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Posts Tagged ‘Sin’

Could you pass the fat test?

fat test

 

“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.

Is Sin really all that big of a deal? Unconvinced – Session 03

the fat test

At Unconvinced we’ve been enjoying a front row seat to the life, teachings and claims of Jesus.  Rico Tice is taking us through Mark’s Gospel account with an engaging blend of video teaching and live interaction around our tables.  If you have questions about the basics of Christianity, what the Bible teaches about Jesus or are just curious spiritually but wouldn’t consider yourself a believer, then Unconvinced is a great venue for you to check out.

Sunday mornings, 10:45 in Room D-126

Each week 15 to 20 of us meet around tables for the purpose of exploring the Bible from the perspective of an unconvinced mind.  If you are a Christian with a friend you find yourself in spiritual conversations with, invite your friend to attend with you.  If you’re a skeptical seeker of truth, you’re our guest of honor!  You’ll find great company with others who my have similar questions.

This week Rico will take us into the world of “The Fat Test”.  Actually we’ll be talking about sin.  And how Jesus taught about it.  Come on out and join in the discussion!

The Good of the Online Campus So Far

“You are the only confessed Christian I have ever shared that with”

We are three services into the life of the Online Campus. It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from such a small sample size. Still, it’s been worthwhile.

When pitching the concept of online church I could often get people to agree with the concept. I was the evangelist for it. Still, would this thing actually work? To experience the reality of it has been amazing. To see lives changed through it has been humbling and induced a sense of awe.

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Beyond The Message: The Land Between

I sit down with Pastor Steve Walters to go over the concept of “the land between”, something Lead Pastor Mark Ashton discussed in his recent Project 4:4 message. Steve and I talk about how everyone encounters the land between at some point, and ways to deal with it in a healthy and godly way.

Guest Post: Making of the Wandering in the Desert Video

This is an excerpt from a post written by Anna Wastell. She is the Communications Director for Christ Community Church.

A few weeks ago I got to interview a woman that attends our church. I do a couple of interviews each month and typically go into them knowing the story I’m looking for. A specific experience with a group, or a certain angle on a situation – I’ve developed strategies for asking natural-seeming questions to get the story arc I want.

We’ve been working on a video piece to accompany a sermon on The Land Between from Numbers 11, one that tells the story of a person in the midst of the land between. It’s not a happy place, that land. It’s generally one ripe with complaints and emotional meltdown, but it’s also one where God can work the most powerfully.

I didn’t know much about her going into this interview; I had no idea where this story would arc, so I just had to trust God to direct this one. Her story is that of a childhood sexual abuse victim who was never taught to deal with what happened to her, who tangled herself in a web of lies and self-destructive behavior as an adult, who spent many years of her life wandering looking for only God knows what. But along the way, in the midst of the wandering, God was working in big ways. She landed in a career networking group at church and she found Jesus. She found truth. And she told her own story perfectly, with choice, precise words and with a gut-wrenching level of vulnerability. I was honored that she trusted me with her story.

We’re telling this story anonymously, so wanted some pretty b-roll to cover up some of the shots, places where her face would normally be seen. Our video guys took me out to a dirt road outside of Omaha at dusk one evening to capture the wandering of her story. It was a gorgeous Indian-Winter January evening. The road and fields we were on (sorry, Farmer) will play as desolate and lonely as we need them to in the video, but standing out in the middle of nowhere Nebraska in real life, the wind blowing my hair and my eyes squinting against the warm sun, with the sky wide open, I couldn’t help but sense just how vast the love of God really is, just how perfectly He wrote the big story

Liam’s Lessons: Project 4:4/Genesis 1-9

Recently, I sat down with my 5-year old son Liam to get a kid’s perspective about Project 4:4 so far. Completely unscripted, obviously. Yes, I’m quite aware that everything may not be theologically accurate, but hopefully the core of what Liam is saying is understood.

In this video, Liam and I talk about Adam & Eve, Noah, and of course Jesus. Liam also sings some songs at the end of the video, so be sure to stay around for that.

 

Some Thoughts on Project 4:4/Start Me Up: It All Starts Here (Genesis 1-3)

Boom.

Right off the back, God is actively creating. There’s no mincing of words here. “In the beginning, God created…”. I like how Lead Pastor Mark had us focus in on those five words for a few minutes. It is the linchpin for so much of what is to come. Often, people zero in on the science of the verses in Genesis 1. While I think it is important to process the science of what is going there, especially since the stereotypical evangelical Christian’s account of creation is a difficult idea for a lot of people to accept*, I think it’s good to look at the foundation of what is being communicated. Genesis 1 is not a scientific text. Genesis 1 is  about God. God is the worldview. God timeless. God all-powerful. God creative. God artistic. God personal. God is, was and will be. As Mark put it, God is prime reality. Take it down from five words to four. “In the beginning, God…”

*I’ll also post some resources at the end of this post that delve more into the science of creation. The scientific questions that arise from Genesis 1 are important to ask. And, there are a number of differing perspectives one can have about creation that still fall safely under the Christian banner. (more…)

Thoughts on 2 Timothy 2:20-21 and Overcoming Addiction

I am a part of a cohort, at Christ Community Church, that meets every other Wednesday evening. One of our first projects centered around the Book of 2 Timothy. I was reading through it, and a passage stuck with me.

