Monday, October 31, 2011

Story - New Testament Gospels

We've started a new sermon series this week on the New Testment books. A "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" review of the New Testament in four weeks. It will be just enough info to hopefully wet your appetite and get you interested in pulling out the Bible while you are at home!

There are Four "gospels' in the New Testament. The word "gospel" is taken from the Anglo-Saxon word "godspel" which means a 'good story'. This in turn was substituted for the original Greek word euaggelion which came to mean 'good news'. Using the word "gospel" was short hand for describing the first four books of the New Testament as good news for our lives.

I have always been glad that there are Four gospels because they give us a different perspective on the same events. Just as two bystanders will give different accounts of the same event, so did the four gospel writers give us slightly different accounts of Jesus' ministry. The Gospel of John, is the only gospel that is different in any major way from the other three. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because they 'see (optic) together (syn)'.

Having four different gospels gives us the author's unique perspective on Jesus and his ministry, allowing us to view Jesus from four slightly different points of view.

If you have never ready any of the Gospels all the way through, I encourage you to just pick one and read it this week. Reading it the whole way through will give you a very different perspective and understanding of Jesus than the bits and pieces you hear read in church on Sunday morning.

Don't forget to incorporate BELLS into your week this week:
Bless 3 people (do something nice for someone in your church, outside your church, one extra)
Eat with people at 3 meals (or a coffee meet) that you go to looking for ways to be positive and share the love and joy of Christ.
Learn - Take time to read anything that is uplifting or edifying (doesn't have to be specifically Christian )
Listen - Spend one hour in silence listening for God's direction in your life.
Sent - review each day looking for where God sent/used you or where God tried to send/use you but you refused His call.


This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. - John 3:16-18 (The Message)


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Photo-shopped Family

Try as we might, we can't ever seem to get away from the need to gloss over the less than perfect areas in our lives.

Since this is the third week in this series, I am pretty sure you have at least an inkling of your area(s) of imperfection. This week, I want all of us to lift those areas up to God on a daily basis. Ask Him to help you let them go. Ask Him to help you heal. Ask Him to help you become a person who sees through the lens of grace rather than through the lens of judgement.

If you need helping getting started try this:

Father God, thank you for the care you put into creating me. Help me to be the person you desire for me to become. Help me to let go of those worldly things that keep my focus on competition rather than consolation. Help me to love myself, my family, and those around me with a love that is limitless, that is patient, and that is kind. Give me the ability to show your love not only to the world but to myself. Amen.


Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. - Luke 6:31-33


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Photo-shopped Family - The art of fighting well

No one has a perfect relationship and everyone fights. I once had someone tell me that the secret to a good marriage is to never stop talking to one another - even if that means you are yelling at each other from across the room.

That might be the best marriage advice I have ever been given. As someone who people come to when their marriages are in trouble I have found that once a couple's relationship becomes silent, it is extremely hard to get it back on track. The silence that might seem like a relief to the screaming that came before, really just heralds the fact that both parties are withdrawing deeper into themselves and away from the relationship.

So how do we fight well, when fighting is an inevitable part of marriage (or any close relationship for that matter)? One thing that is essential is to know that there is a rock solid commitment. If you are not sure that your partner will stick around when you share your feelings about an issue, how can you begin to resolve it? If this is a problem in your relationship, then this is what you need to work on first. Before you even begin to discuss the issues in the relationship, both parties (whether it is your spouse or your child) need to know and believe that you are both in it for the long haul.

Once there is trust and committment, then you can begin to resolve issues within the relationship. Caz gave 11 rules for fighting well in his sermon yesterday ( ) that are worth going back and listening to again or for the first time. The main goal of all of these 'rules' however, is to move towards resolution, not winning. If your goal in fighting with your spouse or child is simply to 'win', then you will never fight well and you will most likely repeat the fight ad naseum because you are not trying to resolve it. You are just trying to score points. If the main goal is to resolve the conflict so that you can move forward, you need great discipline and some help from God. You need to be kind (Not sarcastic, not bringing up previous wrongs). You need to be loving. (Knowing that you and the person you are arguing with love each other and want the best for eachother.). You need to be respectful. (Listen to their point of view and pay attention to what they are saying. Don't just wait for a pause in the conversation so you can jump in with your side.)

Fighting well is hard. But so is loving well. We all need God's help to do it in a way that builds up, rather than tearing down. Read 1 Corinthians 13, not as a passage that is read at weddings, but as an instruction manual for our lives in relationship with one another. These are not easy words, but they are life-giving ones.


If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

- 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8


Monday, October 3, 2011

The Photo-shopped Family - Image Control

We all camoflage the not so perfect areas in our lives the same way we try to photoshop the imperfections in our family pictures. We wait to fight with our spouse until we are in the privacy of our own home. We try to get our kids in the car before they self-destruct in public. We tell others that everything is "great" when our lives are falling apart.

It is human nature to try to cover up the flaws in ourselves and our lives. It was the first thing Adam and Eve did after they gained knowledge by eating the forbidden fruit: they immediately hid from God and covered their bodies.

All the energy we put into projecting a life that is perfect however, is a waste of time and effort that brings no resolution to the problems we are hiding. If we were less concerned about what strangers and people who don't care about us think, we would have a lot more freedom to deal with the less than perfect aspects of our lives and perhaps actually come to a place of peace or discern a way to deal with those issues.

God wants us to live a life of authenticity. How can we show how God has saved us from ourselves and worked in our lives if we pretend that everything is perfect all the time? How can we expect others to allow us to minister to them if we pretend that we have no problems? I know that I don't want to share my problems with someone who seems to have none....

No one is perfect. All of our lives are filled with brokeness and sin because we are broken and sinful people. None of us can do it perfectly.

What would our Church and world look like if we were brave enough to drop the facade of perfection that we mask ourselves in and had authenitic, life changing relationships with God and those around us?

I think this world would be a much better place.


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- Ephesians 2:8-9