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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS
C.S. Lewis

In 1942, C. S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, a fictional account of letters from Screwtape, a senior demon, to his nephew, Wormwood, about how to draw his assigned patient (a believer) away from the Enemy (Jesus Christ). To be clear, these letters are to be read as both satirical and provocative of Satan and his demons work while reminding us of the subtle tricks that the devil attempts to use against us.

___________________________ 

My Dear Wormwood,

Keep everything hazy in his mind... Keep him in that state as long as you can.

We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear.

There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind
against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our work is done by keeping things out.

As always, the first thing is to keep knowledge out.... To produce the best results from your patient... you must feed him with false hopes.

You Affectionate Uncle,

Wormwood

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THE DANGER AND GRACE OF NO HOPE
SERMON DISCUSSION | Psalm 92
Zach Pardue

View this week's sermon here.

Dave Maddox began his sermon by defining hope as a “valued expectation”, as well as a “hope for something that is better or favorable”.

How does culture define hope? What are some things that you hope for?

After explaining the definition of hope, Dave elaborated by stating that there are three facets of hope that help to personify its role in relation to others, ourselves, and God. First off, hope has the tendency to bring life, especially in the context of the Christian’s walk. Next, we as saints can become tired and “die” when we drift into hopelessness, leading to thoughts that God has led us there. Lastly, hope is seen as a spiritual battle ground where we can easily be led astray and fall into despair.

Why would having hope help bring “life”? How does having hope relate to being a Christian? How does hope correlate with the doctrines of the Christian faith (i.e. sanctification, justification, etc.). What is the hope that we as Christians have?

What happens when lose hope? What does culture say we should do when we lose hope? Relating to Dave’s explanation of Pilgrim’s Progress, what does it mean to be caught in a “spiritual dungeon”? Does God intend for us to be hopeless?

Why is hope described as a “spiritual battleground”? Why do our minds become hazy? How does the state of our mind affect our perception what is true and false? How does Satan tempt us to despair when we have a hazy mindset? Why would Satan personalize temptations for each of us?

Dave continued his sermon be explaining that when are hopeless we enter dangerous territory, often due to us taking matters into our own hands. He gave the example of King Saul from 1 Samuel 13:8-13a, in which Saul attempted to fix his problems by giving a burnt offering to God when he was clearly instructed to wait for Samuel to administer the offering.

Read the passage – why did Saul want to perform the burnt offering? What were the intentions of his heart? Why do we want to try to fix our problems on our own? What does our cultural attitude of unwavering self-confidence reveal about the state of our heart towards God and his provision for us?

Dave mentioned that a clear indicator of hopelessness is when we immerse ourselves in distractions, whether that be Facebook, celebrity gossip, sports, video games, alcohol, careers, or even family. We often us these as coping mechanisms to avoid dealing with the hopelessness than seeking solutions to deal with the root cause of the problem.

What are some things that you tend to immerse yourself in? Why do we tend to avoid dealing with our problems? What does it mean to have a “coping mechanism”? What is the end result of relying on a coping mechanism?

Dave continued by providing context for Psalm 92 by reviewing the main themes of Psalms proceeding it:

Psalm 89 – the Israelites cried out to God, stating that He had confused them.

Psalm 90 – the Israelites asked if God was faithful to who he had claimed he was.

Psalm 91 – the Israelites asked if God still cared for them and whether he was able to fulfill the promises that he had made.

Psalm 92 – the Israelites turn to God’s word and his promises, realizing they need not move forward relying on what they saw but with what they heard from God.

Why do we assume God would try to confuse us or mislead us? How can we know if God is faithful to who he is and the promises he has made to his people? How do we know that God cares for us? Why would God care for us? How do we come to know what God has told us about himself and his love for us?

Concluding his sermon, Dave presented five habits and mindsets exhibited from Psalm 92 that help restore hope for the believer:

Remember that God is most high – No matter what, God is in control.

Start each day by thanking and praising God for who he is and for what he has done for us – Remembering God’s faithfulness in the morning sets the stage for us to be reminded of who He is throughout the day and into the evening (v1).

Faith opens our eyes to what the flesh cannot see – When our hearts are nourished with the faith that God gives us we are less likely to fall victim to forgetting the good works God has done for us.

When we are attacked, count on family to act like family – When we experience trials, draw closer to those of the faith, for they are there to comfort you and build you up to who God is making you to be.

God’s hope is good for yesterday, today, and tomorrow – You can count on the faithfulness of our God for everything in your life, including your past and your future.

What does it mean that God is “most high”? What are some habits that would be conducive for starting each day with God as well as remembering him throughout the day? How does the “flesh” cloud our vision? How are we as the family of God to console those in need? Why can we trust that God’s promises are good for yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

 

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RESOURCES FOLLOWING A DIFFICULT WEEK
Ryan Leech

Each week here at The Resolved Church we try to provide resources for you, The Church, to aid you in walking humbly in the Lord. After such a difficult and heavy week in America, we have felt the need to share not one but multiple resources for you in hopes to address some of the things that occurred this week with rising racial tensions, issues of violence done by and unto our police officers, and other unfolding issues in our culture.

While these resources are by no means the end-all to these discussions, we pray that they would help educate those looking for compassionate understanding as well as begin conversations that many are uncomfortable to have. As you read and listen to these resources, do so with a posture of humility that seeks a just and righteous understanding of real issues in our fallen world.

[Christ’s] purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. – Ephesians 2:15-18 (NIV)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

Police Issues
Cops: My Kinsmen According to the Law (Article from The Gospel Coalition) 
Four Things to Consider After the Police Shootings (Article from Desiring God)
Police Shootings, Racial Justice, and the Church (Article from The Gospel Coalition)
When a Pastor is Also a Police Officer (Interview from The Gospel Coalition)

Racial Issues
Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian (Free eBook)
The Burden and Promise of Racial Reconciliation (Article from Christianity Today)
Grieving Racial Injustice as Citizens of the Kingdom of God (Article from The Reformed African American Network)
How Can Blacks and Whites Stand Together on Racial Injustice? (Interview from The Gospel Coalition)
Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement? (Article from The Gospel Coalition)
It's Time to Listen: Listening to African-American Evangelicals on Race (Article Series from Christianity Today)
What Can We Learn from ‘Black Lives Matter’? (Interview from Desiring God)

The Church
The Church at Its Racial Turning Point: Five Ways Forward After the Recent Tragic Events (Article from Christianity Today)
Di-ver-si-ty: Overcoming Homogeneity in Our Churches (Article from Christianity Today)
How Should I Process the Current Tensions and Violence in Our Country? (Article from Christianity Today)

How to Pray in Our Time of National Crisis (Article from The Gospel Coalition)
Race, Grace, and the Church (Sermon from Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC)
This American Moment: Black Lives, Power Politics, and the Unborn (Article from Desiring God)
What the Church Alone Offers the Community on Race (Interview from The Gospel Coalition)

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MY ENEMIES
SERMON DISCUSSION | PS 23:5b
Sean Keefe

View this week's sermon here.


Get Talking

In light of the national events of the week and the topic of the sermon, it may be appropriate for your group to spend some time venting/discussing/sharing what’s been going on in their hearts and minds. Take some time (or a lot of time if you think it’s necessary) for an open discussion on what is happening in our country and our culture. Here are some questions to help initiate/fuel that discussion:

What do you think about the events of this past week?

What are some of your fears or concerns about what has happened?

Why do you think these things are happening?

This week Duane addressed the idea of enemies. It is a reality we are faced with everyday, yet we often overlook the fact that real enemies do exist in this world, and in our lives.

When you hear the word “enemy” what comes to mind?

When the word “enemy” is used in our culture or in the media, what do you think comes to other people’s minds?

Three types of enemies were mentioned: national enemies, personal enemies, and inner enemies (personal demons). Which type of enemy tends to occupy more of your emotional and mental energy/time? Why?


I. Hating People

Duane brought up the popular Christian notion that we are to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Have you heard this before? What do you think it means? How would someone live this out practically?

We were then directed to Psalm 139:21-22 where David speaks of hating those who hate God. Read through Psalm 139:19-24. Does this contradict the notion to “love the sinner, but hate the sin”? How does it make you feel when you hear the words of this passage?

Duane said it is right and godly to hate our enemies, according to the Bible. How were you raised to think about or treat your enemies?

We touched on the idea of anger. Christians (and many others) seem to tend to ignore or diminish the emotion of anger. Why do you think that is?

If anger is a God-given emotion (read Eph. 4:26), how are we doing with allowing that emotion to have its place in our lives?

Is there anything you personally should be getting angry about, but you’re not allowing yourself to go there? Why?

Here is a list of the imprecatory psalms (psalms that invoke judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God.): Psalms 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140. Encourage your group to read through some of these psalms (on their own time) and ask God to give them wisdom in how to use these psalms to express anger in a God-honoring way.


