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.

Looking Deeper

You know the kid who always bugs you.  Says random stuff you don’t care about at all.  Follows you around all the time.  It’s like he thinks you’re cool but at the same time he exists to insult and annoy you.

How about the girl in your Sunday School class who is always late.  She doesn’t listen to a word anyone says.  She’s busy texting all day, everyday.  Quick to give you attitude, too.  Probably thinks you’re stupid and a waste of her life’s precious moments.

How about the guy who talks nonstop about anything and everything because he thinks he knows it all.  You and your friend are having a fine conversation about something and you-know-who pokes his head in the circle of life and gives his 2 (+ 14212) cents.  Makes everything into a debate.  Disagrees with everything you say.  Yup, that guy with the big ole head.

We have all encountered people like these.  Maybe you read the descriptions and specific names even popped up in your mind.  Maybe.  Probably.

As Christians, we are called to love like Jesus.  Jesus loved the unlovable, the lost, the broken.  We are called to do the same as his Church, his people.

It really frustrates me when I catch myself distancing myself from the very people that God has called me to love and to minister to.  When I encounter someone that is annoying and disrupts my equilibrium, in my selfishness, I just want to get away from him.  When I encounter someone rebellious and causing trouble, I get mad because she’s not behaving in a way I would prefer.  When I encounter someone so full of pride, I am quick to react by wanting nothing to do with him.

Distance and more distance.  It’s an interesting but ugly thing when we realize how a lot of times our [sinful] reaction to sinfulness in people is to create distance between us and them.  Whether it is anger, indifference, or in between, we are essentially choosing to care for our own comfort instead of their souls.

Distance is the last thing we want to place between ourselves and others.  Jesus did the exact opposite by closing the gap.  He came to sinners who rejected Him by coming to Earth as a man.  He sat and dined with the ones who were considered the worst by society.  Instead of moving away, He came closer.  Invitation by grace, instead of rejection by pride.  Ultimately, Jesus died on the cross and took on our sin so that we might be saved.  So that we might be reconciled with the Father.

Next time you find yourself annoyed or angry at someone and want nothing to do with him or her, that’s probably someone who needs the love of God.

Let’s make effort to pause and look deeper inside of them instead of looking at ourselves and stopping there.  They are probably acting that way because there’s a deeper issue.  Let’s remember that we are all broken people in need of a Savior’s love and grace.

NCFC|VA EC Enters the Blogosphere

I created a blog for NCFC VA Campus EC.  So if you are ever curious about what’s going on over in VA Campus and what I’m involved with, go on over and check it out.  I will be blogging there as well, with the intention of recording our progress as a church, updating everyone about our church’s happenings,  and to share the blessings of God’s goodness in our gospel community.  I have added the link onto my Brethren Blogroll on the right sidebar.

http://ncfcva.tumblr.com/

Please keep us in your prayers!

Show Me My Sin

“Since each of us still has sin remaining in us, we will have pockets of spiritual blindness. . . Our most important vision system is not our physical eyes. We can be physically blind and live quite well. But when we are spiritually blind, we cannot live as God intended . . . Physically blind people are always aware of their deficit and spend much of their lives learning to live with its limitations. But the Bible says that we can be spiritually blind and yet think we see quite well. . . The reality of spiritual blindness has important implications for the Christian community. The Hebrews passage clearly teaches that personal insight is the product of community. I need you in order to really see and know myself. Otherwise, I will listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies, and buy into my own delusions. My self-perception is as accurate as a carnival mirror. If I am going to see myself clearly, I need you to hold the mirror of God’s Word in front of me” (Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, pp. 53-54).

That is such insightful teaching of the Word by Paul Tripp.  To think we need loving accountability within the context of God-centered community in order to accurately see our own sin is a humbling fact.  In the past, I considered myself to be a private person.  Upon retrospection, I realize the reason why I often kept to myself and prevented others from getting to know me fully and completely was because of much pride in my heart.  Letting others see and know me fully meant letting them see how wretched I was and I wanted no part of that.  Spiritually blind and lost.  I find myself having to battle against those same tendencies from time to time in pursuit of integrity and spiritual growth.

“Personal insight is the product of community”

I think many of us are already plugged into community (Church) and have people around us, but we often fail to live within the community in the way God intends for us to live.  Many moments are shared and many words are spoken but too often they are eternally empty.  Sometimes we are blessed to have people in our lives who lovingly initiate heart rendering dialogue with honest critique of our motives and actions.  We should be eternally grateful for such people.  Some of us do not have such people in our lives but that is no excuse at all.  If we are serious about personal application of the Word of God and are serious about pinpointing our oh so subtle sin, we must make effort to initiate and cultivate Christ-centered relationships, in which biblical mirrors are held up for one another consistently in hopes for spiritual growth.  This must occur and be maintained in order for our growth to be sustained.  Ask the tough questions.  Ask the important questions.  Awkward?  That’s only because it’s not done enough or perhaps not done at all before.  Hesitant?  Let us recognize that it may very well be the presence of pride.  Offended?  Think about how we react when our sin is called out.  No, criticism is never initially pleasant, but we need to humble ourselves and truly examine ourselves when receiving it, for the sake of growing in Christ, and be thankful for such an expression of love that is often absent for many.

It’s amazing how God designed us for community.  We need each other to grow in Christ and to see more of Christ.  We musn’t forget that.