You’ve likely heard often within the last few weeks that these are unique times in which we’re living. Indeed these are unique times. It’s certainly the first time in my lifetime that the entire world has been affected so significantly by one set of circumstances. Everyone is affected during this pandemic. Many are hurting. Some are hurting because of the virus itself while others are hurting in different ways. Some are hurting because of job loss or financial hardships. Others are hurting because they are separated from loved ones and they’re lonely. But in the midst of all the suffering, there are good things that we are experiencing from the Lord in this time.
Recently I’ve heard several stories of how people are stepping up to serve one another in these times of hardship and suffering. It seems like almost daily there’s a report of how people rallied around an individual or family with a parade of some sort. We’ve seen people who know how to sew jumping in to make masks for neighbors and friends. I read an article this week about how a garden tech at HPU was making floral bouquets to take to the hospital each day. I recently saw homemade signs in the Home Depot parking lot that someone had made reading “Thank You Home Depot Workers”. There are good things happening in our community during this pandemic.
There are people within our own church who are stepping up to serve the vulnerable in our community by preparing and/or serving meals for those who in need. The church mobilizing to meet needs in our community is a beautiful thing. And without the opportunity that this pandemic has created for people to work from home, many people would not have had the flexibility to step up and serve like they have. We have taken steps away from being a consumer church where we want to show up and be fed and we’ve taken steps towards mobilizing and being the church in our community. There are good things from the Lord in this season.
One of the things that I’ve celebrated during this time is additional time with family. Sometimes I celebrate it while at other times I lament it if I’m honest. I’m sure my kids would say the same. Without extracurricular activities we have more time for board games and meaningful conversation. But I’ll be the first to admit that this doing-school-at-home thing is no cake walk. With my four kids all doing school and my wife Erin, who is a first grade teacher, doing her school work there are times when tensions run high in our home. But I’m so grateful for the extra time with family, and the extra opportunities I have to enjoy my kids and shape my kids, while appreciating the extra time with Erin, too.
I recently saw a video that one family posted who have obviously been spending time together during this time. This is a very talented family who loves the Lord, and they’ve used their gifts to encourage others. This is the Goss family and they live in Pennsylvania. They started what they’re calling the “Goss Family Quarantunes”. Their “volume 1” is a performance of “Holy Water” by We the Kingdom. When I first saw and heard it I was moved to tears. Sometimes it doesn’t take a whole lot to move me to tears when it involves performances that are intended to glorify God, but this one got me because it was a family doing this together. I don’t know this family and the ages of their kids, but I was struck that their four children (who I would guess range from elementary to high school) were doing this together with their parents. I think about my own family and my four kids, ages 13, 11, 9, and 5, and I am reminded of the unique opportunity that the Lord has given me with my family. Take a listen here to see the Goss family perform “Holy Water”.
Pretty impressive right? They are talented for sure, but they are also really convincing. Their body language sells the message that they’re singing. It’s a precious example of how a family can leverage this unique opportunity. And that’s what I hope to encourage you with in this blog. These are unique times for sure, but we should see this pandemic as a unique OPPORTUNITY. What is it an opportunity for? Perhaps you’re like me and you could leverage it as a unique opportunity to build into your family, making memories and being intentional to shape their character to reflect that of Christ. Perhaps it is a unique opportunity for you to get out and serve because of a more flexible work schedule. Or maybe you’ve lost your job and this is a unique opportunity to testify to God’s goodness and faithfulness when others would be panicked. It’s an opportunity for you to do some home projects, yard work, or maybe washing your vehicle(s), but what opportunities can you leverage for eternal impact? How can you leverage this unique opportunity for the Kingdom of God?
Devote yourself to God. Disciple those whom God has placed within your influence. And deploy yourself as a soldier and ambassador for Christ.
Remind yourself daily that this COVID-19 pandemic is a unique opportunity and I pray your decisions are shaped by this God-centered perspective.
And in closing, I miss my church family and can’t wait for the opportunity to gather together!
As we seek to magnify Jesus Christ by
making disciples who advance the mission of God among all people, Community
Bible holds to six core convictions. These convictions are not arbitrary but
are actually the convictions of the early church. Specifically, we see these
things valued in Acts 2:42-47. When we assign one-word summaries of these
convictions we arrive at:
*You can get a fuller explanation of
these convictions at the end of this blog.
The first step to realizing these
convictions in our family of redeemed sinners is to identify them. As I’ve
heard it said, “without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship
that has set sail with no destination”. Our goal is to have these six convictions
move beyond being aspirations to being realized in our body. In other words, as
we make disciples who advance God’s mission of making disciples, we believe we
need to have these six convictions realized.
But how do we move beyond the
aspirations of such convictions to actually seeing them realized? There’s a
strategy for that. And at Community Bible, that strategy involves three
The first of those contexts is our
corporate gatherings. When we gather together for corporate gatherings there
are a number of wonderful things that happen, including the proclamation of
God’s Word and our congregational worship. Each week you can expect to hear
expository preaching of God’s Word, which the Spirit uses to convict,
encourage, teach, and correct us. With the proclamation of the Word, we learn
more of what God desires of us, examine ourselves in light of God’s plan for
us, and commit ourselves to move toward God in the power of the Spirit. In that
way we are realizing our “proclaim” core conviction.
Additionally, by singing songs that
express what we believe about the gospel together, we are reminding ourselves
of good theology. When I am singing these truths and I hear & see my
brothers and sisters singing the same, it does a lot to encourage me that we
are in this together. To be clear, worship is not limited to singing songs on
Sunday mornings, but by coming together regularly to sing our worship to God we
are (at least in part) realizing our “worship” core conviction.
Besides our singing together and the proclamation of the Word, we also dedicate time to pray together as a body during each corporate gathering. Each Sunday morning service includes multiple times of prayer (not to mention the Boiler Room prayer group that is praying during the first service each Sunday morning) but we also value prayer in other corporate gatherings, including our quarterly Community Gatherings (formerly known as member meetings). These gatherings often include an extended time of praying for one another, for our church, for leadership, for the lost, for our local, state, and national leaders, and for our ministry partners around the world, thus realizing our “pray” core conviction.
The first context that I’ve mentioned
here is the corporate gathering context. In that context, we see the
convictions “proclaim, worship, and pray” realized. The second context is
In the groups context we move from
large gatherings to smaller gatherings and we move from facing forward to
facing one another. In the groups context we realize a few of our core
One of the convictions that is most
difficult to be realized in a large gathering context is “belong”. It is
totally possible to be in the middle of several hundred people and yet feel all
alone, like you don’t belong. However, in a group context where there are much
fewer people present and those people are committed to knowing one another, you
can more easily feel like you belong. Engaging with one another around the
gospel and supporting one another is a beautiful experience, which happens
within the Community Bible context through groups.
In addition to realizing the
conviction of belong, we also see the conviction of “multiply” being realized
in the groups context. The concept of multiplying really boils down to disciples
of Jesus making other disciples who follow Jesus. Disciples make other
disciples via relationship. As relationships are built within the context of a
group, group leaders can build into the lives of others and group participants
build into one another’s lives as well. So the multiplication of disciples is
realized through intentional investment in Christ-following gospel-centered
Within groups there are three defined
objectives: gospel application, mutual care, and prayer. So I find it helpful
that even within groups people are realizing the “pray” conviction on a regular
So what about “serve”? Well, I’m glad you asked. The third ministry
context is missional service and that’s where we realize our “serve” conviction.
Being on mission — or serving — takes shape in two main categories: serve the
church and serve the world. With the gifts that the Lord has deposited and the
Spirit activates, we are called to serve the church. In other words, asking how
we can leverage our gifts, time, and energy to serve other brothers and sisters.
Maybe this looks like serving on the First Impressions team, or the technical team,
or the worship team, or as a deacon, or as a Community Group leader, or in our
Next Generation ministry. In all these (and many more) ways the Lord uses the
church body to build one another up and bring Himself glory.
But then there are the lost… those who
have not yet submitted to the lordship of Jesus… and we are called to love all
our neighbors, not just our Christian or like-minded neighbors. So as a church
we deploy people to serve the lost, for their good and the glory of God. This
happens through Local Outreach and Global Outreach involvement and through our
strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations. So there are many
opportunities to serve at Community Bible and we want all disciples to be
engaged in this context as we realize our “serve” conviction.
In summary, there are three ministry
contexts at Community Bible that are designed to realize our six core
convictions as we seek to make disciples who advance God’s mission of making
other disciples. To be involved in only one or two of those contexts means you
are handicapping your growth as a disciple. We believe that being involved in
all three contexts over time gives you the best opportunity to flourish as a
disciple of Christ at Community Bible. There is certainly more to be said here,
but this is a blog and not a novel so I’ll stop typing and listen to your
If you have questions about how to
become engaged in one or all of these ministry contexts I’m glad to help! Feel
free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your
thoughts and/or questions.
This past weekend it was my joy to serve on the worship team
during the morning services. It’s hard to believe that I have played drums for
30 years now, and it is remarkable how the Lord has used music in my life over
those years. I was able to play for two sitting US presidents during my high
school years – not something I ever dreamed would be on my resume. Then I went
to college at UNC Chapel Hill, where I had the opportunity to play for very
large crowds, even over 100,000 people on several occasions as a member of the
UNC Marching Tar Heels. In the colder months I would trade my snare drum and marching
band uniform for a drum kit and a seat in the basketball pep band. As a
lifelong Tar Heel fan, I am overwhelmed to think of how privileged I was to get
to play drums for teams coached by Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge. I played in
the Dean Dome for home games, in Greensboro and Charlotte for ACC tournament
games, and in various arenas across the country for the NCAA tournament games.
My first several flights were chartered thanks to the opportunities the Lord
made available to me through the music program at UNC. I will always be
grateful for the great opportunities the Lord has made available to me through
And it was through music that I was first able to serve the Bride
of Christ. Through various churches I have been able to play music that praised
the name of Jesus while making great friends and great memories. When my wife
Erin and I first came to Community Bible in 2005 it was through the music
ministry that I first got plugged into the church. Jon Eric had only been at
the church for a little over a year when we showed up for the first time. There
was a choir on the stage, an acoustic guitarist, a keyboardist, a saxophonist
(Jon Eric) and a guy playing electronic drums on the floor in front of the
stage. I was not impressed. But the Lord began to show how the gifts He’d given
me were to serve the church and He began to grow me in really significant ways
over the next 14 years.
With my role now as Discipleship & Administration Pastor
I have lots of other commitments on Sunday mornings so it is rare that I’m
available to serve on the worship team, as I did this week. But being back in
the saddle was a great encouragement to me this week. I mean, I definitely
became aware of just how rusty I’d gotten when I sat behind the drum kit at
practice on Wednesday, and I also realized how soft my hands had gotten! But as
I studied the music for this week and contemplated the lyrics, the Lord really
helped me connect deeply to one particular song. The third song we sang on
Sunday is called “Yes I Will” and the Lord ministered to me through that song,
even during my prep for Sunday’s worship services.
The verse goes like this:
I count on one thing
The same God that never fails
Will not fail me now
You won’t fail me now
In the waiting
The same God who’s never late
Is working all things out
You’re working all things out
I love how this verse proclaims the unchangeable faithfulness
of our God. It’s both beautiful and appropriate to celebrate the great
attributes of God. Among those attributes are his faithfulness and sovereignty.
God never fails. So even in my time of need I can count on
God coming through for me. In other words, even though my circumstances have taken
a turn for the worst, I can be full of faith that God is still able,
interested, and faithful to provide. God is not subject to circumstances. Indeed,
He stands above circumstances. But often our faith is swayed by the
circumstances around us. While we are called to be steadfast and immovable (1
Cor. 15:58) we sometimes feel like we are getting tossed to and fro by life.
But even in the being tossed we have a choice.
We can choose to praise the Lord. And we should do just
After recognizing the attributes of God in the verse, I love
how the song lyrics move to praising the Lord in the chorus:
Yes I will lift You high
In the lowest valley
Yes I will bless Your name
Yes I will sing for joy
When my heart is heavy
All my days yes I will
The song writers go on to declare the choice that they’re
I choose to praise
To glorify glorify
The name of all names
That nothing can stand against
As I listened to and studied this song last week I was
really struck by the declarations of praise “I will lift You high… I will bless
Your name… I will sing for joy… I choose to praise”. These lyrics exhort us to
move beyond the emotions of our circumstances and to worship the One who is
praise-worthy. And what motivates this praise? The recognition of the
worthiness of the One whose name is above every name (Phil.2:9). In good times
and bad, in the ups and the downs, in the happy and the sad, God remains
steadfast and worthy of our praise.
I had to ask myself how consistently I’m faithful to praise
the Lord, even through the ups and downs of life. I wish that I could say I’d
achieved a Grade A rating, but often times I also find myself being distracted
by my circumstances and my gaze is taken off of the Anchor and becomes fixed on
the waves. Sometimes I fall into a “what has God done for me lately” mentality
instead of remembering Who I have the privilege of worshiping.
So, my encouragement to the church is to consider Hebrews
12:28 which reads, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that
cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with
reverence and awe”. Looking beyond your
circumstances fix your worship on the Almighty, who was and is and is to come,
and who is worthy of our praise.
I’m grateful to God for my church family, the opportunities and
gifts He has given me to serve the church, and for the gift of music as a means
to worship Him. This past week served as a good reminder to me of how music
continues to be a gift to me and how service through music is a means of God’s
grace in my life.
What means of grace can you recognize in your own life? Even
if you’re in a difficult season, there are various means that God is using for
you. Identify those and praise the Lord!
It has been a great privilege for me to be a part of a
partnership between Community Bible Church and IBAC over the last two years.
IBAC is a mobile theological training organization that connects US churches
with pastors and ministry leaders in Latin America for the purpose of providing
Community Bible began investigating this opportunity back in
2016 after I met Jim Wilson, the Founder and Director of IBAC, while on a
short-term mission trip to Costa Rica. Long story short, CBC members and
missionaries Gordon & Debbie Crandell served alongside Jim and Melanie
Wilson in San Jose as part of the same EFCA missions team, and I was introduced
through the Crandells.
When I met Jim he told me about the purpose of IBAC, which
involved mobilizing the US church – where seminary education is more readily
available – to serve the Latin church – where quality seminary education is not
readily accessible. Practically speaking, it means having churches like CBC send
teachers who either have a seminary education or similar theological training
to equip Latin pastors and ministry leaders who already have influence within
their churches, for the sake of encouraging sound doctrine and gospel-centered
church leadership in Central and South America. The program consists of 15 one-week-long
intensive courses taught over the course of 5-8 years.
Community Bible Church formalized our relationship with IBAC
in early 2018 and taught the first course in San Jose in June 2018. Since then,
I have been part of teaching teams for courses in October 2018 and February
The pastors who attend come from at least 5 congregations in
San Jose and are mostly bi-vocational. These are folks who are called to
shepherd the flock of God, but who have to work another job to make ends meet.
For that reason, our IBAC group meets from 4:30-9:00pm Monday thru Friday for
each course, giving them time in the morning and afternoon to take care of
their paying jobs before coming to study. We’ve seen many of the same people
returning course after course, because they’ve enjoyed the training, plus we’ve
added some new folks along the way. We started with about 30 people and in
February we had 48 on our largest night.
Each night is divided into 50-minute sections. We have times
of instruction, followed by Q&A, then we have dinner together, which allows
for great times of personal connection, and then more instruction, followed
once again by Q&A.
One lady that has been coming to the classes is named
Mariela. She has been to all 3 courses and I don’t think she’s missed a single
night of any course. She is always engaged, always asks good questions, and she
has brought others along with her over time. In speaking with Mariela in
February, she told me that she leads a women’s discipleship program in a church
where there are 1,000 people. I stood there speechless as she told me how she
had desired something like this for so long, but it had been unavailable to her
until IBAC. This is a woman who loves the Lord, who already has influence over a
large number of women, who is able to apply what she’s learned AND teach it to
those with whom she has influence for immediate payoff. I believe that is the
beauty of the IBAC model. Not only does it build the US church through study
and preparation, but it builds the Latin church by equipping leaders who will
immediately be able to invest in others in their churches.
And all of this is made possible because of your support at
Community Bible Church. It is absolutely free for each person to attend these Bible
institutes, thanks to your giving. We pay for the printed materials for each
student, for translation, for dinner each night, for the venue that houses us,
and even transportation.
Thank you for your support of this ministry and for your
continued prayer support moving forward.
How can you pray for this ministry? Here are a few things
that come to mind.
Pray for the team that is preparing now to teach
in October. There is a lot of study and preparation involved in teaching these
courses in an effective way.
Pray for the churches that we’re developing
relationships with there in San Jose. Pray that the gospel would have its full
effect on the hearts of the Costa Rican disciples who are in these churches.
Pray that these churches would effectively & winsomely minister to their
Pray for opportunities to strengthen our
partnership with these Latin churches, even as our CBC summer mission team will
be in Costa Rica this Summer (July 13-20).
Pray for Jim Wilson, who leads this
organization, which now has locations in about 30 locations throughout Latin
America. Jim does a lot of travel to get to these Bible institutes, so pray for
his wife Melanie while he is away.
Pray that the Lord would continue growing the
number of people who attend IBAC each course.
I regularly meet with couples that struggle with unresolved conflict in their relationship. We all experience conflict. We all have unmet desires and that leads to conflict (see James 4:1-2). Periodically we need to revisit some fundamental truths, establish ourselves firmly there, and then move forward and build on those fundamentals. We need to consider the fundamentals of conflict resolution. We need to ponder biblical peacemaking.
In Matthew 18 Jesus provides instruction for how we should navigate conflict in the church. The first step of resolving conflict is for an offended person to make the offender aware of their “sins against” them (v.15). Of course, any offense that can be overlooked can avoid such a conversation as this.
Proverbs 19:11 reads, “good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” There are some offenses that are insignificant enough that they can be overlooked. For instance, sometimes we get offended by someone who isn’t aware of our personal context and they say something that is particularly sensitive for us but not otherwise sensitive at all. In cases such as this we may decide that being offended has more to do with us than anything the other person did wrong. But there are a few things that we should keep in mind if we resolve to overlook the offense.
If we’ve been offended and we decide not to address the offender, and we make the decision to overlook the offense, then we must make sure that we don’t hold a grudge against the offender. If we claim that we are overlooking the offense but continue to hold on to the pain, anger, hatred, or other associated emotions, are we truly overlooking the offense? The answer is “no!” Instead of overlooking the offense, we find ourselves often looking at the offense. This is what I call peacekeeping. We want to believe that we’re keeping the peace by not addressing the source of these emotions (the original offense), but we aren’t at peace with it at all. We think about it often, sometimes keeping us from being joyful around that person, perhaps preventing us from praying for that person, and usually causing stress (internal stress at best; relational stress at worst).
Ken Sande writes, “overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”
If we find ourselves often thinking about or talking about this offense or if we recognize bitterness rooted in the offense then we have not successfully overlooked the offense and we should resolve to address the offender.
Peacekeeping is not the same as peacemaking.
If the sin proves to be significant enough that it can’t be overlooked, then we consider Matthew 18 for instruction concerning how to navigate the conflict. First the offended party addresses the offender to make them aware of the offense. In most cases between two disciples of Christ the Spirit will bear fruit including a helpful conversation in humility and a speedy resolution.
In addition to the work of the Spirit, we can practice a few peacemaking principles that will honor the other party and enhance the peacemaking process. Ken Sande has this to say about personal peacemaking:
Reconciliation- if an offense is too serious to overlook or has damaged our relationship, we need to resolve personal or relational issues through confession, loving correction, and forgiveness. “If your brother has something against you… go and be reconciled” (Matt.5:23-24). “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Gal. 6:1). “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).
Negotiation- Even if we successfully resolve relational issues, we may still need to work through material issues related to money, property, or other rights. This should be done through a cooperative bargaining process in which you and the other person seek to reach a settlement that satisfies the legitimate needs of each side. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
There are times when resolution isn’t accomplished between the offended and the offender and then we need to involve another two or three godly voices “that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (Matt. 18:16). In other words, there may need to be assisted peacemaking in the form of mediation, arbitration, and/or accountability.
Peacemaking is possible because of the gospel. In all forms of peacemaking, we are seeking to glorify God and be reconciled. Reconciled to God and reconciled to one another (Acts 10:43; Eph. 2:14:16).
When we have a commitment to peacemaking and we go about it in a biblical manner, peace really can be achieved (not to mention growth!). Peacekeeping leaves us with frustration, weariness, anger, and distance between us and the Lord. Remember that Paul instructs us not to participate in the Lord’s table until we’ve been able to clear up such conflict (1 Cor. 11:17-34). On the other hand, peacemaking leads to abiding peace, joy, intimacy with God, and maturity in our walk with Christ (2 Cor. 3:17-18; Col. 3:12-15).
Because of the gospel, let’s commit ourselves to the enduring work of peacemaking.
Here are a few other helpful excerpts from Sande’s brochure:
The 4 G’s of Peacemaking
Glorify God: Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will rejoice in the Lord and bring him praise by depending on his forgiveness, wisdom, power, and love, as we seek to faithfully obey his commands and maintain a loving, merciful, and forgiving attitude (Ps. 37:1-6; Mark 11:25; John 14:15; Rom. 12:17-21; I Cor. 10:31; Phil. 4:2-9; Col. 3:1-4; James 3:17-18; 4:1-3; I Peter 2:12).
Get the Log Out of Your Eye: Instead of blaming others for a conflict or resisting correction, we will trust in God’s mercy and take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts – confessing our sins to those we have wronged, asking God to help us change any attitudes and habits that lead to conflict, and seeking to repair any harm we have caused (Prov. 28:13; Matt. 7:3-5; Luke 19:8; Col. 3:5-14; I John 1:8-9).
Gently Restore: Instead of pretending that conflict doesn’t exist or talking about others behind their backs, we will overlook minor offenses or we will talk personally and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook, seeking to restore them rather than condemn them. When a conflict with a Christian brother or sister cannot be resolved in private, we will ask others in the body of Christ to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner (Prov. 19:11; Matt. 18:15-20; I Cor. 6:1-8; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:29; II Tim. 2:24-26; James 5:9).
Go and Be Reconciled: Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to wither, we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation – forgiving others as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us, and seeking just and mutually beneficial solutions to our differences (Matt. 5:23-24; 6:12; 7:12; Eph. 4:1-3, 32; Phil. 2:3-4).
 This and other thoughts included here come from the helpful brochure titled Peacemaking Principles: Responding to Conflict Biblically by Ken Sande. You can find more information at www.peacemaker.net. See also Ken’s book Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.