Getting To Know You – Wesley Sweigart

The Getting to Know You series is a series that we will be starting on the blog to help the church get to know our faithful interns that support M28, the college ministry here at CrossWay. On our first post, we have the privilege to introduce you to Wesley Sweigart.

Who I am

Hello, my name is Wesley Sweigart. I’m here today to say a bit about how I got to where I am and where I’m going from there. I am a Charlottean, born and raised, and I have been a part of CrossWay my entire life. I’ve been blessed to be a part of Mission28 the past two years, and have helped serve on the Leadership Team over the past year. It has been encouraging to see all that God has done through this ministry, from people committing or recommitting their lives to Christ, to those who realize a new depth in their relationship with their heavenly Father. I’m currently in the middle of my college career, but I’m taking a year off to focus on evangelism at UNCC, and I couldn’t be more excited about this new period of my life.

What I’m doing

This year, I have the opportunity to serve with Mission28 as a full-time intern. I will be on campus reaching out to students as well as helping with ministry administration, planning, and coordination. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for us this year at M28.

Please join me in praying

1)    That I would receive support for this year. It is my hope that I would be able to raise all the funds that I need for this year so I can have my focus fully on the mission at UNCC.

2)    That the Lord of the Harvest would send out workers. There are multitudes of lost souls at UNCC, and there is a need for students with a heart heavy for the lost, who will go out and share the gospel. The Lord will build his church.

 

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M28 Connect

We are excited to announce a new initiative that is being led by Adam Renstrom that is setting out to help our college students that participate in M28 become apart of CrossWay and get to know the families here at CrossWay.

Adam will be sharing with us more this Sunday about M28 Connect and how you can be a part of this awesome group! Adam also wanted to give you a little preview of this announcement and thought there was no better way to do this than with this awesome video! enjoy!

Joining The Family Business

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In Matthew 16:18 Jesus tells us, “I will build my church”—and he has been about that business for the last two thousand years.As God unfolds redemptive history in his plan to reconcile the world to himself, he has done so by building for himself a people who worship him, love one another, and join him in proclaiming the good news to those who do not know him.This means that as we are made new in Christ and transformed into the redeemed members of the church, we are also called to participate in this process for others.This is one of the coolest aspects of being adopted into the family of God, that we are invited into the family business.Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 28:18–20:All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.In this commissioning of the church, he is calling us to continue the work through him and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The church, then, is not a passive club we join but a pursuit that we actively participate in.At Mars Hill, the most tangible place in which we participate in this commissioned work is in our Community Groups. Jesus uses these groups to continue the work building the church in two distinct ways that we see reflected in the great commission.

1. TO BUILD UP THE CHURCH

The first way Community Groups are used to build the church is in the building up of believers. This is the practice of maturing and strengthening the church. As we gather together as a people who love Jesus, encouraging, challenging, and loving one another, we are part of Jesus building the church. We are making disciples as we grow in love and obedience to the Word. This happens in conjunction with the preaching of the Word, but it is also essential that Word take roots in our hearts.

2. TO BUILD OUT THE CHURCH

Community Groups are also used in the building out of the church. This is the growth of the church through conversion as people encounter Jesus and are made new through the power of his gospel. As we invite our neighbors, friends, and coworkers to enjoy the blessing of community, Jesus uses the witness of a transformed people to open the eyes of the lost to the truth and power of the resurrection. We see examples of this in 1 Peter 2:12 and John 13:34–35 as the love we have for one another and our love for our city bear witness to the work of Jesus.It is pretty amazing that God invites us into such an amazing business. It is a business of miracles as we get to see new life born in new believers and lives continually transformed by the gospel. And we get a front row seat as God uses our Community Groups to build the church up and out. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get to work!

Brad House is a pastor and the director of ministry development at Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue.

Getting to Know You – JJ Pyche

The Getting to Know You series is a series that we will be starting on the blog to help the church get to know our faithful interns that support M28, the college ministry here at CrossWay. On our first post, we have the privilege to introduce you to JJ Pyche.

