Reflecting on ‘Reflections From The Heart’ ~ Curriculum

On Sunday we took a break from our journey through 1 Kings and Pastor Jason shared some reflections from the book of John.

As we’ve done with our 1 King’s series in providing curriculum for you to follow along with your G2G group, so to have we provided curriculum for this week as well – even though it’s a little bunny trail off what we’ve been learning.

Take a while to watch the sermon if you missed it.

John 1:35-42

The next day John we there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

    1.    John’s disciples decided to leave him in order to start following Jesus (v. 35-37).  What plans, attachments, or relationships are distracting you from Jesus?

    2.    How closely do you think John’s disciples were following Jesus when he turned around and asked them, “What do you want?” (v. 38). 

    a.    How closely are you following Him: could he whisper to you or would he need to shout?

    b.    How would you answer the question “what do you want?” if Jesus asked you?

    3.    Jesus invites the disciples to spend time with Him (v. 39) and they respond positively.  How much of ‘your’ time do you give to Jesus?  How much time do you have for others?

    4.    Andrew has such a great time with Jesus that he invites his brother to meet Him too (v. 41-42).  Does this happen today?  Why or why not?

    5.    Simon gets a new name. Peter (v. 42) in keeping with his character.  Pass around sheets of paper with your group member’s names at the top (one sheet per group member) and when each sheet gets to you, write down one attribute you appreciate about the person whose name is on the page. 

Give each person his or her page only when everyone has had a chance to complete the exercise. 

Celebrate together!

Incest & Murder: the unraveling of a family (yikes!) – 2 Samuel 13-14

by contributing writer Kristen Webb

The sermon on Sunday was about King David’s messed up family.  (You can watch a YouTube video of the sermon here.)  It reads like a soup opera or a talk show –  so much drama and so much sin.  I have found that sin always leads to drama one way or another!  It may strike a chord with the world, but is it relevant to us church going folks?  Incest or any form of sexual abuse is something we would hope God would protect us from, especially in our Christian circles.  But my heart can’t help hurting for Tamar who experienced such horrible things because of her brothers sin.    Despite my church going status, God has brought  many people into my life who have experienced the damage of being wronged in this way.  It appears that being a Christian does not grant you immunity from being harmed by others who choose to do the unthinkable.   I have to be honest: this has torn my heart apart and caused me to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness.

What is God doing about this heinous problem – where is He?

This year my doubt met it’s match when I took The Wounded Heart program.  The Wounded Heart is offered by our church for victims of childhood sexual abuse.  I had felt that God was prompting me to take it for a number of years now.  However, my abuse was pretty minor compared to what Tamar and many of my friends had endured and was not inflicted by a family member, so I did not think the abuse was effecting me.  But God still kept whispering whenever I would hear it promoted.  Finally, this year I signed up for The Wounded Heart and I went.  It has been the most life-changing thing ever!  My doubt and pain has been met head-on by the Creator of the Universe and the lover of my messed up soul.

Before I took The Wounded Heart, I was single-handedly trying to wrangle all the crazy emotions that are a natural result of being wronged in such a deep way.  I felt overwhelmed and condemned for having such strong and dark feelings and, because I was ashamed, I buried them.

Now if you asked me about how I was coping, I would proudly tell you how I was learning to live above my feelings. I would probably even offer to teach you how to do it too.  But really it was just a way of saying I was in denial.

Denial is not healthy and oh how I know that now!  The fall-out of 30 odd years of denial was far worse than the damage done by the initial abuse.  If only  I had immediately brought my pain and brokenness to God and trusted Him with it instead of trying to pretend it did not bother me and I was fine!  But I listened to Satan when he whispered in my ear that I was weak for feeling such emotions and God wanted me to buck up and just get over it.  I felt like I was an object of condemnation and I did not deserve to be blessed or happy anymore.  I was mad at myself for feeling and so I tried to teach myself how to ignore my feelings.  Emotions were seen as invalid or maybe even sinful.

God was longing to wrap me in His arms and comfort me as only He can but I couldn’t go to Him because I thought I needed to fix this myself.   So as the years went by my doubt and frustration with God grew – although I did not admit this to anyone.  I was desperately trying to fix this hurt deep in my soul and the method I picked was trying to be a good Christian girl.  I decided that if I could just be perfect maybe whatever was wrong with me would go away.   If I could just please everyone in my life maybe then the depression and despair I lived with on a daily basis would finally disappear. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see this was not a great solution.  But I was so messed up inside at this point that I was not seeing things clearly.   God wanted to comfort me and bring healing but the lies I was believing prevented me from  trusting Him and giving Him control.  I was shooting myself in the foot over and over but blaming God for my pain.

