A Jesus for Family
This Sunday was Father's Day, and it just so happens the passage we came to on our journey through look focuses on God as a Father inviting us into His family.
What do you think makes a family? What are some things culture believes creates family?
Luke has been reporting on all the different kind of people that Jesus reached out towards. Duane has shown us "Jesus reaching out to people who hate church, to people who are tired of the old and need change, to people who are judgmental, to people who are rich, to people who are poor, to marginalized and oppressed women." And now he reaches out to people who need a good family. Let's read the passage:
And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold." As he said these things, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
16 "No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."
19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you." 21 But he answered them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." – Luke 8:4-21
I. A Listening Family
In the parable there are four possible soils for the seed to land on.
It can land on the path where it's immediately eaten or trampled. Duane described this as "in one ear and out the other." Possibly the hearer considers the news and ideas for a minute but immediately moves onto the next idea.
How often do you allow things to go in one ear and out the other? Why do you allow that to happen? Are there times when you tune out to God's word? Why do people quickly move on from hearing the Gospel without being impacted?
It can land on the rocks where it springs up and shortly thereafter dies from lack of water. Duane pointed out that plants need nurturing, watering and care. For humans, that comes in the form of rich community.
What are some ingredients that create a rich community? What is the richest community in your life?
It can land in the thorns where it is choked out by the things of this world. Riches and pleasures of this life are too much, and even though the plant grows, it ultimately dies early and is unfruitful.
Worldly pleasures seem harmless and fun, but Jesus describes them as choking. Why do you think that is?
San Diego, in particular, seems to have more people who struggle with making God and church a priority, why do you think that is?
It can land on good soil where it will grow and be fruitful. Pastor Duane pointed out for a seed is not easy, it's a lot of work. It needs care, water, and many seasons (teaching, community, and time). Psalm 1 describes the blessed man who plants themselves by water and yields its fruit in season. Jesus invites us to enjoy the good soil He's given us to grow in. He's let us in on the secrets, as a part of His family.
Which of the three – teaching, community, and time – do you most feel you need to continue growing? Why do you think Jesus allows and invites some people into His family?
II. A Legitimate Family
Jesus moves on from the parable to another word picture, a lamp which has light that's purpose is to reveal all. the light doesn't exist to be hidden away, it exists to expose reality, and can't be stopped from revealing those things. For believers it's not just about going through the actions, saying the words, singing the songs. It's about genuine change, stemming from God being the center of your identity.
What does it mean to have your core identity stem from being in God's family? What are some things you can do to remind yourself of that identity?
III. A Laboring Family
A true family doesn't just exist for the sake of existing, it exists to love and care for each other. We see this in the God's modeling of family for us. In Luke Jesus also says that "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” It's an active participation in His work.
What are some things you've been considering to show your love for God's family, in San Diego? and at the Resolved?
Pray for One Another
Pray with your group, to God the Father, thanking Him for being a loving Dad, inviting us into his family and that we would be guided to where we would be most fruitful and useful.
1 John 2:1-6
Before we discuss the sermon, take some time to discuss people’s reactions to the financial mission report from May (over $91k was given!). How did you respond when you heard the news of the increased giving? Has this last month or so had any effect on how you view your finances or the way you give?
How can we encourage and maintain generous hearts in our church?
This week we departed from the regular sermon series in Luke to learn from the companion series in 1 John by Pastor Ryan.
Ryan highlighted two key relational words used in 1 John frequently: “fellowship” and “know”.
What comes to mind when you think of having fellowship with someone? How is it different than other relationships?
How would you define knowing someone? At what point in time in any given relationship could you say you truly know that person?
Ryan focused on three names or titles used to describe God in the Scriptures, and each name or title refers to one of the three Persons of the Trinity.
I. Abba (God the Father)
Christians are called “little children” by John in this passage, and it is meant as a term of endearment. Why is it important for us as Christians to identify ourselves as children of God?
When you think of God as your Father how does that affect the way you relate to him? Think about him? Talk with him?
