Creating Your Own Gospel Story-Part Deux

When you look at the “Gospel Storytelling Logo above, the first question that may come to mind is “what does BI, BT, and BO stand for?”.  These three abbreviations are in the logo to remind us of the three parts of our personal gospel story:  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.

One of the best ways to learn how God has worked or is working in your life is to hear testimonies of how he has worked in the lives of others.  With this in mind, it would seem to follow that the best way for us to help others see how God is striving to break into their lives would be to share with them our testimony of God’s work in our lives.

If you want to naturally give testimony to the Gospel’s impact on your life, it is as easy as following the BI, BT, BO formula. While some do not like the idea of formulas, we simply use this term to represent an easy and efficient way to outline the powerful work of God in your life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you are serious about becoming more natural and proficient in your ability to tell your own Gospel Story, please take the time over the next number of weeks to do the activities presented in these articles.  These exercises will allow you to piece together your personal “Gospel Story”.

GST Red Banner Trans2

Breaking In Exercise:  Set aside a period of time (30-60 minutes) to focus on how God has broken into your life. 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 the ways that he broke into your life.  These BI moments may have come through troubles, hurts, blessings, relationships, messages heard, scriptures read, songs, poems, quiet reflection, or any of a myriad of other ways.  God calls us all in different ways, and at different times in our lives.  Make sure not to rush this process.  It may take a bit of time for the memories to come to mind.

Make a list of the times and ways that God Broke In, the ways he got your attention, the moments when you cried out to him, the times that others spoke into your life.  Once you have listed these things, keep them safely tucked away in a safe spot until next week!

Creating Your Own Gospel Story-Part Uno

As a community, we have been redefining what will be considered success in our ministry.  Realizing we can not meet everyone’s wish list for a church, we need to set clear measurement standards that will allow us to feel we have accomplished the call that the Lord has given us.  We seek to do a few things and to do them well.

Our first point of measurement has to do with how well we are developing Disciples of Jesus Christ.  We define a Disciple as a person who is “following Jesus, being transformed by Jesus and on mission with Jesus”.

Our second measurement standard is that the people in our LFC family will understand the meaning of the Gospel, that being “that we are an imperfect people, clinging to the perfect Christ, being transformed by the Holy Spirit and helping other imperfect people.”

The third measurement standard has to do with the ability of those in our community to be Gospel Storytellers.  A Gospel Storyteller is a person who can give witness to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives and to help point out that transforming power in the lives of others.  We wish to help everyone learn to share the impact of the Gospel of Christ on their life naturally and in the
everyday path of life.

In an article entitled “What are the New Measurements of a Successful Church” author Caesar Kalinowski gives ten new benchmarks of a successful church.  One of those ten benchmarks is:

Gospel conversations taking place naturally. Is our verbal proclamation of Good News increasing? Are folks growing in their gospel fluency? Does the gospel come up naturally and often?

We will be using a series of articles in this email newsletter to help us develop our own Gospel Stories.

To be able to tell your Gospel Story, you must first understand your Gospel Story.

Homework:  Take some time this week to think about your life and take note of where God through the Gospel has broken into your life, where He has broken through the mess and problems, and how the Gospel is breaking out of your life in ministry to others.

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.

“9 Things That Worked in the Church A Decade Ago That Don’t Today”

January 18, 2016

Old Car Banner

Here is a blog post that I came across.  It is from Carey Nieuwhof, a Pastor in Toronto.  From my experience in ministry over the last 30 years,  I can truly relate with the points in the post.  I am reposting it here for the benefit of the leaders of Leduc Fellowship. I believe we can see many, if not all, of these realities in our local setting. Read the Post

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.


In this video, Alan Hirsch speaks about the value and importance of discipleship in the local church.

California Dreamin and Northward Bound

It’s been a long time since we’ve put anything on the Blog!  This is Jo, btw…..We’ve been relaxing and loving every minute of this awesome time together!  After an amazing time in Gilbert, AZ, we headed to Anaheim, CA.  We spent 4 days in Disneyland and/or California Adventure. And we played HARD!!  We went on almost every ride, saw a bunch of shows and enjoyed tons of parades!  The weather was perfect!  Let me tell you that I totally felt my age at Disney!  We walked around 42 miles according to Dennis’ Fitbit!  Our feet hurt by the end of the day!

We were blessed at the beginning of the Anaheim trip with a surprise at the restaurant in Downtown Disney.  Some random strangers paid our bill!  Wow!!  Such a humbling experience!!

The girls had a blast!!  They LOVED all the roller coasters and went on as much as they could!  The highlight for me and Dennis was watching the wonder in the girls’ eyes as they saw characters and simply enjoyed the rides and shows.  They are such good girls – so polite and kind!  Can you tell we are proud?  I think the best part for me was seeing Lydia meet her favourite character, Sofia the First.  She was mesmerized!  She actually cried tears of joy after seeing her!!  It was so sweet!!

We are now chilling out in our little 580 square foot beach cabin in Santa Cruz.  Once again, we’ve been fortunate to have amazing weather!  We spent the day at the beach and on the Boardwalk.  We walked, played, watched the seals, dolphins and birds.  The girls just loved playing for hours in the sand. We ended our day with a gorgeous sunset.

