In the previous posts we discussed two important and parallel truths in the Christian life—the need to preach the gospel to ourselves and the need to preach the implications of the gospel to ourselves daily and unwaveringly. In this last post on the topic I want to discuss how they work in tandem, working together in our fight for holiness, joy and satisfaction in God.
Success is a terrifying adventure. It allures and seduces. It prostitutes itself on the altar of my ego and plays my metaphorical fiddle, feeding into my insecurities and need to feel wanted, important and special. When I seemingly fail, it taunts and laughs at me, creating much dissatisfaction and discontentment. But then I remember that there is but One winner, there is but One person who can claim “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:12-13). I am once more reminded that God is big, vast and expansive, as the mirror of Infinity produces holy dread at my finitude and smallness.
But why is success so alluring? Why does its appeal, though knowingly vacuous, strangle all other desires? Approval. Oh yes there is not much new under the sun and this malady is all too common in man, but when push comes to shove, I want the approval of man. I want my family and friends, co-workers and mentors to look in admiration of my work. It gives me self-assurance, self-esteem, and self-righteousness. I know the folly of this thinking, but how do I fight its charm?
Christianity is about living a paradox. The first are last. The weak are strong. The dead are alive. And the approval of man is contingent upon the rejection of the Son. Christ’s rejection, which climaxed in His death and resurrection, is but the definitive act of His loving assurance that he approves of me. It sounds counter-intuitive. Its sounds, well, schizophrenic, but in the Kingdom of God, by way of the power of God, through the gospel of God, our approval is secured in the love of God. His rejection purchased our approval. I no longer need to work for it. His approval is stamped on my new heart, tattooed on my new spirit and burned upon my new identity because He died and rose again.
Do you notice how it all worked out? Did you see how both the gospel and the implication of the gospel worked in tandem to fight my idolatry of success? For one, I needed to be reminded that I am small in contrast to God (implication of the gospel). But I also needed to remind myself that Christ’s death implies that I need not work for my approval in things and people, but in Christ alone, by faith alone, for His glory alone (gospel). You see, preaching the gospel and the implication of the gospel are not merely parallel activities but complimentary disciplines in our transformation into Christ-likeness.
In the end, it is our prayer at the Branch that we would do both well, with great intentionality, intensity and in loving community.
Join us for the Multiply Gathering with Francis Chan and David Platt. We will be joining Re:New church for this simulcast on Saturday, November 10th starting at 6PM. During the Multiply Gathering we will be challenged to look at the much neglected aspect of our calling as followers of Christ…to make disciples of all nations.
|Date||Saturday, November 10th|
|Time||6PM – 9PM|
|Location||Re:New Church 1677 SW 35th Street, Corvallis|
Check out the Facebook event page and let us know you’re coming.
6:00pm – Worship
6:20pm – Francis Chan Speaks
6:50pm – Worship/Response
7:00pm – David Platt Speaks
7:30pm – Worship/Response
7:45pm – Break
8:00pm – Discussion with David & Francis
8:30pm – Commissioning
8:45pm – Closing Worship
8:55pm – Conclusion
What is Multiply?
The Multiply movement seeks to equip churches and leaders in carrying out the great commission by providing “a simple, practical, biblical, helpful, and personal tool for disciples of Jesus who want to make disciples of Jesus”. Learn more at http://www.multiplymovement.com/.
Promote this event at your church or ministry – Promotional materials.
We need Jesus more than anything else in this world. A teaching by Pastor Josh Howeth on John 6:25-35; 47-58; 66-69.
Since the very start of the formation of our church, we have had a strong sense in which God was calling us to dream big dreams. Big dreams about making an impact at OSU. Big dreams about how we would reach Corvallis with the love of Christ. Big dreams about being a participant in the gospel message going out into all the world. Over the course of our time praying and thinking through what God was calling us to do, our pastoral team has shared a common conviction and passion about our role in global missions. We want to be a church that mobilizes to go where no one else is going – to venture out into the the frontiers of Christian missions and bring the good news of Christ to people who have never heard.
The Unreached and Unengaged
With this common vision in mind, we set out to discern through much prayer and the help of many people where specifically God was calling The Branch to go. Our search started with examining the demographics of the international population in our city. Of the 2359 international students at OSU, over 1200 come from East Asia. This is by far the greatest percentage of any people group. It has always been important for us to strive to connect our ministry to international students with our ministry abroad, so a people group in this region seemed at once to be an obvious choice.
As we progressed in thinking through how we would go about identifying where to go in East Asia and what our strategy would be, we felt it prudent to reach out to more established churches who shared our gospel-centered focus and desire to spread the gospel to the unreached. This led us to reach out to The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. Brook Hills is known far and wide as a church who effectively trains, equips, and mobilizes people to live on mission both locally and internationally. God opened the door for us to have a series of conversations with some of their leaders and through those conversations we were able to begin to formulate our strategy for engaging the unreached, and narrow down our people group to the Tibetan Buddhist world.
Forming Strategic Partnerships
Our strategy turns out to be very simple. We will strive to form strategic partnerships with churches and missionaries on the field to come along side them and support them in the work they are doing. This model creates a relationship whereby those who work full-time in a particular context are the ones driving the strategy to reach that people group. Our role will be one of support. Since we aren’t the experts, we want to follow those who are and do what we can to support their work. We believe this is the most ideal scenario for engaging the unreached.
Over the past few months God has led us to a family that is laboring to reach the almost completely unengaged people of the Tibetan Buddhist world. Through this partnership we hope to participate in meaningful ways as a church to reach them with the gospel. Because of the nature of the work we will be doing, we must keep information about partners on the ground a secret. This part of the world is not open to the gospel, so everything we do will be done with and through the underground church.
We are still in the preliminary stages of planning our work in the Tibetan Buddhist world. God has opened the door for Pastor Josh and I to travel to the Tibetan Buddhist world (fully paid for by a totally unexpected gift! Praise God!) at the end of November to witness first hand the need of the people we will be ministering to. This will be an amazing opportunity for us to get a small glimpse into the challenges ahead as we prepare our church to engage in this unreached context. Please be praying for us as we prepare for this trip, as well as while we are there. Pray that God would break our hearts for this people group and begin to cultivate a deep love and compassion for them. As a brother once said:
“when we go out into these spiritually dark places we are going in search of family”
May we as a church feel that great burden – that we are going to the Tibetan Buddhist world in search of family. May we allow God to use us to play our role in seeing people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation around the throne of God on that great day when Christ returns!
To learn more about our ministry to East Asia, click here.
Preaching the gospel to yourself is essential in the task of Christian living and Christian growth. As the previous post explained, it is the process of appropriating the gospel, believing it and clinging to it, in the face of trails, sin and our fight for joy.
But there is another task which is simultaneously important. Not only do we preach the gospel but the implications of the gospel to ourselves on a daily basis.
Preaching the Implications to Ourselves
So what is this? How is it different than preaching the gospel to yourself? Here are a few examples to highlight this artful and delightful process.
Last week I attempted to climb in the window of my wife’s childhood bedroom by ladder. I needed to do this because the house, 2 days earlier, had caught fire and been badly burned. They lost almost everything in that fire. Well that is when it comes to earthly possessions. Thankfully no one was hurt. But do you know what I kept telling myself as I was perched high in the air, looking at the charred remains of my wife’s bedroom? God You are good. I spoke to my soul, preaching and teaching that God, in every occasion and in every event is good.
Or as my wife, who fears greatly the act of flying by plane, repeated over and over again to herself, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want’ as we soared above the clouds in late May. She gripped Psalm 23 with every fiber of her being, reminding herself that her anxieties and fears can be stilled because God is totally and fully in control.
Is God is sovereign or God is good the gospel? No, but they are part of the gospel, or implications of the gospel which arise out of many texts, verses and passages in the Bible.
Claiming Christian Truth
Now in both examples my wife and I did not preach the gospel to ourselves in whole but implications of the gospel in part. We claimed Christian truth and reminded ourselves of its reality in our lives. Many times this occurs when God reminds us of a verse or passage in the Bible which revives our souls. Many times this occurs as we remember a characteristic of God that helps us get through life’s difficult experiences. And many times it occurs as we need correction by biblical imperatives (commands) in our journey toward holiness.
Preaching the gospel and the implications of the gospel are essential aspects of what it means to be a christian.
In the next and final post on this subject we will discuss how these two ideas—preaching the gospel and preaching the implications of the gospel—work together, fueling each other in a beautiful dance to our joy and God’s glory.
Can I get a show of hands of people who are chomping at the bit in order to hand out flyers to random strangers? What’s that I see, oh wait, I don’t see anything!
Admittedly passing out flyers isn’t the greatest gig in the world. I recently heard someone say they would rather go to the dentist than spend a few hours passing out flyers. If they hate the dentist as much as I do than that is saying something!
All the same, after having passed out thousands upon thousands of flyers, I have made some interesting observations. Here are a few tips that can make even the most novice and squeamish person into a seasoned veteran. Drum roll please!
Things You Should Do
1. Be friendly!
Nobody will take something from you if you look angry, bored, or simply don’t want to be there. A smiling face goes a long way toward making that first impression.
2. Creativity is the key
You have mere seconds in which you must convince someone you have something they would want. The phrase you use to capture their attention is the ticket to your success. By adding in an element of mystery, intrigue, or perhaps even a twist into your opening statement will hopefully be enough to spark their imagination so they want what you are offering.
3. Add an element of missing out
A phrase such as, “Do you have one of these yet?” works wonders. Most likely people do not have one yet and this particular phrase makes them suddenly realize everyone else probably does. Nobody wants to be the only one on the outside so they take one.
4. Find Commonality
It is amazing how quickly you can find common interests with people simply based upon the things they wear or have on their person. A sports team, band or other logo can be quickly and easily mentioned. More often than not the person will pause long enough for you to ask them if they would like a flyer and they have a much harder time saying no after you have established a connection to them.
5. Make snap judgments
Ok I said it. We all grow up being told not to judge, but in this particular instance you must. You can tell just by looking at some people whether or not they want a flyer. If they are doing their best to walk away, look away or simply flat out ignore you, than it is probably best if you don’t even bother.
Things Not To Do
1. Be offended
You cannot take it as a personal attack when someone, or a group of someone’s, refuses to take a flyer. No matter what you do, there will always be people who are unwilling to take anything.
2. Keep offering after a string of No’s
If you have a line of people heading your way and the first person says no, the other people behind that person suddenly get brave. They notice it is possible to say no to the flyer and they too can do the same. If this happens and people right after each other are saying no, just casually walk away and try again after those people have left.
3. Try if they are over 60
I have passed out thousands upon thousands of flyers. My success rate with people in this age bracket is somewhere around 1%. Perhaps they are wiser, perhaps they are professors; whatever the case may be they are a tough group to crack into.
4. Stress Out
It may seem out of your comfort zone to be so up front with complete strangers. However, remembering they are strangers and won’t remember you 5 minutes later can give you the boldness you are searching for.
5. Forget sunscreen and comfy shoes!
The most important thing to remember is to have fun. Whether you end up passing out one or one thousand all that matters at the end of the day is that you were a willing participant in letting God use you. You may never know the impact you can have on the life of just one individual.
There has been much talk of late about preaching the gospel to yourself. But what exactly does that mean? It sounds nice, but practically what does it look like?
In order not to reinvent the wheel here is an extended quote from Jerry Bridges in his book The Discipline of Grace in which he address specifically how a person preaches the gospel to themselves.
“To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.
To preach the gospel to yourself means that you take at face value the precious words of Romans 4:7-8: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
It means that you believe on the testimony of God that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). It means you believe that “Christ redeemed [you] from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for [you], for it is written ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). It means you believe He forgave you all your sins (Colossians 2:13) and now “[presents you] holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).
Turning to the Old Testament, to preach the gospel to yourself means that you appropriate by faith the words of Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
It means that you dwell upon the promise that God has removed your transgressions from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), that He has blotted out your transgressions and remembers your sin no more (Isaiah 43:25). But it means you realize that all these wonderful promises of forgiveness are based upon the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
It is the death of Christ through which He satisfied the justice of God and averted from us the wrath of God that is the basis of all God’s promises of forgiveness. We must be careful that, in preaching the gospel to ourselves, we do not preach a gospel without a cross. We must be careful that we do not rely on the so-called unconditional love of God without realizing that His love can only flow to us as a result of Christ’s atoning death.
It is our prayer that we at The Branch would be a community that continually experiences the power of the gospel in our own lives, as we breath-in-and-out it’s rejuvenating message, which fuels our holiness and produces everlasting joy.
As eight of us stepped out in faith at the end of 2011 and agreed to strive to see a church planted at OSU, we could never have fathomed the year that we have experienced.
We knew that we couldn’t do this alone and have prayed for God to gather a church to join us as we seek to spread His gospel. He has resoundingly answered that prayer as we’ve seen many people brought into our community and living on mission with us. What we didn’t expect is the overwhelming generosity, grace and provision that He has provided to us through the broader Christian community.
What has been an interesting part of our story, and humbling for myself specifically, is that it seems like every avenue I’ve pursued in trying to build church partnerships has ended at a dead end. Yet as that has taken place, instantaneously in the moments of meeting the dead end, we have been t-boned with God’s provision.
As we’ve processed this last year as a team, we can honestly say we don’t know where we would be today if it weren’t solely for God working despite our inadequacies. We’ve worked very hard. We’ve sweat, we’ve cried, we’ve yelled, we’ve laughed. And through it all, He has provided for us.
