Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Sept 25 – Oct 2

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

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Questions to Guide You:

This week, we will take a slight step away from Matthew in order to talk about the pieces of our weekly worship together. On Sunday, we’ll dissect our worship services, the pieces, and the intentional arrangement thereof. Our hope is that it will make us more active and receptive worshippers this fall.

  • Over and over, the Psalmists exhort us to “Worship the LORD,” and specially to do so “in the congregation.” Why do you think it is important to worship together and not just alone? Why do you think Jews and Christians have always intentionally worshipped together?
  • When the Psalmists are at their best, they don’t just tell us what to do, they tell us why we should want to worship. What reasons does Ps 11 and Ps 89 give to make us want to worship? When you don’t feel like worshipping what things do you remind yourself about God?
  • Every week, we take time to confess our sins together. Why is this so important? Why not just jump right into worship and preaching? What happens to Isaiah when he comes into God’s presence in Isaiah 6?
  • What does 1 John 1 tell us happens when we come in the light? What must we do?
  • 1 Timothy 4 contains instructions for a pastor/elder, Timothy. What does Paul tell Timothy to do with his congregation? Why does he talk so much about teaching and teaching correctly? Why do you think Christians have always emphasized teaching/preaching in their time together?
  • Acts 6 talks about the appointment of people to manage the collection of funds and the distribution of help for the church. Why is worshipping God with our moneys so important? Why do we wait to give our gifts until after we’ve preached the Gospel?
  • What is the last thing Pastor Andrew does each week? Why is this so important?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

An Excerpt From The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

For the last few weeks, I've been recommending the two books on marriage and one novel about the powerful effects of gracious love in a marriage listed below. The chief book I've recommended is The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller. Below is a provocative excerpt from the book and a link to a longer excerpt. Check it out, and see if it won't challenge you like it challenged me, to in the famous words of the Rolling Stones, "Love the one you're with." 

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Redeeming Love (A Novel) by Francine Rivers

"In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner." Timothy Keller in The Meaning of Marriage

Read a longer excerpt HERE.

A Case of the Mondays

uh-oh-sounds            A week ago, I had a case of the Mondays. Ever been there? You know the days when you wish your coffee would swallow you rather than you swallow it. The kind of day when you seriously contemplate that high octane coffee they sale in truck stops. The kind of day when you wish you owned a bomb shelter with a nothing but a A/C, a bed, and old movies.

            I struggled through the day, trying to find energy to work and willingness to love people, while I really, honestly, just wanted to hide. I wanted to sleep, to avoid, to procrastinate, to numb my brain. Every time I started to pray, I was interrupted. When dinner came, my journal literally said, “Father, I’m tired today” and that was it.

            Then as I drove into the setting sun after work, I listened to the radio and heard those familiar words,

“I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps 121:1-2).

a5cb11434b4d28bb0554a6c6f46c7e70And “the mountains” hit me for the first time. Why is the author looking to the mountains for help? In Israel, the mountains are the place of refuge and hiding. Whenever things get really bad, people would literally hide in caves in the mountains to survive. David did. Elijah did. They’d hide and wait for their enemies and problems to leave.

            The author wants to hide until his problems go away, but he reminds himself that when he wants to run and hide and avoid, the mountains are not his help – his help is in the LORD, the one who made the mountains. I needed that, cause I wanted to hide and avoid too. I wanted to ignore email and phone, hoping problems and responsibilities would evaporate and believing that “doing nothing” would fix my heart, but they don’t. Mindless TV and even a desperate dash to the coast are false-saviors I run to to fix my life – they are my mountains; but on that Monday night, I realized that if I wanted help. If I wanted protection and provision, creative solutions and committed relationships I needed the LORD. I needed to find my rest in Jesus, who is Lord of the Sabbath and giver of rest. I remembered that an old-timer, St. Augustine used to pray, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

            So I sat in my car in a parking lot for 15 minutes and just let worship and prayer wash over me, washing away my cares and renewing a right spirit in me. I didn’t really sing or say much, I just put on music that reminded me of God’s goodness and my need, for it is in the beautiful collision of those that I find real, full, meaningful life.

            When you want to hide away from the world, when Monday comes, may you remember Psalm 121:1-2,

“I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

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Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Sept 18-25

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

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Questions to Guide You:

This week, 

we will turn from the gift of singleness to the gift of children. Christianity honors children as a gift and as members of the community of faith. We will look at a theology of kids and our privileges as parents and members of the Church.

  • How does Jesus interact with kids? Why do you think the disciples tried to chase them away? How are their difference actions indicative of different thinking about kids?
  • How can we as parents, a society, and a church spend more time rebuking kids rather than welcoming, blessing, and celebrating them? How can we as parents and a community bless our kids?
  • What does Psalm 127 and Prov 17:6 call children and grandchildren? How does viewing kids as “gifts from the LORD” change our relationships with them? How would we interact with them if we believed that all kids whether ours, others, or orphans were gifts from God to creation? How would our society change?
  • How does “gift” language change our view of unloved or unwanted kids?
  • Prov 22 and 19 tell us how we are to instruct our children? Children are not just a “gift” they are also a “calling.” That means they are a mission from God? What should we do for kids?
  • Ps 8 talks about kids worshiping and praising God, and Deut 11 talks about teaching kids to worship. How do we teach kids and how do they teach us?
  • Isaiah 54 is one my favorite chapters. How is it good news for those who are childless or wrestle through infertility? What is God’s promise to those who have no bio-kids here? What will he do through them? 

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – September 11-18

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

matt-19-11-12-reading-plan-sept-11-18-2016-gift-of-singleness

Questions to Guide You:

This week, we will turn from the gift of marriage to the gift of singleness. Christianity honors both single and married people as fully human and holy, but our society often stigmatizes or at least fails to celebrate singleness as a beautiful gift from God.

  • How might you define “eunuchs”? Who are people “born eunuchs”? “those made eunuchs by others”? and those “who chose to live as eunuchs”?
  • What might these 3 groups of people teach us about being single and joyfully so?
  • Why do you think the disciples conclude, “it’s better not to marry?” Are they right or wrong? (I don’t know yet).
  • 1 Cor 7 is the longest teaching on singleness and its blessedness in the Bible, but it is a bit confusing. Why is Paul so passionate about people choosing to be single? What does he love about his singleness?
  • What unique gifts, opportunities, benefits, and blessings do single people have that married people forfeit in a marriage? How is a single person’s schedule, budget, habits, hobbies, failures, and decisions different from a married person’s?
  • What challenges do single folk face that married folks avoid to a degree? How does singleness affect friendships, intimacy, goals, and maturity?
  • 1 Sam and 2 Sam describe David and Jonathan’s friendship. How might this inform the levels of intimacy still available to unmarried people’s friendships? How does David and Jonathan’s relationship differ from marriage?
  • Isaiah 56 is a blessing on Eunuchs (all 3 classes). How does it comfort single folk, and what does it promise? Are these consolation prizes or legit gifts?
  • Acts 8 describes one of the earliest and most influential converts to Christ. How might his status as a eunuch explain the historical fact that the Ethiopian Church is the oldest continuously active church in the world?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

The Book of Job and Suffering Christians

Why-PicWe live in a broken world. Bad things happen, and sometimes they happen in clusters. Cancer, death, accidents, and illnesses happen all the time. This year as a Church we’ve been confronted with dozens of tragedies, and every time the same question comes up, “Why?”

It takes many forms like “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why did God let this happen?” “Why me?” but they all go back to that one word, “Why” which we desperately use to grasp for meaning and purpose and hope.

In one such moment, 6 months ago, I was trying to reassure a friend that God can work through all situations, that as the Heidelberg Catechism says, “[Jesus] also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.” In that moment, I pointed to Job, the archetypical innocent sufferer for proof that God use a situation even when he does explain it.

4 months later, my friend text me: “I finished reading Job. What’s the hardest book in the Bible to understand?” Haha. I guess I should have warned my friend or been a good pastor and read it with him. Either way, maybe this diagram will help some of you understand the book of Job, and Job will help you trust God in your situation.

The How and Why of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

When ever you talk about forgiveness, there are hundreds of "What If" Questions. "What about this situation?" "What about this?" I could never answer all these questions in a sermon. For two weeks, we've studied Matthew 18:15-37, which cover both confronting sin and forgiving sin. I could spend a month preaching on each section and never come close to teaching the full depth and breadth of God's wisdom in these verses. So to augment what I taught, I'm urging, no I'm begging, you to read the following articles by Timothy Keller. 

Tim Keller defines forgiveness this way, "Forgiveness means giving up the right to seek repayment from the one who harmed you." And he goes on to teach that forgiveness means absorbing the debt yourself through a series of payments. What I want to add to yesterday's sermon is this. Some wrongs done to you are the spiritual equivalent of stealing a pack of gum, it doesn't take much payment to forgive. BUT other sins done against you are the spiritual equivalent of burning your whole house down. These big things like divorce, adultery, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional trauma, neglect, or murder take a mortgage worth of forgiveness payments over years and years to forgive. That is ok. Forgiveness is not instantaneous, it is a repeated decision to absorb the cost rather than seek revenge. 

READ THIS ARTICLE FIRST

forgiveness

SERVING EACH OTHER THROUGH FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION

IF YOU'RE ONLY GOING TO READ ONE ARTICLE, READ THIS ONE FIRST! It is a polished version of the stuff in the other article, though they each have their respective strengths. This article is the most helpful thing I've read on forgiveness. It skillfully relates the disciplines of confronting sin and forgiving sin. It answers most questions about, "Well what about this?" "What if he did this?" 

Article: Forgiveness and Reconciliation

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Gospel Forgiveness

NOTE: If you're only going to read one of these articles, READ THE OTHER ONE. 

I'm guessing this was originally an outline for a class, Tim Keller taught for Married Couples. While the whole document is awesome for improving our communication and intimacy in marriage, the stuff on Forgiveness and Reconciliation starts on page 10, Session 3. The article gives a great theological explanation of forgiveness and reconciliation, and then a very practical how to guide for how do it in a marriage. 

SERMON – An Extra Sermon on Changing your Life

I don't change my life SO THAT Jesus will love me. BECAUSE Jesus loves me, my life changes.

We don't grow spiritually by moving past the basic gospel that we're sinners saved by grace into the super spiritual curriculum. Rather, spiritual growth is the right application of the implications of God's Salvation in every area of life. All of our sin is at its core a failure to believe or to apply the truth we learn in Jesus that not because of anything we have done, but because of Jesus, we are infinitely loved, cherished, accepted, and valuable to the God of the universe.

If it is true, and it is, that no area of life is untouched by the infection of sin, then it must also be true that the gospel must be the antidote in every area of life. We must rethink our marriages, jobs, hobbies, relationships, and vacations in light of the gospel. The Gospel changes everything and redeems every area of our lives.

This sermon by Timothy Keller, a Presbyterian pastor in New York City, helps us begin to think out the implications of the gospel for every area of life.

 

Here is a link to the Podcast in iTunes if you want to listen on your phone or iPod: PODCAST

 

 

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – August 8-15

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

Matt 18.21-35 - Reading Plan -  Aug 6-13.2016 - A Beautiful Mess - The Forgiving Church

Questions to Guide You:

n this series, “A Beautiful Mess”, we learn the Church is full of people that are simultaneously sinners and saints. This week, we’ll see that in church, we’re going to get hurt. People will sin against us, and we will have to forgive more times than we ever thought possible. This is how we learn grace.

  • “Brother or sister” refers specifically to fellow Christians, so why does Peter ask, “How many times,” if no one hurts one another in church? What does the huge number “7 times 7” or “77 times” tell us about the number of times we’ll have to forgive?
  • Can you think of times, when people in church hurt you? When you hurt them or disappointed them or neglected them? Where you forgiven?
  • How do we process the anger that comes with being hurt according to James 1:19-20?
  • Neh 9 is a prayer of confession, cataloguing Israel’s sin? How many times does God forgive Israel in Neh 9? How does God practice James 1:19-20 in his relationship with humans? How would you respond if you were God? When would you have given up?
  • Who does the King represent? The debtors? Why does the first servant extort the next? What would have prevented this? How are we like the first servant?
  • How does our awareness of God’s forgiveness impact our ability to forgive? How much has God forgiven you? Try to think about the ways God has spared you from consequences?
  • In Luke 7, Jesus says, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Why is this? How can we remind ourselves of our great debts so that we can be more willing to forgive others.
  • In Matt 18 and Luke 7, we see the true nature of forgiveness. When the debt is “forgiven” it is really paid by the king. Forgiveness means I will pay the consequences of your mistake. I will bear the cost, and I will not force you to pay the price. How is forgiving another human for lying, cheating, etc. like paying another’s debt?
  • Write Jeremiah 50:20 out? Where has the record of our guilt and debt gone? How does Jesus pay the debt that was mine to pay?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.