As The Father Has Sent: A Preview of Our Christmas Series

 

Editor's note: Summitview's six-part Christmas series, "As the Father Has Sent: Lessons on Mission from Christmas," begins Sunday, November 18. Pastor Mitch Majeski provides us with a preview of the upcoming series.


“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21–22)

Afraid of a culture hostile to their beliefs, the disciples hid behind a locked door. Most of them were despondent. Their Messiah had just suffered and died. Their dreams for establishing his kingdom on earth were crushed. 

Through those locked doors, Jesus entered and spoke.

His words, as always, were carefully chosen. They remain a profound statement of God’s heart for followers of Jesus. Jesus did not say, “It’s me and I have defeated death.” That was obvious. He did not say, “As I have conquered death, so I will conquer the world.” He simply said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

“Peace be with you.”

There is reason to be at peace. Death has lost its sting. What was the final separation between God and man has been removed. In fact, for those who trust in Christ, death is a doorway to gain full access to God. Therefore, even in death, Christians cannot lose. In fact, in death we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. The hardest things we will face in this life are temporary. Peace be with you.

“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

As they are bolstered with that confidence, Jesus sends his disciples into action. How and to whom? Jesus gives the answer. The Father’s sending of Jesus is the model for Jesus’ sending of his disciples.  

So as we celebrate Advent this year, our messages will focus on the Father’s sending of Jesus into the world. We will be looking for cues for our mission as his followers.  

Incidentally, this series has been planned for some time, but it has turned out to be especially timely for Christians who are faced with transitioning their identity as the “moral majority” into the “missional minority.” Join us in praying that the Holy Spirit will use these messages to give us all a peaceful sense of our mission together. 

Throwback Thursdays: The Big Picture of God's Big Story

 

We live in an immediate world. Modes of transportation are faster, more convenient and more diverse than ever before. This thing called the Internet delivers everything we could ever want – music, movies, news, games, the Bible, friendship, sex – in a matter of seconds, whenever we want. Twitter reduces being “in the moment” to 140 characters. If you don’t have a smart phone and didn’t get the Facebook update in real time, you’re hopelessly disconnected.

History, meaning and personal fulfillment have been reduced to what we can immediately put in front of our eyes. Don’t ask us to think deeply, to be patient, or to delay our gratification. If it isn’t happening now, it doesn’t matter.

Or so we’re told. In a world full of fleeting immediacy, unrestrained information intake and sound-bite theology, it can be easy to lose our perspective on God’s plan for the world and for our lives.

For the teaching course in this edition of “Throwback Thursdays,” we go to a sweeping, packed-full-of-goodness message of John Meyer’s from August 2006. It’s called “Our Father Has Saved Us,” and it details the grand story of our Father, the truthfulness of that story, and how that story involves you and me. Here’s the audio (sorry, no video).

For the musical number, “Lost the Plot” by the Newsboys – off their 1996 album Take Me to Your Leader – is a stinging satire that hits at the attention deficit disorder of our souls in these digital times. I think the dots from John’s sermon are easily connected to this tune, as well. We are so easily distracted, so easily tripped up by the most insignificant idols in our lives, that we lose our place in God's redemption story.


As always, I’d love to hear your recommendations for teaching/music pairings for a future “Throwback Thursdays.” Leave a comment, message us on Facebook or Twitter, or email me at trevorsides@summitview.com.

Keep your stick on the ice – err, keep your bookmark in the page.

About Last Night: Thoughts on the Election Results, and Where We Go from Here

 

Hey, so what’d you do last night? Watch some NBA basketball? Read a book?

No? Oh, like all Americans, you followed the election results, and today you’re in an apocalyptic gloom, thinking that the Mayans are right on schedule?

Like you, many of us on staff at Summitview are still trying to get our heads and hearts around the results from Election 2012. Also, if you’re like me, you’re truly fighting to keep your eyes on the bigness and sovereignty of God in the blinding light of this dawn.

This election has brought us face-to-face with a hard truth: We are not in Kansas anymore. We are now, without debate, living in a post-Christian society. This is a sobering reality, and it was fully revealed – not caused – by this election.

So, we must ask, where do we go from here? What’s the church’s response? How do we, as children of the living God, live faithfully in this time? How do we fight the tendency to throw ourselves a pity party in the midst of moral and spiritual decline? How do we keep a Psalm-46 mindset?

What follows are a handful of links to challenging, encouraging and enlightening articles that can help us begin to answer these questions. They offer useful, biblically weighty insight about the state of our country, the state of Christianity, and lessons the church should take away from this election. We may not agree with every single detail in every single one of these articles, but we believe there is great truth in these resources that God’s people need to take to heart.

Keep in mind, though, that we're all a little emotional about last night. Things will become more clear as time goes on. God will do his thing – he always does. Now isn't the time to despair. Now is the time to pray, to seek the face of the Father, and to get our minds right and full of gospel-centered analysis of this political condition, so that our actions will bring glory and honor to the Ruler of the entire universe. So for now, read on.

“Slow Train Coming” by Marvin Olasky (World Magazine). How did we get here (“here,” as in re-electing President Obama, passing Amendment 64, a handful of states legalizing same-sex “marriage,” etc.)? Olasky provides needed historical perspective.

“Aftermath: Lessons from the 2012 Election” by Albert Mohler. “This deep division at the level of worldview presents President Obama with a daunting political challenge, but a worldview crisis is an even greater challenge for the church.” Mohler’s article pairs well with a tweet by pastor and blogger Jimmy Scroggins, which read, “This election ought to force evangelicals to change identities. Abandon ‘moral majority’ mindset & embrace living as ‘missional minority.’”

“From Me, Yesterday” by Collin Hansen (The Gospel Coalition blog). “If we suffer political defeat like those who have no hope but politics, we do not even commend ourselves, let alone the God who hung the moon and stars.”

“3 Things the Church Can Learn from Election 2012” by Trevin Wax (The Gospel Coalition blog). “If you are seeking to be a missionary presence in your community, you can’t ignore demographics.”

“Seven Post Mortem Principles” by Douglas Wilson. “Rather we must say that Jesus is the Lord of history, and so He is the one who gave this electoral outcome to us. We don't fully know why He did, but we know that He did.”

Maybe you’ll find these reads a blessing. Maybe you won’t. Maybe this entire time you’ve been going through a mental planning list for your pity party. I would encourage you to not be like Frodo, who wished the Ring had never come to him. We all need a good dose of Gandalf-isms in times such as these, and I can think of none more appropriate than this one:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

 

(Photo credit: Vectorportal)

Post-College Spirituality and the Sweetness of the Word

 

There is a startling drop off in church attendance among post-college young adults. While about 40% of Americans between ages 18-25 attend a church or para-church organization regularly, the numbers drop to nearly half that between ages 25 and 30. Attendance bounces back up again after age 30, presumably due to the perceived need for spiritual input when couples start having children, but between college and kids, there's a remarkable hole in the Christian church.
 
In our young adult ministry, Symbio, we long to see a reversal of that drift and realize that there is an enormous mission field among young people in Fort Collins, most of whom are not necessarily opposed to religious faith but aren't really feeling compelled by it either. We're trying to make intentional inroads into our community to influence those spiritually disconnected young adults.
 
Nevertheless, as we pursue the mission we believe God would have us pursue, we occasionally have to stop and ask ourselves: Is there fuel in the tank? Are we trying to take a hill without any ammo in our guns? Those are the questions we tried to answer this last weekend at our Symbio retreat in Estes Park, and specifically we tried to gauge our relationship with the Word of God.

 

If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible. Knowing that it is the Word of God, teaching men to know and love and serve the God of the Word, I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorn hedges, and man traps, to frighten people off. . . . I should try to distract all clergy from preaching and teaching the Bible, and spread the feeling that to study this ancient book directly is a burdensome extra that modern Christians can forgo without loss. . . . I should lure them into assuming that the benefit of the practice lies in the noble and tranquil feelings evoked by it rather than in noting what Scripture actually says. At all costs I should want to keep them from using their minds in a disciplined way to get the measure of its message. ( J.I. Packer)

 

The battle to maintain a vibrant relationship with God through his Word can be a tough one. As Christians we all know that the Word is an amazing source of strength, wisdom, guidance and joy, but nevertheless our time in the Word seems to constantly wane. Even those of us who maintain a fairly consistent time in the Word can still avoid deep and intentional study of the Bible. Our relationship with the Word quickly resembles the routine of popping a couple vitamins in our mouths before running out the door. And yet when we forfeit long, meditative times of soaking in the Word of God, we forfeit an incredible source of blessing. I love David's heart towards the Word:

 

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:7-10)

 

He speaks of God's law "reviving the soul" and his precepts "rejoicing the heart." God's words are like gold or sweet drippings of honey. Many of us have experienced that sweetness, but the cares of the world can easily distract us and cause us to forget. At this past weekend's retreat, we took a step back and simply tried to build a longing for the Word and an intentional and disciplined pursuit of it. We discussed the dangers of not reading the Word. We talked through the incredible benefits God offers us in the Bible. We were guided through practical study techniques for a detailed study of a passage. We were reminded of practical ways to soak in the Word like memorization, meditation, journaling and even speaking it to one other.

But most importantly, we read the Word. We allowed for several long periods of time to simply read and study the Bible. I must say that those extended times in His Word truly did "revive the soul" and "rejoiced the heart," just like David experienced. May we not forget that. If our church excels at nothing else, may we excel at experiencing sweet communion with God by taking time to unplug from the world and drink in his Word.

Opportunities for Faith in High School



Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)


Whenever we are in new situations, trying to adjust to the unfamiliar surroundings, there is ample opportunity for us to make the most of them. This is especially the case in high school.

A new charter school, Colorado Early College (CEC), recently opened in Fort Collins. CEC allows students to take high school courses and receive college credit for free. There are many Summitview high schoolers that are currently attending CEC, and this has provided them an opportunity to walk out in faith in this environment. They are banding together every Wednesday morning for 30 minutes, of prayer before the school day, asking God to reach and save their non-Christian friends, and building themselves up in God’s love. Without any announcing or promoting, some weeks there are dozens of other Christian students that join them in seeking God for their high school. Their unashamed love for God is a ray of light and hope into their culture at school, and it gives them even more opportunity to engage in conversations about the gospel and Jesus.

The fruit of their heart and actions was visible at a fun night for Mpact high schoolers. Jim Harrington invited one of his long-time friends, Joseph Parker, to share his testimony with the high schoolers. Joseph shared how God had intersected his life and how he still daily needs his strength and love. One of the amazing things about the night was the number of students that came from CEC, mostly through one girl’s invitation and friendliness. There were probably 20 students from CEC that were able to hear the gospel and Joseph’s story! Many students stayed and talked with Joseph after he shared, and he was encouraging to all of them. We are now trying to follow up with those relationships and continue to put no stumbling block except Jesus in front of them. Please pray for those relationships, and the courage and boldness of the high schoolers to enter those relationships. 

There are many other encouraging stories of Summitview students making the most of their opportunities at other high schools. It’s an exciting journey that God has us all on together. Please pray for these opportunities in front of us and that these seeds of the gospel will sprout by God’s power! 

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