So we’ve been trying to figure out ways to connect people with Jesus (whether a seeker or curious or already believing), His Word and our new faith community – Circles Of Grace! Tonight we did a Discovering Jesus event where we used the “artist motif” of a “retrospective” to string together 9 “portraits” of Jesus throughout his life in our “Art/Story Gallery.” It was creative and insightful!
The definition for a retrospective is:
“an exhibition or compilation showing the development of the work of a particular artist over a period of time.”
So we took 9 chronological vignettes from the writings about Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John and read them together and made some comments. We called them “Portraits of Jesus.”
We actually photocopied the pages out of a Bible so that everyone had the same words. Below you can see the packet we put together with all the 9 stories/portraits:
Here is the list of the 9 portraits we picked as well:
1) Birth – Matthew 1:18-25
2) Baptism – Matthew 3:13-17
3) Teaching – Mark 4:21-25 & 30-34
4) Healing – Mark 5:21-43
5) Transfiguration – Mark 9:2-10
6) Teaching – Mark 9:33-37
7) Murdered – Matthew 27:1-66
8) Resurrection & Appearances – John 20:1-31 (Matt. 28:1-15)
9) Ascension – Acts 1:1-10
I know that the Word has the power…and we saw Jesus in a powerful way tonight through His Word. I trust that some of this might help you as you seek to help connect people to Jesus, His Word and your faith community!
Mobilizing the Church for the Sake of the Least Reached
June 2019 Update
Last week, our son Kevin graduated with honors from Los Alamitos High School! We are proud of him achieving this milestone. Over the summer he will be working with a STEM Day Camp and in the fall he will head out to Indiana to attend Grace College.
Speaking of school, our oldest daughter Kayla is still plugging away at her doctorate in Chiropractic and planning her December wedding!
Speaking of weddings, in just a few days, our oldest son Korey will be getting married to his high school sweetheart Kaelyn! We are delighted for this upcoming celebration and I was honored that they asked me to officiate the service. It will be a SoCal wedding and then they will head this fall back to Indiana as they work on finishing up at Grace College.
Our youngest, Katja completed her school year last week, and earlier this year was selected to be part of a Summer Drum and Bugle Corp called Blue Devils. She has already begun rehearsals and will be heading to the Bay Area for more training and a summer tour!
Whew it is crazy in our world…and so thanks for praying for our kids, and for my amazing wife, Dr. Mindi, who is still running her own Chiropractic office in this zaniness!
As if we didn’t have enough this year, in February we were sent out to plant a new church! Over the last few months, we’ve been plugging along connecting with people and seeking to live our our faith in our new church expression. We envisioned meeting in the park regularly, but weather has been dicey and we’ve moved a bunch of Sundays to our home. The picture here is from our Easter Sunday Morning Sunrise Service which was a special time with our core community and some visitors.
Keep praying for us to sow the Gospel, make disciples and enlarge our circles! We also need financial supporters for our effort and you can see how to contribute online atLosAltosGrace.org/plant (where you can also track with what we are doing together!)
Encompass Mobilization Team Retreat
Atlanta, Georgia: In early May, our Mobilization Team got together for our annual planning retreat to reflect and prioritize our work for the coming year. This year our team made great strides in connecting people and churches to going and engaging the least-reached. We rejoice in what the Lord allows our humble team to do to push the Great Commission forward! [We also had fun getting out of an Egyptian Escape Room :-), see the pic! ]
Internships to Impact the Nations
One of the highlights for our mobilization team for last year was seeing nearly 2 dozen interns deployed around our world to have significant cross-cultural ministry experience. When God calls you to go, He’s not calling you to go alone. Maybe you could take your next step toward the nations with an internship…or share the opportunities with another globally interested friend! Find out more about our Encompass Internships online
Resources You Should Know About
March in Wooster, Ohio: Connect & Equip was a missions conference which I had the privilege to help coordinate. There were many great things, but the two main session messages were outstanding and worth your time to listen to!”When Safety is Satanic: Mark 8:31-35” by Matthew Ellison
“Destiny Disrupter: God has always been disrupting lives” by Dave Guiles
Click the titles above and download these audio files (MP3s) right now, listen and be challenged…and share them with others!
Discerning Your Calling
Recently, Encompass World Partners interviewed them for an article and I thought I would share an intro here: “Manuel had been interested in missions ever since he was a kid, but his wife, Rochelle, didn’t share his interest until this past year. Was this new curiosity God’s leading? And if so, where was he calling them?
Two books have been instrumental in the process of pursuing God’s call. The first is the Bible, to which the Olivas family turns daily for God’s wisdom. The second isDiscerning Your Calling by John Ward. Manuel says this book would help “anyone who is looking to serve in any capacity, whether locally or internationally. This is an excellent book that guides you step by step in discovering your specific calling to missions, and is a must read as soon as you start to feel the call to ministry.”
A cross-cultural immersion experience in one of the most ethnically diverse geographic regions of the country – Southern California: If you want to come see my world and the great mission opportunities that are available in a short-term mission trip, check out Encounter SoCal online, shoot me an email and we can talk about it for the coming year!
