Give Over Get – In Relationships

Every week I work with some great students at Skyview. It has been fun to get to know them. There are several types of students with whom I work in the program. My favorite two types are: 1) the student who actually wanted to learn the material, and 2) the students who ask: “What do I need to do to pass? What’s the minimum requirement?”

In looking at Luke 10: 25-42, we read about two seemingly disconnected stories. However, upon closer examination, we see that both stories are the expression of the same principle. Our relationship with God communicates the strength of our relationship with others and vice versa. Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem. His disciples have gone ahead of him proclaiming the kingdom of God. The announcement of God’s kingdom is met with both intrigue and backlash. One such interaction comes with a lawyer who would have thoroughly understood the law of God. Initially, the lawyer seems to understand the core of the Jewish faith. The lawyer then adds a question t his interaction with Jesus. At the heart of this lawyer’s question is: “What’s the minimum requirement?”

Jesus knows that’s its all too common for us to look over people, look past people, or pretend not to see them at all.

This series “Give Over Get” is about living generously the first part is in our relationships. The question “What’s the minimum requirement?” undermines “looking” and “generous living” in our Generations Church value. Surely this (generous living) doesn’t mean this person.

Jesus’ encounter with this lawyer reveals how he does not allow distinctions to be made when it comes to the treatment of people. There are no easy escapes for failing to serve and be a neighbor. The are no boundaries or defining lines that prevent us from applying generosity and subsequent grace to our interaction.

Jesus decides to tell the story of the “Good” Samaritan.

Jesus picks the treacherous road from Jericho to Jerusalem as the site of the incident. This seventeen-mile journey was well known for its danger. The road was hazardous, as the man who falls among robbers finds out. Thieves took advantage of the caves that lined the road as it wound through the desert, jumping travelers as they passed through. So this man is stripped of his clothing, beaten, and robbed. He is left for dead, cast off at the side of the road.” Serves him right”

The idea of a good Samaritan was an oxymoron to a Jew. So he says, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus tells the man to “go and do likewise.” The point is obvious. The lawyer wants to know if he can be a neighbor to a select, elite few. Jesus tells him through the Samaritan’s example, “Let the neighbor be you.”

Rather than worrying if someone else is a neighbor, Jesus’ call is to be a neighbor to those who have need. By reversing the perspective Jesus changes both the question and the answer. He makes the call no longer one of assessing other people, but of being a certain kind of person in one’s activity.

Here we see the priority and character come together in expressing Give over Get.

One additional point emerges. By making the Samaritain the example, Jesus points out that neighbors may come in surprising places. The lawyer’s attempt to limit his neighbors may actually be limiting where his “family” might come from. Those who run people through a sieve limit their capacity for meaningful friendships.

Growing up, Jimmy developed a reputation for being emotionally distant. This posture helped protect him from all the emotional shrapnel he was exposed to in his home life. Everyone else might be quick to fly off the handle, but not Jimmy. He’d be rational to a fault.

But after years on his own, Jimmy changed. He began to see the value of acknowledging and sharing his emotions and doing so with friends and colleagues added to the richness of his life. He wanted to reveal this change to his family but was afraid. The patterns of who he was with them were deeply etched and, though far from perfect, were comfortable and predictable. His detachment had cost, but they were familiar costs.

He discussed his fears with a friend, who asked Jimmy some hard questions: “what are you really afraid of? How does following Jesus adjust your fears?” Jimmy’s first response was that he was acting out of obligation to his family: “Someone in my family has to be the rational one. Otherwise, it will be chaos. The way things are now, everything more or less works.”

All true, but Jimmy probed further. Eventually, he discovered that fear that at some level he knew was present all along: “What if they reject me? What if they laugh? What if they think, “What’s gotten not him?” Jimmy knew he’d be in for a serious identity shake-up if his parents responded badly, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to risk it.

Jimmy’s increased awareness of his identity concerns wasn’t the end of the story. His friend persisted with Scriptural reminders about his identity in Christ. Jimmy determined he would show greater emotion around his family, and at first, the going was not smooth. There were awkward moments, and some members of his family wondered why he was acting differently. But Jimmy persisted because of a friend who encouraged him to Give Over Get, and in time a more genuine set of relationships replaced the old ones. – A modified excerpt from Difficult Conversations

Image management can cripple our ability to live generously. When we always look to get our of relationships we withhold a portion of ourselves and never experience growth.

In the example of the Samaritan, we see the personal compassionate meeting of basic needs, not the mere throwing of money at a problem in the hopes it will fix itself. The Samaritan not only provides resources but personally undertakes to make sure that others who become a part of the process are aware that he wants the victim brought back to health. It takes eyes and ears to be a neighbor, a compassionate heart, and a willingness to be vulnerable.

Sometimes we can think there is so much suffering in the world that we do not know where to start. Such thinking can become an excuse for inaction. If I cannot know where to begin, I will not even start to help, because if I do, I will be overwhelmed.

We distract ourselves. We fill up our time so that we can have the justification to limit our relational connection with others.

It comes in a series of three passages, each of which treats a different key aspect of our relationship to God: how we relate to neighbors, how we engage in dialogue with God, and how we view one another and our time with the Lord. We will cover the first two of the three stories. Go read the last one.

Martha’s consumption with assessing others as she performs what she is called to do, and Mary’s wisdom in seeking some time at the feet of Jesus. Both qualities, one negative and the other positive are at the heart of following Jesus. A community suffocates when all its energy is spent being an assessment agency for one another while distracting oneself from true relationships. Generous living chooses grace in our relationships.

How do we move past the “what’s the minimum requirement mindset?”

[ONE] In order to live a give over get lifestyle in our relationships, it takes margin. Margin is the space between our load and our limits. Planning for margin means planning for the unplannable. It means we understand what’s possible for us as finite creatures and we schedule for less than that. This is why Jesus approves of Mary’s posture.

Your busyness limits your ability to be present with God. Your busyness is crippling your ability to be a good neighbor.

[TWO] It takes separating choices from identity.

  • Am I competent?
  • Am I a good person?
  • Am I worthy of love?

You have to get your eyes off yourself. You don’t expect to struggle. You will suffer if you are committed to people. We will move from distracted living to directed living.

“Starting each day with eternity makes our petty problems and long to-do lists seem less significant. By sitting at the feet of Jesus, we will grow more like him—more patient, more loving, more thoughtful. We’ll see that our screen does not satisfy our Savior. We’ll see that wisdom was not born yesterday, or thirty-four seconds ago on social media. We’ll learn to keep our complaints to a minimum and our eyes not he cross. And we’ll become more helpful to those around us.” Kevin Deyoung, Crazy Busy

Give Over Get – The Motivation

Carla was tired. Every week she showed up to the food pantry to help serve. She had been a constant recruiter to the cause. She had been doing it weekly for several years. She had gone through all the phases of serving. The initial excitement gave way to constant frustration. Eventually, adjustment to a better picture of reality set in. That still didn’t change her tiredness. She had been trying to get others to join her but to no avail. She wasn’t sure what to do now. Was it worth it to keep showing up?

James was proud. He was seen around the office as the go-to guy.  Everyone knew it. Anytime someone needed something he was there. Oil change. Loan someone a few extra bucks. He got such happiness from knowing people would turn to him. Recently, some of the asks from others seemed odd. James wasn’t so sure about his continued response. He couldn’t pick and choose who he would help. He had an image to maintain. Why had he been so open to others if the first place?

Lloyd just tried to stay out of people’s way. Because he  didn’t speak much people thought he listened well. So they shared. He would hear hurts and frustrations. He would even hear of an opportunity. However, he was so nervous about how someone would react that he often did nothing. It was better to pass the buck to someone else than face the awkwardness of trying to help. How would people react?

Image management is choosing certain actions so that others will perceive us in a certain way. A life fueled by image management is like putting diesel in your gas-powered car. It appears to be the same thing but won’t get you anywhere.

Maybe you find a connection with one of these stories. As the wheel of life keeps rolling, our ultimate motivation comes to the surface.

After Jesus’ initial years of ministry, He gathers the disciples who have now been appointed as apostles and teaches a sermon. This section of the book of Matthew and the sermon is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. It was delivered to the disciples of Jesus on the mountainside there above the Sea of Galilee. “Seeing the multitudes, he went into a mountain: and he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth and he taught them, saying,” (Mat 5:1-2).

