Missions

Love Fullerton

This past Saturday, our youth got involved with the Love Fullerton event. This is an event that was spearheaded by EV Free of Fullerton and the chief of police of Fullerton. The event also included the collaboration of 20+ churches in the city and numerous businesses. God blessed it so much that the mayor was involved, city council members were involved, and one of the state assembly woman was involved. In the end, over 2,000 volunteers came out that day to do work for the city – in parks, in schools, in non-profit organizations, on streets – almost anywhere and everywhere there was need, Love Fullerton funneled volunteers too.

As for FHG, our youth worked with Pathways of Hope and ministered to some families going through tough transitional seasons of life. We made brunch, played games, took photos, and one of our men shared about his life living in motels when he hit rock bottom and how he looks back now and sees the hand of God working to draw him to Jesus.  Overall it was a great great day!

While it’s fresh on my mind, here’s some random thoughts that came from that event:

(1) When churches lead with care and compassion, even secular cities stop, listen, and follow –  It was quite AMAZING to see how from top to bottom, the city of Fullerton followed the lead of Christians. Practical love is very difficult to deny and reject.

(2) The more secular the culture, the more real relationships need to be – This is true at the personal level and the corporate level. Sharing the gospel with individuals takes time. It takes knowing people. Impacting a  city takes time. It takes investment on the part of a church. It won’t happen overnight.

(3) Churches should affect the cities they’re in – That’s why they’re in that city. The story relayed to me still rings in my ear: “Churches sometimes feel like leeches. They only want tax exemptions and building permits” – city council member of Fullerton.

(4) Collaboration with other churches does in fact work and is in fact a great witness to the lost.

(5) There are moments to serve God in small personal ways and moments to serve God through the mobilization of many. Both should be cherished.

(6) To whom much is given, much is required. I’m thankful for EV Free and their endeavor to pour their mega-church resources into reaching out and spearheading the way. More growth to you!!

(7) Teens love to serve. They just need opportunities. Nothing makes faith more real for them than to live it.

(8) Adults love to serve. They just need opportunities. Nothing makes faith more real for them than to live it.

(9) Serving God takes hard work. Lots of sweat. Lots of strain. Lots of time and energy and resources. Lives impacted are never because of the effort alone. God impacts lives. But caring, loving, and serving takes work. There’s no way around that.

(10) The consummation of  Christ’s redemptive work doesn’t happen because of Christian’s “renewal” efforts. The kingdom is consummated when Jesus brings it with his literal 2nd coming. That said, the right way to wait for His coming, and the most joyful way to wait for his coming, is to spread the message of the kingdom!

I’m looking forwarding to next time. This year caught us off guard a little bit so we were unable to mobilize the whole church at FHG. Next year we’ll be ready.

Money and Intentions

“Our hope is that local community groups will attempt great things for the

glory of God and the good of the city as we seek to serve like Jesus.” ~ Reality L.A.

(on why they set aside $20K for community groups to use to touch their community)

Jesus’ Focus On Money
As I’ve been reading through the gospel of Luke, one of the things that strikes me is how focused Jesus is on money. Over and over again this topic of money shows up in the ministry of Jesus. In fact, I find these statistics to be interesting:

  • Jesus talked more about money than anything else except the Kingdom of God
  • Jesus talked more about money than He did about Heaven and Hell combined
  • Of the 39 parables Jesus told, 11 of them deal with the issue of money
  • In the gospel of Luke, 1 out of every 7 verses talk about money (that is staggering to me!)

How we handle money is not a side issue to Jesus, it is a central issue! How we handle money is not separate from our spiritual life, it shows our spiritual life.

“I can see more about the spirituality of a man by reading through his checkbook than I can by reading through his prayer book.” ~ D. L. Moody

How Should I Think About Money?
I find verses like these help to me to think properly about money:

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1Ti 6:8-10)

Words like “Fall”, “temptation”, “snare”, “senseless” and “harmful” are ones I generally try to avoid in life; and words like “evil” and “pierced themselves” and “many pangs” are words I run from at all cost.

What About The Church?
As the church plant in Claremont is becoming more of a reality, practical issues are becoming more real. One of those issue is the church and money and the philosophy of the “church’s money”. I don’t have all the answers in this area, but I do know this: there is no penny that the church has or ever will have that is not under the sovereign control of Jesus, who owns the church. And because of that, there is not a single dollar that is reserved except for the cause of the gospel and the glory of His name. My heart is to see us be a church that is fiscally conservative but missionally agressive, and where those two collide, then with wisdom and humility, I pray the Lord will lead us to lean on being missionally aggressive, regardless of the cost.

Like an individual person’s life, I take it that the life of the church, if it falls in love with money, will live out these words:  “fall”, “temptation”, “snare”, “senseless” and “harmful”. And when those words loom, soon will come the words that followed in Pauls admonition to Timothy : “evil” and “pierced themselves” and “many pangs”.

Lord, protect us as a church from God dishonoring wasteful spending and sovereignly keep us from suicidal hope in money!

Let’s Buy Friends!

Jesus said it:  “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)

It means we care more about people than money. Let’s live it out. Here is a church that is doing that!!

