THIS SUNDAY, 3/11
- Set your clocks ahead one hour!
- Sammy continues Part 2 of a 3 part series on our journey to the Promised Land.
MAPS & LISTS
It is our desire to keep Sammy’s plea before you. In every gospel, as well as in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus commands us to share our faith. It’s a command, not a suggestion.
Keep in mind your “maps” (the biblical word is ‘oikos’, meaning ‘family’ or ‘household’) i.e. those demographics of relationships with which the Lord has entrusted you. This could be family, people at work, school, recreation, the grocery store, etc. Then, ask God to lay specific names on your heart that need to hear about Christ. And, the following counsel by Sean McDowell is worth sharing: Always talk to Jesus about people before you talk to people about Jesus.
“IN WAY OF REMINDER…”
Both Paul & Peter use the phrase, “in way of reminder.” It’s been a while since I included the following fundamentals for Small Group/Sunday School Leaders. This list is not exhaustive. But, looking back from the perspective of now 38 years in vocational ministry, I would’ve been so very grateful if someone would’ve said, “Nick, here are some biblical basics for shepherding sheep in a way that honors God. Hold tightly to them.”
- You can’t give what you don’t have. Be faithful and disciplined in your own spiritual growth via daily devotional time involving biblical study, prayer, scripture memory, and meditation – even if its just for a few minutes. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (emphasis mine) Even Jesus withdrew often to pray and spend quiet time with the Father. Additionally, you’ve, no doubt, heard, “What’s in the well comes up in the bucket.” If your “well is ever dry” and you need a break/sabbath, let me know.
- Take your role as seriously as God does. James, the half-brother of Jesus, gave this warning: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Be a disciplined and responsible student of scripture. Study context. Prepare systematically. Pray fervently. Think deeply. Take the time to think and work through hard passages. When you stop learning, you stop leading. On a practical level, one theologian offered the following in regard to studying a passage of scripture: “If we can know the author, the audience, and the purpose the author had in mind, this goes a long way in understanding what God is saying to us in that passage.” (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15)
- Know why you believe what you believe. In Peter’s first letter we find this: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason (a logical defense) for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ Why was it a priority for Peter to include this? Because Peter was writing this letter during the oppressive reign of the psychopath, Nero. Christians everywhere were terrified of being tortured and executed for their faith. Yet, persecution, as it commonly does, birthed boldness and courage in Jesus’ followers. Peter was saying, “Keep this in mind as you tell people about Jesus: people need to know we’re not offering them some half-baked pseudo-religion, as offered by the Roman pantheon of gods. Be prepared to tell people why Christianity is by faith, but not blind faith. These are dark times. People need to know what we believe is real.” Translation to modernity: “People need to know why the biblical Christian faith is more reasonable – why it makes more sense of reality – than Buddhism, Mormonism, Islam, Post-Modernism, etc.”
- Lead with love. Jesus said, “By this all will know if you follow me, if you love one another.” Later in the same discourse, he said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.“ Your class may not always remember what you taught them, but they will always remember how you treated them. I read a poll once asking over 3000 people why they chose to return to a particular church. Number one answer? “Because I felt loved.”
- Lead by serving. Jesus said – and modeled – “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” Sheep are led, not driven. Be on time for your class. Always show up prepared for your class. Our listeners can smell “winging it” a mile away.
- Regularly share the gospel with your class for two reasons. (1) Never assume everyone who attends is a Christian, and (2) it will remind and equip your class to share their faith as well.
WEB SITE UPDATES
Would you do me the favor of checking our web site and making certain all information related to your class is correct? If it isn’t, please email or call with current information and I will update. View our Small Group Leadership page here.
A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning: John 15 – What does ‘abide in the vine’ mean?
FYI, the remaining Wed. evening schedule:
- 3/17 – No Activities the week of Spring Break
- 3/24 – John 16-17 – Final words of encouragement for the disciples; The actual Lord’s Prayer
- 3/31 – John 18-19 – Medical Account of the Crucifixion of Christ
- 4/7 – John 20 – the Resurrection of Christ; Thomas’ doubt (is it ok to doubt our faith?)
- 4/14 – John 21 – Breakfast with Jesus; Feed my sheep.
This past Wednesday we continued to peek over the shoulders of Jesus and his disciples as Jesus was saying the last things he wanted them to hear before his death.
In the opening verses of chapter 15, Jesus uses the word “abide/remain” ten times. Think he’s trying to get a point across?
The Greek word translated “remain” means to “stay around.” Sounds simple, right? But, it’s believers’ misunderstanding – or disregard altogether – of this biblical principle that has produced, in large part, the impotence of modern North American Christianity.
Throughout my years in youth ministry, a common call I received was from a parent lamenting their estranged relationship with their teen. “We’ve grown so far apart,” they would share. I would recommend we all meet together. The tension in the room was palpable, representing a light-year-wide-gap between the parent and the teen. All evidence of intimacy was gone.
What is critical to understand is that this relational ‘parting of the ways’ didn’t happen over night. It was a slow burn. Then – one day the parent and/or child wakes up only to find they no longer feel like they know their child, and vice versa. My role was always driven by a singular goal: help them restore intimacy.
This is a perfect picture of the lost intimacy between God and his children. We’re busy, in a rush, irritated, distracted, so on and so on. And, in many instances, we’re just not that interested in God anymore i.e. “Why make my relationship with God a priority? Life seems pretty darn good without him.”
In the opening statements of John 15, Jesus is saying, “Can you imagine how foolish it would be for you to cut a branch off a tree and then water and fertilize the branch? Yet, this is precisely the imagery of when you disconnect/unplug from me. It’s only a matter of time until your failing spiritual health (manifested in your words and actions) dies.”
“Our love relationship with God is more important than any other single factor in your life. Everything in your Christian life, everything about knowing Him and experiencing Him, everything about knowing His will, depends on the quality of your love relationship to God.”
Abide in Christ. Daily.
THE 7 LAWS OF THE LEARNER: Becoming Better Teachers
Mark your calendars for Sun. evening, 4/18, at 5pm, Rm. 108, when we will come together to sharpen our teaching and shepherding skills. This is for all Small Group Leadership, both Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. The ‘7 Laws’ are the kind of tools every leader wants in their ‘toolbox.” Should you need childcare please let me know.
DATES, INFO & MINISTRY NEEDS
- 3/28 – 5pm; Town Hall Discussion regarding 2021-2022 church budget.
- 3/31 – 6:30pm; Budget Vote only; no discussion
- 4/4 – Easter Sunday; regular schedule except we’re adding an 8am worship service to accommodate the larger Easter crowd.
- VBS; new schedule and concept – Once again, Dana Kluzek is on the cutting edge of creativity and ministry efficiency. This year, VBS will take place on successive Wed. evenings in June: 6/2, 6/9, 6/16, 6/23, and 6/30. Each evening will begin with a simple meal in the FLC. Dana has asked for classes to consider providing one of those meals. Also, if you are interested in serving as a VBS volunteer contact Dana.
- Youth Camp – June 7-12; Lone Tree Bible Ranch; Capitan, NM.
Next week I will be preaching an atypical revival in McKinney, TX. By ‘atypical’, I mean two things: (1) Rather than being sponsored by a single church, this is a multi-church outcry for revival. It has been quite humbling to watch the progress of spiritual preparation by the people. And, (2) rather than being held in a church, it’s being held in an outdoor amphitheater. I do not feel adequate. Please pray that I will know how to get out of the way so that God can release fresh wind and fresh fire.
QUOTE(s) of the WEEK
The cross of Christ is “the stillpoint in a turning world. Everything before leads up to it. Everything that follows flows from it. It is the climax of the story, the centerpiece of the whole drama.” – T.S. Eliot
“In prosperity, our friends know us. In adversity, we know our friends.” – G.K. Chesterton
LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE
This week’s entry falls not under the category of ‘laughter’ as much as it does under the category of ‘holy mackerel that’s cool!’ When I first saw this picture it took me a minute. But, when I saw it, I was blown away.
SOUL FOOD: Marriage is Hard (but worth the work)
Marriage has been cheapened over the years, most couples choosing to live together to see how it works out. One person asked me, “What good is a piece of paper?”, referring to a marriage license. But I submit to you that biblical marriage matters. And, for those of us with a spouse, it’s worth the effort to keep our marriage healthy. Read the blog here.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick