Author Archives: Lane Corley

Shout Outs: Onesimus

In Colossians 4:7-18, the Apostle Paul closes his letter to the church at Colossae, with ten “Shout Outs” to friends who were with him on a mission across Asia Minor. A Shout Out is simply a public acknowledgment of good. Paul closed most of his letters with a list of shoutouts. These were one or two-sentence acknowledgments of their contribution to his ministry and life.

These shout-outs from Paul remind us that he was not alone. And neither should we try to be as we live life and participate in God’s mission. Christianity is about relationships. The church is simply a group of friends that are pursuing God’s mission together. Jesus had the twelve. Paul had around 35 that he mentions across all of his letters. The model is Friendship + Mission. There is no such thing as solo Christianity.

Paul’s second Shout Out went to a young man named Onesimus. Onesimus’ name means useful. However, indications are that the trajectory of his life was headed the opposite way when he met Paul. In the book of Philemon, we learn that Onesimus is actually a runaway slave. We’re not sure of all the details of his enslavement or the reasons for his attempted escape, but somewhere along the way he meets Paul and becomes a believer in Christ, brother in Christ, including a brother in Christ to his Christian enslaver, Onesimus. Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon with a letter urging him to forgive and restore him. We don’t know Philemon’s response to the letter, but we can infer that he received it positively, because Paul is counting Onesimus as a useful friend on the mission in Colossians 4. Also, legend tells us that Onesimus later becomes a pastor in Ephesus.

Larry Johnson preached a great message at our church on Onesimus in June 2022. Here are three points he made about Onesimus’ story:

1. Christ Changes Relationships and People.

When Onesimus found Christ, he was forever changed (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). And his relationships were forever changed. Philemon and Onesimus were now brothers in Christ. Paul used the nature of their now new relationship to urge Philemon’s forgiveness. And Onesimus’ relationships were changed. He would have to reconcile his past to move on with God. This leads us to the next point.

2. Christ Changes the Past.

The past does not automatically get wiped away. It must be faced honestly to move forward with God. But Onesimus now had the power inside of him to help him live up to his name. No longer useless, fugitive, slave. Now a useful, brother in Christ, empowered by God for servanthood in His kingdom.

3. Christ Changes the Future.

Indications are that Onesimus engages in a life of faithful ministry from this time forward. Paul calls him a faithful, dearly loved brother. These words speak of Onesimus’ shift from disloyal, runaway, undependable to the loyal, steadfast, dependable, faithful servant. The trajectory of Onesimus’ life was changed through the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul’s investment in his life, and Philemon’s forgiveness and acceptance.

A few questions to ask in thinking about Onesimus’ story:

  • Am I Onesimus – Have I dealt honestly with my past? Are there people that I need to forgive? Are there relationships that I need to reconcile? Have I faced my past, even at a risk? Avoiding forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemptive risk means we may jeopardize or limit the full impact we can have as a servant of Christ.
  • Am I Paul – Can I help two brothers reconcile a relationship? Paul went to bat for Onesimus. Paul believed in Onesimus. Paul took a risk to vouch for Onesimus, probably before he had proven himself. Who can I vouch for, believing in the power of God living inside of them, not in their ability to follow through? Paul’s actions tell us he believed in the power of the gospel.
  • Am I Philemon – Is there someone that I need to forgive and release from guilt or shame? Philemon held Onesimus’ life in his hands and evidently choose forgiveness. Could your effort to reconcile release someone today into a life of ministry?
  • Who am I counting as useless? Who am I judging only by their past and not by their future potential in Christ? The Gospel can move people from useless to useful. Do I believe that? If so, there are no lost causes. Today’s fugitives can become tomorrow’s disciple-makers.

Shout Outs: Tychicus

In Colossians 4:7-18, the Apostle Paul closes his letter to the church at Colossae, with ten “Shout Outs” to friends who were with him on mission across Asia Minor. A Shout Out is simply a public acknowledgement of good. Paul closed most of his letters with a list of shout outs. These were one or two sentence acknowledgements of their contribution to his ministry and life.

These shout outs from Paul remind us that he was not alone. And neither should we try to be as we live life and participate in God’s mission. Christianity is about relationships. Church is simply a group of friends that are pursuing God’s mission together. Jesus had the twelve. Paul had around 35 that he mentions across all of his letters. The model is Friendship + Mission. There is no such thing as solo Christianity.

