Posts Tagged With: visioneering

New Sermon Series Unveiling the Vision for ARBC: Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?

next step sign I’m convinced that 2014 will be a gamechanging year for Arapahoe Road Baptist Church.  Am I going by gut-feeling?  Possibly.  While I do operate on facts, statistics, and various other tangible evidences, I also operate on what I call ‘pastoral feel’ (count on that as a blog post later). 

For the next three months, we will spend our Sunday mornings looking at a new vision for ARBC.  The vision, in essence, is this:

Helping all peoples take the next step in their journey with Christ

And how do we know that they are moving in the right direction?  When they see that Jesus is enough.  The only change that matters is the change that Jesus brings.

So as I was going through my Bible reading back in late November thinking about 2014 and beyond, God providentially brought me to Romans 12-16.  And it became as clear as can be.  The steps rose to the top as we look at taking those next steps:

    1. Come (Romans 12:1-2)
    2. Connect (Romans 12:3-8)
    3. Contribute (Romans 12:9-13)
    4. All undergirded and fed with the notion of Cultivate (Romans 12:14-21) as we grow in all aspects of this vision God has given.

As we continue looking at this section of Romans, we begin to look at how this vision plays in our…

    1. Culture (from the aspect of ‘Come’)(Romans 13:1-7)
    2. Community (‘Come) (Romans 13:8; Romans 15:1-7)—broken up into two sermons)
    3. Congregation (‘Connect)(Romans 14)
    4. Creation/the Nations (‘Connect’)(Romans 15:8-33)
    5. Lastly, looking at the beauty of ‘Contributing’ from Romans 16.

Our church is engaging in a number of endeavors to refocus all of our teams and systems on the Great Commission, bringing them all under an evangelism umbrella.  There must be a purpose to why we do things—never simply doing them just because.  Christ died to redeem His church for a more viable reason than “just because.” 

Pray for your pastors and leaders in these various processes as we prayerfully look to get ARBC maturing and ministering inwardly, and mobilizing outwardly. 

Keep an eye on what’s happening, but moreso, keep an eye on our Lord Jesus.  ARBC belongs to Him. 

Are you ready to take that next step?

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ARBC Visioneering: Burden-Bearing Ministry, Part I

On Saturday, January 12, 2013, we will have a Leadership Retreat for all of the leaders in our church (staff, team leaders, team members, Sunday School teachers—anyone in a leadership position or serving on any team). My desire is to go through a book by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester called Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community.

At the beginning of one of the chapters, they bring up a case study of a young lady who brings a significant issue to their attention. She told them she was a perpetual self-harmer and even in her 20s it was an established pattern—she even showed them the scars on her arm. How does one deal with this issue as a follower of Christ? One man who listened to this ended up taking some time trying to process why someone would do such a thing? In this, he felt repulsed and protective of her all at the same time. The wife went over to put her arm around her, while he began to pray quietly.

The point of this scenario was to present to us as believers and belongers to a local church, and to explore what the next steps should be.

One scenario is to say that he was not equipped to deal with the problem, since they had no training in the matter. Finding a professional psychologist would be the best—they would even go to the appointment and support as much as possible.

Another scenario would be the following: to admit to being overwhelmed by her story and to admit as well the inadequacy felt. Yet, he is convinced that the best place for this to be worked out is in the church! She could be surrounded by people who love her, who are going through their own struggles, but who could sit under and submit to the power and sufficiency of God’s Word. Then (I love how this is put), “He knows it is not going to be easy. There is no magic wand to wave. But there seems to be no better place to start than with the Word of God skillfully applied by the Spirit of God among the people of God.”[1]

This morning, during our third part of our Visioneering series, we once again revisit our mission statement:

Arapahoe Road Baptist Church exists to worship God; evangelize our family, city, state, nation and world; disciple God’s people, minister to the physical and spiritual needs of others; and fellowship with one another.

And so we explore this aspect. In looking to how to put feet to this, we need to understand that the word ‘minister’ is the word from which we get deacon (diakonia). In Acts 6, there were those who served the people spiritually (the apostles and pastors) and others who served the physical needs (deacons). But in this area, we are all as believers called to minister the gospel in spiritual and physical ways.

It is here that I wish for us to turn to Galatians 6:1-4.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load (Galatians 6:1-4, ESV).

