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. 



Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Hebrews 12:4-13 | 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 | Useful Discipline | Hebrews 12:4-13

As we near the end of the letter we see the author encouraging the Hebrew people to continue following Jesus and not give up. The author takes the time to encourage them, using God’s word, to endure the disciple they are going through. He knows that when they endure this season of their life they will mature in their faith. The problem is they have slowly drifted from the Lord and become dull to God’s word. They are in desperate need of a revitalization of their faith. In Hebrews 12:4-13, the author provides three reasons for them to stand strong in their faith. First, they have God’s word. Second, they can endure the discipline of the Lord. Finally, they will preserve during their season of discipline. Study these questions to learn more about useful discipline. 

1) Neal shared a story about wanting to quit playing football his sophomore year of high school but his mom wouldn’t let him. Share about a time that you wanted to quit something and the lesson you learned through that discipline.  

2) Read Hebrews 12:4-6. The author teaches us that God disciplines those He loves (read Deuteronomy 8:5, Job 5:17, and Psalm 94:12). How does God’s word provide the discipline in your life that you need to grow spiritually? 

3) Some of the early church had become dull to the word of God (read Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 5:11-12). Have you had a time in your life that you became dull to the word of God? Where are you currently reading in your Bible? 

4) Read Hebrews 12:7-9. We are encouraged to endure God’s discipline because He disciplines those He loves (see Proverbs 12:1, Jeremiah 10:24, & Revelation 3:19). What are some reasons we don’t endure the discipline from God? 

5) Read Hebrews 12:10-11. Most of us would prefer to bypass the discipline of our earthly father and Heavenly Father. What happens to people who grow up with no discipline? Why do you think God disciplines us so we can share in His holiness? 

6) The author teaches us that the outcome of enduring discipline is that we find a “harvest of righteousness and peace.” What one area of your life are you lacking peace and you need to allow God to discipline you? 

7) Read Hebrews 12:12-13. These final verses sound like the encouragement of a coach. Where do you need this group to encourage you to embrace the Lord’s discipline in your life? Where are you feeling weak and tired? 

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





Tuesday, February 08, 2022

4 Things That Faith Isn't






Hebrews 11 has some of the richest passages on faith:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.(Hebrews 11:1-3). 
When I first became a believer I thought that verse 1 was the definition of faith. I thought that this was how we define faith in following Jesus. What I learned is that this is not a definition of faith but a description of faith. This is what faith does when it is lived out. 

You and I make decisions of faith every day. When you sit in your car you have faith that it will start and make it to your destination. When you filled out your direct deposit paperwork you had faith that your employer would get your money on time. Some of you eat at Taco Bell and have faith that it’s good for you body! You have more faith than me. 

When we focus on Hebrews 11:1 there are two words that stick out on this description of faith. They are confidence and assurance. 

I looked at some other Bible translations and we have very similar words: 
"Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1 (NLT). 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1 (ESV).
The ESV and NIV both use the word assurance while the NLT teaches us about the reality. We all know what it’s like to have confidence. Confidence we’re going to get the job, confidence the situation will work out, confident that we can run that yellow light. Faith isn’t only confidence. There is an assurance of what we don’t see. There is proof, verification, or evidence of the unseen things of God. God is visible, you just have to look for Him. 

Sometimes it’s helpful to know what something isn’t so we can know what something is. Let’s quickly talk about four things that faith isn’t. 

1) True Biblical faith is not blind optimism. 
Some people think that faith is just being super super optimistic and ignoring the truth around us. I’m an eternal optimist but that is not faith, that is optimism. 

2) Some people think that faith is a manufactured feeling of: hope so
The key word here is manufactured. We are not manufacturing anything. Our hope has roots in Jesus Christ. Faith is also not a hope so but more of a know so based on what we read in Scripture. If you write down Genesis 15:6 you will read that Abraham trusted God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Abraham didn’t have a hope so feeling. He trusted God. 

3) Faith is not a steep intellectual ascent to understand all types of doctrine. 
This would be a disciple of knowledge. You don’t have to know all the Christian doctrines to have faith in God. We do need confidence but usually when we have confidence we don’t know all the factors involved. 

4) Faith isn’t belief without evidence. 
If you look at the description of faith again, you will see that there is an assurance of what you see. That means there is evidence of God’s great work here on earth. If you read the entire Bible you will see evidence for your faith. I highly encourage you to read the Bible every day. 

What then is faith, in Biblical terms? This is what the author has set out to teach the early church in this chapter of Hebrews. 

