Feb 3, 2019
Daniel 1 “Uncompromised Identity”
Have you ever been in a situation where the way people acted and the expectations seemed completely foreign to you?  In one sense, you may not know how to act and if your normal way of behavior is acceptable. In another sense, you may get the impression, whether directly or indirectly, that there are expectations of how you are to be that you may not know or be comfortable with. The book of Daniel takes place as Daniel is taken captive and forced into a foreign culture.  He is offered the best food, education, and position the culture has and is forced to decide whether or not he will engage these things or separate himself from them.  We too find ourselves in a culture that is foreign to the way Scripture calls us to live. Every day we face the question of how we can live uncompromised in a world that offers us the “best” it has to offer? Questions to take home:
  1. Daniel is presented with the best of everything Babylon has to offer; he says yes to some and no to others.  Daniel’s ability to discern and live differently was transformational to those around him. How do you discern between the things of this world that we can cooperate with and those we should resist?
  2. Are there things in your life that have or are actively compromising your faith, witness and/or obedience to Jesus Christ?  What are they? What is one step you can you take this week to move away from it?
  3. In the story of Daniel, God blesses Daniel and his friends in specific ways through their obedience to Him.  How have you experienced God’s specific blessing in your life through intentional obedience to Him in the face of cultural pressure?
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  • Feb 3, 2019Daniel 1 “Uncompromised Identity”
    Feb 3, 2019
    Daniel 1 “Uncompromised Identity”
    Have you ever been in a situation where the way people acted and the expectations seemed completely foreign to you?  In one sense, you may not know how to act and if your normal way of behavior is acceptable. In another sense, you may get the impression, whether directly or indirectly, that there are expectations of how you are to be that you may not know or be comfortable with. The book of Daniel takes place as Daniel is taken captive and forced into a foreign culture.  He is offered the best food, education, and position the culture has and is forced to decide whether or not he will engage these things or separate himself from them.  We too find ourselves in a culture that is foreign to the way Scripture calls us to live. Every day we face the question of how we can live uncompromised in a world that offers us the “best” it has to offer? Questions to take home:
    1. Daniel is presented with the best of everything Babylon has to offer; he says yes to some and no to others.  Daniel’s ability to discern and live differently was transformational to those around him. How do you discern between the things of this world that we can cooperate with and those we should resist?
    2. Are there things in your life that have or are actively compromising your faith, witness and/or obedience to Jesus Christ?  What are they? What is one step you can you take this week to move away from it?
    3. In the story of Daniel, God blesses Daniel and his friends in specific ways through their obedience to Him.  How have you experienced God’s specific blessing in your life through intentional obedience to Him in the face of cultural pressure?
  • Jan 27, 2019Daniel 1 “Uncompromised Sovereignty”
    Jan 27, 2019
    Daniel 1 “Uncompromised Sovereignty”
    Have you ever been in a situation where the way people acted and the expectations seemed completely foreign to you?  In one sense, you may not know how to act and if your normal way of behavior is acceptable. In another sense, you may get the impression, whether directly or indirectly, that there are expectations of how you are to be that you may not know or be comfortable with. The book of Daniel takes place as Daniel is taken captive and forced into a foreign culture.  He is offered the best food, education, and position the culture has and is forced to decide whether or not he will engage these things or separate himself from them.  We too find ourselves in a culture that is foreign to the way Scripture calls us to live. Every day we face the question of how we can live uncompromised in a world that offers us the “best” it has to offer? Questions to take home:
    1. The happenings recorded at the beginning of Daniel 1 are credited to God’s sovereign power.  How has God worked through disasters in your life to bring about transformation in you or those around you?
    2. Western culture has, more and more, become a foreign culture in the face of Biblical Christian principles.  How do you see this becoming apparent in your life? In what ways do you feel challenged to conform to or resist the cultural influences in your life?
    3. Daniel is presented with the best of everything Babylon has to offer; he says yes to some and no to others.  Daniel’s ability to discern and live differently was transformational to those around him. How do you discern between the things of this world that we can cooperate with and those we should resist?
  • Jan 20, 2019Romans 6:1-7 “Dead TO sin or dead IN sin?”
    Jan 20, 2019
    Romans 6:1-7 “Dead TO sin or dead IN sin?”
    Series: (All)
  • Jan 13, 2019Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9 “Testimony”
    Jan 13, 2019
    Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9 “Testimony”
    Series: (All)
  • Jan 6, 2019Romans 12 “Living in the Body”
    Jan 6, 2019
    Romans 12 “Living in the Body”
    Series: (All)
    When I was younger, it seemed like my (little) brother was always better at “everything” than I.  He was more athletic, energetic, and picked things up much more quickly than I ever could. Watching him do stuff was often frustrating to me and I would, quite frequently, find myself jealous of him.  Only later did I realize that he felt the same about me, only his envy was of my academic success and often resented living in what he felt was “my shadow.” Eric, my brother, is a successful Youth Pastor now.  His ability to connect with middle and high school students amazes me.  When we talk ministry, neither of is jealous of the other; we both recognize our individual gifts and encourage the other to use them to their fullest.  Scripture tells us that EVERYONE who believes in Christ has graciously been given gifts from God and that these gifts are given to us so that together we can build up the body of Christ. Questions to take home:
    1. In what ways do you see yourself “conforming” to the pattern of the world?  Are there areas in your life that need God’s “transformation” and renewing? What is one way you can take a step toward this transformation this week?
    2. Scripture encourages us to take a realistic assessment of our God-given gifts.  What do you feel are one or two major gifts that you have been given? How are you utilizing them in the body of Christ?
    3. Elders and Deacons are those called out from among the body to lovingly lead, oversee, and care for the community of faith.  Will you commit to praying for the leadership of the church this year as we seek to follow Christ and be on mission together with Him?
  • Dec 30, 2018Philippians 3:12-4:9 “Pressing Onward”
    Dec 30, 2018
    Philippians 3:12-4:9 “Pressing Onward”
    Series: (All)
  • Dec 24, 2018Luke 2:8-12 “Do Not Be Afraid”
    Dec 24, 2018
    Luke 2:8-12 “Do Not Be Afraid”
    Series: (All)
  • Dec 23, 2018Matthew 2:1-12 “Presence Present”
    Dec 23, 2018
    Matthew 2:1-12 “Presence Present”
    Series: (All)
  • Dec 9, 2018John 1:1-17 “Light in the Darkness”
    Dec 9, 2018
    John 1:1-17 “Light in the Darkness”
    Series: (All)
  • Dec 2, 2018Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 “Advent: Worship Fully”
    Dec 2, 2018
    Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 “Advent: Worship Fully”
    Series: (All)
    Today is the first Sunday of Advent, a season in which we prepare for and anticipate the coming of Jesus, our Lord, and Savior. Unfortunately, for many, this season has become one of preparing to decorate, have parties, and go shopping and anticipating the gifts that we are going to get and give. Consumerism has largely taken over this season, replacing Christmas music with the songs of sales and advertisements.
     