Don Whitney rightly says that there is a hurt in every heart. And those who occupy the pews and the roles of our churches are no different! The key verse is found in Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” What burdens? Verse 1 refers to “transgressions,” and that spiritual believers should aim to gently and carefully restore them. The burden of one’s sin is a terrible burden. In Psalm 38:1-4, we read:

O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,

Nor discipline me in your wrath!

For your arrows have sunk into me,

And your hand has come down on me.

There is no soundness in my flesh

Because of your indignation;

There is no health in my bones

Because of my sin.

For my iniquities have gone over my head;

Like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

Our sin affects us more than we recognize—and this is why we sit under the Word, so we would recognize our Savior and thus our sin. We may wonder why our hearts are so heavy, why we struggle. Could there be lingering sin that has yet to be dealt with? We are called to bear one another’s burdens “to fulfill the law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? “They will know you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34). Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ does not simply entail a sentimental love—it is about rolling up our sleeves and investing and getting involved in their journey!

At this point, let’s take a look at the types of burdens we are to help bear. These burdens found in us are not comprehensive—but they are the type of burdens and sins with which many Christians struggle. Maybe this is a burden with which you struggle.

Bear one another’s burdens. What types of burdens are we talking about?

Before we talk about others, let’s talk about ourselves as believers for a moment! We know from Scripture that God has supplied each of us with gifts. Ephesians 4:11-12 says that he has given the church the gifted leaders to “equip us to do the work of the ministry” so we will all grow toward maturity and unity!

In Romans 12:3-8, we see another truth come to the fore:

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

These gifts we are given are intended to build up the body of Christ, and can all be boiled down into either speaking gifts or serving gifts. And the body needs everyone functioning as God created it so that the rest of the body can move forward!

After the men’s conference yesterday, I went in the backyard of the youth house and started throwing football with Steven and Mark Horton! Had a great time—until I went to get a thrown ball in my tractionless dress shoes. That little slip affected things just enough to where the ball jammed my thumb. I was done! Put some ice on it, wrapped it up. But you don’t realize how much you need your thumb until it’s injured. Buttons, opening a bottle, tying shoes, writing—it doesn’t go smoothly. Other parts of the body have to compensate until the injured part is healed.

This, friend, is ministry! Equipping and encouraging the saints to unity and maturity! We rejoice in the victories and as they grow in maturity, but we also come along to bear one another’s burdens! And do we ever have sinful burdens that we deal with! Ever We rejoice in the victories and as they grow in maturity, but we also come along to bear one another’s burdens! And do we ever have sinful burdens that we deal with! Every burden we have is an issue of worship—do we worship ourselves and our desires, or will we worship Christ who rescued us from the penalty of those desires?


[1]Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 127-28.

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Maturity in Christ: Grow in His Grace

(This is Part II of our Visioneering Series here at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO.  You may listen to this as well as Part I on Magnifying Christ at http://www.arbc.net/sermons.htm .) 

Have you ever had anyone ever tell you to grow up? That’s not a pleasant thing to hear at any point in our lives. As children, we may have exasperated our parents to where they say something like this to us. We may play a prank on a friend, and they are exasperated with our actions—and they say, “Come on, man! Grow up!”

While we may not be crazy about other people saying this to us, do you believe that this is something God would ever say to his people? If so, we know this—there would be nothing malicious about it. Knowing the character of God, we know that He is holy, perfect in all His ways. So has there ever been times when God spoke to His people and told them to “grow up”?

In 2 Peter 3:18, the apostle Peter closes this second letter this way: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” God has called His people to grow. And those who are truly God’s people, who have been saved by our Lord Jesus Christ, will want to grow in Christ. They will want to know Him as he is magnified in their lives, and the maturity comes when Christ becomes more magnified and more predominant in their lives.

In our mission statement that our church adopted 18 months ago, we see again:

Arapahoe Road Baptist Church exists to worship God; evangelize our family, city, state, nation and world; disciple God’s people, minister to the physical and spiritual needs of others; and fellowship with one another.

God calls us to “go and make disciples” in the Great Commission. A disciple is that of a student, a learner who sits at the feet of the Master. Much like an apprentice who not only learns by hearing but also learns by watching and doing. A disciple identifies with the Triune God, and also spends time teaching everything that they have learned from Jesus. It is a perpetual growth. The writer of Hebrews communicates this clearly when he says:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need mile, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity (Hebrews 5:11-6:1a).

