Good Friday

You are invited to remember and reflect on the work of the Suffering Servant, Jesus the Son of God.

Good Friday

Four local congregations will come together at 7pm on the eve of GOOD FRIDAY for a solemn celebration through singing, Scripture readings, and four brief meditations on The Cup, The Garden, The Trials, and at The Cross.

Hosted at Hilltop Community Church (592 Molalla Ave, Oregon City), 7:00-8:15pm. A family worship gathering, with no additional childcare provided. All children welcome to participate.

 

Listening & talking about stories that matter.

It takes humility to tell someone your story, without trying to downplay the brokenness or exaggerate your successes.

sharing-stories

It also takes courage and generosity to listen to another’s story without chiming in with your own thoughts.

The RENEW men are seeking to understand our Gospel Stories (Creation » Fall & rebellion » Redemption » Restoration), finding our place in God’s big Story, where Jesus is the Hero.

Recently we’ve been sharing our own stories, and now we turn to the better task for listening to other’s stories. Call it “Gospel Listening.”

Do people think of you as a good listener? 

Since everyone has the same four parts of their life story — and in all the countless little stories and narratives that flow out in normal conversation — let’s take a look at each part, from the perspective of Gospel Listening. 1

Gospel Story

1) CREATION // Everyone has a fundamental belief about their origin — who or what brought about their existence, made them who they are, or shaped them into the person they are today.

  • Listen for: Who or what do they credit or blame for who they are today? (Or the situation they find themselves in?)

2) FALL // Each person has a central belief about the cause of brokenness in the world and a deep desire for justice. People blame their parents, family, friends, boss, government, etc. for what they’ve become AND want just for putting the blame on someone else for the pain and suffering in the (their) world. Someone is at fault and someone deserves punishment.

  • Listen for: Why are things and people not the way they are supposed to be and who is to blame? 

3) REDEMPTION // Everyone has a solution they believe in, a remedy they look to or a “savior” they trust in to redeem the brokenness in their life and world. Many are looking to a philosophy. Others look to a plan for self-improvement or personal growth. Many believe some kind of reform in education or politics will change things. Everyone believers in a “redeemer” or in a self-improvement plan of some sort.

  • Listen for: Who or what will rescue them and redeem what is broken in their life?

4) RESTORATION // Every person has a picture of the future when everything is as it should be .. or how they hope it will be. Some see a utopia with humans all living at peace with one another. Others believe Mother earth and humanity will be one. Still others see another world where they will go to where they will be at the center. Some people’s future hope is to be married, have children, get a job, be rich, etc. Everyone wants something better — restoration of what they believe their world should be like.

  • Listen for: What will the world or their circumstance look like when all is as it should be (according to them), AND who or what will be the focus of this world? 

Learn to listen to people. The aspects of life they complain about or are super excited about helps us discover what they see as “bad news” in the world, and what is “good news” to them.

As you listen to someone’s story (or consider your own), notice the reasons for not being willing or able to obey Jesus’s commands: fear, insecurities, selfishness, pride, need for approval, and the worship of child, family or work. All of these reflect trust place in something or someone other than God.

As you become aware of the people or things that have become idols or “little gods,” take the time to compare them to Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to help in revealing Jesus as the best resolution to what a person is seeking elsewhere, the opposite of what they are experiencing, and the deeper reality of what they are searching for.

That is Gospel Listening.

  1. This section adapted from The Gospel Primer, a resource the Renew Church men utilize for discipleship and learning.
 

God loves you … and has a difficult plan for your life.

Great leaders give up their comforts and control of outcomes for the good of others.

As Shakespeare wrote, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and still others have greatness thrust upon them.

In Joseph (Genesis 37-50) we find a man for whom all three forms of greatness are true. What was his secret to greatness? Growing up the favorite and youngest son of Jacob, Joseph had dreams of greatness, and wasn’t afraid to tell everyone about it. He suffered from TMI — telling his brothers too much information. They despised the favored brother and plotted to kill him.

Through rejection, hardship and injustice, God broke and formed Joseph’s character to become the kind of leader who would use power for the good of others.

Those dreams were fulfilled in a better way because they were God’s own plan for the saving of many lives.

EPIC Joseph

Joseph shows us how to live beyond ourselves, living redemptively. 

Joseph dealt with past wounds to courageously and generously engage the brokenness of the world and its need. It’s because God loved Joseph that He had a difficult plan for this man’s life.

It’s a story of redemption and reconciliation, integrity and forgiveness, where Joseph shows us the gracious character of Jesus. (God had a difficult plan for His life too.)

Jesus is strong enough to forgive, protect and provide for us who deserve none of His kindness. | Scriptures: Genesis 37:1-1145:1-850:15-21

  1. This message on Joseph is week 6 (preached 2/16/14) in EPIC: Following the Hero of God’s Story, a message series with RENEW Church on the whole Bible.
 

Give up your ‘precious.’

Whenever God calls you to do something, you must leave behind something that’s precious to you.

True faith is letting go of your treasure, giving up control of your life by trusting God through uncertainty.

EPIC Abraham

As humanity was trying desperately to make a name for themselves (Tower of Babel), God’s Plan was unfolding through the call of an unlikely character.

Abraham was called from his pagan homeland to follow the one true God, a venture of faith full of uncertainty. It cost him everything yet he gained everything as a reward, as God’s friend. | Genesis 12:1-9Hebrews 11:8-9

  1. This message on Abraham is week 4 (preached 1/26/14) in EPIC: Following the Hero of God’s Story, a message series with RENEW Church on the whole Bible.
 

Hungry for God.

I really like food. Like really, really like it.

In fact, while I can exercise much discipline in some areas of my life (e.g., running), when it comes to good food I’m defenseless. I simply enjoy eating.

That’s why I constantly ask my wife to help me by keeping me on track, providing healthy meals in good portions of only the best foods for me (e.g., not cheese). Because food is often my comfort (such as after a good long run), I can rely upon it more than its Maker.

Here’s an invitation … to join me in … not eating … Continue reading

 

Advent is upon us: Let There Be Light!

Once upon a time, there was utter and complete darkness and cold. Nothing alive. And God spoke, the first spoken words recorded in history — “Let there be light.”

These four little words, the first words, changed everything, right? The Light shined in the darkness & nothing remained the same.

At just the right time, after centuries of silence, God spoke again: His Word became the Light of the World, the bright Son Jesus who brings light and life to all things.

Jesus is the Light of the World. He isn’t a soft candlelight that hides our blemishes and makes everything look lovely. It isn’t Christmas lights that just give a nice cheer to the season. He is a blinding, blazing, burning light, that reveals. He doesn’t just cast a flattering glow. He reveals all things. Both the beauty and the brokenness.

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Message title: Let There Be Light!
Week 1 of Advent (Sunday, December 8th)
Scripture: John 1:1-5; Isaiah 8:11-22; 9:1-7

 

For Jesus makes their cause His own.

The spread of Christianity in the first century is an unprecedented movement as God’s mission and message spread through ordinary people. One these followers of Jesus became the first martyr in the Christian Church.

Stephen, who appointed to a servant-leadership role had a ‘priestly spirit,’ for he cared for the poor, embodied bold courage, prayed for people, and loved and forgave his enemies until the good end. May God raise up more servant leaders like Stephen, who trust in Jesus as their High Priest, and become like Him.

They were like a Kingdom of Priests sent by Jesus their High Priest. Because He made our cause His own, we make His cause our own.

Revival

Stephen, whose face shined like the face of an angel (Acts 6:15), stood up and preached boldly about the access we now have freely to God. His final words:

7:51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:51-60)

How can this man forgive his enemies? In becoming the first Christian martyr, Stephen was generous and courageous to the very end. It cost him everything!

Stephen had a ‘priestly spirit,’ taking the problems of others to God.

God intends that every follower of His Son would become like our High Priest, embracing and embodying the grace and truth of Jesus. Only in that way will we have the confidence and the courage to face our enemies … and the grace to forgive them. (Listen to the rest.) Continue reading