April 12th, 2019
I am sitting in my office right now watching the live funeral procession of a successful musician who was gunned down on March 31st in front of his clothing store in Los Angeles. The funeral procession is estimated at over 25 miles long. Tens of thousands of people are lining the streets to pay their final respects. Each asking a similar question, “why?” Whether you loved or even knew his music or not, it’s a sad day for many – grueling for his family and closest friends.
One week from today many of you will join me at the Deegan Stable for our third annual Good Friday service. We will again gather to remember the grueling death of the one who lived a perfect life – the one who died for you and me. There are many differences between the remembrance of the death of Jesus and all other deaths. But one of the biggest is that we don’t have to ask the question “why,” but rather we say, “thank you.”
Some denominations do a better job at remembering His death more often than most evangelicals. We could learn from them in this area. With that in mind, I’m asking if you would be willing to read an eight day devotional with me which is related to this week between Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter. Would you jump in tomorrow with me? If you miss one or two days, it’s okay! But let’s try to take time to pay our respects to Jesus and prepare our hearts for Good Friday and Easter… together!
BTW, please let me know if you’re planning on joining me – I’d LOVE to read this with you!
Preparing my heart with yours,
Our journey to grow in a closer relationship with God and deepen our faith in Him was never intended to be a solo activity. If we were to stop and analyze the early church, we’d discover that there was a deep and regular dependence on others. Paul could not have been more clear to the good people in Galatia when he commanded them to “bear one another’s burdens”.
Before we dismiss this as a poetic churchy command, let’s consider that the writer of Hebrews also commanded the Christian Jews to not neglect meeting together, “as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”.
There are many reasons why we go “sideways” in our important relationships. It would be irresponsible for me to suggest there is a single reason. However, in my personal experience, a common denominator of those who are spiritually healthy, others-centered and making a positive difference in the lives of others, is this: they each often have a smaller group of people in their lives who love Jesus, love them, and can speak truth to them on even the most sensitive subjects.
I am busy, you are busy.
You’ve been hurt, I’ve been hurt.
I struggle in trusting others, you also struggle in this way.
God told me to get closer to others and if i do, He will cause good things to happen in my life. His promise to me is the same for you.
Please join a small group for the next six weeks. Not for me. Not for your spouse. But for you. And if you do, God will use it in a positive way in your life.
He bet His life on it.
See you Sunday.
1. Personal Discovery
First, personal discovery happens in small groups better than large groups for a number of reasons. You can learn, ask questions, involve yourself in the lives of others, and generally make yourself vulnerable among other people who are doing the same in small groups.
You just can’t do that in sermons. There is no conversation, no feedback, and no questions. There’s no room to challenge the preacher or even question any part of what’s being taught. Spiritual growth happens better with others, in community, with open lines of communication and freedom to speak into one another’s lives.
2. Smaller Communities Are More Effective
Second and closely related to the first, smaller communities act more like, well, communities. That may seem like a given, but the bigger the group is, the less like community it feels. The kind of community I am advocating requires a level of intimacy easily lost as numbers grow.
You simply cannot know everyone beyond a certain point, and you certainly will not open up about your struggles and sins in a large group of people you don’t know.
3. Deeper Friendships
With that in mind, the third factor is that small groups deliver deeper friendships that double as accountability. When people know you, really know you, your life becomes far more transparent, including your sin.
Others learn to read you and will call you out for those sins, creating opportunities to deal with real life difficulties as they surface. This is part of what we should expect from good friends.
4. Maximum Participation
Finally, small groups deliver maximum participation. There are opportunities to discuss the issues with others in the church. Church life issues can be discussed openly among trusted friends.
Mission can be planned out and participated in together. Lives are sharpened and leaders developed. Small groups are an absolute necessity for involving as many people as possible in the life and ministry of your church.
Friday, January 4th, 2019
I’ve had the privilege to participate in a lot of weddings over th past 30 years, but this past weekend felt like the first wedding I have ever seen. Everyone said it will be a little different when it’s your own kid. They were wrong. Dead wrong. It was WAY different. My emotions were all over the board but the one that was the strongest was a feeling of pride. They both married someone who love each other but they each love Jesus more. And that is the beginning recipe for a fulfilling life together. Challenges and tough days will come, but with Jesus, they will do more than survive, they will thrive.
So no matter what your marital status (married, divorced, engaged, hopeful to marry again, or hoping not), there will be something for you this Sunday at 10am. I need it, you need it, everyone needs to think about their marriage and be challenged to be better.
Don and Renee Worcester (truenorthweb.org) will lead us to think critically about our marriages and make us laugh in the process. They will provide us with the Four Things You Should Never Ever Say To Your Spouse.
And instead of just attending, would you please bring someone with you? It’s too good to not share. I hope God gives places someone on your heart to ask.
See you Sunday!
In His love,
I spent some time with Gary and Paul yesterday. After hearing more of their amazing story of God’s grace and provision, it became clear that everyone needs to hear their story. I hope you can attend this Sunday. They are an amazing couple who is being used for a lot good in a really bad world.
Yes, cancer stinks. But God is bigger than cancer. Sunday you will leave uplifted and inspired.
If you know someone facing this horrible disease, please find the courage to invite them. They will leave better – I promise.
PS Don’t forget to register for Christmas in the Stable here. And it may not be a bad idea to invite another family. It’s the most unique event of the entire year.
What If I Need ToTalk To Someone?
- Need some help?
- Need resources?
- Request prayer
Are You Ready to Try Arizona Hills?
We would love to have you.