GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 1st, 2018

The Greatest Epicenter / Alex Cornett

Key Text: Revelation 2-5 (MSG)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

THE SET-UP

When it’s time for personal feedback, we might recognize “the sandwich strategy.”  The boss might start with a few compliments, and then we possibly start squirming, because we know some criticism is coming!  It’s hard to take, but the feedback inevitably helps us grow.  John’s message is similar, but there is nothing to fear.  There is commending and condemning, but most importantly, a call back to worship and our one, true love.  Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. 
 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 The last word to the Laodicean church was an invitation to worship.  “Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the Churches”.  There is a mystery to worship and its ability to re-center us in ways that are worthy of deeper consideration.  This week it would be great to explore this subject together as a church through the eyes of John.  Why worship? Why with others?  Why Us?

REFLECTION

In The Message, a repeated line is written after each address to a church:  “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”  In early 2018, we were reading through John’s gospel.  Go back and reread John 4:1-34.  Do you read the emphasis Jesus put on worshiping in Spirit and Truth differently now?
 

CHECK IT OUT

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Are we sincerely following God when we’re relying on ourselves?  Lindsay Foster shares her thoughts in this week’s blogpost.  Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, John Farthing will lead our quick trip through Revelation in chapters six and seven.  

JOURNAL 

Recently, Peter Lester taught about the seven “I Ams” in which Jesus declares specific attributes about Himself.  Read through Revelation 2-5 and record all of the attributes that are explicitly or implicitly given.  For example, in reading Revelation 2:2, “I know all the things you do,” you might write:  Jesus is all-knowing.  

Use these as a springboard for further journaling and reflection.  For example, Because you are all-knowing, I am compelled to let my words at all times speak love and truth, not hate and lies.  

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 8th, 2018

Meaning in the Meltdown / John Farthing

Key Text: Revelation 6:1-17(MSG)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

The saving intention of God is the dominant theme of the book of Revelation. That’s why this book is not bad news! It’s Gospel: It’s Good News!

THE BOTTOM LINE

  • Modern-day followers of Christ tend to find Revelation unsettling for lots of reasons, not the least of which is because of its disturbing, secret-coded, end-of-days imagery. In our text this week, John paints a pretty bleak picture of the world that’s ending; it makes The Handmaid’s Tale look like Weekend at Bernie’s. How is this world of war, famine and death different from our world? How is it like our world? Why does it scare us so much to think about the end of the world? Does it have to do with how tightly we’re holding onto this world, and why? Based only on what you find in Scripture (in Revelation and elsewhere), how does our world compare to what God ultimately has in store? Bottom line: How do we reclaim an optimistic view of “the end of the world”?

  • If we reduce Revelation to a book about evil, chaos, sickness, sin, brutality and the violent extermination of life as we know it, it’s hard to suss out the good news buried inside. But as unique as Revelation is, it is exactly like the Bible’s other 65 books in one crucial respect: The main character is God. How does this shape the way we might think about Revelation? If the revelation is actually about Jesus Christ Himself, what do we learn about Him in this week’s text? How does this revelation affirm or challenge what you believe to be true about Him? Does it give you hope? Why or why not? Bottom line: How do we come to see the book of Revelation as Good News?

  • Revelation 1:3 promises that those who read, hear and take to heart the message in Revelation will be blessed. The Greek word John uses here is makarios, which means “happy.” Same word used in Matthew to translate the Beatitudes: “happy” are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are persecuted because of their faith in Jesus. Do you see a connection there? If deliverance from oppression is an important theme in Revelation, would our perspective depend on whether we’re actually oppressed? On what we believe we’re being delivered from? Bottom line: Where can we find comfort and encouragement in the vision of John of Patmos?

REFLECTION

The late author and theologian James H. Cone wrote in The Cross and The Lynching Tree, “I find nothing redemptive about suffering in itself. The gospel of Jesus is not a rational concept to be explained in a theory of salvation, but a story about God’s presence in Jesus’ solidarity with the oppressed, which led to his death on the cross. What is redemptive is the faith that God snatches victory out of defeat, life out of death, and hope out of despair, as revealed in the biblical and black proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection.”

 

Consider what we’ve read so far in Revelation. What can you infer about God’s heart for the oppressed? About what a Christ-like awareness of and response to oppression would look like? How might that shape what you do with your time, money and energy this week?