The parent-child relationship in life is one filled with profound influence and transformative power. What are some ways your relationship with your parents has influenced the person you’ve become? How has it influenced the way you relate to others?
God’s design, through the gospel, is that we would come to realize and embrace that He delights in us and smiles over us! Have you ever thought of God smiling at you and about you? Is it easy or hard for you think about this? Why?
How might the thought of God’s perpetual smile over you affect the way you relate to Him and others?
A basic relational truth is that we begin to look and act like the ones we spend the most time with. How have you seen your relationship with God transform the way you think or act?
II. Advocate (Jesus Christ)
Though fellowship, God transforms us to resemble Him more and more, we still stumble and fall in sin. John wants his readers to be very clear in their understanding that when we stumble in sin it does not affect our status as God’s children because Jesus Christ, our brother, is our Advocate. An advocate is a defender and comforter, one who stands beside you.
When you think of Jesus defending you, what comes to mind? How does it make you feel to be defended?
What are some things we need to be defended against?
Satan stands as our accuser before God reminding Him of our shame, guilt, sin, and fear. Jesus’ blood and righteousness intercede on our behalf.
When we feel the accusations of the Enemy and even the accusations we have against ourselves, how can we use the truth of Jesus our Advocate to confront the accusations? What are some real life examples of how you’ve done this in your own life?
Ryan reminded us that God is for us! He sent His Son for you. He sent His Spirit
How might the truth that God is always FOR you change the way your perceive your life?
III. Agape (Holy Spirit)
Love is often an ambiguous concept. How do you think our culture would define love?
Later in the epistle of 1 John, John declares that “God is love (agape)” (4:8). This is often a very misinterpreted and misrepresented concept and can lead to a very sentimentalized idea of who God truly is. John is communicating that perfect love is the essential nature and character of God. It is who He is, and there is no love that exists that does not come from Him as the Source of love.
Because God is love, we can love. How can we apply the truth of God’s perfect love to the way we think and interpret things?
God did not want us to be confused as to what His love truly means, nor to doubt that His love is real for us. Read 1 John 4:9-11. According to this passage, what does love look like? How can we be sure God really loves us?
When we have fellowship with God through Jesus, our lives will begin to reflect His life more and more, and this will give us a confidence and certainty of faith.
The fruit of the Spirit (the character of Jesus Christ) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Have you seen increased measures of these in your life? How so?
Have you seen the fruit demonstrated by others in your group? How so?
Pray for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Fatherhood of God.
Pray for the joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as your Defender.
Pray for eyes to see how unsearchable and limitless is the love of God in Jesus Christ.
If You Love Jesus You'll Love His Church
Pastor Duane Smets
Mark Dever, a well-known pastor not too long ago began his sermon with this phrase,
"If you call yourself a Christian but you are not a member of a church you regularly attend, I worry that you might be going to hell."
Indeed numerous recent studies have shown that more and more Christians are now trying to get more spiritual by getting less church. There's even whole books written to promote this idea. Consider these titles, Life After Church, Quitting Church, So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore, and They Like Jesus But Not The Church.
The story is told that Charles Spurgeon once found himself in a conversation with
"Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to the church."
To which Spurgeon replied, "Why not?"
The man said, "Well, because I can be a Christian without it."
Spurgeon was taken aback and replied,
"Are you quite clear about that? You think you can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord's commands as by being obedient? What is a brick made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you it is just as good of a brick laying on the ground in the dirt as it would be as part of a house. It is a good for nothing brick. Sir, are living contrary to your purpose, to the life which Christ would have you live and there will be much blame and injury to you for doing so."
Hebrews 10:23-27 says,
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."
First, the call here is to "hold fast" to our confession "without wavering." So we know we are going to be prone to let go and
It doesn't take much here to recognize it's talking about church worship service. This isn't a call to keep making sure you're hanging out...eating meals and drinking beers in the basement or whatever. No this is a special kind of meeting together, one that has its sights set on "the Day" that's "drawing near" which is a reference to the return of Jesus. This is a meeting together for worship.
