Sunday, June 26, 2011

Touching Base! Part 131

Guest posting by Fred Grendel

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder 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 at Bethel, the fruit of the Spirit called Joy, was taught in our Punch Series. This should leave us with lots to talk about in our small groups and over coffee.

It seems like a strange deal, we all want joy from the Holy Spirit but in order to get it we have to give of ourselves to God. There is no “I” in “joy”. As I studied “joy” this week and met people in coffee shops, I personally made some new discoveries:

  • The definition of the root Greek word “chara” (joy) says nothing about being able to feel joy. Pastor Mark and I were having coffee at Coffeeco by the church (our 2nd office!) this past week, and I used the word “joy” in describing how I felt in a given situation. Mark caught me and said I was using the wrong word, if I was talking about the fruit of the spirit called joy (thank you Lord that I still had more time to study the word before preaching!)

  • One of the next coffee appointments I found myself in was with Tom Desloges, this time at Starbucks next to Chapters in the west end. I asked Tom what joy was, and I liked what he said too: “It’s a state of being.” This resonated with me because, no matter what situation Christ- followers find themselves in, they can be joyful!

  • Then, I was at a prayer meeting called “City-wide prayer”. This is a group of Kingston ministry leaders who meet once a week to pray into kingdom issues. This week we had a representative from “Voice of the Martyrs”. This gentleman described situations that are beyond our sheltered Christian imaginations and one in particular stuck: there is a group now persecuting Christians by placing them in cargo storage containers in the middle of hot climates, where they essentially fry to death. I just had to pause from writing as the horror of this event happening began to hit my emotions. Can these martyrs experience joy in this situation? Yes, they can and we should pray that they do (if you would like to learn more about the persecution of Christians consider subscribing to “The Voice of the Martyrs” at

  • Lastly, I was in Tim Hortons this week at the corner of Sydenham Rd. and Princess, having coffee with my wife Amy and discussing plans for our Constance Lake Trip. We are both very passionate and excited about the trip, but there is stress in planning a trip for such a large group (32!) so I asked myself the question, am I going to allow this stress to take away my joy? Stress can take away good emotions and replace them with negative ones, but it does not need to take away our state of being, rooted in the Lordship of Christ.

But let’s admit it, we all have hard hours, days, and weeks, and we do lose our joy. Beth Moore states five things that can take away our joy, none of which will surprise you because you have experienced them all I am sure:

1. When our output exceeds our intake
2. When we have just come through a spiritual victory
3. When our talk and walk are out of alignment
4. When we are exhausted
5. When we feel alone

Discuss in your small groups this week or over coffee with a friend:

  • Am I achieving balance between my output and my input?
  • Have I experienced spiritual victory? If so, am I guarded against spiritual attack?
  • Am I fulfilling my verbal commitments? Am I walking my talk?
  • Am I getting enough rest and taking enough time off each week to rest?
  • Do I feel lonely? Do I have the support I need in my spiritual walk?
The last portion of Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Not only does joy come from God, so does our strength, in fact they work hand-in-hand.

I used to believe that my all strength came from my physical body, but although taking care of our bodies and getting enough rest is scriptural, our real strength must come from the joy of the Lord!

What are you facing this week that you need strength and joy for?

One of the many points of Sunday’s message was that Jesus wants Lordship (control) in our lives, and the more Lordship we give him, the more the fruit of joy will grow in our lives! But we all struggle with Lordship issues. In the list below circle the issue(s) that you have the most trouble giving Jesus Lordship and discuss with your group or over coffee why this is difficult for you:

  • My mind, my attitudes and mental health
  • My body and physical health
  • My spirit and my worship
  • My family and relationships
  • My sexuality and its expression
  • My work and service to God
  • My material goods and needs
  • My finances
  • My emotions and reactions
  • My will and decisions
  • My manner and time of death
Consider praying through and into this list giving Jesus Lordship (and allow the fruit of the Spirit, joy, to grow in you!) Have a joy-filled week and maybe I will see you at your favourite coffee shop!


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Touching Base! Part 130

If Walls Could Talk, What Would They Tell Us?

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder 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.

At Bethel we encourage people to P.I.E. each other (Pursue, Include, Engage). Great questions can lead to great dialogue and solid relationship-building. Here is a great question to ask (although I am not sure Sunday morning is the time or place), What are you recovering from?
If you think about it we are all recovering from something…

… a recent death
… rejection
… addiction
… personal and private
… an exhausting week
… a heated argument with spouse
… a major confrontation with kids
… financial disappointment
… a difficult season with the team
… heartbreaking news
… sleepless nights

This kind of question probably needs to be asked in a more private context, because you never know what the person may unload. What are you recovering from?

On Sunday we talked about how love is a key ingredient in developing healthy communities so that people can experience recovery. We looked at the first trait – love – that Paul lists in the fruit of the Spirit. Our key text was Galatians 5:13-15.

Text Gal 5:13-15
The question was, “how can I start loving?”

1. Stop indulging the flesh (v.13a)

While the Galatians (Gentiles) were free from the law (no need to be circumcised, to become Jewish etc.), they were not free to do whatever (this was talked about on June 5th). Paul admonished them not to indulge the sinful nature (better known as the flesh). The flesh represented those things that are contrary to the things of the Spirit.

Indulge” was a military term used to refer to the base of operations. Paul is saying don`t allow your freedom to give your flesh a base of operations in your life. If you need a reminder of how opposite the flesh is to the Spirit, just read 5:19-26. What is your most tempting context in life these days to indulge the sinful nature? Ask that of the Galatians and they may tell you the CHURCH! In fact their story might not be terribly different than ours.

Think of a church building… the church you are from, this building (Bethel). Have any memories of indulging the sinful nature i.e. a brutal conversation, a mean-spirited rebuttal, a cold-as-ice response? Maybe within these walls, or maybe within the walls of another church building? If church walls could speak, how many stories of indulging the sinful nature could they tell? Would they conclude that we have been living by the Spirit, or perhaps indulging the sinful nature? Would the walls know we are Christians by our love?

Note in our context in v.15, the progressive use of three verbs - bite, devour, destroy. What does this sound like to you? Sounds like cannibalism to me. The ancients (especially in the Old Testament and Jewish sources, e.g., Prov. 30:14) used the metaphor of being eaten by others as a grotesque description of a horrible fate or inconceivable wickedness. Paul is making his point - Stop indulging the sinful nature! What is happening is grotesque, a shame to the name of Jesus and hindering the witness of the church. Who is recovering in this kind of context? No one! In this context you leave the church just to get healthy!

Here is a little exercise. Seeing that we can all be guilty of “cannibalism” at times, ask someone you trust the following questions:
  • Who am I biting?
  • Who am I sharp with?
  • Who am I devouring?
  • Is there anybody who can’t stand to be around me because of how I slice and dice them up all the time?
  • Who am I consuming?
  • Do I need to go back and ask for forgiveness because my words and actions maimed a believer?
  • Do I exhibit unhealthy relational patterns that destroy healthy community?
  • Spouses, roommates, best friends, small group participants
(Ask these questions of each other.)

How do I start loving?

2. Start serving in love (v.13b)

Note the contrast of love vs. cannibalism. In cannibalism, it is all about satisfying my appetite, satisfying what my sinful nature wants to do. I am the focus, I am the center, indulging myself at the expense of others. But in serving others, the whole orientation changes:

Serve - refers to bondage, slavery. Paul is not saying we are in slavery to each other, but he is saying that we are like a slave. We need to be thinking about how to serve, how to better the lives of those around us.

Love - refers to goodwill towards others.

Here are some observations about serving one another:

a. We need to do the right thing in the right way.

Love is the adverb that describes the action of serving. In other words, Paul is saying it is not enough to do the right thing - in this case, serving - but we must do it in the right way, with the right heart - love.

Imagine if God said, “See that person you have been biting, devouring and consuming? I want you to go over there and serve them by greeting them, welcoming them.” So you do it- painful but you do it.

Now God says- “Repeat the action but do it with a loving attitude” See how it goes deeper? See how the Christian life is about living by the Spirit? The fruit of the Spirit drives us to depend on the Spirit to exhibit these traits.

