Monday, April 28, 2008

Hey everyone…I apologize for my sudden absence. We are in the final stage of the parsonage overhaul which is good, but, it means that all my free time is being spent scraping wall paper, priming, painting and painting second coats in every room and pulling nails and staples out the floors so we can lay the new floors down. Blogging has been my hobby and something I've done for enjoyment in my free time and for the next 4-6 weeks I don’t think I’ll have much of that. By the end of May my time for writing should return (along with the energy it takes to keep things fresh).

Right now we are working out the kinks in our new digital recording situation and I believe we’ll be able to start posting the messages God uses me to proclaim on our site. At that point it’ll be easy to link them here. Once that is complete and I’m comfortable with the quality of the recording we’ll be linking to those message from the blog here and will post the outline from which I preached here as well. I have to check out how last nights recording went and we might be posting that message here later tonight or tomorrow if the quality was half way decent.

I’m really praying about what everything is going to look like here on Semper Reformanda in the next year.

I’m so excited about how God has transition Southside Christian Fellowship into The Epicenter Church. A family or two left us last year…but God brought in new families...this has been our story since the start (5 steps forward, 4.5 back)…it’s weird. The Epicenter Church is apparently being used of God to serve as the nursery wing of the Kingdom because each of the four or five new families are newborns in the faith…with all the zeal and rawness that come with spiritual newborns to be sure! And of course, we have a very high proportion of children in what we now call our “Little Tremors” children’s ministry. So I’m pleased with the fruit of all this labor, even though sometimes I complain to my wife because I’m pretty sure our “ministry” can’t afford a jet airplane right now, I am satisfied as I see 20 something after 20 something come and receive Salvation since our move. And no matter how much the big guy yells on Sundays…they keep coming back.

Then we’ve got Coram Deo becoming more and more of a reality. Like I said, the parsonage will be done in the next month or so and the church building won’t take long after that. My plan is to begin to have neighborhood cook outs here at the parsonage as an initial way to engage the immediate neighborhood of the church. At that point I plan on casually inviting those who come to these cook outs to a Bible study here in our home…and then go from there. I’m sure there are sexier ways of doing things, I guess we could launch rockets and fireworks and have men break ball bats, rip up phone books or swallow swords or something to get a crowd…but in my opinion…church planting is about evangelism…and evangelism starts with relationships. The plan is to begin some kind of Bible studies in the parsonage in July, be working on the church building in July and August…and begin to worship in the church building in September or October and go from there. The pressure to “go, go, go” with Coram Deo won’t be like it was with Southside because Coram Deo has a fantastic building…debt free. So even she doesn’t take off explosively we won’t have the added pressure of ridiculous rent payments or anything like that…and that’s a big deal.

So we’ll have Coram Deo Community in Akron worshiping Jesus at 10:30am and then The Epicenter Church in Wadsworth worshiping Jesus at 6pm. Hmm. Sounds like a plan. These will be two distinct churches, sister churches to be sure…but not one church with two “campuses” or whatever. I’m pretty sure I have theological issues with the multiple campus model that I won’t get into. My hero, Mark Driscoll, is into that at Mars Hill and I must say, that’s the only significant thing that I part ways with him over (that I’m aware of).

While we are not starting a second campus of the same church, I do pray that The Epicenter and Coram Deo will have a tight relationship together. That’s a safe bet so long as I am leading both congregations…I pray that after I’m gone these two churches will always stay tight and will always partner together in planting new churches.

What I’m not sure about is how I can use this blog to communicate to both congregations of God’s people. I’m not sure if I’ll end up working both congregations through the same series or not. That doesn’t seem like a bad option but I’m pretty sure that can’t happen at first at least. God has laid on my heart the desire to instead of preaching through one book of the Bible, to preach through the life of Christ through a chronological harmony of all four gospels. That will start in two weeks (I’ve been prepping our people with an overview of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity the last several weeks, ending this introductory mini-series this Sunday night with a message on the two natures of Christ and their implications). So obviously this is a massive study which could take a long time for TEC to work through…and Coram Deo will begin to worship on Sunday mornings in September or October of this year…I don’t think the study of the life of Christ will be complete by that point…so…it looks like I’ll be preaching through two different topics with two different congregations for awhile at least. That might not be altogether bad for Coram Deo, this will give me a good chance to lay a solid foundation for the initial group to grow from. At some point I would like the blog here, Semper Reformanda, to become a conduit for both congregations to plug into to gain further insight into where God is leading us. There are all sorts of issues that could be mentioned in a sermon, but for the sake of time, we just can’t. However, I could give that extra information here on the blog for further enrichment.

For example, last night I preached on The Holy Spirit. Buddy…there are TONS of issues in which The Holy Spirit is involved (to say the least)…one could preach four or five parts EASILY which would be focused on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. I simply could not get into everything last night, but felt led to keep the focus upon the way in which The Holy Spirit interacts with sinners in the process of Salvation. Going from how He convicts the world of sin, hardening some and softening others, how He regenerates, gives faith, unconditionally and eternally secures (seals) the believer, fills and dwells forever in the believer, prays for the believer, endows gifts to the believer and then empowers the believer for service…it was jam-packed. But…I only briefly mentioned His work in Creation and briefly mentioned His inspiring of the Scripture or His work to illuminate the heart, ears and eyes of the believer as he reads that Spirit inspired Scripture. This blog could be a way for me to communicate these things to our people for their further study and adoration of the Lord.

So that might be the direction of the Semper Reformanda…it might be far more driven by the context of what God is doing in our congregations. I just don’t know how that will look until both congregations are in sync together and I don’t think I’ll be posting much till the end of May other than a link to the latest message God had me preach with the outline…of course I’ll always respond to any comments in the comment section, that’s always fun.

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