Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Best Posts of 2015

At the end of the day we will all being saying goodbye to 2015, and embracing the celebration of ringing in a new year. Some of us can't wait to move on from 2015 and others of us may be anxious as to what the new year holds. 

Before we officially move on, let's take one more look at the top posts on this blog from 2015. The ones that you, the readers made the most special. Thanks to you all and a Happy New Year!

10. 4 Mission Motivators

This posts is based on a brief book on missions by Dr. David Alan Black that challenges readers by asking two questions. First, would you like to become part of the Big Story of what God is doing worldwide? Second, would you like to be on mission for Him? He then lays out four powerful motives that are necessary in order to have the courage to fully embrace and answers these questions with a resounding YES!

9. Questions to Help Facilitate Disciple-Making Movements

These five questions can be asked and answered by anyone, these are not for some elite level of seminary trained Christians. In other words you don't necessarily need to change the routine of your normal life in order to implement these, instead you have freedom to start asking these questions and see what happens as you answer them, you may be surprised! 

8. 5 Ways to Help Returning Missionaries Part 1 and Part 2

This is a post that I have wanted to write for about a year now, but wanted to wait until my family had returned from life overseas and been back for at least a year. Call it my own pride, but this was mostly so that people wouldn't feel sorry for us or think that we expected these things from them. As much as possible my family wanted relationships to normalize. Last month marked one year exactly since we returned from catalyzing church plants in S. Asia and it was a year full of transitions, disappointment, unmet expectations, blessings, and the favor of God.The only people who will truly ever understand you are those that have also been sent out and experienced what you have gone through. This has led me to list 5 ways to help returning missionaries.

7. Everyday People Equipped for Ministry

This post is not meant to be against seminary, as I cherish the time I spent in seminary and may go on to the next level eventually. But it is meant to challenge the church as a whole in what it means to be equipped for ministry and to break down the distinction between "clergy" and "laity." I would love to hear any personal stories, testimonies, or thoughts in regards to every disciple being equipped for ministry.

6. Viewing Every Aspect of Life as Ministry

The act of disciple making is the calling of every follower of Jesus. So do not make the mistake of thinking that if you are seminary trained or a leader in the church that you are serving God more faithfully than the stay at home mom, barista, bartender, or salesperson from your church. Each of us in Christ are called to live a life on mission that is about the business of disciple making

5. Freedom by Grace through Faith

In Galatians 5:5 it tells us that those that are free live by faith through the Spirit. This shows us that we are to accept righteousness by faith through Christ, not by the works of ourselves. We are to point to the work that Christ did. The Judaizers on the other hand practice works so that they may obtain righteousness, which is something that will never end because it can not be obtained. Darrin Patrick described this well when he said, "You are under the law and not grace when you take your moral performance and offer it as your reason for salvation, this is your flesh, and you need to kill it!"

4. 30 Lesson on My 30th Birthday

In this post I reflect on leaving the decade that was my initial entrance into adulthood and enter full-blown adult life as I turn 30. Many of you have probably noticed my lack of writing recently and much of that is due to the stage of life that I am in and the fact that this is more of a hobby. Either way, I appreciate my faithful readers and wanted to share some fun and encouraging lessons in my thirty years on earth.

3. Rest and Freedom in Anxiousness

The last few years I have had to make some major decisions regarding my life and the life of my family. These included what city and country to live, how long to serve as church planters to a foreign nation that became home, what ministry opportunities to take and which ones to turn down. During many of these I found myself in a state of anxiousness with the weight of the decision on my shoulders.

2. Lives Marked by Indecisive Minds or Undivided Hearts

Although I have remained confident in my calling, I have been seeking complete confirmation that I am doing the right things, before taking the leap of faith in them. There is something freeing about admitting something that you struggle with and if I am being completely transparent I do feel at times that I am in disobedience for my lack of acting on opportunities that God has placed in front of me because of my indecisive mind.

