The Mind of Christ

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Lent is a season of remembering the life of Christ, with it climaxing on Good Friday and then Easter. We often pay attention to the sacrifice of Christ, but less to the life of Christ.

One of the interesting things about Jesus is that when people approached him and thought they were right about a certain topic, Jesus always turned it upside down. Because the reality of God is different than our own.

Jesus would say things like; “You have heard this, but I say to you it is this.” Or; “The kingdom of God is like this”….and then Jesus would give an illustration people would understand.

Most often Jesus did things opposite of what people thought was right. Especially when it came to people. Jesus was always showing the worth of a human being, no matter what they did.

This Lent think of the ways you can show kindness, gratitude, and service to someone different from you.

Access this months Life Lines Newsletter here.


Transformation 2021

Toolkit 2021

 

There are two types of thought when it comes to change:

  1. It’s a band aid, you just have to rip it off and get it over with and let everything reset accordingly.
  2. Change is a slow and grueling process that takes time.

We all want to change or even transform. The Bible talks about it, we all expect to transform as we age and gain new wisdom. But how can we be participating in our own transformation? Our transformation in 2021 will be decided by what we do in 2020. The habits we create, the things we decide to value, and the inner  work we want to be done.

The Christian tradition is filled with language about renewal, born again, dying to self. But yet we live in a world that still deeply values putting the ego/self above all others. There are times when this is good, times for healing and renewal, but to live each day only for yourself is not what our faith is about. How can you continue to die to self each day? How can you put aside the ego and put on the character of Christ? It takes practices and it takes time. Find the practices that help you to become more like Christ. The New Hope Way can help, you can find it here.

These are all the things that help us transform. Transform into the likeness of Christ, for the betterment of the world.


We wait for the incarnation

2019-Advent; Unlit Candles of Christmas

As we grow older and hopefully wiser, we find that many religions can be expressing the same desire to have a deity greater than ourselves, one that is about compassion and love. Then at that point in your journey, you should ask yourself, why Christianity? Why this religion? What does it have that the others do not?

For me, what made me fall in love with the Christian faith all over again is simple; incarnation.

The God of all the cosmos, decided to become flesh, to dwell among us, to understand the life experience of  God’s own  creation. This is a God of love, when we truly love someone we want to know life through their eyes. We want to know more.

The act of incarnation bridged the gap between God and all of creation, for all time. It lit an unlit candle that says; God is not far away in the heavens, never has been. That is the good news of the incarnation of Christ.

For the December Life Group questions and newsletter click here

For Russ' activity to search for God each day click here


What is "pure" gratitude?

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Most often we place gratitude in with saying thank you, or simply being a polite person. We also use gratitude as a way of shaming others; “You should be thankful that you have food at all!” “There are starving people all over the world!” We can use gratitude to smooth over real world problems that need fixing and we can use it to not deal with our own valid feelings.

Maybe you have experienced gratitude as a tool of shame. Maybe gratitude has played a huge part in your healthy lifestyle. Gratitude at it's purest can recenter us, not because it stops you from feeling sorry for yourself, but because it connects you back to the giver of all things, Christ.

Real gratitude helps center us. Helps us reconnect with God and with each other. We receive far more than we give within our own lives, so how can we practice a grateful presence that will  enrich our lives and others?

As we talk about Gratitude this month at New Hope, remind yourselves that the original break in the garden came from wanting to separate the gift from the source. How can you reconnect the gift of life to God? How can you reclaim your journey as one of deep gratitude that will spread to others?

You Can Grab your small group newsletter with discussion questions by clicking here.


Can Anything Good Come out of Nazareth?

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As we enter into the month of October, New Hope is talking about doing good. In Christianity being good has often been criticized, because we are saved by faith, not by works. Sadly we lose something in that frame of mind. Yes, it is true we are saved by faith and grace, but because of that, we should be urged to extend that same love, compassion, grace, and goodness to others. 

But maybe you feel like you aren't good, or anything special. Maybe you have had a difficult time and don't quite trust yourself to do good works without hurting others. It reminds me a conversation between Nathanael and Phillip in the new testament, speaking of this Jesus who comes out of Nazareth, Nathanael exclaims "Can anything good come from Nazareth?!" (John 1:46). Our ideas of good can be quite different than what God ends up showing us as good in life. Take heart, you are created good. You are created to do good things in the image of God, to serve others, to spread kindness, generosity, and love. You can do this. Because if something good came out of Nazareth, it can come from anywhere.

 

5x5 Daily Habit for October

5 Acts of Kindness, Service, and Gratitude daily.


Spring Cleaning

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Photo by Alexandru Tudorache on Unsplash

Spring Cleaning during Lent

This past Sunday we started a new sermon series called Spring Cleaning. This series is meant to help us prepare our hearts for Easter by decluttering our physical and spiritual lives. When we call a place home we tend to collect things over time, even to a point when we don't even realize that our garage was originally meant to store our car, not our stuff.

And perhaps there are things of our heart that have become clutter. The pains, betrayals, joys, yearnings all collect within our hearts. What are the things we are holding on to that keep us from truly finding joy? What is keeping you from truly connecting with God?

As we explore this together in the coming weeks, we have a small group curriculum that you might find helpful. It is a nice companion to the series, it is called: The Life You Always wanted by John Orteberg. You can grab your copy in the fellowship hall.


Christmas Playlist

 

Advent begins this Sunday! For many this is a busy time of year, running around buying presents, making sure the house is ready for relatives, putting together end of the year expenses, etc, etc. Advent is a time of anticipation the video that is attached to this post explains it perfectly. Show it to your life group and have some discussion around your favorite Christmas music and maybe some of the ways that you prepare for Christmas!


Summer Update

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Photo by Matt Zhou on Unsplash

    Summer has always been a time of renewal. We seem to set aside our normal ways and make way for relaxation and vacation. And we should, we don't work sabbath into our normal daily routines enough, but sadly one thing that we tend to sacrifice during summer is our church community. It makes sense, it's one more thing you have to worry about besides the travel and kids activities, but if your church community is a place of renewal and healing then it should be a must.

    That is why our series for the next three weeks is called This is Us. We will be exploring our mission statement Find a Home, Build a Life, and Make a Difference. There has been alot of changes in the past three years and we all feel it. We need a time of renewal, a time to remember what drew us to this faith community in the first place. Why do we value church? Why is it important? Is it not important anymore? We want to help our faith community rediscover the joy and the renewal that is offered here.

Here are a couple things to look forward to in this time of re-discovery!

  1. Go see Won't You Be My Neighbor? with your life group! We will be starting a series in the fall on this very topic!
  2. Put your picture on Realm! If you don't know how we will have stations to get your picture taken at church starting July 29th. If we can put a picture to a name we will be able to serve you better!
  3. Hands of Hope, this is a great event for our church to go out and serve our community on August 19th. We will have sign ups ready to go on July 29th. If you have a project that you think would fit into this Sunday, please contact Pastor Jordan!

Should I Not Be Concerned?

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This past Sunday we talked about the story of Jonah and the Whale. Often we simply talk about that part of the story, Jonah and the Whale, and we miss out on some of the deeper messages of this wonderful tale. Typically it's a story about obedience to God, to listen to what God wants you to do and if you don't, you could get swallowed by a big fish! At the end of Jonah 4:5-11 we see that Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed and was upset that he did not get his way. It becomes an us vs them, in and out, black and white, just and unjust story of how God could love your enemies and calls us to do the same.

In your Life Group, reread the scripture Jonah 4:5-11 and talk about these questions:

  1. Have you ever felt the anger of Jonah when things did not go your way?
  2. Have you ever thought of this perspective of the Jonah story?
  3. Why is God just as concerned with our enemies has God is with us?
  4. Do you think you could ever forgive those who have wronged you over and over again?
  5. How does this story teach us to be more open and compassionate people?

Dress to Impress

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Clothes have symbolically played a role in humanity. Since the story of Eden when Adam and Eve realized they were naked and felt ashamed, so they created clothes, clothes have meant more to us then we have realized. For some it's a status symbol, the nicer the clothes the high status you attain. Others it is simply something you need and doesn't have to be fancy. 

Clothes also gives us something to hide behind. Those that are insecure about their bodies tend to wear clothes that cover up as much skin as possible. When we are in a relationship with someone the ultimate show of intimacy is losing the clothes, so that you know a person for who they are fully.

Of course the sermon series we are currently on is using clothes as a jumping off point to talk about something more intangible, our spirit, heart, and mind. In ways we have covered ourselves up in many different ways that keeps us from real relationship with others and God. We are to be a new creation through Christ, which means we must shed our "grave clothes" and put on the clothing of Christ.

Life Group Discussion Questions:

 1. Are there any other metaphors having to do with clothing that you can think of?

2. What was interesting to you about Russ' use of the Lazarus story on Easter, instead of the Resurrection story of Christ?

3. What are some grave clothes you need to shake off in order to wear a new wardrobe?

4. How do you put on the new self? For example, if you want to put on the clothes of kindness how would you begin to do that?

5. In what ways can you encourage one another to continue to put the clothing of Christ on and shed the old clothing?