The Joy of Serving Faithfully

There have been billions of believers who have preceded us in the years since Jesus ascended to heaven. Through faithful service and dedication to the gospel, the faith initially given to the apostles has been guarded and advanced, eventually being handed down to us. This is the legacy we all aspire to: that if in two generations nobody remembers our names, they would know the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus because of his work in us.  In Philippians 2:19-30, Paul highlights two men who did just that. 

Pastor Boyd pointed out on Sunday that we don't know much about Epaphroditus other than what is mentioned in Paul's letter. There are few historical records of him. Surely his name doesn't mean the same to many of us as the names Paul, Peter, or James. However, this doesn’t mean that his role in church history is diminished. No matter what he did in the context of his local congregation, he was a part of the gospel going forward. 

This can be of great encouragement to us. There are several Christians in recent history whose names we may know, but for every one we know, there are thousands of whom we have never heard. Just as they did, we labor to see the gospel move forward in our families, friends, and neighbors. We may not always get to see the fruit; God is the one who brings the increase of the harvest (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Because of this, it can be hard to see things in the bigger picture. Ultimately, there is great joy in our God being magnified and Jesus being glorified for generations to come, and in seeing the fruit of our faithfulness in the new heaven and new earth.

While it can be hard to imagine how to get started in serving in this way, the District Church has many needs and opportunities to serve others selflessly. If you aren’t already serving faithfully, join a serve team. Being around other believers and being a part of what God is doing in the District Church together will quickly become one of your favorite things.

The Joy of Living Worthy of The Gospel

I want you to know, brothers,that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. Phil 1:12

Read the latter part of Philippians 1. Are you living with an eager expectation to have Christ honored through your life, no matter what comes your way? Paul was imprisoned as he served in advancing the message of Jesus through the Gospel. This could have easily been looked at as a negative thing that was happening to Paul and to the church in general.  Paul could have easily questioned God. Paul would not let this happen. He knew Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice and suffered for our sake. Suffering was not a new concept to the early church.  What Paul was focused on was advancing the gospel message of Jesus Christ. If it was through imprisonment or being a free man, he knew God would use whatever situation for His glory. Philippians goes on to explain how the gospel advanced in an even greater way through Paul's imprisonment. The church was full of faith.  We need to ask ourselves, what are we doing through our lives to advance the gospel?

It can be easy to live a comfortable life as a Christian. We can get caught up in making “Christian checklists." We do just enough to make us not feel bad, or just enough to not really have to sacrifice any comforts of this life for the gospel. We may never find ourselves in a situation that would imprison us for the sake of the gospel, but we must ask ourselves, are we doing enough? Are we living above a surface level lifestyle as a Christian? This is important because, as Paul describes, we have ample opportunity to bring others joy through faith in Christ. We must live in faith and not fear. 

Phil 1:27 reminds us to let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. It is possible that you need to change your perspective on life and the gospel. Living a life worthy of the gospel means to be willing to let suffering be a part of your story that leads others to Christ and to use all situations in your life to reflect God's goodness and grace. Our life goals should not be influenced by our desire to live comfortably or stable. They should be influenced to advance the gospel and we trust God we will have compete joy in the outcome.  

Ask yourself, are you living in fear or faith today? What are you dong to advance the gospel? Strive to grow in your faith today and advance the gospel through your life. Pray, and ask God to help you live out your faith with boldness and honor, whether in joy or suffering. 

COMPASSION SUNDAY

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"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” — Matthew 25:40

I LOVE COMPASSION

This fall, we are launching a partnership with Compassion International. I love what Compassion does for the poorest of the poor around the world. I’ve personally sponsored a child for 14 years. I was 18 years old at Christian Bookstore and thought to myself I can give $20 a month to serve a child. It’s been a part of our family since then, and I am happy that my church family gets to participate in this as well. 

I had the great privilege this past May to travel to Brazil and see firsthand the work that Compassion has been doing. I was blown away by the impact and work they do. It was always a dream of mine to get to actually see the work in person and it exceeded my expectations of what they do. 