Paul’s first Shout Out went to a young man named Tychicus. Who was Tychicus? Here’s what we know from the four, possibly five, mentions he receives in the New Testament.

  • He was from Asia, possibly Ephesus (see Acts 20:4).
  • He traveled with Paul and served as Paul’s mailman, delivering Paul’s letters to the churches. 
  • He’s mentioned in Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21-22; Colossians 4:7-8; 2 Timothy 4:12. Also, possibly 2 Corinthians 8:22, where an unnamed person fits the other descriptions Paul gives of Tychicus.

If we could describe Tychicus in a sentence we could say – Tychicus was a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, who delivered good news to the churches, and encouraged the hearts of believers everywhere he went.

These three statements about Tychicus describe the kinds of people we need in the church today.

1. He Was a Faithful Servant.

This speaks to his character and dependability. In 2 Corinthians 8:22 (if that’s referring to Tychicus), Paul says, we tested him and found him faithful. Paul depended on Tychicus to deliver his letters. He also sent him to take care of churches so that the established leaders could come to Ephesus to be encouraged and trained. Tychicus could be depended on.

Today, many people seem to value autonomy more that dependability. We want the freedom to show up when we can and pick and choose opportunities to serve that fit our schedule. Dependability and faithfulness require a depth of friendship and commitment that requires maximum unselfishness. That’s why its called servanthood.

Are you considered a Faithful Servant to your church and community?

2. He Delivered Good News.

Paul said, “Tychicus will tell you” (Colossians 4:7). Count on Tychicus for the truth, the good news, the good words. Tychicus carried the letters from Paul, and since illiteracy was so high in the first century (potentially 80-90%), he was probably the first to read the letter to the believers as well. So, the first time people heard the word of God from Paul, it was likely from Tychicus’ mouth.

In a day and time of difficulty and struggle, a good word was and is life to the soul of the church. What good words have you brought to people lately? We like to talk about the latest on our doom scrolls and the gossip around town. What if we focused on good words, truth, and words that build up. That’s what Tychicus was known for. (See also Proverbs 12:25; 15:23; 16:24).

And when was the last time someone heard the word of God from you mouth? We need modern day Tychicus’ who will know the word of God and speak it into everyday conversations, who will open their homes for Bible Study and have Gospel Conversations with people as a way of life.

Can you be counted on to bring the good news to your community?

3. He Encouraged the Hearts of Believers

Tychicus was a trusted encourager. En-courage can simply be defined as adding courage to someone. Through your words, example, attitude you can add or take away courage from others. Paul noted Tychicus’ ability to add courage to the churches.

Hebrews 12:24-25 tells us that one of the main reasons for church is encouragement – “And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but ENCOURAGING EACH OTHER, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

Does your words, lifestyle, attitude add or take away courage from other believers? Dan Cathy said, “Do you know how you can tell if someone needs encouragement? They’re breathing.” Everyone you meet today and everyday is in need of encouragement. Think about your life and words and consider how you may add courage to others today.

Let’s be like Tychicus this week. Faithful servants, bringing good news, and encouraging hearts for the sake of the Gospel.

Shout Outs

In Colossians 4:7-18, the Apostle Paul closes his letter to the church at Colossae, with ten “Shout Outs” to friends who were with him on mission across Asia Minor. A Shout Out is simply a public acknowledgement of good. Paul closed most of his letters with a list of shout outs. These were one or two sentence acknowledgements of their contribution to his ministry and life.

These shout outs from Paul remind us that he was not alone. And neither should we try to be as we live life and participate in God’s mission. Christianity is about relationships. Church is simply a group of friends that are pursuing God’s mission together. Jesus had the twelve. Paul had around 35 that he mentions across all of his letters. The model is Friendship + Mission. There is no such thing as solo Christianity.

Paul’s Shout Outs also beg the questions:

1. Who Deserves a Shout Out from Me?

Who do I need to acknowledge for my growth in godliness, effectiveness on His mission, and partnership in the gospel? To not say thank you and recognize the good others have blessed you with and added to your ministry and life is to live in arrogance. No one is self-made. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We all benefit from the generosity and encouragement of those around us.

  • Make a list of ten who have helped you in ministry and life. Consider dropping them a line to say thank you today.

2. Who Would Give a Shout Out to Me?

Am I living my life in such a way to be a benefit to the life and ministry of others? What would people at my church, workplace, or neighborhood say about me if my investment in and impact on their lives were boiled down to one or two sentences? Am I an encouragement to those like Paul, who are risking their lives for the gospel?

