Developing a Hunger for God

developing a hunger for God

In a season of feasting, celebrating and giving it is not always apparent who or what we are hungry for. The health of Faith’s family depends on an ongoing hunger for God but when all our needs are met how do we stay aware of this underlying hunger?

In John Piper’s book, A Hunger for God, he focuses the believer on the discipline of fasting and prayer. His thoughts are anchored on the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 9:14-17.

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

When fasting is a common practice in religions, cultures and societies why should we join in? Doesn’t the arrival of Jesus do away with harsh and manipulative practices by people trying to fill some form of law? Aren’t we, in the church, living in post-resurrection days beyond the realm of ritual and self-denial? Shouldn’t we, as Spirit-filled people, live above the pulling and prodding of our bodily appetites and pleasures?

Piper notes that, although fasting is a universal practice, no one knows its origins. It has been used to mark religious festivals, political purposes, health pursuits and mourning rituals. Outside the gospels, the practice of fasting is hardly mentioned among church disciplines.

Still, Jesus says that his followers will fast after he leaves. Piper says “in this age there is an ache inside every Christian that Jesus is not here as fully and intimately and as powerfully and as gloriously as we want him to be. We hunger for so much more. That is why we fast.” (p. 38) He notes that our longing is based on the finished work of Christ and not out of an emptiness of some kind.

“We have tasted the powers of the age to come, and our fasting is not because we are hungry for something we have not experienced, but because the new wine of Christ’s presence is so real and so satisfying. We must have all that it is possible to have. The newness of our fasting is this: its intensity comes not because we have never tasted the wine of Christ’s presence, but because we have tasted It so wonderfully by his Spirit, and cannot now be satisfied until the consummation of joy arrives. The new fasting, the Christian fasting, is a hunger for all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19), aroused by the aroma of Jesus’ love and by the taste of God’s goodness in the gospel of Christ (I Peter 2:2-3).

“…Faith is a spiritual feasting on Christ with a view to being so satisfied in him that the power of all other allurements is broken. This feasting begins by receiving the past grace of Christ’s death and resurrection, and then embraces all that God promises to be for us in him. As long as we are finite and fallen, Christian faith will mean both delighting in the (past) incarnation and desiring the (future) consummation.” (pp. 42-43)

As Isaiah reminds us (58:1-12) true fasting in God’s eyes “looses the chains of injustice, sets the oppressed free, shares food with the hungry, provides the poor wanderer with shelter, clothes the naked and takes care of needy humans in our community.

Now, is there some way that our hunger for Jesus to be fully present among us might stimulate us to see those around us and meet their needs? Faith’s family needs this hunger for Jesus to show itself in real and practical ways. May God bless you as you put your hunger into practice. However you demonstrate it, know that you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack

Spiritual Leadership

In our recent Remembrance Day ceremonies, we recognize that many of the war’s leaders emerged under fire from necessity. Not often enough, we recognize that many of the church’s leaders arise from the reality of the spiritual warfare we are involved in. In our November Leadership Forum we will be envisioning the importance of younger leaders rising up to embrace the future movement and impact of the church.

One of the standard works of leadership is Henry and Richard Blackaby’s Spiritual Leadership. The premise of their book is that spiritual leadership means moving people onto God’s agenda. This is a book which the members of our board of governors is working our way through.

The task of a spiritual leader involves the following at Faith and anywhere else where God’s men and women step up to this responsibility.

Spiritual leaders move people through influence to pursue God’s purposes. We are on a journey together toward the destination God has designed for his people. Change is an inevitable part of being in God’s family. It affects our attitudes and behaviours and requires us to exemplify the pattern and lifestyle for the vision we are embracing. Not everyone likes change but leaders need to learn to thrive in the midst of it. The church is continually handing off the keys to decision making to the next generations and that requires a humble trust with what the Holy Spirit is doing through those who walk beside and behind us.

Spiritual leaders use spiritual methods to move people and soon realize they are trying to accomplish spiritual change in people which only God can accomplish. Someone has wisely said, “Pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on you.” God’s agenda for his church is often much larger than anything we can ask or imagine.

Spiritual leaders are accountable to God and this means that leaders don’t make excuses when their attempts to influence God’s people fall short. The leader is not successful until he has moved others onto God’s agenda. A leader can easily fill a position or role without accomplishing their purpose to move others onto God’s agenda. Faithfulness and fruitfulness are both essential.

Spiritual leaders focus on people even when having to consider budgets, visions and strategies. With so many introverts rising to influential positions it is important to recognize that leadership is not always a comfortable role. Leaders move toward people and with people and for people. When you sense yourself withdrawing or withholding it is wise to review the factors impacting your personality and action. It is ideal to enjoy people as those made in God’s image and as those whom Christ has called into partnership to finish the good work he began.

Spiritual leaders expand their influence over people beyond the borders of the church. Together, we are designed and purposed to reach out into the communities of our world. No matter what profession or place of work, God’s Spirit desires to reach and impact the lives who work there. Our significant influence nudges people toward God. Blackaby notes that “history is replete with examples of Christian men and women exerting spiritual leadership upon secular society.” He notes the examples of William Wilberforce in the abolition of slavery and cites Joseph’s role in setting up a grain distribution system to take Egypt through the famine years. Christ followers are invested in significant roles all around this planet.

Spiritual leaders find the foundation of their work in God’s agenda rather than in their own. “His purpose is to turn his people away from their self-centeredness and obsession with temporal, material concerns and to draw them into a relationship with himself so they are his instruments for accomplishing his purposes.” (p. 40) We often envision something we can control and manage whereas God is building something only he controls. We can develop “aggressive goals”, “grandiose dreams”, and “grand visions”, and then ask God to bless the work of our hands but this is not our role. We seek God’s will and agenda.

7. Spiritual leaders must be oriented toward God’s voice so they can hear and follow him. Developing a vibrant, dynamic relationship with the living God is vital before any good thing can be accomplished. Jesus is the perfect model of the spiritual leader and studying and imitating his life is a good start for understanding how to understand God’s agenda and how to influence others toward that agenda.

For Faith’s family, we understand that God is making multi-cultural, multi-generational disciples from all nations. Focusing on how we can do this together is the vision we continually embrace and follow. May God give you strength to lead in your area of influence and may you always know that you are loved more than you could ask or imagine.  Pastor Jack

Building a Church Family Culture

Faith Fellowship Baptist church people

September 8th Faith Fellowship’s family paraded around 62 flags representing the nations who had come to gather in worship. Three more countries had representatives but we didn’t have their flags – yet. We talked about courage – the courage of God for entrusting less than perfect people with a message of hope for the nations. We talked about the courage we needed to share that hope through the life and message we are called to live in the world in which God placed us.

Daniel Coyle, in his book, The Culture Code (The secrets of highly successful groups), states that “when you ask people inside highly successful groups to describe their relationship with one another, they all tend to choose the same word. This word is not friends or team or tribe or any other equally plausible term. The word they use is family. What’s more, they tend to describe the feeling of those relationships in the same way.” (pp. 6-7)

How do you know you’re a family if you’re not part of the same birth group? What characteristics are we striving for in a church family made up of diverse cultures, personalities, socio-economic levels, and professions?

Coyle says he found the same characteristics, whether he studied a special-ops military unit, an inner-city school, a professional basketball team, a movie studio, a comedy troupe, a gang of jewel thieves, and others who had proved successful. He says that there is an energy, an individualization and a future orientation. What he means is that “members invest in the exchange that is occurring; “they treat the person as unique and valued”; and “they signal the relationship will continue.” (p. 11)

What makes those of us in a church different than a gang, a team, or a group that has been drawn together for a common cause or goal? Certainly more than something psychological or experiential -although it could easily remain that way if we don’t understand the work of the Spirit, the Word and the Body.