Who we are

Hello CrossWay! JJ Pyche here and I am excited to tell you a little bit about myself and what God has in store for my wife and I this year. Bethany (formerly Bussell as many of you know) and I moved down to Charlotte last summer in order for me to continue my seminary education at RTS. Previously, Bethany and I had met while teaching middle and high school in Maryland where we attended Covenant Life Church. After we were married I began pursuing pastoral ministry through seminary education at the encouragement of family, friends, and our church. This led us to Charlotte to go to RTS and attend CrossWay. We had considered other seminaries but were excited to partner with CrossWay here in Charlotte through our time in seminary and so chose RTS Charlotte. God graciously provided a job for Bethany at SouthLake Christian Academy right away and I substituted and tutored while going to school full-time.

What we are doing

Once here we began working with Jon and M28 right away and have loved it. Last year we had the privilege of leading a small group, discipling some college students, and I even had the privilege of teaching in one of our campus wide meetings. This year Jon has graciously asked us to partner with him and M28 and we couldn’t be happier to do so. Bethany will continue to teach middle school at SouthLake and I will be continuing at RTS full-time, but will also be interning with Jon to disciple and train the men of M28 to be equipped to do the work of the saints.

Please join us in praying

1) Raising Support this summer: Lord-willing we will be raising support this summer in order to devote my time fully to M28 and seminary training

2) Making Disciples this fall: Lord-willing Bethany and I will be investing much labor into the harvest that God has prepared for us; may God open many hearts to hear, respond, and then proclaim the gospel

Is God Calling You to Be a Pastor?

Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds)  has a conversation with Dave Harvey, author of the new book Am I Called? The Summons to Pastoral Ministry (Crossway, 2012).

You can read Matt Chandler’s foreword and the first chapter of the book here.

See also these resources.

This Book, Am I Called?, by Dave Harvey is available in the CrossWay Bookstore

20 Quotes from The Explicit Gospel

by Tony Reinke | May 3, 2012

What follows are 20 quotes that caught my attention as I read Matt Chandler’s new book,The Explicit Gospel (Crossway, 2012):

“More often than not, we want him to have fairy wings and spread fairy dust and shine like a precious little star, dispensing nothing but good times on everyone, like some kind of hybrid of Tinker Bell and Aladdin’s Genie. But the God of the Bible, this God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, is a pillar of fire and a column of smoke.” (29)

“We carry an insidious prosperity gospel around in our dark, little, entitled hearts.” (31)

“Because a God who is ultimately most focused on his own glory will be about the business of restoring us, who are all broken images of him. His glory demands it. So we should be thankful for a self-sufficient God whose self-regard is glorious.” (32)

“The universe shudders in horror that we have this infinitely valuable, infinitely deep, infinitely rich, infinitely wise, infinitely loving God, and instead of pursuing him with steadfast passion and enthralled fury — instead of loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; instead of attributing to him glory and honor and praise and power and wisdom and strength — we just try to take his toys and run. It is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself.” (39–40)

“This avoidance of the difficult things of Scripture — of sinfulness and hell and God’s notable severity — is idolatrous and cowardly. If a man or a woman who teaches the Scriptures is afraid to explain to you the severity of God, they have betrayed you, and they love their ego more than they love you.” (41)

“If God is most concerned about his name’s sake, then hell ultimately exists because of the belittlement of God’s name, and, therefore, our response to the biblical reality of hell cannot, for our own safety, be the further belittlement of God’s name. Are you tracking with that? Someone who says hell cannot be real, or we can’t all deserve it even if it is real, because God is love is saying that the name and the renown and the glory of Christ aren’t that big of a deal.” (44–45)

“Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it’s a place for those who love God. You can scare people into coming to your church, you can scare people into trying to be good, you can scare people into giving money, you can even scare them into walking down an aisle and praying a certain prayer, but you cannot scare people into loving God. You just can’t do it.” (49)

“The hard-won lesson I’ve learned in marriage, something I’m very grateful for knowing now, is that there are some things in my wife’s heart and some struggles she faces in life that I cannot fix. It doesn’t matter how romantic I am; it doesn’t matter how loving I am; it doesn’t matter how many flowers I send, or if I write her poetry, or if I clean the kitchen, or if I take the kids and let her go have girl time — I am powerless to fix Lauren. (And she’s powerless to fix me.) Doing all those things to minister to her are right and good, but there are things in my girl that I can’t fix, things that are between her and the Lord.” (66)

“If we confuse the gospel with response to the gospel, we will drift from what keeps the gospel on the ground, what makes it clear and personal, and the next thing you know, we will be doing a bunch of different things that actually obscure the gospel, not reveal it.” (83)

“He created the flavors! He created the colors. He created it all, and he did it all out of the overflow of his perfections. It’s not like he was thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got some fajita flavoring over here. I know: let’s put it on the cow and the chicken.’ He created the avocado to have a certain flavor; he created the skirt steak, the fillet, and the tenderloin to have certain flavors. That was God’s doing. So every aspect of creation, from the largest galaxy to the tiniest burst of flavor in food or drink or seasoning, radiates the goodness of God.” (102)

“It is easy to see that you and I have been created to worship. We’re flat-out desperate for it. From sports fanaticism to celebrity tabloids to all the other strange sorts of voyeurisms now normative in our culture, we evidence that we were created to look at something beyond ourselves and marvel at it, desire it, like it with zeal, and love it with affection. Our thoughts, our desires, and our behaviors are always oriented around something, which means we are always worshiping — ascribing worth to — something. If it’s not God, we are engaging in idolatry. But either way, there is no way to turn the worship switch in our hearts off.” (103)

“No change of job, no increased income, no new home, no new electronic device, or no new spouse is going to make things better inside of you.” (118)

“The cross of Christ is first and centrally God’s means of reconciling sinful people to his sinless self. But it is bigger than that too. From the ground we see the cross as our bridge to God. From the air, the cross is our bridge to the restoration of all things. The cross of the battered Son of God is the battering ram through the blockade into Eden. It is our key into a better Eden, into the wonders of the new-covenant kingdom, of which the old was just a shadow. The cross is the linchpin in God’s plan to restore all creation. Is it any wonder, then, that the empty tomb opened out into a garden?” (142–143)

“No matter what our job is, we view it not as our purpose in life but rather as where God has sovereignly placed us for the purpose of making Christ known and his name great. If you are a teacher, if you are a politician, if you are a businessman, if you are in agriculture, if you are in construction, if you are in technology, if you are in the arts, then you should not be saying, ‘I need to find my life’s purpose in this work,’ but rather, ‘I need to bring God’s purpose to this work.’” (149)

“The reconciling gospel is always at the forefront of the church’s social action, because a full belly is not better than a reconciled soul.” (150)

“Engaging the city around us and ministering to its needs reveal to us the remaining bastions of sin in our lives, the areas we refuse to surrender to God.” (181)

“Once we remove the bloody atonement as satisfaction of God’s wrath for sin, the wheels really come off. Where the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is preached and proclaimed, missions will not spin off to a liberal shell of a lifeless message but will stay true to what God has commanded the church to be in the Scriptures.” (198)

“The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.” (211)

“Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. The moralist doesn’t operate that way. While true obedience is a result of love, moralistic legalism assumes it works the other way around, that love results from obedience.” (217–218)

“Church of Jesus, let us please be men and women who understand the difference between moralism and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be careful to preach the dos and don’ts of Scripture in the shadow of the cross’s ‘Done!’” (221)

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The Explicit Gospel By Matt Chandler is now available in the CrossWay Bookstore 

See the promotional Video below

Being An Ambassador

Follow up post from Joe Lechners Sermon on 2 Corinthian 5:16-6:2 as a part of our True Gospel Ministry series.

Living with NEW EYES and a NEW PURPOSE, Paul’s goal is to see men and women RECONCILED to God.

