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Pray. Believe. Smile. Walk. Listen.

I’ve had quite a bit of response this week on a piece I posted to Facebook back in December 2015. I thought I’d share here too. Couple things to note with that: first, although the piece does reference New Year resolutions, the overall gist is simply to encourage anyone whoever to keep moving forward, even in the simplest things; and two, I like to think the below list of possibilities are more about practical daily decisions vs ambitious annual achievements. I have no problem with either, except to say that I personally have more success with the former :)

The Community of God, Week 8

8 Week Series | Sunday October 14 – Sunday December 2

The Community of God series | Week 8 discussion questions covering chapters 16-18 | Audio of Pastor Doug Bursch’s message focusing on chpt 16 of the book | yesevergreen.org/community-of-god-series/


The Community of God – Outline of Chapters
  •  WK 1 – Chapters 1-3
  •  WK 2 – Chapters 4-7
  •  WK 3 – Chapters 8
  •  WK 4 – Chapters 9-10
  •  WK 5 – Chapters 11-12
  •  WK 6 – Chapters 13-14
  •  WK 7 – Chapters 15
  •  WK 8 – Chapters 16-18

WK 8 – Chapters 16-18 Discussion Questions
  1. How does abuse affect some individuals’ ability to abide in community?
  2. What is dissociative behavior and why is it important to be aware of this issue in the church?
  3. How does spiritual abuse impact a person’s ability to trust the church or church leaders?
  4. What should be done to help build trust with individuals who have experienced spiritual abuse?
  5. Explain how Jesus went to the cross to identify with the sinned-against.
  6. What are some powerful ways social media builds strong Christian community connections?
  7. What are some key limitations of social media in building strong Christian communities.
  8. What are some positive ways you use social media to build meaningful, healthy, Christian community?
  9. What is the most challenging aspect of community for you?
  10. What is the most exciting or hopeful aspect of community for you?
  11. What are the biggest take-aways from reading this book?
  12. How has this book helped you grow in your understanding of the importance of community and the church?

The Community of God, Week 7

8 Week Series | Sunday October 14 – Sunday December 2

The Community of God series | Week 7 discussion questions covering chapters 15 | Audio of Pastor Doug Bursch’s message focusing on chpt 15 of the book | https://yesevergreen.org/community-of-god-series/

The Community of God – Outline of Chapters
  •  WK 1 – Chapters 1-3
  •  WK 2 – Chapters 4-7
  •  WK 3 – Chapters 8
  •  WK 4 – Chapters 9-10
  •  WK 5 – Chapters 11-12
  •  WK 6 – Chapters 13-14
  •  WK 7 – Chapters 15
  •  WK 8 – Chapters 16-18

WK 7 – Chapters 15 Discussion Questions
  1. Why is it important for churches to have a biblical theology of community
  2. What are some ways the church can facilitate biblical community?
  3. Why is it important for people to give up on the myth of the perfect church
  4. Discuss the difference between knowing the truth and living the truth in community.
  5. What are some ways your church can facilitate healthy Christian community
  6. Spend some time meditating on how much of your scripture reading and devotional life is focused on individual versus community concerns.
  7. What is God saying to you? Actually write down what you hear the Spirit of God telling you.

The Community of God, Week 6

8 Week Series | Sunday October 14 – Sunday December 2

The Community of God series | Week 6 discussion questions covering chapters 13-14 | Audio of Pastor Doug Bursch’s message focusing on chpt 13 of the book | yesevergreen.org/community-of-god-series/.

The Community of God – Outline of Chapters
  •  WK 1 – Chapters 1-3
  •  WK 2 – Chapters 4-7
  •  WK 3 – Chapters 8
  •  WK 4 – Chapters 9-10
  •  WK 5 – Chapters 11-12
  •  WK 6 – Chapters 13-14
  •  WK 7 – Chapters 15
  •  WK 8 – Chapters 16-18

WK 6 – Chapters 13-14 Discussion Questions
  1.  What are the ways Jesus ministered through community?
  2.  Why did Jesus send out the disciples in pairs?
  3.  How did Jesus share ministry with the Father and the Holy Spirit?
  4.  What some ways the early church ministered through community?
  5.  Explain Barnabas’ role in launching Paul’s ministry?
  6.  Explain how the Scripture was formed through community and relational accountability?
  7.  What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of modern day Christian communication (publishing/ social/ media/ conferences)?

The Community of God, Week 5

8 Week Series | Sunday October 14 – Sunday December 2

There is no audio of last Sunday’s (11/11/18) message. Instead, included here are summary notes of the message covering this week’s reading (WK 5, Chpt’s 11-12). Click here to download or print the summary notes.

The Community of God – Outline of Chapters
• WK 1 – Chapters 1-3
• WK 2 – Chapters 4-7
• WK 3 – Chapters 8
• WK 4 – Chapters 9-10
• WK 5 – Chapters 11-12
• WK 6 – Chapters 13-14
• WK 7 – Chapters 15
• WK 8 – Chapters 16-18

WK 5 – Chapters 11-12 Discussion Questions
1. What is the Moses model of ministry?
2. Why might the Moses model of ministry not be helpful in identifying the mission, vision and values of a church or ministry?
3. What are some reason leaders are protective of the mission, vision and values of the church they serve?
4. What do you think is the healthiest way to discern the mission, vision and values of the church?
5. What are some ways Jesus discipled in and through community?
6. What are some of the community implications of Pentecost and the work of the Spirit in the church?
7. Why do think many people are willing to call Jesus their savior, but reluctant to serve him within the church?
8. Discuss discipleship a a product of daily living versus discipleship through church programs?

The Community of God, Week 4


THE COMMUNITY OF GOD SERIEs, WEEK 4

8 Week Series | Sunday October 14 – Sunday December 2


The Community of God – Outline of Chapters

•  WK 1 – Chapters 1-3

•  WK 2 – Chapters 4-7

•  WK 3 – Chapters 8

•  WK 4 – Chapters 9-10

•  WK 5 – Chapters 11-12

•  WK 6 – Chapters 13-14

•  WK 7 – Chapters 15

•  WK 8 – Chapters 16-18


WK 4 – Chapters 9-10 Discussion Questions

1.  Discuss the connection between Passover and Pentecost in the Jewish calendar before the New Testament era.

2.  Discuss the connection between Passover and Pentecost in the New Testament era, playing close attention to the role of salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit.

3.  What are some ways the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost united the community of God?

4.  What are some of the spiritual and practical implications of the church being the body of Christ?

5.  What are some of the spiritual and practical implications of the church being the temple of God?

6.  What is God saying to you about Spirit-filled living and the church?

7.  Why is it dangerous to isolate from or stand against God’s church?

8.  What gifts do have that God wants you to bring into the larger body of Christ?

 

The Community of God, Week 3


THE COMMUNITY OF GOD SERIEs, WEEK 3

8 Week Series | Sunday October 14 – Sunday December 2


The Community of God – Outline of Chapters

•  WK 1 – Chapters 1-3

•  WK 2 – Chapters 4-7

•  WK 3 – Chapters 8

•  WK 4 – Chapters 9-10

•  WK 5 – Chapters 11-12

•  WK 6 – Chapters 13-14

•  WK 7 – Chapters 15

•  WK 8 – Chapters 16-18


WK 3 – Chapters 8 Discussion Questions

1.  What do you most love about abiding in community?

2.  What do you most fear about abiding in community?

3.  What does “Saved for Community” mean to you?

4. What are some of the community implications of salvation?

5.  What does it mean to embrace a faith that is bigger than our life or lifetime?

6.  What is God asking you asking you to live for that is bigger than your own life?

 

The Community of God, Week 2


THE COMMUNITY OF GOD SERIEs, WEEK 2

8 Week Series | Sunday October 14 – Sunday December 2


The Community of God – Outline of Chapters

•  WK 1 – Chapters 1-3

•  WK 2 – Chapters 4-7

•  WK 3 – Chapters 8

•  WK 4 – Chapters 9-10

•  WK 5 – Chapters 11-12

•  WK 6 – Chapters 13-14

•  WK 7 – Chapters 15

•  WK 8 – Chapters 16-18


WK 2 – Chapters 4-7 Discussion Questions

1.  Why did God place a forbidden tree in the garden of Eden?

2.  Why did Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

3.  What are the ways you try to seize control and power over your own life?

4.  What does sin do to relationships?

5.  What is the difference between the language of a healthy marriage and an unhealthy marriage? How does this apply to other relationships?

6.  What does Cain’s behavior show us about the connection between our relationship with God and our relationship with those entrusted to our care

7.  Why is a partisan spirit so divisive in a community?

8.  What are some ways God frustrated the fruitfulness of humans?

9.  Why were the people of Babel dangerous? Why did God need to frustrate their ability to work together?

10.  Why is it important to realize that depravity is different from powerlessness?

11.  Are you fully yielding your created capability or capacity to God? If not, what talents or gifting does God want you to yield more fully to him?

 

The Community of God, Week 1


THE COMMUNITY OF GOD SERIEs, WEEK 1

8 Week Series | Sunday October 14 – Sunday December 2


The Community of God – Outline of Chapters

•  WK 1 – Chapters 1-3

•  WK 2 – Chapters 4-7

•  WK 3 – Chapters 8

•  WK 4 – Chapters 9-10

•  WK 5 – Chapters 11-12

•  WK 6 – Chapters 13-14

•  WK 7 – Chapters 15

•  WK 8 – Chapters 16-18


WK 1 – Chapters 1-3 Discussion Questions

1. Do you tend to be positive or negative about the possibilities of community? Why?

2. Do you have a more utopian or dystopian view of the church?

3. How have past experiences influenced your view of Christian community?

4. What are some macro-level trends that are influencing the decline of the church?

5. How have the values of the World War II generation, Boomer generation, Generation X and Millennial generation influenced the church?

6. Why do many people struggle trying to form or abide in healthy communities?

7. What does it mean that “God is one but perfect community?”

8. Why was it not good for Adam to be alone?

9. Why did God create human relationships?

10. Is there anything you personally need to die to or give up to better abide in Christian community?

11. What will it cost you to grow in your relationships?

 

Good Things I’d Forgotten I’d Said


GOOD THINGS I’D FORGOTTEN I’D SAID

Dan Behrens, Co Pastor EFC

Here are a few things I’d forgotten I’d said over this last year. A few of them are actually pretty good. They are in no particular order here. If they were in some sort of order originally, I’ve forgotten that too. At any rate, let me say again…

  • Unless you feel the Lord has called you specifically to be a judge or critic (for I do believe there is place for these), perhaps focus your energies on truth-telling. That is to say, speak the things that are true in keeping with righteousness and edification and reconciliation and affirmation. There is much brokenness all around us—broken promises, broken systems, broken relationships, broken people. Each of us has suffered wounds as much as we have inflicted wounds. Some more critical than others. Some nearly lost altogether. Some desperately needing your particular brand of tenderness.
  • In the church where I pastor there a number of wonderful people who are ailing tonight in various ways, some in their bodies, some in their minds, some in their relationships; some are even suffering over pending decisions and uncertain outcomes. I know this is in no way unique to my church or the people I hold close. There is much that wears on us all. Some people have just the right words, words that comfort. I do not. Or at least I don’t have them now. Now… I pray in the spirit.
  • Last Sunday I preached a message on the promise of God’s provision, how the provision of God is himself, and how this provision is most readily realized in our continuing to believe by way of demonstration—i.e. obediently moving ahead with doubt and uncertainty along for the ride. Funny. It’s now only Saturday and already I’m struggling with my own words; they feel rather empty and weighty at the same time. My prayers barely clear the floor. But my feet still move. And those first few steps of doing what we know we ought to do seem to conjure up a sort of resolution, whether or not our feelings ever really catch up.
  • We read in the gospels how a group of men lowered a crippled friend down through a thatch roof to get him close to Jesus. Perhaps one of the most compassionate gestures anyone could do for a friend—get him close to Jesus. Braver still, the only real worthy gesture any one of us ‘cripples’ could reciprocate would be to actually receive this Jesus we are now so close to. Have you received him yet? You, the one all bound up in your reluctance? Blessed are we in this land of plenty, for there is not another thing needed from family, friends, neighbors or ministers to get us closer to Jesus. We are certainly close enough. He is right in our face. We now have to take him. And take him at his word!
  • I have never been one for chasing big dreams, in the sense of pursuing grand accomplishments or wanting to see particular things come to pass. Others are. And praise God for that! Many of you are my heroes. I have encountered big disappointments, however, in the sense of having expectations of people or circumstances that completely bottomed out. Haven’t we all? We are hard to please. Yet I was thinking just this morning, maybe we all, for this one day, can conjure up in our mind that “other” category! You know what I mean. That type of experience that rises above any accomplishment, dives deeper than any disappointment, is more akin to another world, borderline miraculous. That category of experience where we say “God just did that” or “There is no way it should’ve happened that way” or “I could not have dreamt such a thing.” Hard to please yes, but not so hard to astonish. And isn’t that point? We could not ever have dreamt the size and scope of God. And we cannot, apart from Him, dream of what He has in store. Everything God gives is new to us: new information into old stale thinking. And that is by design. Dreams, no more than miracles, are not ours, but His. He is the dreamer! And His dreams are for you. #BIGGOD #BIGDREAMS
  • If ever there was an essential to spinning your work day in a more positive, less anxious, direction—especially when the margins are running thin—its leave room for ice cream on the drive home.
  • The story of Jesus healing a blind man in John chapter 9 is only 7 verses—the whole scene. In only 7 verses Jesus gives us a world of practical theology as he opens up the eyes of a social outcast. “I am here to work the will of God” he says. “But I will not always be here to work the will of God.” “While I am here, I am the light of the world” he says. “But the day will not last forever; night is surely coming.” Here we see the subtle hints of authority and dependence interwoven, of power and discretion working as one under the Father’s direction. And by the end of John’s gospel Jesus himself gives it all away… “greater things than this will you do” he says. And he says this to us. Is it then too far-fetched for us to believe that through our own prayers and petitions, comforts and encouragements, we too are making a kind of salve out spit and mud, applying whatever means necessary into those crusted areas entrusted to our care—our family, friends, neighbors, dare I say enemies—trusting that just as much in our day as in Jesus’ God opens blind eyes? I think not! We are the light of the world. Work in the world now. Be light.
  • Then there was that widow with her “two copper coins” for the temple treasury. An odd scene really, tucked into the folds of the gospel amidst all the other busy bustle of temple commerce. Nothing ever really comes of it. Jesus makes a comment or two, but nothing in the way of intervention. No miracle for the poor widow. No rebuke of the rich prigs. Nothing. Just our Lord’s observation. I think about her. Her two coins remind me of two tiny precious stones. She holds two tiny stones tight in her hands then lets them go. Down down down into the temple treasury; two tiny stones, falling like the enormous temple columns Jesus refers to in the conversations that follow: “Not one stone here will be left upon another.” I like to imagine Jesus had already spotted his precious stone making her way along, fixed his gaze on her as he taught, as the words “devour widows houses” poured forth from his lips. And of whatever else he may have observed that day we ought to be mindful. We find his compassion falls equally on all parties—the widow and the scribe. As much as the scribe devours so also is he devoured in the end. The religious spirit spares no one.
  • Pray. Believe. Smile. Walk. Listen. Laugh. Apologize. Forgive. Call. Text. Give (then give some more). Drink more water. Drink less Kombucha. Respond with patience. Fold the clothes. Pet the cat. Feed the dog. Read the bible. Adopt a parakeet. Encourage a friend. Ask more questions. Do more praising than correcting. Read out loud (it’s a different pathway of learning than reading silently). Do less defending than confessing. Eat smaller portions. Bear the burdens of others. Listen for Christ’s correction in your friends, family, parents and kids. Acknowledge and pay close attention to the fact that you are created in the image of God. Love yourself. Love others. Don’t over-emphasize “me time”. Limit your Netflix, Hulu, Sling, and Amazon Prime binge watching. Write out in your own handwriting one encouraging scripture a week and dwell on it five days. And if you are guilty of texting while driving, admit it, forgive yourself, then stop doing it. And stop saying yes to every ask of help that comes your way. Separate your recyclables. Lift your hands in praise to the Spirit of God. And wherever you’re at this morning, this season, this year… hang in there! Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t stop running. Too many others are pulling for you. Happy new year! Grace and Peace.
  • Before Immanuel (God with Us) was revealed in our American christianity. Immanuel was first revealed to a young Jewish couple hiding in a cave in the middle of the night. God can be found. Perhaps most often while working in the dark.
  • “Do not be afraid to take this child into your care Joseph. Both his Father and yours who will one day take the whole world into his everlasting arms.” –the visiting angel.  In that first Christmas story it seems Joseph is called to adopt as his very own the One by whom we are all adopted, taken in, loved and cared for. In Joseph, it seems the invisible uncreated I AM entrusts himself into the hands of every father. From those first few cries forward we are brought into the story of Jesus being given over—for better or worse—into the hands of sinful men. Whether Joseph in his youth, John at his baptism, disciples in his ministry, Judas at dinner, soldiers at his crucifixion, doubters at his ascension, anyone and everyone on into the present. Joseph is long gone now. But we ought to be exceedingly mindful of our elder brother. For a season, sinful man as he was, held in his obedient hands the salvation of the world.
  • Some of us need prayer today. Some of us need encouragement. Some of us need acknowledgement. Others need to be heard. Others need to be appreciated. Still others need a genuine smile, a high-five, a fist bump, a side-hug. I don’t know what we all really need. Maybe we all need to be cheered on, congratulated, applauded, recognized, preferred, loved. Or maybe its not so extreme. Maybe it’s simply that our legs are much more weary than we all thought they’d be in this stage of life, and what we’d like is the offer of a soft bench where we can hold up a minute and rest, set all these burdensome expectations down and talk. I don’t know what we all really need. But until I do… I have cleared room on the bench next to me for others looking for a safe place to land. People need a safe place to land! And when they do… pray, encourage, acknowledge, listen, appreciate, smile, cheer, congratulate, applaud, recognize, prefer and love. And then give them a high-five!
  • A great many heroes of the faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, receive no mention in the bible, have no great ministry founding, no inspired apostolic movement or significant theological contribution. Rather, a great many of these did well simply to love those few entrusted to them, and by their enduring efforts tend to the Lord’s business while waiting for his return. Whatever expressions moved them, I can hardly imagine there not being included some form of regularly gathering for worship, willfully giving of goods as an offering, graciously welcoming the stranger, and faithfully praying for the sick. The timeline of faith has its fair share of notable fixed points, those significant events that mark our Christian history. But interspersed between and all throughout are those unidentifiable persons who, by some wild stirring within, kept the hope of righteousness flaming in their hearts. Over time, a great many of us (myself included) have seen that light and benefited greatly from it without having much considered the cost. Well, the cost is great. And the journey quite long. How could it not be? This is the nature of committed relationship. Men and women, literally our own family, long since died and raised again, even now rejoicing along with us over the very purpose for why we exist. So where is your rejoicing over the gathered church? Where is your willful sacrifice? Where is the stranger welcomed to your table? Let us all hear your persistent prayers for the ultimate gift of healing we are so patiently awaiting.

 

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