II. Hurting People

Duane began this point by mentioning the phrase “hurt people hurt people.” Do you agree with this concept? Why or why not?

Untended or unhealed wounds in our lives can lead to hurting others. Are there any untended/unhealed wounds in your own life that the group can pray together for?

If you’ve experienced healing in wounded areas of your life how did that come about? Would you offer any advice to those really struggling with wounded-ness right now?

We were given some practical advice on how to determine your own enemies:
Those who persistently respond to you in an unloving way, even if they claim to be a Christian, can fairly be considered an enemy.

We, ourselves, can often be our own worst enemies.

What are some practical ways we can identify the enemies in our own lives? Once identified, what are some practical ways we can respond in a God-honoring way?

Duane said humility (humbling ourselves) is the only way we can begin to really address the wounds and enemies in our lives. How does humility allow us to properly address these things?


III. Healing People

Our culture seemingly overemphasizes love and compassion while neglecting the need and desire for real justice. Wrongdoing and injustice plague our society, yet our nation is conflicted over how to handle this.

Duane shared a quote from Chad Vegas, a pastor in Bakersfield: “We are witnessing the crumbling of a culture built on a godless foundation.” What do you think about this? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Read through Hebrews 10:30-31. What is your initial, gut reaction when you hear the words of these verses?

How can we use these words to comfort us in our own lives, with our own enemies? How can we use them to address real situations?

Read 1 Peter 2:24. Jesus knows our wounds and the burdens we carry (Isaiah 53:4). He carried them, too. How can this knowledge of Jesus carrying your burdens help? Does knowing that you are not alone in your wounded-ness make a difference? Why?

Duane said we experience practical healing through relationships with other people who have the love of God. Have you experienced this before? How can we move forward and be a person who brings healing to others?


Pray With One Another

Pray for our nation and the deep cultural and racial wounds that are surfacing now.

Pray for our church to be a people that are hospitable, humble, and healing to our city.

Pray for each other, that we would be wise, discerning, and filled with humility as we love those around us.

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FOOD IS SECONDARY
Danny Meyer

The delights of the table…[are what motivate me]. My deep conviction about the intense human drive to provide and receive hospitality - goes well beyond the world of restaurants. Within moments of being born, most babies find themselves receiving the first of four gifts of life: eye contact, a smile, a hug and some food. We receive many other gifts in a lifetime, but few can ever surpass those first four…It’s not much of a surprise that we’ll crave those gifts for the rest of our lives. I know I do.

Food is secondary to something that matters even more. In the end, what most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships.

 

This is an excerpt from Danny Meyer's book, Setting The Table.

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HOSPITALITY SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES
Elaine Yang

It is an absolute joy and privilege to have the opportunity to serve our family and guests on Sunday mornings, and it often starts with a smile at our door, or a cup of hot coffee in hand. From setting up communion and coffee to connecting with visitors, the Hospitality ministry has a place for you to use the time, talents, and gifts that the Lord has equipped you with. If you've got a pair of hands that you are willing to put to use, then we have a place for you. If you have a desire to welcome guests and make them feel at home, then we have a place for you.

God has been so gracious to welcome us in, so let us be a welcoming church! Email Elaine Yang at if you are interested.

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YOUR TABLE | PS 23:5a
SERMON DISCUSSION
Pastor Ryan Buss

Click here to view the sermon.

What is your favorite part about the July 4th weekend? What makes it special for you?

Duane started his sermon by recapping the different characteristics of God in the first five verses of Psalm 23. What are the character traits we see about God in the psalm so far? Which one resonates most with you right now? Why?

The table that David speaks of in Psalm 23 could be referring to what is called a “tableland”. Shepherds takes their sheep to the “tableland” for grazing. He goes ahead of the sheep during the winter months, and prepares it for when the sheep get there. He plants seeds, picks weeds, removes rocks, etc. The psalm could also be taking a change in direction and moving away from the shepherding focus to a different analogy, one with God as a King and David as His servant and blessed son. The table in this scenario is of a kingly feast that David is brought to.

I. The Feast: You’re Invited
It seems as though God is inviting David into His house for a feast.

What do you feel when you get invited to something? Especially something that you really want to go to? What about when you know something is going on but don’t get invited to it?

Jesus tells this parable about the heavenly wedding feast. All are invited to come into His house for the wedding feast. It does not matter if you have been bad or good, the invitation is for all! The wedding feast is a picture of heaven when all the saints of God are gathered together to dine with God.

What does it do to your heart to know that Jesus invites you to His wedding feast and to be a part of His house?