    Yet in the midst of this, the word still goes out: the Savior is coming! Into the noise and the chaos of life the arrival of Jesus is announced again. Like the messages of the prophets from long ago and the sudden visit of Mary by an angel, God shows up in the busyness of our lives in the form of a baby. Though we know the story, it still isn’t quite what we expect. Yet, when we approach the manger, things begin to change.
     
    Questions to take home:
    What are some memories of Advent that you have from previous years? How did these things impact your experience of the celebration of Christmas?
     
    Worship is about placing a particular person or thing above all else. This can be seen in how we focus our attention, spend our time, or even our money. Take an honest look at your life during this holiday season. What do you find yourself worshiping? Is it what you want to be worshiping?
     
    How are you going prepare for Jesus’ coming in Advent this year? Will you try something new? What are your hopes for how God will meet you this Advent season?
  • Nov 25, 2018Matthew 18:1-5 “Believing for the Impossible”
    Nov 25, 2018
    Matthew 18:1-5 “Believing for the Impossible”
    Series: (All)
  • Nov 18, 2018Colossians 3:18-4:6 “Living Relationships”
    Nov 18, 2018
    Colossians 3:18-4:6 “Living Relationships”
    Series: Colossians
    Saying that “life is different after you get married” would likely not come as much of a shock to most people.  Making the same statement about having kids would garner even greater affirmation. It is no secret that relationships, especially close ones, change our lives.  The ability to live solely for one’s self continually diminishes as the presence of others and our love, care, and desire for them increases. This process, at its very core, is what Scripture calls submission.  It is a willingness to yield our own desires, pursuits, and self-interest for the sake of the other and it is part of Scripture’s calling in Colossians 3 to “set our minds on things above” rather than on “earthly things.”  Our ultimate example in this is Jesus Christ, who willingly submitted Himself to the will of the Father, giving up His life for the sake of humanity so that the way to the Father could be open to us once again. Questions to take home:
    1. Do you feel like it is difficult to value others above yourself?  Why do you think so many people struggle with this in their relationships?
    2. Read Ephesians 5:21-6:9.  What are some ways that Scripture tells us to “submit” to each other?  Do you think doing these things will bring life to your relationships? Why?
    3. Jesus is the ultimate example of selfless submission and love.  Knowing what we have read here, and following His example, what are one or two things you can work on to bring new life to your relationships?
  • Nov 11, 2018Matthew 6:19-24 “Treasured Possession”
    Nov 11, 2018
    Matthew 6:19-24 “Treasured Possession”
    Series: Colossians
    Introduction Video Credit: "Rooted week 8: Whiteboard Money" https://youtu.be/aRE3tTbXGHg
     
    Everyone needs money. You need money to purchase the necessities of life. The government needs your money to continue to function. Non-profit groups need your money to continue to serve in their varying capacities. Businesses need your money in order to make money and pay their employees. Producers need money to sustain themselves and provide for their families. Everyone needs money… except for God.
     
