Monday, February 24, 2020

Mark 9:30-50 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ::: Preparing for Eternity ::: Mark 9:30-50

Throughout the Gospel Jesus came with a teaching ministry. Some of it has been taught with words, and other times with action. At the end of Mark 8 we saw Jesus turn His focus to Jerusalem and the cross. Jesus will have a good economy of His time on earth and help the disciples focus on eternity. In this passage we see a series of events that all connected through the theme of eternity. Jesus begins by addressing His upcoming death, moves to settle a dispute among the disciples, helps John learn about church unity, and reminds us about character. Work through these questions and talk about how you are preparing for eternity.

1) If you had been invited to one of he private sessions Jesus had with the disciples, what question(s) would you ask Him?

2) Jesus came with the intention to teach people about the Kingdom of God and new thing He was doing (see Mark 1:21, 2:13, 3:23, & 4:1). As Jesus taught the disciples about His upcoming death they really didn’t understand (read Mark 9:30-32). What made it hard for them to understand it?

3) The disciples began arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (read Mark 9:33-34 and Luke 9:46). How come it is so easy for us to turn to our selfish desires and ambitions? When have you seen the selfish behavior of people hinder where God was working?

4) Jesus used a child to teach a lesson on humility (read Mark 9:35-37). Why do we so often try to avoid being as vulnerable as a little child? How come we have a hard time trusting that God will provide all our needs (read Proverbs 3:5-6).

5) For Jesus to embrace the little child and talk about welcoming children in His name is a big deal. Do you find yourself viewing children as a blessing or a burden? Where is God asking you to invest in the life of a younger believer?

6) All too often local churches can perceive another church as an enemy (read Mark 9:38-41). Pastor Neal talked about Coastline being a church where we talk up other churches and rejoice in kingdom advancement. What does that look like in your life?  

7) Our passage ends with a teaching on character & avoiding sin (read Mark 9:42-50). What have you set up in your life to help you avoid sin? How is it working?

Close your time in prayer and ask God to transform your life for Him in 2020.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Mark 9:14-29 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. A big "Thank you!" to Joey Ross for preaching this week and writing these questions for us. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ::: Stick-to-itiveness ::: Mark 9:14-29

Coming down from a mountain top experience is never easy, even for Jesus.  As Marks gospel continues to unfold, we get a glimpse into the events that have taken place with the 9 disciples left behind when Jesus was away.  And while there are many incredible characters and themes found in this passage, including one of the most relatable prayers in all of Scripture, the main point Mark seems to want to drive home is the need for any disciple of Jesus to continually devote themselves to doing life with Jesus, that nothing should become merely mechanical.  It severs as a reminder to us, that life with God is about living in continual reliance upon him. Open up to Mark 9:14-29 as you read the story unfolding

1) All of us go through stages in our relationship with God.  Typically it goes something like committing ourselves to Christ, a time of exciting growth with Jesus, serving Jesus, etc…  For many of us though there are ruts we fall into at some point in our journey.  Periods where things maybe seem stagnant, or where we just start going through the motions.  Have you ever had an experience like that?  Share a little bit of the challenges you have experienced.

2) Read Mark 9:14-29.  What stands out to you in this passage as you read it together.  Maybe there is a character you can relate to, phrase that stands out to you, or something that seems confusing.  If you want maybe, even share what stood out to you in the sermon this week that impacted your understanding of the passage.

3) Jesus is constantly surrounded by injustice, often times taking on the form of sick and demonically oppressed children (Mark 5:23; 6:56; 7:26 to name just a few).  In our culture, we hear about injustices all the time and as a result it is so easy to start to experience “empathy fatigue,” but that’s not the case with Jesus. How does Jesus show empathy in this passage?  What things does he not only do but say? (Hint read Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2)

4) Read Matthew 17:19-20 which is a parallel passage and Mark 9:23; 28-29.  Sadly these passages can be misinterpreted that healing is contingent on the size of our faith (Matthew 17:20 should be translated disbelief, not little faith), rather than the object of our faith (even in the smallest faith in Jesus is enough).  Discuss the difference, and any damages you have seen because of misuse of this passage.

5) One of Marks favorite words in his gospel is immediately, three times it is used in this passage alone.  The term doesn’t mean in a hurry (Jesus was never rushed like we tend to live) but it carries the idea of without thinking, second nature, subconsciously.    Take note of each time the word is used here.  What are the immediate reaction of the crowd, the demonic spirit, and the father?  What is the natural reaction of your heart when you encounter Jesus?  Fear? Wonder? Desperation? Excitement?

6) Jesus tells his disciples about his coming death and resurrection in 8:31-33 and again in 9:30-32. Sandwiched between these passages is the Mount of Transfiguration as well as the healing of a boy in which he eventually gets worse (appears dead) before he gets better and is lifted by Jesus to new life (resurrected).  Why do you think Mark places these stories between Jesus prediction?  What is Mark trying to tell us.

7) Reread Mark 9:28-29. Jesus says the disciples were unsuccessful because they didn’t pray, but ironically this passage doesn’t record any prayer by Jesus either.  It seems that Jesus is not pointing to a ritualistic, eyes closed, hands together prayer, but a lifestyle of prayer.  Think of it like a lifestyle of prayer. Where in your life do you find yourself becoming self-reliant instead of relying on God? What are some ways/practices you can put into your life in order to become more aware of Jesus in your everyday life and remain in contact with him?

Close your time in prayer and ask God to continue to transform your life for Him in 2020.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mark 9:2-13 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| A Life Changing Experience ||| Mark 9:2-13

As Mark continues to document the life and ministry of Jesus we experience a phenomenal event in time; the day Jesus was transformed. Many authors call it “The Transfiguration of Jesus” and rightly so. Jesus brings three of the disciples up a high mountain where He is transfigured right before their eyes. There is debate on what mountain this took place on, but the location is not a high priority. The priority is what happened on that mountain and what the men saw. This story gives us a glimpse into what Heaven will be like: saints who’ve passed away, those who love Jesus, and God will be present. Open your Bible to Mark 9:2 and study this amazing passage.

1) Share a time when you were transformed by the mighty power of God. What changed in your life because of that experience with God? As you look back on that event, how has the course of your life been altered?

