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Bethany Community Church
Helping people begin and grow a personal relationship with God
Helping people begin and grow a personal relationship with God

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Don't have a blue Christmas ... (Bible Reading, December 1, 2014)

Good morning.  It is a beautiful morning here on the church property!  Thanks to those who helped in the planning of yesterday's worship service.  I've heard from our Deaf ministry leaders that folks were very encouraged.  If you couldn't be with us yesterday, grab the transcript or listen to the audio.

Here is a link to the very moving video that we showed about a Deaf teen learning to sign for the first time - exactly what happens in our TZ project all the time.

Today's reading will begin to prepare us for next Sunday and the year ahead.  At this time of year, many people are really hurting in so many ways ... and one of the best things we can do for our own mental health is focus on helping others.  When you bless another, your own soul gets a lift.  Jesus often encouraged exactly this kind of action by his followers.

Pastor Kevin 

Luke 12:33-34 (NIV84)

33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
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REBOOT Lesson 2 Day 4 (Bible Reading, October 30, 2014)

For a relationship to be a good one both parties have to be intentional about seeing it flourish and thrive.  Spending time together, getting to know each other's likes and dislikes, learning how to communicate clearly when there is tension and dissappointment, these are ways of intentionally deepening a relationship.  In today's ReBoot you have an opportunity to practice being intentional about getting to know God better. Find a quiet place where you can spend time reading, mulling over, pondering the John 8 passage and write out your thoughts.  Use the questions below as prompts to unpack the passage!

ReBooting with you,
Ann McGhee 
Complete the following exercise. Read John 8:12-59 two or three times, then answer the questions below:
10. What is happening in general in this passage?
(Ask yourself: Who are the main characters in this passage? What are they talking about? You might like to outline the chapter.)
a. Characters:
b. Where:
c. Issue:
d. Outline (write a summary sentence for each section, sometimes your Bible will have section headings, these can be useful tools for outlining a passage):
e. What is the "big idea" of the passage? (Look for the truth that God is conveying to us about Himself and/or mankind.)
f. How does this apply to me today? Look for specific actions or attitudes based upon the truth you discovered above.
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REBOOT Day 6 Review ... (Bible Reading, October 25, 2014)

One of my favorite things to teach people is a little thing I've labeled "the power of a napkin."  If you take a friend out for coffee, or in my case, a waffle - you can turn your napkin into a powerful tool to help them decide to follow Jesus.  On the napkin, you can write three words: Grace, Faith and Works - and then explain how the Bible teaches that one leads to the other, but that religions get it backwards.  God's love and mercy (grace) lead us to faith (a response of trust and obedience).  Then, we do the work He has prepared in advance for us. Religion, in contrast, says do the right things (works) and believe the right things, and maybe God will accept you.  In today's Foundations section, you will read the passage where this wonderful contrast comes from.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Tomorrow, Ivan Veldhuizen will be sharing lots of stories from around the world of how people are leaving the darkness of religion and unbelief and turning to the God of grace.  I've seen his powerpoint slides and a short video he will share - you won't want to miss his encouraging message!

Pastor Kevin

1.1.1        So, are you a Christian?
Having worked through this chapter, it should now be clear whether you are truly a follower of Christ. The following questions will help you summarize what you have learned.
" 17. Is salvation something you earned?
" 18. On what basis did you obtain it? (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:5)
" 19. How do good works relate to your salvation? (Ephesians 2:10)
" 20. Do you feel that you know without a doubt that you have eternal life?
If yes, on what do you base your assurance?
1.1.2        The importance of assurance
Read 1 John 5:11-13; 1 Corinthians 15:58 - "A person who does not have assurance of his salvation is insecure in his relationship with God. The result is lack of growth and the person is unable to demonstrate the character qualities of the mature Christian." ~ Campus Crusade for Christ
For Further Study:
Who Moved the Stone?, by Frank Morrison
More than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell
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REBOOT Day 4 Review ... (Bible Reading, October 23, 2014)

In today's Reboot review, we see that every person's emotional commitment to Jesus can be a little different.  The Apostle Paul had a dramatic conversion.  His disciple Timothy grew up in a family of faith.  For me, coming to faith was not overwhelmingly emotional, though I remember the feeling of peace deciding to follow Jesus brought.  I think I get at least as emotional when I describe first truly being discipled ... it was awesome to learn how to dig into the Scriptures for myself.  As you work through the Foundations materials, I hope you too will develop or renew a deep love for God's Word.

Pastor Kevin

 DAY 4

1.1         Commitment #2: Emotional
An emotion is a feeling or reaction to a specific act, event or experience. The failure to distinguish between different emotions has caused many people to be confused in their relationship with God.
1.1.1        People Differ in their Emotional Response
" 12. What do you think was Paul's emotional response to his conversion? (Acts 9:1-6)
" 13. What do you think was Timothy's response to his conversion? (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15)
Emotions are a normal part of life. Different personalities have different emotional responses. One person may have high emotional energy, while another may be calm and reserved. Because emotions vary greatly, they should not be depended upon. Seeking an emotional experience has caused many to lack the assurance of a vital relationship with God.
"The righteous man shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17)
"Without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6)
"Whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23)
Seeking an emotional experience, therefore, contradicts the very thing that pleases God. Faith is another word for trust, and our faith must be placed in the person of God and in His inspired Word, rather than our feelings.
1.1.2        Do Not Depend on Feelings: Emotions Can Deceive
Assurance is based on the authority of God's Word. When you meet God's conditions, as revealed in His Word, you can be assured that you are a child of God. The Christian lives by faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word.
Fact: The facts about the Christian life are in the Bible.
Does a fact change? Why are the facts in the Bible trustworthy?
Feelings: Every person has emotions. God designed us that way.
Do our feelings change? What determines whether our feelings are up or down?
Faith:  We can choose to have faith in the facts, or we can depend on our feelings.
If we put our faith in our feelings, what will our faith do?
" 14. If we put our faith in facts, what will our faith be like?
There is no cause to doubt your relationship with God when you trust the truth of His word. If you trust your feelings, you may be plagued with doubt continually. Should you start to question, the verses that follow under "a Threefold Confirmation" will help you remember the certainty of your standing before God.
Being Assured: a Threefold Confirmation
God gives us a threefold confirmation that Christ is in our lives.
The Trustworthy Word - 1 John 5:13
The Confirming Holy Spirit - 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
A Changing Life - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
First, we have the external evidence of the Word of God. Assurance is based on the authority of God's Word. When you meet God's conditions, as revealed in his Word, you can be assured that you are a child of God. Read 1 John 5:9-13.
Second, there is the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes in Romans 8:16, "For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we really are God's children." Read Romans 5:5.
Our changing lives are a third witness to the fact that we are Christians. Read Romans 6:17-18. The proof that we have experienced a new birth and have become children of God will be demonstrated by our changing lives. Read 1 John 2:3-6.
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REBOOT Day 5 ... (Bible Reading, October 17, 2014)

Good day to you. In today's lesson we look at how our will is intimately involved in becoming a Christian.  The past two days I have been using my marriage to Kevin to illustrate how deciding to follow Jesus is a similar commitment which involves our intellect, emotions and will.

To complete the illustration . . . I was not married to Kevin when I intellectually determined that he met the "checklist" I had in mind for my life partner.  I was not married to Kevin when we emotionally connected.  I was married to Kevin at the moment I said, "I do," to him and he said, "I do," to me.  Our "I doing," were acts of our will.  We made the intentional choice to commit ourselves to each other for life (and I'm so glad we did because it has been a great, wild and beautful journey these past 33 years!) 

Becoming a Christian is an intentional act of our will. We agree with God that we are sinners in need of salvation and we choose to recieve the free gift of salvation that comes by placing our faith in Jesus.  Enjoy learning a little more about this act of your will today!

ReBooting with you,

Ann McGhee

1.1         Commitment #3: Volitional (Will)
In addition to the intellect and the emotions, becoming a Christian and being sure that you are a Christian involves the will. Jesus emphasizes the importance of man's will in relation to the assurance of salvation. He said, "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out weather My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own" (John 7:17). According to these words of Christ, unless you are willing to obey the truth, you will never know the truth.