WHY COMPASSION? 

Compassion is more than a charity or humanitarian effort to feed the poor; their focus is on a few key areas:

  • Christ-Centered
  • Local Church Based
  • Focused on Holistic Child Development

Let me unpack that for a second — I love that Compassion is unapologetic about their commitment to serving in the name of Jesus. They will not do any work without a local church, and they are focused on serving kids physical and spiritual needs, as well as developing them as people. 

For us to partner with anything international, it has to be based in the local church as the focus. Compassion meets that criteria. They are unapologetic about Jesus and they have the best effort on developing children holistically, not just physically. Some of the kids I’ve been able to hear that grow up in Compassion Projects are some of the world’s brightest people I’ve ever met.  

STRATEGIC COUNTRIES - PLANTING CHURCHES

We are partnering in three key countries that fall in line with our church planting strategy. 

  • Brazil
  • Thailand
  • Togo, Africa 

Through the ongoing effort of Acts 29 Network, we are hoping to sponsor kids and help plant churches as close as possible to our sponsorships. In fact, in Brazil right now we have Acts 29 Churches that serve as host sites for Compassion Projects! 

WHAT WE HOPE FOR

On October 8th -- Compassion Sunday, we are setting a goal for our church family to sponsor 100 Kids! You’ll get to sponsor a child in either Brazil, Togo Africa, or Thailand. 

Our greater hope is that through our partnership with Compassion and Acts 29 Network, we’ll be able to sponsor 1000s of kids that will sit in Acts 29 Churches in some of the world’s poorest countries. I’m hopeful for the day when you and I get to travel to these countries and see first hand a child your family sponsors and meet the pastors whom we partner with. 

HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR COMPASSION SUNDAY? 

I want you to begin to pray and ask Jesus about what role He wants you to play. I want to challenge you to sponsor at least one child… some of you can sponsor more than that! I know a single guy in our church who actually sponsors 10 kids! Each child sponsorship is only $38 a month.

A couple ideas would be:

  • If you have kids, sponsor one child for each of your own kids.
  • If you have a desire to serve the poorest of the poor, sponsor a child in Togo. 
  • If you are passionate about preventing kids from getting sex trafficked, sponsor a child in Thailand — it’s one the world’s worst places for this.
  • If you are passionate about church planting, sponsor a kid in Brazil.
  • Start budgeting for it now. Adjust your spending in order to do something that is too simple not to do it. Just about everyone can strategically afford to sponsor one child.
  • Get a friend and co-sponsor a child.
  • Ask your Group to pick one country to sponsor in and make it a part of your Groups everyday life

I'm looking forward to Compassion Sunday on October 8th! 

 

A Kaleidoscope of Joy

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As we exit the summer Psalms series and prepare to enter A Kaleidoscope of Joy, which will lead us through the book of Philippians, it’s good to have a proper perspective on the text.

The book of Philippians was written during one of Paul’s imprisonments, years after he planted the original church in Philippi. From the tone of the book, it’s clear that he found much delight in this church; it’s one of the only books without any rebuke or doctrinal correction. The Philippians were marked by generosity in support of Paul’s missionary work and other good fruits of sanctification.

However, despite these high praises for the church, they have very few external reasons to rejoice. There’s an increasing threat from those who would oppose the gospel. Disunity and rivalry are beginning to flare up. One of their main leaders, Epaphroditus, has been on the precipice of death - twice. Even Paul’s imprisonment is reasonable cause for distress.

This is why Paul wrote this letter: to remind the Philippians of their eternal hope and joy in Jesus Christ because of the gospel. This is the central theme we will be highlighting in this series. Despite the great suffering of the Philippians, as well as his own great suffering, Paul continuously brings things back to the joy of serving Jesus and making disciples. He puts everything in perspective; no matter what happens on this earth, our chief joy and delight is in the work of the gospel being accomplished.

The image of a kaleidoscope is a powerful one; you peer through a small hole in a device (the kaleidoscope), and every time you look at it, it’s different. As it turns and pivots, the objects contained within rearrange and reveal themselves differently. So it is with God’s grace - our limited perspective only reveals a portion of his divine plan and purpose, and each turn and pivot in our lives reveals a new image of his infinite grace.

We have four main hopes for the outcome of this campaign:

  1. That we would rest and find great joy in Jesus alone and nothing else.
  2. That we would be known in our city as the most joy-filled people as we are transformed more into the image and likeness of Jesus. 
  3. That we would grow in our awareness that God is producing greater joy in every circumstance of our lives for His glory.
  4. That Jesus would be put on greater display in our city through people finding their greatest joy in the salvation of their souls.

Be sure to join us ready and expectant for how God will transform your heart through His word. Invite your friends who lack hope so they can learn of the ultimate hope and joy that can be found in Jesus alone. Let’s work together to make disciples who make disciples!

 

Digging Deeper, Going Further

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Sunday, Pastor Boyd spent some time casting vision for our next season of ministry as The District Church. We were reminded of our mission to make disciples, and how that will never change. Our vision is to be a church that plants churches to see the gospel spread throughout the nations. Although our mission and vision will never change, strategy may change from time to time. Pastor Boyd introduced us to some key things that we want everyone who calls The District Church home to be a part of:

Gatherings - We want the gathering of the church to be a priority for you and your family. We don’t want it to be a question of whether or not you are going to the church gathering on a Sunday. Instead, we want our gathering to be the highlight of your week. As we come together to bring praise and glory to Jesus, offering thanksgiving for what he has done and responding as he leads us.

Groups - We want you to be in a group. Traditionally, we encouraged you to attend a group in your neighborhood. What we’ve realized is that this didn’t serve some of you well. For some of you, it may be easier to find a group close to work or one in the morning instead of in the evening. Our hope is for every single person at The District Church to be discipled, so we encourage you to just be in a group. And if you are unable to find a group that works for you, we’d love to talk with you about starting a new one!

Giving - We are a generous people because we serve a generous God, who gave it all for us. As a church, we give of our time, finances, and abilities in order to further the mission of Jesus. Consider what it means for you to give sacrificially. As a next step, you can start giving online today. We’d also love for you to consider using the ways God has gifted you by joining a serve team!

Going - Our vision is to be a church that plants churches. Through your generosity, we have been able to help plant over 12 churches across the world. Our hope is that we would raise up men and women to be sent out to plant churches and take the gospel to the nations. We’d love for you to be prayerful about how you can have a ‘going’ mindset. Wherever God has you, he has placed you to be on mission. So whether you’re a teacher or you work in retail, a doctor or you sling doughnuts, know that God has you there for kingdom work.

Ways You Can Serve Houston

Church Family, 

As many of you know, Houston was hit the hardest from hurricane Harvey this past week. We’ve seen photos of the devastation and great needs that will continue to arise over the next several weeks. If you have felt lead to personally give to help support those in need, here are our recommended ways to give: 

SendRelief - Send Relief and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams began responding before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, deploying hundreds of crisis buckets and sending other supplies that would be needed in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Now, we have been asked to assist in the care of up to 60,000 displaced Texans in addition to preparing thousands of hot meals and performing mud-out, chainsaw, and cleaning services to restore survivors’ homes. I am a big time fan of the Disaster Relief work that the Southern Baptist do in times of crisis, they’ve been one of the most organized and faithful disaster relief teams for over 50 years. 

Give online directly to SendRelief. 

Acts 29 Churches in Houston - We’ve began conversations with our brothers and sisters that lead churches in the greater Houston area; as they assess needs, we’ll coordinate with them on ways we can minister alongside them to their communities. We’ve already heard that one of our Acts 29 Network Church’s facilities were affected by the floods; please keep Sojourn Church in your prayers. 