We are the servants in the parable handing out the invitations for people to come to the feast. How can we make this invitation known to others in our life? Who are you giving this wonderful invitation to?

II. The Feast: Great Food and Drink
Duane read us a passage from the Old Testament which gives us another picture of God dining with His people. Read Isaiah 25:6-9.

What does Scripture tell us about the kind of feast that we will be a part of? What is your favorite part of this picture? Why?

What is your favorite food? What makes it your favorite?

What is your favorite drink? Why?

Duane retold the story of the Bible through the lens of feasting. Eating and feasting happens all throughout the whole Bible. This tells us that eating and drinking is significant should be pointing us to God.

How might enjoying these things point you to Jesus and the Gospel? What can we do to remember Jesus as we eat and drink throughout our day and weeks?

III. The Feast: Victory Celebration
David tells us the context in which he is eating this great feast, “In the presence of my enemies”.

What does this mean? How does this relate to the feast that the Lord provides for us? What does this tell us about what God does for us in order for us to eat this feast?

What are some different enemies in your life which might try and steal the joy of feasting on Christ? How does Jesus defeat those enemies?

Kings would often give a great feast after a victory in battle. How does this relate to Jesus? How does this relate to our life now?

The last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, gives us a beautiful picture of the feast of the saints with Christ. Our lives are moving to this great feast of the Lamb. 

What does this promise do to your heart? How might this promise give us new perspective in how we live our lives to God’s glory today?

IV. Pray for One Another!

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THE CHRISTIAN & GRIEF
Gary Collins

Grief is a normal response to the loss of any significant person, object, or opportunity. It is an experience of deprivation and anxiety that can show itself in one’s behavior, emotions, thinking, physiology, interpersonal relationships and spirituality. Any loss can bring grief: divorce, retirement, amputation, departure a child to college, moving, selling a car, home or valued possession, the death of a pet, loss of a contest, loss of youthful appearance, health failures, and the death of a loved one.

Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount and spoke about grieving. ‘Blessed are those who mourn’ He said, ‘for they will be comforted.’

There is no uniform and orderly succession of stages through which all grieving must pass. Normal grief usually involves intense sorrow, pain, loneliness, anger, depression, physical symptoms, and changes in interpersonal relationships. Often there is denial, fantasy, restlessness, disorganization, inefficiency, irritability, and a feeling that life no longer has meaning.

Christians believe that the Holy Spirit who lives in each believer gives supernatural comfort and peace in times of mourning. One study of grieving found that 70% of people turned to religion for answers and comfort… and the study found that people who turned to God were better able to deal with their losses.

Grief is not something we seek or grasp eagerly. It comes sometimes without warning, is received reluctantly, and can only be conquered when it is faced honestly with divine help and with the support of other human beings. It is a pain that God often uses to mature us and to make us more equipped for the Master’s use.

 

This is an excerpt from Gary Collins book, Christian Counseling.

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YOUR COMFORT
SERMON DISCUSSION | PS 23:4g
Zach Pardue

You may view the sermon here.

Duane began his sermon by stating that we live in a therapeutic culture, which is epitomized in how most of what we do in life is in pursuit of comfort. However, America also has been drifting towards a “culture of trauma” from living in fear of terrorism as well as attempting to live a life of success and meaning according to cultural standards.

What do you think of when you think of “comfort”? What are some things that you do to give yourself comfort? Is it bad to seek comfort? Would agree that we live in a “culture of trauma”? What are some implications of living in a culture that is continually stressed out?

Comes Alongside
Duane stated that God comes along side us as to encourage us and heal us. God does this through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who the Bible tells us is a comforter to us and helps us see things from God’s perspective, especially when our hearts and minds have become clouded from circumstances or sin.

How does God come alongside us and encourage us? Why does God desire to heal us? Who is the Holy Spirit? How does He comfort us and teach us about God? Why is it important to see try to attempt to see things from God’s perspective? How can we keep our hearts from being clouded from sin and circumstances?

Opens His Arms
Moving on, Duane explained that God is the God of all comfort, and as such is the source from which true comfort springs from. In addition to being the source of comfort, God is the father of all mercy, which is personified in how a child feels safe in their father’s embrace (Isaiah 41:10).

What does it look like to be comforted by God? Why would God want to comfort us? What are the implications of God being the source of comfort? Why does Duane relate God’s love for us as being similar to that of a father loving his children? How is God our true and better Father? How does God care for us when our earthly fathers may have failed us?

Ministers to Our Hearts
Duane explained that in our lives we experience grief and affliction from external and internal forces. As such, grief is a natural response that God can use to mature us as well as draw us to himself. Since Jesus himself was human, He is able to sympathize with us in our grief due to him experiencing the very same emotions that we experience. Since he knows what we go through, he is able and justified to go beneath the surface issues and get to the heart of what is afflicting us.

Why do we experience grief? How can God use grief to mature us into who he wants us to be? Why is it important that Jesus is able to sympathize with our struggles? How does God go beneath the surface issues?

Fend Off Predators
Duane continued by arguing that being in the presence of God gives us courage and comfort, protecting us from those things that whisper against the hope we have in Jesus. As such, when we are not in the presence of God, it becomes easier to listen to argument that God is punishing is when bad things happen to us. Thankfully, God isn’t punishing us. Jesus paid our punishment for us on the cross by taking our sin upon himself in our place so we wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of our sin.

What does it mean to be in the presence of God? How do we enter the presence of God? How does God protect us from false teaching? Why do we think God is punishing us when bad things happen to us? How are able to have communion with God? Why did Jesus die on the cross?

Offers Understanding
Duane stated that Jesus is the human manifestation of God, and as such God understands what we go through as humans. He listens and cares for us as someone who has intimate understanding of what it means to truly suffer. As Christians we therefore should also be willing to love others as Christ has loved us, especially when they are in midst of suffering.

How is God able to understand what we go through as humans? Why does God listen to our suffering? How does God respond to our suffering? How are we to care for those who are suffering?

Renews Our Spirit
Duane reminds us that God knows how to restore our hearts and souls, despite the pain and grief that we endure in live. Sometimes we are left broken by things we do, other times it’s the things that happen to us, and other times its ramifications of living in a fallen world. Thankfully, God promises to restore us to a right relationship with himself through his son Jesus and the counseling of the Holy Spirit.

What are some things that we do to break our relationship with God and others? Why do bad things happen to us? How are we to live in response to the Gospel in a fallen world? How does God restore us to a right relationship to him? How does god use the Holy Spirit to continually encourage us to live a life for God?

Takes Us with Him
Duane concluded his sermon by reminding us that when we follow God he gives us true comfort because he takes the pressure off of us to figure out how to live a holy life. Trusting in Jesus lets us let go of the idea of finding our true comfort in the things of this life and lets us rest in the peace that Jesus bought with his life on the cross. In essence, when we experience a lack of comfort we are experiencing a small measure of death and separation that we are unable to save ourselves form. Thankfully in Jesus we have a good shepherd who will love and lead us to true comfort and peace.

Why does walking with Jesus produce comfort for our souls? How do we learn to trust in Jesus? Why is a lack of comfort a small measure of experiencing death? Why are we not able to save ourselves from the separation that we experience due to sin? How does Jesus save us from the effects of sin? Why is Jesus our true comfort and joy?

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AUDIO/VISUAL SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES
Dylan Milroy

It is so humbling to me that the perfect Creator has trusted us at The Resolved Church with the resources that He has: a sound board, video cameras, computers, and the plethora of other equipment we use week in and week out to make a Sunday service happen. Not only do the servants of the Audio/Visual Ministry put in valuable and joyous time on every Sunday for The Resolved Church family and visitors, they do it very well.

I love nothing more than serving alongside those people every month, a team of Jesus followers that are passionate about sharing the Gospel in the 21st century and all that entails. This last month, Louie Juarez, our Visual Coordinator, was hired on specifically for video editing, filming, and managing our YouTube channel and he is doing a phenomenal job. This year, we are trying to build a filming studio, run multiple cameras on Sunday for a seamless multi-angle sermon video, and do monthly ministry videos to keep our growing family in tune with our church culture.

We are looking for 2 people to help with uploading video, operating cameras, and editing video.

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits” (Martin Luther). On Sundays we make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation (Psalm 95), and it is the pinnacle of my week. Our musicians are seeping with skillful talent (Psalm 33:3), and their voices are, quite literally, music to my ears. When our speakers are pounding, the lyrics on the screen for all to sing His praise, and the congregation is making a joyful noise, and often even dancing (Psalm 149:3), and it brings joyful softening to my heart to know that these faithful servants are a part of bringing a smile to the Lords face. I am looking for 4 people to help us with all of this. Slideshow, lights, and sound board technicians are all places that we have opportunities to serve on Sunday.

No previous experience in any of these crafts is desired or required, if you think you would like to be a part of this, or just have some questions, shoot me an email  .

Much Love,

Dylan Milroy
Audiovisual & Facilities Director