inexpressible and filled with glory


LiVE: Mission as Identity
5 February 2010, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Gospel Community, Mission in the Mountains | Tags: , , ,

Always great stuff from Tim Chester.

Mission as Identity
For many people mission has become an event. We have guest services. Evangelistic courses. Street preaching. Youth programmes. There’s nothing wrong with these things. But mission is more than a slot into our schedules. It is an identity and a lifestyle. Mission is about living all of life, ordinary life, with gospel intentionality.

Missional Communities
We are called to be missional communities – not lone evangelists. Our love for one another reveals our gospel identity. The world will know that Jesus is the Son of God sent by God to be Saviour of the world through the community life of believers (John 17:20-23).

Scattered communities of light
We are not be like a lighthouse, occasionally sending a beam of light across the city. We are to be communities of light and hope and love in a dark and broken world at street level, on the street corner.

Read the whole thing here.

If you haven’t picked up in previous posts – this is what we’re trying to do at LiVE in 2010. It’s a big challenge, but we’re trusting that as we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, that our lives and our community will be shaped by his gospel and his mission, and that by God’s mercy we might win some.

LiVE: going deep into the Word. building gospel community. overflowing in creative service.



The Missional Church: Simple
1 February 2010, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Gospel Community, Mission in the Mountains | Tags: , , ,

This is quite simply, awesome.

We have recognized the massive challenge that we face at LiVE (the young adults community at Factory Night Church) to be missional. We need a radical mindshift to see that we are the agents of mission in our communities. In 2010, we hope to see real relationships built with people in the community as we seek to love and serve the Blue Mountains.

One practical thing that we are doing in Term One is having a Pub Team. When we meet every Wednesday we are going to commission a team of young adults to go to the local pub to build relationships with people and look for opportunities to communicate the gospel in our community. We are really excited about this opportunity and praying that God will be at work through us in powerful ways as we seek to make him known in Springwood.

I guess we want to see the transformation that is highlighted in the above video happen in our lives and church – moving away from events and comsumer church, to being trained for mission in our own community, building relationships in the community, seeking to serve and love our neighbours and share our lives and God’s mercy with them, all in the hope that through us God might save some.

This is really pretty scary stuff. It means we’re all going to be pushed right out of our comfort zones and be forced to ask “what risks am I willing to take for the gospel?” Please pray for us as we seek to be a community who is committed to serving God, one another and our community.



Living under God’s Sovereignty

At Charlie’s this term, we’ve been looking at Ephesians 1:3-14 – one passage over the course of one term. It has been so good to go so deeply into God’s Word, preaching about every spiritual blessing that we have in the gospel. This week, I’ve been preparing to speak on God’s sovereignty in salvation. This idea really sits behind the whole passage. I don’t chose God, he chooses me. It’s not that I loved God but that he loves me when I have no love for him.

I feel so incompetent to preach on the topic of God’s sovereignty because it is raises a lot of other issues and affects all of life. I think that this truth is foundational for everyday faith, and I feel like I will only get a handle on it after a full life lived under God’s sovereignty. But still, I feel so privileged to speak into the lives of these teenagers and I pray that God will stir them up to a greater trust in Christ through my humble words.

My talk outline is as follows:

God’s Sovereignty in All of Life: From the Cosmic to the Ordinary, completely dependent on God

God’s Sovereignty in Salvation: God’s Intiative, God’s Grace, God’s Glory

Living Under God’s Sovereignty

After much prayerful reflection upon this topic I’ve included the following thoughts for living under God’s Sovereignty:

Humility
This is the starting point for life in Christ. The truth is that we are nothing, we are sinners saved by grace. If we live like we’re the king of our own life then we might have some worldly success but we won’t have anything worth writing home about, because the life of Christ will not have invaded our lives. We need to get ourselves out of the way, putting to death sin, the evil inclinations of our hearts and letting Christ come to life in us. This will mean a radically transformed life, because we’ll be concerned with the things of the kingdom of Jesus – service, surrender, sacrifice, love – rather than chasing after worldly riches and success. We will not boast: it is Christ who gets all the glory, not us. Get us out of the way so that Jesus can be seen as worthy of all praise and honour and glory and power.

Worship
Because God has made us fully alive from being dead in our sins, our whole lives will be oriented toward in him awestruck worship. He deserves everything that we are and he demands our whole life – indeed he bids us to come and die with Christ – to come and offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. As Ephesians 1 says: to the praise of his glory!

Assurance
Because our salvation is based on what God has done for us, there is no fear that we can stuff it up. He has done it all, there is nothing remaining.

Hope
For Christians, hard times will come. Opposition for the sake of Christ, sickness, betrayal, loneliness, temptations and trials of many kinds. But God is working his purpose out. We can rest assured that it is all happening within the sovereign plan of God, knowing that he is working for our good and his glory through all things. When the storms of life come, we know that the boat will not sink and that the storm will come to an end. This life is a life of suffering for but a little while, but then we enter glory. And so we live in hope, because this life is going to be hard and we long for the return of our king when he will wipe every tear away and restore all things.

Love
Love begets love: because God has loved us, we love others. This is what his Spirit compels us to do. To be the servant of many, to walk the cross walk, to live the cross life, communicating the love of God in the gospel to our broken world.

Mission
Just as God has given us all these amazing things in salvation, we know that he is still accomplishing this in the world today. He is proclaiming the glory of his name to Springwood, to the Mountains, to Sydney, to Australia, to the world. And he is at work through his people. Through us! God is the one who is at work, but he invites us to play along. Just like a Father who is at work in the garden digging a hole, who gives his son a toy shovel to help out, God is the one at work! We are his agents of mission in this world. We know what God is doing, we now need to humble ourselves for his kingdom work.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I’d appreciate any comments or thoughts that you may have as they will definitely contribute to the talk.



Places
24 September 2009, 12:33 pm
Filed under: Mission in the Mountains | Tags: , ,

Timmy Brister, Associate Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, recently wrote on his blog about Evangelism in Every “Place”. I found it a really interesting read and I’d recommend you check it out. Timmy breaks down life as being lived in three different “places”.

The first place is that of the home.

The second place is that of the workplace.

And third places are places or environments where people in the community interact with one another outside the first and second places. For example, coffee shops, malls, city parks, restaurants/pubs, exercise facilities, venues for arts/entertainment, etc. Timmy notes that this is where people are en masse and it’s also where culture is created.

He looks at the strengths and weaknesses of evangelism in every “place” and traces historical trends of how the church has approached evangelism – from a particular focus on reaching the first place in older generations (noting that the third place in these generations was the church), to a particular focus on reaching the third places, as today’s generation has been challenged to get out of the Christian subculture and live missionally.

Timmy concludes that rather than any exclusive focus on one place, we should be trying to reach people with the gospel in every place.

It’s clear that first and second places will be different for every individual, but third places will be common in a community. So, what are the third places in the Mountains? How should we communicate Christ into these places?



Invisible Church
22 September 2009, 2:07 pm
Filed under: Mission in the Mountains | Tags:

This is an interesting post from Archie Poulos with some helpful suggestions about how to make your vibrant church life visible to your wider community.

One suggestion that got my attention was:

11. Regularly provide content about people and photos for the local paper about interesting things your church is doing.

Check it out here.

Do you have any other thoughts on how to make the vibrancy of church life visible to the community?



This Corner of the World

Katherine and I have an older missionary couple who live in our street. Graham occasionally does a bread run and brings us a whole bag full of bread at the end of it. He brought us a bag this week – it contained fresh bread rolls, two lovely loaves of bread and a cinnamon topped fruit loaf. Katherine and I have been eating this for breakfast and it has just been lovely.

Graham and his wife are so excited about our ministry with Voice of the Martyrs. Although we haven’t had the opportunity yet, he has asked us to come up for dinner one night to share about our experiences, to fellowship and to pray to the Lord of the harvest.

Just down the road from us is another young Christian couple who are in ministry. They are kind, Godly, generous, sincere with a deep love for the Lord. They collected our mail while we were overseas and have been so supportive of our ministry, and so hospitable whenever I have been around there. I was talking to Nathaniel a while ago, and he was pointing out to me that there are quite a few key Christian leaders in our neighbourhood. Together, we could have a really strategic impact for the gospel in our small corner of Faulconbridge.

Corridor of Oaks - Faulconbridge

I wonder what it would take to mobilize us for mission in our neighbourhood? We are believers from different churches and different backgrounds, with different commitments. Perhaps the first step is to get us all together, to get on mission, and to start praying for our neighbours.

What would you do in this situation?



As the World Rushes By

On the train

When I was studying at university, I caught the train from the Mountains to they city at least four days a week. Katherine, who is still studying, is currently on the train five days a week. I used to love this big journey into Sydney, and there were always friends to sit with on both the east- and west-bound journey. For me, it was a chance to do most of my uni work. I would do most of my prep for class and most of my reading for assessments on the one-and-a-half hour journey each way from the city.

This is one thing that I miss about my university years – commuting from the Mountains and watching the world rush by the window.

This long journey is not unique to me. Many people commute from the Mountains to work, school or study in the Penrith, Parramatta and City areas. I do not have a statistic about the percentage of the population who train it eastbound every day, but one must only catch a train in peak hour to see that every eight-carriage Mountains train is packed to capacity. I wonder what challenges and opportunities this provides for the gospel in the Mountains.

Related to my post from yesterday, the large commuter population ensures that many people will not be home in the afternoon. This means that my efforts at being out in the community by walking Bella become redundant in attempting to connect with commuters. On this note, perhaps the best time to be out and about in the community is on the weekend.

One opportunity is the commuter experience itself. Commuters spend a significant proportion of each day on the train. This presents many opportunities for Christian commuters to impact Mountains commuters with the gospel. I know, just from my own experience, that God brought me so many opportunities to share my faith with randoms on the train in my university years. If we developed an intentionality about commuting and really asked the Lord to provide opportunities for the gospel on the train then perhaps this would be an effective way of impacting the Mountains with the gospel of Jesus.

Apart from this, I wonder if we could capitalise on the commuter experience in some way. I’m thinking a Christian tract version of MX that could be handed out at Central station for commuters on their way home. Many churches have attempted to give out tracts or Bibles at Springwood station in the mornings, but from my own observations I think that it would be more effective to do it for the return journey from the city. A huge proportion of commuters pick up their MX and flick through it on the train – imagine if we could give them something that presents Christ instead!

There are many other opportunities and challenges that commuting presents us as we pray to the Lord to save the lost in the Mountains, I have just presented a few for brevity’s sake. Can you think of any?