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Our Ultimate Love
James K.A. Smith

Our ultimate love moves and motivates us because we are lured by this picture of human flourishing. Rather than being pushed by beliefs, we are pulled by a telos that we desire. It's not so much that we're intellectually convinced and then muster the willpower to pursue what we ought; rather, at a precognitive level, we are attracted to a vision of the good life that has been painted for us in stories and myths, images and icons. It is not primarily our minds that are captivated but rather our imaginations that are captured, and when our imagination is hooked, we're hooked (and sometimes our imaginations can be hooked by very different visions than what we're feeding into our minds). Those visions of the good life that capture our heart have thereby captured ourselves and begin to draw us toward them, however implicitly or tacitly. The goods and aspects of human flourishing painted by these alluring pictures of the good life begin to seep into the fiber of our (every day, non-cognitive) being and thus govern and shape our decision, actions, and habits. Thus we become certain a kinds of people; we begin to emulate, mimic, and mirror the particular vision that we desire. Attracted by it and moved toward it, we begin to live into this vision of the good life and start to look like citizens who inhabit the world that we picture as the good life. We become little microcosms of that envisioned world as we try to embody it in the here and now. So many of the penultimate decisions, actions, and paths we undertake are implicitly and ultimately aimed at trying to live out the vision of the good life that we love and thus want to pursue.


This is an excerpt from James K.A. Smith's Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation


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Sermon Discussion | 1 John 1:1-4
Gabe Hagstrom

You may view the sermon here.

With Duane taking a couple weeks to rest before heading deeper into the gospel of Luke, we are taking what will be one of many Ryan Buss led interludes this year into the 1st letter from John. Ryan gave us a little background on John; he’s a fisherman, brother, author of the Gospel of John and Revelation, and last man standing after all the other Apostles had died for their faith.

Ryan called particular attention to one particular moment of John’s life. In Acts 4:13 after Jesus had been crucified, Peter and John take up Jesus’ ministry and message. Though they were simple men, the religious leaders of the day were amazed at them and they could see that they had been with Jesus. When we spend a lot of time with someone we often will begin to take on their traits and remind people of that person, sometimes in a good way, other times a bad.

Has someone in your life ever began to copy vocabulary, habits, or mannerisms from another after spending a lot of time together?

This week Ryan is taking us through the greeting from John in his first letter. Let’s read through it:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. — 1 John 1:1-4



John gets right to it, telling his readers that he is writing to share life with them. And by life he means Jesus. John has referred to Jesus as life and eternal life many other times, most famously in John 1 (that Life was the Light of men).

Why do you think John uses “Life” as interchangeable for Jesus? What does it tell you about Jesus?

“We have heard, seen with our eyes, touched with our hands” is how John describes his knowledge of Life. Life as a tangible thing. He’s physically spent time with it in Jesus and he’d like to share about it. Life can seem really abstract as a concept and here John brings it down and grounds it in 3 senses: hearing, seeing, and touching.

Are you more of one who learns by hearing, seeing or doing? How is it important that John has experience with all of those with regards to Jesus?

Life is a binary situation, there is life and death and nothing else. We see here that there is no life apart from Jesus, and that by having a relationship with Jesus we have life. Life is relational. In John 17:3 he tells us “this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” Life is knowing God.

How is knowing God different than knowing of God, or knowing about God?

Life is meant for flourishing, for abundance. We feel it in our longings in this world for more, and visions that we have for what our lives could be.

What is your idea of a flourishing life? How does that impact what you do every day?

Ryan gave us a few different things that can influence what we believe is a flourishing life:

- How we grow up.
- What our culture tells us.
- Our relationships.
- Which of those do you believe has most influenced you for good? For bad?


John is sharing Jesus and eternal life with us so that our joy may be complete. In this world we can often lose sight of how Jesus works to bring us Joy. Ryan listed 10 ways:

1.  He provides perfectly for you
2.  He accepts you
3.  He makes you clean
4.  He places you in a family
5.  He comforts intimately
6.  He steadfastly walks with us through all of life
7.  He gives you purpose
8.  He heals you
9.  He delights in you
10. He turns your sorrow into joy

Which of those 10 bring you the most joy tonight? Why?

Joy is relational, we get it from people and receive it from people. It’s infectious and meant to be shared.

When was the last time you shared your joy with someone? Did it diminish it? or amplify it?

Joy is greater than happiness which is dependent on circumstance. Many unhappy people have been full of joy, even Jesus during what was most likely a very unhappy time right before to His crucifixion went ahead with it full of joy (Hebrews 2). Joy can even turn suffering into a gift.

