• 09 Dec 2021 12:46 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    WHEN THE APOSTLE MATTHEW began to follow Christ, he was so enthusiastic he threw a big party, invited all his friends, and celebrated. Jesus and all the apostles attended and apparently had a great time (see Matthew 9:10). He was criticized for attending, eating, drinking—and with sinners! How scandalous! This was a great celebration that Matthew threw in honor of his newfound faith in the Messiah Jesus.

    WHERE TO GO

    • Campuses

    • Parks

    • Neighborhoods

    • Downtown

    WHAT YOU’LL NEED

    Two banner signs (3x6 feet): “It’s Party Time”

    Folding tables for serving (depending on how many you will serve)

    Coolers (several, depending on how many you will serve)

    Drinking cups

    Barbeque grills

    Burgers and hot dogs to grill

    Other food and beverages

    Ice

    Game centers for children (for example, face painting, balloon animals, penny toss)

    Connection cards


    My church throws big parties in the spirit of what Matthew did. We fire up several barbeque grills and put on hot dogs and burgers. Multiple small groups provide desserts of all kinds. Kids’ games with prizes abound. Local professional athletes make a showing. We’ve even raffled off a donated car (we gave the tickets away the day before and the day of the event; the winner had to be present to collect the prize).

    After a couple of hours, more prayer, conversation, laughs, and hugs have happened than anyone can count. The neighborhood feels touched and invested in. Group members are invited into neighborhood homes. We’ve had close to a thousand guests show up to one of these bashes. Not only are the people of the neighborhood encouraged, loved, and prayed for, but also the members of the multiple small groups who sponsor it are built up by seeing their combined energies make a big impression.

    Steve Sjogren, 101 Ways to Reach Your Community (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014).

  • 01 Dec 2021 9:46 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)


    A century ago, a band of brave souls became known as one-way missionaries. They purchased single tickets to the mission field without the return half. And instead of suitcases, they packed their few earthly belongings into coffins. As they sailed out of port, they waved good-bye to everyone they loved, everything they knew. They knew they’d never return home.

    A. W. Milne was one of those missionaries. He set sail for the New Hebrides in the South Pacific, knowing full well that the headhunters who lived there had martyred every missionary before him. Milne did not fear for his life, because he had already died to himself. His coffin was packed. For thirty-five years, he lived among that tribe and loved them. When he died, tribe members buried him in the middle of their village and inscribed this epitaph on his tombstone:

    When he came there was no light.

    When he left there was no darkness.

    When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? That faithfulness is holding the fort? That playing it safe is safe? That there is any greater privilege than sacrifice? That radical is anything but normal?

    Jesus didn’t die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous.

    Faithfulness is not holding the fort. It’s storming the gates of hell.

    The will of God is not an insurance plan. It’s a daring plan.

    The complete surrender of your life to the cause of Christ isn’t radical. It’s normal.

    It’s time to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.

    It’s time to go all in and all out for the All in All.

    Pack your coffin!

    Mark Batterson, All in: You Are One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013).

  • 30 Nov 2021 11:40 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    How can we “demolish” those things that once blew us away? With Christ living out His very life through ours, that’s how. By His power we can give ourselves away again and again and again. And we won’t fear the outcome. We won’t even feel slighted when we don’t get the same treatment in return.

    Servants, remember, don’t “keep score.” Dale Galloway tells a story in Dream a New Dream that beautifully illustrates this point.

    Little Chad was a shy, quiet young fellow. One day he came home and told his mother, he’d like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. She thought, “I wish he wouldn’t do that!” because she had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other and talked to each other. But Chad was never included. Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made thirty-five valentines.

    Valentine’s Day dawned, and Chad was beside himself with excitement! He carefully stacked them up, put them in a bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake him his favorite cookies and serve them up warm and nice with a cool glass of milk when he came home from school. She just knew he would be disappointed . . . maybe that would ease the pain a little. It hurt her to think that he wouldn’t get many valentines—maybe none at all.

    That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table. When she heard the children outside she looked out the window. Sure enough here they came, laughing and having the best time. And, as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed, and when the door opened she choked back the tears.

    “Mommy has some warm cookies and milk for you.”

    But he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face aglow, and all he could say was:

    “Not a one . . . not a one.”

    Her heart sank.

    And then he added, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”5 So it is when God is in control of the servant’s mind. We realize as never before that life’s greatest joy is to give His love away

    Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004).

  • 19 Nov 2021 1:26 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    The "Word Hand" shows us the five methods of "getting a grip" on the Bible:

    Hearing the Word taught by pastors and Bible teachers.

    Reading the Bible to gain an overall picture of God’s Word.

    Studying the Scriptures to make personal discoveries of God’s truths.

    Memorizing God’s Word to help guard against sin and make the Word readily available for witnessing or helping others.

    Meditating on God’s Word—thinking of its meaning and application to our lives.

    You can use the hand illustration to explain to a new Christian how to absorb God’s Word into his life.

    1. After explaining what each of the fingers symbolizes, try to hold a Bible using only your little finger ("Hearing"). Point out that it’s difficult to get a good grip on the Bible only by hearing others teach from it.

    2. Add the "Read" finger and show how it helps to stabilize your grasp of the Bible. Ask the other person to take the Bible away from you—he should be able to do it easily.

    3. Add the remaining fingers one at a time, commenting about how each additional finger ("Study" and "Memorize") provides a firmer grasp on God’s Word. With each step, have the person snatch the Bible from your hand.

    4. Finally, grip the Bible with all four fingers and the thumb. Show how adding "Meditation" significantly strengthens your grip on the Bible—and makes it very difficult for anyone to take the Scriptures away from you.

    Discipleship Journal, Issue 51 (May/June 1989) (NavPress, 1989).

  • 19 Nov 2021 10:53 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)


    Back to cranky old Emperor Julian. Remember that one of his pet peeves about the Christians was their practice of a surprising form of hospitality. He complained to his officials that one of the Christians’ methods for “perverting” the empire was their so-called love-feast, or service of tables. He appeared to be uncertain of the name of their gathering because, he said, “they have many ways of carrying it out and hence call it by many names.”

    So what was he referring to exactly? And how many different ways were there of carrying it out? Well, to begin with, it is doubtful that he was referring exclusively to the Eucharist or the practice of the Lord’s Supper, although this was probably part of the original Christian love-feasts. We know the Corinthians were practicing a communal meal as part of their weekly habit because Paul rebukes them for conducting it so poorly in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. More on that later. In any case, it seems that the early Christians must have focused so much of their lifestyle and ministry around the table that outside observers like Julian were confused as to the exact nature of any given meal.

    Around AD 112 Pliny the Younger, the Roman governor of Bithynia-Pontus (now in modern Turkey), wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan to ask for counsel on dealing with the church. He reported that the Christians would meet “on a fixed day” in the early morning to “sing responsively to Christ, as to a god.” Later in the same day they would “assemble again to partake of food —but ordinary and innocent food.”[10]

    In other documents of the time, there appear various references to the separation of the Eucharist from the love feast, as though they were seen as two very distinct gatherings. This might be why Emperor Julian had trouble keeping track. In any case, a rhythm eventually developed where it was standard practice for the early Christians to celebrate the Eucharist in the morning and the love-feast in the evening.

    My point is that eating has been a central Christian practice since the beginning of our movement. And not only eating sacramentally, as in the Eucharist, but eating missionally as a way to express love to all. More than that, eating with others can be perceived as a profoundly theological practice. It mirrors the character of the Triune God. As Janice Price of the Church of England World Mission Panel says,

    Hospitality, as the mutual indwelling one with another, becomes the modus operandi of mission as those in common participation in the life and mission of God meet and receive from each other. . . . Hospitality is an attitude of the heart which is about openness to the other. . . . This mirrors the hospitality of the Trinity as God chooses to open himself to the other through the Incarnation and to subject himself to the created order. . . . It is about a generous acknowledgement and meeting of common humanity as well as meeting the needs of humanity, emotional, spiritual and physical, with generosity. As such it mirrors the activity of God towards creation.[11]

    I want you to foster the habit of eating with three people every week. But I want you to know that this isn’t merely good missional strategy. It is a way to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

    English pastor and author Tim Chester once posed the question, “How would you complete the following sentence: ‘The Son of Man came . . .’?” There are three ways that the New Testament completes that sentence; while the first two are well known (and might have come to your mind when you read Chester’s question), the third is surprising:

    • “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, ESV).
    • “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, ESV).
    • “The Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34).

    While the first two oft-quoted verses tell us about Jesus’ purpose in coming —to serve, to give his life as a ransom, to seek and save the lost —the third describes his method. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking.

    Note that in these verses Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man.” He uses various titles to describe himself in the Gospels, but this is one of the more dramatic. “Son of Man” comes from the apocalyptic book of Daniel and is used to describe the one who would come before God to receive authority over the nations (see Daniel 7). That Jesus attributes this apocalyptic (and somewhat esoteric) title to himself might at first sound spectacular, but he then goes on to describe this Son of Man not coming in glory on the clouds of heaven, accompanied by an army of angels, but simply eating and drinking.

    It’s always interested me that the one thing Jesus actually told us to do every time we meet together was to eat. It’s not lost on me that his detractors regularly accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton (see Luke 7:34). Jesus was neither of those things, but obviously his preparedness to eat and drink with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes gave his enemies plenty of ammunition. So, when he comes to give his first followers something to do to remember him by, what is it? Remember Luke 22:19: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Yes, the “drunkard” and the “glutton” instructed his followers to eat and drink in remembrance of him. It’s beautifully subversive.

    Michael Frost, Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2016).

    See our Bible Study here. 


  • 13 Nov 2021 9:47 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    GOD IN THE STORM

    When God wants to drill a man,
    And thrill a man,
    And skill a man;
    When God wants to mold a man
    To play the noblest part,
    When he yearns with all his heart
    To create so great and bold a man
    That all the world shall be amazed,
    Watch his methods, watch his ways —

    How he ruthlessly perfects
    Whom he royally elects.
    How he hammers him and hurts him,
    And with mighty blows, converts him
    Into trial shapes of clay
    Which only God understands.

    While his tortured heart is crying,
    And he lifts beseeching hands.
    How he bends but never breaks
    When his good he undertakes.

    How he uses
    Whom he chooses,
    And with every purposes, fuses him,
    By every act, induces him
    To try his splendor out.
    God knows what he’s about.

    AUTHOR UNKNOWN — Marc Maillefer and R. Kent Hughes, God in the Storm (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005).

  • 10 Nov 2021 12:40 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Steve Reynolds weighed a hundred pounds before he started grade school. He ate a bowl of ice cream every night of his life until he was forty eight years old. Through the principle of replacement, he lost 100 pounds. He has written an excellent book on the subject which includes a program for churches to use that includes a “Biggest Loser” style contest. Fox news dubbed him the “Anti-fat pastor.” What is his secret formula for weight loss?

    • Replace a bagel with a health bar
    • Replace ice cream with non-fat yogurt
    • Replace a hamburger and fries with a chicken salad
    • Replace mayonnaise with mustard
    • Replace beef with fish and chicken
    • Replace white bread with wheat bread

    Steve doesn’t teach a complicated diet. His is a common sense approach that has helped thousands of people lose weight. It comes down to habits. It comes down to a thousand little decisions. It comes down to the principle of replacement—of replacing a healthy food for an unhealthy one. Most of us know how to lose weight. The formula is actually pretty simple: eat fewer calories and exercise more. Through the principle of replacement, eating fewer calories can become a reality. It can become a habit. Through the principle of replacement, exercising more can become a habit in your day-to-day life.

    The principle of replacement doesn’t just apply to eating and exercise. James Macdonald says:

    None of us can overcome evil by simply renouncing it. Rather, we must substitute that which was evil and replace it with that which is good. Sinful habits cannot be broken without replacing them with righteous ones. Try this simple experiment: Think of the number eight. Have you visualized it? If yes, then use your willpower to stop thinking about the number eight right now.

    Were you able to do it? Of course not. Can you, by sheer willpower, stop thinking about the number eight? By no means. Trying to push it out of your mind actually causes you to focus your attention on it.

    Although we can’t stop thinking about that number by sheer resistance, we can push it out of our minds quite easily. Here’s how: Think about a few bits of information you remember about your mother while growing up. Reminisce about your place in the family, whether you are still connected with them or disconnected. Concentrate on this new information, and you’ll stop thinking of the number eight.19

    It is not hard to imagine a number of areas where the principle of replacement might apply. Here are a few:

    • Replace a meal with a meal replacement shake.
    • Replace nicotine for cigarettes with nicotine gum or a nicotine patch. People who do so are two or three times as likely to kick the habit.
    • Replace one thirty-minute sit-com with thirty-minutes of reading.
    • Replace French fries with a side-salad.
    • Replace complaining with gratefulness.

    Josh Hunt, Break a Habit / Make a Habit (Josh Hunt, 2013).

  • 10 Nov 2021 12:25 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Sorrow can be like a stab in the back—painful and alarming. Sorrow is not easy to swallow when it is sudden, like an unexpected car accident. Or it can tarry like a terminal disease. Sorrow saps hope from your heart and courage from your countenance. It is a drain on the disposition in the mightiest of men. You cannot hide sorrow, for it shows in your face and flows through your words. Like an uninvited guest, sorrow may stay longer than you intended and become a nuisance that never seems to go away. Sorrow makes a heart sad, it weighs on the mind, and it steals away most of your motivation.

    Sorrow comes with death. When you lose someone you love dearly, sorrow is a natural and healing outcome. In most cases, you must first tread through the sand of sorrow before you can arrive at the sea of gladness. It is a process through which your Savior accompanies you, for He understands. He was a man of sorrow who was acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Sorrow, for your Savior, is not a foreign language. He is fluent, and has survived its purging process. Sorrow is not static, for it moves you to seek out what matters most. When sorrow arrives at the doorstep of your life, your Savior’s presence becomes more precious than ever before. Sorrow may come in the form of a teenager who chooses not to talk anymore. This breaks your heart. However, this too shall pass. A teen’s transition into young adulthood is hardest for them. Their internal conflict of confidence and emerging emotions is enough to cause anyone to clam up. They want to be on their own, so they think they don’t need their parents anymore. This semi-rebellious rejection is a magnet for sorrow because it hurts to not be needed anymore.

    But Jesus is the Savior of your sorrows. His grace is like a miracle-working detergent that removes sorrow’s deepest stains. He can erase sorrows that have etched themselves into your emotions. He can extract sorrows that have embedded themselves into the archives of your attitude. He can lift sorrows that have burdened your heart and have weighed down your actions to the point of inertia. Therefore, allow His love to squeeze the sorrow from your weeping heart as if from a water-soaked towel. He can wring the sorrow out that has disabled your discipleship. It is okay to be sorrowful, but it is not okay to remain sorrowful. Jesus can remove your sorrow by His comfort or His cleansing. Your removal of sorrow may be contingent on your confession and repentance of sin. Whatever the source of your transgression, give it over to the Lord. Sorrow seeps out of a heart that often does business with the Almighty. Your sorrow may be the natural outcome of grief or regret. But now is the time for Christ to bring closure and heal your heart. Sorrow need not keep you sad indefinitely, for it is a pass-through to His peace. Furthermore, do not bear your burden alone. Allow your community of Christians to love you through this time of trial. Joy is with you in Jesus and His followers.

    Sorrow is for a season, but joy and peace are for an eternity. Tomorrow’s hope deletes today’s sorrow.

    Boyd Bailey, Seeking Daily the Heart of God (Atlanta: Wisdom Hunters, 2011).

  • 08 Nov 2021 1:28 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)


    The Greek word agape is one of the most important words in the New Testament. It means “unconditional love”—the no-strings-attached love with which God loves us. Agape’s Hebrew parallel in the Old Testament, hesed, is less familiar but no less important. It means “loyal love” and describes God’s everlasting love for His people, Israel (and Israel’s spiritual descendants, the church).

    Loyalty is almost a lost value in today’s world. Everything seems to be for sale, including friendship, affection, and devotion—the things that make up loyalty. Even Jesus’ disciples found themselves lacking in loyalty on the day Jesus was crucified—all the disciples except one, that is. The disciple named John seems to have had a devotion to Jesus that the others lacked prior to His resurrection. John was the only one of the original band of disciples who stood at the foot of the cross in Jesus’ final hours. John was loyal to the very end. Every Christian should ask himself, “Would I have been there with John? Will I be loyal to Jesus regardless of the price?”

    The deeper our understanding of God’s agape, the deeper the manifestation of our hesed.

    David Jeremiah, David Jeremiah Morning and Evening Devotions: Holy Moments in the Presence of God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2017).

  • 08 Nov 2021 9:27 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)


    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. — Teddy Roosevelt










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