Expedition Packing List: #2 Church Community

George Mallory, far right in the back row, during an Everest expedition in 1921.

In 1921 George Mallory was a part of a team of 9 people trying to be the first to scale Mt. Everest.  The first attempt ended in failure when high winds turned the team around.

The second attempt, 1922, which included the new innovation of bottled oxygen allowed the team to reach a height of 27,000 feet in elevation, but an avalanche killed several people.

But, in 1924, despite high winds and deep snows, the team set out again to scale Mt. Everest, and it is said that George Mallory was asked, “Why?  Why would you try to climb this mountain over and over?”  Mallory responded, “Because it’s there.”

In a similar way, in 1 Thessalonians 5 we see a similar charge by the Apostle Paul exhorting the Thessalonians to respond like the people pictured, heading toward a summit, the Day of the Lord, Jesus’ return, but there is one significant difference between the Thessalonians and the people in this photograph.

The people in this photograph are friends, but the Thessalonians are family in Christ.  In chapter 1 we see the illustration of a mother.  In chapter 2 we see the illustration of a father, and throughout 1 Thessalonians we see the address “brothers and sisters in Christ” used 16 times, and this familial distinction gives us a tethering that is unlike any other as we make this journey together. 

When you read the passage on your own there are really about 17 characteristics to draw out, but for the sake of time we are going to focus on one; Church Community.

1 Thessalonians 5:13-15, “13 Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek what is good for one another and for all people.”

In verses 14-15 we see the importance of our relationships with one another.  The local church isn’t just “pastoral authority.”  We don’t want to be on an expedition where we just engage the leaders of the journey, but we must also work toward healthy relationships with the team as a whole. 

That’s why in verse 14 Paul writes, “We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly.”  The word “unruly” means insubordination, and insubordination isn’t just with pastoral authority, but also we can be insubordinate to one another, so that it leads to division, in fighting, gossip, slander, and this is a huge distraction to our journey together.

This is why in our church family we have our Yearly Focus that we rotate through each year, and one of them is pursuing healthy relationships with one another, because it is so easy to have unhealthy relationships in a local church family. 

Listen to me, I am confident that these last 12-months have created opportunity for offense, conflict, and frustrations with one another.  I am confident there have been posts on Facebook that have rubbed us the wrong way, I am sure comments from me on a Sunday morning have been annoying, we know isolation and separation is only going to increase misunderstanding.

And as a result we see confusion, isolation, offense, and then we start having thoughts like, “I am not sure if I belong with these people.” And the cohesion of our team begins to break down.  

Therefore, God’s Word charges us in verse 13, “Live in peace with one another, encourage one another, help the weak, be patient with everyone, and seek what is good.”

Each of us would do well to consider the relational health of our team, friends, family, and church family, and ask the Lord to help us take steps toward healthy relationships with one another.

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Expedition Packing List: #1 Pastoral Authority

George Mallory, far right in the back row, during an Everest expedition in 1921.

In 1921 George Mallory was a part of a team of 9 people trying to be the first to scale Mt. Everest.  The first attempt ended in failure when high winds turned the team around.

The second attempt, 1922, which included the new innovation of bottled oxygen allowed the team to reach a height of 27,000 feet in elevation, but an avalanche killed several people.

But, in 1924, despite high winds and deep snows, the team set out again to scale Mt. Everest, and it is said that George Mallory was asked, “Why?  Why would you try to climb this mountain over and over?”  Mallory responded, “Because it’s there.”

What happens in the future?

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, “1 Now as to the periods and times, brothers and sisters, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord is coming just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

Look at the phrase “Day of the Lord.”  When we talk about the “Day of the Lord” we’re not talking about a “day” like a 24-hour period, but more so the phrase “Day of the Lord” is language to describe a point in history. 

It might be similar to phrases like the last 12-months being described as the “Days of Covid” but the “Day of the Lord” is talking about a period of time when Jesus’ rule and glory are clearly seen to all people. 

We Need to See People Face to Face

If the last 12 months of global pandemic, social unrest, and blizzards has taught us nothing else in life, it has taught us that we need people. 

Our culture likes to pitch this message that we are independent, we are strong, we can march to the beat of our own drum, we can declare our truth at the expense of others, and it is absolutely foolish.  We need people. 

1 Thessalonians 3:1-3, “1 Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it best to be left behind, alone at Athens, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the benefit of your faith, 3 so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. 4 For even when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it happened, as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be for nothing.”

In the context of chapter 3 we see the Apostle Paul is deeply discouraged.  Thessalonica comes under attack, Paul is forced out of Thessalonica, you can read about this in Acts 17, and Paul is deeply concerned that the Thessalonians’s faith has wilted from the trails and challenges. 

In verse 1 and verse 5 Paul writes, “When I could endure it no longer” because Paul is metaphorically pacing back and forth, wondering, “How are the Thessalonians doing?”

Therefore, when the Apostle Paul could endure it no longer he sends his faithful friend Timothy to bring strength and encouragement to the Thessalonians.  Do you see that in verse 2?

Timothy was a faithful friend to Paul, and Timothy would have definitely been needed in these other cities with these new churches, but Paul sends Timothy back to the Thessalonians, because we need people.       

One author made the observation that when Paul responds to false teaching in new churches he sends a letter, but when Paul hears about trails and challenges he sends a person.  He sends Timothy. 

Patriarchy And Mainstream Media

  • What does the screenshot communicate?  
  • How are women generalized in the interview?
  • What role does economics play in movies?
  • How is beauty discussed in the interview?
  • Who is the authority in the discussion?  Who has “special insight?”
  • How are the elderly portrayed in the video?
  • How are people of color discussed?
  • How would a person feel that had differing views than the actors?
  • How are the views discussed different than Scripture and supporting of Scripture?
  • Who has the position of power between the two actors?  How does she withhold / share her power?  

Authority of God’s Word

1 Thessalonians 2:13, “13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of mere men, but as what it really is, the word of God, which also is at work in you who believe.

The phrase “for this reason” is a literary reminder to throw our attention up to the previous passage where the Apostle Paul makes reference for how the Thessalonians are bearing fruit in the midst of trials and challenges, and in verse 13 the Apostle Paul attributes the bearing of fruit to what… the Thessalonians “receiving the word of God (do you see it), not as the word of mere men, but as the word of God.”

This is so important.  What we hold in our hands is not just pieces of paper bound into a book, or lit up on our phone, but we are holding God’s Words!

Endurance

In 1 Thessalonians 2 the Apostle Paul is going to clarify God’s call on our life isn’t going to be easy, and there are going to be times that we doubt everything the Lord is doing in our life. 

Maybe you’re in that place right now? Surely we are doubting the stability of our country right now.  Maybe we are doubting the strength of our marriage?  Maybe we are doubting some steps in our career?  Maybe we are seeing some questions of doubt in our faith?

I know over the last 10 years there have been many times that I have doubted what the Lord is doing in North Village Church, and endurance has played a key role.

Rise Up and Renew

As we prepare to move into the new location we thought the easiest thing would be to get so excited about the build out at our new location, and completely overlook the “build out” the Lord wants to do in us as His people.

We see this in Nehemiah, in the Old Testament, when Nehemiah hears about the devastation in Jerusalem, and instead of running out the door to help Jerusalem, we see Nehemiah turn to the Lord in prayer, fasting, and confession.

In the same way, we thought instead of getting swept up in the new location that maybe we should first pause to see what the Lord wants to do in us personally. 

Starting March 22nd – June 3rd (77 days) we are inviting our church family to come together for spiritual renewal

We understand there is a lot going on right now, so we’re not looking to really add to your schedule as much as we are inviting you to see this as an opportunity to lean into the Lord. 

Maybe there are some unhealthy patterns that have built up over the year, and this is a time for the Lord to do some demo?  Maybe there are some things that have been neglected over the last year, and this is a time for the Lord to build up some areas of our life?

It’s possible that there might be a voice in our head right now that is saying, “Who’s got time / capacity for something like this?”  We’re scattered.  We’re exhausted. 

I get it, and it would be really easy to kind of just sink into this black hole, and think to ourselves, “I will re-engage the Lord when things settle down.” 

The only problem is that I don’t know when things are going to “settle down.”  The reality is that this might be our “new norm” where things are always changing, and the gift of God’s grace in our lives is too valuable to overlook, therefore, we don’t want to wait, we don’t want to sink, we don’t want to drift, but instead we want to invite the Lord into this place with us, and ask for His help to walk in His grace right now.   

It’s likely that our circumstances and headlines aren’t going to be that different in the days ahead, but wouldn’t it be awesome if we were different?  Wouldn’t it be awesome if this new location is a symbolic way of us moving into a “new place with the Lord?”

What if the Lord could lead us to a place of leaving some things behind, and never picking them back up?  What if the Lord uses this season to shift our walk with Him to a new place? 

So, the invitation is to come with us, and be apart of this renewal with us.  We are going to be sending out a brief packet with more details, but we want you to read the agreement, and sign the agreement, and send it back to us by March 21st, so that we can move forward together. 

New Location for Sunday Worship

In 2008 my wife and I were sitting in the parking lot at Barton Creek Mall, and I said to her, “What if we started a new church in Austin?”  My loving wife gently said, “Why would we ever do that?”  

You might not know many people who have started churches, but when you tell people you are starting a new church people look at you like you might be a cult leader.

But, that’s what we did.  We talked to the elders at our current church, we went through this interview process where they look at your finances, talk about your intimate parts of life, and try to figure if you’re trying to be a cult leader, and then by God’s grace, a local church, Hill Country Bible Church, committed to sending us out to start a new church in Austin, but where?

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, “The Gospel is Personal.” (Part 3)

Right now we look at the headlines in the news and we see the need for transformation in our government / politicians, we need transformation in our systems of education, we need transformation in our medicine / mental health, we need transformation in how ethnic and cultural groups relate to one another, and in 1 Thessalonians we are going to see how it is only Jesus that can bring the transformation we long for in ourselves, and in our world. 

I don’t mean Jesus as ethereal, hypothetical, heavenly thoughts, but it is Jesus who gives us the perseverance, courage, and power to keep pressing into this world, so that we might taste of heaven, not just in eternity, but we can taste of heaven here on earth.  That’s the dream!  (Part 3) 

The Gospel Is Personal.

Yes, the gospel is a message, and yes the gospel is powerful, but we also need to be clear that the gospel is incredibly personal; because the gospel completely alters the way you understand all of life.  Look at verse 9:

1 Thessalonians 1:9, “9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God”

Now, we might not resonate with that phrase very much, because we don’t think of ourselves as idol worshippers, but don’t misunderstand, all people worship some type or types of idols on some level.

Some of us worship money; the more money we have the more safe and secure we feel.  Some of us worship acceptance; the more friends we have the more loved we feel.  Some of us worship power; the more power we have the more in control we feel.  These are all forms of idol worship. 

In fact, if you look at the riots this summer, not the protests, but the riots, and what happened on January 6th at the capital, the insurrection, not the protest, you are seeing much more about idols we worship than you are seeing about political or social agendas. 

You are seeing a people who feel like the things they hold most dear in life are being threatened, and it justifies violence, destruction, and loss of life.  It is idol worship!

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, “The Gospel is Powerful.” (Part 2)

Right now we look at the headlines in the news and we see the need for transformation in our government / politicians, we need transformation in our systems of education, we need transformation in our medicine / mental health, we need transformation in how ethnic and cultural groups relate to one another, and in 1 Thessalonians we are going to see how it is only Jesus that can bring the transformation we long for in ourselves, and in our world. 

I don’t mean Jesus as ethereal, hypothetical, heavenly thoughts, but it is Jesus who gives us the perseverance, courage, and power to keep pressing into this world, so that we might taste of heaven, not just in eternity, but we can taste of heaven here on earth.  That’s the dream!  (Part 2) 

The Gospel Is Powerful.

It’s important to understand that the gospel is a message, but the gospel is also powerful, so that when we read God’s Word, listen to a sermon, sing a song we want to hear and see the message of the gospel, but even more so we must engage the power of the gospel.  Look at verses 3-5:  (SLIDE:  Verses 3-5)

1 Thessalonians 1:3-5, “3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; 5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”

This is so important.  Stay with me.  A non-religious person (a person who is indifferent to God) could reject the message of the gospel, and a religious person (someone who believes in God) may agree with the message of the gospel, and at the same time, neither person could be engaging the power of the gospel, and as a result, not the gospel. 

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, “The Gospel.” Part 1

Right now we look at the headlines in the news and we see the need for transformation in our government / politicians, we need transformation in our systems of education, we need transformation in our medicine / mental health, we need transformation in how ethnic and cultural groups relate to one another, and in 1 Thessalonians we are going to see how it is only Jesus that can bring the transformation we long for in ourselves, and in our world. 

I don’t mean Jesus as ethereal, hypothetical, heavenly thoughts, but it is Jesus who gives us the perseverance, courage, and power to keep pressing into this world, so that we might taste of heaven, not just in eternity, but we can taste of heaven here on earth.  That’s the dream!   

The Gospel

The gospel is the good news of Jesus.  The gospel is the means by which the God of Scripture will restore His creation to Himself, and the gospel is sprinkled throughout all of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, but, the word “gospel” is actually specifically referenced in verse 5. 

1 Thessalonians, “1:5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only…”

Notice that the Apostle Paul refers to the gospel as “our gospel.”  In chapter 2 the Apostle Paul will refer to the gospel as “his gospel” so that the gospel is personal and the gospel is powerful, but we need to make sure that we are clear on the message of the gospel

Are you a Dangerous Leader? Or, are you a DANGEROUS LEADER?

Malachi 1:6-8: In the book of Malachi the people of Malachi’s day are living through a difficult season.  Their morale is low, their souls are depleted, they have lost optimism in the Lord, and their worship in the Lord is waning, and it bothers the Lord, so that in chapter 1 we see a rebuke that is primarily targeting the spiritual leaders, “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts.”


Up to this point the people of Israel have grown up hearing great things about the Lord through leaders like Abraham, Moses, David, Sampson, but lately the stories haven’t been that great.  Lately they have heard about the Assyrians, a wicked people take the 10 tribes to the north into captivity.  Then, Babylon, another wicked people take the 2 tribes to the south into captivity.  Then, Persians, another wicked people take out the Babylonians and issue a decree allowing Israel to return home, which is great, but Israel is having to start all over. They are having to rebuild their homes, restart their economy, re-establish their community, and they are still living under the oppression of the Persian government, so that their awe and worship of God is waning and it is trickling down into their relationships with one another.  But, there is HOPE.  


In Malachi 3 the Lord reminds them of His unending love, therefore, we are called to give our lives completely to Him, and when we give our lives to the Lord we will become DANGEROUS leaders, so let’s talk about what that looks like practically.  Dangerous leaders…

Pandemic Review: 2020

This year has been crazy, and it would be really easy to press into 2021 without even skipping a beat to what we might have felt and experienced last year.

This packet will serve as a guide to help you process 2020 with the Lord, and most importantly, invite the Lord into those places so that we might grieve and lament with Him. (click the link!)