Friday, January 24, 2014

That's Music to My Ears (with Franklin Graham)

Last Thursday, several hundred church leaders from Pittsburgh and the surrounding area met for lunch, prayer, and a message from Franklin Graham.  It was incredible to see so many come together for the sake of the Kingdom!  Franklin, the son of Billy Graham, presented a message from the gospel of Luke in a way that breathed life into the room, gave hope, and pointed people to Jesus.

I was especially touched by the sweet spirit of the luncheon's singer, Lacey Sturm.  She sang a powerful song which stirred passion and gratitude within my soul.  The song is called, "Mercy Tree" by Krissy Nordhoff.  Here's a link to the video: 

Franklin Graham is coming back to Pittsburgh this summer for a 3-day festival at the Consol Energy Center.  Advance Community Church will be praying for this great opportunity and will look to serve as best we can.  For information about the event, follow this link:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Have Mercy

Over the past few weeks, I have been doing word studies trying to better understand (and apply) the
Credit: Graceway Media
truths of words we often take for granted.  I have been blessed to have the Portfolio edition of Logos Bible software on my computer and iPad.  This gives me instant, itemized, and fully integrated access to a library of about 3,000 books to read and study.  It's a great resource which I would totally recommend to anyone who is serious about studying theology and the Bible.

Last week's word: MERCY.  What a fantastic word with such powerful dimension!  Mercy is a complex concept involving the compassionate disposition to forgive an offender AND to help him in his sorry plight.  It's an attribute of God and a virtue of humanity.  In His mercy, God has chosen to reach down and grant mercy to those who cry out in repentance.  He forgives and helps us in spite of ourselves.  How awesome is that?!  I want to live a life that points people to Jesus by how I show mercy.  What would our society be like if we all instinctively exercised mercy?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Change in Outlook

I am not a fan of the winter season living in the north.  I'd rather live in a place where golf can be played all year long.  For quite some time, I have grown to loath the changing of Autumn into winter. My attitude was not good!  However, when God called us to start a new church in the suburbs of Pittsburgh something began to change in my soul.  This year has been very cold with frequent snowstorms.  Yet, God has mercifully changed my attitude.  I don't think it's all that bad anymore.  I even am starting to like it.  Now I wish we would get more snow so that I can take our girls sled riding.  I'm so grateful!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Books Shaping Current Reality

Over the past decade, I have come to enjoy reading (especially when it involves a group study).  I was taught to read incorrectly as a child; therefore the idea of just sitting down with a book is not all that much of a natural thing for me to do.  However, I can honestly say, "I really enjoy reading and studying."

Here's a short list of books I'm reading that are shaping my thoughts about what's important:

  1. Psalms, Matthew, Acts, Colossians, and 1 John are the books of the Bible I am currently studying in my quiet time with God.  
  2. Center Church (by Timothy Keller) - we are slowly working through this incredible resource at 6:30am every Thursday morning.  Currently, ten men and women meet at a local restaurant to discuss how the Gospel is meant to shape our lives, churches, and cities.
  3. Exalting Jesus in Matthew (by David Platt) - this is a new venture.  Although I am only just at the beginning of the book, it is amazing how much truth comes to life in his writing and analysis of Scripture.
  4. Follow Me (by David Platt) - this will be our main book shaping our small group time while away in the Dominican Republic next month.  
  5. Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds (by Starr Meade) - this is the resource I am using for family worship this year.  It is based on the Heidelberg Catechism.
There are a few more I am going through, however these are the top five.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Community of Faith

I have been a church-goer my entire life.  There are so many things I love about my Christian heritage.  A few include: the truth of the Bible, the music, the events of childhood and youth group years, great pastors, etc.  Today, I want to show gratitude for the many solid "church people" who personally invested in my faith.  These men and women embodied authentic fellowship with God which produced rich fellowship with people like me.

What does biblical fellowship look like?
     1 John 1:1-10 communicates this kind of progression of intimacy with God that leads to intimacy with others.  Upon a closer look, we quickly see "fellowship" is cheapened when we view it through the lens of church potlucks, picnics, and other surface social events.  In a real sense, fellowship always includes personal sacrifice.  What else does the Bible mean when it talks about fellowship?  The greek word for fellowship is "koinonia".
     Koinonia is: Gospel-centered, Christ-honored community based on...
          1. Mutual Faith (through the atonement of Christ) EX: 1 John 1
          2. Shared Devotion (to the apostles' teachings, communion, prayer, etc) EX: Acts 2:42
          3. Modeling (following in the steps of Jesus) EX: Phil. 3:10
          4. Partnered Mission (responding to the Great Commission) EX: Phil. 1:4-5
          5. Generous Support (to the saints and poor) EX: Heb. 13:16
          6. Sacrifice (love, confession of sins, encouragement, care, material belongings, etc.)
          7. Results (ongoing transformation to the likeness of Jesus) EX: 2 Cor. 3:18

A true community of faith embodies all the above in a tangible manner.  The soul longs for relationships that change us for the better.  Every Christian should be a contributor within the Community of Faith.  Fellowship, like friendship, has more to do with what I am giving instead of what I am getting.  Advance Community Church will aspire to be a rich Community of Faith where people are loved within the context of biblical fellowship.