Showing posts from June, 2013

Sarcasm as Sin

Just back from a visit to Ireland, I mentioned that I felt right at home on the island because sarcasm was a way of relating common in the culture. They call it "slagging" and it does seem to build bridges in a unique culture. But what of the gospel and sarcasm? Sarcasm is actually harmful and dangerous and thankfully I have people in my life willing to correct and challenge me when my sarcasm gets out of hand. Heath Hollensbe of SOMA Tacoma has been rebuked for it as well and he shares what he has learned of sarcasm in a post . During the conversation, I was told “Your sarcasm is killing community in your life, because that is what sarcasm is: a community killer. You are using it as a cover for never fully being known.” As if that wasn’t hard enough to hear, he went on: “Every time I see someone trying to reach out and press into knowing you more, it’s apparent where you get uncomfortable, because you rely on sarcasm to end the conversation exactly where you want it to end.

The Return Home

I am back in the office today after a long journey home yesterday from Ireland and twelve days of serving alongside a church planting team there. It was a time of learning and appreciating the work and people in County Cork. The saints there are faithful and patient and we all could a lot from them. I still have a lot of processing to do to figure out how the time there can inform ministry here in the U.S. The one thing I do know for sure is that it was exceedingly good to be reunited with my little family. My children are wonderful and their mother is an amazing woman. It is good to be home.

Prayers of the saints

This evening our team here in Kinsale took part in a wonderful prayer meeting at the church supporting the new plant. I was blessed by the faithfulness of this bunch of saints. They are patient and desire nothing more than for the gospel to be proclaimed in their country. There is a lot in the Irish context that is different from the US but one thing we have in common is the ability to seek God in prayer for his church.

Ministry in Ireland

Over the next several days I am part of a team serving a church planting project in Kinsale, Ireland. Kinsale is a small tourist town on the Southern coast of Ireland outside of Cork. The groups of planters we are serving is a splendid core of Irish and a few "blow-ins" from the States. They are working tirelessly at building relationships that may one day form a church. And the thing that is challenging me is their patience in the process. Most American church planters I know have an aggressive plan to build churches. They ramp up efforts to get to a Sunday gathering quickly and most are to that point within a year of planting (after all that is how we define success in church planting, by actually launching a church). Some may spend more time getting to know their new context but will still rapidly move to go public. In Ireland, at least among Baptist planters, this might be 12 years of relationship building before a Sunday service starts. They are a patient people. In Kins

Right Now Media

We rolled out Right Now Media for church attenders at Bethel and it is going to be a great resource for our small groups, leaders and all disciples. Thousands of hours of Bible study content and conference videos, easily accessible   for the church. I thought I would share my introduction to the church with you. [vimeo]

On Our Side

Our music team shared their new original song this week at our Richland campus and I thought it was worth sharing. I am so impressed with the team that our music director, Keith Cookson, has assembled and this song is rich and true. Colin and Allan get credit for writing this one though! [vimeo] A world that’s full of trouble, your spirit still alive. On streets with fallen ruble, in dust you still reside. Verse 2 Though earthly kingdoms crumble, You sit upon your throne. You reign though strife and struggle, For you are God alone. Chorus: Your love is all we need, God of everything Your on our side. Age to age you never fade, Your on our side. Verse 3 For all the lost and lonely, Your voice the sound of peace. You call us sons and daughters, Our hearts are all you seek. Bridge You're there in the darkness, Your brighter then the sun. You love our shield forever, Hope for everyone.

Mining the Deeps

At ABIDE Assemble (our young adult ministry's weekly gathering) we kicked off our 13 week series devotionally studying the book The Valley of Vision. It is a collection of puritan prayer that are rich in theology and a driving pursuit of Jesus. We are calling it the "Summer in the Valley." I usually give the summer over to young adults to give mini devotional sermons ahead of some social time. But this week I did the first devotion to set the tone for the next three months. I will be back in the pulpit in September. Listen to it here.

A Song of Following

Discerning God's will is a beast. We can come up with all kinds of metrics to help us determine which route to take in life in order to be in God's will. Most often for us it is more about being willing to follow Christ than determining the perfect answer. This week I am reminded of the wave upon wave of grace receive from Jesus as we follow him. It is a prayer for our lives to say to Jesus "take me with you" where you desire for me to go. Samuel Lane's song to this end has been a refreshment to me. I hope it encourages you as well. [youtube=]

Self-confident no more...

"O Heavenly Father, teach me to see  that if Christ has pacified thee and satisfied divine justice  he can also deliver me from my sins; that Christ does not desire me, now justified, to live in self-confidence in my own strength, but gives me the law of the Spirit of life to enable me to obey thee" From The Valley of Vision , "Belonging to Jesus"

Why Plant Churches

Church planting is a regular topic of conversation in the halls of the seminary. After all there are tons of young men with a call to ministry and one way that often plays out is in the planting of new churches. The topic however is much less regular in the halls of storied and established churches across the country. In these institutions there is often conversation about regaining numbers or creating new programs for the body but rarely discussions about sending out from within to plant new churches. Church planting is the biblical model and the most successful path to new conversions and life change in our communities. But don't take my word for it. Tim Keller, pastor of a growing multi-site church in NYC, wrote a persuasive piece titled "Why Plant Churches" and I commend it to you. Some key quotes from the article include: "Continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, an

The Gospel for Sanctification

This weekend we took the young adult ministry leaders to the Passionate Grace conference to hear Bryan Chappell and Jared Wilson. It was two days of sermons that reminded us of grace and the vitality we can experience when the gospel of Jesus is central to how we do church. I am grateful that I got to spend time with these leaders and they are a true example of faithfulness and trusting in Christ. During the conference pastors were invited to have lunch with the speakers and ask questions. We spent a lot of time talking about the importance of preaching the gospel since we were not adding a lot of new Christians to our churches and it is a bummer when churches miss the gospel for salvation but I wanted to press into the use of the gospel in sanctification. Actually, to me, this is the major concern for health of Evangelical churches in our day. Most that I interact with agree that we need the gospel for salvation. The problem is when we see the only purpose of the gospel for salvation.