grovesinthemist

This clip is taken from the sermon “Jesus, the Son of God,” preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church’s Ballard location in Seattle, Washington, on October 23, 2011. It is the 95th sermon in our sermon series on the Gospel of Luke.

To watch the full sermon, visit http://marshill.com/media/luke/jesus-the-son-of-god


Shyira Diocese: Church Preschool Program - Progress Report (November 2010-May 2011)

Of the 54 Parishes in Shyira Diocese, 16 out of 148 pre-schools havereceived funds from donors for the purpose of starting and operating a preschool.  Under the leadership of Pastor Christophe Nshimyimana – head of Christian Education for the diocese – we have interviewed parents, teachers, and local church pastors from five of these churches to evaluate the progress since preschool began in November 2010.  Overall, we visited three different communities where preschools are being funded and operating throughout several churches.

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"HE IS NOT HERE - FOR HE IS RISEN!"

I’ve been trying to get this blog post to go through since last Saturday night, but the internet connection at our house is out and the two hotels I’ve been to haven’t had a good connection either. Nonetheless, I persevere.

I wanted to share these pictures I took in Jerusalem (2008) so you might get a visual of the path our Lord Jesus took to the cross and where he *might* have been buried. Most all of the sites in Israel are “traditionally” where Christians believed certain events took place, but no one can know for sure and there are a few places where it’s obvious that wasn’t the biblical location. In addition to my pictures I have posted "The ‘Who,’ ‘What,’ and ‘Where’ of Holy Week: A Visualization" that appeared last week on Justin Taylor’s blog, Between Two Worlds.

For the past few days I’ve been itching to share my Easter thoughts, so here they are:

We who are in Christ Jesus have also died to sin and resurrected to new life. This means that we become just like Jesus in every way as we share in his sufferings and the crucifixion of our old selves. We are being made into his likeness every single day, and the sinless nature of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit is the exact nature we take on. Can anyone be perfect, can anyone not sin? Well, that’s what the Bible says. Paul makes this clear on more than one occasion, but some of my favorite passages are in Romans 6-8. Without typing a 20 page exegetical paper, I want us to see that the entirety of Paul’s claims about what it even means to be a Christian - his basis for helping us understand our position in Christ -  is that we are united with Christ in his DEATH and RESURRECTION. This means we are dead to sin, alive to Christ, and therefore “BY NO MEANS/NEVER/NO WAY/MAY IT NEVER BE SO” that we should continue sinning. Easter is glorious because Jesus rose from the dead, he is alive, and he reigns above all…and I know you haven’t forgotten that Jesus died for your sins - that’s the whole point! But I pray that more Christians (including myself) would live out biblical truth that we do not have to live this life now on earth and sin! We have been freed from sin (past tense)! How liberating it is to see and understand that God planned it all to work that way, and that those with faith in the work of Jesus have literally become united as ONE body with Christ who is the head. Don’t make excuses for your sin, and don’t say, “Well, no one is perfect…thank God for grace!” YES, hallelujah praise Jesus that he rose and thank God for grace!…..but Paul uses the very fact that God does have grace and that Christ did die and resurrect to say to believers, 

"How can you who have died to sin (past tense) continue living in it(present tense)? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4) 

In other words, “Do you even know what it means to be a Christian? It means you don’t go on sinning…how can you???”

Lastly, I need to say that it’s not about “trying not to sin.” What Paul is talking about is a supernatural change that has taken place — a reworking of the human heart and sin-nature that can only be done by God. We don’t stop sinning because we choose to. We stop sinning because we are united with Christ, have the presence and power of God through the Holy Spirit within us, and it is impossible to live in sin if all of that has laid its claim on your life. Be encouraged by the fact that you can’t be good by trying to be good…..but you can be perfect through Jesus. Amen? Yes, Amen.

(Click through to see a larger high-resolution image. Then right click and click “Save As” to download.  Or download in PDF format.

Holy Week Timeline from Bible Gateway

(via Between Two Worlds) Readers may also want to check out a Google Map of Jerusalem, constructed by Crossway, pinpointing (to the best of our knowledge) the location of the major events of Holy Week with chronology. (Click through for more info.)

Google Maps | Life of Christ events and places

I’ve never seen anything like what I watched in this video. An entire people group, known as the Kimyal Tribe of Papua, Indonesia, received the New Testament in their native Kimyal language. I love to hear the prayer of the pastor who rightly acknowledged God’s sovereignty over the time and place that the full message of the gospel came to these people. He praised God for being faithful to make himself known to a people who were hungry to know more of the Scriptures and to follow Jesus obediently.

Kinyarwanda is spoken by 9,307,000 people:

  • 8,436,000 in Rwanda
  • 533,000 in Uganda
  • 250,000 in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 88,000 in Tanzania

Part of the Bible was published in Kinyarwanda for the first time in 1914. The New Testament was first published in 1931, and the complete Bible translated into Kinyarwanda was first published in 1954. I praise God that the people who speak Kinyarwanda have had the entire Bible printed in their own language for over 50 years. I have seen how some of the pastors here in Rwanda cling to their Bibles — their Kinyarwanda Bibles. It is everything to them, yet there is much about the Bible that they don’t understand.

Just as God once provided the Bible in Kinyarwanda, he is now faithful to provide biblical and theological resources in Kinyarwanda as well. There is a language barrier between myself and those who only speak Kinyarwanda, but I am committed to learning as much of the language as possible and also to helping many people learn English. Just as the people of the Kimyal Tribe hungered for the Word of God and were eager to read and understand, so too are the Rwandan pastors I have met. They are so excited to get their hands on as many resources as possible and to learn how to properly read and interpret the Bible. It’s not as if they’ve chosen to neglect biblical education; rather, they’ve never been given an opportunity. Well, now is the time that God has sovereignly appointed to provide solid biblical teaching for hundreds of leaders in Rwanda. I couldn’t help but think of these pastors as I watched the Kimyal Tribe rejoice over the precious Word of God. I desire to see rejoicing like that in Rwanda over people who truly begin to grasp the depths of the Bible and the “mystery of the gospel” which God has made known to us through Jesus. The gospel of Jesus is good news for all people of all nations, and followers of Christ must have but one focus in life, to…

"go and make disciples of all nations…..teaching them everything I have commanded you." - Jesus

That’s the point.

On September 24, 2001, the Sonrise School in Musanze, Rwanda began its first term with 200 students in primary grades 1 through 4.

On March 19, 2011, I was blessed to attend the first ever graduation ceremony for 40 seniors from Sonrise School and was able to capture some of the highlights. This is a brief clip of the Hoisannai Choir … and while I still have no clue what they were singing, it was cool to experience different aspects of both African and Rwandan culture throughout the ceremony.

The enthusiasm of these singers is guaranteed to bring you joy.

Many have come to know and love the “Baxter” design with his goatee full of grapes. It’s a bear…plus fruit…hence the brand name, B3AR FRUIT.  Get it?
In case you haven’t heard of it before, the inspiration for the design and brand comes from the Bible - which says that believers in Jesus WILL bear good fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit (ie. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control - Galatians 5).  We are no longer slaves to sin and instruments of unrighteousness which produce death.  Rather, we are slaves to God and instruments of righteousness that produce the fruit of sanctification and life (Romans 6).
I made this background from the many t-shirt designs and the album artwork from the *FREE ALBUM* that B3AR FRUIT has released so far.  I love how God blesses people with the creativity to make - among other things - interesting clothes and good music to bring himself glory.  I hope this is just something cool to look at and enjoy while appreciating the actual fruit that God has produced through something as small as a t-shirt.
Thanks to everyone involved in all of the B3AR FRUIT projects.

Many have come to know and love the “Baxter” design with his goatee full of grapes. It’s a bear…plus fruit…hence the brand name, B3AR FRUIT.  Get it?

In case you haven’t heard of it before, the inspiration for the design and brand comes from the Bible - which says that believers in Jesus WILL bear good fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit (ie. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control - Galatians 5).  We are no longer slaves to sin and instruments of unrighteousness which produce death.  Rather, we are slaves to God and instruments of righteousness that produce the fruit of sanctification and life (Romans 6).

I made this background from the many t-shirt designs and the album artwork from the *FREE ALBUM* that B3AR FRUIT has released so far.  I love how God blesses people with the creativity to make - among other things - interesting clothes and good music to bring himself glory.  I hope this is just something cool to look at and enjoy while appreciating the actual fruit that God has produced through something as small as a t-shirt.

Thanks to everyone involved in all of the B3AR FRUIT projects.


What is more important to you: your personal, spiritual, and ministry rights, or the integrity and advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Don’t be too quick to say it’s the gospel.
Over several decades in ministry, I’ve discovered there are not as many Christians and church leaders as you might think who walk the walk when it comes to laying aside their legitimate human and spiritual rights for the sake of the gospel. Yes, many pastors preach it on Sundays, but how they live is often quite different. It’s the fruit of the “professionalism” of Christian leadership. 
A question dating back to Paul
This was the primary question facing Paul—would he fight for his personal and spiritual rights, or would he choose to lay them down for the integrity and advancement of the gospel? Paul’s answer, found in 1 Corinthians 9, is “yes,” and he lived it out in his ministry.
The primary issue facing Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 was that certain church leaders in the city of Corinth were questioning, accusing, and opposing Paul (1 Corinthians 9:3). How could these latecomers to church leadership question Paul? They apparently wanted to build themselves up in Corinth by undercutting Paul.
“
Paul said he would rather die than get robbed of his ability and grounds to boast in Christ. 
”
Paul spends a good part of this chapter emphasizing that he’s free in Christ (9:1), that the risen Christ had commissioned him as an apostle on the Damascus road (9:1), he was the founding apostle of the Corinthian church (9:2), and he also provides a rather long list of personal and spiritual leadership rights that were his. In other words, he had authoritative rights! Paul had the “right” to confront, attack, and start a huge fight with these would-be leaders, and he would have likely won with no problems. How dare anyone question Paul’s apostolic calling and credentials! After all, he has rights! He could have decided to take a strong stubborn stand in defense of his personal rights, blow up the church in Corinth, and leave it in ashes. But this is not how Paul responded.  
Paul’s primary concern
His primary concern was not his personal reputation or rights, but the reputation, integrity, and advancement of the gospel of Christ.
He chose to endure all the accusations rather than put an obstacle in the way of Christ’s gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12).  
Paul said he would rather die than get robbed of his ability and grounds to boast in Christ (1 Corinthians 9:16).  
He would rather preach the gospel for free than be accused of advancing the kingdom of God as a job (1 Corinthians 9:18).  
Paul declared himself to be a servant, one without personal rights, so he could lead anyone and everyone to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19). 
Think about the question
Let me end with the question I began with. What is more important to you: your personal and spiritual rights, or the integrity and advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Don’t answer this question too fast. Think about it for a while. May God’s grace help us all to follow Paul’s ministry example. For this is the way of the kingdom of God, and blessed are those who find it and live it.

What is more important to you: your personal, spiritual, and ministry rights, or the integrity and advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Don’t be too quick to say it’s the gospel.

Over several decades in ministry, I’ve discovered there are not as many Christians and church leaders as you might think who walk the walk when it comes to laying aside their legitimate human and spiritual rights for the sake of the gospel. Yes, many pastors preach it on Sundays, but how they live is often quite different. It’s the fruit of the “professionalism” of Christian leadership. 

A question dating back to Paul

This was the primary question facing Paul—would he fight for his personal and spiritual rights, or would he choose to lay them down for the integrity and advancement of the gospel? Paul’s answer, found in 1 Corinthians 9, is “yes,” and he lived it out in his ministry.

The primary issue facing Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 was that certain church leaders in the city of Corinth were questioning, accusing, and opposing Paul (1 Corinthians 9:3). How could these latecomers to church leadership question Paul? They apparently wanted to build themselves up in Corinth by undercutting Paul.

Paul said he would rather die than get robbed of his ability and grounds to boast in Christ. 

Paul spends a good part of this chapter emphasizing that he’s free in Christ (9:1), that the risen Christ had commissioned him as an apostle on the Damascus road (9:1), he was the founding apostle of the Corinthian church (9:2), and he also provides a rather long list of personal and spiritual leadership rights that were his. In other words, he had authoritative rights! Paul had the “right” to confront, attack, and start a huge fight with these would-be leaders, and he would have likely won with no problems. How dare anyone question Paul’s apostolic calling and credentials! After all, he has rights! He could have decided to take a strong stubborn stand in defense of his personal rights, blow up the church in Corinth, and leave it in ashes. But this is not how Paul responded.  

Paul’s primary concern

His primary concern was not his personal reputation or rights, but the reputation, integrity, and advancement of the gospel of Christ.

  • He chose to endure all the accusations rather than put an obstacle in the way of Christ’s gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12).  
  • Paul said he would rather die than get robbed of his ability and grounds to boast in Christ (1 Corinthians 9:16).  
  • He would rather preach the gospel for free than be accused of advancing the kingdom of God as a job (1 Corinthians 9:18).  
  • Paul declared himself to be a servant, one without personal rights, so he could lead anyone and everyone to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19). 

Think about the question

Let me end with the question I began with. What is more important to you: your personal and spiritual rights, or the integrity and advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Don’t answer this question too fast. Think about it for a while. May God’s grace help us all to follow Paul’s ministry example. For this is the way of the kingdom of God, and blessed are those who find it and live it.

PART 2: Crossing The Bridge

Two Way Bridge

Spring 2007:  Some guys I knew at Ouachita decided to start a Men’s Discipleship group that met every Monday night.  At the time I had not yet returned to OBU, and I was taking a couple of classes at a community college to get my GPA up just so I could be accepted again.  Every Monday I drove about an hour from Little Rock to Arkadelphia, AR to meet with the guys, and it was great to have fellowship with Christian brothers as we grew together.  OBU has mandatory chapel for all students on Tuesday mornings, so I stayed with a friend every Monday and went to chapel every Tuesday.  It’s no secret that many students don’t the requirement to be at chapel, but from the outside looking in I took nothing for granted and actually looked forward to going each week.  My friends and I still joke that I had a better chapel attendance than most of the enrolled students, and I wasn’t even required to go.  Ouachita often brings in popular speakers though, and in recent years David PlattTony Campolo, and former Arkansas Razorback head football coach Houston Nutt have spoken, just to name a few.

One of those Tuesday morning chapel services  - when I wasn’t even supposed to be there - turned out to be one of the defining moments in my life thus far.

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PART 1: Crossing The Bridge

Two Way Bridge

Spring 2006:  As a college freshman, I dropped out of Ouachita Baptist University with no intention of ever going back to school, much less a conservative Christian college such as OBU.  I grew up in church and in a Christian home with godly parents who made it a priority to teach and disciple their children.  Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of the weekly drive to church on Sunday morning when my mom would have me recite - in order - all 66 books of the Bible and tell her that there were 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.  She quizzed me on who wrote what book and what the characters and stories were about.  At age nine I professed my faith in Jesus before our church and was baptized, but to this day I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t believe in the God of the Bible, or that the Bible was the only book on the planet that contained God’s inspired word for mankind.  Although I continued to be involved with my church and youth group throughout Junior High and High School, I gradually became hard-hearted and resistant towards the call of the gospel to love God, love people, and live a holy life that sets a follower of Jesus apart from a life of sin that only seeks to gratify one’s own selfish desires.

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Creating tomorrow’s leaders… to transform a nation

Dale DawsonDale Dawson is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bridge2Rwanda, a global non-profit enterprise that fosters economic development, entrepreneurship, education and leadership in Rwanda.  In 2003, Dawson left his career at a Little Rock, Arkansas-based investment banking firm to begin a mission to help re-build Rwanda.  The other co-founder of Bridge2Rwanda is Bishop John Rucyahan, an Anglican Bishop from Rwanda who is internationally renowned as an evangelist, spiritual leader and social entrepreneur.  Today Dale passionately live his Divine calling: “To build a bridge between here and Rwanda and transform lives at both ends.”

Bishop John Rucyahana

Bishop John Rucyahana is one of Rwanda’s most effective leaders – building schools, hospitals, businesses, community centers and churches. Today, he serves as President of Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and Chair of Prison Fellowship Rwanda, Hope Rwanda and Muhabura University. He also serves on President Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council and is the author of The Bishop of Rwanda: Finding Forgiveness Amidst a Pile of Bones.  From 1997-2010, Bishop John served as Bishop of the Shyira Diocese of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. He founded and helped to build Sonrise School, Shyira Hospital, Ishema Hotel, Urwego Opportunity Bank, Anglican Mission in America and many other Kingdom ventures. In 2009, he was awarded the Wilberforce Award by Prison Fellowship for his work in Rwanda’s prisons. Bishop John earned his Masters in Divinity from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA

Serving With Bishop Laurent Mbanda

It seems like every day I am meeting new people who have a God-given passion for Rwanda, and every day I am learning more about the state of the Rwandan church.  Many of the issues facing the Rwandan church are no different from the issues facing the American church.  However, most American Christians who desire to serve and lead local churches have plenty of options and the financial means to attend seminary or undergraduate Bible college.  Church leaders in America can easily get an education so that they will be well equipped to study, preach, teach, and live out the fullness of the gospel in front of those God has given them to shepherd.

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