Why Small Groups?

29 01 2009

Someone asked me a few weeks what was the Biblical basis for Life Groups at Epic…

The Biblical basis for small groups, begins in Genesis 1:26-27 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . . So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” In the Trinity God lives in community and when He created us He stamped us with a desire for community.

When Christ came, His strategy to reach the whole world was to form a small group of 12. “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve–designating them apostles –that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” Mark 3:13-4 Jesus models what it meant to live in community with a small group of people. In John 17, His prayer is that His community would be one with the same oneness that He experiences in the Trinity. His desire for every Christ follower is to experience this connectedness, this love, and this oneness in His community.

Christ’s teaching on community culminates when washes their feet and sets for them an example of how they are now to live and instructs them “By this all men will know that you are mine, if you love one another.” This new community puts the worlds of Christ into practice in Acts 2:42-47. They continue to meet not just in the temple courts, but also house to house in intimate community relationships.

We see community oneness and connection throughout writings to Christian communities in the New Testament. Fifty nine times the words “one another” are used as instruction for the Christian community.

  • Love one another deeply from the heart I Peter 1:22
  • Instruct one another Romans 15:14
  • Serve one another in love Galatians 5:13
  • Carry one another’s burdens Galatians 6:2
  • Confess your sins to one another James 5:16
  • Forgive one another Ephesians 4:32
  • Encourage one another 1 Thessalonians 4:18
  • Build each other up I Thessalonians 5:11
  • Pray for each other James 5:16
  • Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

The optimal place to live out these commands is in the context of a small group.


Money: Three Questions to Wrestle With.

26 01 2009

smp-imageThree Questions Every One Needs To Wrestle With When It Comes to Money…

1. Do I See Myself As Rich? God has made me rich to make me feel guilty, but grateful. Am I thankful? Am I content? See post from last week to determine if you are rich… “Are You Rich?

2. Do I See The Dangers Associated With Being Rich?
Am I continually searching for the next thing to make me happy? Am I looking for security in my finances or in the One who has given me everything?

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this. I Timothy 6:9-11

3. Could I Be Described As Generous? Is my life characterized by what I spend on myself or by what give to others?

quote of the week: Are You Generous?

23 01 2009

_organic-god-cover-final-full-sizeMargaret Feinberg in her book the organic God” has been rocking my world lately. If you are looking for a book that will challenge and encourage you on the journey of seeking God, check it out. Her stories and insights have made me think about God in fresh ways. In the chapter on “outrageously generous,” made me reexamine how generous God has been to me and how He is calling me to live a more generous life to others.

“At times I foolishly hold back that which should be given freely given, or am I tempted to give for the wrong reasons, but slowly I’m finding more joy in generosity. I am discovering the God doesn’t want just want tme to give until it hurts, but rather given until it feels good. If I wait until I am in the mood to give, it might be awhile. If I go ahead and give out of obedience or in response to a need, joy usually follows.”

I also realizing that my attidude and actions reveal a lot about what I really think about God. Do I see God as a giver, then I can’t help but become more generous, but if I quietly see God as a taker or begrudging in any way, then I will hold on to my possessions with a firmer grasp. My given exposes what I really believe is the true souse of all the things I possess – everything from time and money to clothes and cars. If I think everything comes from my own labors and work, then I will be slower to give than if I recognize that all good things – including material things – come from God….

I am discovering that God doesn’t invite us into his generousity to take something away from us as much as he wants tot give us something that we can’t get any other way. When we give freely, we become more free ourselves. We become less attached to the the things of this world and more attached to the world to come. We make the transition from having an inward focus to having an outward one, and in the process we reflect the radiance of our Creator.”

Are You Rich?

22 01 2009

When I think of money and what I have, I would definitely say “I am not rich.” But my thinking was challenged as I prepped for this weekends message about “The Other Thing Men Think About.”

If your family makes $37,ooo year, you’re in the top 4% of wage earners in the world. If your family makes $45,000 year, you’re in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. I am richsmp-image

3% of the worlds population owns a car. I’m so rich I have two. I am rich.

I not only have a home, but I have a house for my car so it doesn’t get rain and snow on it. Our garage is 3 times larger than the average home on the planet. I am rich.

I have running water in my home. I don’t have to walk to fetch water. (I couldn’t find the stats for how many people around the world don’t have running water). I am rich.

Three Billion people (1/2 the worlds population) works for less than $2 a day. I just bought a Caribou Coffee for twice that amount. I am rich.

I never go to bed hungry. I’ve got a cupboard full of food. Last night 3.5 billion people on this planet went to bed hungry. I am rich.

I don’t think I’m rich, because I know people who have more. Other people are rich, but not me. In my opinion, I’m not rich, but that is really just a lie I say to myself. From the worlds standards, I am rich. I’m the one who Jesus was speaking about when He said. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” in Luke 18:24-25 .

It got me thinking,”Did God make me rich so I could consume all that I make on me?” and “Did God make rich so I could spend all I make on my family?” I’ve always made gave financially first to God, because He’s behind all I have. But I’m walking down a new road of learning what it means to be “outrageously generous” with everything that God has given me.

Should Wives Be Porn Police?

21 01 2009

smp-imageIn preparing for “The Man Series” I’ve been reading a number of articles to prepare talks on Sex, Money and Power. This article by a Jewish Rabbi gave a fresh, honest and straightforward perspective. I think it gets to the root issue of sex, fulfillment and marriage for both men and women that is wildly missing in todays dialogue….


Why women have every right to insist on mental as well as physical fidelity. By Rabbi Boteach

About two years ago I agreed to debate the first openly Jewish Playboy playmate, Lindsey ****, in New York City. My purpose was simple: to uphold the dignity of Jewish women, which is not consistent with taking their clothes off for money. From the beginning, however, it was clear that I had lost the debate. The room was filled with mostly leering men who came armed with the November issue of Playboy, asking for Lindsey’s autograph. But what really disappointed me was all the women who came to cheer Lindsey’s courage in not being ashamed of her body. What sane woman, who isn’t motivated by financial profit, would support the portrayal of women as sport to entertain lecherous men?

Moreover, what wife is misguided enough to allow her husband to read Playboy?

Recently, we’ve seen the Kobe Bryant sex scandal and the publication of Hillary Clinton’s memoir, which regurgitated the Monica Lewinsky story. I believe that these and other incidents are warnings to wives not to be naïve about the dangerous effects pornography-and opportunities for adultery-can have on a marriage. And they must do something about it. While Hillary bore her husband’s betrayal with dignity, there is the legitimate question of whether she should have been keeping a far more watchful eye on her husband whose roving ways were well known, especially when he told her that he was spending time with an intern for the purpose of “guiding her life.” Shouldn’t an alarm have gone off in her head?

Read the rest of this entry »

30/30: 10 Stitches. Wounds. Infallible God.

15 01 2009

stitchesAs a kid, we loved to ride our bikes up to the park and play baseball. One hot summer day shaped the way I would ride my bike for the rest of my life. As normal, I was heading full steam across the ball diamond directly for backstop. As I crossed home plate I slammed on the brakes to do a sliding sideways stop. But this time something went wrong. The pedal got stuck somewhere in the middle and the brakes didn’t engage. Nowhere to go, except straight into the backstop. I flew up and when I came down, I ripped the skin on my knee wide open. I know this for a fact there is something VERY CREEPY about seeing your own white bone without beauty of your skin over it. Fortunately, it didn’t stay creepy for long. Within a second my knee was covered with blood.

Ten stitches later, life returned to a normal or so I thought. But something changed inside me. I was different. I would now always check my brakes before approaching a dead stop. I noticed I now didn’t pedal at the same breakneck speeds. I found myself holding back instead of going all out.

Life has a way of doing the same thing to us. All of us at some point all of us will experience life scars. Sometimes it’s a circumstance or disappointment that cuts us deep. Sometimes it’s a wound caused by words someone else said to us. Sometimes it’s the hurt of what someone did to us. Sometimes it’s a pain caused by our own sin. Often the biggest scars come from those that we love or loved the most…a parent, a spouse, an ex, or a friend.

What we often do is cover up those scars and pretend what happened doesn’t effect us now. But we know that’s not true. We secretly decide to put on the breaks and not trust people at the level we did before. We put up walls, so we will not experience the pain of being let down again. We don’t want to be creeped out by the bone, so we slow down and love only at ½ speed.

Lately, I’m discovering is that Jesus is infallible. Not only does He never make mistakes, but he is incapable of making a mistake. Others may fail us, but He will never fail us. Others may let us down, but He will never let us down. When I’m face to face with his infallibility, I realize just how fallible I am. He is so different than me. I want to hide the stitches, but He wants to uncover the wounds. Why? So he can heal and restore me.

“Nothing is beyond his redemption. Nothing is beyond his restoration. Nothing is beyond his healing power. Not the bruises. Not the scars. Not the pain… If God were wrong some of the time, I would trust him enough to obey him…. but God is wildly infallible-in every way. ”
(Margaret Feinberg, the organic God. p.106)

Because we walk with a God who is wildly infallible, I can begin to lower our protective behavior and begin to love others at full speed again. Yes, people will let me down. Yes, I will even let myself down. But I the Infallible God will never let me down.

Why Some Men Don’t Like Church

15 01 2009

This is a great article Why Some Men Don’t Like Church.” David Coughlin nails 10 great reasons why men struggle with church. I believe that in many ways, the church is to blame.

1. Men are told over and over to be innocent as doves, but are not shown or encouraged to be wise as serpents.

2. We preach from the NGB: Nice Guy Bible (Retail Price: Your Soul). We emphasize the sweet stuff and let the tougher stuff go right on by.

3. We contend that the ideal Christian man is unemotional and if married, sacrifices everything for his wife.

4. Men have been told to avoid anger at all costs, which isn’t what the Bible says.

5. We promote a dangerous caricature of “gentle Jesus meek and mild,” …This caricature has encouraged Christian men to be nice to a fault, damaging their lives and those who are under their timid care.

6. Men, compared to women, are a problem to be fixed instead of a gender to be appreciated at church.

7. The church and Christian radio have failed to support a married man’s need for regular sexual intimacy with his wife, which is an insult and a betrayal. We are men, not eunuchs.

8. Christian men are unintentionally encouraged to become the plaything of other men in a misguided attempt to bolster their “Christian witness.”…Bold men are both rare and not really welcomed at church.

9. We unintentionally create spiritual veal: overprotected children who are taught to embrace false humility and false meekness

10. Worship music is often too sentimental for guy tastes.

When it comes to the issue so sex, Coughlin makes this wildly insightful observation. “After the sermon I talked with another married guy, a former missionary who told me that his wife leaned over to him and asked during the homily, “Are you attracted to other women?” He bravely answered, “I find other women attractive when I’m not sexually satisfied at home.” These may be tough words to hear, but they are true for many men. To pretend like they are not is to deny reality and the real heart and struggle of many men. We ignore them at the expense of healthy families.”

Couglin offers what should have been added to the Biblical message. “Now ladies, I want to help you as well. As we both know, your husband’s sexual desires don’t exist in a vacuum. They are tied to you as well. You can help your husband in his battle for sexual purity by doing what you can to become the object of his sexual desires