Tomorrow we leave for our 11-hour drive to Portland.  We decided to drive straight through instead of taking 2 days to do this.  We are anxious to see family and enjoy the week with them.  It will be the first Thanksgiving we will spend with my mom and my sisters/brothers-in-law since we moved to Alberta 16 years ago!!  Really looking forward to this time together as well as devouring my mom’s famous potato salad!!  We will also be able to spend time with Dennis’ sister, her husband and our niece and other family members.

After the week is over we will be heading back to reality in Alberta.  It’s been an awesome trip and while I’m sad it is coming to a close, I am SO excited to see our older kids!!  We’ve missed them!!

Thanks yet again for the prayers and thoughts along this journey with us.  We feel rested and relaxed and renewed.  We are also feeling prepared to get back to work and real life! God has been speaking to us both along the way!

Much love to all of you!!  Jo

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32 Days, 17 States, 11 Homes and 10621Kms/6600 Miles Later

Sorry that it has been so long since we have updated the blog.  As you can tell from the title of this post we have covered a lot of ground so far on this trip.

Since we last left you we have been to Atlanta, Pensacola Beach, New Orleans, San Antonio and now are spending 2 weeks in Phoenix.  Let me catch you up on a bit of the highlights of the last week and a half or so.

Atlanta:  In Atlanta we rented a converted 3 story loft in the historical Martin Luther King, Jr District, just blocks from Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Church that MLK preached his first sermon in and served for many years.  Our full day spent in Atlanta was spent at the World of Coke and The Atlanta Botanical Garden.

The World of Coke was awesome to see the history of the widest known brand in the world and to hear of its history.  Joanne and I have been there before, but the girls loved it.  They especially enjoyed the tasting room where you can taste all the drinks Coke makes anywhere in the world.

The Botanical Garden was amazing and very relaxing.  Thank you Keisha, the friend that we made in Raleigh for the amazing blessing of the free tickets to the garden.  It was a beautiful setting in the middle of Atlanta.

For a break between The World of Coke and the Botanical Garden, we enjoyed an amazing lunch at the Varsity Drive-In.  This hot dog and hamburger drive-in is an Atlanta landmark and a place that my dad took me when I was a boy whenever we would go to see the Atlanta Braves play.

Pensacola Beach was not originally on our route, but when Joanne realized it was so close to our route and that if we went she could say she had been to Florida our plans changed.  We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon of sitting on the beautiful white sand beach of Pensacola Beach.

New Orleans:  In New Orleans we stayed in a very quaint two bedroom upstairs apartment of a quad-plex just a short street car ride from The French Quarter.  Our full day in New Orleans started with a ride on the streetcar to the French Quarter and beignets at Café du Monde.  These were fried french donuts covered in a mountain of powdered sugar (icing sugar for the Canadians in the crowd).  The coffee was wonderful there as well.  We then took a very hot and humid walk through the French Quarter.

One highlight was the nice gentleman that grabbed me on the street and asked if Lydia was my daughter. When I said she was, he said “She is Ethiopian?” very exuberantly.  I responded with “Yes!”  He then said “I am Ethiopian!”  He was so excited to see her.  He showed us the two stores he owned and gave his blessing as we continued on our way.

We were not sure what to do in New Orleans as we found it to not be the most kid friendly town.  So we decided to take the “tourist route” and went on a Cajun Encounter Swamp Tour.  We actually enjoyed it greatly.

San Antonio:  We loved our brief stay in San Antonio.  We got to our hotel around 7:30.  After checking in, we walked the block from our hotel to the River Walk and found an amazing Mexican restaurant for supper.  We then headed back to the hotel for a good night sleep.

At two in the morning both of our cell phones beeped with a flash flood advisory for the San Antonio area.  I groaned and rolled over to go back to sleep.   Joanne spent the next hour searching the internet for what to do.  I figured we were on the second floor of a 12 story building, if the water got to us we would just keep going up until we were dry.

We awoke the next day to find out that there was some flash flooding in the area and that a number of people had lost their lives, but honestly you would never be aware of that from the downtown area.

We had breakfast at the hotel and then took a short walk to the Alamo.  We took a quick tour of the monument and then listened as a very nice man told us the history of the Alamo.  It was very interesting and amazing to think what happened many years before in the spot we were sitting.

After the Alamo we went to the River Walk again and took an hour gondola  ride as we heard the history of the River Walk and San Antonio.  As it was Halloween, our guide was dressed as Michael Jackson and would strike a pose for anyone that would look his way.   We headed back to the hotel in the mid-afternoon and a quick swim in the 10′ by 12′ pool, or was it just a large bathtub?

We headed to bed early as we knew that we had a long drive the next day as we headed to Phoenix.

Phoenix:  On Sunday we headed from San Antonio to Phoenix.  This was to be the longest day’s drive of our whole trip.  The first direction on my GPS was to go 950 miles on I-10 West and then turn to head to Gibert.  A little over a thousand miles later we pulled into the home we have been blessed with here at 9:30 pm.  I was toast.

