Tag Archives: community

Hospitality | An Invitation to Gather, Love, & Share

15 Nov

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“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9″

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

This is the time of the year when the focus shifts and we ramp up for the coming holiday season. With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon some of us will travel; enjoying the welcome of others and some of us will host family or other visitors into our home. The emphasis is often on entertaining rather than servings. We strive for the perfect tableau, copying the impossible Pinterest tablescapes — the right china, the perfect place setting, and whimsical unique place cards. Now there is a time…

Please click here to continue: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Hospitality | An Invitation to Gather, Love, & Share.

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Put on the New Self | Love That Completes

13 Sep

lovegodloveothers“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” —Philippians 1:6, ESV

On the day God’s love overtook your heart and you understood what Christ’s work on the cross accomplished you became a work in progress—incomplete. Like an unfinished canvas we are…

Please click here to view remaining article: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Put on the New Self | Love That Completes.

God’s Word Our Story | Hearing From Nehemiah

2 Jul

gospel coalitionRepresenting all 50 U.S. states and 38 countries from 6 of the world’s 7 continents, The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference gathered together nearly 4,000 women focused on Jesus Christ, desiring to grow in the Word in order to speak it clearly while spreading the life-giving Good News to others. The conference highlighted, “…feasting together on Nehemiah,” Kathleen Nielsen, providing the opportunity to dig deep–pulled into the power of Nehemiah’s story–God’s story, unfolding the Gospel in the Old Testament book, viewed from this side of the Cross…

Please click here to view remaining article:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > God’s Word Our Story | Hearing From Nehemiah.

Cultivating Relationship Through Conversation | Listen Quietly and Intentionally

5 Apr

 

Peanuts Listening_opt (1)“To answer before listening– that is folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Knowing we should listen and truly hear others does not make the concept simple to engage. It this me centered world we inhabit it seems antithetical to remain silent while someone pours forth their story, their needs, their fears. We may presume to know where the conversation is headed and instead of actively listening we connect halfheartedly telegraphing impatient distraction. Often a self centered one-up manship occurs wherein we desire to demonstrate vocally how we completely understand and we rush into their inhalation with what we feel is more impressive and important; shifting the focus, discounting the words, and projecting an attitude of indifference.

When others approach us with a need to converse we are in a unique position to bolster, encourage, and acknowledge by listening intently; truly hearing with our whole self ; loving others as we are loved.

The following article offers six important steps to tune our active listening:

Six Lessons in Good Listening By David Mathis

Listening is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do, and one of the hardest.

In a sense, listening is easy — or hearing is easy. It doesn’t demand the initiative and energy required in speaking. That’s why “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The point is that hearing is easy, and faith is not an expression of our activity, but our receiving the activity of another. It is “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:2, 5) that accents the achievements of Christ and thus is the channel of grace that starts and sustains the Christian life.

But despite this ease — or perhaps precisely because of it — we often fight against it. In our sin, we’d rather trust in ourselves than another, amass our own righteousness than receive another’s, speak our thoughts rather than listen to someone else. True, sustained, active listening is a great act of faith, and a great means of grace, both for ourselves and for others in the fellowship.

The remainder of this valuable article can be viewed here: Six Lessons in Good Listening.

Additionally, click here for more tools for listening: How to Become a Good Listener.

 

 

Seasoned with Salt, Peppered with Grace | Prayer and Hope for Unbelieving Adult Children

15 Mar

salt pepper2“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” –Colossians 4:5-6

Do you have family members who do not believe in Christ? If you answered “yes” like me, take heart, Jesus did too. According to John, “not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5) and Mark makes note of his family thinking he was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). They lived with Jesus for 30 years and did not KNOW him! Take comfort for although they did not truly know Jesus during his earthly ministry, after the ascension there they are in the upper room with the Apostles praying (Acts 1:14).