Three main points to Paul’s Message – New Eyes, New Purpose, Reconciliation

I.   New Eyes 

The reality of death and judgment and this deep, personal awareness of the love of Christ – gave Paul NEW EYES… new eyes with which to see the world; to see people.

Brothers and sisters, this is an exceedingly important point to understand.

See, Paul is saying, at one time people were just people… some I liked, some I didn’t, most I didn’t give a second thought about.  They had their lives, I had mine, and we just try and peacefully co-exist together without getting in each other’s way too much.  People are people – nothing special – no big deal – the world is full of them.

But NOW in light of the reality of death and judgment and this deep, personal awareness of Christ’s love – there is a radical change in Paul’s perspective toward all people – he does not regard them according to the flesh; from a worldly point of view – he sees them with new eyes.  People are not just people anymore.

Every single person you meet, you know, you talk to, you see – every single person you come across and that exists on this planet is either going to spend eternity in heaven as an object of God’s mercy or they’re going to spend an eternity in hell as an object of God’s wrath.

That is what new eyes see.  In addition, what makes the difference where someone will spend eternity is what they do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And THAT transforms how I see people.

That person across the street, that person at the other desk in the office, that person in your class, that person in the car behind you at the intersection, the person sitting next to you right now – no mere mortal! That person is an immortal soul that is going to live forever somewhere – nobody is ordinary in that sense – and their minute will come when they will join the next 100 people to enter eternity and stand before God. Every minute it happens, and the ultimate difference maker in people’s destiny is what they do with Jesus Christ in the brief life they have on this planet.

How are your eyes?  What do you see when you see people?  Your neighbor, your co-worker, your sibling, the guy on your soccer team or who lives across the street, the woman who lives three houses down or in the car beside you, or the person sitting next to you right now – what do you see when you look at them?  Do you view them from a worldly perspective (just a person, taking up my space, breathing my oxygen) or an eternal perspective (immortal soul that will live forever somewhere)?

Paul makes this somewhat curious statement in the second half of v16 – “Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.”  What does that mean and what does it have to do with what he is saying?

When Saul first looked at Jesus, he saw him as a Messianic Pretender – a False Messiah – a crucified loser – because God’s word says everyone who hangs on the tree is cursed and that is exactly how he saw him.

But not anymore… he sees him like this:  he sees Him as the One who loved me and died for me and was raised for me (v.14,15); I see Him as the One through Whom God is reconciling the world to himself not counting the worlds sins against it (v.19).  He sees Him as the One who was made sin for me so that he could be made righteous before God (v.21) – He sees Him as the One in whom there is salvation (6:2).

Paul is saying the same kind of radical transformation that happened in how we see CHRIST – has happened in the way we see ALL PEOPLE.  The way our eyes were opened to see CHRIST differently is the way our eyes have been opened to see people differently. We see CHRIST with NEW EYES and so we see PEOPLE with NEW EYES! They naturally go together – that if you see Christ with new eyes you SHOULD see people with new eyes. Therefore, it is true for you too.  If you are in Christ – you are a new creation.  The old way of LIVING is past (v.15) – And the old way of SEEING is past (v.16)

Why?  (v.17) The NEW has come!  I am a new creation in Christ – and the new creation has given me new life and it has given me new eyes – and those new eyes have given me a new perspective on how I see people.  I do not view them for a worldly point of view any longer – there is an eternal perspective with which these new eyes now see things.

Therefore, brothers and sisters – How are your eyes?  What do you see when you see people?   If you are a new creation in Christ, are you living with new eyes? However, it is not just NEW EYES Paul’s living with but as the flow of the argument goes he is also living with NEW PURPOSE.

II.  New Purpose 

Here is the new purpose of our life:  It is a ministry to bear witness to the message of reconciliation between God and man (the gospel of JC) as God’s ambassador so that He can make his appeal through me.

We have a new calling – a new purpose, we have a ministry, and we have a mission:  we are ambassadors for Him (the One I fear, the One who’s loved me, who’s made me new, who’s reconciled me, forgiven me, saved me).  We represent him now.  We are on His mission now, as His ambassador He has entrusted us with a message, and he has called us to bear witness to it so that He can make His appeal through us.

It should completely reorient our purpose in life. We are now, officially his ambassadors.  When he made you a new creation in Christ – he gave you a new purpose in life.

You look up the word AMBASSADOR – and it is defined as: an accredited diplomat sent by a country, as the country’s official representative to a foreign country.

When it says all this is from God… part of “all this” – is that God has made us diplomats of his heavenly country SENT by Him into the country of this world to officially represent him with the message of reconciliation that He has given us so that He can make his appeal through us.

Some might ask “Well, is this true for all of us or is this just true for Paul?  Isn’t Paul just specifically talking about his own unique call and ministry to the Corinthians – am I really to apply this to myself in the same way?” 

We, brothers and sisters – ALL of us are His ambassadors – and therefore we are ALL sent – sent by Him, sent to represent Him, and sent with the message He has given us… We are ALL therefore, in that sense, MISSIONARIES… every last one of us.

What comes to your mind when you hear that word ‘missionary’ – perhaps, that’s just a word that you reserve for those who pack up their bags and head to Africa and India to be missionaries on that mission field…

Living with NEW EYES, it is now the NEW PURPOSE for which we also live.  Brothers and sisters – do you think of yourself as an AMBASSADOR?  Do you think of yourself as a MISSIONARY?  Do you understand who you are in Christ?  That this earth is not your home… but you’ve been sent into the places in which you live (the schools, the work, the neighborhoods) by the King of the heavenly country – to represent that country, to represent that King, entrusted by Him to deliver the message he has given us so that He might make His appeal through you?

Having given us NEW EYES – it is the NEW PURPSOE for which He has called us to live.  it changes everything.

Every place you go becomes a context for gospel mission – every class, every job, every relationship are mission fields where God has sent you as His ambassador….  grades, degrees, career, money, education, employment – it’s all secondary to this calling as an Ambassador; secondary to bearing witness to Christ in every word, every action, every place and every relationship.

All of life is now about gospel mission. Why is that?  Because you have a new purpose – you are an ambassador (That’s your job title; that’s the degree your after) – you are a missionary – you have mission fields – right where God has sovereignly placed you. Go out those doors – pull into your drive way – show up for work on Monday – head to class on Monday – and ask yourself:  How did I get here and what in the world am I doing here?

If you are a Christian – you were SENT there!  How did you get there?  What are you doing there?  You were SENT there by the Sovereign One. You are an Ambassador and that is the foreign country that you were sent to represent your King and His country.  You are a missionary and that is the mission field you were sent to so that He might make His appeal through you. Why?  What is the great GOAL of it all?  RECONCILIATION.

III.  Reconciliation 

The relation that naturally exists between God and men is one of enmity and hostility.  We are opposed to God in our sin, and God is opposed to our sin in His holiness.  Left in our sins there is no peace between us and God, just war. (You will lose – die in your sin – die separated from God)

Reconciliation – Christ became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God.  We have been reconciled to God and given the mission of being ambassadors of God preaching the reconciling message of the gospel.

ONE – An appeal to see the world; to see people with NEW EYES?  Many people are just one relationship away from coming to Christ – and so often, those relationships start by seeing people with new eyes.  How do you see people?

TWO – Secondly, an appeal to live with a NEW PURPOSE in this world.  To live conscious of the fact that you are an Ambassador for Christ (Do you know that you’re an Ambassador?  An Ambassador has no other agenda than to represent the one who sent him) – a Missionary sent to the mission fields He has sovereignly placed you in.

Is that how you see your purpose in this world?  Are you conscience of the fact that every day you live in mission fields that God has sent you to as His Ambassador and His Missionary?  (You are there every day – do you recognize it)

Do you realize he has entrusted to YOU the message of reconciliation and that through YOU he is – he can – he will – make His appeal through you?

Brothers and sisters, let us live with NEW EYES and NEW PURPOSE and with those NEW EYES and that NEW PURPOSE may our ambition, our desire, our GOAL be to see men and women reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and our Savior.