Yesterday was our official of Crosspointe Downtown and the beginning of our new series in Ephesians called “Who Do You Think You Are?” Pastor Andrew preached on idolatry and our identity in Jesus. We say In Christ Alone loudly and triumphantly!
I was told that there was a total count of 96 people including children in the fitnasium of the YMCA yesterday! We are excited, blessed, and extremely grateful!
Celebrate this with us but also pray with us for those that have no intention on returning unless God does something in their heart!
Here are some pictures of the big day… Praise God!
This Sunday will be the first of two “Soft Launches” for Crosspointe Downtown! We will take this time to work out some of the logistical quirks that come from moving out of meeting in a living room of someone’s house and into a giant gymnasium! Well…”Fitnasium,” as they call it. It’s about two-thirds the size of an official basketball court but will suit the thirty-somewhat of us just fine for now.
Please pray for us as we prepare for the official launch on January 13th.
Rhyan and I just returned from our one-year anniversary (I cannot believe it!) and we wanted to say thank you to our supporters for giving us the ability to celebrate this for a week. Our week was definitely restful and although I (Josiah) was a little stressed out over leaving the staff guys at such a pivotal time in the church’s stage, I knew that it was much needed and that Rhyan and I would benefit much from it. So, I guess our “rest” was two part: (1) rest for our minds and bodies and (2) rest for our souls; knowing that God is ultimately in charge of this thing. I need to be continually reminded of that.
A thought that I wanted to share from our trip…
I am thankful for the community that we are a part of that stresses a life lived on mission because when we view our entire lives as part of the mission of the Kingdom of God, we no longer live our lives for self-indulgence. We see Jesus in the Bible living out a life of perfect self-awareness and perfect selflessness. He did both perfect. When we allow our hearts and minds to be transformed by the power of what Christ has done for us, we see every moment as an opportunity to make that work known. Although Rhyan and I were able to “get away,” we could not remove ourselves from the call of our Jesus and therefore, had some of the most incredible conversations with people about the Gospel and our lives here in Orlando!
In hind site, I feel quite unsatisfied with myself and feel as though maybe I didn’t say exactly what needed to be said to some of those people. If only I were a little more forthcoming in those conversations they might have turned from sin and turned to God…
It is here that I must believe that the grace that I so desperately want to for them is also for me.
Paul says… “my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:4-5)
God does the saving, not us. I believe that the Spirit orchestrates things in our lives for a reason and it was not just happenstance that we met the people we did. Regardless of our feebleness, God uses us. How great, in fact, it is when we are not seen as wise and persuasive but rather Jesus is lifted high! Be bold in your conversations today!
Today was the eleventh IDignity of 2012 and the organization is nearing finishing off over four years of serving the greater Orlando homeless and underprivileged. The concept is simply: supply the means to get identification to those who cannot get it on their own. This is one of the most practical and least “hairball schemes” I’ve ever seen. Without ID, you cannot work, cash checks, open accounts, travel, or even sometimes sleep under shelter. On top of that, the way the system is set up, it does not allow you to obtain such documents as a birth certificate without an ID but to get an ID you must have a birth certificate. This can make things tricky and that’s why IDignity exists.
Today I volunteered for this chaotic experience and although it was slower than most months, I still managed to become overwhelmed at the great need that is present in our city of Orlando. A single event has about 250 clients coming through the doors with about 75 volunteers working in various areas and costs about $15,000 to put it on. The organization works strictly by donation and as announced today, is receiving the “Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneurship” award which will hopefully generate more funding and expand it’s level of influence in the nation.
IDignity was started by a few churches coming together to meet the need in downtown Orlando and since then, has expanded to surrounding cities. I am so incredibly encouraged at the thought that we get to link arms with such community-minded churches as we plant here. I spoke with a few different fellow volunteers this morning including Thomas who owns a carpentry shop around the block and likes to skateboard in his free time. He had a way of speaking with people and connecting with their stories like I’ve never seen before. I was able to visit his shop afterwards and he shared HIS story with me. At the age of eighteen, he was in a major car accident and broke his neck. Over many months of therapy he finally was able to walk again but his right side regained feeling before his left did which left him a major limp (which he says has gotten dramatically better) and the inability to turn his head to the right.