  • Make a list of ten people who you can encourage and partner with on God’s mission. Invite some friends to join you on a particular mission in the world.

The story of New Testament Christianity, beginning with Jesus, continuing through Paul is Friendship + Mission = Eternal Impact.

Our church recently did a series on these ten friends. Find the audio here.

Six-Month Spiritual Checkup

The year is half way gone. Here’s a good list of questions to journal or reflect on and get refreshed for the 2nd half:

  1. Is my devotional life consistent?
  2. Has my prayer closet or private room seen me regularly?
  3. Have I prayed with other believers regularly?
  4. What Bible reading plan have I followed or completed? Do I need to restart or start fresh in Bible intake this week?
  5. What verses or truths have been especially meaningful so far this year?
  6. What books or articles have been especially helpful so far this year?
  7. What personal growth or victory can you thank God for?
  8. What victory or challenge do I need to seek God for?
  9. Who have I sought out for wise counsel? Have I ignored or heeded the counsel of others so far this year?
  10. How many times have I shared the Gospel?
  11. How many lost people am I currently praying for?
  12. How many new relationships have I built with potential new disciples?
  13. Who am I currently discipling and training into godliness and disciple making?
  14. Who am I encouraging through difficulty and affliction?
  15. What have I given away? Have I been faithfully generous with money? Time? Possessions? Words? Wisdom?
  16. What is working? What is exciting? What has momentum? What is bearing fruit?
  17. What is not working? What does it seem like I am pushing up a steep hill? What do I need to give up on? What is robbing me of energy?
  18. What have I neglected? What have I ignored? What am I hoping will just disappear on its own? (But I know it won’t)
  19. What is worth doing, but I’m out of my league? What do I need more power, prayer, people to help with?
  20. Check screen time on my phone. What does it say about my heart and priorities? What does my internet history say about my heart and priorities?

Launch Day – Pentecost Sunday

50 Days after Jesus’ resurrection was the festival of Pentecost. Pentecost just means fifty. It was a harvest celebration. For the church, it was launch day for the mission of Jesus that he defined before his ascension – Go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and be witnesses… to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). What were some of the elements that made launch day for this church successful?

The Church was United in Prayer

They waited on God’s promise in a posture of prayer. Prayer is a posture of humility and apparent weakness to the world. But when God’s people unite in prayer they are postured for power from God.

The Church was Empowered by God the Holy Spirit

God poured out his Holy Spirit on these leaders, enabling them to do far beyond what they were able on their own. They raised their sails by believing and praying. The Holy Spirit filled the sails with His wind, putting the church on the move.

The Church proclaimed the Gospel

The Holy Spirit’s power wasn’t for them, but for the mission of proclaiming the gospel. And they did. Peter preached a bold, offensive, redemptive message and 3,000 were saved. Proclamation continued everyday in the temple and from house to house.

The Church mobilized and expanded

In the days following, the church would experience persecution and scatter to other cities and towns repeating this pattern – prayer, power, proclamation. God did the rest.

Why not keep it going? Every believer and every gathering of believers has the opportunity to continue the harvest celebration. We can humble pray for God to reveal himself to us and the world. We can experience the wind of the Holy Spirit in our lives for transformation and enablement for ministry. We can proclaim the gospel through our networks and spheres of influence. The expansion of the church should continue until the restoration of all things. Let’s keep it going!

Suburban Garden Update

June 4th, 2022

Hit the break even point for the garden this week. About $200 worth of food so far this spring and summer from this 750 square feet space. With plenty still coming in.

Proofs + Power + Promise + Prayer

Acts 1 begins the post ascension life of Jesus. He brought the kingdom near with his words and miracles. He brought sin and death under his reign through His death and resurrection. Now he empowers his disciples to spread the Gospel to the known world. What did he give them that drove this mission forward?

Proofs – Jesus is Alive

“he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs” Acts 1:3. They had seen a man die a traumatic death and come back to life. That is an extremely motivating proof of the validity of a thing. We need less that that to be motivated to do a lot of things. The reality of the risen Jesus, alive today, should motivate us still.

Power – The Holy Spirit

“you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you” Acts 1:8. Jesus’ teaching and victory over sin and death was a lot. His promised presence through the Holy Spirit would add great power, authority, boldness, wisdom, and so much more to their witness. Still today, the power of the Holy Spirit should be a game changer for our witness and works in the world.

