Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Learning the practice of solitude



What does our lives look like when they have intentional solitude? 

First off, how many of you have ever taken intentional time in quiet to be with the Lord? If you have never done this you might want to start small. Think of five minutes or ten minutes at first. You can increase to thirty minutes or sixty minutes as you progress. 

Some of you have been practicing solitude for a while now and you might be ready for a silent retreat at a monastery in the near future. The reality is that you will need to schedule time to make this happen, it won’t happen on accident. 

Let me just briefly remind us that this is not a modern self-help remedy that we’re talking about here. We’re talking about solitude as a spiritual practice of being with the Lord. For the introverts in the room this might be a welcomed practice. For the extroverts this might feel like solitary confinement. Remember during the pandemic when people said to start checking on your extroverted friends because they aren’t doing well? Well, this might be more difficult for some people than for others, that doesn’t mean any of us are exempt. 

So you’ve schedule time in your week to sit in solitude with the Lord. You have your journal in front of you and you’re ready to hear from the Lord. I want to give you three ways to go in your time of solitude. The first way is to practice listening to God. This comes from 1 Samuel 3:10. The Lord was talking with Samuel but he didn’t know how to hear God’s voice. His mentor told him to say this line. So you can schedule your time and place with the Lord and just sit and listen to God. You’re not coming to God to pray for your spouse, kids, parents, or next career move. You’re coming to God to primarily hear His voice. 

The next way you can sit with God in solitude is to practice silence. This idea comes from Psalm 46:10. The Psalmist teaches us to simply be still before the Lord. In this practice you are being still before The Lord. You are allowing the Lord to examine your heart. This might be one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to practice in solitude. We are great at going all different directions. So you are sitting with the Lord and you’re going to be tempted to start thinking about other things. You’re going to have to keep a tight reign on your thoughts. This is why we have a journal in front of us. We can write those distractions down to take care of them later. We can write down anything God speaks to us in this time. There is such a value of having this time. 

Listen to what A.W. Tozer said: “The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His presence.”

The last idea I want to share with you to practice during this time is asking the Lord to search your heart. If you turn to Psalm 139:23-24 for this time it will help guide you. What I want you to notice is that Scripture is the guide in every step of our time with the Lord. This might look like confession of sin. I like to use this time as deep down confession. Let me share what I mean. Sometimes we can confess our sin in the two minutes that we have with the Lord but we don’t ask God to search our heart and deeply confess sin. In this time you ask God to reveal the dark side of your soul and confess your sin all the way down. You are setting aside this time to confess its the right direction. 

Another thing that you can do in this time is sit with your journal and write down what God speaks to you. You might confess your sin or God might reveal somethings to you about your walk with the Lord that He wants to bring to light. When I’ve sat in this time I have brought my journal with me. It’s similar to when Moses sat with the Lord. We allow the Lord to speak to us about who we really are. 

For some of us, this just seems too hard. This seems like too much to add to your plate. You might be thinking that you don’t even want to do it. Solitude can feel boring. It can feel like a waste of time. The truth is that we love to have our schedules filled. We love to be busy. We love to look important and this doesn’t make us feel important. This feels like stopping instead of taking the hill. Can I encourage to find a special place to be with the Lord to practice listening, practice siren, and ask the Lord to search your heart? 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Exodus 2 | Small Group Questions



About twelve years ago is when I first remember hearing the term: Spiritual Formation. It was a class I took during my masters work with Tozer Seminary. For ten-weeks this summer Coastline will be looking at Spiritual Formations in a sermon series titled: Formed. We live in a culture that longs for immediate change but being formed spiritually takes time. Spiritual formation takes years, even decades, to become the person God is calling you to be.  For this series I will write some of 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 | Formed in Solitude | Exodus 2

The story of Moses is fairly familiar in the Christian church. We know about his childhood, him sending forty years in the desert, and then leading the Nation of Israel to the edge of the Promised Land. Sometimes we miss his preparation process. Moses was born to a Hebrew family in Egypt. During the time period that Moses was born it was dangerous for a Hebrew family to have children. There was a law in Egypt that all baby boys were to be put to death at birth. Moses survived and was destined to be a leader. He was raised in the palace in Egypt and groomed his entire life for leadership. Study these questions and look at how solitude shaped Moses’ life. 

1) We live in a time where we are bombarded with content. There are billions of hours of YouTube consumed on a regular basis. You could watch Netflix for years. What is your biggest barrier to getting solitude with the Lord? 

2) Read Exodus 2:11-15. Moses had a lot to sort through in his life. He was a murdered who was chased out of Egypt by his stepfather. How do you think Moses began to process his childhood in solitude? What do you think he learned about himself? 

3) Something change in Moses during that 300 mile walk from Egypt to Midian (read Exodus 2:15-17). Moses still had a strong sense of justice but learned to control his actions. How has sitting still before the Lord helped shaped you? (See Psalm 46:10). 

4) When Moses arrived in Midian it was clear that he was unclear about his identity (read Exodus 2:18-25). But something changed in him as he sat with the Lord, gave up his dreams, and got involved in community. Share about a time in your life when you sat with the Lord and it shaped you. 

5) The Bible is full of people who have been shaped by times of solitude with the Lord (read 1 Kings 19:1-9, Psalm 118:6,  and Matthew 4:1-11). Looking at Moses, Elijah, and Jesus what are some similarities that you see in their time of solitude? 

6) Neal defined solitude as intentional time in quiet to be with the Lord. He invited us to read 1 Samuel 3:10, Psalm 46:10, and Psalm 139:23-24. When you look at these verses what one are you going to bring with you in your next time of solitude? 

7) To make solitude a spiritual disciple it will require planning ahead. Solitude won’t happen on accident. Solitude can feel boring and we need to be prepared for that. Do you have any desire to be in solitude with the Lord? Why or why not?

Close your time in prayer.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Ephesians 4 | Small Group Questions




About twelve years ago is when I first remember hearing the term: Spiritual Formation. It was a class I took during my masters work with Tozer Seminary. For ten-weeks this summer Coastline will be looking at Spiritual Formations in a sermon series titled: Formed. We live in a culture that longs for immediate change but being formed spiritually takes time. Spiritual formation takes years, even decades, to become the person God is calling you to be.  For this series I will write some of 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 | Be Made New | Ephesians 4

For the ten-weeks of summer we’re going to talk about Spiritual Formation. There are a variety of words used to describe our process of spiritual growth. We are all being formed into something. We are all pointing our lives in a direction, we need to slow down and think of what that direction might be. In Ephesians 4 Paul teaches the early church about leaving their life of sin to be formed in Christ. Paul painted this church about five years prior and knows they are not continuing in their formation. He doesn’t use the word Sanctification but teaches about the process of how sinful humans are made holy for God. Think about how God is shaping your life this summer. 

1) On stage there were a variety of items from a stroller to a motorcycle. Pastor Neal taught us about the physical maturity of a human and then about the spiritual growth on a person. Where are you in the Spiritual Growth process? 

