Friday, February 28, 2014

Wow! Another month has already gone by in my church planting internship. Once again, I am thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to serve him through this opportunity. As I move forward in preparing to serve Christ in Utah, I continue to see many fruitful blessings poured out on both myself and my family that we do not deserve. At the same time, we are grateful for the momentum that seems to be building toward a church plant.

The need for the gospel in Utah is so great. And it is only growing more and more. According to Forbes magazine, Salt Lake City now ranks #5 as the fastest growing city in America. May our Savior use me to reach the darkness of this community with the light of Christ!

It is this growing desire in me that has fueled my studies. This past month I have been reading Tim Keller explain in Center Church how a church centers its entire ministry around the gospel. Charles Bridges challenged me with the trials and difficulties of pastoral ministry as well as energized me with the comforts and encouragements through his work The Christian Ministry. And I have been confronted with who Christ has called me to be as a church planter by Paul David Tripp as I am working through his Dangerous Calling curriculum.

Additionally, I continue to love leading my Gospel Community group. We have been diligently praying over the last few weeks for the Holy Spirit to guide us in wisdom as we decide which neighborhood to strategically invest in with the hope of Christ. Lord willing, this coming month we we decide where to begin our efforts and seek to reach out to those around us. We are also considering the gifts and skills that God has given us to consider how we can best use them in furthering the gospel in our community. While the weather has not allowed us to be as outward oriented as we would like, we look forward to seeing what He has in store for us in the months ahead.

Finally, this weekend I will be heading back to Louisville so that I can continue working toward becoming certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. I would like to complete my application by the end of April so that I can enter the final phase of the certification processsupervised counseling. As I prayed this morning, my goal is not simply to get a piece of paper at the end of this process. I want to effectively show people how Christ relates to their struggles and trials, leading them in the gospel to find their ultimate comfort and strength in Jesus.

As I hope that you can see, your prayers for my ministry and preparation are being answered. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and support. Please continue to pray for my family as this process continues, because I can easily see becoming so busy that my family is neglected. This would be the last thing that I want! With this in mind, please ask God that He will remind me of my responsibility to keep my family a priority during this internship.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

It is hard to believe that I have just completed one month of my church planting internship! I am grateful for all of the encouragement and prayers that I have received so far, and I thank God for what He has been doing in my life. Let me tell you about some of the exciting things that have taken place.

First, I love leading my Gospel Community group. We are working through the Gospel Resource Network’s Missional Community Field Guide together, and our discussion so far has been very profitable. I sense a growing unity of mind and heart among us, and I look forward to seeing how Christ will use our unique gifts and skills to impact our neighborhood for His glory.

Second, I have greatly benefited from my new approach to reading and studying God’s Word. Toward the end of last year, I came across Pastor Jim Elliff’s article “My Preferred Way to Read the Bible.” Instead of quickly going through a one year plan, I am devoting myself to saturating myself in specific books of the Bible. In January, I focused on 1 Peter the first half of the month and 2 Peter the second half. This approach has been incredibly helpful. I don’t think I have ever gotten so much out of reading the Bible. For February, I am going to work through Hebrews, so I look forward to spending a lot of time in this wonderful book of Scripture.

Third, I have enjoyed my weekly internship gatherings with pastors and other men desiring to serve in ministry leadership. We have been reading through Tim Keller’s Center Church and Charles Bridges’ classic work The Christian Ministry. Read how Bridges talks about the necessity of pastoral ministry (which obviously includes church planting leadership):

His sovereign pleasure has ordained this office as a first link of means in the chain of salvation; so that without a Ministry there should be no hearing of the word—consequently no faith in the only Saviour of whom it speaks—no calling upon his name—no salvation. It is not our province to prescribe what he ought have done, but to mark the consummate wisdom of what he has done, and to exercise the humility of faith, when we cannot discern the reasons of his dispensations. Doubtless he might have instructed as well as converted Paul by a miracle; but it was his pleasure to direct him to a fellow-sinner for the explicit revelation of his will. The angel also might have been an instructor to Cornelius; but, in order to maintain the order of the divine economy, the Ministry of the word was made the medium of conveying evangelical light to his soul. This, therefore is the ordained means of conversion, and of subsequent establishment in every stage of the Christian life; and its necessity must continue, while there is a single sinner to be brought into the family of God, or a single grace in the heart of the saint to advance to perfection.

What a humbling and encouraging reminder of the ministry that lays before me as I prepare to serve Christ as a church planter in Utah!

At the same time, this past month has also showed me areas where I need to grow in grace to become a church planter who will honor and glorify my Savior. I am nowhere close to the prayer warrior that I need to be. I am still too reliant on my own efforts and strength to accomplish what lays before me. I have repented to God for my self-reliance and lack of dependence on Him and will make every effort through His grace to improve in my prayer life.

Additionally, I want to become more intentional in evangelism. Between my work, church, and internship responsibilities, most of my time is spent around fellow believers. While this can be helpful, it also allows me to stay in a “Christian bubble.” I need to be more attentive to the opportunities that God providentially brings to me. And I also want to be more proactive in developing relationships with others who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Please pray for me as I seek to be faithful in proclaiming the hope of Christ to others in my community.

Finally, I would appreciate your prayers for my family as we begin planning a trip to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah this summer. I would like for my family to experience some time in the place where we plan to move in the next couple of years while I can hopefully engage in some evangelistic ministry. So please pray for wisdom as we seek to work out these details.