1. Why Did You Return? A Growing Burden for My Own Country.

I returned to the U.S. with a growing burden for the peoples in my own country to know and worship Jesus. To see people from my own country experience the freedom and family found at the table Jesus has prepared. I want to be used by God to see here in my own country, what he used me to see there in India. This is the reason that I joined the Table Network because this is their heart as well.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 5 Christian Books Read in 2015

Although I have been out of any formal education for a couple of years, I plan on always learning as a father, pastor, leader, and missionary. Typically I read 2-3 books at a time as I have a never ending list of books that I want to read, books publishers give me to read and review, and ones on topics of interests. This has led to me being more discerning in the books that I read as I realize I will never read them all, but here are the top 5 Christian books I read this past year (not necessarily written in 2015).

1. The Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary) by Scot McKnight

Emphasizing the historical distance between the New Testament and our contemporary culture, The Sermon on the Mount by Scot McKnight, part of the new The Story of God Bible Commentary series, offers helpful contextual insights for those seeking to discern how to live out the Bible in today’s world.

2. A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table by Tim Chester

Chester argues that meals are also deeply theological—an important part of Christian fellowship and mission. He observes that the book of Luke is full of stories of Jesus at meals. These accounts lay out biblical principles. Chester notes, “The meals of Jesus represent something bigger.” Six chapters in A Meal with Jesus show how they enact grace, community, hope, mission, salvation, and promise.

3. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller

Most Christians—including pastors—struggle to talk about their faith in a way that applies the power of the Christian gospel to change people’s lives. Timothy Keller is known for his insightful, down-to-earth sermons and talks that help people understand themselves, encounter Jesus, and apply the Bible to their lives. In this accessible guide for pastors and laypeople alike, Keller helps readers learn to present the Christian message of grace in a more engaging, passionate, and compassionate way.

4. Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore



















 
As the culture changes all around us, it is no longer possible to pretend that we are a Moral Majority. That may be bad news for America, but it can be good news for the church. What's needed now, in shifting times, is neither a doubling-down on the status quo nor a pullback into isolation. Instead, we need a church that speaks to social and political issues with a bigger vision in mind: that of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Christianity seems increasingly strange, and even subversive, to our culture, we have the opportunity to reclaim the freakishness of the gospel, which is what gives it its power in the first place. 

5. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller





















With his trademark insights and energy, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations, such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas from The Boyd Family

Merry Christmas from the Boyd Family! The blog will be on a bit of vacation over the next week as I slow down and enjoy the season with family and friends; but be on the lookout for new content in 2016 along with some big announcements. 


In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:1-14 ESV)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Because of Who He is

In my years of ministry I have been privileged to work with a number of different ministries and churches. The International Mission Board is one of those agencies that are doing more globally to make disciples and plant churches than any other agency that I know. During the Christmas season they take up a special offering to help continue funding the mission that God has called them to. If you are part of the Great Commission Baptists I ask that you prayerfully consider where you are spending your money this Christmas season and consider giving sacrificially to something such as this that will have eternal value. And if you are not part of the Great Commission Baptists and you need a place to give then what a better opportunity than one that is helping make disciples and plant churches globally.



We are God's missionary people, sharing the only hope for this broken world. That is why we send, why we go and why we give ... because God is worthy of the worship of all people.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

30 Lessons On My 30th Birthday

Today I leave the decade that was my initial entrance into adulthood and enter full-blown adult life as I turn 30. Many of you have probably noticed my lack of writing recently and much of that is due to the stage of life that I am in and the fact that this is more of a hobby. Either way, I appreciate my faithful readers and wanted to share some fun and encouraging lessons in my thirty years on earth.

1. Resting in Jesus is truly the best thing that you can ever do.

2. My wife is absolutely my biggest supporter, best friend, and way beyond what I deserve.

3. Children are hard work but worth it, and a blessing from the Lord.

4. Travel as much as you can before 30, but don't let age ever stop you.

5. The Whole 30 diet works.

6. Black, third wave coffee, really is better.

7. 4 more years of school (college) was worth the time and sacrifice.

