Category Archives: Chicago

Sharing Our Faith With Catholics

The following post is my notes of Chris Castaldo’s talk at an event sponsored by Acts 29, Chicago Partnership for Church Planting, and Converge Mid-America. The event was held at Edgewater Baptist Church on February 20, 2013.

Let me read to you a passage from Isaiah 55:10-11:

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.

I think this passage would remind us that this is precisely where God puts his servant. God puts us in the darkness. God will use you brothers to be lights for his glory.

Introduction – The Sixty Day Challenge

I was a new convert living in Florida and was at a church that had just begun a 60 day challenge. Everyone in the church was encouraged to share their faith once a day for 60 days. On day one I was so busy helping with a fundraiser that the day was almost over and was driving in the car with a Catholic Bishop. Then I realized that I had to share the gospel with this bishop or I would have begun the challenge as a failure. I was really nervous and did not know what to do. My knuckles holding the steering wheel were not turning white. So I started to share my testimony and after I was done all I heard was silence. I had thought I was really going to hear it from the Bishop, but as I looked over and heard his loud breathing I realized that I had put the Bishop to sleep.

These white knuckles are a description of how many of us feel when we share the gospel and especially with Catholics who think they are already saved. Which brings us to the topic we have come to think through together today.

How Can We Share Our Faith WIth Catholic Friends

A few assumptions that I have about this issue that would be good to say from the beginning:

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January Ministry Update

The past month and a half has been quite full of many new exciting ministry opportunities for us. I fear that if I begin writing about all of them, then this newsletter will quickly turn into a long essay ; )

I have tried my best to be brief so that you can get a sense for what has been happening. However, if you would like more info. then I would recommend subscribing to our day-to-day newsletter by clicking HERE.

  • I started a one-on-one evangelistic bible study with Luis, a student from Senn High School. He has been reading the bible each week and always sounds eager to meet with me. He has not yet repented of his sins so please do pray that God will grant him repentance. Continue reading

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Is God Less Glorious Because of the Newtown Shooting?

The following is an excerpt from a sermon I preached on Sunday, December 16, 2012 two days after the school shooting in Newtown, CT.

I wonder if Jesus Christ looks glorious to you today. I wonder if recent tragedies in our country have caused you to doubt his goodness, to question whether he might be less glorious than he really is.

If that is you today I want you to know that this recent tragedy has personally hit me unlike another one that I can remember. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have a 5 year old daughter who is in kindergarden and for the last two weeks I have been doing a lot of work in several of the elementary schools around Chicago.

So I by no means would EVER EVER want to minimize the terrible tragedy and pain that these families are going through by my comments, but yesterday as I was looking at this sermon I couldn’t help but ask:

Can I still go up on that stage and tell all those people that they should give praise to the superiority and the humility and the glory of Jesus Christ?

How can I come up here and tell you that this baby, this prince of peace, has come to bring peace on this earth when every day we see and hear about anything but peace on this earth?

Then as I was praying to God and asking him for wisdom on what to say and what to do I had this overwhelming feeling that God wanted me to remind you that the message of Christmas is a message that brings great hope to a lost and dying and hurting world.

You see there were some Fathers on Friday that sent their sons and daughters off to school not knowing what would happen to them on that day and we all know that if they would have had any idea what was going to happen they would have never let their kids go into that school building that day.

Yet, the message of Christmas tells us of another Father who sent his one and only son to this earth knowing full well what was going to happen….And he still did it!

He came into the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. We rejected him, we despised him, he was a man of many sorrows, and he was eventually brutally murdered.

Our God is not some distant monster who does not know how to sympathize with our sufferings. He became a man of suffering. He KNOWS!!! He knows what it is like to lose a son and we should know that because he lost his son, murders and tragedies do not have the final word.

Oh, how we should turn to a God like this and all the more so in the midst of such terrible tragedies!!!

Don’t you see that there is no other gathering of worshippers this morning who can tell you that their God knows what it is like to lose his son. What other religion? … What other god? … What other faith has a God like our God who knows our pains and sufferings? … There is NONE! For there is only one God, one faith and one Lord who comes down from his mighty throne and takes on the pain and suffering and evil in this world.

That is the amazing glory of Christ’s incarnation. That is the amazing glory of his humility that he would not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped but he humbled himself and took on the form of a servant. He became obedient to the point of death and even death on a cross.

He went through strife so that we could know peace!

He was crushed so that we could be lifted up!

He experienced the displeasure of God so that we could experience His pleasure!

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The Angel’s Song

The following is my manuscript of a sermon I preached at Edgewater Baptist Church in Chicago on Sunday, December 16, 2012. Click HERE if you would like to listen to the audio recording of this message.

A Challenging Text

Before us this morning is a bit of a challenging text. It is not challenging because it is difficult to understand or because there is some great controversies that could divide the church.

No…the challenge before us with this text of Scripture is its familiarity. We have heard this story so many times and for many of us they have sentimental value. And when we approach familiar passages and familiar themes in the bible we have this awful tendency to tune them out and assume that we have seen all that there is to see. So let’s ask God to protect us from making this mistake and wasting our time.

