This update was posted by Pastor Jimmy while Pastor Seth attended a married couples retreat.
The date of our inaugural service is getting closer and closer – 3 weeks now! Each Sunday, the anticipation of what’s to come has been building. In some ways, it feels like the calm before the storm, or when you are sitting on a roller coaster as it gets closer and closer to the drop. It’s exciting! As we gathered yesterday for dinner and Bible study, we spent some time sharing and reflecting upon this past summer. As many people shared, I realized how God had orchestrated so many different circumstances in people’s lives to bring them where they are right now. Even just months ago, many of them were in other cities, unsure of what the future would look like. But now we are all gathered together, dreaming and praying about what God will do in our home – Chicago. We continued in our study of Acts with chapters 21 and 22. In these chapters, there were a few things that struck us:
1) Resolving (Acts 21:1-16) – Paul’s conviction to go to Jerusalem was opposed by many of his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. There was even a prophecy warning him of the difficulties he would face in Jerusalem. Despite all this, Paul responds by saying, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Paul had a firm sense of resolve in doing the will of God. No matter what obstacles he would face, he was resolved. Paul’s attitude was, “Come what may…I will obey God.” So many times, our obedience to God is limited by our comfort zones. But doing the will of God is never easy. In Paul, we saw how his conviction had given him a great sense of resolve despite future difficulties. As we thought about our church plant, we realized that our lives are all busy and there will be many different difficulties that will come our way. It is our prayer that we will be resolved in doing God’s will together.
2) Recounting (Acts 22:1-21) – Paul finds himself in a bit of trouble in his journey to Jerusalem (just as it was prophesied before). Many of the conservative Jews accused Paul of heresy and were trying to kill him. Paul escapes a riot and has the opportunity to address the crowd that was beating him up. What do you say to a group like that? Well, Paul simply recounts his testimony. He shared the story of how God had transformed his life to bring this great message of salvation to the world. This is the power of testimony. One of the things we want to see in our church is a testimonial culture. A place where stories are constantly being written – stories of God’s transformation. We’re praying that many of these stories will be written in this next month as we meet new students and working adults on campus and in the greater Chicagoland area.
3) Redeeming (Acts 22:22-29) – The crowd that Paul addressed wanted him to be punished. Paul defends himself to the centurion by revealing to them that he was a Roman citizen. The centurion was alarmed by this and quickly took him away to another place without a flogging. As we look into Paul’s life, we see how God redeems all things. He’s a Jew, but a Roman citizen. He speaks Greek and Aramaic. He’s well-educated and knows the Scripture inside-out. God uses and redeems all these things throughout Paul’s missionary journeys. In the same way, many of us come from unique backgrounds and experiences. We are studying and working in different fields. In all of these things, we know God will redeem them for His greater purpose.
We closed by praying for one another in these areas of resolving, recounting and redeeming. Afterwards, we performed our weekly bubble tea ritual ;). 3 weeks left!