How often would church walls speak and say, “Yeah they did the right thing but in the wrong way!” What is the hardest thing to do in the right way in your life these days?

b. He is in you to love.

Where is the Spirit in relation to the believer? Romans 8:9 makes it pretty clear that the Spirit is in us. He resides in the heart of the believer. Seeing that love is one of the traits of the fruit of the Spirit who is in you, then He is in you to love. The Holy Spirit desires His love to flow through you. Check out Romans 5:5, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Therefore, if you are not serving others in love, you are grieving the Spirit Who is in you. You are hindering a gift He has given you. What are potential “love-flowing blockages”? Start by looking at the acts of the sinful nature listed in v.19-21 and think about how some or all of these may block love from flowing. Keeping in step with the Spirit (v.16) means asking these kinds of questions and doing something by His power regarding the answers.

C.S. Lewis once reminded his listeners and readers that forgiveness was a lovely idea… until you had someone or something to forgive. The same applies to loving others. Loving others is a great idea… until the someone you are to love is a someone you don’t like. This is why challenging relationships are a great tool God uses to show us the stuff we have blocking our love flow!

c. While love is not the only fruit of the Spirit, it is the most important.

Note Romans 13:8-10, then note Galatians 5:14. How can you summarize the law with love? Here is a good quote that will help answer that question: “Every commandment is governed by love, comes out of the spirit of love and only states what love will do.” (Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher). Thus when I choose to walk in love by the power of the Spirit I am going to walk in God’s truth, live as Jesus did, reflect the heart, nature and character of God. The ultimate expression of God’s love was in sending Christ. It is only as I live by the Spirit that I can demonstrate this kind of radical self sacrificing love.

d. People are dying for community.

In Paul’s day the Galatians were in desperate need for healthy community. If they kept going the way they were going, they would be destroyed. Let me close with a great quote from Jim Martin. As you read it, be reminded of the fact that one of the greatest gifts we can give to the city is community, a community where they can experience recovery, and it starts with meeting Jesus.

“I really believe that the next generation is looking for genuine fellowship. Between an individual person and another. In families. In clusters of people. For many of them, fellowship is not something lost. Rather, it has never existed in their experience. For many of them, it may have never existed in their family of origin nor have they been able to observe it in families of their peers. One challenge for churches is going to be to really see/care about this generation and be willing to adjust, mentor, and provide both models and the experience of some kind of authentic fellowship.”

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Touching Base! Part 129

God Wants Spiritual Fruit, Not Religious Nuts!

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder 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.

Imagine a world - or let’s make it more specific - a church, a family, a marriage, a team, a friendship… where the following traits were practiced - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
What might be the most significant change you would see?

This Sunday we started our summer series entitled “Punch!” We are going to be looking at the nine traits listed in Galatians 5:22, 23 over the summer. Paul calls these “the fruit of the Spirit”. In this introduction to the series we looked at two key words in v.16a.

“Spirit” - these nine traits are the result of divine enablement

We looked at the word “Spirit” first because it is only when we understand the necessity of the Spirit that we will be motivated to live the way we should - by the Spirit.

Paul is driving home the point to his opposition that the primary way a person is transformed is not by law-keeping but first and foremost by the power of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Without an encounter with the Holy Spirit, we might exhibit good behaviour at times but fall far short of being transformed to the core of who we are. Just keeping the law will not result in the kind of change God desires in us. The ultimate goal is that Christ is formed in us (4:19). Paul is saying that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about that kind of transformation.

Talk for a moment about the difference between being good vs. being truly transformed. I think one distinction is between behaviour and heart.

