Thursday, July 21, 2016

Anticipating and Responding to God's Work

     Today, I want to highlight 3 practices of worship often celebrated in our church. These embody the "anticipation and response" to God's actual working in our lives. 

God's work in salvation? God's pursuit of us in salvation requires appropriate responses based on God’s actual working and not our artificial timelines. He pursuit of saving us began before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4), through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus on the cross (1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:18, and Isaiah 53:5), and He's still pursuing us by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15, Ephesians 1:13). 

Some helpful Scripture references:   
   Origin of law found in Lev. 12, Dedication of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:22-24), Dedication of Jesus (Luke 2:22-35)

- Dedication is rooted in Judaism.
- Dedication is not commanded in Scripture, but it is modeled.

   1. Declaration of gratitude
   2. Acknowledgement that parenting is a stewardship
   3. Commitment to raise the child in the Christian faith
   4. Pleading of God for eventual adoption into His Family
   5. Petition for the Church body for help

Some helpful Scripture references:   
   Matthew 3:13-17, Luke 3:21, Ephesians 4, and many others!!!

- Baptism is commanded in Scripture.
Baptism does not bring salvation - rather it's a response to salvation.
 - Requirement for baptism: salvation through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

   1. Baptism is an unmistakable act that marks a person as a follower of Jesus.
   2. Baptism declares "My new FATHER has given me a new life, identity, priorities, and mission." 
   3. Baptism is modeled as the first act of obedience in response to God's grace.
   4. Baptism marks our identity and union with Christ.
   5. Baptism symbolizes a new internal reality.

Some helpful Scripture references:   
  Matthew 26:20-28, Mark 14:17-25, Luke 22:14-22, John 13:21-30, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

- Communion was initiated by Jesus.
 - Communion is commanded in Scripture.
- Communion does not bring salvation.
 - Requirement for participation: salvation through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

   1. Communion serves as a reminder of Christ's death and resurrection on our behalf.
   2. Communion is a reminder that we've been set free from the bondage of sin and death.
   3. Communion is a celebration of the new life and family we have in Christ.
   4. Communion marks the new covenant of our unity with Christ and His Church
   5. Communion is meant to anticipate Christ's return.

Here's a link a message I preached on this:
"Anticipating & Responding to God's Work"

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pray for Europe and Gospel Saturation

Rome, Italy

When this post is published, I will be on a 9-hour flight to Rome, Italy for a conference with fellow Acts 29 Network pastors. This relatively small conference is a huge blessing for the european pastors. Many of whom are serving in very difficult contexts where Christianity is not popular. In fact, several are pastoring in places where they could lose their life for the sake of Jesus Christ. This does not deter them. Rather, it only spurs them on to herald the gospel more out of love for their fellow countrymen and adoration of Jesus. A friend and I are going to personally build relationships with these pastors, learn from them, and encourage them to keep spreading the Gospel.

In recent weeks and months, Europe has made international news due to terror attacks in France and Belgium. Security measures are high throughout Europe as nobody knows when there will be another attack or where it will take place. In the midst of such unrest, I am reminded of an incredibly important passage of Scripture. Ephesians 6:12-13 states, "...we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." In Christ, we have power and authority over the schemes of the Enemy. So we must be united and stand firm.

We are not only united by the Gospel; we are also united for the Gospel! Acts 29 has done a fabulous job creating short video documentaries of church plants in Europe and around the world. Over the past few months, I have spent time watching them over and over again. They concisely communicate the stories of the various pastors and their churches while also describing their contexts and oppositions. As a result, these are great resources for personal and/or family prayer-focuses. 

Would you check out this link and commit to praying for these pastors, their families, their churches, and their communities?

Jesus said, "...on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Church Leadership: Jesus Christ, Elders, and Deacons

Jesus is the Head of the Church:
Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. He loves her, died for her, sustains her, and will one day return for her. All authority has been given to Him (Matt. 28:18, Phil. 2:9-11). He has designed the church to be led by a plurality of elders who are biblically qualified to shepherd the flock of God. Alexander Strauch writes, “According to the New Testament, elders lead the church, teach and preach the Word, protect the church from false teachers, exhort and admonish the saints in sound doctrine, visit the sick and pray, and judge doctrinal issues. In biblical terminology, elders shepherd, oversee, lead, and care for the local church.” (Biblical Eldership, 2003). This is clear and to the point. Elders are not to lord their authority over the flock; rather they are to lead by humble example (1 Peter 5:1-3).
An elder-led church means each elder equally shares authority and responsibility. In other words, there is not a culture of pastors and elders. Instead, the elders all function as pastors. However, there is not equal giftedness among elders. Biblical knowledge, background, leadership abilities, communication skills, etc along with other factors leads us to the principle function of “first among equals” as revealed in 1 Timothy 5:17. Peter functioned this way among the other apostles in the context of the early church.