I would encourage you all to turn with me to Luke chapter 2. Our scripture text for this morning’s sermon comes from Luke 2:14.

Luke 2:14 – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”

These words are pregnant with meaning and this morning I want to point out three reasons why we too should give praise to Jesus Christ. Continue reading

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5 Photos of 5 Places in Edgewater to Pray For

Photo # 1 – Preaching at Edgewater Baptist Church

Please pray for Phill as he will be preaching at Edgewater Baptist Church this Sunday (December 16th) on Luke 2:14. We ask that God would use this sermon to strengthen the members of the church and rescue the visiting unbelievers.

Photo # 2 – Neighborhood Party at Our House

Please pray for the neighborhood holiday open house that we are hosting this Sunday afternoon and evening. The last two weeks Elly, Gracie, and Phill went around door to door to meet our neighbors and invite them over to our house for this party. We ask God would use this party to help us build meaningful relationships with our neighbors and that we would have wisdom and boldness to share the gospel.

Photo # 3 – Phill’s New Job at the Broadway Armory

A couple weeks ago we started looking for a good “tent-making” job that would not only help support our family financially, but also help us get connected with more people in our community. By God’s grace, we believe we found a great job for Phill. He recently got hired as a sport’s instructor with a small business called “We Got Game.” This picture below is of the Broadway Armory that is just two blocks from our house in Edgewater. The armory is one of several places that Phill will be working at. Please pray for opportunities for the gospel to spread as Phill interacts with his co-workers, the kids he is coaching, the families of these kids, and the many teachers and administrative staff at the various places Phill will be coaching at.

Photo # 4 – Evangelism & Discipleship at Loyola University

Thank you for all of your prayers this last month because the Lord has recently helped us get connected with several students on Loyola’s campus. A couple weeks ago Phill had the chance to meet with the school’s protestant chaplain. Their meeting went really well and the chaplain was very welcoming of the idea of Phill coming to their weekly gatherings, meeting students, finding some students to disciple, and working together with those students to do evangelism on the campus. Alan & Jackson are two of the students that Phill has already connected well with. Please pray for them to help us share the gospel with hundreds of Loyola students who desperately need to hear the gospel.

Photo # 5 – Evangelism at Senn High School

Phill has been the assistant coach to the men’s varsity basketball team since November 1st. The Lord has used this position to open many doors for the gospel with students on the team. Phill is having spiritual conversations and sharing the gospel on a regular basis with several different students and players on the team. Please pray specifically for one student named Luis who said he really wants to know more about the Bible, he has been to our church the last two weeks, and told me he would like to do an investigative bible study through Mark’s gospel to learn more about Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers and Merry Christmas!!!
– Phill & Christine Howell

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October Newsletter

“This is from the LORD”
— Genesis 24:50

This morning I read the story in Genesis 24 that explains how Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, was found. Abraham sent one of his servants to find a non-Canaanite woman for Isaac. Abraham’s servant began his mission by asking God to give him success and his prayer was immediately answered. When the servant was telling Rebekah’s brother, Laban, the story he said that before he could even finish praying Rebekah greeted him (Gen. 24:45). When Laban heard the way God answered his prayer, he said, “This is from the LORD; we have no choice in the matter…Take her and go.” (24:50)

When I read Laban’s response those words jumped out to me! Certainly, the ancient Jewish culture was different than ours today, but I can only imagine all the different thoughts and feelings Laban had about his sister leaving with some stranger’s servant to marry a man he has never met! Yet, regardless of how Laban may have been feeling we do know that when Laban heard how God answered prayer he could not deny this was from the LORD.

I think we can relate a lot with what is going on in this story. This past month we have experienced a vast array of emotions. We began the month with great excitement about finding our new home in Chicago. Then we experienced all the highs and lows of packing and moving. There have been plenty of sad days, as we have had to say our goodbyes to all our friends and family in D.C. There have also been plenty of joyful days as we have met new friends and reconnected with old ones in Chicago. Continue reading

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Multi-Ethnic Church Planting

Not every church planter needs to think hard about how to plant a multi-ethnic church. Many of them around the world will only be dealing with one people group, one culture, one nation, and one language. In these contexts, a multi-ethnic church is really not an option at all simply because there are not multiple ethnicities or cultures living in their communities. This is certainly stating the obvious, but it is an important point that needs to be established in the beginning of a paper advocating multi-ethnic church planting. We must remind ourselves of this reality because it protects us from making an idol of ethnic diversity. Faithfulness to God’s word is the most important goal of church planting—that may result in ethnic diversity or it may not.

In situations where ethnic diversity is not possible on a local level, these churches should focus their energy on reaching those whom God has placed in their community. In all other situations where ethnic diversity is possible, it should not only be desired but also intentionally pursued. A church or church planter that does not have a heart for all the different people in their community is out of line with the biblical norm . As Daniel Hays explains in his book From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race:

The New Testament demands active unity in the Church, a unity that explicitly joins differing ethnic groups together because of their common identity in Christ…While there may be practical and sociological reasons for creating and maintaining churches that are ethnic specific, this division into ethnically based worshipping communities is contrary to the imperatives of Paul.[1]

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