Friday, February 25, 2011

Touching Base! Part 116

Paul’s Infomercial - Galatians 1:11-24

(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.

Any time you read Scripture you always need to ask the question, “What is the original intent of this text?” In other words, why was this written in the first place? Why did the original audience need to know this? Without asking these kinds of questions, we can often end up in some pretty scary places when it comes to interpretation. Have any scary examples of how people have botched and twisted a text?

Text: Galatians 1:11-14
In our text today the original intent is made pretty clear in the first verse. Paul was combating Judaizers that were undermining his message (Gospel). Let’s start with is a brief reminder of what the issue was.

According to Galatians, legalism was a religious system that combined Christianity with the Mosaic Law in a way that demanded total commitment to Israel’s laws as the climax of one’s conversion to Christ. But according to Paul, this “deeper commitment to the law” was a subversion of the adequacy of Christ’s work and an abandonment of the Holy Spirit as God’s way of guiding Christian ethics. In other words, the legalism of the Judaizers is more than a problem, it has become a new message, a different gospel (see McKnight, NIV Application Commentary, p.23).

Paul is writing this section to show that the Gospel has authority because of where it came from - not man but God. That is an audacious claim, but that was his claim and he was sticking to it. In this section of autobiographical material, Paul outlines the encounter with God that radically changed his life – “turned it upside down” would be an understatement. In telling us his story, which illustrates the authority of the Gospel, Paul encourages all those reading the text who may have someone on their prayer radar that is far from God.

Discuss in your group: who is on your radar these days that you are praying for, who needs to return to God or find God?

Note how Paul’s story unfolds as he tells it to his Gentile and Jewish audience. He is not only endorsing the authority of the Gospel (because it is from Jesus) but he is demonstrating how God can get our attention when we are walking in the opposite direction.

1. Paul had a God encounter v.11, 12
This God encounter “stuff” could cause some problems for anyone tuning in who is a believer in a closed system. A closed universe, which some people adhere to (Deists, for instance), is where everything proceeds by cause and effect within the universe itself, without outside intervention by any God. In a closed universe, the only acceptable explanations are those that deal with matter, energy, space and time. God is an unnecessary hypothesis. It is not necessary for him to directly and continuously intervene in our world. Deism believes that God is like a watchmaker who wound it up and walked away. But Paul is saying God broke through and as we will see, turned his world upside down. “I am who I am today because God broke through”, he says.

Do you have any memorable markers along your journey where you had a God encounter? Maybe that was the moment of your salvation or the still small voice of God speaking into your heart as you journeyed with Jesus. In other words, in what ways has God made Himself known to you? Are you in a quiet time these days with God or is He speaking loudly and clearly?

Paul moves on in the text with some detail of his encounter that he thinks the readers need to know.

2. Paul had an encounter with God that transformed him 13-24
If this was Paul’s infomercial then v.13, 14 would be the “before” shot and v.15-24 would be the “after” shot.

v. 13, 14 - “Before Shot” - His “Klingon” era
What does Paul make clear about who he was?
His brief reference to his former life is somewhat augmented by his lengthier descriptions elsewhere, particularly in Philippians 3:4-6. There Paul shows that he was (1) a Jew by birth—indeed, of the best stock of Israel; (2) by choice, a Pharisee, i.e., of the strictest sect of Judaism; and (3) in conduct, exceedingly zealous, a zeal demonstrated by his persecution of the church and his rigid adherence to the law. Read Acts 8:1-3, Acts 9:1 - oh yeah, and the last part of Acts 7 for some bloody background material. Paul was one mad Klingon!

How would your faith be affected if you knew there was a Klingon sanctioned by the higher authorities - going from house to house dragging off Christians?
“Such was the state of Saul of Tarsus before his conversion. He was a bigot and a fanatic, wholehearted in his devotion to Judaism and in his persecution of Christ and the church. Now a man in that mental and emotional state is in no mood to change his mind, or even to have it changed for him by men. No conditioned reflex or other psychological device could convert a man in that state. Only God could reach him.” (Stott, The Message of Galatians, p.31)
What are the chances of this Klingon writing 13 of the 27 New Testament books? What are the chances of this Klingon actually venturing out on three missionary journeys - traveling the eastern part of the Roman Empire over 15 years, logging more than twenty thousand miles promoting what he tried to destroy? In a similar way, you may feel this about whoever is on your radar these days. What are the chances that they could experience such transformation?

