Monday, April 14, 2014

LTGs are for people who love Jesus and seriously want to move forward in repentance, faith, and joyful obedience.

   For several years now, since learning about an incredible discipleship tool from Neil Cole, I have praised the effectiveness of Life Transformation Groups. I have never discovered a better method for implanting the DNA of Jesus within new disciples. But recently I have gotten only resistance when trying to pass on this method.Then I read this today in a post by a Pastor at Austin Stone....  I'm thankful; for the affirmation and validation.

Going Deep
“Where do we go deep?”
This is a common question when we start describing the MC practices. Most American Christians are used to weeknight Bible studies being the place where we try to dive deeply into the Bible together. There are a few serious limitations to this practice:
It’s easy to let this be our only time of Bible study and even allow others to do our Bible-thinking for us. We become overly dependent rather than becoming self-feeders in God’s Word.
In large groups, studying the Bible often feels like you've obeyed it. Knowledge is not necessarily obedience, however, and we need specific accountability to help our hands obey what our head and hearts know.
The group is too large for intimate confession and correction.
There isn't enough time to cover everything each person needs to hear and say.
The Bible, our personal holiness, and our mission are critically important and deserve much more attention. LTGs are where we go deep, raising the bar of personally following Jesus.
What is an LTG?
LTGs are simple. There are only three parts to remember:
Hear & Obey – Everyone shares what they have heard from God in the 15-30 chapters of Scripture we agreed to read together over the past week and how they obeyed.  We suggest using the REAP (Read, Examine, Apply, Pray) reading plan.
Repent & Believe – We each repent of our sin, sharing how you have sinned against God this past week. Don’t forget to spend time speaking out loud, to yourself and to one another, the good news of Jesus’ work for us; this enables us to believe.
Pray for Unbelievers – Talk about how you've been praying for your unbelieving friends and mention them by name. Explain your plan to weave them into your community.
Thinking Practically
LTGs are simple, but they’re also hard. They take discipline. LTGs are for people who love Jesus and seriously want to move forward in repentance, faith, and joyful obedience.
Keep the group size small for intimacy and time - two or three people of the same gender. Once it grows past three, you multiply. You should be able to finish your meeting within an hour or so. LTGs need to meet separately from your MC’s family meeting. As LTGs are taking off in many Missional Communities, we've found that our love for the gospel grows, and our obedience to Jesus in mission grows as well.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

World Missions a foretaste for this Sunday,


What is the Purpose, the Promise, and the Price of World Missions. The purpose of world missions is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God into people groups where there is no indigenous, evangelizing church. This assumes something about "disciples" and something about "nations." These terms are used in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations."  My assumption about "disciples" is that they are people who have seen "the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6), and who cherish "God in Christ" as the supreme value of their lives (Philippians 3:8). My assumption about "nations" is that they are not geographic, political countries but "tribes, languages, peoples and ethnic groups" (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). Based on these two assumptions, then, the purpose of world missions is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God into people groups where there is no indigenous, evangelizing church.
   According to one research group are still over 500 peoples in the world with populations over 10,000 which did not have any church planting missionary effort in them. All but less than 200 of these peoples are targeted by mission agencies. This is remarkable progress toward finishing the real missionary task of the church.
   But the real source of hope in world missions is not the statistics of man; it's the promise of God. Namely, Matthew 24:14 - "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations." The "shalls" of God are backed by omnipotence. This great work of spreading a passion for God into people groups where there is no indigenous, evangelizing church cannot fail. This is the great hope of the missions enterprise. The word of God will not fail.
    But the price will be very high. Not so high that it is not worth it. But very high. Jesus expresses it in Matthew 24:9: "You will be hated by all the nations because of My name." The purpose and the promise will not happen without the price of opposition and suffering. In fact, the price is not just the result but the strategy of the purpose. God has a certain number of martyrs appointed (Revelation 6:11). Jesus said that when you are arrested and taken before governors, "this will be a time for you to bear testimony" (Luke 21:13). The purpose, the promise and the price are all bound together.
    Notice the phrase, Matthew 24:14 "all the nations,"…. in the purpose, the promise and the price? "Make disciples of all the nations." The Purpose
"This gospel . . . shall be preached . . . to all the nations." The Promise. "You will be hated by all the nations." The Price. I call all of you with the writer of Hebrews 13:13 (again!) to "go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach."….. What will this mean for you?
   I do not know, but it will have to do with "all the nations."


