Living a Quiet Life

 

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Of the many aspirations we have had for 2016 I am not convinced that living a quiet life was one of them. Actually, culture teaches us that to live louder is a more fulfilling life. The truth is, it is quite the contrary. Those who cannot deal with silence many times do not have a hold on contentment; on the flip side of that coin, those that are able to live quietly lead much more satisfying lives.

In the biblical book of Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul is admonishing the church to aspire to live quietly. The motivation for this kind of life is that it pleases God the Father. I love this motivation. In today’s day and age it is hard to get any one to do anything unless it is in there own selfish interest. This kind of mind set results in an endless search that never results in peace. I believe this is the case because we’re made to be motivated by God’s glory first. We are creatures designed to find our greatest joy in bringing exaltation to the one who is most worthy, God.

Many parents get to observe this kind of motivation when our children hand us there report card and wait in eager anticipation to see the pleasure we receive when we see there good grades; or when our child makes a shot in there basketball game and looks directly at there Father to see the joy on his face. Children in healthy homes are motivated to bring joy to there Father. In the same way we should be driven to please our Heavenly Father. A quiet life pleases God the Father.

What is a quiet life? It is a life content with being unnoticed, a life spent listening more than being heard, an existence in which we mind our own affairs instead of the affairs of others, and working consistently to provide for ourselves.

Imagine that, listening more than we speak. Is that possible? I am more comfortable waiting for the person I am conversing with to say the last syllable of the sentence so I can jump in and demonstrate my “know it all”. Listening is many times more powerful than speaking. When someone realizes you are really listening to them and care about what they are saying, they are more prone to hear the words you say in response, because they know you care.

How about minding your own business? Wow, how much better would the world be if we minded our own affairs. It should be a relief to us not to be in other people’s affairs. We have enough to figure out in our own lives. Jesus put it like this; take the 2×4 out of your own eye instead of trying to take the spec out of your neighbor’s eye. This is an essential ingredient for living a quiet life.

Furthermore we are to work and work well. People who work diligently and efficiently settle into more quiet lives. First, there is less time to be a busy body, secondly you are able to provide for yourself and do not have to be noisy about being a burden to others.

I encourage you; the scriptures exhort you, aspire to live quiet lives, listen more, speak less, mind your own affairs, and work well. This kind of life is quiet, influential, and pleasing to God.

 

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An Inventory of God’s Grace

First Christma Eve Service Preaching

At the end of every year I believe it is important for a church planter to take an inventory of God’s grace to the church he leads. I still remember the small group of people who gathered in my back yard for a vision and barbecue meeting. There were roughly fifteen adults and four to six kids. We all were excited about being part of a new church but we also were a little intimidated as the unknown was before us. I would like to take a grace inventory with all those who are reading so we can thank God for the work He has done and is doing.

The church has grown. In the first year I remember almost apologizing to every new visitor because the church was so small. If we hit the thirty mark we thought we were doing BIG things. The church is still small but not as small. We have grown to ninety men, women, and children. Over the past three months or so we have broken the attendance record. This past Sunday we had 81 people… we are one step away from being a Mega Church :)

Leaders are developing and emerging. Pastor Dave has really delivered great messages as of late and is finding his voice in the pulpit and continuing to love people well and pastor them well. I cannot describe how valuable he is to church and to my own life. His growth and maturity has been a joy to watch and has contributed significantly to health of the church.

We also began our first leadership track with 3 men who want to be servant leaders at Restoration Road. We are taking 9 months to be honest about our sanctification, discuss doctrinal issues, and mature as followers of Jesus. At the end of the track we will have a sit down with each person and talk about what the next step is. I am so thankful to God that leaders are emerging who love this church and it’s people.

The unchurched are hearing the Gospel. There are a few things you can’t deny when you walk into a Sunday service at Restoration Road, almost everyone is from the Boston area and almost everyone is new to church. I love this about who we are and where we are going. We baptized six people this past year and we are hopeful that many more will baptized in 2016.

Here are some things you can pray for Restoration Road in the coming year. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for, given to, and cheered for us along the way.

Starting “Celebrate Recovery” at Restoration Road

We are in the process of learning more about the program called “Celebrate Recovery”. Our hope is that we start this group to offer Gospel centered ministry to all those who suffer with addiction.

We are talking through the possibility of adding a night service in the Fall for all our pop warner parents and coaches.

The youth football schedule makes it tough for some of our people to make it to church on Sundays. We are praying and thinking of the possibility of adding a night service to better serve our people in the fall.

We are having our first missionary team come to Wakefield in the summer to serve the town.

A church in North Carolina has partnered with us and is excited about sending up a team of 10-15 to help us put on our first VBS, serve the town, and possibly host a basketball tournament.

Finally, God allowed me to be able to achieve one of my longtime goals of going into ministry full time. This will be the first full year where I get to fully dedicate myself to ministering to the people at Restoration Road. I love them deeply and I am thankful for each and every one of them. I honestly believe that 2016 will be the biggest year in Restoration Road’s history. I can’t wait to do the grace inventory for 2016!

 

 

 

 

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[freedom]

[ f r e e d o m ] \adj\: enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery: verb (used with object), freed, freeing. To make free; set at liberty; release from bondage, imprisonment, or restraint.


The absence of freedom in our world today is staggering. We were not created to be bought and sold as commodities, for our lives and souls cannot be ascribed a dollar value. We cannot look at a fellow human being and place a price on their life, yet this happens with devastating frequency, and the utter devaluation of life occurs at a steady rate. The Exodus Road (an organization devoted to fighting against sex slavery) announced last month that their teams found and freed an 11-year-old girl in India. This child was being sold to engage in forced sexual acts for $1.65. This precious girl’s value was set at a price less than what we would pay for a dozen eggs. Unfortunately, the reality is that this atrocity doesn’t occur in only poverty stricken areas, war-torn countries, or extremist communities. The horror of little girls being sold is happening all across the United States, where the average age of girls entering the sex trade is between 12 and 14 years old. Slavery is not just a reality for others, it’s a reality in our own nation. We can do something. We need to do something.

Jesus steps in and promises rescue because he understands to the depth of his soul the injustice of being sold. He knows the pain of being exchanged for money, with greed and self-gratification motivating the sale of his life. He knows this darkness, and has experienced this captivity. And because of this, he offers rescue for all those who are enslaved.

“He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” Isaiah 61:1

There is hope in this darkness, but it requires us to move beyond slavery being a hazy concept we simply consider, and recognize it as a reality we are equipped to stand up against. Jesus chose us in this fight for freedom. He chooses what is weak to confound the strong, chooses the small to highlight his might…He chose you, and he chose me. We are called to join this fight, because we are here and we are able, because we stand for the voiceless and champion the powerless. We do this for him, because he did it for us.


“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” Romans 5:6


 

So how do we respond? We pray! We pray for victims, for pimps, and for johns. We pray for wisdom, because while not everyone has the same role in this fight, rest assured that we all have a role. No one is exempt when precious lives hang in the balance, and liberty and innocence remain threatened. We act! We extend mercy, but continue to be relentless in pursuing justice. We hold hands with victims, and enter their hurt. We welcome battle scarred victims and champion their healing. We give time, resources, and money in whatever ways we are uniquely suited for. We do something!

Rescue is coming. It starts here, it starts now, and it starts with us.

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Learning to be Content

wheelAt what point do you say you are content?  At what point do you say “I have enough”? Is enough ever enough? When you reach your goal will you be content then or will you need a new goal, a higher goal because what drove you is now gone?  At what price does your contentment come?  Will the ends justify the means to get there? When will you be content?  This is a conversation that plays out in my head on a daily basis, and I know the heads of many other people as well.  The answer I always come to is that I should be content now, whatever my circumstance, and if I am not content now, then I am looking to the wrong source for my contentment.

The struggle for contentment starts young as materialism is forced into your life anyway a company can get it there.  Saturday morning cartoons are interrupted by commercials for the latest toy, or toy store.  They have ridiculously catchy jingles that will be in your head until the day you die (I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R Us kid). The message is always the same no matter what the product, that your life will be better with it than without it.  So discontentment seeps into your three year old brain, and the answer to the discontentment is an item that is shiny and new.  This becomes the answer to most of our discontentment, and the practice carries on throughout your life in what has come to be called “retail therapy”.

Of course this retail therapy for our lack of contentment takes money, money requires working, and working requires time.  Generally the more time you put into work the more you make, whether it be through overtime pay, or a promotion over the person who did not put in the hours you did.  More time working means less time with people, very important people like family and friends.  It also means less time with God, and this leads to the ultimate discontentment, because it is only through knowing and being known by our Creator that we can truly be content.  It is only through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died on the cross for our justification before God the Father, that this type of relationship with our Creator is possible.  This, the Gospel, is where we must find our contentment, otherwise we will always be wanting.

A favorite verse of many people is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  A great verse certainly, and also a verse given in the context of learning to be content.  In the preceding verses the Apostle Paul tells the Philippian church that he has learned to be content in whatever circumstance he finds himself.  That includes circumstances of need, and also circumstances of abundance. The circumstances of plenty and abundance are circumstance to be faced, just as the circumstances of hunger and need.  Paul recognizes, and we should as well that even in times where we have plenty the struggle to be content will exist because the desire to have more is in our nature (Proverbs 27:20b- …never satisfied are the eyes of man).  How are we to find contentment then, if no matter what we have we will never be satisfied?  This is where we need to be strengthened, where we need to be changed by Jesus, so that we are content no matter our circumstance, which for most of us is a circumstance of plenty and abundance (a roof over our heads, clothes, food, a car, a tv, a phone, wifi, etc.).

In Jesus we have been given the greatest gift, the gift of salvation and reconciliation with our God.  This gift not only helps us in this life, but has assured us that we will have an eternity of abundance.  Let us focus on this, and not on what we are told we need to have in order to be content.  Otherwise we will be stuck in a cycle of discontent, always reaching for the next big thing only to find that the contentment it brings is fleeting.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

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Wisdom is Better

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Some men gain much knowledge, some men gain much skill, but very few men gain much wisdom. I recently was watching a documentary about a neurosurgeon named Ben Carson. He is now a presidential candidate so I have been reading his book in preparation for the voting season. In the documentary he made a very intriguing statement, “There are a lot of people who have technical skills, there are a lot of people who have knowledge, but don’t necessarily have wisdom. The technical skills, the knowledge, those are things that can be acquired, but I believe wisdom comes from God, and it has to be sought and asked for”.

Is wisdom better than being technical? Is wisdom better than knowledge? Yes! Proverbs 2 teaches us that wisdom should be valued above these things. Of course we should aim to be skillful and knowledgeable but if wisdom is subtracted from the equation we will bear no eternal fruit. Wise people grow in their technique and knowledge but an effective life always begins with wisdom.

Wisdom is crying to us. It is calling to our souls provoking us to maturity so that we might live responsible, God glorifying lives. The Bible teaches us that she (wisdom) “cries aloud in the street”. How do we hear the voice of wisdom? Wisdom comes from God and God speaks through His written word the Bible. It is impossible for a man to be wise without a thorough hearing and understanding of the word of God. My pursuit of wisdom many times finds itself parked in the book of Proverbs. This book is saturated with knowledge because the wisest man who ever lived wrote it while under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Any time you read the verses of this God inspired text you can almost feel wisdom entering your system.

As we grow in wisdom through reading the scriptures a hunger is birthed in us for more wisdom. All of sudden you find yourself wanting to receive more of this valuable commodity. We are taught to cry out for wisdom, we are taught to plead for it. May God entice our hearts to ask for wisdom!

Wisdom is not just for our own profit. Wise men become like trees that give shade to those who are suffering, lost, and need clarity. Wisdom shoots out like a fountain to those in our lives that will benefit from our godly decisions. We see how many people, families, and friends suffer from foolish life choices made by others. How much more will our loved ones and enemies benefit from a life lived wisely?

We are asked this question from the Bible, “How long, Oh simple ones, will you love being simple”? Do not love simplicity. Love the hunt and the imparting of wisdom.

Wisdom is better because it comes from above, Wisdom is better because it changes our lives and the lives of those around us, and Wisdom is better because it brings acclaim to God.

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