Qualifications of Elder:
"If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders..." - 1 Timothy 3:1-7

Elders are broad overseers who must:
     - Know the Church (Pastor/Shepherd)
     - Feed the Church (Teach)
     - Lead the Church (Vision)
     - Protect the Church (Discipline)

A Snapshot of Elder Responsibilities from Acts 20:28
"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with His own blood.” 

The book of Acts gives us an understanding of how deacons can effectively assist elders in ministry. Deacons hold the second-highest office in the church as they serve as helpers to the elders as caretakers of God’s people and in service to those in need. Scripture is clearer about the responsibilities and duties of the elders as overseers and shepherds than that of deacons. However, we can infer deacons handle church money, manage church systems, meet mercy needs, and will be trusted with intimate details of people’s lives. The specific qualifications of this office is found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These qualifications are as follows: dignified, not double-tongued, not a drunkard, not greedy, sound doctrine and convictions, tested, blameless, not slanderers, sober-minded, faithful in all things, not a polygamist, and be good managers of home and family. The standard is high and impossible without the Holy Spirit. Yet, we know He is faithful and powerful to work in His people.

Deacons are focused specialists:
     - Facility Leaders
     - Community Group Leaders
     - Finance Leads (Income & Expense)
Responsibilities of both Elders and Deacons:
Maintain the required Scriptural criteria for Elder/Deacon 
Seek God’s will for the church 
Care for the church and seek its growth as disciples of Christ 
Teach and counsel from Scripture 
Be an example in fulfilling the responsibilities of church partners 
Guard against false teachers (elders)
Exercise church discipline when necessary in grace and love with the intentions of reconciliation and restoration (elders) 

How to Become an Elder at Advance Community Church (Gibsonia, PA):
1. Seek God intently regarding your potential call to this role.
2. If you’re married, make sure your wife is supportive.
3. Complete and submit the Elder Assessment. (30+ page document) 
4. Meet with existing elders (and another Acts 29 pastor).
5. Complete follow-up predatory "conditions". 
6. If elders approve, your name will go before the church for 2 weeks. This will give the congregation an opportunity to respond to your elder candidacy.  
7. If no significant issue arises, the elders will then welcome you into active service as an elder.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Why We Don't Offer Church Membership

* Disclaimers: We love the Lord and the Church. We deeply revere the Bible as the 
revealed words of God.  We also long to see churches work together as children of God 
for the fame and glory of Jesus Christ and the furtherance of His Kingdom.

The Church is profoundly special to God. Consider these verses from Ephesians 1:3-14 as they describe what He has done on our behalf. Specifically focus in on His sacrifice for our reward. Clearly, His affections and purposes for the Church are beyond our full understanding and far beyond our ability to earn such undeserved favor.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."

The Church (Ekklesia or Ecclesia = "assembly"):
 - is the Body of Christ (1 Cor.12, Col.1, Eph.1)
 - is the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.3, 2 Cor.6, Eph.2)
 - is the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5)
 - is the People of God (1 Peter 2)
 - is a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2)
 - is the Light to the World (Matthew 5)
 - is the Ministers of Reconciliation (2 Cor.5)
 - is the Children of God (1 John 3)

These descriptions of the church are lofty and very real as a result of God's incredible grace, mercy, and love. He has made us "members" of His family and thus "members" of His Church upon salvation. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, he/she receives the Holy Spirit as an adopted child into His eternal family - this cannot be taken away (Acts 2:38-39, Ephesians 1:13, Romans 8:1-2, 37-39, and many more). 

Why We Don't Offer Membership
     We, as a local church, don't offer church membership, because God already has! The beauty and wonder of the Gospel transcends the local church. Genuine followers of Jesus Christ (Christians) are members of His Body regardless of their local church affiliation. The reality of the 21st century is that it is rare for any believer to stay in one local church for their whole life. People move due to career, needs of extended family, climate preference, and so on. Our membership within His Kingdom doesn't waver during these transitions.
     Instead of a "membership covenant", we offer a "partnership commitment". A covenant in biblical context implies a lifelong promise. For example, marriage is designed by God as a covenant of 'til death do we part. The ancient wedding ceremonies involved symbolism of this strong covenant where both the bride and groom fully knew their intentions were for life. 
     Therefore, the leadership of our church has intentionally stated a person's relationship with the local church will not likely be a lifelong relationship. We believe everyone who is a member of God's Church due to His grace through faith is more than welcome to partner with us while they live in our community. By doing so, they are committing to pour their time, talents, and treasures into this local fellowship for the work, mission, and vision of the Gospel.