Missional Grant
This summer, Reality LA has set aside $20,000 for our new Missional Grant program. This program is intended to encourage and equip RLA community groups to reach out on mission to their local communities. We want to financially equip groups to plan projects beyond what their own resources could normally afford.

In making the grant available, we want to communicate to the value of your partnership in the ministry of the Gospel. Whether it’s renovating a local care facility, assisting local families, or getting equipment for a local school, we encourage you to be creative in meeting your neighborhood’s needs. Our hope is that local community groups will attempt great things for the glory of God and the good of the city as we seek to serve like Jesus.

Missional grant proposals require a sponsoring community group. Please speak with your CG leader before submitting an application. If you’ve spoken to your leader, you can fill out the applicationhere.

(  http://realityla.onthecity.org/plaza/topics/ca884558209ab75470489d3e049f33b96ad466ac  )

Church For The City

“You are the light of the world. 

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden”

~ Jesus, Mat 5:14

Thinking Lately

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of church and the city the church is in, and the more I think and pray about it, the more I think of the unique impacts the gospel made upon distinct cities in the book of Acts – from Jerusalem to Samaria to Corinth to Ephesus to Rome to many others. Each city was changed in different ways by the gospel and those preaching and living the gospel.

I wonder what God has for us in Claremont. I wonder what the needs are in Claremont. I wonder what the Lord will embed in our hearts and our DNA as a church that is specifically needed for Claremont and from Claremont, the San Gabriel Valley; and from there, our part in spreading the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world (btw – i deeply believe in global missions!)

In the City, Of the City, Against the City – or FOR THE CITY?

I was reading this preview of Darrin Patrick’s book “For the City, Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel”. It is well worth 10 minutes of reading because it so captures where my heart is at. This is the type of church I want to pour the next 30 years of my life into!

http://www.wtsbooks.com/pdf_files/9780310330073.pdf

I don’t want to be a church just “in the city” of Claremont, and I have no desire to a church that is “of the city” of Claremont (as Lot was of Sodom), nor do I ever ever want to be a church “against the city” of Claremont (jesus said – “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”).

I want to be a part of a church that is deeply and practically and intentionally “for the city” of Claremont and it’s people. I want to love them and relieve them of their deepest hurts and pains and sufferings – first and foremost the eternal suffering of being separated from God – but then also the secondary sufferings of living in a fallen world that is shattered by sin and it’s consequences.

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The Smell of Death For The Hope of Life

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Cor 4-7-10)

I am not positive what all Paul intended when he said:

“…. always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. “

Clearly Paul is at least referring to the persecution that he suffered for the sake of the gospel and with that the nearness and tenderness of the presence of Jesus in those sufferings. Over and over again in Paul’s life Jesus showed up at the darkest of times. Acts 9, Acts 22:17-21, Acts 19:9-10 describe some. In Acts 23:11 Paul is waiting his trial and Luke records

“The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”  (Acts 23:11)

At the end of Paul’s life he could say this:

“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2Ti 4:16-17)

So Paul’s life was one of suffering (ie. carrying about death) and in the midst of that discovering the presence of Jesus (ie. the life of Jesus). But I think the original verses in 2 Cor 4:7-10 means more than that and it’s meaning carries big weight in how ministry is to be done.

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Last Days’ Unity

There is a command that God gives which takes a lot of work to obey. Here it is:

(Eph 4:3)  being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Churches approach the doing of this command in various ways that I think ultimately reflect the personality of and the experience of their leaders. For me, here is my thought on what best “perserves the unity of the Spirit”:
Act 2:17  “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 
Act 2:18  even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 
 The unity here unites “all flesh”. This includes gender division (sons and daughters), age division (young men and old men), and social-economical divisions (“even on my male servants and female servants”, meaning the poor and lowly in status are included in the “in” group). Add to that the reality that Peter is speaking to the ethnically diverse group of people there in Jerusalem for Passover and Pentecost, I find the type of unity found in Acts 2 to be one that crosses even harsh racial-ethnic boundaries.
So what was this unity that had such great power to unite? It was a unity found in being filled by the Spirit of God. But for what purpose? For the purpose of mission, for the purpose of the gospel, for the purpose of being a witness to a dying world.
From this I find the deep conviction that a church will be most united when the mission of Christ is at the most forefront of their hearts and minds and prayers and preaching and budget and planning. The camaraderie and fellowship that is experienced in the mission of Jesus is not different than the camaraderie experienced by soldiers in real life. Their bond and care for each other makes unity based on common sports teams or common political views or common entertainment like feel trite at best. One feels like bonds forged in the moments of life and death and the other like moments strung together in the fluff of chatter and temporary amusement.Unity comes when the members of a church are filled with the Spirit. The rest of Acts 2 proves this to be true and to what radical extent it is true.
So then, I find my best means as a leader and part of a leadership team to foster unity is not necessarily picnics and holiday events and even peer groups. I shepherd the flock towards unity best by pushing towards mission and the gospel, if by grace we might find a common empowering of the Spirit for the mission and in the process discover the unexpected experience of UNITY in CHRIST.