Help us volunteer tonight for the Beverly New Year's Eve party.


I know that this is last-minute. However, Netcast has been asked to try and gather volunteers for tonight. The city of Beverly puts on a massive New Year's Eve party on Cabot Street every year. And every year that Netcast has been in existence, we have been able to serve at this event. This year, I totally forgot about it. But, they just asked me to try to help gather some volunteers. If you are willing to help out, it will be for about three hours from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM. It would be awesome to be able to love our community through this.

If you have the ability to do this, please call Mary Ellen Mayo at (978) 884-7232. She will be the one who is overseeing all of the volunteers. She also mentioned that you can send her a text at the number as well. Just let her know that you are with Netcast and gather any additional details from her. Every year we have done this, we have gathered outside of the YMCA on Cabot Street.

I hope that you're able to consider this. Happy new year, and I look forward to a great 2013 with you.

Pastor Matt
 

Merry Christmas...2012

I just wanted to say Merry Christmas…

If you would have asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing on Christmas morning of 2012; I never would have been able to accurately answer that question. However, it is an incredible honor to be in Beverly MA, the pastor of your church and more importantly, your friend. I pray that the Lord gives us many more Christmases together as we seek His face and change the world together. 

Merry Christmas and I look forward to 2013 with you. 

 Until all have heard, 

 Matt and The Chewning crew...

A "Thank You" video from Netcast Church

Thank you to everyone who has believed in Netcast, supported Netcast, partnered with Netcast and has prayed for Netcast.


May we see even greater things in 2013.

All for the Glory of our King, Jesus!

Netcast 2012 Update: Merry Christmas

It's been over 2 years since Beth and I moved with the vision of starting Netcast Church. Honestly, 2 years into the journey, I could never have imagined seeing all that we are seeing.

300 years ago, Greater Boston was a beast when it came to the gospel being proclaimed; now it's the 10th largest metropolitan area in the US, full of 300,000 college students and global influence; but almost no Gospel-Proclamation. The best stats say we're still about 2% evangelical.

 In the last 2 years...God has begun a movement that continues to blow our minds. It seems that Jesus is saving people almost weekly. Actually, just recently we baptized about 70 people in 1 day. And, we're still growing like crazy. The last few months we've had over 400 people gather to worship Jesus and about ½ of them are in community groups during the week. what's even more surprising is how our online influence is growing...Between our website, podcast, app and videos...we have been able to share the gospel in every state in the US, over 80 countries and in every continent on the globe.

We're still only 2 years old; we're young, we don't have a ton of people, or money, or resources, or strength or worldly power. But I believe that “The hand of our Gracious Lord is upon us.” Beth and I cannot express how appreciative we are of you. Because of your belief in us and your support of us, Jesus is being worshiped. His name will be made great in Greater Boston and a movement is being started. Because of your continued prayers and partnership, more churches will be planted, the sick are being healed, the blind are seeing, lost are being found, and His sheep are hearing His voice.

So, on behalf of Netcast and my family; I just wanted to say “Thank You”. Thank you for investing in us, thank you for pouring into us, and thank you for loving the Kingdom of God. Some of you have asked about our fundraising. We are still raising about ½ of our salary from outside of Netcast. For those interested, you can continue to support us at https://netcastchurch.ccbchurch.com/trx_submit.php?type=public_gift 

We love you, more than you could know!!!

Matt, Beth, D, Abby, Ella and Jakes

Kids in Service and Generosity

Just wanted to let you know that this Sunday will be our Christmas Service and we will have Kids Ministry open for children 5yrs old and younger. All other children will be in service. Because of this, we will do our best to respect your time. The service will be a little shorter than usual to hold the attention span of the kiddos in the service.

Also, we will not have a service on December 30th. After this Sunday, we will not meet again until January 6th. Enjoy the break and I look forward to gathering again in 2013.

Lastly, Many of you have asked about giving online. As we move into the new year, one major benefit we have at Netcast is the ability to give online. It is incredibly easy and you can go there by clicking: https://netcastchurch.ccbchurch.com/trx_submit.php?type=public_gift

Matt

Generosity starts with correct thinking.

Sadly, statistics would tell us there is no difference between the way a Christian views generosity and the way the secular world views generosity. As believers in Christ, we believe that we serve a generous God who has given us a generous gospel. In the gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ emptied himself of all his riches and walked among us, becoming like us in every way. Then on the cross, our great God gave himself for us by becoming our sin offering and extending his righteousness to all who would believe in Him. Jesus is a generous God!

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...” 

In this text, it is clear that the key that worship begins with accurate thinking, not necessarily accurate actions. In other words, the ability to worship Jesus through generosity has less to do with what we do with our resources, and everything to do with how we think of our resources.

In 1 Chronicles 29:1-14 we learn that “Everything under heaven and earth belongs to the Lord” and by Gods grace, we have been entrusted with the responsibility of managing some of the Lords resources. A faithful manager, manages assets for the owners benefit and carries no sense of entitlement to the assets that he manages. But rather, it is his or her job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets and then carry out his will.

Biblical generosity starts with being able to grab a hold of the beauty of Jesus Christ. Jesus is so incredible, so powerful and so beautiful that our only response to Him should be...“Everything under heaven and earth is your.” By “thinking” in this way, we will become incredible worshipers of God and generosity will flow out of us like never before. Generosity will become a response of seeing how incredible Jesus is and how massive his mission is in comparison to our mission. And generosity no longer becomes a duty, but can now be a reflective reaction of understanding who we are in light of who He is.

If everyday of every week believers would see how great Jesus is, how powerful Jesus is, how glorious Jesus is, how victorious Jesus is, how majestic Jesus is; then who knows how God may use a church like that. "Yours, O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours." Therefore, may we be faithful managers of His stuff. And may we worship Him well.

A Netcast Partner was healed of blindness.

This is an email that I received from David Staples. David was a pastor in New England for many years and a missionary to Brazil. He and his wife Sharon have been an incredible encouragement to me personally and us as a church. They faithfully serve in any way asked, they lead a community group and are constantly pouring into others.

Here is some of his story...God is so amazing. 

 Fourteen years ago I was diagnosed with an eye disease that eventually reduced my vision in my left eye to 20-400 (I could not even count fingers 6 inches away from my face). I spent about 5 years without seeing from that eye. Six years ago, my doctor told me that she was sorry, but the same disease was now present in my good eye. I was devastated. I asked the church to pray, and through a rather strange treatment (not mud and spit, but a colon cancer drug injected into my eyeball) my vision was saved.

 A dear sister in Christ asked me if God had healed my other eye yet. While I believed that God was able to heal in spite of permanent physical damage (my bad eye has permanent damage to the retina), I politely responded to her that God hadn't healed my eye yet. She was persistent and every week asked me for updates. Eventually, I had to consider the possibility that God might want to do something unbelievable.

At my next doctor's appointment, I told her about the lady in my church that was praying that I would regain sight. She explained that I had permanent physical damage. I asked if there was something else wrong with the eye and she explained that I also had a cataract, but there was no reason to repair this as the light would just be hitting a damaged retina. We agreed to try the unlikely, and after surgery my vision returned to 20-40. Both surgeons told me that they didn't know how I could see with such a damaged eye.

A few months ago, this eye again began to "act up" and I needed some further treatment. I currently can see at 2-50 and the doctor still cannot understand how I can see. My vision has improved so that my glasses are too strong in that eye and I might see better with a weaker prescription. Praise God that he sometimes uses his supernatural power in unexpected ways.

Thankful for Jesus. Thankful for You.

It is my prayer that this Thanksgiving you are able to add one more thing to your list of things you are thankful for. This year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness for our Netcast family and the way that Jesus is displaying his magnificence among us. Every week I look forward to my favorite time of the week which is worshiping Jesus as I gather together with those who I love.

Here is another thing to be thankful for: God's Inexpressible Gift to us: Jesus Christ 
  1. Is there a power to love? 
  2. Is there a power that can really change people? 
  3. Is there a way to have eternal life? 
  4. Is there a way for sins to be forgiven?
  5. Is there a way for your deepest longings to be satisfied? 
  6. Is there a way to know God personally and be his friend? 
The answer is a resounding yes....And that yes is Jesus Christ, God's inexpressible gift to you this Thanksgiving season. 

