Resurrection: Why does it matter?

Bear up, and don’t give way to angry grief;
Nothing will come of sorrowing for your son,
Nor will you raise him up before you die.
(Homer, The Iliad, 24:549–51)

This line from Homer’s Iliad where Achilles speaks with Priam about the death of his son Hector sums up what the ancient world thought about resurrection. Namely, it doesn’t happen.

One of the many parallels between the Greco-Roman people of the 1st Century and people of our own century is that the idea of a person coming back from the dead — when they are really dead — is preposterous. Every person in the ancient world knew that when you were dead, you were dead. Part of the mythology of greco-roman world was that once you entered Hades — you had to stay. Even the gods of Greece, if they ate the food of Hades, they were required to make it their home.

There are myths of heroes entering Hades to rescue a loved one only to fail and remain lost in that realm themselves. While Euripides wrote a play about Heracles fighting Thanatos – the god of death — and freeing Alcestis (Ἄλκηστις) from Hades — it was a play — and wondrous and impossible things happen in fiction — for the ancients as much as for us. Today it may be about alien visitors or inter galactic space flight — but essentially it is the same– ideas that exist only as a distant hope among a people who know the difference between fiction and reality.

We are not unlike the ancients. In our world, we all know when we die, we die. Every one of us knows that the great adventure of life is an adventure with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

For people in our time and culture, death is the ultimate ending.
Christianity teaches a very different idea. Christians have believed from the very beginning that Jesus rose from the dead. It is an idea that is not natural in the modern world. In fact, it is opposed to the nature of the modern worldview. This is why it is important to start by saying that the resurrection actually happened.

The Resurrection — It really happened!

When we survey the New Testament, we see over and over again references to this core belief. Paul puts the Resurrection of Jesus at the very centre of our faith. In 1 Corinthians he says:
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19, NIV)

For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus was lynchpin that held together every other idea about the Christian hope. Without it everything fell apart.

In Acts 2, we see Peter speaking to a very large crowd and his words are as clear as they are barbed for his audience.

“This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:23–24, NIV)

In John’s Gospel, the reality of the resurrection of Jesus is made clear in chapter 21, when Jesus meets his disciples on the beach. It is a strange story for a modern reader — we get it when Jesus reinstates Peter — but the whole breakfast thing is a bit odd. To an ancient Jewish reader, the meaning is clear. It was a pervasive belief that spirits or ghosts do not eat physical food. So when Jesus shares a meal of bread and fish with them, he is broadcasting that he is in the physical world. That he has a physical body. They may have started by thinking they “saw a ghost” but with a meal — it was clear to everyone that Jesus was actually there in flesh and blood and that the Resurrection was real.

“Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.” (John 21:12–14, NIV)

Since the Gospels and Paul make such big deal about this we need to be clear about it. We can’t afford to misunderstand or avoid something that is so important to both Jesus and the Apostles.
The Resurrection: Let’s be clear

It did not take long after Jesus rose from the dead for alternative stories to begin circulating. In a way, that’s to be expected. When we hear something so out of the ordinary that we consider it impossible, we try to explain it in different ways. The first alternative explanation was by Jesus’ own disciples. When the women who saw him at the tomb told them what they had seen, they figured the women making it up — perhaps overcome by grief.

11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. (Luke 24:11–12, NIV)

Only Peter took the claim seriously and ran to the tomb to see for himself. The others — even though they knew Jesus and witnessed his miracles — were content trust in their own understanding of how things work. But Jesus challenges everything we know about how things works.

One of things things I’ve heard and read over the years is that the Resurrection of Jesus was spiritual — that his spirit went back to God but his body stayed dead like dead bodies normally do. Apparently this kind of spiritual resurrection is more acceptable to some people. I’m sure the Corinthians were hoping for to be true — then they could hang on to that Greek idea that the human spirit is trapped inside a flesh and blood body waiting to be released. I know that’s what they were teaching and that’s why Paul wrote a letter to correct their thinking.

It was that body-spirit dualism that allowed the men to keep visiting the local prostitutes — I mean it was just a bodily act and it’s the spirit that matters. It was also the reason those in Corinth who took the idea of holiness seriously began abstain from normal sexual relations within their marriages and once again Paul had to correct them that this was not a good thing. Anytime we separate body and spirit – we misunderstand creation. God created us as physical beings. God saves us as physical beings and he restores us as physical beings. Resurrection is connected to creation and is connected to God’s plan for us.

Jesus raised people from the dead — he raised his friend Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44) he raised the daughter of Jairus (Mk 5:21ff), he raised the only son of a widow from Nain (Lk 7:11–17). He raised them from death — but they died again. These were resuscitations — Lazarus after three days of being dead and the young boy long enough after that his body had been prepared for burial — clearly miraculous but these were different than the kind of event Jesus experienced. Jesus rose from the dead and did not die again. He experienced a different kind of resurrection.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he made a point of having breakfast with his disciples to demonstrate that it was a physical-flesh-and-blood kind of resurrection. It would be one thing if they misunderstood because of their culture and understanding, but Jesus made a point of sharing a morning meal with them. He made a point of showing them it was more than a spiritual resurrection. He even tells Thomas to reach out and touch where the nails and spear had injured his body. Thomas did not do it, but the invitation was real. Jesus resurrection was not just a spiritual resurrection but a whole-person resurrection – Physical/Spiritual – the whole person raised from death in a new way that no one had seen before.

The Jews condemned him, the Romans soldiers killed him — and they were very competent at killing — and God raised him up.

The Resurrection — It Changes Everything

Changes how we understand all of life – it challenges everything at the Worldview level.  The prime reason for this is that the resurrection validates Jesus. It validates his fulfilling ancient prophecy. It validates his teachings, it validates the “locus of power” behind all of his miracles, it validates Jesus’ understanding of his own death.

