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For the last little while I’ve been working my way through reading Leviticus and now I’m into Numbers. Now, if you’ve ever taken the time to read through these books of the Bible you’ve probably had your eyes glaze over at one point or another. These two members of the Pentateuch are not thrilling accounts. Rather, they’re composed of lengthy lists of rules and detailed instructions. They aren’t real page turners. And up until just recently that’s too often how I viewed them – literary deserts with the occasional oasis of life giving text.

The other night God challenged me on this view. These two books are primarily about how the Israelites are to order their society so they can maintain a healthy relationship with a holy God. They are chuck full of purity laws, sacrificial requirements, and tabernacle blueprints. Here God outlines how they can best organize, manage, and maintain their corporate lives.

Here’s where the crossover struck me – as church planters in a pre-launch stage our main responsibility is to work to craft a corporate culture that helps people best achieve a healthy and growing relationship with God. And to be honest, sometimes this work makes my eyes glass over too. Our preparation often isn’t glamorous. Whether slogging our way through the creation of articles of incorporation and bylaws, working on the supporting leadership structures of organization, or striving to put together a budget for the next year – the details of how to best plan for and structure a new church can get tiring. The to-do lists can get monotonous. The responsibilities can seem unending.

Sound familiar? That night, God pressed upon me the fact that in many ways our current stage of preparation and formation, as we work to plant Center Point, mirrors the biblical books of Leviticus and Numbers. Similarly to how God instructed Moses and the Israelites, he continues to instruct us, his people, as to how to best create a church body that encourages people into healthy relationships with him. Like those ancient texts, our work isn’t always page-turning stuff. But the details are still so important. Moses and the Israelites went to great lengths to follow God’s leading those thousands of years ago and we too must be willing to go to great lengths as we prepare, implement, and organize a church community for his people today.

So, the next time you crack your bible to Leviticus or Numbers ask this question: How do God’s instructions to the Israelites challenge and inform how we should work to structure our churches?

And as you read these books, pray for the organization and preparation that goes into the creation, maintenance, and growth of the church of Christ today.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Peace,

Nate


Yes, this is another comment on Rob Bell’s newest book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. No it won’t be lengthy, no it won’t be bombastic. As Sam and I have read Bell’s book, talked with friends, listened to interviews, and reflected on it I believe I’ve come to a place of peace regarding it all.

Initially this wasn’t the case. Initially I was flummoxed by Bell’s writing, by his questions, by his unwillingness to answer the questions of others. I got frustrated, even angry. I railed against him. I even felt betrayed by him.

As time has passed, as I reflect more and am frustrated less, I think I’ve come to a place of peace regarding it all. Let me explain. First, let me explain what I believe Bell is not trying to do with his book. I don’t believe Bell is trying to fly in the face of 2000+ years of Christian teaching regarding heaven, hell, and the afterlife. I don’t think that was his goal or desire. He may have done that in part – particularly around the topic of Hell – but I don’t believe that was his intention. I don’t believe he set out to cause a ruckus in the Christian world.

But what then was his purpose? I believe Bell set out to challenge contemporary American Christianity, particularly contemporary fundamentalist American Christianity. From my understanding, he desired to challenge the typically negative approach many of us have used in our evangelistic efforts. Traditionally, we’ve approached the topic of evangelism as a necessity to avoid death, punishment, and hell. We’ve argued that you should become a follower of Jesus, otherwise you’ll end up suffering a terrible torment. And I have to agree with Bell that this is a particularly negative way to approach good news. Instead, Bell challenges us to approach the good news of the Gospel in positive way. Rather than saying, “You should become a Christian to avoid hell;” we should say, “You should become a Christian because the Creator of the universe loves you and wants you to experience a free and full life.” Do you see the difference in approach? The former has a negative posture, while the latter has a positive one. And so I believe Bell’s ultimate goal is to challenge our Christian contexts to evangelize with this positive posture, pointing out the goodness and love of God for the lost, broken, and lonely.

Now, with all that said I think Bell could have done a much better job making that argument. I struggle with the lack of clarity in his writing. His stream of thought lacks a certain theological depth and I believe that lack is dangerous. Dangerous not only to the reader as it encourages some doctrinal divisions that can lead to heresy, but also, as is more and more evident, dangerous to Bell himself. He’s been beaten up again and again by countless evangelical leaders. He’s been accused of heresy, of being unorthodox, and misleading. If he had been clearer in his presentation we/he could have avoided this dangerous dance. I understand that his style is provocative and conversational. However, when dealing with such deep theological issues he cannot afford to be flippant or unclear.

In the end, I agree with Bell’s intention. For far too long we’ve approached the good news as a technique to avoid hell. While the true nature of the good news is in fact that it is actually good. The gospel shouldn’t be a way to avoid hell, but rather a way to celebrate, enjoy, and expand God’s love and our experience of a heaven that is both “already” and “not-yet.”

That being said, I cannot stray with Bell and ignore the reality of God’s holiness and the necessity for restitution for our sins. I do believe that God’s holiness is so important that those who do not find their rest in Christ, those who are not covered by his sacrifice, will experience the penalty for being an affront to  the holiness of God. It really is that important, it really is that big of a deal. So I, like Bell, hold out hope that God is a God of surprises, that he does in fact include more people under the sacrifice of Christ than I know. I hope that God does in fact save most if not all of us from an eternal conscious hell.

