Archive for the 'church' Category

Outliers Conlusion

Outliers

We concluded our Outliers series from the book of 1 Peter last Sunday. We’ve been answering the question: How do followers of Jesus respond to a culture where we are increasing becoming the minority? In week four we talked about the challenge of being prepared and prayerful.

Over and over again, Peter warns his readers to be prepared for the hostility that will come. “So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too” (1 Peter 4:1 NLT). Unfortunately, there have been many people who have ascribed to another gospel than the one the bible speaks of where Christians actually struggle. It’s been termed Moral Therapeutic Deism. It’s defined as worshiping a creator god who blesses people who are good, nice and fair and helps believers be happy and feel good about oneself. Nothing about suffering or pain. God’s purpose is only to be here for your convenience and to make life better.

Not only does Peter refute that. He adds that there is blessing when we’re insulted (1 Peter 4:14). We should be glad when we suffer because it partners us with Christ (1 Peter 4:13). Why would we expect anything else?

You can look around at the increasingly hostile culture around us and cry “foul” and bemoan the church is losing ground. Or like Ed Stetzer, you can see, “the church isn’t dying off. It is just being more clearly defined.” And that’s not a bad thing.

If you missed week 4 or any of the messages from our Outliers series, you can view below or at cedarridgecc.com.

Our Story Final

Our Story blog

We concluded our series on the book of Acts we called, Our Story, this past Sunday by attempting to fill in some of the gap between Acts chapter 28 and the church today. With almost two thousand years separating us, it can seem like a huge disconnect. But rest assured there have been faithful followers who have been passing on the torch of faith. We told stories of some of those “in-between” people on Sunday and had it not been for them, we might not be believers today. If you could somehow trace your spiritual lineage, it’s possible that one of the people we talked about would show up in your spiritual family tree.

Of course, the name itself, Our Story, requires some ownership. You’re a part of the church of Jesus Christ because of a line of people who have continued to share the gospel with others. Will you show up in the spiritual lineage of followers to come. Or does the story stop with you?

If you missed last weekend’s message from Our Story, you can watch it here.

Our Story Week 18

Our Story blog

Disciples take every opportunity to share their story. That’s what Paul did according to Acts 22. A rioting mob in Jerusalem wanted to kill the Apostle. After being rescued by Romans soldiers with impeccable timing, Paul requested to speak to the crowd. He stepped up on a make-shift platform and proceeded to tell his story; his testimony of how life had changed since he had come to faith in Jesus.

That’s just what disciples do. They take every opportunity to share their story. Your story is unique. it’s not better than anyone else’s. Nor is someone else’s better than yours. it’s your unique story of the transformation you’ve experienced since following Jesus. Your story is needed. There is someone like you or like you used to be and your story is just what they need to hear. Because of that your story is powerful. It can change someone’s eternal destiny. But your story has to be shared. It’s not enough to live out the gospel. As important as that is, to make the gospel known, at some point we have to use words.

So let me ask you – have you shared your story recently? Have you ever shared your story? Last Sunday, I asked you to, sometime this week, write out your story and then pray for an opportunity to share it. That is the kind of prayer God loves to answer. Let me know what happens.

If you missed last weekend’s message from Our Story, you can watch it or share it here.

Our Story Week 15

Our Story blog

The early church wasn’t afraid to engage the culture around it even when that culture was unfriendly to its biblical worldview. In fact, unfriendly turned hostile was more the norm in the first century. Athens was a junkyard of pagan idols. Sexual immorality in the Roman world would make Las Vegas blush. Thought this licentious climate “greatly distressed” the Apostle Paul, he wasn’t afraid to engage that culture. He “reasoned” with them, using their language and quoting their poets. Paul built bridges to infiltrate the culture around him.

Unfortunately too many Christians are more interested in building forts to protect themselves and their values from the culture around them. The problem with that is that God’s plan for redeeming the evils of our world are His people contaminating it with the good news of a kingdom not of this world. Being a follower of Jesus isn’t about extracting ourselves from the culture for the sakes of our values. It’s about engaging the culture for the sake of bringing our values into it.

So, are you going to build a fort? Or are you going to build a bridge?

If you missed this message out of Acts 17 from Our Story, you can watch it here or at cedarridgecc.com.

Our Story Week 14

Our Story blog

Disciples are known for giving up something they personally value for something of God they value more. That was certainly the case for Paul and Silas in Acts 16. Though they had been miraculously freed from their prison cell, they chose not to escape. They voluntarily relinquished their freedom for something they valued more. Though they were Roman citizens guaranteed due process, they deliberately withheld that information and took a beating (and subsequent imprisonment). They relinquished their comfort and rights for something they valued more. What was it that they valued more than their personal comfort and individual liberty? Being obedient to Jesus by being his witnesses. They sacrificed greatly for the privilege of sharing the good news with someone who desperately need to hear it; the very same person who was holding them captive. That Philippian jailer would go on to believe in Jesus and he and his entire house would be baptized!

Wealthy businessman and renowned athlete turned missionary C.T. Studd said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” Paul and Silas would echo that. C.T. Studd is also known for this quote which really describes his heart, “Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell.” It’s no surprise that C.T. Studd died on the African mission field known for his sacrifice. Disciples are known for giving up something they personally value for something of God they value more. What are you known for?

If you missed this message out of Acts 16 from Our Story, you can watch it here or at cedarridgecc.com.

Easter Sunday

What ignited the early church was not the miracles of Jesus, or the teachings of Jesus, or even the righteousness of Jesus. It was his resurrection. They were fueled by what they had witnessed – a resurrected Lord. And so that became the central message of the early church. Peter spoke it to a crowd at Pentecost, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it” (Acts 2:32). And it’s that very message that distinguishes the church from every other religious movement in the world. Like every other spiritual leader, Jesus died and was buried. But unlike the others, Jesus was not contained to the grave. He conquered death as a confirmation that he is the Son of God and that he is able to forgive the sins of those who believe in him.

