Friday, September 23, 2011

Touching Base! Part 142

Wherever You Are, Someone's Been There

(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 past Sunday we looked at how Lordship Has Its Rivals. In other words, it may be our desire to put Christ first but we live in a world vying for that top spot. As a group, make a list of issues that either you see in your life or others that can really rival Christ being number 1.

The Text - Genesis 4:19-24
Read the entire chapter to get a sense of the context. The character we looked at was Lamech, representing the seventh generation from Adam and Eve. In the NIV, his story is only 107 words long but unfortunately his story will be repeated time and time again throughout scripture. If anyone is currently struggling with Lordship then they can be guaranteed they are not alone. Lamech has been there. “Been there, done that!” would be his comment. To say he struggled might be an understatement. It seems like he allowed the world to swallow him up.

What are the indicators showing Lamech is bowing to the rivals?

• He moved a fence (v.19) (he adjusted the truth)

G.K. Chesterton once said “If you move a fence you should pause to ask why it was put there to begin with.”
We seem to live in a world that loves moving fences and asking questions later. We pull up the posts of God’s truth and move them to where we think they should be. Anyone reading Lamech’s story should immediately notice the fence-moving that is going on here. Gen. 2 makes it very clear that marriage is not only between a man and a woman, but between one man and one woman. Lamech, for whatever reason, is the first recorded fence mover in this area.

What fences are being moved today?

What makes this particular fence interesting is that, for the most part, God does not seem to openly condemn polygamy in the Old Testament outside of Genesis 2. But the New Testament makes it pretty clear that polygamy is not part of the created order.

In the Old Testament it seems that God’s plan is to allow men and women discover by experience that his original institution of monogamy was the proper relationship. It is shown that polygamy brings trouble, and often results in sin, e.g. Abraham (Gen. 21); Gideon (Jdg. 8:29–9:57); David (2 Sam. 11; 13); Solomon (1 Ki. 11:1–8). Family jealousies arise from it, (1 Sam. 1:6; cf. Lev. 18:18).

In other words, sometimes the school of hard knocks, not another lecture, can serve as the greatest teacher. Agree?

Read what J.D. Unwin has to say about this fence post:
“Based on his extensive studies of both ancient and modern civilizations, the British anthropologist J.D. Unwin concluded that the whole of human history does not provide a single example of a society that achieved and consistently maintained a high level of culture without adopting heterosexual monogamy as the standard for marriage and family life. Societies that adopted more permissive sexual practices entered into periods of decline in art, science, religion and military power. The “track record of history” has confirmed the wisdom of the moral standards revealed not only to believers in Scripture, but to all peoples, through general revelation.” (In Evangelical Ethics, p. 12)

What fences in your estimation have been moved in our culture and are causing the greatest damage?

As a parent or friend, isn’t it tough to bite your tongue and, instead of preaching at them, let them move a fence? When have you thought it was better to shut up versus speak up? It might kill you to do this, but sometimes it’s the best thing to do. Nose bleeds are sometimes the best incentives for repentance.

Has a friend or parent ever allowed you to experience a bit of the pain of moving a fence?

Does allowing one to walk down the “fence adjustment road” always result in repentance?

Is it possible that these days, God is allowing you to move a fence and experience the consequences of doing that?

• He got intoxicated on..... (v.20-22) (ambition)

The mention of these kids and what they are known for is interesting in the development of culture: seemingly affluent, innovative, advancing, progressive, cutting edge. The Bible and archaeology point to the domestication of livestock, the development of music, and the invention of tools. BUT when you look at the bigger context of this chapter something smells.

Dr. Criswell said, “Man has learned to fly through the air like an Eagle; bore through the earth like a mole; and swim through the oceans like a fish; but has never learned to walk on the earth like the human being God intended him to be.” The image of God in us enables us to build great civilizations, but the sin in us causes us to tear it down.

Note the flow of this chapter. It starts out with a great birth announcement but things go south pretty fast. Note that the two main stories involve murder. You get to the end of the chapter and people are crying out to God. The only hope is found in another birth announcement - Seth. He would be in the genealogy of Jesus, our much-needed Saviour.

My understanding of Lamech is that he got intoxicated on ambition. Ambition is great, and societal advances as mentioned in this story are awesome as well, but they can rival Christ’s Lordship in our lives.

How does this happen?
What does it look like?
What kinds of ambitions can challenge the Lordship issue in your life?

