Archive for the 'small groups' Category

Room to Breathe with your Money

Breathe

This past weekend we finished our Room to Breathe series. Room to breathe is the space between you and your limits. We all have them (limits). We just like to constantly push them; to go right up to the edge. We’re guilty of doing it with our time. We’re often guilty of doing it with our money. But life is so much better when there’s room to breathe.

Part of the problem is that we’ve been told that if you raise your standard of living you will raise your quality of life. But many of you know from experience that’s not the case because right now you’re enjoying the highest standard of living ever but you’re not enjoying life. The truth is they’re not equal and in fact creating some room to breathe may require you to lower your standard of living but will raise your quality of life.

When you believe the two lies “I need to adjust my lifestyle to keep up with my income” and “If I had just a little more than I would be fine” and thus don’t allow some room to breathe in your finances, you become a slave to money. Money can be a great tool, but it makes a terrible master. Jesus taught us in Luke 16, “You can’t serve two masters…no one can serve both God and money.”

Maybe it’s time to come away from the edge and quit pushing the limits financially. Create some room to breathe. It may lower your standard of living but will raise your quality of life. Life is better when there’s room to breathe.

If you missed Sunday’s message you can view it here:

Sticky Church

sticky-church
I just finished reading the book Sticky Church by Larry Osborn. Larry is the Lead Pastor of North Coast Church and is qualified to write about creating a church environment where people stick. He attributes their “velcro factor” largely to their small groups.

The North Coast Church has been doing for years, what we’re trying to develop with our Journey Groups; that is making our groups sermon-based. Osborn gives several benefits for going that direction.

1. It reels in the marginally interested. It narrows the gap between listening to a sermon and joining a group that discusses the sermon he’s already heard.
2. It mainstreams new Christians. People tend to be more comfortable discussing something they’re already familiar with.
3. People come better prepared. There’s not lots of homework, but they’ve had their mind on the subject matter.
4. It’s easier to find leaders. Leaders become more discussion facilitators than teachers.
5. It reinforces the sermon. People are more interested in the semron when they know they have to discuss it later. We are all more likely to retain and apply a message that we have had to discuss.

This is a great book for all church leaders and especially small group leaders. I hope Cedar Ridge can increase its “sticky” factor.

Wednesday Mornings at Jake’s

godly-man
I meet with a small group of guys every Wednesday morning at Jake’s Cafe. Today we started reading together the book, Disciplines of a Godly Man, by R. Kent Hughes. The premise of this study comes for 1 Timothy 4:7, “train yourself to be godly.” Here’s a heavy statement to think about from Hughe’s book, “…the presence or lack of spiritual discipline can serve to sanctify or damn your children and grandchildren.”

I Don’t Need You

Last week my two bird dogs escaped the back yard.  I let them out of their individuals pens as I routinely do in the evening.  But when I opened the back door an hour later, expecting excitement and plenty of dog-saliva, there wasn’t a dog to be seen.  I called  for them – nothing.  I walked around the corner of the house and sure enough, someone had left the gate open.  I walked to the front yard and called again – and again no sign of the escapees.  Now I wasn’t too worried about my nine-year old English Setter, Jake.  He knows his way around.  After previous jail-breaks, he’s found his way home.  I was worried about my daughter’s 10-month old Golden Retriever, Bailey.  She’s just a pup.  And though she has a collar with my name and phone number on it, she isn’t used to traffic and doesn’t have enough maturity to forget the new smells and pay attention to getting back.  My first thought was, “if they stay together, they’ll be just fine.”  I drove around our dark neighborhood until midnight hoping to catch a glimpse of them, but with no luck.  Finally I resorted to waiting for a phone call.  That’s when Jake showed up in the back yard; wet and muddy, hungry and thirsty.  No Bailey.  That’s what I was afraid of.  In fact, no sign of Bailey all night long.  The only hope now was that someone would call.  That call came aroudn 7:45 a.m.  “I have your dog,” the stranger announced.  Bailey was a 1.5 miles away and excited to see me as I drove up.  Everything worked out.

Unfortunately, everything doesn’t always work out for those following Christ.  And even more unfortunate, we behave just like my two bird dogs – we don’t stay together.  “I don’t need close Christian friends.  I don’t need a small group.  I can make it myself.”  And for just a minute, let’s suppose that you can.  The reality is that someone weaker or with less experience may just need you.  They may need encouragement from you.  They may need wise counsel from you.  They may just need your friendship.  That’s what Christians are about – doing things even when the beneficiary is someone besides ourselves.  “Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others” (Romans 12:5 NLT).