If God Is For Us

Dear Jubilee Family,

In our 1 Peter 2 text this past Sunday, Pastor Toph called us to the mission of the church which is to glorify God by displaying and proclaiming the gospel to all peoples. Wow, how could it be that God would entrust the spreading of his glory to us?

Back in chapter one we watch God do the most amazing thing. In his great mercy, God causes us to be born again to a living hope who is Jesus himself (v 3). Then by the power of God, our new found faith in that living hope, Jesus, is guarded until that day when we receive the fulness of our salvation (v 5). The journey of today is then lived out with joy in belonging to God even while we walk through all the brokenness experienced in this life (v 6). 

And so this inexpressible joy fills you, for you are now (because of his mercy) one belonging to God. Our responses to life’s joys and sorrows then become a testimony and a proclamation to the working of God who is the builder of a temple (that’s us) with a holy priesthood (that’s us) working to show and proclaim what it means to be in relationship with a holy God (that’s eternal life: John 17:3) (2:9-10).

Remembering that God’s presence fills his temple with his glory and his power, we realize afresh that we, the church, will triumph because if God is for us, then who can be against us. Internalize this, church! Ask God to make this teaching come alive in all of us today so that we overcome by the blood of the lamb where the enemy of our souls would like to destroy!

God is able to heal and to help!

We prayed through 1 Peter last evening at the prayer meeting. We prayed for us and asked God to do this amazing work in us!

Eager and expectant for all God will do!

Pastor Dan

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Where Can This Life Be Found?

Jubilee Fam, 

When the Lenten season started, I mentioned that I was reading a book called Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal (The Fullness of Time). I am really enjoying it, and it is a short read! I want to share two quotes — one which helps me understand the symbolism depicted on Ash Wednesday as we set our gaze toward Resurrection Sunday and one which connects with last week’s sermon on the topic of authority. Here is the first quote. 

If the ashes of Ash Wednesday point us toward the link between sin, death, and rebellion, they also contain something else, something more important than everything we have seen thus far. The ashes are in the shape of a cross. That cross carries within it an entire story and the foundation of human hope. It is the story of loss and gain, of the incarnation of the truly good one, his glorious life, and the triumphant defeat of death. The ashes are not just a reminder of our great failure; they remind us of God’s victory over sin and death through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son

Hope is hard to find in this world. Ashes symbolize that much sin, death, and rebellion permeate God’s good creation. In the shape of the cross, however, Ash depicts the true hope found in our crucified and yet risen and ascended King. I need to hear that today. I think you do, also. 

The second quote is much shorter. Could you ask yourself this question as you read it? Where can this life be found? Here is the excerpt — Life with God contains the good, the true, and the beautiful. Let me ask you again. Where can this life be found? As the sentence declares, this life that contains all our hearts yearn for — the good, the true, and the beautiful — is found with God. In the wake of this past Sunday’s message, “life with God” is a life submitted to God’s good authority. In one sense, this is what it means to be with him. How can someone have a life with God who refuses to live within the parameters of his excellent authority? It is under his Lordship that the good, the true, and the beautiful are found. Let’s find ourselves with this type of life with God, Jubilee. 

Pastor Lew

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Springtime of Renewal

Jubilee Fam,

As the snow descended upon the Twin Cities, the season of Lent started with Ash Wednesday. These two terms — Lent and Ash Wednesday — are another excellent example of how framing works. What comes to your mind when you read them? It is never just simply Lent or merely Ash Wednesday — It is Lent as and Ash Wednesday as. Historically, I have typically understood Lent as something I didn’t need to concern myself with and Ash Wednesday as just a Roman Catholic thing and not worthy of my Protestant attention (Lent, by the way, is not just a Roman Catholic thing. Many people across the Christian tradition observe it). Due to how I framed Lent and Ash Wednesday, I never really paid that much attention to them. I wonder these days, specifically concerning Lent, whether I should. To put some at ease, this is not a call that Christians MUST, SHOULD, or OUGHT to observe Lent. I am simply unpacking the ramblings in my mind as I consider ancient paths the church has traveled in her quest to be more like her Head. Here are some resources that I am using to get acquainted with the season: Lent: The Season of Repentance and RenewalEvery Moment HolyA Journal Through Lent; and a Lenten Playlist

Here is what I have recently happily learned — the definition of Lent! I don’t remember ever knowing what the word Lent meant for whatever reason! Taken from Every Moment Holy, "the word 'Lent' comes from the Old English lencten, meaning 'spring, springtime,' and the West Germanic langitinaz, meaning “the lengthening of days.” 🤯 I had no idea! My conception of Lent was largely taken up with the idea of fasting or having to give something up. I naturally assumed “Lent” meant something akin to that idea. Esau McCauley, in Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal, helpfully points out that, indeed, lent is about giving something up. He writes that “Lent is inescapably about repenting. Repentance is a chance of direction, a Spirit-empowered turning around. Repentance is, then, the first step we make toward God. But to turn toward God, we must turn away from something else. That something else is our sins. Lent, then, is about turning away from our sins and toward the living God.” With the idea of springtime in its definition, though, Lent as a season of repentance is not an end in and of itself. Repentance leads to the Springtime of renewal! How do we know that Springtime is on its way? Lent is a 40-day journey to the reality of the resurrection that ensures not only pockets of renewal in this life but the coming renewal of the new heavens and new earth! 

Esau again — We should not see the season of Lent as a series of rules but as a gift of the collected wisdom of the church universal. This year, I see this gift a little more clearly than in years past. Once again, this is no call to incorporate any holiday on the church calendar as a means for your salvation. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed by Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. Amen! And yet, maybe this gift of the collected wisdom of the church universal could be a means of deepening the reality of the resurrection so that we might have renewals of the lengthening days of Spring in our hearts as we await for That Day to come. 

Yearning for Spring with you, 

Pastor Lew

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Needy and Needed

Jubilee Fam,

We are needy. We are needed. Where does your heart struggle with this reality of who we are as the body of Christ? Is it hard for you to communicate your need and receive the help God often supplies through the body? Or, is it hard to stay aware of how much the body needs the grace of God supplied through you? Sometimes we can be so cognizant of our neediness that it doesn’t come to mind how much we are needed. Other times, a deep desire to supply and meet real needs among the body overshadows your willingness to communicate when you need help. The body works properly and flourishes faithfully when its parts occupy both worlds of neediness and needed-ness. 

How can we communicate our neediness? When you are in need, reach out to the body for help. Call another part of the body into a season of prayer. Open up your mouth and let your need be known. Fight the tendency to think that everyone has their own problems, so you should keep yours to yourself. Receive help with thankfulness. Give someone an opportunity of tasting the blessedness of supplying your need. How can we embody our needed-ness? Make a habit to come to church on the lookout to meet needs, whether sitting next to a member who seems down or lonely or helping a family with all the stuff they bring to church. Don’t think that you don’t have something to offer. Even if there is a tangible need that you can’t cover, a listening ear and praying heart go a long way. Aim to supply a need even if you don’t feel called in the area where the need is found. I am so grateful for folks who serve in areas simply because the need exists. Spend time in the Word with the prayer that the Lord gives you an opportunity to use your time to encourage another sister or brother with the private ministry of the Word in their situation. Give someone an opportunity to extend much thanksgiving to our good Father for supplying a need through you.

What are some other ways you can express both your neediness and needed-ness? I hope you have some time this week to reflect on the implications of the church as a body and to put into motion that will help the body grow to the glory of Jesus, the body’s head. 

Glad to be in the body with you,

Pastor Lew 

P.S. Our Sister’s Equipping Sister’s time is rescheduled for March 4. I am excited to dive into this book 👉🏾 Literarily: How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study. Check out this talk from Kristie about her book to whet your appetite!

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Pastors' Conference Reflections

Jubilee Fam,

Pastor Dan, Toph, Frank, Steve, and I are on the other side of the 35th Bethlehem Conference for Pastors. It was a rich time of worship, prayer, fellowship, preaching, and teaching. Over 700 pastors and ministry leaders Assembled at the River Centre in St. Paul, coming from all sorts of ministry stories that include your fair share of joys, struggles, pains, victories, sorrows, aspirations, victories, and defeats. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love singing with you all when we gather for worship on Sundays. Our time is a weekly family gathering that is a rhythm necessary for the joy and progress of my faith, and since I am talking about us, the same applies to you. Worship, both in song and over the word, with ministry leaders in the trenches, though, is a powerful experience! The topic of the conference was the doctrine of humanity. What is man? Don’t think of males first and foremost in that question. Think Psalm 8:3–4: When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon, and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 

The question that the conference aimed to discuss was what is man from a humanity standpoint? Who are we as humans? This is one of the central questions of the day, from understanding males and females as gendered beings to transhumanism. I walked away from the conference, realizing how important it is to have a robust theological anthropology — a vigorous doctrine of what it means to be human. Here’s a glance at some notes I took. You should ask Pastor Toph, Dan, Frank, and Steve what resonated with them! 

1 Tim 6:17–19: 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly lifeJohn Piper started the sessions by talking about the final condition of humanity. When it is all said and done, and Jesus has returned, and we are in the new heavens and new earth, what will that be like? It will be indeed life! He asked why this question was necessary. Because “an unknown end will not be loved.” If our final condition in Christ is known and loved, “it is the love of the end that gets every wheel [now] going.” 

Help your people love the appearing of Jesus. 

There will be no boredom in the new heavens and new earth. 

The Adam-shaped problem is solved by the Jesus-shaped solution. 

The treachery of the first Adam is undone through the scandalous death of the second Adam. 

We are not called to agree with God’s truth concerning males and females but to love God’s truth about it.

Complimentary pairs are what the story of the Bible is about. 

Sin is the hatred of God in our despising of our creatureliness. 

Sin is stupid.

Be more saved than you are smart.

Christians should be the happiest of all people.

Teach your people that they were made to be for the praise of God’s glorious grace. 

Teach your people that God’s mission for the church is to make disciples. 

The conference was a warm time of worship in the cold winter months of Jan and Feb! I was wonderfully reminded of how much the Triune God cares for those whose call is to care for the church! 

Looking forward to worshipping together on Sunday, 

Pastor Lew 

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The Church Is ____________.

Jubilee Fam,

The church is ___________________. Our goal in completing this statement is to think God’s thoughts after him. As we seek to elevate church our ecclesiology, the journey will take us into the Scriptures to see what the Triune God says about the church of His Beloved Son. It is revelation that renews the mind, all the more so since it is really easy for our experience to be the shaper of our conception of the church. Don’t get me wrong. We can’t get away from our experiences. We bring them each time we show up together to worship on a Sunday morning. Our church background is a blend of good and challenging experiences. And yet, our story with the church is not our primary teacher tasked with informing our ecclesiology. 

This past Sunday, we learned from Scripture that the church is the household of God, the gathered people of the living God, the pillar and mainstay of the greatest truth imaginable about who Jesus is. We are God’s family who gathers with him in our midst as we hold up the truth of who Jesus is. What a remarkable aspect of the church to cherish in our hearts! What a powerful prayer request for the Lord to work this description of the church in us at Jubilee! What a goal to strive for together to be who we are! 

I thank our good Father for the many ways I have seen and heard about you loving one another as a family. I am often grateful at the end of our time together on Sundays as we gather as God’s people with his presence manifestly experienced. I glorify our God for the ways that the truth of who Jesus is has been and continues to be, by grace alone, lifted high by you. We are not a perfect church…yet. There will always be opportunities for growth at Jubilee Community Church. We will get some things right and some things wrong. And yet, what a joy it is to be a part of the universal church that finds an embodiment in this local church called Jubilee! I hope you feel the same as we travel through our series on the church. 

Last note. As a family, let’s set our hearts to learning together. Sunday school starts this weekend, and we are excited about the offerings of discipleship through education in the four available classes. Join us as we seek to grow in our knowledge of all the good things our Triune God has given us to learn as we seek to glorify the Father, the Son, and the Spirit together. If you are coming to the book discussion on Biblical Critical Theory, aim to read the forward, preface, and introduction for our time on Sunday (There is a link further down in this update that has the first 90 pages of the book). Oh! While typing this email, there are three copies of the book in the bookstall here at the church. They are 15 dollars!!! Yes, your eyes read that correctly! Fifteen 👏🏾 dollars 👏🏾!! 

 That is the lowest price you can find ANYWHERE (Much thanks to Ricky!!!). 

Happy to be in the church, 

Pastor Lew 

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In Splendor

Jubilee Fam, 

The church is_____________. I put this fill-in-the-blank sentence before you on Sunday to spark a necessary discussion concerning what comes to mind when you think of the church. How did you fill in the blank? The church is messy. The church is hypocritical. The church is blood-bought. The church is in progress. As we embark on our series on what we believe about the church, I hope that one of the first words that would fill the blank would be ‘beautiful.’ 

The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is beautiful. How does that sentiment land on you? Are you taken aback by such a statement? Do you wonder if that is indeed the case? Beautiful to whom and in what way? Though the whole world might look at the church and call her ugly, the one whose eyes matter calls her beautiful because he is making her beautiful for himself — Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 4:25-28). Though the world has no eyes to see, Christ is at work in his church to make her glorious, which, glory, by the way, is beauty. We, too, should look at the church with the eyes of faith and, even in imperfection, see growing beauty heading towards the day when staggering splendor will be her description because of Jesus’ work. 

Furthermore, the church is beautiful because of what Jesus is up to in her and what Jesus will look like through her. In his prayer, Jesus speaks of the church and says to the Father, "I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them (Jn 17:9-10). Jesus is glorified through the church in glimpses now imperfectly and thoroughly, then in perfection. 

It would take an eternity, if even possible, to see the church the way Jesus sees his church. That should not stop us from aiming to have increasingly high thoughts about the church, even in her imperfection, that her Lord will work out. Let’s not have low thoughts about what our Lord highly esteems. One day, the church will stand without blemish. We hope this series will aid you in saying by faith now, “The church is beautiful,” and pray to that end. “Nothing in the world is dearer to God’s heart than his church; therefore being his, let us also belong to it, that by our prayers, our gifts, and our labors, we may support and strengthen it (Spurgeon, “The Best Donation.”)

Pastor Lew

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Treasuring God's Word Empowers Us to Trust

Dear Jubilee Family,

It was a joy to gather corporately and praise Jesus together this past Sunday! Psalm 56 teaches us that treasuring God's Word empowers us to trust Him in tough times. Psalm 119 gives us 176 verses describing David's "love affair" with God's Word. The psalmist's Scripture descriptions portray them as having the power to calm our fears in terrifying moments. Here are a few worth meditating on this week: 

"My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!" (Psalms 119:28).

"I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!" (Psalms 119:107).

"You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word" (Psalms 119:114).

"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words" (Psalms 119:147).

"Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words" (Psalms 119:161).

Jubilee, let's pray we will fight our fears with faith this week by treasuring God's Word.

Pastor Toph

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The Father Is Working His Good Purposes

Jubilee Family,

It was a joy to worship with you on the first day of 2023! Is there a more excellent way to begin? Maybe we should do that every year regardless of the day on which the new year begins. Through song, prayer, the reading of Scripture out-loud together and through the Word of God preached, we declared to one another and to our God that he is strong, capable, the initiator of relationship with us, and we are weak, unable even to pursue that relationship apart from his presence. 


The beautiful truth we saw is that through Jesus, the Father yearns for us to come into his presence where he proclaims to us his vision for our lives. And then he invites us into that vision and asks us to walk with him, calling upon him all along the journey for the help, the wisdom, the courage necessary to complete the work he has begun in us. You see, he created us to journey with him as dependent children ever drawing from the abundance of his presence.  


And this is where the battle will always be for us. The demons of hell will fight against this kind of dependence, this kind of submission to God’s vision for our lives that is found in his word. They will sow lies in our minds with worldliness to create fear and doubt even as Satan did in the garden. They will do anything to turn our gaze from the presence of the Father. For you see, they know that as we remain in the presence of our Father with eyes fixed on him, calling out to him, a courage to do his will is created even when our good Father asks us to walk with him through a difficult valley. 


For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. (2 Sam. 7:27) 


Oh, may 2023 find us courageously calling on the Lord as David did with our eyes fixed on the Father who is working/building his good purposes in our lives.

Pastor Dan

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Dark-Conquering Hope

Jubilee Fam,

As we set our sights to worship on Christmas morning, I am reminded of how who we are celebrating infuses this season with dark-conquering hope. For many, the season that brings many folks joy is anything but a happy time. For some, amid all of the bright Christmas decorations, the season is dampened by darkness. There is a reason why the advent candles are a poignant reminder for use year in and year out. The light from the candles, especially the Christ candle, which we will light on Sunday, reminds us that the birth of our Lord dispels the darkness of sorrow that captures many hearts this time of the year. The true Light, which gives light to everyone, has come into the world (John 1:9). Darkness is passing away (1 John 2:8)! 

What is the relationship between light and hope? The prophecy in Isaiah 9 draws out the connection between the two — The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. What would you hope for while in deep darkness? Light!! Light is the key that opens the dungeons of darkness; however, it may descend — whether by sin or sorrow, pain or disappointment, grief or despair. The nature of light is that it shines in the darkness, and the feebleness of darkness is that it cannot overcome the light (John 1:5). This is why we say, “Merry Christmas!” Not as some sugary slogan that we parrot every December but as a powerful declaration that darkness has been given a mortal blow through the birth of Incarnate Light, and one day, the shadows will give way to the everlasting light of our Savior’s presence. So Jubilee, whatever you are walking through this season, especially if the times are ones of sorrow, by faith, declare, “Merry Christmas!” Say it to your soul. Affirm it with your family. Declare it to your neighbors. Tell your co-workers. Announce it with boldness as those infused with great hope this season! 

Looking forward to worshiping our King on Christmas,

Pastor Lew 

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