Why You Should Be Concerned About Your Worldview

Have you heard of the upcoming FOX/Nat Geo show called "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odessy"? It looks to be a phenomenal discourse on God's spectacular creation. From far off galaxies to the smallest cell, the show aims to take a closer look at the nature that surrounds us. But this show has me a little concerned. Why is that do you think?

Did you know that one of the producers of the show is Seth McFarlane? That's right, the Family Guy guy. He's an outspoken atheist. The host is a prominent agnostic. What does this matter? Because there is a good chance that there will be very prominent naturalistic themes throughout the show that will not be very considerate of other worldviews.

What's a naturalist? What's an agnostic? What does anything have to do with you??

These are the kinds of questions that we as a church family need to be engaging with in order to better serve the kingdom. Many of us are ill prepared to engage in worldview discussion surrounding the views listed above. We'd like to extend to you an opportunity to learn more about different worldviews and, more importantly, defend your own with reason and finesse.

Join us this coming Saturday at John and Pat's house at 5pm to learn more about what this study will be about and how we'll move forward. Apologetics is an incredibly important aspect of our faith that we need to engage in. I hope to see as many of you as possible on Saturday!

[image via facebook.com/cosmosontv]
[image via facebook.com/cosmosontv]

MD|classifieds

Help Wanted! We're working on a super exciting (and secret -for now-) project and we need a volunteer! This person needs to have a desire to help and meet the following criteria:

-Able to use technology- Must have a laptop or tablet available for testing
-Able to communicate- Must be available to communicate readily throughout the day (respond within an hour)
-Must be committed to MD- Preferrably someone who is in for the long haul, and is active in Covenant Community

What do you think? Can you help? Let Jesse know if this is something you're willing to hop on board with! Talk to you soon!
-Jesse
contact me on facebook, twitter, g+ or at jesse@missiodeinj.com

GCM Equip- Recap

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I have seen and felt a burden on some of us recently to be more willing and more capable to share the Gospel to the people around us.  Personally , I feel we talk about it fairly often and the conversation sort of trails off to silence where we’re all  wondering why it isn’t easier to talk about Jesus to our friends, co-workers, neighbors, even our family. We are a mission minded church! We are out there in the community! But are we able to talk about our relationship with our Savior as easily as we are about the game over the weekend or the movie we saw  Honestly, I know I’m not where I need to be.

A couple weekends ago,  I had the privilege of attending the GCM Collective Equip seminar where the topic was: Gospel Fluency: Sharing the Gospel in Everyday Language. Pastor Phil Henry from Mercy Hill Presbyterian Church  shared some great biblical and practical truths that are applicable not only to me, but to all of us as we strive to be on mission.

I’ve outlined below some of the main point from the talk:  

  • Normal Speech -  Speak what comes easy to you, your ‘mother tongue.’ Don’t try to fumble over big fancy words.  Ephesians talks about having the balance of speaking the truth IN LOVE. Pastor Phil Henry also spoke about how the Gospel can bring people up from low points in their lives
  • Takes Time – Just as learning to talk takes time, so does learning how to speak the Gospel into people’s lives. We start out being consciously competent, paying attention to what we’re saying and speaking very carefully. However our goal is to be unconsciously competent in our Gospel speech, so that our Gospel talk just comes naturally. (Oh how nice that would be! )
  • Learned in Community and Family-  Our language we speak is learned by the people we’re around, mainly our family. The same goes for how we speak the Gospel The more we surround ourselves in community and encourage each other in the Gospel, the easier it will be to have it come naturally in our own language.  John 17 was referenced here.
  • Bilingual -   We are to be “in the world, but not of it” . We are to be in the culture, to know the language of the people around us.  (John 17:14) Just as if we were in another country and fluent in two languages,  we are in this world and need to be fluent in language of the Gospel so as to reach the unsaved in an effective way.

I've also added some practical ways you can learn to become more fluent in speaking the Gospel:

  • Practice Group Exercises -  While in your community groups and family,  practice Gospel speech. For example –
    • Can you write out the Gospel in one sentence?
    • Can you find the Gospel story in the Bible? Can you find the Gospel laid out in different stories in the Bible?
    • Think of a time in the past, in the present, and in the future. How does the Gospel fit into those stories in your own life, where does it overlap?
  • Love and Know the Bible- Don’t take the Gospel for granted and assume all Christians know the Bible.  Do you know the ABCs of the Gospel?
  • Believe the Truth- Do you depend on the Bible and God to get you only through difficult times? Or is the Gospel active and apart of every part of your life.
  • Repent- It’s important to think the same thing of yourself that God thinks of you.  Don’t focus on past sins that God has forgiven you of.
  • Suffer- God has called his children to suffer. It is in those moments of suffering that we are able to let the Gospel to shine through.

 

Some of my own thoughts/take-aways from the equip seminar –

As I seek to teach and speak carefully with my children, my speech should be the same with everyone I come into contact with. I understand that I am discipling my children to be raised up into the admonition of the Lord, I should be just as careful and intentional with my speech with my other relationships

In my interactions, do I give good advice or do I give Jesus? For example, if someone is diagnosed with a illness do I tell them all the great doctors in the area that they could go to? Or do I attempt to reach their heart and encourage them with the Gospel.

When people share struggles, try not to focus on the negative, but on the work that the Holy Spirit has done in their life?

What is in your life that makes you want to read the Bible? Jesus loves you whether you read the Bible or not.

The Gospel is past, present, and future, Where do see the Gospel active in your life?

When we are able to see the Gospel in our lives, and then able to talk about it and become more fluent in it. It is then that we are able to have the Gospel be “normal speech”  in our interactions with others.

 

- Becca Gruber

Missing Missional Opportunities

[photo via http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/4457294321/ ]
[photo via http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/4457294321/ ]


We just had a huge snowstorm last night. There's a ton that goes through my mind when we get snow in our area. Will my Jeep start so I can get home from work? Does my wife have to travel in this? How's my Grandmom in all this?

Fortunately, my car did start, my wife stayed home, safe and sound, and my Grandmom is just fine.
This morning, I was fiddling on the computer completing some tasks for my up and coming design business. I noticed my neighbor snowblowing his yard. I watched for a few moments (to see if he was doing it right), then went back to work. It wasn't til about an hour later as I was talking with Hannah that it hit me: Why wasn't I out there helping him, showing him Jesus? Did I really just completely miss a missional opportunity?

The more I invest in Missio Dei, the more I encounter situations where I can be missional. What will I do with them? Will I take the chance and be Jesus to my neighbors? Or will I sit tight in my comfort zone and be selfish? The more opportunities I encounter, the more opportunities I turn down. What do I do about missing a missional opportunity? I think there can be three steps to rectifying a missed missional opportunity:

  1. Get up and do something- I don't mean this is a harsh way, but in such a way as to provoke us to action. Rather than wallow in our failure, we can often still redeem our missed opportunity before it's completely gone. If you realize in enough time, get in the ring!
  2. Apologize- This might seem like a weird step. After all, it's not like we "sinned" necessarily by missing an opportunity. This step is to create a new missional opportunity to rectify the one you missed. For instance, as soon as I'm done composing this post, I plan on Facebook messaging my neighbor to let him know I saw him out there in the snow, as well as to apologize for not helping out. This could open up good Gospel dialogue with him.
  3. Repent- This looks like remembering this missed opportunity, and taking steps to not miss it again. Next time it snows, I'll make sure I'm up early to help my neighbor shovel his yard.

Have you missed any missional opportunities recently? What's your plan to get back in the game?

New Year, New Goals

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 I don't have dreams. I have goals. And when I meet one, it's on to the next. -Harvey Specter in Suits

Wow! What a year! Before we push hard into 2014, I just wanted to take a few moments to remind us of what's been accomplished in 2013, as well as communicate what's up ahead for 2014. There are two main focuses here at MD: serving outside the body of Christ, and serving inside the body of Christ. We've got a lot accomplished and a lot planned in both of these aspects, so let's take a look!

Outside the Body

Glassboro Family Success Center and Boys & Girls Club- These two programs were among the first community resources  we plugged ourselves into. Justin had a job at the GFSC for a few months, and built some key relationships there. We now have Nathan and Amy on the board of the GFSC. They are helping to strategically care for those hurting in our community. Emily Senski is championing our presence in the Boys and Girls club by helping them communicate more efficiently, organize events, and care for hurting, broken children in the community.

Glassboro's Memorial Day Parade- This was our "debut," meaning, our first real exposure to the community at large. We marched along with our banners and t-shirts, handing out invitations, candy, and pens to the thousands of Glassboro-ers lining the streets. We learned a TON from this event, namely always have enough freebies on hand. We quickly ran out of everything! At the tail end of the parade, several MDers had the honor of helping to fold the community's 50ft American flag. What a day!

Glassboro Market Place Events- We were able to get 3 tents at many of the town's Marketplace events. We offered free resources, kid's activities, and a changing station to provide some privacy for moms with little ones. Over the course of the summer we handed out dozens of counseling resources, hundreds of flyers, and thousands of ballon animals to attendees. That was only half of the opportunity! We also go there early and left late to help other vendors set up and tear down for the day. This gave us a lot of inroads and opportunities to minister to the vendors on a personal level rather than some of the hit-and-run tactics we had to employ throughout the day. We received several letters from event coordinators thanking us for our love for the community and willingness to serve. Lord willing, we'll be seeing some of them in church soon!

Adopted Families for Christmas- Last year MD helped one family in need have a great Christmas. This year, we sent each Covenant Community Group into the stores to provide thousands of dollars worth of gifts to 4 different families in need. Through our connection with the Glassboro Family Success Center, we had needy families hand selected from throughout our local community to be ministered to by our covenant community this Christmas season.

Within the Body

The Membership Process and Church Leadership Training- At launch, we had 1 elder and no members. To date, we have had 1 discipleship training, 2 leadership training events with a third on the way, and about 15 people accepted as members. Praise God! We look for exciting things happening in these regards in 2014, but more on that in a section to come ;-)

Covenant Community Group Expansion- At the start of the year, we only had one CCG that met on Wednesdays. We now have pushed out to four total community groups, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays! As we continue to grow and shape our CCGs, we'll be able to connect with the teaching and each other personally on deeper levels, as well as with our community in missional and incarnation ways. None of that face value stuff!                            

Generous Giving- We don't have all the financial info gathered from 2013 yet, but we're not in the negative. Not close. Praise God for that! As we grow this year, we will spend more money than last. We rely on generous gifts every week to meet our financial needs. With no paid staff, 100% of what was given in 2013 went straight to the streets! Thanks!

Wrapping It Up

We had a blast of a year! I remember those crazy few weeks of nonstop marketplace events, and thank God we have a little break! But breaks don't mean we stop being productive. As we are still adjusting to 2014, here are some few things to be thinking/praying/doing:

  • Give generously and consistently- One thing we learned in 2013 is that when there's an emergency need, we're quick to meet it, but our week to week giving fluctuates greatly. This makes it difficult project how much we'll have at any given time, and hinders event planning and purchasing. If you could be praying on how you can give generously and consistently in 2014, it would be such a blessing.

  • Consider membership- As EJ recently mentioned, we're wrapping up round 1 of MD members! Over the next few weeks, we'll welcome around 15 people into a purposeful covenant with MD as their home base! If you don't have a home church or bounce between 2 or 3 churches on a Sunday, consider membership. If you end up committing somewhere other than MD, we ask you pour your heart into your home church and invest in them heavily. If not, ask us for membership papers and read what a covenant with MD looks like for  you.

  • Consider leadership roles- We've gone through 3 leadership training sessions that outline the church offices and their role in the church. As we wrap up some of the membership process, consider taking on a leadership role. Can you serve as a deacon or deaconness? Are you willing? Men, do you desire the office of elder? How is God shaping your place at Missio Dei?

  • Consider branching out- MD is a part of many different community organizations currently. If you arent' involved in any of them, why not? Talk to Nathan or Amy about serving that the Family Success Center. Chat with Emily Senski about the Boys and Girls Club. Let John or Pat know you want to get involved with Choices of the Heart. Branch out a little.

 

Now what? What plate will you step up to in 2014? Let's go!

[image "new year" by Sally Mahoney]

Celebrating Church

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When you walk into the realm of 'what should a church service should be'...boom, it explodes. People start highlighting the Regulative Principle and grabbing proof texts. I don't have all that kind of time, so instead I thought we could just clarify what church is not.

Church is not a place to be overly religious and celebrate our amazing  piety. It is, however, a great place to celebrate. The Bible very clearly highlights that God is a God of pleasure. He finds and takes pleasure in Himself and His creation. He also outlines in His Word how we can find the most pleasure in Him and His creation, He would know because He created it.

It's not only His creation - it's also His Church, and He wants us to have pleasure in it as well.  It is with this that we get to the real point. Tonight we will be celebrating. Literally celebrating the Church. Jesus' church. We are going to acknowledge those that have connected to our Covenant Community in Membership...wow it sounds Like a car club or Sam's Club...No! It's Family. God's family and we need to celebrate! So be ready ...

Also, and even more importantly, today, we are not in Genesis! I know collective sigh of relief...wink, wink. HOWEVER, The Launch Team is having an open Q&A discussion on all things Missio Dei.  If you have questions on how membership works, how we are working on establishing leadership, what, exactly, our mission is, tomorrow is your chance to enter the family discussion and dialogue with us. We will also be discussion how we are moving to accomplish our mission, and anything else you are curious about. There will be some very specific ground rules so don't go getting crazy on me.

We are excited to have the family time and celebration that is coming! So be thinking and ready to engage and celebrate with us tonight.

["Church, Iceland by Bryan Pocius]

A New Christmas Story

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This Christmas Story starts with a baby, his name is Nicholas. He was born in a village called Patara in a place we now call the country of Turkey (I know, it's a funny name for a country).  His parents worked hard at their jobs and God blessed them with plenty of money and with the respect of the people that knew them. As Nicholas grew up his parents taught him about Jesus from the Bible. He learned about Jesus’ love, care and generosity. As he watched his parents live their lives, he saw what those things meant. His parents would love and care for the poor and the needy as best they could with the blessings that they were given.

Then a hard day came. One day while Nicholas was still young, both of his parents died. Nicholas was very sad, but he remembered what his parents taught him. He remembered that Jesus was with him and loved and cared for him. He remembered that Jesus wanted Nicholas to follow Him just as his parents had followed Him. Now all his parents wealth was his and he knew what to do. He would work hard and learn about Jesus from the Bible, so he studied very hard. He became very generous (that means he gave a lot of money and his time to those in need like Widows, orphans, elderly poor, and sick people), sometimes be would even fill up socks (called stockings) with toys and presents and hang them at poor children's homes (sound familiar, hanging stockings filled with presents). The news of his generosity and love spread all over the world, and he was made A Bishop in the church (that would be like if all the churches in your town had one person to take care of what was happening at all of them).

Eventually he became thought of as a saint, saint Nicholas or just saint Nick. And after he died those stories that spread became legends. Many places had a special holiday around Christmas in honor of Saint Nick and as time went on much of the fun things that they did for saint Nick became part of the Christmas holiday. Saint Nick had different names in different places like Sinterklass (sounds like Santa Claus) and Christkindl (sounds kind of like Chris Kringle). This time of year we think of a character named Santa Claus, but he is a story, a story that is legend coming from a man named Nicholas. Saint Nick was real and he was famous because he loved Jesus and others, and that's a great way for any of us to remember and celebrate Christmas.

Advent Season

[image via  himbeerbe  l ]

[image via himbeerbel]

What does the word Advent bring to mind? 25 day calendar boxes filled with chocolates or little toys? Lighting special candles? The Final Fantasy VII movie, Advent Children (It's real, Google that that mess)? What you need to know is that Advent is important, hugely important, and it is far more than candles, presents, chocolate and retail nightmare known as Christmas.

Our culture is identity driven.

Advent is the season that celebrates the coming of Messiah, Jesus the Christ, into human history. The celebration traditionally begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas which we celebrate on December the 25th. However, more important than the what, is the Why. Why Advent season?

Our culture is identity driven. Don't feel bad, every culture that has had people in it has been identity driven. Unfortunately our culture finds it's identity in things. Labels, clothes, wealth, status, the cars we drive, the house we live in, our success, and on and on it goes. This mentality has transformed the holiday of Christmas into a consumer-crazed epidemic of stuff gathering, a slight twist to Scrooge's famous quote, it is harvest time for the retailers. That's why Advent is so important. It gives us a chance year by year to redeem the season with a different focus.

The consumer mentality has transformed the holiday of Christmas into a consumer-crazed epidemic.

Advent for us will be centered around Jesus coming into history to redeem it, and the future, for His glory. We will look at the Scripture and history to understand how this season can be redeemed and help shape a different time in our culture. Pastor Matt Chandler at The Village Church in Texas has great resources for this season, and we will be mirroring some of their seasonal philosophies (I am not big on the re-inventing the wheel since Ecclesiastes clearly tells us we can't). Follow the link here to get your mind engaged with where we're heading this Advent season.

Read with us during Advent

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Hey guys! Advent is here! Yay!

I've created a super easy way for us to dive into some Advent Scriptures that I wanted to share with all of you.

Getting started

What you'll need:

  • Faithlife Study Bible App
  • Free Faithlife Account
  • Computer access
  • 10 minutes

Download the Faithlife Study Bible app (here for Android; here for iOS) and sign up for a free account. Then, log on to faithlife.com and sign in. Then, head to faithlife.com/missio-dei to join our community.

Head back to the app, and you should see a section called "Today's Readings" and a Genesis passage for Advent. Click and you're ready to start!

Faithlife as a resource

Faithlife is put out by Logos (same guys who make our church presentation software, Proclaim). I highly recommend diving into their Bible app. Not only can you follow along with us as we read through Advent, but it will also connect with our presentations on Sunday, allowing you quick access to references and content. 

Drop a comment, or contact us on facebook, twitter, g+, wherever if you need help signing up or downloading anything!

**If you currently use the Logos Bible app, there's no need to download the Faithlife Bible app. Just sign into Faithlife with your Logos username and password and join our group. Your reading plan will appear in the Logos app automagically. 

Innocent of the Blood of All

The great commission is given to all believers of Christ. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  (Act 1:8) It says we will be witnesses but it seems that day in, day out for most (me included) the gospel doesn’t go out. There is a struggle to declare the “reason of hope that lies within”.  Is there really hope that lies within? Have we idolized the lives we live over the reason we live? How does one become, like Paul, “innocent of the blood of all”?  Paul meets with the elders of the church of Ephesus in Acts 20:17-38 to have one final conversation with them before he went to Jerusalem. We find here some points that if we would listen too (ears that hear) and apply to our hearts and actions, I believe we would be able to combat the struggle to proclaim Christ. Paul draws these elders to remember how he lived his life, of which, they all witnessed. He's serving the Lord in humility even through trials and persecution, but yet he didn’t shrink from declaring Christ to everyone. Not just Christ, but repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (17-21).

 Is there really hope that lies within? Have we idolized the lives we live over the reason we live?

Let’s stop here for one second. The trials and light afflictions we face do they hinder the truth of the gospel in our lives. When life is tough do we shrink from declaring Christ?  Do turn inward and begin to self focus? In my head I think, I’m struggling to see this hope that is within me at this moment, so what am I going to share with someone else. Have I made my God smaller then my problems? Am I blinded to what He is doing around me? Could it be that by sharing Christ in the midst of struggle with all humility someone might believe there by strengthening our faith? It seams Paul’s focus was on sharing faith no matter where he was, no matter the trail, no matter if that same faith was drawing him to more persecution and affliction in Jerusalem. Let’s read on. (22) Paul, constrained by the spirit with no doubt in his mind says “I am going to Jerusalem” This same constraint caused him to count his life as valueless. (24) Ok let’s pause again.

What are we constrained to do in our lives?

Constrained, great choice of words don’t you think. What are we constrained to do in our lives? Work, eat, watch tv, hang with friends…..what about sharing the gospel?  Are some of these things idols that have constrained us from a focus on the gospel and the sharing of it? I’ve become constrained by my work and other things and you know where it shows up? In my speech. Funny how speech is needed to declare Christ. Wow so my idols keep me from sharing the gospel because I am running my mouth about less important stuff. Acts 1:8 had it right: “I will be witness,” but not always for what I should be. Paul goes on to say “I take no account for my life…. If only I may finish my course….to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Might that be our prayer, may our lives be characterized by a focus on our course set by God to share of his love. Our lives, jobs, families… are a part of our course but should not be idolized or hinder our testifying of the gospel. He then says that he is innocent of the blood everyone, because he didn’t shrink away from the gospel. (26-27) This brings us to the reason we are having this conversation.

So far, Paul is innocent of the blood of all because the gospel was always going out of his mouth and in his actions. If we could ask each person he came in contact with, they probably would testify that Paul told them about repentance towards Christ, The Gospel. Some would even say that he was extremely hurting and as they saw it struggling in life but had a hope in Christ which caused them to take a hard look at this person Paul called Christ. This brings up the question, if day in, day out I don’t open my mouth about Christ when all is said and done, what would the people I came in contact with say about the Christ I have hope in? See it doesn’t matter what they say about me and what I’m doing. It only matters what they say about the Christ I love. Do they even know I love him? Do they know he wants a personal relationship with them also? So at times I find myself sharing my Christ, my relationship with him and sharing about what he is doing at my church and in my community but never extending the opportunity for the person I am sharing with to also know Christ for themselves. Too much about me and what God is doing for me, need more of what Christ has do for them. Less talking more listening to make that connection! Let’s read on.

 See it doesn’t matter what they say about me and what I’m doing. It only matters what they say about the Christ I love. Do they even know I love him?

(28-32) Paul warns the elders of the church of Ephesus. Pay close attention, Be Alert!! First to your self then to the community Christ has called you too. There are those who seek to attack you and the community. They are fierce as wolves and they come from outside and inside of the community. They seek to distort the truth. Ok let’s talk for a second. There is only one source of truth the word of God. By listening to and applying that truth we know how to pay close attention to ourselves, our community and can help guard against distorted truth. This same message of kindness and love of God is what helps us grow. So Lets wrap this conversation up. (33-38) Paul says “I never wanted anyone's silver, gold, or clothes.” He worked hard to provide for himself, those who were with him and most importantly to be able to help the weak. At times I am so absorbed with my life and what I am doing that I don’t even give thought to those that don’t even have hope around me. This whole thing boils down to the phrase “Innocent of the blood of all”. When all is said and done, can I say I have done all that I can do, said all that I could say. Do those around me know of repentance towards Christ? Am I determined or constrained to the Gospel or to the things in my life? Is my focus for working for me and providing for me or for the sake of the weak? We are called to be disciples who are making disciples but do we live a life that doesn't shrink from that responsibility.

 

Note from a member- Kayla

 
"I've been reflecting this week about the past 7 months at Missio Dei church. I would like to publicly say how grateful I am to God for leading me to Missio Dei. My concept of church has totally been redefined; for years "church" meant a building. Now "church" is this intimate family of believers who constantly loves, encourages, and challenges me. I am so blessed to be a part of this family. If you're looking for a church, check us out!!" -Kayla Hill

Pitman Tragedy

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This past Tuesday tragic news hit my block in Pitman: one of our neighbors strangled his 6 year old son to death and beat his wife in the head until she too died. Needless to say my community is shaken. The kids on our street have lost a playmate, their lives forever scarred by the decision of one man. I felt it necessary to make a few comments on the events of this past week 

All have sinned

I think one of the most important things to remember is that we all stand before God guilty. This is not to make the impact of this tragedy less, but I've found my own tendency to forget my need for Jesus to save me when I focus on the wrong of others. While this behavior isn't normative, humanity's sin is ubiquitous: we can't escape it. Have you burst out in anger at your children this week? Have you treated your wife's sin as more grievous than your own? Have you indulged yourself in selfish sin in your singleness? 

Jesus is the hero

For all the sin that we commit, Jesus' death killed it, burial buried it, and resurrection left it forgiven in the grave. As we've been reminded of our own sin, we should also remember the great sacrifice Jesus has made for humanity's sin. He doesn't want us to wrong our brothers, sisters, spouses, or children, but rather run to him, accept forgiveness, and live life differently for him. To live on mission for Jesus gives us intense purpose in our otherwise mundane lives.  

If you have any questions about your sin or Jesus forgiveness, feel free to email me personally at jesse@missiodeinj.com or the church directly at info@missiodeinj.com. As always, feel free to share this article and pass it around. 

Legacy and Ladies

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."-Proverbs 31:28-29

Legacy is not just for dudes, it's also for the ladies. We are predominantly a young church. That brings with it a lot of opportunity and a lot of work too, sometimes Legacy feels like a masculine topic and we don't translate into the world of femininity well. But we are just starting out and I realize that we can get it right, right out of the gate...but again it's gonna take work. Most forms that we fill out give us some simple questions to fill out like Gender: Female, Marital status: Single, Married, Married with children...and sometimes I personally don't connect all those possibilities for the ladies. Guys I get. I yell at the guys, because I know how I need to get yelled at. I understand the need for Men to rise up and lead their culture, community, church, workplace, home, wife, and family well. To walk them towards their relationship with Jesus and see their lives poured out like Jesus' on the cross, and the ladies sit back and say uh-huh, thats right, get em...But since God's Word is an equal opportunity offender when it comes to our selfish desires, Ladies I wanted to take some very specific steps so you can understand that you need to get Legacy, your Legacy depends on it.

Look ladies, it's going to come up, so lets get this submission thing out of the way early. Ladies, Jesus submitted. He submitted to His Father, and He willingly went the way of humanity and the Cross. Jesus knew that His Father knew what was best for Him and His glory, so he willingly followed, submitted to Him. The Scripture asks ladies to follow in the same way to be submissive to their husbands. Not blindly or blanketly, but in faith wisely helping, questioning, communicating, and submitting. Now I know some of you are thinking "I have no faith in men, my husband, my boyfriend, my father, etc... they are certainly not Jesus." The Bible does not leave opportunity for such a simple cop out, it's true intention is to question whether or not you have faith in the God who asks you to submit, not in the messed up man standing before you. One very clear caveat, please do not see this as a place to allow abuse and neglect to be swept under the rug of "submission", God is not ok with His daughters being abused and mis-treated by a dominant, smug, and foolish man. He has put Godly men in His church to help you in such cases, He has also given you the police and other agencies to help step in where there is help needed to ensure the safety of you and the community as well as the correction of the man foolish enough to pursue such cowardice. I hope this is sufficient enough for us to move forward in the submission conversation.

All that ground work, now lets crack a Bible. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is my favorite place to see how this should play out...It starts out with this very awesome statment which says that a wife should be subject to their husbands even if their husbands don't know the Word, so that with out a word their wives would win them over by their Godly conduct. I love the call to women here, Peter actually assumes that a wife may be called first to Jesus, and need to live and love a man that does not know God or His love. Peter does not assume that ladies will meet a Jesus loving dude that will redeem them, nor does he assume that they will be called to salvation while single. In fact he assumes the most difficult of the 3 scenarios, mainly that a wife would be called first to the Lord and after need to live with a non-believing husband. This is incredibly hopeful because rather than starting with simple issues the passsage dives right into life; real, hard, messy life.


Godly conduct, or mode of life (I like the mode of life definition, it really captures the idea of an all encompassing modus operandum) is the living out of the Gospel in the absolutely enormous, yet very minute, hum, drum of everyday life. Paul Tripp rightly asserts that the giant moments of life are actually the everyday choices we make, rather than those seemingly big "life decisions". For example, my wife Becka moving all the stuff that I unwittingly just leave by the front door, and putting them away, choosing a later, more restful and peaceful moment (a rare moment in our house indeed) to communicate and ask me to help her by putting my stuff away instead of blocking the main entrance to our home, is a way that the gospel flows through her conduct and calls me towards Jesus. In the same way the wife of an unbelieving husband will point towards her Saviour as she lives out this lifestyle, and worships God through prayer, teaching in the home, time spent with her Family of New Birth, and Bible study. Oh and coincidentally ladies that are married to believers should conduct themselves the same way, it sanctifies their husband towards Christ. Oh, and single ladies should conduct themselves in the same way, it redeems the world around you back to the cross and will help you to be content in Christ (and will have the side affect of showing the dudes around you that you are God's daughter and need to be treated as such cause you aint gonna just roll over to some dumb boy that doesn't got his stuff together...but I digress).


How bout modesty? vs. 2-4 says that God's ladies should be known by their gentle and quiet spirit and not by their flaunting of their appareal. BUT is that all? I have a slight observation...Ladies that don't care that much about modesty also don't care that much about how much, or how loudly, or how harshly they act or treat others including their husband. God's word is not subscribing to some shut up and sit down mentality here, instead it is simply continuing it's counter cultural push and highlighting what God desires His daughters do, as opposed to what the cultural norm might suggest. 

Our culture has empowered women to take hold of their equality, yes, you can be like men...you can get trashed at the bar and snag some dude for a one night stand and then wake up and take the morning after pill with a gallon of water, and give half the day away to last night just to do it all again.

It will be really easy especially if you wear that certain V-neck that is so low it reaches your belly button and your skirt couldn't get any shorter if it was made for a smurf. Tight/Short clothes tend to indicate loose woman...if you are God's daughter don't let someone mistake the former for the later, dress in a way that the most visible attribute about yourself is your spirit, or more specifically The Spirit.

Our last (I promise really our last) thing to talk about is the reference to Sarah in verses 5-6. The short of it is that even in a seeming moment of extreme emotion (this quote in 1 Peter refers back to Genesis 18:12) she still refers to Abraham with respect. The long of it is a bit more interesting. Verse 6 tells us that the major thing here is not calling your husband by a particular respect term, but rather not letting fear control you. No seriously that is the big communication. See, if you have faith in God you move towards Him in love and life, and you make your decisions based more and more upon His leading. And He desires good for you, He will bring about His glory in your actions. So by putting your faith in God, there is little to fear from a mere mortal man or temporal situation, because God is Lord over them. AGAIN, don't however let this concept of fear push you to allowing sin go unchecked and unaccounted for. There is no room in God's kingdom for his daughters being abused by foolish men, do not let some sense of blind and foolish faith allow you kingdom ladies to trust God and let a man be abusive and sinful thinking that that must be what God wants for you...it's not. He desires you to live boldly and fearlessly for Him. For additional reading check out 1 Tim 2:9-15 and Prov. 31:10-31, write down questions and grab a good commentary, especially for 1 Tim...and discuss it :-)

 -Justin Gruber

Why MD is Social

MD is virtually everywhere. Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Even Pinterest. Isn't that overkill? Why would we have so much stuff going on online? Couldn't we be spending our time and efforts elsewhere?
"The truth is, we have a reason for pretty much everything we do." Click to tweet.
The answer is: It depends. It goes back to living intentionally. The truth is, we have a reason for pretty much everything we do. We do our best to weigh each decision we make with Scripture and how to further advance God's kingdom.

That's why we're on social media: it's where people are. There are 2 types of evangelism that can both accomplish the mission of the church: attractional and incarnational approaches. Depending on what church you're coming from, just hearing the work attractional might make you cringe, but it doesn't have to be that way. To be "attractional" would be to invite a friend to church for them to hear the gospel. To be "incarnational" would be to dive into relationship with someone and persuade them to give Jesus a try. Both are necessary to the advancement of the kingdom! Now, back on topic. We're on social media as a form of attractional ministry. Every time we post a YouTube video, create a blog post, upload a photo, or post a status our intention is to increase our reach, and in turn, increase the amount of people receiving our gospel-centered material and interacting with it.
"These systems are in place to get people living for Jesus (both by attractional and incarnational methods) and growing for Jesus so the pattern can be repeated and our community changed!" Click to tweet.
 Now, we would be amiss if this were all we were doing to win people for Jesus. That's why we enable everyone at almost every service to become active in their relationships and communities to change them for Christ. That's also why we're teaching through discipleship Wednesday Tuesday and Wednesday nights. That's why we encourage small group meeting to discuss Scripture and pray. These systems are in place to get people living for Jesus (both by attractional and incarnational methods) and growing for Jesus so the pattern can be repeated and our community changed!

 So, now that you know why we are social, we ask for your participation! If your mindlessly browsing your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ feeds and you see a status or photo by MD, please share, retweet, and repost! Join us in our efforts to reach as many as we can with gospel rich content.

When Asked to Give

It can be difficult to understand the direction in which God is leading us.  Sure, we can often discern a general direction for our lives, but it’s usually the day-to-day stuff that we can struggle with.  It just seems it would be so much easier if He just called down to us like He did with Elijah or the apostles and just tell us what to do.  I think part of the reason He doesn't is so we are drawn to spending time with Him and seeking His still, small voice for direction (1 Kings 19).

Last August, I received a text message that a brother in Christ had a heart attack and was in the hospital.  I wasn't in the habit of visiting people in the hospital, but felt drawn to do. Was it the Holy Spirit prompting me?  I wasn't sure, so I went.  That hospital visit was good, though it lasted far longer than I had anticipated.  It resulted in my being two hours late in taking my mother to the market, as was originally planned.  Through that rescheduled day, I met a friend at the entrance to the marketplace.  We hadn't spoken to one another in several years, so I told him what Christ had done in my life recently.  After a brief conversation, we parted ways.

Returning home from the market, I received a call from another friend I had also been out of touch with for a while.  He came by to swim a bit, and when I mentioned the gentleman I met at the market, I was informed he had kidney disease. He hadn't mentioned it to me in our conversation at the market, and I had been too long out of touch to have known myself.  Later that day I called him and confirmed what I had been told. As soon as I hung up the phone, Christ put a strong conviction on my heart that I was to give him a kidney.  I found it overwhelming to think that the Lord would want to use me in this way.  The thought that concerned me was if I was truly hearing from the Lord, or was it just me?  But after a couple of days of prayer and research on the subject, I was even more convinced God was asking this of me.  I also had a conviction that there’s no turning back on anything Christ asks us to do once we've give our lives to Him.

There’s an unexplainable calm and steadyness that comes along with following the Lord’s leading in any circumstance (Matthew 11:29).  Once you understand it’s God who is directing and in control, nothing will turn you from the course ahead.  Timetables may shift, day-to-day tasks may change, but there is a steady determination that Christ will lead, and lead well, as long as you continue to follow (John 8:12).

Five months of testing turned into what was starting to look like months of waiting.  I was already looking into something else I believed the Lord might be leading us into when the phone call came for the donation time.  I was originally told I would be given a good month’s notice before the actual operation.  On the phone they asked if I could be ready in ten days.  After six months of testing and anticipating, how could I say no to that?

I had been studying on prayer that week, focusing on how Jesus prayed, and I had come to where Jesus prayed in the garden before His trial and crucifixion in Mark 14:32-36.

"Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”  He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.
And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.  Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

I would never compare any stress or suffering I go through to what Christ did for me.  There is no comparison, and I believe none of us will ever in this life fully understand the extent of distress Jesus faced.  But I found it extremely comforting that in my study, the Holy Spirit brought me to this just before receiving the call to surgery for the kidney donation.  A greater blessing I could not have imagined.  To see how Jesus, in all His stress, was leaning into and resting in the knowledge that He was unconditionally submitted to doing the will of the Father above all else, gave me a focus that I believe was why I never felt any fear or concern or distress heading into the hospital or waiting to enter surgery. Never having been in surgery before, I had no knowledge to draw on.  So I kept my imagination from trying to form any ideas of what it might be like by simply trusting that the Lord would take care of what was needed, and I was in His hands as always.  Jesus said it clearly, “Father, all things are possible for You.”  There is nothing the Father cannot do.  The path that He had placed me on was of His choosing, and I had no need to worry about where that path would lead.

I find such great comfort in knowing that God has everything in control, no matter what it looks like from our side of things.  I used to stress over everything in my life, as though everything depended entirely on what I did or didn't do, and how did I know if I was doing the right things?  Jesus freed me from last year when I heard His teaching clearly, as though for the first time.

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.   Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.   Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34

Jesus reminded me that my Father knows what I need.  And it goes deeper than just physical day to day needs like food and clothing.  Jesus was just scratching the surface, which is where most people are thinking.  The Father knows of EVERYTHING we need, physically, mentally, spiritually, the whole picture.  In His love for us, He knows us SO MUCH more than we even know ourselves.  And He cares for us.  The Creator who knows me inside and out, and knit me together exactly how He wanted me to be (Psalm 139), has an everlasting love that I cannot even fathom!

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3

To fully trust in Him for everything has no hint of fear with it.  He does all things perfectly, because He can do all thing, just as Jesus said, “all things are possible for You.”  And all that God does is right and good (Psalm 100:5, 119:68, ).  Even the struggles, trials, and testings He brings us into and through are for good (1 Peter 1:6-7, Job 23:10, Romans 8:28).  Maybe for us, maybe for others, maybe both.  We are rarely provided that insight.


The bottom line is that it’s not about what I want, or what I do or don’t like, or think I need.  When Jesus says, “Follow Me”, it comes with no conditions attached, no restrictions on what He may lead us through.  He calls for our lives, not just a part of us, or some time out of the week, but ALL of us.  He wants our lives to be handed over to Him, pink slip and all.  It’s all for Christ and what He wants for our lives, whatever that looks like.  Whatever that is, bring it on!  I know He’ll take care of me now and forever.  The end goal is the ultimate hangout, eternity in heaven, when I get to shake off this body of sin and can be with Christ and FULLY worship Him without the distractions of this world.

Intentional Living- The Short Version

God has gifted me with wonderful parents. My mom and dad are still loving Jesus and each other after almost 30 years! As I look at the patterns in my life today, many good ones (and only a few bad) can be traced back to specific teaching opportunities they took with  me when I was younger. I think, next to Jesus, the concept of intentional living has stuck with me the most, and is something I will not easily forsake. 

