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Unconvinced

No clue who he was!

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Have you ever had the experience of missing something incredible that was staring you right in the face?  You didn’t even know you were in the company of someone incredibly important till after the fact?  In session 02 Rico tells about a fabulous opportunity to meet none other than… THE Prince William… but blew it because he didn’t recognize him.  Sometimes we’re at a double disadvantage of not only having a vague grasp on someone’s identity combined with the presumption that we’d never have the occasion to be in their presence.

Learn more about Christianity Explored Omaha on our Facebook Page

It’s like that with the person of Jesus.  Many today would struggle to name more than a couple of basic facts about Jesus even though he is arguable humanity’s most enduringly famous person.  Combine that with the fact that nearly no one ever really expects him to actually show up in any sense of the word, and you have a person who could remain painfully anonymous and irrelevant to our world.

Do the New Testament documents give us a picture of an anonymous, irrelevant Messiah?  On what basis did people in his day credit him with greatness?  Why was his identity so consequential?  How could he have gotten HIS birthday to become the marker our planet uses to measure the centuries by?

Rico takes us into the Gospel of Mark and looks at 5 key areas over which Jesus demonstrated divine authority.  Bring a friend and come join us this week.  Christianity Explored meets at Christ Community Church on Sunday mornings at 10:45 in room D-126.

Christianity Explored begins this weekend!

 

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This weekend kicks off a great opportunity for people interested in exploring the very basics about Jesus.  Christianity Explored is a venue for spiritual seekers wanting to understand the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.  Christianity claims at its core to be Good News.  That’s what the word Gospel means.  But what’s so good about Christianity in a world where many are so unsure about religion.  Each week we’ll look at another section of Mark’s Gospel – one of the four original “biographies of Jesus” showing us who he was, what he said and what he did.

Christianity Explored meets weekly in Room D-126 at 10:45am (during the second service).

If you’d like more details about Christianity Explored, you can find out more info on the Facebook Page – Christianity Explored Omaha.  This fall’s class will be facilitated by a team of trained leaders.  Each week we’ll have time for conversation around tables and a short video segment followed by lots of time for your questions.  Bring a friend – things are always more interesting with a crowd!

Are you inoculated? Or infected with the real thing?

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A wise mentor of mine one time totally blew my mind by comparing Christianity to a contagious disease!  “Many claim to have the disease we call Christianity, but seem instead to have been exposed only enough to be safely inoculated from the real thing.”

In the concluding session of Christianity Explored, we’ll consider Jesus’ own definition of being a true follower.  According to Jesus true followers not only embrace the identity of Jesus as the Son of God and God’s only chosen King.  They also follow him as their leader.  Following means two further painful things:  i) denying self and  ii) taking up one’s cross (self denial to the point of dying to self).

The trouble with so many people who claim affiliation with Jesus today is this:  they simply don’t fit Jesus’ own definition of a true follower.  They associate themselves with Jesus through an extremely shallow understanding of Christianity.  Almost like being injected with a dead virus!  The immune system recognizes the attack and quickly summons the anti-bodies necessary to fend it off.  On the outside, maybe the person’s temperature elevates for a while till the threat has been dealt with.  But life as usual resumes now equipped for all future threats of exposure.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:34-35 NIV)

Many who call themselves Christians today are like an inoculated patient.  Contending with a mild dose of the virus, but not displaying the full symptoms.  Perhaps inducted into the culture of Christian surroundings, but not fully convinced of Jesus identity.  Not fully prepared to follow his leadership.  Come check out the last session of Christianity Explored and wrestle with what getting the real disease involves!

Christianity Explored meets at Christ Community Church, 9:00 and 10:45 in room D-126.

 

 

Am I good soil?

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One of the most challenging parables Jesus ever told, was perhaps his simplest one.  A seed that falls on good soil eventually bears a crop far greater than the size of the seed sown.  That’s it.  The DNA of the kingdom of God is bound up in the word of God.  When it’s spoken, it falls on good soil….or not so good soil.  The ironic thing in Jesus’ parable is that here we have a crazy farmer who indiscriminately slings seeds everywhere including unlikely places to sprout.  “What a waste” the farmers in Jesus’ audience would have thought.  Everyone knows you don’t plant seeds in a patch of weeds, or in crummy, shallow dirt, or on a path.

But the hook in the story is this, reader, you are soil if you’re reading this.  Like it or not.  You are good soil.  Or bad soil.  Jesus tells you what good soil does – good soil listens, good soil grows voraciously, good soil produces a crop.  But how to become good soil if you’re not?  Jesus doesn’t say much about that.  And that should unsettle us more than a little!

Path, rocks and weeds have already quit reading this post.  If you’ve made it to this sentence, maybe, just maybe you get what Jesus is talking about.  And if you’re curious, but still not sure you know what the parable of the soils is about, come on out to Christianity Explored.  And keep listening.

Christianity Explored meets at 9:00 and 10:45 in room D-126 at Christ Community on Sunday mornings.

Why should God let you into his kingdom?

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Why does God accept us?  Because he has to?  Because we’re basically good people?  This week in Christianity Explored, we’ll meet a successful “good person” no one thought could fail to connect with God.  Jesus asks him a question that completely pours cold water on his spiritual motivation.

Sundays at Christ Community Church – D 126 at 9:00 or 10:45

In order to reach God, there is a point at which a person must let go his sense of what is fair.  “There are some things we’ll never deserve, we can never earn and should never attempt to pay for.”  When Jesus says in order to enter the kingdom of God we must become like children, no one imagines how hard it is to overcome pride and self-sufficiency of adult proportions!  It’s excruciating.  And only something as incredible as God’s idea of salvation can prove that to us.  We’re too proud to just receive it – it can’t be that good!

Christianity Explored installment number 6 happens this weekend at Christ Community Church.  Come join us at 9:00 or 10:45 in Room D-126.  Bring a friend!

 

The evidence unanimously points to the fact: Jesus was dead!

 

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“The disciples believed they would never again see Jesus alive.  Pontius Pilate, the centurion, Joseph of Arimathea and the women…were all absolutely certain Jesus had died.  But what happened 36 hours later?”

The resurrection of Jesus is so profound because of the undeniable fact of Jesus’ very public death.  At this point, Christianity stands or falls entirely on the claim of his resurrection.  What do we make of the Gospel accounts and other New Testament documents noting over 10 post- resurrection appearances?  What do we make of the faith of the original disciples if they were forced to fabricate these events?  What do we make of the faith of those who are transformed by belief in the resurrection of Jesus today?  What personal meaning is there in the resurrection of Jesus for people today in the face of life’s fragile experiences?

Come check out week 5 of Christianity Explored.  D-126 at 9:00 or 10:45 or noon.

 

 

Why did Jesus have to die?

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Week 4 of Christianity Explored cuts to the heart of the Gospel – the reason for the death of Jesus Christ.  It is here that the justice of God meets the mercy of God through the willing sacrifice of Jesus.  What is your response to that, asks teacher Rico Tice?

Come join us at Christianity Explored – we meet at 9:00 or 10:45 in Room D-126 on Sundays at Christ Community Church.

Could you pass the fat test?

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“Well, this is uncomfortable to admit, but I’m glad we found out now on the practice field instead of during a game!”  Rico recalls his rugby days as a student and the strict training requirements no one could ever live up to at the beginning of the season.  In session three of Christianity Explored the Gospel writer Mark talks pretty boldly about Jesus’ thoughts on sin.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.  Mark 2:17

So the question becomes not “Am I good enough to come to Jesus?, but Do I consider myself bad enough to deserve what Jesus says sin has done to me?”  Christianity Explored is our seeker venue at Christ Community  – a safe place for those just exploring who Jesus is and what Christianity is all about.

Christianity Explored meets in room D-126 and is offered at 9:00, 10:45 and at 12:15 .   If you come at the lunch hour, bring a few dollars to pick up a lunch at the CCC Cafe.

“If you don’t get the identity of Jesus right..

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…you’ll relate to him in all the wrong ways.”      Rico Tice.

Ever had the chance to meet someone really famous, but you missed it because you didn’t recognize them in time?  The problem isn’t that you weren’t in their presence.  They stood right there in front of you.  But you didn’t even know who you were looking at till later.  At the time you assumed you didn’t NEED to know who they were!

That’s what its like to look at Jesus, but not recognize his true identity.  In session 02 we’ll continue exploring the Gospel of Mark by asking, “Who Jesus is?”  Seems simple enough, but in a and age when so few (who even attend church) really understand who Jesus is, its more crucial than ever to answer the question of his identity.

Come join in the discussion at Christianity Explored – meets Sundays at 9:00 or at 10:45 or at during the cafe at 12:15.  Look for us in room D-126.  Bring a friend.  If you come during the cafe hour, bring a few bucks for lunch.

For more info about Christianity Explored, contact timp@cccomaha.org

Or text your inquiry to:  402-285-5743

Pilate was definitely Unconvinced!

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We’re nearing the end of our series Simply Unconvinced.  In the closing weeks we’ll be centering on the events of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.  This week we’re looking at Pilate.  As the Roman governor in charge of the Fifth Praefectus of Judaea, it  was Pilate’s responsibility to enforce the Roman military occupation over the Jews in his territory.  The list of things Pilate was uncertain and Unconvinced about was dangerously long.

Pilate was unconvinced of…

1- the validity of the capital offense Jesus was charged with by the Jews.

2- that Jesus’ was a legitimate king (Pilate recognized only Herod)

3- what a Messiah was supposed to be.  He took the word of the Sanhedrin that Jesus was claiming to be God.

4- how dangerous Jesus actually was to himself.  Jesus was powerless as an insurrectionist.

5- his own moral guilt in having Jesus executed (he deferred responsibility as much as possible).

6- the fact that Jesus was harmless.  Jesus’ claim to a non-earthly kingdom did somehow unsettle him.

7- the need to protect Jesus.  In the end he deemed it a lesser risk to execute Jesus than let him live.

Without understanding what the death of Jesus really meant, he cracked under the pressure of needing to do something to regain control of the Jews.  Pilate would give the word to end Jesus’ life, but that was just the beginning of his troubles.

Come find out more about how Jesus’ death plays out.  What became of Pilate?  How will history remember him?  What did the resurrection of Jesus mean for the Roman power system that put him to death?

Unconvinced meets Sundays at 10:45 in room D-126.

Come on out and bring a friend.

Week 11 – Text

Week 11 Handout