Monday, September 29, 2008

CEF Update - Good News Clubs

The 2008-2009 school year is our first year to officially have Good News Clubs (GNCs) in the Denver Public School (DPS) system! However, we are experiencing a few road bumps along the way.

Sabin International School (an ECE-5 DPS school) granted us the use of their facilities for an after-school Bible club, but prohibited us from doing any sort of advertising. Well, we can't have a club unless kids come!

We prayed about the situation at our weekly staff metting. Larea Harris, our GNC coordinator for the city/county of Denver, contacted the lawyer for DPS. He reviewed the relevant case law and agreed that CEF should be allowed to advertise the club. Praise God for this answer to prayer! We are excited about building relationships with kids in DPS schools and introducing them to Jesus through the Scriptures.

Pray that churches in the city/county of Denver would partner with CEF to minister to the children of their communities by "adopting" schools and starting GNCs there.

We currently have two GNC coordinators serving on staff: Larea Harris for the city/county of Denver, and Margaret Goldberg for the NE metro area. We are looking to hire three more coordinators so that we can more effectively partner with churches in the NW, SE, and SW regions of the metro area. Please pray for these new staff.

Thanks so much! We are excited about the year of ministry ahead.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Events at Caesarea Philippi (Part III)

We have now wrapped our three-part series at Regeneration ( about the pivotal events at Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16. We began this series by asking two questions: Who is Jesus? And what are the implications of his identity for us as his followers?

The answer to the first question is that Jesus is the Messiah. In fact, he is the Messiah who wants to build a messianic community around himself called the church. But he is not the Messiah of Jewish expectations. He did not come in the first century to overthrow Rome, restore Israel to her former glory, and set up the kingdom of God on earth. He did not come to change Israel’s circumstances. He came to change people’s hearts. He came to give Jews and Gentiles alike new life through his suffering-death-resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 16, Jesus predicts his suffering-death-resurrection for the very first time. Peter is horrified and rebukes Jesus. In reply, Jesus says that Peter is not thinking the things of God, but the things of men.

Jesus is the Messiah, a suffering servant who came to give new life to Jews and Gentiles alike. What about our second question? What are the implications of his identity for us as his followers?

In vv. 24-28, Jesus speaks honestly about the cost of discipleship.

What does he say? (1) Deny yourself, (2) pick up your cross, and (3) follow me. This is hard teaching. Jesus is calling his followers to be self-abandoned, not self-absorbed.

If you want to be a part of Jesus’ legacy, you must make a change of course—no matter what the cost—and follow him. And you must follow him daily. Being a disciple is about staying the course.

By charting this new course in life (and staying the course), you will take part in Jesus’ mission of seeking first the kingdom of God: a realm where God is rightly worshipped, neighbors rightly loved, and the earth rightly ruled and cared for.

Here are my notes:

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Events at Caesarea Philippi (Part II)

Sometimes God intervenes in our circumstances in miraculous ways. But sometimes he doesn’t. Does he just love some people more than others? Do we just not have enough faith sometimes? I guess the real question is, what exactly is God interested in doing in our lives and our world? Is there some rhyme or reason to his ways?

Last week at Regeneration ( we began a trek through Matthew 16:13-28. In vv. 13-20, Peter confessed that Jesus is the Messiah. For Peter, the Messiah was a conquering king who would overthrow Rome and restore Israel to her former glory. In reply, Jesus taught his disciples that he wants to build a messianic community called the church.

This week, in vv. 21-23, we find that Jesus’ own ideas about the Messiah are very different from Peter’s ideas. For Jesus, the Messiah is a suffering servant (cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12). This is the first time in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus predicts his suffering-death-resurrection.

Living under the thumb of the Roman Empire, Peter was looking for a Messiah who would change his circumstances. But Jesus did not come to change Peter’s circumstances. He came to give Peter new life.

What does Jesus’ suffering-death-resurrection have to do with our lives today? Simply put, Jesus did not suffer-die-resurrect so that he can intervene in your circumstances at your every whim. He did not suffer-die-resurrect so that any unfavorable circumstances outside of your control can be changed in your favor. He suffered-died-resurrected in order to give you new life.

God has not promised to always change your circumstances. But he has promised to give you new life in Jesus so that you can worship him rightly, love your neighbor rightly, and rule over the earth rightly. And he has promised to give you grace and mercy in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Sometimes God does intervene in our circumstances in miraculous ways. When that happens, we should be overjoyed and praise him and tell the story. But THE GOSPEL is the good news of the Messiah doing what he came to do. It is the good new that Jesus is a suffering servant who suffered-died-resurrected in order to give us new life. In the future, Jesus will come again: this time as a conquering king. He will come as the Messiah who changes our circumstances: there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:1-5).

Right here, right now, God is not always interested in changing your circumstances; he is interested in changing you.

Here is a link to my notes:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

2008 DNC

The historic 2008 Democratic National Convention was held last week right here in Denver. My church ( partnered with Riverside Baptist and thirty other churches from the Denver area to minister to the security personnel at the DNC.

We served bottled water, Gatorade, hot meals, and sandwhiches to the police officers, firefighters, EMTs, Secret Service, Homeland Security, and ATF personnel who worked the convention. Food was prepared at Riverside Baptist, loaded into cargo supply vans, and delivered to sites all across the downtown area where officers could come take a break from their twelve hour shift and get some cold water and a hot meal. Our motto was, "Serving a cup of cold water in Jesus' name."

Here are some stats I got in an e-mail today:

- 647 volunteers from 32 churches served and ministered to the security personnel at the DNC
- 50,500 meals were served over the course of the week . . . how many each day? A lot! You can do the math.
- 1,750 New Testaments were given away and 147 individuals made professions of new faith in Jesus

I had the incredible opportunity to be a driver for this event. I delivered food and beverages to many different sites around the city. It was a great experience just getting to see everything happening downtown! And it was a sheer blessing just getting to love my city.

Thanks to everyone at Riverside and Bear Valley and the other churches for making this happen. It was the experience of a lifetime.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Events at Caesarea Philippi (Part I)

Jesus is the greatest leader that the world has ever seen or ever will see. But who is Jesus? We need to know, because his identity has implications for us as his followers. It impacts whether we decide to follow him at all. In fact, we make decisions about any leader based on two things: their identity and their ideas.

So who is Jesus? What is his identity? And what are the implications of his identity for us today?

In Matthew 16:13-20, we find out that Jesus is the Messiah, and he wants to build a messianic community called the church. Preaching-teaching-healing is Jesus’ life. The church is Jesus’ legacy. The church is people. It is a community of people who have been given new life in Christ. They are committed to his leadership and work to carry out his mission.

So Jesus wants to build the church. What is the implication for us? Loving the Messiah means loving his legacy. Simply put, loving Jesus means loving the church.

Here are my notes:

Leviticus - Don't Undo What God Has Done

Well, we have just wrapped up our summer study of Leviticus for the Sunday night service at my church ( Leviticus 25–27 covers a range of topics: Ch. 25 is about the jubilee year. Ch. 26 is about blessings for obedience (covenant-keeping) and judgment for disobedience (covenant-breaking). Ch. 27 is about the regulations for dedication and redemption of persons, animals, houses, land, and tithes.

By studying the story of YHWH and Israel, we learn that God has given us a dwelling place and a covenant relationship with himself. What is the big idea in these final chapters of Leviticus? Don’t undo what God has done!

God has given us a dwelling place (the earth) and put us in charge. But it’s a stewardship, not an ownership. We must not undo what God has done by acting like we own the place.

God has given us a covenant relationship with himself through the person and work of Jesus. In our relationships, we are to extend the same goodness and generosity to others that God extends to us in our covenant relationship with him. We must not undo what God has done by looking out for number one when we ought rather to be loving our neighbor.

Here is a link to my notes:

This has been a great study! Leviticus is one of the most frequently avoided books in the Bible, but this summer I think we have seen that, indeed, all Scripture is profitable.