v. 15-24 – “After” shot – Smiling Klingon - you had to be there on Sunday to see this.
I love the first three words of v.15, “But when God….”
Note the very unique circumstances surrounding Paul’s “But when God….” story.
  • Sudden and dramatic- some people’s conversion is slow, multiple experiences, much prayer etc. - like watching ice thaw – Paul… got microwaved!
  • Preach to the Gentiles - most times people don’t know what their calling is at the moment of conversion. Did you know how God wanted you to serve him at your conversion?
  • Did not consult any man or go to Jerusalem - this was unique for Paul’s day and how God was using him. It would be dangerous to teach this as the norm. He had a very unique calling on his life v.15.
  • Went into Arabia - Did you go “into Arabia” when you came to Christ? Arabia was believed to be south of Damascus - possibly corresponding with modern day Jordan.

What were some of the unique circumstances surrounding your conversion to Christ?

Here are some brief comments on his Arabia trip. This was Paul’s very own Alpha program.

a. He did not go to Arabia without a teacher - The Holy Spirit was his teacher - see texts Acts 9:17 – It’s very important that Luke mentions that Paul was now possessed by the Holy Spirit who, according to Jesus, is a great teacher.
Praying for anybody these days that God would bring them illumination? This is a function of the Holy Spirit. Read 1 Corinthians 2:12-14.

b. He did not go in with a blank slate - Paul was a student of the Old Testament, memorized major portions of the Torah, had the best of teachers regarding the Scriptures (Gamaliel), went to the best of schools. In fact as a Jewish boy growing up education was mostly conducted through memorization and recitation. Its primary content was the history, literature, and laws of Israel, So he has this massive amount of information and a great teacher and guess what and who he discovers?
  • He discovers the message of Grace - note what he says about Abraham – Galatians3:6
  • He uncovers the message about Gentiles (Gen. 12:1-3 “all nations”- mentioned many other times in the OT.)
  • He discovers the Messiah. Jesus did say he starred in the OT (Luke 24:27)
Praying for anybody these days who has the word of God in their hearts yet is far from God? Some of us have children who have walked away from God- but the Word of God is in their hearts.

c. He did not come out whacked - This is an incredible testimony - Gal 2:9 - The miracle was that God gave to Paul the same Gospel that He had given to the pillars but his focus was to be different – the Gentiles. Gal 2:1-10 - he gets a full endorsement by the pillars.

This whole Arabia experience is shrouded in mystery but one thing we know for sure – God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, took the Scriptures that Paul knew and showed Paul Jesus, grace and the need for the Gentiles to hear.

Finally note in v.18-24 how his relationship has changed with the church. In Acts 9:26, they are afraid of him but now v.24 they worship because of him. Also note how Peter and James (and Ananias if you read Paul’s conversion story in Acts 9) played a role in helping guide Paul.

You may be praying for someone these days who needs to come to God or return to God. Here are some takeaways on how to pray based on Paul’s story:

  1. Pray that they would have a genuine encounter with God, v.12. Also note v.15 “ But when God…” You may realize no amount of intellectual challenge will win them.
  2. Pray that God would deliver them from whatever binds them, v.13, 14. Hate, anger, religiosity and lies were what partly bound Paul.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring understanding and truth, v.16,17. Paul had a great teacher- the Holy Spirit.
  4. Pray that the word of God would be powerful and transformational, v.16,17. Paul knew the Scriptures.
  5. Finally, pray that God would bring credible people across this person’s path that would speak the truth, v.18-24. We know that Ananias was instrumental in Paul’s initial encounter with God (Acts 9). We see in this text how Peter told Paul the rest of the story and perhaps James was part of the process as well.

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, February 18, 2011

Touching Base! Part 115

Drivers that can kill! - Galatians 1:6-10

(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.

Today we are looking at a principle that we can all relate to for various reasons. The big idea is that When a good thing becomes an ultimate thing, bad things can happen. Think about how this truth works itself in the lives of people we love and care for. What issues have you seen displace God from being a number 1 priority in their lives?

