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Pastor Tim Swigarts Blog

Missio Dei is a Contemporary Baptist Church located in historic Galena IL. Senior Pastor Tim Swigart shares his thoughts on numerous topics concerning the church.

Good News of Great Joy!!!

Timothy Swigart

Shortly after the birth of Jesus, angels appeared to shepherds, who were keeping watch over their flocks on the hills outside of Bethlehem. Here's what one of the angels said: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good new of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10) Though times have changed, the same greeting spoken by the angel two thousand years ago still rings true today!

This good news that God delivered to the shepherds is the same good news the Gospel delivers to us today. The Gospel literally means "Good News!" God has moved through Christ to save us from the punishment of sin and has given us a path to a restored relationship with Him that we can experience for all of eternity. Death no longer holds victory over those who have received Christ! This is good news indeed!

This good new brings great joy to a lost people, who have been found by their Savior. Just as the shepherds, we also suffer under the brokenness of this world. Things just aren't as they should be. There is coming a day, when God will right every wrong and restore all creation to it's grandeur. In fact, He's already begun the restoration process in the lives of those who have received Christ by faith. In receiving God's free gift of salvation through faith in Christ's death and resurrection, a person steps into a restored relationship with Christ where he or she can begin to experience an abundantly good life. This abundantly good life isn't defined by riches, possession and relationships, but is instead an opportunity to know God more deeply and to experience His love more completely. This gift of God's presence comes only through faith in God's Son, Jesus Christ.

This good news of great joy is made available to all people. God extends His invitation to know Him more deeply to all people. One only needs to believe. God's love isn't restricted to the wealthy, the well connected or the powerful. God offers his love to all who receive Him by faith.

As we enter the advent season, take a moment to reflect on this good news of great joy for all people. Christmas isn't about gifts and family (though these are certainly important elements of our celebration). Christmas is about the birth of our Savior, Jesus. Without Christ, there would be no reason for joy. We'd be hopelessly lost in our sins. Jesus stepped into our brokenness and became the way of our salvation. Take time to seek Him this advent season.

Celebrating the Reformation

Timothy Swigart

On October 31, 2017, Protestant churches all across the globe will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany sparking what we now know as the Reformation.

As we are 500 years removed from this historic event, it's easy to lose sight of the ideas behind the movement that changed the world. So, Journey Church will be hosting a six-week study on the 5 Solas: Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone and Glory to God Alone. We'll host the study on Monday nights at Tri-State Christian school beginning on Monday, October 2. You won't want to miss this awesome study!

Out: Fellowship, Ministry & Outreach

Timothy Swigart

The past three weeks, we've been introducing some new language in our church. Specifically, we've been talking "up, in and out." Up, In and Out are the ways we as a church are working toward reconciling our three broken relationships (Up: God, In: Ourselves and Out: Others), through the power of God's Holy Spirit.

This week, we'll be focusing on Out. We'll be looking at ways we reconcile our broken relationships with others. As a church, we reconcile our broken relationships with others through fellowship, ministry and outreach. We'll define these terms and discuss each in greater detail as a group.

We'll be at Tri-State Christian School this Monday night at 7pm. Come on out and join us for some great discussion!

Discipleship

Timothy Swigart

Last week, we introduced some new language for our church. Specifically, we talked about "Up, In & Out." Up, In and Out relate to the reconciliation and restoration of the three relationships that were broken in the Fall. These relationships are our relationship with God (Up), our relationship with ourselves (In) and our relationship with others (Out).

Last week, we looked at Up - our relationship with God. How do we restore and reconcile our relationship with God as a church? Worship. We love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind (Matthew 22:37). When we look at the purposes for our church's existence, we begin with worship.

Tomorrow night, we'll look at In - our relationship with ourselves. How do we restore and reconcile our relationship with ourselves as a church? Discipleship. When we look at the purposes for our church's existence, discipleship is a primary purpose. We are to grow in Christ-like maturity. Easier said than done, right? Sure. But, our church is here to help you grow. We'll tackle some biblical passages that speak specifically of discipleship and look at our church's strategy for discipleship. You're not going to want to miss this!

Worship

Timothy Swigart

This week, our small group will be discussing worship. What is worship? We'll answer that question and so much more.

You're not going to want to miss this gathering. We're going to introduce some new language into our church vocabulary. We'll learn what "Up, In and Out" mean and how they relate to the purposes for the church to exist. Tomorrow, we'll tackle "Up."

In addition to laying a biblical foundation for understanding worship, we'll also be discussing what worship will look like once we begin offering Sunday morning services. Journey Church has a unique take on worship that we feel is inviting and engaging. We believe the key lies in interaction. Come see what that means!

What is a Church?

Timothy Swigart

Tomorrow night, we'll begin a new series on the church. We want to lay a biblical foundation for understanding what a church is, what a church does, how a church functions, etc. You're definitely going to want in on this study!

Our main passage for tomorrow night's discussion is 1 Peter 2:9-10. "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people, once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

We'll unpack this passage and others as we define what we mean by the term church. Hint: it's not a building, it's a people. Lots of good stuff. Message me through this site for directions.

The Lost Son

Timothy Swigart

In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son. I'm sure most people reading this are familiar with this parable. We'll be discussing it during our small group meeting tomorrow night. If you're interested in coming, we'd love to host you!

As a bit of a primer, I'd like you to consider the heart of the father in the parable. In asking for his inheritance early, the prodigal son was essentially saying he wished his father was dead. How did the father respond to this disrespectful request? Why do you think he would respond in this way? Then, upon receiving his inheritance early, the prodigal son left home, moved to a foreign land and squandered his inheritance recklessly. Can you imagine how this would make the father feel? Over time, the son spent everything and ended up destitute. He came to his senses and returned home to his father. How would the father receive him? Would he be turned away? The father certainly had every right to disown his reckless son.

But, the father didn't turn his son away. Instead, the father restored him to his position as son and rejoiced over his return. The father in the parable represents God the Father. What does this parable teach us about God's love for his wayward children? Why should this matter to us?

We'll be tackling all these questions and so much more tomorrow night at 7pm at my house. Contact me through this website for directions. We'd love to see you there!

Lost Sheep

Timothy Swigart

In Luke chapter 15, we see Jesus confronting the religious folks of His day concerning their self-righteous attitudes and their lack of concern for lost people. Rather than rejoice when lost people came to God through Jesus' ministry, the religious leaders were incensed. Luke explains:

"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them.' So he told them this parable: 'What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.'" (Luke 15:1-7)

Clearly, God has a heart for people who have lost their way. Our desire is to be a church that opens its arms to those who have been beaten up by life. We value all people regardless of their religious standing. We wish to minister to all people leading them to take their next step toward Christ together. Why? Because that's what we see Jesus doing throughout the Gospels.

This week, our small group will be studying the above passage. We'll see how we, too, can be on mission with Christ in our community. Please feel free to drop in. We'd love to host you!

The Dangers of Self-Righteousness

Timothy Swigart

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a parable concerning the condition of our hearts. The parables goes as follows: "He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 'Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.'"

A lot can be said of this text. I hope you'll join us this Monday night at 7pm or Wednesday night at 7pm as we'll be discussing this text and the dangers of self-righteousness. It will be a great discussion!

Suffice to say, God is more concerned about the condition of our heart than our acts of righteousness. Nothing that the Pharisee does or does not do is wrong. He was living a very moral life. He was following God's law. Yet, he had begun to trust in himself rather than on God's mercy. He was playing the comparison game - comparing his righteousness with the lack of righteousness on other people's parts. This comparison game had given the Pharisee a false sense of confidence.

God has offered us salvation as a gift. He cannot earn it. Those who have trusted their future to Jesus have received mercy and grace from God. We do not deserve it. That's what the tax collector in Jesus' parable understood. He could not save himself. He was completely dependent upon the mercy and grace of God.

So, where do you stand. Do you stand with the Pharisee? Are you trusting in your good works and moral character to save you? Or, do you stand with the tax collector - willing to admit your sinful state, your helplessness before God and your need for a Savior? I pray you'll stand with the tax collector, as he was the one who went home justified before God.

Why Are We Starting a New Church in Galena?

Timothy Swigart

A question I'm often asked is related to why we're starting a new church in Galena. Don't we have enough churches in town? Why one more?

The answer lies in the demographics of this community. In looking at the religious affiliations in this community well over half of residents are not regularly engaged in a church. Extrapolated over the entire zip code, this amounts to over 3,000 people without a church home. Over 3,000 people do not have a consistent Gospel witness in their lives and are missing out on the great joy of being part of the Body of Christ. There is great need in our community!

Journey Church hopes to minister to the unconnected and disenfranchised in Galena and the surrounding area. We hope to share the joy of knowing Christ as Lord. We hope to share in the blessing of having a spiritual family.

This is a high calling and a tremendous task. We're currently looking for missional Christians to join with us in planting this church. We cannot do this alone. We need the involvement and support of other Christians to see this mission succeed. Are you interested in reaching the unreached in Galena? If so, contact me through this website and we'll get the ball rolling.