This Sermon on the Mount is not for general world consumption. It is not a system of laws and all that the world should inaugurate or even can inaugurate. The Sermon on the Mount is to the disciples of Jesus Christ, and it is only those who have been described in the first part of the sermon that can really put these things into practice and that only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Others do hear Jesus talk to these disciples.

Today as we talk about give over get, some of you may want to try to put this into practice however as we talk about generosity at some point you will become exhausted or fed up because there is no internal transformation that makes generous living sustainable. That’s the point. Jesus is now going to address the right actions but the wrong motives.

The opening line of Matthew six succinctly summarizes the central theme of the paragraphs to follow. Jesus warns his followers to not do their acts of righteousness for the purpose of being seen by others. “Acts of righteousness” are defined as pious acts motivated by one’s devotion and relationship with God. There are things such as the right actions.

Last week, we established the priority of giving. This week is the character. Values shape not just actions, but also attitudes.

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what is was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature.” – C.S. Lewis

Our goal is to become a person who eternally receives and reflects God’s love. The risk is that people may choose to become the antithesis of this. Giving shapes not just one area of our life but all areas. A choice to not give hardens in us a resistance to giving.

So here Jesus addressed the danger of cultivating an image of righteousness. It is almost impossible to do spiritual things in front of others without thinking what their opinion is of us as we do those things, and how they are thinking better or worse of us as we do what we do.

There are some who say, “All that is important is the doing of the deed. How I do it is much less important than the doing of it.” It is true that in some cases it would be better to do the right thing in the wrong way or out of the wrong motive than to do the wrong thing, but Jesus’ point is clear: God cares about how we do our good works, and with what motive we do them.

This does not contradict His previous command to let your light so shine before men (Matthew 5:16). Although Christians are to be seen doing good works, they must not do good works simply to be seen. If our desires reflect our destination, and our destination is eternity, don’t we want others to see our good works? Yes – but others seeing your faithfulness, discipline, dutifulness – will not sustain you.

Jesus thus begins to deal with three spiritual disciplines: giving, prayer, and fasting. “These three were (and are) the most prominent practical requirements for personal piety in mainstream Judaism…These same three activities, together with the specifically Islamic requirements of the Hajj and recitation of the creed, constitute also the Five Pillars of Islam.” What makes Christianity unique…If you have a Catholic or Mormon background…you are taught works contribute to your salvation.

Give over get directly counters other worldviews. People give to get.

Moving on to verse two, a fundamental expression of Jewish piety involved a charitable and benevolent response to the poor and needy. Jesus assumes an ongoing benevolent concern for the needy. He is emphatic that his followers refrain from actions calculated to shift attention to oneself.

The usage of “trumpet” is illustrative of the extreme measures to which some will go in pursuit of public acclaim. Therefore, if charitable acts are performed for worldly acclaim the performer will be well compensated by the world’s temporary applause. 

The word “hypocrite” needs to be defined. The term was used for an actor. By the time of the NT the term came to have a metaphorical usage describing one who through pretense, either consciously or unconsciously, assumes a role that conceals an inner reality. There is inherent duplicity attached to the term.

We aren’t good evaluators of other’s motives. We can only evaluate our own. “Oh, let us rather seek to be good than seem to be so.

I assure you: They have their reward: Jesus tells the one who gives so he can hear the applause of others that he should enjoy the applause because that will be all the reward that he will receive. There will be no reward in heaven for the one who did it for the motive of an earthly reward. It is all they will receive. ‘They have received payment in full.’

Getting our reward here can come in many forms. I’m less inclined to think it shows up in the form of actual awards. It likely manifests itself in put-downs so that others can lift us up.

As a Church, we have to be very careful that we aren’t doing good things so that we grow. Rather we do good things out of a response to who Jesus is.

From this sermon, I will…..Give over Get

    • Identify your intention:
    • Identify your reluctance

Our intent is determined by what we want and expects from our actions. When we do good deeds to be seen by human beings, that is because what we are looking for is something that comes from human beings.

Jesus gives us “Now What?” in verses three and four. The figurative expression of not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing graphically illustrates the unpretentious and unassuming manner of true piety. Charitable acts are so fundamentally inherent to the character of those in the kingdom that they are performed even without self-conscious recognition or appraisal.

We serve a God who looks upon the heart, not mere outward appearance, therefore religious devotion begins with the heart and inner motivations behind the external act.

