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June 27, 2021

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

Watch last weeks message here

 

Title: Arguing with God

 

Question of the Week

Have you ever argued with God? What did you learn from it?

 

Intro

“Your Dad doesn’t want to live with us anymore.” I remember exactly where I was standing when mom said these words to my little sister and me. It was at Northcross mall in Austin, by the ice skating rink. I was twelve years old, my little sister was nine. I remember the sound of the skaters, the darkness and coolness of the mall compared to the intense light and heat of the Texas summer outside. And I remember saying that I wasn’t going to let that happen and quickly walking off. I don’t remember if I cried. I don’t remember what happened next. I couldn’t have gone far - I was twelve and the whole mall circled the skating rink. 

 

But so much changed after those words were spoken. Nothing was ever going to be the same after that. 

 

And at the same time, nothing much changed. Dad was gone from home most the time I was a kid already, running our restaurant down the street. I saw him more there than at home. I still did. My mom, sister and I still lived in the same house, went to the same schools, had the same friends. But underneath something broke, something shifted. 

 

I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to regain my footing. From this, from subsequent traumas and from the ordinary, expected transitions of life. 

 

But rarely are we taught how to handle these changes, how to interpret them and respond in ways that lead to flourishing. In our text this week we get a glimpse of it. 

 

Let’s dig in a see what we can learn. 

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team

The Big Idea: 

What do we do when the life we imagined doesn’t work out, but we still have to go on living?

 

Take Away: Disruption happens. This doesn’t mean we’ve been abandoned, are being punished or have made a wrong turn. There is the constant need to reorient to our current reality. This starts with properly directed honesty.

 

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

None of us have this totally figured out. All of us have areas of calm and areas of disruption in our lives. Grace Church strives to be a place where everyone feels welcome to bring their whole selves, the calm and the stormy. Together, as a community, we learn to hear God and walk out the ways of God, together and as individuals. These practices form and are informed by our faith confessions.

Relevent Verses:

Isaiah 63

What next:

We’ll be meeting in homes next week, looking at Isaiah 64

Resources

Contact Grace Church NWA here

 

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June 13, 2021

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

Watch last weeks message here

 

Title: Defiant Hope

 

Question of the Week

What is something you are hopeful for despite your current situation suggesting you shouldn’t be?

 

Intro

The other day we were out as a family to grab breakfast and head to a park to eat and play. We got near the restaurant to pick up our breakfast early, so we took advantage of what Tim and I saw as a windfall to grab some much-needed coffee.

 

As we pulled into the spot, I heard my 5-year-old in the back shout out, “where are we?” When I explained the addendum to our plans, she responded with, “But this is not what I had hoped!”

 

My first response was a restrained, “life’s tough, chickadee.” But when she repeated it again with a bit more despair, “but this is not what I had hoped! You said we were getting breakfast and I’m hungry!” I realized it needed a response with more care. Because despite the fact that I knew this was just an added stop on the way, and I knew we were less than a block from the restaurant, all she could see was time standing still: her breakfast getting cold, her playground dreams delayed, and a change in the picture she had built based on what I had promised, that left her unsure of what to believe.

 

She had trusted me—she had gotten her hopes up—but as she looked around, this was not matching up with the picture she had built. This was not what she had hoped. And whether we are 5 or 95, haven’t we all experienced that moment where we want to call out from our place where we don’t have control with, “but this is not what I had hoped!?”

 

Laura Holland and the teaching team

The Big Idea: 

God’s wilder-than-we-can-imagine promises give us a reason to hope regardless of our current situation.

 

Take Away: Practicing hope is a defiant response to current situations that leave us thinking, “but this is not what I had hoped.”

 

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

Hopefulness is contagious, so together we can provide hope and borrow hope from others. As we practice hope, we grow in our ability to face situations that make us doubt the promises we’ve been given.

Relevent Verses:

Isaiah 61

What next:

Isaiah 62

Resources

YOUR LOVE IS STRONG - Jon Foreman

Contact Grace Church NWA here

 

June 6, 2021

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

Watch last weeks message here

 

Title: Too Good To Be True?

 

Question of the Week

What is something that you need to see in a new light?

 

Intro

Sometimes I think Christianity should come with a disclaimer, something like we see on all those ads for medications, “Actual effects may vary.”

 

I’ve been spending lots of time lately with dear friends facing crushing disappointments, devastating loss and debilitating disillusionment. I’m not talking about minor inconveniences or “first world problems” but life and faith altering trauma. 

 

In the midst of this I am tasked to teach Isaiah 60, a chapter full of "over the top" promises made to the people of God. I’ve struggles all week with my response. I want to sarcastically sneer  back at God, “yeah, right!” I want to bring the pain and hopelessness of my friends as accusation before God and demand God “shine His light on this”. And even more deeply, if I’m honest, I want to somehow hurt God back for the pain I feel God has allowed in my own life, the losses I feel can never be made up for, the questions I feel have gone unanswered and ignored. 

 

I want God to take all these promises and shove them back up where the sun doesn’t shine. 

 

Now before you write me off as having “lost the faith”, let me offer a different take. I think God might be purposefully intending such a response, inviting me to dump all my pain and hurt and doubt and questions fully into God’s lap. I think the purpose of the promises in this chapter might not be so much a “don’t worry be happy” or “here, let me promise you ice cream so you’ll stop crying and forget about your little boo boo” distraction, as it is to fully consider the weight of our own pain and suffering and loss and to fully evaluate where we are going to go for healing, who we are going to trust with our pain, and what we are going to do with our trauma and how we are going to frame our story. 

 

No easy answers, no pie in the sky promises, just the unshakeable unveiling of the reality that there is nothing we have experienced that can cut us off from the goodness and presence of God. 

 

Let’s did in and see what we can find, shall we? 

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team

The Big Idea: 

Our ultimate hope must be placed in the presence and promises of God, regardless of our current experience, circumstances or understanding.

 

Take Away: Discipling ourselves to wait for and live into the promises of God takes a lifetime, even generations. But the practice of this is what defines us as a Church.

 

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

At Grace Church all our practices start with belonging, the practice of radical hospitality.  This is an invitation to each of us and all of us to center our identity and all our relationships in our belovedness by God and not in our own righteousness or identity or ego. As we learn to accept this about ourselves we learn to accept in others, this is how we become more and more reflection of the image of God. All of this forms and is formed by our confessions and practices that are fueled by our faith. And that faith is a gift.

Relevent Verses:

Isaiah 60

What next:

Isaiah 61

Resources

A song for those who have doubts

Contact Grace Church NWA here