2) Read Ephesians 4:17-19. Paul reminds the early church that they have walked away from growing spiritually. Read Colossians 2:6-7, John 15:1-8, and Romans 12:1-2. What happens when we stay connected to Jesus and keep growing spiritually? 

3) Looking at the same passages, talk about what happens when we choose to slowly drift away from the Lord? Read Genesis 4:7, Psalm 51:5, Mark 2:5, & 1 Corinthians 5:17-21. How does sin hurt our relationship with Jesus? 

4) Paul teaches us about what he taught the local church (read Ephesians 4:20-21). When you think about the truth of Jesus Christ, what verses come to mind? What is the true message of Jesus that we need to share (see John 8:32)? 

5) Read Ephesians 4:22-24. Paul lays out the three stages of our spiritual life. First, we trust Jesus. Then our life is transformed. Finally we live out that hope in Jesus as our lives continue to be transformed. Share where you’re currently growing. 

6) Read Ephesians 4:25-32. Paul teaches the early church about how to leave their life of sin. He even goes the extra mile in teaching them to not only get a job but to be generous with others. Looking at this list of sins and struggles, what sin are you struggling with most in life right now? 

7) When we think about spiritual growth we have to make sure we’re not simply working on behavior modification. Talk with your group about how you make sure that you are partnering with the Holy Spirit in this work and not only yourself. 

Close your time in prayer.



Monday, June 20, 2022

Genesis 50 | Small Group Questions




The story of Joseph is a favorite among children’s tales. It’s a story of family dysfunction that leads to slavery. The pain of loneliness and abandonment that ultimate lead to Jospeh saving Israel. So often we don’t sit in the pain that Joseph experienced. We don’t think about what went through Joseph’s mind in the bottom of the pit. We forget that Joseph never went to his senior prom. We miss that he lost a vital relationship with his mother. 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 | Shaped by life | Genesis 50

For the last eight weeks we’ve studied the life of Joseph. We have seen a variety of scenes for the young man. We met him in Genesis 37 living in his father’s home. In Genesis 39 he was living in the home of Potiphar. Next Jospeh was in a jail cell. The last part of his life was spent in Egypt living in a home as the second in command of the entire Nation. As we look to the final chapters of Genesis we see the famine is over and Jospeh remains in a position of power. His father Jacob passes away and Jospeh follows his request to be buried in the tomb of his father. After Jacob is non Jospeh’s brothers fear the worst and plead with their brother for their lives. 

1) The subtitle of our Jospeh series was: When life doesn’t go your way. All of us have experienced life not going our way. It could be a job loss, a flat tire, failing a test, or the loss of a loved one. When has life not gone your way? 

2) Read Genesis 50:1, 10, 17. Jospeh could be the poster child for life not going his way. But in all his pain, abandonment, and harassment he kept a compassionate heart. What does Jospeh teach us about remaining tender for the Lord? 

3) Read Genesis 50:4-14. Jospeh and his brothers fulfill the dying wishes of their father. A great of people join them. Talk about what kind of influence Jospeh must have had on Egypt for that many people to join him in burying his father. 

4) Joseph’s brothers had a tough time forgiving themselves for what they did to Jospeh (read Genesis 50:15-21). They are keenly aware of their past sin but struggling finding forgiveness. Do you have a past sin that continues to haunt you? 

5) Jospeh teaches us about living a life that is filled with grace upon grace. For some reason we can struggle with accepting the grace of God in our lives. Read these passages (Ephesians 2:8-10, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, & 2 Timothy 1:9) and discuss what it looks like to live a life filled with the grace of God.  

6) Read Genesis 50:22-26. Joseph passes away but speaks about the coming Exodus of Israel from Egypt (see Hebrews 11:22). Jospeh’s life teaches us that When life doesn’t go your way, God is still at work. How have you seen this truth in your life? 

7) Neal summed up Jospeh’s life as being in relationship with God. He also shared four ways we relate to God: Magic Theory, Causal Theory, Willpower Theory, or Relationship Theory. What way do you most related to God and why? 

Close your time in prayer.



Sunday, June 12, 2022

Living a life of integrity





This week I read a story about a successful executive who was making his way to the top of his field. A competing company reached out to him and promised him the moon. They interviewed him, wined and dined him, and at the end of the night offered him and unbelievable salary. That evening, when he arrived at his hotel room, he found a woman waiting for him in his room. She had been hired and provided by his prospective employes. He sent her away, packed his bags, left the hotel, and caught the last flight home that night. The very next day he emailed the company and said: “Forget it. If that’s the way you do business you don’t want me.” That is how integrity is lived out in our world. Max DePree, an outstanding Christian business man maintains this: “Integrity in all things precedes all else. The open demonstration of integrity is essential.” 

Are you ever tempted to cheat on a test in school? I cheated on tests in school. Are you ever tempted to lie to a police officer about how fast you were really driving? I have lied to police officers before. Are you ever temped to cheat on your taxes? Are you ever tempted to say that your kid is just one year younger to get into Disneyland for a little less money? Are you tempted to lie to look better? Are you tempted to fudge the numbers so things look better than they really are? We’ve all been in situations where we get to see how much our integrity is worth. Integrity keeps us honest. Integrity keeps our personal life in order.

If you are not living a life of integrity right now, look the Scripture to teach you how to do that. Instead of me telling you what to do, do a word search in your Bible about serving others. Start to read Scripture with a fresh set of eyes that are looking to grow in this area. Here is a very practical idea. Before you read your Bible, ask the Lord to teach you how to live a life of integrity from what you read. If you’re going to do this, I need you to know that living a life of integrity is tough. Integrity keeps your eyes on your paper during the test. Integrity makes you submit only true figures on your expense account. Integrity keeps your personal life pure and straight regardless of the benefits that might come your way for compromising in life. This is not an easy decision in life. This is a high calling in life. Living with integrity takes courage in life.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Genesis 47 | Small Group Questions






The story of Joseph is a favorite among children’s tales. It’s a story of family dysfunction that leads to slavery. The pain of loneliness and abandonment that ultimate lead to Jospeh saving Israel. So often we don’t sit in the pain that Joseph experienced. We don’t think about what went through Joseph’s mind in the bottom of the pit. We forget that Joseph never went to his senior prom. We miss that he lost a vital relationship with his mother. 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 Man of Integrity | Genesis 47

Genesis 47 starts out with the joy of a family reunion and quickly turns to the pain of a famine. The Egyptian people approach Joseph on separate occasions to stay alive. Jospeh models a life of character and integrity in the midst of a painful situation. What stands out in this passage is how the people of Egypt offer themselves to servitude to Pharaoh. Jospeh is not an active schemer in the plan but plays more of a passive role in their desires. Through all the pain we see God provide for Egypt through Joseph. Joseph comes up with a creative plan to keep the people alive and helps them to spread out into new land! 

1) Neal shared a story about how God provided for him to go to college through his local high school. Think about a time in your life when God provided for you through a way that you never expected to see Him provide. 

2) Read Genesis 47:13-17. We read that the Egyptians brought what they had to Joseph in exchange for food to stay alive. Think about the free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10). What surprises you most about the free gift of salvation? 

