems- We call them better for a few different reasons. First off, they’re all in one spot. No more searching between platforms!

We've already started to add groups to MD|Online, and there have already been communications sent out through it. Don't miss out! Sign up here.

Church is (not) Broken

photo by Peter Robb
photo by Peter Robb

pa·ren·the·sis pəˈrenTHəsis/ noun a word, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is grammatically complete without it, in writing usually marked off by curved brackets, dashes, or commas.

Watch out for parenthesis, there's always something inside them... Yep check the title, re-read it. Understand it and embrace it. Put 'is' in the parenthesis and release the ‘not’... Does it still work?

What is church? We have been down this road before huh... It's the people that are adopted into Jesus' family. It's his bride, his wife as the metaphor in Ephesians 5 would highlight. Those that call Jesus Lord, Saviour , brother, and friend (and He is all of those not just one). And it is perfect. And it is broken, like all together jacked up.

It's perfectly broken. So why? Why is it perfect? The church is perfect because of the righteousness it receives from Christ (Eph 5:25-27). The church is perfect because Jesus came, lived, died, and rose to impart His righteousness in exchange for our unrighteousness. This is what the reformer Martin Luther called the Great Exchange. So what’s broken about that you might say. That all sounds good, not broken, but wait there is more.

The church is also broken, and there is no one that can fix. Well alright one person that can fix it. Alright two people, but it’s kind of a technicality. You see since the church isn’t a building (place, Holy Land, or Holy ground), it’s a Holy people, it is there where it is broken. when you enter into a right relationship with Jesus, He gives you His righteousness altogether at once. However, we pursue righteous living and mess it up literally 6 ways to Sunday. It’s called progressive sanctification (see the chart here). We progress towards Christ’s righteousness and as we move toward Him in relationship the Holy Spirit changes us so that we mirror Jesus more and more.

You are what is wrong with church. I am the problem. We mess it all kinds of up. It’s when we forget to love like Jesus loves and live like Jesus lives, that we damage our church. No not the walls, the foundation. The foundation of being on the same mission of having the same goal of communicating the same love...we cannot do those things when we are about our mission,our goals, and our self love. So what do we do? We put Jesus on the throne of our heart, and others ahead of ourselves. This will show the world that the church is broken, but Jesus can fix it. Grab a Bible and read Philippians 2, if you are pressed for time just catch the first 8 verses, and pray where the Holy Spirit could lead change.