    God doesn’t need money; in fact, God doesn’t need anything. God is the one that provides us with the things that we need, money being just one of those things. However, God does want our money in the same way He wants everything else He has blessed us. Our Lord wants our money, time, energy, and everything else to be used to honor Him above all else. Ultimately the use of those things comes from what is in our heart, and that is what He wants most of all.
     
    Questions to take home:
    Why do you think that is it difficult to talk about money with other people? Why is it difficult for us to talk about money in the church?
     
    The Bible talks a lot about the “first fruits” when it comes to giving to God. Why do you think that giving the first fruits of our resources/blessings is important? Does the way that you use the money and resources that God has blessed you with honor Him? If so, how?
     
    If not, are there steps you can take to move toward honoring God first with your money?
     
    Scripture Passages Referenced: Matthew 6:19-24; Deuteronomy 6:5; Exodus 20:3; Proverbs 22:7; Colossians 3:24; 1 Peter 2:16; Psalm 62:10; Luke 16:14-15; Luke 12:15; Matthew 6:25; 1 Chronicles 29:14; Philippians 4:19; Proverbs 3:9; Malachi 3:10; Deuteronomy 16:17; 2 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Psalm 121; Matthew 15:8
  • Nov 4, 2018Colossians 3:1-17 “Living Alive”
    Nov 4, 2018
    Colossians 3:1-17 “Living Alive”
    Series: Colossians
    When it emerges from a cacoon, having undergone the process of metamorphosis, a butterfly is fundamentally different than the caterpillar that it was.  Spreading its wings, the butterfly springs into the air, flying naturally as if it always had done so. The old way of doing things is no longer an option; it isn’t even natural for the transformed caterpillar. New life in Christ is like metamorphosis.  When we come to faith in Christ, a transformation takes place.  Scripture says we are a “New Creation,” that the “old is gone and the new has come.”  Paul says, here, that our old self is dead, buried in Christ and that we are then raised to New Life in Christ, that we are brought to fullness in Him, and that the results of this are a fundamentally different person than was before. Questions to take home:
    1. Paul makes a transition between what we believe to how it impacts our lives.  At this point, he assumes faith on the part of the reader. Do you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  What does that mean to you? How has it impacted you?
    2. A list of vices, things that belong to our “earthly nature” or our “old self” is given.  We called to “take them off” or “put them to death.” Which one(s) of these do you struggle with the most?  How can you move toward greater freedom from them this week?
    3. Read Colossians 3:11-17.  The natural effect of new life in Christ is unity in Christ through a love for one another. What does this look like to you?  How does/should this look in the church? Read 1 Corinthians 13. How does this enhance what we’ve just read?
  • Oct 28, 2018Colossians 2:16-23 “Interrupted Connection”
    Oct 28, 2018
    Colossians 2:16-23 “Interrupted Connection”
    Series: Colossians
    We live in an increasingly connected world.  Fueled by technological advances, information and communication are available instantaneously through the internet.  Whereas 100 years ago, an understanding of “lag time” in communication was recognized by the time it took for a written letter to travel a distance, “lag” is not measured in milliseconds between computer and server.  More importantly, when there is an interruption in connection, the results seem almost cataclysmic in our lives. Paul continues strengthening the church in Colossae in their struggle against false teachings and resistance from within and outside the church.  Following his comments in verses 6-15, Paul encourages them not to allow the judgments or opinions of others sway their belief or the practice of their faith.  This is especially true, Paul says, if their religious commitment is centered more on tradition and less on God. For their part, tradition focused worship represents an interrupted connection to the head, which is Christ. Questions to take home:
    1. How did you feel the last time you experienced an internet outage or your phone not working?  How about slow or lagging connections? How immediate was your reaction and what did you do about it?
    2. Have you ever felt disconnected or distant from God?  How did you feel in that situation? Compare your responses between question one and two.  Are you comfortable with how they match up? Would you change something? If so, how?
    3. What are some ways that you can better establish or secure your connection with Christ in your faith walk?  What is one step (make sure this step is specific and measurable) you are willing to take to move in that direction this week?