3) The people came to Joseph with empty hands and he treated them with respect. He didn’t disrespect them or treat them poorly. Read Psalms 25:21, Proverbs 11:3, and Titus 2:7-8. What makes living a life of integrity so tough? 

4) Read Genesis 47:18-19. Pharaoh is an archetype of sin. Sin is anything that is contrary to God’s word or plan. Read James 5:16. What is a sin that you are struggling with that is hurting your relationship with God and others? 

5) Joseph comes up with a creative plan that will satisfy the people and please Pharaoh (read Genesis 47:20-26). What are some creative ways that you can come up with, that are theological sound, to help people? 

6) The Scripture is clear that we are not to oppress the poor. Read Proverbs 14:31, 28:3, and Zechariah 7:10. How do you view people who are poor? What might God be inviting you to do to help the poor in your city, county, or state? 

7) Jacob has his eyes set on not being buried in Egypt. He knows that Egypt is not his final resting place (read Genesis 47:27-31). For Christians, earth is not our final resting place but we get consumed with our lives on earth. What one thing do you want to change to help you keep more focused on heaven in your daily life? 

Close your time in prayer.



Friday, May 20, 2022

Genesis 41 | Small Group Questions




The story of Joseph is a favorite among children’s tales. It’s a story of family dysfunction that leads to slavery. The pain of loneliness and abandonment that ultimate lead to Jospeh saving Israel. So often we don’t sit in the pain that Joseph experienced. We don’t think about what went through Joseph’s mind in the bottom of the pit. We forget that Joseph never went to his senior prom. We miss that he lost a vital relationship with his mother. 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 Promotion | Genesis 41

We’ve all experienced times in our life when things don’t go our way. For Joseph it was about thirteen years of his life that were taken from him. At the end of Genesis 40 we read that Joseph was once again forgotten. But in Genesis 41 Pharaoh has a disturbing dream and Joseph is remember. If you notice Jospeh’s posture, he is a completely different person than the teenager we met in Genesis 37. Jospeh learned to point to God in all situations. We see here that in his darkest times God shaped Jospeh’s character so he could lead Egypt through an immense famine. God had uniquely qualified Jospeh but it took years of shaping. 

1) We started out looking at the fable of Cinderella. Her life started out so beautiful but endured dark times. The conclusion of her story is a fairytale. When you think about Cinderella, what in her attitude/demeanor stand out to you? 

2) Read Genesis 41:1-8. For two years Jospeh waited in prison with no excitement happening in his life. Think about a period of you life that seemed pointless or lackluster but looking back, you can now see God’s hand of shaping. 

3) Read Exodus 41:14-16. Offers Pharaoh peace in his time of trouble. God has called us to be peace makers (read Psalm 29:11, Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 5:9, and John 16:33). How can you be a person who offers peace to those in times of trouble? 

4) Joseph is able to be humble in the presence of Pharaoh because allowed God to shape him in the pain of his youth (see: 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Timothy 4:5, and Hebrews 12:2). What painful situations have taught you endurance as a Christian? 

5) Read Genesis 41:33-40. After interpreting the dream, Joseph offers a solution to Pharaoh’s problem. Joseph is patient in the situation and does’t resort to self-promotion. Do you struggle with patience or wanting to promote yourself? 

6) It’s obvious that what Jospeh’s brothers did hurt him (read Genesis 41:50-52). Think about a painful situation in your childhood. How did that shape the way you live your life? Have you surrendered that pain to the Lord for spiritual healing? 

7) As we look at how Jospeh has changed in the twenty years since we met him in Genesis 37, share some of the inner changes God has done in his life. What Bible verses do you run to as you seek the Lord to shape your life? 

Close your time in prayer.



Thursday, May 12, 2022

Genesis 40 | Small Group Questions



The story of Joseph is a favorite among children’s tales. It’s a story of family dysfunction that leads to slavery. The pain of loneliness and abandonment that ultimate lead to Jospeh saving Israel. So often we don’t sit in the pain that Joseph experienced. We don’t think about what went through Joseph’s mind in the bottom of the pit. We forget that Joseph never went to his senior prom. We miss that he lost a vital relationship with his mother. 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 Waiting is the Hardest Part | Genesis 40

We first met Joseph as a seventeen year old living in his fathers home (Genesis 37). His brothers wanted to kill him but ended up selling him into slavery. From there he was accused of actions he didn’t commit and thrown into jail (Genesis 39). During this entire time Jospeh was under the watchful eye of the Lord. Through his life we learn that God is always working in our darkest moments. As we’ve sat in these couple chapters of Joseph’s life we have to be intentional to not rush ahead and see what happens. Jospeh teaches us to look for the hand of God in our dark moments. Jospeh teaches us to be patient and allow God to shape our hearts for His glory. 

1) Thinking about the first three chapters of Jospeh’s life, that we’ve studied this far, what stands out to the you most? What part of Joseph’s life can your relate to and what part is extremely difficult for you to understand? 

2) Read  Genesis 49:1-4a. Joseph has learned to care for others in this waiting period. Read John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, 2 Corinthians 13:11, and Ephesians 4:2. What does Scripture teach us about caring for others? 

3) Some people think that God had abandoned Jospeh but we read that God was close to Joseph during this entire time (read Genesis 39:2, 23). Also read Matthew 28:19-20 and talk about how Jesus is always with us. 

4) Read Genesis 40:4a-8. Instead of falling into a pagan culture, Jospeh spoke the truth of God in that dark prison. Where is God asking you to be the light of the world to those around you (Matthew 5:13-16)? What does that require? 

5) Thinking about the interpretations that Joseph gave to the men, we read that he told the truth in a difficult situation. The Bible calls us to be truth-tellers. Read and discuss these passages: Exodus 20:16, Proverbs 12:22, and 1 John 1:6-7

6) The time Joseph spent in prison was a time of character building. Briefly look at Acts 9. Make sure to focus on Acts 9:26-31. Paul’s life was changed but he eventually moved home to grow his character. Where is God shaping your character? 

7) When we look at the entirety of what happened to Jospeh’s life, can you think of any of his: mistreatment, abandonment, and disappointment that reminds you of your life? How did you respond? Where are you still growing? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength grow your character in the dark moments. 

Thursday, May 05, 2022

The Value of Life



For the last couple days I have seen much on the TV at the gym about abortion. 
My news feed in social media is filled with quotes, thoughts, and comments. 
I would like to add my voice to the mix. I feel this isn’t an issue that I can be silent about any more. Most of you will finish reading this and possibly put a label on me, I'm ok with that. It might be: conservative, Biblical, pro-life, or something else. I am pro-life. It’s  because I have life that I can speak for the unborn. I do this as a father of three children here on earth. I do this as a man who has seen much in this world and who longs to speak for those who don't, or can't, speak for themselves.  

I want to make a few broad statements that will help guide my thoughts: 
(1) I know that I’m not a mother and I don’t know what it’s like to carry a baby in my womb. There are others who might be better to share this but I want to speak as a father who was at the delivery of all three of my children.

