Representing the Kingdom of Jesus

The core value of love
Five Facts About an Ambassador of Jesus
2 Corinthians 5:14, 18-21

Ken spoke about Winston Churchill chastising the behavior of Princess Margaret that her behavior was not being representative of the English Crown and Monarchy. That her status meant she stood for something that was beyond herself and thus she needed to carry herself accordingly.

We are Ambassadors for Jesus, and this means that we are invested and designed to be Ambassadors for Christ.

  1. What does it mean to be a nation’s ambassador?
  2. How should we behave with the understanding that we are Ambassadors of Christ?
  3. How do people in secular society look at the actions of Christians? How can our behavior either lead people to Christ or lead them astray?
  4. What are consequences for a believer to not live as an Ambassador for Christ?
  5. Being an ambassador means making our focus on God, but how do we sometimes twist that to make life all about us?

Disciplined (2 Corinthians 5:14)

  1. “Disciplined” means exhibiting a controlled form of behavior or way of working. How does being disciplined take continued effort?
  2. What are the benefits of being disciplined by the Holy Spirit?
  3. Disciplined action speaks powerfully in outward appearance (actions speak louder than words). But humans are inconsistent. How can being disciplined still involve an internal struggle?
  4. When one looks a secular activity and applies the word disciplined, a person must practice and work hard to reach the desired goal. A disciplined offensive line must put in hours of practice to move together as a team. A disciplined basketball player not only excels at the fundamentals of the game but must understand their position on the team. How does this apply to being disciplined as an Ambassador for Christ? What are things you can work on to become more disciplined, fruitful, and effective?
  5. What are some ways that we can be more Christ-driven? Why do we sometimes want to “take the wheel” instead of letting Jesus direct our actions?
  6. What are the benefits of being controlled by Christ?

Active (2 Corinthians 5:18)

The verb “reconciled” and the fact that we are “being given the ministry of reconciliation” implies that we are to be active.

  1. There are two actions here, 1) the action by which we are reconciled through Christ and 2) the gift of the ministry of reconciliation. How should we view our ministry as a gift?
  2. To “reconcile” means to “restore friendly relations,” and “cause to coexist in harmony.” How has Christ reconciled us to God?
  3. We must be active as Christians, but how does being an active Christian refer to a way of life (rather than a simple concept of doing some work or behavior)?
  4. In what ways does a person’s actions tell others about your character, commitments, or what is important to you?
  5. What are the consequences of not being active? If we look at antonyms, they are not pretty. (i.e. inoperative, unworking, unmovable, dormant, idle, disinterested, indifferent, lazy, sluggish, etc.…) How can we connect this truth to our Christian walk?

Messenger (2 Corinthians 5:19)

  1. God no longer holds our past sins against us after we are saved (justification). Why is it so important to share this good news with others? We share coupons, information on sales or discounts, reviews of movies or places to eat, but what about how to receive salvation? How can our priorities get out of whack?
  2. Sometimes we make being a messenger overly complicated, but like a billboard on the highway, how can something so simple be so impactful?
  3. How should we view the conviction of the Holy Spirit with our being a messenger? What role are we actually playing? Being a messenger puts us in the position of being a middle man. How is this significant? What is the message and how does this message make us “the middle man?”

Representative (2 Corinthians 5:20)

  1. What is the difference between seeing yourself as a representative of God’s law versus a representative of God’s heart?
  2. How can we mirror God’s heart to someone else? What are some real-life examples?
  3. Look at the use of the word “beg.” How does this help show the urgency of the need to share the message of Jesus?
  4. Ken said, “We have a burden for people who have not met Jesus.” How does that statement affect you?
  5. A representative refers to speaking on behalf of someone else. In the time of Paul, to reject the envoy was simply to reject the one who sent him. How does this speak to the concept of success, failure, and simple obedience? (The representative delivers the message, but in the end, it is up to the receiver on how to respond).
  6. Why do we feel pressure when being a representative? How can we relate this to obedience? How is it so much simpler to be obedient than making this about us being successful or worrying about failure? (There is a saying, “don’t shoot the messenger.” They are rejecting the message sender, not the message deliverer).