There is another reason why Paul focuses in on the Spirit. He realizes that there is tremendous opposition to our makeover. And it is opposition that will only be trumped by the work of the Spirit. Note in v.16 the opposition. Note in v.16 and 17 some key words:

  • Sinful nature” - “The Scriptures are filled with statements of the corruption of many aspects of man’s nature. His intellect (2 Cor 4:4; Rom 1:28), his conscience (1 Tim 4:2), his will (Rom 1:28), his heart (Eph 4:18), and his total being (Rom 1:18–3:20) have been corrupted. This is the doctrine of total depravity. Total depravity does not mean that everyone is as thoroughly depraved in his actions as he could possibly be, nor that everyone will indulge in every form of sin, nor that a person cannot appreciate and even do acts of goodness; but it does mean that the corruption of sin extends to all men and to all parts of all men so that there is nothing within the natural man that can give him merit in God’s sight.” (Ryrie, C. C. (1995). A survey of Bible doctrine. Chicago: Moody Press.)
  • Contrary” - literally means to face towards
  • Conflict” - to be hostile
Paul knew mankind needed open heart surgery, not just an aspirin. The depth of brokenness demands the Holy Spirit!

This is why, for example, when you look at the fruit you can grade them, because you personally experience this conflict.

Examine the list of nine traits listed above and ask the following questions:
  • What person in your life greatly challenges you living out one of these traits? Who is your love buster? Who turns your gentleness into a hammer? Who tries your patience? Who would you say is undeserving of your kindness?
  • As you look at the past 7 days- where did you excel? Fail?
  • In general what one trait is most missing in the body of Christ?
“Live” - these nine traits are the product of daily choices.

The word “live” means to walk, to conduct one’s life, to regulate or imitate. In the original Greek it is in the imperative and in the present tense, pointing to a continuous action. Both the command and continuous action demonstrate the necessity of living by the Spirit. When you put the Spirit (God’s part) and live (our part) together as Paul does, we realize that this represents a joint venture where God is clearly the Head.

On Sunday I used the imagery of a rowboat, a raft and a sailboat to illustrate this “joint venture” that Paul is talking about in v.16a:

  • The rowboat - the propulsion of a rowboat requires someone in the boat to pick up the two oars and put a significant amount of effort into moving the boat through the water. Without that person rowing, the boat will go nowhere.
  • The raft - the raft requires no effort at all from its passengers. They can sit and do nothing, while the waves propel the vessel along. Unfortunately, since the raft lacks any effective means of being steered, its passengers find themselves completely at the mercy of the waves, going in whatever random direction in which the waves lead.
  • The sailboat - unlike the two above vessels, the sailboat relies on both the force of the wind and the skill of its pilot for successful navigation. The pilot supplies no power at all to propel the vessel forward. That comes from the wind. But if the pilot does not hoist the sails and position them properly, that readily-available wind will never be harnessed to steer the vessel’s chosen course.
Take some time to talk about the imagery of these three vessels. What do you tend to default to? What questions come to mind when you think of the sailboat analogy? What practical steps have you taken over the years to “hoist the sails”?

Paul is clearly showing that the fruit is the by-product of God’s divine work in our lives and of our proper daily choices.

Let me encourage you over the next several weeks of this series to pray through each of these nine traits, asking God to further mature these traits in your life. Let us remember that Christ modeled each of these traits perfectly.

Love - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)

Joy - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2)

Peace - "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given... and his name will be called, 'Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace [sa shalom]'" (Is. 9.6)

Patience - “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Tim 1:16)

Kindness - Seen in the kinds of people Jesus interacted with, people culture had marginalized - women, Samaritans, lepers, children, demonized, tax collectors, the crippled

Goodness - “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10,11)

Gentleness - “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:29)

Faithfulness - “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:44)

Self Control - “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Touching Base! Part 128

Stand Firm!

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder 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 talked about “freedom”. It is interesting how some people are afraid to come to Christ because they don’t want to lose their freedom. Yet in our text today, “freedom” is exactly what Christ desires to give us.

The following are some definitions of freedom. If you are in a group take some time to discuss these definitions. Which ones really resonate with you?

  • Freedom means that I can do whatever I want.
  • “True freedom is where an individual's thoughts and actions are in alignment with that which is true, correct, and of honor - no matter the personal price.” Bryant H. McGill
  • Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
  • Freedom is to be all that God wants you to be, free to move fully into the purposes of God, free to experience the full riches of His truth permeating your life.
  • “Real freedom is not the external freedom to gratify every appetite: it is the internal freedom not to be enslaved by our appetites, to have a place to stand so that we are not mastered by them. For we are something more than a stomach, a mouth, and a pair of eyes” John Ortberg, The Me I Want To Be
  • Freedom happens at salvation but continues as God cleans us up.

If you have time, scan through the book of Galatians and list all the issues that Christ desires to give us freedom on.

Text: Galatians 5:1-12
You will notice in our text when it comes to freedom we have a problem. We are clued in to this problem by the words - “stand firm”. This means to be persistent, be smart, be alert, don’t take your position of freedom for granted. We live in a world filled with pickpockets that want to steal/compromise our freedom. The question we looked at on Sunday was, how does this pickpocket attempt to steal/compromise our freedom?

1. He attempts to put a yoke on us (v.1b)
A yoke was a wooden frame harnessing two animals. Metaphorically in scripture, the yoke often represented bondage, affliction and subjection. In the original context, it was the law as a means of salvation that the Judaizers were attempting to put on the Gentiles. They said the law was a necessary means of salvation. However, note how Paul describes this yoke – “burden”. The word means hostility, or to ensnare. Notice in v.2-6 how Paul is trying to convince them not to being burdened by this yoke.

I don’t believe v.5 is referring to the issue of losing your salvation but rather Paul is talking about not wanting these believers to relate to God out of law because that will alienate them from Christ, or grieve the Spirit. We can do all kinds of things in our walk with God that hinders that relationship. Notice Paul’s admonition in this whole chapter is not to get saved again but to stand firm (v.1), and keep in step with the Spirit (5:16).

Perhaps the lesson of the yoke is that it demonstrates how vulnerable we are to lies and deception that ultimately end up sabotaging our walk with God. Their vulnerability is prompting Paul to admonish them and strongly say in v.2, “Mark my words!”

Questions to Ponder
  • Have you ever thought a particular activity would bring you great reward but instead brought scares and regret?
  • Have you ever envied other peoples’ so-called freedom on issues, only to try it out and realize you should have read the small print?
  • Ever woken up the next morning feeling like a yoke is around your neck?
  • Ever misjudged, miscalculated or overestimated and ended up going somewhere you never intended?
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
2. He places a runner beside us (v.7,8)
Notice that it is a runner, not a walker. Running in Scripture often illustrated the battle or intensity of faith. What do you note about this runner? How did they start out? How were they finishing? How comfortable is it to have someone running alongside you trying to talk to you, even persuade you not to finish when you are trying to stay focused?

The picture Paul is painting is one of distraction, interruption, disturbance and battle.

Perhaps the lesson of the runner (picture of spiritual battle) shows us that we can get worn down to the point that we might think we are the ones that are insane/wrong in our convictions.

  • Think of the person who lives in an environment where they are in the minority as a Christ follower.
  • Think of a spouse in a marriage where the other is not a Christian- going solo can wear you down.
  • Think of a student heading off to school - finds herself isolated, alone – wondering, “am I nuts?” Getting worn down.
  • Are you in an environment that is wearing your faith down, chiseling away at your faith, poking, distracting, harassing? What are you doing to counter that?

3. He deposits a little yeast in us (v.9)
Yeast, as many of us know, represented corruption and evil. What do you note about the quantity of yeast? What do you note about the impact of this yeast?

Perhaps the lesson of the yeast is that it just takes a little, a small step, a mini decision, a small compromise to blow open a massive hole in our souls.

Some of our biggest problems started out as small conversations in our heads, one quick glance, one sip, one … Just a little yeast! This is why nipping things in the bud is so important.

  • What might be attempting to rob you of your freedom, distort your relationship with God possibly is not yelling at you but just whispering, subtle, gentle, showing up every so often.
  • Got any subtle conversations happening in your head these days? Any whispers?
Note how Paul sarcastically finishes this section v.10-12. Can you blame him for telling these guys to castrate themselves? Cutting remarks! Remember the imagery of Paul being like a mother in 4:19. What mama bear wouldn’t come to the defense of her cubs?

Take some time to pray for each other regarding the lesson of the yoke, runner and yeast. Also pray for those who come to mind when thinking about how the pick pocket desires to steal our freedom.

Stand Firm!

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact