Category: Ministry (Page 1 of 31)

Be the Light

Light isn’t what you see; it is the very element by which you see everything else. When you walk into a dark room and flip on the switch, you don’t really see the light as much as you see the coffee table let that’ll  kill your toe or the edge of the wall that will take out half your face. The light allows you to see reality, to see what’s really happening.

For us to respond to God’s call that we be the light of the world would, therefore, mean that we dispense light upon the people and things around us. We are not to be praised for being visible light; rather, we are to bring praise to those people and things upon whom and which we shine.

The light isn’t the glory; it’s the brilliance of the person or object seen due to the light.

Don’t be the critic. Be the light.

Don’t be the Scrooge. Be the light.

Don’t be the Bible-banging, Scripture-quoting Pharisee. Be the light.

Don’t be the accuser. Be the light.

Don’t be the naysayer. Be the light.

Life and light is always about how good we can make others appear. And feel. So, we have a lot of good work to do.

Be the light.

Peace,

Allan

Day One in Kalispell

The GCR Church in Midland, Texas is taking the next big step in our Gospel partnership with the MountainView Christian Church in Kalispell, Montana. Nineteen of us are spending this week among the mountains and valleys, lakes and pines, to work side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in reaching their community for Christ.

 

 

 

 

The partnership between our two churches was formed last October as part of GCR’s “Breakthrough” campaign. A gifted and dynamic young couple, Brad and Melissa Hooley, were planting Mountain View Christian through the Nexus church planting organization, and we were determined to do more in our support of Nexus by upping our game with these courageous church planters. We’re not content to just write checks to Nexus anymore; we are going to own our relationship with these missionaries physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and personally.

 

 

 

 

 

It started with a live-streamed communion service together between our two churches via Zoom on their second Sunday. It continued in January when Brad and Melissa and their four wonderful kids spent a long weekend with us in Midland. And today, we have put our bodies where our money is by flying to Kalispell and helping their congregation achieve their plans for outreach in their city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, we cleaned up around the city’s public pavilion, cleared brush and dead limbs around a nature trail, sanded and applied water seal to the wood tables and benches, and planted new flowers at the butterfly garden. This is a beautiful area regularly used by families, civic groups, schools, and nature lovers, but it’s been neglected over the years. Now, as part of their commitment to love their neighbors and to be a positive force in their community, MountainView Christian Church is taking care of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also did a lot of work at their brand new preschool, which is scheduled to open September 6. When the Hooleys were doing their homework on Kalispell last year, they identified a lack of daycares and pre-schools as a point of entry into the community. Opening and operating a pre-school will meet a real, tangible need in the name and the manner of our Lord Jesus. Fifty-one percent of the profit will be put in a church benevolence fund to be used for the community while the remaining 49-percent will be placed into a church building fund. Today we shampooed the carpets, pulled weeds, and removed the rotten landscape timbers bordering the playground, replacing them with brand new six-by-sixes and re-doing the mulch.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the work day was done, we walked the downtown strip in Kalispell and enjoyed some wonderful ice cream at Norm’s before heading to Brad’s parents’ house for an incredible dinner with the Hooleys and a dozen other members of MountainView Christian. Check out the picture of Mark playing pickleball in Dwight and Sharon’s driveway. Those mountains and lakes provide the backdrop for almost every scene in Kalispell — just breathtaking. What a delight to break bread with our brothers and sisters in Christ in such a gorgeous setting, to pray with these church-planters, to make connections with these good people who live 1,200 miles away from West Texas, and to thank God for what he’s doing in Montana.

We’re cramming a whole lot into these six days. Brad tells me we accomplished much more today than he expected, which means his bar had been set really low or we really killed it. Either way, we exceeded their expectations, so it’s a win for everybody. I’m always a little worried on things like this that we might be more of a burden on these busy people than a blessing. We were assured by all tonight that is not the case.

Peace,

Allan

Welcoming Jim Tuttle

We ordained the newest member of our ministry team yesterday here at GCR Church. Jim Tuttle comes to us from Lincoln, Nebraska where he has served for 25 years as the founder and Lead Minister at Heartlands Church, to be our Spiritual Formation Minister. Jim brings his wealth of wisdom and experience and his laid-back, relaxed, and extremely relational personality to our adult Bible classes and small groups, to lead us more fully into transformation and mission, into being changed by God to love like Jesus.

In addition to his warm personality and his obvious love for our Lord and devotion to the ways of Jesus, what I see in Jim is that he’s a church guy. He knows church. He loves church. He understands church. You know, church is a funny thing. It’s strange. Church looks funny and talks funny and walks funny and thinks funny and acts funny. And Jim understands it. He knows how it works and what won’t fly. He cares deeply for the people who make up church and he works tirelessly to include the whole church in what God is doing in us and through us to his glory.

Jim’s first official day on the job, today, happens to be the first Monday of the month, the day of our monthly ministers retreat. For twelve years now I’ve made it a habit to host our ministers for breakfast on the first Monday of each month for a time in Word and Prayer, mutual burden sharing, big-picture planning, and group bonding and encouragement. Today, we spent some of our time equipping Jim for what’s in front of him. We want him to be prepared, we don’t want there to be any surprises. So we told him what he needs to know about the others in the group.

We told him that on Ryan’s birthday month or if Ryan happens to win the football pool or the basketball bracket, the monthly staff lunch will be at the food court at the Midland Mall. We told him that Ashlee’s sweet demeanor hides a fierce justice-seeking spirit and that whatever side Ashlee is on, she’s on it out of a righteous indignation and you need to get on board. We told him that J.E. sometimes walks barefoot around the church offices (gross). We told him that Cory’s texts will take up 3-4 scrolls, that Tim likes to come across as gruff but he’s really a sensitive, caring, loving individual, and that I sometimes take Ted Nugent’s name in vain.

I am thankful to God for bringing Jim and Judy to GCR. They are going to make us a better church for the Gospel mission here in Midland to our Lord’s eternal glory and praise.

We spent 45-minutes together in the Psalms and prayed for people in our small groups and ministries at GCR, for each other and our families, and for our church. We spent an hour looking at the overall state of things as we are six-months into our Breakthrough campaign and halfway through our Worship Center construction. We evaluated the current conditions with our classes and groups, with attendance and giving, with guests and new members, with the formation zones and overall communication. And we finalized most of the framework for our GCR 60th Anniversary and Homecoming on October 15. And we shared a serious breakfast casserole Susie Neale cooked for us.

We closed out our monthly ministers retreat with a benediction Ryan brought to us from Every Moment Holy. I recommend this prayer for any group of ministers or church committee:

Our lives are so small, O Lord,
Our vision so limited,
our courage so frail,
our hours so fleeting.
Therefore give us grace and guidance for the journey ahead.

We are gathered here because we believe
that we are called together into a work
we cannot yet know the fullness of.
Still, we trust the voice of the One who has called us.

And so we offer to you, O God, these things:
Our dreams, our plans, our vision.
Shape them as you will.
Our moments and our gifts.
May they be invested toward bright, eternal ends.

Richly bless the work before us, Father.
Shepherd us well lest we grow enamored
of our own accomplishment or entrenched in old habit.
Instead, let us listen for your voice,
our hearts ever open to the quiet beckonings
of your Spirit in this endeavor.
Let us in true humility and poverty of
spirit remain ever ready to move at the
impulse of your love in paths of your design.

May our acts of service and creation,
frail and wanting as they are,
be met and multiplied by the mysterious workings of your Spirit
who weaves all things together toward
a redemption more good and glorious
than yet we have eyes to see or courage to hope for.
May our love and our labors now echo your love
and your labors, O Lord.

Let all that we do here,
in these our brief lives,
in this our brief moment to love,
in this the work you have ordained for this community,
flower in winsome and beautiful foretaste
of greater glories yet to come.

O Spirit of God, now shape our hearts.
O Spirit of God, now guide our hands.
O Spirit of God, now build your Kingdom among us.

Amen.

Transformed on Mission

When we decide to get involved with what God is doing and the ways God is doing it, he changes us. Our Lord transforms us when we personally engage the mission.

“…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” ~Ephesians 4:12-14

Being changed by God into the image of Jesus with ever-increasing glory is a result of increasingly doing for others. Sacrificing and serving others. Philippians 2 says we should pursue the mind of Christ or the attitude of Christ, and ties it directly to considering the needs of others more important than our own. This is Jesus! He said it: “I did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life.” That’s the mission. And when you engage, you’ll be changed.

Actually doing ministry, having a mission – not just talking about it, studying it, or agreeing it’s good – changes you. The fastest way to get out of your spiritual rut is to dive head-first into our Lord’s mission.

New experiences challenge our beliefs and assumptions. Ministry, when you’re in over your head, forces you to face your fears and it surprises you with resources and strength from God you didn’t know you had. Hearing the stories first-hand, seeing the places, and meeting the people makes the needs and the opportunities more real. The Scriptures become more alive when you connect them to real ministry. Being on mission pushes us out of our comfort zones and into the places where God is really changing the world. And it’ll change you.

To empty yourself for the mission of Christ like that feels good. You know it feels good to serve others because you’ve done it. And the reason it feels so good is because it’s our God-created and God-ordained purpose. He made us to serve others. And when we do that, we are becoming like Christ. That’s why it’s so powerful. When we serve others, we live better, we worship better, we pray better, we love better – everything’s better. It changes you.

“As each part does its work, we will in all things grow up into Christ.” ~Ephesians 4:16

Peace,

Allan

No Solo Missions

Our God is on a mission to save the world. But he has no interest in doing it by himself. God doesn’t do solo missions. He’s not interested in that.

When God decides to tell us how he’s going to restore the world, how he’s going to fix the problem of sin and death, he lets us know clearly that we’re in on it with him. He’s not going to do it alone. He recruits Abraham to join him. “Go to the place I will show you. All the peoples of earth will be blessed through you.”

God calls Moses. “I have come down,” he says, “to rescue my people. But I am sending you to do it.”

God calls Joshua. “I am giving this promised land to the people. But you’re going to lead them and do all the fighting.”

God saves his people Israel out of exile, not for their own sakes, but for the purposes of participating in his global mission:

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles (nations), that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” ~Isaiah 49:6

Then God decides to show us in person exactly what he’s doing and how he wants it done by coming here in the flesh and blood of Jesus, so we can see it and understand it. Jesus says, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Well, what do we see in Jesus? He calls the apostles and recruits the disciples to partner with him in bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. They pray together, “Your Kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And that’s exactly what happens.

Jesus heals the sick because there’s no disease in heaven. He feeds the poor because there’s no hunger in heaven. Jesus raises the dead because there are no cemeteries in heaven. He turns the other cheek because there is no violence in heaven. He eats and drinks with everybody because there are no divisions between people in heaven. That’s the mission. And our God is not doing it solo. On that last night, Christ Jesus sends his disciples out.

“As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do the same things I’ve been doing. In fact, you’ll do even greater things because I will live inside you.” 

“Remember, you didn’t choose me; I chose you!”

Every one of us is on God’s mission. None of us is exempt. According to Matthew 25, Jesus says on that last day the King is going to judge us according to who was on the mission and who wasn’t. Our God is on a mission to bring the fullness of his eternal Kingdom to this earth. And he refuses to do it by himself.

Peace,

Allan

How Do You Read It?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…”

For I needed songs and you sang them to me acappella. I needed your communion meal and you ate it every Sunday. I needed a church and you built a building with the correct name on the sign. I needed sound doctrine and you wrote judgmental articles. I needed distinctions and you drew rigid lines of fellowship. I needed strict obedience to laws which never came out of my mouth and you vigorously kept them and enforced them on others.

No.

“…For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

The ones who are blessed by the Father, the ones who will receive the inheritance, the ones for whom the Kingdom is prepared are those who reflect the glory of God as revealed in our Lord Jesus; those who show grace and compassion, love and faithfulness, patience, mercy, and forgiveness.

Peace,

Allan

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