We’ve got this strong call and command for us as Christians to make sure we're regularly gathering together and meeting as the church with this consequence for us if we don’t.
The Bible uses five main metaphors to describe what the church is.
One is a bride. In Ephesians 5, parallels between Jesus and the church are made based on the relationship and roles of husband and wife. It says Jesus “loved the church and gave himself up for her...so that he might present the church to himself in splendor (Ephesians 5:25,27).” The book of Revelation straight out calls the church Jesus' bride. The church is Jesus beautiful wife, whom he came into the world to specifically pursue and die for on a cross so that she might be redeemed.
Jesus loves the church. For you married men, can you imagine if you had a friend who every time he came over he would crack jokes about your wife, talk about how ugly she was and how he couldn't stand her and didn't want to have anything to do with your wife? If whenever she came in the room he rolled his asked and then asked you if you could make here leave. In effect, this is what we do is we say we're Christians but we're not into Jesus' church.
John Stott, a great theologian who recently passed away, says of the church,
"On earth, she is often in filthy rags and tatters, stained and ugly, despised and persecuted. But one day she will be seen for what she is, nothing less than the bride of Christ, free from spots, wrinkles or any other disfigurement, holy and without blemish, beautiful and glorious."
You know it’s easy to criticize the church. There's no way around it. Every church has its problems. That's because churches are made of people. One time a guy came up to a pastor who had had a bad church experience at his previous church and said he was looking for a new one but was somewhat tentative because he didn't want to get mixed up with a "Judas" again. The pastor replied, "Then my church is not the one you're looking for and if you should happen to find such a church I beg you not to join it, for you will spoil the whole thing."
The church is Jesus' bride he came to die for. If we truly love Jesus we'll love, cherish, appreciate and honor his bride.
A second thing used to describe the church is that of a building. 1 Peter 2:4-8 says the church, though they are people rejected by men are like "chosen and precious" stones God picked out and is taking them and using them together to build a spiritual house on top of Jesus the cornerstone or foundation. In 1 Corinthians 3, the building of the church is called the temple and built on Jesus.
Do you know what would happen if you just started building a house on dirt without laying down any kind of cement or stone foundation first? After
God is a phenomenal architect and is building the most glorious church building ever seen because it's built with people who lives get changed by the power of the gospel. The result is more magnificent than the largest and most ornate cathedrals of the world. The church is the most incredible building project ever taken on and Jesus is at its base.
A third way God describes the church that it is his body
"The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (is) according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."
This passage ties past, present, future and all things to the church. Are you starting to get a feel for the scope and significance and importance of the church in how God sees and feels about it? The church is Jesus' body and he is its head! Kevin DeYoung and a friend of his wrote a book titled, Why We Love The Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion and says this idea of liking Jesus but not liking his church is like decapitation. When you're not into the Church you cut the head off Jesus because you're not part of his body. You're not meant to just carry around a head. That's weird! The church is Jesus' body and he loves and cares for it and nourishes it with his word.
A fourth picture of the church in the Bible is that it is a flock of sheep and Jesus is the shepherd of it. In John 10 Jesus says the church is a group of sheep who listen to his voice and follow him. In fact, the word "church" itself simply means "called out ones." It was a common word used for all kinds of stuff. If you were going to have a meeting of some kind you would call some people up and ask them to come. Jesus took that common word and turned it into this deep, powerful picture for those who followed him.
He calls himself the "good shepherd" and then later Peter calls him the "chief shepherd." What makes him so good is he protects the sheep from wolves and then he pays the ultimate price lays down his life for the sheep when he dies on the cross in order to save them.
You know what happen to sheep without a shepherd? They get lost and they die either from a lack of food or from predators. Have you ever noticed there is no difference between the singular word for sheep and the plural word for sheep? They're both sheep. Sheep cannot exist by themselves and sheep are never meant to be alone apart from the flock. The church is Jesus' flock of sheep and he ferociously loves and cares for them.
