Community

We know that community is not the goal – growing more into the image of Christ is the goal – but it is the vehicle by which we move toward the goal. It is the context for the gospel to flow in and flow out.

There are over 50 “one another” passages throughout the New Testament – imperatives placed in front of believers on how we should live. “Bearing one another’s burdens”, “praying for one another”, “confronting one another” – on and on I could go. These things – that make up community – are crucial to the balance and progress of our spiritual growth.

But that’s not where it stops. The Bible says that the old has passed away, and the new has come. Then it says that, through Christ, God reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. And this takes place in community.

Community is a conduit and a canvas for the gospel to be poured out and displayed to the lost and dying world around us – for mission.

Mission does not come before the gospel; it comes because of the gospel. The love of Christ compels us. A community engaging on mission out of anything other than a response to the gospel is just advocacy.

When the gospel lands and blows up group life, you have an overflow of gospel-centered living that permeates neighborhoods, schools, baseball teams and on and on.

Community life also has the opportunity to herald Christ by how we interact with one another.

Our society is saturated with the lie that everything is about you. Community is a place where this paradigm can be transformed. It is a place where it can be redeemed with a full, accurate and fluid picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because of Christ,

Pastor Aaron 

 



Family Discipleship

God calls the family to play a vital role in discipling the next generation (Deut. 6:6-9).  How this is accomplished varies from family to family and is as unique as the DNA of each home. Family discipleship isn’t one-size-fits-all, and it isn’t easy—even the most intentional of Christian parents may find themselves at a loss as to how to begin. Though each family is unique, our church believes that vibrant family discipleship can take shape around three key elements: time, moments and milestones. 

Create family discipleship time

Parents build intentional time into the rhythm of family life for the purpose of thinking about, talking about and living out the gospel. Parents who leverage time prioritize gathering their family in the home regularly—daily or weekly—to read Scripture or pray, to learn about a missionary and to sing praise songs together. Depending on the ages of the children, this regularly occurring time might vary in what it emphasizes and accomplishes.

Capture family discipleship moments

Parents capture and leverage opportunities in the course of everyday life for the purpose of gospel-centered conversations. Parents who leverage moments might use a good grade on a test to talk about how God gives us gifts to be used to build His kingdom. They might use an argument between siblings as a chance to talk about mutual submission to one another out of love. Parents who make use of moments look for ways to connect everyday ups and downs to gospel truths.

Recognize and remember family discipleship milestones

Parents mark and make occasions to celebrate and commemorate significant spiritual milestones of God’s work in the life of the family and child. Parents who leverage milestones might mark the one-year anniversary since a child’s broken arm was healed by going out for ice cream to celebrate God’s faithfulness. They might plan a special day around talking about sex and sexuality. They might plant a tree to remember a grandparent who modeled God’s love to them. Parents who leverage milestones look for ways to use significant birthdays, trips or anniversaries to reinforce the gospel to their family. This might be occasions we make and create, like an orchestrated family rite of passage ceremony. On the other hand, it could be occasions we mark, like a yearly remembrance of a birth or death that was significant to the family.

Moving forward, our church wants to offer tools, suggestions and ideas to help parents make the most of these three elements. We hope these resources will help parents think intentionally about the “how” of family discipleship, and that families of all shapes and sizes—single parent, blended, large and small—will be able to implement time, moments and milestones in ways that strengthen homes and instill the gospel in the next generation.

Because of Christ,

Pastor Aaron

 



Undeniable Truth

The Sunday Jesus rose from the dead made all the difference in the world. As a matter of fact, it made all the difference for the world. Sunday was when the disciples’ eyes were opened and they learned death couldn’t hold on to Jesus. Over the next 40 days, Jesus appeared to the disciples and many others—up to 500 people at one time—in various settings (1 Cor. 15:5-8). Those who had seen Him die now saw Him live, walk, talk, and eat. And the reason why we can be assured of this is because history validates this truth with how the disciples lived … and died.

Prior to seeing Jesus Christ alive, His disciples trembled, ran away, and hid. Yet after they witnessed the resurrected Lord and filled with His Holy Spirit, they boldly followed Him and willingly drank of the cup that was His.

James, one of the two who said he was willing to drink the cup when asked by Jesus (Luke 10:38-39), was the first of the 12 apostles to die for His belief in the resurrected Jesus. The Jews in power despised men like James who were unrelenting in their claim that Christ had risen from the dead, so King Herod, in an attempt to please the Jews, killed James with a sword (Acts 12:1).

