Author: tylerramsbey

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

Q: Is Jesus being the “only way” to God narrow-minded?

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One of the questions people often ask me has to do with what theologians call the “exclusivity” of Jesus Christ. Christians throughout the centuries have faithfully proclaimed that Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection are the only means by which humankind can be reconciled and put into a right relationship with God.

To modern ears, that sounds incredibly narrow-minded. What about all the people who grew up in different cultures with different religions – how can Christians arrogantly assume those other people are wrong simply because they do not use the same language when talking about God?

Many mainline denominations also reject the exclusivity of Christ. Instead, they view Christ as one way among many for people to be in a relationship with God. This is seen clearly in the way some mainline denominations talk about the Bible, salvation, and eternity.

So, what does Renovation Church (and by extension – I – Tyler Ramsbey) believe?

We believe and affirm the historical Christian teaching that there is no other name under heaven by which humankind can be saved (Acts 4:12).

How can we possibly hold to that narrow-minded, bigoted, and anti-Western truth?

Simple: The suffering of Jesus Christ.

Before being crucified, Jesus was brutally beaten beyond human recognition by a Roman scourge. This was a whip that would have shagged bone, piercing nails, and sharp metals attached to the ends of it. Jesus was beaten 39 times times by the Roman scourge – a beating that would cause most people to pass out from the pain. His flesh was literally ripped from his body.

After being scourged, Jesus is forced to carry His cross to a place of execution called Golgotha (lit. Place of the Skull). There he is stretched out while Roman Soldiers fasten him to the cross by hammering 6 – 9 inch nails through his wrists and his feet. He would then be hoisted up as onlookers jeered and mocked him. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians but perfected by Rome – it was such a horrifying way to die that Roman citizens could not be sentenced to crucifixion; it was a sentence reserved for foreign enemies and slaves.

Jesus endured all of this willingly. He is not a victim – He was in full control the entire time. Yet He endured the cross, drinking the full cup of God’s wrath that we deserve for our sin, in order to reconcile us back to the Father.

Friends, if it was possible to be reconciled back to God through the teachings of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, New-age spirituality, or trying to be a “good person” – Jesus was the biggest fool and idiot for submitting himself to crucifixion. IF there was another way for humankind to be made right with God, the cross becomes divine child abuse at the hands of a sadistic deity who crushes His Son for no reason.


That’s why we believe Jesus is the only way to be made right with God. What say you? Do you disagree or agree? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

I Was Featured on a Podcast!

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Hey everyone!
I had the honor of being featured on the 200Churches Podcast – a podcast heard around the world for the purpose of encouraging small church pastors in ministry. Even if you aren’t in ministry, I hope & pray this conversation encourages you in your faith!

Here’s the episode: http://www.buzzsprout.com/8862/914865-episode-308-focus-on-your-strengths-in-small-church-ministry-with-tyler-ramsbey 

Today I Begin My Doctorate!

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I have recently been accepted into the Doctor of Ministry program at Sioux Falls Seminary. Those of you who have been following my blog, you know that I have also recently finished my Master of Divinity through Sioux Falls Seminary (others may be wondering if I will ever be done with school – probably not!)

To help with finances, I will also be working as a Teaching Assistant at the seminary and helping train future pastors  (which I am super excited about!). This will be in addition to my calling as the Lead Pastor of Renovation Church and the host of The Blue Light Podcast in Garretson! (I also occasionally work at Southeast Technical Institute a few days each semester to help out when it is busy).

I wrote this post to give all of you a short update on what is going on in my life. The way a doctorate program works is it is geared around a master project or a master thesis. More than likely, this will be a 100-page scholarly research paper that adds value to the Church. My research will be built around spiritual formation and church leadership – helping pastors find their identity in Christ rather than in the empty success of church attendance, church finances, or other so-called indicators of “success” in ministry.

If I could paint my “ideal” future, it would be teaching theology or spiritual formation at the college/seminary level on a part-time basis while continuing to pastor Renovation Church in Garretson.

