Church 101

On Sunday, 2/5 we discussed a lesson from the Church 101 series and discussed Acts 1, the founding of the first church. In an effort to get to know each other better, we split into teams of two and were challenged to check in and pray with each other during the week.

The Church 101 lesson one is attached here.

Knowing Jesus Christ and Him Crucified

1 Corinthians 2:2

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

Paul started the church in Corinth and stayed there for about 18 months. A year and a half and the only thing that Paul resolved to know, what he focused on while he was there – Christ crucified. Imagine what it must have been like to live during the time of Jesus. Imagine having been able to see him. To be there: shepherd at the birth with angels singing, being blind since birth and seeing for the first time, a church goer seeing this new teacher waltz into the synagogue and rock it and your church leaders hate him for it, getting water from a well and being told your past history from someone who doesn’t know you at all. You believe that he is the Christ, the Messiah.

Then he dies. Imagine then what it must have been like to see him be crucified, to see him die. How would you feel?

Read Mark 15: 27 – 41

Below is a fictional account of an Egyptian Jewess who traveled to Jerusalem on pilgrimage three years before the death of Jesus. While in Jerusalem she wrote 39 letters to her father back in Egypt telling him all about this man named Jesus. These letters were recorded in a book written in 1875 by Joseph Holt Ingraham entitled: Prince of the House of David.

“Dearest Father: I have only terminated my last letter to take up my pen for the beginning of another; for I find relief, only in writing to you, from the deep affliction which has struck me to the earth. If anything can add to my mortification at the death of the Nazarene, Jesus it is that I should have endeavored so earnestly to make you believe in him also. Forgive me my dear father; your wisdom, your knowledge of the Prophets, your judgment were far above my own. But who could have believed that he was less than he claimed to be – the very Son of Messiah of God. Oh! I shall never have confidence in a human being again; and the more lovely, the more holy, the more heavenly the character of anyone, the wiser and purer their teachings, the more distrustful shall I be of them.”

Those who loved Jesus and believed that he was the one to come, the Messiah, were very disappointed – the ultimate disappointment.

Life has its disappointments; God has his plan. Will I be discouraged and hopeless when disappointment comes? Yes…I will be discouraged; I will be hopeless. But will I have faith and trust? Will I believe that God is doing exactly what he has planned to do? How could those who praised God for Jesus’ coming have faith and trust in God after Jesus had been killed? How can I have faith and trust in God after X? Fill in the blank.

God knows what he is doing.

It’s for your benefit. Believe.

Discovering the role of Christians in Social Challenging situations (Prejudice and Discrimination)

Facilitator: Phillip Salvador

This past week was no doubt a roller coaster of reactions and emotions for the United States. Although events like this have caused a wave of fear this is certainly not the first or the last. We talked about Social Challenges: Prejudice and Discrimination and what our role as Christians in social challenges.

We first completed an exercise realizing not everyone starts equally in life due to factors that may include education to race/sexual/cultural factors. This activity also points out that society is not structured quite as fairly as we often assume.

Then we looked at the following scripture and discussed how Jesus responded to social challenges. Jesus although confronted and challenged by the Pharisees regarding the Law many times, was able to actively engage to help those around him while not being distracted.

Mark 2:13-17

*Place yourself in the perspective of the:

– Pharisee (Religious leader – rabbis and other spiritual leaders were the highest members of Jewish society. Everyone looked up to the Pharisees. They were strict adherents to the Law and tradition, and they avoided those whom they deemed “sinners” because they had a “clean” image to maintain.)

– Levi (later to be Matthew – who was just recently called to follow Jesus)

-Tax Collector or “Sinner” (Tax collectors, infamous for embezzlement and their cooperation with the hated Romans, definitely fell into the “sinner” category.)

 -Jesus – (Son of God – Savior of the World – Jesus Christ)

  1. What about Jesus that “attracts” or “distances” you to/from the table?
  2. As the Tax Collector or “Sinner” society has labeled you due to your past or current occupations resulting in being an outcast, discriminated, etc. What are your needs that Jesus is meeting and potentially meet?
  3. From Jesus’ perspective, “What am I doing that I hope others will imitate at this table?” TODAY: Can you identify/know anyone from work, etc. that has needs to be met?

We then discussed further the following questions and had really great responses from the group.

What is the role of Christians in social issues?

What happens when Christians disagree on social issues?

We lastly we watched a video that helped us realize we have a lot more in common than we think. I hope you enjoy the video and regardless of political/background views we need to be involved to help and defend those who can’t just as Jesus did.

Psychological Safety

Facilitator: Phillip Salvador

Jesus has an amazing ability to create a safe environment to connect to different people from all walks of life. Even the Apostles who came from different walks of life, Jesus connected with them to elevate them to a common goal. We investigated and discussed how Jesus was able to do this looking at some different interactions Jesus had. Take some time to study his interactions from the following scriptures.

Analyzing social interaction between Jesus and:

  1. Woman at the Well John 4:7-42
  1. Rich young ruler Mark 10:17-27
  1. Religious Leader and Sick Woman: Luke 8:40-56

Some guiding questions to help you analyze Jesus’ social interaction with his audience:

  • How does Jesus relationally connect to his audience in this particular interaction?
  • If applicable, What leads you to believe his audience felt connected to Jesus? Or what does his audience seek and how does Jesus answer them?
  • If applicable, How does Jesus communicate and balance what people have known (Old Covenant) to shift them to his message?
  • What qualities do you see that in Jesus in his interactions that may be a potential growth area for you?

Lastly we watched a video that had some great insight regarding creating a safe environment when interacting and helping others.

Anxiety: Causes & Cures

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With Re-Creation Sunday on the 31st, a few folks gathered in Lair O’ The Bear State Park for some hiking, fishing, and a short discussion on Anxiety. After sharing some of the things weighing on our hearts, we listened to an excerpt of the excellent Realty San Francisco podcast. One point that really struck home was the concept of not using God as “a pill” for our anxiety – or asking/demanding that God take away our anxiety instead of inviting him to be present with us.

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Seeing God

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God is relational and promises to “be with us always” (Mat 28:20), but as believers we can feel alone, especially when something difficult happens.  God’s desire is to walk with us, to hold us, and to comfort us but we cannot always perceive God’s presence.  Our bond with God is strengthened by consistent time and positive interactions.  Making time to allow God to speak to us will strengthen our bond.  One way to do this is through interactive gratitude prayers.  As we practice gratitude, we learn to “see” God in our everyday lives and strengthen our connection with Him.  As we allow God to speak to our hearts, our awareness of His presence and his heart for us becomes more apparent.

One of the issues that can occur when we struggle to see God is disconnection.  We can doubt God and  His heart for us.  We can feel that God is uncaring or incompetent and this will destroy our relationship with Him.

A second issue is that of “spiritual bypass.”  This term, first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.  It is a defense mechanism  that gets us to deny our hurt or anger or shame or whatever “negative” thing we may be feeling.  In the name of “being strong or faithful” we can deny that we are mad, hurt, or afraid. Spiritual bypass keeps us from fully connecting to God by not allowing Him to walk with us in our pain, our mess, our humanness – which is where He not only longs to be, but is GLAD to be.  God deals tenderly with our weakness.

We finished the lesson by taking some time to draw a picture of our lives.  It was powerful to take stock of all the things that drive us and to reflect on the good, as well as the hurts and fears. By bringing it all to God we can know that He is with us always. We are the apple of His eye and His is rejoicing over us!

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