Musings of a Baptist Church Intern (Part 2)
I love those moments when the presence of God is so thick and unmistakable that it is almost like heaven has come down— gently grazing the earth. Like the Spirit is giving the entire room an epic group hug. And we are all one — in perfect sync with each other, because we are in synch with the spirit. Unity. (Ephesians 4, people.)
It is moments like this when I do not understand disbelief in God.
And I pray that you know exactly what I am talking about — that you have experienced this before. Furthermore, I pray that it doesn’t require a corporate worship environment to trigger a Spirit-move in your life. I have always cautiously warned people that if it takes a lively band, flashing lights, and a sharp-tongued speaker to get them “feeling the spirit,” then they are not feeling a move of God at all. It’s emotionalism. It’s void. It’s empty.
Anyway, that was an interesting segway into what I really wanted to talk about in this post. We have been seeing some big moves of God in our Awakening ministry here in Illinois. We are on the second week of our trio of studies on Galatians. This week we celebrated the victory of our sins being nailed to the cross in reference to Galatians 5. We discussed how to win the battle of flesh and spirit — and how to feed the Spirit daily.
Let me just attach a few snippets from my notes.
God loves you more than you can imagine. Hopefully, you love God as well. Grow closer to God, the more you fall in love with God, the further you will drift from your flesh — from your sin.
The more you love God, the more your flesh dies.
Ever wonder why they use the language of fruit? It’s a lot more important than you think. (referring to the fruit of the spirit)
Fruit is produced by life-sustaining, nourishing, living trees. For Christians, our roots are found in Christ. All our fruit is in direct impact to being rooted in Christ, taking in his life — his nourishment…and it is all maintained by a living God — the source of it all.
We only know the effects, but the Spirit (God) knows us perfectly — and he knows exactly how to lead us, guide us, shape us, and mold us. The spirits internal ministry propels us in closer intimacy with the God of the universe. And as we fall deeper in love — in closer intimacy with Jesus — our sin begins to drift further and further away.
The works of this flesh will melt away. The world is going to grow dull & dim.
This is not instantaneous, so be patient, this is an ongoing life process, because God is infinite.
How did he take care of it? It says it right there in the text — your “passions and desires of your sinful nature were nailed to the cross.” Right there. All the garbage you struggle with daily was nailed a Roman Cross.
Crucified right there with Christ.
After the sermon, we moved into creative worship, by this point God’s presence was practically like a fog, so it was just a matter of curating His activities in the room. We passed out slips of paper and asked each student to write down a specific Work of the Flesh they were battling in their life. They prayed over it and then proceeded to a large wooden cross in the center of the set — and nail it to the cross. Literally, actually.
One more note snippet…
We are going to have the attendants write a sin they are struggling with and have them pray over it and pray for Jesus to draw near to theme — helping them to fall deeper in love with him — pushing that sin into the background of their lives.
Then, we are going to have them take that and nail it to a large cross we erect — in direct reference to Galatians 5.24 — celebrating Christ’s victory over sin.
Hell, where is your victory? Sin, where is your power? Death, where is your sting?
Musings of a Baptist Church Intern (Part 1)
The sky is much bigger. The sunsets are prettier. The drivers are reckless at best. The air smells almost identical to dog-food. And the city does not have a single Dunkin Donuts.
That pretty much sums up my initial thoughts of the City of Decatur, Illinois — where I am interning at First Baptist Church. It’s been nearly three weeks and I am already starting to fall into the glamourous routine of intern-life. The office work. The scheduling. The calendar adjustments. The bible studies. Outlining. Designing. Preaching. Day-to-day church tasks. Youth meetings. Christian Ed meetings. Staff meetings. Executive council meetings. (It’s a Baptist church — Baptists like meetings.)
I am honored that God has placed me here, where I get to work with my best friend, Pastor Zach Moreno, doing the thing we both love most — Kingdom work.
Specifically, in Awakening Student Ministry, it is our goal to see each student encounter Jesus in their own personal, tangible way. We are actively moving past the shallow Bible stories & empty do-and-do-not sermons that seem to be so prevalent in youth groups. Stripping away all the cursory theology of American youth ministry — letting the Bible speak for itself. God moving through his living Word.
Amazingly, we have already seen this. The presence of God was so thick at our last youth meeting…that I was almost speechless near the end. We are exegetically working through the poignant words of Paul found in the book of Galatians, and God is moving through His scripture with heart-wrenching power.
I’ll share a little exert from my journal before the last week’s sermon:
To Christians: You are loved beyond measure, you can do nothing to change that with God. Let’s be honest, before you were saved you were not lovely — you were down-right unlovely — but God chose to make you lovely. He purified you — not because of anything you did. According to Romans 5, that love that he poured out onto us — it covered us — it changed us. Everything is different now, not because you are more spiritual than anyone, not because you are a good person — it is because God loved you and Jesus showed just how much he loved you. He died for you.
To anyone who does not have the spirit within you: Just come before God as you are. Open up to Jesus and let the spirit come upon you. It is nothing that you do of yourself — it is all the work of God. There is no magical prayer — that’s works. You do not need to be baptized — that’s works. You do not need to change your appearance or cut your hair — that’s works.
Jesus already did the work for you.
When Jesus died, did he die for my sins past, present, and future? Sins that I committed last year. Sins that I’ll commit today. Sins that I have planned but I’ve been so busy, I haven’t even gotten to them yet. Did Jesus die for those sins? Yes.
And when He was on the Cross, his final word was what? “It is,” what?
“Finished!” It’s completed. It’s done.
You might try and say: “But I struggle with…” FINISHED. “But, I am really dealing with…” FINISHED. “I feel so far from….” FINISHED. “God could never….” FINISHED. “But….”
It is only week one of the series — I cannot wait to see what God does in the month of June.
There’s going to be an Awakening.
- Jackson L Garrell
I won’t be blogging too much while working up here, so be sure to stalk out my other social networks.
Dating, Relating, and Fornicating
by: Pastor Mark Driscoll on Oct 26, 2011
Christians worship a single guy who died a virgin. Perhaps that should be listed among his many miracles.
For the first time in our nation’s history, there are more unmarried than married adults. And people are waiting longer than ever to marry—women in their mid- to late twenties on average and men closer to thirty. The closer you get to a major city, the more singles you will find—most of them dating, relating, and fornicating.
One of the reasons I believe we were named among such places as gyms, bars, and (naturally) dog parks—there are more dogs per capita in Seattle than kids—is because we tend to verbally beat boys who can shave (men who are adults chronologically but kids in terms of responsibility) like drill sergeants. The ones who don’t leave to blog about their hurt feelings tend to stay, grow up, man up, and eventually get married to a nice gal who would like to have babies but does not want to be married to one.
Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of singles come to Mars Hill, become Christians, find healing from past abuse, trust Jesus, start dating a godly guy or gal, get married, and have kids to the glory of God. I personally know hundreds of women who were sexual assault victims at the hands of some loser boyfriend/porn-head find help, healing, and hope in Jesus, get married to a guy who was previously a train wreck, and by God’s grace become new people with a fun, free, faithful marriage. Nothing beats the front row I enjoy for the Holy Spirit’s power in the lives of people whom Jesus loves.
And though we have many families at Mars Hill, over half of our church is single and in their twenties. Naturally, there are many questions about dating.
So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to speak to those of you who are single in both our church and in the church at large.
Sloppy Wet Kiss
In Chapel this morning we worshipped through my favorite song of all time.
Yes, that may seem like an erroneously sweeping statement…and I mean it.
That one 4-6 minute musical piece (eight if you are the LifeChange band) holds more significance to my life and walk with Christ than any song, poem, or piece of art.
I vividly remember my feet digging into the wet grass while graveside at my grandmother’s funeral. I do not think I had cried that much in my life. We are talking near dehydration. In a moment of complete brokenness, I begin to hum the words to this song as my friend rested her head on my shoulder. God brought me peace right there, in the cemetery, as they folded the flag draped over Nini’s coffin and presented it to my mother. I was so beyond broken. God healed me. He put me back together, and the lyrics to How He Loves resounded like a chime in my head.
over and over and over.
“We are His portion, and He is our prize. Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes.” The song just resonated with me.
The words nudged me through the toughest weekend of my life.
Now…back to today…
In a roar of worship, the bridge approached, and I whole-heartedly exclaimed…”And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss…”
I got some looks.
Now that David Crowder Band has covered this song, it has become one of the most over-played worship songs in congregations across the nation. The dang thing is nearly on repeat over at K-Love. The song is inescapable.
It is important to note that this song was released years before Crowder mass-popularized it. It was initially written and recorded by North Carolina’s own, John Mark McMillian. The musician originally scribed the line to read, “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,” but Dave’s version goes a little differently.
Crowder (along with most congregations) sings the line. “heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss.” The band changed the lyric, upon consulting John Mark, to the less controversial word. Now, I would argue the original meaning and context behind the “sloppy wet” line, as provocative as it may seem, is utterly beautiful.
The line captures and illustrates the juxtaposing message of the gospel in the rawest, most enamoring way I have ever heard it…
Upon the release of the rewritten song, McMillian went to his blog and had this to explain about his initial intention behind the sloppy lyrics.
The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy (“gory” may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!
You can read his whole post here.
The Control Fires of Life
Smoke was rapidly rising into the air. Transforming a clear April day into a deceivingly grey journey up highway number one (connecting Raleigh to Sanford, NC). Naturally, I was a worried that a forest fire had broken out.
Turns out they were doing a control burn along the forest edges. I was completely ignorant, so I asked my brother (Degree in Forestry) what on earth a control burn was. Turns out that they burn the brush of the forest to help trees go and enrich the soil. You heard it. Enrich the soil…which made no sense to me. Turns out that the fire broils the brush, trees, and foliage down to pure nutrients. We are talking that stuff is great for the forest floor.
Hear me out.
When the fires of life are roaring, maybe God is throwing a control burn your direction. All the trials and hardships may seem utterly painful and nonsensical, but God may be using them to enrich you. Make you stronger. Make you lean on Him.
The fires of life might be God trying to shape you, refine you, or empower you.
Next time you are going through the fires of life, contemplate what God is doing with you. Don’t just rush to muffle the fires out, look to God’s face. He will see you through it, for He makes all things work together for your good.
Let is burn.
Embrace His mystery.
..you might be a church plant.
I have attended a few church plants in my years, and I love the simple yet authentic nature of what they do.
It’s community at its purest.
I pray constatntly about what God wants for me in the future, and planting a church has been laid out more times than I may be comfortable with.
Blogger and musicians, Carolos Whittaker, points out some pretty hilarious aspects of being a church plant.
Does your assembly fit into this?
When the video introducing the sermon is better than the sermon, you might be a church plant.
When you end each service with, “Could you please stack your chairs in stacks of 7″, you might be a church plant.
If you share one office with 7 people and 4 volunteers, you might be a church plant.
If your green room smells like a locker room, cause it is a locker room, you might be a church plant.
If you’re pastor wears Affliction shirts, you might be a church plant.
If your worship leader doesn’t look like an Abercrombie model yet, you might be a church plant.
If your worship leader looks like an Abercrombie model yet sounds like a wounded beaver, you might be a church plant.