(2) The Bible never uses the word: “abortion.” I’ll come back to this later but I want to be upfront on it. 

(3) This is a sensitive topic. I found the definition of abortion in the dictionary: 1) the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. 2) the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus by natural causes before it is able to survive independently. This won’t be a shock and awe message, but a Biblical viewpoint. 

The value of children
In the gospel of Mark we read about this encounter that Jesus has with some children (see Mark 10:13-16). Put yourself in the scene with me today; use your imagination. Children are swarming to be around Jesus, they long to be in His presence. This was completely unexpected and contrary to cultural norms. 

A Rabi wouldn’t allow children to touch Him, but Jesus had them sit on His lap and blessed them. In the ancient world children were considered to be of lesser value then livestock. Many children weren’t given a name until the age of 5. The child mortality rate, at this point in history, was about 50%. At a time when children had such little value, we see Jesus place such a high value on them. 

In the middle of the gospel we read that Jesus was with the children. Jesus showed them value. I like to think of Jesus playing duck duck goose with the kids. Maybe a kid brought out a jump role and they are laughing while jumping rope. What if Jesus did the old pull a quarter from your ear trick on one of the little kids? The unspoken blessing here was invaluable for these children who might have felt unwanted. For Jesus to show these children this much attention would have been a cultural norm breaker. It was one of those things that sticks out in your mind because it is so unordinary. 

You might be wondering why I’m talking about Jesus spending time with children in a post about abortion. I need us to see how much Jesus valued kids. Of everything that Jesus did, Mark thought it was important enough to write this in his gospel account of the life of Jesus. Of all the miracles, the healings, the teachings, the feeding of thousands of people, Jesus spent time with children. It was important for Jesus to invest His time into them. 

Before I trusted Jesus I thought abortions were fine. In my mind, they were a solution to a problem for careless behavior. Most of the friends I knew who had an abortion was because they were careless in their sexual activity. 

Abortion was another form of birth control to solve a mistake. When I look to my past and see my old way of thinking I’m convicted on how I viewed life. I didn’t view life through the eyes of Jesus. Through the eyes of Jesus there is value in all people. Jesus sees the world from a better perspective than I see it. 

When I read about how Jesus lived, I ask these questions: 
What if God is asking us to be like Jesus and show how valuable children are? 
Is God asking you to come alongside a pregnant woman and help her through the rollercoaster of emotions of an unwanted pregnancy? 
Instead of judging people, could you throw a woman a baby shower? 

Knit together by God
Let’s talk about God’s special heart for the unborn (see Psalm 139:13-14). There is debate among humans as to when life begins. God is the creator of life and Scripture teaches us that life begins upon conception. 

God created us in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). God is known as the God of creation. I invite you to write down Genesis 1 and read the creation story. Read it and think about the vast ability God possess in creation! 

Think about the medical profession with me. In one facility you have a team of doctors diligently working to help a couple get pregnant (in-vitro). There is egg retrieval, egg fertilization, conception, and placement of the new baby. Thousands of dollars are spent by a couple to conceive a little baby of their own. 

While this is going on, there is another medical facility in the same town doing the opposite. The other medical procedure is an abortion (remember the definition?). A woman is electing to remove the baby from her uterus. One couple longs for a child and another longs to get ride of a child. What a juxtaposition going on in the world. 

The Bible doesn't directly address the subject of abortion. Earlier I said that the Bible never uses the word abortion. Why not? Because it would have been inconceivable for an Israelite woman in ancient times, under normal circumstances, to consider the possibility of terminating her pregnancy. In the Didache, which is considered the earliest and most authoritative guide to Christian practice aside from the Bible itself, we read these words in Section 2:2: "You shall not murder a child, whether by abortion, or by killing it once it is born."

Think about what the early church taught and listen to these statistics about abortion. According to WHO, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. That is close to the population of the State of CA. This number corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, found that nearly three-quarters (73.8%) of women with a history of abortion surveyed admitted that they experienced at least subtle forms of pressure to terminate their pregnancies. 

What a contrast from the early teachings of the church. What a polar opposite of the heart of Jesus from His life on earth. 

God teaches us that He creates a baby in the womb and someone is putting pressure to remove that child. When we think about this from God’s vantage point, Scripture teaches us that God sees all of this action taking place (Psalms 33:13-15). None of these actions are unseen by our loving God. 

In fact, Jesus is the Author of Life (Acts 3:15). I love this title for our Lord. Many of these women, who’ve had an abortion, are living in shame. They have reoccurring thoughts about what it would have been like to keep their child. I know because I’ve talked with women who’ve had an abortion. 

Let me tell you what I’ve found regarding the church and abortion. The church can be judgmental. Some mothers need to know that not all babies will go full term. The majority of women don’t talk about miscarriage because it’s so painful. I’ve found that the church can be judgmental when we need to be loving. I’ve found the church can be vocal when we need to simply listen. I’ve found the church can offer advice when people really need are our prayers. Will you be a safe place for others? A person of prayer and listening? 

God sees all mankind 
Let me transition us to some real life situations that are taking place right now. There are women in the church who’ve had an abortion and they are feeling the loss right now. From my conversations with women who’ve gotten an abortion they know the birth day their child was supposed to come. These women remember the day they got their abortion. They have shared, through tears, the pain they’ve endured because of this choice. If you are one of these women, I want you to know that Coastline (the church I serve at) is a safe place to grow in your walk with Jesus. We are not going to judge you for your past choices—we’ve all made choices we regret. 

I’ve sat with women who got an abortion because they thought there was no other option. I’ve also sat with Christian couples who’ve gotten an abortion and feel that loss. Today will you find forgiveness in the arms of Jesus. I invite you to run to the cross and find healing for your pain. Allow the Lord to minister to your heart. Allow the Lord to be a healing balm to your hurting soul. You don’t have to walk through this pain alone. You don’t have to live in the silent pain.

There are women who’ve had any abortion because of medical complications. There are women who’ve had an Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs in the fallopian tubes). These women would have lost their life if the pregnancy went full-term. There are women who were told their child had a chromosomal abnormality or a birth defect that would make life unsuitable for that child outside of the women. 

I worked with a woman who was told, early in her pregnancy, that her daughter had Down Syndrome. She choose to continue with the pregnancy and her daughter was completely healthy upon birth. These are real life situations taking place right now.

When a person has an abortion it is never easy. There is emotional trauma that occurs. The role of a believer is to come alongside a person and be a loving example of Jesus. People under stress and thinking about abortion need a loving voice to walk alongside them in life.

When we look at the entirety of this post we can conclude this: Life matters at all stages

Just like the little children came to Jesus, we can point others to the Lord. We can’t talk about abortion and not talk about life mattering at all stages. 

Conclusion
When I think about the delicate nature of a post like this I want to remind anyone who’s had an abortion that God loves you more than you will ever know. If the church has been rude to you, I am so sorry for that pain and condemnation. There are action points each of us can take today. 

