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?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mark 1:1-15 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 Beginning ::: Mark 1:1-15

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. We think the account was written between 65-75 AD. The gospel account is fast-paced and quick moving. As we study this book keep your eyes open for all the descriptive words (Jesus went, Jesus moved, healed, preached, and prayed). Mark originally wrote this account for a Roman audience. Take some time to look further into the introduction of the good news of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. 

1) Read Mark 1:1. The gospel account opens with a theologically rich statement about the person of Jesus Christ. We read that this is the “Good News” of Jesus. Why do you think so many people argue about Jesus instead of sharing the good news? 

2) Mark quotes two of the prophetical statements about John preparing the way for the Lord. John’s role was a messenger to announce the coming of the king. How did John go about making this announcement?  

3) John was the son of a Priest (Luke 1:5) and played the role of a prophet. The prophet typically didn’t wear the kind of clothes John wore and stayed closer to the city where the people would be. How can we fall into judging the way people look without getting to know them before hand? 

4) John understood the holiness of Jesus by stating that he was unable to untie his sandals (read Mark 1:7). In what ways do you revere the holiness of God and in what ways have you neglected the holiness of God in your life? 

5) In the Bible the desert represents not only a physical place but a place where God meets with His people. Read Exodus 3 and 1 Kings 19:1-18. What are some similarities in these stories that we learn about the love of God?

6) At the baptism of Jesus, God the Father offers a great affirmation. Share one way you have found success in affirming your children. (If you don’t have children, how would you like to work on this?)

7) Read Mark 1:15 and talk about the message Jesus preached

8) Share with your small group about who you are praying for on your “You Belong Here” card. Close your time in prayer