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April 25, 2021

10:15am I Facebook Live & In Person at Vesper Point, Mt Sequoyah in Fayetteville

Watch last weeks message here

What are we afraid of?

 

Question of the Week

What is it you need to see in a new light this week?

 

Intro

We heard the screams coming from the basement but didn’t flinch. This was starting to become routine. The young student living there was encountering another of the tiny spiders that on occasion would haplessly wander in. Once again Jane made her way down stairs and as the shaking student hid behind her, she gave her a standard lesson. “I want to ask you a question, who is bigger, you or the spider? Who do you think should be the most scared”? After giving the lesson Jane would gently gather up the arachnid and usher it back outside. 

 

Now for those of you who have arachnophobia, this may sound crazy, but it doesn’t make it less true. We so often fear things irrationally and illogically. But as if that weren’t enough we are also often totally ignorant of the things we should actually be fearing. 

 

Y’all this goes way beyond spiders as our text shows us this week. Let’s dig in and see what we can find. 

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

 

J.Ray and the teaching team

The Big Idea: The world can be a really scary place, with or without Jesus. But God gives us certain reassurances that help us focus our fear in ways that lead to life.

 

Take Away: Staying focused, or centered, in the reality of God takes intention and effort. Fortunately we find constant reminders in this text and throughout the Bible of these truths:   “I am the Lord” - “You are my witnesses” - “Don’t be afraid” - “Don’t get distracted”

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

Misplaced fear is a constant threat to hospitality and shalom. Will there be enough to go around? What if including them is dangerous? What if we get this wrong and are abandoned? Faith demands extending welcome and belonging in spite of misplaced fears. Through this practice, our fears are redirected into productive ways, helping us become more whole, healthy and happy. These experiences move our faith more and more into lived experience.

Relevent Verses:

Isaiah 43-45

What next:

Isaiah 46-48

Resources

Grace is not opposed to effort, but earning.

But what does that mean?

Contact Grace Church NWA here

 

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April 18, 2021

10:15am I Facebook Live & In Person at Vesper Point, Mt Sequoyah in Fayetteville

Watch last weeks message here

The Only Choice That Really Matters

 

Question of the Week

Where in your life are you intentionally cultivating quiet witness to the Kingdom of God?

 

Intro

We were walking the tree canopied trails on the east side of Mount Sequoyah, slowly, talking and listening.  This was years ago when I was in seminary and in the process of becoming a certified spiritual director. We stopped at a turn in a rock, rooted trail and I asked  if he wanted to enter into the process of direction if he felt he needed it. Chris looked straight at me and responded “yes, it’s a matter of life and death.” 

 

Yesterday, maybe eight years after that walk on the side of Sequoyah, I presided over the memorial service for Chris, who died by suicide some two weeks earlier. A matter of life and death indeed. 

 

Friends, we are constantly being given the invitation to life by the God who created and loves us. But here’s the deal, this is not an invitation we can ignore without consequences. And when God makes clear those consequences, it’s not a malicious or coercive act, but one of love. 

 

Maybe this will let us see with new eyes? 

Grace and peace y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team

The Big Idea: Choices have consequences, and all of us are always choosing.

 

Take Away: God doesn’t show us the consequences of our choices to scare, shame, bribe or overwhelm us, but to invite us more fully into our humanity and set us on the path of wholeness.

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

Extending hospitality to others is the natural result of experiencing the unqualified and exceptionless invitation of Jesus to belong in God. How can we do anything else? This belonging is what guides our choices and gives us clarity on the consequences of those choices and how they affect our formation as individuals and as a community. All of this is guided by our confession of what we believe and aspire to; true, good and beautiful.

Relevant Verses:

Isaiah 42

What next:

Isaiah 43-45

Resources

Jesus is Lord, and that’s kind of a big deal 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

Dallas Willard on Hearing God

Contact Grace Church NWA here

 

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April 4, 2021

10:15am I Facebook Live & In Person at Vesper Point, Mt Sequoyah in Fayetteville

Watch last weeks message here

Track Changes

 

Question of the Week

What do you make more difficult than it needs to be?

 

Intro

A long time ago, there was a man walking the railroad track between Jersey City and Scranton, Pennsylvania. As he passed by a train station along the route an attendant yelled out to him, explaining that he could get a ticket for trespassing or, worse yet, get hit by a train and die. After further discussion, the attendant learned that the man had a ticket to ride between Jersey City and Scranton, but thought that the ticket only gave him access to the track itself. Learning that he didn’t have to wearily trudge along the route, he sprang up with hope and boarded the very next train.

 

Tim Holland

The Big Idea: We have a natural inclination to make things much more difficult than they actually are. Working hard at following Jesus is wrong. Working hard proves our worth only to ourselves and communicates a false value of worth to others.

 

Take Away: Are you walking along the tracks carrying your whole load or are you accepting the ticket to ride that you already have?

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

We already belong, we just need to believe it.

Relevant Verses:

Isaiah 40-41

What next:

Isaiah 49-50

Resources

Our Text

Commentary

Contact Grace Church NWA here

 

April 4, 2021

10:15am I Facebook Live

Watch last weeks message here

Resurrection, again

 

Question of the Week

Consider what difference, if any, the resurrection of Jesus makes in your life

 

Intro

If ever there was a year we needed Easter, it seems this would be the year.

 

Last year at this time, I preached that we needed “two Easters”, the one we celebrated on April 12 last year, and the one we anticipated when things would “open up” again. Here we are, closer, yes, but still waiting. But what are we truly waiting for? Are we waiting for things to “go back” or have we given up waiting at all and have just settled for the way things are?

 

Resurrection, better, the practice of resurrection says no to both. It refuses both nostalgia and fatalism. Practicing resurrection leads us into a new future framed and formed by a Holy Spirit filled imagination and the continuing encounter with Jesus. 

 

But what does all that mean? Well, let’s dig in on this Easter Sunday 2021 and see what we can find. 

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team

The Big Idea: Resurrection is just a one time event. Resurrection is a practice that stems from the resurrection of Jesus and continues to be cultivated by us, His followers.

 

Take Away: We, the collective followers of Jesus, the Church, are to be a people who practice resurrection in all we do.

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

Practicing resurrection is exemplified in the practice of hospitality, the welcoming of everyone into the community of Jesus. The work of becoming is based in this first belonging. We find ourselves fit for the work of apprenticing to Jesus by the invitation of Jesus and the encouragement, example and exhortation of others in the community of Jesus. This welcome and participation is what forms our confession. We slowly, in fits and starts, long stretches of doubt and sudden moments of revelation, come to believe what we confess.

Relevant Verses:

John 21:1-18

What next:

We jump back into our study of Isaiah.

Resources

Our Text for the week: John 20:1-18

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

A Kintsugi Generation

Contact Grace Church NWA here