I wanted to thank you for your prayers, they make all the difference! Also, if you want to continue to mobilize the church for the sake of the least reached with Encompass, you can make a tax-deductible donation to support my work using the Donate button. Or you can mail a check with my name designated to “Encompass World Partners” PO Box 3298 Monument, CO 80132-3290
Coordinator of Mobilization Initiatives
Encompass World Partners
Today I came across a free download of the letters captured in the book:
One of the things I seek in my own life and champion to others is the life of living WITH God. Not under Him, not over Him, not just from Him or for Him, but living our lives WITH God.
Now Brother Lawrence was from a more high-church tradition more than four centuries ago (yep in the 1600s!) but his letters and conversations have been captured for us. At a variety of points over the decades of my walk with God, they have resurfaced for me to re-read and be challenged. They are a sample, a model even of living out a life WITH God…being in His presence.
So today again, God broke into my life and re-surfaced the stories and conversations of Brother Lawrence. I thought I would share them with you! As an example of some of the nuggets, here is one quote from Brother Lawrence in his 5th letter:
There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with GOD: those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive; it is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because GOD would have us.
So I post here this free PDF of only 22 pages to engage with someone from a bygone era who might have much to teach us about living with God everyday.
Thanks to PathsOfLove.com for posting and sharing!
For our time of worship and in the Word on Sunday, we spent time in these couple of verses in Jude (vs. 24-25). They are from the conclusion of an itty-bitty book at the end of the New Testament (think “intro to Revelation” haha).
As we talked about these couple of verses, we were able to see GOD’s TRANSCENDENCE ( Big-ness, Over-all-ness, Superiority, etc.) and HIS IMMINENCE (Close-ness, Personal-ness, Near-ness etc.). You can see BOTH in this expression, and it’s a beautiful balance of truth!
We honored our God through His Word…and I invite you to contemplate this Scripture and our God for yourself:
“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
Jude 1:24-25 NIV
On Easter morning, April 21st at 6:00AM, we will have a Sunrise Service in Signal Hill near Hilltop Park! We will bring some coffee to keep you warm, but you should bring your coat & a chair so you have a place to sit!
So we can see the sunrise (praying for no marine layer!), we will meet on the South side of Skyline Drive just east of Dawson Street around the Oil Well Workers statue. Map of our Location 2448 Skyline Dr. Signal Hill, CA 90755
To honor our own Denny, we will follow our time with an Easter breakfast at Denny’s at 2860 N Bellflower Blvd. Long Beach, CA 90815 (Dutch treat for breakfast).
We would be delighted to have you celebrate our Risen Son at the rising sun on Resurrection Sunday!
I love Jesus and His PASSION for me and the whole world! On the special week of His death on the cross and resurrection, which has been dubbed the “Passion Week,” I love to have some outline/Biblical readings for each day and participate in the week that way.
To help myself (and you), I’ve created a whole section of Passion Week readings… this year focused on the Gospel of Mark.
Yesterday, as we celebrated Palm Sunday, I was again gripped by the way that this was probably the only moment in all of Jesus’ earthly life where He got what He deserved! The praise and worship of the people He created and loved –even to death!
I’m looking forward to participating in this Passion Week through the Gospel of Mark. I hope you’ll join me!
As our church plant continues to plug away in the amazing book of Acts, after the murdering of Stephen the story explodes in many directions. Persecution is breaking out on the emerging church. The author of Acts follows three key people and corresponding movements of the Gospel:
1) Philip (Acts 8) who shares the Good News about Jesus the Messiah with a leader from Ethiopia who carries the news to Northern Africa.
2)Then Saul who is met on the road by Jesus in Acts 9, who goes from killer to convert to chosen instrument to take the Good News to all the non-Jewish nations (and later becomes the Apostle Paul).
3) Then Peter (Acts 9:32 – chapter 10) who was part of the inner circle with Jesus, and has already created a stir in Jerusalem with his healings, prison escapes and preaching. We honed in on Peter as that is our spot is in the story.
Peter had followed God devoutly all his life in all the Jewish traditions, and over the time of Jesus’ ministry had followed Him with devotion as well. Peter was a leader in the burgeoning church and understood that Jesus was His Messiah…and the Messiah for the entire Jewish Nation.
With a team of leaders from Los Altos Grace, I’ve been reading The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith. It has been a delightful read–confirming many things and challenging many more.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most is that he talks about “Soul Training” — or exercises to grow the spiritual aspect of our lives. Often in Christian circles these are called “spiritual disciplines,” but maybe because of my love of sports I like “soul training” much better.
One of the Soul-Training exercises is “Praying Psalm 23” which followed an excellent chapter on the generosity of God. I’ll share Smith’s exercise as we are seeking to do it this week as a church family as well:
Psalm 23 is a beautiful expression of the kingdom of God, in which God is with us, caring and providing for us, and blessing us, even in trying circumstances. The God of Psalm 23 is generous. Because of God’s gracious provision, protection and care, we lack nothing. God invites us to rest, to be refreshed and to be restored. God leads and guides us, even in our most painful situations. And because God is with us, we can live without fear. God even prepares a “table” for us in the presence of those who would harm us. God not only provides what we need, he gives us more than we need—our cup is overflowing. When we walk with God as our Shepherd, we see our entire life—even our trials and suffering—as goodness and mercy. This psalm is read at nearly every Christian funeral because it provides comfort, especially the verse about walking in the valley of death and not being afraid. But this psalm is not primarily for funerals but for everyday life. As you go about your week, carry this psalm with you and recite it as often as you can:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths For his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff— They comfort me.