The big ‘C” Church
We have been overwhelmed by the big ‘C’ Church of God, as every week it seems we get a phone call from a random church telling us how God has laid us on their heart and they want to help. Churches like Fusion Church in Muskogee, OK. Driscoll Baptist Church in Spokane, WA. Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. The Bridge Church in Snohomish, WA. Trinity Baptist in Lebannon, OR. We would not be where we are today without these amazing, generous people.
Or we get a big call from the North American Mission Board out of the blue to help massively with our startup costs. We don’t know where we would be today without God’s provision through NAMB.
The other day, we filled our trailer with a bunch of sound equipment, children’s supplies and various other necessities from our great friends Corvallis Church. We drove away with those items in a trailer that was completely given to us for free by the very generous people of Gresham Bible Church in Gresham, OR. All that we were towing away and what we were towing it in was completely given to us. We wouldn’t be where we are today without these incredible churches.
Supplies from Corvallis Church being loaded into our new trailer donated by Gresham Bible Church
Beyond money and supplies, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of churches wanting to come alongside us and help us with their people serving us and our great city. Resonate Church in the palouse of Washington and Idaho have been our friends and walked with us since day one. We cannot thank them enough for their support and advice. Last weekend and this coming one they are sending a total of nearly twenty college students to help us with various events, with leading worship and getting the gospel and the word of our launch out to our campus and community. Discovery Pointe Church in Ridgefield, WA is sending down some people for our second weekend service to help with kids, with setting up and tearing down and worship.
We don’t know where we would be today without these incredible people.
The Resonate team down to help us put on the Kye Kye concert
And, since before even day one, we are absolutely overwhelmed by our close friends at Grant Avenue Baptist Church in our hometown of Corvallis. They have empowered us, sent us, and allowed us to utilize them in a bizillion different ways to get us where we are today. Without their monthly and daily support, we would not be where we are today.
Overwhelmed by God’s Grace
Without the help of all of these incredible people of God, we would not be talking about Sunday and our very first service as a church. I am COMPLETELY overwhelmed by God’s grace and provision that He has lavished on us through His people. It has been amazing to experience Him and His provision and to know that we are doing His will, all through others around us.
There are countless others in our town like Doxology, Renew, Grace City and many others, both individuals and churches across this nation that have come alongside us, myself particularly, and if even for a moment brought encouragement to keep on living out this Jesus mission.
Our thank you’s fall short. We talk about being blessed and we are getting a taste of what that actually means. We are paralyzed with gratitude. First towards God because this is all done because He has been working and because this is all for Him. Secondly, towards everyone who has walked alongside us this past year and will continue to do so.
It is incredible to see God’s Kingdom be selfless and to seek our God’s work first. I’m amazed at how many churches and individuals are not concerned with their little kingdom but are only concerned with God’s broader one. We have learned so much, and are inspired to bless others just as we have been blessed. We talk a lot about embodying the Gospel at The Branch. We have been experiencing that everyday through all of these people.
I’m stoked for the years ahead as we get to continue to experience God, His Kingdom and His ways. We are excited to bless others and see more churches planted in our town and elsewhere.
But let us always realize that this isn’t about us. Let us realize that we aren’t called to do this alone. But together we strive to spread the glory of our God all found in the Gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation.
He. Is. Good.
We are excited to announce that the Hello Somebody watches have arrived! For those of you who don’t know the story behind these watches read this. We have all kinds of colors and will be selling these watches on Sunday nights to raise money and awareness to fight human trafficking.
We have two sizes to choose from and will be selling both for $20. All $20 will go to support International Justice Mission.
The large face watch is 1.5″ wide. We have the following colors for this size: black, white, orange, red, purple, light grey, lime green, yellow, and pink.
The small face watch is 1″ wide. We have the following colors for this size: black, light grey, pink, lime green, and purple.
We received this letter in the mail this week. We were so blessed by it we wanted to share it with The Branch community. Praise God for the tender and willing hearts of the youth and children of Driscoll Baptist Church!
Dear Brothers and Sisters at The Branch,
We first learned of your ministry at Centrifuge this year and our students came home passionate to pray for your ministry in this coming year. We spent the month of August praying specifically for you all. We had two students who spent the month telling our youth about your leadership, the campus, the various ministries you have and even a bit about the area of Corvallis. I have included a prayer reminder that each of our students and adult leaders took to pray for you over the four weeks of August.
