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Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Come As You Are (by Rick Warren)

“God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8 NLT)

Everything that Jesus did for you, he did out of love. The Bible says that God made you to love you. The only reason you’re alive is because you were made to be loved by God.

If God didn’t want you alive, your heart would stop instantly; you wouldn’t even be breathing right now. God made you and wants you alive so he can love you and so you can love him back.

God didn’t just say he loved you; he showed it. The Bible says, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”(Romans 5:8 NLT). It says while we were still sinners. Before I even knew God or knew I needed God in my life, Jesus died for me.

There’s a myth that says I’ve got to clean up my act before I can come to God: “I’ve got to get it all together. There are a few things I’ve got to get right in my life first, and then I’ll come to God.” No! You come to God with your problems — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It’s like when we brush our teeth before we go to the dentist to have a teeth cleaning or when we wash the dishes before we put them in the dishwasher or when we pick up the house before the maid gets there. Why do we do this?

God says, “No, no! You don’t have to clean up your act. Just bring it all to me. Bring me all your problems. I have all the answers. Come as you are.”

The Bible says, “He will send down help from heaven to save me because of his love” (Psalm 57:3a LB). That’s what Jesus did on Easter. He sent himself from Heaven to save us because of his love. So you can bring your problems to God, because he has the answer.

If you don’t act on this news, then the death of Jesus Christ and his Resurrection are wasted for you personally. It makes no difference in your life. You may recognize the gift, but you still have to receive it.

“You will be saved, if you honestly say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. God will accept you and save you, if you truly believe this and tell it to others” (Romans 10:9-10 CEV).

God is not asking you to make a promise you cannot keep. God is asking you to believe a promise that only he can keep.

Talk It Over

  • What do you need to let go of that you have been trying to clean up so you can approach God?
  • What does Easter mean to you personally? How does celebrating it draw you closer to God?
  • How does your life reflect the extravagant love God has for you and that you have accepted?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Ash Wednesday?

Since True Life Church is a church full of people from many different denominational backgrounds, questions often arise as to why we do or do not make a big deal out of various traditions that other churches observe.

And since Ash Wednesday was last week, I (Chris) thought the below article might help explain the origins and purpose of it.

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What Is Ash Wednesday? taken from GotQuestions.Org

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Its official name is “Day of Ashes,” so  called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of  a cross. Since it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter  Sunday, it will always fall on a Wednesday—there cannot be an “Ash Thursday”  or “Ash Monday.” The Bible never mentions Ash Wednesday—for that matter, it  never mentions Lent.

Lent is intended to be a time of self-denial,  moderation, fasting, and the forsaking of sinful activities and habits. Ash  Wednesday commences this period of spiritual discipline. Ash Wednesday and Lent  are observed by most Catholics and some Protestant denominations. The Eastern  Orthodox Church does not observe Ash Wednesday; instead, they start Lent on  “Clean Monday.”

While the Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday, it does  record accounts of people in the Old Testament using dust and ashes as symbols  of repentance and/or mourning (2  Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job  2:8; Daniel 9:3). The modern tradition of rubbing  a cross on a person’s forehead supposedly identifies that person with Jesus  Christ.

Should a Christian observe Ash Wednesday? Since the Bible  nowhere explicitly commands or condemns such a practice, Christians are at  liberty to prayerfully decide whether or not to observe Ash Wednesday.

If a Christian decides to observe Ash Wednesday and/or Lent, it is important to  have a biblical perspective. Jesus warned us against making a show of our  fasting: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they  disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they  have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and  wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but  only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew  6:16-18). We must not allow spiritual discipline to become spiritual  pride.

It is a good thing to repent of sinful activities, but that’s  something Christians should do every day, not just during Lent. It’s a good  thing to clearly identify oneself as a Christian, but, again, this should be an  everyday identification. And it is good to remember that no ritual can make  one’s heart right with God.

Organized AND Organic Gatherings (Chris Francis)

A few weeks ago I heard someone make a great point about the importance of having a balance of both organized & organic gatherings in order to really embrace the “family” nature of church.

Think about your own family. You probably have organized times of hanging out (weekly dinners, annual summer vacations, monthly date nights, birthday parties, etc.).

But then you probably have more organic & spontaneous things that happen each day (son and mother have a conversation over breakfast, father and daughter hanging out on the way to school, big brother and big sister making fun of little sister, mom and dad having a moment while doing the dishes, etc.).