Later he was sitting in a service with Bethel Church pastor, Bill Johnson preaching when the pastor stopped and asked if anyone had been in a car accident that left them seriously injured to stand. Thomas stood and people laid hands on him. He says in that moment God healed his neck and that he has never had any pain again.
What spoke to me most was Thomas’ response to his healing. He said, “I could not believe the incredible mercy that God had shown me.” I was almost brought to tears at Thomas’ reminder that our lives are in the mercy of God’s hand. Every waking day is a gift; a gracious gift from our heavenly Father. Thomas did not count himself worthy of such a gift but even though God did not have to heal his crippled body, He did.
Even though God did not have to redeem a wicked, rebellious people for Himself and grant them eternal life through His son, He did. “ See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1a)
Even though Jesus did not have to consider himself nothing in order to bear the cross, He did. “ who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
Thank You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for saving sinners.
Last week was our first week in our new… first series ever as a church. There’s some neat benefits of being a part of a church movement and one of those is that we all go through the same book of the Bible together. I love the spirit of unity that this brings and how we can share the good things that God is doing through His word in our different congregations. This current series is the book of “Nehemiah: a church for the city, nations, and generations.” We feel as though this is a very timely book to be walking through. If you’ve never read it, please do! Here’s a couple quick things that we pulled out of chapter one:
The story starts with Nehemiah receiving word from his brother about the destruction of Jerusalem. This was such disturbing news that it says Nehemiah “wept and mourned for days.” Not only that, but he fasted and prayed continually to God! The obvious question is “is your heart broken for your city?” The not so obvious question is “why is Nehemiah’s heart broken?” The reason for the first is the answer for the second. It’s because God’s heart is broken over it. We see throughout the story of Nehemiah and the book before it, Ezra, and all throughout the Bible, God moves upon the hearts of individuals to do His work. The reason Nehemiah’s heart is so crushed by the news of his city is because God moved upon him to be so. I pray that God would give me a greater degree of brokenness for my city. That He would move me to weep when I think of the brokenness that walks around on my broken streets and hides behind broken apartment buildings to hide their broken hearts and broken smiles.
God is Faithful Even When We’re Not
An easy thing to say but not to remember, especially in moments like Nehemiah’s. But we can learn a few things in his prayer that He prays.
- Nehemiah approaches God on what He’s already promised to do. He could have just complained and wined about how terrible things were but instead, he approached God boldly because He knew that God is faithful regardless of circumstance. He even regards God as, “God who KEEPS covenant.” God’s promise was to restore this city and even though hope as glim, Nehemiah’s faith in a “Great and awesome God” outweighed hid doubt. Now think of the new covenant. Think of the promises of God today. Think of 1John 1:9 that tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Do you approach God based upon what He has promised to do through His Son, Jesus? Do you approach Him, believing that you are an adopted son or daughter of the Most High and that nothing, not even yourself, could come between that?
- In light of the first point, we also see Nehemiah repenting of his people’s sins and even his own. Given the context, we don’t see much evidence of Nehemiah sinning but yet he repents. In short, this is a good reminder that no one is good, not even one and yet the mercy of God is upon us who believe in Jesus. The grace of God should wreck us every time we approach His throne.
Jesus is the Better Nehemiah
Lastly and most importantly, let us see Jesus in this passage. Although not stark at times, we should learn Christology and to find Jesus in all of scripture for it all points to Him! Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the king and this means that he lived a life of luxury compared to most men. We see him later leaving this place of luxury to gather people together to join him on God’s mission in restoring the city. In the same way and so much more so, Christ left His heavenly throne to a lowly manger. He took on human flesh, exposed himself to filth and disease, hung out with worthless people, and asked others to come along with Him as He went about His Father’s business. Ultimately, He willingly took the death we deserved and absorbed the wrath for our sins. God crushed Him in our place. He died the death we should have died. But only He could have atoned for our sins for God raised Him on the third day and Jesus took His rightful place, seated at the right of the God. All of this was for His Kingdom mission and He has commanded us to follow.
He left us with these words…
 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
Jesus, we believe You are with us always. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who unites us with You in the Father. Spirit, teach us to be more like Jesus, that we may love the Father and our city as Jesus, You do. Amen.
The Crosspointe elders had extended us the invitation recently to become a Crosspointe church, which had been in discussion for quite some time now and as of last week, we are officially “Crosspointe Downtown!” … Feels good to finally have a name.
Next week, Waterford Lakes will be commissioning us in their service. Pray for us.