If you have never personally received Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life, I commend him to you. And I urge you to trust him and call upon him for all the help you need. "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13). Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

excerpt from desiringgod.com

Netcast's Position on a Biblical Tithe.

Netcast Tithing Position 

"Every good and perfect gift is from above" James 1:17 

All that we have belongs to God.We believe that nothing is our own. We are not owners, rather, we are investors. God has charged us to invest His resources while we are here on earth. This is a tremendous responsibility and opportunity!

"Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required" Luke 12:48

It is from this perspective that we approach the Biblical principal of tithing.

The "tithe' is a standard set by God in the Old Testament which was also affirmed by Jesus in the New Testament. The word “tithe” literally means "tenth", and it called the nation of Israel to honor God by giving the first 10% of their income back to God. The Old Testament encourages us to be givers of our "first fruits" (Proverbs 3:9-10). This reference is made in the context of farmers who brought an offering of their first harvest. The intention was to bring the absolute best of the best before God. Today it is still a powerful acknowledgement that God is the ultimate Provider in every area of our lives.

Jesus affirms the tithe...Matthew 23:23 
Jesus always raised the bar when referring to the Old Testament law. He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it with a more complete perspective (Matthew 5:17). Concerning 10% At Netcast, we believe that the tithe is only a starting point for Christians. The 10% figure is a tool to help us become expert investors of God's resources. It's not an end goal. It's a spotlight that reveals where we are hoarding resources or have become undisciplined financially. It’s a number that confronts our attitude towards investing God’s resources. However, 10% is not an end goal. New Testament Christians gave lavishly, often selling entire houses and land in order support the work of the Kingdom in their city and beyond (Acts 4:36ff)

Jesus downplays exact figures (amounts)
While observing people give in the temple, Jesus commented that the poor widow who gave a single penny actually gave more than all of the other wealthy people combined! Jesus downplays an exact figure of giving, while focusing on the attitude and faith of the giver. (Mark 12:41ff) Lest we think that Jesus lowered the standard of giving in this passage, we must remember that the widow was commended because she gave all that she had to live on, despite her poverty. If anything, this challenges us to be more lavish investors with God’s resources. A figure like 10% helps us take stock of where we invest God's resources. Ultimately, it gives us the ability to see what our heart desires, "where your treasure is, there you heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

Goal of Netcast Church
Our position on giving is best summed up by the apostle Paul "... as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in (love) — see that you excel in this act of grace (giving) also. (2 Corinthians 8:7 ESV) If we truly love Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, we will make a way to invest joyfully, sacrificially and regularly in His church and those in need around us.

Investing in Christ's church and others is one way of "bringing glory to Jesus by cultivating gospel-centered worshipful communities."

Gordon College: Human Network

Gordon College's human rights club is hosting a Hunger Banquet for faculty, staff and the community. At this event we will look at issues of world hunger, poverty, and wealth distribution and will have an opportunity to interact with them and discuss our experiences. The Human Network at Gordon would like to welcome Netcasters.

If you have questions about the event tonight, email Rachel.Henderson@gordon.edu

Friday, Nov 16th 6pm - 7:30pm on Gordon's Campus.

Unexplainable Explanation: John 9

Gospel of John
John Chapter 9
Unexplainable Explanation

 We are a society that doesn't do well without explanations. We want explanations, we need explanations and we thrive off of explanations. And not just any explanations, but we need “GOOD” explanations. If we're honest, the problem with Christianity is that so much of what we believe is completely unexplainable.

Sure we can do our best to theoretically and philosophically explain doctrines. Of course we can do a solid job at apologetically and intellectually arguing a position. At times, we can even use science, archeology and history to fight for a specific biblical position. But honestly, at the end of the day...much of Christianity is unexplainable. Therefore, as believers and followers of Jesus, what do we do with our faith when it seems to be completely unexplainable and completely undeniable at the same time?

Discussion Questions:
  1. What about Christianity do you find unexplainable? 
  2. What about Christianity do you find undeniable? 
  3. What is the difference between those who see and those who are blind; Spiritually? 
  4. How do you reconcile the unexplainable and the undeniable when it comes to Christianity?

Netcast Chrsitmas Toy Drive (Drop-off Nov 4th & 11th)

NETCAST CHURCH will be hosting a TOY DRIVE FOR THE CHRISTMAS SEASON

The toys will benefit children who live in extreme poverty in San Marcos, Guatemala Please donate your used toys by bringing them to Netcast Church on Sunday 11/4 and 11/11. The Address is Briscoe Middle School 7 Sohier Rd in Beverly MA.

*For the children of San Marcos, Guatemala toys in any condition are seen as something new and wonderful. Many of them are malnourished and have never had the privilege of having a toy of their own. The entire community is in need of help, so if you have used cloths and shoes that you would also like to donate, for children and adults, please bring them as well. We want to bless this community, and send them hope and joy through our used toys, clothes and shoes.

 Please email Erica Sturgeon at Erica@citygatels.com, if you have any questions, of you would like to bring the toys and clothes directly to her for collection.

Netcast is collecting blankets. (Hurricane Sandy: NYC)

New York has a desperate need for blankets to help people displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and there is a unique opportunity for Netcast to help our neighbors. If we could have blankets dropped off at church on Sunday, November 11th, then we will distribute them through the Catholic Student Union at Fordham University in NYC. 

We have a Netcast Partner with relationships in NYC who can make the delivery. They have a distribution network setup to minister to 40,000 displaced people. Please, bring "Clean" blankets to church this Sunday. They can be used or new; just make sure they are clean.

I know that everyone can spare a blanket so lets continue to serve the Lord through our generosity. If you dont want to bring a blanket, you can order one online for only $5.99 each and have it shipped to:

Netcast Church
15 1/2 Pierce Ave.
Beverly MA 01915

Just make sure it gets here by Monday, November 12th. Also, if you have blankets and need them picked up, we have someone available to do that. Just email Jimmy Coners at jcon402@gmail.com to schedule it.

Why we Spontaneously Baptized 49 people yesterday...

Yesterday will go down as an incredible day within the life of Netcast Church. That being said, I know that there are some controversial thoughts on Spontaneous Baptisms, so I feel it is necessary to give some understanding of "How" and "Why" we did this. Before I share an argument for "Why" let me explain some of the things that happened behind the scenes pertaining to "How".

  1. Each person was questioned by a pastor at Netcast in the back room to test and see if they knew the gospel and have trusted in Jesus. Netcast never waters down the gospel. 
  2. We preach sin, repentance and belief in Christ and yesterday was no different. We praise God for the response. 
  3. We thoroughly explain the meaning of baptism to each individual. It is made clear that baptism is not a means of justification; but an act of obedience for those who trust in Christ. 

Here is a video that helps you understand where our tension was.
Also, Here is an article (by JD Greer) that may help someone understand how we biblical and prayerfully came to the conclusion that we were comfortable in doing this.

Failing to determine whether someone understands their profession of faith before you baptize them is, in my view, recklessly irresponsible. Declaring someone “saved” when they aren’t not only gives them false assurance, it makes them that much more immune to future calls to repent and believe. God help us never to put the excitement of large numbers ahead of the safety of people’s souls. My ego is not worth someone else’s eternity.

For this reason, many pastors require a waiting period between a profession of faith and baptism–attendance at a class, etc.–before they will administer baptism. Some won’t baptize children growing up in their churches until adulthood because only then can they be sure that a sound decision has been made. I believe this to be a well-intended, but unbiblical and dangerous, solution to the problem.

First, unbiblical: every single baptism we have on record in the New Testament, without exception, is spontaneous and immediate. John the Baptist invited his hearers to show their repentance by baptism, an invitation received most notably by Jesus himself (Matt 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11). Peter baptized 3000 on the spot in Acts 2 after one sermon (Acts 2:40-41). Philip baptized the eunuch after their first conversation, (Act 8:36-38), and Ananias baptized Paul “immediately” after meeting him (Acts 9:17-19, cf. 22:16). Paul baptized the Philippian jailor and his household “at once” (Acts 16:31-34). “But things are different today,” I am told, “we have a culture saturated with easy-believism” (which is true).

Furthermore, they say, many things in Acts are exceptional. The early church held all possessions in common (Acts 2:44). They practiced a full variety of sign gifts, struck people dead in church and smote false prophets with blindness. These are not normative for churches today, at least not in the way they were for the early church.

