State of the Church: 2018

We are a family who places Jesus at the center of our lives so that it moves us to chase after every man, woman, and child in Greater Austin to experience the life transforming power of Jesus Christ.

Family:  We are fighting to be a family. We don’t want to just sit next to each other on Sunday morning. We are fighting to know one another. We are fighting to say, “No” to other relationships in our lives so we can say, “Yes” to our relationships with one another.

Center:  We desperately want to keep Jesus at the center. This speaks to the authority of Jesus. This means we submit our lives to Jesus, because it is when Jesus is at the center of our lives we have unexplainable capacity to chase after every man, woman, and child.

Chase:  This last part of our vision is the part of our vision that moves us outward. This is the part of the vision that moves us outside of our comfort zone. This is the part of the vision that guards us from showing partiality, and moving us into relationships that are uncomfortable.

Connecting with Jesus (2018):  Let the Word of Christ Richly Dwell Within You.

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

We wanted to connect with Jesus by connecting with His Word. Specifically we challenged our church family in three areas:

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What about hell? Part 1

Probably the biggest part of the conversation about hell and judgment is, “How can the God of Scripture be loving if there is judgment?”  Especially in our culture right now. Right now the quickest response to any kind of judgment in our culture today is, “Love is love” so if God is loving, then how can a loving God bring judgment?

To help us tackle this question we are going to look at Luke 16:19-31.  Lets start with verses 19-21:

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Can we all find our own truth?

Galatians 2:3-4, “3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.”

I know this is a lot of first century culture for us to step into, but this passage can help us answer the question, “Can we all find our own truth?”  Specifically, when the Apostle Paul writes the phrase, “spy out our liberty” he is talking about the freedom we have in Christ, and freedom in Christ will lead to a beautiful life.

In contrast, there is a religious community who is coming to “spy out that liberty” and claiming “truth” but it is leading to bondage as Gentile Christians are being told to follow Jewish custom and rituals.

But, these claims by the religious leaders are contrary to the gospel.  All those Jewish customs discussed in Galatians 2 were established so that it would be clear to humanity that nobody could ever make ourselves clean, righteous and presentable to God. This is why we need the good news of Jesus!

Jesus has come to fulfill all the requirements of the Jewish Law, Jewish customs, and Jesus even became unclean so that by grace through faith in Jesus we might be made clean.

In contrast there are religious leaders from Jerusalem who are sneaking into the Gentiles backyards, spying on the Gentile Christians to see if they are following Jewish customs, Jewish rituals, and I guess to see if the men were circumcised, and the Apostle Paul writes, “They are trying to bring us back under bondage.”

Do you see the tension? Can the Gentile Christians ignore the Jewish customs? Should Gentile Christian men be circumcised? How do you decide? Who is going to win?  How can you decide what is true?

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Why is there so much pain and evil in the world?

Why is there so much pain and evil in the world?  To help us tackle that question we are going to look at 1 Peter chapter 1.

1 Peter 1:1, “1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen”

  • Scattered:  The word “scattered” is used in verse 1 because the original audience was going through heavy persecution from the Roman Empire, and personally experiencing pain and evil in their lives.
  • Do a quick google search on the life of Nero!
  • Key:  It is important to remember that what we see today is not what the God of Scripture created in the very beginning.  If you look at Genesis 1 you will see the God of Scripture created everything to be perfect.  But then in Genesis 3 we see our sin show up and ruin everything God created to be good, so that today we see pain and evil.

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Is Jesus the only way? Part 2

1 John 4:1, “1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

In Part 1 we examined the position, “Jesus is just one of many ways to consider.”  We saw in 1 John the Apostle John is teaching us “do not believe every spirit” and “test the spirits” therefore, we examined the fruit that is produced when we consider “Jesus is just one of many ways.”

In Part 2 we will examine the other position, “Jesus is God in the flesh.”

1 John 4:2, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;”

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Is Jesus the only way? Part 1

1 John 4:1, “1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

In verse 1 the Apostle John is writing to a group of people who have heard about Jesus, but never seen Jesus, and the Apostle John writes, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit.”

The phrase “do not believe every spirit” is reminding us that we live in a spiritual world. Yes, we live in a physical world that we can see, smell, hear, taste, and touch, but we are also living in a spiritual world, and in verse 1 John writes “We live in a spiritual world, and we need to test the spiritual world to see if it is true or false.”

When you see the phrase “false prophets” it doesn’t mean crazy people with googely eyes that you can smell coming a mile away. No, the Apostle John is talking about invisible forces at work intentionally creating confusion and leading people astray.

The word, “spirit” in verse 1 means “spirit of the age” or “ways of thinking.” It means there are messages coming at us all the time through movies, music, education, friends, school, and even through this blog.

Therefore, the Apostle John writes, “Beloved, we must test every spirit.”  We must be on the alert. We must consider the messages and test if they are true or false.  There are two primary views in our culture about Jesus today. The first is that there are people who believe Jesus is God in the flesh who has come to provide the means for men, women, and children to be reconciled to God by grace through faith in Jesus.

The second is that Jesus is not God in the flesh, but simply one of many ways to consider in life, therefore, we must test both of these claims to see if they are true or false. Lets take the second one first.

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Life of Samson

Judges 16:13-14, “13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies; tell me how you may be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my hair with the web and fasten it with a pin, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his hair and wove them into the web. And she fastened it with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin of the loom and the web.”

At this point in the life of Samson it is clear that Samson has been equipped by the Lord with extraordinary gifts (Judges 13), but instead of using those gifts to bring glory to the Lord and be a blessing to the people, we see Samson using those gifts for his own personal gain.

We need to remember Samson has been doing this for 20 years.   Samson knows he can wonder into Philistine territory behind enemy lines because he believes his strength will be able to rescue him from any danger (Judges 16:1).

Samson can hang out with prostitutes all hours of the night because he is confident his strength will be able to rescue him from any danger (Judges 16:3).

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