A Description of “Biblical Community”

Last week in our Sunday service, we looked at the stunningly beautiful community experienced by the early church in Acts 2:42-47. We saw how committed these believers were to one another and how powerfully that community impacted those around them.

As I was preparing for the message last week, I received an e-mail from an organization I really like called TRUEFACE. In it, they included a review of a book they wrote called Bo’s Cafe.I read this at our church meeting last week because I love the way the writer draws out the essence and beauty of real, authentic community… And I wanted to share it here because I believe it is an excellent definition for the kind of community we are called to in the Bible.

“Community—a place where we belong and are accepted—even when we do all we can to make others believe that we aren’t worthy. Community means standing together with each other, fully recognizing and disclosing our own blemishes and accepting others in the humility of knowing their path is not much different than our own. But, much more than that, a community of grace gently insists that we are lovingly honest with each other and ourselves about our sin and our needs. In openness and vulnerability, we can lay it all out on the table, and in return, receive a depth of love and protection that we never imagined. This, in turn, leads to the freedom to be transformed and truly move into maturity.”

Holly C ~ Amazon Review Bo’s Cafe

Spiritual Gifts

How can I discover my spiritual gifts?

Last week we talked about how God gives spiritual gifts to those in the church so that they can be used to build up the body of Christ.

Below is some information you can use to help discover what your gifts are– they are the notes we will use in this week’s Bible Study.

1 Corinthians 12:1

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.

There are many different tools to help us discover our spiritual gifts. I have selected an on-line tool that I found to be easy to use and helpful.

Think of this as a starting point to learn about different spiritual gifts and the gifts you may have. The best way to determine spiritual gifts is not a test or assessment like this, but rather, serving others in the body and having them affirm your gifts as you use them.

Go to:                        www.spiritualgiftstest.com/test/adult 

Click on the “Continue as a Guest” button. 

The test will come up.

Answer each of the questions and follow the prompts.

Print out your results  (there is a “Print your Results” button on right side)

Read the “definitions” of your top 3 gifts

 Bring these results to the small group on Wednesday (10/14/15) to discuss.

Here are some questions to consider:

1)    Was this a “hard” test for you to take? If “yes” why do you think it was?

2)    Do these gifts surprise you? Why? Why not?

3)    Can you think of an example when you were able to use this gift to serve others in the church/body?

4)    How could you use these gifts to “build up” those around you in the church?

5)    How have you seen others use their gifts to build you up?

6)    How can you use your spiritual gift this week for the benefit of others in your church?

 

Exploding Back to Life

For the last few months, I have been working with a several employees in a local company. My role is to serve as a Dream Manager.

What is a Dream Manager, you ask? Well, it doesn’t have to do with analyzing stories of sitting in a college classroom for an examination that you didn’t study for or trying to run away from a monster while getting stuck in molasses. It’s not about those kinds of dreams. Instead, we try to identify the personal dreams that people have for their lives—and then determine some steps to move in the direction of achieving them.

It has been a very interesting process. It is amazing how much people can accomplish with some focus, structure and encouragement.

One of the highlights, so far, has been walking alongside Heidi. Heidi has written poetry for years and has dreamed of organizing her poems to begin to share them with others. In one of our sessions, I asked her if she would be willing to read one of her poems to me.

She agreed. Here is Heidi’s poem. She wrote it after she began to explore her own dreams and aspirations in our Dream Manager Pilot Program. I asked Heidi if I could share it with others and she agreed to this as well.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

Exploding Back to Life

Lying dormant for so long

Life just passing by, just going through the motions

-Smile, say “hello” someone is coming

And then even they are passing by

Another day, another year gone

 

A stirring – what is that?

A ripple starting deep inside

Growing bigger, creating chaos

Something not felt for a long time

Go away, ignorance is bliss

But still, the stirring grows

 

Joy erupts, happiness – what a real smile?

Peace flows into every part of me, of my life

Feelings not felt for so long

Explode inside, bringing life back

Too much, too fast

Overload, overload

 

Breathe, be calm, it’s ok

See, still in one piece

A gentle whisper – “Trust Me, it is and will be ok”

One step at a time

Bringing me closer to where I need to be – Your hug

Further from where I should not be – alone

 

June 9, 2015

You Shall Not Make For Yourself an Idol

Currently, we are studying the Ten Commandments during our Sunday services.

This week we looked at the second commandment where God prohibits making a worship idols. It can be easy to dismiss this commandment as irrelevant when we consider idols as statues, totems, and parts of creation (the sun, moon, etc.). But idols come in many different forms and we should consider what may be idols in our own lives.

Here are some questions to ask to determine who/what may be an idol for you.

1) What do you want, desire, crave, and long for?

2) What have you done to get those things?

3) When do you say, “If only”?

4) What have you done to make “if only” come true?

5) Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, and escape?

6) Whom must you please?

7) What do you believe you can’t live without?

8) What have you done to get, keep, or protect that thing?

As we ponder these questions honestly, I believe that God will help us to see where we may be struggling with this commandment– and lead us to the only answer to overcoming them: Jesus.

The Greatest Story Ever Told-Sermon Notes

Last Sunday, we talked about the stories of Christmas. Some of you expressed an interest in getting my notes on the message… Well, here they are! I hope you can make sense out of them. : )

****************

MESSAGE:            The Greatest Story Ever Told

It’s the Christmas season:            Christmas stories

  • Books‘
    • Twas the Night before Christmas
  • TV Specials
    • The Year Without Santa Claus
    • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
    • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    • Frosty the Snowman
    • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Movies
    • The Polar Express
    • Elf
    • Home Alone
    • It’s A Wonderful Life
    • Christmas Vacation
    • A Christmas Story

Christmas is about stories, We love these stories because they all have something in common…

  • they all capture our desire for hope, love, faith and peace
  • They touch something deep down in all of us—a longing for things to be right in the world

But they all have something else in common

  • They all are based on fantasy
  • They are myths that are not real
  • But we wish they were

I have been reading a book about story

  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
  • Donald Miller

Story:

  • A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

All the stories we watch at Christmas have this in common, But today I want us to think about the real story of Christmas

  • It is part of a bigger story
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told

Luke 2:1-21

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

Unlike the myths I mentioned earlier, this story is real

  • It happened in history

Movies:     The following is based on a true story or actual events

  • These capture my attention in a different way
  • They move me more because they are true—based in reality
  • Since they are real—they are accessible to me
  • In a way, I can be a part of it

Well, the following is based on a true story/actual events

Mary gives birth

  • Where—stable
  • Why—no room at the inn

Shepherds—angels

Luke 2:10-11

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Christmas is the TRUE Story of the birth of Jesus

  • Jesus is the greatest story in the universe

But his birth is just a scene in a bigger, grander story

  • The story of Jesus begins in Genesis

Creation:           The Garden

  • Man
  • The serpent—the villain/enemy/antagonist
  • The Fall
    • Man chooses to write his own story

Genesis 3:14-15 (The Message)

God told the serpent:

“Because you’ve done this, you’re cursed, cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals,
Cursed to slink on your belly
    and eat dirt all your life.
I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers.
He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.”

A future character is introduced to the story— protagonist

  • A man who will defeat the enemy and restore creation and everything in it

The first mention of a hero

  • Promise of a savior/Messiah

Story:

  • A character—a Savior—who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

The Greatest story continues…

  • OT—Selects a people
  • Waiting for Messiah

Through the prophets we receive some clues about the hero…

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Micah 5:2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

The story of the new character’s birth is filled with amazing & miraculous events:

Luke 2

  • A census from a Roman emperor puts Mary and Joseph in the right place at the right time
  • Heavenly host appear to shepherds

In other passages we learn

  • Mary & Joseph were separately visited by angels to prepare them for the event
  • A star seems to have broken the laws of celestial physics to highlight a stable in Bethlehem and guide wise men from the East

But there is also CONFLICT from the beginning

  • No room for them in the inn
  • Herod kills Hebrew children
  • May and Joseph flee to Egypt

We need to remember this story every year

  • We need to remember the story of Christmas—the birth of Jesus
  • Because that story is part of God’s Greatest Story
  • A story that continues today

The Greatest Story Ever Told is also…

  • The Greatest Story Being Told—right now
  • It is story we are all a part of whether we realize it or not

The Story God is writing includes characters writing their own stories

  • Every person who has ever walked this earth is actually writing a story within God’s bigger story

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years—Donald Miller

  • Charcters try to write their own stories

Pg 85-86

As I worked on my novel, as my character did what he wanted and ruined my story, it reminded me of life in certain ways. I mean as I sat there in my office feeling like God making my worlds, and as my characters fought to have their way, their senseless, selfish way of nonstory, I could identify with them. I fought with my character who wanted the boring life of self-indulgence, and yet I was also that character, fighting God and I could see God sitting at his computer, staring blankly at his screen as I asked him to write in some money and some fun and some comfort.

God has a story he is writing right now

  • The end hasn’t happened
  • And we’re  in it
  • A grand, dramatic, exciting story
  • Of angels and miracles and life

But we want to control the story

  • We want to play the hero
  • Or at least have the main focus

Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we reject the divine author and choose to write our own story

  • We sin
  • We run from God

And so we struggle when God’s story doesn’t match up with ours

  • We fight him
  • We cry out against him
  • We blame him

Story from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: Kathy and the Rwandan genocide

  • Kathy
  • Massacre in a church in Ntarama

Pgs 117-118

“Kathy took the tour bus to Ntarama. She walked into the church and looked at the bones lying cold on the iron rails. She looked at the bloody clothes hanging from the walls.

She was ready to feel the same old anger at God, only a thousandfold more. She was ready to pray her last prayer, announcing that she could no longer believe in God in a world with such pain and so much devastation.

But Kathy told me it was then and there, in that church, that she heard from God. Instead of the anger, she felt overwhelming tenderness and sorrow.

This is what happens when people walk away from me, Kathy. I have brought you to this place to show you something important. This is what happens when my compassion and love leave a place.

It is when people do not let God show up through them, she realized, that the world collapses in on itself.”

 

The Story of Christmas is the story of God bringing his love and compassion to this world

It is a story of A character—Jesus— who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

Do you know what he wants?

  • You

And he is willing to do anything to get it

  • Leaves his heavenly kingdom
  • Enters a world he created that has turned against him
  • Forfeits his rights and power—arriving as a helpless baby

He will have to overcome conflict to get you—the one he loves so much

Conflict at his birth…

Then—at the end of his life—we see the full extent of his love

  • Arrested, falsely accused, tried, convicted, condemned to death on a cross
  • It is there that Jesus overcomes the greatest conflict we could never overcome on our own
  • Sin and death
  • The results of our rejection

The greatest story is the gospel:

A character—Jesus— who wants something—(YOU) to give you life and to be with you forever— and overcomes conflict—(the CROSS) by going to the cross and dying for your sins as your substitute; then rising from the dead—defeating sin and death to get it.

Now that’s the greatest story ever told… And here is the amazing thing when we believe that…

  • Since it is also The Greatest Story Being Told
  • We can be part of God’s story again
  • Instead of fighting against him, we can join him
  • The story is being written today—right now

Every moment of everyday, we are writing a story

  • And we can choose what our character does

We can choose to make ourselves the center of the story

  • To act only for ourselves and our interests
  • And live out a small, rather boring story

Or we can listen to the author and be a different character in the Greatest Story Being Told

We need Christmas each year…

  • Remember that he came
  • Remember that he still comes
  • He has entered our story and is there… always

Knowing all this…

  • What part of the story will you write today?
  • What will you write this Christmas?
  • What will you write in 2014?

Because…

  • The Greatest story ever told
  • Is the greatest story being told
  • And the greatest story that will be told

We have a reason for hope in the face of conflict

  • A reason to sing

Grace and peace,

Doug

 

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