2) The transformation of Jesus in Mark 9:2-8. is also found in Matthew 17:1-8 and Luke 9:28-36. Read all three accounts and talk about similarities and any differences that are provided. What sticks out most to you about the different accounts?

3) Neal mentioned that on the mount of transfiguration we get a glimpse into heaven. When you think about heaven, what has shaped your knowledge of it most? Have we allowed media or Scripture to shape our understanding of heaven? Turn to those passages in Scripture and talk about the greatness of Heaven.

4) Read Mark 9:7, Exodus 19:9 and 40:34. In both accounts we read that God came in a cloud. In Exodus God used the cloud to guide, protect, and speak to Israel. What is the significance of God speaking from the cloud in this passage?

5) On the mountain top Jesus was transformed in the presence of the disciples. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome and Corinth about the transforming work of God. Read 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 12:1-2, then talk about the transforming work of Jesus that you see currently happening.

6) What are some areas that you would like to see the Gospel transform your life? Are they areas of relationship, goals, health, or spiritual transformation?

7) Near the end of our passage we read about a connection between Elijah and John the Baptist. Read 1 Kings 19:1-5 and Mark 6:21-25. Discuss the similarities.

Close your time in prayer and ask God to transform your life for Him in 2020.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Mark 8:22-9:1 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| Who do you say Jesus is? ||| Mark 8:22-9:1

Mark 8 continues with a miraculous healing of a blind man. This is one of the seven recorded healings of a blind man in the Gospel accounts. From the Northern Shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus brings the Disciples to the base of Mount Hermon. The mountain region are where revolutions are formed. Jesus asks the disciples who the people say He is. Peter responds with a succinct answer about the Messiah. At this Jesus reveals that His ultimate plan is to give up His life so that humanity can find freedom. If Jesus will die, that also means the disciples will share a death for being His followings. Study Mark 8:22-9:1 to see how we can live for Jesus today.

1) The Gospels share about seven blind men who were healed. Study these three miraculous healings (read: Matthew 9:27-31, Mark 8:22-26, and Luke 18:35-43). What are the similarities and differences in these healings?

2) Jesus brought the disciples to a place where idol worship was prominent. What are some common idols of our day/century? How does this relate to the Old Testament Commandment not to have any gods before God? (see Exodus 20:3)

3) Mark tells us that the people in Israel related Jesus to some of the most famous Israelites (read Mark 8:27-30). Why do you think the people thought that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14).

4) The disciples knew who the crowd said Jesus was. Then Jesus turned and asked them a bold question (read Mark 8:29-30). Who you say Jesus is? In light of trusting Jesus, how has that changed the way you live your life?

5) Jesus began to teach the disciples that He must suffer and die. Suffering is a common theme for those who follow Jesus. Read Acts 9:15-16, Romans 5:3-5, and 1 Peter 4:16). How do you feeling about suffering for Jesus?

6) If a neighbor or close friend asked you to explain why Jesus had to suffer and die, what would your response be? Substitutionary atonement is the theological truth that Jesus atoned for our sins when we couldn’t (Read Hebrews 10:1-10, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, and 2 Corinthians 5:21)

7) Jesus taught the crowd that if they lost their life for the Gospel they would find it (read Mark 8:34-38). What holds people back from finding life in Jesus?

Close your time in prayer

Monday, February 10, 2020

Church Rebuilding

Rebuilding a church is not for the faint of heart.

As my family began exploring the idea of coming to serve at Coastline we knew the church had been through a difficult season. I actually connected with a pastor in town and talked with him about the church. He told me the pain. Shared the division. I think he even said: "I wouldn't wish that church on my best friend." I know his best friend! But to me it sounded like a challenge that God was inviting us to take part in. The funny thing is he even said something to the effect of: "Now that I've said that, I'm sure you think it's a challenge."

Rebuilding a church has been one of the greatest challenges and greatest blessings in ministry. The people at Coastline have loved and embraced my family in such unique, special, and meaningful ways. The church walked with us through the loss of my dad, the loss of my stepdad, and the trails with my mom.

But rebuilding a church is not for the faint of heart.

In May of 2018 we had to try something new. The room we hold our worship services in can seat 350+ and we had been running around 200. We were testing a pilot version of two identical worship gatherings and needed something to get people sitting closer together. My ideas was to use ropes to require people to sit closer to the front of the room. It would help eliminate large gaps between people.

The decision wasn't rash. Our staff had talked through multiple ideas.
Our Elders processed the idea.
Our staff and elders helped me put up the ropes and try different versions of the idea.

Then we got this note in the offering


I will be the first to say that it was discouraging. But it was also encouraging.
Rub your eyes and read that line again, you heard me right.

How I read the note is this: "I hate your ropes. I'll be leaving the ch...."
It seems the person was so mad that they couldn't even finish the sentence. I knew we were doing something right though. We needed to not just physically move at Coastline, but we needed to spiritually move. Hate is not a fruit of the Spirit (please read Galatians 5). God was, and still is, doing a new thing at Coastline. He used the ropes to push us in different ways.

If God has called you to rebuild a church, keep rebuilding. Keep moving forward with the vision He has given you. It is your responsibility to follow that vision.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Mark 8:1-21 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| The Day Jesus Was Upset ||| Mark 8:1-21

As we reach the half way point in the Gospel of Mark we are going to see a miracle of provision. The feeding of the 4000 takes place in the region of the Decapolis. The area is a collection of ten cities that are just over the Golan Heights (to the east of the Sea of Galilee). The location is important for this feeding because it continues to show Jesus’ love for Gentile people and His desire for them to know God. In Mark 8 we see Jesus and disciples move from location to location. The feeding leads into a healthy lesson on understanding the truth of God and rejecting the false teaching of the Pharisees.

1) Read Mark 6:30-44 and 8:1-10. Discuss what are the main differences in the miraculous provision of Jesus in these accounts. Pastor Neal said that the first feeding was primarily to the Jews and the second primality to the Gentiles what is the significance in knowing that?

2) Read Mark 8:6. Why did Jesus look up to heaven when He gave thanks for the loaves of bread? Read John 6:35 and talk about Jesus’ bold statement about Him being the bread of life.