How has suffering been a gift to you?


Pray that your group would share joy as they engage with San Diego, that we might all have flourishing eternal lives.

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Volunteer Opportunities
Dan Calvert

We’re looking for part-time office volunteers and event coordinator volunteers to help our Executive Pastor, Dan Calvert. If you would like to help in these roles, please contact Pastor Dan at dan@theresolved.com.

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A Story of a Child Prodigy
Sermon Discussion | Luke 2:41-52
Sean Keefe

Get Talking

Icebreaker: What was the last story (i.e. movie, book, TV series) that really captivated/gripped you? What was it about that story that drew you in?

Take some time to read through the passage again and re-familiarize yourselves with it. Were there any parts of the sermon that stood out to you more than others?

I. Formative Years

Duane asked, “If Jesus is God, why is He asking questions?” Duane’s answer was that Jesus is showing us what a perfect human should be. He is setting the example of teachability.

When you think of someone who is teachable, what character traits come to mind (i.e. curiosity? openness?)? What about someone who is unteachable (i.e. arrogant, a know-it-all)?

Duane said no one becomes a Christian nor matures in their Christian walk without being teachable.

Why is teachability such an essential part of the Christian life?

A few aspects of being teachable are:
- Asking questions
- Listening to answers
- Opening ourselves up to others asking us questions
- Answering those questions with sincerity and honesty

Which aspects are more of your strong suit? Which could use some work?

II. Fathers and The Father

This is the first passage in the Scripture where Jesus says something about himself, and it is significant: God is His true Father. And because of what Jesus has done for us, we have been adopted and God is now our Father, too.

Is the idea of God as a good Father a distant, un-relatable idea, or has fatherhood been represented well in your life?

Duane mentioned the idea of people having a “father hunger.” What do you think this means? What effects could this hunger have in our lives?

Why are fathers and the idea of fatherhood so important?

Jesus desires us to know the love of the Heavenly Father. This is what we’ve been invited to in the Gospel.

How might experiencing the love of God as our true Father effect us? The way we think? The way we live?

III. Fulfilling God’s Calling

Duane said Jesus is clearly portrayed as the hero of the story. He is the hero of all history.

Everyone in this story was amazed by Jesus, both those who listened to him and even His mother, Mary. When was the last time you were amazed by Jesus? What was it that led to that experience of being amazed?

Why do we struggle with staying amazed by Jesus and all He has done? How can we prepare our hearts to be more amazed?

God has given each of us different gifts and talents in order to engage others and show them how good and amazing Jesus truly is.

How are we doing with this calling?

In what ways can we use the gifts God has given us to point to Jesus?

Pray Together

Pray for open, teachable hearts.

Pray for a greater understanding and experience of the deep love the Father has for us.

Pray for the eyes of our hearts to be opened and captivated by Jesus.

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Pastor Duane Smets

At a recent THEO 101: Christian Beliefs class I taught, we had a discussion about San Diego's views of the word "gospel" and the word "Jesus." We came up with quite an interesting list. Here are some of the more interesting ones that were mentioned...

Gospel = Bad music made by Christians or people from the South.
Gospel = A euphemism for something unquestionably true, like "the iPhone is amazing."
Gospel = Something that weird people who hand out flyers are always trying to sell you.
Gospel = A book or message of the Bible about Jesus.

Jesus = A popular male name among our neighbors below the U.S. border.
Jesus = Something one yells, screams, or curses when they are upset.
Jesus = Who you get in tune with when you are Jammin' (smoking pot).
Jesus = The only hope for human salvation.

Knowing and understanding what the views are of our friends, neighbors, and city is important for us as Christians. Not so that we can start fights with people and tell them how wrong they are...but so we can properly address their concerns and hopefully shown them a Jesus and a gospel they have yet to actually hear of.

This is called "contextualization." Where we take the gospel of Jesus to all different kinds of contexts, and the way that we talk about him varies based upon what context that is. in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul calls us to be sensitive to the presuppositions of our hearers so that they might truly hear and receive the blessing of the gospel. Often people are turned off to Christianity, not because of the message, or even because they are not one day destined to embrace it, but often they are turned off by of the messenger. Sometimes we ourselves are the biggest barriers to the gospel for people because we do not first listen and learn how to contextualize the gospel in hopes that it will get the best possible hearing.