But then I finally listened to His gentle voice and took the Wounded Heart.  Through it I realized that it is not that God was not strong enough to heal me – I was preventing Him from doing so.   Through this group I was able to uncover some of the lies that had got me to such a horrible place.  I was able to see that God loves me and is not disappointed in me.   He was feeling compassion and fierce love for me when I was abused – not expecting me to forgive instantly and stop being so emotional about it all.  He wanted to hold me in His arms and soothe me and fill the hole that had been ripped in my soul.  I have value and I am a cherished child of the King.  He wants to bless me and I don’t have to endlessly make up for my deficiencies.  He accepts me now despite all the sin I ended up getting into by not trusting Him.  I do not have to be perfect before I can rest in Him and rejoice.   My healing process has started and I have hope that was completely missing from my life before.  

I am now halfway through the Wounded Heart program and am looking forward to all the awesome things God is still going to do.   I can trust God to continue my healing as my brain gets a complete overhaul.  My mind needs to be renewed in a big way but I have a big God.  I have a faithful, good God who loves me and that changes everything!

I don’t know how to express my Thanks to all the leaders of Wounded Heart so I will just ask God to personally bless them in one of the many creative ways at His disposal.

 Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters – one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith

Hearing & Following God’s Ridiculous Requests

by contributing writer Kristen Webb

Has God ever asked you to do something you thought was a bit odd, strange or just plain illogical?  

Did you have the courage to do it or did you chicken out?  

When God asked you did you get angry or excited? 

Over the last three years I have been going through a long period of God asking me to do some frustrating things.  In the past I would get angry or fearful or I’d bitterly say, “another character-developing opportunity” when God asked me to go through difficult situations.  Because of my attitude these situations where extra unpleasant and though I did develop character I also developed doubt and bitterness. Over the last three years I have embraced a new attitude: one of faith, knowing God loves me.  I was eagerly waiting to see what cool things Jesus would do to sustain me in the midst of the chaos – to make good come out of bad. 

My three year journey began with a very unfortunate incident.  I was walking across the road and I was struck by a truck.  (Do not, under any circumstances, try to take on a truck on foot – it does not go well!)  I was jaywalking and he failed to look or stop before he turned out in front of me.  I broke my leg at the femur – like right in half so it was dangling at a strange angle when I tried to lift it up.  I also re-injured a concussion that I had gotten a year previously from being tossed off a horse head first when it fell in a hole at a gallop.  This accident was not God’s fault – it was human error – and for the last three years God has been making good come out of it.
I have learned so many things!  For instance, how to hear God even in demanding situations.  Just like the sermon last week about how to learn good discernment: God has been teaching me to listen carefully, be alert, surrender and trust God for victory.  Because of the leg and the concussion I have had to be very still for very long periods of time.  It is amazing how much easier it is to hear God when you are still and quiet.  I am a very goal oriented person and I like to get stuff done – I do not like to rest.  However God has taught me to rest and actually enjoy it and benefit from it.

With my concussion I have progressed to only needing quiet rest about 4 times a day for around an hour a time.  Right after the accident I pretty much rested 24/7.  If I do not rest I get headaches of epic proportions that makes any kind of any activity debilitating.   Reading quietly or watching TV or even talking on the phone with my eyes closed does not count as rest.   I must make like a mushroom, and spend lots of time in a dark, quiet bed doing nothing.  At the start this was very frustrating and boring, but I got better at it. (And if resting were an Olympic sport I would so get gold!)  
I discovered that the quiet worked really well for listening to God and if I surrendered to Him, He would give me peace and joy.  Because I did not have my brain cluttered with all my busy plans I found I could be alert to hear God’s voice and hear Him better than ever before.  He has been very clear that He wants to me to keep resting as much as I need to and give my list of things I need to get done to Him.  I have learned to trust Him for victory over my anxious heart and He has calmed me down so much.  It is very hard to get anything done when you need to rest as often and as long as I do.   However, I have seen God do supernatural things to my heart and to my schedule and He has come through. 
Now when I have to go rest I feel safe and peaceful instead of frustrated and driven.   You might say my life is a bit ridiculous when it is interrupted with sleep so often throughout the day.

God asks me to rest and that seems to be a counter-intuitive request if your goal is getting stuff done.  But I have discovered that for me obeying God means resting and He gives me such a joy and relief in that.  He has shown me that all the down time has been a wonderful opportunity to pray and to meditate on His Word.  These two acts have totally changed my life in so many good ways.  God’s Word is so awesome and following it is the path to true contentment and satisfaction.  I do sometimes still feel frustrated and wish I had more time to get things done but when I run to God He tells me to be patient and do what He asks.  This works so much better than trying to do what the world says you must do to be considered successful.

We sing a song at church called The Rock Won’t Move and it really describes my journey through the last three years.
The Rock Won’t Move
When the ground beneath my feet gives way
And I hear the sound of crashing waves
And all my world is washing out to sea
I’m hidden safe in the God who never moves
Holding fast to the promise of the truth
That You are holding tighter still to me
The rock won’t move and His word is strong
The rock won’t move and His love can’t be undone
The rock won’t move and His word is strong
The rock won’t move and His love can’t be undone
The rock of our salvation
My hope is in the promise of Your blood
My support within the raging flood
Even in the tempest I can sing
I’m hidden safe in the God who never moves
Holding fast to the promise of the truth
That You are holding tighter still to me
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
The rock won’t move the rock won’t move
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest in His unchanging grace
The rock won’t move the rock won’t move
CCLI Song # 7005719

Just like the Israelite’s laid rocks from the middle of the river to remember what God had done for them, I want to keep blogging what God has done for me.  I want to remember so my faith can be strengthened.

Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters – one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith.

Seriously! Peace

by contributing writer  Kristen Webb
Peace, something we all long for and something that sometimes feels like an elusive emotion…

On September 14, Pastor Jason implied that there is a way to access internal peace and rest regardless of the circumstances. That sounds a might bit unrealistic given my circumstances lately. I have been trying recently to give my problems to God and to trust Him with them but it is not so easy

For instance, take the problem of wasps entering my home. Since late summer I have had wasps coming into my house at a rate of about 5 a day. I first see them in my dining room hanging out at the ceiling or in the big window. I do not like wasps or any kind of stinging insect. They are not aggressive (which is good) but still creepy.
I like to be in control of my environment. Some might even say I am obsessive about certain things. (My husband certainly will admit I am.) My brain got a hold of this wasp crisis and it was off and running, trying to figure out how to fix it and what the worse case scenario might look like. 
I imagined hundreds of wasps descending into my house, biting me and my children repeatedly and us all dying. I also imagined never being able to find where they were coming in and thus never being able to stop them. For some reason these thoughts would whip me into an internal frenzy of fear. That fear then urged me to do whatever it took to fix this problem and not rest until it was over. 
I had prayed and asked God to help me but I was not trusting Him enough to let go of the anxiety and fear. I basically wanted Him to fix the problem the way I had figured out to fix it. I wanted Him to show me where they were getting in and then extract the entire nest so that the wasps would be gone.
So I proceeded with my plan of attack, still scared and overwhelmed and not feeling very restful or peaceful. I watched the dining room like a hawk for days at a time trying to catch a wasp entering. There were some knot holes in the ceiling and some gaps around the trim. I could never see the blasted things making their entrance so I put duct tape over all the knot holes to see if that helped. 
I still had wasps showing up. I would get the ladder from the shop and frantically kill each one that appeared with great fear of getting stung.
I was sharing my dilemma with my sister in law and hubby one day at lunch. I needed to explain to my sister in law why I was spending time out of our visit hauling out the ladder and never looking at her when she talked but instead focusing on the trim in the ceiling. She was very support of of my plans to kill all wasps but my husband felt I was being rude to her. He pointed out that they had not bit me yet and were just coming in because of the cold weather which makes them sleepy. They were on deaths door anyway. He suggested I kill them when I see them and not be so panicked. I freaked at him and said my fears were justified and I would not rest until I found where these wasps are coming in. I see now that He was trying to help but because I was over reacting, his comments just made me more anxious.
So I had it out with God. I told Him that He had promised to answer my prayers. Where was He and why was I so upset? Maybe the promise of peace was only to folks who do not have OCD and insects storming their home. 
When I rant with God I try to also journal and write down what He says back. Prayer is a two way conversation. This is very helpful because after all God is the creator of the universe and is all knowing, which come in handy when problem solving. So when I listened this time, God said that He promised to answer when we ask without doubt. Doubt can block us from answers. (James 1:6-8) So my fear and anxiety was blocking an answer. Also He gently pointed out that when I ask for help I should not put Him in a box and demand He answer me in only my certain predetermined way. That was nervy of me and I should repent. Well I must say I responded much better to God than I did to my husband. I wonder why that is?
I repented and then asked for help with the wasps and I trusted God to fix it somehow. Trust is so freeing. It’s like a buy one get one free. You buy into trust and you get peace and rest just as an added bonus. I guess in the future, I need to be watching out for anxiety and fear because if I have them I know automatically I am not really trusting God and that I have doubt.
This relates back to that sermon where Pastor Jason pointed out that if we are not in step with God we will not have that internal peace and rest. We need to look for God and what He is doing instead of telling Him how to do his job! We need to ask God what to do and step out and actually do it, letting go of the fear and worry. So I gave the wasps and my obsession about finding their home and eradicating them to God. When I listened to God He said that I needed to calm down and just kill any wasps that came in and not worry about them. So that is what I did. God gave me the strength to stop obsessing and be OK that the odd wasp would enter my house a few times a day. God helped me get over my fear of wasps and to not mind sharing my space with them so much. I decided to let go of my need to find where they were entering and it is such a better way to live.
Even though I did not see the answer right away, and wasps were still paying me frequent visits, I still had peace and rest – what a precious gift! Eventually they stopped coming in as often and now they only come occasionally every few days. I just calmly smack them with the fly swatter – I am really getting good with that thing! – and proceed on with my day. I am so glad I did not rip out the ceiling to try to find their nest or hire an expensive bug killer guy. Pastor Jason was right. You can have internal peace and rest regardless of the circumstances – even if you are a women with some emotional hang ups!
Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters – one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith.

