Train to Live on Mission – Week 13

Battle Drill #13:

Iron Sharpens Iron: Biblical Friendship

 

Today is a cool day for a lot of reasons- it was 20 years ago, in May 2002, that I accepted the job as the youth pastor here at FBC, moved to NC, and started out as a young person in her first full-time ministry role. Also it was 18 years ago today, May 8 2004 that I married Daniel who I met at this church. I’m really thankful for the way FBC has been supporting Daniel and me in ministry for years, and I’m so grateful to be able to live out God’s calling on my life in ministry while still being firmly rooted here in our local church- that’s a blessing! Thank you for supporting and encouraging us to keep following God’s leading.

 

Even though my full-time ministry is outside these four walls, it’s an honor for me to have the opportunity to use my gifts and serve in different ways here at FBC, and I love when Jerry asks me if I’d like to teach so thanks for that, thanks for allowing me to still serve and lead here.

 

Today I am not going to talk about motherhood or Mother’s Day, but I do want to say a couple things about Mother’s Day before I get started. First off, I will say that being a mom is incredibly rewarding even when it’s also really hard. To the moms in the room, I know what you had to do to get your people and all their stuff together just to arrive here today, and you younger moms who are pretty tired from this week, but you still got your kids up and going today and probably took care of the gifts for your own mom and mother-in-laws, way to go, you are absolute champs. To all of you in the room that are moms, I want to say thank you for all the work you do and have done to keep the humans in your house alive- you’ve done a great job. To the moms, stepmoms and grandmothers, spiritual moms, single moms, all of you in this room who are helping to raise or who have raised kids, thank you for what you do- you are amazing and you make the world keep running. I also want to acknowledge that Mother’s Day is a painful day for some of us in this room, and if that’s true for you, I want you to know that you are seen and you belong today just as much as those who are celebrating. Mother’s Day can be hard for

those of us who miss our moms, or whose moms hurt us. It also might be a hard day for those of us who have lost a child, or whose kids have caused us heartache and motherhood has not been like we wish it was. And I know some of us have desperately wanted to be moms and it just hasn’t happened. You are seen and you belong in this room and we honor you as well.  Scripture says that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  And so if you’re celebrating today, then happy Mother’s Day- your mom life is something to be proud of! And if you’re hurting today, we love you and we care about you. However you showed up today, you belong here and we are in this together. So I’d like to pray in that spirit.

 

PRAY.

 

I want to invite you to get out your bible and expect to open it and actually read it today. If you don’t have one, use your phone and I would suggest you look it up in the New Living Translation because that’s what I read and then my words will match what you’re looking at.

 

Today we are going to talk about friendship, biblical friendship. We have been going through the book of Proverbs, and today I picked Proverbs 27:17 as our key verse. And since it is only 10 words long, we’re going to look at several other passages and see what the Bible has to say about being a good friend and having good friends, the way Jesus intended for those who follow him. So let’s look at Proverbs 27:17 as our jumping off point today- it’s so short it’ll take way longer for you to find it than to read it but I still think it’s a good practice to actually read the words for yourself so please turn there with me.

 

PROVERBS 27:17  

 

TURN to a person near you and share, what do you think that means? in your own words, what does this proverb talking about?

 

When I was a senior in college, just a few months before I graduated and moved here actually, that spring my grandpa died. It was my first grandparent to pass away, and really the first person close to me at all to die. I went to school in Anderson, and I drove home from school to be here for a few days. The hardest part for sure was seeing my own dad grieve- and it just rocked my world a little, like it does when you lose a grandparent. I missed a couple days of classes, and was here in town for a few days, and I remember very distinctly something that happened the day of the calling. My senior year, I lived in a house with 6 other girls that had been close friends all through college. And I hadn’t been there all week of course, and I was really looking forward to seeing my friends because it had been a hard week. And that night, at the calling for my grandpa, not a single one of my roommates showed up. Thankfully, my closest friend from childhood and high school actually came, and I remember how thankful I was when Tiffany walked in the door. It meant even more to me because others hadn’t come. That same friend was the first person to arrive at the hospital the day my son Caleb’s heart stopped and she was the first person to come to the hospital the day he finally got word that he was going to receive a new heart. When a friend shows up for you and loves you like that, you never forget. But not only do you not forget it, it impacts you deeply. Being loved by a true friend shapes who we are as people. Being loved like that increases our own capacity to love and care for others- love produces more love. A good friend produces more good friends.

