Saturday, May 16, 2015

Building Missional Community

My wife and I have set out on a new ministry together. Being an Assistant Chaplain at the Elkhart County Jail I have been listening to many inmates opinion of the church and have some of the same reservations that many of us do with the church. I have consistently told these men that there is no such thing as the perfect church. Recently I was asked to come to Elkhart and start a Bible study with an inmate that had been released. I thought it over and I had decided that I was unable to set another time to start a Bible study with all that I was involved with at the county jail. One Monday night at my regularly scheduled Bible study, a couple of the inmates asked me if I had a church that I pastor. I told them no because God had not opened those doors for me but had instead opened my doors at the county jail. I had a vision that one day of starting a ministry for inmates, possibly a church, but had never had any of those doors open. I continued this discussion with those inmates to see why they thought that it was something that had been on their minds. I took everything that they were saying and decided that I would consider it and pray about it. That night I saw my pastor at a banquet that we were attending and mentioned it to him. He looked at me and said, "Why don't we just do it" I was in a little shock but decided to explore this further. He mentioned to start this as a house church, missional community. I talked it over with Staci and proceeded to find a house. I started with the ex-inmate that had wanted me to come to Elkhart and do a regular Bible study with him. Things fell through with that plan to use his place so I turned to another ex-inmate named John*. He agreed to use his place and with a little help from my church, we have launched a gathering that meets every Friday at 7pm in John's house. I have read on how to lead a missional community and am starting a book on how to develop am discipling community. We divide the evening between a time of fellowship while sharing a meal and Bible study. We had three people the night of the launch with just me, my wife, and John. The second time we had a couple more people show up to see it.  I had a great conversation with Cory who is trying to move to this area and is struggling with walking the right path. I encouraged him to continue to come on Friday's and to participate in everything we do. The other person Matt does not want any part of God and was afraid that we would say something to him if he just ate and decided not to participate in the Bible study. His experience with Christians in the past has lead him to believe that they are judgmental. That night we all showed him that we were there to share Christ's love and he was in the room where we were doing the study for a while and when he got up to go to another room no one said anything. I later got the chance to tell him that I enjoyed meeting him and invited him to have a meal with us each week. There are seekers in this world that have had some very bad experiences with what they perceive to be the "church". Our goal as a ministry right now is to provide a place for ex-inmates to come and participate in fellowship and Bible study (if they want) in a place where they never have to worry about being judged. I am so grateful for what God has done already. This ministry is in God's hands and we are just going to see where it takes us. It is my hopes that it will grow and multiply and that the ex-inmates will be leading other groups. The vision that I have is that one-day inmates and their families will be able to be ministered to by those that have gone through the same experiences. I hope to start writing in this blog about those experiences on a regular basis.

* - I will be using first names only and at most first names and first letter of last name in cases where there are multiple people by the same name to protect the privacy of those I write about.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Obedience to God

Have you ever wondered what the number one thing that God wants from his children? You parents out there what is the one thing that you desire from your children? Well I will bet that obedience is at the number one spot or at least number two. This is what God desires from all of his children. God is looking for obedience from us. The life of King Saul can be an example of what God does not desire and that is partial obedience. In 1 Samuel 15 God gives very clear instruction to king Saul that he is to utterly destroy the Amalekites. He was to wipe them off of the Earth all human and animal life of these people was to be destroyed. Now I am not going to explain here the idea of wiping out a whole race of people and what constitutes a holy war because that is not the point of this post. The point is Saul only half obeyed God. He spared their king and the animals and what was the reason? So he could offer sacrifice. Samuel makes it clear that God desires obedience more than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22-23). God wants our obedience. Now before we go and pass judgment upon Saul are there areas in your life that are not 100% yielded to God? How often do we offer up our sacrifices of time, money, and praise on Sunday, when we have not been obedient throughout the week? The point is that obedience is the only way to please God. He would rather have us obey him than attend church. I am not saying that church is not important but obedience is more important than our worship. God wants us to obey him and not make excuses for our actions. This week try focus on obedience more than worship.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lessons from King Saul - Following God

In 1 Samuel 13:1-12 Saul is faced with the dilemma to either follow God's instructions or to give into the people's wishes. As Samuel tarried  waiting on Saul, he was left to wonder if God was with him. Saul had the problem that many of us do from time to time. When God does not answer right away we often get anxious and act at times without making sure that it is God's plan. God often acts outside of our time frame and we need to remember that God is with us no matter what happens. I have come to realize that God answers our prayers with yes, no, wait, and my personal favorite I am not going to tell you. Saul teaches us that it is more important to wait on God than step out without him.

It has been a long time since I have made a post to this blog but I am going to try and blog more of my thoughts and studies.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review

A great representation of Jesus and his Old Testament connection. Enjoy.


Book Review

Here was an interesting book on the Anabaptist Movement. Hope you enjoy.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God's Grace in Genesis 1-11

Today I was reminded that God showed grace in each of the episodes where mankind sinned. After the fall in chapter 3 God showed grace by holding off the punishment of death. Adam and Eve were told that if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die that day (Genesis 2:17). That is not what happened though they were spared for a time. The second came after Cain killed Able God showed grace by marking Cain so that everyone would know that he was protected and was not to be killed (Genesis 4:15). God also showed grace to the human race in the flood first in not wiping out the whole race because of the sins but also in the promise that he gave Noah that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood or water (Genesis 9:11). At the tower of Babel God had grace in not destroying the nations but here we see something that has not been in the other accounts. God scatters them by confusing the language and then leaves them in that condition. The question begs is God now through with the nations? Well the answer is no he simply shifts focus to creating a people through Abraham so that they will be the blessing to the nations. Gods grace did not start in the New Testament, it began at the fall. Gods grace is all around us and he just asks that we seek him and let him transform us into the image of Jesus. Gods grace comes at the highest price of all the death of his Son Jesus Christ. Thank you Jesus for allowing grace to flow. Your grace still amazes me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


In preparing my work for teaching the theological concept of salvation I was reminded that the concept of sanctification is an event and process. There was a time in every believers life that they were sanctified in God's sight and then started the process of becoming more like Jesus. I would like to say that it has been easy or is easy to be sanctified but the truth is because God is holy and we are not it makes it difficult for us to become holy. The fact is though that is exactly what must happen. Thank God he has made a way for us to accomplish this and it is not left to our own devices to become holy. The fact is God helps us to become more like Jesus every day. We merely need to look to Him for guidance and help.