Remembering in the Bible is always a call to future action. Remembering isn't for sentimental reasons. When God calls us to remember what he's done, it's for the purpose of courageously stepping forward in faith.
Yesterday at Appleton Alliance Church, we had a service devoted to "Celebrating the Past: What Are You Thankful For?" There was a fantastic mini-documentary that scratched the surface of AAC's 84 year history. We heard moving stories from Warren, Jim, and Stephanie that covered 40 years of God@Work through AAC. Then we spent some time thinking about the bigger picture we all are a part of. To see: 1) Lots of people 2) Walking in loving obedience with God 3) And expanding the borders of his dwelling place.
So in remembering what God has done in the past, what future action are we being called to that continues God's threefold mission and honors the rich heritage of AAC? Here are the five things we at Appleton Alliance feel we are being called to do:
1) Equip future leaders to lead
2) Plant multi-site churches
3) Develop global connections
4) Complete ministry space
5) Eliminate debt
You'll be hearing more about this in the next two Sundays. What's important to see is that all five of these are means to accomplishing the end: to connect people with God and one another (God's threefold mission!) To get these five things done is going to require a lot of prayer, a lot of generosity, and a lot of God's grace!
Over the next couple of weeks, I'd encourage you be asking God to show you what your part is in contributing to this vision and threefold mission. It's a privilege for us to be a part of what God is doing in and through AAC!
This sermon was given by Rev. Brian Dainsberg at Appleton Alliance Church on Apr. 10, 2016.
The gospel is: "Jesus lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died." Salvation comes to those who believe this.
A question often asked is: "Now that I've 'crossed over', what should I do? Now that I believe the gospel, what's next?" God wants us to make forward progress in our walk with Jesus. God wants us to grow in our love for and obedience to Him, but there are four challenges every Christian faces to be aware of and address.
1. Craving immediate results
"Faster, faster, faster!" That could be the motto of life in 21st century America. We get what we want right away. While there are perks to speedy shipping, travel, and communication, when it comes to making forward progress in our walk with Christ, it's causing problems. Christian change isn't instantaneous.
The apostle Paul describes the development of Christ-like character as 'fruit' in Galatians 5. Christian change is more like growing an apple tree than downloading an app. It takes time. So as Christians we need to give ourselves and our fellow Christians plenty of time. Be patient!
2. Avoiding adversity
We live in a pleasure-seeking culture. Sensuality is used to sell every product and service imaginable. We are told repeatedly that satisfying our desires is the highest good and ultimate aim of human life. So what happens when pleasure-seekers face adversity? We run the other way! We try to get rid of it as quickly as possible! We can't stand hardship!
God's Word says something to us that is very countercultural: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds..." (James 1:2). Christians should consider it a joy when they face trials of many kinds. That doesn't compute with most modern people. So why should we consider hard times to be a joy?
"...because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:3-4).
Avoiding adversity will stunt our growth as Christians. Avoiding adversity will prevent us from making forward progress in our walk with Christ. So rather than avoiding it, we need to lean in to adversity. We need to embrace it.
3. Skimming the surface
The Internet is the most dominant non-personal force in human history. The prevalence of the Internet is unrivaled. It's absolutely everywhere! Just think for a moment how often you engage with it.
Nicholas Carr wrote a fascinating book entitled, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains." His thesis is that the Internet is teaching us how to be scavengers for bits of information, but it's simultaneously teaching us not to think too deeply about any one bit of information. In short, the Internet is shrinking our attention spans. We're losing our ability to ponder and contemplate. (In fact, if you're still reading this blog article, you're among the minority!!)
This is not way the Bible is meant to be read. Repeatedly, we are encouraged to "meditate" on the Bible (Psalm 1). Which means, we're meant to mull over and drill down deeply into what we're reading.
If we're going to make forward progress in our walk with Christ, we're going to have to learn to slow down and linger in the Bible. We're going to have to be intentional about carving out a time and a place free of distraction to read, meditate on, and soak in God's life-giving Word to us.
4. Over-complicating the process
We live in a golden age of Christian publication. There is a glut of Christian resources available to us. Many churches in America today are like shopping malls. They have options galore available to their people. For someone who has just become a Christ-follower, this is confusing and overwhelming. So, if you're a new Christian just getting started in your walk with Christ, let me help simplify the process. If you want to create the conditions needed to make forward progress in your walk with Christ: