Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are you ready for Easter?

Easter is just around the corner. For Christians, this is special day that looks back at the biggest event in human history that has given us so much hope, love, peace and joy. It is Jesus' death on a cross that paid the penalty for our sin and His resurrection gives us hope for new life. Jesus has defeated our enemies of Satan, sin and death...forever.

This is a great day for celebration and a great day for inviting friends. It's interesting that when the two Mary's were met by an angel (presumably) at the empty tomb of Jesus, they were told to go tell the other disciples...."And he (the angel) said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you."

We should also go and tell others! Tell them about empty tomb. Tell them about the hope found in Jesus.

I would like to encourage you to invite 10 of your friends, neighbors, coworkers or relatives on Sunday, April 12. After all, they are more likely to come on Easter than any other day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Interview with Tom Shaw

Last week I was in Seattle, WA to attend the Acts 29 Bootcamp hosted by Mars Hill Church (led by Mark Driscoll). There were several other pastors from Newfrontiers from the UK and Africa who also attended the conference, one of those guys was Tom Shaw. Many of you would know Tom from Mobilise this year and he spoke at Jubilee in 2008. I had the opportunity to sit down with him at the airport before our flights out so I asked him a few questions about Acts 29, Mark Driscoll, and what's going on in the UK.

Bryan: We just finished a few days with the Acts 29 guys and Mark Driscoll. What's your overall impression with Mark Driscoll and the whole Acts 29 network?

Tom: I've been very impressed with the humility of Mark Driscoll and the whole way that they conduct themselves is very strongly emphasizing repentance, emphasizing of humility. I think, to be honest with you, many people wouldn't necessarily when they think of Mark Driscoll immediately think humility, and that was one of the most immediately interesting things I think. Great humility, obviously huge intentionality and focus on what they're doing which is fantastic. Just an extrodinary series of leadership gifts both in Mark and many others around him. I think he's a blessing, not only to America and Seattle, but to many movements. We, I know have been hugely helped in the short hours we've had together in terms of what Newfrontiers can take away from a time of such a 'king' in terms of his love for systems and processes and that kind of thing.

Bryan: So what would you say is the top thing we (Newfronters) can learn from them (Acts 29)?

Tom: Passion for the cross, a passion for mission, and contextualization. I would say they're brilliant in terms of organization. A thinking outside of the box in terms of how a church grows, for example, their use of old quirky buildings, which I would have ruled out, they've used. And obviously a huge emphasis on men, which I think is very much in need in the evangelical world. So that would be just a handful of things.

Bryan: Mark Driscoll gets a lot of criticism. What criticism do you think is unfair?

Tom: Most of it I guess, I think that most of the criticism against him would be primarily in arrogance and a sense of lack of grace but I think that he is just a man who is very intelligent so often I think he's several steps ahead of the average person, myself very much included, so I think he's frustrated why people don't get what he's saying because for him I think things are very obvious. For example, various patterns in scripture about male government, or the passion of the cross, or mission, and therefore I think he's often frustrated. That might sometimes appear as arrogance, but I don't think he's arrogant. So I think that would be one major thing. Another unfair criticism is I think there's a huge openhandedness to them and a huge generosity and a real humility to learn and also to become far more internationally effective which I think is outside of their comfort zones and I think that takes a lot more humility, but I think they would want to be open to all that God would have for them. So I guess that all ties in with a wrong presumption of arrogance and I think they're not. I think they're growing in that.

Bryan: We have a lot of young people who listen to Mark Driscoll podcasts. Nobody's perfect. What are some things you would hope our young people DON'T pick up on?

Tom: What I wouldn't want them to pick up on is if Mark Driscoll says it's true, it's true because I think he does exaggerate and I think he's still very young, and he still overstates things. Therefore, I think you still have to maintain still a holding of it loosely. So I hope we don't have a lot of angry people who think it's justifiable to be angry or very confident that they've always got it right, when actually I think often we're still learning.

Bryan: Let’s switch gears here. Tell us what's going in Newfrontiers in the UK?

Tom: Things are going really well. We're church planting about one church a month. Recently, Dave Stroud of the UK team launched a vision for our next step to get to 400 churches. There's a great level of intentionality in terms of church planting, in terms of parachuting people in, but also wanting to see churches reproduce themselves more and more in local areas. So I think there's a great momentum, to be honest with you. Something I'm particularly passionate about is the student conference Mobilise which is hugely important for what is happening in the UK, because, as of everywhere, we are in desperate need of more leaders and a summer gathering of a couple thousand students and 20's is a key area where we can actually grow leaders and see them released into all that God would have for them. So I think things are going well. There's a huge transition happening at the moment, new leaders coming through. The ongoing question about whether apostolic work should be regional or whether it should be relational, hopefully it should be both, but that means that things get messy. That's another ongoing thing that's happening. I think a lot of movement, a lot of change. Generally growth. And a lot more marketable services which is a huge thing that's happening as well.

Bryan: You've come to us for two years in a row now and really owned what we're doing here. If you were to return in a 3-5 years, what would be your hope for us?

Tom: I know you're living with church planting in the 100 most influential cities, I think I would hope that God would give you steps in that overall hundred, some key cities that God has really underlined. I would want to see a whole raft of new leaders emerging. Thirdly, massive student works because you've have the biggest student population in the whole world in your country so I would want to see massive pumping student works and that flowing into a faster catalytic leadership production all over America and breakthrough into church size so some churches into the thousands and church planting from America overseas. Church planters being raised up here who are going to church plant all over the world!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wentzville and the City Switch Places

Twice a year Rick Hein and I have decided to switch places...I go and preach in Wentzville and he comes to preach in the City. The first one of the year will happen this Sunday, March 22.

We will both continue our series, Finding Jesus in the Old Testament.

By the way, there are a couple of new videos on the main page of the city site under "What is Jubilee all about" in the bottom right corner.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's Good to be Near God

For all of us it is inevitable...a person (or several persons) you know is (are) succeeding and you're not. This could be a c0-worker, a friend, a classmate, or even someone you don't know personally, but their success is right in front of you to highlight your lack of success. The worst of it all is that you know they are operating with an unfair advantage. Could be that they are a part of the "inner social circle" or maybe they are cheating, lying, or offering kick backs with money or even sex. The disparity between you in them pushes you to ask why and could even bring you to the point of temptation and cause you to want to give in.

If that's you, you have a friend in King David. In Psalms 73 he contrasted the success of others with his lack of success and painfully admitted in verse 2-3, " feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."

What do you do if that's you! If you are envious of the prosperity of the wicked?

One option would be to try to come up with a logical explanation. That's what David tried to do for 12 verses, but that got him no where. That's why in verse 16 he stated, "But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task."

When we focus on the why and how, we get wearisome and probably put ourselves in a more vulnerable place.

So what's the key? It's not the why and how that's the Who. Verse 17 says, "...I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end."

What's that mean? Verse 27, "For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you." Galatians 6:7 says, "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, so shall he reap."

Let us not be confused or misunderstand. God is true and loving. His ways can be trusted. Immediate success and immediate gratification cannot be our guide, but it needs to be the promises of God found in Scripture. Others who mock the ways of God will be called into account and those who put their trust in God will be rewarded. We discern these things in the presence of our God (verse 17).

Now before you begin to take the place of Judge...I encourage you to take a step back. In the midst of the "wicked" succeeding, verse 28 should be our posture. "But for me it is good to be near God. I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all your works."

So what do we do when we are tempted by the success of the wicked? We get near to God. And in God's presence, we don't develop contempt for those who are succeeding, but rather God fills our heart with love and grace for them and we end up "telling (them) of all (His) works."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Daylight Savings and Terry Virgo

This Sunday at Jubilee Church St. Louis City we have the privilege of having Terry Virgo as our guest speaker. Please take special note that it's Daylight Savings this Saturday night so you need set your clocks forward one hour.

On March 15, we'll continue our series "Finding Jesus in the Old Testament". You can download the first talk off our website.