Tag Archives: Christ

Things I’ve Seen 5.30

As the Church Planting Intern for Maine I have been asked to help with the recently launched site for people interested in planting or interested in helping plant churches in Maine http://www.mainechurchplanting.com/. One of the ways that I will do this is to look through the various blogs out there for anything that would help the readers in any way. I thought I was supposed to do that THIS week however, we start the ramp up NEXT week. So, this is the week that was that didn’t get was there, but is was here. Got it?

The first is written by Chuck Lawless from Thom Rainer’s site. 5 years ago I would not have even read anything by a southern baptist, and here I am following them on twitter and referencing blogs. This s a great post about ‘Praying Evangelistically’. As you are praying for the souls of people in your town, keep these ideas in mind.

The second is from a bit of an unlikely source but I do think that there is much to say here. I am an insurance guy by day and I have taken to reading various business journals to start my day. This one jumped out at me in the context of planting a church. If you are a church looking to send out people or a core group looking to solidify your goals, take a look and let me know what it makes you think of. Which aspect of church planting do you feel this most directly speaks to?

The third is from the Gospel Coalition. As you are looking to reach people in your community, please make sure that you are acknowledging those who WILL see things differently than you. I know that this is a specific way that I tend to struggle. I am absolutely guilty of thinking in ways that can discourage an artist. Artists can and should help bring us to the throne of God on a regular basis. How can you include instead of exclude?

Well, there you go. The week that was. Let me know what you think.

-Selah

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Liturgy – Whether you know it or not

A recent article by Ed Stetzer raised a question I had only asked in my head. Aren’t ALL of our worship services full of liturgy? In this article, Ed interviews Mike Cosper who is the author of Rhythms of Grace. This looks like a great book and I hope to read it at some point.

About one year ago I was asked to take over the structure and organization of Sunday mornings at Lakeside Community Church. The basic ‘schedule’ of what happened was already set, we just needed a point person to take care of some of the details. One of the things we were able to put in place is a basic structure of Prepare-Preach-Participate. We prepare our hearts with singing and giving, we hear the Word preached, and we participate with more singing and corporate prayer. This is our liturgy. What’s yours?

Here’s the deal, I have visited many many churches in New England in my lifetime. The bottom line is that  your bulletin is the same  as every other church in New England right down to that very same font that I can see from a mile away. The announcements are basically the same. The songs are basically the same. The order of service is basically the same. Yeah we have a cool three section rubric for our services but it is basically the same.

Every church has that person, you know the one, a strongly liturgical background that freaks out every time anything formal is spoken. Every person also has the other person pulling everyone towards daily liturgical readings from 500 years ago. Whether we realize it or not, our services are liturgical. They SHOULD be designed to point us to Christ. Some services point us to man. That is a horrible sin.

That is our liturgy. What’s yours?

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The Morning After

Yesterday was not a dream. It seems that the whirlwind that was my April 5 is now gone. Dad is sleeping more peacefully and soundly then he has in more that 2 weeks. The people here at the Gosnel House are great as they care for the families and patients alike.

There were quite a few people in here last night and I know that my father appreciated it.

The question “why us” briefly popped up in my head last night after I was left here alone with my Dad. The Holy Spirit quickly answered with, “why NOT you?” Darrin Patrick quoted Elizabeth Elliot yesterday when he said, ” God will not protect you from anything that will make you more like Jesus. ”

When we view every situation as good or bad, we tend to leave God out of it. When God’s grace shifts our thinking on these matters, we see every situation as not good or bad, but as an opportunity to give God more glory for what He alone has already done.

My father showed me the importance of daily communion with God. He showed me the importance of a local church body. He is currently showing me how to ” go out on top ” by taking care of the things to be cared for and not focusing on self. Up until his last coherent moment, he was trying to make sure Mom was taken care of.

In the world that we live in, it is not often that a man like me can look back at such a constant role model in his father. For that I am grateful. God deemed it necessary to be born unto Donald L Coldwell and I thank God right now for that decision of God’s.

I love you Dad. Soon you will be free of all disease and will be in your new body throwing the many crowns you have earned at the feet of Jesus.

Selah

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Church Planting Intern

In February of 2013 I accepted a position as a Church Planting Intern in Maine. This position is a one year contract where my responsibilities will cover a wide range of duties. Ultimately in the coming year I hope to catalog the year as I learn, study, and minister in this way.

The first book on my list to read this year was Church Planter by Darrin Patrick. This was a great primer to the seriousness and specific nature of a church planter. This book is divided up into three sections focusing on three aspects of a planter. The Man, The Message, and The Mission. Interestingly enough, it was the Preface that I remember the most. This is where Darrin details a prayer that he prays with his son that has me thinking of how I can pray specifically for my sons and daughters as they grow.

God, make me a man with thick skin and a soft heart. Make me a man who is tough and tender. Make me tough so I can handle life. Make me tender so I can love people.God, make me a man.

I want to create one for my daughters as well, frame them, and hang them in each bedroom. I have been challenged to be more purposeful in how I pray for and with my children.

Without going into great detail about every chapter I will say that Church Planter IS NOT a how-to book on plating a church. This is a gut check for any man looking to plant a church. It is a clear calling to the specific message of the saving power of THE Gospel of Jesus. At the end of each chapter there are very helpful questions designed to bring about introspection and in every case they worked for me.

As a CPI in Maine I do not feel called to plant a church right this second. What I DO want, is to help plant churches. This will end up looking like nothing I had planned, but I know that God has a specific plan for the coming year.

Please join me/follow me/encourage me as I take the next year and open my heart to God. Here is a promotional video for Church Planter from back when the book came out in 2010.

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Grace

What? Grace? We don’t need no stinking grace. It happens in churches all across the country…right living. I’ve seen it first hand and I’ve even been a part of it unfortunately. I pray however, that I would honor God and stop it. You see, people all over are living their lives to please God. That is the end…not honor…not glorify…please. There is a specific nuance that corresponds to the word please. Trying to earn something…or make God like us.

We’re told every day of our lives that we are special…no we’re not. We’re told that we can be whatever we want to be…no we can’t. We’re told that if we work hard enough, we can succeed at anything…not necessarily. We live within grace. Grace is given to us when we are allowed to wake up even after we have sinned against God the day before. We’ll have none of that however; we will please God with our actions, we will please Him with how we conduct ourselves, and we will please Him with what we do not do as much as what we do, for that is the Christian way.

OK, I’m not trying to sound angry, or mean, or even bitter…just saying what God has been teaching me in the last few years/months. What am I? …nothing without Him. That doesn’t sit well with me though. That doesn’t sit well with most people. We want to know how to make God an offer He can’t refuse. We’ll even do nursery…just kidding…if you do nursery you are a saint.

In 1936/7 a book was written by Dale Carnegie called How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book has become scripture to the world today. In fact, I would say that the principles have been practiced in the church for years. The premise of the book is, how to treat people so that any reasonable person couldn’t possibly say no to you. We constantly try to put God in a position where He couldn’t possibly say no. How on earth could God look at us and not appreciate the things we are doing?

Ancient pagans would do this by offering mounds of sacrifices. They would offer humans, money, food, animals…you name it they would offer it. Modern pagans offer their churchiness and values…their lifestyles. Ancient religions taught that god was bound to their worshipers because they needed them. The God of the Bible however, does not need us. We are alive to bring glory to Him…not the other way around. The fact that He didn’t just wipe off the earth and start over after Adam and Eve is grace. He had the power…he could wipe it clean faster than the UPS whiteboard guy…but He didn’t…and He didn’t for His glory. He extended grace to us that while we were yet sinners…Christ died for us.

Yeah I know…another bitter Xer trying to change everything. Well, the first thing I would like to change is my heart…I pray that God would grant me repentance for my actions. I would rather be a hypocrite than be seen as one. I would rather show up to church and look like I have it together then show up and seek His face and ignore everyone else. Yeah I know…I can seek Him anyplace…but if I can’t do it in front of my brothers and sisters…do I mean it? If I am not willing to show people I am sinful…will I be willing to admit that to God?

Ecc 7:6 says that only an idiot laughs when he is on fire…look it up…it may be worded differently in your Bible but that is what it says. Let’s let people see what is under the button up shirts and khakis…everyone knows that is the church uniform. It’s the christian’s mullet. Showing that we are both casual…and also bringing our ‘best’ to God.

Pray with me that we would be granted repentance from our burning laughter.

-cheers

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Look!…There’s Nothing

It is interesting how things transpire most of the time. We try our best to do what God wants. This is done either with a grateful heart or with a needy desire. We either want to earn His favor or we just want to be counted as faithful. I was thinking about the difference between the two and I was caughtby the similarities. How often do we start with the right motive but land in the same place as with wrong motives. Soren Kierkegaard says that becoming nothing in this world is the condition of becoming something in the other world. Without beating this quote too much, I think it is clear to see the truth here. The last shall be first…kinda…I guess. That isn’t what got me thinking though…here goes.

Luke 10:20 – Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

His boys just got back from their life changing, mountain top, short-term missions trip and were amazed at all that had been accomplished. Then Jesus then throws a ‘nevertheless’ at them. Punch in the gut. God has blessed some of the things that I have offered as sacrifice to Him. Some with the right motive…some without. It was always His work and it as always His blessing. I am not suggesting a fatalistic approach to ministry where we do whatever we want and let God figure it out, however, I am suggesting that God can do more with our bad attitude then we think.

Either way, we have a tendency to get excited about things happening. People start following Jesus, people give up long held addictions through grace, marriages are restored…we tend to get excited about these things; and rightfully so, when God works it is great. The problem comes when we think that is the end. When we see someone who turns from their sin and turns to Jesus we get excited knowing what has happened. We get excited that we were ‘there’ when it happened. What Jesus is saying here is almost selfish on first sighting. He says that we always need to remember that having OUR names written in heaven is IT.

He is not discrediting the effort, the heart or even the end result; He is saying that we need to be thankful that our face mask is on. (Remember that my Hollis people?) No matter which John you follow (W or C) if you have a saving faith in Jesus you have a face mask on. Think to a plane…what do they say? If the plane should lose cabin pressure, put YOUR mask on before helping others. Bottom line…you are useless if you pass out! Jesus says to be thankful that grace has been extended to you and that you have your mask on.

Whether you lead a youth ministry, lead gathered worship, or lead your family or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Do this by understanding your mask as the greatest gift you have and the greatest blessing you will see.

Becoming nothing in this world is the condition of becoming something in the other world – S.K.

-Cheers

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Satisfaction

What did the cross do? For years the cross was the symbol of Good Friday and basically that was it for me. I knew what happened on the cross but I did not really learn until recently what was accomplished on the cross. That which was accomplished means something to me specifically not generally. It is not some ethereal symbol of what God wants. It is an actual accomplishment of Jesus for us. The final sacrificial lamb and the final scapegoat. The work of the cross is complete and it has done more for me than can be expressed.

My ability to lead my family is completely wrapped up in the cross. I do not have the ability on my own. The ability to support my family is completely wrapped up in the cross. I do not have the ability on my own. How do I let the Gospel fuel my life? How do I let the Gospel renew my mind?…Grace. God’s grace is what gives me the ability to do as Paul speaks in Romans 12:2 …be transformed by the renewal of your mind… That renewal is the gospel working in my life. That renewal is God’s grace changing my mind through the cross. Jesus died as a substitution for us and the debt was completely satisfied. Any understanding of the cross apart from grace is cruel and inapplicable to our lives.

I am constantly being brought back to the nature of my salvation and the power that I have through the cross to be what I have been called to be. Grace is what fills the gap between my calling and my ability. I have been called to be a Christian, a husband, a father, and a child. I can ONLY do all things through HIM that strengthens me. If the cross did not satisfactorily complete the substitution…I have nothing.

We strongly reject, therefore, every explanation of the death of Christ which does not have at its centre the principle of ‘satisfaction through substitution’, indeed divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution. The cross was not a commercial bargain with the devil, let alone one which tricked and trapped him; nor an exact equivalent, a quid pro quo to satisfy a code of honour or technical point of law; nor a compulsory submission by God to some moral authority above him from which he could not otherwise escape; nor a punishment of a meek Christ by a harsh and punitive Father; nor a procurement of salvation by a loving Christ from a mean and reluctant Father; not an action of the Father which bypassed Christ as mediator. Instead, the righteous, loving Father humbled himself to become in and through his only Son flesh, sin and a curse for us, in order to redeem us without compromising his own character. The theological words ‘satisfaction’ and ‘substitution’ need to be carefully defined and safeguarded, but they cannot in any circumstances be given up. The Biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying himself by substituting himself for us. 

John Stott – The Cross of Christ

This will indeed be a long post and hope to follow up this thought with others in the same vein. My mind is getting blown up every day as the Gospel digs further and further into my soul.

What do you think? Too heavy? Just right? I’m thinking I need to either lighten it up or shorten it up but I had a lot going on in my head tonight.

-Cheers

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