Credentials for the Kingdom

If you weren’t aware or haven’t heard, August 1st was my first day working full time for Taproot Church.

This last year I was hired on part-time with Taproot as the “Director of Community Life”- a title that I perceived as a little too fancy for my person, like I needed a Masters degree in holiness to live up to the name or something. However, with no masters degree in tow, I have worked, worried, rejoiced, lamented and toiled this last year away. I have had times where I have thought to myself “Lord, you are working! How great you are to work through me!” and other times I have said “Lord, where are you? Why am I such a wreck? Leave me here to rot”.

So the progressions of my heart come and go; and what the Lord has left me with after this year of the highs and lows of ministry and the daunting prospect of this new full time position are these precious words:

“Jesiah, my son: you are weak”.

Weakness.

Some people may ask: What qualifies you to take on this ministry? Weakness will be my answer. “Utter neediness” will be listed under the skill-set section on the crumpled resume I turn in. “Complete Grace” will be underlined and emboldened on the page, because I am not fit for this task of full time ministry.

Weakness and the Kingdom

Weakness is what qualifies us for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Jesus, the maker and King of this Kingdom, spoke this in Mark 2:17: “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners”. Again, in Romans 5:6,8: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for us...God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Weakness, neediness. Jesus came to be a physician for people such as this, people like you and me. Paul even goes so far as to say that he boasts in his weakness! Why? “So that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). That is a bold statement!

This is absolutely antithetical to what we have been raised to value. Who do you follow on social media? Do-it-yourselfers, right? What type of people does our nation applaud? People who have picked themselves up by their own bootstraps and done the hard work and got rewarded by it. Not people who declare themselves weak and in need of a savior.

Sometimes we can even get this warped perspective of works based self-fulfillment in the Christian realm. We have the right “answers”; all we need to do is follow Jesus and everything will be alright. Just pray more. Just serve more. Just read your bible more. Then we get bummed that we can’t do those things consistently; we get bummed that we are weak! What we need is not to tough it out so as to prove our righteousness, we need a supernatural intervention of God to accept us, to change us. We need a savior!

The idea that we are sufficient to make or sustain a perfect life that will bring us ultimate fulfillment is a false gospel, no matter if the lie is packaged in a "Christian" or "secular" way. We are not sufficient to sustain our own happiness, fill our souls, or create a perfect existence for ourselves; whether that be from trying harder to pray to get Gods blessings, or seeking blessing from a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood. 

Self control and discipline that mark “successful” people can be (if we are in Christ) blessings poured out by the Holy Spirit; evidences of a changed life in Jesus. Apart from the Spirits power, however, they are just tools that help feed our narcissism; and leads us to be pharisees that look down on others.

I think all of Gods people can agree: we don’t want to be Pharisees or sluggards. But before we can be satisfied in Jesus, we have to be honest with ourselves: We are in need of him to do the hard work of changing us. We are weak; and are not powerful enough to create or sustain the perfect Christian life we all think we should have. I must admit it to myself: I am not powerful enough to do the work I need to do for Taproot. Similarly:

We are not loving enough to endure the hard-fought trials of marriage and parenting.

We are not smart enough to juggle a perfect work/life balance.

We are not courageous enough to speak the Gospel in all situations to our co-workers.

We are not wise enough to handle perfectly the storms and troubles of life.

We are not patient enough to stick-it-through in the discipling of others.

We are not humble enough to be discipled ourselves.

Think of all that is tasked upon you; consider the mountain of responsibilities that is placed upon your shoulders. Let it weigh on you a bit and then realize: you are not sufficient.


The Hope for the Weak

...But. (there is always a beautiful “but” in the Gospel)...

But Jesus is. He is our righteousness before men, and most importantly, before our God. Righteousness by definition is: “the quality of being morally right or justifiable”. All righteousness is transferred to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The righteousness that we groan to have is not earned, but bought through the blood of Jesus and then lovingly given to us. This sacrifice is what brings up back to communion with our creator, which is the only place our souls have rest. Not only are we brought “right” before God, but through Jesus we are given the Holy Spirit; the same spirit that lived and moved in the life of Christ. Jesus is sufficient to not only save us from sin and make us right before God but to empower us to live new, joyful lives in him.  

Speak that to yourself: Jesus is sufficient. Jesus is sufficient today to strengthen you to do what you normally could not do through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is sufficient to give you grace and patience for your children today.

Jesus is sufficient to give you words to speak to your co-workers at a time of need.

Jesus is sufficient to give you sacrificial love for your spouse today.

Jesus is sufficient to give you satisfaction and joy today, regardless of your circumstances.

Jesus is sufficient to bring you back to his side when you failed and have fallen into sin.

Jesus is sufficient to change your heart to desire his word and his ways.

Jesus is sufficient to give you the gumption to work heartily for him.

...and Jesus is sufficient to give me the wisdom, self-control, and strength to do this work he has called me to do for Taproot. Romans 8:32 says: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

An acknowledgement of weakness, mixed with trust and faith in Christ alone breeds joy and love in the heart of the Christian that cannot be taken away (Romans 8:31-38). Communion with God through Jesus gives us the fruit of joy and the power of the Spirit to do the works he has called us to do. 

Okay. But what is it that I actually do you might ask? Here is a list of some things I will be doing for Taproot in my full time role:

  • I oversee our Gospel Communities. I do this by persisting in prayer for our communities, creating leadership training, and offering counsel and support to our GC leaders. I am currently putting together more leadership training to help equip even more leaders.

  • I oversee the church scheduling. All of our Gatherings and other events (club clean-ups, church camp, feasts, etc.) are coordinated/delegated out by me.

  • I help put out content occasionally for Taproot. This includes blog-posts mainly, but I also preach every once in awhile.

  • I am the liaison between Taproot and our Community. On occasions when we partner with other ministries and agencies around the Magic Valley, I would be a point person for our church (Examples: Staton Healthcare, Refugee Center).

  • I do whatever helps. Whatever would help clear Mike and John’s plate to teach, preach, and pray, I do. This includes trash runs, coffee buying, and keeping things stocked at the office.

I look at this list alongside my other list of being a good disciple of Jesus, Husband, Father, friend, son and laundry-task-master and I am instantly overwhelmed. But Jesus is sufficient to sow together my imperfect, fractured life for His glory, even when I don’t get all of my “to-do’s” done. I am still called to work “heartily for the Lord”- but he promises to pour out His strength to me when I am too exhausted to move. When I fail in my responsibilities either because of my weakness or because of my sin, I have a savior who advocates for me. I can trust my life in the God who loved me and gave himself for me. I can say in all things “It is well, oh my soul”! This is good news!

This truth is what I am banking on in coming on full time: Jesus alone doing the work that I cannot do in me and in our church.

Thanks for allowing me the wonderful joy and honor to work alongside you, Taproot. Together, let us sing with one voice “it is well” as we raise our families, love our Church, and reach this city with the Good News of Jesus; for He alone is sufficient for us all.

Family Church In August

During the month of August, our gatherings will be “family-style.” I don’t like calling it that because realistically every Sunday is "family-style", but what we mean by this is that Taproot Kids will be taking a break during the month of August, and therefore children of all ages will be with us for the entirety of our Sunday Gatherings. 

This is something we do on occasion in Taproot, and when we do it, it’s intentional. In other words, family church gatherings aren’t because of a lack of volunteers, a lack of organization or anything of the sort. (Though a great benefit is that our amazing Taproot Kids team gets a break!) 

Family church gatherings are done with the intention of discipling families. 

Why We Exist

Taproot exists to know Jesus and make him known. This is what it means to be a disciple and a disciple maker. Therefore, we structure our Sunday Gatherings and Gospel Communities around this mission and vision given to us by Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). 

Included in this vision are the children of Taproot Church. In our current season, we’re thankful to have a growing Taproot Kids ministry that currently disciples children who are walking and up to six years of age. We know that this component of our gathering serves parents in their discipleship process and we hope to see it continue to do so. But one thing we want to be crystal clear about is that Taproot Kids is NOT the primary discipleship venue for our children. Rather, the purpose of Taproot Kids is to come alongside parents and help them to be the primary disciple makers of their children as God intended it to be.

This means that just as we believe the Sunday Gathering alone is not sufficient for any Christian to mature, so too Taproot Kids alone is not sufficient for the discipleship of our children.

Beyond The Gathering

Our Sunday Gatherings are geared toward the equipping of the saints. We open the bible every week and work through entire books of the Bible because we believe that Scripture is sufficient for our maturing as Christians. This, however, is not just a Sunday thing. Sunday’s are the sending out point for our mission of making disciples in the context of our every day lives. Furthermore, we connect our Sunday Gatherings with our Gospel Communities to continue making disciples and being discipled. 

So how does this relate to Taproot Kids? By proclaiming the finished work of Jesus week in and week out we are equipping you, the parents, to disciple your children. Yes, we seek to make disciples wherever we are, but the easiest and primary disciple making venue for most of us is in our homes and with our own families.  

Why Family Church?

So how does family church serve us in this? 

We believe that the occasional family church gathering helps all of us in the overall discipleship process. There is something beautiful about watching a little child raise his or her hands in worship to our Loving Father simply because he or she is watching mommy and daddy do the same thing. There’s something profound about watching a child fumble through the pages of a bible to follow along even though they might not be able to read yet. There’s something humbling about watching a child engage in the worship gathering with joy and laughter that “grown ups” have all too often and easily left behind.

Our children are learning from us as a collective family, and we are learning from them too.  

I’m looking forward to our month of family church gatherings, and I hope you are as well. I admonish you to not view this as an inconvenience but an opportunity to allow the little children to come to Jesus alongside their parents. 

Praying for His kingdom to come in Twin Falls as it is in Heaven.

Pastor Mike 

End Of Summer Schedule

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The final full month of summer is almost here and with that, we wanted to let you know what’s going on. Below is a quick look at what’s happening over the next six weeks.  

August 2nd - Pray First. 6:00-7:30 at the Taproot offices. Our offices are located at 140 Hansen Ave. E. Suite 2. 

August 6th - Sunday Gathering - We’ll gather as usual. 10:00 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Club. Quin Marlow will be preaching through Acts 9:32-43. 

August 13th - Sunday Gathering - Baptism Sunday! Outside on the front lawn of the Boys and Girls Club. If you would like to be baptized, please contact Pastor Mike or Pastor John. 

August 18th - 20th - Family Camp! Join us at Cathedral Pines. 

August 20th - NO SUNDAY GATHERING - There will be no Sunday Gathering at the Boys and Girls Club, but we’d love to have you join us at Cathedral Pines. 

August 27th - Sunday Gathering - Sunday Gatherings will return back to our regular rhythm. Boys and Girls Club at 10:00 a.m. 

September 3rd - Labor Day Weekend

September 10th - Taproot’s 3rd birthday! God has done much over that last three years, and we're excited to celebrate it. There will be more information about this celebration soon. 

If you have any more questions, please head on over to our contact page and we'll get back to ASAP. 

Pray First

Pray First is tonight! 

We’ve gathered to pray on the first Wednesday of every month since just about the beginning of Taproot’s existence. By God’s grace, we’ll continue to do so until He sees fit to lay her to rest or until Christ returns. 

If you haven’t joined us before, I encourage you to do so. 

Yes, I know the experience of most is that “corporate” prayer “meetings” are dull, mindless, and unfruitful. But not ours. (Yes. A little boasting in Christ). God is full of grace and mercy. Furthermore, Satan hates it when we pray. He especially hates it when we pray together. One pastor says, “If I were the devil, I’d do everything I could to keep the people from praying together.” I’m sure you can think of an experience that illustrates this reality.   

As much as God has met us in our Pray First gatherings, I believe He wants to meet us more. He wants us to seek His face and be filled with all His fullness (Ephesians 3:19). No, I don’t know what all this entails but I’m excited to find out. I hope you are too. 

Christ is all! 

Pastor Mike 

Baptism...should you, and why?

 

This Sunday is Easter. There is no bigger celebration for the Christian family. It is on this day of course that we pay special attention to the fact that Jesus resurrected from the grave thus defeating Satan, sin, death, and Hell. The good news of the gospel is that those who believe in this finished work are participants in this victory with Christ and his people. One specific way we get to celebrate this is by baptizing new believers.

This post is for those of you wondering if you too should be baptized.

What is baptism?

The simplest way to define baptism is this: Baptism is a public way for a new Christian to say, “I’m with Jesus.” 

Here’s a little lengthier and robust definition: "Baptism is a church’s act of affirming and portraying a believer’s union with Christ by immersing him or her in water, and a believer’s act of publicly committing him or herself to Christ and his people, thereby uniting a believer to the church and marking off him or her from the world.”* 

Why get baptized?

With a definition of what baptism is, the next question is, “why to get baptized?” This is a good question and an important one. There are some religions that teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. I'll address this more specifically in a bit, but for now, I’ll just say that we wholeheartedly disagree with this. The only necessary work for salvation is the work of Christ. It is our response to his finished work by faith and repentance that saves us. 

However, though we believe baptism isn’t necessary for your salvation, we believe it is essential to your faith. 

So why get baptized?

First, Jesus said to. This is the clearest reason for getting baptized. If Jesus says to do something, his followers should do it. This is seen most clearly in what we know as the Great Commission. Jesus said, "“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20; emphasis mine). Simply put, baptism is an essential part of what it means to be a disciple and a disciple-maker.

Second, we see the disciples of Jesus obeying Jesus’ command through the book of Acts. After Peter preaches his Pentecost sermon, the crowd responds. The gospel message cut deep into their hearts, and they wanted to know what to do. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every single one of you for the forgiveness of your sins.” A few chapters later, a disciple named Philip is given the opportunity to share the gospel with an Ethiopian man. After hearing and believing the gospel the man replies, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36-39)

We see in these texts that baptism wasn’t an option for disciples of Jesus. In fact, there is no such thing as an unbaptized disciple of Jesus in Scripture. 

What does baptism do?**

Baptism is often looked at as some sort of “super-spiritual” or “magical” act. But it isn’t. The physical act of baptism is simply being dunked under water, but this act has great significance. 

First, baptism is a public confession, and public confessions strengthen your faith. Baptism can be a little intimidating. You’re standing before a crowd of people, professing before them that you believe in Jesus’ finished work and that your life is wholeheartedly his for the rest of your days. That’s a big deal and a big commitment. But this is one of the most faith strengthening and affirming things a Christian can do. 

Second, baptism is an opportunity for evangelism. When you get baptized, it’s possible that people who don’t know Jesus are watching. In this case, baptism acts as a visual portrayal of what has taken place in a new believer. When you go under the water and are brought back up, you are visually displaying for people what Christ has done on the cross, and also what Christ has done in you. Specifically, you’re publicly displaying that your sins are washed away because of your faith in Christ.

Third, baptism confirms your new identity and commitment as a follower of Christ. By getting baptized you’re saying that you belong to Jesus, and by belonging to Jesus, you belong to his people too. Baptism is a public way of proclaiming that your life has been made new, and you’re going to live it in connection with your new family, the church. 

Does baptism save me?

This question was addressed briefly above, but I want to be clear in saying that baptism is not a work that saves you. It is not baptism that guarantees your place in God’s kingdom. Only the finished work of Jesus does that.  

How do we baptize?  

In Taproot, we practice baptism by immersion. This means we set up a portable tank of water and fully immerse the person being baptized under that water. 

Who should get baptized?

If you’re a Christian and you haven’t been baptized, then you should get baptized. You may only be a few minutes, days, or weeks old in your faith, but you should get baptized. You may also be someone who's been a Christian for 20 years who, for whatever reason, has never been baptized. You too should get baptized.

Baptism is for all people who believe that God has saved them by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone, and have never been baptized. 

It is a joy and privilege to celebrate new life in God’s family. We hope you’ll join us in the celebration this Sunday. 

If you have any question at all, please click on the link to email us and we’ll get back to you ASAP. 

Christ is all!

Pastor Mike

 

*This quote is taken from the booklet Understanding Baptism, by Bobby Jamieson. 

**These points are my own paraphrase of sections taken from Understanding Baptism.  

Clean The Club Night

Taproot Church is privileged to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of the Magic Valley. Every Sunday, we get to use their space for our church gatherings. But we don’t simply want to use the space. We want to steward it well for the glory of God. 

The Boys and Girls Club is a well used building. Every week, it’s filled with hundreds of kids from around our city and valley. One of the ways we can serve this great organization, is by helping maintain and clean the facility. 

Next Wednesday, January 25th, Taproot Church is hosting a Clean The Club Night. We’re going to work hard to clean the floors, scrub the bathrooms, wipe down walls, wash windows, and anything else we can do to help create a space where the people who use this facility every day can flourish. 

We’ll have cleaning supplies on hand, but you can bring your own too. The work will start at 6:30 p.m., and we’ll work for a couple of hours. If you can only make it for 30 minutes, that's great too. Anyone is welcome who wants to help. 
Childcare will not be provided, but your kiddos are more than welcome to join us. 
For more information, please email: info@taprootchurch.org. 
 

A New Pastor


Taproot,
it’s hard to believe that we’re in our third year together as a church. As I look back on what God has done, I can’t help but be thankful and more convinced of His grace. He has done much, and I anticipate He will do much more. 