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
-2 Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV)

If you’ve been reading the Bible for awhile, you know that passages can take on new meanings to you. You will have read something a hundred times before, but then you read it again and something clicks. Something new. A new insight that sheds a whole new light on what that particular passage of scripture means. Perhaps its due to a new experience, maturity, or something else. Whatever the impetus may be, passages of scripture can have new meanings to us. This happened to me with this passage of scripture from 2 Timothy.

If you read my personal blog, you’re probably familiar with my addiction story. In 2007, I finally was able to break free from a porn addiction. One of the things with that story is how God told me, “Before you can take the next step with work, I need to do a work inside you.”

Four years later, and I’m meeting with CCC’s Governing Board of Elders. I realize that God has done the work inside me. I was humbled. I was now prepared to do the work of the Online Campus.

This passage from 2 Timothy takes on new meaning to me. It encapsulates the past few years. God cleansed me of what was dishonorable so I could be a vessel for honorable use. I will be useful, ready for every good work.

God is faithful.

Click here to read the original blog post about my story of overcoming addiction.

Great Problem, Wrong Solution

Purgatory featured large in last week’s launch of our newest Gathering series The Seven Deadly Sins. We let 14th century poet Dante Alighierie be our tour guide as we “worked our way up through Purgatory”. According to popular Christian spirituality in the middle ages one was never sure about going directly to heaven after death. You could avoid hell through the ordinance of last rights. But there was never complete assurance that among the following mortal sins, a worshiper would be free enough on the occasion of his death to ascend to heaven without first purging his soul:

  1. Lust
  2. Gluttony
  3. Greed (avarice)
  4. Sloth (acedia, discouragement)
  5. Wrath
  6. Envy
  7. Pride

So to advance to heaven-worthiness, one would have to complete a circuit of purifying exercises that may take up to hundreds of years to complete.

Pictured above is the penalty for the lowest level of purgatory (pride). In order to sufficiently humiliate the proud soul one must ascend this phase of purgatory with a large boulder on his head. You can only imagine the other 6 levels and their corresponding penalties.

IF you had the good fortune of thoughtful relatives who survive you, though, you could have your time in purgatory cut short. Thousands of years could be shaved from your sentence for the mere price of an indulgence.

Dante’s depictions are gripping! Especially if you can get a hold of some Gustav Dore art! Sin is indeed dangerous and graphic in damning effects. There’s only one slight problem. Theologians of the middle ages allowed church praxis to slide into an entirely unbiblical and ineffective mentality of payment for sin.

Come join us this week as we try to set the Seven Deadly sins straight with some biblical insight. Sin is toxic. But the cure is more potent still. Make your way to Gathering and catch Week Two as we invite pastor Walt Hooker to join us and help us see WHY all sin (not just the seven deadly ones) is bad and what the cure really points us toward.

What would you say the worst sin is?

It’s a question that haunts everyone somehow. Whether or not someone reading this would ever even dream about doing something as horrific as murder or terrorism, we all seem to share a collective hunch that some things are just beyond human dignity. We keep those awful things way over in the margins of our experience – maybe only now and then watching a gritty movie like Se7en. I certainly hope that a movie is as close as I get to some forms of darkness.

But what is at the root of this thing we call sin? Just because we can name 7 things we’d never intentionally plunge ourselves into are we off the hook? Turns out all sin is deadly regardless the degree of damage it does or the social stigma it costs the offender. Sin could be something we’d better stop pretending we don’t all have a problem with or we’ll be in big trouble.

Come join us for the next few weeks at Gathering where we’ll talk about the Seven Deadly Sins, where that list came from and more importantly, why we’d better have a bigger view of sin than that! Here are a few questions we’ll take aim at throughout the series:

  1. Why did the early church gravitate to this list of seven?
  2. Has the church ever distorted the bible’s message about mankind’s moral need?
  3. What happens when people try to help God decide who and how he’ll forgive a repentant soul?
  4. Is there in fact a mortal sin? Where does the bible mention it? Exactly what is it?
  5. How are people supposed to live with the tension of being forgiven by God, but still prone to screw up?
  6. How does God finally settle the question of what sin is and what punishment it deserves?
  7. What do Christians mean by grace and forgiveness and why do we struggle to live it out?

I’ll be starting the series this Sunday with our first talk on the history behind “The Seven Deadly Sins”. Come on out and bring your thoughts, questions and doubts. Gathering is a great place to catch a great $5 lunch, meet other spiritually interested minds and have a stimulating conversation about stuff that matters.

Gathering:

Sunday’s at 12:30

Christ Community Church Student Center