Author: tylerramsbey

I am a Christian, Husband, Pastor, and Scholar. I desire to know Jesus and to make Him known.

Listen… Worship… Live (Part 3)

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In my sermon this past Sunday I closed with three words: Listen, Worship, Live. This week I will be taking time to write an individual post for each one of these disciplines to help you apply the Bible to your life.
Listen… Worship… Live (Part 1)

Listen… Worship… Live (Part 2)


When I was 16 years old I was arrested for drug possession and drug paraphernalia. Leading up to my arrest, I was writing and performing Christian music as well as speaking to youth groups about the Gospel. I literally got arrested one week after performing a song in a church that warned against the dangers of drug use!

In other words – I was a hypocrite.

My lifestyle did not match my confession of faith. Unfortunately this is far too common in our churches. Many of us confess that Jesus is Lord on Sunday but live as if He does not exist Monday through Saturday. We only follow the teachings of Jesus when it’s convenient for us.

This is not a modern problem. James, one of the leaders in the early church, exhorted people with the following instruction:

James 1:22-25
22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

Pay special attention to verse 25 (I have underlined it). James does not say that the one who looks intently at behavior modification will then be a “doer who works.” Rather, it is the one who looks intently into the “perfect law of freedom.” He is speaking about the Scriptures – the 66 books of the Old Testament and New Testament that God uses to encourage, correct, rebuke, and train His people for righteousness.

What steps can we take to make sure our lives match our confessions? How do we truly LIVE as followers of Christ?

1. Look intently at the Scriptures.
What James is describing is a far deeper reading of the Bible than we generally practice. For most of us, we spend a few minutes each day reading a passage or a chapter from the Bible. At the most, we spend a few minutes reflecting on the passage and considering its application for our lives. This is good – do not misunderstand me – but it is not enough to sustain us.

One good way to do this is to study a new book of the Bible every month. Read commentaries on the book, study the historical context, read/listen to sermons preached from the book. If you are part of Renovation Church, I encourage you to study the Gospel of John deeply. We are walking through it verse-by-verse on Sunday mornings so it would be a great way to “look intently” at the Scriptures!

2. Takes notes when you read the Bible!
James describes two kinds of people who read the Bible – the first is a “forgetful hearer” and the second is a “doer who works.” Friends, we are far too guilty of being forgetful hearers! We study a passage in the morning and by lunch time we cannot even recall what we read a few hours before.

The best way to transition from forgetfulness to memory is to write down what you learn in your Bible reading. I utilize the CSB Notetaking Bible. This is a special Bible that has large margins for the reader to take notes and write prayers. After studying a passage I try to respond to what God is saying by writing out my prayer to Him in this Bible. Another added benefit is I hope to give this Bible as a gift to Ava when she graduates high school. It will (Lord Willing) be marked up by personal prayer and reflections of mine from my daily Bible reading!

3. Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
This third point does not come from the text above but is a major theme throughout all of the Scriptures. When Jesus ascended to be with the Father, he sent the Holy Spirit to fill His people. He promised that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).”

Please understand that you cannot make this transition through sheer will power. The ability to live out the Scriptures is a supernatural gift – it is the result of the Holy Spirit leading you daily to the River of Life. We should continually be pleading with the Holy Spirit to fill us so that we might treasure Christ over the meaningless distractions of this world.

If you are interested in learning more about studying the Bible in an effective way, I recommend the following book:
Reading The Bible Supernaturally – John Piper 

Listen. Worship. Live.

If you have found these blog posts helpful, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail (tyler@renovationchurchsd.com)

 

Listen… Worship… Live (Part 2)

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In my sermon this past Sunday I closed with three words: Listen, Worship, Live. This week I will be taking time to write an individual post for each one of these disciplines to help you apply the Bible to your life.
Listen… Worship… Live (Part 1)


We often associate “worship” with a particular music style. This has caused the church to shrink the magnitude of worship. By this definition, worship is something we do once a week when we gather with other Christians to sing a few songs. Singing IS a form of worship but it is only a tiny part of true worship.

One of the greatest theologians of the church, the Apostle Paul, described worship this way in Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.

1. Worship is our response to God’s mercy.
Paul is urging the believers in Rome to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice IN VIEW of God’s mercy. Worship is how we respond to God’s initiative in our lives. In my previous blog post, I challenged you to set aside time to intentionally listen to God. Listening is required for worship – for worship is a response to our listening.

One of the best ways to do this is by practicing “lectio divina.” This is an ancient practice that literally means “divine reading.” It is the process of slowly reading and praying through the Scriptures. It transforms Bible reading from being a quest for information to a journey towards transformation. It allows Scripture reading to become a dialogue rather than a monologue.

You practice lectio divina by allowing the Scriptures to invite you into a conversation with God. You pray the prayers you find in the Bible, you thank God for his promises, and you meditate on His acts of faithfulness in your life.

2. Worship involves the totality of who you are.
Paul defines “true and proper worship” as offering our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” Worship is both a physical and a spiritual act. I have personally found it helpful to kneel on the ground when approaching God in prayer. This is an act of my body that helps my spirit remember that God is the Sovereign One of the universe. In comparison to God, I am but a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow. God is from everlasting to everlasting.

True worship engages our intellect and emotions… our minds and our hearts… our bodies and our spirits. Our theology (study of God) should always lead to doxology (the worship of God). Ultimately, worship is our response to God’s act of sending the Lord Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, die an atoning death, and resurrect from the grave for the redemption of the world.

So what does this actually mean? What does it look like for each of us to live a life of worship? 

First, it begins by listening to what God is saying. This is done by spending daily time in Scripture reading, silence, and solitude. After reading the Scriptures, spend a few minutes thanking God for what He has spoken to you. A helpful way to do this is by writing out a prayer of response. This can be extremely beneficial because your writings will provide you with a monument of your time with God. These prayers are moments with God that you can return to regularly to be reminded of His faithfulness.

All of life is worship. Your work, your family, your “free time” – all of it belongs to God. Is Jesus the Center and Sustainer of all that you do? Or are you ascribing worship to yourself rather than God? 

 

Renovation Church – Year End Letter!

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This is a letter that will be going out to all the people who have given to Renovation Church over the past year. I also wanted to share it on my blog and thank all of you for your prayer and support!

P.S. – If you would like to give to Renovation Church, you can give online easily and securely! 


Dear Renovation Church Family,

I want to take a minute to thank you for your incredible generosity. Renovation Church officially launched in the beginning of October with exactly zero dollars. We were truly uncertain on whether or not we would be able to pay expenses – let alone have resources set aside for outreach. Although we did not have the answer, we continued to take the steps that we felt God was leading us to take.

The Apostle Paul, in his short letter to the church in Ephesus, says it this way – “Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Friends, we serve a God who is more than able to provide for our needs – both as a church and as individuals. In November, only the second month of Renovation Church, we were able to give over $1,300 back to our community through a turkey giveaway and angel tree program. This was only possible through YOUR incredible generosity!

As we continue to grow, God continues to provide for our needs through the giving of His people. We currently have over $14,000 saved so that we can quickly mobilize for outreach and benevolence in our community and beyond. On Sunday, February 4th we will be meeting the first missionary organization that we will support as a church – Simba Educational Ministries. Simba Ministries has a mission “to further the Kingdom of God by equipping and empowering Kenyan children with the boldness of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the Gospel, through a Christ-centered education.” On Sunday, February 4th, Chase Ward (a local Garretson resident) will be coming to our service to share more about the vision of Simba Educational Ministries and give us an opportunity to support the people of Kenya through prayer, giving, and serving.

I seriously cannot wait to see what God is going to do in 2018 through our church and other churches in the area. I really believe the best is yet to come. It is an absolute honor to be one of the leaders of Renovation Church – thank you for allowing God to use you through your prayer, serving, and giving so that we can fulfill the mission God has given us of making disciples of all the nations.

In Christ,

Tyler Ramsbey

Listen… Worship… Live… (Part 1)

listenIn my sermon this past Sunday I closed with three words: Listen, Worship, Live. This week I will be taking time to write an individual post for each one of these disciplines to help you apply the Bible to your life. 


Most days I feel as if I am drowning in sound. The constant barrage from the television… the never-ending statuses on Facebook… and the persistent buzzing of my cell phone threaten to cause death by distraction.

We are polluted with messages from our culture. Messages which instruct us on living a better life, purchasing a new product, or even experiencing a special church service. These messages darken our minds and distract us from the One who really matters.

God is far more willing to speak than we are to listen.

Are you intentionally setting aside time on a daily basis for solitude, silence, and listening? I want to challenge you to practice this ancient art of listening to God speak every day for one week. The specifics are below:

Set aside a 30 minute block of time each day this week. Maybe you need to wake up 30 minutes earlier… utilize a portion of your lunch break… or stay up after putting the kids to bed. I want you to structure these 30 minutes in the following way:

  1. Spend time in complete silence (2 minutes).
  2. Slowly read through a passage of Scripture (20 minutes).
  3. Choose one or two verses from your reading and commit them to memory (5 minutes).
  4. Spend some more time in complete silence as a response to God’s Word (3 minutes).

