Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting our LENT on in the 'Hood!

I grew up in a tradition that didn't follow the religious liturgical calendar. In our young church plant we have several people who grew up in traditions that did follow this calendar. It is usually used as a means of trying to kick a habit or start a more positive one, or as a way to appease God for at least 40 days so that we can achieve some measure of favor or better luck in our life.
     WHY then is PAXnorth making a big deal of these forty days of focus? Have we gone all 'catholic or anglican'? Our intention is to use this rhythm of our calendar year to cause us to truly look to the incredible grace of God poured out to us at Easter. We believe that God sent Jesus on a mission to seek and save those who are lost, us and others. We both want to celebrate and be intentional about the Gospel mission in our neighbourhoods. So we are using this time to fast, pray, get to know and plan 'events' to reach those around us.
Here's what that looks like for us:
What is LENT?

It is typically kicked off on "Ash Wednesday" which is 46 days before Easter in the western world (passover in the Eastern world). LENT is taken from the 40 days of Jesus' fasting in the desert and subsequent temptation by Satan. This came before launching His public ministry to fulfill the mission of revealing the love and power of God to a world that would ultimately reject Him. Even in this God works out our ultimate redemption! Ash Wednesday is a means of signifying a desire to participate in the struggle of Christ (ashes are the symbol of mourning). 
 Christ comes on a mission to our world as a man living in the midst of our desperation, fighting against the curse of sin, embracing the passion of the cross, returning to life in victory and opening the way of life with God for a hopeless world. This cross-centered mission is what we focus on during LENT.
Why LENT at PAXnorth?

We often talk about Jesus being more/different than religion, and that He did not come merely as an example for us to follow but to be the very Savior of our lives . We are encouraging you to enter into LENT this year because Jesus did come to your world, has entered into your brokenness and taken your desperate sin to the cross. He does offer the reality of a transformed life as you live out the hope of an Easter resurrection daily. The same mission He accomplished for us, He continues through us to our hopelessly seeking world.
How exactly is PAXnorth doing LENT?
Commit to fasting for the 46 days of LENT (Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22 until Easter, April 8) Fast from something that you are in the habit of doing daily; i.e. coffee, twitter, facebook, music on your way to and from work, etc.) KNOW Download/get a “PAXnorth>> in the hood” form for your neighbourhood/work space/apartment/dorm. Prayerfully fill out this form thinking of those you feel you need to get to know.
Take the time to pray for your ‘neighbours’ every time you think of the item you are fasting from.
Make the time during the months of FEBRUARY, MARCH and APRIL to host an event, open your home or grab coffee with those for whom you are praying. Use this opportunity as a place to build a friendship that will introduce Jesus in a low pressure, casual setting.
D-GROUP FOLLOW UP If you are part of a D- Group consider hosting an event where people can invite their friends, neighbours, or people from their community. Consider opening this up to the rest of PAX or just keeping it to your small group or a specific neighbourhood.  
  TELL EMAIL the event details to Nevin and Brad so we can continue to promote or to share the results of Getting our LENT on in the 'Hood'.
   Want some help thinking though how you approach your ‘neigbours’? Read these links to encourage you in the why and the how:
11 Ways to Love Your City
Talking to Your Neighbours about Jesus

Monday, January 2, 2012

A new Blog-a-lution

WOW! It's been a long time since I have blogged the goings on of PAXnorth and God's work in our growing church. I am offically making a blog-a-lution to blog at least once a week to keep current with what we have seen happening in the context of our community and to encourage us to consistently look to Jesus. As for an update to bring us up to speed??? Here's a bit of a video blog.. something we sent to a few of our supporting churches. Enjoy and I'd love to have a quick shout out on your life. Post a note here or send me an email at The 2011 Update Video!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


There are certain threads in humanity that have a deep resonate ring in the heart, no matter creed, culture, background, up bringing or origin of birth. REDEMPTION is one of those threads.
PAX has begun a study through the the first part of Exodus highlighting this theme "REDEMPTION:: An Exodus of Soul Changing Proportions"
Since starting this series four weeks ago I can honestly tell you that I was not quite prepared for what God might be doing in the under current of our city, on our streets, our Church, our small groups, our family relationships and in our larger sphere of influences.
A quick snap shot::
We have had some deep tragic struggles: of shootings in our neighbourhood -about 500yrds from our front door- Out of which PAX was offered a unit in a housing development to use as a site for doing anything that would bring value to our community - and I was asked to sit on a community surround board.
We have seen five individuals (directly connected or in families of PAX) come to an understanding of their need for Christ as their Way, Truth and Life.
We have seen our Value Discipleship Groups (peer to peer small groups) grow to the place where approx. 90% of those attending are in or in the process of joining into these groups where we intentionally press the Gospel into each others lives.
We have seen a consistent traction being made in the both the favor and influence of people in PAX serving and drawing others into the community of Church. (numerical growth is o.k. if you press the numbers to repentance and mission and not merely morals and attending)
We have seen God using the very common gifts of life on life and the personalities of our people to create a buzz of God doing something among us.
We are being pressed to find a new physical location to use as a greater presence and place of influence to our community {both for worship and ministry site).
We have seen several young leaders be drawn into a full time discovery of what Church Planting and Streetlevel ministry looks like (we are preparing to develop a streetlevel internship and a churchplanter internship with two different candidates)
We consistently have regular outsiders coming to PAX for clarity, understanding, direction and as a possible resource for starting a renewed work of the Gospel in their place of influence/call (church, universities, colleges, streetlevel ministries)
We are constantly humbled by God's ability to use stammering lips and stumbling leadership to bring about a broken dependence on the work of Christ in us.

ALL THIS "braggin" to illustrate:: The first part of Exodus is a testimony of God's quiet yet direct preparing of his people for an incredible work of redemption. First couple of chapters of Exodus we get a picture of struggle and tragedy, than we are introduced to a very sketchy "Deliverer" - until we are finally brought to a place where we are introduced to the REAL DELIVERER- and it ain't Moses!
There are some definite big boy steps that PAX is getting ready to take... perhaps we are moving out of a toddler stage of new church? But just so you clearly know- REDEMPTION is being worked out in PAX and it ain't by the hand of PAX!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Insideous Enemies of Grace within.

Saturday night- the kids are in bed... some R even sleeping... my wife is chillin with the PAXchix; Football on T.V. and my mind is furiously chewing over some "applied grace" thoughts [Things like- fighting against my own nasty behaviors by applying legalistic 'do betterness' or self motivated 'I can handle this probl...em by myself you watch' is still pride and self-righteousness... isn't it true that if you fight sin with sin it's still sin? And doesn't the Bible say SIN brings death?) hmmmm only by leaning hard into grace can I find freedom- set -free -it -ness!
For all those who are so used to the terms- 'grace'; 'law', 'righteousness' when referring to the place/actions/conversation/and work of salvation- I'm meaning something that happens in the life AFTER the glorious transaction of salvation.
For all those who have habitually struggled for years trying to make yourself sanctified, or good enough before God and others. STOP! We already know you aren't going to do it- cause we can't either. This is why we need and are offered grace from God.
Can I get specific for a minute: Men, we enter the ring against a wandering heart, drawing away by wandering eyes and the acts of self-worship we commonly call lust. So, if you are a Jesus follower, you know you have to 'put to death' this bit of nastiness- cause if you don't it'll put to death a bunch of stuff in your own life. [Believe me I see the underbelly of it everyday with the human traffic in my hood and the addictive, abusive, self effacing heart ache that comes along with it]. So you determine by pure legalism (rules/boundaries/and by doing the best you can in your self) to over come it! That's weapon #1 we are often told will conquer lust in our lives. Secondly, we tell ourselves I can control this thing- weapon of pride. Both of which are dirty sins in themselves and soon like the Pharisees of old, who perfected pride and legalism we birth a self-righteousness. Here's how it goes:: Yeah, I have fasted from this for like a year now (pride); I'm starving this habit (with internet blockers and accountability partners); I'm controlling my mind- "by bouncing my eyes"- Every Man's Battle. I'm not saying these things are necessarily bad- NO boundaries are good, if we don't have boundaries we have lawlessness- BUT what I am saying is that these self made rules and will power are NOT ENOUGH!! In fact if left to their own they twist into our thinking so that we actually stop confessing and start rewarding our 'good behavior' with just a taste of sinful compromise. Or when we are tired, or up late, or feel like our wives or girlfriends are not there for us than lust (which we have tried to hold down by our own strength) completely overcomes us- devours us and pushes us to a dark place from which we can hardly recover.
We need for the Grace of God to so totally sweep our hearts, minds, lives that we hate sin so deeply because of what it cost Jesus to secure our freedom. We need to be so constantly close to the cross that the love of God castes out what we think we need through the false assurance and temporary security driven by our self- worship displayed in lust -Come on, using someone else for our own glory, whether they participate or not is a horrendous act and misuse of the dignity, value and worth God has given them and a blatant act of self-worship- Only the discipline motivated by the grace of God will be the kind of discipline that keeps us quick to confess, able to truly repent and living in the freedom of forgiveness AND victory. Where sin is grace is able to super abound = victory!

