Monday, June 21, 2004


We had a wonderful message at church yesterday brought to us by Rob. Rob is a member of the PLT (Pastoral Leadership Team) and this was his very first message to the church. Our PLT splits up the teaching ministries, so each week we never really know who it is we will hear from, but we always know it will be sound teaching.

Yesterday the teaching was on Stephen. Acts 6-7

One thing Rob wanted us to understand is that Stephen "was a guy, just a guy". He was not presented in the gospel as a "Hebrew of Hebrews" or as a man of upstanding citizenship. He was a guy...An ordinary person just like you or I.

So, what made a regular guy do what he did? Rob challenged us to think about not only what made him do something like that, but to think about what made him BE like that.

It was a very inspiring message, at least it was to me. Rob dissected some interesting things about Stephen that may help us to see where we should be in our relationship with Christ.

Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and very passionate about his faith in Jesus. This was not a "full of the Spirit" as in barking like a dog, laughing uncontrollably, rolling around on the ground, or slain in the Spirit, this was a moment in Stephen's life in which the Spirit of God so filled him that he was not full of himself. He was not fearful. He spoke with confidence when he spoke, and when he didn't speak, that spoke even louder. Stephen was chosen because he was a man "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit". His devotion to Jesus is what was so visible and is what mattered most.

What Rob wanted us to get from that was that "the most basic requirement for effective service as a Christian is not giftedness, but rather intense love and devotion to Jesus." It was here that Rob shared the Abyss illustration that I shared about yesterday.

Rob continued to teach about the effects of having this intense love and devotion for Christ, and of being full of the Holy Spirit:

  • no fear

  • no hesitation

  • no self-defense

  • hitting the ball out of the park for Jesus

  • That "hitting the ball out of the park for Jesus" part blew me away. Rob said that at the moment Stephen was being stoned, that God's will was being done on earth as it is in heaven. POWERFUL! Imagine, being so sold out for God that we are THAT obedient, and that HIS WILL is actually done here as it is in heaven! WOW!

    At this point Rob reminded us about Cassie Bernall, who "said yes" when the Columbine killers asked her if she believed in God. That was her moment to do God's will on earth as it is in heaven. God gives us these moments in our lives. He desires for us to seize them, because it is during those moments that we experience Him like we never have before!

    "Seizing those moments doesn't always result in death, but it does always result in God's glory!" Rob said. He encouraged us not to look for signs and wonders, but to look for an opportunity. A God-glorifying opportunity.

    It is this kind of faith that will result in effective ministry at Northbrook. One of the PLT members at a recent meeting, noted that "this is a church that means it". Northbrook is a church striving to glorify God and seeks the kind of faith that empowers Christians. Rob noted that "if this is a church that really means it, then we need Christians that really mean it.

    This message fascinated me. To think that Stephen was just like me, and that he seized his opportunity to shine for God and that while he was asking forgiveness for those who were stoning him, God gave him a gift. His face was like that of angel, and when he spoke, hearts were sliced open. Stephen saw the glory of God!

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