3) Pastor Neal asked us to choose one thing to focus on growing in this week. Did you choose: Compassion, removing harsh language, or having a thankful heart? How is it going working on growing in this area of your life?

4) The relationship between Jesus and Pharisees has been heating up. What made it so hard for them to understand that Jesus is the Messiah? Do you think the Pharisees neglected God’s heart for the Gentiles to be saved (read Isaiah 49:6)?

5) The Bible uses leaven as a picture of false doctrine (Galatians 5:1-9), unjudged sin in the church (1 Corinthians 5), and hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). Jesus warned the disciples about the teaching of the Pharisees. How can we avoid these things?

6) The Psalmist spoke about hiding God’s word in his heart (read Psalm 119:11). Where are you currently reading in your Bible and what is God teaching you?

7) Jesus made it a point to redeem down time for teaching time. He instructed the disciples while they traveled. Is there an area in your life where you can redeem some time and use it to build into the Kingdom of God?

Close your time in prayer

Monday, January 27, 2020

Mark 7 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions || |An Inside Out Healing ||| Mark 7

In Mark 7 we see a beautifully crafted narrative of the work of Jesus. First, the Pharisees send a delegation to visit Jesus. The last time this occurred was back in Mark 2. They present a problem to Jesus that is all about tradition but cloaked in Scripture. Mark has created the tension between human tradition and God’s word. The very next account shows this lived out; Jesus interacts with a Gentile woman with a demon possessed daughter. We see the boldness of a parent and power of God in their interaction. Mark concludes the chapter by emphasizing how Jesus came to reach everyone. Open your small group in prayer and talk about the word of Jesus! 

1) The Pharisees brought a human tradition problem to Jesus presented as a Scriptural issue (read Mark 7:1-13). What are the positive and negative effects of longtime tradition? What are the benefits of Scripture over tradition? 

2) Jesus gives a short parable to explain His teaching (read Mark 7:14-19). Jesus addressed the internal condition of a person and freedom from the Law. Quickly look at Acts 10-11 and talk about how these stories emphasize Gentile inclusion in the Kingdom of God. 

3) Look at the list from Jesus in Mark 7:20-23 and look at what Paul wrote to the early church in Galatians 5:19-23. How come there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit? Ezekiel tells us that a person can experience the renovation of his/her through the power of God (Ezekiel 36:26). 

4) Read what Jesus said to the Greek woman in Mark 6:24-30. Jesus knew His role was to prepare Israel to spread the Gospel (Matthew 15:24). Read what Paul wrote in Romans 15:8-9. What is our role in spreading the message of Jesus? 

5) God’s plan is for people to become children of God. Study Romans 8:14-17 and talk about what are the benefits of being a child or God, what is required of being a child of God, and how does one become a child of God?

6) In the last part of Mark 7 we read about a man who was deaf and mute (read Mark 7:31-36). Read what Isaiah the prophet said about the miracles the Messiah would accomplish (Isaiah 35:5-6). Have you ever seen some miraculously healed?  

7) As we near the holiday season take some time to plan a date for your small group to get our and serve our community, help a friend of a friend, a single-parent, or someone who is need this season. 

Close your time in prayer 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Mark 6:30-56 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| Don’t turn a blind eye ||| Mark 6:30-56

The Gospel of Mark has been an action packed story of the life of Jesus. In the first half of Mark 6 we read about three unique stories that Jesus experienced. In the middle of the chapter, Jesus sent the disciples out to preach the Gospel. The disciples return to give Jesus a report but are unable to do so because of a large crowd. Jesus multiples fish and loaves to feed 5000 men. This is a miracle of provision like has never been seen before. Then Jesus walks on water to meet the disciples in the middle of a storm. We learn about how Jesus loves people and has power over creation.

1) The overzealous crowd was unwilling to leave Jesus alone to heard the report from the disciples (read Mark 6:30-34). Compare and contrast how Jesus saw the crowd versus how the disciples saw the crowd.

2) The word used for “compassion” in Mark 6:34 is the same word used in Luke 10:33. What are some ways that Jesus calls Christians to live a life of compassion? Come up with a list of 10-20 ways your group can show compassion this week.

3) Jesus wanted to feed the crowd by instructing the disciples to give them something to eat (Mark 6:37). Make a list of what Jesus taught people about the nature of God by doing this. Where is Jesus asking you to give people spiritual food that will help them know the wild love of God?

4) Jesus had a practice of spending time with God on a regular basis (read Mark 1:35, 6:46, Luke 4:42). What can you eliminate from your life to spend more with God?

5) Think about the disciples rowing the boat against the wind in the middle of the lake. What is a storm you are are currently battling and you need Jesus to help you get through it? What does Mark teach us about the love of Jesus that He would walk through a storm to meet the disciples in their anguish?

6) When Jesus got into the boat the wind died down (read Mark 6:51). Think about other religions and the need to appease gods. What does this story teach us about the nature of Jesus and His power over creation (if you have time read Psalm 89:9, 107:25-30, and Matthew 21:18-22).

7) Mark gives us two examples of Jesus power over creation. What do these examples teach us about the love of God?

Close your time in prayer.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Mark 6:1-29 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| A Snapshot of Ministry ||| Mark 6:1-29

The Gospel of Mark has been an action packed story of the life of Jesus. Mark chose to focus more on what Jesus did than what Jesus said. In the first half of Mark 6, we study three stories of Jesus encountering people. First, Jesus is rejected in His home. Second, Jesus sends out the disciples. Third, Jesus hears the news about John the Baptist being beheaded. These words in Scripture show us the compassion of Jesus, the leadership of Jesus, and the compassion of Jesus to help more people find the wild love of God. Study these questions together to grow in your faith.

1) What dynamics of a “hometown” would have made it difficult for Jesus to be  fully accepted in Nazareth (read Mark 6:1-6a)? What struggles do we encounter in our hometown that can make it tough to share the love of Jesus?

2) The people in Nazareth almost killed Jesus on His last visit (Luke 4:14-30). Mark tells us that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. What causes people to have such a lack of faith?

3) In Mark 3 Jesus called the Apostles. Then in Mark 5, Jesus modeled what they are to do. Now in Mark 6:6a-13 we read that Jesus sent them out. What would have been the most difficult part about being an Apostle?

4) Mark makes a note about the obedience of the Apostles. Pastor Neal told us that many people are “educated beyond their obedience.” Have you found that you know more about the love of Jesus than you put into practice or share with others?

5) One model of leadership has a five step process of teaching people how to do a job, task, or ministry. Is there an area of ministry you are currently serving in that you could find a person to come alongside you and raise them up to serve in that area?

6) The story of Herod and John the Baptist is a tragic account of a saint loosing his life. Share about the life of a saint, who has gone to be with Jesus, that radically impacted your life for the gospel.

7) Read Mark 6:14-29. Talk about the obvious sin and lack of leadership involved expressed in this story. What lessons do you learn (good or bad) that can help us as we seek to follow Jesus in our daily life?

Close your time in prayer. Be bold in asking for Jesus to restore you or others.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Mark 5 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| No Ordinary Man ||| Mark 5

In Mark 5 we see three stories of life change. First Jesus battles a storm to meet with a man who is suffering from demon-possession. Locationally, the land where the story takes place, is questioned. Is this the territory of the Israelites or Syria? It must not be Jewish land because they are raising pigs. But the people don’t want Jesus there so He kindly leaves. Jesus travels to the other side of the lake to restore two ladies to wholeness. In this entire chapter see the compassion of Jesus to free people from their earthly suffering so they can know Jesus as their Savior. Mark teaches us that Jesus has restorative power over demon possession, disease, and death.   

1) At the end of Mark 4, Jesus battled a raging storm to get to the other side of the lake to reach this demon-possessed man. How have you seen Jesus enter the mess of your life, or others lives, to bring them the healing and freedom they need? 

2) Society had chained the demon-possessed man (with a physical chain) and satan had kept him bound spiritually but Jesus brought freedom. What chains have you see Jesus break in your life to give you freedom? 

3) Some people think that satan and his demons have access to our thoughts. Read Job 1:6-12 and discuss how Satan only knows what God reveals to him. Read 1 John 2:14 and discuss how God lives in us and we have power in His name. 

4) On the other side of the lake we read that Jairus fell on his knees in the presence of Jesus. In fact all three people in Mark 5 fall on their knees. What does falling on your knees represent? When the last time you got on your knees in front of Jesus? 

5) In the Old Testament we get a glimpse into the issue of bleeding the woman was experiencing (Read Leviticus 15:19-27). We also learn about Levitical Laws for a Priest in regards to the dead (read Leviticus 21:1-4). How come Jesus ignored the old covenant and healed both of these women? 

6) Think of the courage and bravery it took for this woman to approach Jesus. Read Hebrews 11:1 and Joshua 1:9. Where is God asking you to be bold & courageous? 

7) In Mark 5:40-43 we see that Jesus has restorative power over death. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and John 11:1-44. Talk about the resurrection of the dead and what a believe in Jesus can expect at the end of his/her life. 

8) Close your time in prayer. Be bold in asking for Jesus to restore you or others. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Mark 4:35-41 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| Remember ||| Mark 4:35-41

After Jesus taught the people with parables, He invited the disciples to travel to the other side of the lake. Most of Jesus’ miracles were driving out demons, healing the sick, or inviting the lame to walk. In this account we see that Jesus has power over all of creation. Jesus has the power to tell the weather and nature how to act. It seemed the the disciples were surprised that He had control over this aspect of life also. In fact, the disciples left the entire situation being terrified by what they had just experienced.  

1) How can you explain the fact that the disciples had seen Jesus heal the sick, teach with the power, & do miracles but they were surprised that He could calm the storm? 

2) Read Mark 4:38. What emotions do you think were expressed on the boat that evening in the Sea of Galilee? Share a time when you felt very close to Jesus but something happened in your life that caused you to doubt His presence.  

3) Fear is a very real emotion. At times our fear can drown our faith and render us seemingly useless for the Kingdom of God. Read 1 John 4:18 and talk about the perfect love of Jesus drives out fear in our lives and in the story with the disciples. 

4) Jesus answered the disciples question with action by calming the storm (read Mark 5:39-41). The account pictures Jesus as doing only what was possible for God to accomplish in the Old Testament (read Psalm 107:29–30). Talk about how Jesus has power over all creation (see Genesis 1:1-3 and John 1:1-14). 

5) The words translated “rebuked” and “be still” were used in Mark 1:25 with reference to an exorcism. This consideration may imply a demonic element in the storm. How come there would be a possible demonic element to the storm? 

6) Jesus put the disciples faith into question. Jesus didn’t ask the question because He wanted an answer, Jesus wanted them to think about their irrational fear and faith. Read Hebrews 11 and talk about the men and women of faith who have proceeded us. What encourages you most about this hall of faith list?  

7) Mark taught us to remember that storms come and go, but God’s love and presence are consistent. Some people think God is mad at them or has negative thoughts to them, but that isn’t true (read Jeremiah 29:11 and 1 Peter 2:9). Talk about how these good thoughts impact how we live our lives. 

Close your time in prayer. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Mark 4 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| Growing the Kingdom of God ||| Mark 4

Jesus has been on the move and is once again teaching near the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd has come to hear Him. Mark presents a series of teachings from Jesus called “parables.” The word can also be translated as, story, proverb, lesson or illustration. Parables are a way to teach eternal truths through stories of everyday life that appeal to everyone. The first one is a secret but the more Jesus teaches, we begin to see the truth come to light in His teaching.

1) Think about the first time you heard the Gospel message. What was your response? Did you trust in Jesus or did it take a while for you to fully trust Christ? Think through how the love of Jesus was shared with you and how it impacted your life.

2) The parable of the soils (read Mark 4:3-9) illustrates, first, God’s lavish offer of salvation to all who believe and, second, the mixed reception of that offer. How is your life producing a harvest for the Kingdom of God?

3) In Mark 4:10-12 we read that the disciples and others stayed around to hear an explanation of the short sermon. What makes some want to hear more about Jesus while others are content to leave and keep living their lives? Do you ever find yourself getting bored with the message of Jesus?

4) In Mark 4:21-25 Jesus speaks about the hidden things we say and how they will be revealed one day. Read Luke 6:45. How does this impact the way you live your life? What measure are you coming to Jesus with to get filled up?