Lastly, Jesus describes his church as a tree in which he is the vine, stalk or the trunk and the church
What would happen to a bunch of branches that were not connected to a vine or a trunk? They would break apart and dry up and die. God sees the church as meant to be a beautiful big strong tree planted by streams of water that yields much fruit through which to feed the hungry world with. The church is the true and better tree which replaces the one from the ancient garden of old.
Nearly every single place you turn in the Bible, you see the Church. It is the central focal point of God's purpose and
Simply put, the Church is glorious.
A Theology of Sunday
This week Pastor Duane took the opportunity to teach about why Sunday is so important for the life of the church and of the individual believer. We have an interesting phenomenon happening in our church, with having a lot of members, but also a lot of them irregular in attendance on Sunday's. Thus, as we are in a season of our church where we are being unified in a new way by God's Spirit, the important aspect of regular meeting together on Sunday's is just another topic to be unified In.
We emailed out to you at the end of last week Duane's article, A Theology of Sunday, for you to review and to discuss with your Community Group this week. We would love to have a robust discussion in our Community Groups about why we attend church on Sunday, and why it is so important to our souls.
A. What is Sabbath? Why is Sunday called the Sabbath Day?
1. What do the Scriptures say about the regular gathering of God's people for worship, for encouragement, for teaching, and for giving?
2. What are the different parts of the church service, and why do we have them as part of ours?
3. What is the benefit to being regular on Sunday's?
4. What is the negative impact of only irregular attendance?
5. How is God glorified in our resting with His family?
6. What are some challenges to you coming on Sunday? What are barriers that our culture has that make regular attendance on Sunday's difficult?
Pray for each other and for the church!
The Accidental Feminist
This past Sunday we discus the crucial role women play in Jesus's story of redemption for the world. We took a look at the modern concept of feminism and how it plays into the Christian life. Here is the excerpt from Courtney Reissig's book The Accidental Feminist
“Although many Christians wouldn’t identify themselves as feminists, the reality is that the feminist movement has influenced us all in profound ways. We unconsciously reflect our culture’s ideas related to womanhood rather than what’s found in the Bible.
I’m an accidental feminist. For many years I unwittingly possessed some heart attitudes that made me a classic feminist.
I believe many women today find themselves confused, just like I was as an early Christian. Part of my rebellion against things that I deemed too domestic or feminine was rooted in my misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian woman. What exactly does it look like to be a Christian wife? Is it baking cookies, keeping an immaculate home, and being a mom to five kids? What about the woman who is a baking novice or, like me, a baking failure? Is womanhood only about the quiet and sensitive types? What about the woman who has a career? The woman who can’t have kids or simply doesn’t want a 'quiverful'? What about the woman who doesn’t feel gifted to teach in her local church? Is there a place for her? What about the woman who does? Does she? What about the vast number of single women in our churches today? Is there room for these sisters?
Caricatures of womanhood are what get us into trouble. When we reduce womanhood to the tasks we accomplish, or cultural expectations, or talents and personality traits, we are doing a disservice to women everywhere. Recovering from feminism and embracing God’s idea of womanhood is far more than a throwback to a 1950s television show.
What I failed to understand was that true freedom cannot be found in independence from authority at all. True freedom is found in understanding our Creator and how he wants us to live. True freedom is knowing that this world has
A Jesus for Women
We continued our deep dive into Dr. Luke's account of Jesus life. This week we find Jesus on the road, touring around Galilee. Jesus has just healed a Centurion's servant from miles away and brought a poor widow's son back from the dead. Having done that, a local religious leader hosts a sort of dinner party for Jesus so that people may come and discuss these things. This week Luke told us about Jesus' inclusion of women in His ministry, which was pretty radical at the time. Pastor Duane wanted to spend some time looking at that to get a peek at how God views women.
This week Luke told us about Jesus' inclusion of women in His ministry, which was pretty radical at the time. Pastor Duane wanted to spend some time looking at that to get a peek at how God views women.
What do you think are some things culture believes about Christianity's view and treatment of women
Pastor Duane picked it up Dr. Luke's report in chapter 7, verse 36.
Pastor Duane wanted to highlight Luke's reporting of women's involvement with Jesus' ministry. There are three women called out in chapter 8 and an emotional story in chapter 7 about a broken woman and Jesus. Duane had three points:
I. Feminists for Jesus
II. Forgiveness from Jesus
III. Friends of Jesus
I. Feminists for Jesus
Duane hopped to the end of this passage and wanted to point out the 3 women mentioned here and their
What are some ways these women don't fit with what could be called a traditional (1950s-ish) view of womenWould you describe these women as feminists? Why or why not?
Would you describe these women as feminists? Why or why not? Duane defined the term feminism as a movement to give women equal rights and standing. Like many movements it's aim is good, though some proponents can take it too far to a place where gender is no longer acknowledged, sacrificing a big special component of who God made each of us
Duane defined the term feminism as a movement to give women equal rights and standing. Like many movements it's aim is good, though some proponents can take it too far to a place where gender is no longer acknowledged, sacrificing a big special component of who God made each of us
What do you think of this idea? What does it mean? Do you agree with it?
II. Forgiveness from Jesus
The beginning of the passage starts with a prostitute crashing a dinner party to dramatically serve Jesus because she loved Him. It was a huge faux pas for her and put Jesus in a potentially awkward situation. Instead of
Duane mentioned that when reading a passage is good to look at the characters and see if you can see yourself in any of them? In this
Do you see think you have more in common with the unbroken Simon or the broken woman?
Jesus points out that If you feel a lack of love towards people it’s likely because you have not really experienced the grace and forgiveness of Christ in your own heart and life.
Where are some places you find it hard to love people? How can you use God's grace to you to help you love those people better?
III. Friends of Jesus
In the story, Simon was a bit appalled that Jesus was not rebuking or at least trying to distance himself from the woman. He though "a man of God should not associate with sinners." Jesus did associate though, early and often. He was consistently reaching out and befriending sinners, it's what he came to do and calls us to do. Duane read a quote from Philip Ryken that
How are you building relationships with sinners?
How can the love of Christ help you move towards building those relationships?
Pray for One Another
Thank God for making us all in His image, loving us all, forgiving us all. And ask that we might be moved by His love to start engaging enthusiastically with fellow sinners around us.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
God is a compassionate God. This means, first of all, that he is a God who has chosen to be God-with-us. To be able to know and feel better this divine solidarity, let us explore the experience of someone being
When do we receive real comfort and consolation? Is it when someone teaches us how to think or act? Is it when we receive advice about where to go or what to do? Is it when we hear words of reassurance and hope? Sometimes, perhaps. But what really counts is that in moments of pain and suffering someone stays with us. More important than any particular action or word of advice is the simple presence of someone who cares. When someone says to us in the midst of a crisis, “I do not know what to say or what to do, but I want you to realize that I am with you, that I will not leave you alone,” we have a friend through whom we can find consolation and comfort. In a time so filled with methods and techniques designed to change people, to influence their behavior, and to make them do new things and think new thoughts, we have lost the simple but difficult gift of being present to each other. We have lost this gift because we have been led to believe that presence must be useful. We say, “Why should I visit this person? I can’t do anything anyway. I don’t even have anything to say. Of what use can I be?” Meanwhile, we have forgotten that it is often in “useless,” unpretentious, humble presence to each other that we feel consolation and comfort. Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of us that we share in the other’s vulnerability, enter with him or her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of uncertainty, and give up control and self-determination. And still, whenever this happens, new strength and new hope
These reflections offer only a glimpse of what we mean when we say that God is a God-with-us, a God who came to share our lives in solidarity. It does not mean that God solves our problems, shows us the way out of our confusion, or offers answers for our many questions. He might do all of that, but his solidarity consists in the fact that he is willing to enter with us into our problems, confusions, and questions.