Our Vacation Bible School happend to be 2 weeks after we came back from camp and God impressed on our hearts to tell our VBS kids about your ministry and what you all were doing to tell people about Christ and to give our missions offering to your ministry. This year, we broke a record in giving by our students. Through a friendly competition between our boys and girls, totaling about 70 children, we were able to raise $1500.00 for the ministry of The Branch.
Please know we continue to pray for you all and would love to know if there are ways we can continue to pray for you specifically. We are grateful to partner with you in prayer and help.
Blessings from extended family at Driscoll Baptist Church
God is so good! This is just another reminder of the big “C” church that we are all members of. Join us in praising God for His goodness and love. Thank you Driscoll Baptist Church!
We’ve all experienced it right? If you haven’t, you most likely will at some point. Going to a prayer meeting because you thought you should and because it’s “what a good Christian does” of course. You went, you made it through, and you left wondering if anything that took place actually mattered. You wondered if it was worth your time and you swore you would never come again. Yet, the next week, you felt obligated to go because it’s what a good follower of Jesus does.
Many people have baggage when it comes to prayer meetings. Most of the time you sit around and pray for what seems like trivial things: Jonny’s scraped knee, safety for someone traveling, job interviews and countless other health related concerns and money situations. It’s not that we shouldn’t pray for these things, but deep down we are really just trying to get through the list and as long as we at least mumble something related to the request we feel like we did our duty and accomplished something.
What Prayer Really Is
Whatever your perception is when it comes to prayer and more specifically praying together in community, we must understand and see it for what it really is.
It is group of people who have been grafted into the family of God, who simply get together and talk to their Father about what is on their heart. Then we get to watch and listen as God speaks into our lives and moves in and around us and answers our prayers.
It is a time where a faith family gets to come together and throw ourselves completely on our God and trust Him and His faithfulness. To cry out for Him to continue to pour out His grace like a flood on our world. To confess our sin to Him and ask the Holy Spirit to bring repentance into our lives.
Prayer gatherings are essential. They can and should be powerful.
A Praying Community
At The Branch, we want to be a community that prays. Not because we think that if we simply pray, we’ll get what we want from God. But because we want to always be a community that rests, fully dependent, upon our God.
So, starting this Wednesday, September 26th, and every Wednesday from there on out, we will gather as a community from 7-7:45 a.m. and do nothing but pray. That’s right…I said A.M.
We will pray strategically for the gospel to spread to the ends of the earth. We will intercede for our campus and our city. We will pray for our church and our leaders. And we will simply share our hearts with one another, lean on one another, and pray for each other. And then, we get the joy of hearing God speak and watching God work.
This is such a fitting time to start this as a church since we are in the middle of our two weeks of prayer and fasting. We hope you will join us this Wednesday at 7am at our office space at Central Park South. Our office is right in the heart of downtown, in the old First Congregational Building, bordering the south of Central Park. We are located in suite 11 at 760 SW Madison.
We hope you’ll come and pray with us, drink some coffee and reconnect before you head off for work or whatever else you have planned that day.
We need this. To simply have a time every week as a community that we do nothing together other than pray. This is such a valuable time. We will cherish it, and hope you will too.
We rolled out our community art project today to engage and interact with students. It was a huge success! We talked with countless students about the Biblical Justice issue of human trafficking and shared about our new church and our motivation for why we do what we do – our love for Jesus!
We are about 1/3 of the way through, and will be out on campus the rest of this week trying to engage and mobilize students. Pray that God would use our interactions to point people outside themselves and towards Jesus.
We had 70 students sign a postcard which we will be sending to IJM who will send them off to our elected officials to make fighting human trafficking a priority!
The end result after our first day! Praise God!
On Monday we will be rolling out an opportunity for students to engage in the Biblical Justice issue of human trafficking through a community art project. We want to auction off the piece next year to raise money and awareness for the work International Justice Mission (site) is doing in this area. We hope and pray that through this art project we will begin to cultivate relationships with students and those in our community. By pointing people to look outside themselves and concern themselves with the needs of others, we want to be connecting people with the realties and implications of the gospel and what Jesus has already done for them.
Simple Idea, Great Possibility
The idea is simple, the potential is unlimited. Our hope is to get students to help us paint a 5′ x 4′ canvas. The canvas has The Branch tree outlined in pencil, with a grid of 3″ x 3″ squares. We will ask the community to chose one of the 10 colors we have selected and fill in one of the squares. To keep the Branch tree visible, students who select a square over the tree will be asked to select two colors – one for inside the tree and one for outside.
Preparing the Canvas
Check out Kaley and Chelsea getting things set up!