Happy Father's Day!

Timothy Swigart

This Father's Day, I have been struck by an awesome truth. By faith in Jesus, I have been adopted by God. I am now a child of God. Having received Christ by faith, I have a new Father - God. Romans 8:15-17 reads: "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

What an incredible passage of Scripture. God, the creator of the entire universe, has become my Father through faith in Christ. I can cry, "Abba! Father!" to God and He will answer me as a father answers his child.

The exciting thing is that this adoption as a child of God is open to anyone who will receive Jesus. John 1:12 states: "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

Would you like to receive Him? Would you like to believe in His name? Would you like to become a child of God? You can. Contact me through this site and let me help you take this next step in your spiritual journey.

Why the Apostles' Creed?

Timothy Swigart

This summer, our small groups are going through a video study series on the Apostles' Creed. It's a great series from Matt Chandler with twelve weeks devoted to one of the oldest Christian Creeds. So why the Apostles' Creed?

The Apostles' Creed is based on the teaching of the earliest disciples of Jesus Christ, known as apostles. Though not found in the Bible, the creed is based on biblical texts. The creed is a sort of summary statement on all the most essential teachings from the New Testament. We're studying the creed, because it gives us a pretty accurate view of the beliefs that make the Christian faith distinct and unique. It gives a person an idea of what the core biblical beliefs Christians hold happen to be.

If you're interested in learning more about what it means to be a Christian, this is a great study for you. Matt Chandler is an engaging teacher. The group interaction is great. It will be a fun summer!

Brokenness

Timothy Swigart

We see brokenness all around us. Our government, institutions and families reflect brokenness. Every aspect of life is less than what we had hoped it would be. Brokenness is undeniable. So what is one to do?

Every major world religion attempts to answer the questions of brokenness. People across the globe are trying in one way or another to overcome the brokenness they feel. So what separates Christianity's approach to brokenness from all other approaches?

Christians understand that they are hopelessly broken and cannot do anything to fix the mess. Most of us know this, because we've tried very hard to fix the mess ourselves. God also knows that we're hopelessly broken - unable to save ourselves. So, He sent His Son Jesus to save us. You see, our sin and brokenness deserves to be punished by a just and holy God. We owe a debt. Jesus came to pay that debt for us. He was punished in our place for the sins we have committed. He then rose from the dead conquering death (the end result of brokenness) once and for all.

Christians, therefore, place their faith in the accomplished work of Jesus. We believe we have been forgiven when we ask (1 John 1:9) in faith. We accept the fact that we can do nothing to save ourselves; we receive the gift God has given us through His Son's sacrifice on our behalf. When we repent (change the orientation of our lives away from ourselves and towards God), we are free to pursue God's design for our lives. His design is perfect in its beauty.

So, do you feel broken? Would you like to pursue a better design for this world? Contact me through this website and we can talk about it. Or, stop by one of our small groups meeting throughout the week. Don't let brokenness consume you - let God begin to fix the mess.

Happy Mother's Day

Timothy Swigart

I'd like to wish all of our moms a Happy Mother's Day! The call to motherhood is a high calling. Though often times a thankless job, we, as a nation, wisely take time out in May to say thanks!

I was fortunate to have a world-class mom. My mom loves Jesus and taught me to cherish my relationship with Christ. She taught me the Bible beginning as a very young child. I saw the way she studied it and allowed it to shape her life. I learned how to serve Christ for the joy of serving Christ and not for the attention that might come with it. I learned to live humbly before both God and man from my mom. I'm truly blessed.

I see many of these same qualities in the life of my wife (and mother of my children). Kathy works tirelessly day and night to raise up godly children. She's a great Bible teacher. My kids know their Bible and much of the credit goes to Kathy. I'm sad to say we aren't always as grateful as we should be, but on days like today, we get an opportunity to express our appreciation. I can't imagine raising our kids without Kathy. I'm truly blessed.

I know you have great stories to share about your moms, too. Feel free to post comments and express your love for your mom. Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Feeling Anxious?

Timothy Swigart

I've spoken with a number of folks lately, who feel a great deal of anxiousness. Whether it's North Korea, Iran, healthcare, politics, or the like, there's plenty to distract us from the truths of Scripture. When I am anxious, I find comfort in the 23rd Psalm. I'm sure you're familiar with the psalmist, David's words:

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Grab tightly to the truths expressed in this psalm!

More than Conquerors

Timothy Swigart

I had the honor of speaking at the Savanna Bible Church this morning. My text was Romans 8:31-39. This is the climax of a theologically rich chapter. The last three verses are as follows:

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Paul lists ten specific things that could all present a challenge in our lives. Some are severe challenges, like death. Yet, what Paul teaches in Romans 8 is that even these challenges will be used by God for our good. Romans 8:28 is an encouraging verse, which states: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." If you are a follower of Christ, every obstacle and every challenge you face will ultimately be used by God for your benefit.

So, when we say we are more than conquerors, we are saying that we will more than overcome every trial in life. In fact, these challenges will ultimately rise up and serve our good.

I don't know what challenges you may be facing as you read the words on this screen. I do, however, know that followers of Christ will reign victorious over every challenge and will grow to become more and more like Christ in the process. All the while, we can rest peacefully in the arms of Christ knowing that He will love us no matter what lies ahead for nothing can separate us from His love.

He is Risen!!!

Timothy Swigart

"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and crucified and on the third day rise.'" (Luke 24:1-7)

Later Paul wrote, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Why is the resurrection so important? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:14: "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." The entire Christian faith rests on this one miraculous event in history. I believe we have good reason to believe that Jesus did rise from the dead, just as these eyewitnesses testify.

When we look at the many people to whom Jesus appeared alive, we see that most were severely mistreated, tortured and killed for their testimony of Christ's resurrection from the dead. If we look at human nature, we see that men and women do not willingly die for something that they know to be factually false. We certainly wouldn't see the mass commitment of so many testifying to the resurrection. These individuals had seen first hand the resurrected Christ and refused to state otherwise - even if stating otherwise would have saved their lives.

Considering the eyewitness testimony and understanding how strongly they held to their testimony has literally changed my life. It's given me great confidence in knowing that this event did in fact occur. And if this event did occur, it changes everything!

Easter Children's Carnival

Timothy Swigart

Please plan on coming to our Easter Children's Carnival on April 15. The event is open to the public running from 1pm to 3pm and is free of charge. We'll be at the Galena Middle School gym located on Franklin St. We have a lot of fun activities for the kids. We have a bounce house and photo booth, which are always fun for the kids. We also have popcorn and cotton candy. We'll be doing a craft with the kids, which tells the resurrection story. We also have cool prizes for a few drawings. It's a fun family event. Hope to see you there!

Whose Are You?

Timothy Swigart

I was listening to a sermon by John Piper last night. His text was Romans 1:1, which reads, "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God." I was curious as to how he would treat the text and keep my attention for the full forty minutes my web browser indicated the sermon would last. There's seemingly little to work with here. It's simply an introduction.

There's more than meets the eyes, though. Paul isn't so much telling us who he is, he's telling us whose he is. If we look carefully, we see someone behind the scenes in the text. There's someone greater than Paul at work. It's this person that Paul seeks to introduce.

Whose is Paul? Christ's! We see him introduced as a servant of Christ. A servant is one who serves someone greater. That someone greater in this text is Jesus. Next, we see that Paul was called to be an apostle. To be called, means someone has called, right? Paul was called by who? God in Christ Jesus. Finally, we see Paul was set apart for the gospel of God. To be set apart, means someone has done the setting apart. Who was setting Paul apart? God in Christ Jesus.

This text is filled with references to whom Paul belonged. Yet, in life, we're always concerned with the question, who am I? We're always striving to know who we are and what our purpose in life happens to be. It seems the greater question may be: whose are we? Purpose and meaning come from a right relationship with our Creator.

If you're not sure whose you are, contact me through the contact tab on this site. I'd love to help you figure that out.

Church is Necessary

Timothy Swigart

So many Christians today are trying to grow in their relationship with Christ without being involved consistently with a local body of believers. The net result of this striving is often a slow drift from Christ and other believers. You simply cannot grow closer in your walk with Christ without being involved in a church. It's simply not designed to work that way.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, the author writes, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." The author recognized the vital need for involvement in the church. We need the consistent encouragement provided by our brothers and sisters in Christ as the Spirit moves through His Church. We cannot get that apart from a local body of believers.

Consider the way Jesus loved the Church. Paul writes, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus gave His very life to care for the Church. Do we love the church like that? Are we willing to sacrifice for the church? For many, the answer sadly is "no."

Often times, our excuses for skipping church are really an indication of priorities more than anything. We simply prioritize many things above church. Why is that? Why doesn't belonging to Christ's Body stir us to eagerly anticipate our time spent with other believers? What does it say about our love for God when we prioritize other things over time spent with Him in worship with other believers?

If you're struggling to plug in, I'd encourage you to stop by one of our two small groups. One group meets on Monday nights and the other meets on Wednesday nights. Contact me through the contact tab for directions. We'd love to have you join us as we worship the One True God together!