Fair enough. Yet, in each of those things we can see a development in Acts which points toward the normative, a normative firmly established by Paul’s epistles. For example, some of the miraculous signs are dying down by the end of Acts, and Paul even reports leaving a companion sick in Miletus (1 Timothy 4:18). Paul’s instructs the rich in his congregations to be generous and to share, not to turn over all their property to the church like they did in Acts 2 (1 Timothy 6:9-19). In other words, the reason we allow divergence from patterns in Acts is because we see clearer patterns established elsewhere that help us see the distinction between the extraordinary and the normative. No such development can be demonstrated with baptism, however. Every single instance of baptism, from beginning to end, is immediate. The baptisms toward the end of Acts are as immediate as those at the beginning. The plots on the graph form a straight line, and it’s not hard to see where future points on that line should lie.

Demanding that we delay baptisms to ensure against false professions is to pursue a good objective in an unbiblical manner. Those who do this have allowed concerns over false professions to trump biblical patterns. Whenever we develop a theory from some biblical data that conflicts with other biblical data, that’s a sign our theory has gone wrong. Much of our reasoning from the Bible is deductive: from biblical data we deduce principles (known as theology) that we use to develop ideas not directly addressed in the Bible. This is good and right. The biblical data should always function like a tether, however, showing us when our “theology” has gone mutant. When our theory puts us in conflict with the Bible, we should expand our theory, not curtail the data. We see examples of mutant theologies everywhere.

Some Calvinists hold certain verses of the Bible hostage to a theory they have developed off of other verses. Some Arminians do the same. Rather than broadening their theories, they ignore or explain away certain passages because they don’t fit in their system. Those who tear down gender roles in the Bible take a valid biblical principle (the equality of the sexes) and hold other clear biblical passages hostage to it. Paul’s clear instruction that only men are to be church elders (1 Tim 3:1-5) is abrogated by the biblical idea that the sexes are equal. I’ve had many Presbyterian friends do the same with baptism. They can explain with ruthless logic why the whole trajectory of biblical thought points toward baptizing babies. Yet, such a practice is clearly absent from the New Testament. Rather than re-examining their theories, they ignore the evidence.

Those who condemn immediate baptisms seem, in my view, to do the same. Their theories on how to protect against false conversion stand in clear contrast to the only inspired pictures the Holy Spirit gave us of what baptism is to be and who it should be given to. And how is this dangerous? God’s patterns are always best. In keeping certain believers from baptism, we have removed from them one of the primary resources God intended to catalyze their maturity. Baptism is the catalyst to spiritual maturity, not the sign of it. Baptism is an important moment that stands as a witness to ourselves and the enemy powers that we belong to Christ. In moments of weakness, when we are under assault from our enemy, we need to be able to retreat back to what was declared over us by Christ in our baptism. We see Paul doing this often in the epistles (Romans 6:1-5–and I paraphrase): “Do you grasp the new reality declared at your baptism? Won’t you live out of that now?” If we have withheld baptism from believing children, have we not robbed them of a great refuge in a time of trial–their solidarity with Christ’s church and his declaration over them?

Furthermore, presenting someone with a choice to be baptized forces them to make a decision. So many sit in our churches each week as consumers, going along with Jesus but never deciding “for” him. Baptism crystalizes the offer they must receive or reject. I grew up in a church that gave a targeted, intentional altar call at the end of every service. While there were many unhelpful side effects of this approach, one thing it did was force people to consider where they stood with Jesus. I think that’s what you see both John the Baptist and Peter doing with baptism.

We should be concerned with people who make false professions of faith in baptism. But we should not protect against that by robbing genuine believers of a resource God intended them to have. Baptism is, again, not the marker of spiritual maturity, but the sign that faith has begun in the soul. Even in the days of the Apostles converts sometimes fell away from their baptism (e.g., Simon the Magician, Acts 8:9-24). That doesn’t mean something is wrong with the process. We must deal with the apostate as Scripture instructs us. To improve upon biblical patterns is to suppose we are wiser than the Bible and to subject our hearers to potential spiritual ruin. Needless to say, we are not wiser than the Bible, and our plan, no matter how spiritual-sounding, is not superior to God’s plan. We must subject all our ideas, including our well-developed theologies, to the canon of Scripture. When our theology conflicts with biblical data, it’s time to tweak our theories, not ignore the Bible.

I sometimes wonder if the majority of theological problems come from a pride in our theories that keeps us from submitting ourselves to other biblical data. We must be diligent to make sure, as the Apostolic community did (Acts 8:36), that our hearers understand the gospel. But we should not unnecessarily delay or encumber their baptism. To sum up: we should be diligent to ensure that the person being baptized can make a credible confession of faith. In other words, they should be able to articulate the gospel and explain what baptism means and why they want to do it. What we do not need to verify (indeed cannot verify) is the sincerity of that confession or confirm that it has led to life change before we baptize. The apostles did not do this, and nor should we. While baptism ought never to be disconnected from a life of discipleship, it is given to those who, on face value, make a credible profession of faith.

Here’s a question to ponder:
Biblically, does baptism go with (a) the initial confession of faith or (b) after a proven period in which we verify the reality of that confession (i.e. discipleship)? My contention is that, biblically, it goes with the confession of faith. When you baptize, the reality of the confession of faith is still untested. Someone baptized Simon (Acts 8) and he turned out to be a fraud, but this did not mean that their baptism methodology was flawed.

Hysterical Volunteer Email (Netcast)

One of the best emails I have ever received from a Netcast volunteer. Hysterical....

___________________

Hello Matt,

Reading your discussion on the budgetary aspects of Netcast has left me feeling very happy and excited about this future fiscal year!

I have decided that it is more than appropriate for me to start a discussion with you about the payment and compensation for my (much valued) time working with and for the Netcast church. I have worked out the rough amount of time I have spent teching shows, loading equipment, and providing expert and professional feedback for multiple sound, video, and technological related issues throughout the last year and a half.

Normally my freelance charge for such services is $325/hr with a 4 hour minimum, however since I have a personal interest in the establishment and you guys are probably a non profit establishment I have decided to cut that down to only $200/hr with a 2hr minimum for my expertise and services. As a result the total amount due, with back pay and taxes, equals $74,695.62. You may pay me in any currency or format you deem worthy, I personally prefer diamonds or works of art from the Mezzo-European era. You may, of course, discuss the payment offers with your board. If you find there may some issues with delivering payment, I would be willing and open to discussion regarding making reparations for the debt via services or goods exchanged.

For example; I would accept cured boar-hides as an alternative, they must value the worth of $74,695.62 however. I understand that due to the economic difficulties that are currently ravishing the country you may not have ready access to cured boar hides, so, as another alternative, I offer the following:

You allow my wife and I to have you and Beth over to our Apartment for dinner sometime in the next few weeks. Both my wife and I feel that having you and your wife visit our humbled abode would more than equal the dollar amount owed, and the pleasure of us making dinner for you would indeed clear the large and imposing debt Netcast has to me.

 Please feel free to take some time to think on this issue, discuss the situation with the esteemed and much lauded group of individuals you mentioned in your budget post, and let me know at your earliest convenience. I look forward to hearing your response.

Sincerely,
Kevin

Freedom: We are free slaves.

Series: Gospel of John
Title: Freedom
Text: John 8:21-36

Living in America, we take pride in freedom. We live in a nation that prides ourselves on our freedoms and liberties. However, Jesus says that "anyone who commits a sin is a slave." Then He adds to that by saying,"not only are we slaves to sin, but He is the only means of finding freedom." So, what does that mean? How can that be?

 Everyone loves the “Golden Rule”...”love your neighbor as yourself”. Through history, every generation lived with that conviction and everyone knows when we don't abide by that rule, misery comes. However, here is what is interesting. Throughout history, there has never been a society to flawlessly live by what they believe to be right. That is extremely telling statement. If every religion, society and generation has known a right way of living, then why has no society has been able to do it? Because we're slaves. We think we are free but we are only free to choose what we will allow to enslave us.

Tim Keller says...“Our real problem is that Jesus is not burning at the center of our life. If Jesus is not the center of your life then you're a slave and you don't even know it! There is no bigger slave than the person that doesn't know that he/she is a slave. All the 12-step programs know this, the person who says "I have the power" is a powerless person. And the person who says "I am powerless, I need help" is getting power for the first time…”

So, how do we walk in freedom?

The secret to freedom is this: Worship. We've got to have great worship, we've got to have emotional worship, we've got to have glorious worship, we've got to sense the greatness of Jesus, sometimes be so moved by the love of Jesus... moved to tears, moved to laughter by who Jesus is and what He has done for you. When Jesus is the center of our lives, we are free. Because if I have Jesus, I am free to build my identity on the hope and freedom found in Him rather than the things that will eventually enslave me.

Questions.
  1. What things in our lives have been exposed as things that enslave me? 
  2. How has we experiences false saviors seeming to bring freedom, but actually bring bondage? 
  3. In what ways have you experienced freedom in your life? 
  4. How can we as a small community encourage continuous worship in order to fight slavery?

I am "Humbly"; a very "Proud" Pastor.

I want to share a few things that was absolutely amazing when it comes to our leadership team. I could never have imagined having such an incredible team at Netcast, especially this soon. Beyond that, I never imagined that within 2 years of moving here to plant Netcast, that we would have the responsibility / opportunity of managing so much of God's Kingdom Resources.

I am humbly, a very proud pastor today. Here's why...

1. Unity.
Every budget conversation I have ever been a part of, prior to Netcast, was a catalyst in exposing a lack of unity. People are funny when it comes to money. Jealously and Envy creep in. People start getting bitter about how one person has a larger budget line than another. Salaries create anxiety and chaos, as well as revealing a lack of trust in God's provision. The list can go on…. But, not with our team!! If anything, working through the new budget exposed a unity, that I thought "probably" existed, but was absolutely confirmed through this process. The entire team was on board with trying to decide what seemed best for Netcast, rather than how we can benefit personally as individuals. There was never a feeling that someone was trying to take care of their personal needs or departments needs over the needs of Netcast as a whole. For that I am so grateful.

 2. Vision. 
Often times when dealing with budgets; vision is not clear. Therefore, to allocate money somewhere where there is a difference in opinion with vision, can cause a stir. Our vision as a church is continuing to be more clear as we move forward. In addition to that, I was so proud how through our budget conversations, the leaders at Netcast stayed focused on things that matter rather than fighting over things that don't matter. Everyone kept the vision of Netcast at the forefront of conversation. We are about worship, the gospel, community, authenticity, advancing the kingdom, making disciples, outward focus and generosity. All of that is reflected in our budget.

3. Long Term Thinking. 
The temptation with a budget is to think to short and too small. So, people make decisions on what will effect tomorrow, yet forget about next year. People think about where they are now, not where God is leading them for the future. As a Leadership team, it amazed me how everyone was able to grasp long term thinking. The team was able to make decisions based upon where we are going and not where we are now. They chose to make decisions now that will benefit everyone in 5 years. Because of that, much of the team put our pride to the side and chose to sacrifice personal preference for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. God desires sacrifice and promises to bless this one single act of faithfulness. I pray this continues to define us as a church and am so proud of our team.

4. Generosity.
Netcast is becoming an extremely generous ministry. We are making decisions now that are freeing us to be generous in the future. Not many churches our size with our budget will give away as much money as Netcast will. Our generosity is becoming ingrained into the DNA of who we are. The Netcast Leadership team is determined to continue to be defined by that. The team has modeled this in their personal lives and now it is continuing on within the direction of the church. May Netcast always continue to be a generous church.

5. Risk 
Part of the reason that Netcast has been so blessed by the Lord is because our leaders have been willing to risk what other churches are often not willing to risk. The leaders at Netcast are ready and willing to do things better and more effective at the risk of anything, for the glory of Jesus and seeing disciples made. Budget conversations, often times become the sole reason why churches don't do this. Churches tend to be too safe. They use too much worldly wisdom and not enough faith. They are content with being content and feel like they are doing something because they are sustaining themselves and meeting budget.

I am so proud at how the leaders at Netcast will never allow us to be like that. Had Netcast been started with that mentality we would still be in the YMCA asking questions about; "why we are not reaching people, why are we not growing, why are we just like all the other churches." But we're not asking those questions. Rather we are asking questions like, "why do we have $40k in the bank after 18 months; yet gave away over $30k in the past year? Why do we have over 400 people in our services? Why is 1/2 of our church in community groups? Why are people experiencing God like never before? Why do we have over 20 people in the queue, ready to be baptized?"

Here's our answer…..Because all throughout the bible Jesus rewards risk and faith. Without faith we cannot please God. - Hebrews 11. What makes Netcast, Netcast; is our determination to not be safe (not stupid; but not safe.) Safe people don't defeat Goliath like David. Safe people don't break down Jericho's walls like Joshua. Safe people don't walk on water like Peter. Safe people don't make good missionaries like Paul. Safe people don't lead the most influential churches in America. And Netcast cannot be in New England, what we all dream we will become, if it is lead by safe leaders who are constantly making safe decisions.

Right now, Hell is being destroyed on the North Shore and we are playing a large part in fighting the battle. I don't mean that in an arrogant way, but for some reason Jesus has put his hand on us with power. He has blessed us with money, people, bands, leaders, gifts, wisdom, an anointing etc….because we are willing to risk it all for His name and Glory. At Netcast we preach boldly, we sing loudly, we live authentically, we lead faithfully, we risk everything, we pursue excellence in all we do, we worship passionately, we spend money to advance the Kingdom in any way possible, and we are generous with our finances. We will not stop, we cannot be stopped and may we not ever become content in our pursuit of these things.

I am so proud of our leaders at Netcast. They've shown themselves to be diligent, faithful, prayerful and lovers of the gospel. May God grant us another awesome year of kicking some Satan tail!!

Netcast and Operation Christmas Child

The Siems Community Group that meets in Salem will be overseeing Netcast's efforts in participating in Operation Christmas Child. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Here are some details: For more information, email brooke@netcastchurch.org
  1. Use an empty shoe box (standard size, please) or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required.
  2. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift.
  3. Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.
  4. Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child.
  5. Use the gift ideas provided below.
  6. Netcast will collect boxes and/or things to be put into boxes, Sunday November 4th, 2012.
  7. If you don't want to do a full box, please consider bring supplies, this Sunday, for the Community Group to put together. (see list below)
  8. Shoe box destination countries vary from year to year.
  9. A donation of $7 or more helps cover project expenses like shipping the boxes. Also, you may write one check for them all and place it in any one of your boxes.

 

Healthy Church w/ Pastor Andy Thompson in NC

I want to invite all of my friends in the ministry to check out my dear friend and partner in the ministry; Pastor Andy's Healthy Church Seminar. It is Fri\Dec. 7 & Sat\Dec.8. The early bird rate is $155 per person or $115 for 2 or more people. There is hotel info on the website listed below. Here is all the links that you need to get more information.

Feel free to share with other Pastors, leaders in your area. Over the past 4 years, Pastor Andy has not only become an incredible mentor for me as a Church Planter, but also a dear friend. I can promise that you will walk away having learned a ton of practical information on keeping your church healthy and influential. It is worth your while to check this out.

Website: http://www.healthychurch2012.com
Facebook: HEALTHY CHURCH NC 
Twitter: @HEALTHYCHURCHNC


Here is a "Thank You" video that Netcast put together for Pastor Andy, as he and WOCC have been a huge supporter of Netcast Church and The Chewning Family.

Jesus; The Light of the World.

Series: Gospel of John
Title: Light
Text: John 8:12-20

At a light ceremony that was meant to worship God; Jesus tells the crowd, "I am the light of the world and if you follow me, you will not walk in darkness but instead have the light of life". So to follow Christ, is to “have the light of life”. But what does that mean?

In this profound statement, Jesus says that it is necessary for the world to have its eyes enlightened to who he is, in order to experience life the way it was intended to be experienced. And the only way to experience life the way it is intended to be experienced; is to walk with eyes illuminated to the Gospel; or to have what Tim Keller calls, "Gospel Lenses.”

Gospel lenses, are eyes enlightened to see the world through the reality of who God is and who we are. At the point of conversion, we have a very limited view of God’s holiness compared to our sinfulness. However, as we mature, our awareness of God’s holiness and our sinfulness, increase and I start to see God as he actually is and myself as I actually am. As a result, the reality of my need for the gospel is illuminated. Or in other words, “Christ becomes the light of my world.” and therefore, as illumination occurs, my love and worship of Jesus increases. As we begin to view Christ as the light of the world, our entire perspective of Christianity shifts.