Pastor Greg

Monday, August 5, 2013

Loving God and Loving People; The Depth of Christ's Love: Its Freedom John 10:14-18

Some further thoughts from Sunday"s Message
     Since Jesus cared so much that we know how freely and willingly he suffered for us, let's look at just a few other illustrations of this truth. Let the truth sink in…. No one took his life. He chose to give it for us. He embraces the suffering. He was eager and willing. It was—and I risk the statement— It was his joy to live and die for us.
    Do you remember the story in Luke 4 where he comes to the synagogue in Nazareth where he had grown up? He read the Scripture reading that day. Then he said that the Scriptures were fulfilled in their hearing that very moment. But when he pointed out that the blessings of the Messiah were going to include the gentiles and not just the Jews it says in verses 29-30, They rose up and cast Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.
    Now what's going on here? A mob of people, enraged over the local teacher's teaching, carry him to the edge of a cliff to throw him down. And the next thing you see is Jesus walking through their midst—like the children of Israel through the Red Sea—and going his way. Why? The reason is this: his hour was not yet come. No one take's my life from me. I lay it down on my own initiative. And I lay it down at the appointed time. Not one second before and not one after.
    Later on in his ministry he was on his way to Jerusalem and some Pharisees came up to him (Luke 13:31-32) and said, "Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You." But Jesus said, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.'" What does this mean?.... Don't go up there, the king wants to kill you. The king! He has all the authority. He can do anything he wants with people like you. You don't stand a chance.

     How does Jesus respond?.... There was a saying among the rabbis in Jesus day that went something like this, "Better to be a lion's tail than a fox's head" (I. H. Marshall, Luke, p. 571). Here was the lion of Judah being warned that a fox was out to get him. So he says, "Tell that fox that I have ministry to do and I have a plan. I cast out demons, I perform cures, and on the appointed day—not before and not after I reach my goal." In other words, "Nobody takes my life from me. I lay it down of my own initiative."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pastor's Pen 7/24/2013

Pastors Pen,
    Pray everyone is having a blessed week. We remain busy here at the church with many items coming to completion. We will move into the remodeled sanctuary next week and the Children’s wing and young adult rooms will also be complete.
    But just around the corner is a huge event and opportunity for our church. Vacation Bible School is coming and  I’m asking for everyone in any way that they can to help us reach out to the children of our community. We have many volunteer positions still available and would love to have your help.
    Many say VBS is a dinosaur of the past and that the money and effort outweigh the results. I say that is a lie of the evil one. I have never had a year pass where at least one child did not receive Jesus and one family not hear about our church and join. As far as I’m concerned that would be well worth our efforts.
    So plan to join us August 12th -16th for VBS. There are several meetings planed for training and information.

LATl,

Pastor Greg

Thursday, July 18, 2013

From The Pastor Pen

Our only hope of comprehending the incomprehensible love of Christ for us: His Holy Spirit

   Jesus has loved us in ways to a degree that is said to be beyond human comprehension. So let's start there. If that's true then what hope is there that I might help you comprehend the love of God and the love of Christ for you?   
      What is the basis of my hope that through my preaching you might actually experience the incomprehensible depth of Christ's love? The answer is given in Romans 5:3 Paul calls us to exult in our tribulations knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, [brings about] proven character; and proven character, [brings about] hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God [that is, God's love for us, not ours for him, as the next verses will show] has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who was given to us.
     So the hope of comprehending the incomprehensible love of Christ: Is The Holy Spirit and here is the basis of my hope that in my preaching about the love of God and Christ for you, will be that you will actually experience that love, and comprehend in some significant, life-changing measure the incomprehensible love of Christ. The basis of my hope is that God has given you—who are believers in Christ—the Holy Spirit.   
    You can see that at the end of verse 5: " . . . the Holy Spirit, who was given to us." See the Holy Spirit of God dwells in you. He is in you. "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God." (1 Cor. 6:19)
     If this were not so my aims in preaching about love to this church would be futile. I am preaching to people who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of the living God. And to some who yet still can be indwelt by this Spirit of God. How? Acts 2:38 says, Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    Now how does the presence of the Holy Spirit give me confidence that my preaching on the love of God for you will result in a real experience of that love? My answer: because verse 5 says that the work of the Holy Spirit is to be the Agent of God in pouring his love out into your heart. Verse 5: Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit. One of the main reasons God has given the Holy Spirit to you, is so that HE might pour out God's love into your heart.
    Do you see what this means? It means that without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot experience and comprehend the love of God in Christ. The love of God is a divine and supernatural reality. But you and I, apart from the Holy Spirit, are merely natural and we are unspiritual, and we do not recognize or value the love of God in Christ. But when God opens our eyes to his truth, and the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts by faith, he awakens us to the reality of God's love and begins to pour it out into our hearts.
    This should greatly encourage some of you who feel that your past behavior makes it difficult, if not impossible, for you to feel loved. The fact is, it is not only difficult, it is impossible—and not just for you, but for all of us…. Hear me because this is so important to grasp.    
     Apprehending the love of God for you—experiencing it, being gripped by it, tasting it—is not the product of good preaching plus good behavior. It is not the product of merely natural forces—good or bad. It is the work of God, the Holy Spirit. The love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Without that you can have the best behavior, and you will never truly know the love of God. And with that, you can also have the worst behavior, and the Holy Spirit will still pour the love of God into your heart.
    But someone may ask where preaching fit into this does? What does what I am doing, as your pastor have to do with the work of the Holy Spirit pouring out the love of God into our hearts? The answer is given in verses 6-8 and the connection that they have with verse 5. Verse 6 begins: For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Notice the connection. In verse 6 what we have is the recounting of a historical fact. "Christ died." And we have the meaning of that fact, which is, God's purpose in it: "Christ died, for the ungodly"—to take the place of the ungodly, to save the ungodly.   
   Now this is different from verse 5. In verse 5 we have Christian experience—the Holy Spirit pouring out the love of God in our hearts. In verse 6 we have history ("Christ died"), and we have theology (Christ died to save the ungodly).
    And the connection between the history and the theology on the one hand (v. 6), and the experience on the other hand (v. 5), is that the history and theology are the foundation and context of the experience. What's happening is this. Paul has said that the Holy Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts. But then he shows us what that love is. And he bases it on history. This means that the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart is not to describe the love of God to you. It is not the job of the Holy Spirit to describe the love of God to you. That is the job God has assigned to history and to the Word of Scripture that interprets that history, and to preaching which brings them both to bear upon your mind.
    You learn the nature and content of the love of God from the way that love acted in history in Jesus Christ, and you experience that love as a present life-changing reality as the Holy Spirit pours it out into your heart. Both of these are crucial. If we make claims to have experiences of the love of God without solid foundations in history and its God-given meaning, we become cultic, emotionalistic, fanatical; and if we claim to understand the history and the meaning of history but we don't experience the love of God poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we become barren and impotent and intellectual.
   The point is this; my message, from God’s Word, cannot take the place of the Holy Spirit in your life. And the Holy Spirit will not do the work assigned to the Word of God.
My calling is to describe the love of God to you. His calling is to pour it out in your hearts. …
My calling is to point you to what Christ did; His calling is to open your eyes to see it as glorious and personal. …
My calling is to make it plain; His is to make it precious.
Mine is to make it clear; His is to make it dear.
Mine is to take you on a tour around the deep and scenic lake of the love of God; His is to plunge you in and saturate your life with the love of God—to baptize you in it.
LATL

Pastor Greg

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pastors Pen July 10, 2013

     The key to believing the love that God has for us is seeing it revealed in the word of Scripture. A few people were allowed to see Jesus in the flesh and touch him and watch him teach and heal and suffer and die and rise. We might feel jealous that our faith in the love of Christ can't be based on that kind of first hand sight and touch.   But that was not God's plan. When Jesus prayed for his disciples in John 17:20, he said, "[Father], I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word." It was the plan of God that we come to faith, not by seeing the love of Christ in the flesh, but by seeing the love of Christ in the word of those who knew him.
    The focus of the next four weeks sermons will be the depth of Christ's love for us. I hope this will help you prepare yourself in prayer and meditation for what's coming. And I hope it will help you know when God is moving you to invite others to attend church with you. My aim in this series is that our love for one another and for those outside would grow and deepen. But this will happen only as we are rooted that is, as we believe—more and more deeply in the love of Christ for us. And that belief comes by seeing the depth of Christ's love for us revealed in his Word. So for four weeks I want to direct our attention to the depth of Christ's love for us.
    As I have pondered the love of Christ for us, and the different ways that the Bible presents it to us, I have seen four ways that the depth of Christ's love is revealed. We will spend a week on each of these.


Thursday, April 11, 2013


Small Group

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 

Living Above The Line- Introduction

 

1.  What would you say is the Pastors main purpose in leading this emphasis and preaching these sermons?

 

2.  Why do most Christian emphases run the risk of being man-centered?  How is that problem avoided?

 

3.  What is the Father’s overarching plan throughout the ages?

 

4.  What does “Christ in you” have to do with this plan?

 

5.  What effect does it have on our lives to know that we exist for God’s glory?  This being the case, how might God want your life to change?

 

6.  In what sense was the cross God’s work on His own behalf?  What is the result of Christ’s work on the cross?

 

7.  How does God want us to cooperate with Him in that result?