CHECK IT OUT

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blogpost, Grace Holt challenges the Church to recognize evil — the in-your-face and the not-so-obvious — and call it what it is, in Jesus’ name. Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  

LOOKING AHEAD

What do Revelation 8 and 9 teach us about prayer? 

JOURNAL 
Of all the ways we might respond to the message of Revelation, Jesus tells us clearly that fear is not an option. And it can help us to not be afraid if we get past the crazy imagery and think in real-life experience and truth. Read Revelation 1:17 together with Hebrews 13:8, then read Revelation 7:15-17. Write down what these verses tell you about Jesus, along with specific ways you know these traits to be true because of your relationship with Him. For instance, how do you personally know that Jesus is unchanging? How do you personally know of Jesus as your advocate? Comforter? Protector? Provider?

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 15th, 2018

Voices in the Mayhem / Linda Murphy

Key Text: Revelation 8-9 (MSG)

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

 

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THE SET-UP

Our voices right now are spent attacking, choosing sides, supporting our purposes or our needs.  How do we change our voices to be an army of prayers praying into the mayhem?
 

THE BOTTOM LINE

How does Jesus teach us to pray?

 

This is a good question. I thought about John's message last week quite a bit. Thinking about this as a message of hope versus fear. When we pray, "Your Kingdom come", we are asking for a kingdom not like the one we have now. We want the one we have now more than the one that will come unless we are negatively affected. I want to keep what I have AND know that people won't suffer anymore. We pray for our stuff. For us, blessing = health, wealth, etc... If "Kingdom come" meant we lost all of our gold, silver, brass and hunks of wood but people would not suffer, would we rejoice! What if our life was actually pretty good already? Would we potentially choose to not repent and continue to hang on to the past (stuff) even if we knew He had returned? The big question for me is, what am I praying for?

REFLECTION

 If you could do some “weeding” in your life, what things can you think of that need to be removed?  
 

CHECK IT OUT

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

 In this week’s blogpost, Amy Buff mulls over our calling to walk out this life as we seek to bring the kingdom of Jesus.   Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, John Ray will take on the heavy task of condensing Revelation 10-14 into a message to inform, guide, and challenge us!  

JOURNAL 

Read Psalm 139:23-24 each day.  Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.   See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Spend a few days praying, reflecting, listening, and journaling about these specifics: 


 

Day One:  Search me, God, and know my heart.  What is in your heart?  Call on God to search it.  

Day Two:  Test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Is anything making you anxious?  

Day Three:  See if there is any offensive way in me.  Time to listen!  

Day Four:  Lead me in the way everlasting.  Where is He leading you?  How is He leading you?

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 22nd, 2018

Power and Prophetic Witness / John Ray

Key Text: Revelation 10-14 (MSG)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

 If the Gospel is anything, it’s political, but political in very different way from the world’s definition of the word.  As followers of the Jesus Way, we’re called to active political participation.
 

THE BOTTOM LINE

“I can’t stand it when the Church gets political!” and “If the Church doesn’t take a strong public stand on this (insert issue of the day here), I’m leaving!” These are two examples of the kind of comments I often hear about politics and the Church. On one side, even mentioning something that might be considered controversial or political has people putting their hands over their ears. On the other, anything less than ending the service by marching down to the courthouse with bullhorns in hand is unacceptable. If you think I’m exaggerating, don’t. Driving each extreme is a serious misunderstanding. The “stay away!” crowd forgets the Gospel is deeply political.   I mean, it proclaims the coming of the KINGDOM of God, for heaven’s sake. And this Kingdom is in direct interaction (and often conflict) with the “kingdoms” of this world (political, cultural, economic, etc…). As Christians we’re called to interact and influence all these areas. The Church can’t help but be political. But before we throw in with the groups for or against the political issue de rigueur, we need to understand the Gospel is adamantly non-partisan. History is replete with examples of the Church being compromised by too close an association with political movements and causes, parties and politicians. Which side do you find yourself tempted towards? Why? In what ways do you understand the difference between politics and partisanship? The Bottom Line is the Gospel is political, but not partisan.

 

So, if we’re called, as John puts it in his other writings, to be “in the world, but not of it,” how do we participate? It starts with a clear understanding of how the world works. If we look at how politics and governments work, it’s always through “power over” and propaganda. These may be “soft” or “hard” but they’re always coercive. The radical way of the Gospel is always, and only, through “power under” and prophetic witness. This means disciplining ourselves to not react as the world reacts and to instead respond as demonstrated by Jesus. How do you see this demonstrated in the life of Jesus? How does knowing the ultimate victory of Jesus as described in the text help you respond properly? The Bottom Line is our primary participation is through power under prophetic witness.


Look, no one says this is going to be easy. More often than not, it’s going to feel like we’re put back into the middle of the massive dodgeball game and getting pummeled from both sides. To survive, and more than survive, remain faithful, we need to understand who we really are and where we really stand. And we need to know the same thing about Jesus. If we really listen to the text, we get a clear sense that Jesus, the “faithful witnesses” and those who endure demonstrate a remarkable lack of anxiety. It’s not that they don’t suffer, they definitely do. It’s just that they understand who they truly are in Jesus and who Jesus really is. They KNOW this. We are constantly reminded of it so that likewise we might come to really know this as well. How does this text influence your understanding of who you really are? Of who Jesus is? How does this influence your response to critical issues in our world and culture? The Bottom Line is faithfulness is a matter of correct orientation. Understanding who and where we are, and who and where Jesus is, is critical.

REFLECTION

Take time to seriously reflect on how you view the power of the Gospel to affect change in our political environment. Do you really believe the Gospel has power without resorting to using power over and propaganda? Do you really believe that practicing power under and prophetic witness is crucial to following Jesus? To being both an engaged and uncompromised Church?  
 

CHECK IT OUT

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

No blogpost this week, but you can see past ones here. Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post. 

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week we get to hear from many of our family returning from working and witnessing outside of NWA. It’s going to be awesome! 

JOURNAL 

This week’s text takes some time to digest, as does most of Revelation. Take a chapter a day Monday through Friday. As you finish each chapter, reflect on where the allegiance, affection, and affiliation of the characters in each chapter are placed. To whom are they loyal? What and who do they love? Who do they align themselves with? On Saturday, take time to deeply consider where your own allegiances, affections, and affiliations are found.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 29th, 2018

 Let's Sing the Song of Moses / John Ray and the Missions Team

Key Text: Revelation 15:1-3 (MSG)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

 

 

THE SET-UP

God is on the move. Here are stories of where we are tagging along.
 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Chances are, when you hear the word “missionary”, an image of a specific type of person comes to mind. Rarely do we think of ourselves as “missionaries”, (unless, of course, that is our vocation). We might hear someone say “we are all missionaries” but even that might confuse things. We have to be careful when we think about missionaries and mission work. One mistake is to make missionaries some kind of super spiritual heros. The other is to deny that missions is any different from everyday interactions with people around us. So what are we talking about when we are talking about “Missions”? What do you think of when you think about who is a missionary?

 

Another mistake we can make when we think about all this to classify only those who are “called” as missionaries or can do mission work. And we mistakenly thinking that work is somehow of greater value or honor than our everyday obedience. While not all of us are full time vocational missionaries, we are all called to live “missionally” for Jesus. All of us are living our lives with either passive or active intentionality for someone or something. What are you living for? What would it look like to live with missional intentionality?

 

If you’ve gotten this far in the learning guide, you might be asking yourself, “Why is this such a big deal?, Why put such an emphasis on missions and living with missional intentionality?” I’ll repeat a line from above, it’s not “if”, but “for what?” We are all directing our efforts. We are all making choices and alloting our resources of affection, allegiance, & association. SO, as our hearts are drawn closer and closer to God and each other, as our active gospel imaginations grow and as our practice of church and spiritual disciples develop, we have to ask, how do we as a Church cultivate a more intentional missional culture?

REFLECTION

CHECK IT OUT

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

What happens to a college kid when they take a year off to participate in global missions?  Read more reflections here from Jonathan Brown.

 

Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  

JOURNAL 

Frederick Buechner once wrote “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.”  This week take time each day to read the following:    

 

  “Mighty your acts and marvelous, O God, the Sovereign-Strong!

Righteous your ways and true, King of the nations!

Who can fail to fear you, God,  give glory to your Name?

Because you and you only are holy, all nations will come and worship you,

because they see your judgments are right.”

 

Consider the following questions each day as you read and meditate on the words:  

What does this song say to my heart, soul and mind?

What does this song say about the world we live in?

What does this song say about our deepest need as human beings?

What are the things that bring me the greatest joy?

Where are the deepest needs of the world we live in?

Where is my own great joy meeting great need?