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#UEKJ

 

Today at church, we announced a refinement to our vision statement for the church.  Not a new theme, but more of a focussed message to keep us moving forward with what God has called us to.

 

UNTIL EVERYONE KNOWS JESUS

 

Matt 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

UNTIL … Matt 24:14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world so that all nations will hear it, and then the end will come.

EVERYONE … Rom 10:13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” … and God really does mean everyone!

KNOWS … Eph 3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God … a deep, intimate, experiential knowledge of God, his will, his heart, his ways! Psalm 27:4 The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. Psalm 84:10 A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.

 

JESUS … He is GOD … and HE is CENTRAL to everything

  • JESUS is GOD … Colossians 1:15-16 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.
  • JESUS is the way, the truth, the life … John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
  • JESUS is love and the way to the Father … John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
  • JESUS gives Rest … Matt 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
  • JESUS is our healer … Matt 9:35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.

I hope you join us on this mission … I hope you can make this a part of your own life’s mission … perhaps that way we speed the coming of Jesus!

Hope in the Unusual

 

“Don’t you know that hobbits are only interesting when they are put in un-hobbit like circumstances?”

At the peak of their writing careers, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were a part of a “Masterminds” literary group at Oxford University to bounce off ideas and strengthen each other’s work. The group is famously called the Inklings. The Hobbit by Tolkien was published around 3 years into him being in this group, and he eventually became stuck while writing the “New” Hobbit. His publisher was asking for more work, but he couldn’t provide more than the first couple chapters. What’s even worse as a literary creative, is that he was BORING himself!

Shortly after, C.S. Lewis took Tolkien to lunch one day and asked Tolkien the question that changed the course of his life, “Don’t you know that hobbits are only interesting when they are put in un-hobbit like circumstances?” Here birthed the idea and passion for the series, The Lord of the Rings. The hobbits had left the shire, and Tolkien’s career blossomed!

This past week I was listening to Jeff Goins on the podcast: EntreLeadership—Capitalizing on Your Creative Strengths. This is where I heard this story about Tolkien, and where my mind wandered into two realizations:

1. Maximizing potential does not happen in solitude.

2. People respond to unorthodox scenarios.

In this post, we will focus on the latter.

The Lord of the Rings took off because four hobbits left the shire and sought adventure in  a world unknown as “underdogs.” Similarly, super heroes like Spiderman and Batman peak people’s interest because it provides hope for a lost city in need of help and a savior. People cling to these fictional stories because they long for a savior and a lasting victory; they long to be rescued when in need. They also want to see the guy who shouldn’t win, win! These stories do a wonderful job of painting a picture for what people desire and need deep within their souls; they draw these feelings out of us and excite us when success is seen on the big screen!

As I pondered these ideas, I can’t help but think of the disciples as “underdogs” in a world against them and their faith in Christ. Yet, the disciples pressed on in an unusual but fulfilled hope, even in the midst of their struggle.

“Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece.” Luke 9:1-3

“So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.” Matthew 21:6

The disciples understood and trusted this hope in Christ because they saw him time and time again deliver and fulfill his word, no matter how unqualified they were. Their trust was in who Jesus is, not in who they were. They understood he is the savior of the world and that he can use anyone to glorify him, even the tax collectors and sinners. They witnessed him being an ever-present help sent from God (Matthew 8:24-27) and the Savior who conquered death and gives us victory (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)!

This seemingly “fictional” story proved true right in front of their eyes. Jesus became our real-life, truly accessible “superhero”. In better terms, a Savior that is actually there for the church, unlike Batman! We have this hope in the unusual circumstance. Both believers and non-believers strongly responded to the unorthodox life and proclamations of Jesus. His story demanded attention and a response. It was and is impossible to be indifferent. It produced hope for the believer or anger for those who refused to believe. How similar is this to superhero movies?

I pray that as we see and enjoy stories like Superman and The Lord of the Rings, we can see the hope we have in Jesus. As the underdog who clings to Jesus for strength, or the hero we have full access to. I pray that we use this avenue as a chance to discuss with our coworkers, friends, and kids the REAL hope we in the perfected work of Christ as they marvel over the new Wonder Woman movie. May we share with them that there is a true hope, firm and secure like an anchor in Christ (Hebrews 6:19-20).

Leave your shire of comfort. Go and do as Jesus commands. Love one another. The rest is in our superhero’s hands.

-Ryan “40” Borcherding

New to Fasting? Start Here…

 

When I preached on this subject a couple weeks ago, I was by no means an expert (I’m still not one). I had not made a habit of fasting and openly stated that I too am learning to walk this out. If you want to listen to the message, click here.

Now I’ll issue a disclaimer. There are many books, podcasts, sermons, etc, that cover the topic of fasting. I think it’s wise to explore. However, I am confident in saying with certainty, follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. Jesus didn’t decide to fast one day for no reason: he was “…led by the Spirit into the wilderness…” (Matt 4:1). If we are to follow Jesus’s example in fasting, we should do the same. Don’t let anything I or anyone else says about fasting keep you from following the Holy Spirit’s leading with respect to fasting (or anything else really).