Is God asking you to pray for a person or support a family who is pregnant? Maybe God is asking you to foster a child and give them a loving home. Pray about what to do with that extra bedroom in your home. 

Finally, I invite you to repent. If you have judged someone who’s had an abortion, I want you to repent of your sin. If you’ve been rude to someone or used your tongue to speak words that hurt, will you repent today. Find healing in your relationship with Jesus.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Genesis 37 | Small Group Questions



The story of Joseph is a favorite among children’s tales. It’s a story of family dysfunction that leads to slavery. The pain of loneliness and abandonment that ultimate lead to Jospeh saving Israel. So often we don’t sit in the pain that Joseph experienced. We don’t think about what went through Joseph’s mind in the bottom of the pit. We forget that Joseph never went to his senior prom. We miss that he lost a vital relationship with his mother. 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 Dysfunctional Family | Genesis 37

The story of Joseph is a favorite among children’s tales. It’s a story of family dysfunction that leads to slavery. The pain of loneliness and abandonment that ultimate lead to Jospeh saving Israel. So often we don’t sit in the pain that Joseph experienced. We don’t think about what went through Joseph’s mind in the bottom of the pit. We forget that Joseph never went to his senior prom. We miss that he lost a vital relationship with his mother. This week we start an eight-week journey through the life of Jospeh in Genesis. Most scholars affirm that Moses wrote Genesis from the oral tradition as a way to preserve Israels’ history.  

1) International Justice Mission exists to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, and restoring survivors to safety. Share what you know about modern day slavery with the group. 

2) Read  Genesis 37:1-4. Jospeh was raised in a dysfunctional family. Share about what you learned from your family or origin and how you would like to create a better home for your roommates, immediate family, or those you live with. 

3) Jospeh had to dreams from God that related to his family (read Genesis 37:5-11). Joseph knew how to interpret dreams but didn’t know how to care for people. Where do you want to excel in caring for people & what needs to change?

4) Read Genesis 37:14-18. Jospeh’s brothers plotted to kill him. Scripture has much to say on murder (read Exodus  20:13, 21:14, Matthew 5:21-26, and John 8:44).What do you think allows a group of people the ability to dehumanize others? 

5) We are called to love others & protect them (Gen. 4:9, Malachi 2:16, 1 Corinthians 13:7). Is there someone in your life that you need to do a better job at loving at protecting? What Could Jospeh’s brothers have done to protect their brother?

6) Read Genesis 37:26-28. Neal shared some statistics on modern day slavery. Pull our your phone and see what you can learn about modern day slavery. What bothers you most? What can you do to start helping free people from slavery? 

7) Joseph was sold into slavery and his brothers lie to their father about his whereabouts (read Genesis 37:29-36). Thinking of how many dreams seem to be broke here: where have, or do, you see God at work in your broken dreams? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 


Thursday, April 21, 2022

22 Years of Sober


I never thought I would write those words: "22 years of sobriety"

On April 20, 2000 was the last time I took a drink of alcohol. I could tell you all the details surrounding but I'll tell you a better story. 

When I was five I wanted to be a fireman so I could help save people, but that’s not the path I ended up choosing for my life. See that first time I smoked pot led me down a very dark road. A road that was filled with violence, drugs, horrible behavior, drinking and the back of police cars. 

My deep doubt in God and lack of trust for people in my teens took me places I never thought I’d end up going. When I was nineteen I got arrested for the third time in my life. I had way too much to drink, crashed my truck into the side of the mountain, totaled it, almost killed one of my friends and fled the scene. I was pulled out of a bush about a quarter mile down the road at gun point, taken to the hospital and then transported to jail. 

It was one of those, go straight to jail, don’t collect $200 and you can’t say goodbye to your friends. I was charged with two felonies and looking at doing 3-5 years in jail. Now check this out, my mom and her friends started praying and I got out with no felonies and serving a week in jail, a week in jail!

You would think I would have learned my lesson at this point right, that I’d start trusting God? Well four months later I was a drunk sitting in another jail cell. As I sat there I thought, “This isn’t the life I had imagined for myself.” 

On  February 14, 2000 I was looking at doing a year for violating my probation and the reality of who I had become sunk in. As I sat in jail I had a silent conversation with God in the dark of night. I don’t remember exactly how it went but I said something like: “God, if you’re real get me out and I’ll do whatever you want” It was my last ditch effort. Fourteen hours later I was released from Vista jail in San Diego County. I had no clue what I was going to do next but I left the jail that morning knowing God is real and He really cares about me. The focus of my life changed in an instant! 

I wish I could say that it's been an easy 22 years but it hasn't. There have been many moments that I wanted to use again. I wanted to use to forget the pain that I didn't know how to handle. I wanted to use to enjoy a time with my friends. 

But as I sit here, looking back, I'm so grateful for the grace of God in my life. I couldn't have done this without the help of God. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Luke 24 | Small Group Questions



Most of our life we are concerned and consumed with the three dimensional world we can see. We wake up, drink coffee, eat food, go to work, eat more food, connect with people we love, and sleep. We think that paying the bills, mowing the lawn, and grocery shopping are requirements of the week. What if the world is more than three dimensional? For those who believe in God that means we believe the world is at least four dimensions. The Bible teaches us about spiritual things but we don’t always focus on our spiritual growth; that is what “The Battle” is all about In this series we’ll lean in to God’s word and examine what is taking place in the spiritual realm. 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 Road to Discovery | Luke 24

For eight weeks we’ve talked about the unseen spiritual battle taking place behind the scenes. On Easter Sunday we wrapped up The Battle by looking at Luke’s account of The Road to Emmaus. The gospel of Luke was written by Luke. It’s the only gospel that wasn’t written or dictated by a disciple. The good news for us is that Jesus won the battle. On Good Friday, the cross that was meant to kill means Salvation for those who trust Jesus. Luke wrote about the arrest, conviction, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Just two days earlier Jesus was crucified and Luke zooms in on the life of two disciples who are about to have a personal encounter with the risen Lord.

1) In 1985 Vance Havner wrote a book titled “Playing Marbles with Diamonds.” He shared a story about walking into a poor African village and seeing the children playing marbles with diamonds. Where are you playing marbles with diamonds? 

2) Read Luke 24:17-19. Cleopas describes Jesus as a prophet who was powerful in word and deed before God and all people. Read Luke 2:52, Matthew 16:16, & John 1:1-5. How would you describe Jesus to someone in one sentence? 

3) Read Luke 24:19-24. Cleopas explained what he knew about Jesus. Read Matthew 4:18-20, Mark 1:1, Luke 2:11, and John John 10:10. After reading the previous verses, how would you explain Jesus as the Messiah to someone? 

4) Read Luke 24:25-27. On the road, Jesus taught the disciples about Himself from Scripture. Take some time, as a group, and find different passages that you think Jesus might have mentioned to help the disciples understand the truth. 

5) Jesus knew these disciples lost hope too. He didn’t read their minds, He could hear it in the tone in their voice. Share a time in your life when you felt hopeless and Scripture encouraged you? What passages encouraged you? 

6) Read Luke 24:33-35. Anytime we have good news we find ways to share it with others (Read John 1:41-42). Who, in your life, do you need the boldness to share the Gospel with? What is holding you back from sharing it with that person? 

7) After the disciples rejoin the eleven back in Jerusalem, Jesus appears in their midst (see Luke 24:36-49). Looking at these passages, what are some key elements that Jesus shares with the disciples before ascending back into heaven? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Guest Post: When Growth is Overrated

When I was in my twenties I met Doug Meye while serving in Vegas. He was leading a church in town and then helped at our church during while we were searching for a lead pastor. Doug became a mentor in my life. He helped me walk through my ministry call. For the last couple years he's been helping us at Coastline in numerous ways. One of those ways in our preaching team. Last month he sent me this article, that he had written. I asked for permission to post here. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

WHEN GROWTH IS OVERRATED

I was weaned on the Church Growth Movement. As a church planter I counted everyone and everything—children, babies, pets.  Later, when I was no longer able to count people myself, I graphed attendance counts that were turned in weekly hoping to discern telling trends.  You might have guessed--I’m an Enneagram 3. 

I believe growth is good.

But, today, more than ever, I realize that growth doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, there are times when growth is over-rated.

Growth is over-rated when the people in the church are not growing up in Christ.

Numerical growth is ultimately empty without spiritual growth. 

The pandemic made this very clear. How many times have we heard? “They are gone, and they are not coming back.”

Most of the time, this absence can be traced in some form back to a lack of discipleship. The people came because we worked hard to get them there: flashy sermon series, timely texts, bounce-houses for the kids. 

Now we realize that while people came to our events, their confidence and outlook remained embedded in self, not rooted in Christ. While these people inflated pre-Covid church counts, they are gone today--like “chaff which the wind drives away” (Psalm 1). 

Some churches may have a unique evangelistic calling and capacity. But, when a church “baptizes” someone it also has the responsibility to teach that person “all things Jesus commanded” (Matthew 28:19-20). 

I would not want to be the pastor of a church and tell Jesus, “Discipleship was not our thing!” I afraid Jesus would ask, “What was your thing. I can’t see anything to show for what you did.”

Growth without discipleship will ultimately be exposed for what it is—fluff.

Growth is over-rated when the pastor pays too high of a price.

Most of us are familiar with Peter Scazzero’s story at New Life Church. He talks about it freely in his many helpful books. Lack of boundaries and overwork nearly caused him to lose both his ministry and marriage.

Unfortunately, Peter’s situation is not an isolated one. How many pastors have burned out themselves and burned up their families because they wanted to see their church grow?
Here’s the problem?  A pastor’s long and crazy hours do lead to growth.

And pastors are highly competent people, who are able to juggle the competing demands of a growing church and busy family, until…

They can’t!

Then they become another statistic. Their family becomes another tragic story.

A church will never be healthy in the long run, if the pastor is not healthy today. A healthy pastor recognizes the primary ministry he has to his family. A healthy pastor honors boundaries and limits. A healthy pastor finds his identity in Christ and leaves the growth to God.

Growth is over-rated when the pastor pays too high of a price.

Growth is over-rated when the staff is used, maybe even abused.

Because of their reputation some churches are easily able to attract staff.  Young staff feel honored to be part of these dynamic ministries. 

Unfortunately, the same church which can easily attract staff, may be tempted to easily hurt staff.  

Young staff come to the church because they love Jesus and want to be part of a dynamic ministry. But during their time at the church, they are underpaid, overworked, and never given the promotion promised to them.

These staff members help the church grow. But ultimately these staff are dispensable commodities; after all, the church has the capacity to easily attract new staff.  

Out with the old, in with the new. 

The church continues to grow, but the growth leaves a trail of wounded, disillusioned, angry young men and women who may never want to serve in a church again.  I hear about this way too often!

Those of us in church leadership are called to develop people, not use them. Growth is over-rated when the staff is used, maybe even abused.

Growth is overrated when it comes at the expense of other churches.

Since the days of Rick Warren and the founding of Saddleback, most of us in ministry have targeted the unchurched. We want to reach people who are not part of a local church; even more, who are far from God.

Yet, when it comes right down to it, many of the churches in our country are growing not because they are reaching unchurched people but because they are reaching churched people who are looking for a different ministry. 

This can happen for any number of reasons--some understandable, some regrettable.

While we claim to go after the unchurched, most of us I suspect, feel pretty good about those who come to the churches we pastor from other churches. Not only do they add to our count; they pamper our ego. We interpret their presence to mean, “You lead a better church than the one we left!”

I believe there may be valid reasons for leaving one church for another. I’m not against people attending a church which is good for their family and will truly challenge their growth. 

Let’s call it for what it is—people looking for a different kind of ministry.  And, if we are truly about the Kingdom of God, we will never feel great when our church is growing at the expense of another.

Growth is over-rated when it comes at the expense of another church.

Final Thoughts

I’m not against church growth. Quite the opposite. I pray almost every day that the God will renew His church and cause it to explode with the growth of new disciples who are on fire for Christ. I pray that this growth will happen God’s way in Gods time by God’s Spirit.

Otherwise, the growth may be way over-rated.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Job 1-2 | Small Group Questions


Most of our life we are concerned and consumed with the three dimensional world we can see. We wake up, drink coffee, eat food, go to work, eat more food, connect with people we love, and sleep. We think that paying the bills, mowing the lawn, and grocery shopping are requirements of the week. What if the world is more than three dimensional? For those who believe in God that means we believe the world is at least four dimensions. The Bible teaches us about spiritual things but we don’t always focus on our spiritual growth; that is what “The Battle” is all about In this series we’ll lean in to God’s word and examine what is taking place in the spiritual realm. 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 Accuser | Job 1-2

The story of Job is what many people refer to when they are going through a difficult time. The picture in the first three verses of Job is of a godly, wealthy, fulfilled man. Job had a family who enjoyed the favor of God in his time. Job was the ideal candidate for the tests soon to follow. The Scriptures describe Job as a righteous and blameless man. God affirms this about the life of Job. In Job 1-2 we see four characters in the story: God, Satan, Job, and Job’s wife. The book of Job is a reminder that Satan will do anything to destroy our faith. And, if he was given the opportunity, he would try to kill us. Study these questions to see how Job maintains his righteousness in such a tough time. 

1) In 1942 C.S. Lewis released The Screwtape Letters. The book is about an older demon coaching his nephew on how to condemn a soul to hell. If you’ve read the book talk about how it impacted your understanding of the demonic forces. 

2) Read Job 1:1-5. The first verse describes Job’s character and righteousness. Read Psalm 37:18, 97:11, and  Proverbs 11:3. What does it look like to live a righteous and blameless life for the Lord? What do you need to adjust in your life? 

3) Read Job 1:6-12. Satan comes, uninvited, into the presence of God. His main goal is to destroy Job’s commitment to the Lord (see John 10:10). Can you think of a time that it felt like the enemy was trying to destroy all the good in your life? 