We have been blessed with the use of a home owned by Martin and Jeannine Kaup, the parents of our Son-in-Law Isaac.  It is a beautiful and peaceful place with a backyard pool for us to enjoy.  We will be here for two weeks before heading to California and then up the coast to spend time with family in Portland for Thanksgiving.

We have enjoyed the nice weather of Phoenix though the locals are acting like it is cold.  We have also enjoyed the relaxed pace.  Today we went to the Arizona State Fair.  It was nice but not quite as big a shindig as the North Carolina State Fair of a few weeks ago.

Today we also went to “My Mystery Castle” in Phoenix.  This home has an amazing history and was built by Boyce Gulley (must be a long lost relative.)  If you ever get to Phoenix and have not done this tour, you need to do it.  It is cheap and very interesting.

We have been so blessed to have this time to be together, to travel and see such great things, to rest, to seek God’s face and to refresh ourselves for the next phase of family and ministry life.  I am very excited that I feel God’s leading in my life and through a renewed energy for the vision God has for my life and my ministry at Leduc Fellowship.  I wait to hear more as I seek His face!

We will not be posting for the next week or so, just because we will not have much to report.  If you are interested please check back around November 15th!

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Family, Fun and Food in Raleigh

Hello everyone – Joanne here!  We are having a wonderful time here in Raleigh…so much fun that we haven’t had time to post anything on the blog!  So I’m going to attempt to wrap up the last week in a few paragraphs.

Birthdays:  Margaret and Dennis both had birthdays this past week.  We had a great time celebrating Margaret with a bunch of her friends and then Dennis and I went out with Rob and Margaret to celebrate his birthday.  Both times, the kids enjoyed cousin time at home!

State Fair:  We had a blast at the NC State Fair!  Many rides and lots of greasy, fried foods!!  Growing up with State Fairs, Dennis and I enjoyed watching the girls soak it all in!

Beach:  Dennis and the girls and I went to Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington.  We were lucky to have gorgeous weather and just play in the sand, collect shells, and of course, shop a bit!  Abby was excited to see and touch the Atlantic Ocean!

University Campuses:  We had the chance to visit some Universities in the area:  UNC-Chapel Hill, Meredith College, and NC State.  It was extra special to Dennis as his dad (along with many other family members) are UNC Alumni and his mom went to Meredith.  The huge trees and old buildings were incredible.  And Lydia enjoyed her new found love of collecting acorns and chasing squirrels!!

Pullen Park:  This park was nothing short of amazing!  It had a huge playground, kiddie boats, a pond to feed geese, fish and turtles, a carousel, a train and Dennis’ favourite – a statue of Andy Griffith and Opie!  It was fun for the girls to play and Dennis and I caught up on a little reading.  Lydia met a friend and soon we were introduced to her mother and grandmother.  Emma, Keira, and Keisha were a joy to visit with and we feel so blessed to have met them.  Keisha chased after us when we were leaving to give us 4 tickets to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens!  Such kindness!  We continue to enjoy the people we are meeting along this amazing journey!

Church:  We attended 2 churches while here.  We went to Trinity Baptist Church with Margaret and Connor last week.  What a gorgeous church!  It was much more traditional than I’m used to but it brought back many memories of church growing up.  I loved the choir, hand bell choir and the pastor’s sermon very much.  I had to laugh when we left as we told the greeter we were from Canada and she said, “Oh!  Do you know the Wyatts?”  I’ve always heard that joke, but it was hilarious to experience it!!    Today Dennis, Abby and I went to Summit Church in Raleigh.  This was closer to what we experience at LFC, though it was much larger.  We really enjoyed this church as well.  It was nice for Dennis as he wanted to hear JD Greear speak and we were lucky enough to hear him today.

Food:  Oh My Goodness!!  We have been in food heaven since we have arrived here!  Southern BBQ, Mac & Cheese, Fried Okra, Hush Puppies, Sweet Tea, Fried Chicken, Grits….the list goes on and on.  We have experienced a lot of different restaurants as well – many of Dennis’ favourites growing up as well as many new ones!  Let’s just say while we’ve loved it ALL, we will be eating salad for the next week or so!!

Family:  While we’ve done a lot of fun stuff while we’ve been here, the best has been the time spent with family!  Rob and Margaret have been so gracious to let us stay in their home and have made us feel so welcomed here.  We’ve spent a lot of time together talking and laughing and truly loving the chance to catch up and get to know each other better.  Connor has been awesome and has been so great with the girls!  He took us creek walking, built us bonfires, played with the kids at the Life and Science Museum, carved pumpkins with us and played many games at the house with the girls.  Jax was able to come home from East Carolina University for the weekend so that was great!  We didn’t get to spend much time together, but the time we did get was fun.  Let’s just say the next Gulley Family reunion with the WHOLE family is already in the works!!

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Spending a Day in the Past

Today we spent most of the day in Clayton, N.C.  Clayton is the town that was home to the Gulleys for nearly two centuries.  While the city is growing, there were many things that I remembered as they were in my childhood.

I was blessed to have the director of the Library open up the archives to give me some information and to help me fill in a few holes on our family tree.

It was a great day of memories for me to share with my wife and girls.

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