This is a topic very close to my heart as I see this unbelief in my own daughter. She is, like Christian in Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress,”  trapped by Giant Despair, imprisoned in Doubting Castle. Lamenting her condition and blind to the fact that she possesses good news in her heart; the key of Promise that will unlock the dungeon that holds her captive is forgotten. So I pray that she “will know the truth” (John 8:32). I pray she will put her faith and trust in Jesus who poured out His own blood on the cross, taking her deserved punishment (1 Peter 2:24), to free her from the enslavement of sin. I pray her heart is softened and her eyes and ears are opened. I pray she pictures the warrior Jesus ready for battle and realizes nothing is too big for our Savior. I pray my husband and I will continue to shine Christ, speak truth, and extend grace to our daughter through email, Facebook messages, phone calls, and the very rare visit. I pray that God will continue to strengthen our marriage, root us deeper in Christ, and surround us with church family who love and pray with us, for us and for our daughter who many do not even know.

While home recently our daughter said, “Mom, why do you guys keep holding out your arms to me?” I pray someday she will truly understand what a precious gift she is to us and how loved she is, by her Dad and I of course, but even more so by the Lord whose arms are also open.

Relating to your unsaved grown child by Annette Cole

I looked at the row of velvet boxes and noticed a cross with a rose nestled next to it. I asked to see the attractive silver ring and bought it minutes later. For the first time in days, I felt a gentle touch of peace.

I’d been feeling only fear and grief as I watched my youngest daughter denounce her faith and rush into sin. Now I had a symbol of hope to cling to. As the father of the prodigal son placed a ring on his son’s finger at a “coming home” celebration, one day I hope to do the same for my daughter.

It has been years since my daughter walked away from Jesus Christ. Today we call and visit each other, but it has not been easy. The Bible asks, “What fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14, NIV).

Since the obvious answer to this is none, how do parents maintain relationships with their adult, unsaved children? I have had to find answers because my daughter does not want to be estranged from her family.

The remainder of this article can be viewed here: Relating to Your Unsaved Grown Child

The first paragraph of this blog was influenced by Jon Bloom’s article: Jesus Also Had Unbelieving Family Members

John Piper’s son Abraham, once a prodigal, wrote this letter from his perspective: 12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child

For more of Christian’s journey pick up a copy of John Bunyan’s classic book: The Pilgrim’s Progress

How To Be The Friend You’d Want To Have | Reach Out in Love

22 Feb

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“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” John 15:12

We are designed to live in community within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) ; as daughters of the King (2 Corinthians 6:18), bonded together by our common belief and faith in Christ we are drawn to others made new in Him.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow” – William Shakespeare

As relational beings we need other women who encourage, comfort, guide, and listen in times of contentment and distress. Many of us have long established a circle of friends creating sisters of the heart, surrounded by deep love, intimacy, transparency.  This coterie may function so well it may inhibit inclusion others when instead of reaching out we dig in. Invite others in who may appear confident in their solitude, learn their story, see Christ in them, love them where they are.

How To Be The Friend You’d Want To Have by Laurie Wallin

C. S. Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, said friendship begins when one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one!”

Problem is, for that to happen,

We have to be around people—to allow space in our busy lives for real conversation and interaction with friends.

We have to be around people—to stay in the moment, instead of letting 1001 other thoughts boss our brains around and distract us from the person we’re with.

How can we be a good friend, and invite friendship in return?

Read on to find out: How To Be The Friend You’d Want To Have.

Related content:

A Friend in Need

10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are

Disposable Friends

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

8 Feb

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“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

Missional Ideas For Your Family Thanksgiving | Gather and Share

25 Nov

thanks2“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” –2 Corinthians 9:11

Consider the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, do you picture family sitting at the table together breaking bread, connecting, sharing, reflecting? Maybe your Thanksgiving gathering will be football focused or a time when barely suppressed familial animosity simmers rather than the gravy.

No matter what tablescape you picture odds are someone at the table, no matter the emotional ambiance, will not be a believer. They may grasp the Pilgrim story and Black Friday deals but the deeper meaning of offering up thanksgiving and praise for God’s call and provision may be a challenge. Incorporate them into thanksgiving during this time when the opportunity exists to be publicly, outwardly, and vocally thankful. 

“One of the best things we can do for our family is to help them enjoy giving thanks..,” writes Alex Absalom in the article that follows…

10 MISSIONAL IDEAS FOR YOUR FAMILY THANKSGIVING

“Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” 1 Timothy 4:4

Thankfulness is a spiritual matter because it ultimately produces trust in God.

As I take my eyes off my complaints about what I don’t have, I start to count the many blessings that I do have. This in turn causes me to stop and ponder the source of all that goodness – is it purely random ‘luck’, or is God personally at work in my life? And if Jesus is the source, how does that change my perspective on my future needs and challenges?

That’s why thanksgiving is a wonderful gateway for those who are far from God. As someone recognizes that Jesus is the source of all that is good – which is what happens in giving thanks – so that person learns to acknowledge Him and His goodness.

For the remainder of the article: 10 Missional Ideas For Your Family Thanksgiving | Verge Network.

It’s Wise to Hold Your Tongue|Taste Your Words|Measure Your Response

19 Nov

tasting_words“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” Proverbs 21:23 (ESV)

It takes little effort to open your mouth and give way to whatever wants to gush out. Controlling the tongue requires concentration, diligence, maturity, and wisdom (Proverbs 17:27-28). The tongue, left to its own devices, can spew words that ensnare us (Proverbs 6:2) and pierce others (Proverbs 12:18). Thoughtless rambling can lead to sin (Proverbs 10:19) or even death (Proverbs 18:21). Precious friends once offended by careless vitriol, disparaging remarks, sarcastic comments, or whispered tales could be lost forever (Proverbs 18:19). 

think2We have become a people who are uncomfortable with silent pauses and we often charge into this absence of noise with poorly thought out words that ring like a cacophony of clashing weapons and hurt similarly. If we think before we speak (Proverbs 15:28) insalubrious speech can be averted and supplanted with thanksgiving and affirmation for the work God is doing in someone’s life. In this past Sunday’s sermon Pastor Burris said we must remember, “The most flawed believer in our midst is a work of God’s grace.” A good work began at the cross and if our focus is held there it is a simpler task to extend grace. 

Ten Times It’s Wise to Hold Your Tongue

I talk too much. Way, way too much.

But God is committed to teaching me when to hold my tongue.

With that in mind, let me share ten situations with you where I’m learning it’s better to refrain from talking:

  • When you have no idea what to say

Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

  • When you’re wrongly accused

1 Peter 2:23: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return.”

Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.”

  • When you’re mad

Proverbs 25:28: “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”

  • When you’re confused about life

Lamentations 3:25–28: “The Lord is good for those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord . . . Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth to the dust—there may yet be hope.”

  • When you wouldn’t want someone else to find out you said it

Luke 12:3: “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.”

  • When you don’t really mean it

Proverbs 3:28: “Do not say to your neighbor ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.”

  • When you can’t stop yearning for the good old days

Ecclesiastes 7:10: “Say not, why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

  • When you have a lot to do and you don’t like it

Philippians 2:14: “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.”

  • When the timing is wrong

Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in setting of silver.”

  • When you don’t have anything to say that gives grace

Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear it.”

Excerpted from  True Woman | Ten Times It’s Wise to Hold Your Tongue by Lina Abujamra

Additional links:

Shut Up and Listen | Today’s Christian Woman

Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics |(Part 2)

12 Nov

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“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” –1 Peter 1:7

What does authentic Christianity mean? The following definition from Sharon Hodde Miller offers a starting point,

“First, authenticity is a discipline that requires time. It cannot be flipped on like a light switch, and it is not maintained without work…second…it can only be had in Christ.”  

Miller posits the idea that authenticity is rooted in Christ.

God opens our eyes to our sins, to the self-deception, to the things in our lives that are not of him. Then he transforms us, conforming us to the only perfect human being who ever lived. In Christ, we stop operating according to the constraints of social expectations, personal insecurities, and lies. Rather than live in ways that are subhuman, we finally live in a manner worthy of God’s vision for humanity.”

Irenaeus (an early Church apologist and theologian) noted, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.” Christian authenticity is expressed when the, “…divine life of God living in our soul…” (Pastor Burris) produces fundamental changes.

“There are no real personalities apart from God. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.

But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away ‘blindly’ so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality; but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether.” –C.S. Lewis

We are made new and know God when we have the nature of God indwelling that accompanies believing the truth. We desire to live in fellowship with others who share this phenomena. We seek to magnify His presence through the honing of spiritual disciplines (Bible intake, meditation, fasting, prayer, and worship). Our focus and desires change and this is exuded in a real way as we seek to glorify God and share this Good News with others.

The following excerpt outlines 5 points related to authenticity:

(1) Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.

In Numbers 13, God commands Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan. Forty days later, they come back with fruit and a report.

Ten of the men tell it like they see it: fortified cities, strong people, and a fear of being squashed like bugs. Two of the men tell it like God sees it: “Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it.”

If the spies came to our churches today, which group of men would be praised as “authentic”?

Being authentic means that God and his Word define what is real.

Last Sunday, I had an imperfect experience of corporate worship. The kids were squirmy, the sanctuary was hot, and my mind wandered. That’s the truth.

But the Scripture adds an even greater truth to my experience. God, the Creator, declares that worship is good. Therefore, by faith, I declare it good too.

Whatever we say about our experiences, our report must also reflect God’s truth.

(2) Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s phenomenally popular Eat, Pray, Love was the memoir of a woman seeking an authentic life. Its first page bears the motto: “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”

But for Gilbert, living authentically includes adultery, hedonism, blasphemy, and so on.

Gilbert’s type of authenticity is easy for Christians to reject. Her sins are “obvious.” But are we on guard against more subtle sins?

Recently, in “The Double-Reach of Self-Righteousness,” Tullian Tchividjian cautioned a generation of Christians who say, “That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I’m know I’m not good and you think you are. That makes me better than you.'” Pride is not authentic.

Selfishness, love of men’s praise, lack of joy can all lurk, undetected, around our authentic edges.

I have a friend who wants me to be authentic. She wants to know about my arguments with my husband, the sin of my children, and what I dislike about church. For her, authenticity seems to involve not only removing my own mask but exposing the sins of others, too. This is unkind. Everything that is done in the name of authenticity must also be done in the name of a holy Christ.

(3) Authenticity seeks the good of the Body.

In 1969, Hillary Rodham (now Clinton) gave a speech at Wellesley’s commencement. Her remarks champion authentic conversation about women’s struggles in a male-dominated world.

I have to admire her kind of authenticity, for she was promoting authenticity for the sake of a common cause. She wanted these women to be authentic so that all women could have a better life.

Christian authenticity is likewise other-focused.

We live transparently, not to unload our own burdens and thus walk more lightly alone, but to intentionally share the burdens of others and carry them to the same grace that liberated us.

(4) Authenticity honors wisdom.

Christians seeking to be authentic rightly value humility. We recognize that we are broken.

But sometimes, in our quest to avoid the appearance of pride, we question our God-given ability to shine the light of wisdom.

Singer-songwriter Christa Wells expresses this in a song: “So friends don’t take me wrong on those days when I sound too sure / Of the things I say.” Wells writes insightful meditations on the Christian life, but she is intentionally tentative.

This habit has a long root in the spirit of the postmodern age, in which all truth is elusive and dogmatism is the unforgiveable sin.

But the godly life is not merely a pooling of experiences; it is the confident application of God’s truth to individual circumstances. We have the Greater-Than-Solomon, who gives wisdom liberally to all who ask. We honor the Giver by using his valuable gift. Seeking wisdom and speaking wisdom must have a place in an authentic life.

(5) Authenticity points ahead to a perfected future.

Every pilgrimage has a final destination. Christians who are authentic about the struggles of this life should also be authentic about the perfection of the next.

In Lewis’s The Great Divorce, travelers from hell step off a bus onto heaven’s grass. It is so razor-sharp, so real, that it cuts their tender feet: “The men were as they had always been … it was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison.” (p 21)

For Christians, our true self is found in Christ, and we are on a pilgrimage to become more like him. As 1 John 3:2 says: “We are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” A greater reality awaits.

So, like Israelites singing the Psalms of Ascent, we ought to look up from our dusty feet and ahead to the even more authentic glories of Zion and her King.

That’s for real.

Excerpted from: Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Additional links:

Real, Authentic Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Taft Avenue Community Church / Resources / Sermons

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Pilgrimage Growth Guide): Donald S Whitney: 9781576830277: Amazon.com: Books

 

 

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