Read John 1:12, 3:16-17; 5:24.
" 15. Does God force people to accept Christ?
" 16. What does it mean to "receive" Christ or "believe" in Him?
A chair is a good illustration of the relationship between knowing the truths about Jesus (intellect) and Biblical faith (will). We may believe intellectually that a chair will support us, but real trust is shown when we sit down in the chair, trusting in it for our safety. 
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Becoming a kid person... (Bible Reading, October 13, 2014)

From the early days when we founded our church, I've been a bit in awe of those who have served in our children's ministry.  Laura Mastroianni, for example, can enchant a room full of four year olds, all with a runny noses - hugging and encouraging every little one of them.  She sees precious little hearts, where I saw only the need for boxes of Kleenex.

This week, we are going to focus on why Jesus through the Scriptures calls each of us to children's ministry.  As we will see, He was a kid person - so if we are to follow Him, we will have to grow to be kids people too.

Let's start with the most beloved passage of children's workers everywhere.

Pastor Kevin

Mark 10:13-16 (NIV84)

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
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REBOOT Day 1 ... (Bible Reading, October 13, 2014)

"And the things you've heard me say in the presence of many witness, these you entrust to faithful men who can teach others also."
2 Timothy 2:2

Reboot has begun!  All across our church in one to one pairings and small groups, we are reenergizing our passion to make disciples. Some pairs have started meeting and a number of groups have already met - the first reports weve heard are super encouraging.

If you signed up to be a part of Reboot and haven't heard from our Foundation team, please understand they have been making calls around the clock and are still making calls.  It will help us if you could reply to this email to let us know we need to get to you in the next few days.

If you haven't signed up, it is not too late.  You can reply to this email or come to BCC this Tuesday night at 7 where we will have some experienced disciplers on hand to get you into a group or a one to one pairing.

During each day of Reboot, Ann and I will be sharing a few thoughts in the daily emails - and we will send you one page of the E version of the Foundations manual.  So, you can participate and complete all the work, just by working through the page at the bottom of your email each day.

Let us know if you have any questions ...

Pastor Kevin

1.1         How to be sure you are a Christian
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13)  
Becoming a Christian involves receiving Christ, the gift of God's love and forgiveness, by faith. It results in a threefold commitment to Christ. It is a commitment to Him of one's intellect, emotions and will. A man may be convinced intellectually that the woman who is his intended bride is the "right" one for him. He may be involved emotionally and love her with all his heart, but marriage requires more than happy thoughts and warm feelings. It also involves the will. Not until the man and the woman, as an act of the will, commit themselves to each other before a minister do they become husband and wife. The two words "I do" make the difference. So it is in our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not enough to believe intellectually in Christ, nor is it enough to {When you pick up a hard copy of the Foundations manual, you can get a copy of the booklet Would You Like to Know God Personally?}
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Follow a leader ... (Bible Reading, September 22, 2014)

Yesterday, we looked at two passages that revealed how the Apostle Paul intentionally helped his friends to begin and grow in a personal relationship with Jesus.  At BCC, we would say that he not only was their friend, but that he "discipled" them ...  We don't have to look all the way back in history to find examples of disciplemaking.  Since the earliest days of our church, our leadership core has been committed to the ideal of taking what others had taught us and sharing it with succeeding generations of Christ-followers.

So, look around our church family and you will see many women and men whose faith deserves our appreciation and respect.  That reality fits very well with today's reading. 

Pastor Kevin 

Hebrews 13:7 (NIV84)

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
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Loving thru prayer... (Bible Reading, September 18 2014)

If you could spend time with a friend today, who would you choose?  We don't get to see our friends every day, but we can be close to them anyway.

Take a few minutes right now to pray for a good friend using the Apostle Paul's prayer for his friends in Philippi.  

Tomorrow, we will shift our focus to prepare our hearts for Sunday's message.

Pastor Kevin 

Philippians 1:8-11 (NIV)

8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.
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Praying for a mind to be boggled... (Bible Reading, September 17 2014)

When I was a freshman in college, I was assigned to an advanced chemistry class taught by this brilliant guy who was friends with Nobel prize winning chemists.  There was never a day in that class that I understood half of what he said ... besides his thick German accent, his understanding of chemical processes was so deep and complex that I just could never wrap my head around it. 

Today, I am going to encourage you to pray for your friends about something that none of us can fully understand; but unlike my chemistry class - this is a joy to try to grasp!  The subject is how much God love us.  The prayer, which Paul prayed for his friends in Ephesus, is a favorite here at BCC.  Our elders pray it frequently for our congregation.  Take some time now to pray this prayer for those you love.

Pastor Kevin 

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
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