Tag Archives: Paul

(October 20, 2019) “Ambitious Church: Giving”

from 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

The promise that God offers through Paul in 2 Corinthians 3 is that where the Spirit of God is present there is FREEDOM and there is TRANSFORMATION.

With that in mind, any frustration or guilt or fear we might feel when considering what it might mean in our lives to live more generously…any time we might find ourselves angry with the church when the subject of giving is broached…if we were to reframe what is happening in our response, we might just see that the Holy Spirit is at work within us…at work bringing us into a place of freedom and transformation in the way we view what we have.

At the heart of a call to live generously is the reality of the Gospel. What if your life were so transformed by the knowledge of all that God freely gave to you in His Son Jesus, that you began to view all that you have through the lens of that truth, rather than viewing your life through the lens of your finances?

What if the way you stewarded what you have been given could actually be a reflection of Jesus in this world?

w/ Vern Collins

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Our Ambitious Prayer for the church (adapted from Jonathan Leeman’s “18 Things to Pray for Your Church”)

Heavenly Father, as we seek to be a church that reflects the hope of Your Son, Jesus in this world, our prayer for this church is…
That it would grow in being distinct from the world in love and holiness, even as it engages outsiders.
That faithful elders would use Scripture to train members to do the work of ministry.
That a hunger for studying the Gospel would form among members so that they can guide and guard one another in it.
That a culture of discipling would form in which making disciples is viewed as an ordinary part of the Christian life.
That adult members work to disciple children and teenagers and not just leave the journey of discipleship to programming.
That the church’s songs would teach members to biblically confess, lament, and praise.
That we would unity amid diversity-loving those with whom we have nothing in common but the Gospel.
That transparent, meaningful relationships would become normal, while remaining anonymous would be out of character for who we are.
That members would share the Gospel this week-and see more conversions!
That more members would use their careers to take the Gospel places it’s never been. That members would look for ways to be the light of Christ by serving those around them: at home, in the classroom, in their places of work, and in their places of influence. That the church’s prayers would be infused with Biblical ambitions, honesty, and humility. That we would remain above reproach, kept from temptation, complacency, idols, and worldliness. That members would grow in dedication to God’s Word, and seek to reflect the hope and promises found within, even when no one’s watching. That our giving would be faithful, as well as joyful, consistency, and sacrificial.

It is with the help of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus we ask these things, Amen.

(October 6, 2019) “Ambitious Church: Prayer”

from Ephesians 3:14-21

Prayer can serve as the greatest catalyst for our growth in relationship with God and at the same time be one of the greatest frustrations in that same relationship.

We are taught to ask, we are taught to be bold in seeking the things we want God to do in our lives and in the lives of others…there are times we might even be desperate in the ways we seek God in prayer…and yet we might feel like those prayers are falling on deaf ears or going unanswered in the way we had hoped for.

In Ephesians 3, we find a prayer of Paul’s that might just serve as a starting place for all of our other prayers…to pray this prayer over ourselves and those around us might just reframe how we begin to understand everything else that we desire to see happen.

w/ Vern Collins

(September 22, 2019) “Ambitious Church: evangelism”

from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, your life is telling a story TOWARD SOMETHING. Another way of saying that is that all of us are evangelists for something…

If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, then whether you realize it or not, you are an evangelist for Christ. The question is, what kind of story are you telling about the Gospel? How are you representing Jesus for the world?

Are you willing actively proclaim the story of Jesus to those who need to hear it, or are you content to live your life and hope that somehow the Gospel will rub off on those around you?

What if you were willing to share the story of Who Jesus is to you? What if someone’s life could be transformed through that?

w/ Vern Collins

_____

Our Ambitious Prayer for the church (adapted from Jonathan Leeman’s “18 Things to Pray for Your Church”)

Heavenly Father, as we seek to be a church that reflects the hope of Your Son, Jesus in this world, our prayer for this church is…
That it would grow in being distinct from the world in love and holiness, even as it engages outsiders.
That faithful elders would use Scripture to train members to do the work of ministry.
That a hunger for studying the Gospel would form among members so that they can guide and guard one another in it.
That a culture of discipling would form in which making disciples is viewed as an ordinary part of the Christian life.
That adult members work to disciple children and teenagers and not just leave the journey of discipleship to programming.
That the church’s songs would teach members to biblically confess, lament, and praise.
That we would unity amid diversity-loving those with whom we have nothing in common but the Gospel.
That transparent, meaningful relationships would become normal, while remaining anonymous would be out of character for who we are.
That members would share the Gospel this week-and see more conversions!
That more members would use their careers to take the Gospel places it’s never been.

It is with the help of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus we ask these things, Amen.

(September 15, 2019) “Ambitious church: Relationship”

from Colossians 3:1-15

While we were created for relationship…first with God, and then with one another- in the hopes that those relationships would be a reflection of the fullness of Who God is…while this is part of the means by which we experience the full life that Jesus promises us…the reality is that relationships can be the source of some of our greatest challenges and deepest hurt in life.

In Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, we get a window in to how we might just be able to live in to having healthier and more Christ-reflecting relationships.

w/ Vern Collins

(September 1, 2019) “Ambitious Church: Discipleship”

from Colossians 3:16-17, Acts 2:42-47

While the word “disciple” appears over 260 times in the New Testament, the word “discipleship” does not appear once.

Is discipleship meant to describe the process of your own journey in following Jesus or is it meant to describe the work of making disciples? Well, simply put-the answer is-YES.

Throughout the New Testament…even throughout all of Scripture we learn that the act of following God’s leading in our lives is not a straight line…today we would say that it is not a “program” that one follows…but we can say that it is a PROCESS.

Where is Jesus calling you to take YOUR next step in the journey of following Him? Is it in your own relationship with Him? Is it in the work of inviting others into life with Jesus? Ask Him…

w/ Vern Collins

_____

Our Ambitious Prayer for the church (adapted from Jonathan Leeman’s “18 Things to Pray for Your Church”)

Heavenly Father, as we seek to be a church that reflects the hope of Your Son, Jesus in this world, our prayer for this church is…
That it would grow in being distinct from the world in love and holiness, even as it engages outsiders.
That faithful elders would use Scripture to train members to do the work of ministry.
That a hunger for studying the Gospel would form among members so that they can guide and guard one another in it.
That a culture of discipling would form in which making disciples is viewed as an ordinary part of the Christian life.
That adult members work to disciple children and teenagers and not just leave the journey of discipleship to programming.

It is with the help of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus we ask these things, Amen.

“Encounters With Jesus: Damascus Road (In the Redirecting)” (May 26, 2019)

from Acts 9:1-20

The final resurrection encounter we look at as we wrap up this series is perhaps one of the most well known in all of the New Testament. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the world has been impacted with the Gospel over thousands of years in large part of the encounter that this one man had with Jesus.

Not only is this encounter so well known, but it challenges us in ways that many of us need to be challenged…it forces us to wrestle with the question in our own lives: “Am I living life WITH God…or am I living life FOR God?”

w/ Vern Collins

“Broken: How Sin Affects Our View of Others” (March 24, 2019)

from Ephesians 2:11-22

By nature we have a tendency to form teams. We gravitate to or surround ourselves with people who share things like our ideals, our values, and our view of morality. While this is not inherently wrong, what happens when our forming teams becomes choosing sides and choosing sides sets us at odds with those who aren’t like us or don’t agree with us…those who are outside of our circle? When this happens in the church, how does the way we treat those who are “outside” have any hope of looking like the Gospel?

What if God is calling you into relationship with those not like you so that God can work in you…and God can work in those relationships?

w/ Vern Collins

“Belonging: Offering Accepted” (February 17, 2019)

from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

It is difficult to feel a sense of belonging when you don’t feel like you have anything to contribute to thing to which you have given yourself to belong. Even for those who would just as soon fly under the radar and are content with doing next to nothing, eventually the chasm of disconnect created is too much to navigate, and you are left feeling like there is no place for you.

In God’s Kingdom, in the Body of Christ…in the church, no gift offered is too small. In fact, Paul suggests that those who feel the least significant are perhaps the greatest gift to the church, and to what the church is called to be in this world.

What if your belonging included your willingness to use the gifts God has given you…no matter how small they may seem…to use the gifts God has given you in and through the church to transform the world?

w/ Vern Collins

“Belonging: in Transition” (February 3, 2019)

from Romans 12:3-8

When you say yes to the gift of life made possible by Jesus on the cross, when you walk in salvation, when you are adopted into the family of God…you are NOT meant to be an only child! And yet far too many of us attempt to walk this journey of faith and life in isolation from those we are meant to walk alongside.

In this first week of our “Belonging” series, we consider why belonging in the midst of life’s transitions is not only good…it is vital to our remaining rooted in who we are in Christ and remaining connected in relationship to God and what God is doing in this world.

w/ Vern Collins

“New Year Resolution: God’s Perfection” (January 27, 2019)

from Philippians 2:12-13, 3:10-14

In the final week of our “New Year Resolution” series, we wrestle with the question, “now what?” Perhaps you’ve embraced the hopeful truth that God’s grace exists for you before you are even aware of it…perhaps you’ve said “yes” to your need for the sacrifice that Jesus so willingly gave on the cross that you might live a new life…but what does it mean to live into that new life? How are you transformed? How do you become the “new creation” that Paul talks about?

While God’s grace is always at work, the exciting thing about the life ahead of you is that YOU are called to be a part of it…to be a part of what God is doing in making you new!

w/ Vern Collins

“Healing Connections: Humility” (October 7, 2018)

from Philippians 2:1-8

Not only were we created for relationship with God, but we were actually created for relationship with one another as well.  We know that Jesus makes possible through His death and resurrection, relationship with God.  But Jesus also makes life-giving relationship with one another possible through that same death and resurrection.

The problem is, something that is meant to be such a gift and such a reflection of Who God is in the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…relationship with one another…is the cause of some of our greatest frustration and hurt in this world.

So how do we love one another well.  How do we operate in ways that are healthy and foster relationships that reflect Who Jesus is to the world around us?

