Altogether New Life – Before You Begin

green_leaf_buds_and_dew_closeup_highdefinition_picture_169119Avalon Beach Church (ABC) is getting back to simplicity in Church.  We will not focus on buildings and programs, we will focus on the gospel and people.  Our mission is as easy as A – B – C:  Advance the Gospel, Believe for changed lives and Create simple Churches.  We expect people to come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, Lord and coming King.  And we want to help them grow into strong and committed followers of Christ.

Altogether New Life is a 7 week study for new believers in Christ.  You can use it individually as a personal study, but the very best thing would be to gather a few people all together and do this study as a group.  Why not even invite some who may not have a relationship with Christ?  Who knows what may happen in this simple and powerful gathering?  God doesn’t intend that any of us make it on our own. Rugged individualism may be American, but it is not Christian. In God’s family, we are called to a whole lot of “one anothers”: be kind to one another, love one another, honor one another, confess to one another, etc. In God’s Family, we make a Declaration of Interdependence!

The word altogether means wholly, to a complete degree, to the full extent. This is exactly the kind of life Jesus has given you. Look at this promise of Jesus: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). These are the ingredients that are necessary for this kind of full life: The Holy Spirit, prayer, the Bible and Christ-like friends. Altogether New Life is meant to be a primer for you to access all of these. I am asking the Lord to connect these posts with many who will begin this adventure with a few friends, who will in turn gather some friends and lead them on the same adventure.Each Altogether New Life post will include the following elements:

A primer for Christian growth

Scripture to study

An honest prayer by a fellow saint

The most important thing is for you to believe God all together. Jesus said: The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:29). And He said these words not long after He fed about 20,000 people with one little boy’s lunch. Explore the blessings and power of Jesus together. Ask yourself each time you gather: “What are we believing God for today that only He could do?”

Jesus has promised you Altogether New Life! Amazing . . .

Before you begin, I want to share with you about the first person that I helped come to know Christ.

Scott came to our youth group that Sunday night because it was a part of the punishment his parents had given him. When he came in, I was a little shocked. I knew Scott from my sixth grade class. He was one of the last kids I expected to be at our UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship).  I was equally surprised that Scott stayed after the youth group meeting and went to our Sunday night service. He must have really messed up with his parents! This was our informal “gospel” service. We sang from the burgundy gospel hymnal instead of the bright red United Methodist hymnal that we used on Sunday mornings. The songs in the evening were more upbeat like: “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,” and “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.” When we really loosened up, we would sing from the booklet that someone typed for the church, songs like “He’s Everything to Me” and “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” My dad wouldn’t preach from the high pulpit on Sunday nights. He came down on the same level as everyone else. And he would usually preach a gospel message. He faithfully invited people to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior at these services.

I sat in the back pew with Scott that night. The whole time my dad was preaching, I was thinking about how awesome it would be for him to go forward when the altar call was made. By the time we got to the last hymn, (it was probably “Just As I Am”), I was really intent on Scott going forward to receive Jesus. We sang the first verse and I prayed for Scott to go forward. He didn’t. We sang through the second verse and I prayed harder. He didn’t move. We sang the third verse and I closed my eyes and really torpedoed my prayer: “God, make Scott go forward so my dad can lead him to Jesus!”

I had seen my dad do this many times before. He was a professional!  Scott didn’t budge, but I could see a tenderness in his face.  When we got to the last verse, I felt the Lord speaking to me. “If Scott is going to know me, you will have to lead him to me.”

“Not a chance, there is no way I could do that!” Is what I was thinking. But after the song was over, I found myself sliding towards him on the pew. I asked him if we wanted to invite Jesus into his heart. A tear started to fall from Scott’s eye. He said: “Yes.”  I did my best, remembering the steps that I had seen my dad take people through. Scott said that he believed the things I told him from the Bible. He prayed a prayer after me. I remember looking at him after he prayed. I stared at him, it was a little awkward, but I couldn’t help it. Scott looked different!

He was, and so was I. In fact, I’ve never been the same. When you’ve been used to take someone’s hand and place it into the hand of Jesus, you can’t be the same. At times, I think it is even better than your own salvation; that Jesus would let us join Him in this is beyond belief!

I’m so grateful to Jesus and Scott for allowing me to join in this holy activity. . . I guess I should be thankful for Scott’s parents too!

I hope that you get to experience this, and I hope that these posts help.

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