8. Few childhood friends will stick with you for the long haul.

9. People are constantly coming in and out of your life just like seasons.

10. Living in another country taught me more about myself than any classroom ever did.

11. Don't let other people define you or tell you what you are supposed to do.

12. Listen to God above all others.

13. Never stop learning whether formally or informally.

14. Always be pouring into someone else and always have someone pouring into you.

15. A bachelor's degree and two master degrees do not guarantee you a job.

16. You will never make everyone happy and you aren't supposed to.

17. Commit to a local church and community and go deep there.

18. Use every opportunity as a learning experience.

18. Slowing down around the table with your family is one of the best things you can do in your day.

19. Take a weekly Sabbath and a regular spiritual retreat, you need both.

20. Never stop dating your spouse and make date night a regular routine.

21. There is no substitute for eating healthy.

22. NC BBQ is the best. Period.

23. The world really is a messed up place and the only thing that can change that is the gospel of Jesus Christ as it works in peoples lives.

24. There is something special about waking up early to enjoy the quiet morning before starting your day.

25. Nobody has life figured out at 30 and if they claim they do they are full of it.

26. Pursue your calling from God until you are on the map where he wants you doing what he has designed you to do.

27. Social media is a great tool, but also a huge time waster.

28. Apple products trump every other related company.

29. Form rhythms and routines in your norms and networks in order to build strong relationships that point people to Jesus.

30. I still need the gospel preached to me daily.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Introducing Oliver Matthew Boyd 9.21.2015

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.    -James 1:17

My family is happy to announce that on September 21st our family grew from four to five as we welcomed Oliver Matthew into the world at eight pounds, 20.5 inches long. People always want to know where the choice of a name came from and the meaning behind the name so here is the brief reason and meaning behind his name.

In English the meaning of the name Oliver is: The olive tree. The biblical olive tree symbolizes fruitfulness and beauty and dignity. 'Extending an olive branch' signifies an offer of peace. We chose this name for few reasons. First, because it is a name that you do not hear often and one that we naturally liked. Second, because we desire our son to have a name with a strong meaning. Third, we desire to see Oliver be a man of dignity that keeps peace with others as he loves Jesus.

The name Matthew is a Hebrew name meaning Gift of the Lord. Oliver is our newest gift of the Lord to our family and to the world as we are praying he will surrender to the calling of the Lord early in his life. 

Together the name Oliver Matthew makes up a name meaning a "peaceful gift of the Lord." We are thankful and blessed to have this newest gift in our lives and pray that he will be a gift to others. 


We our excited as our family has grown from four to five and ask that you pray for us as we go through many transitions in the coming days. We know that we have been given a great responsibility in raising Oliver Matthew and seek to raise him in a godly way. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rest/Freedom in the Anxiousness

Credit to Quaker Oats Live
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. -Psalm 32:8

The last few years I have had to make some major decisions regarding my life and the life of my family. These included what city and country to live, how long to serve as church planters to a foreign nation that became home, what ministry opportunities to take and which ones to turn down. During many of these I found myself in a state of anxiousness with the weight of the decision on my shoulders.

Often during these decisions I have to make about the future I will first turn to my parents, mentors, or even friends for wise counsel and ignore the Lord. I have learned that while going to the above is not a bad thing and there is wisdom in it but that going to the Lord first is much wiser. If God is our heavenly Father that created us then how much more does he care for his children then our own earthly fathers.

As I write this I am sitting in the hospital room with my wife waiting for the arrival of our third son. I love my boys, would do anything for them, and will sacrifice for them at any cost if required; but I know that my love is imperfect unlike the love the God the Father has for me. The verse at the top is an encouraging reminder for me that the Lord will instruct me and teach me in the way that I should go and counsel me along the way.

The last season we have found ourselves again at a crossroads of sorts, mostly about where we feel called to plant our lives strategically for the future. During this time I have had countless conversations, received many opinions, but have found a rest and freedom in the verse as we pray and seek clarity going forward.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Don't Be Afraid to Step Outside the Box

Some people will only love you as long as you fit in their box. Don't be afraid to disappoint them. -Lecrae

I have experienced this quote in my own life with different people or groups over the years. As long as I fit neatly or they think I fit neatly into their box then everything is okay and we can have a relationship, but as soon as I get outside of the box, which often happens, then I have suddenly disappointed them. For years these type of people would confuse me and I would feel down like it was my fault that our relationship changed, but one day I finally realized it is not me, it is them.

I remember sharing a situation similar to this with the global church planting pastor at our sending church and I told him I assumed it was just my personality that rubbed some people the wrong way, which caused some conflict with others when living overseas. He and his wife both turned to me and said, "Matt, do not believe that lie. You are not the problem, the way these people are treating you and your family is the problem." Hearing the truth from someone else caused a light bulb to go off in my head when I suddenly realized that what they were saying was true.

If you have known me for any amount of time then you know that I do not easily fit into most boxes that people want to put you inside, whether that be a denominational box, an organizational box, a group or club, etc. Yes, I am a part of many of those things and in some ways they do make up part of what I do, but I do not let one or any of them define who I am. I have come to a comfortable enough place in my own life to recognize that I have freedom in the Spirit and that I do not neatly fit a box, system, or program because I can only be me in Christ.

A couple of years ago my wife and I had to make a very important decision that would affect the next few years of our lives. We delayed for quite some time as more and more pressure was put on to make a decision, which resulted in more delay because of my fear of disappointing them. We knew the decision had been made well before the actual time to voice it, but when we sensed the Lord moving us a different direction from what we knew this individual would want to hear we were afraid to disappoint them.

There is probably a situation in your life right now that you are about to step outside of the box, but you are delaying for fear of disappointment. I agree with Lecrae on this one,don't be afraid to disappoint as long as you know that stepping outside of the box is the right thing to do. There are always going to be haters and talkers wherever you go, but you need to realize that God has called you to do too many other things than to fear disappointing people that get in your way. Go ahead, get out of the box, disappoint, and move on!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Are You Listening to the Voice of God?

Recently I heard a sermon on the Lord's calling of Samuel, who at the time was probably around the age of twelve. The preacher pointed out many things from the life of Samuel and the old priest Eli. His main point that I took away was that often times we get in such a routine where we are reading are Bible, we are praying,  and we are busy in ministry; but we are failing to listen to the voice of God. And by failing to listen to the voice of God we many times are doing things our way and wondering why things are not going the way we expected them to go.

In conclusion the pastor pointed out five things that should challenge us all in regards to listening to God:

1. Your past does not determine your future.

2. Your circumstances do not determine your actions.

3. You choose your focus.

4. You are made to hear God's voice.

5. Be careful not to become a priest (Eli) who cannot see not only physically but also spiritually.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Global Impact Through Urban Gateways

The short video below does a great job of portraying how the face of America has changed, where we now are literally seeing unreached people groups from around the world coming into our cities to live. This has huge implications for the gospel and the global impact through urban gateways.


Global Gates Network from Global Gates on Vimeo.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Oak City Beard and Mustache Competition



Venue: Pour House Music Hall

If you want to compete in the competition, purchase your ticket here and be sure to register for the competition by filling out the registration form on Oak City Beard & Mustache Assembly’s website here: http://www.oakcitybma.com/registration/
All money is going towards Raleigh Rescue Mission.
Hosted by: DJ RootBoi

Monday, July 13, 2015

Will Our Lives Be Marked By Indecisive Minds or Undivided Hearts?

This weekend I picked up David Platt's new book, Counter Culture, and skipped to the very last chapter on The Gospel and the Unreached. It is not that I don't care what Platt has to say in the rest of the book, although I have a feeling I am familiar with most of it and agree with much if not all of it, but the last chapter caught my attention because of the nature of my life and previous experience.

In the middle of this last chapter there is a section with this question in bold, Will Our Lives Be Marked By Indecisive Minds of Undivided Hearts? This is the section that really grabbed my attention and described on many levels the internal struggle that I have dealt with for the last year and a half.
Yet I see in the situation above as well as in my own spiritual life a subtle yet dangerous tendency toward indecision. When it comes to the call of God, I am prone to hesitate. Before I do anything, I want complete confirmation that I'm doing the right things. I want to research every option and hear everyone's opinions. This is not bad in and of itself, for I want to be wise, but if I'm not careful, I can slowly let indecision become inaction. I can easily become paralyzed by pressures from people around me and doubts that dominate within me. And before I know it, delayed obedience becomes disobedience. 
Although I have remained confident in my calling, I have been seeking complete confirmation that I am doing the right things, before taking the leap of faith in them. And I agree 100% with the above paragraph, which is why it described so well my struggle that is at times hard to describe to others. There is something freeing about admitting something that you struggle with and if I am being completely transparent I do feel at times that I am in disobedience for my lack of acting on opportunities that God has placed in front of me because of my indecisive mind.

At the beginning of the weekend I also read an article that hit on this same topic and the authors argument was that there are very few things in life that most of us are so indecisive on other than when it comes to our calling and serving the Lord. Most of us didn't struggle much before accepting our current employment, we interviewed for the position, received an offer, and gladly accepted without thinking much. But for some reason when it comes to opportunities to serve God in some way we delay and want it to be spelled out in our morning cereal bowl before we accept it and are obedient to it.

I cannot say with absolute certainty that my struggle in this area is over, but I will say that my desire is to live a life marked by an undivided heart not an indecisive mind.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Leading of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism

I absolutely love the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch from Acts 8:26-40. This story is a perfect example of an ordinary guy, a lay person, in the church that is in tune to hearing and listening to the Holy Spirit. If you read the story and look at the context the Ethiopian Eunuch is an unlikely candidate for salvation. Given where he is from, where is traveling, and all of the other religions located in Ethiopia at the time.

But what one sees in this story is how when an ordinary follower of Jesus is listening to the Holy Spirit and obeys that unlikely candidates for salvation become the perfect candidates in God's sovereignty. The story reveals the the eunuch is reading the prophet of Isaiah 53:7-8, which prophesies the Messiah Jesus coming like a lamb to be slain and standing in our place.

An interesting point to note is that even though the eunuch had a passage from Isaiah that described the salvation of Jesus, he still lacked an explanation. He still needed someone to fit the pieces of the puzzle together for him. This is where Philip comes in tells him the good news about Jesus.

The Ethiopian eunuch gives his life to Jesus and immediately requests to be baptized because Philip had obviously told him that it is an immediate and first step of obedience once giving your life to Christ. By the way, this is what I would call a biblical form of a spontaneous baptism and it also says that "they came up out of water," meaning that he was baptized like Jesus through immersion. In other words there is no sprinkling being described here.

My question for you is when is the last time that you heard the Holy Spirit speaking to you? Are you listening? We all have objections on why God cannot use us, but Philip is a prime example of how the Holy Spirit leads an ordinary guy in evangelism and missions to bring salvation that eventually leads to the start of the church in Ethiopia.

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A version of this post originally appeared on matthewboyd.net in July 2014.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Did You Return? A Growing Burden for My Own Country

One year has passed since I was last in India, a country that I once called home and forever will hold a special place in my heart. I sincerely hope that I eventually will be in a position where I can visit India 2-4 times a year, but for now I can only continue to pray for this nation and its people groups.

Over the last year and a half I have continually received the questions: Why did you come back? and Do you think you will ever go back? Although many of you have heard some form of my answer, I would like to address these two questions here.

My work in India was a catalytic role that was about making disciples that make disciples that formed new communities of faith. It was all about movement of seeing the least reached country in the world reached. By God's grace the small part that he allowed me to play touched on a section of that vast lostness as I equipped and coached numerous leaders in disciple making that led to numerous church starts that are still going and have reproduced themselves.

Why did you come back? I returned to the U.S. with a growing burden for the peoples in my own country to know and worship Jesus. To see people from my own country experience the freedom and family found at the table Jesus has prepared. I want to be used by God to see here in my own country, what he used me to see there in India. This is the reason that I joined the Table Network because this is their heart as well.