Relief Team - Are you interested in helping in the next month for disaster relief? We are putting together a list of people who might be interested in helping some coordinated efforts between SendRelief and our Acts 29 Network church partners. If we have enough interested, we’ll organize a team to head out to Houston to help. Email Andy Starling, andy@thedistrictchurch.com, if you are interested in going.

We’ll keep you updated over the next week with ways we can serve and give. 

Love you, 

PBB

The Alt-right, Charlottesville, and The Church

This past weekend I was heavily consumed with serving a family in our congregation. However, as I sat on the couch late Saturday night to see the news and world in an uproar over the events in Charlottesville, my heart was broken and saddened over seeing such anger and hatred.

Here's a few thoughts for our people as we look to how to respond: 

#1 - The events in Charlottesville are utterly demonic and evil at the core. These events are in opposition of the direction and intention of Jesus’ heart and life. 

#2 - There is no place for this among God’s people, nor is there any place for God’s people to stand on the side line of the conversations about racism, bigotry, and/or any kind of white supremacy. 

#3 - God will get glory through this. His truth will be revealed. His beautiful design of men and women of all races and colors and nations - Genesis 1:26 - stands true: that every man, woman and child is born into His image and likeness. 

#4 - We need to have some serious conversations as a faith community and nation, about the issues of race. We need to get more people of opposing sides to sit together and share meals over why they are filled with hate and fears, and see the commonalities.

#5 - The scary realities of white privilege are evident in the Charlottesville Protest. Let's all stop pretending that it doesn't exist and openly talk through it. 

#6 - Racial tension is probably not going away. That's why the church needs to stand on God's truth about race and see that heaven is full of people from every nation. The church doesn't need to ignore race, but celebrate and honor it. 

#7 - The Alt-Right is NOT an evangelical movement. There is no ground that the position taken could defended from a Biblical perspective or a missional mindset.

So, where do we go from here?

Church family, I'm exhorting you to realize these moments of national attention on key issues will come in waves over and over again. I want our church family to not ride the roller coaster of emotions sparked each time something happens in our country. I want us to constantly and consistently pursue a full gospel perspective that will outlive our nation and time. 

I also desire pursuit of a greater image of the kingdom on earth by speaking against racism and injustice towards people, and learning humility from others on how to demonstrate the gospel in word and deed. 

Come Lord Jesus. Come Quickly. 

But as we wait; let us leverage our voice with your Holy Spirt to preach the gospel, and speak against the sin and evil of a generation that desperately needs you. May we not be silent when our opportunities are given. 

A Broken Spirit and Contrite Heart

Psalm 51: 7-12 "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit."


A quick way to stray from a close and intimate relationship with God is to allow sin in your life. Here in Psalms, David is crying out to God to not cast His presence from him.  David realized the value of being in God's presence; he knew the value of a relationship with God. There is nothing more satisfying in life than having God be a part of it. If you read this chapter closely, you can feel David's heart as he pours it out. 

David experienced life from two different points of view. As David strayed from God's law, he saw his sin cost him something. He realized sin will always cost him. It is not always through one “big” sin, but small things that can build up. It started with the lust in David's heart that led him to sin with another woman. For David to realize this and arrive in a place of repentance where he has godly sorrow, he needed to be broken and trust God's way. He needed to surrender and move away from his destructive behavior. Sin for a season can feel great, but eventually it will lead you to a Luke 15 type of situation. You will find your sin leading you to living with the pigs, eating their food, lost and hurting. Sin is deceiving in this way. It may feel good in the beginning, but in the end it leads to destruction. 

2 Corinthians 7: 8-11 "For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter."

Psalm 51:16-17 "For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

How do you repent well? Through godly sorrow. Godly sorrow happens when you feel the weight of your sin and acknowledge that you have rebelled against God. Worldly sorrow is feeling bad for getting caught; there's no real remorse. This can lead to a false type of repentance. You can't earn grace on your own or through works. You must repent and ask God for forgiveness with a true sorrow and understanding for your sin.  