That is the good news of God’s taking on human flesh. The Evangelist Matthew, after describing the birth of Jesus, writes: “Now all this took place to fulfill the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘The Virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel,’ a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’” (Mt 1:22-23).
As soon as we call God, “God-with-us,” we enter into a new relationship of intimacy with him. By calling him Immanuel, we recognize that he has committed himself to live in solidarity with us, to share our joys and pains, to defend and protect us, and to suffer all of life with us. The God-with-us is a close God, a God whom we call our refuge, our stronghold, our wisdom and even, more intimately, our helper, our shepherd, our love.
This was an excerpt from Compassion by Henri J.M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrison.
Starving, Excruciating, and Fair
Pastor James Martin
On October 28, 2014, Deputy Jeremy Martin, brother of our Pastor James Martin, was shot multiple times and murdered by his partner in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Since then, the Martin family has been enduring a criminal trial with a jury unsure of how to prosecute and charge his killer. Pastor James wrote this blog and graciously allowed us to share it with you, our church family. If you'd like to learn about the case, you may read more here.
Please commit to praying for the Martin family in this difficult time.
Tracy and I have banned a few words from use by our three kids (12, 9, & 7) when describing their personal situation or present difficulty. In our household starving, excruciating, and the phrase “it is not fair” are not permitted.
Here is our thinking.
Starving — I’ve been around the world, and I have slept on a dirt floor of an orphanage with a group of beautiful children — looking into their eyes, I’ve seen starving. And while my little ones might find themselves hungry and we may eat a little later than usual sometimes, these fair skinned American kids do not know starving. And for that I’m grateful. But let us not forget those who are starving for real and reserve that word for them. And furthermore, let us give to a well-managed charity on behalf of children who are in need both in this country and abroad. They are precious, and it is our responsibility as a community to make sure they too are not starving.
Excruciating — A word literally created to describe the agony of crucifixion on the cross. Again, I know my kids have never suffered such pain. And while I understand falling into a cactus hurts and it is most certainly painful when you go down hard on a bicycle, I contend that in measure to the cross, it is nothing. For one, they will never find themselves in agony alone having been rejected by their father — I wouldn’t dream of it (although they usually just ask for their mother). And second, the pain — it just doesn’t come close.
And “it is not fair…” — Ah, this little phrase — it has plagued kids and narcissistic business associates alike. Most of the time when we say this we are starting with the presupposition that we are the center of the universe and anything that happens to us against our will or standard is therefore out of balance, and thus not fair. But in reality, we are not at the center and life is not fair. And I’ll tell you what else is not fair — a guy named Jesus, who is the center of the universe, literally starving himself in the desert as he began his ministry headed straight for a truly excruciating experience on the cross for something he didn’t do. That’s not fair.
Look, I get it. I know what you might be thinking… and I’ll give you a quick tip I’ve learned before I go any further… Don’t start here with the kids (or anyone for that matter). Show a little empathy first and let them be heard — but with loving parenting and a gentle well-timed reminder, these simple truths can actually help bring about healing and perspective. The message here starts and ends with love and grace.
Life is not fair. Period. In fact, it is anything but fair. M. Scott Peck said it best in the opening chapter of his book The Road Less Traveled, published in 1978 when he said: “Life is difficult.” Dr. Peck goes on to explain “This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult once we truly understand and accept it then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
So true. And being more clearly realized as my hair turns distinctively grayer.
The fact is we are not at the center of the universe. And bad things happen to really good people. And it is not fair. Or right. But it is what it is.
A rich life is well worth the cost of living.
In my personal journey, I know I did not fully appreciate a warm and vivid sunrise until I experienced extremely dark cold nights. And I only began to obtain and enjoy true love and togetherness after suffering real loneliness and detachment. And I only received God’s grace and mercy after having been crushed by His law and my inability to keep it.
