Can We Reach the West Again?

We live in a post-Christian America. To some, it would seem that the “good ol’ days” of Christian values have been tossed out the window of progressivism. Timothy Keller wrote this booklet, How to Reach the West Again. He communicates the problem while giving the answer by looking at what we can learn from the early church in how it reached its culture. 

Keller, as usual, writes in a way that is convicting but not demeaning of Christians today. This short read is something that I would encourage every believer to read. We live in a culture where there seems to be a mass exodus of leaving blue states to go to red states or withdrawing from culture. The question that needs to be asked is how can we best share the gospel in our country that is less Christian? Today we can find more and more people who have never stepped foot in a church. We find more and more that have no understanding of God and his law (the ten commandments). More and more many look subjectively at what is right and wrong. 

Keller points out that the gospel we know needs to be shared will need to be lived out. It is something that will take time as believers build relationships with nonbelievers. It is going to take intentionality as we pursue relationships in pointing to God’s grace and mercy. Believers need to be faithful in life and integrity in public spheres, it is going to require us not to withdraw from culture but to live in it and be different.

Faithful in Life

Keller gives the example of how God told Jeremiah and the Israelites in Babylonian captivity about being part of the culture. God tells Israel to seek the peace of the city—plant gardens, build houses, and seek its prosperity (Jeremiah 29). Keller writes, “we can still serve people, be good neighbors, and be involved in culture while being faithful and open about our Christianity.”

In reading this, I was challenged with something that was taught to me. It was that the thought that Christians should be the best in every sector of life. They should be the best artist, creators, musicians, educators, and leaders. Keller writes, “[The] expansive vision for Christian influence in every area of human life, not because Christians are dominant there, but because they are faithful there.” By believers being faithful servants to public witness. The church needs to be a place to help train and e what it looks like to live out our Christian beliefs in the workplace.

In it for the Long Haul

The early church knew and understood that the gospel changes us. They also knew that it was a marathon more than a sprint. It would take time. It would take work. Therefore, their commitment was until the Lord took them home.

Today, Christians must look at the road ahead for them in reaching the west again as a commitment that will take time and work just like the early church. Being faithful and not frustrated. Being willing to spend time and being humble. Reflecting Jesus and dying to self. It all matters.

If you get a chance to get a copy of How To Reach The West Again I hope you can spend some time thinking through what Keller presents.

What Does Pray without Ceasing Mean?

I wanted to get better at running. Mainly is that I never could run for long distances and wanted to challenge myself. I could sprint but would burn out pretty quickly. There are two older gentlemen at our church that love running and they invited to join them. I did it and they blew me out of the water. 

Part pride and part realizing that men who are older than I could outrun me caused me to want to get better at running. I started to run, more and more and finally was able to run the farthest that I ever did without stopping. I started to research more on what I needed to do to build endurance. I looked at what were some healthy ways to push myself without injuring myself.

Like running a long distance takes some time to build up to, so does having a healthy prayer life. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessolanica a list of Christian disciplines. These come out almost like Tweets. He writes, “Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 These 5:16-18).

Sandwiched in these verses we read to pray without ceasing. What does that mean? As a simple definition it means to invest oneself in regular extended and strenuous prayer.

To invest oneself in regular extended and strenuous prayer

Where does it start?

Prayer as a Lifestyle

First, it requires us to look at prayer as a lifestyle not just a spiritual discipline. In fact there should be no separation from prayer and being a Christian. Christians should pray. A. W. Pink wrote, “Prayer is not as it is an attitude-an attitude of dependency on God.”

R. C. Sproul said, “Prayer is not optional for the Christian; it is required.” With that, one must not compartmentalize prayer as just a spiritual discipline but as it is constantly casting oneself in total dependency upon the Creator who is sovereign over all.

Understanding that prayer is dependency upon God, it helps in understanding that prayer is asking God to help us to know and do His will.

Prayer as Priority

Second, we must see prayer as a priority to that of being a Christian. To the early church it was a priority. There are many references where we see the first church praying.

  • After Jesus ascended to heaven and commissioned the church to be witnesses and to wait for the Holy Spirit they went to the upper room and prayed (Acts 1:8, 14).
  • We see that the early church devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching, fellowship breaking of bread, and of prayer (Acts 2:42)
  • Peter was going to prayer in the temple as an opportunity as God healed a man (Acts 3).
  • Through prayer God used that to communicate with Peter and Cornelius bringing about the Gospel going to the Gentiles (Acts 10).
  • The church met and prayed for the release of Peter from prison (Acts 12:5).
  • The church prayed and asked God for direction on where and who to send out as missionaries (Acts 13:2-3)

If it was priority and consumed so much church life, then wouldn’t prayer be important for the believers today? I wonder what it would look like if prayer was a priority for the church in America. Where we cast our whole selves before Him and realizing who we are in light of who God is. A. W. Tozer said, “Prayer at its best is the total expression of the total life.”

Let us strive to not only make prayer a priority but also the lifestyle of the Christian.

Family Update

A Long Time Since You Heard From Us

Hello Everyone!

I hope and pray you are doing well. I must apologize for not writing more. It has been a huge adjustment to this new season of life and blocking out time to write has not been my best discipline. 

In Washington we were able to have our first snow of the season. I took this picture early on because it didn’t last. By the end of the day, all the snow melted. It sure is pretty to look at! 

Here is an update regarding us as a family:

The kids- They are doing great!

Jackson and Jude are involved in the youth basketball of the area and are loving it. A big moment was for Jude stepping out of his comfort zone and doing something he has never done. He was hesitant at first but loves it.

Jude had some educational setbacks before we left California and with COVID making things even harder it set him back even more. This year he has grown leaps and bounds in reading and writing. I get excited to see him pick up a book now and start reading it. He is getting closer and closer to where he needs to be and the way he pushes himself through these struggles is quite inspirational. 

Adah is doing well in 7th grade. She is making new friends that she has invited to youth group at our church. I am amazed at her willingness to share the gospel and invite kids to the church. She is excelling at school and really has started to apply herself. She is maturing into such a godly woman, it is great to see. 

Jackson is loving his friends and sports. He is quite an athlete. He did baseball in the fall and now basketball. He loves it and is having fun. He is doing well at school and loves going and learning. 

She has gone through so much with her health. She was diagnosed with IIH earlier this year. Here is a brief description from Alyssa about it, “IIH is a brain condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension or IIH. In short I have too much spinal fluid in my head. I was relieved talking to the doctor because I have raised concerns about my symptoms for years while being brushed off; the main symptoms being headaches and a form of tendinitis.” 

She has dealt with this for many years and to have a diagnosis is helpful. So far she has had her medication changed three times and each time it takes her a couple of weeks to adjust. I am encouraged by how she has handled all of this. The move alone has been rough in certain way but on top of that being diagnosed with something that has impacted her for so long and learning how to go forward has not been easy to say the least. 

We have a great community that has reached out and been mindful of her and her health.

God has her in his hands. She is liking working in Juvenile Detention and has a great crew to work alongside of. There have been some heavy cases and we just see that people need Jesus so much. 

This year has been full of many things. I just completed another semester for my Masters of Theology program. I have about three classes left. I am shooting to be done by the Spring. 

I also completed my EMT course to be certified to serve as a volunteer firefighter. I passed the course and also the test for the national registry. I don’t recommend doing both masters program and the EMT course at the same time as it was a little hectic to say the least. Alyssa and the kids were very patient with me through this endeavor. 

The church, RCBC, is going well. The Lord continues to amaze me with his faithfulness. He has been faithful in the finances of the church and with many new families being added to the church. I am very confident that God has placed RCBC exactly where it is to be a light in the community. The gospel continues to be shared weekly and people are confronted with the truth. I get excited to see the growth and what God is doing. We see because of sin we were dead in our sins and trespasses but God who is rich in mercy and great in love makes us alive in Christ Jesus. 

This year we completed a series on What is the Church?Jesus Fulfills: Looking at the Festivals in the book of JohnThe Book of Acts (a lot of the recordings we did not get as we were outside for most of the summer), and we just started our Christmas series called, Come Let us Adore Him.  

We have been able to experience the seasons now and see how winter can be tiring. We are currently getting ready to see some family for a little bit and it will be a nice time to reconnect with friends as well. 

Going Forward:
We plan on continuing to be part of the community where God has placed us. We see that the fields are ready for harvest but the laborers are few (seems to be a trend today with finding workers, lol). Where God leads, we want to follow!

A big thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We miss you all and long for days we can see one another again!

Stick to Your Guns

It is an interesting phrase for sure. I heard it recently and wondered where did it come from. The meaning of the phrase is basically for a soldier to stay at their post and not give way. Some trace this phrase all the way back 1769 by Samuel Johnson.

I believe the same phrase can be true to Christians with the core doctrines of faith. More specifically would be the centrality of Scripture. If one does not depend on Scripture everything else will follow. Ones doctrines and beliefs, if not grounded from the Bible will change and compromise will take place. Like dominoes standing on end, knock this down, your life will follow.

More than ever it would seem that we must lead with our convictions which stem from the Bible. What do we need to hold too?

  • Hold to the Word of God as authoritative and Inspired (2 Tim 3:15-17).
  • Hold to the Word of God that it is relevant today and is what you need (Heb 4:12).
  • Hold to the Word of God that it is how God has spoken to us. This is how God has revealed himself in a special way (John 1:14; 2 Tim 3:15-17).
  • Hold to the importance that the Bible leads people to faith (Rom 10:17).

King David is attributed to writing this:

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.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11 ESV).