Archive | Presence of Christ RSS feed for this section

Multi-Generational Life Together | United in the Body of the Christ

8 Feb


“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Monday evening Women’s Ministries hosted a Table Talk Event* focusing on Titus 2 as, “…a call for us to live differently, do relationships with others differently and speak and act differently because of God’s grace that saves us and instructs us to live in a new way” (Marcia Lichte). This multi-generational gathering focused on God’s transforming grace and the yearning to live in a way that is pleasing to Him and, “The realization that [our] daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on [our] own performance…” (Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace).

The Gospel provides the gravity (Christ’s blood) that pulls us to our knees at the cross where we can mercifully cling; grounded, changed. The unifying force of the Holy Spirit creates an accordance with the Lord that transcends and overrides any propensity towards divisiveness as we are drawn to other believers (Ephesians 4:3). Knowing God gives us a desire deep inside to love one another as Christ first loved us, sincerely and deeply from the heart (1 John 4:19, 1 Peter 1:22).  Christ’s presence binds us into an intergenerational body enabling accessible, familial relationships, mentorships, and friendships to grow.

Titus 2 outlines the mutual benefit and blessing derived from life together where we support, serve, encourage, and learn from each other bound by the mercy and grace of our Lord (Titus 3:5-7). It is through these examples that we reflect the light of Christ as “God’s people not good people” providing an opportunity for those who do not know Him to see the unique way our shared joy in His presence unites us in community (1 Peter 2:12) and reflects His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

“Spirit filled, multi-generational unity is a powerful witness to God’s work in our churches” (Daniel Renstrom, Multi-Generational Worship). As foreigners and exiles living in the world let’s endeavor to present a genuine closeness that defies logic outside of the unifying work of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:11-12, Titus 2:12)! 

*For those of you who were unable to attend the above mentioned event, click here for the evening’s Bible study: Titus 2 Study Handout.

Multi-Generational Worship by Daniel Renstrom

This is pure speculation, but it seems to me that when the modern worship movement came into town, churches became more and more age segregated.  There is probably a doctoral student somewhere in America working on this topic right now, so I’ll wait for that book to come out to tell me more about it.  But as a general observation, I do not remember churches in my youth having such radical age divides as they do now…

Continue reading here: Multi-Generational Worship – TGC Worship.

What Young Christians Can Learn From the Elderly | Life is Better in Community


Christmas For The Weary And Heavy Laden

25 Dec

burdenedChristmas For The Weary And Heavy Laden

Christmas is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”, but for many of you it’s the most painful. It’s that time of year when budgets break, when you’re reminded of how dysfunctional your family is, when you miss the people you love who have died or left.

For some of you, this is your first Christmas as a divorcee. Figuring out how to shuffle your children back and forth between you and your Ex on Christmas Day is a new pain for you. For others, you’re afraid it will be your last Christmas because of your recent diagnosis. Or, you’re afraid it will be your last Christmas with your mom because of her recent diagnosis. A lost job, a daughter who won’t even call on Christmas day, a son you haven’t talked to in three years, a father who can’t get sober, a sibling in rehab–Christmas reveals our deepest frustrations and fears, our most sincere sadness and suspicions, our brokenness and bitterness.

Christmas has a painful way of revealing why the first Christmas was so necessary.

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking; How we need to hear from God…

Christmas exposes our desperation but it also announces our Deliverer—the one who promises rest to the weary and heavy laden; the one who promises never to leave us or forsake us. For those who feel lonely and lost, anxious and abandoned, tired and tense—for those who are guilt-ridden and grieving—Christmas is for you. Especially for you!

The Incarnation of Jesus serves as a glorious reminder that God’s willingness to clean things up is infinitely bigger than our capacity to mess things up. It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to confront our misery with his mercy, our confusion with his comfort, our guilt with his grace.

Christmas is the beachhead of God’s campaign against sin and sadness. It is the coming of light, life, and love into the occupied territory of darkness, death, and hate. Christmas is a war fought by a Peaceful Prince whose battle plan is to defeat death by dying, fear by forgiveness and slavery by salvation.

Christmas sets in motion the Divine pattern of God drawing near to us–not because we’ve done it right–but because we keep doing it wrong. Jesus came down to us because we are weak, not because we are strong.

Christmas highlights the inescapable fact that no matter how hard we try, we can’t do it. Apart from the Incarnation we are left to our own bankrupt resources. But at the same it shows us Jesus, who came to liberate us from the pressure of having to fix ourselves and others!, find ourselves, and free ourselves. He came to relieve us of the burden we inherently feel “to get it done” and make it on our own. He came to set us free from the need to secure for ourselves the affection and approval we long for but cannot attain.

In short, Christmas is God’s answer to the slavery of self-salvation. From the cries of a baby lying in a manger, God shouts, “I’ve got this. I’ll take it from here.”

Fragile finger sent to heal us, Tender brow prepared for thorn; Tiny heart whose blood will save us, Unto us is born.

It is this crying baby that wipes away our tears as our Wonderful Counselor. It is this powerless child that conquers despair and dejection as our Mighty God. It is this needy newborn that is the source of everything we need and long for as our Everlasting Father. It is this helpless infant that restores okayness to our lives as our Prince of Peace.

As Everything, he became nothing so that you–as nothing–could have everything.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Reprinted from: Christmas For The Weary And Heavy Laden – Tullian Tchividjian.

Additional information: Five Truths About the Incarnation – Desiring God

A Prayer for More Christmas Hush, Less Christmas Rush

23 Dec

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife. Proverbs 17:1

“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.“ Luke 10:41-42

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the eve of Christmas Eve—arguably, one of the most pressure-laden, detail-heavy, preparation-peaking, relationship-stressing, and traffic-snarly days of the year. We are so thankful that you are the Prince of Peace, and that you’ve come to make peace, in the chaos of our world and hearts.

As this day unfolds, grant us wisdom to discern the difference between the many Martha-like-details that really don’t matter; and the “one good thing” you commended in Mary. Jesus, be our treasure and pleasure; the focus of our gaze and the joy of our hearts; not just, the “reason-for-the-season”, but, the very center of our existence.

May your welcoming, kind, gracious heart be the most notable reality in our homes this Christmas. Bring your centering peace to bear in profound and sensate ways. Grant us copious amounts of your mercy for our prodigals; your grace for our brokenness; and your compassion, for one and all alike.

To the degree our traditions have become idols; our expectations have grown unrealistic, our busyness reveals our barrenness, and our gift giving is more about face saving, forgive us and free us, Jesus.

May the silent night of your birth bring its gentling presence in our homes. May the “good news of great joy,” the angel’s declared, trump any other storyline we would write for this week. May your peace, that passes all understanding, reign in our hearts like an irresistible force. May the hope of the Day when “all will be put right,” free us to wait patiently and love boldly in this day.

Lord Jesus, as you have come to serve us—from your manger to the cross, so may we find our greatest joy this week in serving one another. Free us from any need for anybody to be any different than they are. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and triumphant name.

Reprinted from: A Prayer for More Christmas Hush, Less Christmas Rush – Heavenward by Scotty Smith.

Additionally, click here to view a related post: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Harried, Hurried? | Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon

It’s All About the Presence | Christ in You

9 Dec


“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” Romans 8:9

This past Saturday many of the women of TACC gathered together and considered the presence of our Lord.

Friends, fellowship, snacking, and crafting
Friends, fellowship…

Marcia Lichte spoke emphasizing that believers have the presence of God indwelling and therefore always in His presence. For those of you who were hampered by the inclement weather or previous engagements and were unable to attend, Marcia’s notes, scripture, and thought provoking discussion questions follow.

Please scroll down to read or click on these links to download:

It’s All About the Presence Talk

Scripture & Discussion Questions

In addition to the talk the ladies had a great time snacking on delicious homemade appetizers and creating a Christmas ornament to remind them of Christ’s presence and the event.





Link to TACC or continue to read here: It’s All About the Presence – Christ in You – December 7, 2013

The Manger – by Marcia Lichte

A manger like this one,instantly represents Christmas to us, doesn’t it?

In a Christmas Eve sermon, Martin Luther (German leader of the Protestant Reformation) encouraged his congregation to be like a manger in which Jesus can be found. May our hearts be like that simple manger bed, prepared for the greatest gift of all: Our Savior.

The manger is a comfortable symbol of God being “with us”, right here on earth, in bodily human form, fully God and fully man.

When Jesus was born and placed in a manger, His physical presence was made real and He was here, He was Emmanuel, He was “God with us” – and that was very significant to the Jewish people because their whole faith was built on the redemptive promises of God and the looking forward to the coming Messiah.

At Christmas, Jesus came as a soft and wonderful little baby to be placed in a manger, perhaps like this one.  But the reality is that that baby came to live a perfect life like we are unable to live and then to die for our sins.He came to take our sins upon Himself on the cross.

The Bible says we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory, and that the wages of sin is death. So the ultimate gift of God we acknowledge at Christmas is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord to all who believe. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” There is no other life except through Christ.

But what does that really mean – having life through Christ?  That brings us to another of God’s marvelous gifts to us – His real and constant presence – the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each of us who believe.  This is what changes everything – regenerates us and gives a new life in Christ.

After Christmas, actually after Pentecost, everything changes for God’s people.  As new covenant believers, we enjoy God’s constant presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit – Christ IS our life.  (Colossians 3:1-4, Romans 8:9-11).

John Piper says, that the first distinguishing thing about being Christian different from those who are “in the flesh” is that we are an “inhabited” people. And Paul  says it three ways in Romans 9 & 10:

1) “the Spirit of God dwells in you” (v. 9b);

2) “you have the Spirit of Christ” (v. 9c);

3) “Christ is in you” (v. 10a).

The different names here all are referring essentially to the same presence. The Spirit is equally the Spirit of God the Father and the Spirit of God the Son, Jesus Christ. And the Spirit communicates so much of Christ that it is fitting to say Christ himself is present in you.

As believers, we are already in the presence of Christ all of the time.  We just don’t always realize it or take notice of it – we don’t live like we believe it.

It is a unique and special gift not enjoyed by the Old Testament saints. In the OT, the Jewish people knew all about how God had promised them that the Messiah was coming, as a baby, and would be called “Immanuel – God with us”.  They looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s promised redemption and believed that all He had said in His Word would come to be. But because the ultimate gift of redemption had not yet been given, they also had not yet received the gift of the constant presence of God, the indwelling of the Spirit.

Don’t get me wrong – The Spirit of God was active and working from eternity past, and was involved in the creation of world.  Genesis 1:2 tells us that the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters as God said “Let there be light!”

In Old Testament times, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit could be selective and temporary. The work of the Holy Spirit was the same as now – to bring the active presence of God into the world and to act through His people. The Holy Spirit does this by empowering, purifying, revealing, convicting and unifying – all of this to enable God’s people to do what they are being called upon to do in order to fulfill God’s will.

Time and time again the Old Testament tells us of those who were filled with the Spirit in order to accomplish a specific task or for a season.

In Genesis 41, Pharaoh recognized that the Spirit of God was in Joseph (Gen. 41:38). He likely didn’t really understand it but he recognized the Spirit’s presence anyways.

In Exodus, Bezalelwas the craftsman who was assigned  the task of making all of the things God had directed to be made for the Tabernacle, including the Tabernacle tent, the ark of the covenant, all of the altarpieces and utensils and even in the priests garments – God says in Exodus 31:3-5 ”…I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”

Moses certainly didn’t want to enter the Promised Land without God’s presence.  After the incident with the Golden Calf, God had had enough of the “stiff-necked” people of Israel and said that He would allow them to continue on to the promised land  but that he could not continue with them because being in their presence would only cause Him to destroy them.  God told Moses that He would send His angel with them.  But Moses interceded for the people and said that if God does not go with them he would rather not go at all.  He understood the power that comes with the presence of God.  There is so much more to this – read the whole story from Exodus 25 through 40 – it is a fabulous example of both God’s great power and sovereignty as well as His unending patience, grace and forgiveness towards His people Israel.

Then in Numbers 11 – God acknowledges the Holy Spirit that is already working through Moses and He then pours some of this same Spirit out on selected men naming them Elders over Hischosen people.

Also in Numbers, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Balaam and the Spirit allows him only to bless God’s people rather than curse them as he was hired to do. Remember the story about the angel and the donkey?

In many of Samson feats of strength and courage, the Bible says that “The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him” and empowered Samson; but later the Lord left him when he was disobedient (Judges 13:25; 16:20).

The Spirit was with Saul but later left him (1 Sam. 10:10; 16:14)when God had David anointed to be the new king. There was no guarantee of the permanent presence of the Spirit in Old Testament times.

The Bible tells us that the Spirit of God was with Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, and Daniel and a host of others at critical times and places when God specially empowered these folks to do great things in the fulfillment of His will.

And then, in fulfillment of all that God had planned and promised, Jesus came.  He brought salvation and eternal life to all who believe.  He left us with the words, ”And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In John 14, Jesus told His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

And as He had promised, He left us a Helper, His Spirit, the Spirit of truth. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Colossians 1:27, Galatians 2:20).

So as new covenant believers, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  Jesus has promised that:

–      that He will be with us always,

–      that He will be our Helper and lead us to the truth,

–      that He is in us and is our hope of glory,

–      that our bodies are His Temple and are to be Holy,

–      that we have been crucified with Christ and it is now Christ who lives in you!

Do you think this should make you feel and act differently? Absolutely! We must realize that we live the life of Christ – we are to be more like Him in our thoughts and actions as we grow in maturity in our faith. We must be Christ to each other, as other believers should Christ to us. We need to love and serve and care, for each other and for the world, as Jesus did. We need to abide in Christ through His word through prayer– we need to read the Bible to regularly commune with Christ. I would like to end by reading John 15:1-17 about abiding in Christ.  In light of all we have just heard about Christ living in us and all that means, I find that the idea of abiding in Christ a little bit clearer and more attainable knowing that we have Christ’s help and His constant presence.

 Scripture Reference:

Colossians 3:1-4, Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Colossians 1:27, Galatians 2:20, John 14:15-17, John 15:1-17

Discussion Questions:

1)     What does it mean to live in a way that acknowledges that “Christ is in you”?  What helps you and what hinders you from living this way?

2)     Do your actions match what is in your heart (your loves, your intentions, your passions, your desires)?

3)     Do you obey God willingly out of love for Him or do you have some other purpose or motivation?

4)     What does it mean to be Christ to each other?  What does it look like, in practical, real world application, to love each other as Christ loves us?

%d bloggers like this: