Tuesday, June 23, 2009

John Ortberg on Vision and Methods

John Ortberg wrote the following on the Monvee blog:

Where this vision is lacking, we can try to push people into all kinds of methods of spiritual growth. We can flood them with classes and bible studies and small groups and services, but it is like pushing noodles up Mt Everest.

We might think of four quadrants:

  • Where people have methods but no correct vision, there is legalism.
  • Where people have vision but no wise methods, there is frustration.
  • Where people have neither vision nor methods, there is apathy.
  • Where people have right vision and effective methods—there is growth.
So I find myself thinking a lot about spiritual vision these days. It poses two questions:

Am I teaching this vision? I’m constantly trying to find ways to teach so that people understand that what Jesus offers really is the only way to what they want the most, in their best selves.

Am I living this life? There is no talk in the world captivating enough to speak louder than my life. It was Jesus’ life that made people want so desperately to hear Jesus’ message.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Best and Worst states to get a speeding ticket

Here's a piece from MSNBC that lists the worst and best states for getting speeding and other driving-related tickets.

The state ranked the worst based on 17 factors, including:

  • Speed limits.
  • The use of red-light or speed cameras.
  • Laws banning cell phone use while driving.
  • Whether speeders are allowed jury trials.
  • The number of speed traps (weighted by population).

The worst five:

1. New Jersey
2. Ohio
3. Maryland
4. Louisiana
5. New York

The best five:

50. Wyoming
49. Idaho
48. Montana
47. Nebraska
46. Kentucky

My home state of South Dakota is #42 and my current state of Minnesota is #44.  The only speeding ticket I have received in my 18 years of driving was in South Dakota (1998).  I think my wife must be seeking out the police in Minnesota!  ;-)


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tornados near Waseca and Austin, MN

The first three photos come from the photo gallery on the Waseca County News website. Photo above by Ginny Bergerson, second photo by Wes Ruedy, third photo by Phil Wala. First picture is the storm cell, second picture is of the tornado North of Waseca, third picture is the same cell I saw the beginnings of a funnel cloud in, and the fourth photo is a captured image from my lightning video #2.

Yesterday was an eventful and long day for me, as anyone following me on Twitter would have seen.

I started the evening off with about 25 or so people from our church at a cookout at Clear Lake Park in Waseca. We gather there each Wednesday for supper at 6:00PM and the church provides the hot dogs, buns and condiments. While we were eating we were alerted by phone (plus by people walking through the park) that we were under a tornado warning - yes warning. The sky above us was still blue, but we could see the storms building both East and West of us. We were sandwiched between two super cells. Around 7:00PM after everyone when home, I ran up the street to our house (we live 4 houses up from the park) and flipped on the TV to see what was going on. TV showed a "hook echo" from the back side of the cloud that was quite literally just in front of our house. So I ran outside, down to the lake front to see what I could spot. About the time I got to the water, the tornado sirens started going off and the wind started shifting. It was mid 80's and dripping wet humidity, with a strong breeze out of the Southeast (rare for this region). Within 5 minutes it dropped to low 70's and about 1/2 the humidity. And sirens were still going off. I could see across the lake to the East that it was raining hard, and I could also see what looked like the beginnings of a funnel cloud, though I couldn't see anything that extended all the way to the ground. This was later confirmed by a trained spotter as a tornado. Apparently at this same time people at the North end of the lake in the clubhouse of the country club saw a water spout out on the lake as well. Additionally, there was a tornado sighting 5 or so miles North and a bit East of our house, on the road towards Morristown, MN.

Then my cell phone rings, not a number I recognize, but I pick up anyhow. It is my 8+ months pregnant wife who is in Austin, MN for a Gifted and Talented Teachers Conference sponsored by Hormel. She says that the hotel they are in just asked them all to take cover and put their heads down in the tornado position in the back of their conference room. She also informs me that she left her phone in the car, and is calling on a borrowed phone. And that she has to get off the phone immediately and she'll call later. Click.

20 or so minutes later I get a call, this time from my wife's phone, and she's doing just fine. A bit panicked, but the building and people are all fine. But they have no electricity in town, and the leaders of the conference she is at will not let her drive the 60 miles home by herself. So she asks that I grab an over night bag for her and come get her. She wants to come home, but also wants to be prepared.

The whole drive from Waseca to Austin was a veritable fireworks show of lightning. Literally not a moment where some lightning wasn't flashing in front of me. I left Waseca just at dusk, and it was dark out before I made it to Owatonna. What I could see though was as I got closer to Owatonna, the ditches became more and more full of rainwater. And there was standing water in the fields as well. And this during a period of drought throughout this region. I made my way toward Austin via Blooming Prairie on Hwy. 218, stopping to record some video of the lighting for a few minutes. As I passed through Blooming Prairie I could see into the firehouse, and all the trucks were out of their stalls. A short while later I passed all the trucks returning to the fire station from somewhere the direction of Lansing, just North of Austin.

As I got near to Austin, it became clear that the whole region had lost power. All the farms were dark, and there was no glow from the city to guide me in. As I crested a small hill, I saw flashing lights ahead on the road. As I got to the lights I discovered the road was closed to both Southbound and Eastbound traffic into Austin. I asked one of the support workers and he suggested some back roads that would bring me into town. So I turned around, and managed to maneuver my way down some narrow and very soft/muddy country roads West of Austin. Eventually I snaked my way into the West side of Austin and then blindly worked my way to the hotel my wife was in. It was very difficult to find the hotel, because there weren't any lighted signs to see where thing were located, no moon light, nothing. Pitch black. I managed to accidently find the back side of the parking lot, and after circling the building my wife saw my headlights and confirmed I was at the right place. It was spooky dark out, just a notch above the back of the cave with no flashlight dark.

My wife informed me upon my arrival that we are staying the night in the hotel. Great. I didn't pack anything for me, but she's 8 months+ pregnant, I'm not dumb enough to argue. So we get the last room with a king bed (I need a king bed BTW!) and one of the maintence staff gives us a handful of tea light candels plus a book of matches, and with his flash light leads us through the building to our room. It was a quiet evening, obviously. No lights, no AC or anything. We managed to get hot showers since I figured by morning the water will have cooled or run out.

This video is of the Austin, MN tornado:

This video shows the cloud rotation quite nicely:

BTW, there is nothing really special in these videos, but since I took them I figured I'd include them.

Video #1 - taken from the side of Hwy. 218. I tried to talk but the wind and thunder, and occasional car make it about impossible to hear much of what I was saying.

Video #2 - same clouds, just zoomed in a little bit. I know, I don't have a high quality recording setup.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Amazon Store!

I have created an Amazon Store where I will keep a list of some of my favorite resources. It is very book heavy, but there are movies, a camera and some other odds and ends as well. These are products I really have used and liked and have no hesitation recommending. Click Here (or see the sidebar on the right) to check out my store!

New books by Albert Mohler, Jr. and Jud Wilhite

I got some new books in the mail a while back that both look to be very interesting. I will hopefully be reading them both later this summer as time allows. Unfortunately my current schedule with a baby due in 4 weeks has kept me from doing more than thumb through them. But both books look like excellent candidates for Father's Day gifts if you don't know what to get good 'ole dad this year. Click either of the book titles to find out more and/or purchase from Amazon.com.

The Disappearance of God
By Dr. R. Albert Mohler

“Great biblical truths are meant not only for our intellectual acceptance, but for our spiritual health.” –Dr. Al Mohler

More faulty information about God swirls around us today than ever before. No wonder so many followers of Christ are unsure of what they really believe in the face of the new spiritual openness attempting to alter unchanging truth.

For centuries the church has taught and guarded the core Christian beliefs that make up the essential foundations of the faith. But in our postmodern age, sloppy teaching and outright lies create rampant confusion, and many Christians are free-falling for “feel-good” theology.

We need to know the truth to save ourselves from errors that will derail our faith.

As biblical scholar, author, and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, writes, “The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack.” With wit and wisdom he tackles the most important aspects of these modern issues:
Is God changing His mind about sin?
Why is hell off limits for many pastors?
What’s good or bad about the “dangerous” emergent movement?
Have Christians stopped seeing God as God?
Is the social justice movement misguided?
Could the role of beauty be critical to our theology?
Is liberal faith any less destructive than atheism?
Are churches pandering to their members to survive?

In the age-old battle to preserve the foundations of faith, it's up to a new generation to confront and disarm the contemporary shams and fight for the truth. Dr. Mohler provides the scriptural answers to show you how.

The Disappearance of God for your Kindle.

Eyes Wide Open
By Jud Wilhite

I had it all backwards. The main thing was not my love for God, but his love for me. And from that love I respond to God as one deeply flawed, yet loved. I’m not looking to prove my worth. I’m not searching for acceptance. I’m living out of the worth God already declares I have. I’m embracing his view of me and in the process discovering the person he created me to be.

In Eyes Wide Open, Jud Wilhite invites you to discover the real you. Not the you who pretends to be perfect to satisfy everyone’s expectations. Not the you who always feels guilty before God. Not the you who secretly feels God forgives everyone else but only tolerates you. Not the you who looks in the mirror and sees a failure. The real you, loved and forgiven by God, living out of your identity in Christ.

A travel guide through real spirituality from one incomplete person to another, Eyes Wide Open is a book of stories about following God in the messes of life, about broken pasts and our lifelong need for grace. It is a book about seeing ourselves and God with new eyes–eyes wide open to a God of love.

Eyes Wide Open for your Kindle.

For more info on either of these books check them out at Random House Publishers:
The Disappearance of GodEyes Wide Open

This final book I haven't yet decided if I will read or not. I enjoy fantasy, but right now my schedule is so full that I am not doing a lot of leisure reading. I'll save it, and hopefully will have more time for it down the road.

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished.

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes–life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Study links teen depression to bedtimes

From USA Today:

Teens whose parents let them stay up after
midnight on weeknights have a much higher chance of being depressed or
suicidal than teens whose parents enforce an earlier bedtime, says
research being presented today at a national sleep conference.

The findings are the first to examine bedtimes'
effects on kids' mental health — and the results are noteworthy.
Middle- and high-schoolers whose parents don't require them to be in
bed before midnight on school nights are 42% more likely to be
depressed than teens whose parents require a 10 p.m. or earlier
bedtime. And teens who are allowed to stay up late are 30% more likely
to have had suicidal thoughts in the past year.

The differences are smaller but still
significant — 25% and 20%, respectively — after controlling for age,
sex, race and ethnicity.

A team led by Columbia University Medical Center
researcher James Gangwisch examined surveys from 15,659 teens and their
parents who took part in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study of
adolescent health. Previous research has established a firm connection
between teens getting less sleep and feeling depressed or suicidal.

The NIH survey found that kids whose parents
called for a 9-10 p.m. bedtime said they were in bed, on average, by
10:04 p.m. They slept for 8 hours and 10 minutes on average, compared
with 7½ hours for kids allowed to stay up past midnight.

The lesson for parents is simple, Gangwisch
says: Try as much as possible to sell teenagers on the importance of
getting enough sleep — even if it seems that they don't need as much as
younger children (actually, they need as much — about nine hours — but
usually get only 7½ hours or so, according to the NIH).

"We feel like we can just eat into our sleep time," he says, "but we pay for it in many different ways."

The new data come from analyses of NIH surveys
from 1994 to 1996, but Gangwisch believes the disparities between teens
with and without prescribed bedtimes are even greater today, given
greater distractions in their lives. In 1996, for instance, teens
couldn't stay up late texting friends and checking Facebook pages.

"I would guess that there are more kids getting less sleep," he says.

Gangwisch is presenting the findings in Seattle
at SLEEP 2009, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep

READERS: Does your teen have a bedtime? Did you? How can you enforce it? Would you like to see school start times pushed back?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Robert Schuller Starts Television Program

Rev. Robert A. Schuller, son of Crystal Cathedral founder Rev. Robert H. Schuller, announced that he has formed a partnership with his son-in-law, Chris Wyatt, to acquire AmericanLife TV to broadcast "family-friendly" programs. Wyatt is the founder and former CEO of GodTube.com — now known as Tangle.com. Schuller says that his new program 1s "not going to be a preachy show," but will "challenge and motivate people to want to act like Christ."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Hayford Will Not Seek Second Term as President of Denomination

Pastor Jack Hayford announced last week, during The Foursquare Church's convention in Anaheim, Calif., that he will not seek a second term as president of the denomination. Hayford was elected to serve as president in June 2004, then 69, becoming the fourth person to hold the title. Hayford said God helped him realize that commitment to another full five-year mission as president would be "unwise" for him to attempt "with all else that is before me at this point in life." The board will appoint an interim president to serve until the next convention when a vote will be conducted to select a president. [StreamingFaith.com]

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ministry Expansion May Lead to Growth - LifeWay Research

A new survey conducted by LifeWay Research shows that the majority of Protestant churches (65 percent) have expanded their facilities, increased their presence on the Internet or added worship services within the past five years.