 

Having true friends and being a true friend is possibly the most important part of our human lives and yet it’s something that so many of us struggle with. We want to have great friendships and we want to be terrific friends but so often that’s not how it goes. And the thing is, God actually cares a whole lot about the quality of our friendships. In fact, our relationships with each other are so incredibly important that the Bible is full of instruction on how we are to treat each other- In John 17, Jesus went so far as to say that for Christians, the way we love and treat each other will show the world what God is like. So friendship is a big deal and its an area of our lives that we need to be intentional about.

 

I want to do 3 things in this sermon time today.
  1. I want to look back at the early church and see how the first Christians did friendship and community.
  2. I want to address how different friendship and community are in our own current culture. and
  3. I want to see how we can actually obey God’s design for us and have the kind of friendships He intended for his people to have.

 

So let’s turn to the book of Acts and see how early Christians did friendship.

 

Let’s talk about the story of the early church.

 

The believers stuck together after Jesus ascended. They spent their time together, met together and prayed together. Once they were given the Holy Spirit and the Church was birthed, they oriented their whole lives around the faith community.(Acts 2) They went to

Temple together, then ate meals in each others’ homes. They shared their needs and helped each other. They prayed and worshiped together. They experienced amazing fellowship with each other and had sincere unity.

 

Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-36, Acts 5:12-16

The Church grew and grew and grew until there were thousands of Christians. But their mountaintop experience didn’t last forever. In Acts 8, we see that persecution began, and Christians were being arrested and even killed, so they fled Jerusalem and were scattered all throughout the region. But God was at work in this! Acts 8:4 says “the believers who were scattered preached the Good news about Jesus wherever they went”. Christianity spread and new, smaller Churches were popping up. We read letters Paul wrote to these believers, and the Churches that were eventually formed because of their scattering, and one of the most common themes was Paul urging the Christians to stick together and continue to help and love each other well.  You can’t read the NT without seeing the overwhelming message that Christians are supposed to function as one unit, just as Jerry preaches each week! We train together, we learn together, we obey Jesus TOGETHER. This is a team sport, guys!

 

When we read the first few chapters of Acts, it’s not hard to see how the church has changed. And I’m not talking about the logistics of how worship services were conducted- I’m talking about how the early Christians oriented their life around the life of their community, their church. They didn’t have church buildings, that’s not what they were about- they were about each other. They were together and they went through life together as a family.

 

Let’s talk about how much has changed and what it’s like to be a Christian or to be part of a church in America in 2022…
  • we treat church as a once a week activity that is mostly about what happens on the stage, while we sit and view the program.
  • people like to be anonymous, or now more than ever “watch” church online. That’s like going to the fieldhouse and watching a basketball game and saying you played basketball! Let’s be honest- we want church to be like this because it costs us so little. It’s low-energy, low-time, low-investment of ourselves.
  • we are individualistic to our core. Life is about me and what’s best for me and what I prefer and what makes me happy.
  • we are proud and independent- I don’t want to need people. I depend on myself and that way I won’t be let down. And heaven forbid I let people see what needs I really have in my life, that would be humiliating.
  • we are BUSY and disconnected
 

So how can we obey Jesus and have the kind of friendships he intended his people to have?

  • HEBREWS 10:24-25   — Be here and make it a priority: we have to be present, in the life of the church and in each other’s personal lives. Be there! Be here!
  • MARK 5:24-34 Ñ> Take a risk and allow yourself to be known: we have to be vulnerable
  • Make an effort to connect with people: we have to initiate
  • Evaluate yourself and your life and see your stumbling blocks: we have to be honest with ourselves.  Are you afraid and trying to be self-protective?  Are you too busy and really need to re-think your commitments and how you spend your time?  Are you spending time with the wrong people?  Are you convinced that you’re introverted or a homebody and you just don’t need much from other people?
 
 
 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
 
 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 45

The Promise of the Father’s Discipline

Hebrews 12: 5-11

 

— Kids’ time: 

Do your parents ever tell you ‘no’?

What is something your parents have said NO to, or told you that you can’t do that you really want to do. Why do they do that? Don’t they want you to just be happy?

 

What would happen if you got everything you think you want?

Do they ever make you do something you don’t want to do?

What would happen if you never had to do something you didn’t want to do?

(Examples: What would go wrong if you never…. cleaned your room? went to school?)

 

SOMETIMES there are things we really, really want, something that seems so good and we think it would make us so happy, but it’s actually not good for us. And in fact, not only would it not make us happy, it would make us hurt or sad.

 

And SOMETIMES there are things that don’t seem appealing at all, things we really do NOT want to do or have, but they’re actually very important and we need them very much.

 

God gave us parents to help us know the difference, because right now you’re little and you need help making decisions. At some point, you’ll be big and your parents and the people who take care of you, they won’t tell you what to do anymore (well, not if your family is functional and healthy, although you might end up like Everybody Loves Raymond). But mostly, parents stop telling you what to do and at some point its YOUR job to take care of yourselves.

 

You know what though? They tell you no sometimes and make you do things sometimes because they love you very very much, and they want to help protect you and keep you safe so that you eventually make it to THIS big, and so you’ll know how to be a good, and kind, and wise person who has a healthy and meaningful life. That’s what they want. They want you to be ok and to be well.

 

And guess what guys- OBEDIENCE isn’t just something kids have to do. I know it might seem like someday you’ll grow up and then you’ll get to do whatever you want, and you’re going to eat all the candy you want. But there is still someone who knows better than we do, and who we have to trust to tell us what to do and that’s God. God is like a parent but even better because he is PERFECT. Right now you’re practicing learning how to trust and obey. God is your Father in Heaven and He knows so much better than we do, and he invites us to trust him and obey him, now when you’re young but also for the rest of your life. [PRAY].
 
(Dismiss kids.)

 

Read Hebrews 12: 5-11

Background:  This passage written by a preacher, who is not currently with his congregation. The preacher wants to encourage his people because they’re weary and at risk for simply giving up their pursuit of Jesus. They’re worn out. Hebrews is written to a group of Christians whose commitment (for some) is waning and attendance is lax. Perhaps the challenges of their lives had demoralized them, because they had hoped Christ’s return would have come sooner, and they are losing hope. So the preacher is encouraging them to not give up but keep going with Jesus.

 

The Christian life is hard. Following Jesus and having faithful and obeying God is hard. Sometimes it may feel like it’s not even worth it, and maybe it would be easier to just stop trying to have faith and obey God. The preacher reminds them that they aren’t alone, that their struggle is the great struggle of all Christians, in all times and all places. It’s not just you; this struggle is our common experience as brothers and sisters, here and globally, now and for hundreds of years. “True participation in the Christian faith always carries a price.” Life is hard for everyone- but for a Christian, in the midst of all the common challenges of being a human, faithfulness to Jesus is especially costly.

 

The preacher here is like a night nurse coming to the bedside of his hurting congregation to reassure them that the pain they feel is not a destructive anguish but a healing one. The suffering they are experiencing may seem like it is generated at random from the harsh forces in this world, but it is actually the expression of God’s parental discipline, which is a good thing.

 

How is God’s correction a good thing?

 

  1. Because it proves that god loves us. The only children who aren’t disciplined are those who are abandoned and unloved.
  2. Our parents disciplined us as kids, and at the time we grumbled or fought it, but as we got older we recognized it was actually for our best. “As children we were rarely enthusiastic about our parent’s control over us or their correction”, but looking back it was necessary and even good.
  3. The end result is worth the pain, because the end result is that we grow up to be like God our father, and to mature into his image and share in his holiness. Peaceful harvest of right living… peaceful= good. He wants peace and goodness and meaning and joy for us. He is not arbitrarily wounding us, but rather guiding us into the best possible way of life. Right living=a good life of virtue and value. Peaceful confidence that we have spent our life well.

 

To a child, something that is very appealing might actually not be good for them, and consequently something that is very unappealing may be exactly what is needed. So the rules, demands, correction, words of advice are not arbitrary at all, but full of purpose and meaning, like the guide wires on a young sapling, helping it have the best chance to grow tall and strong and healthy.

 

**The idea that all of human suffering is the result of God trying to teach us a lesson is untenable. This is not meant to be an absolute principle, but a pastoral encouragement, a way to make sense of the struggle to be faithful, and encouragement to not give up. He is not trying to explain all suffering. This passage is not meant to be interpreted as a broad theology for suffering. We may not find useful lessons in things like war and famine. God is not cruelly creating pain to teach us things. This is a pastor trying to encourage his congregation to see how God is at work in their challenges, because often those very circumstances make us stronger, wiser, more faithful and loving. That doesn’t mean we look back on our suffering and say, “sorrow has its lessons” but rather we look back and say “Thank you Jesus for being faithful to help me”. He is offering them a perspective on their struggles, that will encourage them and also help them to see what they are going through not as evidence of God’s anger and rejection, but a sign of his care and embrace.

 

Vs. 1-4 give us the example of the suffering of Jesus, as a MODEL, (not as a judgement), of how to endure struggles. It’s not that “what you’re going through is nothing compared to what Jesus went through”, but rather, “you can get through this if you keep your eyes on Jesus, who was victorious over every kind of struggle and can carry you through your own”.

 

Vs.12-13 concludes with an exhortation, to a group of people who were stumbling and faltering, to recover their strength and stay the course. Don’t fall down- don’t quit. Keep going. Renew your trust and commitment.

 

What is the big idea of this passage?

 

God disciplines us because he loves us and wants us to grow up to be like him.

 

Consider how God wants to teach and develop you through the difficult challenges of life. If you’re feeling weary and starting to give up, don’t. Don’t quit. Resolve to trust Jesus, look away to him, and endure what life is throwing at you. God is not abandoning you or being cruel to you- he is a good and caring father. He wants to make you more like himself so that your life will actually be full of joy and goodness and peace.

 

Read: Lamentations 3:19-33

God is not cruelly using our pain and suffering just to teach us some lessons!

 

Questions to ponder: 

Where in your life is God trying to discipline and shape you?

Are you resisting Him, or submitting to Him?

Can you trust that He knows what is truly best for your life?

 
 

You can listen to the message here:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
For a copy of the Handout Katie used, click on this link:  2021-11-07 Promises of Victory Wk 45 – Katie Kinnaird – Handout.
 
 
 

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Grow: Discovering Love (Week 3)

“Our Response to His Rescue: Loving God With All Our Hearts”

 
Testimony:
1) Caleb

2) Young Life [deficit, busiest time of year,  emotional stress of caring for so many kids and leaders] = STRESS

Story: Jonah and his retainer!

How does it feel when you do something for someone you love and they overlook it? How does it feel when YOU know what you’ve done, how you’ve taken care of them, and they don’t realize of acknowledge it, or even worse, believe that someone else or they themselves did the thing you actually did?

 
We often overlook and fail to acknowledge God’s care for us. He has loved us and taken care of us truly beyond what any of us could comprehend. As our Father who has done everything he can to care and provide for us, God
wants us to love him in return. He wants our full attention, our passion, our appreciation, our deepest love. He wants us to love him with all our hearts, all our minds and all our strength- with everything we have.
 
Matthew 22: 34-40  Jesus told us that the most important thing in life is for us to love God with all our hearts, souls and strength. Many of us have heard this “most important commandment” hundreds of times. But what
does it mean? What does it look like to love God like that, to that extent?
Today we are going to go back to the Old Testament, to the passage that Jesus quoted when he told the people what the most important commandment was. Let’s look at the context of “Love the Lord your God with all your ____” so we can better understand what exactly that means.  And then let’s look at a Jesus story that puts some real life application to this most important commandment.
 
The context of this chapter: where have they BEEN. (Deuteronomy 6:21-24)
 
Moses is talking to the Israelites while they are wandering in the desert for years. They had been slaves in Egypt, oppressed as a people group for years until God miraculously saved them and sent them out on a journey to
a new place, a land that He promised would become their new home.
 
Slavery had been terrible; but they’d wandered so long that the people were in danger of forgetting what they had left behind. God did not want them to forget what He had done, where they had come from. Their suffering is just about over, and God is about to bless them beyond what they’ve ever dreamed. And God is warning them- when everything you’ve hoped for comes, don’t forget! Don’t forget that you didn’t do anything to earn this; everything you will experience is a gift (v. 10-12).
 
– God is giving them the full extent of his laws and commands. The previous chapter is the 10 Commandments. The first thing the Lord says before he gives them his 10 Commandments is, “I am the LORD your
God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” The context for the commands he gives is that He is the one who rescued them, gave them the life they’re entering. It is the memory of what God has done for us that motivates us to obey and trust His commands.
– Are we motivated to obey God? When we think about what He has done for us, doesn’t it seem logical to TRUST that what he commands is best for us? When we think of his love and care for us, it should motivate us to listen to God and follow him wholeheartedly. We aren’t motivated by obligation, we’re inspired by our love for a God who has done EVERYTHING for us.
 
There is a critical theme in Deuteronomy 6 of REMEMBERING and not forgetting. This famous Scripture that Jesus quotes, Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is called the Shema, Hebrew for “listen”. All throughout the chapter, Moses says, “listen”, “be careful”, “listen closely” “Remember what you were before” “be careful not to forget the Lord”
 
God knows how weak we are and how easily we get distracted. Raise your hand if you get distracted easily? The truth is we all do. We can all be out-of-sight-out-of-mind, especially when it comes to God because He is always out of our physical sight. We go through something hard, and God takes care of us. And then soon after, when things are fine again, we forget what happened, we forget what exactly God did. [**when is a time this has happened to me?]
 
We need to have a rhythm of remembering the things that we’ve gone through, so that we develop these “muscles” of trusting God. v. 6-9, 20-24. We need to talk about what God has done. Remind ourselves, remind our kids, remind each other. It should never be far from our minds. How long has it been since you’ve thought back and remembered what God has done in your life.  Reflect on how different your life would be if not for him rescuing you.
[**how would MY life be different? what has God done for ME?]
 
Summarize Deuteronomy 6, and the Shema.!
 
As I reflect on what it means to love God with all our hearts, soul and mind, there is a story about Jesus that I think gives us a clear picture of what it looks like to love God that much.
 
This woman hears where Jesus is, and she comes to the house uninvited.  This setting is probably important, well-to-do people; not her crowd at all. I get the image that she slips in, goes straight to Jesus. Imagine what she is
thinking. I don’t think she had a pushy attitude, I don’t think she was thinking “I’ll show them, I can be here just as much as they can”. No, I don’t think she was considering who else was there at all. I think her sole focus was getting to Jesus. He was the only one she saw.
 
This woman was causing a little bit of a scene. Imagine it! First of all, she is not dressed appropriately for this dinner; that’s how they knew who she was to begin with, knew she as an “immoral woman”, because of her
appearance. When this woman brought in the alabaster jar, and opened it up, the smell would have filled the room, drawing even more attention to what she was doing. Rabbis weren’t even supposed to talk to women in public, and they definitely weren’t supposed to touch a woman, let alone a prostitute. She slips in behind him, on the floor, low as she can get, and starts to pour the perfume out onto his feet. And as she does, she begins to weep.
 
Imagine what she’s thinking. Why is she crying? What is it about Jesus that causes her to have this kind of reaction? I imagine they’ve met before, or at the very least, she has seen how he treats “people like her” and she is overwhelmed with gratitude. His love and kindness have made her feel something she has probably never felt before. Worth. Value. Not like a failure or an outcast. And that has affected her so powerfully that she doesn’t even care about how proper it is, she just desperately wants to thank him. And love him back.
 
Jesus tells this story to illustrate what the woman is doing. And he says her sins, which there’s lots of them, have been forgiven. And since she has been forgiven of SO much, she loves Jesus so much. And he says he who is forgive little, loves little. You know, I think we could even say it this way. The person who understands how much they have been forgive of, is full of love. But the person who doesn’t understand how much they have been forgiven of, their love is weak.
 
When you have a debt canceled, it can change your life. Jesus has canceled all our of debts- and some of us are very aware of just how big of a deal that is. And some of us don’t consider it that much at all. This woman knew. She was aware that if not for Jesus’ acceptance and forgiveness, she was hopeless, both in the world’s eyes and practically she had nothing to live for. Jesus gave her something to live for and she couldn’t HELP herself from placing herself at his feet, trying to think of an extravagant way to thank him and show her love for him.
Because she was aware of her debt.
 
So what does it look like to love God with all our hearts? We have to remember where we’ve come from. We remember what we have been rescued from and what debt was canceled. And when we remember, when we think about that, love comes easily and naturally.
 
“I am the LORD your God who rescued you from your place of slavery.”
 
God has rescued us and he has cancelled our debt.
 
 
 

Listen to Katie’s Message here:

 

You can watch the video HERE.

 
 

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