Ultimate Goal

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Ps 97:1). “Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Ps 67:3-4).

But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, “Let the nations be glad!” who cannot say from the heart, “I rejoice in the Lord…I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High” (Ps 104:34, 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship.”

–John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions.

Missional Church For The City

The following video features Jeff Vanderstelt, VP of Acts29 Network, and Soma Communities, the church that Jeff planted and pastors. It beautifully captures and expresses what the church is called to believe in, to be committed to, and how the wonderful gospel expresses itself in the lives of believers in their different contexts. This will give you a good idea of the church plant in Silver Spring, as the vision is very similar.

Praying that God would form and grow our church to be one marked by great love, humble obedience, deep intimacy, and broken-hearted compassion for the lost. All for the sake of His name.

Church Planting, Discipleship, & Marriage Planning

Twenty Eleven. It’s been quite the year but I’m not sure how it’s already mid-October. I feel the time has been going super fast and super slow at the same time. I recently turned 27. To be honest, I stopped caring about my age around 23 so when people ask me how old I am, my default thought response is 23. I’m thankful when Lisa is by my side because I often turn to her with, “Hold up. Am I 26? 27?” TGFL.

One huge blessing this year was the opportunity and privilege to join and commit to a brand new church plant in Silver Spring, MD, which will officially launch next year sometime. This is something that has been on my heart for a few years and while it was a rocky, unexpected, and difficult road to get to this point, I cannot help but be deeply humbled by God’s grace through it all and the sovereign orchestration by his loving, maestro hands. Connecting with the lead planter/pastor and his family has been a great joy. Extremely grateful for them and other new relationships that are developing. Lisa and I will be part of the core team that will be forming over the next few months. Please pray for the church and the community.

Though I’m certainly excited about this church planting thing as a whole, I think, more specifically, the discipleship I’ve been receiving has been the greatest benefit as I’m continually reminded and taught of Christ as the source of life. A continual turning of my heart back to the gospel. Feasting on Jesus which leads to faithful obedience and not the other way around. Thinking deeply about our (all Christians!) call as missionaries for the lost and unsaved. Shifting my perspective of ministry from program-driven to relational and incarnational. The interesting thing is, as I keep my eyes on Christ and am being shaped, I find myself not wanting to do just church-y activity but more obedient activity. I find these obedient calls to expose me of my weaknesses but showing off Christ as I depend on him. I find them to be unexpected and unusual, more during the week and not just simply at church. I find them to demand the death of my pride and life but revealing the glory of God and his resurrection power. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s freeing. I am continually reminding myself to first keep my eyes on Christ to feast on Him and what He has done. Indicatives first, then imperatives. Too often in the past I’ve focused on the imperatives without the indicatives. That’s a dead end street, friends.

By the way, I gave a the girl a ring this year. On a boat. She didn’t throw it overboard, so it went well. I find it amusing that I gave up my independent life as a bachelor on Independence Day. She is that special. I’m looking forward to married life. I intentionally put in the title, marriage planning and not wedding planning. Wedding planning definitely requires a good amount of work and produces some stress but it’ll get done, one way or another. I think the more important ‘work’ has been marriage planning. It’s been the pursuit of maturation as a godly man and preparation for union with a woman that has made this marriage thing more real to me than emailing and calling wedding vendors and the like. To love as Christ loved the Church. What a call God gives to Men. I recall my pastor confessing to me how his treatment of his wife is directly related to and directly flows from his relationship with the Father. Once again, gospel truth (indicatives) leading to humble obedience (imperatives). Just wanting to feast on Jesus.

Jesus. That’s who all these things are about and for.

Who killed Jesus?

In his book, The Cross of Christ, John Stott writes:

The answer which we have so far given to the question “Why did Christ die?” has sought to reflect the way in which the Gospel writers tell their story. They point to the chain of responsibility (from Judas to the priests, from the priests to Pilate, from Pilate to the soldiers), and they at least hint that the greed, envy and fear which prompted their behavior also prompt ours. Yet this is not the complete account which the Evangelists give. I have omitted one further and vital piece of evidence that they supply. It is this: that although Jesus was brought to his death by human sins, he did not die as a martyr. On the contrary, he went to the cross voluntarily, even deliberately. From the beginning of his public ministry he consecrated himself to this destiny.

It is essential to keep together these two complementary ways of looking at the cross. On the human level, Judas gave him up to the priests, who gave him up to Pilate, who gave him up to the soldiers, who crucified him. But on the divine level, the Father gave him up, and he gave himself up, to die for us. As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, “I did it, my sins sent him there,” and “He did it, his love took him there.” The apostle Peter brought the two truths together in his remarkable statement on the Day of Pentecost, both that “this man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” and that”you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” Peter thus attributed Jesus’ death simultaneously to the plan of God and to the wickedness of men. For the cross which, as we have particularly considered in this chapter, is an exposure of human evil, is at the same time a revelation of the divine purpose to overcome the human evil thus exposed.

I come back at the end of this chapter to the question with which I began it: why did Jesus Christ die? My first answer was that he did not die; he was killed. Now, however, I have to balance this answer with its opposite. He was not killed; he died, giving himself up voluntarily to do his Father’s will.

John Stott also quotes Canon Peter Green:

Only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace.

Their Waste is our Glory

By every human standard of reckoning, the cross was a waste – the waste of a young life, a prophet’s influence, a leader’s potential. We know the secret of its meaning and achievement only from God’s own statements. Similarly, the Christian’s guided life may appear as a waste – as with Paul, spending years in prison because he followed God’s guidance to Jerusalem, whereas he might otherwise have been evangelizing Europe the whole time. Nor does God always tell us the why and wherefore of the frustrations and losses which are part and parcel of the guided life.

J. I. Packer, Knowing God, Ch. 20.

This has major implications for the Christian.  This turns upside down many of our [worldly] ideas of success, achievements, and values.  Even in the church, success is often defined the same way the world defines it.  Jesus’ name just happens to be attached to it.

When performed in humble obedience to God, the most wasteful work in the eyes of man, may very well be the most glorious work in the eyes of God.