Gospel Storytelling-Part Four

Over the last few weeks, we have been addressing the three-fold act of Gospel-
Storytelling. That being, developing the ability to give witness to God Breaking
In(to) our lives (BI), God Breaking Through (BT) our hurt, sin and shame and
God Breaking Out (BO) on mission through our redeemed lives.

We have looked at the idea of “God Breaking Into Our Lives”, and “God Breaking
Through” the junk in our lives.

This week we turn our attention to the idea of “God Breaking Out On Mission”
through our redeemed lives. We need to be consistently reminded that we were
not saved simply to cleanse us from our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross and his
free gift of grace do allow us to walk in a reclaimed state with our creator God,
but we were also redeemed that we might be involved in God’s active mission of
bringing saving hope to others.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, JesusChrist, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:11-14

Breaking Out Exercise: Set aside a period of time (30-60 minutes) to focus
on how God has uniquely gifted and called you to make a difference for His name

Make sure you will be able to unplug and remove yourself from anything that will
distract you.

As you begin your time of reflection, pray that God would remove any distractions
so you might hear clearly from the Lord.

Then ask the Lord to bring to mind ways in which God has gifted you with unique
skills, passions, and desires. Reflect on how God has allowed you to be used for
His Kingdom sake in the past and how you sense He is planning to use you in the
future. List doors that God has opened for you. List times when people have told
you that they see God at work in your lives. As you listen to God, make sure to
list every time you have seen God call you to partner with him on his mission. Do
not overlook the small opportunities as well as the large ones.

Once you have listed these things, keep them safely tucked away in a safe spot
until next week!

Gospel Story Telling: Part 1

Embracing the Imperfect Without Embracing the Imperfection

As a pastor, I find it very hard to keep the right things always before us as a community.  It is easy to get caught up in the concerns of the moment, or the hot issue at hand and forget to keep the important in front of the urgent.  As I returned from my sabbatical rest and study, I felt very driven to make sure that we judge our effectiveness by the right scorecard and that we truly learn to do a few things and do them well.

These two main focal points I presented to our leadership upon my return were to make sure that we are teaching everyone to be Gospel Storytellers and that we were leading people in true discipleship.

In January, I preached through a short series on the topic of Discipleship and addressed the issue of a disciple being a person who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus and being on mission with Jesus.  We will continue to return to this amazing topic often and in many ways.  In and through the current series on Romans we are constantly addressing the issue of discipleship while also thoroughly addressing the idea of the Gospel.

Beginning this month, I want to be very intentional in using this newsletter and our weekly email newsletter to help us unpack the idea of being Gospel Storytellers.  The idea of Gospel Storytelling is “developing the ability to naturally give testimony of the Gospel’s impact in your life while on the natural path of life”.  I will unpack that more in future writing, but before we even get to that I need to share again our definition of the Gospel.

We are defining the Gospel as “Imperfect people, clinging to the perfect Christ, being made perfect through the Holy Spirit and helping other imperfect people”.  Through our study of Romans so far, we cannot help but see that we, all humans, are without a doubt Imperfect.

In my 8 years of pastoring here at LFC, I have had one sermon series that has generated the most positive comments, and easily four times the positive comments of any other. That series was “No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come as You Are Culture in the Church.”  This series, based on a book of the same name by Pastor John Burke, spoke to people of all ages, backgrounds and at differing points in the spiritual journey.  I believe that the church, over the last 20 years, has grown greatly in our ability to allow people to be more open and honest about their sin and imperfections.

I believe that the ability to be honest about our sin condition is the first step in truly understanding and sharing the Gospel.  I also believe that we have to carefully learn to embrace the imperfect person without embracing the imperfection that plagues each of us.  In loving the struggling person, it is easy to minimize the struggle that they face.  We need to strive to love the person while aiding them in overcoming the source of their struggle.  Biblical community exists to allow us to hold each other up while we stumble through the minefields of life, but our goal needs to get the person out of the minefield.

As we seek to become Gospel Storytellers we must start with a clear understanding of our imperfections and accepting the challenge to remove the stumbling block of sin that puts a rift between us and God.

I will have more on this topic in the weekly email newsletters for April, so please make sure to read them!  If you do not get the emails, contact the office to make sure we have all of your correct contact information.

This last year the world lost a great man of God and a great scholar, Dr. Dallas Willard.

As I have been focusing my life and study around the idea of the Gospel, I have been reading and listening to a lot of Dr. Willard’s work.  I thought I would share this short video as it is a very good help to us as we seek to understand better the Gospel.


The Next Pendulum Swing

I have often said that ministry is a constant tension between opposing forces. The shifts that take place within the church, often need to take place, but the problem is that the shifts that we make are not toward a healthier balance, but from one extreme to another. Often the true need is for a healthy balance amidst seemingly opposing forces.

Within my 30 years of ministry experience, I have seen the pendulum shift many times in many different directions.

The primary shift I have seen has been between the protection and the proclamation of the Gospel. It has been a fight between focusing inward or expending energies outward.

Of late there has been a very strong effort to see the two peacefully exist within the Bride of Christ.

As a leader, I find it hard to keep these two seemingly opposing forces in check with one another. I struggle with this primarily because the people of The Kingdom have a propensity to fall to one side or the other of the spectrum.

In the role of pastor, I always feel the tension of letting some people down most of the time.

I know my obligation is to please the Lord and follow his lead, but there is still regular tension in leading.

I desire to continual promote the balance between being called to worship and being sent to care.

This balance allows for a healthy platform for the Great Commission and the Great Commandment to come to fruition as the Bride of Christ fulfills its call. Another reason for this balance is to usher in the now, continuous and not yet Kingdom of God.

My next number of posts will be on this issue and will focus on the “Sentness” of God’s church while at the same time promoting the idea of giving God the Glory in all things.

This video challenged me and made me think.  Christian leader and authour Dave Gibbons talks about some important issues for missional leaders within the church.  He addresses some hard issues, issues that we need to be thinking about as our world changes.  Gibbons gives insight on how the love of Christ can take us into the mess of the world in an effective manner.

In a few weeks I will have the distinct privelage to be with a handful of other NAB pastors under the teaching leadership of Jeff Vanderstelt.  I have known Jeff for many years since he was a youth pastor in Seattle.  He is an amazing leader with an amazing passion to see the Kingdom of God grow and multiply.  I know that I will be challenged with the two days that we will be with Jeff and his church family at Soma in Tacoma.  The video above is a snippet of the teaching we will be receiving.

The Power of a Gospel Journey

I am very excited to be walking through the Gospel of Mark as a community in this new year.  I, as I said during my sermon on Sunday, always enjoy walking through the Gospels.  This study of Mark will be a fun and challenging journey.  I hope to be able to use this blog as a spot for further notes and thoughts.