Grace produces Graces

This series is going to look at something that several of the puritan writers referred to as the graces being formed in the lives of those who have been deeply affected by THE Grace of God.
THE Grace is the evidence of God's love being so great towards us that He would satisfy His own holiness by sending His Son Jesus to justify our 'owe' accounts. He dies in our place, undergoing the fullness of God's wrath for sin and exchanges, in those who by faith believe, our earned wages of death (because of our sin) for His right standing before God.... AND SHARE IN ALL THE SPIRITUAL RICHES THAT CHRIST HOLDS as the Son of God.
This is what the Bible means when you read things like, "For by GRACE are we saved through faith, it is not of ourselves lest anyone should boast" (from Ephesians)
Paul says it a whole lot better and in a much deeper, fuller, incredible way all over the New Testament but one of the best places is here: Romans 3:21-31
The Puritan theologians wrote about those who have spent time understanding such great a grace will begin to be transformed from the inside-out! The graces will begin to form and show evidence in their lives. The spiritual graces are different than spiritual gifts- they are more like the spiritual fruits that Paul instructs us will show in the lives of those who are living a true spiritual life.
Shortening this post up- the graces that we will be looking at are ones that need to mark those who are the spiritual leaders of the churches in Crete:: and those which should mark the life of every one who has been truly affected by God's grace-
A GRACE DRIVEN OBEDIENCE [from baptism to communion and beyond]

Because of such a Grace from God- we will see a growing reality of grace in our everyday lives...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Growing in the Graces:: Character for Leading a Christ-Centered Life

We are on to a NEW series- this one is looking at the HEART of the letter Paul wrote to Titus - the basic theme centers on Paul's instruction to Titus "to put in order" spiritual leadership who will deal with the mess that spiritual immaturity has created in the churches in Crete where I've sent you to serve. The basic problem?? Ever hear someone call another person a 'Cretan?'- it's not a flattering term- which you learn more of through the book of Titus. The basic problem is that there were a large group of those who called themselves spiritual leaders who demonstrated by their words and actions that they had little understanding or evidences of the transforming grace of God.
This series of messages is going to focus on Paul's core instruction to Titus to look for and encourage the character of Christ-centered living in the churches- and in the lives of everyone who calls themselves a Christ follower.
GROWING IN THE GRACES :: Character for Christ- Centered Living

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our identity Thread:: the Genesis

Where does your identity begin? or Out of what does your identity flow?
Don't just brush bye this question. I think the quality of your life and hope for your future depends on the answer. Does your identity begin and outflow from your birth family, ethnicity or the circumstances into which you were born -country, location, economics, race, etc? Has your identity flowed out of something that happened to you or something you've done in your childhood or in your youth? Is your identity driven by the cultural setting, the moral interpretations around us of what it looks like to be a successful man or woman? An honest answer to "Where does your identity begin?" matters.
I weekly interact with friends from our streets who have their identity shaped and often shattered by all of the above categories. "My dad was high up in a branch-off gang of the Hell's Angels. Spent years in jail. My mom used to ask me to leave the house for an hour seven or eight times a week so she could bring in a 'boy friend'. I have grown up surviving and no one else looks out for me but me! People need to know that I'm not to be messed with, I'll smash em if I need to."
Daily we are bombarded with images that tell us what kind of men or women we are supposed to be. The examples of those we worship in our culture constantly tell us how we are to dress for acceptance or in tune with a global moral trend, live in relationship or accept that relationships are merely for temporary entertainment, or what causes matter to us. We are told that all of us are just in the wings waiting to be discovered and therefore had better appear successful to a waiting world.
It doesn't matter if you grew up in 'disfunction' or if you grew up in 'health'- I would say that in regards to the genesis of our identity the Bible proves the most helpful. Genesis 1,2 describe for us the intentions and delight of God in creating a world where humanity could discover Him and each other. As far as the Bible is concerned our identity thread began in God. In fact in Psalms we are told, "before you were formed in your mother's womb I knew you."- God speaking here. Think on it... your not an after thought, your not a mistake. The opposite is true- your an forethought of God. "Before your thoughts came to you they were written down in my book."
Where your identity starts makes a life time of difference. In God you discover you were created for intentions, purposes and the deepest of relationship. Romans 1-8 is going to show us what happens when we ignore and deny this truth OR by faith we grab hold of an identity offered to us in Christ and live out the remaking of this identity.
What is central to all this promise of a remade identity?
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”Romans 1:16,17
If you have been wondering what this remake might look like or what is at risk if we simply choose to live out of a self-made identity- read the upcoming blogs or listen to the podcasts on our website (coming soon). Our prayer has been that this will sink deep into the heart and soul of each one who is willing to honestly interact with these truths. Deeper often confronts, hurts and demands answers of our souls- this is what Paul is about to do in Romans 1-8 regarding the making of our identity, ready?