Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

In Times Like These: Understanding Your Audience

One of the most effective ways for us to be the “salt of the earth” is for us to bring the God conversation to our friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors.  It is noteworthy that many of the gifts of the Spirit are verbal and designed as essential components of God’s conversation with the world through us.

For the conversation to be meaningful it is essential for the communicators to understand their audience.  As the “salt of the earth” we seek to understand the mind and heart of those with whom we share.

In Times Like These
We Get It: Understanding our Audience

Previously we studied four components of “In Times Like These: Understanding Your Role in the World.”

1. Get it.
2. Salt it.
3. Don’t can it.
4. Don’t refrigerate it.

Today’s conversation is an invitation to further consider the components of “Get it.”

Previously we conversed about the possibility that “influencing the God conversation may be the most powerful way that we are the salt of the earth.”

We get (understand) the importance of understanding our audience’s journey to faith in Jesus as Lord.

Everts and Schaupp (I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus) map out the spiritual journey in phases:

1. Distrust to trust – shift to trust a Christian
2. Complacent to Curious – the shift of spiritual thirst.
3. Closed to change to open to change – hardest threshold to cross (personal life)
4. From Meandering to Seeking – the shift to intentional pursuit of God
5. The actual conversion to the Kingdom of God – the shift to surrender

What is happening inside the person I am influencing and what is my role in their spiritual journey?

In Stetzer’s “Evangelism Journey” we learn that our audience is journeying through misconception or rebellion to a place of faith in Jesus for salvation.

MCA Church LIFE Groups

For what and whom are you most thankful?

Consider the Apostle Peter’s message through the lens of The Evangelism Journey Acts 2:14-41.
1. Did the audience have misconceptions about God or rebellion to him?
2. Did the audience have misconceptions about Jesus or rebellion to him? 2:36
3. What stirred the interest in the audience to consider their misconceptions and rebellions? Acts 2:4, 11-12
4. Peter clarified their misconceptions and they reconsidered their rebellions and quickly came to being (2:37) “cut to the heart.” What would be similar in your ministry today?
5. What, in this passage, are the two evidences that the audience’s journey reached regeneration and conversion? 2:41

Full of Grace and Truth

My Tuesday evening message was intended to reflect the possibility that the “waves and breakers” that swept over the Psalmist in the 42nd Psalm, might be a combination of the crushing and energizing of the truth and the humbling and inspiration of grace.

As you read the concepts below, consider the glorious grace of the Loving Father in Luke 15, who, with glorious grace, celebrated the return of the wayward son.

The journey to consecrating our heart and our longings goes through the deeply emotional experience of lifting the veil to genuinely look at the truth of who we are.

Behind the veil we learn how much, like the Prodigal son, we have:
• Made our selves the center rather than God
• Drifted from Father’s House and into a distant land
• Lost awareness that our lives make sense and have a growing knowledge of the senselessness in which we live.

In the pursuit of “You desire truth in the inmost part” we see how brutal the truth can really be. Psalm 51

Maybe the challenging process of God working in our lives is what the Psalmist meant when he said, “all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalm 42:7

John 8:36 Consecrating our heart and longings with truthfulness “sets us free indeed.”

Truth is designed to be accompanied by grace! John 1:14

As we consecrate our hearts and our longings by lifting the veil with truthfulness, we might expect similarities to the Prodigal son:
• I am embarrassed.
o I live among pigs
o I am senseless
o I am hungry
o I am not worthy
• I am afraid.
o The Father has every right to be angry with my behavior.
o The Father has every right to be filled with wrath toward me.
• I am guilty.
o I have sinned against heaven
o I have sinned against Father

Upon the truthfulness behind the veil we realize, I am embarrassed, I am afraid, I am guilty, BUT I have no other option but to head back to Father’s house. John 6:68

Father knows truth yet in His grace he has been scanning the horizon looking to show that He is full of grace and truth.

Maybe Psalm 42:7 isn’t just the brutal waves that break error from our lives, but swells of God’s grace. “All your waves and breakers swept over me.”

Let’s interview the Prodigal son who long ago returned to Father’s House. Long ago he lifted the veil in truthfulness, returned to Father’s House and consecrated his heart and his longings.

1. Prodigal son, was Father’s blessing a one time deal?

John 1:16 “From the fullness of his grace we have received one blessing after another.”

2. Prodigal son, does the weight of your past, the memories of “squandering your father’s wealth” knock you to the ground?

Romans 5:2 “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”

3. Prodigal, how did you find Father’s good favor? You didn’t have any money left to appease Him.

Romans 3:24 “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

4. I suppose that even in Father’s House you could find that you barely make it.

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”

5. What do you do when you feel the call of the past to return to living selfishly, in a distant land, and in a senseless manner? Do you ever run out of strength?

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

6. With the power of memory, do you ever feel like that poor, pig slop eating prodigal son?

Ephesians 2:7 “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

7. Isn’t this too good to be true? Aren’t you afraid this will suddenly end?

2 Thessalonians 2:16 “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,”

My altar call tonight is Hebrews 4:16“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Acts 20:32 “Now I commit you to God and the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctif


Following are my message notes from today’s day service talk. My prayer is that the MCA Church story becomes consistently told by our entire congregation in ways that represent our heart.


MCA Church has just completed one of our most important teaching series in the story of our worship community.

Live Local: Fully Alive, Here, Now brought us into the importance of living the full life of Jesus in our daily lives. MCA Church, we are not hearers only, but doers of Jesus’ teaching. James 1:22-25

Today I am filled with joy as I announce MCA Church’s three newest Live Local initiatives.

• After extensive preparation MCA Church is now approved as an Anchorage Cold Weather Family Shelter.
o When the Anchorage weather is below 32 degrees, we are Anchorage’s overflow shelter facility for families. A family is defined as parent and child or husband and wife.
o We are the selected shelter for Thursday evenings.
o Your help is needed. Please write your contact information and place it on the cross as a statement that you will carry the ministry of Jesus into Thursday evenings, as needed.
• Food insecurity is a rapidly growing challenge in South Central Alaska, especially among children. MCA Church, after feeding children in various countries of the world, we are becoming part of a solution to hungry children in East Anchorage. We have leased (at a greatly reduced rate) the MCA Church kitchen, gym, and an office (from 9-5 Monday – Friday) to the Lunch Box of Anchorage. EXCITING!!!
o The Lunch Box, a service of the Anchorage Soup Kitchen, prepares lunch for food insecure children and delivers the meal to them at school.
o Each evening at 4 PM, the Lunch Box prepares an evening meal for Anchorage’s youngest citizens. The children and student’s meals will be served in the MCA Church Gymnasium.
• MCA Church Women’s Ministry announces our first LIVE Local Walk-a-thon to assist in ending human trafficking in South Central Alaska. The Walk-a-thon is at Begich Middle School on Sunday, September 9.

These types of opportunities urge us to become more sophisticated in knowing how to tell the world the MCA Church story.

For some time now, we have been learning to tell our individual stories of God’s great grace in our lives.

What is the story of our group? To what storyline is God calling us? If “We’ve a story to tell to the nations” what makes our story one of a kind?

The Church is a BIG deal to God. There are many facets to the Church.
• The Church universal and the church local
• The church gathered and the church scattered
• The church organism and the church organization

Any way we view the church, it is a big deal to God. 1 Timothy 3:15
• God’s household
• Belongs to God
• The pillar and foundation of the truth

The next generation of Christians is screaming for the Church to align with today’s text and be an activated force in the world for the cause of Jesus.

MCA Church’s identity includes:
• The faith to pursue your full potential in Christ (Ephesians 2:10)
• An invitation to what is next in your life of faith (Revelation 22:17)
• An experience with the real presence of God (Exodus 33:15)
• A way forward (Isaiah 30:21)
• The unleashing of Kingdom capacities (Acts 1:8)

MCA Church’s Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames 2012

What an amazing favor of the Lord on the presentation of the drama Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames last evening. Although we don’t remember exactly, we estimate that 2012 is our 19th year of presenting the Gospel to South Central Alaska through this remarkable drama.

My soul was stirred by the processes of the new style of invitation to receive Jesus as Lord. In the MCA Church style of connecting with God, 29 people placed prayer needs on the crosses. Fantastic! We are setting ourselves to prayer for them already. May their personal growth and development in Christian spiritual maturity be astounding.

I am expecting each evening to have the same type of God’s blessing. You are invited to attend this evening’s presentation at 7 PM in MCA Live.

Competition that Counts

I am speaking tonight at a pre-tournament worship service for the Island Revival 2nd Annual Softball Tournament. What is the essence of competition? When the lights dim, the crowds disperse, the event is over and you are all alone with your thoughts…what will matter then?

Competition really isn’t about winning; it is about excelling as a person within the competition.

If competition is about winning, any means is justified. Win in any way, at any cost, regardless of character, integrity, and honesty.

Today, in particular, this is of interest. Roger Clemens was found not-guilty of lying to Congress (and many other charges) about cheating in sports with steroids and human growth hormones. Roger has been a remarkable winner. The question was simply, did he excel as a person with the competition or did he go outside of the competition?

For our Island Revival Softball Tournament let’s use 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 as the competition within which we excel at softball.

1. Love
2. Patience
3. Kindness
4. No envy
5. No boasting
6. No pride
7. No dishonor of others
8. No self-seeking
9. No easy anger
10. No record of wrongs
11. Rejoice with the truth