The Christian on Mission

What instruction did Luther give to Christians on how to bear witness to Christ?

If he is in a place where there are no Christians he needs no other call than to be a Christian… Here it is his duty to preach and to teach the gospel to non-Christians, because of the duty of brotherly love, even though no man calls him to do so.[1]


  1. Quoted in Church History in Missional Perspective, p. 26, The Porterbrook Network.  ↩

The Writebol's Are Moving

Flights_from_santa_rosa_to_wic

This morning I shared the following with Santa Rosa Bible Church:

Over the last few years God has given me a passion for a couple of things:

  • The advance of the gospel through small community groups.
  • The advance of the gospel through church planting.

As those passions grew we began to pray that God would either connect those two in our lives or remove the passion from us.  When “it just so happened” that a church plant I was familiar with in Wichita, KS made it known that they were looking for a pastor to lead their small groups we felt that God was answering our prayers and directing us to a new season of ministry.  To that end I've stepped down as the Adult Ministries Pastor at Santa Rosa Bible Church and as of April 1st I will begin working at Journey the Way in Wichita, KS to lead their Community Group Ministries with this church plant. 

Our time here at Santa Rosa Bible Church has been fruitful ministry for me and I am grateful to the Lord for allowing me and my family to serve Him by shepherding you.  We have set down deep roots with many of you and are the recipients of much grace in those relationships.  We will be praying for Santa Rosa Bible Church in the months and years ahead that God would continue to give this church a passion for His grace and an effectiveness in the city and the world. 

Please pray for our family as we make a big transition to Kansas as there are many logistics that we are working through.  Additionally please pray for the grace of God to be upon us as we minister in Kansas.  Pray that Christ would be exalted, that the gospel would spread and that we would see much fruitfulness from our ministry in Wichita. 

It's been a great eight years in California at SRBC and we are looking forward to what God has for us ahead with Journey the Way in Wichita.  Please keep us in your prayers and I'll keep you posted on all that is ahead and God is doing.

A Broken Car Seat and a Gospel Lesson

Stephanie wrote the following on her blog last night.  The event was a vivid demonstration of the gospel to me and brought me to tears as I thought of the grace of God in my life.  Jesus paid it all. 

Last night was quite an adventure - another story all in itself - the short version - Ethan got sick several times, resulting in the car seat needing to be cleaned. I worked on that today and had it sitting there - waiting for all the drying parts to be returned. The car seat has this lovely piece of foam that is the head support. To a little four year old girl, this must have looked like a craft project waiting to happen. More than once I had said, Allison, don't touch the foam. While getting dinner ready I see Allison holding a piece of the foam and hear Jeremy asking her where it came from. Eventually she pointed to the broken foam in the living room. Yes, you guessed it, she decided to disobey and tear the foam so, as she put it, she could "make something." To say I was upset would be quite the understatement. I was not happy at all. Jeremy took her to her room, talked to her and we left her to stay on her bed while we discussed matters in the other room - trying to decide what to say, what the consequences were and cool down - all were needed. We talked about how she could pay for it (she had money from Christmas) but that seemed like something of little impact since she doesn't have a real concept of the amount of money. After a period of time Jeremy said he needed to go back and deal with her - I asked, "What are you going to say?" Jeremy's reply, "I don't know exactly, but talk to her about the gospel and forgiveness." 

When Jeremy came back and shared with me about the conversation, I realized that God used the broken car seat to teach us all a big lesson. Jeremy said that when he was talking to Allie, he told her she would have to pay for the repairs or replacement, no matter how much that was (and we had told her it could be lots of money). She looked up at him, feeling badly and said, "Daddy, I can't pay, I only have $2 from Uncle Adam and $1 from my bank, I don't have enough and I can't pay." Which made her sad. It was at that moment that Jeremy realized that this is EXACTLY what God has done for us - we come to Him completely unable to pay and he says to us, "I will pay."  Seeing Allison's despair Jeremy took her up in his arms, hugged her and cried, "It's okay, I'll pay! I'll pay!"

It was a wonderful opportunity to talk to her about how God did this for us, he paid for our sins which we could never pay for. Jeremy headed to a meeting and Allie brought it up again to me, telling me how special it was that Daddy was going to pay for something that she couldn't but should. When she prayed tonight she thanked God for paying for what we couldn't. 

I am beyond thankful above all that God did pay for what I couldn't! I am thankful for real lessons in life where he clearly reminds us of his love and grace. It may have been seemed like a broken car seat - but really it was a great reminder to all of us how God paid for what we couldn't. Allie knows tonight that her daddy loves her - that he is going to take care of what she can't. I pray that takes hold in her heart and that there comes a point where she sees exactly what God has done for her. So thankful for those moments when we so clearly see God at work - His glory - our good! My heart is smiling.

 

Why I Cried Watching YouTube

My pastor emailed me this video clip today of a "random act of culture" that occurred in a Philadelphia Macy's store a couple of weeks ago.  It brought me to tears.  Literally.  First the video, then I'll explain the tears...

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp_RHnQ-jgU?wmode=transparent]

Now why cry over that?  Maybe because I'm a bit tired today (a 3 year old waking you up for "brexfixt" at 4:30am and then barfing on you at 5:45am has a tendency to do that).  But really I was struck by a crowd, no, a city singing "He shall reign forever and ever."  Think of it.  A city together singing of the rightful reign and rule of God the Father through His Son, Jesus.

It's one thing for a city to sing it, it's quite another for a city to believe and live it.  And that is why I started crying.  These words are true, the Lord God Omnipotent does reign.  But I long to see "the kingdom of this world become the Kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ."  I long to see my life, and this world fully transformed and submitting joyfully to the reign and rule of Jesus in all things.  I long for sin, Satan and death to be destroyed forever and for peace to abound and joy to increase because Jesus reigns forever and ever.  I cried because I heard in song a vision of Jesus' sovereign reign over all things, and I long to see it happen!  I long to see the lost repent and turn to Jesus and find their hope and joy in Him alone. 

That's why I cried.  I want to see the Kingdom of God.  Until that day, "the gospel must be proclaimed to all nations" (Mark 13:10)  And so we go and joyfully proclaim "Hallelujah, The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth."

Getting to the Cross in our Bible Reading • Thoughts from Justin Buzzard

In your regular reading of God’s Word, are you regularly making it to the cross?

Today, whether you read a few chapters in Leviticus or Luke, Ezekiel or Ephesians, Proverbs or Philippians, you must make it to the cross. If you don’t make it to the cross, if you don’t see the connection between a chapter in Proverbs and what Jesus accomplished on the cross, you’ll miss the whole point of your regular Bible reading. The whole point of reading through your Bible on a regular basis is to begin to see and celebrate that the whole Bible is about the gospel–about the good news of what Jesus has done for you.

Make it to the cross.

Some great thoughts on our Bible reading from Justin Buzzard. Check out the entire post.

The Inception of the Gospel

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Here's some interesting thoughts on the nature of "inception" from the film and Jonathan Edward's work The Freedom of the Will. Read the whole article.

Following this notion then, “inception” is something that is planted in us at a deep level and radically adjusts our inclinations at a level we scarcely fathom. Similar to the inception in Nolan’s film, a Christian concept of regeneration… the effectual calling of God’s Holy Spirit on our will… does not force us to ‘think about elephants’” (as Cobb refers to in the film). It (the gospel) introduces a radical, transforming idea in the mind (and heart). Just like the character of Robert Fischer in the film, who would never DREAM of something so ludicrous as to “split up my entire inheritance”, we – as fallen, sinful humans – do not incline ourselves to God unless such an idea is given to us, (planted, like a seed from a Sower) and  grows inside us, through every facet of our frame, even at the subconscious level.

 

It's Okay to Pass This Test

You may have heard these words in a sermon. Maybe you’ve handed them off to others. Perhaps they’ve rung a spiritual alarm in your heart. They come from the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5:  “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.”

This exhortation is often used to motivate careful self-examination–to see if we really believe in Christ, to see if we are actually walking with the Lord, to test if we are genuine disciples or phony hypocrites.

And there is a time for this kind of self-examination. The Sermon on the Mount (the end of chapter 7 especially), the woes on the Pharisees (Matt. 23), and the seven letters of Revelation (Rev. 2-3) come to mind. But self-examination becomes a problem when we don’t believe were allowed to pass the exam. Some Christians turn introspection into annihilation. And some of our heroes don’t always help. There is a strand in some Puritan divines–and I love those dead guys as much as anyone –that so delineates all the sins on our sinny sin sins that we scarcely feel it possible to call ourselves Christian. Pound away with the law, but don’t hammer out the faith.

The thing we often miss with 2 Corinthians 13:5 is that Paul expects the Corinthians to pass the test. He is writing to defend his apostleship, and the chief ground for his defense is the Corinthians themselves. They want proof that Christ is speaking through weak little Paul (v. 3). He offers their lives as proof. The Corinthians ought to test themselves to see whether they are in the faith because Paul knows Jesus Christ is them, so they will not fail the test (v. 5b). Consequently, Paul will not fail their test (v. 6).

So go ahead and encourage one another to examine the heart. Let’s be honest and see if we are in the faith. Let’s test whether or not Christ is in us. But as we put our “in-Christness” to the test let’s not forget it’s okay to give ourselves a passing grade. To God be the glory.

From Kevin DeYoung today. Excellent Stuff.

"I don't want to build a museum..."

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/14551672 w=500&h=281]

Everyone once in a while a little video clip or a book hit me right in the heart.  This trailer for Darrin Patrick's new book Church Planter is a clear shot across the bow for me. Legacies don't need to be left behind, leaders do. It's time to move, not build museums.   

 

Asking the Right Questions

I've been reading DeYoung and Kluck's book Why We Love the Church  tonight and found some great questions that churches need to ask themselves as they consider why their church might not be growing as they hope.  These are gospel-centered questions that force us to look not to our methods and programs and style as much as they force us to look at the content of what we saying and doing.  Here they are:

  • Are we getting in the way of the gospel?
  • Are we believing the gospel?
  • Are we relying on the power of the gospel?
  • Are we getting the gospel out?
  • Are we getting the gospel right?
  • Are we adorning the gospel with good works?
  • Are we praying for the work of the gospel?
  • Are we training up our children in the gospel?
  • Are we trusting God's sovereignty in the gospel?

These are profoundly good questions and ones that need to be at the focus of our self-evaluations.  I encourage you to pick up the book and check through the fuller descriptions of each question on pages 32-36.