Okay, let me give you an example. I have seen families so caught up in kids’ sports that they seem to compromise their relationship with God in order to make sure the kid(s) can play hockey or whatever sport 2-3 times per week. I have seen the desire to succeed ambush a person’s spiritual life. All time and focus goes into the good thing, which in time becomes like a bronzed calf and is essentially worshipped. Their time for God is radically reduced.

Text: Gal 1:6-10

In order for us to fully appreciate what is going on in this text we need to be clued into the background. The major tension in the early church was whether or not Gentiles could come to Christ without first becoming Jewish. There were many that felt that in order for Gentiles to come to Christ, they needed to be circumcised and adhere to various laws that would be the benchmarks of being Jewish. The tension was created when Paul traipsed around the Roman world, dropping in on various Gentile communities like the ones in Galatia and started leading Gentiles to Christ - minus making them Jewish. For Paul the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit were sufficient. Thus the battle heats up. Would this split the early church?
With this brief background on a complex issue, we come to our text.
Let’s start with the last verse first.

V.10 - Why is Paul asking these questions? What is Paul being accused of? What things in this text are mutually exclusive? Note that it is not always this way - there are times I can please men and please God. However, in this context, to please men would mean one would have to deny Christ and the message of the Gospel.
What is Paul saying that is true about who he is in this verse?
Note Paul says – “If I were still trying….” Paul’s zeal and success had been fuelled by the nature of Judaism, which placed an excessive emphasis on appearances and external criteria for commitment. Sounds like they don’t think Paul has changed. Ever felt that people have frozen you in your past?

They (Judaizers from Jerusalem) were accusing Paul of making the gospel soft and easy to believe (in other words you don’t have to become Jewish or get that nip-and-tuck) in order please the Gentiles. They were accusing Paul of being a people pleaser. Essentially, they were saying that pleasing people was far too important to Paul and so he had watered down the truth.
What was in fact true?

Paul turns the tables and accuses them (the Judaizers and some of the Gentiles) of being people pleasers. Check out Gal 6:12,13. Some of these Judaizers may have at first been drawn to Christ but now with the pressure from Jerusalem to conform to Jewish practices, they have backed down. They are living examples of 10b. Their issue is not sports or careers or work - it is the issue of bowing to the pressure of keeping people (conservative Jews in Jerusalem) happy: the fear of man.

Note that this fear of man (keep people happy, be accepted) sucker punched some of the progressive leadership in the early Church. Read below.

Leadership Caves
“Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here's the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That's how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that's been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.” Galatians 2:11-13 (The Message)
Note the “fear factor”. Ever fudged on obedience because of the fear of man? Peter did, Barnabas and the rest of the Jews in Antioch did. There is another group that did in this story - but before we go there, here are some characteristics of a people pleaser - disease to please -
  • Fear of loss of approval
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of loss of personal identity
  • Fear of loss of personal worth
  • Fear of not "doing best'' for others' sake
  • Fear of letting their friends and family down
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of it being "found out'' they are not as good as they appear to others
  • Fear that others will recognize their failings
  • Fear of making a decision lest it be the wrong one
Finally notice the other group that caved - a good thing becomes an ultimate thing and thus bad things happen.

Followers Cave (v.6,7)
Note Paul’s response and the words that describe these new converts. What happened to the Gospel?

Finally, this big idea can be applied to a number of different issues, but for some of us the people-pleasing issue is the big one. Is it possible to win over this great temptation?

Note what Paul says in v.8, 9 - obviously he is not too concerned with keeping people happy by saying the politically correct thing. Membership into the club is not high on Paul’s Christmas wish list. Now before you think you should emulate Paul’s behaviour here, take note of the context and culture.

What was seen as an acceptable form of disagreement then may not be seen as acceptable today. The ancient world simply loved inflammatory language for expressing its differences. The ancients delighted in overstatements and overstatements were effectively countered with similar overstatements.

So I would not make a direct application of his style - but I would be encouraged by Paul’s modeling of a person who did not count the votes when he walked into a room with regard to who liked or disliked him. He told the truth and walked in obedience. To connect to last week - he knew who he was, who loved him and had called him - “Paul, an apostle”! (see Scott McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary, page 60)

Wrapping it up.
Ask yourself these questions:
  • Do I have the disease to please?
  • Has my desire to please others in any ways compromised my faith?
  • Does the fear of man have a greater hold on me than the fear of God?
  • Have I perverted the gospel in any way to accommodate my desire to keep people happy?
On a broader application:
  • Take the big idea - write it in the middle of a piece of paper. Then draw spokes out from it and on the end of each spoke write out the good things of your life - work, sports, hockey, career, fitness, home, relationships, ethnicity, hobbies, image etc.
  • Then ask these questions.
  1. Have any of these knocked God off His rightful place in my life?
  2. If so why, what is happening at the core of who I am to allow this to happen?
  3. What is my dominant emotion?


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Touching Base! Part 114

Jesus, or Rambo? Galatians 1:1-5

(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.

Big Idea: Taking the high road is often the last thing we are inclined to do.

Let’s see how you would do in answering the following questions:
  • Ever found yourself in a situation where false rumours are spread about you?
  • Ever been on the receiving end of a mean-spirited person?
  • Have you ever felt like the victim, lies spinning out of control, and it seems that some are happy to believe the worst about you?
Now let’s add a twist:
  • Ever had people that you invested in, dearly loved turn on you- slander you, stick a dagger in your back? You remember times of great friendship with them but now you might have trouble being in the same room as them.
We have all been down this road. If you have not then you probably don’t get out enough. This is almost as certain to happen to you as death, taxes and shovelling your driveway this time of the year!

Text: Galatians 1:1-5
By just reading these first few verses of Galatians, you might never pick up on the drama unfolding behind the text.

Paul has been on his first missionary journey which resulted in him planting churches among Gentile and Jewish converts in the southern part of the province of Galatia. Once back in Antioch, he hears word about the Judaizers infiltrating those new churches and turning some of his converts against him. Here is a list of what they are doing:
  • They are telling Gentile converts that they also need to embrace circumcision (2:3,5:6,6:12) and various food laws(2:11-14) to really live in a way which is acceptable to God.
  • They (Judaizers) are guilty of cultural Imperialism - forcing Gentiles to become Jewish
  • They are rallying the Gentiles to question Paul’s authority, smearing his name, accusing him of lying and telling people that Paul has no real backbone. He is a people pleaser and a sell-out (v.10)
What does Paul do? He starts this letter declaring his credentials – “Paul, an apostle”!
What do you learn about apostles just from v.1, 2?

Here is a bit more information about apostles:
This is a term that Jesus used of his disciples - he chose 12 and sent them out to preach (Luke 6:13) - personally called, chosen and commissioned by Jesus. The NT evidence is clear that this group was small and unique. This word is not a word that could be applied to every believer like saint, believer or brother. - Galatians, Stott page 13. There were some lesser apostles - travelling missionaries - not chosen and sent out by Jesus like the 12 and Paul. It was a term that implied great authority.
What does “sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus” imply about Jesus?

As an apostle, Paul paid a dear price for his commitment to mission. Read sections of Acts 13 and 14 to see the challenges he faced.

What I want you to note is that not only was Paul being attacked (literally stoned) by those outside the church but also by those inside the church.

Notice what “Paul, an apostle” illustrates. He is holding his ground, exactly what he encourage them to do in 5:1. He is not forgetting who he is or what God has called him to.

What consequently flows from his pen? (v.3,4,5) (the whole book of Galatians))
Discuss what flows from his pen in these verses.

Understanding that he is being attacked by these people, what do you find impressive about Paul’s words?
i.e – Grace and Peace (Shalom) to people who are smearing Paul’s reputation and believing him to be a liar.

On Sunday I focused in on the word “rescue”. It has been said that Christianity is a rescue religion. They along with Paul have been rescued. However, the problem is, as we will see next week is that they are deserting the gospel, in a state of confusion and going backwards in their walk of faith.

Here is the point I made on Sunday. Often those that attack us are in great need of ministry. We may want to trash talk back, but what they really need is a lifeline, words of truth, blessing and hope. Paul does this exactly. Instead of allowing bitterness to flow from his pen (Rambo vs. Jesus), he allows truth- the book of Galatians, which will be instrumental in helping these Gentiles find their way back home.

My big idea on Sunday was that “Taking the high road is often the last thing we are inclined to do”. Paul does not stoop but rather stands tall and speaks redemptively. Paul resists the temptation and brings words of life.

Some questions to ponder as you reflect upon this passage:
  • Who are you writing a” letter” to these days?
  • What is flowing from your “pen”, bitterness, unforgiveness?
  • Is it possible that the person you find hard to love may be in desperate need of a lifeline, and God may want to use your words to be a lifeline to someone in need, someone who is attacking you?
  • Have you ever been guilty of allowing poison to flow from your “pen” and needed to repent?
  • What can make it so difficult to take the higher ground as Paul did?
  • Can you think of an example (without blowing confidences) where you have found it really hard to love but where you could see the need of the person and why they need your love?
  • Do you find yourself in a work situation where the environment is sick? No one takes the higher road- dig for dig, jab for jab.
  • Are you in a marriage where both are launching verbal missiles? No one taking the higher road.
What might taking the higher road look like?
  • Forgiving them
  • Speaking kindly
  • Pursuing not avoiding
  • Giving a gift not withholding
  • Initiating saying “ Sorry” to them
  • Saying hard things but with good intentions
  • Stop gossiping about that person
  • Repenting of holding on to bitterness and hate
  • Getting help because you feel stuck
I like what Paul says in v.5- “to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”. When it becomes about us, that is when we are most greatly tempted to act in an ungodly manner. When it is about His glory - we guard our words, prayerfully gauge our response, and humbly speak. Paul will say some hard things but it is as an apostle, speaking words of authority to heal not get even.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Touching Base! Part 113

The River

(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.

“Vision” is a picture of where we are going and defines what makes us unique, and this past Sunday I cast the vision that is developing at Bethel Church. It’s not a new vision, but truly represents the DNA of Bethel and why Bethel was founded and planted so close to the heart of the city. We believe the rearticulating of this vision will help bring increased clarity for us as we develop key initiatives in fleshing it out. We cannot do it all, but we can take responsibility for the initiatives that God lays on our hearts (please note that I’ve also included an elders’ update from our recent half-day retreat).

As you begin your discussion (or reflection, if alone) read the key text I used on Sunday, John 7:37-39:
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
We know that this was the Feast of Tabernacles. While there were many feasts that the Jewish people celebrated, what made this feast unique is that it took place in the fall, after practically no rain had fallen on the terrain surrounding Jerusalem. The priest would take a golden pitcher and go to the Gihon spring (one of the water sources for Jerusalem), fill the pitcher with water, come back to the temple in Jerusalem and pour the water on the altar. This ritual reminded them all of the water from the rock during the wilderness wanderings (Num. 20:8-11; Ps. 78:15-16). It also spoke prophetically of the coming days of Messiah (cf. Zech. 14:8, 16-19). As the priest would pour the water out before the assembly, he would pray for rain to saturate the parched lands. So it was in this context that Jesus stood and spoke the words found in verses 37 and 38.

What a creative teaching moment Jesus stepped into. Saying such a thing created waves of reaction. See v.40-44.

V.37 introduces us to the first part of our vision statement: “Responding to the heart of God;”
What would you say is the heart of God based on Jesus’ words? Note key words like “thirst”, “come”, “me” and “drink”. What does responding look like from day to day? Give practical examples that are personal and corporate.

V.38 introduces us to the second part of our vision statement: “transforming the heart of the city.” This gets at what makes us unique. We are not a rural church but rather, having been planted in the heart of the city, we sense our need to take responsibility for various needs of the city here.

Note that “from within” translates as “womb, belly, representing the inner most part of a person”. Scientists say we have a “brain” in our gut, that is, neurons in the digestive system that produce feelings of well-being or threat deeper than we can put into words. It is in that very deepest place that Jesus says he will produce vitality. God does his work in me and it constantly flows within me as a life source. This is what I call “belly righteousness”.

What did Jews know about rivers/streams? Rivers flowed. In fact the Gihon spring that the priest went and drew from supplied water to Jerusalem in OT times. It was the Gihon that determined the original site of the city on the hill called Ophel, just west of the spring. In Biblical history, cities were built near rivers because rivers meant life and blessing to the city.

As Christ does a work in us (belly righteousness) we want to flow into the heart of the city. We want to be used by God to bring life, blessing and reconciliation with God.

When we speak of our vision we are talking about the corporate focus, since we realize that most of our people don’t live in the downtown core. Bethelites are from all over the place. It is important that we flow wherever God has placed us. However, as a Church Gathered, our corporate vision is for the heart of the city.

Take a sheet of paper and draw a river. Along the banks of the river identify the kinds of people we find in the core of Kingston that need the life and hope the river can bring.

Obviously Bethel cannot do it all. What do you feel should be some of Bethel’s major focus areas? (please pass them on to me if you like)

Now draw a river representing your workplace and neighbourhood. Who are the people that need to be impacted by the river?

Take some time to pray for people who need to come to the river. Also pray for the health of Bethel. “Rivers” can be dirtied by Christians who don’t live upright lives. Churches have been known not to bless a city, but to be indifferent or do damage. We want to be a healthy conduit for God’s living waters to flow through.

Report on the Elders’ retreat

The elders had a half-day retreat last weekend (Jan. 29th) at Ron and Tooty Dickey’s. Afterwards, spouses and kids joined us for dinner and some outdoor recreation. The following is an update about what we talked about from Ron Dickey, one of our elders.

Most of our time was spent in discussion and prayer on the first two chapters of the book ''Emotionally Healthy Spirituality". The premise of the book is that Christian spirituality without an integration of emotional health can be deadly -- to yourself, to your relationship with God and to the people around you. The iceberg model applies - 90% of what we are is invisible, with deep layers below the surface that remain untouched by Jesus Christ until there is a serious engagement with what the author calls "emotionally healthy spirituality".

Some of the symptoms of "emotionally unhealthy spirituality" (as given in the book and which we considered) are as follows:
  1. Ignoring our feelings and emotions such as anger, sadness, and fear: the author suggests that to the degree we are unable to express our emotions we remain impaired in our ability to love God, others, and ourselves.
  2. We often deny or do not understand the past impacts the present: gender roles; the handling of anger and conflict, and shame; our view of family, recreation, pleasure, sexuality, grieving; our relationship with friends… all have been shaped by our families of origin and our culture. The work of growing in Christ (sanctification) demands we look back in order to break free from unhealthy and destructive patterns that prevent us from loving ourselves and others as God designed.
  3. According to polls and sociologists: one of the greatest scandals of our day is that "evangelical Christians" are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered and sexually immoral as the world in general.
  4. Doing for God instead of being with God: work for God that is not nourished by a deeper interior life with God will eventually be contaminated by other things such as ego ,pride, power, needing approval and wrong ideas of success. The joy of Christ gradually disappears.
  5. Spiritualizing away conflict: the belief that sweeping disagreements under the rug is okay continues to be one of the most destructive myths alive in the church today. Out of a desire to bring true peace, Jesus disrupted the false peace all around him. He refused to spiritualize away conflict.
  6. Covering our brokenness, weakness, and failure: the Bible does not spin the weaknesses of its heroes. They all send the same message: that every human being on earth is weak, vulnerable, and dependent on God and others.
  7. Living without limits: burnout and despair are the common result. Any time we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.
  8. Judging other people’s spiritual journey: by failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we end up eliminating them in our minds, trying to make others like us, abandoning them altogether or falling into a ‘who cares?’ indifference towards them.
Desiring to grow individually and as a church body, and with our vision frame and 3Gs in mind (mainly to grow in acts of service), we considered how the above points might apply to us. We asked ourselves the following questions:
  • How are we doing and how well equipped are we to handle the many messy issues that come up in peoples’ lives?
  • What outside agencies should we ask to help us?
  • Do we provide an environment where people are not ashamed to discuss openly their problems with church leadership or in small groups?
  • Are we being open in the pulpit, and with the agencies and people we invite to speak to us?
  • We all look for accolades. Do we look to hand them out when possible?
We desire to do our best for God: to do Sunday services well, to teach our children and youth well, to have healthy small groups, but we still can not be all things to all people. Pray that we may see clearly where He is leading us and in faith to follow Him.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact