Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Services of Worship Update

The search continues for a place we can call home on Sunday mornings. I was able to meet with a school administrator this week and it seems as though a door might be opening for us to use the theatre and adjoining rooms at a local middle school. The theatre space seats about 100 with a very good seating arrangement. Once we go through the process of applying with the school district, if approved to use the facility, we are being told by the school administrator that they would allow us use for approximately 8-10 weeks. This isn't very long, but it's a start. It sounds like walking by faith to me. I'll update further when more information is available.

This Sunday we will begin a series of weekly home meetings at a couple of locations across northern Las Vegas. These meetings will serve as a place for prayer over God's word for this mission work, and will also provide the context for sharing our vision, values, and ministry design for City-Wide Redeemer.

I think that I mentioned earlier this month that we are also going to be hosting an investigation Bible study at our home. We are still pulling this together and gathering a few more committed souls.

On another night of the week we will also begin hosting a community group for committed Christians in our neighborhood. Pray that our Lord will lead me in determining the course of our study for the remaining weeks of this calendar year.

Our family remains very encouraged as we move along through each day and discover what the Lord has for us. We are regularly surprised and try to remain faithful with what is put in front of us, even if it wasn't on the radar screen when we woke up. I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It is the Spirit who Gives Life

His disciples were struggling with all that Jesus had just said concerning himself. He had been explaining that he is the bread of life, that he is the bread come down from heaven, that unless the Father draws someone they can't come to God, to feed upon Christ as it were.

Then, knowing that his disciples were grumbling about this, he said, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe," John 6:61-64.

We are sharing the gospel regularly with folks, speaking with them at different levels depending on where they are or what they've already been exposed to. Next week, Lord willing, I will begin hosting a six week study on the life of Christ. I feel a tremendous amount of anxiety. I long to say things well, to communicate the truth and facilitate genuine investigation. I want to see folks that I already care for experience the freedom that comes when we are reconciled to God and begin living life the way God designed.

As I read this portion of John's gospel this morning I was struck afresh to realize that when Jesus led bible studies there were some who did not believe. Why? How could this be? It is the Spirit who gives life.

Being mindful of this truth frees us up to take risks of love for others. It frees us up to be ourselves as we share the gospel with those around us. It frees us up to continue to share with others in the future if we don't see the response that we hope for. Certainly it is true that we must do all that we can to remove every barrier in our communication of the gospel. But it is also true that the Spirit gives life; the flesh is of no avail.

I'm going to pray right now that God's Spirit will lead me to those people in whom he is working to give new life. Will you join me in praying for that as well?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Do You Have a Name Yet?

For whatever reason one of the top five questions that we have received over the past three or four months has been, "Do you have a name yet?"

I'm pleased to say that we have chosen a name. From this point forward our mission work in North Las Vegas will be referred to as City-Wide Redeemer. This name captures both the centrality of the Lord Jesus as well as our vision to see a city covered with the presence of God's people.

We continue to meet and speak with as many people and families as we can. So many people we meet are feeling the pressures of a busy schedule, deeply desiring significant relationships with others, and struggling to hold their families together. We have found that many people here are also very skeptical of new people they meet. One could speculate as to the reasons that this is so, but I won't for now. I am finding that usually by the third, fourth, or fifth contact people will begin to open up and speak about things that reveal some level of trust. This isn't always true, but seems to be a general pattern.

Conversations about the gospel are beginning to happen as well. I look forward to one day soon being able to report that Christ has captured yet another soul in North Las Vegas with his love.

We will begin a Bible study in our home very soon (probably in one or two weeks) for those who wish to investigate and understand the claims of Jesus. Three or four families have indicated some level of interest. Pray that we will communicate the truth in love as we invite several dear folks into our home.

Will you pray about a couple of other things today and throughout the week? Will you pray that a building for public worship will become available soon? We are waiting to hear from a few schools in the area. Finding a building in our area is proving to be more difficult than I had imagined it would be. Secondly, please pray that God's Spirit would open the hearts of people in this city as we come in contact with them. It is clear that many people know they are looking for something, but remain unconvinced that Jesus is who they seek.

Monday, October 15, 2007

God, Will you Please Tell Them to Stop Stealing from Us?

From day one in our new community we have sought to be open-handed with our neighbors, sharing what we have as God leads. We have prayed that our children would be glad to share what they have as well. On different occasions God has surprised us with the generosity of our little ones. The biggest surprise came last week when our oldest gave his bike away to a neighbor who was without one, and then bought a bike lock for him as well.

Yesterday morning this same boy appears to have taken our oldest son's wallet while visiting for a few minutes before we headed off to worship. For our son six months of saving his money only to have his kindness lead to this frustration has been very difficult to handle.

I can't tell you how disappointing this has been for me too. This low blow from the enemy is striking at the core of our children's willingness to be givers in a neighborhood where they've experienced the hurtful experiences of others being takers. When I went today to speak with this young man who appears to have taken the wallet his response was less than satisfying. Pray that God's Spirit will convict him and grant him repentance, if he indeed is guilty. Please pray that our attitude towards the neighbors will be consistently kind, remembering that it was God's kindness that led us to repentance. Pray that our children will maintain a spirit of generosity as well.

I've got much more good news to share about our progress in relationships, but I'll wait to update you with that information on Wednesday.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Doggy Machines

Happy Columbus Day everyone. I'm not sure why our government takes the day off in order to celebrate a man who sailed in discovery of new lands only to land somewhere other than he had intended and only to find that people already lived here.

The work of integrating into our community continues. We'll be having dinner this week with a couple of families we've met over the past couple of weeks. Pray that we'll be an encouragement to them and that they will find us to be people they can trust.

I'll be making several contacts this week to identify a place for Sunday worship. There is a school right around the corner that would be ideal, at least from what we can discern now. Please pray that we will be well received by those who make decisions about weekend tenants.

We also continue to have several conversations and interviews each week with folks in this area. While these conversations provide many opportunities, one of the things we receive through them is further insight into the culture, its perception of Christianity, and the felt needs of our community. As we process this data through prayer and conversation Eric and I are continuing to solidify our ministry design. The gospel is foundational and unchanging. We are asking questions like, "When are people most able to gather for worship?" "How should we carry out the Christian education program?" "What about discipleship and children's ministry?" The answers to these questions, and others like them, will be shaped as a result of our own ministry gifts and values as well as the needs of this place.
Often, though, as I look at what is coming together I am reminded of how desperately we need God's Spirit to make whatever feeble ministry design we conceive of have its God intended effect. I feel as though we are making a "doggy machine." Pictured to the left you'll see what our youngest built while I was working in the garage on Saturday afternoon. He meticulously glued different size scraps of wood together and then proudly exclaimed, "Tada! Daddy, look! It's my doggy machine." "Really," I said, "What does it do?" (At this point I was afraid that he was going to describe some gruesome weapon to ward off dogs that bother him). "It cooks the food for the dogs and puts it in their bowls," he explained.
"Ah, yes." Is this what our plans and ideas look like to our all wise God? Is he pleased to take ideas that shouldn't work and use them to glorify Christ and birth a people for himself in Las Vegas? That is what we are counting on. Pray that God would give us wisdom as we conceive of and implement the ministry design that we believe will most effectively reach this community with the truth of Christ, and him crucified.

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010