5) Jesus was beginning His public ministry and it had sprouted in Galilee, but the message of Jesus would eventually go global (Matthew 28:18-20). Talk about how Mark 4:26-29 is a hidden message about the power of the Gospel that would transform many.

6) Jesus used one final parable about the Kingdom of God (Mark 4:30-34). Although it seemed that what Jesus was doing was on such a small scale, one day it would be a great comfort for many. Who can you share the truth of Jesus with this week?

7) Mark tells us that Jesus explained everything to the disciples. How have you structured your life to be a learning disciple under the teaching of Jesus? What do you do to find alone time with Jesus?

Close your time in prayer.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Mark 3:7-35 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| On Matters of Rest ||| Mark 3:7-35

The miracles Jesus did drew a crowd and the people loved Him. But at the same time the religious leaders didn’t know how to categorize Jesus. In Mark 3:7-25 we see that Jesus intentionally left the spotlight to be with God. But it didn’t work so well, the crowds followed. Jesus called twelve disciples to follow Him as an act of a holy revolution. Jesus was putting a stop to religious legalism and showing people the true hope of Jesus. That didn’t sit well for the religious leaders as they had no clue how to explain the great things God was doing; they couldn’t see it was the Holy Spirit at work!

1) As the people began to be more enamored with Jesus He choose to get away and avoid the crowd (read Mark 3:7-12). The crowd was interested in the spectacular and Jesus was interested in the Spiritual. How can we be distracted with the spectacular and miss out on the spiritual lessons God wants to teach us?

2) Mark does a great job at keeping the hope of Heaven in front of us by taking about the impure spirits declaring that Jesus is the Son of God. Read Acts 16:16-18 and 19:13-18. Talk about the power of the name of Jesus in these three accounts.

3) Jesus called seemingly ordinary men as Apostles. Read Matthew 10:1-4 and Luke 6:12-16. What do you these passages teach us about the disciples and some of the nicknames the men were given? Talk about the ‘sons of thunder’ and ‘zealot’.

4) Why do you think Jesus sent the disciples out in groups of two? We currently live in one of the loneliest generations of all time. Talk about practical ways that the church can come alongside lonely people and invite them into Biblical community.

5) Jesus sent the disciples out with the instructions to preach the ‘good news.’ Take some time to read Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 49:6, Acts 10:44-48, Galatians 3:28 and discuss how God’s plan has always been for all people to trust Jesus.

6) Jesus told the religious leaders that the only unforgivable sin is blaspheme of the Holy Spirit (see Mark 3:28-29). How can we encourage more people to find their name written in the Lamb’s book of life? (Revelation 21:27).

7) Jesus’ family was convinced that He was crazy and they needed to come rescue Him. What does your family think about your relationship with the Lord? has it been an aid in sharing the truth with them or a point of contention?

Close your time in prayer.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

4 thoughts on four decades


Last year I turned 40…
Sounds kind of crazy to say that because I never thought I would make it to 18. The last twenty years have been a wild ride for me. Giving my life to Jesus, getting married, having children, finishing a graduate degree, and more are some of the highlights. 

We’ve lived in six different homes since we got married and three different states. We’ve served in three churches and want Coastline to be a long-term ministry call (Ventura is a great city!). 

For the last couple weeks I’ve thought about this new decade in my life. I’ve thought about the former decades and what I’ve learned. I didn’t want to write a list of 40 things I’ve done or 40 ways to eat chicken (that sounds good though). I figured I’d give one thing from each decade. Some I’ve excelled in and others I’m growing in. 

Family is important 
This is a big one for me. Growing up my family was broken and mended. I shared a bedroom with my grandma when all we could afford was to live with her. As I grew I became a bratty teenager. I shunned my family and looked for independence. I found a great group of friends but we made some bad decisions. I got in a big fight with my dad and we didn’t talk for 2 years. I upset my mom. I hurt my sister. I ignored my grandma on her deathbed because I didn’t know how to deal with emotions and anger and frustration and bitterness. 

Then I gave my life to Jesus and realized that God is a healing God. I learned about reconciliation and restoration. I lived with my sister for many years while in college. My mom and established a healthy relationship. I met my wife and we had kids. I also did a graduate degree and saw that I spent a lot of time away from my family and that was tough on them. 

When I look at the last decade and the coming decade, I know that family is important but more of my decisions will be based on that. I want to spend more time with my kids. I want to make dating my wife intentional. I want more vacations where my phone is left in a car, backpack, or pocket. I want more memories and less “likes” on social media. That is what I’m aiming for. 

Have fun 
This has never really been a problem for me. I love an adventure, a hike, riding dirt bikes, jumping cars, and surfing. But I’m learning that fun doesn’t have to be an adrenaline rush (although it’s not bad). Fun can be jumping on the trampoline with my kids, walking on the beach with my wife, or taking my mom to a coffee. I’ve had a ton of fun watching my kids grow and learn. Fun is laughing at Chick-fil-A or riding bikes around the block. 

I played dolls the other day with my daughter and we had so much fun. I’m actually laughing while writing this. We smiled and played creatively. I want to focus on continuing to have fun in life. I’m going to be looking for more ways to have fun. If you’re planning something fun, invite me! 

Life is a lesson, learn from it 
When I was 17 I was in a confused place in life. I was raking pine needles with a close family friend (my mom’s best friend from high school). We would work hard and then talk while working. I shared some of the dumb stuff I was doing and she said something I have never forgotten. She said: “Neal, you need to know three things about life. First, life is a lesson learn from it. Second, life is a lesson learn from it. Third, life is a lesson learn from it.” 

Life is a lesson. We are not going to be perfect. I strive for perfection and fail regularly. But when I think back to my conversation with Lil, I am reminded of all I’ve learned. I’ve learned how to flip a truck over after you roll it, how to tie a knot, how to braid my daughters hair, how to grow a backyard garden, and more. Life is a lesson. Keep learning. This decade I’m committing to being a long-long learner. 

Take God serious 
When I was a little kid my mom took me to church. I didn’t apply much of what I learned. I retained the info, but didn’t allow God to transform my life. When I was twenty I really trusted Jesus with all I had. A couple years later I learned about taking God serious. Not that God is always serious, I think God likes to have fun too (read about the time a donkey talked to a man). 