You prepare a table before me In the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord My whole life long. (Psalm 23)
Try to recite this psalm before you fall asleep each night, and again when you awake. Before your feet hit the ground, try to have slowly meditated on each word. Recite it so often this week that it becomes second nature to you, as natural as breathing. You will notice yourself beginning to pray it at odd times.
An excerpt from: The Good and Beautiful God
by James Bryan Smith (Pages 90 & 91)
What do you mean by “spiritual family”?
Jesus actually uses this kind of language about his new “spiritual family” in Matthew 12:46-50:
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
I had the privilege to go back and share at my home church on Sunday March 10 a missions message on a special “Mission Day.” It’s a special day for all of us to turn our hearts toward the nations, to pray for cross-cultural workers, and to explore our calling to participate in the Great Commission.
What a joy it was to share with the good folks at Rittman Grace Brethren Church in Rittman, Ohio!
One of the items we defined in this message was what we mean by missions:
Missions is the task of crossing barriers of language, geography, cultural differences and even prejudice to invite the nations to
become true worshipers of God through Jesus Christ. (From the book Discovering Global Missions.)
It was a joy to share with them, and they recorded the message that is posted below (and here is my Powerpoint) to bless you and encourage you!
With nearly 100 people gathered together for the challenge of mission and among them were the leaders of 16 different workshops, electricity was in the air during this day. We had two main sessions and each of those speakers are men I deeply respect for their passion for the Lord, His Word and the Nations. Find out more and click through to these messages below:
Matthew Ellison is the co-founder of Sixteen:Fifteen, author of When Missions Is Everything and was given the assignment to challenge the conference around the topic of Risk. He nailed it from the Bible with the message “When Safety Is Satanic- Mark 8:31-35.”
Dr. Dave Guiles, Executive Director of Encompass World Partners and author of Discovering Global Missions & Mobilizing The Mobilizers, shared a challenging message about the disruption of destinies. The message “Destiny Disrupter: God has always been disrupting lives” is a clear call to be open to God and what He might be stirring up in our lives and those we influence.
Today, on Saint Patrick’s Day, we spent some time telling his story and even praying a prayer called “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer.”
A very famous portion of the prayer is:
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
(See what we prayed here)
In re-reading Patrick’s story in his own words from his “Confession,” I was stunned by how Patrick’s destiny was disrupted. After being kidnapped by pirates, put into slavery and a miraculous escape, he was back home in England and describes what God did here:
And after a few years I was again in Britain with my parents [kinsfolk], and they welcomed me as a son, and asked me, in faith, that after the great tribulations I had endured I should not go anywhere else away from them.
And, of course, there, in a vision of the night, I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as if from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: ‘The Voice of the Irish’; and as I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’ And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke. Thanks be to God, because after so many years the Lord bestowed on them according to their cry. (# 23 on pg. 9)
2 Stunning Aspects of Patrick’s Calling
1) Patrick Mentions his Parents’ Desires:
In just a few significant lines, Patrick outlines the overwhelming desire of his parents–for their son’s safety and for him to stay close to them. We aren’t told how this was intimated, but Patrick knew what they wanted.
“Good” Christian parents in our time and country have the same desire: for their children to be safe and to stay close (maybe more for the future grandkids). Often this isn’t intimated to the children, but they know what their parents want. Is this part of what holds back the extension of Jesus’ work in our world?
I just heard Dave Guiles share a message about our God who disrupts destinies–not only for salvation, but for calling to serve King Jesus in ministry and on mission. He has often remarked that the recruitment of future missionaries must address the parents and grandparents of young missionary families to release them to God’s work–which is hardly ever close geographically, and often not safe either.
During the same conference where Guiles was disrupting destinies, the other main session speaker Matthew Ellison shared a message entitled, “When Safety is Satanic.” I highly recommend you take a listen to that Biblical and challenging message out of Mark 8 and Hebrews 10.
Patrick seems to have felt the pressure from his parents. The connecting phrase he choses in this confession is so telling–“And, of course.” If I can paraphrase: “Mom and Dad want me to stay home and be safe. And, of course God has work for me to do in a dangerous place far away.” Patrick accents that the what God desires must supersede what parents desire. And he proved it with his life.
2) Patrick’s Calling was for the Crying Irish
He concludes his “calling story” without a self-centered focus. “Thanks be to God, because after so many years the Lord bestowed on them according to their cry. “
Patrick saw that his calling was part of the Irish “crying.” It wasn’t about him, it was about those he would go to love, serve and shepherd. Patrick’s calling wasn’t for his benefit, ego, identity or resumé, but because of God’s moving for the benefit of the Irish.