“The resurrection completes the inauguration of God’s kingdom. . . . It is the decisive event demonstrating the God’s kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven… The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.” (N.T. Wright)

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ simply changes everything.

2017 Brent Hudson

Sharing my Faith – Believe#20

How do I share my faith with those who don’t know God?

I share my faith with others to fulfill God’s purposes.


Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20)

This weekend we conclude section two of our believe series.  This week 20 and ever since week 15 we have been looking at places in our lives that need to come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ – that we need to surrender to God. There are things that our culture says to move in one direction and God says move in a different direction. Those are the most difficult places to live as a follower of Jesus.  Whether it is giving time or money or simply living together as a community that honours God with our actions toward one another — all of it brings joy and all of it requires some sacrifice. It is not easy to move against the flow. Yet as one author has written:

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

I think Jesus would agree with that view.  We all want to fit in but Jesus wants us to stand out — and to stand out for the right reasons.  

I just finished teaching an early church history course at Crandall University and one prominent aspect of the early church is that  Christians were known throughout history as being open to sharing their faith. There were seasons of persecution when saying you were a follower of Jesus meant suspicion and possible death. Of course, that is still the case in some places today — but for most of us our path is much less prone to danger.  It is ironic that even without the threat of death  openly sharing one’s faith is still considered one of the more difficult tasks by those who follow Christ in our Canadian context.  

I understand the cultural pressure and difficulty to share about our faith.  Our culture resists such things but we can be sure of one thing — everyone who has been saved by Jesus Christ– everyone who has put their faith in him and made a decision to follow him has been called to share their faith.  We are all…

Called to Share our Faith

We have stories in the gospels of Jesus sending people out to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom. If you wanted to be a disciple of Jesus — you got sent out. After Jesus rose from the dead, he gave his disciples instructions to go and make disciples.  Just before Jesus returned to his heavenly father his words to all his followers were simple:

…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

We could paraphrase Jesus words as:

“you will talk about me and live according to my teachings at home, with your neighbours — neighbours who are like you and neighbours who are not like you, and all over the world.”

This is something that is inescapable for those who follow Jesus. We are called to share our faith. We must be open about it, not hiding it or shy about it.  If someone says why do you forgive that person — you can say “it’s what Jesus teaches me to do”.  Sometimes people will say “you’re nuts” and other times it will lead to more conversation.  Sometimes the people who call you nuts are just emoting and will come back to you later –sometimes much later — and you can have a conversation.

The key to our call to share is actually loving people enough to tell them. If sharing our faith becomes a duty to dispatch — we do not have the heart of God. When Paul wrote the Corinthians he said “Christ’s love compels us” (2Cor 5:14) and the end of that passage he writes:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:20, NIV)

When the prodigal son came home, in Jesus story, the Father disgraced himself by running to greet him and then in joy embraced his son and immediately threw a great party to celebrate his homecoming.  That is the father’s heart for every lost child that comes home. But so often we are the elder brother.  We never had enough love in us to searching for the lost son. The shepherd searched for the lost sheep.  The woman searched for the lost coin — but in this third story about lostness — no one searched.  That was the elder brother’s role, but he did not take it.  He did all kinds of things his father appreciated but he never got his heart.  He never appreciated why his father would watch the road every day for the lost son.

Often we are that elder brother – we follow Jesus as a duty instead of a profound sense of the Father’s heart.  Please hear me, sometimes life is hard and we put ourselves on auto-pilot, I get that I really do.  All I’m saying is let’s not accept it as the best scenario for our lives. The best scenario is loving like God loves. Everything becomes more natural when it is just we are overflowing God’s love. Eugene Peterson has a warning for us all:

“There is nothing more common than for people who want to talk about God to lose interest in the people they are talking to.”
(Eugene H. Peterson, Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers)

The call to share our faith is clear. The danger will always be doing it for the wrong reasons. Internalizing this call to share our faith must be rooted in prayer because in order to share our faith with love requires that our hearts be changed or as John Wesley said of his own heart that it was “strangely warmed”.  

That doesn’t happen from a sermon. That doesn’t happen by reading a book. That happens when God touches our lives and puts his love in us. The passage from Acts, that I read earlier was actually only half of the verse.  The first part goes like this:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…(Acts 1:8a, NRSV)

Our call to share our faith is rooted in our experience of faith and God at work in us helping us to love as he loves. As we travel down that path

We see our calling to share our faith starts …

With our lives

Most of us want to be authentic people. We want to be real. Not only do we want authenticity in ourselves, we appreciate it when we see it …anywhere.  

Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame wrote a book telling the story Starbucks. He make an insightful comment about authenticity:

“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.”

Sharing our faith starts practically by being authentic. It means doing acts of kindness for our neighbours — it means being a good neighbour in a time when people rarely know their neighbours.  It means going out 30 minutes earlier with your snow blower to help that crazy guy two doors down or stopping in to the elderly person on your street to see how they are doing. It means being a little weird in your kindness. But because it is rooted in your love for your neighbours it will pass the sniff test — they will be suspicious, but they will sense your sincerity as well.  Because you are not looking for anything in return — you’re just doing what Jesus did.  You’re following the way of the Apostles — the better way – as Paul called it– the way of love.  First we love, then we do loving thinags.  Paul writes:

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.(Galatians 5:6, NIV)

Then there comes that time when people wonder about us and want to hear something.  As much as doing and not talking may be difficult for some extroverts, this next piece is the hard news for introverts. . .eventually you need to say something about the Gospel.  