Promise – Jesus Will Return

“this same Jesus… will come in the same way” Acts 1:11. As the disciples stood there looking up, an angel appeared and essentially said, “Don’t just stand there! He’s coming again! Get out there and get busy!” The promise that Jesus will return should give us a sense of assurance, but also urgency. Assurance of ultimate victory over evil. Urgency, because we have only a short time for people to hear and respond to his invitation to eternal life. No time to waste looking up at the clouds. We’ve got to get busy.

Prayer – Continually United

“They were all continually united in prayer” Acts 1:14. As they waited for the promised Holy Spirit, they united in prayer. And the early church continued to be united in prayer. They believed Jesus’ promises about prayer, demonstrated by their commitment to it. Prayer says that we know that we need the Lord. It’s not in our own power, but in dependence upon God that we go forward. Our commitment to prayer will say a lot about our belief in and commitment to the mission of Jesus.

  • Proofs – Do you believe that Jesus is alive?
  • Power – Do you know the power of the Holy Spirit?
  • Promise – Do you live with the assurance and the urgency that Jesus will return?
  • Prayer – Do you demonstrate a belief and dependence on God through prayer?

Armed with these things, the first disciples changed their world. Let’s do it again.

The Resurrection was Just the Beginning!

A neat, often untold part of Jesus’ resurrection story is its festival. We know about Passover festival’s relation to the crucifixion of Christ, but there was also a festival happening on the day of the resurrection. It was called the Festival of Firstfruits. On the first day after the Passover Sabbath, which would have been Sunday, every Jewish male would be bringing a sheaf of barley to the temple. That barley would be offered to God, whose acceptance of the offering was a pledge for a greater harvest to come. Fifty days later, the Jewish people would celebrate the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost to celebrate that greater harvest of wheat that God provided.

Seeing any parallels?

Paul helps us out in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:

“Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

Christ resurrection, among many other provisions, serves as a pledge of a greater harvest to come. A harvest of people who are dead in sin, but will be made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Fifty days after the resurrection, during the Festival of Pentecost, Jesus had ascended, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church, and 3,000 were added to the kingdom (see Acts 2). A truly greater harvest.

So What? A few takeaways:

  • The resurrection was just the beginning! The resurrection of Christ is God’s pledge to bring a harvest from our lives as believers. The life of Christ within us is power to produce fruit for God. The fruit of godly character and a harvest of disciples made. What is my life producing?
  • The harvest doesn’t come without laborers and labor. Fields still have to cultivated, seeds still have to be planted, weeds must be dealt with. He pledges resurrection power to us. We should pledge to work the fields and to do our part to assure a harvest of disciples made for him. What am I doing to prepare for a harvest?

Fifty Days Until Harvest

What will you have to offer God? How many could God add to your church if you, in dependence on Christ, allowed him to use you for a harvest? Get started:

  • Ask God everyday to make you fruitful.
  • Prepare the fields through identifying who you can reach.
  • Plant seeds by sharing the gospel in every way you can.
  • Get equipped HERE.

“Let’s quit fiddling with religion and do something to bring the world to Christ.” ~ Billy Sunday

Baptized Believer to Baptizing Disciple Maker

Churches talk a lot about the Spiritual Milestone of Baptism. It’s a great next step for the person who has put their faith in Christ. BUT, have you experienced the milestone of baptizing someone else? Jesus commissioned EVERY believer to “Go… make disciples… BAPTIZING them… teaching them…” (Matthew 28:18-20). Did you know that Jesus didn’t baptize anyone? He let his disciples do that (See John 4:2). He wanted them to have the joy of leading others in their next steps in the faith. And it is a joy! a rush!

Who have you Baptized? At the church we attend, if you bring someone to Christ, we want you to have the joy of baptizing them. Where do I start?

  • Make a list of people in your life that need to know Jesus and respond to his offer of salvation.
  • Pray for them everyday. Pray for open eyes and open hearts.
  • Get clear on the Gospel. Get trained to share the Gospel. Here’s a 30 minute personal training – LINK.
  • Pray for opportunities to talk to your friend(s) about the Gospel.
  • Start a Bible Study and invite friends to it.
  • (not an exhaustive list. If this is important to you, you’ll find a way.)

Jesus wants us all to be Baptized believers in Him. But Jesus also wants us to be fruit bearing, obedient BAPTIZERS of new disciples.

Goal: Baptize at least one friend in 2022. Who’s in?

Send me the first name of your friend(s) so I can pray for them as well.

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