Ed Stetzer, a former pastor and church planter, now full-time missiologist, who is also on Board of Directors for Acts 29, was once interviewed by CNN asking the question, "Do Christians get on your nerves?" It is a very interesting interview, you can check it out HERE. From my perspective, it seems many of us as Christians have assumed we are living in a place that ought to conform to and understand Christians, when in reality we are truly living in a post-Christian, pagan, pluralistic culture. Rather than being upset about that, we need to accept it and figure out how to adapt and reach people with the gospel.

Another interesting study demonstrating how we may not be doing the gospel missionary work of adapting is a report based on statistical research titled, "Unchurched Americans Turned Off by Church, Open to Christians." You can read it HERE. Rather than fighting against our culture, it is my heart and desire that The Resolved Church would be a group of people who are constantly studying, loving, and learning the city of San Diego so that we can truly reach out to it and share the gospel of Jesus in words and ways which neither compromise the message nor unnecessarily complicate it.

Maybe you ask is contextualizing even Biblical? Besides the 1 Corinthians passage, I already mentioned above, think about Jesus himself, who came into our world, speaking the people's language of the day, wearing their clothes, and talking in parables that they understood. Think about Paul, who in Athens, took an alter used for diabolic worship as a positive illustration for the gospel. Think about foreign missionaries who for years have gone to other countries seeking a way to connect peoples of different tribes and tongues to the gospel. The difference is that now, here, in San Diego, our neighbor is a foreigner, whom we no longer can assume we know and understand. We must go on a mission for them. I pray you join me in that endeavor.

- Pastor Duane

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Musical Unity & Diversity at The Resolved
Pastor Duane Smets

Music is a wonderful gift of God. It’s something everyone loves, everywhere, all across the world. Not everyone loves the same music but we all love music. There is something about hearing music and singing songs that connects to something deep in our souls and ultimately connects us to God and His truth.

San Diego is an extremely diverse city and our culture is one with many different musical preferences and our church’s approach is to reflect and connect to that diversity. Currently, our church has four different rotating bands on Sundays: The Fount, Things Unseen, Sheep Draw Trail and Awake O Sleeper.

Each of our bands has a different and distinct style and musical genre, so on any given Sunday you may worship with an indie, blues, pop, bluegrass, folk, or upbeat rock n' roll style of music.

There are many benefits to having a diversity of musical genres in our worship. First, different people in our church get to enjoy different styles of music, both ones they prefer and ones they can appreciate in love for their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Also, it offers the opportunity for more people to be involved in the music ministry of our church and grow in their gifting. Moreover, it reminds us that ultimately worship is a matter of the heart between the individual and God which transcends musical preference, quality, and words.

The last book of the Bible ends with a wonderful picture of God’s people from every tribe and tongue worshipping our great God and savior with one voice. That’s what we’re after. Looking toward that and learning to be a people like that.

May God continue to enable the music ministry of our church to grow, flourish, provide a platform for praising God and enjoying the tool of song He has given to us.

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Moving from False Self to Deep Connection
Rich Plass & Jim Cofield

First, the false self is an image we create. Most of us create an image that is socially appropriate. As a result we receive affirmation and praise. Yet at its core, our construct is still an image, a façade. It is foreign to our truest identity as beings created in the image of God.

Second, the false self will control us if we don’t own it. It’s impossible to change what is false if we don’t take responsibility for it. But it’s really hard to recognize something is false when we have spent our entire life creating it. Over the course of years it becomes our “me,” the image we want others to see.

On both accounts we are in the fight of our life. We are masters at creating an image. In our desperation each of us forms psychological defenses to protect ourselves from exaggerated shame, fear and guilt. We do this to feel safe and secure, because we are alone and no longer trust God completely. Some of our defenses are obvious, like walls as high and thick as any medieval fortress. Some are stealth, buried beneath the surface like land mines ready to blow if activated.

We are masters at creating an image, but we are novices at recognizing and repenting of the image we have created. Thus we are caught in patterns of mistrust with God and others. And when our identity is enmeshed in our image, the soul is in danger of even greater self-absorption and self-reliance. Our situation is far more desperate than dealing with a few sins. Our state of being spawns deceitful and desperate strategies that corrupt our relationships in ways we find it hard to even recognize.

Our false self influences the manner in which we feel, think, desire, choose and behave. Over time, the way we exercise these five capacities is neurologically structured within our brain. Our way of being a “me” becomes an elaborate and sophisticated way of preserving our sense of security and uniqueness. This pervasive, hidden and tenacious state of being infects our implicit memory.

Inevitably, our best attempts at false-self living come up against the harsh reality of our brokenness. When we are preoccupied with maintaining an image that the soul was not created to maintain, we grow emotionally weary. We become disillusioned and discouraged without knowing why. God feels distant and so do others. The closeness we desperately need and want eludes us. The weight of creating our own false-self identity overburdens our souls. We become susceptible to despair and bad behavior.

Growing our capacity for receptive trust of God, others and ourselves requires tender humility and tough honesty. Mistrust never leads to life. We must face our soul directly and soberly. Cultivating soulful relationships is not for the faint of heart. But it can and must be done. The good news is that God makes change possible.


This is an excerpt from The Relational Soul fourth chapter, "The Reactive False Self: A Mistrusting Soul." You can find The Relational Soul on Amazon here.

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A Story that Intersects with Real Life
Sermon Discussion | Luke 1:57-2:40
Pastor Ryan Buss

When you think about something that is fake, what do you think of and why? This section is concentrating on taking the real life of Jesus and connecting it to the real lives of ordinary people.

I. Real Prophecy

Duane started off by teaching about two kinds of prophecy that we see in Scripture: forth-telling and fore-telling. What is the difference between the two of these?

There are 5 instances of fore-telling prophecy that we see in the first section of Luke:

1. Gabe’s prophecy of John birth
2. Zach’s prophecy of johns life
3. Angel prophecy of Jesus birth
4. Simeon’s prophecy of Jesus life
5. Anna’s prophecy of Jesus’ redemption

Putting these together, what do we see starting to form with regards to the message that God is giving to us, His people?

The chances of a fore-telling taking place is one to the seventeenth power, or nearly impossible. Yet, there are so many prophecies in Scripture that have been fulfilled exactly as they are described, giving the Bible more authority and credibility than any other book in existence.

What prophecy teaches us about God is that He is a God who know and determines all things. How are we to seek to live our life in Christ with this truth in mind?

We have a real place and a real purpose in this life for God and His glory. Do you know what it is? If so, what is it? If not, are you taking steps to know what it is?

II. Real People

Who are some of the people in this story? How does their life intersect with the Story of God? How is their life changed by that intersection?

We desire real and authentic relationships and lives, yet we are surrounded by fake relationships and inauthentic lives. How do you experience this in your life? What do you think about that?

The story that Luke offers us is real; it is earthy. God's entrance in the world is wrapped up in the lives of real people.

An older couple who could not get pregnant

A poor couple who could not offer God anything but only the poorest offering.

Angels coming to outcast shepherds to announce the entrance of God Himself. Low caste in social measures

A widow who lost her husband early on in life, to announce the redemption of all people

What this shows us is how God meet us where we are at, and reverses the bad things that have happened to us, or that we have done.

God knows and cares for all people. Do you know God this way? All of the people that intersect with the story get excited about Jesus! Do you get excited about Jesus? Why or why not?

Jesus is the Savior for all types of people! Do you believe this? How can we live out this truth in our lives?

III. Real Praise

Zach praises God; Angels praise God; the shepherds praise God; Simeon praises God; Anna praises God

What made these people praise? What makes you praise God?

The heart of faith is a response to God. How have you responded to God recently? What made you respond that way?

All these people experienced drawing near to Jesus in different ways: they heard, saw, held, and believed Jesus. How do you need to draw near Jesus today? Why?

IV. Pray with one another!

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A Story That Seems Too Good To Be True
Sermon Discussion | Luke 1:5-56
Pastor Ryan Buss

In our next section of Luke, we see how God announces to the world how Jesus would be born. There are a number of key people that God used to accomplish His purposes, and they seem a little too good to be true. Luke, being a trained doctor, is concerned for truth and relating the story as accurately as he can. The story draws us into a fantastic scenario where God is doing seemingly impossible things to accomplish His salvation. And at the center of it all is a baby. A baby born in the most miraculous fashion possible to bring God as much glory as possible.

I. An Unimaginable Scenario

God sets up the scenario as sounding a little crazy; with angel messengers, two miraculous conceptions and the promise of a child who will rule all things forever. Which one of these things seems the craziest to you? Why? What might this reveal what you believe about God?

The priest Zachariah was supposedly the good guy, the good Christian; yet when he is in the presence of the angel, he calls him crazy and doesn’t believe the angel. We as Christians often say and do things that are not always a good testimony of God and our faith. Why is this? When do you find yourself being tempted to disbelieve God the most?

Zach had fear and he didn’t believe but Mary could imagine it to be true and received. Often the difference between fear and faith is imagination. What do you think about that? How does that sound to you?

II. An Inconceivable Idea

Imagination is the working of both the right and left side of the brain together to form our knowledge of the world. Our faith is founded upon both reason and imagination working together. In the first point, we took a look at the left side of the brain kind of stuff, the creative imagination stuff. In this point, we will be looking at the hard facts that Luke relates to us.

What are some of the marks of history we see in our passage in Luke? Why would this be important for us in our faith as we read it? What might he be trying to do for his audience in relating these marks of history?

As you consider your faith and what you know about God in the Bible, what are some of the more logical facts that bring you encouragement in your faith? Why?

“Nothing is impossible with God”! Do you believe this? Why or why not?

III. An Openhearted Response

Mary writes a song after she discovers the baby in her belly. She is overjoyed with delight and this is how she responds to God. What are some ways that you respond to God when you are overjoyed?

We expect Mary to respond with this reality with some combination of fear, guilt, and shame. What is it that causes her to not respond that way to God?

She sees her soul being satisfied in God, that she is a servant, she was favored and saved, and that Jesus will favor and save many others. How she views God and herself enables her to respond to God with openheartedness. What are some of the truths of our identity in Christ that cause you to rejoice and to cause your soul to be satisfied?

Who are you in this story? Zach? Mary? Why?

What is one “impossible” thing in your life that you want to trust God with?

IV. Pray for One Another!

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Pastor Duane Smets

"Mission" or "evangelism" or "outreach" or even "discipleship" are words we too often think of as something we do rather than something we are. Fellow Acts 29 pastor Jonathan Dodson wrote a blog addressing this. In it he writes,

"(Being) missional is not an event we tack onto our already busy lives. It is our life. Mission should be the way we live, not something we add onto life... Mission is our identity, because we have be rescued by a missionary God and placed in his missionary family. We live missionary lives, doing everyday things with gospel intentionality."

I've said before it is imperative that we come to see ourselves as missionaries here in San Diego... that our very identity in the relationships of our families, friendships, neighborhoods, and workplaces becomes infused with seeing ourselves as a missionary. Dodson suggests 8 practical ways to "Easily Be Missional." I'm going to thief a little bit from him and expand on this theme...ways mission gets combined into everything.

Food is a regular part of life. We eat every day. Multiple times. How many of these meals do we eat alone when we could be eating them with other people? When we eat and converse we get to know people. It provides a context for "life" to come up and to talk about how the gospel is the source of our life. Whether it's lunch breaks or having people over for dinner...eating with people is one of the primary ways we can be missional.

We all go to stores whether it be for food, household goods, Starbucks, DVD rentals, or whatever. One of the best practices you can get into is going to the same stores and getting to know the workers there. You begin to recognize each other, get to know them by name, and it provides a context for relationship to form naturally since you are already living/working in the same community together.

Everyone does things for fun, whether it be surfing, going to plays or the opera, playing sports, sewing, guitar, book clubs etc. If you check out Meetup.com you'll find that you can hook up with someone with a similar interest for just about everything. If you don't have a hobby get one and start hobbying with other people. It's a great way for gospel relationships to form and connect.

Talk to you co-workers. Don't just work together but care for their lives. Ask them how they are doing and what's going on. People naturally tend to hang out with the people they work with. Do that and care for the people you work with rather than compete with them. The workplace is one of the primary places you can put the gospel out on display and show people something different in how you work and how you express interest in the people's lives you work with.

San Diego is a very activistic city. There are all kinds of "causes" and non-profits, and charity events that happen regularly. Just because many may not exert themselves in these efforts with a gospel initiative doesn't mean you can't bandwagon with them and express love and care for the city of San Diego too. In volunteering others can get to know us and discover the gospel in us that drives our compassion.

Go to events, concerts, festivals, run marathons, get into the Padres and show up at other city-wide events where people are. Become a part of the city by getting involved in the things the people in our city get involved with. You get to be where people are, see the things that are happening, and really become a citizen of San Diego. When we love truly love the city other people love, our love for the people in this city will shine that much brighter.

Be a good neighbor. Get to know them. Take walks around your block. Have your neighbors over for BBQ or drinks. Help your neighbors out with projects. Intentionally borrow sugar and flour or extension cords. Get to know your neighbors and invite them into your life.

Pray for people by name and when you get in conversation and people's struggles, challenges, fears, or whatever issues come up, ask them if you can pray for them right then, out loud. Very few people will reject prayer and most everyone ends up feeling really cared for and loved when you pray for them.

There are many other ways to be on mission... these are just 8 easy, practical things you can naturally incorporate into your life. A lot of it has to do with being intentional...where you do normal life things but you do them with gospel intentionality, because you are on mission.

May Jesus things like these to help us to be obedient and joyfully respond to his call for us to be missionaries and go out into all of the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

Pastor Duane