Emissary

The Voice commentators suggest, “Paul describes the gospel of Jesus by bringing in the good news on two levels: On a human level, the good news is about God’s Son, David’s descendant, entering the world to begin the task of restoring it from the damage sin and death have left behind. But the resurrection of Jesus from the dead takes Jesus’ sonship to a new level. Now the Son-of-God-in-Power, the One called Lord and Master” (1423-1424).

The Apostle Paul writes, “And here’s what He’s done: He has graced us and sanctioned us as His emissaries whose mission is to spread the one true and obedient faith to all people in the name of Jesus. This includes you: you have been called by Jesus, God’s Anointed” (Romans 1:5, The Voice).

This includes you. Wherever you are. Whatever you have to do. Whomever you must do it for. Pray with and for people. Care for people in tangible ways. Share your story with people – but make sure to center it on the Greater Story. Invite people to be a part of a community that believes in the Kingdom. Share and show the gospel – good news AND good works.

Believe this…just as the Father has send the Son, the Son has send the Spirit, and the Spirit (through Christ) is sending the church. Get up and go.

Emissary

Mirror

Tonight I had the opportunity and privilege, along with one of our lead team members, to join pastors of the Tri-Cities and Yakima region at an Area Meeting. I am overwhelmed, time and time again, at many of these leaders’ hospitality and support shown towards us.

I am determined to do this church plant in the right way and with the right heart. I want to honor the past and move into the future. It was in October of last year that a few close friends joined me on Jump-Off Joe to pray for the Tri-Cities. For me, most of that time on the hill was taken up by praying for the churches already in existence in the community. I have no desire to undo the work that has already (and is still) being done. In fact, a few of those churches are still very near and dear to my heart. Life Church Tri-Cities was where I was discipled, baptized, mentored, and married. Pasco Faith Assembly tried their very hardest to help a family member of mine who needed it the most. Kennewick City Church was where my father-in-law spent five years as youth pastor.

My hope is to honestly compliment and cooperate – never to compete. I know that most church planter says this (and some do the exact opposite) – so I have to earn (and keep) people’s trust. I also know that I will not do everything right nor can I do all that they expect or ask of me. But I will do my very best to show honor and respect – treating those church as the brothers and sisters in Christ that they are.

The Bible reads, “Listen to your leaders, who have spoken God’s word to you. Notice the fruits of their lives and mirror their faith” (Hebrews 13:7, The Voice).

I went down to the Tri-Cities again last December to share with each of the Assemblies of God lead pastors in the Tri-Cities of my intentions to plant. I wanted them to hear the news directly from me. So many of them graciously responded in prayer, encouragement, and kindness. Just one more reason to have a fellowship – to voluntarily cooperate in a movement larger than myself.

There is so much to learn from many of these leaders – several of them far more experienced than me. For example, I want to meet with Darrel Johnsen and glean from his passion for leadership development. I hope to go to Wes Lindseth and to learn to fast and pray the way that he does. Different churches – cultures, methods, communities, languages, styles – but the same body.

I don’t know everything. Far from the case. But we hope to do exactly what we are supposed to do in trusting obedience to Christ.

Mirror

Contagious

Today, David Brakke (the lead pastor at Maltby Christian Assembly), began a new series called “Be Contagious” – focusing on the importance of giving away all that we have been given.

The Bible reads, “Then [the lepers] said to one another, ‘We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.’ So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, ‘We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were.’ Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king’s household. And the king rose in the night and said to his servants, ‘I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.’ And one of his servants said, ‘Let some men take five of the remaining horses, seeing that those who are left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel who have already perished. Let us send and see.’ So they took two horsemen, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, ‘Go and see.’ So they went after them as far as the Jordan, and behold, all the way was littered with garments and equipment that the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king” (2 Kings 7:3-10, ESV).

It was the lepers who found the treasure. Those who had the least were given the most – and given a choice whether to share it with others. They lived outside the city walls. Outcasts. And yet they were the ones, by chance, to first discover God’s miraculous victory over the enemy. And they knew that it was wrong to keep it to themselves. They knew that a city, as undeserving as they were, would die without nourishment.