Do you think you will ever go back? I have already mentioned my desire to go as often as possible each year if I get in a position to do so, but what most people mean by this question is whether or not we will ever move back to India to live. Unfortunately this is not a yes or no answer because I believe that all followers of Christ should give a blank check to God with their lives to be open to where he will have them to go. I tell most people that we do not foresee returning anytime soon if ever, but that we are open to going wherever God would have us to go, so if that means returning to India then absolutely we would go back.

For now I am running with a family known as the Table Network, operating as the Mid-South Regional Director, as we help Kingdom-minded leaders disciple others into the freedom of Christ, seeking to see new church families along the way. Let me know if you would like to join us!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Knowledge ≠ Understanding



The above video, the backwards brain bicycle, is a great reflection of how many of us that grew up within the church culture are often stuck doing things that don't work. This is not a knock on tradition or even introducing a new way of doing ministry, but meant to be thought provoking in how you are making disciples.

In many ways the above video describes my own up bringing in church and how I viewed life and ministry. Instead of resting in the freedom that Christ gives us, I fell into a rigid way of thinking in my head that I couldn't change even when I wanted to. It was only through actually slowing down and resting in the freedom and family that Christ offers that things started to click for me. And it wasn't changing to something new, but returning to an old way of doing things, a New Testament way of loving people and discipling them to Jesus.

Being absorbed in the church culture taught me a similar lesson pointed out in the above video. Knowledge ≠ Understanding, which we often mistakenly think that it does. I'll finish by reflecting on one of the things that we are told in the Great Commission, to teach obedience to the commands of God, not just the knowledge of them.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Serve God's Purpose in Your Generation

For David served the purpose of God in his own generation.
Acts 13:36a

Over the weekend I came across this verse in Acts 13 describing the life of David. If you know anything about David then you know that he was a man after God's own heart, but we also know that David was not a sinless man. But throughout his life he was mostly faithful to God, which allowed it to be said of  him that he fulfilled the purpose of God for his own generation.

Fulfilling my purpose in my generation is something that I think about a lot and I tend to think that if every believer fully embraced their role as full-time missionaries to whatever culture they are in then how different would our own generation look. I really don't think that it would be quite as difficult as we often make it if we would all live in the freedom and family found at the table Jesus has prepared.

It would require every believer to embrace the Great Commission fully and it would require faithfulness to God throughout our lives. By doing this we too could serve the purpose of God in our own generation. I think back to when I lived in S. Asia and the amounts of lostness that surround me; but if it could be said of every believer here that they served God's purpose in their own generation how different this place would look in not too many years.

So what should one of our goals be as followers of Christ? That we would always be faithful to God and let it one day be said of us that we too served the purpose of God in our own generation.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

You Are Not...

I was looking back over some sermon notes recently and was reminded of a few things that I needed to hear in regards to identity of the believer. We cannot allow our lives to be defined by our ministry, but it must be found in Christ and what he has accomplished. 

The pastor who I was listening to that day reminded me of three things that may help describe us outwardly, but not ultimately where our identity should be found:

1. You are not your gifts so your identity should not be found there.

2. You are not your position whether that be church planter, pastor/elder, deacon, etc.

3. You are not ultimately your performance.


If I am honest with myself, this is an area that I struggle with often because I do allow it to be caught up in those things; but I have continuously learned that if my identity is found in those things then I will always let myself and others down. Instead I am daily learning to abide in Christ and allow him to be the only identity that I need.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summer Reading Suggestions

From time to time I like to give a little insight into what I am currently studying or reading as a way to give some insight into where I am being challenged and to make recommendations for others. My reading seems to have slowed down in the last year, which naturally happens at the stage of life I am in with a family and being bi-vocational. Nevertheless, I am still always working my way through a few books at a time and always enjoy passing along recommendations. 





I would love to hear what some of you are reading and where you are being challenged. Please send recommendations my way!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Being Bi-Vocational as a Church Planter via Hugh Halter

Many of my conversations recently with church planters and even established pastors have revolved around the topic of being bi-vocational. Hugh Halter is someone who not only talks about being bi-vocational, but also walks in it and leads other in that as well. Currently I have found myself in a bi-vocational scenario as I work with The Table Network and for a financial software company. Much of what Hugh has to say sincerely resonates with me and I believe the American landscape for many in ministry going forward.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Freedom by Faith Through Grace

In Galatians 5:5 it tells us that those that are free live by faith through the Spirit. This shows us that we are to accept righteousness by faith through Christ, not by the works of ourselves. We are to point to the work that Christ did. The Judaizers on the other hand practice works so that they may obtain righteousness, which is something that will never end because it can not be obtained. Darrin Patrick described this well when he said, "You are under the law and not grace when you take your moral performance and offer it as your reason for salvation, this is your flesh, and you need to kill it!"

This entire passage points to the fact that we are free because Christ has made us free. We live through the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through our lives. We often recognize that the Bible teaches this, but we often communicate to God that we know better than Him and in essence communicate that we should be God.

We all have an internal problem of rebellion, sin, that no list of rules can help. It might help us look a little more moral and orderly for a time, but the reality is that we will still be walking aimlessly with no hope of salvation. But the good news is that Christ has made a way for us and our freedom in his life, death, and resurrection. And if you are attempting to mix the law and grace then you need to stop, repent, and turn to Jesus!

In turning to Jesus and away from sin, we see that you are made free. What verse 5 shows us is that although we are not righteous in our salvation, Christ's righteousness is given to us and we are now looked at as righteous. And what we are eagerly waiting for here is that even though we have received his righteousness we are waiting through faith for the completed righteousness that we will receive when we no longer battle with our flesh.

In closing, Paul shows us here that he is not one sided. It is not that he is against circumcision and for non-circumcision, but rather that he is all for Jesus as the way to salvation and nothing else. He basically says for the Gentiles not to boast in their un-circumcision and for the Jews not to boast in their circumcision because in the eyes of Christ both are irrelevant in terms of salvation. 

So what might you be trying to mix with grace as means to your salvation? Or what might you be boasting in that is irrelevant in regards to salvation? Because whatever it is it is irrelevant and will never work, because as this passage shows us that salvation is in Christ Alone!

Friday, April 24, 2015

A New Identity

This video from Jeff Vanderstelt is on the new identity that we have in Christ, resting in who He is and what He has done, which then frees us to do what we are meant to do. Such a good reminder for all of us!


Saturate: A New Identity from Crossway on Vimeo.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Prayer of Exaltation from The Pursuit of God

A Prayer of Exaltation from The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer:

O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determines that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it means the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses. I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my healthy and even my life itself. Let me decrease that Thou mayest increase, let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou dist ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, "Hosanna in the highest."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Being Hearers and Doers Sermon Audio

This past Sunday I had the privilege of preaching at Drakes Branch Baptist Church in Drakes Branch, VA for Pastor Adam Blosser. My sermon was on being hearers and doers of the Word from James 1:19-27. I apologize that it is not a video upload, but the church currently only does audio recording of sermons. If your church is interested in having me as a guest speaker one weekend or for a special event here is a link to my speaker request form.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Viewing Every Aspect of Life as Ministry

The act of disciple making is the calling of every follower of Jesus. So do not make the mistake of thinking that if you are seminary trained or a leader in the church that you are serving God more faithfully than the stay at home mom, barista, bartender, or salesperson from your church. Each of us in Christ are called to live a life on mission that is about the business of disciple making. 

Jeff Vanderstelt summed this up to the church he pastors by telling everyone at his church that they are paid full-time by their company in order to be a full-time minister at their job. By returning to this New Testament practice the people that make up the church will stop seeing the Sunday gathering as the primary connecting point for those outside the church, but as a way to connect with people in their rhythm of life. This allows one to naturally build community with the insiders of the culture, allowing them to express freedom (gospel) in a contextually appropriate manner. 

We look around and wonder with all of the church planting efforts available today, why 250 million people are still not connected to a church family, 43,000 leave weekly, and 35% of those 15-30 years old have no interest in any form of spirituality at all. A large reason for this is the divide between the professional/laity Christian. If we take a look back at early Christianity, we are reminded that they experienced explosive growth in large part by means of informal missionaries engaging the culture. Think early church. Think America in the 1700’s. Think of most of the church planting movements we are seeing globally today. 

There are numerous examples of seeing people embrace their everyday life as ministry seeing themselves as missionaries, but a couple of examples come to mind. In 1 Thessalonians 1 we see that the Thessalonians had so implemented gospel sharing and disciple making into their everyday life that the Scriptures record it had gone forth everywhere around them and that there was no need for the Apostle Paul to go back behind them to these places.

In Acts 11:19-30 we see that it was unnamed believers who the took gospel to Antioch. These believers were simply living out their faith in midst of their daily existence. I love that Scripture includes pieces of information like that for us and I encourage you to start viewing every aspect of your life as ministry, as the mission field where God has placed you to proclaim his glory. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cross - Jesus Dies

This post is a summary of content that I developed when I was serving as a church planting catalyst in India to teach Hindus through the metanarrative of Scripture. This lesson focuses in on the death of Christ with it being Good Friday an appropriate time to reflect on the cross.

"God shows his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

First, in essence, Jesus came into the world to die and cover sin.
How did Jesus die?
  • On a cross through crucifixion.
  • Crucifixion is the most excruciating form of death.
  • It was designed for the worst of criminals in society.
  • Jesus was crucified in order to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows (Isa. 53:3-4).
Second, Jesus death on the cross finished his purpose for coming.
  • Jesus himself declared "It is Finished," referring to taking on the sin of the world (John 19:30).
  • Jesus came as our atonement (Rom. 4:25).
  • Jesus came and died in our place:
    • Living the life we were meant to live.
    • Dying the death we deserved to die.
    • Ultimately rising from the dead as a way to prove he conquered sin, death, and the grave.
How does the cross satisfy the wrath of God?
  • The result of sin is death so in order for the wrath of God to be appeased someone has to die.
  • In the Old Testament the wrath of God was appeased through an animal blood sacrifice.
  • In the New Testament we see the ultimate and final blood sacrificed required in Jesus.
  • Jesus, dying in our place, died the death that God revealed we deserved.
    • Hebrews 9:22
    • 1 Peter 1:18-19
  • Jesus ended the need for a blood sacrifice.
    How does the death of Christ justify us before God?
    • God deserves justice and will get justice.
    • Because we are not righteous we cannot justify God.
    • Jesus alone, being the perfect man, could justify us before God (Rom. 1:37; 5:16-17).
    How does God redeem us through the cross?
    • Before the cross we were enslaved in our sin with no hope.
    • Through Jesus alone we have been offered a way out to be redeemed.
      • Justified by his grace (Romans 3:24).
      • Jesus gave himself for us (Titus 2:13-14).
      • Christ became cursed for us (Galatians 3:13-14).
      • Redemption through the blood (Ephesians 1:7).
    So whom did Jesus come to die for?
    • Sinners, which includes all of us (1 Tim. 2:6).
    • He came to be the Savior of all people, but only in a saving way for those that believe/are elect (1 Tim. 4:10).
    How is God triumphant through the cross of Christ?
    • Forgives us of all sin.
    • Expiation
      • Our sin is taken away from us and we are made clean through Jesus.
    • Our sin is taken away and put on Jesus.
    At the cross of Christ we see the ultimate love sacrifice of God for us, which makes a way for reconciliation with God.

    It is Good Friday, the day that we remember the reason that Jesus came to earth to die a bloody gruesome death on the cross in our place. At first look it appears that Christ death was nothing more than death in itself, appearing to some skeptics as proof against the claims of Jesus. But it is only friday and as we will see on Sunday, the resurrection comes and Jesus is Alive!