The study, "Effects of Ministry Space and Outlet Expansion," was based on interviews with 1,000 pastors in February of this year. According to the research:

  • 28 percent of the pastors interviewed said they added an additional worship service or venue on site.
  • 28 percent of the pastors said they participated in starting a new church.
  • 27 percent of the pastors said they built new or additional ministry space at the same site.
  • 14 percent of the pastors said they began offering streaming video of the worship service on the Internet.
  • 10 percent of the pastors added an additional worship service off site.

The research also attempted to determine if the changes made at the churches represented in the study, led to attendance growth. LifeWay discovered that:

  • Overall, 44 percent of the pastors that engaged in ministry expansion experienced an increase in worship attendance of at least 10 percent in the past five years.
  • Among churches that were not engaged in ministry expansion in the last five years, only 34 percent experienced attendance growth, 37 percent had no change in attendance and 29 percent experienced decline.
  • Of the new attendees who came in the last five years, the pastors in the study estimate that 49 percent have transferred from other churches, 32 percent were unchurched and 19 percent were children born to current members.

"Many churches who do not take steps to expand are struggling," said Scott McConnell of LifeWay Research. "Pastors of churches who take the same message to more people through new methods and new media are expressing the positive impact of these steps of faith."

For further details about the study, visit www.lifeway.com.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Pastor James MacDonald with some preaching advice

Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Fellowship has some wisdom for new and young pastors about preaching. I'm totally feeling him on the time limit, as that is one I try to keep in mind (usually). This Fireproof series has killed my time limit, but I intend to keep my messages more compact for the rest of the summer. It is clear when I run over and loose my audience. Some of that is me, some of that is the culture of our church, but either way I have to keep it in mind as I prepare my sermon for the week. And he's right, preaching is definately learning via trial by fire, and thankfully my church has been quite gracious with me.

Pastor MacDonald writes:

One of my greatest joys these days is working with young preachers
trying to ‘fast track’ them through some of the lessons I have learned
through almost three decades of preaching. I was blessed to attend some
great schools, but truthfully most of the bit I have learned about
preaching came from painful Sunday afternoons of lamenting the ‘getting
it wrong’ and determining to do it better next time. I am humbled and
blessed by the thought that my lessons learned through much travail can
be given to hungry young preachers just starting out.

Ok so here’s some of the mistakes I made and observe:

Monday, June 01, 2009

A clear and concise confession of faith

The following serves as the confession of faith for both The Gospel Coalition as well as for the ReTrain wing of Resurgence ministries out of Mars Hill Church and Acts29 Network in Seattle. It is a very clear and concise document that reflect very well my own personal beliefs. Credit to these men for writing it, and I am adopting it personally.


As part of the founding council of The Gospel Coalition, Pastor Mark Driscoll was honored to participate in the authoring of the following confession of faith along with men such as Don Carson, Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, CJ Mahaney, Joshua Harris, and James MacDonald. This confession serves as the doctrinal statement for Re:Train.

The Triune God
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, he perfectly and exhaustively knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace.

God has graciously disclosed his existence and power in the created order, and has supremely revealed himself to fallen human beings in the person of his Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who by his Spirit has graciously disclosed himself in human words: we believe that God has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both record and means of his saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. We confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but we affirm that, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly. The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.

Creation of Humanity
We believe that God created human beings, male and female, in his own image. Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker. Men and women, equally made in the image of God, enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather
they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. The distinctive leadership role within the church given to qualified men is grounded in creation, fall, and redemption and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments.

The Fall
We believe that Adam, made in the image of God, distorted that image and forfeited his original blessedness—for himself and all his progeny—by falling into sin through Satan’s temptation. As a result, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention. The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand; the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself.

The Plan of God
We believe that from all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them. We believe that God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and that he will one day glorify them—all to the praise of his glorious grace. In love God commands and implores all people to repent and believe, having set his saving love on those he has chosen and having ordained Christ to be their Redeemer.

The Gospel
We believe that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ—God’s very wisdom. Utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved, this good news is christological, centering on the cross and resurrection: the gospel is not proclaimed if Christ is not proclaimed, and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed if his death and resurrection are not central (the message is Christ died for our sins . . . [and] was raised”). This good news is biblical (his death and resurrection are according to the Scriptures), theological and salvific (Christ died for our sins, to reconcile us to God), historical (if the saving events did not happen, our faith is worthless, we are still in our sins, and we are to be pitied more than all others), apostolic (the message was entrusted to and transmitted by the apostles, who were witnesses of these saving events), and intensely personal (where it is received, believed, and held firmly, individual persons are saved).

The Redemption of Christ
We believe that, moved by love and in obedience to his Father, the eternal Son became human: the Word became flesh, fully God and fully human being, one Person in two natures. The man Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel, was conceived through the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the virgin Mary. He perfectly obeyed his heavenly Father, lived a sinless life, performed miraculous signs, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. As the mediatorial King, he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, exercising in heaven and on earth all of God’s sovereignty, and is our High Priest and righteous Advocate. We believe that by his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus Christ acted as our representative and substitute. He did this so that in him we might become the righteousness of God: on the cross he canceled sin, propitiated God, and,
by bearing the full penalty of our sins, reconciled to God all those who believe. By his resurrection Christ Jesus was vindicated by his Father, broke the power of death and defeated Satan who once had power over it, and brought everlasting life to all his people; by his ascension he has been forever exalted as Lord and has prepared a place for us to be with him. We believe that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. Because God chose the lowly things of this world, the despised things, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, no human being can ever boast before him—Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.

The Justification of Siners
We believe that Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By his sacrifice, he bore in our stead the punishment due us for our sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on our behalf. By his perfect obedience he satisfied the just demands of God on our behalf, since by faith alone that perfect obedience is credited to all who trust in Christ alone for their acceptance with God. Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. We
believe that a zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification.

The Power of the Holy Spirit
We believe that this salvation, attested in all Scripture and secured by Jesus Christ, is applied to his people by the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as the other Paraclete, is present with and in believers. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and by his powerful and mysterious work regenerates spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to repentance and faith, baptizing them into union with the Lord Jesus, such that they are justified before God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. By the Spirit’s agency, believers are renewed, sanctified, and adopted into God’s family; they participate in the divine nature and receive his sovereignly distributed gifts.
The Holy Spirit is himself the down payment of the promised inheritance, and in this age indwells, guides, instructs, equips, revives, and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.

The Kingdom of God
We believe that those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed. Good works constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace. Living as salt in a world that is decaying and light in a world that is dark, believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it: rather, we are to do good to the city, for all the glory and honor of the nations is to be offered up to the living God. Recognizing whose created order this is, and because we are citizens of God’s kingdom, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all, especially to those who belong to the household of God. The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. It therefore inevitably establishes a new community of human life together under God.

God’s New People
We believe that God’s new covenant people have already come to the heavenly Jerusalem; they are already seated with Christ in the heavenlies. This universal church is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head; thus each local church” is, in fact, the church, the household of God, the assembly of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth. The church is the body of Christ, the apple of his eye, graven on his hands, and he has pledged himself to her forever. The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacred ordinances, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members’ love for one another and for the world. Crucially, this gospel we cherish has both personal and corporate dimensions, neither of which may properly be overlooked. Christ Jesus is our peace: he has not only brought about peace with God, but also peace between alienated peoples. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world when its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-focus. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world.

Baptism and the Lord’s Super
We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by the Lord Jesus himself. The former is connected with entrance into the new covenant community, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of his return and of the consummation of all things.

The Restoration of All Things
We believe in the personal, glorious, and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ with his holy angels, when he will exercise his role as final Judge, and his kingdom will be consummated. We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust—the unjust to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell, as our Lord himself taught, and the just to eternal blessedness in the presence of him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness. On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the immediacy of his ineffable holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.

(This version was taken from the ReTrain Catalog)