Pastor David asked, “Have we hoarded the gospel for so long that we have lost all wonder and gratitude?

Contagious

Uncovered

I would recommend a book written by Joe S. McIlhaney Jr., Freda McKissic Bush, and Stan Guthrie titled, “Girls Uncovered: New Research on What America’s Sexual Culture Does to Young Women.” I was provided a copy of the book in a special pre-release directly from Moody Publishers for review purposes. You can pre-order a paperback copy for under $10 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Uncovered-Research-Americas-Culture/dp/0802462987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330322601&sr=8-1) or directly from the publisher at http://www.moodypublishers.com/pub_productDetail.aspx?id=41830&pid=78818.

The most enlightening chapter was focused on emotional attachment. The authors mention the power behind the hormone known as oxytocin which “is released when a women is in labor. It circulates via the blood to her uterus and helps make her contractions strong enough to push her baby out. But oxytocin doesn’t stop there. It continues to be produced after delivery. It causes the mother’s milk to be ‘let down’ and continues to do so for as long as she nurses. But from birth on oxytocin plays yet another amazing role: It appears to help the mother ‘connect’ or ‘bond’ with her baby. It has been shown that when the baby and mother are skin to skin immediately after birth, a large amount of oxytocin releases from the mother’s pituitary. This seems to facilitate bonding to the baby” (60).”

The authors suggests, “It is not just a play on words to say that sex and connectedness are integral to each other. As a matter of fact, sex IS an intense experience in the mind – an experience of deep connection. We mentioned earlier that oxytocin is released when a baby and mother are skin to skin, and that oxytocin causes an intense emotional attachment. Interestingly, oxytocin does not only release into a woman’s body when a baby is born. It also happens when she has close physical contact with a man, such as hugging, holding hands, massaging, or cuddling – and, of course, during sex. Research seems to show that oxytocin in these cases has the same impact on her brain function as it does with cuddling a baby – the affected girl bonds to the guy” (61).

In conclusion, the authors propose, “Sex, including the attachment it can produce, can be and often is hijacked from its original purpose. As with almost any human characteristic, such as our need to eat, distortion of a healthy drive can cause real and sometimes life-altering problems. Sex can be healthy and fulfilling or unhealthy and destructive” (62).

Official Book Description: Any parent can identify with the feeling that girls growing up in America face a treacherous future; Uncovered Girls unveils the facts. In a follow up to their eye-opening release, Hooked, obstetricians Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush present stunning scientific research on the development of young girls in America’s increasingly reckless sexual culture. They survey the reality of prevalent sexual behaviors and attitudes as well as their psychological, social, physical, and spiritual effects. Despite the harrowing facts revealed by their studies, McIlhaney and Bush give us hope through their expertise as physicians and parents of daughters. Girls Uncovered provides fundamental wisdom and practical advice to help parents, counselors, and church leaders guide young girls safely through the challenges they will face so they can achieve their potential and enjoy full health, hope and happiness.

Official Author Biographies: JOE S. MCILHANEY JR., M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist. In 2001, Dr. McIlhaney was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. He also serves on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. McIlhaney has co-authored over six books including Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children, and 1001 Health-Care Questions Women Ask. Dr. McIlhaney resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, Marion.
About Mr. & Mrs. Freda McKissic Bush, MD

FREDA MCKISSIC BUSH, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and a partner in private practice with East Lakeland OB-GYN Associates in Jackson, Mississippi. She currently serves as Medical Director of the Center for Pregnancy Choices Metro Jackson and the Henry M. Johnson Women’s Resource Crisis Pregnancy Center. Freda spends much of her time speaking on sexuality and social behavior education. Her passion is to help women “raise a standard” to become who they were created to be. To that end, she teaches and encourages a lifestyle of abstinence until marriage and fidelity within marriage. She co-authored her first book, Hooked, with Dr. Joe S. McIlhaney, in 2008.
With Stan Guthrie

STAN GUTHRIE is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine. His most recent book, All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, was released by Baker. He is author of Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers.

Uncovered

Map

As I have said before, a great resource for you as your pray for the global church is Johnstone’s “The Future of the Global Church” (read my review at http://justinfarley.blogspot.com/2012/01/johnstone.html).

Along with that, Operation World (http://www.operationworld.org/ or http://justinfarley.blogspot.com/2011/07/operation.html) has released a map of words that might assist you on how to pray for the future of Christ’s church.

Five Ways to Use Your Share-a-Word Map
In addition to providing you with the map above, we have also included this list of five ways you can use the Share a Word map:

1) Use it as a background on your computer to remind you to pray for the global church.

2) Print it out and post it on your bathroom mirror or your refrigerator. Pray for the global church as you get ready for work or prepare dinner.

3) Consider doing a presentation about praying for the global church to encourage others to begin praying. Use the map in your PowerPoint to illustrate what people think about the future of the global church.

4) Use it as a conversation starter with your kids. Talk about the words and what they mean. Think about what a church with those descriptions would be like. If you have small children, give them a copy and some crayons so they can color as you talk.

5) Use it with your small group or Sunday school during prayer time. Have each person choose a word and either praise God for what He is doing or pray for a need associated with that word.

Map

Assembly

The Bible reads, “So, my friends, Jesus by His blood gives us courage to enter the most holy place. He has created for us a new and living way through the curtain, that is, through His flesh. Since we have a great High Priest who presides over the house of God, let us draw near with true hearts full of faith, with hearts rinsed clean of any evil conscience, and with bodies cleansed with pure water. Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering, since the One who promised it to us is faithful. Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches” (Hebrews 10:19-25, The Voice).

The Voice commentators write, “The word translated ‘church’ in English Bibles means literally ‘assembly of the called’; it implies that members have said ‘yes’ to God’s call in their lives. We assemble because we are called into being by God Himself. Some people, for reasons only they know, choose to live their Christian faiths in isolation. When they do, they cut themselves off from the gifts, encouragement, and vitality of others. And perhaps, just as tragically, they deprive the church of the grace and life God has invested in them” (2114).

We are not planting Blue Bridge because the Tri-Cities needs another worship gathering. There are plenty of those already in town – and many of them are far better than what our team could probably ever develop or devise. But we do see the need for another community of “called-out” ones to gather together on Sunday that they might scatter throughout the city the rest of the week.

I envision a gathering of believers who declare loud and clear that their allegiance is to Jesus and his Kingdom – that he is their Lord. That they are reminded that he is God and they are not. They worship the One who is Savior, Healer, Baptizer, and Coming King. That such an encounter is experiential (God does not just exist – but he speaks and acts on our behalf) but is never merely an experience. An encounter. Outward signs confirm inward works. There is value in a gathering.

That being said, the gathering will never become the Movement. The church is never the building (or worship service). So the majority of our time, energy, and finances cannot go into the gathering when the going is so much more vital.

It is both/and. Not one or other.

Assembly

Siblings

Tonight’s Merge Student Gathering featured a message by one of our interns, Blair Hopkins, on “Sibling Rivalry” (the second part to our Modern Family series).

The Bible reads, “Let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1, ESV). Hopkins used the narrative of Joseph and his brothers to illustrate the various dysfunctions that are often on display between brothers and sisters. Competition. Comparisons. Jealousy. Anger. Fear. Violence. Bitterness. Deception.

I was reminded of all of the times that I used my words to hurt my family rather than to help me. Why do I do that?

We know our siblings in ways that few others do and therefore are able to wound in them in ways few others can. That is not how it is supposed to be.

Why do we tend to put our best face on and our best foot forward for complete strangers but then offer our leftovers to loved-ones? Maybe it is in the privacy (and reality) of our own homes that we finally discover what we are really made of. Jesus said that anyone could love their friends – but the mark of a true disciple is how they treat their enemies. I know what he was saying and obviously agree. But I would also say that often the ones hardest to truly love are those we know will love us know matter what.

Siblings