Wellspring Church

'He turns the desert into pools of water' Psalm 107:35


Leave a comment

This is the Day the Lord has Made

“This is the day the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The words from Psalm 118 written above are some of the most encouraging in all of Scripture. They speak of God’s ongoing creativity as the new day we experience is a gift from him. We are encouraged to rejoice in this day because it brings fresh opportunity to partner with God for his purposes.

Matthew 26:30 tells us that immediately following Jesus’ observance of the Passover meal with his disciples, they “sung a hymn” and departed for the Mount of Olives where he was to be arrested. This is fascinating because the Jews traditionally sang Psalms 113-118 as part of the Passover celebration. It follows then, that the words of Psalm 118 were some of the last that Jesus ever sang.

Read in this light, the words of this Psalm stand in stark contrast to the emotions that Jesus was surely beginning to feel about what the next 24 hours held in store for him. Consider a few of the following lines from Psalm 118:

“What can man do to me?”

“I shall not die, but live.”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.”

“This is the day the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

A Psalm filled with wishes for deliverance sound more like wishful thinking and words of denial in light of the cross. But Jesus’ use of this Psalm in view of his most stressful life (and death) experience ought to give us a whole new appreciation for a song often reserved for our best days.

Jesus teaches that it is “better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in men” even when that refuge is a cross. This is true because, despite popular belief, death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Jesus’ holistic view of deliverance included his own death. The road from distress to deliverance inevitably winds through the valley of the shadow of death. But it does not end there. Not for the ones who approach the day of their mortal demise in light of God’s greater purposes.

Jesus is able to live (and die) in this manner because of the truth that bookends Psalm 118: “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” God is not responsible for every senseless death that takes place. But he, in his steadfast love, has taken responsibility for setting all things right through his Son.

As we discussed this Psalm at our friends’ house recently, I was unaware that the cross pictured below was hanging on the wall behind me. It is a perfect representation of what Psalm 118 is all about. “This is the day the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Even when that day includes a cross.

IMG_3331

Photo courtesy of Meghan Teel


Leave a comment

An Invitation to be Blessed

“Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14

I recently sat with a friend who happens to be a Professor of Economics as well as a performing arts enthusiast. As we discussed various local stage productions he had participated in, the fiscal side of his brain began to turn. He described how one group he had been involved with would routinely put on performances that did not turn a profit. The reason for this pattern: the pool that they drew their audience from was too small. Or in the words of my economist friend, “We couldn’t turn a profit while only selling tickets to our friends. We didn’t have enough friends.”

While my friend had marketing in mind, I think we can draw a few spiritual ideas from this line of thinking. Often our churches consist of our close friends and family. And while I am not primarily concerned with turning a profit (take a moment to re-read the above Scripture), I am concerned with expanding the size of our circle of influence for Jesus. How can the Kingdom of God break into new people and places when we don’t go to new people and new places?

With this in mind, some of our group gathered at a local park this past Sunday to assemble and pass out care packages for the homeless. We want to be a blessing to our friends and families. But we cannot neglect the words of Jesus as he compels us to extend an invitation of blessing to those who have little or nothing to offer in return (I have to say, we were blessed by this experience).

So who are the people that you interact with beyond your friends and family? How could you bless those who cannot bless you in kind?


Leave a comment

Holy Ordinary Moments

Genesis chapter 12 begins with a call for Abram to leave what was familiar and to walk with God into the unknown. This call was an invitation into an intimate relationship with God. The call of Abram was a holy moment; a crucial piece in God’s plan to create a nation to bless all other nations. But first Abram was required to leave his comfortable surroundings and step out into a much less structured space and existence. A story that begins with God’s call ends fittingly with the construction of two altars and Abram calling on the name of the LORD.

This past Sunday a group gathered in a home to worship. This was a step into the unknown. We have heard the call of God to be a blessing to those who have not yet found their way; those who are still struggling to hear God’s invitation to take their place in what he is doing.

Just as God invaded Abram’s space and invited him to venture out, we believe we are joining with God in new places to reach new people. I imagine the day God appeared to Abram had started as ordinarily as any other. But ordinary moments and spaces become holy when God breaks into them. Sunday was a holy ordinary moment in the Kingdom of God. A loft area became a children’s Bible class as pictured below. A living room became a place of praise. And a kitchen table became a place to gather for communion.

Ordinary moments and spaces were made holy because God called and we called back.

image

We hope to help many others join in what God is doing around them as we work toward our official launch later this year.

Think of a time when you felt God was calling you into something new. How did you respond? Let us know. We’d love to hear about it!


Leave a comment

Name Time

Our church is still nameless, but the same will not be said of our campus ministry at ASU for much longer. In fulfilling the requirements to apply for membership in ASU’s Council of Religious Advisors (CoRA), we must include an official student group name. We have been intentionally slow in selecting a name, because we believe names are important.

In Scripture, we see examples of names that are the result of an experience with the Divine. In Genesis 32, Jacob’s name is changed to Israel – the man who wrestled with God. In an earlier story from Genesis, we see Hagar speaking of the LORD as “the God who sees me.” The well of water where Hagar’s encounter with God took place also receives a new name: the well of the Living One who sees me.”

In short, we want the name of this new church and our student ministry to be shaped and identified by our own experiences of God, both individually and as a community. In order to draw out the values and characteristics of God that have shaped each of our team members, we developed a names bracket. We asked for suggestions and then began a voting process. The result was educational and a lot of fun. As we voted for or against various names, we were able to talk about why various names meant so much to us… or didn’t.

A big thank you to Thomas Hamlet, who has campus ministry experience at UT Chattanooga and has been spearheading much of the focus on ASU. He is also responsible for concocting our very professional bracket and voting system…

image

So what experiences with God have shaped you? What name would you choose for a campus ministry that desires to impact the 80,000+ Sun Devils in Tempe? And yes, Devils for Christ is already on the list.


Leave a comment

The World is Here

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20, NLT)

Can you imagine the spiritual whiplash the disciples are feeling as they hear these words? Jesus called, “Let’s go!” And they went. Then there was that jolting stop at the cross. Oh, wait. He’s alive again. But he can’t stay. And they still have this job to do. So they can’t stay either. Ready… Go! Into all the world. It’s enough to make anyone motion (or emotionally) sick. But Jesus promised to always be with them. And he sent the Spirit. And they went into all the world.

Times have changed, but the mission has not. The nations still need Jesus. Christians remain a ‘sent’ people. As we are busy going, it is important to notice something about the world around us – we are not alone in our mobility. There is no better illustration of this than your local university. Consider the stats in the following photo put together by C3Tempe.org (check out their website!):

image

Isn’t that amazing (and hard to read in this format)? That’s 60,000 students on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. A wave of 8,800 international students from 125 countries is expected to graduate over the next several years. Many of these will return home to positions of influence. What better place to reach the world than the place where the world is gathering? We intend to plant a church that can help establish a dynamic campus ministry to reach this incredibly diverse population.

That’s something worth praying about if you have a moment! As you pray, reflect on Jesus’s words in Matthew 28:18-20. Who is right in front of you? Who is God sending your way? Where might he be sending you? How is your life geared to “go and make disciples?”

And remember, you’re not alone. Jesus has all power and authority and has promised to go with you.

Ready… Go!


Leave a comment

Planting a New Church

One of the first questions people ask when we tell them we are planting a new church is, “How do you do that?” This is an important question. There is a multitude of options when planting a new church; ranging from very grass-roots/organic to more tightly structured methods and approaches.

Our goal is to draw people into a rhythm of following Jesus that is both structured and flexible. These groups are sometimes called Missional Communities. Here is a great starting point for those that want to read more on the topic of MCs:

http://www.vergenetwork.org/2014/11/13/what-is-a-missional-community/

My shorthand definition for MCs is that they are Social because they are about people; they are Service-oriented because we believe in building inclusive community; and they are Spiritual because we model our rhythm of life after Jesus. People in community with Jesus. We usually call that church.

As stated above, the purpose of an MC is to help us live a balanced life that is modeled after Jesus’ own pattern of living. A basic rhythm of Up, In, and Out is creatively practiced. A scriptural example of this is what Jesus did in Mark 3:13-19:

Up: Jesus goes up the mountain. This usually indicates a time to be alone with God the Father in prayer. MCs spend time in prayer and worship.

In: Jesus calls the 12. This functions as a time of pouring into one another. Discipling and being discipled. Care for others and self-care.

Out: Jesus sends out the 12 to preach with authority and power. MCs practice compassion by powerfully proclaiming and practicing the ways of Jesus in their neighborhoods.

If you’re a visual learner, here is a basic roadmap for launching a church with missional communities from the article below by Mike Breen:

Church Planting Roadmap

                 Church Planting Roadmap

http://www.disciplingculture.com/the-difference-between-huddles-and-small-groups-and-why-many-people-use-both/

This is just one of the exciting ways that God’s Kingdom continues to expand. Find what God is doing around you and join Him!


Leave a comment

Proclaiming Good News to the Poor

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus boldly states his mission:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to prolcaim liberty to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (ESV)

Disciples of Jesus carry out his mission of proclamation and practice. We do this by finding opportunities to both demonstrate and declare the power of God. Working with local non-profits can be a great way to do both. Feed My Starving Children (fmsc.org) recently opened a new facility in Mesa. This organization helps provide food to some of the poorest parts of the world.

Several of our church plant team participated in packing food this past weekend. This simple act of volunteering a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon was a demonstration of God’s love for his lost people. People we will never meet. We were also able to interact with the other volunteers who were making a similar display of compassion. Some were Christians, some were not.

It is critical that we proclaim good news to the poor. Jesus did. But it is just as vital that we notice those people who do not know Jesus that serve alongside us. All resources are God’s resources. And whether these people know it or not, they honor their Creator by serving the disadvantaged of creation. It only makes sense that God is working around us and ahead of us in the lives of people we meet every day. These are our family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers; the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed.

A couple of hours volunteering and a little small talk as to why we were there and one of our teammates was able to exchange numbers with a young woman she met. They hope to meet up again soon. Who knows where the next conversation might lead?

What are some simple activities you can do that demonstrate God’s love and power? How might this activity open a door for you to speak a word for Jesus? You never know until you try.

imageimage

Our table packed 26 of the 140 boxes that were going to North Korea!