Godly repentance leads to increased faith in Him. You begin to believe that Jesus is enough. His grace is enough. This Gospel faith leads you to continual growth.  It puts your heart in sync with God's heart. If your repentance is not biblical, it will fail you. This forced obedience is far from the brokenness God desires. In yourbroken spirit you will find God. As David said in Psalms, God desires and delights in a broken spirit and a contrite heart. 

Examine your life and heart today. Are there things you need to repent of with a true Godly sorrow? Allow God to restore you as you humble yourself and experience this godly sorrow. Repent and allow Him to restore your life. God delights in this pure act of surrender. 

Sunday Gathering Changes

Dear Church Family, 

To begin with, I am so proud of you. I am constantly bragging on you and sharing story after story of God’s grace! I wanted to share with you some minor changes we are making to our gatherings starting this weekend at The District Church. Joshua Wicker and I have been praying and thinking for a while now about the order of our liturgy and gatherings. We’ve decided upon a few changes we are going to make for the next season of life at our church. 

Monthly Schedule Changes

Baptism: 1st Sunday of every month

We have more non-Christians attending our gatherings now than we’ve had in the past! We praise God for this, and are eager for more of our friends and family to meet Jesus. People often ask when the next Baptism opportunity is, and as a staff we’ve decided to make it available on the first Sunday of every month if we have people who need to get baptized! 

Communion: 3rd Sunday of every month

Our hope in this shift to monthly communion is not to make it a lesser focus, but to actually make a greater display and declaration of the Gospel in our church family. We believe we are able to better organize and facilitate communion this way. Joshua and I will be able to plan the music, sermon, and teaching around communion each month. We will also be able to give more time to explain communion, read scriptures about communion, and better serve our church as we explain who communion is for and why we partake. 

Giving GEnerously and Gladly

If you didn’t know, almost 80% of our monthly tithes are given during the week either online or mailed to the church. We’ve realized that many of you have missed opportunities to give each week during our gathering because you don’t carry cash or a checkbook. We are adding a giving station in our lobby so you will have an opportunity to give online on Sundays. Each week, at the close of our gatherings, we will invite you to respond through giving at the new stations. There will also be literature available about our generosity efforts and monthly financial updates. 

Sunday Gathering Liturgy - What to Expect

    •    Adoration and Worship in song

    •    Sermon: Explaining and applying the Gospel through preaching

    •    Response Time: Gospel invitations

    •    Absolution and worship in song 

    •    Celebration and Benediction

I am truly grateful and honored that I get to be a pastor at The District Church! I love you dearly and write with great expectation of what Jesus is going to do in our city and world through you!!

— PBB

The Majesty of Our God

The works of God are different than anything man has experienced on earth. When we have relationship with Him, we see this majesty differently. God chose to make Himself known in an unpretentious way.  He could have come to earth in a spectacle, but He chose to come in a humble way (Philippians 2:8).  He chose man to love more than anything, and to use them on this earth to shame the wicked and bring glory to Himself.  

Psalm 8:1-2 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

Even babies and infants have a place in His kingdom and plan.  Our God is so great that He doesn't need the strongest warrior to win battles or the wisest scholar to bring truth. He just needs the innocence of His creation to confound the earth.  Do not look past children to offer substance in life.  Children often bring clarity and simple truths that help make sense of our overly complicated lives.  

Psalm 8:3-9 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Man is the pinnacle of God's creation. When we ponder His great works, His majesty and honor due to Him, it can be hard to comprehend that He would be mindful of us as the Psalms describe.  Be encouraged today as you read the Psalms. God's desire is to have communion with you. In light of God's majesty we bear the image of God by excercising dominion. And this is an important calling. But, we fail every day. And we need a better King who rules perfectly over everything.(1 Cor. 1:26-21).  

We cannot lead by our own strength, though. Sin cannot have dominion over us.  We can know and understand God's majesty, but we must let it rule over us. If you submit to God as creator and ruler of your life, you can have victory over sin and victory over Satan's power. Lay down your own will today. Allow God to rule and reign and let His majesty take over your life and family today.