Committing to a church is a “localized and concrete way that I give myself to the larger work of God’s Kingdom...I give myself to the work of this church, I submit myself to the leadership of this church, I commit myself to the ministry of this church - it’s all very specific and concrete...Why wouldn’t a person associate themselves with a solid, Bible-believing, ministry-committed local church? This is actively seeking the Kingdom of God.” ~ Paul David Tripp

This is what it looks like in the local church I pastor:
Advance Community Church (Gibsonia, PA) is an elder-led local congregation where its "committed partners" profess active and maturing faith in Jesus Christ and have voting authority in 5 distinct situations. 

These FIVE votes of Partners involve:
1. appointing a new senior pastor 
2. an increase of debt in excess of 1/12th of the previous year’s annual operating budget 
3. Advance’s denominational affiliation
4. any proposed change to the Bylaws that would revoke or otherwise reduce a right granted to the Partners in the then-current Bylaws of the church 
5. other actions deemed major and extraordinary by the Elders

The Responsibilities of Partners:
1. Affirm and protect unity regarding the church's core Beliefs & Doctrines 
2. Grow in individual and corporate spiritual disciplines 
3. Consistently steward time, talents, and treasures 
4. Believe the best and pray for church leadership
5. Appreciate and respect for church discipline
6. Pursue holiness, confess sins, and love others
7. Get involved in the Mission and Vision of the church

There is no such thing as a perfect local church. Yet, God has chosen it to be unlike anything else on earth. The collective whole of all churches that submit to the Headship of Jesus Christ and live under the authority of His Word are Plan A for a world living in darkness. 

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his 
own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you 
out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Highlights! - A week in the Dominican Republic

After countless short term trips to the Dominican Republic, it still amazes me how God works in so many lives! From February 19-26, a total of 32 people from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and Texas worked among the people of the DR in a variety of ways.

Here's a breakdown of our teams:
 - 5 people presented a four-day soccer camp in La Romana
 - 5 people worked a three-day dentistry clinic in Villa Hermosa
 - 4 people spent four days in a variety of homes in Villa Hermosa
 - 5 people built an addition onto a pastor's home in Consuelo
 - 12 people served in a community development capacity in Batey Bembe

We worked with about 10 interpreters who have become great friends over the past few years. Our 5 drivers and 2 cooks were amazing too. Additionally, we are so honored to serve with missionaries, Daniel and Elizabeth Kim. They are wonderful hosts!

During this trip, we witnessed people come to faith in Jesus Christ. We also experienced rich gospel-community where people were loved without judgment. We were able to intervene in medical situations where children were able to get vital treatment they desperately needed. We also met pastors and missionaries who share our values, convictions, and mission based on the Bible. It was incredible!!

If you'd like to learn more about these trips, check out this video.

We are also looking for people who would like to join us this June for the next trip. Apply soon!

Monday, February 15, 2016

How Money Shapes Our Heart and Impacts Our Home

In Luke 12, Jesus tells a parable about how a rich man was reaping an abundance of crops. In his greed and self-interests, he decides to tear down his barns to build new and bigger ones. This is his ticket to an easier life of ongoing success and luxury. In response to his selfishness, God says "Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" (Luke 12:20 ESV).

Why does God respond this way? What does it mean to be a fool
In context, Jesus is warning those listening to his parable about the dangers and destructive nature of idolatry. When anyone places there faith, hope, love, and gratitude in something other than God, they are committing idolatry and thus sinning by breaking the first commandment (Exodus 20). Regardless of what our culture believes, God is for the betterment of people. When someone pursues a created thing instead of the Creator, that person has made a detrimental decision. God calls this man "a fool", because that's what he was. A fool is someone who rejects God's definition of reality and is therefore ultimately left empty.