"In high school stuff was simple: don't do it." Click to Tweet

High school was a bummer. I was wrapped up in legalism. If music had more than one beat, your hair touched your eyebrow (guys), had ink on your arm, or a hole in your body that wasn't supposed to be there, it was hell for you in my book. In high school stuff was simple: don't do it. There's no such thing as a yellow light or grey area in legalism. But what of all the Scriptures that spoke of freedom? Wasn't Jesus the one that sets free, breaks chains? Yeah. That's what my mom and dad started to realize. 

As my parent's faith and Scriptural understanding grew, so did mine. We started learning about things like grace and freedom from religion. When they told me about living life intentionally, now that's when things started to change. They made me dive into movie reviews, video game reviews, and music reviews so I would learn why I would interact with what I was entertaining myself with. 

"If God does things with a purpose, so should we." Click to Tweet

 God made humanity in His own image and likeness, and the entertainment we bring into our eyes, ears and hearts is not just some mindless nothingness. These forms of art were designed for a reason and  placed in a context. If a musician produces music for a purpose, certainly Christians would understand this concept right? After all, if God does things with a purpose, so should we. This is not the case...

This morning I was reading in Acts, and I was astonished at the number of conversions in a matter of chapters!

  • And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved -2:47
  • But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand -4:4
  • And more than ever, believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. -5:14-15
It seemed like every time I blinked, countless people were responding to Jesus being God. Chapter 5 closes out with the apostles being beaten for their proclamation of the gospel. As soon as they are released, Luke records this: "And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus," (Acts 5:42). 

These men lived with a purpose. Lived intentionally. They didn't have to talk about Jesus, like it was some kind of chore, or an awkward conversation piece. They lived their lives intentionally (and even died intentionally) by preaching and living out the gospel. 

Living intentionally has changed the way I interact with the world. Consider the apostles, and lets change Glassboro for Jesus!

Processional Forgiveness and The Lost Virtue

Long ago in a galaxy far away, I went to a very fundamental, very conservative school. We had 7th-12th grade chapel 3 times a week, with a rotating list of pastors and speakers. As clear as the type face in this article, I can still remember this phrase spoken by one of the speakers at our chapel.

"I'm sorry, I was wrong."

It was spoken in context of when we sin against each other. For my middle school years I thought that was in essence the words of forgiveness, but the realization of Biblical forgiveness has left that phrase lacking. So hear are a few steps that have really been helpful to me as God has brought His word to bear in my life.

Step 1:The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennet used to sit on one of my grandmom's end tables, mostly for decoration I think. All told it has some good stories for kids about many virtues, but in keeping with our Western world values it misses one virtue...HUMILITY. This is where forgiveness starts.

Step 2: (when we sin against someone) Martin Luther in his famous Wittenburg graffiti started off his Protestant Reformation (if only he knew) paper with this simple concept: The Christian life of one marked by humble repentance. That's cause he also knew it was marked by prideful sin. Feel free to include I'm sorry,I was wrong in your forgiveness request, but follow it up with, will you forgive me? I'm sorry I was wrong is only good by itself when you make a mistake (i.e. Spill soda on someone, cut someone you didn't see off while driving to work, etc), not when you sin.

Sometimes we think that being ready to forgive means the person is forgiven, but that is not true. (Click to tweet)

Step 2: (if sinned against) Be ready to forgive, and if necessary confront. To quote Rex from Toy Story "I don't like confrontation!", but seriously I don't. Of these two I am far more willing to readily forgive than to confront, but that darn Jesus who loves me so well is always confronting me with His Bible...ever have a similar experience? NOTE: Sometimes we think that being ready to forgive means the person is forgiven, but that is not true. Being ready to forgive requires us to humbly give up our feelings of vengeance, or retribution, and to complete the process requires the need for humility on the part of the one who committed the transgression initially. Also, just because the process is complete doesn't mean trust and relationship must resume as it was previously. There are times when the sin demands trust be rebuilt from the ground up, and the relationship may need to stop for a season and resume in a dramatically different way then previously. Don't let the process of forgiveness lead you to foolishness.

 Just because the (forgiveness) process is complete, doesn't mean trust and relationship must resume as it was previously. (Click to tweet)

Step 3: You cannot forget. God cannot forget. When we place our faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. God then views our sin through the lens of the atoning work of His Son. When the process of forgiveness has taken place you must view the forgiven sin of the offender through the lens of the Love of Jesus that He has for you and the offender.(**Remember previous "Also" comment) If you have been forgiven, don't let guilt and shame shape your life. Instead, let the forgiveness and love extended remind you of the Cross that saves you. Remember, Paul tells us that "It is your Kindness Lord that Leads us to Repentance". Let the Cross "spur you on to love and good works" that change who you were to who God calls you to be. 

"Peter opened his mouth"

So Peter opened his mouth and said, "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality..." in Acts 12:34 we see the first time that the story of Christ is told to a person outside the Jewish community. But my point is not the "what" but the "how". I was thinking of a very prevalent pattern in many mainstream church's these days, the pattern is one of lifestyle evangelism that performs very well in good deeds and betterment but light on the reason and motivation behind them. Let me put it this way; if this story were written today, it may go something like this: "So Peter, upon receiving a clear mandate from God, went to this person and said nothing but tried to develop a relationship with them in order that, perhaps, someday they may understand that his deeds were Christian in nature and then they might start asking questions about his faith". </p>
Hold on there, Johnny!! You say: "I'm not Peter and I ain't Jesus, so who are you to tell me I have to actually speak my faith to someone so they might feel uncomfortable around me and erode my friendship with them?" I'm just saying that we should both live an speak the gospel and not leave it to chance that a person might stumble into faith accidentally, but that we become intentional in our actions and verbalize our reliance on Christ to complement our deeds. We are called to take the guesswork out of our lives. If we are not intentional in our gospel presentation than we are wrong in our understanding of our gospel call.

As uncomfortable as discussion
So let me offer some suggestions as to why it's easier to live a silent gospel life:

1) We would rather "fraternize" than "eternalize".  What the hey does that mean??  I mean that we would be much more flamboyant about our faith if we knew how good our ending is. A proper internalizing of eternity is what would drive us to want all those in relationship with us to join us in forever with Jesus. If we care enough to build relationships here,  why wouldn't we want to offer that relationship a lasting hope in the presence of God. As Paul Tripp rightfully teaches we should live with eternity in view. And...

2) We would rather play the odds than say the words.  The Easy part is appearing good in our relationships. We play against the odds that they will just assume we are better than most,  thus fulfilling our spiritual obligations as a good soldier. Odds are people will figure out your a Christian by a Bible comment here and a church comment there but that's about the extent of it.  This is not the gospel call to make disciples.  You can't make followers without sharing whom they should follow,  but odds are your actions won't distinguish you apart from all the other good deed doers in the world. Odds are in your favor that you won't have to be overt in your faith. And...

3) We would rather call ourselves hypocrites than show how we repent.  It's easier to be a good person than to be a real person who struggles and repents.  We often think that after a long time of showing visible good works and hopefully building a relationship that then we could show them the chunks in the Armor.  If we show them too early we will just be labeled a hypocrites and written off.  I dare say that a Christian who first shows them self as as good repenters first could establish a deeper friendship from the get go.  To hide our faults in order to win an opportunity to build a relationship would be called manipulation.

Regardless of why,  I know I must become less content with mediocre attempts at relationships and be determined to verbalize my acts,  both good and bad,  in light of the grace of the gospel.

EJ
John Gruber

Teaching: covenant community vs membership

AAA, the gym, Sam's Club,  fraternity, NRO, PTA, QVC- all things you could hold a membership in.  You pay a fee and become a member. Such is our perception of the word "membership".  We pay and get benefits.  I've been thinking in regards to our perception of being a "member" in a church.  It's been my observation that, by and large, the "pay a fee get a benefit"  membership style is what mostly permeates the majority of Christians I know.  I don't mean to condemn but do mean to challenge the biblical premise of adhering to a local body of believers known as a church in the form of membership.

As a church member,  how often do we go,  give, participate, and expect a return. "Return",  You say? Yes, a return.  I give my time,  talents, and tithes and I get a sermon I like, a comfortable group to share common life experiences with, and a staff to meet my neediness.  I have the right to evaluate my investment and decide to continue or shop for a better membership. If it sounds like consumerism you'd be right. But heck,  we're Americans after all, we have the freedom to worship wherever the heck we please. Right? Really? I guess so in a sense; but I think of those early,  first Christians,  who had no other churches to choose but the one they were in. What did "membership"  look like to them?

For one,  I don't think they would understand our idea at all because Paul never taught it.  Nowhere do we see a principle of due paying membership. What we do see is a covenant mentality and verbiage that glued those early believers together.  Covenants are some serious stuff in the scriptures. God made them with all the iconic men of the Old Testament. David, Moses, Noah, Abraham, and even Adam. A study of each of these covenants always had a binding agreement that could not be edited, changed, bought out, or misinterpreted. Some of them were based on conditions, some were unconditional. So what,  you say? God knows, uses, and prefers a binding agreement over a flea market style of membership where allegiances could be bought, sold, traded, or passed over.

One covenant in The Bible stands out as the paramount of all covenants. Jesus said,  "take and drink this,  this is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you."  New Covenant??  What Jesus is meaning is that He is the fulfillment of all those covenants, He is saying that "I am the one promised in the Adamic covenant as the one who will crush Satan's head",  "I am the one covenant keeping creator that will not destroy the world"  to Moses. "I am the deliverer of all the nations that I promised you, Abraham", "David- I am the Covenant King promised". The New Covenant is why we can even consider what church is.  The New Covenant allows us to see our binding agreement of faith in Christ as final, unchangeable, and sure. I am a part of the family of God that is bound in covenant.

Membership will never carry the weight of being a covenant community. One of the greatest defenses in the current church culture is that of discipline.  Part of membership is to be able to allow the process of church discipline to take place.  If your not a member of the local church than you are unable to be called out for your habitual,  rebelliousness.  No dues paid,  no ability to touch you.  REALLY? On one hand the need for reconciling saints in rebellion is a great and terrible responsibility of all churches.  But this is a weak argument for the membership idea.  First,  all believers qualify for being disciplined from the godly leaders whom God has placed in qualified roles.  Second,  the covenant community must function far more deeply than just the threat of discipline as the glue that holds the structure together.

Covenantal imagery is a deeply robust function exemplified by a covenant keeping God. Covenant community is best seen in Ephesians 5 in the famous, or infamous depending on your understanding if submission, passage of the husband and wife as paralleled by the church and Christ. If we approach the wedding vows like a membership,  what would that say about our marriage to Christ? But if we approach the wedding vows that Christ and I have made in respect to a covenant... How much deeper and rich is my understanding of His love for me. How much more will I faithfully serve him in my vow, promise, covenant.

If I am in a covenant relationship with Christ,  then how are you and I in a binding agreement? Let me throw some things at you.  If the church,  all believers,  everywhere and "everywhen", are bound in a covenant marriage to Christ,  then by association we are bound to each other.  Next the verbiage of the New Testament is one of binding community.  Ever read the "one another's"  of the NT.  Over 38 times this Greek phrase is used.  Literally translated "of (belonging to) each other" or "of one another".  Our literal understanding is that I am of you and you are of me.  We are part of the same spiritual entity.  Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 would say we are all parts of the same body.  We are bound together to make up one body.  We are, covenant style, bound to each other.  We are of one another. This is why we must love, confront, confess our sins to, honor, who?... One another!

This is much deeper than membership to a group, this is covenantal love and is why we live in covenantal relationship as a church.

Bootcamp decompression thoughts

Bootcamp Blog: Reorientation

I've been thinking of how God uses anything at His disposal to warm I a person's heart.  At the Acts29 Bootcamp this past week I watched about 600 men sing with passion songs about their God.  Some raised hands,  some bowed their heads, some were on their toes, but most all were singing loudly to God.  What the heck was that about. 

In the real world men are solitary, territorial souls that mingle only over hobbies, sports, or common interests. This week I met men from all over the country,  whom I knew nothing about, shared no connection with, or who knew me; interact through the only common thread that stitched us together: faith in Christ. This seemingly tenuous thread has broken through the stigmas of maleness,  blown apart the stereotypical ideas of manhood, and destroyed our cultural bent towards machismo. This thread of salvation can make grown men sing like seraphim, pray like holy men of old, and weep with the most derelict of repenters.

My point is that there is a movement that God is growing that is making true men,  manly men that actually sing passionately instead of just moving their lips,  who love Jesus,  cherish their wives, and forsake those childish things that take and consume instead if give and build up. These are the men I observed and interacted with.  These are the types of men that God is raising up in this country to begin new,  vibrant, gospel centered communities called churches.  I was blessed to be part of this grand and godly movement.  Thank you,  God,  for encouraging my heart through Your work in the hearts of my band of church planting brothers.