A Season of Preparing Ourselves for Easter

Incarnational trinitarian theology encourages us to take a new look at the 40-day season of Easter Preparation – what many call Lent. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” These are the words many priests and pastors will say on Wednesday, February 22, as they use ash to draw a cross on a believer’s forehead. Thus, the name, Ash Wednesday, which is traditionally viewed as a sober time. While we don’t perform the Ash Wednesday ceremony in GCI, there is nothing wrong with it. It is meant to be a simple reminder that Jesus is Lord, and we are not. Without him, all we have to look forward to is returning to dust and ashes. Ash Wednesday begins the season of what we choose to call Easter Preparation. There is reason... Read the article

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Epiphany: Bringing Things to Light

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2) I enjoy visiting caverns and being amazed at these immense carved out underground spaces. I’m amazed at the stalagmites, stalactites, channels, and underground pools. What always fascinates me during a cave tour is when we are deep underground, and the tour guides turns off the lights. It’s a darkness that is difficult to explain – a complete absence of light. Children suddenly grip your hand with intensity, you hear nervous chuckles, you try to maintain an aura of bravery as you and everyone else anxiously waits for the light to return. Without light, there would be no way out of that darkness. But... Read the article

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The Incarnation and Me … and You

Christmas is referred to as the season of joy, hope, peace, and love, and it is all that, but it’s also more. The incarnation is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise. In most Bible translations, the apostle John starts his Gospel with the words, “In the beginning…” This is where we must start when we talk about the incarnation. God becoming flesh was always part of God’s plan of redemption, reconciliation, and revelation. John has more to say: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all... Read the article

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Growing from Shadows to Reality

It is our privilege to move from the shadows to participate in the reality of what the actions of Jesus mean in our life. By Glen A Weber, Regional Support Team, Central U.S. Ten days after Jesus’ ascension, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church. For the next two (plus) decades, the church had to depend on two foundations – the Hebrew Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to show the interpretation of those Scriptures. Jesus had told them after his resurrection that the Old Testament law and the Prophets pointed to him. For a few decades, the church used those two pillars to step forward into proclaiming Christ to the world. For the past two thousand years, the church has not only had the Hebrew Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, but... Read the article

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The Blessing of Being Teachable

One of the greatest characteristics of a leader is to have a teachable spirit. Full disclosure: I love to be right, and I love to have the answers for people. No surprise to anyone: I am often wrong and am sometimes too quick with an answer. This is why I continually pray for a teachable spirit. One of the leadership acronyms we introduced a few years ago was the acronym FATE. We encouraged pastors to look for leaders who are faithful, available, teachable, and enthusiastic. It’s not difficult to find someone who fills three of those characteristics. Teachability is where we often find challenge – in others, and most importantly, in ourselves. I believe teachability begins with leaders – denominational leaders, pastoral leaders,... Read the article

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The Holy Spirit and Your Team

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” This quote, from Acts 15, gives us a good biblical example of working as a team toward good decision making. Full transparency, I used to be better at asking the Holy Spirit to bless what I was doing than to listen and watch to see how I could participate in what he was already doing. I was living under one of the misconceptions about the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, there are several misconceptions about how the Holy Spirit works in our lives and in the lives of our congregations. One of my pet peeves is the assumption that the Holy Spirit always works in the moment rather than in the planning. It comes across as if the Holy Spirit is reactive and impulsive, rather than guiding our... Read the article

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Faith is Not Enough

Participating in the Love Avenue doesn’t make us right with God—it shows we already are. I spent most of my life studying the Bible in an effort to get right with God. I studied the Old Testament so I could be faithful to some of the law, statutes, and judgments. I studied the New Testament so I could gain Jesus’ and the apostle’s teaching on how to get right with God. My goal was to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) – again, so I could be right with God. I struggled with certain passages such as when James tells us faith without works is dead. I knew if I could study enough, I’d get right with God, and then the good works would naturally flow from me. The question was, how much study and growing in grace and... Read the article

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Ordinary Time

What is it, and what does it have to do with me? When Greg Williams asked me to start focusing on the Christian worship calendar in Equipper, I thought, “Sure, that will be good for a couple articles. What else?” I had no idea of the depth of meaning and purpose we find in the worship calendar. I knew Christmas and Easter were important; I liked the candles and focus on Jesus’ coming for Advent, and I enjoyed celebrating the birth of the New Testament church on Pentecost, but the other days didn’t seem to have as much meaning. Man, was I mistaken. Focusing on just bits and pieces of the worship calendar is missing the truth that everything revolves around Jesus and reminds us he is the center of the center. Further, it keeps us... Read the article

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Pentecost – What the Day Fulfilled and Looks Forward To

Pentecost is much more than the beginning of the New Testament church. It’s a day of change that includes reversals, firsts, fulfilled prophecy and promises, identification, affirmation, and power. I’m one of those odd persons that loves change. Not all changes, mind you, but I love the challenge of moving forward, trying something new, doing things differently. I love what change can bring – a new outlook, new understanding, new methodology, new perspectives. Pentecost brought all this and more to the disciples and followers of Christ. And truth be told, I would have been just as excited, overwhelmed, and scared as they were. Let’s look at what Pentecost brought. The great reversal One of the most common understandings of... Read the article

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Jesus’ Ascension – An End, A Beginning, and An End

The ascension represents the completion of God’s work in Christ incarnate and the completion of Christ’s work in us. It’s easy to gloss over the Ascension as we move through the 50 days of Easter toward our celebration of Pentecost, but we should not do so. The Ascension represents a fulfillment of prophecy and explains visions seen by the prophets. It is the fulfillment of Christ’s incarnate work on earth. It is the end of Jesus’ limitations of time and space as he reentered the spiritual realm. It results in the sending of the Holy Spirit and the imparting of spiritual gifts, which we will celebrate at Pentecost. It has so much meaning, yet it is often overlooked as part of the celebration of the life of Jesus. In GCI we... Read the article

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