If you take this challenge seriously you will be amazed at the spiritual growth that results. To make this as simple as possible, I would encourage the following reading plan this week. It will allow you to read the entire book of Galatians in the New Testament:

Monday: Galatians 1
Tuesday: Galatians 2
Wednesday: Galatians 3
Thursday: Galatians 4
Friday: Galatians 5
Saturday: Galatians 6


If you decide to take this challenge, I would love to hear from you. Either leave a comment or send me an e-mail (tyler@renovationchurchsd.com)

The Message of the Cross (New Message!)

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This past Sunday it was -21 degrees when our service started and that is NOT counting the wind chill! Because of this, we decided to have two services – the first one was at 10am at the school and the second one was at 3pm over Facebook Live for all those who didn’t want to venture into the frigid temperatures.

If you were unable to attend church this past Sunday (or your church cancelled services), here is the message I preached on Facebook Live. Enjoy!

The Message of the Cross (Luke 2:25-35) 

 

The Gospel for Pedophiles

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A few weeks ago I had the honor of worshiping with the men of St. Dysmas. St. Dysmas is a congregation that meets in the South Dakota State Penitentiary. I received the sacrament of communion side-by-side with men serving life sentences without the possibility of parole due to horrific murders. I raised my voice in worship alongside of men serving decades for sexually abusing young children.

These were the true outcasts of our society. Many of these men were sick… broken… and sinful.

Yet this was one of the most beautiful worship services I have participated in. During one of the songs I glanced around and noticed that every man had his hands raised in utter abandonment to God. These men have had everything ripped away from them as a result of their horrible crimes – their freedom, families, friends, careers, and finances. For some of these men, the prison sentence was the best thing to happen to them because they discovered the Kingdom of God.

Roughly 2,000 years ago, Jesus was teaching the values of this Kingdom to his disciples on a mountain. He began his sermon with these words:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

Poor in spirit means to reach a place of utter emotional & spiritual poverty after trusting in one’s self. It is the moment a drug addict hits rock bottom. It is the season when a person pursuing the American Dream realizes he is still miserable even though he is successful by the standards of this world. It is when men & women understand there is nothing in this life that can satisfy the longings of the human heart.

For those of us that are wealthy Americans, we often numb this paralyzing pain through materialism and consumerism. Not so with these inmates – they have no other choice but to stare into the terrifying blackness of their own sin and realize they are hopeless apart from Christ.

I realized some of these inmates have a greater freedom than I do. They have discovered freedom in Christ which is not determined by physical freedom. Many of the New Testament letters were written by an inmate named the Apostle Paul who eventually faced execution for his faith in Christ.

Have you discovered true freedom? Have you come to the end of yourself and realized your only hope in this life is in Jesus Christ? Or are you still trying to save yourself through your own morality and religious work? 

 

Renovation Church & Weekly Communion

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Beginning this coming Sunday (November 12th), Renovation Church will begin practicing weekly communion. Communion is when we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through eating a small amount of bread and wine (or grape juice) as a church.

The vast majority of contemporary churches only practice communion quarterly or monthly. This is a major change for many of the people who attend our church. Here are three reasons we will begin practicing weekly communion.

1. Weekly Communion seems to be the practice of the early church.
First of all, let me make it clear that there is no scriptural mandate to practice communion every single week. So if you disagree with me on the frequency of communion, that’s okay. Nevertheless, it’s my conviction that the early church seemed to practice communion each time they gathered together (see Acts 2:46 & 1 Cor. 11:20).

2. Communion is more than a “memorial.”
The Roman Catholic church believes the elements in communion literally become Jesus’ body and blood. Many baptists have taken the opposite path and said there is nothing significant about communion, it’s simply a memorial of what Jesus has done in our place. I think both of these approaches are incorrect.

I prefer the Anglican route of calling communion a mystery. When we partake of communion as a church there is something significant happening. People do not die and get sick by taking communion in an unworthy manner if communion is only a memorial (1 Cor. 11:30).

When we partake of the elements, God nourishes our souls through the power of His Holy Spirit. Jesus is present in communion… just not physically. So how exactly is He present? I’m not sure – it’s a mystery that is beyond my comprehension.

3. Communion is an opportunity for us to respond to God.
We will partake of Communion at the end of every service as a response to what God has done through the preaching of His Word. Rather than passing the elements of communion around, we will invite people to come forward. As people are coming forward, we will have prayer volunteers around the communion table so that people can confess sin & receive prayer (this isn’t required but highly encouraged).

Each time we partake of communion, we are reminded that Jesus was crushed for our sin. The punishment that brings us peace was laid upon Him. His blood was poured out that we might be forgiven. He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God.

In summary, it seems right to us and to the Holy Spirit for us to begin weekly communion. I believe God will use this ordinance (or sacrament) as a means to strengthen His people and draw us closer to Him.