Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Backpacking = Freezing

I went backpacking for the first time a couple weeks ago. Big mistake. It was soooooo cold. We picked a bad weekend. It was fun though.

We went to the Pisgah National Forest outside of Asheville, NC. This a picture of Daniel (my boss), Nathan (one of our student leaders), me and Will (a new Christian) on a mountain peak. We backpacked over 13 miles in two days. That basically means we walked around the woods all day with forty extra pounds on our backs. The first night we made camp on a sheet of ice. Not a good desision. I slept about 12 minutes. The second night was better. I learned some tricks from the other guys like putting my pack under my legs and stuffing my sleeping bag with clothes.

It was an adventure and I had a lot of fun but I will never go in the winter again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Gospel From Jerusalem to RDU

Pastor Danny suggested I put the timeline we went through yesterday up here for you that are interested. The actual sermon is, of course, here.
It really is pretty exciting to think about being a part of God's massive movement through history. Special thanks to Ike Milller, Mike McDaniel (my research partners) and Docent research group. They helped me put this together. They drew from a number of sources, including a sermon I heard by Matt Chandler.
Acts 1:8: God tells the Apostles to take the Gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
Acts 2:5-9: God sends the Holy Spirit, who makes the Apostles speak in tongues of every language in a clear sign that the Gospel should go to every people of every nation on earth.
Acts chapters 2 through 7: The Apostles and the early church do nothing.
Act 8:1, 4: God smashes the church and scatters them all over the world. They go, preaching the word.
Acts 8: Philip goes to Samaria, and then wins the Ethiopian ruler to Christ who heads back to Ethiopia.
Acts 10: Peter has a vision of pigs falling from the sky. The Roman centurion Cornelius has a vision where an angel tells him to go talk to Peter, which he does. After an awkward silence following their first initial meeting, they figure out what the dream means and an entire Roman garrison comes to Christ.
42ad Mark goes to Egypt
49 Paul heads to Turkey
51 Paul heads to Greece
52 Thomas heads to India
By 54 A.D. Paul is on his 3rd missionary journey, headed to Rome. He reports great success; he says that wherever he goes Gentiles believe, because God seems to have "written the law on their hearts."
Acts ends in a "...". The job is not done.
Shortly after Acts closes the Romans completely crush Jerusalem (70AD)– That sounds bad, and it was, but the good in it was this again forced the Christians to scatter all over the world cause that’s where most of them still lived. They took the Gospel with them and by the end of the first century there were three great church planting centers: Antioch, Rome, and Alexandria.
From these centers churches are planted all over the Roman empire. At the end of the 3rd century it was estimated that half of the Roman Empire was now Christian.
In 280 is when we have the first evidence of churches emerging in rural Italy. Here’s what significant about that. Up until then Christianity was urban. The Latin word for pagan” (paganus) literally meant “country dweller.” The cities were all Christian, only people left who didn’t believe in Jesus lived out in the farmlands!
432 a guy there named Patrick responds to a dream and carries the Gospel to Ireland—which Americans commemorate every year by getting smashed and pinching one another…unless you are wearing green, of course
In 596 a church planter named Augustine ventures to what is now known as England. He settles in Canterbury, plants a church there and baptizes 10,000 people in the first two years
About 650 we have the earliest translation of the English Bible, done by a monk named Caedmon
635: first missionaries go to China;
718: an English church planter named Boniface (nicknamed St. Bonehead), was sent out from England to go plant churches in Germany.
The next 500 or so years were a little sketchy in terms of Christian history, that’s why we call them the Dark Ages, but one of the good things that did come out of it was a conviction by many of the Christians that the most effective way to spread the Gospel was to put the Bible in the language of the people. By 1200 A.D. the Bible was available in 22 different languages.
In 1526 William Tyndale publishes the English New Testament, which was an attempt to get the Bible in the hands of the people. The state church felt like this threatened their authority (to actually have people reading the Bible), so the King of England had Tyndale imprisoned, and Oct. 6, 1536, had him strangled and burned at the stake. His last words were, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes." (By the way, his prayer was answered; perhaps you’ve heard of the KJV. One of our most popular Bible is named after the King of England.)
In the 15th through the 18th centuries a wave of missions happened. 1498 first Christians are reported in central Africa
1580: There is an outbreak of mission work in Japan… a lot of conversions. The Japanese government absolutely crushed the movement… crucified some 70 pastors upside down at low tide and let them drown as the tide came in.
Also during this time, 1587- we have the first two baptisms in North Carolina. Two Indians on Roanoke Island were baptized in what is now known as the “lost colony”
1609: A guy named John Smyth plants a church that was founded on the belief that that the Bible alone was the authority, that you could be saved by faith in Christ alone, and that when you receive Christ you should show it by baptism. This was the first official “Baptist” Church.
1611: Thomas Helwys leaves from that church in Amsterdam and plants the first Baptist church in England. In the next 30 years that church planted 50 others in London.
1638: Because of persecution, one of those pastors, a guy named Roger Williams, leaves England and comes to America and establishes the First Baptist Church in America in Providence, Rhode Island.
1727: The first Baptist church was planted in North Carolina: the Shiloh Baptist Church, out in Chowan county.
1740: George Whitfield took a preaching tour through North Carolina, with great response—crowds of up to 35K come to hear him. He goes back to Massachusetts and tells the story and a guy named Shubal Stearns gets inspired to be a church planter in NC. So, he moves here to NC in 1751 with just his family (he had 14 kids, by the way… sort of like a small Mormon family) and they plant the Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Liberty, NC with 16 members. In just 2 years that church had grown to 600. That church planted 42 other churches in North Carolina.
Out of that movement a church was planted in Durham (1845). The place they launched was the Piney Grove School in west Durham; in the next 40 years they moved locations twice… and changed their name twice… from Rose of Sharon to the Durham Baptist Church (1877); First Baptist Durham (1878).
First Baptist Church plants several churches. They saw a real need in North Durham, so they planted one there in 1907 called “the North Durham Church.” That church changed its name to Grace Baptist Church in 1921; in 1961 they established a new mission up on Duke Street called “the Grace Baptist Mission.” Within a year, the mission had grown and launched as the Homestead Heights Baptist Church in 1962.
1994: I am in my dorm room at Campbell University, studying for a pre-law exam. God calls me to be a church planter overseas. I go to seminary and then to live in Southeast Asia.
1999: God spoke to me while there and tells me I should be a pastor in America that helped sent people overseas.
2002: I was asked to be the pastor of the Homestead Heights Baptist Church. That was actually my first ever fulltime job in the US.
2003: College students "discover" our church. Our church attendance surged from 600 to 1000 in like 3 weeks, and our weekly giving didn’t increase a dime. At this point, I knew that because we’d have a lot of students, that meant 2 things: we’d always be poor, but we are going to have a lot of potential church planters.
2005: We recognize that the Brier Creek area has become the intersection of Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill and we decide to move our church there, as we believe it is the best hub from which to reach the whole Triangle.
2006: we were recognized by the IMB as being one of the top churches in the country in sending out church planters.
May, 2007: God made clear to us that part of our mission is to plant 1000 churches and cover the Triangle with churches and campuses.
Jan 25, 2009 I preach a message trying to get everyone at the Summit Church to understand this and they enthusiastically respond and we become a part of this huge movement through history.
What's next?

by JD Greeear

Thursday, January 8, 2009

9 Ways I Pray For My Soul

Here are some ways to pray for yourself so that you're praying in sync with the way God works.
1. For the desire of my heart to be toward God and his Word.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to gain. (Psalm 119:36)
2. For the eyes of my heart to be opened.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law. (Psalm 119:18)
3. For my heart to be enlightened with these “wonders.”
[I pray] that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. (Ephesians 1:18)
4. For my heart to be united, not divided, for God.
O Lord, I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. (Psalm 86:11)
5. For my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)
6. For strength in this joy, and endurance during the dark seasons.
[I pray that God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. (Ephesians 3:16)
7. For visible good deeds and works of love to others.
[I pray that you] will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord...bearing fruit in every good work. (Colossians 1:10)
8. For God to be glorified.
Hallowed be thy name. (Matthew 6:9)
9. In Jesus’ name.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? (Romans 8:32)
By John Piper

Reflecting on the News Years Conference

One of the hidden blessings of my job is a long and restful Christmas break. I am back in Chapel Hill now after being in New York, Pennsylvania twice, Texas and Georgia. The students will be ariving here in a couple days and I am asking the Lord to refuel and ready me for another semester of labor. Most of our staff team will not be on campus due to lack of support. Please be in prayer for them as they try to believe the Gospel and trust God during this season. We believe that God is in control and is soveriegn over the economy and the hearts of our supporters. It is his Fatherly responsibility to provide for his children and we believe he will do so in his timing. Our responsibility is to trust him and have faith in his promises.

I really enjoyed the New Years Conference in Atlanta. God really moved in powerful ways while we were there. The key-note speaker was a guy named Bart Garrett. He is the head pastor of Christ Church Berkeley in San Fransisco, CA. I was able to get some one on one time with him and am looking forward to staying in touch. He has a heart for planting churches in influential cities across the country as i do. Three students became Christians and many moved forward in their relationships with God while we were there. Our flag football team lost in the chapionship game for the second year in a row but we had a blast competing and enjoying the day. Please continue praying for the non-Chrstians who made the trip with us.

People You Need to Know...Tim Keller

Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian (PCA) is "one of Manhattan's most vital congregations," according to Christianity Today [12/04], started a Church Planting Center in 2001, and its phone has not stopped ringing since. He is committed to the church planting movement and 'entering the culture's stories and retelling them with the gospel'." Redeemer's vision is to spread the gospel, first through ourselves and then through the city by word, deed, and community; To bring about personal changes, social healing, and cultural renewal through a movement of churches and ministries that change New York City and through it, the world. Keller promotes a robust Reformed Christianity that has a vision that encompasses not only doctrinal statements, but also our piety, evangelistic outreach, and missions of mercy. Outreach Magazine recently listed the top church planting churches in America with Tim Keller's Redeemer listed as #1 and Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill #2 both having planted over 100 churches each.

People You Need to Know...Mark Driscoll

Pastor Mark Driscoll founded Mars Hill Church in Seattle in the fall of 1996, which has grown to over 6,000 people in one of Americas least churched cities. He co-founded and is president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, which has planted over one hundred churches in the U.S. and internationally, and most recently he founded and leads the Resurgence Missional Theology Cooperative.
Outreach magazine has recognized Mars Hill Church as the ninth most innovative and fifteenth fastest-growing church in America. Outreach magazine has also ranked Mars Hill Church number two of Americas top multiplying (church-planting) churches. The Church Report has recognized Pastor Mark as the twenty-second most influential pastor in America. His sermons are downloaded more than a million times a year and he has been recognized by Christianity Today, Inc., as one of the most influential young preachers in America. Seattle magazine has named Pastor Mark as one of the twenty-five most powerful people in Seattle.
His writing includes the books The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out and Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church. He also contributed to the book Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches. His books set for release in 2008 include Vintage Jesus, Death by Love, and a chapter contribution to the book Above All Earthly Powers, edited by Dr. John Piper. Most enjoyably, Mark and his high school sweetheart, Grace, enjoy raising their three sons and two daughters.

People You Need to Know...John Piper

John Piper has a contagious passion for God's glory. When I read his books or listen to his sermons, he guides me to see how overwhelmingly amazing Jesus Christ is. He is most well known for his book Desiring God-Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. In this book he contends that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Therefore we should seek to find our full joy in God and He will be glorified from that. I am thankful for Dr. Piper. You should listen, and glean from the passion of this man of God.
John Piper is the pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has written a ton of books, and has a lifetime worth of content at