• He wrote and sang a song (v.23, 24) (arrogance and pride)

On Sunday I gave a possible song title. Have you got any creative titles for this song?
Read through this song and make some observations. Many believe this was in song form with three couplets.

What is he getting at?
He is demanding greater leniency than whom? (See v.15)
Note that God set the law for Cain, but Lamech set the law for Lamech.
Note also that God is talking to Cain, but Lamech is singing to his wives. There is no recorded conversation between Lamech and God. Mmmmmmh… wonder why?
Most commentators, when seeing this in context, see this as an arrogant, belligerent boast.
Some believe that his name means “powerful, boaster destroyer, wild man”.

What would the title of the song be for the person you are praying for? (ie Not Now God! Running Free! – I am sure you can be more creative)
What tunes are coming from your heart?
What does the music reveal about your posture before God?

Perhaps Lamech was where you are.

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Touching Base! Part 141

Rooted (Part 3)

(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.

Our vision at Bethel is to be RESPONDING TO THE HEART OF GOD; TRANSFORMING THE HEART OF THE CITY, THE NATION AND THE WORLD. This past Sunday we talked about unleashing unprecedented amounts of compassion in our city focus. We talked about our desire to establish deep roots in our third “G” focus as a church; Growing in Acts of Service.

If you are part of a small group talk about some of the great Christian ministries that are prayerfully attempting to touch the city.

On Sunday we talked about why this is such an important topic to Bethel.

a. For the sake of our witness

Those who study culture tell us that 50-60% of our culture is cynical towards the church. Cynics aren’t all that influenced by cool music, charismatic speakers or fancy buildings… they’re not all that interested in how attractive our Sunday worship is... what they are interested in whether we are willing to send people to heal their community.

Would you say 50-60% describes the culture in Kingston?

Know any cynics?

b. Because of our history

Many years ago people from this church had a vision: “On May 4, 1874 a group of 25 people gathered in a home to form the 2nd Congregational church to minister to a destitute and unevangelized part of the city.”

On Sunday I said that we are not a Queen’s church or an RMC church or St Lawrence church. We are not a seniors’ church, married couples’ church, or a church for those who like hard pews. Those are extremely narrow definitions. Rather we are a city church that encompasses all the various kinds of people and needs found in the heart of the city.

What are the dangers of defining a church with too narrow a focus (i.e. Bethel is a church for married people)?

How does calling Bethel a church for the city help in our focus?

c. Because of Scripture

We desire to be a Biblically-measured church. We believe biblically-measured churches look up (Growing in intimacy with God), look in (Growing in intimacy with others), and look out (Growing in acts of service).

In Matthew 9:35, 36 we see Jesus doing what he often did in the stories of the New Testament. He had compassion. To have compassion means to have pity, express mercy. The Latin root means “to bear, conscious of others’ distress with the desire to alleviate it”. In other words Jesus was wrecked by what he saw. It disturbed His world, it impacted His soul. The needs around Him touched Him deeply and moved Him to action. The greatest act of compassion was when He willingly went to the cross to bear our burden.

What are the contributing factors in our society that can make us see need yet be unaffected?
What in the past has moved you greatly when it comes to seeing the vulnerable in the city?
How do you determine who to help and who to not help? (Think city focus)

On Sunday we introduced our developing partnership with Salvation Army. We already partner with them with the Bethel Houses. We are now developing that partnership as we desire to deepen our roots in serving the city, particularly in the second poorest area of town.

“In 1666 Sir Isaac Newton observed that in all of art and nature, just three colors exist; red, yellow and blue. All other colors are derived from these three. We know them as primary colors. But amazing things happen when these three colors collide.”( Sweeney, A New Kind of Big, p.19)

When churches partner with organizations we believe incredible things can happen. Amazing colors of ministry can be birthed in the city.

Here are some questions as you think of ways you can serve:
  • If you are in a small group how could you join in on the partnership with Salvation Army?
  • Possibly your group is already involved with another organization we partner with. What can you do this fall to support that partnership?
  • What could you do as an individual?
  • How important is growing in acts of service to one’s own personal spiritual growth and health as a small group?
I encourage you to join us as we seek to deepen our roots and release unprecedented amounts of compassion into the city.


If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Touching Base! Part 140

Rooted (Part 2)

(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.

No doubt, there are a whole host of decisions you will be making in the next seven days. Some of them will be unexpected decisions. Others will be ones you are even now thinking about as you read this paragraph. At Bethel we believe that there are three extremely important decisions we always need to be making: Growing in Intimacy with God, Growing in Intimacy with Others and Growing in Acts of Service. Today’s Touching Base is focusing in on GO (Growing in Intimacy with Others).

For some, this is perhaps the toughest decision to make. Building healthy community might leave a bad taste in your mouth. It might remind you of a time when you finally decided to open up and then got burned, confidence was broken, sensitivity was tossed aside and you resolved to never trust again. From then on, you were on guard, distant with most, sceptical of many and jaded to say the least. Now that doesn’t describe everyone, but it certainly could describe some.

What might be some experiences that you have had that has made building community difficult?
Why is it that sometimes in the church, we might have a hard time deepening our roots in relationships?

Biblically Speaking.....
God’s word is pretty clear about the value and priority of our horizontal relationships. One of the key words in the NT is “koin”, a Greek root that means to participate in something. There are a number of words that are part of the “koin” family (adjectives, nouns and verbs) but all of them talk about participation, communion, and fellowship.

Connected with Christ
This Greek root word describes our relationship with Christ. Last week, we looked at this; we call it our “Growing in Intimacy with God” decision. God wants us to come to Him in faith and then pursue Him and deepen our roots. Check out last week’s TB for more on this. See Phil 1:7, 2 Peter 1:3,4, 2Cor 13:14.

Connected with each other.
The other relationship that this root describes is our connection with others. Acts 2:42 is a key text that talks about the early disciples not only committing themselves to grow deep in God, but to also grow deep in community. Because we share a common relationship with Christ, we are to commit to each other in all kinds of ways as we live out the values of Christ in the space He has called us to.

Now I know what some of you are saying, “This isn’t rocket science, I know this!” Yes, I hear you, but what seems so straightforward, is for many the toughest part of their faith to work out. Instead of being in community and developing deep roots with a few, they fail miserably at cultivating deep community. They equate “church” with attending, strange faces, and nice pleasantries but know nothing of the rich, life-giving community Christ has called us to. Unfortunately we live in a world where connectivity is at an all time high yet true community and relational depth is at an all time low.

You might be a senior, a student, married, a single non-student, male or female reading this TB. What are the greatest challenges you face this fall that could compromise you deepening or just starting to develop deep roots in community?

Let me talk about one “root buster” (things that can compromise or hinder deep-rooted communities) and challenge you to take this buster back to your existing groups, relationships or marriage and talk about it. You might find that the conversation helps your relationships go deeper.

Root buster – Fear… and the tunnel of chaos.
The reason some live in pseudo-community (vs. true community) is because of the fear that is involved in thinking about changing communities. We have already referenced some of that fear above.

“If community involves things such as knowing and being known, serving and being served, loving and being loved and celebrating and being celebrated then most relationships … are constantly devolving into pseudo-community. It’s the great temptation for small groups of people to slide into a state where they’re not quite telling each other the truth and they’re not quite celebrating each other. Instead they tolerate each other, they accommodate each other, and they settle for sitting on the unspoken matters that separate.” (Bill Hybels, Axioms p.101)

Isn’t that a terrible way to live? Yet if people think of three of their most significant relationships - spouse, family, close friends, there is a good chance that one or all three represent pseudo-community.

How do you move from unhealthy to healthy? One way is to be willing to enter into “the tunnel of chaos”.

The “tunnel of chaos” is a place of honesty, a place where the tough questions are asked and answered. It is a place where you dig down deep and say what maybe everyone has been thinking. It is a place where perhaps you make the first move. You go there because you are sick and tired of faking it, surface talk, skirting the issues and giving the answers everyone wants to hear. It is called “chaos” because it might feel like that for you personally at first and it might create some chaos as you decide to raise issues that have been buried or have never been spoken of. The tunnel of chaos is one of the ways we can break, or might I say, smash the ice, deepen roots and build some life giving community. It also can result in people fleeing to the hills, because some won’t want to engage at a heart level.

My bet is that you are part of at least one relationship where entering the tunnel of chaos would do your group or relationship a lot of good.

So if you lead small groups why not talk about the tunnel of chaos, draw it and have your group talk about how they can deepen community roots this fall.

If you are a leader of a ministry team, talk about the tunnel of chaos and how each and every person needs to have permission to jump into it when they need to. You will need to do this periodically to keep relationships healthy.
To all who attend Bethel, be sensitive to others in terms of how difficult it might be to do “community”, especially at first. Encourage, guide, instruct and contribute to others experiencing the deep rewards that come from deepening our roots in community.

Tim Kizziar said, “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” You can be guaranteed that one of the commitments in life that really matters is deepening our roots in community. You won’t come to the end of life regretting that you valued people and relationships - I guarantee that!

Next week we will look at the third big decision we need to be making as we seek to fulfill our vision of Responding to the Heart of God; Transforming the Heart of the City, the Nation and the World.

Talk to ya next week!

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Touching Base! Part 139

Rooted (Part 1)

(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 Touching Base is meant to be used as a tool to assist you in growing in intimacy with God. As a church it is our desire to respond to the heart of God, and transform the heart of the city, nation and world. While that is our corporate vision statement, it is also our desire that each individual who makes Bethel their home would grow deep roots in their relationship with God. It is out of a healthy, growing relationship that we can be used by God to bless the city, nation and world. I think most of us realize that the city, nation and world do not just need good human deeds (as great as they are), but a genuine encounter with the power of God to truly experience transformation.

How we deepen our roots could be illustrated several different ways. However, on Sunday we looked at David’s prayer in Psalm 139:23, 24 and answered the question, “What is the language of a heart desiring deeper roots with God?”

Psalm 139:23,24
Search me, God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and
Lead me in the way everlasting.

Why not take a moment and memorize this prayer, not as some sort of “magical prayer”, but a means of expressing your desire to grow deep roots with God.

Search means ”to discover, probe, to be laid bare”. I think David is saying “God, you have the right to frisk me! Check my pockets, my whole being, what I have and who I am is all yours.” The heart which is the object of the search is just that, the inner man, the whole person.

Note in this chapter how David says in v.1 that God has already searched him. Of course God knows all that is in David’s heart. That is part of being God. In v.23, David makes it known that he will not resist the search, but will in fact welcome it.

  1. Take a moment and read through Psalm 139 and note all that God knows about David, and thus about you and me.
  2. Tell God that you not only acknowledge that He knows everything about you, but that you welcome His intimate knowledge of your heart.

Note that the verb changes from search to test and the object changes from heart to anxious thoughts. Anxious means “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs” (such as sweating, tension, and increased pulse). David’s life is causing some heart palpitations. What we can take from this was that there was some kind of situation in his life that was causing his heart to race. Perhaps v.19 clues us in to some of what David was facing. Notice the verb - test. This is a word that in the ancient world referred to the process in which crude metal was customarily re-melted to remove impurities and to make metal castings (tools, weapons, images, etc.). The metal was heated in pottery crucibles (Pr. 17:3; 27:21) in ovens or hearths, bellows often being used to provide a current of air to create greater heat. This imagery is used of God whose desire is to purify our hearts, removing any dross or alloy that would contaminate them. In other words, sometimes trying situations or difficult times can deposit things in our heart that are like impurities that don’t deepen our roots with God, but compromise them. Thus the next verb makes a lot of sense.

... if there is any offensive way in me. Sometimes we can go through trying situations, and our hearts get all messed up. Dross and alloys attach themselves.

  1. Think about current situations that you are walking through. Has that situation or that anxiety caused your heart to be compromised? List some of the trying situations.
  2. Take some time to ask God to test your heart. Is there anything in your heart that is compromising your relationship with God, preventing you from developing deepening roots? You may need to take some time to acknowledge the wrong, the issue that is grieving God.

Note the contrast, the offensive way vs. the way everlasting. The offensive way is filled with things that lead us into a dead end in our relationship with God by killing the root system. The way everlasting can refer to a prolonged life. God’s way, His truth, is life… is healing… is hope… is freedom!

  1. What do you need God to lead you away from? ( i.e. attitude, person, circumstance, belief system)
  2. What do you need God to lead you towards? ( i.e. His word, healthy community, forgiveness, purity, freedom)
  3. As you think about the answer to these questions, pray and ask God for his empowerment. Who can you talk to about these issues? We are always stronger in community.

Note that each of these verbs requires humility on the part of the person praying. Search, test, see and lead come from the lips of a person who has stepped aside, bowed in worship, and acknowledged the King. Humility and deep roots walk hand-in-hand.

  1. Pray that God would give you the humility you need to allow God to do a deeper work in your life.
  2. Each morning as you rise, why not take some time to pray this prayer back to God. Some love to journal so they can keep track of how God is shaping their hearts.

Next week we will be looking at growing in intimacy with others. We want to be a people deeply rooted in God and deeply rooted in community.

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact