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MORE thoughts on Acts 28

MORE THOUGHTS ON ACTS 28: This past Sunday, I had so much to say and not enough time to say it. Right now you might be thinking, “How is that possible, Dave? You preached for 53 minutes last Sunday!” OK, you’re right. But in my angst to wrap the thing up, I left out something that is really important. And I really wanted to share it with you.

When you read Luke’s conclusion to Acts, at first glance it seems a little strange. “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ?” – Acts 28:30-31 NIV84

This ending does not make sense. Luke has spent more than half of the book of Acts focused on Paul’s ministry of taking the gospel to the world. Why doesn’t Luke wrap up the story and tell us about Paul’s death? Church tradition tells us that Paul was beheaded in Rome, not too long after the conclusion of Acts. So why doesn’t Luke tell us about that?

Over the millennia, biblical scholars have surmised many reasons for this abrupt ending. Some postulated that Luke died before he could write about Paul’s death. Some have guessed that Luke was writing a legal document to defend Paul in court, and Paul’s death simply hadn’t yet occurred. All of these guesses have the downside assuming that the conclusion to Acts was unintentional. But I think Luke concluded Acts in the exact way he intended – by talking about the Kingdom of God.

As tantalizing as the book of Acts may seem, Luke never intended for us to think that this was a book about the Apostles. After all, Luke didn’t title it, “The Acts of The Apostles.” Someone else did that. The book of Acts is not about Peter, James, John or any of the Apostles.  And its most certainly not about Paul. Acts is about Jesus.

For Luke, it made no sense to conclude this account with Paul’s death. Paul’s story was never about Paul anyway. Paul’s story had always been, and would always be about Jesus.  To bring this work to a conclusion with the account of Paul’s death would put all the focus on a dead man.  But Acts is about someone who defeated death.  The story of Acts is about Jesus.  The story of Paul is about Jesus.  Is the story of YOU about Jesus?

To be honest, I want my story to be about me.  I like to talk about me.  I like it when people are interested in me and my story.  And I have plans for my story.  I can imagine a grandiose conclusion to my story where, after my death,  people talk about how great Dave was and how he impacted their lives in wonderful ways.  We all want our stories to be about us.  But our stories were never about us.  God didn’t make us that way.  God made us for His glory, for His pleasure.  We are made for Him.  When I try to make my story about me, I cheat God of what He deserves.  AND I cheat myself, because I wasn’t made for me.  I was made for Him.

Paul understood this, and so did Luke.  In this abrupt conclusion Luke BEGS us to put aside our idolatry of self and join God’s story.   The author is not-so-subtly calling out to us to join the work of God’s Spirit in declaring the power of the resurrection and the coming of God’s kingdom.

Acts is the story of how God’s Spirit is empowering the church to make their lives about Jesus and the kingdom of God.  Every story needs a hero.  The hero of Paul’s story is Jesus.  Is Jesus the hero of yours?

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Thoughts About The Coming “40-Hour Fast”

Begins on December 8th at 4:00pmnextsteps Design-09
Ends on December 10th at 8:00am

1.  What is a fast?  A fast is a specific period of time during which the participant chooses to abstain from a particular activity.

2.  Why do we fast?    Fasting is spiritual discipline that has transcended the ages.  Pages upon pages have been written about the purpose of the fast.  But, for our purposes during this 4.4.40, the fast boils down to this:  Which of God’s good gifts do I depend on more than God Himself?  A fast is a change to say, I will abstain from those gifts to increase my dependence upon my Heavenly Father and to reveal areas of my life in which I need to depend upon Him more.

3.  What are some different kinds of fasts?

  • The Complete Fast:  Abstaining from all food and liquid.
  • The Traditional Fast:  Abstaining from all food and liquid except water.
  • The Partial Fast:  Abstaining from all food, but consuming juice and other caloric liquids.
  • The Non-Traditional Fast:  Abstaining from a particular thing that you depend on more than God.

        Ideas for a non-Traditional Fast.

  • Technology (Facebook, Social Media, email, or anything tied to the internet)
  • Television/Movies
  • Caffeine/Supplements
  • A particular kind of food/beverage (e.g. Sugar)
  • Make-Up
  • Sports
  • Anything you depend on more than God.

4. Thing to consider when choosing a non-traditional fast.

Avoid fasting from “vices”
Example:  “I’ll fast from swearing”
Example:  “I’ll fast from food because I need to lose weight, anyway.”
Example:  “I’ll fast from Gluten because I want to see if I feel better.”
Example:  “I’ll fast from yelling uncontrollably at my children.”

A fast involves giving up a “good-gift from God.”  Don’t fast from something you shouldn’t pick up again once the fast is over.  This is not an opportunity to develop a “healthier life style.”

Use Common Sense:  If you have a health concern, fasting from food might not be the right kind of fast for you.  A non-traditional fast might be a better option.

 5.  Why should I participate in the 40 hour fast?

God is doing great things at WCC.  We believe that God is doing something very special in our midst.  As we all press forward together, we want to invite God to examine our lives and reveal areas of independence.  This 40 hour fast is a way that we can invite the Holy Spirit to examine your life as we press forward together for His Kingdom!


“Never Once”

The van sped down the freeway toward the Emergency Room.   I found myself curled up in the passenger seat, In the emergency room that night, there were some dark moments.  This pain was a kind I’d never before experienced.   In the midst of my agony, I found myself crying out to the Lord.  “Jesus, if you don’t choose to take this away, please take me home to be with You.”

Hands Held

I was writhing in pain.   For a week, I’d been battling viral meningitis.  The test that was used to arrive at this diagnosis had now created a bigger problem.  I was leaking cerebral fluid.   Instead of floating in my skull, my brain was hanging from my skull.   The resulting pressure and pain made me think my head was going to explode.

Recently I stumbled across a great song by Matt Redman entitled, “Never Once.”   The chorus boldly proclaims,

                  “Never once did we ever walk alone.
                   Never once did You leave us on our own.
                   You are faithful, God, You are faithful
                   You are faithful, God, You are faithful.”

The writer of Hebrews reminds us of this same truth.

“Never will I leave you.  Never will I forsake you.”   (Hebrews 13:5)

How true this was for me!   In my pain, I was not alone.  In my suffering He walked right beside me.  Never once was I alone.

“Never once, did we ever walk alone.”

Three months previous to this, I sat in same hospital.  This time, I held the hand of my 6-month old son.  For most of his life, Malachi had been sick.  After months and months of testing, we finally discovered that he had a rare form of bacteria in his lungs.   Unable to place an IV in his arm, I held him down while the nurse found a vein in his head.   As he screamed, I found myself sinking beneath the feeling of utter helplessness.  I cried out, “Father, please help my child.  I can do nothing!”

“Never once, did we ever walk alone.”

A year before that I held my wife’s hand in that very same emergency room.    She was pregnant with our son, Malachi.  But she’d been so very sick for so very long.  Unable to even keep water in her stomach, she was forced to live on IV fluids.   Most of her veins had already been used up by the continual cycle of needles being poked in her skin.   She was exhausted.  And here I was again…utterly helpless.

“Never once, did we ever walk alone.”

Rewind another year.  We are at the same hospital.  This time we are with my mom who was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer.  As we prepared for the worst, we cried out to God.   Our hearts ached.

“Never once, did we ever walk alone.”

Oh, that truth makes my heart rejoice.   There is such a joy in the nearness of God.  “The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 38:14).    It’s difficult to explain exactly how He is near.  I can’t feel the warmth of His hand.  I can’t hear His reassuring voice.   But there is something about the way He is faithful.  In suffering we learn to lean on Him.  Its only then, that we truly can appreciate His nearness.   The more that we walk through the suffering, the more we grow to expect His faithfulness.

If anyone has ever understood suffering, it was Jesus.   During my 6 nights in the hospital, my daily bible reading landed in the narratives of the crucifixion.  Unable to read, I listened to the audio Bible.   There was something particularly awful about listening to the sufferings of Jesus read aloud.   His back was shredded.  The thorns were beaten into his head.  The nails pierced His body.  Jesus understands our suffering, because He has suffered more than any of us.

But here is where it gets interesting.  In our suffering, we never walk alone.  But in His suffering, Jesus DID walk alone.  In the darkest moment of the crucifixion, when Jesus had taken all of the sins of the world upon His shoulders, He cried out “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”  (Matthew 27:46) At that moment, Jesus was alone.   Jesus, who had existed in perfect community in the Trinity, now found Himself walking alone.  And so, Jesus did what we will never have to do.

“Never once, did WE ever walk alone.”

But Jesus did walk alone.  Because He did, we never will.

Right now, I am at the nursing home.  I’m sitting by the bed of my father.  His once strong frame is slowly being eaten away by the effects of a physical and mental disease.   I notice that I can actually see his jaw line.  I’ve never seen him so thin.

As I speak into his ear, he senses my presence and turns toward me.  I hear a few mumblings but can’t make out any words.   His eyes tell me that he sees me and knows I’m there.   Dad is waiting to meet Jesus.  I am excited for him.  It might be any day now.

As I get up to leave, he grabs my hand.  He won’t let go.  Its as if he’s saying, “don’t leave me alone!”  I snuggle back down beside him.   And in my head I sing,

“Never once, will we ever walk alone.”



© 2013, Sparrow Records; Matt Redman; “Never Once”

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The Word on the Street

There are many fears about moving from one city to another. This may sound silly but one of my biggest fears about moving to IA was finding a good mechanic that would work on my van without taking advantage of me. In KS I found a mechanic, whose shop was just over a mile from my house that did not take advantage of me. I never got the sense that he was trying to upsell me on anything or overcharge me for any of the work done on my van. His explanation was thorough, he told me the problem and what he would do to fix it.

About a year ago, I looked under the van to see a drip of fluid coming from the under side of my van. Two days later the drip turned into a steady stream of fluid coming from the radiator. I took the van to the mechanic and he was able to find a time for an emergency radiator replacement. On the day of the appointment he went above and beyond expectations and offered to let me borrow a car so that I could get to work for the day. By the end of the day the van was fixed, there was a six-month warranty on the radiator, and I still had money left in my bank account.

Fast-forward six months and a few days. While driving the van, the radiator hose came loose and most of the anti-freeze emptied out of the radiator. The hose was put back on but it would work itself loose. After it came off several times I took the van to the same mechanic to see if they could fix it. Even though the parts and labor warranty had expired he looked it over, put the hose back on, filled the radiator with the proper amount of fluids, and did not charge me a penny for his time.

What a reputation to have. I told everyone about this mechanic. Anyone who asked if I knew of a mechanic would hear about him. I told everyone who did not ask for a mechanic about him. I told my friend who lives forty minutes away about him. I told my parents and in-laws who live 1500 miles away about him. He made an impression on me that I could not hold in.

I wonder, will the buzz around Waukee on April 30 be about the people from Waukee Community Church and how they lent a helping hand? Maybe not all of Waukee but possibly small pockets within the city. Will they tell their neighbors about how we went above and beyond the expected to help them? Will they tell their co-workers about the friendliness they experienced? Will they tell their family members about the joy they saw in our actions? Will they tell their friends in other cities of the love we poured out on them? I wonder, when they are telling others about Waukee Community Church will they be talking about you?

Save the Date: Faith in Action Sunday, April 29.

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Ways God Loves You In Jesus

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to write these down during the message on April 1st, here is the list of “Ways God Loves You in Jesus.”  This is, by no means, a comprehensive list of all the ways God loves you in Jesus.


  • He loved you even though you were His enemy. (Colossians 1:21)
  • He loved you before you could love Him (I John 4:19)
  • He reconciled you to the Father (2 Corinthians 5:18)
  • He forgave you all your sins (Colossians 2:13)
  • He made you alive (Colossians 2:13)
  • He sacrificed by becoming a human being (Philippians 2:6-7)
  • He sacrificed by allowing himself to be crucified (Philippians 2:8)
  • He calls you His child (I John 1:12)
  • He gives you an inheritance (Romans 8:17)
  • He calls you a friend (John 15:15)
  • He made you His temple (I Corinthians 3:16, 6:19)
  • He made you an Ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20)
  • He will give you a new name (Revelation 2:17)
  • He chose you (I Thessalonians 1:4)
  • He made you holy (Colossians 3:12)
  • He calls you His bride (Revelation 19:7)
  • He gives you access to the Father (Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16)
  • He has given you the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)
  • He has promised to come back (Acts 1:11)


The Professional Gospel

I’m afraid that, as the American church, we’ve left gospel-sharing to the professionals.

Case in point.  A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Winter Jam concert at Wellsfargo Arena.   10 Christian bands for $10.   Not a bad deal.  It really was a good concert.  Some bands were more “Jesus exalting” than others.  In fact, it seemed that some of these bands were borrowing “Jesus” phrases that they heard from other bands….almost as if they didn’t have anything significantly “religious” enough to offer on their own.  That’s ok.  Its a concert.  I don’t expect every “Christian musician” to actually be a Christian, and I’m not naive enough to think that everyone who sings on a “Christian” label is actually a follower of Jesus.  It was a concert.  It was fun.  14,000 people often makes an event fun.

What was really interesting was what happened at “half-time.”  Between a couple of set changes, the Winter Jam concert organizers brought out a professional evangelist.   You know the kind, right?   The kind of person who is really good at sharing the gospel.   This particular professional evangelist  did a decent job of speaking.  He was brief.  He talked about sin.  He talked about redemption in the blood of Christ.  (He left out the resurrection, but most Christians fail to understand the significance of the resurrection).  And, in evangelist terms, he did an altar call that wasn’t gaudy or self inflating.

After he shared, probably 10% of the people at the Arena stood up in response.    And I just wondered, “now what?”   Its not hard to imagine the gospel without discipleship.  That’s what it looks like:  big event, big response.  What happened to those that stood up?   Probably nothing.

That night, I fell asleep thinking, “Dave, if you were in charge of Winter Jam what would you do differently?   How would you share a gospel of discipleship?”   I woke up in the middle of the night that night.  I think I know the answer to that question.

If I were in charge of Winter Jam, I would employ a teacher, not an evangelist.  I would employ a teacher to train the saints for acts of service (Ephesians 4:12).  I’d want a teacher to teach people to share the Gospel.   The fact of the matter is, that most of the people at Wellsfargo Arena that night professed to be Christians.  But most Christians don’t know how to live out their faith in the world in which they live.  They are content to leave gospel-sharing to the professionals.  Most Christians think that sharing the gospel is inviting someone to an event.

What if 14,000 were taught to share the gospel?   What if they walked away challenged and equipped to tell two people?  In teaching people how to share, those that don’t believe in Jesus would have still heard the gospel.  But then, thousands of believers could have been challenged and trained.  Just imagine the exponential impact!  At the very least, many who attended Winter Jam would have heard that sharing the gospel isn’t for the professionals.  Sharing the good news is for everyone who calls themselves a follow of Jesus.

That’s just my thought.  Its kind of what I’m trying to do with WCC every day.  It is “equipping the saints for acts of service.”