So, taking 2 Peter 3:18, let’s breakdown what it means to grow forward, being disciples of Christ who disciple others. And discipleship is the key. I love what Steve Lutz shared in a deacon’s meeting a few weeks ago on this subject when he said that discipleship “is taking someone from one stage of spiritual maturity to another.” We all expect this to happen in life, but it’s happening less and less.

Immaturity looks as one content in remaining a ‘child’ in the faith. And what do children look like? Self-absorbed (“That’s mine!” “I want to be first!”), against authority (“Johnny, make your bed, please!” “I don’t want to!”), and irresponsible for their own actions. In fact, we can go back to the Garden of Eden. They saw the fruit was pleasing to their eyes, they wanted to be like God knowing good from evil, and then when caught, they played the blame game.

As we as parents have the responsibility to help our children stay safe and function in society, so has God birthed the church and all her members to grow up into maturity. While the world appeals to the 15-35 demographic and ignores that which is mature, God is calling for grown-ups!

Grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to ‘grow in the grace… of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’? I would imagine that the majority of people who think about grace merely think of this in terms of when someone comes to Christ—only on the plain of justification! Not so! Everyday we must grow in the grace of Christ.

Notice the context of why Peter wrote this. The first word of verse 18 is the word “But….” In verses 14-17, Peter seeks to encourage the saints. False teachers are prominent. Peter calls them “ignorant and unstable” because they come in and twist the Scriptures. This is nothing new—the Apostle Paul dealt with false teachers constantly in his ministry.

What motivates false teachers? For one, power! They love making rules for people to follow that will show everyone how devout they are. Which breeds fear in the followers! Jehovah’s Witnesses have a quota for their followers of how many doors they knock on. Mormons have rules ranging from abstaining from caffeine to being baptized for the dead. The good works that they do from the outside look so wonderful—but inside is destructive because they are counting on their own righteousness to bring eternal life.

Another is greed. In 2 Peter 2:2: “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” In all of these area, it’s their fallen, selfish nature that is fueling their earthly walk—whether they do good deeds or evil deeds.

But we are not simply to grow to fight back the outward falsehoods. We grow in grace to fight the flesh. We fight against the sin that still lurks in our hearts. Karl Menninger in his book Whatever Became of Sin? wrote back in 1973:

The very word ‘sin,’ which seems to have disappeared was once a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. . . . But the word went away. It has almost disappeared—the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?[1]

D.A. Carson noted that when one attempts to do evangelism in universities, students generally do not have any idea of sin. “They know how to sin well enough, but they have no idea of what constitutes sin.”[2] But the Apostle Paul says that our sin is great! But that God’s grace is greater. Grace by its very definition is not earned! So we are to grow in God’s grace. How? Look with me at Matthew 11:25-30:

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[a] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

God’s gracious will was to give knowledge and understanding because of his “gracious will.” The only way we can know the Son is because the Father chooses to reveal the Son to us. We can’t earn it, we can’t climb there, we can’t obtain it by our effort. We don’t have that equipment. But to those whom the Father reveals the Son, he says, “Come.” Are you laboring in this life? Are you laboring for the love of Christ through your own obedience—but failing? He will give you rest. At the beginning and all during your Christian walk, “rest” is this: trusting in the work of Christ for your salvation and growth rather than yourself.

Whereas false teachers and atheists actually have something in common with many Christians. Again, the false teachers are there through power, greed, and sensual desires to use other people to feed their own desires. It’s all about self. Then you have the Christian church member who struggled with whether they are good enough for God to love them. So they work: they get on every committee, they show up at every church service, and are busy, busy, busy for the Lord. Is this bad? It depends on your motive. Are you doing this because you are resting in Christ’s work, and doing it out of love? Or are you doing this because you are working for your own rest, so Christ will love you for all you do?

Or what about the Christian who operates on fear? They know what Christ has done for them, and they know others need to hear—but they are afraid. Why? They look at themselves and their skills, their energy, their own resources and say, “I can’t do it!” So again, instead of resting in Christ’s work and His energy and resources, they look at their own. In all three of these cases, each person is relying on themselves and not on Christ. The gospel needs to grip their hearts not just in becoming a Christian—but as a believer.

Eugene O’Neill insightfully wrote, “Man is broken and needs mending. The grace of God is the glue.” Growing in God’s grace is growing continually in the reliance of His work in us, of Christ being formed in us. But the grace of God is missed, even in those who call themselves Christian.

You have one who attends church everytime the door is open. He wants to be at every event, be on every team, and wants to absorb everything preached, taught, and conversed. On the outside everything looks good. But what about on the inside? On the inside is a desire to try to earn God’s love and to show God that we love him. Rather than relying on God’s grace as a motive, we are putting in our works and drawing from our own energies and resources.


[1]Karl Menninger, Whatever Happened to Sin? (New York: Hawthorne Books, 1973), 14-15. Quoted in Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007), 17.

[2]Peter Barnes, “What? Me? A Sinner?” The Banner of Truth, April 2004, 21. Quoted in Bridges, 18.

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What Does It Mean to Magnify Christ?

When I was a child, magnifying glasses fascinated me. With the naked eye, you could see an ant crawling across our deck and think, “Yes, that’s an ant.” But when you take the magnifying glass and put it up near that ant, you noticed that what you thought was a little bug without much to it suddenly turned into a magnificent creature with very detailed features. You see the antennae, the eyes, the head, the thorax, the abdomen, the legs—you become amazed at what this little bug is truly like. And I remember running and telling my mom to come look! I had to show her what I had seen.

Before anything of consequence may happen in a local church or in the life of the Christian for that matter must flow from a Christian’s magnification of Christ alone. Before a church can look inward, outward, or move forward, she must look upward. Notice how the beginning of Scripture begins: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Before we address the nuts and bolts of creation and history and all the warts and wrinkles therein, Scripture directs us upward first. This understanding is critical to everything that our lives entail.

In a culture from the academic elite to the water cooler who hold to the notion that our lives are random with no design, direction, nor purpose behind it all, Scripture begins with the very first verse by saying in essence, “Everything you see? God made it, designed it, purposed it, is directing it. From the molecular to the galactic level, the chance element is absent. And the world craves for this reality, whether they realize it or not.

Our view of God affects everything that we do, everything we say, everything we think. Richard Lints tells us the importance of our theological vision in regards to life and church:

A theological vision allows [people] to see their culture in a way different that they had ever been able to see it before . . . Those who are empowered by the theological vision do not simply stand against the mainstream impulses of the culture but take the initiative both to understand and speak to that culture from the framework of the Scriptures . . . The modern theological vision must seek to bring the entire counsel of God into the world of its time in order that its time might be transformed.[1]

When it comes to our worship times, I think of two verses out of the Psalms. The first is this from Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” This deals with our attitude! For the Christian, an enthusiasm exists in coming before the Lord and before His people. And when we come into this kingdom outpost to worship, much of what we get out of it depends on what we put into it! It is here that we exalt Christ, we encourage others in Christ to exalt Christ in their lives. Here, we learn about the Word of God by the Spirit of God. Everything that takes place in the live of the church does so to make much of the crucified and risen Son! We have His word, His Spirit, His called leaders in the church, His people—and an empty cross and tomb to anchor it all!

Another verse out of the Psalms is that of Psalm 133:1: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” Unity in what? Some say it’s simply unity in fellowship—in other words, you simply like being around this group of people, and this is the extent of unity. Yet, there is nothing distinctive about this. You can find that type of fellowship at a bar. You can find that at a ball game, where 80,000 people are cheering for a Broncos win! You can find that at a rally of a common cause. But there is more to it: we are unified in the truth! Unified in Christ and what He has revealed in His Word.

Yet, just because we come to a church function or even to our worship gathering here, does not mean we are worshiping! You can be here, but not be here all at the same time. Our body may be occupying space in one of the benches, but our minds and hearts can in a galaxy far, far away.

Psalm 34:3 says:

Oh, magnify the LORD with me,

And let us exalt his name together!

Literally, the Psalmist is saying, “Let’s make the Lord’s name grow and expand in our midst and in the world.” God desired for this attitude and expectation to pervade His people, but His desires did not always manifest themselves—in fact, most of the time they were absent!

The fundamental activity and attitude of the believer and, also, churches is to magnify Christ. Magnifying Christ is to make him bigger in our eyes, to know him better, and to show him more brilliantly to others who need to see him.


[1]Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 316-17. Quoted in Timothy Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 18.

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Visioneering: A Sermon Series for October

So October is here!  In this month, I turn 41, celebrating my first birthday in Denver! 

But October will also be key for our church as we move forward.  Our leadership has determined to set aside October as a time to cast a vision for the direction we will be going as we move forward in the days ahead.  The idea is to share this direction for everyone to get on-board, not simply the leadership.  When everyone is on the same page, beautiful things happen for Christ.

So here at the blog, I’ll be using this as a way to think through this process.  I would appreciate your feedback.  Below is the sermon series, which will set the framework for the days ahead.

 

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Visioneering

Engineering a Vision for ARBC that Spreads the Grace and Glory of the gospel from Centennial to the Corners of Creation!

October 7: Magnify: Visioneering an Upward Vision of Exalting Christ in All Things

October 14: Mature: Visioneering a Forward Vision for Personal Growth in Christ

October 21: Minister: Visioneering an Inward Vision of Equipping and Encouraging the Saints in the Things of Christ

October 28: Mobilize: Visioneering an Outward Vision of Engaging and Evangelizing Centennial to the Corners of Creation

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ARBC Visioneering: The Spiritual Aspect of a Great Commandment Education

 

Overview | Biblical (Heart) | Spiritual (Soul) | Doctrinal (Mind) | Missional (Love neighbor as self)|

It’s been a couple of weeks since I have addressed by (in)frequent posts on ARBC Visioneering in regards to a Great Commandment Education. My vision and desire is to have our education ministry (a label I am still working through–see the last full paragraph) at ARBC anchored in Great Commandment that Jesus gave in Matthew 22:37-40:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (ESV).

In regards to loving God with all of our soul, Jesus is calling us into the spiritual aspect of our Christian walk. Even the Jews understood the thrust of this command, given from Deuteronomy 6:5, for they would repeat this twice daily–it expresses the need for total devotion to God in every aspect of our being.

Why is this so crucial? Because our spiritual aspect, our souls, will live on long after our earthly bodies have finished their course.

Don Whitney, in the introduction to his very helpful book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, insightfully wrote, “Where eternal life through Christ does exist, there should be not only health but also growth.” He then proceeds to quote the venerable Jonathan Edwards:

Christians are Christlike: none deserve the name of Christians that are not so, in their prevailing character . . . . The branch is of the same nature with the stock and root, has the same sap, and bears the same sort of fruit. The members have the same kind of life with the head. It would be strange if Christians should not be of the same temper and spirit that Christ is of: when they are his flesh and his bone, yea are one spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17), and live so, that it is not they that live, but Christ that lives in them.

The idea behind this is not simply getting a bunch of people to “walk the aisle,” but to cultivate by the Spirit of God a vibrant, healthy crew of disciples who seek to unite, identify, learn, and be unleashed into the world (Matthew 28:19-20).

But this starts inwardly with the heart and soul. One way to help bring this into our minds is to understand the classical spiritual disciplines, brought forth from Scripture itself. Again, Donald Whitney has been extremely helpful in this area with his two books on spiritual disciplines: one for the Christian life and the other for the church. The spiritual disciplines are:

  • Scripture reading and meditation
  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Evangelism
  • Serving
  • Stewardship
  • Fasting
  • Silence and Solitude
  • Journaling
  • Learning

Others may be included, but these represent clear distinctions culled from Scripture that all believers would do well to practice.

It must be said that there is nothing magical about these. Beware of thinking, “If I do this for ‘x’ minutes a day, I will become a super-Christian.” We must always guard our hearts and check our motives.

  • Are we doing these disciplines because of some material benefit we may receive?
  • Are we doing them to be seen by men (see Matthew 6:1-8)?
  • Are we merely doing these out of duty, rather than seeing the delight that will come from communing and drawing closer to our risen Lord?

For this reason, I hesitated (and still have some hesitation) in calling this ‘education.’ In our more traditional circles in our denomination (of which I am from and in which I still serve to a degree), we have had staff members in our churches with the title of “Minister of Education.” Yet, as I look at the NT more and more, the goal is not education (that is, the mere learning of facts), but discipleship (taking what Christ and the Word teaches and showing as well as modeling what He has taught–in other words, application). For this is the end result of everything a church must do, “Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

So I am grateful for you prayerfully journeying with me as I visioneer for ARBC. May God lead His church by His grace and for His glory through His Word.

 

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