Approved (2 Corinthians 5:21)

  1. How amazing does it feel to hear the words “approved” as we go through life? Who has a good “Atta-boy” story? How does this pale in comparison to the fact we are approved to God because of Jesus?
  2. Righteousness is the opposite of condemnation. Why does this make approval so important? What happens to people without God’s approval?
  3. When we reflect on what Christ has done for us and paving the way for our approval, why is it so significant to never lose the wonder of God and the desire to share this good news with others?

Get This for November 11

“…We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Greetings in Christ,

Someone recently asked me, “who has better barbecue, Texas or Virginia?” They followed their question with, “we are asking you personally, because you just moved to Virginia from Texas, and you of all people would know.”

Did you catch the significance of their comment: you just moved from there, so you would know. They are exactly right. “I would know” because of a very practical truth: my residency provided first hand experience.

The simplicity of that truth will help you to understand an important fact of your Christian faith: Christians are ambassadors for Jesus Christ. When you placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you received the gift of eternal life (abundant life), which by definition begins at the moment of salvation and not at the moment of a Christian’s passing from this life. Death will one day usher you into the presence of God to experience in full that which you began to experience the moment you met Jesus: life abundant. You have become a member of the Kingdom of Christ, and you are a citizen of His kingdom more than a citizen of this world. In fact, your relationship with Jesus – His saving grace – qualifies you as an ambassador of His kingdom; and you are an ambassador to this fallen world.

How is this significant for your daily existence? Every day you awaken in this world, you are an ambassador for Christ and His kingdom. So, when someone seeks to know the truth of God, and the greatest love ever given, they can look to you because you of all people would know; you are now “from there.” You have been received into the Kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13) and you are privileged to represent Jesus with every step of your life.

If this truth seems overwhelming, know that God is continually at work in your life to strengthen you as His ambassador. In fact, this Sunday, I will share five facts of an ambassador of Christ that I believe you will find very encouraging.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, November 11. (Oh, and if you are thinking that I did not answer the question about who has the best barbecue, you are exactly right. See you Sunday!)

Awana Update for November 7

November 2018 Schedule
Theme: Thankfulness

  • 11/11 – No AWANA – Veteran’s Day Weekend. Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes Due at KGBC
  • 11/18 – *Bring Hygiene Items to support our Puerto Rico Project (soap/washcloth, toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant)
  • 11/25 – No AWANA – Thanksgiving Break

*Puerto Rico Project: This year for Christmas we are supporting a Church Member’s Mom that is a Pastor from Villalba, Puerto Rico. The area was hit with Hurricane Maria and is still trying to rebuild from, in many cases, complete destruction. Pastor Maria Rodrigues recently visited our church and spoke about her community. There are 58 children in her town that need help so we are asking for your donations to send before the holidays. The church is collecting money to send for them to purchase toys and clothing. Thank you for your support!

December 2018 Schedule
Theme: Jesus’ Birth

  • 12/2 – PJ Night! Wear your PJ’s – Christmas ones for extra points!
  • 12/9 – Early Dismissal @5:30 pm to go to KGBC Christmas Program. Wear Christmas Outfits (no games)
  • 12/16 – Wrap-A-Leader (teams compete to wrap their leader in Christmas Paper!)
  • 12/23 – No AWANA – Christmas Break
  • 12/30 – No AWANA – Christmas Break

January 2019 Schedule
Theme: God’s Word

  • 1/6 – TBD
  • 1/13 – TBD
  • 1/20 – No AWANA – MLK Day
  • 1/27 – No AWANA – VB City School Teacher Workday on Monday

AWANA Check-In Check-List!

  • Arrive Early: 4:15 – 4:30
  • Bring Handbooks (in a backpack / bag)
  • T&T and Sparks – Bring Bible
  • Wear Uniform & Tennis Shoes
  • Bring a Quarter for offering (give to teacher in class)
  • Theme! (easy this week, we’ll do in class if you don’t get a chance to at home
  • And every week – earn extra points by bringing a FRIEND!

Three Ways to Live Life on Mission

The core value of love
Three ways to see your life as a life on mission with Jesus

Communion, it is about proclaiming Christ until he comes again. It is as if Jesus is saying that he wants us to be on mission with him while he is gone.

Forbes Magazine: Companies in the USA should not be so focused on making employees happy, but a connection to a larger mission. Violin makers illustration: Are they always happy? No, but they live and breath violins; success does not are come when they are happy, but by embracing a deep sense of mission. How much more important is the mission of the church? This must become our identity.

  1. Let’s make the obvious comparison: as a church, shall we focus on being happy at church, or focus on the mission we have been given?
  2. Why do we run into so many people who believe the church is about them and their happiness?
  3. How can we begin to make an attitudinal change for the Kingdom’s sake? What barriers and obstacles will we face?

Romans 5:5 – you have the greatest resource. Believers are not lacking in resources because of God’s love.

You have received the love of God. God is love, which is a theological fact. Must move toward, God is love to ME. This brings to me a capacity to serve, forgive, and love. Freely given to us, then freely give to others.

  1. When did you first become aware of the love of God for you? Perhaps you knew about God and even professed faith in him, but when did God become a real person to you?
  2. When was a time in your life that you doubted the love of God? What was happening in your life to feel that way?
  3. How does the love of Jesus lead us toward life change?
  4. Why is the change from an inward focus to an outward focus so difficult?
  5. What are some things that we often give away for free? Have you ever received something for free that turned out to be very expensive?
  6. How does the gift of the Holy Spirit change everything?

You have been built up by God’s love. Development of faith causes growth. Joy is a part of the Christian life. There will be a time when we are perfected in Christ, this brings hope. There is also suffering and hardship, but we are never without hope. Adversity is not what he intends, but this affliction produces character, which is what God intends. Hope does not put us to shame, it does not disappoint.

  1. How does faith causes a Christian to grow?
  2. What are a few things that we can do to exercise our faith?
  3. If someone who claims to be saved does not have a joyful spirit, how can the body of Christ guide this person toward growth? How or why does serving others lead to joy?
  4. Who has a story abo0ut when Christ brought hope during a difficult time in your life?
  5. How has adversity brought growth in your life?
  6. How have we misused the word “hope?” Why do we often neglect the certainty of hope in favor of something we might call, “a wish?”

You have been supernaturally filled with God’s love. This comes through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). The Spirit makes us alive by the same power of the resurrection (Romans 8:11). This love is always at our disposal. You have been loved well by the God of the universe.

  1. What does it mean to you that we are supernaturally filled to capacity? How does that influence that way we love others?
  2. How would your life change if you really embraced the fact that God’s power can literally live through you?
  3. Who has a story about a time when God supernaturally came through when you thought all hope was lost?
  4. We usually see resources as limited, how does this differ from what Ken talked about on Sunday?

Fordham Seminary study: “Why did Muslims convert to Christianity?” Two of the nine points… 1) the love found in Christian marriages, and 2) the unconditional love from God.

1 John 3:16 – you have the greatest motivation. This is such a clear example of how we are supposed to love others…

We know love by this

He laid down his life for us… (experiential). In Greek, literal translation, “for us, the life of him, was laid down.” The emphasis is on US. “Laid down his life,” it was not taken from him. The motivation is love, he gave of himself. Galatians 2:20. John 13:15.

We should lay down our lives for the brethren. (Operational). Not just for existing brethren but for prospective brethren.

  1. In what ways does the church exist for those who are not yet members?
  2. What are some ways that we erect barriers that prevents the next generation from feeling at home in our church?
  3. The Bible says that we are to look out for the interests in others (Philippians 2:1-4). When was a time that you saw this lifestyle in action?
  4. The greatest love is laying down our life for others, but how can we move past “laying down our life” in only the physical sense?
  5. How are you making time for other people, in order to serve them?
  6. How often does selfishness take us away from serving others?

Marie Fisher was 13 in that Amish school that day, “Shoot me first.” I lay my life down for others. Even caught the gunman off guard, and asked for a prayer. Nickel Mines Community in Pennsylvania (October 2, 2006).

Ephesians 4:1 – you have the greatest platform. The platform at the church is not the best place to make an impact. Paul writes with urgency.

Consider the urgency. Speaking as an apostle, but he was a prisoner, making the most of his situation. This jail is my calling and urgency. Don’t miss the moment, wherever God has placed you.

  1. When was a time in your life that you used your circumstances as an excuse for not living life on mission?
  2. In what ways was Paul blessed, and a blessing to others, by being a prisoner?
  3. How often do we say that our lives would be so much more fruitful if only our circumstance were different?
  4. In the first century, people identified with Jesus (saying, I am for Jesus), why are we shy about letting people know this fact about us at the very beginning?

Consider your missional proximity. Wherever you walk, wherever you are living, do your calling. Where your feet are planted, people are watching and listening.

  1. What are some ways that you keep your mission in front of you throughout the day?
  2. Since there is no impact without proximity, how close are you to those in need of ministry or service?
  3. What is missional proximity? John Hobbs has a great illustration here… “If you take a full can of coke and hold it out in front of you at full arms length for as long as you can, what happens? While the can does not weigh a whole lot, you will get very tired. If you take the can and keep it close to you, you can carry it all day without issue.” How is God’s mission for us like that? (The further you are from people, the harder it is, but the closer you are to people, the easier it is.)

Consider your calling. This verse is a hinge verse, all this is written for what I am telling you now. Walk close to your opportunity, to your people, and to God.

  1. When was the first time you understood that God’s calling is not just for missionaries and pastors?
  2. How do you see yourself as called? To what is God calling you?
  3. How can you walk in a manner worthy of the Lord? What needs to change in your life for that to happen?

The Zulu people in Kwazulu-Natal province, greet one another in their language with a phrase meaning “I see,” and the reply is, “I’m here,” like “I don’t exist until you see me.” When you see that person, it’s like you’re bringing them into existence.

Who would God have us to see so they can know the living God?

Faith Indicated by a Life that Ministers

The Core Value of FAITH: Indicated by a Life that Ministers
Ephesians 4:11-13

Early in Ephesians 4, Paul uses adult language to now in Ephesians 4:14, he tells them to not be childlike. In this passage, there is a major theme of Christian growth.

Growth patterns, Ken’s illustration of his kids being at both ends, with a first grader and two in college.” The tooth fairy can’t visit this time because tuition and rent are due.” It is tragic when living things don’t grow and mature. A haunting question is, does all of Jesus affect all of me?

  1. Name a time when you realized that you were not growing spiritually, and what did you do to make a change?
  2. What are some actions or disciplines that have been effective in your spiritual growth?
  3. How is it possible to approach someone who lacks maturity and encourage them to begin the journey?

The Plan – Ephesians 4:7-11, Jesus is the conquering warrior who gives gifts to his people, for the church to be mature and fulfilled. This is our spiritual framework for the church, to be mature rather than childlike.

“. . . for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body” (Ephesians 4:12)

  1. What is God’s purpose in giving gifts to his people?
  2. Why is it important that each part “do its part” for the body?
  3. Who has a story about your experience with spiritual gifts discovery?
  4. From a gifts inventory you have taken, name your top 2-3 gifts. How do they fit? Has this knowledge of your gifts ever caused you to step out in faith toward a new ministry?

The EQUIPPING of the saints – gifts are first, the gift of leadership, then this giftedness directs us toward service and influence, for the church to behave as God intends it to be. The word equip can mean mending and restoring, but also laying a foundation, and also to be trained and prepared for service. Along with the term is the idea of completion and fullness.

  1. In what ways has the church trained you for ministry?
  2. What training do you feel is still needed in the church? In your life? In your ministry?

The smartphone illustration: “Dad, you’re not using enough of your phone, it can do so much more than you’re using it for.” God has designed us for so much more. Operating at the highest level to accomplish what he has intended. Who mentored you earlier in life? They were investing in you, building your foundation, preparing you for service. The saints is the subject, you who are born again. Research: churches that grow the most are those who expected the most of its membership. At time we see it is getting done, so we fold our arms and sit back. We are not trying to get a quota, but get more involved.

  1. What are the expectations of church membership at King’s Grant?
  2. Why are expectations notoriously low in modern American culture?
  3. Would raising expectations for membership result in more people running out the back door?
  4. Why is the 20-80 rule true? (20% of the people do 80% of the ministry)
  5. How does the word “saint” describe you? How has the word “saint” been hijacked in our society? Why do we prefer the phrase, “sinner saved by grace?”

The WORKS of Service – Chuck Swindoll, many churches approach ministry by hiring some to do the heavy lifting, the real work. This is being disobedient to Ephesians 4. We must move from member to minister. The professionals have one job, to equip saints for the work of service.

  1. Our church resides in an area of up-and-outs rather than down-and-outs. When something needs to be done, we are used to hiring someone to get the job done. How can we motivate our white-collar professionals to roll up their blue-collar sleeves?
  2. How does a person discover what ministry in which to be involved?
  3. Why are some ministries done with a certain ease and effectiveness while others are not enjoyable to fruitful?
  4. What skill or ability would you like to master for the kingdom’s sake?
  5. What is the most effective way to help people move from member (M1) to minister (M2)?

How? Seek to meet needs, discover spiritual gift, unleashed them to use that gift. Then, understand the calling to serve, it is for Christ and his kingdom. Thirdly, understand the idea of service and ministry, in general or in a specific area. Doors will open and expand his kingdom. We are freed to minister as God sees fit. William Booth, his loss of sight was irreversible, “I served God and his people with my eyes, now I must discover how to serve God and others without my eyes.”

  1. When it comes to ministry, why do we often see our limitations rather than the opportunities?
  2. Name a rime when you were involved in ministry way over your head and God came through to provide a meaningful and effective time of service.

The BUILDING up of the Church – this is the favorite part. Spurgeon, “this is the question of first importance, to utilize myself for the benefit of the rest of the members of the church, not for myself, but to be most profitable for others in the church.” When we realize we are equipped, and live that way, the body will be built up. We can look mature by the way we behave, and the opposite is true. When reminded of our identity, and our behavior will change. People who love Jesus do the opposite of what you just did.

  1. How have you seen this truth in action? “We look mature or immature by the way we behave.”
  2. How do you understand your identity in Christ?
  3. Who are you bringing with you, discipling toward maturity?
  4. What is your responsibility in building up the church?
  5. In what ways do people self-sideline themselves by their own admission that they are not equipped? How does God’s Word refute our tendency to sit on the sidelines rather than get in the game?

The Goal: – “…until we all reach UNITY in the FAITH and in the KNOWLEDGE of God’s Son, GROWING into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” (Ephesians 4:13)

Faith indicates all the foundational teachings of your faith. Sometimes we drift from one another because of different convictions and opinions. Incidentals cannot wreck our unity. Opinions cannot divide us. Ken mentioned these concentric circles – truth, convictions, opinions. Keep Christ and his mission at the center. Marry the mission but only date the methods.

  1. What is God’s prescription for unity in the church?
  2. Why do we tend to avoid change?
  3. What is wrong with a desire to make it better each week?
  4. How have personal preferences caused division is a local church? Who has a story?
  5. What quality would you like to develop in your character?

There are gaps to be filled, step into the gap. You are designed to create, do, overcome, work, accomplish something for Christ. You are demonstrating the power of God for the glory of God.

Experiential knowledge. Finally growing, measured by Christ’s fullness. Where am I right now? There is a specific way we are called to be the body of Christ.

Ken ended with same great questions:

  1. Am I allowing unimportant or unnecessary things to separate me from other believers?
  2. Am I truly moved by obligation, or the fact I am in the church only because of what Christ has done for me?
  3. What do you feel is something at which you are good?
  4. Are you willing to be used by God in the way he has designed you?

Get This for October 28

“…And He (Christ) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints in the work of ministry to build up the Body of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-12

Greetings in Christ,

Last evening, during our Midweek Cafe, I shared a summary of last week’s sermon to encourage our life groups in their small group time to follow. In the summary, I told the story of a mission team I led to Brazil to build a church building near San Paulo. The project involved an opportunity I had to lay block for the front wall of the church, some 25 courses high. A friend and I worked diligently on this endeavor (well, as diligent as one could while carrying on conversation). We were close to the completion of our wall when the foreman and the pastor of the church looked at our wall and said something in Portuguese. We smiled and waved as if to say to our observers, “yes, we know the wall looks great.” It was then that the pastor laughed and made a wavy motion with his hand while pointing at the wall. We quickly concluded that our wall was a bit crooked. In fact, after tearing down almost half of the courses we had just built, we soon got the idea: you can’t just plop a block down and call it a building; the block has to be placed strategically. Thankfully, there is now a very straight wall on the front of Igreja Batista Freguesia.

When I read I Peter 2:5, I celebrate that the Holy Scriptures reference the follower of Christ as a living stone in the house of God. Much like the lesson I learned in Brazil, the living stones are not just “plopped” together and called a church; we are called together as a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ. The living church exists because of what Jesus has accomplished in the life of every member of His church.

This Sunday, we will journey from the second chapter of Ephesians (last week’s sermon) to the fourth, and we will discover the deep truths of being equipped as a member and a minister of God’s household. While there are ministry professionals, each member of the church has been strategically placed in the kingdom of Christ as a minister on behalf of Christ in the church and to the world.

Come this Sunday and celebrate being a community of faith. And, if you are reading this and feel disconnected from God or His Church, please join us. You will be surprised at how quickly you will feel connected in the love of Christ.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday, ~ Pastor Ken

Shine the Light on Halloween Night

October 31 is on Wednesday so we are planning a big community event! Rather than having something where we invite the community to our campus, we are sending our people into the community.

So, plan on eating with us at 5:00 on October 31 – (Catered Pollard’s Chicken).

Then, at 6:00, we will deploy to our six host homes in our community. These homes are not hosting members into their homes but into their driveway or cul-de-sac. As families with children roam the neighborhood in search of candy and treats, our families will be shining the light as good neighbors, meeting new friends and neighbors, bragging on costumes, meeting parents, and handing out a goodie bag from the church.

It’s simple, just be a good neighbor out and about in the community, and live life on mission!

PS… to choir members, you have the night off from rehearsal!

5 easy steps toward missional living (an example of M3):

  1. Visit a designated host home after our Mid-Week Café meal. All host homes are posted. [The Mid-Week Café opens as usual at 5pm. Everyone will need to report to host homes by 6pm]
  2. Grab your outdoor chairs, and head to a host home to help build community.
  3. Have some fun and hand out “Shine The Light on Halloween Night” gifts and candy.
  4. When possible, have conversation with families making the traditional Halloween stops (conversations to introduce yourselves to the community, and to make meaningful connection).
  5. Enjoy building community with your church family and any new friends God brings your way (and intentionally get to know your church family members better).