Hello, everyone! It’s so good to be back. Podcasts and eSights are back up and running, my voice is back, The Jesus Dialogue is on our website, and my travel schedule is complete for the year. So now I have some catch-up stuff to do here at the office and some loose ends I want to get tied up before the holidays. Also, we are working on a new Bible study series you can do with small groups. It’s a new paradigm for Bible studies. Rather than one-on-one Bible studies, which is the traditional evangelistic approach, we are urging that these be used in small groups where we are simply “doing life together”, Acts 2 style. These will be groups to which we can invite others to just hang out and meet once a week to fellowship, eat, and study.
It’s old hat for some, but a new paradigm of evangelism for others, and we are excited to be offering these studies soon.
Now, without any further delay, this week’s Podcast has been posted:
Lip Service – By Herb Montgomery
Are we trying to force Jesus to support our religious agenda, or are we allowing Jesus and His Kingdom to radically transform our religious program from the inside out?
I pray that this week you will be blessed.
Also, let me catch you up on how the last two series went.
Lakeport SDA Church
November 11-12, 2011
The Lakeport church is one of my favorites to visit. There is a lot of layperson-driven ministry that takes place in this church. I arrived on Friday with a severe sinus infection, probably the worst in my life, but thought I would be fine. Little did I know that I would completely lose my voice before the weekend was through.
Friday evening, before the presentation, I was ushered into one of the church’s classrooms, where a small group was going to have prayer. It was such an encouragement to me. They shared that they were going to be praying during each presentation and that they wanted to begin the weekend by praying over me first. I was so blessed by their kindness and their commitment to what the weekend was all about.
Much of the weekend was taken from the new series, and, from all the positive feedback I received, I can say with all assurance that God’s spirit was poured out and the Kingdom was enlarged as folks began to once again, through the lens of Jesus Christ, see a revelation of the Father’s character of love. It was a truly blessed weekend for all.
I managed to get through two presentations before my voice just gave out. For the last two, they just simply turned the mic up, and I finished in a whisper. It gave a whole new meaning to a “still small voice.” Ha! But God blessed us in spite of it all.
I want to ask you specifically to pray for the elders of this church. They are reaching out to their community in truly humble, loving, service-oriented ways. I would characterize it as disinterested benevolence, just wanting to serve others. I met with a small group on Sunday morning before I left, and I was so encouraged by the amount of “Kingdom” I saw taking place among them. I am convinced that if we could just see the beauty of our Heavenly Father’s character and allow the truth of His love to awaken in us the 54 “One Anothers” of the New Testament Church, so much more would be done in our communities to give the last revelation of God’s character of love. So much damage has been done by the Christian religion. Good has been done too, but so much damage as well. My prayer is that in small kingdom ways, we can start being Jesus to our communities again, revealing to them the heart of a Father who loves them.
Please keep this church in your prayers.
Pullman SDA Church
November 18-20, 2011
This is another church that I really enjoy visiting. Not only are the people so genuinely kind, but also this is the town that is home to Washington State University. This element never fails to produce a truly wonderful dynamic for the weekend. I was so impressed with the young people I met in Pullman who are attending the University. They were asking all the right questions and truly wanting to do more than just the “religious gig.” They sincerely were wanting to follow Jesus and make a difference.
The weekend included the usual discussions on apologetics that you find in university towns, but there was something very different about this weekend that I have yet to put my finger on. It was less cerebral, and more heart level, if that makes any sense. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t emotional with no reasoning whatsoever. There was the usual logic, but God’s love shined through the logic and reached not just our heads, but also our hearts. It was truly a blessing to have been a part of it all.
There were also a few folks from the community that the folks in the church had been fellowshipping with and a few who simply walked in off the streets after having seen the flyer. It was a good mix from all different paradigms and walks of life. The one thing we all had in common was an interest in the event called The Jesus Dialogue (the weekend version).
For all those who were praying, God showed up! We discussed things such as the intellectual basis for believing that this historical Jewish carpenter in the first century is our significant clue not only to God’s existence but also to understanding what this God is like. We discussed tools to sort out the differences between the Old Testament God and what we see in the teachings and ministry of Jesus. We talked about what it looks like to not only embrace Jesus’ picture of God, but also what it means to follow Jesus, to take up the cross, to embrace being a living conduit for others to encounter this kind of God that we find revealed in Jesus. We ended the weekend with a presentation on the kind of God we see revealed on a cross, a discussion of the questions that arise when we claim that God is good and yet there is so much human suffering all around us, and then a free-for-all Q&A. Last, we went through an exercise in “group” repentance (an exercise I led the folks through at the end of last summer’s camp meeting here in West Virginia). It too was a blessing for all who participated.
Once again, for all those who were praying for this weekend, thank you so much. I can always tell when folks are out there praying. The weekends are different, and this weekend was no exception. So many came up to me after the weekend and shared the many “aha” moments they had gone through all weekend long as our hearts began to fall more deeply into the embrace of our Father’s perfect love.
He really is beautiful. If we can only see Him as He really is.
Happy holidays to each one of you. Thank you for supporting RHM in 2011 with your prayers and your financial gifts. I’m looking forward to 2012 already!!
Now I’m off to work on the ministry’s Christmas newsletter. Hopefully we can get it out before New Years!
Keep living in love, loving like Christ, and building the Kingdom.
I love you guys,