No longer do we view Christianity as a group of people who are trying to appease God, but we are now enlightened and free to see Jesus as our gracious King who loves us based upon who He is, and thank God, not upon who we are.

Questions to consider... 

1. What things (outside of Jesus) have you pursued in order to enlighten yourself or give yourself a better perspective on life? How did that work out for you?

 2. If you are a Christian, what are some ways that Christ has lit up your life? Or how do you see the world differently now as a believer in Jesus?

3. Give an example of having Gospel Lenses in your life?

 4. If Christ is the light of the world; how does that have implications on us as "Christian Missionaries"?

Help Netcast; Help Amirah. Join the movement!!

When I mention the word "SLAVERY", what images come to mind?  Perhaps southern plantations in the 18th and early 19th centuries?  Or more recently, forced labor in Southeast Asia making designer clothes, sneakers, and handbags?  Or maybe child soldiers wielding machetes and automatic rifles in Uganda?

Unfortunately, the problem is much larger and closer to home than you may have thought possible.  Yes, slavery is alive and thriving today, right here in the land of the free and home of the brave.  Recent statistics indicate that more than 300,000 human beings are trafficked in the U.S. each year.  Upwards of 10% (THIRTY THOUSAND people) are trafficked right here through Greater Boston!

I am so excited that Netcast has a community group that refuses to stand idly by while this activity goes on around us. We have partnered with a safe house for women who have been rescued from the bonds of sexual slavery.  These women are in dire need of physical and psychological healing, which experts will provide.  The community group is sponsoring a room at the safe house to provide a comfortable and safe environment for such healing to occur.  The room will accommodate two women (for six to 18 months, depending on the extent of rehabilitation required).  We are supplying everything for a room, including but not limited to: beds, dressers, nightstands, lamps, alarm clocks, clothes hangers, bed linens, blankets, pillows, window treatments, and wall coverings. In order to organize the contributions and avoid duplication, we have developed a registry for items that will be donated to the safe house, much like a wedding or baby registry.

This registry also affords an opportunity to those who may want to participate at arms length.  Once an item has been obtained, it will be removed from the list, so that only those items still needed will be listed. This is an ambitious effort that will have untold impacts on some very hurting women.  Please be in prayer for these women, the safe house, and this project.

If you feel moved to participate in this initiative, we would welcome any additional assistance that God sends our way. Here's the link to the registry: http://www.myregistry.com/visitors/GiftList.aspx?param=1&sid=95109dd7-d5d3-45f7-8dbb-ef034986e85d 

Financial Contributions can be made as a "Special Designation" at https://netcastchurch.ccbchurch.com/trx_submit.php?type=public_gift 

I challenge anyone reading this, to pray about how God may invite you to participate in this effort.

Blog written with assistance from Alan Day and the Wednesday Night Danvers Community Group.

Netcast is spreading and more...

Netcast is Spreading...This month, Netcast will be displayed on the front page of the Biblical Recorder which is distributed to 25,000 people worldwide and thousands more online. You can read the article at http://www.brnow.org/News/October-2012/Former-‘bad-kid’-leaves-N-C-to-start-church Also, it'd be great if you left a small comment at the end of the article to thank the editor for his support.

Netcast also just launched the Netcast App. The app has all of the sermons video/audio, announcements, blog, community group information, and more. Help spread the word and download it at http://get.thechurchapp.org/share/netcast-church.

Netcast is also on the front page of the NAMB (North American Mission Board) website this week. While in New Orleans this summer, I was asked what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus and they have the video featured that on the front page of their site. You can check that out at http://www.namb.net/SendNetwork/

Holy Spirit Series.
The past few weeks have been awesome. I feel like Netcast is becoming an entirely new church as we spent time studying God the Holy Spirit. The stories we've received have been so encouraging. People are experiencing God in ways like never before and I am so blessed to hear that.

Growth.
This past month Netcast saw another wild growth spurt. In 6 weeks we doubled in size again and are making necessary adjustments to see that everyone is feeling cared for, plugged in and can fit in the service. We praise God for what He is doing here but bear with us as we make adjustments.

Serve.
Personally, I am so proud of how we all responded to the call to serve. As your pastor, it is never easy to call people to serve within the local church, but you have continued to stay faithful and accept the call. Please keep up with the commitments that you have made as the growth has caused some added responsibilities and we need the extra help.

Generosity.
Netcast....thank you for your faithful generosity with tithes and offerings. Although the percentage of the church that is giving is about average, we are in a great financial position with no debt and a growing budget. I would continue to challenge you to give sacrificially and generously as the Lord provides.

Words cannot express the love I have in pastoring Netcast Church. I honestly believe that we have an opportunity to change the world. Lets go after it while praising Jesus and giving Him all the glory as He uses us.

- Pastor Matt

Big Bang Theory; Literal Interpretation and more

A close friend of mine recently asked my opinion on the Big Bang Theory, and my view on a Literal Interpretation of the Bible. Below are some of my thoughts as well some thoughts of others who have helped me work through this in my own head.

It is hard not to see the evidence for the Big Bang as a stunning example of where science and theology intersect. Astrophysicist Dr. Robert Jastrow phrased it this way in his book God and the Astronomers (New York, W.W. Norton, 1978, p. 116): “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” Why? Because, as Jastrow explained in a subsequent interview, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. . . .That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact” (“A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982, pp. 15, 18).

If Christians are to have objections to the Big Bang theory, it should only be in the atheistic presuppositions that often go along with the theory. The idea itself, that the universe came into existence due to an explosion, is not necessarily incompatible with the biblical creation account. As one Christian theologian has stated, "I am not necessarily opposed to the Big Bang theory. Rather, I know who banged it."

Now, pertaining to a literal interpretation of scripture. The short answer to the question of whether we at Netcast believe in a literal interpretation is “Yes”. But, it isn't that simple.

Interpretation occurs when someone reads the Bible in a language they can understand and determines the meaning of the verses they read by the enablement of God the Holy Spirit who also inspired the writing of Scripture. Each text of the Bible has only one true interpretation and so we must be careful to read the truth out of the Bible rather than reading our beliefs and desires into it. A common question arises at this point: is the Bible to be interpreted literally? The answer is yes....but let me explain. There are plain-literal and figurative-literal portions of the Bible. We begin by assuming the plain-literal meaning and if that seems absurd then we go with a figurative- literal interpretation. A figurative-literal Scripture teaches a truth in a poetic way and often uses the words “like” or “as” to tip us off that figurative language is being used. But even when figurative language is being used, it is still communicating a literal truth.

For example, in the poetic Song of Songs, the man says to his beloved, “your eyes are doves” (1:15). In this figurative language, the man is communicating a very literal truth. He likens her eyes to doves, which come in pairs, and when their tail-feathers flutter they appear like eyelashes. Doves have just one faithful mate throughout their lives, possibly indicating that her eyes are focused on him alone. The dove is also a symbol of peace and purity, alluding to her virginity. Similar figurative thoughts can accompany the creation story and many areas in the bible.

For me personally and Netcast as a church; our official stance would be that we accept the Bible as the written Word of God. The Bible is an essential and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Being given by God the Scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God. Therefore, as originally given, the Bible is free of error in all it teaches. Each book is to be interpreted according to its context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through it in living power. All believers are exhorted to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives. The Scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice and doctrine. They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation or even worldly wisdom and science. Every doctrinal formulation, confession or theology must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture.

In the end, I struggle with what these type of conversations produce. I have really been challenged in recent years about what Paul tells Timothy about this.

2 Timothy 14-26 
Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene.…... 

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Pertaining to our hope in life, joy on earth and love for each other; these conversations rarely produce anything significant to our lives. If the conversation is about proving a point, taking a side, winning an argument or debate, or just trying to convince myself of how bright I am; I have no real desire to engage in the conversation. However, if my joy is at stake and conversations are heartfelt with the intentions of growing in my love for Jesus...I love those discussions.

Holy Spirit Strategy

At the end of Matthew, Mark and Luke; Jesus gives some very important instructions. Right before Jesus ascends to be with the Father, he tells His disciples what to do, what their mission is and their first step to accomplishing this new mission. To our surprise however, the first step to accomplishing the mission of God is to wait. Now, waiting is counter-intuitive to what we think is necessary when we are looking to accomplish something. However, upon waiting Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to them, granting them supernatural power from God.

Jesus is clear; For us to effectively fulfill all that Christ is calling us to fulfill, we first have to be empowered by God the Holy Spirit. To do anything apart from the Holy Spirit, is to do nothing at all. Therefore, in order to be a church empowered for ministry, we have got to be people that pursue God the Holy Spirit. As we continue to pursue this type of life, we will see incredible things. Peoples eyes will be enlightened to the beauty of God's word. Worship will resemble heaven while demonic forces will be destroyed. The preached word will produce transformed hearts and we wont be just sitting around waiting for our gatherings to end. Praise God; the sick will be healed, the lost will be found and the family of God will grow in numbers and health

The Broken Man (Visual Illustration)

Humanity is born with an inner man and outer man (aka Flesh and Spirit) as well as an internal void that desires to be filled.  

All of humanity recognizes that there is a void in the human hearts and we seek to fill the void with things that continually fail to deliver what they promise. 

When we put our trust and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are saved by His grace and God the Holy Spirit comes to live within us and unites with man's spirit while also filling the void that all of humanity was born with. 

As a Christian grows in their love of Jesus, trust in Jesus and worship of Jesus, the Holy Spirit within us continues to grow and mold us more into the image of Jesus. This is the process of progressive sanctification.

Throughout our life, God the Holy Spirit continues to grow more and more, and actually begins to overcome our outer man (aka our flesh) which begins to transform our emotions, feelings, actions, desires, etc. This is the process of a believer in Christ, growing in holiness. 

  
Although we are saved by grace, we are still surrounded by a shell of flesh that is holding the Spirit captive. While we feed our flesh through pursuing idols, it thickens and makes it more difficult for God the Holy Spirit to permeate through us. However, God promises to grow us and mold us into His image, but the thicker our flesh is, the more painful our growth will be. And the means in which God will mold us into his image and permeate his Spirit through us; is Brokenness. Therefore, God delights in aligning our worlds in order to touch us ever so slightly, in order to break us ever so significantly. Brokenness is the way of blessing and the only means in which the Spirit is able to permeate through us.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

For more on this, read "The Release of the Spirit" by Watchman Nee.





Don't attempt to live the Christian life.

God has no provision for you to live the Christian life. You have absolutely no power to live the Christian life that God intends for you to live. There is no evidence in scripture that God has empowered “YOU” to live the Christian life. Rather, God desires to live the Christian life through you as you yield to His Spirit that has made his home inside you. We can ask, “What would Jesus do?” until we are blue in the face, but without yielding to the power that has been given to us in the Holy Spirit, we will accomplish nothing. Jesus himself said, “I can accomplish nothing apart from the Father.” The ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit is to so penetrate our flesh that we walk in such a way that we are walking where the Spirit directs us, we say what the Spirit tells us to say, we think and feel and react under the influence of the Holy Spirit. And God the Holy Spirit will permeate through us and begin to effect, not just us, but also our world that surrounds us. If this is true; what is the way of holiness? How does the Holy Spirit penetrate through our existence in that way? The answer is summed up in 1 word…"Brokenness". Brokenness is the way of blessing and God's desire is to break us to the point that we are fully available and surrendered to him.

Netcast 2 Year Anniversary (Update: Matt Chewning)

Can you believe that it has been 2 years since we moved to plant Netcast?

I was reminded this morning how so many people were a part of our transition as we followed God's call. We were so blessed with all of the people praying for us, coaching us, financially supporting us, sending encouragement, etc. To look back and see how God has multiplied our efforts and prayers is amazing. Two years ago when we moved to Beverly, MA we didn't know anyone. Now, we are surrounded with so many friends and family. In that time, Netcast went from an idea, to now a movement on the North Shore of Greater Boston. To give some perspective, this week I got a phone call from a guy who has been podcasting us. He is a leader at a campus of Life Church (Craig Groeschel's church www.lifechurch.tv) and wanted to let us know how blessed he's been by our ministry. It's stories like that that blow my mind of how Jesus is using all of us to encourage His Kingdom.

 Here's a current update of what's going on and how you can be praying for us...

Netcast has continued to grow faster than any of us could have expected. This is a great testimony, but also brings some anxiety. A year ago in September we were averaging about 200 people per weekend and now a year later our attendance has doubled to 400 people. In the past year we have seen a ton of people begin to get into community. We currently have 11 community groups and need to add more since many of them are way too full. In 2012, (based on what we know from handed in connect cards) we have seen at least 500 new people come through our doors. We have also seen at least 27 people become Christians and will baptize about 30-40 people in 2012.

We have also done our best to enhance our discipleship process this year, by adding ways to plug people into the life of our church through serving, community and partnership. Our online ministry is still growing as well. We are almost done putting together an App which will be launched soon. In the past year there have been 53,000 page visits to our website and we have reached 80 countries thus far. Amazing!!! As far as our funding has gone, we are doing well. All of our ministry expenses (Community Groups, Equipment, Space, Administrative costs, Online Ministries, Outreach, Children's Ministry, Missions, etc...) are fully covered by the church. We are also giving away between 20-30% of what is brought in towards church planting and other ministries. Currently, only our staffing costs are being raised from outside the church.

I want to thank you again for supporting us if you have. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and we continue to be so grateful for your love and support. Please pray for our family as we have been sick lately and crazy busy. Beth and I recognize that we are in way over our heads; please pray for wisdom and that we clearly hear from the Lord. Right now, Netcast needs more leaders and laborers for all that God is doing out here. Pray that God sends people and we see leaders risen up from within the body. Also, please pray for my humility as I know that God opposes the proud and there is currently a lot to get excited about. May I never take credit for anything that Jesus does. Also, pray that the gospel stays central to all that we do as we seek to give Christ all the glory and see disciples made.

I love you all. More than you can imagine.

 Matt Chewning and Family

Motivation to serve.

I had a blast last night talking with my community group as we explored what it looks like as Christians to serve. I thought I'd take a minute to talk about our motivation to serve since it was brought up a bunch yesterday. In scripture I see a few reasons why we should serve and thought you'd enjoy seeing them too. This is also addressed in "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" by Donald Whitney

1. Motivated by obedience. 
Deuteronomy 13:4 says "Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. We cannot neglect to serve because we simply don't want to do we can't serve with the right heart. Our goal is to serve by obedience and believe that God will change our heart in the process.

2. Motivated by gratitude. 
1 Samuel 12:24 says "Serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you." In our salvation, when we actually see that God has never done anything greater for anyone, nor could he do anything greater than what he has done for us; it will lead to a gratitude that leads to action. So, it is vital that we slow down and remember what great things God has done for us.

3. Motivated by gladness. 
Psalm 100:2 says "Serve the Lord with gladness." If we can change our thinking from serving as something that we HAVE to do, and rather something that we GET to do; then our serving will be a privilege, not a burden. Seek a gladness in your service.

4. Motivated by forgiveness, not guilt. 
In Isaiah 6 when God cleanses Isaiah of his sin through atonement; Isaiah's immediate response is "Send me." In this case, service became an act of worship based on the forgiveness that he received. We all should see our service as worship because we have been forgiven of our sin. Because forgiveness was the motivation to serve, there could be no guilt.

Holy Spirit: Gifted for Impact.

Through the study of scripture we see that the Spirit of God has been continuing the work of Christ ever since Christ fulfilled the gospel and has gone to be with the Father. And the work that Christ came to do is establish God's Kingdom here on earth. Therefore, God the Holy Spirit is currently at work in fulfilling the plan of building a Kingdom with people from every tribe, tongue, nation, culture, and race. God the Holy Spirit is doing this by empowering and gifting people to be Kingdom advancers. In essence, The Spirit of God, gifts and empowers the Church of God, to continue the ministry of the Son of God, all for the Glory of God. Therefore Christians are empowered, equipped and expected to serve God through the power God provides in the Spirit.

However, our flesh fights viciously against hiddenness and sameness. We hate doing the same thing over and over again; and we hate doing things without recognition. However, the Spirit loves to serve and Glorify Jesus. Our Spirit finds great joy in serving the Kingdom, but that joy is never found until serving becomes a discipline used by our Spirit to fight our flesh. Therefore if we don't discipline ourselves to serve, we'll never know how God has gifted us, and we'll only serve when it's convenient and self-serving. When we do that, we can only experience results in which the flesh can produce; and will miss out on finding the joy and power in the Holy Spirit through our service.