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you: Jesus pointed out the great value of doing good deeds for the glory of God. It is much better to receive our return from God, who rewards much more generously and much more openly than men do.

God does see in secret. “We should ever remember that the eye of the Lord is upon us, and that he sees not only the act, but also every motive that led to it.”

We should not miss the strength of the promise – these things done the right way will certainly be rewarded. We can be sure of that, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

I had shared that these values aren’t just values that we think you should live out, but they are values that we as a church want to embody—collectively.

The church is called to embody Jesus. Jesus gave. He lived selflessly. When we pattern our character and priorities after Him and not some image we feel that we need to maintain we will become more human and testify to our eternal reward.

Give Over Get – A Shift

Generations Church is a community of everyday people committed to expanding God’s family together because of Jesus for generations to come.

We have five values that help us accomplish our vision.

  • Spirit over Self
  • Give over Get
  • Story over Sin
  • Progress over Perfection
  • Send over Stay

Our values are structured as a choice.  Too often we have been conditioned to choose the latter of the options (in our values) because we follow faulty maps. We need a shift in our thinking, more than that, we need a shift in our living.

We are going to take a closer look at our value Give over Get – Looking to make a difference in the lives of others and our community through generous living rather than always wanting to receive more.

Before I tell you what this series is, let me tell you what it’s not about. This series isn’t about getting more out of you. In some ways, this series will help provide a common language to give a reason for why this church community differs from other communities in the world.

We pick up the story of Jesus on his way to Jerusalem for the Passover. He has been explaining and demonstrating that his way is upside-down. It’s a re-orientation of all our common social values. In this section of Luke, following Jesus is like a journey where you learn as you go. If you are following Jesus, you common assumptions and actions will be challenged. Jesus is being openly opposed.

Our desires must reflect our destination. Jesus’s destination is Jerusalem. 

  1. What Is Life (12:13-14)

The person is looking for an authority to help this man get what’s his rather than deal with the loss of life(Jesus’ disciples went out ahead of him announcing “good news to the poor that the Kingdom of God is here—Jesus is going to usher in this new way that renews God’s commitment to Israel that his blessing will go through them to all nations while also portraying Jesus as the wise and good King)

Jesus had just taught on our great value to God and on the importance of standing for Him. In the midst of this teaching, a man interrupted Jesus to ask that He take his side in a financial dispute.

According to the law of the day, the elder brother received two-thirds of the inheritance and the younger brother received one-third (Barclay). This man did not ask Jesus to listen to both sides and make a righteous judgment; he asked Jesus to take sides with him against his brother (“Tell my brother to divide the inheritance”). Obviously, Jesus’ previous words about the need for full commitment and God’s care for us didn’t penetrate this man’s heart. He felt he needed to fight for what was his. “If each of them learned the real meaning of life, and sought as its chief endeavor to be ‘rich toward God,’ the question of possessions would settle itself. The one would be eager to share, while the other would be careless about receiving.”  We often mask our covetousness by claiming we are on a righteous crusade.

  1. Life Is Not Defined by a Lot of Stuff (12:15-21)

Greed means wanting what doesn’t belong to you. “He then told them, ‘Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.'” Storage businesses appear to be one of the fastest-growing businesses in the country because we covet and hoard, then we buy more space so we can continue coveting and hoarding.

As we move ahead to verse 19, the parable illustrates that some people think a good life is relaxing, eating, drinking, and being merry. The man was a fool – not because he was rich, but because he lived without any awareness of and preparation for eternity. The people who define life by what they possessed and enjoyed will be called fools. This can manifest itself in the search for the perfect vacation or perfect dream house. We have been conditioned to pursue the upgrade.

The man’s problem was not in that he had some treasure on earth; but that he was not rich toward God. This isn’t an attack on having possessions. It’s an affront on being rich towards ourselves and being rich toward God. When we live for the upgrade the upgrade will consume us.

  1. Life Is More Than Food and Clothes (12:22-24)

In this next section, Jesus turns to the disciples — they are in relationship to Him. He challenges them not to worry. This statement on worry is referring to the consumption of stuff; it is not dealing with anxiety. Research clearly shows that worry deteriorates our immune systems; people under constant worry show lower T cell counts, essential for immune response. Prolonged worry has been shown to affect the brain, making a person less able to respond to future stress. And stress also is related to sudden heart failure. When we worry in relation to our stuff, it communicates a connection to our identity. An identity based on material items can be taken away because these material items can be taken away.