We begin with humility.

w/ Vern Collins

“Life Together: Community” (April 15, 2018)

from Ephesians 2:11-22 and Psalm 133

As we begin a new series inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic work, Life Together, consider what makes you unique?  Or what is one unique thing about you?

All of us…all of humanity possess some unique quality that distinguishes us from others.  The question is, how is it that our distinctions can become the things that divide us?

It is perhaps one of the greatest arguments against the church…that the Body of Christ is often as fractured as the world around it.  What if, instead of defining ourselves by the things that set us apart, we find our distinction in the One thing that unites us?  Christ.

w/ Vern Collins

“Jesus As: King” (November 26, 2017)

from Philippians 2:1-11

What determines your priorities?  What drives your life?

Is it Jesus?

Many who consider themselves Christians, while grateful for the saving work of Christ on the Cross, are still content to follow, “little kings,” as they work to establish their own, “little kingdoms.”  And yet, based on Paul’s use of what is likely an early church hymn, we find that there is really only One Who is worthy of being called King.

Imagine how your life might change if you not only looked to Jesus as Savior,  but submitted to Him as King!

w/ Vern Collins

“Set Free: Faithfulness” (November 5, 2017)

from Jeremiah 32:1-15

It’s not that we don’t want to respond faithfully to the life-changing gift that God has given us in Christ…it’s that too often faithfulness feels just too inconvenient.

What if instead of thinking about what it might mean for us now, we begin to think about what God is calling us to in terms of what it might mean for God’s Kingdom in the future?

What if you begin to think of both the little acts of faithfulness and the huge leaps of faithfulness as something might God use to teach you about Himself now as well as plant seeds for growth in the lives of others in the future?

w/ Vern Collins

“Set Free: Patience” (October 8, 2017)

from Psalm 27

Eugene Peterson speaks of the Christian journey as a, “long obedience in the same direction,” and is quick to note that this world does not encourage such a view of anything, much less Christianity.  Impatience marks our interactions with others and with the world around us…and has seeped into our walk with Jesus.

And yet, Paul is clear: patience is meant to be one of the characteristics that marks our identity as Christ-followers.  With situations that we want to get to the other side of, or people with whom we have little patience, how is it that we can cultivate this fruit that exemplifies God’s attitude toward us?

What if instead of pursuing a hundred little things (most of which we grow impatient with), you spent the remainder of your lifetime pursuing the One Thing that can change your perspective?

w/ Vern Collins

“Set Free: Joy” (September 24, 2017)

from Habakkuk 3:17-19

In our series on the Fruit of the Spirit (from Galatians 5:22-25) we look next at the fruit of “Joy.”

What is joy to you?  Is it an intense feeling?  Is it momentary or is it lasting?  Is it the same as happiness or different?  Is it some religious outburst or something that resides quietly within?

What if joy were all and none of these things?  What if a response of joy had more to do with trusting God whatever your circumstances and offering a response of rejoicing as a result of that trust?  How might your perspective on this life change of you chose a response of joy in the midst of trials?  How might the lives around you be changed?

w/ Vern Collins

“Set Free: Love” (September 17, 2017)

from Galatians 5:1, 13-25

This week begins an 8 week series looking at the Fruit of the Spirit Paul points to in his letter to the church in Galatia.

Living in the freedom that Christ offers is meant to look like something…the question is, are you living free or are you bound by things that have taken control in your life.  To live freely means that God is able to bring things from you that are produced by the Life that is in you…imagine how different things could be!

w/ Vern Collins

“Church: Caring for One Another” (September 3, 2017)

from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Saying yes to Jesus is saying yes to His Body…the church.

Saying yes to the church is an invitation away from a life of independence and toward a life of interdependence in which we are intertwined with one another, modeling in our relationship as the church, the love and care of Christ.

From independence to interdependence from isolation to connection, from loneliness to relationship…a call to step into the mess that is human life and watch as God redeems it and makes it something beautiful for the world.

w/ Vern Collins

“Life Together: Redeemed” (February 26, 2017)

from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

The foundation for our call to relationship with others is found in the relationship made possible by God’s willingness to look at our broken relationship with Him and move to make things right.  Not because God had somehow wronged us, but because God is gracious to we who have wronged Him.

We are called to take up the cause of bringing the world around us to reconciliation with God…but in order to do that we have to be willing to step outside of our small worldview and live lives in response to the grace offered by God to us through Jesus.

When we view that sacrifice for what it is and what it accomplished, then our view of the world around us begins to change.

w/ Vern Collins

“Life Together: Loving Well” (February 19, 2017)

from Romans 12

Loving well is not like sleep well.  IF things go smoothly during the night, if there are no worries, if kids don’t wake you up, if there are no nightmares then maybe you will sleep well.

But loving well should not be left up to such chance.  God is not a God of luck, God is a God of intentionality…in the way He loves us and in the way He calls us to love others.

Paul gives us a model for how we are to achieve the kind of love that is a reflection of the relationship from which we were created…the relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

It begins with grace.

w/ Vern Collins