Sharing our lives

This is a message delivered to group leaders based on John 13:34-35; 17; 1 Thessalonians 1 & 2; 1 Peter 3:15.

1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. 2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.

7 …We were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-2, 4, 5; 2:7-8, 11-12, 17-20 NIV

About two years ago, I read this and other passages like it and found myself left with one really uncomfortable question: Do I love anyone like that? Continue reading “Sharing our lives”

Be doers of the Word

This is a message delivered to group leaders based on James 1:19-27.

I’ve noticed something as I’ve talked to group leaders over the last 12 months or so that I didn’t expect. Many of you, many of us and many of the people in our groups, have this nagging sense that we’re not doing something right. That something’s off.

You meet every week with your group, but it seems like you just do study after study and talk about the same issues over and over again. You’re not sure why it bothers you now when it didn’t before, but you’re scared to bring it up because you think no one feels the same way.

As I’ve leaned in closer to understand more about what they’re feeling, I’ve come to think it’s actually something many of us are feeling as Christ followers, not just as group leaders. It’s more fundamental to our identity as Christians than our role as leaders.

But it’s not something most of us want to raise our hand and talk about, because we feel like admitting it means we’re somehow lower down the spirituality ladder. Since most of you who might feel that sense that something’s off, let me break the ice and just say it:

Many of us are not finding fulfillment in our walks with God.

We’re not sensing His Spirit, we’re not feeling His presence, we’re not more joyful than last year, we’re not loving our families better.

We’re not sure why; we just know that’s how we feel.

But like any good group leader, we think the answer’s just one more curriculum, one more book, one more Bible study away. We think that if we can just hear the right thing, listen to one more thing, that maybe it’ll get us over the hump and we’ll experience deeper spirituality.

I’ve thought a lot about this. I’ve experienced this.

Over a period of about 12 months, God revealed to me what the problem was in my life, and I believe it’s the same problem many of you might be wrestling with today. Continue reading “Be doers of the Word”