Archives For Omaha

It is the Thursday before Good Friday. I can’t wait to preach tomorrow night and then Sunday morning. I love preaching Christ every week, but there is something about the Resurrection weekend that is particularly special.

However, when I woke up this morning I was drawn to think about someone I don’t often think about: the liberal pastor. By liberal I am not referring to political affiliation but theological conviction. In particular, I am talking about those who either deny the reality of or diminish the priority of the cross of Christ and his resurrection.

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There are many factors that make evangelism difficult. There is the internal spiritual alienation from God that renders the unbeliever unimpressed by God and therefore unresponsive to him in worship (Col. 1:21; 2 Cor. 4:4-6). Then there is the fog of worldliness that reinforces the heart’s unsubmissiveness to God and his Word (1 Jn. 2:16-17). We see this with the ongoing marketing of personal autonomy, self-discovery, and satisfaction in created things.

But there is another contributor to the fog that is very unhelpful. I am talking about the authority of personal experience. Today our personal experience and personal interpretation of that experience is the unquestionable authority that all must submit to.

Earlier this week I was talking to a number of unbelievers about Jesus. In the midst of the conversation one told me that he can see the future. He said that he has, on a few occasions, been able to see what was going to happen. He pointed to his buddy for confirmation and, as you’d expect, got the requisite head nod. I know that in this conversation I cannot slash the tires of his experience. If I even pull out the knife of reason or testing he will shut me down. Personal experience and our interpretation of it is the authority. We might call it Sola Experiencia. 

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If you read this blog then you very likely are rejoicing in the resurgence of church planting. This rejoicing leads to increased burden for gospel ministry to advance in all areas–rural and urban, affluent and poor. The gospel is for all people.

In our context, God has called us to plant a church in an urban, diverse context of Omaha. As we endeavor to be faithful we are reaching out to friends for help. This is why we at Emmaus are excited to welcome our friends from 20schemes to come for a Saturday morning training session on ministry in poor contexts. Mez McConnell will also preach on Sunday morning at Emmaus.

The details for the event are listed below. But here is the truth: it will be very helpful and very free. If you are anywhere near Omaha for the weekend of April 5th, then please come an join us. If you need a place to stay message me via the contact form.

Please register here.

here is the info—

Every ministry that endeavors to be biblical will ask the question: “How should we faithfully minister in our poor communities?” The question can be answered on multiple levels from the perspective of the individual Christian to the local church.

On Saturday morning, April 5th, Emmaus will be hosting 20schemes to consider how to faithfully minister in a lower income is a ministry based in Edinburgh, Scotland that is committed to seeing the poorest communities in Scotland transformed through the revitalization and planting of gospel-preaching churches. In Scotland a “scheme” is a housing project. The ministry is aggressively pursuing this effort by recruiting, training, supportimng, and sending church planters, female outreach workers, ministry apprentices and short term interns to work within Scotland’s housing schemes.

At Emmaus 20schemes founder Mez McConnell will speak on this topic and then lead a discussion on church planting in urban, poorer contexts.

This would be a strategic event to invite pastors, leaders, and others with whom you would like to cultivate a gospel-centered, missionary focus. It is open to both men and women.

Here is the schedule:

0800-0900 Breakfast & Coffee

0900-1000 Principles for Working Among the Poor

1000-1015 Break

1015-1100 Discussion on Church Planting and Mercy Ministry

Register for this event here

I was greatly impacted by a meeting that I had nearly 15 years ago with my pastor at the time. During the meeting I was talking about my desire for ministry and a great burden for the gospel to be clearly preached and central to all that we do.

In the midst of the conversation the pastor got annoyed. His annoyance seemed to be connected to my burdens and how they communicated a referendum on his ministry.

At one point in the conversation he said something that left a tremendous impact on me. He said baldly:

When you get old you come to see that things don’t work out so neatly. We’ll see if you have the same passion in 10 years.

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A couple of days ago we had to turn on the air conditioner in the house. The temperature outside was over 80 degrees and the temperature inside was nearing the same. This I did even though it bristled against my prideful resolution to wait until May to hit activate the arctic cool. Less than 48 hours later we were in a Winter Storm Warning. You can’t predict this stuff.

I read where someone said this is like Narnia before Aslan, always winter and never Christmas. Well, maybe not quite that bad. This type of thing is not unprecedented in Omaha (or other cooler climates). It actually snowed 2″ on May 9, 1945. I heard recently of a town in Colorado getting snow on the 4th of July.

This type of exaggerated fluctuation helps to remind us of the instability of the world around us. Paul tells us that the creation groans (Rom. 8.22). We witness unpredictable wind, floods, hurricanes, tornados, heat, and cold. Amid the weather whiplash of the last few days we join the chorus with creation awaiting the final liberation and restoration through Christ. Until then we groan in the slush alongside of the wilted tulips.

This past weekend our local newspaper (The Omaha World-Herald) ran a story on some of the things happening in our church, Emmaus Bible Church. As you can imagine it was a great encouragement to us to have our paper take interest in what we are doing. But it was a double surprise to see the the article on the front page of the Saturday paper, on Easter weekend!

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Without giving away the article, here is one of the lead quotes:

As Easter approaches, a youthful congregation marks the end of its first year in a striking church — 103 years old.

As the saying goes, what’s old is new again. But not too new.

“We practice cutting-edge, 16th-century Reformation theology,” quipped Pastor Erik Raymond, 36. “We’re very old-fashioned, but we try to do it in a fresh way — engaging, compassionate and authentic.”

The funny thing was that this question was in response to the writer’s question, “What new things are you doing to attract this growth?”What a blessing to testify to the enduring power of God’s Word to change lives and the beauty of Christ to captivate hearts. In a pragmatic, subjective culture, this is a fresh gust of the gospel breeze (on the front-page no less!).

Another interesting note. On Wednesday nights our kids come together for Bible memory, devotions, singing, and games. My wife teaches the kids music. One of her most successful methods in teaching the kids to participate and memorize Scripture has been Christian Hip-Hop. In particular Shai Linne’s song “Holy, Holy, Holy”. The kids love it. When the photographer came out she took some pics of the kids and then the front page of the paper noted that my wife teaches hip hop to young kids. We smiled at that in light of the previous quote about the 16th Century.

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As some of us at Emmaus talked about this we said it is like our Dad owns the paper. No not Warren Buffet. But our Heavenly Father. He allowed us to be featured on the front page to promote gospel growth and renewal. This greatly encourages us as we remember that everything is truly about him and his fame. May God use the article to this end!

It has been said that in order to be polite in conversation one should not speak of politics, religion, or money. What are the three taboos are for churches? I suggest, money, sex, and race. It is this third topic that I want to discuss in this post.

Why is the issue of race something that a gospel-centered church should deal with? Simply put, it is because the gospel deals with racial reconciliation through gospel reconciliation.

How do we get there and why is it necessary?

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