However, here’s where Bell and I differ: I am called to share the good news as it has been revealed. I cannot teach these hopes of mine. To do so would be irresponsible. To do so would supplant the authority of the scripture. Rather, I can only teach what is found in the Bible. So while I hope for a universal salvation, I can’t get there from scripture.

Alright, so this ended up being a little longer than I thought. Let me know what you think.

Peace,

Nate


April 7, 2011

 

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope you’re enjoying the rebirth of spring; the trees budding, the warmth of the sun, and the promise of new life. We are loving the beautiful weather here in Colorado and we’re excited to update you on our progress in starting Center Point Community Church this upcoming Fall!

In the last little while we’ve been busy with all kinds of entrepreneurial pieces involved in starting a new church. We decided on a logo (see above). We bought a domain name for Center Point’s website – www.CenterPointDenver.org. It isn’t operational yet, but hopefully before the start of summer the site will be up and running. We continue to explore possible locations to hold worship services. We’ve met with a lawyer concerning the legalities of becoming a non-profit corporation. The list goes on.

One of the most exciting experiences we’ve had as of late was attending a weeklong training conference for church planters called Thrive. There, we were challenged to develop along two tracks: our own spiritual development as pastors and our practical strategies and practices as church planters. The Holy Spirit was present and we emerged from that week better equipped both as people and as planters.

One of the ways the Spirit convicted us following that week was in the area of prayer. Prayer is foundational for our work. Your prayers are foundational for our work. In light of the Spirit’s conviction we are assembling a prayer team with whom we can share more regular prayer needs. Our goal is to enlist the prayers of at least 50 prayer partners who provide us their email addresses and promise to lift us up in specific prayer. If you want to be a member of Center Point’s Prayer Team please email Sam at Sam@CenterPointDenver.org. She’ll add your email address to our Prayer Team list and you’ll begin to receive regular emails highlighting our more immediate prayer needs. Please consider joining us as Prayer Team members.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12

We ask for your prayers as we bring light into the darkness of the Denver Tech Center. Pray that God will use us to flavor the Tech Center with His life changing salt. Pray that we might be a city on a hill, shining a light for all to see.

Thank you for your continued support. Financially we are so close to our goal for 2010-2011 and we have already begun to raise funding for 2011-2012. We look forward to God’s continued provision as we anticipate additional needs in the upcoming year (equipment for worship, facilities costs, promotional costs, etc.). Thank you for partnering with us in this Gospel work.

We’d love to hear from you and pray for you in any way we can. Thanks and God bless.

Peace,

Sam, Nate, and Eli

Approximate Funds Raised to Date:
Family and Friends $44,000
CRC Denomination $31,250
Supporting Churches $18,000
Classis Rocky Mountain $3,500
Center Point Members $5,000
Total Raised to Date $101,750
Approximate Funds Needed:
Total Raised thru June ‘11 $94,750
Total Needed thru June ‘11 $1,250
Total Raised for July ’11-June ‘12 $7,000
Total Needed for July ’11 – June ‘12 $89,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to donate to our efforts Eastern Hills Community Church is receiving tax-deductible donations on our behalf. Donations are accepted both through their online giving at http://ehills.org/about/about_giving.html (make sure to select Center Point in their dropdown menu) or by sending a check to the address below (note your gift is intended for Center Point in the memo line).

Eastern Hills Community Church

Attn: Nate and Sam

25511 E. Smoky Hill Rd.

Aurora, CO 80016

P.S. As always, feel free to contact us for any reason and let us know if we can pray for you in any way. Also, note that both our cell phone numbers and our email addresses have changed.

Sam’s Cell: (303) 502-0981

Nate’s Cell: (303) 502-0980

Sam@CenterPointDenver.org

Nate@CenterPointDenver.org

https://dejongmccarron.wordpress.com


The other day I stepped three feet and heard an awful thud. I turned around to see that my son had just pushed himself off the couch. In less than a second I snatched him from the floor and enveloped him in my chest, shushed him, and told him, “I’m so sorry and I love you so much and if I could take his pain away I would. I love you, I love you, I love you.”  I started to cry as I tried to sooth his pain and fear.  I cried because he was upset and scared and probably a little sore. We cried for a bit then he fell asleep in my arms, helpless and precious.

As painful as the other day was, I feel like I have a picture now of how God feels when we hurt. When someone dies or is sick, when we are emotionally bruised or have fears about past events, God envelopes us in his arms squeezes us against his chest and tells us, “I love you so much! I want to take your pain away. I’m so sorry you hurt so bad.” And then he cries with us. And this in itself is absolutely amazing. The creator of the universe holds us close when we hurt. But what makes God, God, is that he does this even when we hurt ourselves. Even when we like Eli, we push away from safety, even when we push away from God, when we cry in our own self-inflicted pain God picks us up raps us in his arms and says, “I love you so much! I want to take your pain away. I’m so sorry you hurt so badly. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

So when you hurt- picture God enveloping his arms around you and saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” until you fall asleep in his arms, helpless and precious.

And a challenge, as imitators of Christ, how can we love on those in pain?

Because Christ first loved us. He loves us when we push off the couch and thud on the floor. He loves us.

 

– Sam

April 2011
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