Your prayers are much appreciated as I begin this new journey!

 

Are You Following the Jesus of the Bible or the Jesus of America? (New Message!)

In the message I shared this past Sunday at Renovation Church, I had the honor of teaching through the greatest failure of Peter’s life – his three denials of Jesus Christ. In a similar manner, I would argue that the vast majority of American Christians are also guilty of denying Jesus in a way that is more subtle but just as dangerous – we worship an American Jesus rather than the Jesus of the Bible.

What exactly do I mean? I invite you to get a Bible & a notebook and watch the message below!

(If you are reading this in your e-mail you will have to go to the actual page to watch the message.) 

YOU Are Invited to an Online Small Group With Me!

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I am going to be leading a 3-week small group around the topic “How To Study the Bible” based out of material from the “Multiply” book by Francis Chan. I believe this is so important for everyone to experience that I am offering it both in-person in Garretson, SD and online via Google Hangouts.


In-Person Group:
The in-person small group will meet on the following Saturdays at 8am at O So Good in Garretson. If you live in the Garretson area, I’d be honored to have you join me.

  • Saturday, January 19th @ 8am
  • Saturday, January 26th @ 8am
  • Saturday, February 2nd @ 8am

Here’s a link to the Facebook Event for the in-person small group. 


Online Group:
The online small group will meet on the following Tuesdays at 10pm via Google Hangouts. In order to use Google Hangouts you need a Gmail account and a webcam. For questions, send me an e-mail (tyler@renovationchurchsd.com) or leave a comment.

  • Tuesday, January 15th @ 10pm
  • Tuesday, January 22nd @ 10pm
  • Tuesday, January 29th @ 10pm

Here’s a link to the Facebook Event for the online small group. 

Beware Of Wolves

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One of the most difficult and terrifying roles of a pastor is to battle against wolves who seek to infiltrate the church. The Apostle Paul exhorts the elders (pastors) in Ephesus with the following, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29-30)

These “wolves” are false teachers who creep into the church and seek to mislead the people of God with false doctrine.

The short letter of Jude is a warning to all Christians – especially pastors – to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).” This small but powerful epistle is a grave warning that false teachers WILL seek to infiltrate our congregations and we must be on our guard against them.

In Jude 1:12-13, the Holy Spirit through Jude gives us four descriptions of these false teachers:

1. They Promise Life but Lead to Death.
Jude writes that false teachers are, “clouds without water, carried about by the winds.” This condemnation is two-fold. First, clouds in the first century often brought the promise of rain during a drought. Likewise, false teachers give the appearance of godliness, wisdom, and sound teaching but there is no true life found in their teaching. Instead of building up the Body of Christ, false teachers use flattery to build their own platforms and draw believers away from the Church.

Second, Jude’s statement that they are “carried about by the winds” means that the false teachers are driven by their own appetites and fleshly desires. They refuse to submit their teaching to the Bible or their authority to a local church; instead, they drift from church to church and are carried along by the false “spirits” of this world.

2. They Appear to be Alive but are Dead.
The second description Jude gives for these false teachers is that they are, “late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots.” From a distance, it is difficult to discern whether a tree is alive or dead. As you get closer to the tree, it becomes apparent that it has no fruit and the root system has been removed from the ground. In the same way, from a distance, false teacher appear to be spiritually alive and worth following. Upon closer inspection, it will become apparent that the false teacher does not display the fruit of the Spirit, is spiritually dead, and has been removed from the root of Christ.

3. They Boast In Their Shame.
Third, Jude writes that these false teachers are, “raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame.” During a storm or a strong wind, waves create foam on the surface of the water for all to see. In the same way, false teachers boast in their shame rather than pursuing holiness. They refer to evil behaviors as good and call good behaviors evil. False teachers applaud and accept such sinful behavior as abortion, homosexual activity, sex outside of marriage, divorce, gossip, and various other sins. In the process, they confuse genuine believers and cause divisions in the church.

4. They Refuse Stability and Community.
Fourth, Jude describes these false teachers as, “wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Once again, this has two implications. First, as I mentioned in the first point, false teachers do not submit to church authority or commit themselves to a local church. Instead, they wander from fellowship to fellowship – often avoiding the accountability and discipline of a church body.

Second, just like a shooting star, the teaching of a false teacher is short-lived. It seems remarkable when it comes forth but under closer examination and through a length of time, it quickly dissipates. This has proven true for all of the ancient heresies throughout church history and will continue to be true for all “new” teachings. As a rule of thumb, if a person claims to have a “new” revelation from God, run as far as you can!


What are some other descriptions you would add for false teachers? I’d love to hear and learn from you. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts! 

 

 

7 Pillars of a Successful Ministry

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I just finished listening to an excellent message from Kent Hughes, the author of Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. According to Hughes, many pastors and ministry leaders feel like failures because they are measuring success according to the metrics of this world rather than according to Scripture. With this premise, he gives the audience seven “pillars” of a successful ministry.

Once a month I schedule a personal retreat for a full day. I use this day to reflect on the ministry God has given me and to examine how I am doing in light of His calling. My goal for these days is to repent of sin and resolve, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to conduct myself in a manner worth of the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).

My next retreat day is tomorrow so I wanted to use these pillars as a guide to ask myself some hard questions. Below are the questions I am going to wrestle with and I hope they challenge you in your own unique context:

Pillar #1: God measures success by faithfulness to His Word.
Q: In what ways have I devalued the authority of Scripture in my life and ministry?
Q: Is there a command from Scripture which I am failing to be obedient to out of fear of offending or upsetting someone in my congregation?
Q: Am I regularly studying and meditating on the Bible? 

Pillar #2: God measures success by serving Him with a foot-washing heart.
Q: In what ways do I need to repent of a domineering leadership style so that I may embrace being a servant? 
Q: Is there a duty in my personal life or ministry that I am avoiding because I feel as if it is “below me”? 
Q: What are some specific ways I can serve the Church God has placed me over as a shepherd?  

Pillar #3: God measures success by loving Him with all one’s heart and soul.
Q: Is my ministry flowing from a deep love for God or an unhealthy need for human recognition? 
Q: Is God’s love evident in the way I speak to and treat those closest to me – especially Ashley and Ava? 
Q: What changes is the Holy Spirit asking me to make to my schedule so that I can pursue my relationship with God above all else? 

Pillar #4: God measures success by believing/having faith in the God who is.
Q: In what ways have I foolishly tried to re-create God according to my image and imagination? 
Q: Is there a promise from God which I am struggling to believe? If so, what steps can I take to find help and counsel? 
Q: Do I honestly have an accurate view of God as He has been revealed in Jesus Christ? 

Pillar #5: God measures success by praying with the passion of Jesus Christ. 
Q: What demands on my time have I allowed to push away the regular discipline of prayer?
Q: What people or organization is God laying on my heart this month to spend extra time in prayer for? 
Q: What are some steps I can take to strengthen my prayer life? 

Pillar #6: God measures success by living a holy life in a pornographic world.
Q: In what ways have I allowed my mind/heart to be seduced by lust?
Q: What does regular repentance and freedom look like in the area of sexual lust?
Q: Have I been meeting regularly with (and being honest with) my accountability partner – especially in regards to lust? 

Pillar #7: God measures success by having an attitude that sees “the stars through the bars” and by rejoicing in the elevation of others.
Q: Have I been jealous of the success of other pastors and churches? If so, what is the root cause of this jealousy?
Q: How have I allowed pride to express itself in my life – both in the forms of arrogance and self-pity?
Q: How is God calling me to submit my attitude to that of Jesus as recorded in Philippians 2:1-11?


I hope these questions both challenge you and encourage you. If you are not in the habit of taking a 1-day retreat every month, you should try it. This is vital for all of us who are Christians – regardless of the vocation God has called us to.