Questions:
1. How have you benefited from others serving within the Kingdom of God? (Personal Question)

2. How do you serve out of the grace given to you in the gospel, and not because of guilt? (Gospel Question)

3. How can our group be more intentional to serve together and hold each other accountable to serving? (Community Question)

4. How have you experienced a joy in the Holy Spirit through serving within the Kingdom? (Application)

Drinking and The Holy Spirit

Text: John 7:32-39

In John 7, Jesus stands up and says to the audience in the temple, (I'm paraphrasing...) “If you believe in me, I will fill your heart with a water that will forever quench your thirst. This water will not just quench your thirst, but it will so fill your heart that it can potentially lead to seeing others quenched as well." This was a profound statement to make. But, honestly what does it mean? In the next verse, John answers that question. In the next verse, John says that the quenchable water is something Super-Natural; it is the supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit.

Many of us, when we look at our lives and churches we don't see much that is “Super” or “Natural”. Much of our lives and churches are instead, “Mediocre and Planned.” And worse of all, we tend to be pretty content with that. But this is NOT how life was meant to be lived. Jesus tells us that if we believe in Him, then God the Holy Spirit would come to live in us and our world would be opened up to things unimaginable.

As a Christian, a natural question would be “How do I receive a deeper measure of the Holy Spirit?” Our tendency will be to think that the measure in which the Holy Spirit is poured out is through how holy we behave. But, the gospel says that in Christ, you are as holy as you will ever be. You have Christ's perfect holiness (2 Cor 5:21) which was given to you at salvation. And so to tap into the Holy Spirit's power, is to simply pause long enough to believe by faith, that you have access to all the power that God intends for you to have, through Christ. Not because you are so awesome, but because the God who lives in you, through Jesus, is so awesome.

If you're thirsty; Have a drink.....





New at Netcast Invite...This Sunday.

Knowing that we had a crazy influx of people who are fairly new to Netcast (or have just recently visited), I thought I would throw this up on my blog and invite anyone at Netcast who feels new to our New at Netcast get together this Sunday. At a new church, it can sometimes be hard to get plugged in and feel connected. I'd love to invite everyone to grab the family, a friend or whoever, and join us for a free meal. There will be plenty of fun stuff for kids to do while we all get an opportunity to connect with new people, meet the staff, ask questions and relax.

It will be this Sunday, September 9th @ 1:30pm located at 17 Parsons Hill Rd. Wenham, MA.

Also, you don't have to register, but it would help with our food planning to fill out the form at http://www.netcastchurch.org/form.php?pageID=41 or just email me back.

Hope to see you there,

Pastor Matt

How can we know who Jesus truly is?

Apostle John goes out of his way all throughout his gospel to tell us how people responded to Jesus. He doesn’t only tell us what Jesus says and does, but also what peoples reactions were to the things that He says and does. All throughout his ministry, Jesus said outrageous things that everyone who knew of Christ, met Christ or heard Him teach; had an opinion about him. In John 7, you see multiple different responses to Jesus. Some hated him, some thought he was a criminal, some thought he was brilliant, others though he was a miracle worker, and a select few believed he was God in the flesh. But, how does one know? How do we know the truth about who Jesus really was behind all of the opinions and claims that others has about him?

In John 7:17 Jesus tells us that there is a way to know. "If anyones will is to do Gods will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority." The way to know whether or not Jesus is truly who he says he is (God in the flesh, sent from heaven, to pay the penalty for sin.) is to have a willingness to do the will of God. In other words, in order to know that Jesus is the truth, it requires you seeking after him as the truth. Not just with your mind, but also with your actions. Jesus is saying that when you seek me with your mind, and your actions, you will find me. If you only seek Jesus with your mind, you'll become at best an Intellectual. If you only seek Jesus with your actions, you'll become at best a Religious Moralist. But when you seek Him with your mind and actions, your eyes will be open to how truly glorious He actually is.

5 Characteristics of a Disciple of Jesus

1. Life and Doctrine.

My fear for his generation is that we are becoming a generation full of great worship, great teachings, great talent but little internal transformation. Information should lead towards transformation. There shouldn't be a disconnect between what we say we believe and our lives. We cannot allow our youthfulness to be an excuse for being spiritually immature. Disciples of Jesus have a life that resembles the gospel they claim to put their hope in.

2. Worship.

A true disciple is someone who is a worshiper. And to be a worshiper, you have to have an accurate view of that in which you worship. Worshipers will come against spiritual attack. The way we fight is through worship, because God has already claimed victory. We don't fight for victory, we fight from victory.

3. Evangelism.

Jesus says that as we follow him, as we become his disciples...He turns us into something. He turns us into fishers of men. And that freaks us out because typically we are thinking of methods and not the mission. The mission is clear and the methods are easy. Matthew 18 says when we gather Jesus is with us, and John 1 says we should just invite people to come and see Jesus through our gathering. Whether it be 2-3 people or 200-300 people, when we gather, Jesus is among us.

4. Serve.

John 13 Jesus goes and washes his disciples and he says that he does that as an example for us to do likewise. So serving is a major part of being a disciple of Jesus. But what do we have to offer? Not much...However in John 6 we are not called to change the world; thats God's job. Rather we are called to offer what little we have and entrust that to Christ and allow him to multiply our efforts to fulfill his mission.

5. Genuine.

All of us wear a mask. We've been trained in this since salvation. We have been trained in the Christian community that Jesus makes bad people good. But that's bad theology. Good theology says that we are all bad, Jesus is good and through faith He gives us his righteousness. So, how do we fight the mask? How do we fight the temptation to make ourselves seem to appear more holy than we actually are? We let love be genuine. Hate the evil in our hearts and cling to things that make us good. (Romans 12:9)

Unity among Netcast Church.

Over the past few weeks I have had numerous conversations with numerous pastors of churches in numerous different stages of life and ministry. Among some of the conversations that I was having, the idea of having a united leadership team kept coming up. Because of that, along with a few personal reasons, I wanted to share this.

The number one priority of the enemy is to bring division. Since he cannot bring division between God's people and God himself, the next best thing is to bring division among the bride of Christ, more specifically its leadership. This can be created in numerous ways. Sexual sin, financial scandals, pride, etc…. But in my experience, this disunity starts in very subtle ways and eventually snowballs out of control. Because of that, I feel this is important for all of our partners / leaders to wrestle with this.

It is vital that we continue to fight for unity among ourselves. With the nature of how our culture typically communicates through occasional meetings and email we will have to work extra hard to fight for this. To add to the chaos, we have an incredible church, full of very gifted people with strong leadership capabilities. And, many of us are wired very different. If we are not careful, the strong personalities we have and our unique individual wiring will cause us to see our differences as hindrances rather than strengths. This is the first tactic the enemy uses in bring division. For the sake of the gospel, we have to remember how the enemy attacks and fight together for purity, humility and love of one another.

Here are 6 guidelines for us to think through as a church. I didn't come up with these, but am using them to guide my thoughts.

1. Let’s avoid gossiping.
The New Testament warns against gossiping. Gossiping is anytime we talk about one another to someone other than that person. Gossip is talking without the motive of seeking to be corrected ourselves and united to the person we are talking about. Among us, there should never be any gossip. Never!! The mission is too big and a local church is to fragile. All of us should search our hearts and repent of this sin immediately if necessary. If your brother has sinned against you, annoys you, bothers you, frustrates you, etc…Go directly to him / her and nobody else.

2. Let’s identify evidences of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.

This is such a powerful opportunity for encouragement. It is so easy to get frustrated in church world. The bible calls us family, and we all know that families fight. However, for every negative thing we see in one anothers lives there should be 10 things that we see that is evidence of God's grace in their life. We have got to check our hearts and ask the question “why is it so easy to see the negatives yet so difficult to see God's grace.” Fight to see the evidence of Gods grace in our lives. Beg God to show you that in one another and pray fervently for a deep love for one another. Outside of God's miraculous grace, this cannot be obtained.

3. Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.
Criticism is necessary. We all must get better at what we do. Whether it is parenting, the way we speak to one another, spiritual disciplines, our commitment levels, gifts and talents, etc...we should all desire to get better at what we do. And, the primary way we get better is when we can lovingly come along side of one another and offer helpful critique. Lets always fight for unity by speaking critique to one another as a means of encouragement. Hold one another accountable to this. Go directly to one another, and don't wait to do this. Do this personally and never offer criticism through email or text. Unity is to valuable and fragile, therefore we must handle it with care.

4. Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the others viewpoint, especially when we disagree.
In such a technological world, most of us are typically behind a computer when conversing. The downfall with that is it's nearly impossible to know a persons motive since you can't see body language or hear tone. Especially when we disagree. We have always got to assume the best of one another. This is not an option, this is the only option. Every great relationship is built on trust. Not just trust that we will do what we say, but trust even when we don't come through for one another. Here are some questions to ponder...How have we lacked trust lately? Who do I not trust and do they know that I don't trust them? Is my lack of trust, my issue or theirs? How have I assumed the worse?

5. Let's think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.

For every difference we have, we have 100 things in common. We all love Jesus. We all love the bride of Christ. We all love Netcast and want to see this local body flourish. We all love one another. We all are committed to a vision and mission....and the list can go on. Always remember that there is much more commonality to celebrate than there is differences to point out. How often do you just praise Jesus for how He has unified our church? I pray that we grow in this area.

6. Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right.
Let’s shape our relationships by the gospel. I want to fight for righteousness rather than fight to be right. In church world, this may be our biggest temptation. There are seldom times where there will be one “right” way to do something. In actuality, there are multiple of ways to do the things that we do together as a team. As Netcast grows and our influence grows, our tendency will be to fight to be right, and in the process neglect our desire for righteousness. Because of that, I am calling us to out-do one another with honor. As we fight to out-do one another in honor, our pride is crushed, humility is birthed and Jesus can continue to anoint and bless our lives and ministries.

All of you are like family to me. I pray that God gives us a special unity. Join me in fighting for this through prayer and dedication. It is our spiritual act of worship. Worship well Netcast!!

- Pastor Matt

Community should not be worshiped.

I want to be careful in what I say because I don't want to come across as if community isn't vital to us as believers. That said, we need to be careful to not put such an emphasis on community that we make it some sort of spiritual law. At Netcast, community groups are designed to be a family of people who meet so that deeper community can be forged. As a pastor, it is my desire that the people of Netcast are growing in relationship with others, therefore able to be authentic, transparent and stirred on to good things while at times being confronted with their blind areas. I never want Netcast to be a place where if someone is not at a community group every week than they can't be a partner with us or feel that they are not as spiritual as the next person. To me, that seems cultish and overly controlling. I feel that type of commitment is unnecessary to what community groups are trying to accomplish.

In my experience with this movement of community among evangelicalism, we have to be careful. The gospel is our means of justification, redemption and glorification; not community. Don't hear what I'm not saying, my heart is that everyone at Netcast would be plugged into a group and plan on attending as often as able. This way we are able to continue to stay connected with people. This hopefully would allow for deeper relationships to be forged that will go beyond a weekly meeting. Again the goal is never attendance, it's deep relationship. Often times it takes years of work for people to feel like they are building this.

Remember, community should not be worshiped. However, worship should happen in community. Lets press on to see Netcast become a gospel-centered worshipful community.

Marriage and Paul Tripp

After performing my very first wedding this past weekend, I was reminded of some of the basic truths that I wish someone would have taught Beth and I before marriage. Often times we forget the unavoidable realities that come with marriage and its God ordained purpose. Marriage has always been God's design in helping to point us to Jesus. Marriage is God's greatest design to continually reveal to ourselves that we are sinners and desperately need grace.

There is no relationship on earth that will more expose your brokenness and need for grace than the marriage relationship. Because this is true, marriage should be a relationship full of authentic and transparent communication and grace being extended. Not using grace as an excuse for hurting one another, but rather as a way of extending love towards one another. We are all sinners and we all need grace. Praise God for sending Jesus who paid the penalty for my sin and continually extends grace to me. It is His goodness that leads me to repentance, not his wrath. He is patient and kinda, extending grace to the multitudes. Lets resemble that in our marriages.

Here is a short Q&A from Paul Tripp that has been revolutionary in my relationship with Beth.


Q: You write that all couples enter marriage with some unrealistic expectations. Isn’t this something you resolve in premarital counseling?

Paul David Tripp: I wish it were that easy! But it’s almost as though each potential husband and wife is motivated to dismiss the truth about what they will inevitably face. In the midst of the power of premarital romance, it is very hard to get yourself to want to take a hard and honest look at reality. You are in love, and you are sure that everything will work out right.

Most couples are simply not interested in being realistic.

Q: What perspectives can we keep in mind in order to keep our expectations of marriage (and life!) in check?

Paul David Tripp: There are three wisdom perspectives from Scripture that enable us to have realistic expectations for marriage:

· First, you are conducting your marriage in a fallen world. This means we all face the same thing and your marriage will be touched every day by the brokenness of our world.

· Second, you are married to a sinner. We just don’t get to be married to someone perfect. Your life will be affected by the sin, weakness, and failure of the person you are living with. And at some point you will sin against your spouse.

· Finally, you must remember that God is with you. You are not alone in your struggle. Yes, you live in a bad neighborhood (fallen world), and the two of you are less than perfect (sin), but in all this you are not left to your own resources.

Q: Is every marriage destined for struggle?

Paul David Tripp: It happens to everyone. It is the unavoidable reality of marriage. Somehow, someway, every marriage becomes a struggle. Everyone’s marriage becomes something they didn’t intend it to be. Spending time together is radically different from living together. Reasons for attraction now become sources of irritation. At some point you need something sturdier than romance. You need something deeper than shared interests and mutual attraction. You need something more than marital survival skills. In every marriage either giddy romance wanes and is replaced with a sturdier and more mature love, or the selfishness of sin reduces the marriage to a state of relational d├ętente.

Q: So what do we do when this inevitable point of disillusionment collides with our expectations?

Paul David Tripp: Both the problem and the solution can be summed up in one word: worship. I have become more and more persuaded that marriages are fixed vertically before they are ever fixed horizontally. We have to deal with what is driving us before we ever deal with how we are reacting to one another. Every relationship is victimized in some way when we seek to get from the surrounding creation what we were designed to get form God. When God is in his rightful place, then we are on the way to putting people in their rightful place. I am convinced it is only in the worship of God in our marriages that we find reason to continue.

Being a worshiper means that you attach your identity, meaning and purpose, and your inner sense of well-being to something. You either get these things vertically (from the Creator) or you look to get them horizontally (from the creation). This insight has everything to do with how a marriage becomes what it is. No marriage will be unaffected when the people in the marriage are seeking to get from the creation what they were only ever meant to get from the Creator.

Q: Tell us more about the power of worship in marriage.

Paul David Tripp: This is the bottom line: the war for our marriages is a war of worship. The fundamental problem of every marriage is misplaced worship. The cure of every marriage is renewed worship of God. Does it wound too simple? Well, it is and it isn’t. Although this principle is true of every marriage, the war and the cure look different for every couple.

This may not sound very romantic, but my intention is not to disrespect romance. I love romance. On the vast continuum of what defines maledom, I am way over on the romantic end. But a good marriage doesn’t grow out of the soil of romance. No, the soil in which a good marriage grows is the soil of worship, and the fruit that a good marriage produces is sweet, long-term, mutually satisfying romance.

Q: What do you say to the couple who says “we’re just too different to make it work.”

Paul David Tripp: First of all, don’t run away in fear. You haven’t made a horrible mistake. What you are dealing with is part of the plan. And it really is a gorgeous plan; in your marriage God will take you where you never though you would go in order to give you what you could not achieve on your own. He is working on something that is very good—lasting personal change—and he is with you during the process. He is giving you what you need to be, what you have been designed to be, and to do what you have been called to do. Now, that is a reason to be encouraged, even on the days that are difficult.

Q: Explain how praying for your marriage, and praying together, can affect a marriage relationship.

Paul David Tripp: The Bible reveals that we are kingdom-minded people, and we either live in service to the kingdom of self to serve the kingdom of God. So when you are hurt, angry or disappointed with your husband or wife, it is not because he or she has broken the laws of God’s kingdom, and it really concerns you. No, you are most often angry because your spouse has broken the laws of your kingdom. And the problem is that our spouse does the same thing. So, it will just be a matter of time before the carnage begins as our little kingdoms of one collide.

Reconciling your marriage begins when you begin to reconcile with God. It begins when you begin to pray this radical prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, right here, right now in this marriage as it is in heaven.” Good things happen as a result of that prayer!