Judas Iscariot, of course, died by his own hand soon after betraying Jesus to the authorities for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 27:3-9; Luke 22:1-6). All the other original eleven apostles, except for John, were killed because of their commitment to Jesus. While we have more historical evidence of the martyrdom of some of the apostles than of others, history records in some form or fashion that all died a martyr’s death (except for John, who was exiled onto an island where he died). The exact details differ regarding each death, but one thing remains the same: they all died for teaching and proclaiming Jesus Christ as the resurrected and living Savior.

People will go to great lengths for high-minded notions or ideals. But who would willingly die for a lie? But the disciples died for an undeniable truth. They saw Jesus alive after He had been crucified and buried. And because they did, they knew that death would not be the end for them either. Jesus had come to give eternal life. That was the confident hope in which they died, and it is the same confident hope in which we are to live. 

 

Because of Christ,

Pastor Aaron

 



“Two Pictures of Discipleship”

 

In Luke’s gospel in Luke, chapter 23, Jesus is being crucified, and there are two men, one at his right and one at his left, just like the disciples asked to be placed. Remember when they asked him? “We want to be at your right and your left when you come in glory.” “You have no idea what you’re asking, because I will be crucified with thieves.”

One of them asks the most important question in the Bible. “Jesus, you’re the King. Will you remember me when you come into your kingdom?” Which question would you ask Jesus? “Jesus, can I reign with you forever?” or “Jesus, might I be crucified with you so that when your kingdom comes I will be with you?”

These are two pictures of discipleship. One uses the Lord Jesus Christ to pursue power, prestige, and honor. The other worships   Jesus Christ by embracing the cross and simply says, “Jesus, will you remember me when you come into your kingdom?” What does it mean to be a citizen of the kingdom of God? Kingdom citizens live in humble imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ by living cross-shaped lives.

 

Because of Christ,

Pastor Aaron

 



Rhythm of Remembering

 

In Habakkuk chapter 3, we find a prayer that is 19 verses in length. For 16 verses, Habakkuk remembers God’s past faithfulness to deliver Israel from her enemies. In the final three verses, he rejoices over God’s strength and majesty.

Habakkuk’s prayer is instructive for us today because it establishes a rhythm of remembering and rejoicing. When we remember God’s past faithfulness and rejoice in it, we find a firm foundation regardless of our circumstances, but when we forget this rhythm, the weight of the world feels crushing.

Here is one way that you can remember and rejoice when your circumstances look bleak:

Remember and rejoice that God saved you.

It is imperative that you understand that you did not save you. God saved you. You may say, “That’s not true. I heard a message, walked down the aisle, shook the pastor’s hand and said a little prayer. That’s when I became a Christian.” No, it’s not. Do you know what motivated you to get out of that seat? Do you know what motivated you to come down that aisle? It was the Holy Spirit opening your heart to the reality of Jesus Christ. God began your conversion before you ever stood from your seat.

Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” You were brought near, and not because God looked down and thought, “Look at all that skill. You’re on My team.” No. You were brought near by the blood of Christ. God saved you. You didn’t save you. You didn’t save you by getting up in the morning and reading your Bible or by no longer saying words. You got in by the blood of Jesus alone.

Because of Christ,

Pastor Aaron



A Selfless Act

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 “Servanthood is the condition or state of being a servant to others, of ministry to others rather than the service of self. It means willingly giving of oneself to minister to others and to do whatever it takes to accomplish what is best for another.”

Take a look at the people who comprise your church and you will find many who can be labeled a servant. Beginning with the early churches many had to disband due to low attendance. Praise God for other small groups of families who took a leap of faith and built a house of worship. Through the years people have been saved or their faith strengthened because of Bible-believing churches. The musically talented who bring praise music each Sunday can be referred to as servants; a phrase from a song can draw the wayward Christian back to Jesus.

There are servants who continue the mission of the church by bringing the Gospel to children in Sunday school and to the youth on Wednesday nights. Church officers make decisions concerning the life of the church; others support and pray for missionaries and the idea people who plan spiritual activities. The church family comes together to hear the pastor’s message and to pray over the concerns of others. Jesus is changing lives in response to those prayers; words of encouragement linger in a person’s aching heart.

In any congregation there are behind-the-scenes servants in charge of remembering birthdays, keeping finances balanced, cleaning the church, answering phones and typing bulletins.  Many help with washing dishes, visiting nursing homes, bringing a meal or shaking a hand welcoming visitors. The nursery moms keep babies feeling loved and safe; handy men maintain the church building and lawn. Others drive the elderly to church so they can continue to worship.

These are thankless jobs but they are the back-bone of the church.  This is how the church survives and remains healthy because everyone works together for the glory of God.  Christ sees your selfless act of service and your faithfulness. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us,” I Corinthians 12:4-6.
by Sue Schmidt


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