So let me answer the question of what Biblical faith is: 
“True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences.” -Warren Wiersbe. 
I love this definition because it keeps the confidence that is required of faith but adds the obedience to God’s word. Many of you have a confidence in God’s word, that is why you’re here. Some of you are looking for strength in God’s word today. That is why you’re here. Obedience in spite of what we see, hear, or consequences involved. 

* I'm very grateful for the Warren Wiersbe and his work on Hebrews. Much of this was adapted from his book. 

Monday, February 07, 2022

Hebrews 12:1-3 | 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 | Fix Your Eyes on Jesus | Hebrews 12:1-3

One of the primary reasons that the author wrote this letter to the Hebrew people is because they were contemplating about leaving their faith in Jesus. They had considered returning to temple worship and the Law. Essentially they were abandoning Jesus and returning to Moses. In Hebrews 12 we are exhorted think about the plurality of saints who’ve gone before us in the faith. The author just listed dozes of them in Hebrews 11. We see the author give a strong encouragement to fix our eyes on Jesus. The reason we can fix our eyes on Jesus is because we know that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. Study these questions to grow in your faith. 

1) Neal opened the sermon with a story about the Kenyan runner, Eliud Kipchoge, who finished a marathon in under two hours. What did this man have to give up and what did he need in relational support to accomplish this task? 

2) Read Hebrews Hebrews 12:1. The author reminds us that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. He is referring to the saints who’ve gone before us. Have you read the Old Testament so you can know these saints stories? 

3) We are also encouraged to throw off all the sin that hinders us from following Jesus. Read Matthew 9:6, Mark 2:5, Luke 5:8, and John 5:14. What does these passages about Jesus teach us about leaving our life of sin? What sin do you need to leave? 

4) Read Hebrews Hebrews 12:2. Once we leave our life of sin we need a new focus. The author encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus. Read Psalm 132:2 and Matthew 15:8. Talk about what stops you from looking solely to Jesus. 

5) The author teaches us that Jesus endured the cross for our sake. Read Mark 15:37-38, Luke 22:63-64, and John 19:34. Looking at these passages, talk about the physical pain that Jesus through to save us from our sins. 

6) Read Hebrews 12:3. The author brings the passage full circle and exhorts us to look to Jesus as the example of our life. How come we fail to look to Jesus as our example for living? What characteristics of Jesus do you want more in your life? 

7) We talked about four ways to follow the example of Jesus: Be compassionate to others, Endure suffering, Be generous, and Invest your life into others. What one of these are your implementing in your life this week? Why and how?

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



Thursday, February 03, 2022

Trusting Jesus Fully 




About five years ago I was really struggling with trusting God. Saying it out loud makes it sound so petty. I ended up meeting with a life coach. I shared my heart with him. At one point I said: “I think I just need to trust Jesus more.” That was my motto in life. Work harder, stay up later, study more, stay later than everyone else and I will figure it out by sheer grit. I thought the life coach would congratulate me. He paused and said, “You don’t need to trust God more, you need to trust God fully.” I was speechless. He said what Jesus had been telling me for years.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Hebrews 11:32-40 | 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 | The Hall of Faith Part 2 | Hebrews 11:32-40

Hebrews 11 focuses on living a life of faith when we can’t see the outcome. The end of Hebrews 11 focuses on growing in our faith when we are faced with suffering. Last week the author went from the book of Genesis to the book of Joshua. It seems that he realizes if he continues at this current pace he is going to run out of paper. So he speeds up his thoughts. He moves from chronological progression to the faithful people in Israel. The focus is still on faith. In the couple verses we read he covers: the Judges, the early monarchy, and the prophets. We don’t want to suffer. We like our comfortable lives but God meets us in times of suffering.

1) In the sermon we learned that our faith grows most in suffering. Share about a time that you suffered, for your faith, and what you learned about your faith. How did this time shape you as a follower of Jesus? 

2) Read Hebrews 11:32-34. Finding strength in our weakness. We read about Gideon, Samson, David, and many more. They were all strong men of God but had times of weakness. Where are you weak right now? Where are you struggling? 

3) Our world is obsessed with strength. We have stores dedicated to physical fitness. The gym is a huge industry. Thinking about your spiritual life, where are you growing even though you might be weak (see Psalm 31:9, Isaiah 40:29, and Mark 10:44-45)

4) Read Hebrews 11:35-38. We move to this sudden shift to the theme of torture. Read Jeremiah 20:2 and 2 Chronicles 24:20-22. When you think about the Saints before us being tortured, how does that make you feel about your freedom? 

5) Many of the early Christians were also beaten and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. Read Acts 12:1-4, 14:19-20, 21:30-32. After reading these stories about the early church leaders, how do you feel about suffering for Jesus? 

6) The author wraps up the hall of faith in two sentences (read Hebrews 11:39-40). These heroes of the faith were commended for their faith but they never received what had been promised. What did they not receive? 

7) As we look at this final section of Hebrews 11 we see a language of community. Unlike the early Hebrew culture the American culture is an individual culture. How can we grow in the community aspect and lessen our individualistic nature? 

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




Monday, January 17, 2022

Hebrews 11:1-6 | 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 | The Truth about Faith | Hebrews 11:1-6

Many people have referred to Hebrews 11 as the: Hall of Faith. In this chapter we are reminder of several men and women who have proceeded us in our faith journey. This chapter actually introduces the final section of the book of Hebrews. The author makes a shift from the greatness of Jesus to the greatness of living for Jesus. It’s a shift from knowing the greatness of Jesus to trusting in Jesus with our life. Some early Christians were considering leaving their faith in Jesus and returning to the Law of Moses. The author has gone to great lengths to persuade them not to leave the faith. In this chapter we find that return to the Law of Moses would be departing from faith in God.

1) Neal shared a story about going on an outreach trip and exercising his faith in raising support. Share about a time when you took a step of faith. What were some key factors that shaped your faith in this experience? 

2) Read Hebrews 11:1-2. The author starts this chapter with a description of what faith is. Read Romans 8:24 and 2 Corinthians 4:18. What do these New Testament passages teach us about faith? 

3) The author refers back to the creation of the world to help us understand faith (read Hebrews 11:3, Genesis 1:1-3, John 1:3, and 2 Peter 3:3-7). How does having faith in God as creator help our faith on a daily basis? 

4) The author shares about the faith of Abel and Enoch (read Hebrews 11:4-5). Go back to Genesis 4:1-10 and 5:24 to read their stories. What is similar in their story and what is vastly different? Talk about how God grows our faith differently. 

5) The faith growth process contains similar elements for all people: God speaks to each person, then the person is stirred by God. Next we see people act in obedience to God. Finally the Scripture bears witness. What stage of faith growth are you in?  

6) The author is crystal clear that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith that pleases God has two parts: belief in God and seeking Him. What one of those two characteristics do you want to grow in this year? 

7) Read Romans 10:17. We are taught that we grow in our faith when we hear God’s word. Do you have a daily set aside to hear from God? Share with your group what works for you to hear God’s voice most clearly. 

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



Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Hebrews 10:19-39 | 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 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 – Hold Tight to the One Who Holds On – Hebrews 10:19-39

This passage often carries the subtitle, “A Call to Persevere.” But as was suggest in the message on Sunday, this heading doesn’t seem to capture the urgency conveyed n the passage or the high stakes involved. The author knows that because of challenging circumstances some are being tempted to go back to their old way of relating to God and abandon their new faith in Christ. This passage not only provides a sober warning, but practical helps and the confident assurance that they are going to make it to the finish line.

1) All of us probably know people who at one time were walking with God, but now seem to be far from Him. What causes people to walk away from their faith (Hebrews 2:1, Mark 4:19)?

2) Read through the entire passage, Hebrews 10:19-39. What is the primary feeling(s) that you have as you listen to this passage? And why? How does the passage fit into what the author has already written in Hebrews?

3) In verses 22-24 the author shares three exhortations, each beginning with the phrase, “Let us….”. What are the three exhortations? Reflect on the words of each exhortation? What further observations do you want to make about each (note specific words, phrases, what the author does not say, etc)?

4) Which of these three exhortations do you most need in your life today? How can you put the exhortation into practice?

5) Verse 25 talks about “encouraging one another.” How can others encourage you?

6) Whatever else you want to say about verses 26-31, it is certainly a warning. How do these verses fit into how the author describes the letter as a whole in Hebrews 13:22 --“word of exhortation”?

7) What do we learn about the first-century Christian community to whom the author is writing in verses 32-39? Is there a cost/suffering if you live as a follower of Jesus today? What in these verses encourages you to endure loss and stand strong for Jesus? Explain.

8) Who in your circle of relations needs hear the gospel? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for each other. Pray that you would all do what it takes to draw near to God,  be an encouragement to each other, and stand up for Jesus regardless what it might cost.