What Is Worthy?

Guest Post by Caleb Dyck, worship leader.

instructions for worship: loving God
I must confess that as I sat in church this crisp March morning, somewhere partway through the first point of Pastor Jason’s message, my eyes began to glaze over.  Was I tired? No. Was I bored or disinterested?  Also, no.  You see, Jason said something that I had heard many times over, and yet, something sparked…

“Worship is the idea of ascribing worth to someone or something”

The basic idea or definition of worship as described in most evangelical circles is that worship is us declaring or attributing to God the worth that He is worthy of.  As God is infinitely worthy, He is worth infinite worship.  Now, I think that most people will agree that worship is not just the singing of songs or raising our hands or even just praying.  Rather, we are called to worship with our entire lives, our entire being.

Having heard this all before, I was surprised when my ever active mind took that definition and ran with it.  So, as Jason continued on, my thoughts raced along a track parallel to the central theme of the message.  What in my life am I ascribing worth to?  If there was an honest, objective overview of my life, what would stand out as being worth the most to me?  I obviously know the right answers to what SHOULD be important, but does my life lend evidence to support this?

In our own lives, what are we saying is most important in the way we spend our time, our efforts, our resources?  Do we spend all of our spare time in finding fulfillment in relationships, family, entertainment?  I can say that part of my worship is tithing and yet if I was spending more money on fast food every month than giving, what would you say is worth more to me?  If I say that I worship by serving others and yet am more concerned about my “me” time every evening than getting involved serving my local church, what is my life saying is most important to me?

Now, I am not saying that everything breaks down into an elaborate system of charts and graphs, and if the tithing and serving clocks is at more hours and dollars than fast food and down time then I have this worship thing in the bag.  That’s not really the point.  If that was the end goal then the Pharisees had it down to an art form all those years ago.  Obviously worship is a heart issue.  But still…   What does our life say about what is most important to us deep down in our hearts? 

Blessed are the memorizers

A few weeks ago our guest speaker, former-pastor-turned-regional-minister, Claran Martin challenged us to do something radical–he called us to commit the sermon on the mount–all three chapters (Matt. 5-7)–to memory.

At first I was skeptical about whether anyone would take up the task; but I’m delighted to report that people are responding.
So, here are two questions for you to consider (you may want to post anonymously):
1. Are you one of ‘memorizers’?
2. What’s your strategy for memorizing and how far are you going?
I’ve been trying to use my imagination to visualize the words I’m memorizing. I’m slowly working my way through the early part of chapter 5. I find it hard to memorize; I find it even harder to live.
It also dawned on me that I should get my kids involved. So they’re learning a different ‘blessed’ statement every day before we eat. It means we all get more than just our daily bread.

Was Solomon’s temple really what God had in mind?

As I’ve preached through the early chapters of 1 Kings, I’ve been reflecting on the temple.

In the book of Exodus (chapter 26 to be exact), God gives very specific instructions about constructing the tabernacle. It functioned as the portable tent where the ark of the covenant–the place where God was present in a particular way–was placed.
Fast forward to the temple construction. There are no specific instructions given by God.
Why not?
Was Solomon’s temple really what God had in mind?
Did God want to dwell in a building build with cedar and limestone?
What if David and Solomon missed the point and God graciously inhabited the fixed building anyway?
What do you think?
Here are a handful of scriptures to consider:
2 Sam. 7
1 Kings 6:12-13
Eph. 2:19-21
1 Cor. 3:16-17
Jn. 2:19-21