For truly we only experience the richness of love and the sweetness of life when we have also moaned the agony of death. That is life and actually living — and honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Life is hard. Life is good.
The State of The Resolved
This week we departed from the regular sermon series in Luke to discuss the current state of The Resolved Church, particularly the critical financial situation we find ourselves in now.
Take some time to discuss people’s reactions to the news we received this week regarding the church’s financial crisis. How did you respond when you first received the news about our church’s financial situation?
What are your thoughts/feelings/frustrations about our financial state?
I. Our Church Story
The Resolved Church began as a response to a vision Duane had to reach the people of San Diego for Jesus Christ. Have you ever felt a particular calling from God for ministry? Do you feel like you share the vision of The Resolved? Why or why not?
Do you think it’s important for the people of a church to share a common vision? Why would this be important?
This is the first financial crisis our church has ever been in (which is actually great news)! It is a normal part of church life (and family life) to go through seasons of financial hardship. What are some things we can learn together as a church family in the midst of a financial crisis? Is there anything of value we can take away from this season?
James 1:2-4 teaches us the joy and value we can find in trials. Read
II. Our Generous God
Read through Acts 4:34-35 and Philippians 4:15-20. What do you notice in these passages about the church’s attitude toward giving financially? Do you see this mirrored in the modern church? Why or why not?
What are some obstacles we face both personally and corporately to financial giving in today’s society? What is our culture's view of financial giving?
Duane expressed great hope for this season, believing that God is being good to us in this crisis. How can God be both good and allow us to be in crisis at the same time?
God’s Word makes it very clear that God is both rich and generous to all (He owns everything! See 1 Chronicles 29:11-13). How has God been generous to you?
We tend to overlook the generosity of God because His blessings are so prevalent and common. We take things for granted far too often. How can we reorient our hearts to view the everyday blessings of God (like life, health, family, and above all Jesus Christ) as things to be truly grateful for? How can this lead us to be generous people in turn?
III. Our Opportunity
Our church has many exciting things on the horizon, and we want to continue to faithfully pursue what God has put on our hearts to do.
In Philippians, Paul views the giving of the local church as a partnership in ministry. Money is simply a vehicle that makes the mission happen. Money helps us move the mission forward.
How do you view giving financially? Is it like participating in ministry or is it more like paying taxes?
Duane laid out the leadership’s plan to address this financial crisis:
- Publicly address the situation.
- Call members directly to discuss.
- Call our church to pray for the leadership to have wisdom in what to do.
- Ask members to evaluate their own finances to see how they give or give more.
- 90-Day Challenge of generous giving.
What are your thoughts about the way forward for our church?
What part can we play as a group and as individuals in helping to support our church?
Pray For One Another
Pray for wisdom for the leadership with financial decisions
Pray for the hearts of people to see God’s generosity, and for the desire to be generous in response.
Pray for unity, growth, and maturity through this very difficult season.
As we consider what it means to give as a church, we must look to Jesus as an example of what true godly giving looks like. Here is an excerpt from Tim Keller's book Generous Justice where he uses a quote from 19th-century pastor Robert M’Cheyne to paint a picture of the type of giving to which Jesus calls us:
“Dear Christians…we must be like Jesus in giving. “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor”… Objection 1. “My money is my own.” Answer: Christ might have said, “my blood is my own, my life is my own”… then where should we have been? Objection 2: “The poor are undeserving.” Answer: Christ might have said, “They are wicked rebels… shall I lay down my life for these? I will give to the good angels.” But no, He left the ninety-nine and came for the lost. He gave His blood for the undeserving. Objection 3. “The poor may abuse it.”Answer: Christ might have said the same; yea, with far greater truth. Christ knew that thousands would trample His blood under their feet; that most would despise it; that many would make it an excuse for sinning more; yet He gave His own blood. Oh, my dear Christians! If you would be like Christ, give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and the poor, the thankless and the undeserving. Christ is glorious and happy and so will you be. It is not your money I want, but your happiness. Remember His own word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Excerpt from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller