Thursday, April 29, 2010

Touching Base! Part 85

Listening in a Loud World! Part 2
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

Over the last two weeks the following big ideas have focused our thoughts.

Big Idea#1
Our hearts are a receptive environment that, if not guarded, can become a spiritual wasteland.
Big Idea#2
Our hearts are a receptive environment that can become spiritually vibrant.

The first Big Idea comes out of Luke 8:1-15 and the parable of the sower. Refer back to last week’s TB for a reminder. This past Sunday’s Big Idea came out of Luke 1:15 and Luke 6:46-49. We looked at two pictures that helped us see some aspects of a vibrant heart.

Picture#1 Luke 8:15
What kind of heart is this?
What are the actions of this person?
What is the result?

What are the clues in this picture that tell us there can be some push back, some resistance to the seed growing in the noble and good heart?

Key action
Retain - meaning to hold, hold fast, - taking appropriate action so not to lose something- in other words it can be snatched if not watched over. You can see examples of this in 1 Corinthians 11:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Heb10:23,

Persevere – translated “patient continuance, the characteristic of a person who is not swerved.” The obvious implication is that there will be some push back, some potential distractions (birds chirping).

On Sunday, I noted that to a first century audience, retaining the word and persevering in the word would have included community. Through the ages Jewish thinkers have considered it vital to study the Scriptures in the presence of other people - retaining and persevering together. A famous line of rabbinic advice from before Jesus time was this: “Acquire for yourself a rabbi, and get yourself a haver.” In ordinary usage, the word “haver” can simply mean a companion or a close friend. But here it actually means someone who is willing to partner with you in grappling with Scriptures and with the rabbinic texts. (Sitting at the feet of Rabbi Jesus- page 67)

What group, or friendship helps you grapple with the seed?
What specifically is it about that group or friendship that helps you retain and persevere in the seed?
How could your small group/friendship improve in this area?

Notice that the result of retaining and persevering is a crop. In other words, transformation of the life in which the seed has been planted.

Discuss the following regarding transformation in your own life. Is there transformation-taking place as a result of the seed being planted and nurtured in your life?

“I use to answer this question by looking at the state of my devotional activities: Did I pray and read the Bible enough today? The problem is that by this measure the Pharisees always win. People can be very disciplined, but remain proud and spiteful. How do we measure spiritual growth so that the Pharisees don’t win?

I asked this wise man, ‘How do you assess the well-being of your soul?’

He immediately said, "I ask myself two questions:"
  • Am I growing more easily discouraged these days?
  • Am I growing more easily irritated these days?"
(taken from The Me I Want To Be, Ortberg page 21)

Picture #2 Luke 6:46-49 (seeing that I am coming to the end of this page I will keep it short)
Note the problem that leads to Jesus telling this story – v.46
Note the outstanding claim v.47- No Jewish teacher apart from Jesus claimed so much authority for his own words; such authority was reserved for the law itself.
Note that life has a way of revealing our foundations (read vs.48,49)
Seasons of crisis will reveal if we have put in the hard work of digging and building.
What I call- Cosmetic focus vs. Character focus

Here is what I want you to notice. Often we just see the contrast between the two diggers, but notice the contrast of direction within the positive image.

This person digs down, passes all the options for foundations, finds the rock and then what? - builds up. This persons digs down, strikes rock, and builds up!

This motion happens at salvation. A person digs down, seeks God, finds Christ and His truth and builds his or her life on the life-changing work of Christ. If you think about it this is a process that happens in our lives on a daily basis as the seed by the power of His Spirit forms our lives. We need to engage in this process - dig down, strike rock, and build up - on daily issues as they come to us.

Discuss examples in your own life, where you have engaged in this process? How was the truth you chose to build on different than the worlds or what you use to believe? The bird in Luke 8 has a different mantra for us to live by. It is- Dig to where it feels good, settle on what is comfortable and build up.

Who do you often pray for that this process of digging down, striking rock, and building up - would characterize their life?

Out of space - I am finished!


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Touching Base! Part 84

Listening in a Loud World!
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

Everyone knows what I am talking about when I refer to the cupboard or drawer in the kitchen that is home to the clutter. Home to all the stuff that is piled behind the door or shoved in the drawer, out of sight and hopefully, out of mind. These can be nasty places. Void of organization, order or thought, things most times get tossed into the abyss of chaos. Got a horror drawer story? Got a cupboard that needs some TLC?

On Sunday we talked about how our hearts can become like that cupboard. Our hearts are receptive environments that, if not guarded, can become a spiritual wasteland. In other words, if we are not careful, “stuff” can accumulate in our hearts that will sabotage or prevent any spiritual growth, vitality and health. We tend to drift into spiritual sickness, and we must choose with God’s help to move into spiritual wholeness and health.

Take some time to look at the text we studied on Sunday, Luke 8:1-15. This is a very well-known parable of Jesus. As a group or alone, use these questions to examine the text.

  • What does the parable tell us about the audience Jesus is speaking to? (their occupations, heart condition)
  • Why do you think Luke includes v.1-3 when Matthew and Mark do not? How is this group in v.1-3 different than those coming from the towns to see Jesus? v.4
  • What is the heart receptive to?
  • What is the relationship of the seed to the other foreign elements found in the human heart?
  • I think that, while Jesus is primarily thinking of a pre-believer audience, can this scenario of the human heart describe what believers also experience at times? Check out Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4 and see how this parable illustrates His temptation.

On Sunday I talked about how, for both believers and non-believers, our hearts can be “loud” places - birds chirping, worries that consume us, riches that entice us and pleasures that woo us. At times, there is much going on in our hearts that is attempting to invade them and supplant the seed.

As a group, respond to the following questions:

  • As a Christ follower, have you ever been hesitant to take the next step with God because of the internal noise?
  • Have you ever experienced unusual tension or push back when attempting to spend time in the Word?
  • What does the “bird” sometimes “chirp” (speak for those needing translation) in your ear to distract you from seeding your heart with the Word?

There are a whole group of people in this text (v.10b) whose hearts could be described by the first three soils Jesus identifies. You will note that Jesus is quoting Isaiah in v.10. This Jewish audience have “parents” who rejected the word of God. By 700 B.C., the nation of Israel had had the sanctuary, the priesthood, the prophets and the scriptures for centuries. And yet in their sin and rebellion they had moved farther away from God than the people of the earlier centuries. Now this generation seems to be following in the exact pattern as their parents. Listening can be complex because of what goes on in our hearts, but what goes on in our hearts can be reflective of family patterns and family ways - generations. Generations that have allowed the birds to chirp, the worries to consume, the riches to entice and the pleasures to woo… listening that happened in a loud world of generational noise.

  • Do you have a family line that has encouraged the seed to go deep in your life?
  • What generational patterns do you have to intentionally work against as you allow the seed to grow in your life?
  • In other words does your generational line model and encourage seed planting or seed supplanting?

As we think of the people in our lives that are far from God, take some time to pray for them. Read the following texts on the work of the “bird” in non-believers’ lives.

What is Satan's aim and his strategies?
  • He is the Father of lies. (John 8:44)
  • Therefore, his chief enemy is truth, the seed - he opposes God's word. (Genesis 3:1-5)
  • He casts doubt on God's goodness. (Genesis 3:1-5 )
  • He blinds the minds of unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • He exploits a lack of understanding. (Matthew 13:19)
“A wartime mindset must include shrewd knowledge of enemy tactics. Ephesians 5:11, "Take no part in unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." Christianity stands or falls with the reality of Satan and demons. Why? Because Jesus spent his whole ministry fighting them. If they are not real he is reduced to a comic figure.” John Piper

Take some time to pray for believers.
He (the bird) attacks faith to destroy believers:
  • Attacks faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 11:3 )
  • Brings persecution. (Revelation. 2:9; 1 Peter 5:8; Luke 22:31 )
  • Can work through un-confessed sin to cause physical sickness (James 5:13-16 - key verse v.16)
  • Dissension over doctrine and causes rifts. (Romans 16:17-20)
  • Sexual allurements. (1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Timothy 5:15)
  • Unresolved anger. (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 4:27)
  • Pride. (1 Timothy 3:6)

Next week we will spend some more time developing Luke 8:15.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Touching Base! Part 83

Internship Summary
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

This week’s Touching Base was written by Joanna Moon, Bethel’s Intern.

Dear Bethel:

Thank you for letting me be your intern this year! I have been immeasurably blessed, challenged and stretched by this experience. It has been such a joy to be able to pursue the values of compassion and justice, grapple with what they really mean, and engage with the church and the Kingston community in making them a reality.

Since many of you still may have no idea who I am or how I have spent the last 8 months, I've done a little recap. If you're intrigued by anything on these lists and want to know more about them or how to get involved, PLEASE let me know and I'd be happy to elaborate!

Things I've been able to help with/initiate at Bethel:
  • Compassion and Justice small group
  • Offshore Youth Group events (Soloist movie night, Poverty Encounter walk-about, etc)
  • UpStreet Operation Compassion initiative
  • Advent Conspiracy Initiative
  • March Break Operation Compassion Day Camp
  • Food Voucher program in the fall
  • "Food for Thought" Film Festival
  • I compiled a list of ways to LEARN and serve in the Kingston community (see back table!)
  • meeting with individuals and helping them get involved in the Kingston community

Community initiatives in which I've been privileged to participate:
  • Interviews with people on the street, or with people who work with people in poverty (for my own information)
  • Social Issues Networking Group (SING)
  • Weekly Silent Vigil outside City Hall
  • Running and Reading program at First Avenue Public School
  • Martha's Table - volunteer and member of the community
  • St. Andrew's Sunday night supper program (occasionally)
  • Food Bank float in the Santa Claus Parade (SO much fun!)
  • Planning committee for a Social Audit of the Kingston area (part of an Ontario-wide initiative)
  • Planning committee and facilitator for the Poverty Challenge Youth Conference (through the Kingston Roundtable for Poverty Reduction)
  • Working part time at CoffeeCo, where I've been able to have some great chats with people about God, compassion and justice, etc.

Opportunities to share what I've learned:
  • Health 101 talk (a first year class at Queen's)
  • Athletes-in-Action talk
  • Queen's Project for International Development Youth Conference talk (about poverty in Kingston)
  • Thursdays at 7 talk
  • Navigators Poverty encounter walk-about and poverty simulation game
  • A few Sunday mornings at Bethel

I've also had some great mentors (Meredith MacKenzie and Pastor Mark), and read some very thought-provoking books (I highly recommend The Twenty Piece Shuffle by Greg Paul, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers by Shane Claiborne, Dispatches from the Poverty Line by Pat Capponi, The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey, and Good News about Injustice by Gary Haugen).

So thank you again for walking with me along The Way this year. I've learned a lot about advocacy, solidarity, politics, networking, leadership, humility, the value of relationships over programs, and (most importantly) the perfect strength of Christ in my weakness. I've discovered more questions than answers, and am aware that I have SO much more to learn. I'm really excited to continue this journey, and would greatly appreciate your prayers as I travel the next leg - a Masters of Theological Studies in Development at Wycliffe College. However, I'm around all summer, so please pop by CoffeeCo for an iced mocha, or e-mail and/or track me down at church if you want to talk!

Grace and peace,

Joanna Moon
You can email her at:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Touching Base! Part 82

12 for 12
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

I am sure that many have had the unfortunate experience of seeking to work elsewhere because the person at the top is… er…“broken” (you might have a more descriptive, colourful word). We have all experienced leadership that makes the work environment toxic, and which is lethal for our emotional health. Think about an environment of your own where the leadership contributed to an unhealthy work context. What characterized the toxic leadership? What did it do to your own soul? How did you resolve the issue?

In our text (Luke 9:1-11), there are two very different leaders present. We have Jesus, whose leadership is modeled in the majority of this text. We also have Herod (the son of Herod the Great), who Jesus called a “fox”. The insertion of what Herod is thinking (v7-9) almost seems like an interruption in the main story… until you realize what Luke may have been doing.

Why do you think these comments about Herod are included in this story?
What is it about Jesus that most perplexes Herod? What do you think he most wanted from Jesus?
Based on this text who would you rather have as your boss, Jesus or Herod? Why?

On Sunday, we identified four ministry principles that result from Jesus’ leadership style. Our purpose was to affirm Bethel in how we see some of these principles being fleshed out at the Church. Talk about these principles and see how they apply to your life.

Principle #1 The “12 for 12” principle of ministry

“When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robbins Island for his opposition to South Africa’s apartheid, he was issued a pair of shorts - not long trousers - because his captors wanted his identity to be that of a boy instead of a man. People in power over him wanted him to be a docile accepter of a racist society.” (John Ortberg, The Me I Don’t Want To Be, p.27)

How does Jesus’ leadership style illustrate him putting “trousers” on the disciples, not “shorts”? Notice what Jesus gave them in v1. The word “gave” means “to be supplied, furnished, clothed.”

How many disciples did Jesus have? How many were given power and authority?

In Jesus’ leadership style, if you were on the team, you were to be in the game - 12 disciples=12 ministers. There were no bystanders, spectators, or just consumers. The expectation was that ministry was central to being a disciple.

Philip Yancey once said,

“When I turned 50, I had a complete physical check-up. Doctors poked, prodded, x-rayed, and even cut open parts of my body to assess and repair the damage I had done. At the same time, I scheduled a spiritual check-up, too. I went on a silent retreat led by a wise spiritual director. In those days of solitude, I pondered what I needed to change to keep my soul in shape. The more I listened, the longer grew the list. Here is a mere sampling, a portion of a spiritual action plan for my next 50 years.”

One of those items on the list was....

“Find what Eric Liddell found: something that allows you to feel God's pleasure. When the sprinter's sister worried that his participation in the Olympics might derail his missionary career, Eric responded, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure."

What has Christ given you his power and authority to do?
What makes you feel God’s pleasure?
Why do many Christ followers refuse to get in the game?

Principle #2- Ministry often will take us to places where we can’t touch bottom.

I think people/we have tendencies to find comfortable patterns, gather familiar people around us, and get into habits that keep us far from the edge, a good distance from the deep end. We like to minimize risk, control outcomes, we like guarantees, we like predictability.

What does Jesus do? He puts long trousers on the 12 and then sends them into the deep end.
What did the deep end look like for these disciples?
Check out v.1, 2 - What were they to do?
Check out v.3 - What were they to take?
Check out v.12-14 - How big was the need at times?

Notice in v.3, Jesus says “take nothing for the journey” yet by reading v.1 we know that they are not going empty-handed. They have been clothed with “trousers” (power and authority) which also implies the presence of God. They will need to remember this time and time again when they find themselves in deep water just trying to stay afloat.

Talk about walking in obedience to God’s call and feeling like you can’t touch bottom. What is it about that experience that can make us panic or forget that God has equipped us? What ministry opportunity have you avoided because it was a deep end you did not want to have to negotiate?

Principle #3 Ministry mimics the Master.

On Sunday I talked about how the disciples looked a lot like Jesus in what they did (see v.1-5). However, there is a very important verse that shows us the context of their ministry. Notice v. 6 – in it, the disciples are mimicking their teacher/rabbi in terms of where they do ministry. Statistics show that out of 132 public appearances made by Jesus, 122 of them were in the marketplace. Of the 52 parables Jesus told, 45 had a “workplace” context.

They have seen Him minister in the synagogues and they have seen Him spend a vast amount of His time in the marketplace. “Villages” and “everywhere” certainly included the marketplace to a large extent. Herod saw the marketplace as a context to make a profit. Jesus saw the marketplace as a context to make a disciple.

This is an important point to think about. When we come under the leadership of Jesus we begin to see that the marketplace is where so much life change ministry can take place.

When we come under Jesus’ style of leadership we discover that it is not all about Sunday morning, all about the pastor’s sermon or all about what happens at 11 a.m. or 9 a.m. There is a much bigger picture - do you see your ministry as unfolding in the marketplace? What damage has been done in churches where marketplace ministry is never talked about?

Principle #4 Ministry must (at times) ease up and have clear boundaries set for it

Check out v.10 and notice that Jesus is calling the disciples to withdraw after having been out doing ministry. Notice that this conversation would have taken place amongst a group who were practitioners, not just theorists. “12 for 12” teams generate great discussion and insight. What fresh insights might have been shared? I would love to have been a bug on the wall.

Notice the dilemma that is introduced in v.11. Read Mark 6:30-33 to get an added sense of what is going on here.

When you begin to see the world in which you live as a place to minister, the needs will be unending.

What do you do to ease up and draw boundaries?
Does your “Bethsaida” (a place to regroup, refresh) still work?
What is the most draining aspect of your ministry focus? (Marketplace? Church gathered? etc.)
Who are your “12” that you can talk with, pray with and keep accountable?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Touching Base! Part 81

Tim’s, Clips and Guitars
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.

On Sunday, we answered a very simple yet very profound question, “Why does the resurrection matter?” If someone came up to you and asked you that question, what might you say? How would you answer them in a way that would make sense, and would connect with their heart?
On Sunday, I used three objects to illustrate how I would answer that question. Think about these objects, discuss with your group (or ponder alone) and once again realize why the resurrection matters.

Object #1
Tim Horton’s Cup

Most people have played the game of rolling up the rim to win. Most people also have read those all too familiar words “Play Again!” 2000 years ago there was no Tim’s but there was a tomb and when the rock was rolled back, guess what it said? Read Matthew 28:1-10 and discuss the emotion, dialogue and thoughts of this experience. Read Romans 1:1-4. What does the resurrection demonstrate about Christ?

The Tim Horton’s cup illustrates the confidence in the message the disciples had (and that we are to have) in Christ. The resurrection validates the person in whom we have believed. The message behind the rolled-back rock rocked the disciple’s world, energized them, and became the message they were willing to die for. Do you have this confidence?

Object #2
Paper Clip

On Sunday I shared the story about Kyle MacDonald who began “trading up” in July 2005. Starting with a paper clip, he traded up to a wooden novelty pen shaped like a fish, then to a ceramic knob. Next up was a two-burner camping stove. The stove was then traded up for a small petrol¬ powered generator. You get the idea right? Well on July 12th, 2006, precisely one year after he undertook his journey, Kyle accepted the keys to a three-bedroom house at 503 Main Street in Kipling. A paper clip to a house - nice trade-up!

The paper clip illustrates the incredible hope that we have as believers that, one day, this life (as good or bad as it may be for us right now) will be traded up for something much better. Read John 14:1,2 and see how our story might be similar to Kyle’s? According to 1 Corinthians 15:19 what life does Christ give us hope in? How did Moses (Hebrews 11:26) demonstrate this hope in how he lived? Read 1 Corinthians 15:20 and notice the word “firstfruits”.

Firstfruits – This is an Old Testament word (e.g., Ex. 23:16, 19) used here in the sense of a preliminary instalment of what will be both an example and a guarantee of more to come.

As you read the larger context of I Corinthians 15 who is the “more to come” referring to?

I think if we don’t have this hope of a great trade-up, we can be tempted to take the life given to us as a gift and turn it into a god. We worship “the dash”! “The dash” is what separates our birth date from our death date. It represents the life we live. For some, this life is all there is so “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” (I Corinthians 15:32)

What does worshipping the dash look like?

What are you learning about this dash the older you get? (On Sunday I shared some of my observations)

Object #3
The Guitar

You will note that when you read of the resurrection in the New Testament, it doesn’t just talk about how this resurrection established the disciples’ confidence in Christ, and thus motivated them to be heralds of this message to the point of death. It doesn’t just talk about the resurrection as giving us hope beyond the dash. The resurrection is also connected to our transformation now in this dash. The resurrection means that we have the power to change today!

Read and discuss Philippians 3:10, Ephesians 1:19.

The guitar that is out of tune represents our lives before we come to Christ. The guitar tuned (or being tuned) represents what God wants to do with our lives. He wants to tune our lives up to reflect the image of Christ. His power is available to us for that tuning process.

Read and discuss the following:
“Imagine for a moment that you possess the sheet music of the most beautiful piano concerto ever written, but you have never heard the whole piece perfectly performed. Then one day you meet the composer’s son who is himself a great pianist. This man knows his father’s music by heart. As he sits down to play with the orchestra, the music is so achingly beautiful that you begin to weep. At last you are hearing the most magnificent concerto in the world being played exactly as the composer intended. This is a rough analogy of what Jesus has done for us, not merely telling us but showing us what human beings, created in God’s image, were meant to become.” Sitting At The Feet Of Rabbi Jesus, Spangler and Tverberg. p.32)
Paul reminds us that no matter how well-tuned we become, we still look forward to the day when, like Christ, we will be raised imperishable, raised in glory, raised in power, raised as a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-43).

Do any of us groan for that ultimate transformation? See Romans 8:22, 23.

Take some time to pray for those who need to experience the power of the resurrection in their life. Maybe they need to come to Christ and need the power of God to convince them of His truth? Maybe they are a Christian, bound and falling?

Does the resurrection matter? What do you think?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact