Archive for January, 2009

Great Scottish Preachers

I think you might enjoy these MP3s from the Christian Life Conference at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis. Sinclair Ferguson and Alistair Begg are excellent preachers and are both from Scotland. So, at the very least, you’ll enjoy hearing their accents!

Pastors’ Luncheon: Sinclair Ferguson – Preaching Christ in All of Scripture

Session 1: Sinclair Ferguson – The Seed of the Woman (Genesis 3:1-15)

Session 2: Alistair Begg – The True Prophet (John 4:21-26)

Session 3: Alistair Begg – The Suffering Servant (Luke 24:39-46)

Session 4: Sinclair Ferguson – The Son of Man (Daniel 7:9-14)

Session 5: Sinclair Ferguson – The Great High Priest (Hebrews 2:5-18)

Session 6: Alistair Begg – The Divine King (Luke 19:28-40)

Session 7: Alistair Begg –The Lamb on the Throne (Revelation 5)

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Little is Much When God’s in It

There’s a song that I’ve been listening to that I just can’t get out of my head. It’s by a band called Downhere, and the song is called “Little is Much.” You can download this song (and the entire album it’s on) for free here. I love this song because it’s an encouragement that God can use small things for his glory in a powerful way. Here’s an example:

Little is much when God’s in it
And no one can fathom the plans He holds
Little is much when God’s in it
He changes the world with the seeds we sow
Little is much, little is much

Consider a Kingdom in the smallest seed
Consider that giants fall to stones and slings
Consider a child in a manger
Consider the story isn’t over
What can be done with what you still have?

This is a great reminder that God can work through small things and things that seem insignificant and powerless — even you and me. Little is much when God’s in it.

Download the album free here.

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Building Second Mile’s Culture

One thing that I get asked a lot from people who are wanting to be part of Second Mile is, “What can I do to help?”

Here’s my typical answer: “Well, there are a lot of things that can be done in terms of tasks — there are many opportunities to volunteer on our various ministry teams — and these tasks are really important. But what I really want you to do is help us build a culture that will be something we’re happy about 10 years from now.”

This is so important because every group of people has a culture (some have called it a “code” or “DNA”) that reveals who they really are and what they really care about. This culture is often unspoken and subtle–it’s more felt and experienced than articulated. And, regardless of what a group’s stated values are, their culture is what their actual, lived-out values are. One definition for culture is “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a” group of people (Merriam-Webster).

I think it’s likely that the culture that is created at Second Mile in the first six months will be the culture that exists six years from now, even though the programs, structures, and people of the church will be very different. That’s why I’m exhorting people not just to do some tasks, but to build a culture of love, grace, servanthood, hospitality, warmth, authenticity, community, compassion for the hurting, and life-transforming passion for God.

How could you help build a great culture? Here are a few ideas:

  • Get white-hot for God. Do whatever it takes to stoke your passion for Jesus. Repent of sin. Pray. Dig into Scripture. Serve those around you. Tell somebody about what Jesus has done for you. Do whatever it takes.
  • Depend on God’s Spirit every moment. Scripture tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” That would be a pretty good culture, eh?
  • Cultivate a servant’s heart. Do anything you can to help anyone at anytime. Serving people is one of those things that makes us more and more like Jesus.
  • Be generous with your time, your resources, and your money. Look for opportunities to bless people with the resources God has given you. You’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
  • Have somebody over for dinner. Find a person you don’t know very well yet and open your home to them with love and hospitality.
  • Smile and laugh. Enjoy your life. Create opportunities for fun. Laugh at yourself.
  • Extend care to someone in pain. Hurt and brokenness are all around us. Find somebody experiencing pain and walk alongside them with care and compassion.

Building a culture is both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. I think we’re on a good track and our leaders and team have been incredible. Let’s keep it up and build a community that loves and honors God with everything that we are.

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Dwelling in the Gospel

We talked on Sunday at Second Mile about how the word “gospel” means “good news.” We discussed how Mark’s account is good news about Jesus as the rescuer of humanity and the Son of God. The gospel is the central message of Christianity. But the question is, “What is the gospel?” Now, maybe you’re not really asking that question because you think you have a good grasp on what the gospel is. But, you should know, there’s a lot of discussion among theologians these days about what the gospel is.

Part of this is because it seems that the way biblical writers describe the gospel are so different. Consider

  • Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the synoptic gospels) describe the gospel as the “kingdom of God.”
  • John describes the gospel as “eternal life.”
  • Paul describes the gospel as “justification” or being made right before God.

So which is it? Is there just one gospel or are there three?

These are the questions that are tackled in this excellent lecture by Tim Keller, “Dwelling in the Gospel.” It is a fascinating message that will expand your understanding of the Scripture and will probably highlight some aspects of the gospel that you might sometimes overlook.

Click here for the audio.

For more on the gospel and its implications, click here.

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Grand Opening Eve

Well, it’s an amazing and exciting thing to think that tomorrow marks the Grand Opening of Second Mile Church. Because of the ministry that’s been happening it doesn’t really feel like tomorrow is the start of this new body, but it still feels like a big deal to us.

We’re hoping for a big day and the chance to meet a bunch of wonderful people. God is on the move and we’re just thrilled to be part of it. If you think about it, pray for us tomorrow and pray for the gospel of Jesus Christ to go out in strength, power, and clarity. Here’s a list of what I’ve been praying for (from a previous post), and I hope you’ll join me:

I pray…

  • That Second Mile would be a faithful group of people who love Jesus Christ more than anything.
  • That Second Mile would be a catalyst for dozens of other new churches that would saturate the Williams Gateway/Queen Creek communities.
  • That thousands of people would come to personally know Jesus through our ministry.
  • That Second Mile would experience miracles and answers to prayer that can only be explained by the power of God.
  • That Second Mile would cling to the gospel of grace not just for salvation but for daily renewal.
  • That Second Mile would be an agent of restoration, particularly in broken marriages and families.
  • That Second Mile’s leadership would make right decisions even when they are costly or unpopular.
  • That Second Mile would be such a valuable part of the community that people who disagree with us would still be thankful that we’re here.
  • That Second Mile would be the most generous, most sacrificial, most joyful, and most service-oriented people in the community.
  • That Second Mile’s treasure would always be Jesus himself and that we wouldn’t settle for just doing church.

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The King & His Kingdom

quicklink_kingdomThis Sunday is the Grand Opening of Second Mile and also the beginning of a new series through the Gospel of Mark, “The King and His Kingdom.” It should be an exciting study.

The mission of Second Mile Church is to “embody Jesus’ mission and message in every place that God sends us.” The Bible refers to the followers of Jesus as his “ambassadors” (2 Cor 5:20) and expects us to faithfully represent him to the world. In order to faithfully live out this mission we must grow intimately familiar with who Jesus is and what he has done. Thus, it makes sense to have our first weekly study focus on the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, as described in the Gospel of Mark.

My prayer for this series is that God will use it to deepen our love for Jesus and that our hearts would be delighted by his majesty, power, humility, trustworthiness, sacrifice and victory. Only as we grow satisfied in Jesus will we be able to bring his love and grace to our hurting world.

Also, we’ll have a companion study guide for individuals and groups that we’ll hand out on Sunday. It will also be available for PDF download at the series website.

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Touching the Community

This past weekend was a great time of extending love to our community and inviting people to the Grand Opening next Sunday.

On Saturday, we visited a number of homes nearby the location of our Sunday gatherings and invited people to join us. We met a bunch of friendly people (only a few flat out rejections) and even had a number of people say they’d check it out. It was great to see people on their turf in the place they feel most comfortable. It was also a great reminder that there are just tons of neighborhoods with people who have real needs that can only be fully satisfied in Jesus.

On Sunday, we did a Servant Evangelism Carwash. It was a cold, cloudy day so it made it a little bit challenging, but we had a good time with the team and met another group of friendly people, a good chunk of whom were even looking for a church. We love this community and getting to serve in a practical way was really fun.

God had blessed us so abundantly in Jesus and we really hope that his love overflows into this community.

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