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.

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Feeling Convicted

When I don’t feel like doing something, I am strongly tempted to just not do it.  Sometimes, I play basketball in the evening and afterwards I come home super tired.  I know I should shower before I sleep because my body has been covered in my own sweat and others’ sweat.  I’m sure there’s a lot of germs and dirt mixed in there too.  Sometimes I make myself shower, but other times I dry myself up, just change my clothes, and pass out on my bed without showering.  Pretty grimy, I know.

We like to do things we feel like doing and we don’t like to do things we don’t feel like doing.  Pretty simple.  Unfortunately, I see this pattern play itself out in the lives of plenty of Christians.  If I feel convicted of this particular sin, I will repent and obey.  If I don’t feel convicted, I will think about it and pray that I’ll feel convicted one day and for now I’ll keep on sinning.  But I’ll think about it!

This is troubling.  It is even more troubling when the particular sins are stated in the Bible as sins, as clear as day.  I know it is wrong and is a sin, but I don’t feel convicted, I say!  I need to think and pray about it.  Insert ‘ORLY?!’

Putting our faith in God and bearing good fruit occurs when we act in obedience.  And just as a reminder, delayed obedience is still disobedience.  This should trouble a whole lot of us.  Not feeling convicted is never a good enough excuse to continue sinning.  When confronted with sin, let’s see our rebellious hearts, then look to Christ’s work on the cross, humbly repent, and quickly obey.  Let’s stop fooling around, trying to be slick.  He wants to rid us of our filthy, sweat-drenched clothes, cleanse us by His blood, clothe us in His righteousness, and have us resting in perfect peace in His presence.

Let’s hit the shower.

 

Luke 6:46-49
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Midnight Reflections

I’m now sitting on my bed, crossed legged, minutes after wielding my shoe to deliver a powerful deathblow to a huge spider on the ground.  I hate spiders.  It took me 7 seconds to gather the courage to do it, but I did it.  Chinatown Hotel in Chicago is . . . hmm.  Just avoid it, if you can afford to.

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It’s the final night of my stay here for the Gospel Coalition Conference and it’s been such a privilege to see, hear, and receive such amazing proclamations of the Gospel by some of the most gifted preachers and teachers of our day.  Tim Keller, Al Mohler, Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, James McDonald, Don Carson, Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney, and so on.

It’s been an absolute thrill to sit under the preaching of these great messengers.  But as I listen and hear and see Christ and Christ crucified, I am quickly reminded how vastly greater and glorious the message of the Cross is.  The message of the Gospel is what amazes, what saves, what gives life, transforms, sustains, and grows.  It is absolutely mind boggling that God would allow such scum-of-the-Earth sinners to be messengers and proclaimers of such amazing love and truth.  How can that be?  What love is this?

As I sit here, I’m just grateful.  I’m thinking about my life and I’m grateful.  There still are heartaches, hardships, failures, flaws, and so on, but my God, my God has saved me.  In that, I cannot help but to rejoice.  I do not glory in my spiritual performance and achievements nor am I crushed in my failure.  My confidence is solely in the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross.  Bought and cleansed by the blood.  Approved by His righteousness imputed to me.  To Him be the Glory.

I will share more later but to anyone who reads, I pray you will know my God and His grace.  And if you have forgotten, please go back to the Gospel again.

How He Finds Us

Matt Chandler, Excerpt from Sermon: Ephesians – Rooted and Grounded

“A friend of mine named Doak Taylor said that in the middle of the night, at three in the morning, he woke, and a shot of fear ran through his body. He heard his 1½ year-old daughter screaming in the other room. He got up and full speed ran and turned on the light in her room, and she had taken off her diaper and she had gone to the bathroom and not the kind that’s easy to clean up. She had taken it and covered herself in it. It was on the walls and all over the bed and had a made a mess literally of the room. He did what any man would do; he turned off the lights and said, “Honey. . .” No, I’m just kidding. He said, “This is how God works in human beings.” He said he never thought about the smell, although it was really bad. He never thought how disgusting it was. He just saw his little girl covered in it and crying. He said he ran and picked her up and held her against his naked chest. Ran to the bathroom and turned on the bath water. Held his hand under it and held his daughter until the temperature was just right. He then laid her down and with a sponge wiped every bit of it off her, every crack, every crease in the neck, in the ears, in the hair. He washed every bit of her. He grabbed warm towel and wrapped her and kissed her face and walked her in to her mother. He laid her down next to her mother and he went a bucket and a sponge and went into the room. He pulled the sheets off the bed and threw them in the washer. He grabbed the sponge and wiped down the crib and the walls. He grabbed a new blanket and put it down  and then Febreezed the mess out of the room. He then walked into his bedroom and scooped his daughter up and began to kiss her face as he walked her back to her room. He set her down on the changing table, opened up the blanket and put a diaper on extra tight. He put some clean pajamas on her, wrapped her in the blanket again and then stood next to her crib rocking her back and forth and singing to her as he kissed her head. When she had finally fallen asleep, he laid her down in her crib and he said he was walking back to his room it hit him. “I just went into my living room and got on my knees and wept and wept and wept. For this is the state that my sweet God found me in, and this is what He’s doing in me. Never angry about the mess, never harsh in word or action, just washing in the water of the Word, cleaning and loving.” This is the God of the Bible. This is what He longs to do in you and me.”

Amazed Every Time

As I desire to be made more like Jesus, the Spirit certainly does a great job of revealing different facets of my heart’s ugliness.  And so I am made more and more aware of my never ending need for the Gospel. If the Gospel is not just the foundation of Christianity but IS Christianity, one would think Christianity would get old at some point. That’s never the case, though. Through his kindness at every repentant experience, the Gospel is before us, offering forgiveness, freedom, and redemption. Love. Possessions, joys and pleasures from this world get old. Sooner or later, they really do. It’s inevitable. The Gospel in its purity is eternal in its glory.  It’s amazing every time.

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.