Coyle says “when I visited these groups, I noticed a pattern of interaction. The pattern was located not in the big things but in little moments of social connection. These interactions were consistent whether the group was a military unit or a movie studio or an inner-city school.” (p. 7)

He made a list:

Close physical proximity, often in circles – (sounds like our small groups)

Profuse amounts of eye contact

Physical touch (handshakes, fist bumps, hugs) – sound familiar?

Lots of short, energetic exchanges (no long speeches) – after the service, lunches

High levels of mixing; everyone talks to everyone

Few interruptions

Lots of questions

Intensive, active listening

Humour, laughter

Small, attentive courtesies (thank-yous, opening doors, etc.)

All this only makes us feel safe as a group and makes us feel like we might be wanted and maybe even belong somewhere. The reality is that we have a common Spirit drawing us into one family; we have a common Lord who has paid the price for our sin and removed all the barriers that may have divided us; we have a common Father who created us for everlasting relationship with himself. Knowing this, we embrace each other, we flow into small groups for disciple making, and we pray earnestly for each other as we face our own brokenness in a broken world. No matter who you are or where you come from, you are welcome in Faith’s family.

Always remember: you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack

Wholemindedness

This week at Faith we talked about being wholeminded.

Wholemindedness, according to Paul in Philippians 4:4-9 happens when we align our character, confidence, contemplation and conduct. The only way alignment happens is if we live as if Jesus is near.

Our character becomes foundational when we align our character to become like Jesus’. This involves choosing joy in our circumstances and gentleness in our relationships.

Our confidence grows as we realize that Jesus is near and wanting to give us his peace in exchange for our anxieties. Through prayer, with thanksgiving, we make a deliberate choice to refuse worry because we are in Christ.

Our contemplation gets aligned with our character and our confidence when we filter our thoughts with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. This is more than positive thinking.

Our conduct gets aligned as we put what we’ve learned into practice after following the positive models in the Christian community. Being doers and not just hearers is an essential part of Christian community.

We invite all of Faith’s family to reflect on the source of their character, confidence, contemplation and conduct to see if they are aligned with the model set by Christ and other positive Christian models.

Join us every Sunday for Truth Talks. Through August we’ll be focusing on Psalms that touch the Heart.

Remember, no matter how aligned you are, you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack

Pull up a Plate

Love,Food,Hospitality,Church,All nations,Sunday

There’s nothing like food to bring people together. I’ve gotten closer to people over Halal chicken, Thanksgiving turkey, Sushi, Vietnamese noodle soup, tacos, ice cream sundaes, hamburgers, potatoes with peanut sauce, casseroles, and biriyani or steak dinners. Our church believes in hospitality in all its forms.

Jesus was known for his “eating and drinking” with sinners and some of our memorable stories are of him with Matthew, Zacchaeus, the 5000, the 4000 and the Disciples at the Last Supper.

Perhaps at our meals, we are together vulnerably expressing our mutual need for ‘daily bread’ and our humble thankfulness for God’s most recent provision. There is a togetherness that often helps us relax and share on a more personal level. As long as there is food on our plate we are present and available to share one more story, to hear one more antidote, to discuss one more idea.

When we share food from another culture there is the extension of friendship and acceptance. There is the taking in of something which is important and meaningful to another. There is a drawing together across differences in something common which makes us alike.

Meals pull people to cross social barriers since wealthy and poor alike enjoy good food. There is joy in the creation, the serving, the consuming and even comradery in the cleanup if that is part of the routine.

We recently shared a wedding shower for our intern and his fiancé. This event with multi-cultural food brought diverse cultures, ages, social classes, genders and faith groups together into one joy filled occasion where cuisine played a central role.

What you are eating across from me helps me stay face to face with you. In a world filled with technology which can keep us connected but apart, it is nice to sense close proximity to another person made in God’s image who is struggling through the challenges of life, breathing in the same air, experiencing the same atmosphere, taking the same time just to be here, together.

We claim to be 50 nations in one family.  The second Sunday of each month we celebrate the food from a different part of the world and our members love preparing, displaying and offering what is close to their hearts and stomachs.

When food is offered, somehow people come when nothing else might draw them into relationship.

What have you done to express your hospitality across barriers? What is your favorite food to offer to someone with whom you want to share friendship or welcome? When you think back on the all the meals you’ve eaten, which food offered to you did you enjoy and appreciate the most? What made it so special?

Serving in the Hood

know your neighbour

From the foundation of Faith in the 1940’s in South Vancouver, serving the neighbourhood has been a priority for us. In recent years that has involved housing for refugees, partnering with the Foodbank and South Van Neighbourhood House, operating two daycares, hosting the Royal Conservatory of Music exams, sharing the facility with El Redentor (a Spanish congregation), teaching ESL classes, tutoring, celebrating our East Side celebration, plus catering outreach banquets, Christmas eve dinner and candlelight service for the community, and hosting services and events for all generations without discrimination.

We state the value as follows:

Servanthood means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will grow toward

1) putting the best interests of others ahead of our own

2) utililizing our gifts, resources and abilities to the benefit of building up the body and the individuals in it

3) choosing humility, graciousness, gentleness and compassion as our first response to others inside and outside our immediate fellowship.

Growing up in a religious environment can have the effect of prompting us to unconsciously (or even consciously) categorize people, actions, lifestyles, situations, careers, and even fashion as white (good) or black (bad). Thinking in the grey zone between those extremes often leaves us uncomfortable and uncertain.

If there is clear scriptural teaching on something then we consider the culture and context of the original writer/readers and our current culture and context to communicate the teaching accurately without resorting to manipulation or guilt.

In this article I am merely pointing out that our service to others isn’t usually limited by who they are or what they do. It is more often our own heart that puts unnecessary boundaries in place to limit our effectiveness in crossing cultural, social or personal barriers in meeting the needs of others.

Duane Elmer, in his book, Cross-cultural Servanthood (p. 55), states that “nearly forty years of observation suggests to me that my (older) generation has tended to reject cultural diversity because we have not adequately distinguished it from religious diversity. We have tended to mix our culture and Christianity quite easily, quite comfortably and with little critique. Often confusing cultural differences with religious differences, we have judged cultural differences as wrong. In recent year the opposite seems to be more true. The younger generation, perhaps influenced by postmodernism and the general relativism of society, has been less inclined to distinguish between cultural and religious differences. They often prefer to see both as valid choices. Thus the younger generation blurs religious and cultural issues, tending to believe if peoples’ hearts are sincere, whatever their religious convictions, God will accept them. Both tendencies have their dangers, thought they are not the same. My own sense is that the two generations need to converse, moderate each other’s extremes and in doing so move closer to where God is.”

What do you think? Can we serve the diversity of our neighbourhood better by communicating between generations? Do you have any significant conversations with those of another generation or culture so that you understand how to serve better? Keep reaching out.

VALUE: Cross-Cultural Servanthood

Our staff are reading an interesting book called Cross-Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer. Faith Fellowship heralds three values: Faith, multi-generational and multi-national community, plus servanthood. This book blends the last two values for us.

The way this value looks for us includes the following definition:

Servanthood – This means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will grow toward

  • Putting the best interests of others ahead of our own
  • Utilizing our gifts, resources and abilities to the benefit of building up the body and the individuals in it
  • Choosing humility, graciousness, gentleness and compassion as our first response to others inside and outside our immediate fellowship

This is far harder than it sounds when reading words on paper. Everything within us seems to fight against acting like Jesus in Philippians 2 where it says he emptied himself and became a bond-servant.

Elmer’s point in his book (p. 17) is that in a cross-cultural situation it is natural for North Americans to act from a point of superiority even without realizing it. He says that our superiority “appears in disguises that pretend to be virtues – virtues such as

  • I need to correct their error (meaning I have superior knowledge, a corner on truth)
  • My education has equipped me to know what is best for you (so let me do most of the talking while you do most of the listening and changing).
  • I am here to help you (so do as I say).
  • I can be your spiritual mentor (so I am your role model).
  • Let me disciple you, equip you, train you (often perceived as “let me make you into a clone of myself).

The author summarizes that “superiority cloaked in the desire to serve is still superiority. It’s not our words that count but the perceptions of the local people who watch our lives and sense our attitudes.”

There is no question then but that servanthood begins from a deep sense of humility as to who I am and a deep sense of respect and honor as to who God has made you to be. Your culture, faith, experience, background, personality and understanding of God as filtered through the Scriptures all are facets of life that I pay attention to.

Our perception of servanthood is filtered through our cultural lens. What we think of as service is easily interpreted as superiority or ignorance by another. This is never so obvious as in the different ways we greet each other and show respect.

Our perception of servanthood is also filtered through our generational lens. We were all raised with what we were told was the “right” way to show respect to others – to those older, to men, to women, to relatives, to strangers, to those in authority, etc.

Being mixed in the soup of multi-culturalism and multi-generationalism can easily leave one feeling like there may no longer be any right way to do much of anything. Servanthood is a value we are still learning. What have you learned about servanthood in your context, culture and circumstances? Bless you as you put Biblical servanthood into practice.

 

VALUE: MULTI-GENERATIONAL AND MULTI-NATIONAL COMMUNITY

Visioning what heaven will be like is something beyond us even if “we can only imagine.”

Revelation 5:8-10 pictures living creatures and elders in worship before Jesus singing a song that says “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood your purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (NIV)

We have fifty nations in one family at Faith. Although, a newcomer named Robert let us know that he was here representing the fifty-first nation.

We have demonstrated this value through opening refugee homes which have now welcomed over 500 people from 60 nations. (This ministry called New Hope Community Services Society now operates in Surrey with an apartment building as a cornerstone.) We also started New Hope Childcare for new Canadians and single parents – this ministry has also helped over 500 families since it opened in 2002. We have partnered in hosting the Foodbank on Fridays as well over 150 individuals and families are supplied representing 30-40 different nations.

This value has changed us. Our community engagement is different as we do outreach events. Our banquets are different in the menus, programs, music and mosaic of guests who come. We see our differences as a strength since every culture reflects the face and heart of God slightly differently – giving us all a fuller picture of who we serve and worship.

We believe God is asking us to represent the unity in diversity demonstrated in the picture given in Revelation. We say we are here to get a taste of heaven now. While we are imperfect, weak, foolish and often stumbling our way trying to keep in step with the Spirit we trust that we have a Good Shepherd leading us home.

Multi-generational and multi-national community is our second value. Twenty years ago we had very few generations and very few nations represented here. Now, there are members from many ages, nations, careers, social levels, gift sets and interest groups. God has been gracious.

We present the value as follows:

Multi-generational and multi-national community – This means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will grow toward

1) inclusivity and diversity in our private and corporate gatherings and social circles

2) intentionality in our welcoming of others unlike ourselves

3) deepening and broadening of relationship building through our conversations and purposeful activities

It seems to be our human nature – especially in a community with a huge number of introverts – to narrow our circle of relationship to those who demand less of us. To continually welcome and invite newcomers into our social circle stretches our emotional, psychological, personal and sometimes spiritual limits. Our boundaries get tested more than we feel we can bear.

This value is key to the core of who we are. It is sometimes easier to practice in our corporate gatherings than in our private gatherings. In our private gatherings we appreciate those who are most familiar, most like us and most undemanding.

We see that since this is not always natural for us to include newcomers then we need to be intentional in our choices, conversations and activities. How are you demonstrating diversity in Christ’s family? How will you show this value in your relationships better?

VALUES: FAITH – PART TWO

Our insurance company sent us a DVD on “Facing the Risk.” It features a section on the top ten liability risks facing Christian Charities. It also presents an overview of effective abuse prevention strategies for our organization. I mentioned yesterday that part of our value of FAITH at Faith is leaning toward “prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel.” This clearly demands great wisdom in a society where we have examples of people who plunge negligently through clear barriers and boundaries, where others are risk averse, or where some are ignorant or apathetic about risks.

Today, I want to expand the rest of our statement on Faith. We stated that our value of FAITH:

Means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will lean toward

1)prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel

2)body and soul-stretching outreach initiatives

3) open-handed and open-hearted efforts of generosity and hospitality

This last section is challenging. I know we have Paul’s directive in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (NIV)

So, today, our church planter walked us through an old building which has come available for the next couple of years while the developer awaits permits from city hall. The costs are significant to have a presence on the fringe of an area which says it wants no religious or political presence. The costs of not moving in are also significant as units for 17,000 people are arising as fast as spring flowers from the dirt.

We sat and dreamed of how we could turn this opportunity into a potential foothold for the gospel in the area. Our values would seem to encourage us to move positively, as wisely as possible, toward taking this step.

This would be risk-taking to transform and old concrete building into a church/business center; this would be a body and soul-stretching outreach initiative; this would require an open-handed and open-hearted effort of generosity and hospitality to come up with the resources needed. (We would need about $150,000 to cover the next two years – plus some solid volunteer labor to get the place in shape).

There are many more ways we evidence our FAITH value. We began two daycares, housing for refugees, a partnership with the Vancouver Foodbank, internships, community celebrations and outreaches to street boys and orphans in Uganda. We are looking at innovations in tutoring, youth, language learning and even thinking of bringing a Korean missionary from Korea to help us reach international students.

All of this demands visionaries, generous givers, strategic thinkers, gutsy leadership and people of faith.

We’ve seen God bless in drawing representatives from 50 different nations into one family. What more can he do to build his church? How has he gifted you to demonstrate this value of FAITH? Perhaps you might even have a role to play in some of the vision he is drawing out of us.

 

Values: FAITH -PART ONE

In Faith’s family we have three key values which we use as a grid to mark the kind of community we would like to see. Today, I asked a newcomer over coffee what he observed about his experience so far at the church. He said, “I’ve been to a lot of churches and it’s different here. It feels like a community. People don’t rush away and they don’t rush by you when the service is done.”

Yesterday, in our prayer time before the service, another new comer said, “this is the friendliest church I’ve ever been to. You walk into the prayer room and everyone stands up to hug you.”

I’m not sure if our values are the reason why our community networks with each other, but God seems to be doing something special among us for which we are grateful. Our leadership has something to do with it, our prayer base has something to do with it, but our members are the ones making a difference.

We say three things about the value of FAITH in our expression of church. We say that FAITH means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will lean toward

  • Prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel;
  • Body and soul-stretching outreach initiatives
  • Open-handed and open-hearted efforts of generosity and hospitality

FAITH is our confident trust that God is with us as we live out his truth in our contemporary world. We lean toward prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel, meaning that we come before God with a bold confidence to seek his wisdom and his way for divine appointments and significant conversations as we look for bridges in sharing who Jesus is and what he has done in giving his life for us. We share personally on how God has worked in our own life and we share candidly on what he has done in our world.

We haven’t mastered prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking, individually or as a community. but we are trying to lean in that direction.

When Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor, was chasing down Christians on his way to Damascus, he met Jesus in a dynamic encounter. He was changed because two people took risks for the sake of the gospel. First, Ananias was prompted by Jesus to place his hands on him and restore Saul’s sight. Ananias responded, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he had done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” (Acts 9:13)

The risk was real but Jesus told Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Twice, Ananias is told “go” just as Jesus tells us to “go” in his great commission. Sometimes a person’s outward persona or reputation holds us back from taking risks. It doesn’t feel safe to share and it seems obvious that this person wouldn’t be interested anyway.

Saul tried to join the disciples in Damascus by preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. This confused everyone who thought they knew who he was and this led to death threats from his former allies. Saul escaped to Jerusalem and again tried to join the disciples there “but they were afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas too him and brought him to the apostles…”

Two people showed their faith by taking risks with Saul and this has made all the difference for all of us who read our Bibles and see what Saul (who became the Apostle Paul) wrote for us who live outside the Jewish world.

How has God helped you lean toward prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking as you share the gospel? How have you witnessed evidences of this in your faith community?