4) God is: Omnipresent. Meaning that God can be in all places at all times. God is also Omniscient. Meaning that God knows all things. How does knowing that Satan is neither of these change the way you think about the devil? 

5) Read Job 1:20-22. After loosing everything, Job’s first response was worship. Read Psalm 95:6, John 4:20-24, and Romans 12:1-2. When bad things happen, what is your initial response? How can you change that to worship? 

6) Read Job 2:1-8. When Satan sees that his first tactic didn’t work against Job, he tries again. Read John 8:44 and talk about how Satan is the father of lies. Share a time when you felt weak in your faith but were able to stand strong in God. 

7) Read Job 2:9-10. Job stays faithful to God through all of his loss, grief, and pain. Read Psalm 37:34, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 40:31, and Romans 15:13. What did you learn from the life of Job and his commitment to God? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 



Wednesday, March 23, 2022

1 Samuel 17 | Small Group Questions


Most of our life we are concerned and consumed with the three dimensional world we can see. We wake up, drink coffee, eat food, go to work, eat more food, connect with people we love, and sleep. We think that paying the bills, mowing the lawn, and grocery shopping are requirements of the week. What if the world is more than three dimensional? For those who believe in God that means we believe the world is at least four dimensions. The Bible teaches us about spiritual things but we don’t always focus on our spiritual growth; that is what “The Battle” is all about In this series we’ll lean in to God’s word and examine what is taking place in the spiritual realm. For this sermon Chase Feindel wrote the small group questions. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone. 

Small Group Questions | Giant Slayer | 1 Samuel 17

The epic battle found in 1st Samuel 14 between David and Goliath help set the tone for the war bound leadership reign David would have as he stabilized the nation of Israel. The story is of Hollywood portion but tucked into the details of the battle are principles that are helpful to everybody in the family of God. The great giant of mankind has been slayed through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet as we wait for the full promise of heaven, the enemy is consistently at work to steal, kill and destroy. In order to have the promised life to the full, we will need the principles for the battles that lay ahead of us as we fight for the faith.

1) It’s easy to miscast yourself in this story. We all want to be the hero but the main idea was that David is a Jesus-type figure and we are represented by the Israelites  in the story who are overwhelmed by the giant. How does that change our application of the text? 

2) Matthew 1:1 starts our by saying “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the word of David, the son of Abraham. Matthew is establishing Jesus kingship in the first sentence of his gospel. Why is the connection between David and Jesus so important?

3) Read Psalm 139:13-14 about David’s confidence in his identity in Christ. One of the more interesting parts of the battle was David did not fit in Saul’s army. Saul fought with the sword but David was trained on the hills with the sheep. Do you ever get caught comparing your faith to somebody else’s? How does it impact you when you do?

4) The Jews built altars to remember God’s faithfulness. Jesus established communion to help us remember his sacrifice. The phrase “The Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt” is mentioned 22 times through the scriptures. How does remembering what God brought you out of help you in the battle that is before you?

5) One thing David didn’t lack is confidence. He was anointed and the battle belonged  to the Lord. What steps have you taken that helped build your confidence in the faith?

6) The Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees, Lakers vs Celtics, L.A. Chargers and Oakland Raider are all bitter rivals. The Jews most consistent old testament foe was the Philistines. We all have rivals but the new covenant has a different challenge for us when it comes to our enemies. Read Matthew 5:44 and discuss.





Genesis 3 | Small Group Questions


Most of our life we are concerned and consumed with the three dimensional world we can see. We wake up, drink coffee, eat food, go to work, eat more food, connect with people we love, and sleep. We think that paying the bills, mowing the lawn, and grocery shopping are requirements of the week. What if the world is more than three dimensional? For those who believe in God that means we believe the world is at least four dimensions. The Bible teaches us about spiritual things but we don’t always focus on our spiritual growth; that is what “The Battle” is all about In this series we’ll lean in to God’s word and examine what is taking place in the spiritual realm. 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 Deceiver | Genesis 3

The events in Genesis 3 disrupt the calm of Eden and are central to the story of what happens to mankind. The book of Genesis was most likely written by Moses to God’s people (the Israelites). They were preparing to enter the Promised Land and would have felt the pain of their own disobedience to God. In Genesis 3 we read what many people refer to as “The fall on mankind” and you will see why. Our passage has four voices: God, the devil, Adam, and Eve. Adam and Eve are in the garden when the serpent approaches them to plant a seed of doubt in their mind. The devil plays a role of deception against Eve that leads her and Adam to sin. 

1) In the early Twentieth Century, Harry Houdini sought to expose the deceptive behavior of mediums and fortune tellers. Share about a time when you were deceived by someone. How did it feel and what did you learn? 

2) Read Genesis 3:1-5. The serpent wants to twist the truth of God. The serpent wants to plant a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind. Share about a time when you twisted the word of God to make it say what you want it to say. 

3) One of the ideas is that Eve didn’t fully trust God and that is why the serpent was able to deceive here. Read Proverbs 3:5-6, 2 Kings 18:5, Psalm 20:7, Daniel 6:23. What is holding you back from trusting God fully? 

4) Read Genesis 3:6-10. The pace of this story happens quickly: she saw, she took, she ate, she gave, and he ate. Think about how the story of sin in your life moves. Can you identify any patterns in your life that might lead to sin? 

5) Neal shared three consequences of our sin: We loose our innocence, we feel guilty or embarrassed for our actions, and we hide from God. When you look at the entirety of Scripture, what are some other consequences of sin? 

6) Read Genesis 3:14-19. Adam & Eve confessed their sin but there are repercussions for our actions. Discuss the different curses that God gave here. How do you see this play out in society today? 

7) Read Genesis 3:21. Even in their darkest moment, God’s grace shines the brightest. God covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Read Mark 15:33-41. Talk about how Jesus went to the cross to pay for our sins. 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 


Monday, March 07, 2022

Ephesians 6 | Small Group Questions

Most of our life we are concerned and consumed with the three dimensional world we can see. We wake up, drink coffee, eat food, go to work, eat more food, connect with people we love, and sleep. We think that paying the bills, mowing the lawn, and grocery shopping are requirements of the week. What if the world is more than three dimensional? For those who believe in God that means we believe the world is at least four dimensions. The Bible teaches us about spiritual things but we don’t always focus on our spiritual growth; that is what “The Battle” is all about In this series we’ll lean in to God’s word and examine what is taking place in the spiritual realm. 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 | Armor Up | Ephesians 6:10-20

Imagine the chance of meeting the Apostle Paul, that he came to your town and set up home base there and started a ministry to the entire region of Asia Minor!  That is exactly what happened to the people of Ephesus.  A place once recognized for being a center of pagan worship has now became a “beach-head” for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We believe that Paul worked in Ephesus around AD 55-59 and remained there, with the people, for about three years (see Acts 19:10, 20:31). After leaving Ephesus, Paul found himself imprisoned. Being incarcerated and with no other way to spread the Good News; Paul decides to write letters, also known as Epistles.

1) Neal shared about an unwanted spiritual encounter that he had while in college. Share about a time that you had an unwanted spiritual encounter. What were some of the main details and how did you respond in the situation? 

2) Read Ephesians 6:10-12. Paul encourages us to find our strength in the Lord. So often we are great at doing things on our own. Read 1 Samuel 30:6, Psalm 28:7, Isaiah 40:31, and Jeremiah 17:15. Discuss what it looks like to find strength in God. 

3) Paul commands us to put on the full armor of God to protect us in the spiritual battle. Read I Thessalonians 5:8, Romans 13:12, & Isaiah 59:17. What do these passages teach us about the full armor of God as we follow Jesus? 

4) The Bible has a number of adjectives for the devil. One is a schemer. When you think about a person who is a schemer what comes to mind? Knowing that, how can you be more aware of the schemes of the devil? 

5) Read Ephesians 6:13-15. The first half of the armor of God deals with truth,  peace, and righteousness. Read Exodus 20:16, Philippians 3:9, and John 14:27. What changes in your life when you fit yourself with this armor?  

6) Read Ephesians 6:16-17. The second half of the armor of God focuses on faith, salvation, and God’s word. Read Romans 10:17, Acts 4:12, & John 1:1-5, 14. What changes in your life when you fit yourself with this armor?  

7) Read Ephesians 6:18-20. Paul takes time to focus on having a life dedicated to prayer. He longs for wisdom, boldness, and clarity in sharing the truth of God. Where, or how,  would you like to see your prayer life grow this year? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 


Friday, March 04, 2022

Responsive Reading The Book of Hebrews


I didn't grow up in a tradition that used responsive readings ever. It wasn't until my 30's that I remember participating in one for the first time. For the last four years I've been leading Coastline Bible Church and we rarely have a responsive reading. To share candidly, I've been reading more about spiritual formations and felt it was time to bring a responsive reading back. 

On Sunday February 27 we finished preaching through the book of Hebrews. I wrote this responsive reading as a way to help remind us of the book. Enjoy! 

Responsive Reading Hebrews 

Leader: The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word

People: Jesus is greater than anyone who has come before Him 

Leader: We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

People: We will pay careful attention to the teaching of Jesus 

Leader: Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus.

People: Today we commit to fix our thoughts on Jesus 

Leader: See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

People: We repent of our sin and turn to God 

Leader: We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.

People: We commit to loving God with our entire mind

Leader: Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 

People: We ask for Jesus to intercede for us today

Leader: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 

People: Give us faith to walk in your ways God 

All: And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Hebrews 13 | Small Group Questions


In August of 2021 Coastline Bible Church started a brand new sermon series called: "Greater." For approximately five months we are going to study the book of Hebrews together. The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience living in the first century. They are likely experiencing persecution and thinking about abandoning their faith. The author teaches us how Jesus is greater than: the prophets, angels, Moses, Abraham, the Law, the old covenant, and the high priest. We learn that Jesus is greater than anything that has preceded Him. 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 | Evidence of Faith | Hebrews 13

For the last several months we have studied the book of Hebrews. Some people in the early church were considering walking away from their faith and returning to the Law of Moses. In the book of Hebrews, the author encourages them to stay strong in their faith. Through this book we have learned that Jesus is greater than anyone who has come before Him. We learned about how Jesus brought in a New Covenant. We learned about living out our faith on a daily basis. In Hebrews 13 the author talks about the evidence of our faith. Because of everything that has brought the early church to this point, the author ends by exhorting them to continue living strong in their faith. 

1) In the introduction to the sermon we recapped the entire book of Hebrews. As you think about the book of Hebrews, what is one passage or chapter that helped you grow the most in your faith? What was so important in that section of Scripture? 

2) Read Hebrews 13:1-6. The author offers us a number of ways to show the evidence of our faith. Read 1 Peter 4:7-10, Matthew 25:39, and Matthew 5:32. What area do you need to focus most on as you grow in your faith? 

3) The author reminds us to not be consumed with money and find contentment in what we have. Read Proverbs 11:25, Romans 12:8, 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. What has changed in your life when you focus on being generous with your money?  

4) Read Hebrews 13:7-9. The author is teaching us how to bless our leaders in the local church. Share with your group someone who invested in your life spiritually and what you would want to say to that person. 

5) Next the author teaches us about submitting to the leaders in the local church. read Hebrews 13:17, Romans 13:5, and 1 Peter 2:13. How does our obedience to  church leadership make it a benefit to us? 

6) Read Hebrews 13:10-16. The author wanted the church to keep the praise of Jesus on their lips. Read Psalm 96:1, Psalm 98:1, Psalm 149:1. What is the new song that Jesus is teaching you to sing to Him as you live a life of worship? 

7) The final encouragement we received is to live an equipped life (read Hebrews  13:20-21). Thinking about your walk with Jesus; what has equipped you the most in your faith and where would you like to continue growing? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 



Sunday, February 27, 2022

Hebrews 12:14-29 | Small Group Questions



In August of 2021 Coastline Bible Church started a brand new sermon series called: "Greater." For approximately five months we are going to study the book of Hebrews together. The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience living in the first century. They are likely experiencing persecution and thinking about abandoning their faith. The author teaches us how Jesus is greater than: the prophets, angels, Moses, Abraham, the Law, the old covenant, and the high priest. We learn that Jesus is greater than anything that has preceded Him. For this sermon Doug Meye wrote the small group questions to accompany his 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 Drumbeat - Hebrews 12:14-29

1) As you go through life, are there some guiding phrases that come to your mind and again? Where did these come from (e.g., parents, mentor, life experience, etc)? 

Read Hebrews 12:14-29

2) What is the most encouraging thing that comes to you from this passage?

3) Verse 15 calls us to live in such a way that we measure up to the grace of God. When did God’s grace become really real in your life? How did you respond to this amazing grace?

4) What are the 3 ways suggested in verses 14-17 that we might fall short of God’s grace? Is any of these a temptation for you? If so, which one? Does the passage suggest a way to combat this temptation?

5) In verses 18-22 the writer talks about two mountains. Why do you think he uses these images?  What is the difference between the two mountains? 

6) If you are a follower of Jesus, you have come to the second mountain, Mt. Zion (22-24). Note the things happening at this mountain. How would you explain the meaning of these in everyday language?  How does knowing that these things are your reality as a Jesus follower help you stay the course?

7) Extra credit: Read Haggai 2:6-10. How do the words of the prophet Haggai in these verses relate to what the writer of Hebrews is talking about in 12:25-27? What thing/themes found in Hebrews are either mentioned specifically or foreshadowed by the words of Haggai?

8) Can you give an example of a time when your world was being shaken but you experienced being part of a kingdom that cannot be shaken? 

The writer says, “Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptable with reverence and awe.”

As a group, spend some time in prayer in which you express your worship to God for who he is, the grace He has given you, the mountain to which He has brought you, and that belong to His unshakeable kingdom.

Who in your life needs to experience what God has privileged you to experience? Spend some time praying for them by name.

Pray for the ministries of Coastline—that God would provide for every need, that He would raise up workers, and that God would do a mighty work in and through his people at Coastline.