Jesus invites us into a better way of living. As I’ve heard Andy Stanley say many times, “Jesus makes our life better and makes us better at life.”
I didn’t always believe this. In fact, I pushed back hard against this sentiment, because I was trained to believe that following Jesus was supposed to be hard. The thought goes something like this - If you aren't suffering then you aren't really living for Jesus and His causes.
One thing I’ve noticed is that as Christ followers we are generally great at demonstrating the gospel and really bad at proclaiming it. In other words, we have no problem loving on people and being kind to them in the name of Christ. However, when it comes to actually sharing the good news of Jesus we tense up worse than Mike Tyson in a spelling bee.
We want to tell people about Jesus and most know that we should tell people about Jesus, but for an array of reasons we don’t. The reasons range from fear to feelings of inadequacy. It seems that the top evangelism strategy is to invite the lost to a church service or event. And while I do think you should invite your friends to the public gathering, I believe that God has equipped and called you to proclaim the Gospel also in your everyday life.
At Ascent, we are currently in a series on the book of Leviticus. Why? Because, all the church growth experts said it would be a great idea. No, that's actually not true at all. We are in Leviticus because everyone hates Leviticus. It is seriously the punching bag of the Bible. There are endless jokes about how bad and boring Leviticus is to read. However, as I study the book of Leviticus I don’t see a book that is boring at all, rather I see a complex book full of relevant wisdom for our world today.
With that said, I’ll be honest and tell you that I didn’t have a favorite verse from the book. Let’s be real; there aren’t exactly a plethora of coffee mug worthy verses in Leviticus. However, that all changed for me this week as I prepared to preach on Leviticus 8.
I remember the fear I felt about joining my first small group of men fighting pornography and lustful thoughts. I was battling shame at a deep level and my natural instinct was to hide and run from the shame. I was willing to do anything to find freedom, so long as I didn’t have to share my struggle with others. However, I had reached a point where I had tried everything else and I knew that I needed help outside of myself so I signed up for an online recovery group; under the name “Bob Hope”, because there was no way I could use my real name. What if people I knew found out? What would they think of me? What would they say about me? All of the familiar feelings of shame and guilt around this sin began to surface yet again.
It is crazy to think that the next time I send out a monthly update to our prayer team it will be a report on how our launch Sunday went! It seems like yesterday It was January and September felt forever away. Now, here we are in August just a little over 30 days from the initial service for Ascent. I want to thank those of you who have been on this prayer journey from the very start when I sent out the first update in January. I am also thankful for all of you who have joined along the way, it has been such a blessing to meet so many new people as a result of this journey.
Here is the August edition of praise reports and prayer requests.
We have had a BUSY month here at Ascent -which is why you haven’t received your physical newsletter yet for this month! I truly apologize for that. We are moving into an apartment in Woodward and for those of you who have moved you know how hard keeping life organized can be! Ha. With that said, the newsletters are scheduled to be stuffed and sent out by Wednesday. Thank you again for taking the time to pray over our prayer requests each month.
Without further wait, here are this month’s praise reports and prayer requests.
The countdown to September 15th is in full swing! We are less than 100 days from the launch of weekly services for Ascent. I am nervous, excited and 100 more emotions all at once. It is so cool to be a part of something that God is doing and I am glad you guys are a part of it with us! We have many blessings and prayer requests as we head into the final three month stretch.
A lot has happened for us here at Ascent since the last newsletter in April. I am excited to share some of the praise reports and prayer request for this upcoming month. Time is moving so fast and my task list seems to be ever growing as we approach launch Sunday on September 15th. These newsletters are great for me, because it forces me to slow down and reflect upon how God has provided for us!
You would think I would learn to quit worrying after seeing God continually take our request and turn them into praises, but I so easily forget! I pray that you would take time to reflect upon all that God has done for you recently also. With that said, here are the May praises and request.
April is here! We are inching closer and closer to our big day in September. We have had an amazing month of seeing God's goodness work through and in Ascent. I am excited to share some of our praises and request with you.
The church - God’s people - should be a representation of the love of Jesus to our dark and dying world. We most certainly are not perfect, but we should be a reflection of His character. If we just tell people about God’s love they will almost never be able to grasp it, but when God’s people show them grace and love as we have been loved, they become open to hearing about Jesus.