What I mean here is, be obedient to God. Spend time in prayer. Listen to God. Serve others. Give generously. I’m not talking about religious legalism, but radical obedience. I want to end my life knowing that I took God serious. I want to live my life knowing that I took God serious. I want to have serious fun while doing that! 

Here’s to the next decade! 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

The Prayer of a Broken Man



Jesus was an amazing story teller, He loved to tell stories! This story is a parable, a parable is a made up story used to teach a specific point (read Luke 18:9-13). What you have to know is the Pharisees are the bad guys and the tax collectors are the good guys. The Pharisees were a group of people who took their religion very seriously, but who were hostile towards Jesus. We imagine this Pharisee running on and on about his own superior spirituality but he’s really rotten to the core. All of his religious activity is just an act; he doesn’t really care about God. His life is a sham.

Now many times we are in the habit of viewing the tax collector as kind of the humble, downtrodden type. We know the tax collectors were hated by their fellow Jews because they collected taxes for the Romans and were considered traitors. Sometimes we see them as the victim in the story but really they are corrupt people. They were scumbags! We imagine that deep down this guy really wants to know God, he just doesn’t know how.

First, we see the prayer of the Pharisee. Notice his actions. He stood. Most likely, he had his eyes lifted up as this was the proper way to pray back then. He knew how to pray properly. Notice also he stood off by himself.  He starts with thanksgiving. When you pray, that’s a good place to start.

We’re called to express our gratitude to God. His thanks to God is rooted in the fact that he’s not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers. Then he finds someone near him there in the temple who fits that description. He knew tax collectors were scoundrels. How thankful he was God had allowed him to be different.By the time he’s done praying, he’ll have used the first person singular pronoun “I” four times, making himself the main subject of his prayer.

Unlike the tax collector who ripped people off, the Pharisee was generous with what he had. His wasn’t a religion of convenience; he put his money where his mouth was. He was disciplined in both his prayer life and his tithing.

The tax collector is quite different. The Bible says he “stood at a distance.” He doesn’t feel worthy to stand at the altar with God’s people. Then he beats his breast. The remarkable thing about this is that it was more customary for women to do this than it was for men. This wasn’t the proper way for a man to pray! But he’s so desperate that he doesn’t seem to care.

Then notice what he says, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” His prayer is so short. He doesn’t offer thanks. Instead, he issues a desperate request. He asks for mercy based on the fact that he’s such a sinner. It appears he saw himself in a class by himself in this. He calls himself, “the sinner.” He feels no one else could have done as much wrong as he. He doesn’t go on and on about it; all he can do is beg God to cover his sin, he casts himself entirely on the mercy of God.

The two men walk out and that’s the end of the story. But then Jesus delivers his shocking verdict (Luke 18:14). He says, “This man (the tax collector) rather than the other (the Pharisee) went home justified before God.

This man is now in right relation to God rather than the other! In other words, he’s going to heaven and the other is not. The Pharisee, though he thought he was righteous, was unrighteous, while the tax collector, though he thought he broke all the records for sin, was righteous.

The line between the good guys and the bad guys wasn’t drawn where we thought.

This Pharisee thought the distinctions that mattered among men mattered with God.

But the tax collector wasn’t thinking about others. In desperation, he just cried out for mercy.

The heart of true prayer is this humble cry of desperation.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

7 Ways to Make Successful Resolutions


We are moving to a time of year where many people will make a resolution. In the past I have preached on these resolutions so I can almost quote what many of them are. You probably know them too. We've all made some or heard a friend talk about their coming goals for the New Year.

Most people will make a resolution that involves one of these:
- Loose Weight
- Get our of debt
- Go to the gym
- Get a better job
- Clean the garage
- Read the Bible/go to church
- Stop drinking alcohol

In recent years, studies have found that about 12% of people actually accomplish their goals. Wipe your eyes, clean your glasses, and read that again. Only 12% of people will actually accomplish their New Years Resolutions.

How come there is such a horrible fail rate?
Why can't we seem to find success in this area?
What is causing me/others to fail?

These are all questions that we need to answer. One part is that we are naturally lazy. One author wrote that is the job of the brain to conserve energy. Going to the gym takes energy. Think about that for a minute!

Another reason we fail is that we are not disciplined. That is hard to read. Say it out loud and it sounds worse! We lack the disciple it takes to create new, healthy, habits in our lives.

Now, I am one who loves goals and how found seven ways to help make your goals a reality:

1) Get Creative

Instead of saying that you will go to the gym every day for the next 52 weeks, what if you made a different goal? The truth simple; you haven't been to the gym for the last 4 years so what is going to be so special about this year?
I'm not trying to be rude, but honest. I have a standing goal of being in the gym 3-4 times a week. I know my schedule and what it takes to get to the gym. The gym is close to my work, less than a half-mile away. But it is still hard for me to get there.

Also, we need to change our language. I listened a book this year and the author made a comment like this about goals: "Stop saying you will try to go to the gym." Saying "try" gives you the excuse. Replace it with saying: "I will go to the gym." It changes our ambition in the later statement.

2) Think Marathon and not Sprint

If we keep on the gym topic, we need to think marathon and not sprint. I know that some people say a marathon is just 26 miles sprinted together. I've never ran a marathon. In fact, this was a goal of mine like 12 years ago. Then I started running and puked. I realized I wasn't built for running so I needed to shift my goal.

The marathon concept is tied to a length in our goals. If your goal is to do blah blah blah (fill in the blank), figure out how long it will take. Then figure out what you need to do each week to make it happen.


3) Create Achievable Goals 

One of my goals last year was to hike Half Dome in Yosemite. I had looked at that rock since I was 6 years old and wanted to sit on the top. I had been applying for a permit for a couple years. I needed to get creative. I put a false deadline on it. I told myself that I had to climb it before I was 40 years old. I could have climbed it at 41, but I  need a push.

To make it more achievable I started walking more. I made it a goal to walk 3-5 miles a day. Then I would take a longer hike each month. I love being outside so this was a no brainer.

