All or Nothing

“C” served in The Hallows Church in several capacities over the last few years including leading the Fremont Expression’s Prayer Team and serving as a Global Engagement Minister in Residence. Currently he and his new wife A are residing and serving in her hometown in Utah in preparation to move back overseas to share the hope of the gospel with an under-reached people group. In light of the current sermon series, we asked C to share about his faith story of taking the gospel in, thinking the gospel through, and then turning the gospel out. For security purposes their future work and names are omitted.

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I began by considering the authority and infallibility of Scripture. That is, did God speak to His creation, and did He preserve it for us to read. I quickly realized that if I had unanswered questions about the authenticity, authority or infallibility of the Scriptures, then I knew that I would shrink-back into disbelief when things would get hard or when following Jesus wasn’t going to feel convenient. So I had to consider the magnitude of the claims of Scripture as God’s authoritative Word. Part of this journey of yielding to the authority of Scripture was asking hard questions and doing some independent research about the Bible, theology, and history.

Then I believe the gospel began to make roots in my life when I let my guard down enough to seriously consider the lifestyle of men in church who had bowed their knee and their entire life to King Jesus and His Word. This made me stop and want to consider their decision—men who made Jesus the boss of their hearts. Either I was going to believe it and surrender everything, or I was going to go another way. The combination of believing the authority and infallibility of Scripture along with the conviction I felt in my heart while I read it in addition to the transparency and authenticity of the men around me who claimed to follow Christ led to the former—I began to have an all-or-nothing attitude.

The written testimony of God, and the visible testimony of his Church, then, were the means by which the gospel began to take root in my life. My desire to “turn the gospel out” in my life began in an all-men’s small-group. God used a few men I hardly knew to show me my absolute need for the gospel using the Bible. After sharing about my life-story and hearing about theirs, I endured some very uncomfortable conversations—mostly uncomfortable because no one had pointed out my pride and rebellion so seriously and blatantly before—and I left a changed man. I wanted to introduce everyone to the Jesus and the gospel that changed my life.  Mentorship and learning-by-seeing were a gust of ‘wind-in-my-sails’ toward pursuing the lost, hurting and proud.

If you have questions about the Bible, how the gospel can redeem and transform all of life, or would simply like to work out your faith in gospel-saturated relationships, contact info@hallowschurch.org to be connected with a small group community (Missional Community), DNA (same gender cluster focused on discipleship, nurturing, and accountability), or a pastor for conversation.

An Opportunity to Grow in Gospel-Saturated Relationships

If you’ve been around The Hallows Church for any significant amount of time you’ve probably heard the phrase “we exist to magnify and multiply the gospel through Seattle to the ends of the earth." It’s our mission statement—really its the mission statement Jesus gives all His Church in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). As a community of faith we see this happen when we desire to see lives flourish in gospel-saturated relationships.

So starting Easter Sunday, we began a sermon series focusing on what it looks like to be a gospel-saturated disciple. Diving into Colossians 3 we've seen that a gospel-saturated disciple takes the gospel in and thinks the gospel through—applying the gospel to all areas of life and thinking for our good, others' good and God's glory. As we continue to move forward in this series, we will look at how a gospel-saturated disciple also turns the gospel out and the role that perspective, humility, honesty, compassion, and encouragement are to play in our community of faith.

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We'll end our "Gospel Saturated" series at our All-Church Retreat over Memorial Day Weekend (May 25-27th) considering how Gospel-saturation, then, shapes our identity in Christ, nurtures our intimacy with Christ, and excites our involvement in the purposes of Christ. So go ahead and make plans now to participate in the all-church retreat by registering today. (You should also know that early registration ends this Sunday, April 15 (and early registration means free t-shirt for you.) Also friends don’t let friends miss out on fun, fellowship and meaningful rest and worship so make sure your friends and family know you’re going and encourage them to enjoy the All-Church Retreat with you!

Hear why these Hallows' people want you to participate this year:

"To tell you all the truth, I didn't want to go to the retreat until about a week or two before it started.  What finally sold me was that I knew it would be helpful to invest in two areas in my life that I wanted to see growth: my relationship with God and building community. I am so glad I went.  The accommodations were nice, the food was good, the teaching was excellent, the praise and worship was thirst quenching, and the connections made with the people in the church have been long lasting." - Jonathan, West Seattle Expression

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"The retreat is such a great way to connect with others at the church. On Sundays, we're always scurrying around to get the kids home after the service, but the retreat is a chance to eat meals together, hangout and chat, play games, and unwind together. Plus, there's still a time of learning and worshiping together, and a great program for the kids as well. My kids enjoyed the weekend so much, and I enjoyed not having to cook :)" - S., Fremont Expression

 

 

"This past year it was fun to spend concentrated time with some friends while also developing new relationships. Since childcare was offered, we were able to have downtime with other adults without interruption!!! Guilt free- because the kids LOVED their time doing VBS with their friends as well! What George and I really love about the Church Retreat is not only that we get to spend time with other families in the same life-stage, but we get to know people in other life circumstances. It can be easy in the daily routine to mainly see those people who have children to play with our own children so that we might manage a conversation, but the way they set it up, we also got to enjoy spending time with people in other life situations. It was so refreshing! Another point of appreciation was that the teaching at this past Church Retreat was deep and personal. I still think about some of the points Andrew made about the story of David and Goliath as well as the testimony shared by Wes. If you are considering going this year, I would highly recommend it, and I hope we get to spend some time with you and get to know you more!" -Courtney and George, Fremont Expression

 

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Paul's Baptism Story

On Easter Sunday, our West Seattle Expression had the joy of rallying around and celebrating with Paul as he publicly shared the work of Christ in his life through believer’s baptism.

 Paul surrounded by his missional community

Paul surrounded by his missional community

I grew up Mormon and was baptized Mormon when I was eight-years old. I was active in the church. I have two younger siblings—with me being the oldest. Home was not very stable, and we moved around a lot. My mother and father both worked very long hours and were not home a lot. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, and I was very close to her. Sadly, she passed when I was 10, due to complications from arthritis. I didn’t understand. My father passed away five years later when I was 15—a traumatic affair that still affects me and my family. My mother then left the Mormon church and converted to Islam, which I also did at 16. That was a huge change, and very different. I joined the Marine Corps right out of high school. I stayed in for five years. I got out wanting to start a family. Eventually, I fell in love and married a coworker.

The marriage worked well at first. We traveled a lot and talked about having kids and the future. Sadly, about three years in, she was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes. It ran in her family so it wasn’t very surprising, but she took it very hard. She became disinterested in having kids and became very depressed. I tried to get therapy for both us, but she would never do it. Things became worse and worse. I seemed to be unable to stop it although I tried. She soon began talking about getting a divorce.  

I prayed and prayed, but it didn’t seem to be making a difference. In Mormonism, and in Islam, if you follow the rules and you do what you are expected to do, everything would be fine. But that wasn’t happening! I was following the rules. I said my prayers five times a day. I fasted. I observed the holy days. I didn’t eat pork. What was I doing wrong? I was very confused and in despair. It took a near-death experience to wake me up. I had to make a decision so I left what had become a destructive relationship to the both of us. Leaving was the hardest decision I had ever made, it crushed me. I had lost my partner, gave up the house that I had worked so hard for, and went into heavy debt. Most importantly, I had lost touch with God and had lost hope.

But, God had not given up on me. A good friend gave me a room to live in until I could get back on my feet. I went from a house to a little bedroom. From a bed to sleeping on an air mattress. All of my things either in storage or shoved in the closet. I lived like that for almost two years. It was very humbling.

Rather than turn from God, I turned to God. But, things were a bit different now. I was humbled and prayed earnestly and sincerely. And, I was trying very hard to listen this time, and not just go through the motions. I was guided back to the Bible and discovered that in all my time, I had never actually read through it. I knew the stories, but I had never read them. So, I started from the beginning.  In the two years I lived in that bedroom, I read the Bible at night, and then began to read at lunch on my break. I thought I knew the Bible, but found I didn’t. After reading through the Old Testament, I now had a basic understanding of what had happened to the Jewish People, and about the covenants God had made with them. When I made it to the New Testament and read about Jesus—Our Savior—I truly began to understand who Jesus was and what he truly represented. This had a profound affect on me, and I began to really look back on what happened to me. I realized shamefully, that I had tried to fix it all on my own. I never truly accepted God’s help, mainly out of stubbornness. I began to be seriously introspective, but this time I asked God to help me, and was willing. I had come to understand that I could not do this on my own. I did need help. And only God and Jesus could help me. Additionally, I recognized a second thing that was also profound—I came to accept that God and Jesus loved me, unconditionally.

This reflection and acceptance led me to leave Islam to follow Christ.  It wasn’t just a title change, or just a change in the way I worshiped God. My perspective had changed, and I came to God through Jesus willingly, humbly. I began to truly and sincerely follow Christ’s teachings. I began to make praying (real praying) not a ritual, but a regular part of my life. And my life began to change. God helped me learn from the things I had been through. He changed my views on what is ultimately important. I am growing in my gratitude to Christ.  So when Jesus prompted me to be baptized, I asked Pastor Andrew about it. And he asked that I share my story, which I do willingly. I am a follower of Christ and have no hesitation in professing my Love for Him, who died on the Cross so that all of us might live and be saved.

#eastersunday2018#Jesusisrisen #soami #hallowschurch #storiesoffaith #baptism #hallowswestseattle