As I said a couple weeks ago, the point of fasting is not for the sake of making ourselves hungry, but to lead us closer to the Lord. Fasting is an expression of our desire for intimacy with the Lord, one that God sees and honors with a reward. (Matt 6:18) We fast knowing that as we genuinely seek the Lord and show what we’re willing to lay down in order to draw closer to him, he rewards us with more and more of himself. His presence is the greatest reward we could ever receive from fasting or any other practice for that matter. This is why we do it. This is why we fast. It’s out of our genuine desire to live in the presence of God, the very purpose for which we were made.

 

Questions to help you get started

 

If you’re not sure which to decide, answer this question: “what is currently consuming more of my time, focus, and thoughts more than seeking the presence of God? What things am I willingly letting myself be preoccupied with and am I actually willing to lay them aside to seek the presence of God?” What am I prioritizing above seeking the Lord?

I know this is likely a touchy subject.

Another question: Where are there areas of your life that have little hope in them? What family members, friends or coworkers are you needing more hope for? What burdens you?

I can imagine there are a few things that come to mind.

 

Different types of Fasting

 

There are a handful of different types of fasting found in the Old and New Testament. King Jehoshaphat, in the Old Testament, called a fast where the nation of Israel went without all solid and liquid food; fasting in it’s most common sense. (2 Chronicles 20:24-27)

Another type of biblical fasting is modeled by the prophet Daniel, who abstained from certain types of food for three weeks. We can fast this way by abstaining from certain foods or activities for a time. (Daniel 10:2-3)

Perhaps the most intense fast is found modeled in the book of Esther and in the conversion of Saul (who later became the Apostle). In both cases we see demonstrated the abstaining from all food and drink. It’s very important to note that these fasts only lasted three days. (Esther 4:16 ; Acts 9:9)

Lastly, we see in Exodus 19:15 and 1 Corinthians 7:5 the people of God were called to abstain from having sex (married couples), in order to prepare themselves for an encounter with the Lord or devote themselves to prayer.

These are just a few examples of fasting found in scripture. As stated before, the most important part of fasting is following the Holy Spirit’s leading. Whether it’s from food, food, and drink, solid or liquid, do so as the Spirit leads you.

The first Wednesday each month we have our corporate prayer and worship time at the Swart’s house. I would encourage us all not only to make a practice of regular fasting, but also fasting together and seeking the Lord’s presence. You can start whenever you’d like, but it may be some time before our next corporate prayer meeting as there will not be one for July. As I’ve said before I will say once more: follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in everything you do, including fasting. Could anything we give up for a time be too great a sacrifice in exchange for the presence of God?

-Stacy

Baptism in Water

 

The vision of our church is to see Jesus made famous in every community of Columbus.  This is in line with the great commission that Jesus challenged each one of his followers with, which can be read in the gospel of Mathew chapter 28.  It says that we are to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

Water baptism is largely symbolic.  When Jesus was asked how to get saved, he answered that we are to believe in Him, and then immediately following to be baptized as a sign of this new faith, and as a public declaration.  There are a few other things we see in scriptures that take this thought a bit deeper.

 

What baptism means…

 

  • The baptismal waters are like a press release. Although choosing to follow Christ is a deeply personal decision, it is not a private matter. Jesus instructed us to go public with our choice (Mark 8:38). Baptism is how we show on the outside to all what has happened on the inside.
  • The baptismal waters are like a bath. In Acts 22:16 Paul was ‘baptized, washing away his sins, calling on his Name.’ It depicts spiritual cleansing from the guilt of sin.
  • The baptismal waters are like a graveyard. Romans 6:4 says that ‘we were buried with Christ in baptism’. Baptism reflects an inward decision to die to ‘the old you’ that rejected and ignored Christ’s leadership over your life. Baptism is a break from your sinful past.
  • The baptismal waters are like a maternity ward. Baptism also reflects how we were united with Christ in his resurrection. We have a new life. ‘If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

Getting baptized.

 

Once you have repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus to give you the gift of salvation, then speak to your small group leader or an elder about getting baptized. It can happen anywhere, anytime. And any Christian can baptize you.

We encourage anyone who has believed in Jesus not to put this decision off.  Jesus has already told us to do it.  There is no reason to wait for this public declaration!  It is also a great opportunity to invite friends and family to celebrate this with you!

Growth means Change!

 

This Sunday, March 5th, 2017, we move into a new venue.  Our 3rd.  At least this now proves that a church is not a building … since we keep moving!  However, after 18 months at Gables Elementary, we’ve outgrown that space, which means more people are coming to know Jesus, more people are growing with us, and more people are inviting friends and family to join them in worshiping God!

Growth brings change though.  Some like change, most don’t!  We believe that this next change, moving to this community, and being able to spread the gospel further, is going to lead to many more people accepting Jesus, and growing as disciples!

Let us all approach this change with open hands, open arms, and open hearts.  Ready to love this community, ready to welcome any and all in to experience what we have!  Let’s continue to pray for this community, to pray for our friends, neighbors, and family, and trust that this next season will be their time to know the Good Good Father