So, what do you believe about the resurrection of Jesus? With the factual information we have, believing in the resurrection is not an extraordinary leap. The more difficult question is – has the resurrection moved you to action? The bible tells us that even the demons believe. In other words, intellectual assent is not enough. Movement is required. It’s not enough to hear the story of the resurrection and give it a polite golf clap. Sincere belief in the resurrection necessitates action.

Don’t let this Easter pass by as just another excuse for a family dinner and a new outfit. Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, make sure the resurrection has propelled you into taking action.

Don’t know where to start? It’s not too late to come work right alongside of us at Sunset Bible Camp this Saturday. Call the church office for details. Let the resurrection move you!

If you missed the message from Easter, you can watch it here or at cedarridgecc.com.

Our Story Week 12

Our Story blog

We focused on one simple message from Our Story last weekend: Don’t doing anything in the church that makes it unnecessarily difficult for people who are turning to God. It’s just as important today as it was for the 1st century church when James made this statement, “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19). And unfortunately, it can be just as hard.

Is it possible that there are things you personally do that could make it hard for someone to turn to God? That’s a great filter to install for the words I use in conversation, the things I post online, and the attitudes I demonstrate with those around me. As disciples of Jesus, we can’t afford to make it hard for people to find God or come to church.

If you missed the message from last week, you can watch it in its entirety here or at cedarridgecc.com.

Our Story Week 11

Our Story blog

You can’t accept the message of Jesus without accepting the mission of Jesus! That was the point of last weekend’s message from Acts 13-14. Sent out by the church in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas took the first mission trip recorded in Our Story (the New Testament book of Acts). And talk about commitment to the mission. Nearly stoned to death. Run out of town. Not only did they keep sharing the gospel. They went back to the very towns where they were most unwelcome.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” Being a missionary doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to a faraway place to make disciples. It simply means you are on the mission to make disciples wherever you go. That’s what Jesus expects of every one of his disciples, to be a disciple-maker. Our excuse is often that we don’t know enough or aren’t mature enough. But could it be that it’s in the very process of doing what Jesus told us to do (make disciples), that we ourselves become better, stronger disciples? Are you a missionary or an imposter?

If you missed this message from last week, you can watch it at here:

Our Story Week 10

Our Story blog

The church is an unstoppable force. It can’t be thwarted by the opposition. It can’t be bungled by its members. Though it has been threatened, persecuted and maligned, it has thrived for over 2,000 years. The story in Acts 12 reminds us that the death of a apostolic leader can’t stop the church. The imprisonment of its primary spokesman can’t stop the church. Not even the strategic opposition of an evil ruler can stop the church. The church is an unstoppable force. It should come as no surprise to us. Jesus told his disciples, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

While that may not be anything new to you, maybe what we needed to be reminded of from Our Story is that the church is an unstoppable force, even when it doesn’t feel like it. As Acts 12 opened, James was dead, Peter was in prison, and Herod was gaining popularity. By the end of the chapter, Herod was dead, Peter was free, and the church was gaining in power. Things are not always as they appear to be. Many times throughout history, the future of the church looked bleak; bibles burned, church buildings ransacked, Christians tortured and killed. Unfortunately, many of those same things are happening right now in places around the world. But the truth is, no matter what opposition is thrown in its path, when the church of Jesus Christ is what it’s intended to be, it is an unstoppable force.

I’m glad to be on the winning team!

If you missed this message from last week, you can watch it here or at https://youtu.be/p3cboE4mfs4.

If you’re interested in learning more about present day persecution of the church, check out Open Doors or The Voice of the Martyrs.

The video, “Susan from Uganda” that was shown last Sunday is here or at https://youtu.be/R27pSpWgmBE.

Our Story Week 9

Our Story blog

In chapter10, we have the longest running narrative in the book of Acts. Luke, the author, dedicated a lot of text to this story because it was important to him personally. It is also a pivotal moment in Our Story as the gospel is finally going to reach a non-Jewish audience. In Acts 10, the Holy Spirit opens wide the door of salvation to a previously overlooked crowd. It is the story of the first Gentiles becoming a part of Our Story, the church. While it was nothing new in God’s playbook, those early disciples were just beginning to see God’s inclusion of the Gentiles as the Holy Spirit prompted them to connect with this unreached people group.

This story was personal for the Apostle Peter because he had to overcome barriers that he (and others) had created between himself and “those people.” Gentiles ate the wrong food, were uncircumcised and unclean. What’s a good Jewish boy to do? The Lord told Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” In other words, quit excluding things (and more importantly, people) that God has created.

So we posed three questions to help make some personal application from this story:
1. What artificial religious markers have you established? Filters that you have used to judge people? Like…Do they dress appropriately? Do they go to church (at the frequency I deem appropriate)? Do they have a tattoo? Do they pray before meals?
2. Who have you written off? Which people don’t even seem to be on your radar? The happy-hour party crowd, the sexually broken, the Muslim community, parents with kids in DHS custody, an unreached people group in a place you’ve never heard of.
3. What would it take for God to move you? What would need to happen for you to cross that boundary and love those people? A Peter-like revelation from God, a visit from an angel, persecution because of your faith?

God does not show favoritism. And neither should we. Our Story is about people developing a heart like God’s. And loving people like God. And partnering with God to make sure as many as possible are included in his forever family. If you’re a believer, don’t miss the big picture. Don’t get caught up in trivial pursuits and miss the big news – God loves the world!

If you missed this message from last week, you can watch it here:

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