Jesus is th Hero of our Missional Strategy.

“Jesus is our Hero”. Before we set out to build a strategy to bridge the gospel to one of the largest mission fields in America (Greater Boston), it is vital to recognize who it is that truly builds the Church. Jesus makes it very clear throughout scripture that it is he who builds his church. It is he who draws men unto himself. It is he who is responsible for his people’s justification, sanctification and glorification. This begs an answer to the question; “Who is this Jesus?” How a church answers this question directs all that they do. We believe that Jesus is God (John 1:1-2, Proverbs 8, Genesis 1, Colossians 1). As God, Jesus maintains and constantly demonstrates all the attributes of God such as: Holiness, Beauty, Power, Mercy, Sovereignty, Glory, Love, Forgiveness, Justice, and…the list is endless. Because of that, it is he who deserves all glory from his people.

The obvious temptation for all churches is to glorify themselves as the one who is building His Kingdom. I have sat in many church services where the name of Jesus was not mentioned once: no song proclaiming the goodness of Jesus was sung, no part of the sermon mentioned the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and no statement of grace in the name of Jesus was given. It seemed that Jesus was absent from the church. In most of these instances, it is not that these churches don’t have a deep love for Jesus, because I believe they do. Instead, it seems that they have forgotten what church is entirely about; the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

It is not clever systems, strong preaching, style, money, creativity, or anything else other than Jesus Christ alone who builds His church. It is by His grace that ”We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) We are thankful to Christ for drawing us and calling us to this mission of planting the gospel in the Greater Boston Area. To him be all praise and glory forever.

How would you answer this question from a friend? "What is the gospel?"

Like most Christians; I have been asked this question (or something similar) a lot and over the years. As I have understood more, my answer has changed drastically. This is typically how I currently answer the question.

"To understand what the gospel is, you first have to know what it is not. Very simply, the gospel has nothing to do with religion or morality. Instead it has everything to do with Creator God coming to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. The gospel states that no matter what we do or don't do, we can never live up to Gods standard because we are a sinful and wicked people, that being said, we should get what sinful and wicked people deserve.....punishment. Therefore the gospel is a historical event in which God took it upon himself to come and live the sinless life that we couldn't live, taking the punishment that we deserve, and resurrected from death three days later. Therefore, for his people, substituting his righteousness for our sinfulness on the cross. Those, who by faith, believe and trust in Christ are not only promised salvation, but also sanctification as we seek to obey him as a response to his grace toward us."

That's straight off the cuff. Obviously tweaked depending on who's asking.

I'd like to know how you would answer the same question. Would you be willing to share and help me learn from you? Don't use a book or do any research, just shoot from the hip.

Newest Netcast News!!

Here we are at the beginning of 2010 and we have been 100% donation supported since the end of August 09'. I still remember the day that God clearly spoke to us about leaving my job and trusting that he would provide. We were terrified to say the least! However, here's the deal; our family still has health-care, our kids haven't missed a meal yet, and although we're tighter than ever, Christ has shown us favor and grace.

This past year we have gained some incredible new friends who are passionate about seeing our family love Jesus more and do community better. By our generous partners giving to the church plant, it has allowed me to intern with 1.21 Church and be in a much stronger position to plant in Greater Boston aka "The preachers graveyard".

The newest development in our efforts to move and plant is that we will be putting our home up for sale the second week of January. The average home in Guilford county takes 5 1/2 - 6 months to sell. The selling of our home will determine a lot. We believe that if we are to be in Boston sooner than June, than our home will sell and things will move along faster than originally anticipated. We are currently working through our 2010 budget and praying that Christ will lead people to support us monthly after we move. 2010 is set out to be both one of the most exciting and terrifying years in the life of me and my family. We plan to move a family of 6 to an area of the country that historically has not be successful in the world of church planting. We are leaving just about every bit of security this world has to offer. What a way to start out a new decade. Christ, be with us.

Please pray for our finances, family, and the souls of those who we will interact with as we move. Most importantly I pray that we will define our success not by people and money, but by obedience to Christ who is is calling and leading us. Let the results be of Christ. Thank you dearly for being a part of our lives.

****Important Note**** Netcast Church has officially become a legal non-profit entity. We now have our own EIN and Bank Account. All checks need to be made out to "Netcast Church" and sent to 4604 Ridegfall Rd, Greensboro, NC 27410 or to the PO Box below.

Romans 15:20,
Matt and Beth

Theology of Suffering

I was asked by the Pastor of Theological Development@1.21 Church to give some of my thoughts on the biblical theology of suffering. Below is a snippet.

The “good news” (gospel) is that we have a high priest who has suffered far worse than we have. Because of his resurrection we can have confidence that he is alive and will sympathize with us during these times. We also see in the gospel how God uses suffering for his glory and our benefit. Christ suffered, and with joy, he endured death on the cross. What seemed like a terrible tragedy turned out to be the greatest victory the world has ever seen. Through Christ’s sufferings and resurrection we can now be reconciled to God because he has taken our sin, paid our penalty and has given the believer his righteousness.

God ordained the sufferings of Christ and I think we would be wrong to think that we are too good of a people that God shouldn’t allow us to suffer. Another observation is that suffering does not just come from Satan; but is ordained by God. Remember that it was God who gave permission for Job to be tortured the way that he was. Christ prays in the garden, “if possible take this cup from me…is there any other way? None-the-less; your will be done.” It was Gods will for Christ to suffer. Only pride can birth the thought that we should not suffer as he did.

We cannot forget Romans 5 which says “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” This again shows that sufferings are a vital part of our sanctification. The apostles model rejoicing in their sufferings in Acts 5:41. Romans 8 states that we must suffer with Him (Christ) if we expect to be glorified with Him. Paul tells Timothy to share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. John writes in Revelation “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” We are continually reminded that our temporal sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us – Romans 8:18

Albert Einstein on God and Science

'Let me explain the problem science has with religion.' The atheist Professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.
'You're a Christian, aren't you son?'
'Yes sir,' the student says.
'So you believe in God?'
'Is God good?'
'Sure! God's good.'
'Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?'
'Are you good or evil?'
'The Bible says I'm evil.'
The professor grins knowingly. 'Aha! the Bible!' He considers for a moment. 'Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?'
'Yes sir, I would.'
'So you're good...!'
'I wouldn't say that.'
'But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't.'
The student does not answer, so the professor continues.
'He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?'
The student remains silent.
'No, you can't, can you?' the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.
'Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?'
'Er..yes,' the student says.
Professor: 'Is Satan good?'
The student doesn't hesitate on this one. 'No.'
'Then where does Satan come from?'
The student falters. 'From God'
'That's right.. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, Son. Is there evil in this world?'
'Yes, sir.'
'Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?'
'So who created evil?' The professor continued, 'If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.'
Again, the student has no answer.
'Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?'
The student squirms on his feet. 'Yes.'
'So who created them?'
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. 'Who created them?' There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized.

'Tell me,' he continues on to another student. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?'
The student's voice betrays him and cracks. 'Yes, Professor, I do.'
The old man stops pacing. 'Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?'
'No sir. I've never seen Him.'
'Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?'
'No, sir, I have not.'
'Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?' 'No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't.'
'Yet you still believe in him?'
'According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say To that, son?'
'Nothing,' the student replies. 'I only have my faith.'
'Yes, faith,' the professor repeats. 'And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.'
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own.
'Professor, is there such thing as heat?'
'And is there such a thing as cold?'
'Yes, son, there's cold too.'
'No sir, there isn't.'
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested.
The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain.
'You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.'
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
'What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?'
'Yes,' the professor replies without hesitation. 'What is night if it isn't darkness?'
'You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?'
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. 'So what point are you making, young man?'
'Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.'
The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time.
'Flawed? Can you explain how?'
'You are working on the premise of duality,' the student explains. 'You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but it has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it. Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?'
'If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.'
'Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?'
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed..
'Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?'
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.
'To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.' The student looks around the room.
'Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?'
The class breaks out into laughter.
'Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?'
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.
Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. 'I guess you'll have to take them on faith.'
'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,' the student continues. 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?'
Now uncertain, the professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.'
To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'
The professor sat down.
If you read this all the way through and had a smile on your face when you finished, mail to your friends and family with the title 'God vs. Science'

PS: The student was Albert Einstein.