Point is ­-  healthy families have both.

And healthy church families have both as well.

At True Life, our organized church gatherings include Sunday mornings (perhaps the most organized), life groups, the birthday party that we just had, the Labor Day pool party at the Mercadantes’ house.

But then there should be organic, more spontaneous, more non­-promoted gatherings between everyone (game nights with a handful of people, guys grabbing lunch, girls grabbing coffee, double­dates, and play dates). These are things that are not announced on Sunday mornings, are not put on the website, and are not included in my mass emails. Instead, these are things that require people to have each others’ phone numbers, to be creative, and to take initiative.

As a whole, I personally think our church has a good balance of both. But when it comes to individuals, it seems like everyone tends to drift toward one over the other.

And so here is my question to you: Which type of gathering do YOU need to embrace more fully?

Below are my own theories about why we avoid the different types of gatherings.

Reasons we avoid the organized gatherings:

­ Fear of commitment. What if I volunteer to serve on a Sunday morning, only to get free tickets to a concert Saturday night? I won’t want to come in Sunday morning.

­ Loss of control. If I sign up for a life group, I might end up having to deal with one or two people that I find really annoying. I want to be in full control over who I hang out with.

­ Bad experiences in the past. Anything that a church organizes just feels too “legalistic” to me. I don’t even know what that word means, but it seems to fit.

Reasons we avoid the organic gatherings:

­ Fear of rejection. What if I invite someone to hang out and they reject me?

­ It’s messy. If we invite Ted & Tina over for dinner, they’ll probably ask us about our marriage. It’s safer if we just see them at church.

­ Laziness. I don’t want to take initiative. I don’t want to have to think about this. Can’t Pastor Chris just organize it and tell me what to do? Then if it’s lame I can blame it on him.

What do you think? Are you guilty of any of these mindsets? I’ll admit that I have been guilty of all of them at various times in my life.

But whether you can identify with some of these reasons or you think I’m way off in my theories, the point is — ­­ are you embracing both kinds of gatherings? Do you see the value in being a part of our organized gatherings AND also initiating more organic forms of hang­outs?

Do you value your own role in our new and growing church family?

I hope so.

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14

10 Simple Ways to be Missional…..without adding anything to your schedule (Tim Chester)

One of True Life’s Big Prayers for 2014 is that we would embrace both the GATHERING and the SCATTERING of the church. Below are a few practical tips on how to embrace the SCATTERING.

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1. Eat with other people

We all eat 3 meals a day. That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission each week without adding anything new to your schedule. And meals are a powerful expression of welcome and community.

2. Work in public places

Hold meetings, prepare talks, read in public spaces like cafes, pubs and parks. It will naturally help you engage with the culture as work or plan. For example, whose questions do you want to address in your Bible studies – those of professional exegetes or those of the culture?

3. Be a regular

Adopt a local cafe, pub, park and shops so you regularly visit and become known as a local. Imagine if everyone in your gospel community did this!

4. Join in with what’s going on

Churches often start their own thing like a coffee shop or homeless program. Instead, join existing initiatives – you don’t have the burden of running it and you get opportunities with co­workers.

5. Leave the house in the evenings

It’s so easy after a long day on a dark evening to slump in front of the television or surf the internet. Get out! Visit a friend. Take a cake to a neighbor. Attend a local group. Go to the cinema. Hang out in a cafe. Go for a walk with a friend. It doesn’t matter where as long as you go with gospel intentionality.

6. Serve your neighbors

Weed a neighbor’s garden. Help someone move. Put up a shelf. Volunteer with a local group. It could be one evening a week or one day a month. Try to do it with other members of your gospel community so it becomes a common project. Then people will see your love for one another and it will be easier to talk about Jesus.

7. Share your passion

What do you enjoy? Find a local group that shares your passion. Be missional and have fun at the same time!

8. Hang out with your work colleagues

Spend your lunch break with colleagues. Go for a drink after work. Share the journey to work.

9. Walk

Walking enables you to engage with your neighborhood at street level. You notice things you don’t in a car. You are seen and known in the neighborhood.

10. Prayer walk

Walk around your neighborhood using what you see as fuel for prayer. Pray for people, homes, businesses, community groups and community needs. Ask God to open your eyes to where He is at work and to fill your heart with love for your neighborhood.

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