4) Insert Fun 

See my hike to Half Dome was a fun goal. So many of the goals that I have created in the past were boring. I am going to be honest, the gym is fun for me but the gym is not fun. For me it's a way to exercise and continue tot be an athlete. I go to the gym because I view myself as an athlete. I want to be able to hike Half Dome, snowboard, fish, surf, and ride bikes with my kids. Going to the gym helps me stay fit so I can accomplish some greater goals I have in life.

Think about something fun you've been wanting to do. Go to Hawaii, travel the States, save up for new car. Make this fun! Create a game out of it. When I would hike, I would put my son on my back to help strengthen my legs. I made it a game and accomplished the hike.

5) Share Them

Last year I was reading a book by Mark Batterson. In the book he said that you need to write down your goals and share them. I began sharing one of my goals with a few friends. Guess what? I didn't hike Half Dome alone. When I shared my goal I found support from others. I had guys talking about the gear they had, how they are prepping, and more. It was epic to summit the dome together.

One of my goals for the last two years has been to start writing a book. Guess what? I haven't done it. Do you know why? Because I don't have anyone asking me how I'm doing on making progress. I really want to write a book... but I keep putting it off.

6) No Lone Rangers

This ties right into the last goal. We were never meant to do life alone. Find some people to support you in your goals. I have a friend who went on a journey to loose weight. He lost like a 100 pounds (that is like me loosing two of my kids). He didn't hide his weight loss. He was super open about his failure to care for his body, and how eating was an addiction. He was super honest and got so much support!

Do you know why CrossFit works? Because you have others who are supporting you. I did CrossFit once and it kicked my butt. Then I left and said: "I want to do this more." We were made to life in community. Find some trusted to friends to share your goals with. Ask them to walk along with you.

7) Keep them Visible 

I typically write my goals and keep them in my phone. I look at them like 6 times a year. This year I'm going to change that. I'm going to write them on a piece of a paper and put it near my bed and then make a copy that goes to my office. I want to see them. I want to know what I'm working towards.

You can do the same. Write them with a pen, studies show we are more likely to remember them if they are hand-written. Tape them in your car, your office, or get them tattooed on your arm. Actually, don't get a tattoo, that is a bad idea.

What am I missing from this list? I need to keep excelling in goals.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Mark 2:23-3:6 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| On Matters of Rest ||| Mark 2:23-3:6

The Nation of Israel is coming alive as the impact of Jesus slowly spreads throughout. As Jesus continued to move through the Nation of Israel it became evident that He was intentionally associating Himself with the outcasts of Jewish culture. On two Sabbath occasions Jesus did what the Pharisees thought was unlawful. The Pharisees were a self-imposed group who the people respected. Jesus needed the Pharisees and the people to see the rest that He came to bring us. Not only rest but a focus on worshipping the Lord and showing mercy to others.

1) How do you honor the Sabbath? Do you struggle with writing/answering emails, constantly taking calls from work, or disconnecting from life to be with Jesus?

2) Read Exodus 20:8-11. What does God teach us about what to do on the Sabbath and taking a day of rest? How do you make the Sabbath holy?

3) Jesus made a parallelism between Himself and King David (read 1 Samuel 21:1-16 and Mark 2:23-27). Pastor Neal taught us that David was the anointed king but not yet sitting on the throne and Jesus was the anointed King. How does this impact how you live your life for the anointed king?

4) Jesus broke Jewish traditions such as not working on the Sabbath. Why do you think He felt the freedom to do that in both of these passages in Scripture?

5) Read Mark 3:1-6. Another time Jesus teaches us about matters of rest by showing Mercy in the Synagogue. In some ways Jesus is leading a rebellion against Jewish tradition. Does it seem like Jesus is leading a rebellion and how was it needed?

6) In the Synagogue that day Jesus showed a greater example of mercy. Read Proverbs 3:27 and Hosea 6:6. Talk about how we can show goodness and mercy to those who are in our presence.

7) What do you struggle with most with in showing mercy to others? Do you find yourself leaning more to legalism (like the Pharisees) or leaning to showing mercy (like Jesus did)? How can you show more mercy to others?

Close your time in prayer. Take some time to pray for Coastline and our ability to reach people by showing mercy.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Mark 2:13-22 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone

Small Group Questions ||| Two Questions ||| Mark 2:13-22


The Nation of Israel is coming alive as the impact of Jesus slowly spreads throughout. In the middle part of Mark 2 we read about two questions that we’re asked to Jesus. Jesus has completely flipped the script. He is calling toll collectors to follow Him, eating with sinners, and not fasting when everyone else seems to be fasting. Jesus came not to just add some flavor to the food but to bring a whole new meal. Jesus tried to help the people see that they cannot simply add a little Jesus to their desires; He is doing a whole new thing. This was difficult for some people to grasp and understand.

1) Share about how you deal with change. Do you enjoy it when certain things change? Are you averse to change or is it something you welcome?

2) Read Mark 2:13-14. Jesus offers a new way of life to Levi as he sits at the tax booth. If you read Matthew 9:9-13 you will see that he also changed his name. Levi wrote the Gospel of Matthew. Talk about the new life Jesus offered to you.

3) What would you do if someone came to your workplace and told you to follow him and leave the job. Would you get up and walk away or think the person is crazy? Now imagine if it was following Jesus, what are you willing to give up to follow Him?

4) It seems the very night that Jesus called Levi to “follow me”, Levi threw a party for all his friends. Jesus chose to befriend the unloveable. How can we practice this in our personal relationships?

5) Read Mark 2:18-22. Jesus offered three ways that Kingdom of God was a new thing and not something that was supplemental to add to our current way of life. Have you tried to force Jesus fit your current lifestyle and rejected a complete transformation?

6) Read Colossians 3:9-10. Paul instructs us to put off the old self and be renewed in the image of Jesus. Talk about how Jesus has renewed your life during the time you’ve followed Him. Where is He currently renewing you?

7) What are some of the challenges of remembering that Jesus came to save sinners and not to please those who are already righteous?

Close your time in prayer. Take some time to intentionally pray for each other to grasp the new way of life Jesus offers.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Mark 2:1-12 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ||| Do the Impossible ||| Mark 2:1-12


The gospel of Mark was written by John Mark who was a helper of Peter and Paul. History tells us this was the first written account of Jesus of Nazareth. The gospel is fast-paced. We read that Jesus moved from here, went there, healed, preached, and taught. In Mark 2 we find Jesus back in Capernaum. His fame and notoriety has spread to the people so much that the home He is teaching in is packed full. In a full miracle Jesus heals a paralyzed man. But the physical healing can overshadow the spiritual healing the man received for the forgiveness of sins.

1) Share a story about a person who know who is in desperate need of a miraculous healing just like the man in Mark 2:1-12. Talk about how his/her life would be different if that healing came.

2) Read Mark 2:1-2. Imagine hearing a great person with the power to heal. Imagine carrying a friend to see him the house being packed. Describe what you would do; would you turn around and leave or would you press on?

3) The friends chose to push forward. Read Mark 2:3-5. What does it mean when Mark writes that: “Jesus saw their faith?” Look at Romans 10:17 and talk about how to get faith

4) Share what your currently reading in the Bible and how that is increasing your faith. The author of Romans tells us that the word strengthens our faith. Read John 1:1,14 and discuss how Jesus is the Word of God.

5) Mark writes that the Pharisee’s were thinking things about Jesus (Mark 2:6-7). Jesus is able to respond to their internal questions. This is a Theological term known as the Omniscience of God. Read Psalm 139:1-6 and 147:5 to learn more about this.

6) Jesus offers a complete forgiveness of sins to this man. This was only something that a Levitical Priest can offer. Read Hebrews 4:14-16 to see how Jesus is the High Priest and able to offer this. Jesus is also the Son of God and can offer this (Mark 1:1)

7) At the end of the account we read that all the people were amazed. Do you think the religious leaders were amazed or bitter at Jesus? How come they couldn’t rejoice?  

8) We learn from this passage our responsibility to bring people to Jesus. Pray for each other to have the faith to bring your friends Jesus in the near future.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Thanksgiving Table





The following is an email I sent to Coastline last week as an encouragement to seek the Lord as we approach Thanksgiving.

Hi Coastline,
As we approach Thanksgiving, I want to share with you a conversation that happened the other night at our dinner table. During our meal we began talking with our children about who we could invite over for Thanksgiving. We asked our kids to think of people in our church who might need a place to have a meal, eat some pie, and watch football with our family. One of our kids shared a person, my wife came up with an idea, and then I thought of another family. We asked our family to pray about who God might have us to reach out to. After prayer, we asked those we had thought of to join us for Thanksgiving. One of the couples said maybe, and we found out the other family had a place to go.

For many years our family has invited people to join us for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’ve also been on the receiving end of that invitation and have been invited to people’s homes to spend the holidays with them. There are people in our church body, community, and city who will be spending Thanksgiving alone (let that set in). Some are connected to Coastline, some live near us, and others we’ve known for a long time. Each person has a different reason. Some can’t afford a plane ticket to visit to their family. Some don’t have a healthy relationship with their family. Others are new to town and looking for community.

This week will you begin praying for God to speak to you to see if He is asking you to reach out to someone? This is a personal act of seeking God. The church office will not be organizing Thanksgiving for people (before you think the tone here sounds harsh, keep reading). We want to see God’s people seek God’s voice in order to know God’s will. This might seem totally out of your comfort zone, and I understand that. But just maybe God will use your invitation to a person in your community group, some friends from your neighborhood, or a person you meet on Sunday at Coastline to do something God-sized in your life and in theirs.

Thanks for doing life together.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Mark 1:16-45 Small Group Questions


Our church is currently studying the book of Mark. For twenty-eight weeks we're walking through the book and talking about the action-packed story of Jesus. Mark was more concerned with what Jesus did than what Jesus said. A big "Thank you!" to RJ McCauley from Magnolia Church in Riverside for preaching this week and writing these questions for us. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ::: The Cross Before Me, The Cross Behind Me ::: Mark 1:16-45


The Gospel of Mark is fast paced and full of action. It was written by John-Mark who witnessed all of the action in the book of Acts and through his cousin Barnabas, the Apostle Paul, and his close friend Peter. He writes his gospel in such a way that it calls true followers to radical discipleship. This gospel narrative hinges on the key passage in the middle of the book (see Mark 8:34-38). It’s all moving towards the cross. It’s all focused on the cross. It’s all about the cross. Too many go to the cross, but only a few get on the cross. As Christians, we are called to deny yourself, pick up the cross, and follow Christ. True followers of Jesus are actively sharing their faith and serving the people. In fact, it’s no surprise why Jesus performed these great works in Mark 1:16-45. He had a vision and lived it out. The cross was before him, and it motivated him to accomplish his purpose. After he accomplished it, the cross was behind him and it was finished.

1) Take a moment and read through Mark 1:16-45 to see the work of God that was being done through Jesus. Are you actively engaging in the work of God in your city?

2) If you are a Christian, you are called to be a fisher of men (Mark 1:16-20). This means you should be catching people with the good news. Therefore, have you been sharing your faith and leading people to salvation? If you have not been fishing, where should you begin?

3) Jesus demonstrates how he has authority over darkness and evil (Mark 1:21-34). Where do you need to take the gospel where the light of Jesus does not shine in Ventura?

4) The strength of Jesus’ ministry was based on the depth of his prayer time (Mark 1:35-39). When was the last time you got away from the busy world to just pray for several hours in a deserted place like Jesus did?

5) Take a moment and pray like Jesus did in a quiet place (Mark 1:35). Jesus most likely prayed for his mission, his followers, and himself. First, pray for God’s mission to be fulfilled in your life. Second, pray for those who need Christ. Third, pray for your personal walk with God. Do the same and in that order (see an example in Matthew 6:9-15).

6) There are many healings done by Jesus throughout the Gospel of Mark. The healings proved that he was the Son of God and the Son of Man from the Old Testament. When he did these healings, it was always to fulfill the Scriptures (see Leviticus 13-14; Luke 17:11-19). Why is it significant that Jesus healed a leper (Mark 1:40-45)?

7) After Jesus called his disciples, they followed him. After Jesus healed and delivered people from darkness and evil, they followed him. After Jesus prayed, they followed him. After Jesus restored a leper to full health, they followed him. Jesus lived with action. The cross was before him and behind him. His life was all about the cross. How can you keep the cross at the center of everything you do so people will follow him?