Four Factors Shape Our Heart:
   1. Faith - approval and trust to provide
   2. Hope - desire for fulfilled expectation
   3. Love - a feeling of strong affection
   4. Gratitude - showing appreciation

If our hearts are shaped by God and His Word, then we have an eternal perspective that's secure. However, when our dreams and identity is centered on materialism and money, then we have a temporary perspective that may seem secure today, but will fade away. Charles Spurgeon said, “One way you know that Jesus Christ is precious to you is that nothing else is.” What's really precious to you?

“When awe of material things rules your heart, then you will live for material things, and when you live for material things, you will do just about anything to gain them, maintain them, keep them, and enjoy them... Such a materialistic attitude is not only morally dangerous but is also a violation of the reason for which you and I were created. It is wrong for material cravings to dominate our hearts and lifestyles.” - Paul David Tripp

Every Home Needs a Plan
   1. Christians must place their relationship with God as top priority.
   2. A unified plan for the home is crucial.
   3. Create a written Financial Plan that aligns with your convictions.
   4. Work the Plan every day of the year.

This Financial Plan is best when saturated in prayer, has received counsel from people who understand financial disciplines based in Scripture, and developed with percentages (when possible). Here is an example created by a friend of mine who helps people get their finances in order. This pie chart reveals a possible percentage breakdown of an American home. Your home's financial chart may look different. However, the real question is: "do you know the percentage allocation of your finances?"

Let's go back to the "heart". Under the category of Charitable Giving, there are several probing questions and comments that have been rattling around my brain.
    1. Christians should be generous toward Kingdom work. The Kingdom of God is different from every other investment, because of eternal factors. The Word of God and the souls of people are both eternal. We should also give generously out of gratitude as children of God who are already citizens of His Kingdom (Philippians 3).
    2. "What is your heart motivation for your career? Is it to get rich, to have guaranteed financial security, or are you doing what you are doing because you want to build up treasure in heaven and advance the kingdom of God." - Austin Stone Church 
    3. Could a lost person look at the way you are stewarding your money and your stuff and know that God is the master of your money? 
    4. “The reality of God’s generosity to us will never hit the world until they see our generosity to everybody else.” - Timothy Keller
    5. "Those of us who live in prosperous regions of the globe and have never known food scarcity perhaps don’t feel much awe in it. That is a sad thing: a lack of awe. It’s the dark side of abundance. We sinners tend to grow blind to glory when there’s a lot of it. God is kind not to give us heaven yet. We would not appreciate more than a fraction of it." - Jon Bloom (Desiring God)

Monday, February 8, 2016

What Every Christian Home Needs...

Every Christian home needs "Gospel Community".

The Bible is exceedingly clear about our need for significant relationships. In fact, the first thing that Genesis records after creation that is not good is Adam being alone (Genesis 2:18). Therefore, God made him a companion to enjoy life, to grow in fellowship with each other, and to thrive in relationship with Himself.

Unfortunately, sin entered the world and quickly eroded these relationships. What was designed to be easy, became much more difficult. Within our core, we long for significant relationships that are transparent and free from shame. We desire to be with people who know us, love us, and accept us in spite of our sin, failures, and shortcomings. This is the definition of true friendship. Yet, in an attempt to protect ourselves, we put up walls and barriers to keep people from knowing who we really are. Thus, people become friends with the "projected image" of ourselves, not the "real us".

Scripture declares Christians will all grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), and the gospel work which He began in us will come to completion (Philippians 1:6). This process of growth and transformation does not happen on our own. It happens in community. It happens in a community rooted in the Gospel where grace and truth are overflowing (see these characteristics of Jesus in John 1:14).

As a Christian, my identity is not rooted in me - my efforts, my accomplishments, my ambitions, my job, my family, my bank account, my stuff, my education, or anything else. Thank God, my identity isn't defined by my sin or failures either. Every Christian is free from all that! Instead, it is solely rooted in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-28). We have a new identity that rests in the grace and work of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new identity when coupled with other Christians creates a beautiful and awesome thing: Gospel Community.

Qualities of Gospel Community
There are amazing qualities of this Gospel Community described in Ephesians 4:1-6. The Apostle Paul calls the church to be humble (esteem others better than yourself while being concerned for their welfare), gentle (even tempered and self-controlled particularly in regards to the revelation of another believer's sin), patient (endure through pain and unhappiness for the benefit of others), and to bear with one another in love (a willing and intentional forfeiture of rights or privileges for the sake of someone else). The goal of these qualities within Gospel Community is to maintain unity. These should be the mark of the Church. These describe God's design for us.

Can you imagine?
Can you imagine what it would be like if these were the qualities of every church? Too often though, this is not the reality of the church. Therefore, we keep the people we need most (other Christians) at arms length in order to protect our pride and ego. The dangers of this self-induced isolation is that we begin to believe things that aren't true by hardening our hearts to sin's deceit (Jeremiah 17:9, Hebrews 3:12-13). I believe this isolation from Gospel Community is exactly what the Enemy wants for us. He wants believers to live in isolation, fear, and busyness in order to protect our pride and agendas. In this, the Enemy accomplished his purpose of of destruction within our homes (John 10:10a).

Can you imagine the opportunities for those who embrace Gospel Community? Unbelievable freedom and joy can come from being fully known and fully loved! This is the glory of the Good News of Jesus Christ: He already fully knows us and has already responded in love (John 3:16-17). As Christians, we are to represent Him to others - in grace and truth.

Further Resources:
Verge Network: Gospel Communities
Gospel Coalition: Gospel Community

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Every Home Needs to Prioritize: Rest

We live in a society where busyness is a badge of honor, a mark of importance, and often a fact of life. If we aren't busy, people may think we're lazy. We find ourselves being slaves to the schedule of our home: up early for work, out the door in a rush to get our kids to school, off to extracurricular activities after work/school, a frenzied dinner, then homework/projects/TV/social media, and whatever else we can cram into our day. We then find ourselves prepping with whatever energy we have left to do it all over again. Exhaustion, weariness, and constant fatigue plague our modern homes! Is this really the best of what God has in mind for us? Clearly, the answer is "no".

          Physical Rest is inescapably linked to Spiritual Renewal.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" Matthew 11:28-30

Maybe the reason we don't effectively rest is connected to one or more the following reasons:
 1. It's counter-cultural (busyness = importance)
 2. We don't think it's important
 3. Pride - We lack trust in God to provide
 4. Maybe we're not that grateful
 5. We're scared to look in the mirror of our soul 

If you are interested in learning the importance of rest from a biblical perspective, check out this video:

Prioritizing the Things that Matter Most (Part 2) 
Other Resources:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Every Home Needs to Prioritize: Time

As a Christian, my response to the grace of God matters - a lot! This post is the third of a series of posts about the home. The big question of this series: How are we honoring God in our homes? We are exploring what the Bible says along with practical application. 

A Christian home has a plan, submits to clear authority, 
and runs a disciplined race with an eternal focus.

For the above statement to be a reality, we have to realize the obstacles that stand in our way. As an affluent culture, we pack many things into our schedule. We work hard raising families, providing for our needs and wants through our careers, and do what we can to make a difference when we can. But, we are also prone to waste time on things that don't really matter.

I've learned (and am still learning) the importance of the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesian church where he encourages them to make "the best use of time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). Even Christians who are in love with Jesus and His Church waste time. We often lack discipline and fall prey to the wants of our bodies.

Our body longs for the temporary, but God wants to 
use our body as an instrument for the eternal.

What would it look like if we prioritized our time based on eternal goals instead of temporary ones?

As a Christian, my day would be far more purposeful if I constantly:
   1. Committed every day to the Lord.
   2. Intentionally invested in a person's soul.
   3. Prayed without ceasing while following the lead of the Holy Spirit.
   4. Knew that wasting time would always be a temptation.

Furthermore, what would happen if I consistently prioritized:
   1. Loving God (Matthew 22:38)
         a. Praying - admitting my need for full dependance on Christ with ongoing gratitude
         b. Reading the Bible - studying the depth of grace and truth as revealed from God
         c. Growing in trust and obedience knowing that faith is marked by these two attributes
   2. Loving Others (John 13:34-35)
         a. Serving others in such a way that shows selflessness and sacrifice
         b. Encouraging others by speaking the truth in love and building the church community
         c. Teaching others about God, His Word, and His redemptive plan
   * The time leftover can be used to enjoy all the blessings God has given me (1 Timothy 6:17).

The secret is found in understanding, "Today is the day the Lord has made..." (Psalm 118:24). Since He created this day, it's His - for His purposes. His plan involves us. Think of the possibilities!

Additional Resources:
   Biblical Counseling Keys on Time Management 
   Hooked App - designed to track phone/tablet addiction
   Edwards: A God-centered view of Time Management

Friday, January 22, 2016

Every Home Needs Clear Authority

Last Sunday, I preached one of the most counter-cultural sermons of my life. The premise was based on the principle that without clear authority in our homes, chaos is inevitable.

We have been "SHAPED" by our background, experiences, and surroundings in such a way that living biblically in the home is a counter-cultural idea. God has outlined clear authority in the Bible that can breathe life into our homes. Yet, many professing Christian homes settle for chaos.  

Here's a brief overview of what I mean by "SHAPED":
   Our Society opposes God's design
   Our Heart selfishly longs for glory
   Our Autonomy wants everything our way 
   Our Pride refuses to submit 
   Our Emotions makes us fearful
          Decline is the natural result of sin

The Bible teaches clear authority in verses like these (there are many more):
   1. GOD (Ex. 20:2-7, Luke 4:8, Eph. 1:22, and many more!)
   2. Men submit to Christ (1 Cor. 11:3)
   3. Wives submit to husbands (1 Peter 3:1, Eph. 5:22)
   4. Children submit to parents (Col 3:20, Eph. 6:2)
   5. Single Adults submit to God. (Is. 54:5, Pr. 23:22)
   6. Employees submit to employers (Col. 3:22-23)

   7. Everyone must submit to government UNLESS it violates God’s Word (1 Peter 2:13)

Here are some helpful resources I believe will re-shape our homes for God's glory:

Every Home Needs Clear Authority

Why Should Husbands and Wives Agree on Life Decisions?

Article: What Should be the Husband's 'Role' in Marriage?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Every Home Needs a Plan

This verse hangs in our house as a reminder of our purpose as a family. It is a reminder of our faith and heritage as well as a call to action to every member of our home. We are Christians who long to serve the Lord and obey His Word. Does this mean we're going to be perfect? Absolutely not! We are saved and sustained by His grace - this is a great gift from God. We are sinners who have a lot to learn and apply to our lives. Therefore, we humbly acknowledge that we need Him to accomplish in us what only He can do - shape us into the likeness of Jesus (Philippians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Bible speaks clearly about the home:
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1
The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand. Proverbs 12:7
The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. Proverbs 14:11

Jesus spoke clearly regarding to obedience:
Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

Christians Respond, That's What We Do!
To call Jesus "Lord" means that there is a response to the Gospel. This response is worship and faith in action out of gratitude for who God is and what He has done (Romans 12:1-2, James 2:14). This response in no way has anything to do with "earning" salvation, because that's impossible (Ephesians 2:8-10)! Jesus already did that (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Your Plan: Create Biblical Alignment & Cultivate Obedience
A Plan shapes our VALUES
A Plan defines our PRIORITIES
A Plan guides our DECISION-MAKING
A Plan helps in making FAITH a verb
A Plan HONORS the Lord

Do you have a PLAN for how you (and your family) are going to serve the Lord?

Here's some ideas of how to get started:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Vision for 2016

Advance Community Church

Our Mission: Make Disciples of Jesus Christ
Our Vision: Plant Church-planting Churches

What to Expect in 2016:

1. Corporate Worship (Sunday Nights)
      - Environment where our focus is clearly on Jesus
      - Environment where everyone is invited and included
      - Environment where there’s freedom in worship
      - Environment where demographic diversity is celebrated 
      - Environment where the Bible is boldly preached

2. A Clear Focus on the Home
      - We must all mature in the Gospel (Identity in Christ)
      - We must all mature in Obedience (Response to the Gospel)
      - We must all mature in Gratitude (Stewardship of Time & Treasure)
      - We all play a role in the discipleship of Teens & Children
      - Marriages must mature (4 Great Dates & Mentorships)

3. A Culture of Growth & Equipping
      - Community Groups - Grow Relationally & Spiritually
      - “IF” - Regional Opportunity for Women to Grow in Christ
      - Bible Studies - Growth in Expositional Knowledge & Response
      - Advance Community Institute - Equipping Future Leaders
      - Advance Residency Program - Focused Ministry Training

4. Emphasis on Missional Engagement
      - Scattered Worship - Organic Evangelism (twice a year)
      - Community Outreach - Opportunities to Bless Our Region
      - International Missions - D.R., Pastor Training, Church Planting

Accomplishing this Vision Requires:
     1. The Church abiding in the Holy Spirit
     2. The Church committed to Prayer
     3. The Church embracing Sacrificial Giving
     4. The Church joyfully Serving
     5. The Church humbly United in Christ

Our Pursuits:   
      - Our identity is secure in Jesus
      - Our lives are shaped by the Bible
      - We are here for each other
      - We herald the Gospel (locally & Globally)

Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us in 2016?