We are called to Share our faith with our lives and also

With our words

I came across a book just recently and its title made me chuckle a bit when I read it :

Spiritual Conversations: Creating and Sustaining Them Without Being a Jerk

With a title like that, I had to read a few reviews and then a sample of the book on amazon.  It looks like it is actually a great book.  I think I’ll put it on my every lengthening list of books to read.  But what a great title.  How to have a spiritual conversation without being a jerk.  I think I love the title so much because I have heard so many evangelistic conversations where I felt the person was a jerk — and I already believe in Jesus!

I actually believe that if we get that love part right we have a built-in resistance to the jerk-factor. The people who most often come across as pushy, unkind, confrontational and even angry are people who are talking about Jesus for some other reason than authentic love for neighbour.  It’s not Christ’s love that compels them. . .it’s something else.  

When I have conversations about faith, I like to remember two things.

    1. The amount of relational capital I have with this person.  This is a very important first question.  People who you have deep relationship with can have conversations that allow you to risk saying something hard. They know your heart and so you can get down to difficult things and they still know you care about them. When you have no invested in a person and have little relationship capital, you communicate in different ways. I often use questions or personal stories that include faith. The second thing I remember is…
  • Not to over estimate my place in God’s Kingdom.  When I studied at Crandall University — it was Atlantic Baptist College then, there was a professor there named Jim Beverley.  Some of you may know Jim. I had several classes with him and in one of them we called some big names in theology at that time. One of them was Normal Geisler.  I credit this idea to Dr. Geisler. Dr. Beverley said what if I have to convert this person because I’m the only one who can — he said: “I would say you have overestimated your value in the Kingdom of God”.  I will never forget that class or that phrase.  God has many people working for him.  He has many conversations going on. I have had year-long conversations with people only to find out with surprise that they had been conversing with other Christians that I knew along the way — but I was not aware they even knew that person.  God is doing things in people’s lives that we are not aware of. It reminds us once again to pray for the people we do life with – that they would have ears that hear and eyes that see what God is doing all around them and for them.

It is a freeing thing to know that a person’s salvation does not rest solely on your shoulders.  I’m not letting myself or anyone else “off the hook” about sharing Christ — we are called to share Christ with our lives and our words. And we must pray for boldness like Paul did.  All I am saying is that we serve a great and merciful God. He is worth talking about.  What he has done in Christ is worth talking about.  Even when we feel awkward about it. Even when we would rather run away like Jonah or try to ignore the problem like Esther — in the end we all have a responsibility for a piece of what God is doing the in lives of those around us.  Not the whole thing — just a piece.  Our piece is important and only we can make that contribution.  God’s mighty hand will not be stopped because of someone’s lack of love for him or neighbour — but his reputation will not be enhanced — that’s for sure.

We are called to share our faith with our lives and with our words…

To Everyone

As I mentioned already from Acts 1, the words Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to all the world really mean at home, to our neighbours who are like us and who are different from us and out to the whole wide world.

What is interesting for me these days is how we are okay with sharing Christ at home — here in Moncton.  We are okay sharing our faith in Riverview — neighbours who are like us. But our neighbours who are different — who maybe speak a different language and adhere to a different form of Christianity or religion — we have work to do.  Our Samaria, our neighbour who is different than us could easily be Dieppe.  A different culture. A different language, different faith expressions — close to us but also different.  We must work to share faith with our neighbour — both like us and unlike us.  Likewise we must consider the larger world — to do projects which show the love of God in life and support our workers like Bruno and Kathleen who can put voice and passion to this gospel that we are called to share.  

As we look ahead, we are about to begin Alpha. This will be a season where we can invite people we know and have shared life with to begin a conversation about faith. The faith they have seen in you.  The love they have seen in you.  

Your church is working hard to create opportunities to take what you are doing in your own families and with friends and to help you start new conversations about faith — to continue ongoing faith conversations.  We want to love like Jesus and it is the love of Christ that compels us to explore together this faith that was once and for all delivered to God’s people (Jude 3) because we understand that we are

Called to share our faith
          with our lives,
                    with our words,
                              to everyone.


Giving my Resources – Believe#19

A preacher paid a visit to a farmer and asked, “If you had 200 dollars, would you give 100 dollars to the Lord?
“Sure would,” said the farmer.
“If you had two cows, would you give one cow to the Lord?”
“Yeah, I would.”
“If you had two pigs, would you give one of them to the Lord?”
The farmer replied, “That’s not fair. You know I have two pigs.”
(Kent Hughes, Preaching Today Message #205)

This week we are looking at Giving our Resources. There are times when this is easy and money flows from our hands and we are filled with joy that we could help.  But there are other times when it is hard but it is all part of a life that is marked by Faith in Jesus.  

And so our Key Question for today is this: How do I best use my resources to serve God and others?

Of course this presupposes that we want to use our resources to fulfill God’s purposes.  My hope is that if you are following Jesus, that is exactly what you want.  Even if it is hard at times…you want to embrace this spiritual call to giving.

Which leads us to the our Key idea: I give my resources to fulfill God’s resources  

That said, I know there may be others who are just tipping their toe in the water of the Christianity thing and since we are very protective of our resources in our Canadian context — this can be a threatening idea.

Brent Hudson our teaching pastor shares how this was, interestingly, a threatening idea to the early non-Jewish church as well.  Here is how Brent explains it!

The Jewish church had a rich culture of generosity.  You gave to the temple, you gave to the priests, you gave to the poor — sharing resources was part and parcel of what it meant to believe in a Creator God who was personal and cared about your life.  

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” (Psalm 24:1–2)  

How could a person sing that Psalm in the synagogue without a deep sense of all that one had belonged to God.  The Jewish Christians got this — but here’s the thing.  In the first century there was a food shortage in Palestine and so the very Christians who were notably generous were in that moment the ones in need.  

But more than that, the one’s who could help them were people like us — people who were raised to save and invest and work hard but not to give generously.  The non-Jewish Christians — often called Gentiles in the Bible — were brought up in a culture where when it came to resources and money:  what’s yours was yours.  Now Paul was in this place of having to ask the church to help those who were suffering — and did not have the mindset of God’s ownership of all things.  They did not have the mindset of being responsible for each other.  Simply put, they did not have the mindset of generosity.

In 2 Corinthians 8-9 we get a letter from Paul about the great offering that was being collected among the Gentile Churches to help the Jewish church in great need. These two chapters should be read over and over again by non-Jewish Christians.  

We may be 2000 years into the whole Christianity thing, but we are still Gentile Church — in so many many ways we are not unlike the Corinthians of the 1st century.  We know the path God wants us to be on — but everything in our culture makes it hard.  The Christian mindset of generosity simply does not make any sense to anyone who has not been radically saved by Jesus Christ.  And even among the saved — there are struggles.

Let’s look at our main Bible verse today as we develop a mindset that says “I give my resources to fulfill God’s purposes.”

Key Verse:

“But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” (2 Corinthians 8:7)  

Excel in the Grace of Giving

Brent takes us down a path where he helps us dig into the connection between grace and giving.

The word ‘grace’ in the New Testament refers to a very diverse set of ideas.

  • As protestants, we often learn that grace is “undeserved favour” — and it is.  But it is also more than that.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit – those “spiritual gifts” that we looked at a few weeks ago, are literally “grace-gifts” because the Greek word for these is based on the word for grace. In Greek, the word grace is χαρις (charis (ch like Bach not cheese) and grace-gifts is χαρισμα (charisma) – which is “something manifested from grace”.  Sometimes things get lost in translation — like the connection between spiritual gifts and grace — something the readers of the Greek text would have taken for granted.  
  • There are other words built on grace, like εὐχαριστέω which means to give thanks.  The word ‘grace’ can also be used to mean ‘do something generous’.  The New Revised Standard version of the Bible translates ‘grace of giving’ 2Cor 8:7 as “generous undertaking”.  Every time the word grace is used, there are hues of generosity in its meanings.  The grace/generosity connection is not something we make in English — but for the first readers of the Paul’s letters, the connection was in the word itself.

Connecting the dots between grace and generosity can be one of the most powerful things that can happen to us as we think about how we as people who have received grace from God must live in our life together.  Being generous is not confined to financial things — but it certainly must include it.  This was the connection Paul was making to the non giving Gentiles and making to us as we interact with his words about giving.

The Giving Path

Our key verse simply is telling us to excel – to stand out – to become proficient at – to become really good at the grace of giving.

Becoming really good at something implies movement…for example as one works at science, at soccer, or at making speeches one can excel as one moves along a path of proficiency.

So let me suggest we all here in this moment need to consider how we can excel in the grace of giving. Let me further suggest that we need to move through three areas on the path of giving.

We decided we would have some fun by calling each area on the giving a name based on a well known song.

“Let it Go”: The Logic of Grace

For those who are beginning on the path of giving we are calling this group

Let it Go! We are telling those who are at the beginning of this path of giving to consider the logic of grace

For those struggling to get started on this journey of generosity — you need to understand the logic of grace.  

God has given to you salvation by his grace — it is a generous gift. He wants us to be like him.  Jesus tells this story to those who were following him:

“…be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. … Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:44-48)

That’s obviously a high standard but you don’t abandon a great idea just because it is hard and you may not get 100%.  It is a vision to look to and guide our lives. Who cares if you are more generous than the person next you when the objective is to be children of our Father in heaven.  To be marked by His generous ways.  

We receive grace from God when he forgives us our sins in Jesus Christ. We receive grace from God when he helps us in our struggles.  We receive grace from God when we live in Canada not a war-torn reality like Syria.  It is a gift. It is a generous flow from God. We are to connect the dots between God showing us generosity and us living a life of generosity — to model our character after God character and change our ways to match his ways.  This is the logic of grace — you have freely received, now freely give.

We’ve only just begun: The Cost of Grace

The second group are those who get the logic of grace and who have started on the giving path.  This is a great thing really. It is powerful when we understand the ways of God and begin on the path of following Jesus.  

Sadly, many people who get on the path don’t travel very far before the realization happens that this could get costly.  

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

I think that is the reason that people don’t give very much in our Canadian context.  StatsCan has a webpage devoted to the charitable trends of Canadians. When I read it, it is a sad reality.  Did you know that in New Brunswick, 585,700 people filed taxes in 2015.  Of those filed, 113,040 made charitable donations for a total of $148,680,000. The median gift — if you took every donor and lined them up from lowest to highest, at the very middle — the median is a $310 dollar donation.  There is a reason why CRA doesn’t give you credit for the first $250 of giving — because most people don’t give that much.  The median gift in Quebec is $130 and for the nation is $300.  

When it comes to giving money — all Christians should be outliers in our culture. We should be so far off the cultural map that CRA is writing us letters asking for receipts to prove it — and they will send that letter.

Grace was costly is so is giving!

  1. Mark Dillon, Giving and Getting in the Kingdom (Moody Publishers, 2012 pg. 29; submitted by Kevin Miller, Wheaton, Illinois –

I once heard Warren Buffet say in an interview (I paraphrase here) about his $26 billion gift to the Gates Foundation: “My gift has not changed my lifestyle one bit. I still go to the movies I want to go to and eat at the restaurants I want to dine at. But what about the person who gives a gift that requires they can’t go to the movies or eat out. They are the true givers—the true heroes [of generosity].”

Now, this may offend someone, so let me apologize in advance, that is not my intent.  But if you have been forgiven a debt that was so large there was no way you could pay it and defaulting on that debt would actually endanger your very life — wouldn’t you want to express your gratitude with something a bit grander than a $250 gift of appreciation be a bit embarrassing? Would that really express gratitude for a life-saving act of generosity?  I think that’s the kind of gift you give if you think you’ll never have have to see that person again but feel obligated to give something.  News flash, you’re going to see that person again and actually have to explain why your new TV cost more than your annual giving.

“I can see clearly now”: The Fullness Grace

The fulness is when we see all the aspects of grace coming together in our lives…When we have this clear vision of what grace is — its central role in our lives.  Grace as the foundation for forgiveness.  Grace as the foundation for judging others.  Grace as the foundation for understanding spirituality, Grace as the foundation for our financial giving.  It can all be summed up in a word —  “generosity”.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:7-15, NIV)

  • Cuba Offering – $525.00
  • Crandall Power Outage – $645.00
  • Christmas Eve – $9475.00
  • Christmas Offering – $2151.00
  • Irene MacLeod Bequest – $50,000

It is all about living our lives with a full understanding of how the giving path is connected to God’s character, my salvation, my experience of the Holy Spirit and what God has given to me to manage during my lifetime.  

Giving is one area of life that is easily measurable. The 10% rule is something that we can evaluate every year at tax time.  Some people quibble about gross income or net, I think that is a diversion.  Our city could be impacted greatly by our church if every family gave 10% of their net income — and you can measure that.  In that sense, it is simple and objective.

So many things about following Jesus can be complicated because it involves our hearts and our emotions — but this area — giving — it’s straightforward — we can measure it — in fact CRA requires us to every . single . year. It may be hard to do because of our own hearts — but it is easy to measure if we are getting it right.


As we move along the giving path there are three main steps:

Decide to do it
Do it
Do it cheerfully

There are lots of stories in the bible about people on different parts of the giving path that person.  The story of the rich fool in Luke’s gospel who was rich with respect to money but poor with respect to God. The story of the unforgiving servant who was give huge debt forgiveness but did not extend that to a fellow servant who owed him money.  In both cases the people are considered fools who simply do not understand what is important in the grand scheme of things.  

At the other end we have numerous examples of generous giving.  We have the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears and hair and then poured perfume on his feet. Jesus said she had show great love because she had experienced great love. We have the story of Zacchaeus who gave generously and Jesus praised him for his behaviour.

It is between these two bookends that most of us find ourselves on this path of generosity.


Giving my Time – Believe#18

Message Bumper (Asaf Avidan – One Day)


Did you hear the lyrics in that video we just played? It comes from the song entitled, “Reckoning Song”. We played this commercial as our message bumper because the lyrics speak of time.

“One day baby, we’ll be old
Oh baby, we’ll be old
And think of all the stories that we could have told.”

Tick Tock goes the clock and so does our time.

Today we come to the action step of living out my faith by Offering My Time.

How do I best use my time to serve God and others?

I offer my time to fulfill God’s purposes.

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

I want us to look at another important statement of about time found in Ephesians 5:15-17

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

As we contemplate these verses what can we say about time, about us and about faith?

Tick Tock – Time is Passing

There is a sense of urgency in these words of exhortation by Paul. In the Message paraphrase – So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! 17 Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

When as a child, I laughed and wept,
Time crept;
When as a youth, I dreamed and talked,
Time walked;
When I became a full-grown man,
Time ran;
When older still I daily grew,
Time flew;
Soon I shall find in traveling on,
Time gone.

I sense Paul in light of scripture has a sense of the brevity of life. Scripture repeatedly presents powerful pictures that speak of our brief “season of opportunity” on earth using metaphors such as a breathe, a swift ship, an eagle’s dive, a shadow, a hand breath (thumb to little finger), smoke, vapor, grass, flowers of the field, a weaver’s shuttle!

Casting Crowns has the lyrics that mirror what scripture tells us constantly…

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind

TICK -TOCK  – Time is Passing

TICK-TOCK – We are Careless

Paul’s warning about being careful with our time is because of the temptation and the danger of being careless. We often can act unwisely with our time. A teacher and author Chuck Swindoll – suggests five proven ways to be careless with our time.

First, worry a lot. Start worrying early in the morning and intensify your anxiety as the day passes.

Second, make hard-and-fast predictions.

Third, fix your attention on getting rich.

Fourth, compare yourself with others.

Fifth, lengthen your list of enemies. If there’s one thing above all others that will keep your wheels spinning, it’s perfecting your skill at the Blame Game.

Henry Blackaby observes that when we are careless…If you are spiritually prepared when a crisis comes, you will not have to try to develop instantly the quality of relationship with Christ that can sustain you. If you suddenly have an opportunity to share your faith with an unbeliever, you will be equipped to do so. If you enter a time of worship spiritually prepared, you will not miss an encounter with God. If you are spiritually filled when you meet a person in sorrow, you will have much to offer. If you have established safeguards in your life in advance, you will not give in to temptation. Christians lose many opportunities to experience God’s activity because they have not devoted enough time to their relationship with God.

Ortberg writes that we must all ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives.


Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well. As Ortberg observes for many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will skim our lives instead of actually living them.

Another reason Ortberg gives to eliminate hurry is that love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time and time is one thing hurried people don’t have. The dilemma we all face with our hurry is that we often end up not being able to love those most important to us. We come home with sunset fatigue that leads to unkind words, underlying tension and escapist behaviors like tuning into the TV or computer and tuning out your spouse, children or friends.

TICK TOCK  We are Careless.

Tick Tock – Faith is Now

Paul speaks about discerning the Lord’s will – about making the most of every opportunity. The idea of opportunity is to know the season that you are in and do what you can with it.

Henry Blackaby (known for his excellent study Experiencing God) says

Timing our obedience is crucial. Invitations from God come with a limited opportunity to respond. Some opportunities to serve Him, if not accepted immediately, will be lost. Occasions to minister to others may pass us by. When God invites us to intercede for someone, it may be critical that we stop what we are doing and immediately adjust our lives to what God is doing. Missing opportunities to serve the Lord can be tragic. When an invitation comes from God, the time to respond is now.

Let me quote Blackaby: God has tried, at times, to get our attention by revealing where He is at work. We see it, but we do not immediately identify it as God’s work. We say to ourselves, Well, I don’t know if God wants me to get involved here or not. I had better pray about it. By the time we leave that situation and pray, the opportunity to join God may pass us by. A tender and sensitive heart will be ready to respond to God at the slightest prompting. God makes your heart tender and sensitive in the love relationship you are called to seek to have with Him.

As we consider what it means to seize the opportunities let us recognize that often many can be termed – Inconvenient Opportunities

A history professor once visited a fine ancestral home in Virginia. He followed the aged owner, the last of a distinguished colonial family, as she proudly showed him through her home. An ancient rifle above the fireplace intrigued him, so he asked if he might take it down and examine it. She replied, “Oh, I’m very sorry. I just can’t allow it. You see, it just wouldn’t be safe. The rifle is loaded and primed, ready to fire. My great-grandfather kept it there in constant readiness against the moment he might strike a blow for the freedom of the colonies.” The professor said: “Oh, then he died before the American Revolution came?” “No,” came the reply. “Actually he did not. He lived to a ripe old age and died in 1802, but he never had any confidence in George Washington as a general or as a Commander in Chief. You see, he knew him as a boy and didn’t believe he could ever lead an army to victory.”

He missed out a history making moment.

Making the most of our time comes down to this – taking advantage of every opportunity to manifest the reality of one’s faith.

So how do we do that?

  • Every day is time to depend on God in prayer and listen to his word.

    Everyday is a time to show compassion to a stranger.. those in need.

    Everyday is a time to share my hope in Christ.

    Everyday is a time to grace and practice humility.

    Everyday is time to practice gratitude

    Everyday is time to seek first God’s kingdom…

    Everyday is time to use my spiritual gifts

    Every day is time for loving service, holy adoration, and diligent study.

    Every day is  time to know the mind of Christ and by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives live out His love and truth.

Psychologist, William Marston, surveyed 3,000 people. “What have you to live for?” Ninety-four percent said they were just enduring today and living for tomorrow.

Robin Mark:

When it’s all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for You?

When it’s all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I’ve done for love’s Reward
Will stand the test of time


Spiritual Gifts – Believe #17

Last week we talked about how we are called in our Christian faith to do “Life Together”. This week as we talk about Spiritual Gifts we need to see an important connection to the community of faith. One way the biblical community is described in the bible is that we are the body of Christ.

In Romans 12:4-6 we are given the implications of being part of the body – read it on the screen or on the teaching outline. :

KEY VERSE: Romans 12:4-6
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” 

In this image there is link made between parts of the body and spiritual gifts. One implication that I find striking is that it is obvious that when I think about a body it is made up of so many parts and they all need to working in a proper and healthy way together in order for the body the to flourish.

I remember years pulling up carpet and in the process damaging nerves near my spinal column. The pain was relentless. I had to go on a strong painkiller – oxycontin ever so briefly…and all I can say is that when that member/part of my body was damaged it affected my whole body.

Paul is reminding us that if we are the body of Christ – we all need to be functioning in a healthy in order for Christ to work through us. That is why the Key Question is important for us to consider:

What gifts and skills has God given me to serve others?

In your journey to act like a follower of Jesus – you need to come to grips with this biblical reality that says that each one of us is spiritually gifted. It is crucial that you in your journey through this life come to a place of self awareness where you can say in our Key Idea:

I know my spiritual gifts and use them to fulfill God’s purposes.

When we talk about what on earth am I here for – this understanding of our spiritual gifts is part of that journey into a full meaningful faith where we begin to see how we are called to live before God and with others.

But let’s back up the train for a moment so that we can grasp a fundamental truth about being a Christian. When we make the courageous decision to to step across the line of faith and embrace God’s offer of salvation through the grace and mercy of Christ, we are changed. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in each of our lives.

 The Believing Community is Spirit-filled

This is a mystical and marvelous experience. And since we all experience this for those who have faith in Christ – it means that the church, the body of Christ, the fellowship of believers is Spirit filled.

Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit…John 14:26

John 14:26 (NIV)
But 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.

Let’s be clear about the presence of the Holy Spirit. It means the presence of God in our lives. Without God at work in our lives then we may have our plans, our own energy but from God’s perspective it is rather missing the point.

Even in the Old Testament we are reminded about the needed presence of God’s Spirit. Through the OT prophet Zechariah we hear these words – It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (Zechariah 4:6)

I think of the birth of the church in Acts. The means of this occurrence was through the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the early disciples very specifically about waiting for the Holy Spirit.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

When we are describing any church in spiritual terms we have to see that it moves us way beyond organizational structures. We are saying that you and you and you and you have the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. The very presence of God. That means all those who are christians in this gathering of worship are not ordinary by any means. The believing community is Spirit filled.

The Spirit Gives Gifts

Now the implication of Spirit filled people is that we are given spiritual gifts. The bible makes it plain: The Spirit gives Gifts!

1 Corinthians 12:11 (NLT)
It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

There are two critical implications about spiritual gifts for the church. I need to give credit to the late Ray Stedman who was pastor of Peninsula Bible Church for the articulation of these implications about our spiritual gifts.


We cannot consider ourselves insignificant.

Many people in many churches have thought to themselves, I love to coming to church, but I can’t contribute, because I don’t have any abilities. Others are so much more talented or knowledgeable than I am.”

Paul addresses this feeling of insignificance in these next verses of I Corinthians 12 when he says, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the ear should say, ‘Because I’m not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.”

In other words, if the foot should say, “I can’t do all the things a hand does. It’s so flexible, and it’s used all the time. I really don’t belong in this body,” it is nevertheless an indispensable part of the body.

In the same way, if you are a believer and you think you are insignificant just because you can’t preach or lead worship, you are deceiving yourself. Whether you feel qualified or not, you’re still a part of the body. But you have shut your eyes to truth. You need to open them to see the role God has called you to play. There are no insignificant members of the body.

Here is something interesting – there’s a part of your body that is absolutely essential to all of us. It is our big toe. The big toe senses when your body begins to lean or shift or get out of balance, and it immediately strengthens so that we all can stand up. Without your big toe, we would all be in trouble.

There are people in the church who are just as essential to its work as the big toe. Take people with the gift of helps, for example. We think they are nice to have around. Food needs to be served. Chairs need to be set up. They see a need and meet it. We’re glad they help out, but do we really appreciate how crucial their service is to the work of the church? Without those folks, we’d soon be unable to preach or teach. We’d stumble over one another and nothing would get done.

The reason so many people consider themselves insignificant is that we often have the wrong idea of what the work of the church is. It is so much more than our weekend services. People who lead services might lead the rest of the church to think That’s the work of the church, and I can’t do any of those things. Therefore, I have no part to play in the church.

The work of the church is to heal the brokenhearted, to deliver the captives, to open the eyes of the blind, and to preach the good news to the poor and despairing. The work of the church is to encourage and strengthen and deliver. Seek justice, show mercy – meet the needs of others with love.  And alot of that work doesn’t take place inside the church building; it goes on out in the world. What happens inside the church building is that we get organized and trained and inspired. We come here to be equipped and encouraged and educated to fulfill the work of the church out there.

There are many jobs to be done in the work of the church. Some are to be done on when the church is gathered and other times when the church is dispersed. That’s the work of the church; the church is Christ at work in the world. Doing this work requires everyone using their spiritual gifts so that they can do the work God wants them to do.


We cannot consider ourselves independent.

Paul says, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you;’ nor, again, the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'” It’s amazing how many people believe they don’t need the rest of the body. They are confident in their own abilities and their own ministries. This attitude of independence hurst the body of Christ.

Think about golfers versus hockey players. I once spoke at a conference for professional golfers. Golfers are, by nature, independent. A golf tournament is a struggle of independent egos against one another. It’s very different from a hockey game,  in which each member plays his own role, working together with the rest of the team to accomplish a goal. I’m afraid many congregations are more like golfers; everybody goes out on his or her own and pays little attention to what others are doing.

Paul points out that this attitude leaves the church in a terrible state. What if the eye said, “I don’t need the rest of the body; I’ll just roll around seeing things and let the rest of the body go”? If that happened, the rest of the body would stumble into everything and the eye would lose its ability to see. We all need one another, no matter how impressive we think we are. For as Paul reminds us that in our physical body the parts that seem to be weaker are actually indispensable.

The power of our spiritual gifts is when they are working together. Quote Ray Stedman – When you begin to see the church as God sees it, you’ll see that God works the whole body together in one beautifully articulated and coordinated thing. The human body is the most beautifully balanced and delicately tuned instrument the world has ever seen. In the same way, there’s nothing more beautiful or effective, nothing more exquisitely balanced, than the church of Jesus Christ. God has crafted it with care. Therefore we ought to show great care for one another. Paul says, “If one member suffers, all suffer with it.” It’s also true that “If one be honored, all are honored with him.”

We need each other’s gifts to accomplish God’s purposes – We are not independent…

 Are you using them?

Are you using the gifts God has given you. Have you unwrapped your gifts?

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

The list  includes administration, healing, teaching, mercy, discernment, helps, wisdom knowledge, leadership, evangelism, hospitality and faith

Maybe right now your answer is in the negative because of the following reasons:

  1. Don’t know –
  2. Discouraged – don’t grow weary in well doing! Forgive, let go of the past, press on, keep in step with the Spirit, continue to love even when it hurts.
  3. Distracted – keep your eye on the big picture – God has given us spiritual gifts for a season to glorify God and to serve others. We come to see that using our gifts for God gives us a purpose bigger than ourselves.

Matthew 25: 23 (NIV)
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

[This post was based on the manuscript written by Pastor David Morehouse]

Biblical Community – Believe #16

Life Together in Christ

In our journey through Believe we are halfway through on what we are called to do in our faith. The first 5 of our doing was focused on deepening our relationship with God.

They were:

  • Worship
  • Prayer
  • Bible Study
  • Single Mindedness
  • Total Surrender

Now we shift from God on how we are to deepen our relationships with others. Let us never forget that the wonderful news of the gospel is that God is creating a new community of people who came from darkness into light to be in relationship for all of eternity because of the work of Christ.

This new community is the church – the household of faith – the body of Christ – the family of God – which we are all called to be part of…

This week let us consider the call to do life together in Christ. In our day of individualism where we prefer the solitary life with a few hand picked family and friends – we are challenged to see how we are called to enter into a household of faith.

A symptom of the struggle to do life together in Christ are the statistics that tell us that church attendance is on a decline. Over 50% – 70% of people who are identify with a church community are not in attendance on any given weekend.

Perhaps the observation by Heather King strikes close to home for many of us. She says this about the reality of biblical community: We worship with people we did not hand pick.  This shatters our egos. We experience a humbling effect of discovering that we are thrown in with extremely unpromising people!—people who are broken, misguided, wishy-washy, out for themselves. People who are … us.  And when we come to church we discover this is the best place – the only place – to hear about the two greatest scandals of God’s grace – 1.) that he loves us – AND – 2.) that he loves everyone else. (Adapted from Heather King – The Better Church)

Let me share one more observation by Carmen Renee Berry – author of The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church (Brazos, 2003) – She writes, “Where human frailty once served as a reason for me to withdraw from the church, with its unruly and divergent congregants, this is now what compels me back to spiritual community. I had overlooked one essential factor—that I am as finite and flawed as everyone else.”

We see the the quality of life in the early church from the description in our key memory verse birth of church in the key memory verse of the week.

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47

That leads us to the key question we need to wrestle with – If I am called to do Life together in Christ with those who believe – How do I…

How do I develop healthy relationships with others?

I want us to consider that as we grasp the marks, the qualities of biblical community – we will start to connect with the church the way God intended.  When we get a hold of these qualities – the KEY IDEA of this week – I fellowship with Christians to accomplish God’s purposes in my life, in the lives of others and in the world. – begins to make sense.

So what are the marks of doing life together in Christ?

Work Together

The Israelites returned from 70 years of captivity and were rebuilding their lives under God. Nehemiah was called by God to give leadership in the rebuilding of the wall around the city of Jerusalem.

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

One mark of Biblical community – engages all its members to use their gifts resources and and time together to accomplish a task important to the plan of God.

Life in Christ means we work together –

  • Alpha,
  • Calling pour nextgen pastor,
  • refreshing our buildings
  • Multisite
  • Embracing our community
  • Serving in a ministry

Stick Together

One of the marked differences between the church and the rest of society is the call to live for others. We are urged to “look out for one another”

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

I Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

The call of one another is a radical love – we will be inconvenienced, interrupted and intruded.

We can’t make it just about us. It is a call to break free from self centeredness.

Pastor Ray Ortlund writes, “The kind of God we really believe in is revealed in how we treat one another. The lovely gospel of Jesus positions us to treat one another like royalty, and every non-gospel positions us to treat one another like dirt. But we will follow through horizontally on whatever we believe vertically.”

Ray then goes on to identify the “One Another’s” he could not find in the N.T.:

Sanctify one another, humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, corner one another, interrupt one another, defeat one another, sacrifice one another, shame one another, judge one another, run one another’s lives, confess one another’s sins, intensify one another’s sufferings, point out one another’s failings …


It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations.

It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Share (& EAT) Together

Hebrews 13:1-2 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13: 15-16 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

We see the importance of hospitality – inviting others in – sharing our homes and our lives – mysterious about eating together – it breaks down barriers – it is an act of worship before God!

Risk Together

Paul the apostle and great christian missionary had friends who were with him in ministry. Two of these were Priscilla and Aquila

1 Corinthians 16:19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla[a] greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.

Romans 16:3-4  Greet Priscilla[c] and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.

“I believe He wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them.” Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

I can’t help but think we may risk our lives for our family but will we risk them for our brothers and sisters in Christ…

Risk means we become vulnerable and sacrificial. We forget about rights and move into

Go Deep Together

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 2 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

We must have a profound sense of the gospel – what God has really accomplished in our lives – radical salvation – from darkness to light – that is the profound basis of our relationship…this context we treat each with a profound sense of depth

Spiritual formation is so often couched in more individualistic terms, that it’s easy to forget the important role the church community plays in our growth as individuals. In her bookTraveling Mercies, Anne Lamott shares a story she once heard from her minister that illustrates well the necessary presence of others in our journey of faith:

When [my minister] was about seven, her best friend got lost one day. The little girl ran up and down the streets of the big town where they lived, but she couldn’t find a single landmark. She was very frightened. Finally a policeman stopped to help her. He put her in the passenger seat of his car, and they drove around until she finally saw her church. She pointed it out to the policeman, and then she told him firmly, “You could let me out now. This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here.”

Lamott further writes:

And that is why I have stayed so close to [my church]—because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when I see the faces of the people at my church, and hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home.

Our linked is the profound relationship we have together in Christ – we are forgiven – we have moved out of darkness into light because of the work of Christ – who we are in Christ means we are a new creation – but all of us are new creations – profound implications

Love cannot exist in isolation: away from others, love bloats into pride. Grace cannot be received privately: cut off from others, it is perverted into greed. Hope cannot develop in solitude: separated from the community, it goes to seed in the form of fantasies. No gift, no virtue can develop and remain healthy apart from the community of faith. “Outside the church there is no salvation” is not ecclesiastical arrogance but spiritual common sense, confirmed in everyday experience. (Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder (HarperOne, 1991) p. 43).


God places a high value on the community of believers – the church – How important is it to you – how is it making a difference in your life?  

This week what one idea of life together will take a step toward?

  • Work – share in task that is important to the plan of God
  • Stick – look out for others
  • Share – practice hospitality
  • Risk – make yourself vulnerable
  • Go Deeper – embrace the forgiveness of Christ and come into the family of God.

Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God makes this observation: “We need to stop giving people excuses not to believe in God. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘I believe in God, just not organized religion’. I don’t think people would say that if the church truly lived like we are called to live.”

[This post is based on the manuscript written by Pastor Dave Morehouse]