Jesus is reminding His disciples. Your life is more than those things. Life is not defined by the things we have; life is worth more than all our things.

I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend.  He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears but said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.  What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change?  For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

by Linda Ellis

  1. Life Is Wasted by Worry (12:25-28)

We are tempted to think that worrying is the same thing as thinking or planning or even protecting ourselves. Yet take careful note: the birds don’t worry, but they do work. Birds don’t just sit with open mouths, expecting God to fill them. God provides. The worry many people have over the material things of life is rooted in a low understanding of their value before God. They don’t comprehend how much He loves and cares for them. God cares for the flowers, but that means that every day for the flowers is not sun and sweetness. If every day was sunny, and there were never clouds and rain, the flowers would die quickly.

One of the ways God provides is through people. We have seen God provide through people right here in Generations Church. In order to see God provide, we must be willing to express our needs. We also must be willing to GIVE OVER GET to help those in need.

  1. Life Is for Seeking God and His Kingdom (12:29-31)

The purpose of life is to seek God and his kingdom, not things and our needs. The mystery of life is that when we seek God and his kingdom he provides our needs. We receive a kingdom in exchange for worry. Jesus contrasted the life of those who do not know God and are separated from Him with those who do know God and receive His loving care. Those who know God should seek after other things. This is why we use the value GIVE OVER GET. Throughout your day you will face choices, will I be like everyone else, or will I make the choice that communicates something different?

  1. Life Follows Treasure (12:32-34)

The kingdom is not like an Easter Egg Hunt. When we realize this, then the world’s possession and our needs lose their grip on us. Jesus didn’t just tell them to stop worrying; He told them to replace worry with a concern for the kingdom of God. A habit or passion can only be given up for a greater habit or passion.

What is Jesus really saying? The command to give away what we have is a test of discipleship, and it is also a tool to train us as disciples. It points to giving as an antidote or cure to covetousness. “Readiness to respond to the call of renunciation is a sign of genuine conversion, a sign of undivided loyalty to Jesus, a sign of unwavering faith in Him.”

We can use this life’s possessions to bless the needy because we know the Father gives us a kingdom and a treasure that cannot be taken away, stolen, or decay.

We all have areas of our lives where we feel the pressure of this truth. Give over get isn’t simply an amen to affirm your generosity when you have the means. It’s a choice to make when it challenges your circumstances.

Our desires must reflect our destination. People will come into contact with this and ask “well aren’t you concerned about ___.” We must be able to give an answer that says, “I GIVE OVER GET because of Jesus.”

In the coming weeks, we will get very practical as we apply this to every area of our life. Your connection with God and connection with others will enable you to choose to GIVE OVER GET when you would rather opt-out. In a repeat of a similar challenge from last week, develop a deeper connection this week.

Wait…There’s More

Generations Church is a community of everyday people committed to expanding God’s family because of Jesus for generations to come.

We (our teaching team) has been teaching through Colossians 1 as Generations Church began weekly services.

Let me give you the “previously on…”

We live in a world with faulty maps. These maps don’t just guide us they shape us. God sent Jesus into the world. Jesus is a map that shows us what God is like and what humanity looks like in proper relation to God. In this midst of this world, we are called to embody the mystery of Jesus made known. We must begin following the map and then inviting others to journey with us. Both our destination and the map is Jesus. Paul is sent into the world to share this message with people (Gentiles) who are included in God’s family because of Jesus.

We have been using Colossians as help to communicate some essentials to a new church. Paul has not met these Christians in Colossae. A coworker Epaphras started the church. He is concerned about the false teaching influencing other Christians in the region.

One theologian puts it, “The epistle is a vaccination against heresy, not an antibiotic for those already afflicted.” So, the false teaching has not taken hold but Pauls’ words are used as preparation against the heresy.

For I want you to know how greatly I am struggling for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me in person. I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ. In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with arguments that sound reasonable. For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ. – Colossians 2:1-5

You may be wondering why I just listed Colossians 2 as the teaching text when the series is from chapter one. 

If you look at your Bible, how do they divide it up. Prior to us adding chapters and verses to help in dissecting and understanding and translation, the contents were a single letter. The contents are still a single letter but appear less so due to these additions.

You may recognize Laodicea. For those of you who don’t no fear, Laodicea is mentioned in the very last book of the Bible for being lukewarm (see Revelation 3). They have drifted into apathy about their faith.

While we don’t know exactly what has happened to the Colossians community. It’s important to see that between Paul’s letter and John’s letter something happened within the region. 

Paul has commended the Colossians for their faithfulness and impact on the world. It’s worth noting what an inability to discern false truths and apply the wisdom of Jesus produces—a muddy version of Christianity. Paul has told these Christians that the mystery has been made known—thus clear to them—but their inability to keep growing and applying and discerning has resulted in paralysis.

Paul has used himself as an example of what struggling and suffering looks like He has followed Jesus. We do not know what happened with the other believers. However, as Paul leads into direct countering of false teachers, we see a description of what Paul is ultimately working for in their midst. Paul almost goes, “Wait…there’s more…” I’ve told you how the access the knowledge of God and even given you some application. We see Paul go from observation to the specific application. Identify the solution. It’s like going from the observation “dude your broke”…to “let me help you budget and figure out where you are spending unnecessary money.”

Here we get a pastoral capstone of Paul’s goal from his opening words that the mystery of how God would rescue and renew his creation is made known in the person and work of Jesus:

  1. Encouragement of the Church
    1. This is more than “atta boy” this is a sense of putting strength, or courage, into them.
    2. It’s reiterated in a different way in verse 5 with the word “strength”
    3. Paul uses the word heart-basically at the core of the person. Just as suffering has afflicted his body and worn it down, Paul knows that the inner resolve must be able to cope and have resilience when the social pressures and likely physical ones come when they apply the way of Jesus to every aspect of their lives.
  1. Being United In Love
    1. “This describes a person’s rugged commitment to another person in three ways: in presence, in advocacy, and in the mutual direction of development toward Christlikeness.”
      1. Presence
      2. Advocacy
      3. Development toward Christlikeness
    2. Let me reiterate the point in an inverse way – what Paul is describing is not simply tolerating someone else but a commitment to one another. as a team.
    3. When you know someone’s story and they know your story, and there are differences, but you choose to connect relationally and appreciate the difference rather than stay on opposite sides of the room.
    4. To be knit together in love does not mean they will all be committed to becoming loving people so much as committed to one another.
  1. Having the Full Riches of Complete Understanding
    1. Paul’s aim is knowledge, and what he wants for them is to be complete, full, or certain in their understanding of this knowledge, and this kind of completeness is the riches for which he is laboring.”
    2. Paul here puts a pastoral capstone on this idea of “known”
    3. “Riches” can refer to the gospel response in generosity to others.
      1. This is why for the next several weeks we will look at one of our values give over get.
      2. & to the mystery of God’s redemption expanding to the Gentiles. So, the focus for Paul, as is the case in his mystery of uniting Jews to Gentiles and Gentiles to Jews, is a fellowship that exhibits a supernaturally based union through the Spirit. 
      3. Love and knowledge for Paul manifest themselves within the church. It’s not merely a “rah! rah!” they show up in practice when people interact with each other.
        1. Reduces the distance that sin, emotional vandalism, creates.
      4. Teams have gone through training camp, practice, refinement.
      5. The church isn’t always known for that. We will fall back into old patterns if we do not have some different community habits.
      6. End to gossip.
      7. Using your gifts (Jenene)
  1. Having the knowledge of the mystery of God
    1. That the hidden plan of God to expand his family to all people has been made manifest in Jesus (see Isaiah 33:5-6).
    2. The mystery of God, the one formerly hidden by now disclosed, is Christ the final treasure, and in that treasure is both wisdom and knowledge. If the mystery was hidden in the deep recesses of God’s plan, the wisdom and knowledge expressing the truth of that mystery are in Christ himself.
    3. Paul contests any view that revelation about God’s truth and the gospel can be found in any other location than Christ.

As we look at these last two verses, we sense a switch in Paul. Everything he has said to this point is made abundantly clear—he doesn’t want these believers to be deceived—it’s not even foolish arguments—these are arguments that sound reasonable.

On the other side of our Give Over Get series, we will see how Paul counters these “reasonable” arguments. Here’s what may surprise you, and at the same time may not be all that shocking…these “reasonable” arguments are still put into effect today. They show up in the books you read, in the news you watch, in the social media you follow, in the cultural sayings regurgitated in everyday conversation.

Here’s what I briefly mentioned earlier. The gospel accomplishments in our culture aren’t always dashed away by false teaching, they are slowly eroded by teaching that that sounds right but has no connection to the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

Paul is rejoicing because of what he has seen in the Colossians thus far.

If I may assume the first-person stance in this pastoral moment by Paul.

Just like Paul, I can’t physically be with you always. Here’s the beauty. You don’t need me to be physically present with you always.

I am able to hear the vision and values in your conversation.

While we have seen great growth and promise thus far, we still have blind spots. We still have areas of our life untouched by Jesus. We have areas of our church that don’t function as well as they should.

If we do not re-engage with what the vision for the church, then we may just drift into luke-warmness like the Laodiceans.

Here’s is how we will combat that…call or message someone in our church this week. If you need a name or a number, Jon and I will help you. It may lead to you grabbing a meal with each other.

You take the initiative. Don’t wait to see who reaches out to you.

”The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

The Barrier

Over the past year, I have struggled to get words, whether it be cultural analysis or personal reflection, down on paper. This has been both in a metaphorical sense and literally down on actual paper in my journal. I described it recently as a barrier between me and my Bible. As I have taken another step, I realized it was not so much a barrier between me and my Bible, because almost every day has been filled with reading, but more as a barrier between me and my blog.

I have felt that I needed something profound to say. Some incredible insight on this wonderful journey of church planting. I needed pithy saying which encapsulated my central theme without always resulting in alliteration. I have been bogged down by saying the right words. Maybe I should have purely just said something.

2018 was hard. I learned a ton. 2019 has gone relatively swimmingly. For some reason, I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like, no one can have it this good. When I say it is this good, I really do mean that it has been good.

I have had four major prayer requests answered so far this year.

  • A meeting space to engage the community
  • A staff member of different ethnicity
  • A resident/intern to serve on staff by the launch
  • For Generations to meet it’s budgeted financial need for 2019 through fundraising commitments

In some ways, I am almost ashamed to share the good news. There is rampant evil within the world. I have family members struggling with disease.

 It seems as if I have been conditioned to only share the negative, the critique, or the half-hearted “God is working.” Am I actually allowed to share anything good?

It’s easy to copy. It’s hard to create.

Those words were written on August 26, 2019. I did not publish those words then. So why now?

Because God has been faithful. In the past several months there have been tough moments and difficult situations that needed navigating around Generations. I do not want to pretend that everything has gone well or even exactly as pictured.

I was reminded in a conversation the other night about something I had told our staff team. I had said, “remember those moments good, joy, and God-sized breakthrough that make this journey worth it. We will need those moments to remind us why we are starting a new church together when we face hard times and are on the verge of pride. We will need reminded of what God has done, is doing, and will do.”

In this recent conversation, it occurred to me that those words were not my own, but steeped in a time when I kept reading in my Bible God’s words of REMEMBER.

“And remember I am always with you to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20

“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt; carefully follow these statutes.” – Deut. 16:12.

“On that day David decreed for the first time that thanks be given to the Lord by Asaph and his relatives:

Give thanks to the Lord; call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him; sing praise to him; tell about all his wondrous works!

Honor his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Remember the wondrous works he has done, his wonders, and the judgments he has pronounced, you offspring of Israel his servant, Jacob’s descendants — his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God; his judgments govern the whole earth.

Remember his covenant forever — the promise he ordained for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, swore to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob as a decree, and to Israel as a permanent covenant: “I will give the land of Canaan to you as your inherited portion.” When they were few in number, very few indeed, and resident aliens in Canaan wandering from nation to nation and from one kingdom to another, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their behalf: “Do not touch my anointed ones or harm my prophets.”

Let the whole earth sing to the Lord. Proclaim his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his wondrous works among all peoples. For the Lord is great and highly praised; he is feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.

Ascribe to the Lord, families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him. The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields and everything in them exult. Then the trees of the forest will shout for joy before the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.

And say: “Save us, God of our salvation; gather us and rescue us from the nations so that we may give thanks to your holy name and rejoice in your praise. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting.” Then all the people said, “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”” – ‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭16:7-36‬ ‭CSB‬‬

May we remember the stories of God’s faithfulness so that we we live faithfully in the next season of life.