Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October Bible Reading Plan

How's your Bible reading? Well if it makes you feel any better, I got a little off track in September as well. I have mixed thoughts about Bible reading plans because on one hand they held you stay connected to Scripture, but on the other hand they can seemingly point the finger at you and call you a bad Christian. That's why it is so important for us to live in the good of Romans 8:1, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ." We are not accepted and love by God based on Bible reading performance, church attendance or hours of service we have under out belt. We are accepted and loved purely because of the grace of God! How awesome is that!

Having said that, it's not a good reason for us to caste aside disciplines like Bible reading plans. Actually, it's the grace of God that produces discipline (Rom 6:17-19).

It is important for us to approach reading the Bible as an opportunity to connect with God and not a Christian duty to fulfill. It is joy to hear what God has to say.

For those who want to track with my Bible reading, here's October's plan.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Living Beyond Ourselves

There is nothing more dangerous for the soul than "playing it safe" Christianity. That's where we plot along and give mental accent to some Bible truths (Jesus is Lord, He loves the world, we should treat others well, etc), but the nature of who Jesus is doesn't penetrate our souls. And when that happens we grow apathetic and avoid life on the edge - the place where normal Christianity is meant to be lived. Proverbs 29:18 says (esv), "Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint (or they get discouraged)..." That's another way of saying when there is no audacious, Christ-honoring picture of the future that is beyond our ability, we wonder off into Christian routine and apathy. How do you know if that's you? How do you know if you are living radically, for a vision that is beyond you? Well here's a few questions you might ask yourself:

1) Do I step outside my past experience and do things that are uncomfortable to facilitate kingdom advancement or the building up of the church?
2) Do I give generously and even amounts that I'm not sure I can afford, but God amounts told me to give?
3) Do I often do things for others regardless of how it affects me?
4) When I reflect on my life now and my life 12 months ago, can I see clear change?
5) Am I in constant prayer?

It's that last question, I would like to write a few more thoughts about - prayer. If we seek to live for an audacious, Christ-honoring vision that is beyond ourselves, we will pray a lot because we are abundantly aware that God needs to do something or this vision we have is a pipe dream. By the way, if our vision is within our natural abilities, it's not Christ-honoring. God calls us into the realm of the impossible. He has done so in your life since the day He saved you from your sins and bought you into His kingdom. And according to Jesus, entering the kingdom on your own effort is as easy as a camel passing through the eye of the needle - and if you don't know anything about camels or needles, that's impossible. Now here's what God wants to do in your life (the vision he has for you in some shape or form): he wants to use you to see many others enter His kingdom and for your life (as a part of the church) to be representation of Jesus and a demonstration of kingdom life! You can't do that in your own ability. You need God to step in and do something. That is where prayer comes in. Prayer is a demonstration that you are in need of God to sustain what you're all about. Just like eating today was a demonstration of my physical need for food. It would be stupid for me to think I don't need to eat - eventually. If I don't, I die. If you're not in that place of prayer, where you are contending and believing for something beyond you, you die. Spiritually, you begin to die.

Coming together for prayer is accepting God's invitation to partner with Him to live beyond ourselves. I want to encourage us to prioritize times of prayer together. Not because it is a religious activity for us to check off our list, but because we are living beyond ourselves and we know we need God.

Here's the prayer schedule for next week:

Monday: the Wentzville location gathers at 7 PM
Tuesday: Leaders gather at 5:30 PM
Wednesday: City location (last name A-L) gathers at 7 PM
Thursday: City location (last name M-Z) gathers at 7 PM
Friday: Both locations gather at 7 PM for a time of celebration and to set in Larry Mowrey as an elder

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sharing the Gospel

Today I went to "bring you pastor to school" day at Webster University to pray and talk to students about Jesus. And although it seemed a little strange, I jumped at the opportunity - I love students and I love sharing the gospel.

First of all, it was a bit nostalgic driving into old Webster. Many of you will remember this was Jubilee's former base of operations until just a couple of years ago. It had been even longer since I've walked on that campus. As a side note, they have done a lot to that campus and seems like a great place to go to school.

I showed up there at 10 am and we prayed for an hour or so and then went out and engaged students with spiritual questions. My new friend Nathan and I got into a great conversation with a freshman who is majoring in graphic art, but it appeared to us that her real desire was to connect with the divine. She struggles tremendously with God (at least the one I love and serve), as issues of right and wrong and judgment and other religions clouded her views. As I walked away from that conversation, my heart broke for this next generation. I was reminded of Paul's writings in Ephesians 3 where he wrote that it was his job (and our job) to make plain the mystery of Christ. And I began to think how God was a mystery to her. She was confused about God like many others are in her peer group. Yet, I was also struck by her desire to talk with us (for about an hour). My attention then floated to Matthew 9 where Jesus surveys a lost generation and says (I imagine with tears in His eyes), "The harvest plentiful but the workers are few". There are truly thousands upon thousands in this city like this girl I talked to today. Hungry for God, but confused about who He is. There truly is a plentiful harvest and there appeared to me today (at least at Webster's campus), not enough workers.

Let us never, never, never forget why we are alive on earth. We are alive on earth to share the glorious message of the gospel. To make plain the mystery of Christ to a lost and dying generation. We do that with both word and deed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Latitude Launches Weekly

Jubilee's Student ministry "Latitude" launched weekly on Monday night at 7 PM at the Crave coffee house. I'm looking forward to being able to connect more with college students. Currently there are more than 450,000 young adults between the age of 18-29 in the St. Louis area and less than 1% are plugged into a local church, which means more than 99% are either disconnected from Jesus or at best struggling in their relationship with Jesus. I believe God has called Jubilee to do something about that. I would encourage you to be prayer for the students of St. Louis.

Great Weekend

Jubilee had a great weekend. The Acts 13 meetings on Saturday and Sunday night were great times of prayer and prophecy. God was so good to speak us clearly and so intimately.

Equally as good was the message Jeremy Simpkins delivered at our Jubilee Church St. Louis City Location. It's a must to listen to.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fall Kickof: Gift Days


The Bible is full of verses that seem very counter intuitive. For example, "It is better to give than to receive." The idea here is simple, but it's difficult to apply. "So what you're saying here God is that it's better to give someone a $1,000 than to receive a $1,000?" Or, "It's better that I babysit someone else's kids than for them to babysit mine?" I think if we're being honest, most of us have a difficult time believing that is actually the case. I think most of us would rather be on the receiving end. However, we have to wrestle with the fact that the Bible is the inspired word of God, the author of all Truth, and He going to tell us it is better to give than receive.

What do you think? Do you believe it's better to give than to receive? Would you rather have someone walk up to you and give you a grand or would you rather go to the ATM machine, take out $1,000 and give it someone else?

Here's what I think. I think we would all like to be the person that loves giving more than receiving, but that's not always the case for us (it's not for me). But what I do know is that every time I give (I mean every time I give - even the ridiculous amounts) I never regret it. I've regretted spending money on stuff that has not met my expectations, but I have never regretted giving money away - not once. God must know what he's talking about. God must know us better than we know ourselves. God must know our frame and how we are wired. That we have been wired for eternal things and not the temporary. When we receive material wealth in this world, we only receive what is temporary. When we give that wealth away and invest in the kingdom, we receive something eternal - far better.

When you consider in prayer what you would give later this month, ask God to help you focus on what is eternal and not on what is temporary.

What Defines Success?

Last Sunday, we kicked off our mission series asking the question, "What are we doing?" because there is a danger in getting involved in all kinds of church activities, but missing the big picture of what the church is meant to be and do. So we can do Sunday morning, we can do group life, we can do serving, we can do social action, we can do prayer meetings, but what's the point of all that? We'll the point is reconciliation of disconnected souls back to the loving Father who created them. The point is to Connect people to Jesus, which we believe results in God-honoring life change. Success, therefore, for Jubilee happens when people are Connected to Jesus and when life change happens. That's what we are going for and that's what we celebrate.

1) So we celebrate the more than 40 people who have been rescued by Jesus and baptize here in the last two years (Jesus connection)
2) We celebrate the broken marriages that have been miraculously restored (life change)
3) We celebrate when people put aside their own concerns for the concerns of others and give their money and time (life change)
4) We celebrate when people who left the church in their teenage years finally accept our invitation to check out church one more time and find it a safe, gracious place to explore Jesus again (Jesus connection)

There are a lot of other things we celebrate, but it all comes down to people being connecting to Jesus that result is authentic, God-honoring life change. Let's continue to allow God to use us to build His church in St. Louis.