Month: February 2018

Surely God Is in This Place

That is what so many of us experienced at our Friday Night Worship and Dedication. This is what so many of us experience week after week.

This past week, I read and taught through a number of passages about PLACE.

Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord and called that place Peniel, because he saw the face of God there.

Moses found himself facing a burning bush and hearing the voice of God speak to him, telling him that the place where he was standing was holy ground (Exodus 3:1-6).

When Solomon dedicated the temple in Jerusalem he wondered if the God whom the heavens cannot contain would actually dwell in that temple/place (2 Chronicles 6:18-21). But that is exactly what God did in spectacular fashion (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

That is what we experience at Living Word. God is in this place.

And we spent the last year expanding and renovating our place.

So, what is a place? I recently had an upgrade in my understanding of place when I read: No Home Like Place: A Christian Theology of Place.

A place is a setting, a location, an environment, and a habitat. The place called Living Word is 44 …

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Help in Discerning the Times

On Sunday, the message began with a biblical teaching on discerning the times (1 Chronicles 12:32; Jeremiah 6:16; Isaiah 43:18-19).

To discern the times means we actually know what is going on, what people are thinking, how they are acting, what motivates them, etc. But most of us go on our own personal experience and just assume that our experience and opinion and perspective is true for everyone. It is a form of distortion bias.

So, we need to collect information. We need to do studies, surveys, polls, and interviews, or find those whose job it is to do just that. One of my favorite sources is the Barna Group (you can read their history here), which has been doing this about specifically Christian matters since 1984.

I just picked up a copy of BarnaTrends 2018. It is a good read, a fun read, a visually well-designed read, and one that communicates a good deal of information and insight about that information. See the table of contents below.

These are the types of resources that help our lead team study, reflect, dialogue, and discern the future of faith in our community, and what we need to do to be missionally …

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Our Night of Worship and Dedication || Guest Blog by Leigh Grames

This past Friday we experienced an incredible evening of worship, prayer, celebration, and community as we gathered for Night of Worship. The highlight of the night was a special prayer and dedication led by Pastor Brian, which you can read below. As you read this post we hope you feel inspired by the images, prayer, and set list. We are excited about the purposes and vision God has given us for 2018 and beyond. Thank you for being part of this beautiful journey!

Dedication of Ourselves and Consecration of This Place: A Responsive Prayer

Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done – in this Place, as it is in heaven. And the people said – Amen.

God, when we sin and we will, hear our prayers of confession and forgive us our sins. And the people said – Amen.

Lord God, we are your chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, those who belong to you, and those who have received mercy, give us always a heart of worship and praise. And the people said – Amen.

Our awesome God, fill this place with your presence, teach us your ways, and …

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Time for Men to Step Up on the Sexual Abuse Pandemic

The church has a vital role in the world. While the core of our ministry is the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith, and the lifelong transformation by grace so we become mature followers of Jesus, we then go out into the world to address all the hurt, brokenness, and messiness of the world!

One of the areas of our WORST BROKENNESS, and let’s name it even more powerfully, our GREATEST EVIL, are the sexual sins of abuse that are perpetrated against women.

The courage of so many women who are standing up, who are silent no more, and who are LEADING us in this desperately needed societal change – they deserve a standing ovation.

And when I read the recent post by one of my favorite pastors and cultural savants, James Emery White, I knew right away I wanted you to read it also. The statistics are staggering for the numbers of women who are sexually abused.

White speaks like a prophet and a pastor on this one. His message:

Men – it is way past time for you to stand up, make your voice heard, protest against this evil… and much more.

Now is the time …

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Our Wealth Is in the Cross || guest post by Ryan Lewis

We’ve recently introduced a new song to our church family called “Crowns.” When I first heard this song, I was at once convicted, humbled, and motivated to invite Jesus Christ again onto the throne of my heart. Soon after, I felt the Lord telling my spirit that this was a song we needed to sing at Living Word.

It is so easy to let the beautiful things God has created in this world become number one in our lives. Success becomes a god. A significant other becomes a god. Money becomes a god. A favorite vice—harmless or otherwise—becomes a god. We are so prone to magnify the creation, rather than worship the creator.

“Crowns” specifically addresses what is arguably the highest secular deity in our culture. Financial prosperity is often the gateway to other things that we value, so it becomes that one thing we feel we must chase at all costs.

The second verse of “Crowns” is:

I will not boast in riches
I have no pride in gold
But I will boast in Jesus
And in His name alone

Jeremiah 9:23 provides a command from the Lord: “Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don’t let heroes …

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Friendship Is at the Heart of Marriage

Of all the many excellent insights and encouragements in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, there is one strong foundation Gottman says must be in place:

At the heart of the Seven Principles approach is the simple truth that happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company… They have an abiding fondness not just in the big ways but through small gestures day in and day out.

While there are many more necessary lessons (and I will share some of them in the days to come), this is at the foundation.

Whatever you can do and whenever you can do it, look for ways to strengthen friendship and fondness for one another within your marriage.

Pastor Brian

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It’s What Parents Do and How They Do It

The beautiful paragraph below is from Old Testament scholar John Goldingay (Old Testament Theology, vol. 3, p. 706). I hope it speaks to you as it spoke to me. (Note: It was all one paragraph in his book. I broke it up for easier reading.)


Parents passionately want their children to grow into people who identify with their own values, but they cannot manipulate this into happening or force it, because manipulation or force cannot produce that end.

So they try various other ways of making it happen.

They model these values for themselves.

They tell their children what these values are.

They encourage their children with the blessings that will follow from adhering to them and warn them about the consequences that will follow from ignoring them.

They make their children the objects of their love because love shapes character.

They put their children through tough experiences because tough experiences shape character.

They give them scope to make their own decisions so that they have opportunity to work with those values.

And then they sit back and hope nervously that all this will work, high on expectancy but sometimes experiencing disappointment.


I have one grown son, …

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Family Matters || guest post by Brian Newman

All of us live out of a social base, as it is called in some leadership development circles. Your social base is how you are supported in your work and life in general.

Who is your closest inner circle that provides spiritual and emotional support? For many, it is a spouse, siblings, and children or other extended family.

How are you supported financially and materially?

This matters – a lot. Family matters. Close community matters.

I would not be the person I am today without the relationship Susy and I have shared for more than 30 years. Thirty-three year ago we met in Geneva, Switzerland, and in 2018 we will celebrate our 30th anniversary.

We have lived in a number of places around the world: Geneva, Pasadena (California), Budapest (Hungary), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), and for the past 13 years in Denver, Colorado. We have been church planters, teaching English to Hungarian students; I have served as a missions director; and I have held several pastoral roles.

At Living Word you will see me in various contexts pretty quickly, but you might not see Susy. Oh, she will be there, but she is the classic behind-the-scenes type of person and likes …

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What I Value Most || guest post by Brian Newman

Have you ever been asked, “What really makes you tick?”

Sometimes I deflect the question by making a joke: “Well, my heart makes me tick. That’s why we call it a ticker!

But then I get serious and truly consider the question, because it is an important one. Maybe the most important one. So here is what I value most:

Four Key Personal Values

I value total devotion to God in and through Jesus Christ – my chief aim is “to love God and enjoy Him forever” (e.g. Philippians 1:21: Paul).

I value right priorities  being a godly husband, father, and friend (Proverbs 5:18-22, 18:22).

I value intentional learning – maintaining a learning posture in all of life (Exodus 33:13: Moses). If you stop learning you stop leading.

I value the truth – especially facing the truth about myself and, by God’s grace, intercepting potential flaws that might compromise my integrity (Psalm 51: David).

Six Key Leadership Values

I value humility – being led by God before attempting to lead others (John 21:15-19: Peter).

I value mentoring – having men and women in my life to help shape my vision, values, and lifestyle as a leader and to be …

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A Local Church Living and Breathing MISSION || Guest Post by Brian Newman

As you are reading this post, Brian Newman is in Europe at a conference on the refugee migration taking place in recent years and how the church can respond to these displaced Muslim people, many of whom are wide open to the Good News of Jesus. I asked Brian to share a few thoughts with us over the next several days, so you can get to know his heart.

Guest Blogger: Brian Newman

A number of years ago I had the privilege of being one of the speakers at the Living Word Missions Conference. I remember it distinctly because I had a lengthy conversation with Pastor Steve Almquist in his office before the service. It was one of the easiest and most life-giving conversations a missionary could ever have!

Here’s why: I did not have to explain myself or convince a pastor that missions and being missional is essential to the local church.

I quickly learned that mission was at the very heart of Living Word Community Church from Day 1 of its existence almost 40 years ago.

I put it this way: Living Word was missional before the word became known in the evangelical world.

In the coming few …

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