One exciting evidence of His grace is the development and establishment of new leaders in the church. We’ve seen this over the years with Gospel Community leaders, and have prayerfully been moving toward appointing elders. Well, that time has finally come. 

Last month, John Spiers was put before you all as our first elder candidate. We have taken the month of November, and now the month of December, to give adequate time for any of you to meet with John or myself to ask questions and express any concerns you might have. One of the qualifications for any elder is to be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:1). This waiting period is an opportunity to allow the church to speak into this process. 

The office of elder (pastor) is not one to be taken lightly. Elders in the church are men who are called to the task to lead, pray, teach, and shepherd the flock of God. It is with great seriousness and joy that we approach the appointing of an elder. 

John and his family have been with Taproot basically since she was born. Over the years, I’ve seen John mature in several ways, and I’ve been repeatedly blessed by his leadership. He is a man who loves God and is passionate about His Word. I’ve found his input on several occasions to be invaluable. I believe John is called and qualified, and will love and shepherd Taproot Church well. 
During this month, I invite you to pray for the Spiers family. You can also be praying for Taproot as we continue to pray and move forward with installing John. We’re also praying that God would raise up many more qualified men to lead this church. If all goes well, we will install John at the beginning of January.

Below is a short interview that will help give you some more information about John and his family. Take some time to read it and be praying for him, his family, and the whole of Taproot Church. 

Christ is all,
Pastor Mike

A short Q & A with John Spiers.
1) I grew up a Roman Catholic/Unbeliever thinking that religion and the church is what got you to
heaven.  When Kim and I decided to get married we started going to a Calvary Chapel church where the pastor taught directly from scripture and the truth of the gospel was put on display.  Also, at that time I had determined to read through the bible to try and understand it myself and the Lord used both the preaching of the church as well as my bible reading to open my eyes.  Close to a year later I came to the understanding that I needed to repent and believe the truth that He had shown me.  There was not a specific moment in time that I felt that I was saved but around that time frame is when I began to understand that I did belong to Him.   
I used to think that born again believers and Christians in general were weak-minded and silly.  I also enjoyed partying and all the other things that an average unbelieving man normally does.  Thankfully Christ has given me a new heart and taken those desires away and replaced them with a love for Him and His people.  

2)  Kim and I have 6 children, 5 sons and 1 daughter.  We are a blended family and are thankful to God for how he has brought us all together.  We also have 1 daughter-in-law and 3 grandchildren who are the apple of my eye.  Three of our sons and our grandkids live in Salem, Oregon, one son is in the Army, one son lives in Twin Falls, and our daughter lives at home.  

3)  I think the Lord put on my heart early on a passion for discipling others.  My desire is to help others grow in their walk with Christ.  The apostle Paul says in 1 Cor. 3, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase”.  God has given me a passion, sort of as he gave Apollos, to help believers grow in their understanding of the gospel.  

4)  A friend and I were talking one day and he said that this young pastor was coming to town who was going to start a new church.  As a family we joined others on the first night Taproot met at Twin Beans coffee shop as a church body and met with the body every Sunday evening throughout the first few months before being certain this is where the Lord would have us.   

5)  Jesus gives us the parable of “the Talents” in which there are three servants, each receive talents which are to be used for His kingdom.  Two of the servants went out and used the talents given wisely but the third buried his talent.  The first two received a blessing from their master but the third who buried his talent was cast into outer darkness. I believe the Lord has called me to be an elder/pastor and I desire to use the talents He has given me for His kingdom and His glory.

6)  We would ask everyone to pray for humility and grace.  Also, that God will supply the strength to serve with joy and love for His saints and there would be a continued desire to grow in the gospel and that our love for you all would continue to abound. 
 

Jesus Is The Better Man


Titus 2 is a rather difficult text to preach. It’s a very pointed chapter in regards to how the Christian life is supposed to be lived. The danger through this chapter is that we could easily miss the finished work of Jesus (the gospel) and swerve into various forms of legalism that wouldn’t be helpful for anyone. 

Last Sunday, we looked at knowing what’s good for men. In order for men to “live the good life,” we need sound doctrine, we need to know we’re men, and we need a clear vision for what manhood is. Culturally, all these are difficult to come by. But not by any means impossible. 

Helpful Resources
On Sunday, I said I would create a list of resources that I’ve found helpful. Here are some of my favorite:

Preachers:
I don’t listen to other preachers like I used to, but on occasion, I still like to listen to a few of these guys. Recently, I’ve been listening to Ray Ortlund. He’s a father figure in the Acts 29 network who’s incredibly wise. One of the important things with listening to preachers online is not to allow them to replace your local pastor. These are incredibly gifted men who are speaking into their specific contexts. They won’t cover things I might cover, and I won’t cover things they might cover. On another note, I’m not trying to preach like any of these guys, so don’t expect me to. 
  
Tim Keller
Matt Chandler
Ray Ortlund
Harvey Turner
John Piper

Books:
I think I could list out hundreds of books that I’ve found helpful over the years. I won’t do that though. There are books for just about everything you could imagine, and you need to be careful. Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes said: “Of making many books there is not end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Solomon isn’t saying, “don’t study.” He is saying that endless study will not ultimately satisfy us. Only Jesus can do this. So here are some books I’ve found influential:
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem: This book is HUGE. But don’t let it overwhelm you. It’s made so you can search a specific topic you want to research. 
The Cross of Christ by John Stott: This book will make make you cry. Just saying. 
Prodigal God by Tim Keller: This is one of the most clear presentation of the gospel I’ve ever read! (And anything you read by Tim Keller is gold!)
What Did You Expect by Paul Tripp: I just read this book a couple months ago. I wish I would have read it years ago. If we can put the things this book talks about into practice, our marriages will change!
Tender Warrior by Stu Webber: Just an all around good book on what it looks like to be a godly man. 
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: This book will challenge your mind, but it will also shape your thoughts about being a Christian in a profound way. 

I’ve also found books by Martyn Lloyd Jones to be helpful. The Puritans are challenging, but great. Read men like John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, Richard Sibbes, and so on. Charles Spurgeon was known as the Prince of Preachers in the mid 1800’s. His stuff is great too.

I could go on for days. If you want a good book recommendation for a specific topic, just let me know. And if I don’t have one off the top of my head, I’ll do so research for you. 

Other Podcasts:
If you’re interested in free online classes, iTunes university offers some great ones. Reformed Theological Seminary, and Covenant Theological Seminary have great free courses. Again, if you have more questions about this stuff, just ask. 

Jesus Is The Better Man
Ultimately men, we must continually be reminded that Jesus is the better man. We could listen to sermons, read books, and take classes all day long. We could do everything to live a better life, and honestly be all around “good guys,” but without Jesus we are still lost and without hope. He is the image of what it looks like to be a man, and he was the man in our place that we cannot be. By faith in Christ, God looks upon you and sees you as he sees Christ. This is the good news that begins to deeply change us. When we fail, we can turn to Jesus because he was successful. Where we’re successful, we can glorify Jesus because he has made our success possible. He is our risen hope for what it looks like to be new men. Trust him.   
 

Politics and the Kingdom of God

Good morning Church, 

This past week, we talked in the Gathering about how we are to face this polarizing political season through the lens of the Gospel. In this Blog, I want to re-emphasize the points that I presented and elaborate on a few other thoughts because I want to equip our Church well in proclaiming and demonstrating the Gospel of grace. My goal is not to persuade you to a political party, but to encourage you to live your entire life (including your vote) in faithful submission, trust, and joy in the Gospel.

On the subject of politics, our vote and political stance does absolutely matter. As Christians we are called to “seek the welfare” of our city (and country). One of the ways we do this is by studiously and prayerfully involving ourselves in politics in a way that proclaims the Gospel and benefits the people of this nation. Presidential leaders influence our country tremendously, and our choice to vote should not be done flippantly. 

I would contend though, that politics are not the best way to seek the welfare of our country.  Even a godly, or “moral” president is limited in his influence of a nation. He (or she) creates laws that govern our people, and sets the political tone for our nation. Politics, however, do not change our sinful, human condition. We will still have homelessness after our new president. We will still have abortions (illegal or not) after our new president. We will still have all the depravity of man after our new president. We are in desperate need of something to change us, not just our laws.

Politics change laws, not hearts. The God of all existence- the star shaping, life breathing, soul creator changes hearts and has acted with grace by sacrificially giving his only Son for corrupt humanity! The best way to seek the welfare of a city is to introduce people to Jesus by graciously, sacrificially serving others and heralding the Gospel. This changes the nation, because it actually changes people. This does far more than any elected official could do.

I will give an example of this shift in attention. Voting pro-life is a good thing, but what is even more impactful and precious in the sight of God is discipling a pregnant teen in the love of Christ. Imagine, friends, if every family in Taproot discipled and cared for one pregnant teen. Generations upon generations of babies could be saved through the conversion of just one of these girls! Future social, political, or church leaders who are filled with the Holy Spirit could be in the womb of one of these teen moms. When we allow Christ to use the whole of our lives (not just our vote), we get to see the most effective, joyful change in people, cities, and nations that extends to shores of eternity.

Jesus is the greatest good we can give to people, and we get to extend to others his love. So instead of posting about the corruption of an earthly politician on Facebook, use social media to exalt Jesus as King. Instead of arguing for a political party with your co-worker, invite them over for dinner and speak the Gospel to them. Instead of bemoaning the ideologies of a certain party, humble yourselves and love others with the sacrificial love of Christ. Instead of worrying about our countries tomorrow, rejoice that you are a part of a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, with a King whose reign will never end! Preoccupy yourself with this good Kingdom that is coming, and pray that it comes soon. Our preoccupation with Gods Kingdom growing isn’t neglecting the world, but instead it is doing for it the greatest good!

 

So, in light of this, Christians are to be:

- Gracious toward those who think and believe differently. (Colossians 4:16)

- United in Christ, not our political bents. (Ephesians 4: 1-3)

- Prayerful in our political decisions & for those who govern. (1 Timothy 2: 1-2)

- Hopeful in the sovereignty and love of God in Christ. (Romans 8:37-39)

 

Gracious. United. Prayerful. Hopeful. 

Father, forgive us. We repent that we have put our hope in men and our government to change America. We know, as Peter said, that you alone have the words of eternal life. You alone have the power to change the heart of a nation. We pray that you would change the heart of our leaders and our people to you. We pray that Christians would point to your finished work, and not a flawed leader or political party. Lead us to show your love to others through both our politics and the whole of our lives. Help us to be preoccupied with your beautiful kingdom that is coming, and toil to see it come. Help us to be gracious, united, prayerful, and hopeful. We put our trust in you in this election season, and submit ourselves to your working in our nation. Thank you for the hope of the Gospel and the promise for eternal life. Amen.

Will You Continue To Learn?

Knowing Jesus. Making Him Known.

On Sunday, we took the time to delve into why we exist as a church. The big idea was that we exist to Know Jesus and Make Him Known. This statement has at its heart the obeying of Jesus’ commission to the church to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). Simply put, the main point for us Taproot, is to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus. As we said, this is both loving and glorifying to God.

There are, however, some roadblocks when it comes to discipling and being discipled. Primarily: it’s hard. 

Discipleship Is Hard

It’s very hard. If we’re going to effectively make disciples, we need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being a disciple and making disciples is messy. It involves blood, sweat, tears, long conversations, and sometimes sleepless nights. It’s no wonder Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). In other words, following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires that we die to the comforts of this world. It requires humility.

In light of this, one question we need to continually keep before us is: Will we continue to learn? Our pride tells us we have nothing–or at least very little–to learn. Our pride tells us that having received Christ is enough. And indeed it is. But the life of a disciple doesn’t end once our faith is placed in Jesus. It’s just the beginning of a lifetime learning process.   

Learning from football players

Football season is among us again! For some of you, this brings great joy. For others, not so much. Whatever your view of this beloved season, I’ve learned over the years that we can learn a lot from athletes (both in terms of what to do and what not to do).
If you were to spend the afternoon watching a football game, you will quickly notice that these guys aren’t merely athletes. They’re also students. I particularly love watching great quarterbacks. Guys like Russell Wilson, and formerly Payton Manning. What is it that made/makes them great? Yes, they’re good athletes on the field, but what we often miss is that they’re great students on and off the field. A great professional athlete, no matter what sport, is never done learning.

And so it should be with Jesus’ disciples. Yes, Sunday morning is important, but our discipleship process is intended to go well beyond those two hours a week. 

Will you continue to learn?

So ask yourself this question: Will you continue to learn? We have more resources at our fingertips than ever before. Will you pick them up? Great bible teaching is easily accessible 24/7. Will you listen? The God we worship is infinite. Will you spend your lifetime learning about his plan to love humanity and bring glory to himself?

Taproot, let’s continue learning about our great God and Savior Jesus Christ and in turn joyfully make him known.