Staying Unified Through Our Suffering

By Kevin Wolfe,

Unity in the church family is critically important. Unity allows us to glorify God and put Him on display in and through our lives in incredible ways. With unity being so important, it is often the area that Satan attacks. Those attacks come in many various forms - it can be through our immaturity and gossip, our bitterness and unforgiveness, or comparison and pride. But one area we do not often look for disunity is in our suffering. Rather then bearing each others burdens or freely sharing each others burdens, pain can isolate us with many lies. When a person suffers (and we all will in varying degrees throughout our life…it is promised), Satan wants to isolate us in our suffering so that we do not lean upon the strength of others who are pointing us to Christ. Lies come in that say, "they will never understand", "they do not know how it feels" and more, which all can lead to us distancing ourselves from others. 

I was really blessed by this article that address this topic in a very helpful and insightful way.  Please enjoy this article from Desiring God Ministries - “Pain - A Secret Garden of Pride” -

- Kevin

Why We Need the Book of Galatians - Division in the Body

By Aaron LeDuc,

This is part 3 of a 4 part series.  Click these links for the rest: part 1, part 2, part 4

What do you get when you take a bunch of sinful, selfish, passionate, suffering, and yet abundantly joyful people?  The church!  There is one thing that unifies us as the church: faith in Jesus Christ.  Sometimes there is more than that, but there is never less than that.  The Galatian church was at odds with one another (and with Paul) because of some errant theological convictions.  We are vulnerable to the same problem.  

There are plenty of outside agendas that put the simplicity of the gospel at risk.  Cultural pressures, unbelief, rights and freedoms changing, persecution (overt or otherwise), and false teachers to name a few.  The church is well aware of these most of the time, and is usually prepared to defend against the attacks of the enemy.  We often forget, however, about the possibility of attack from within that causes the gospel to become watered down.  This can happen when the simplicity with the gospel is encumbered with whatever passion any individual Christian might impose on the church at large.  This could be something potentially amoral like diet choices, schooling options for your children or your political affiliations.  This can also happen with morality based social justice activities like freeing people from the horrors sex trafficking or adopting and caring for orphans.  None of these things are bad things, but none of these things are the main thing that the church is to be about.

Whenever good works are elevated to the level of gospel truth, the gospel is lost.  Jesus is no less jealous for His own glory now in the life if the New Testament church than he has ever been throughout the ages.  If we allow other activities or passions to push Jesus out of the center, we are propagating an alternate gospel, which is no gospel at all.  Paul says that this anti-gospel emphasis is like leaven and goes throughout the whole dough.  It impacts our willingness to love each other and to bear one another’s burdens.  It infuses pride into our church which simply creates divisions and groups and sub-groups. 

We need the book of Galatians to remind us of the simplicity of the gospel that has united us as the Church of Christ.  What really matters when you distill it all down is that we are a group of people who have seen our sin and our inability to rescue ourselves and we have trusted in the Great Rescuer who gives it all freely to us as a gift of His grace.  

Hopes for the New Year

By Kevin Wolfe,

I’ve never been one for resolutions; they’ve often only been a way for me to feel guilty as March or April roll along and I’ve fallen off the resolution wagon.  However, the New Year is indeed an opportunity to reflect on the goodness of God over the past year and our hopes for the next.  It’s an arbitrary calendar date, of course, but it’s nonetheless a fantastic point for us to remember and give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18) and look forward hopefully to God’s sanctifying work in our lives (Rom. 8:24).  With that in mind, I want to share with you some hopes that I have for our church family over the next year.

As I was reflecting on this, I couldn’t come up with a better hope than that we, as a church, would MORE fully live our our mission statement:
“We exist to make Christ known as we passionately love Him together!"

This statement is nothing more than a re-articulation of the Great Commission that Jesus gave His people in Matthew 28, and I hope that we can be more faithfully devoted to this and excel still more in laboring for the Kingdom.  This mission statement easily breaks down into 3 main ideas below.  Please read each section and give some thought to the reflection and application questions in each.

My prayer is that we would be a church that has an obvious, burning, passionate love for the glory of the Father, the redemptive and reconciling work of Jesus, and the sanctifying and life-changing work of the Holy Spirit.  Worship of God is the motivation of the Christian life, and therefore, my hope is that we prioritize time daily cultivating a relationship with The Lord.  Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the brand cannot beaf fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5 ESV)

  • How can you daily abide in Jesus?  What disciplines do you want to grow in over the next year?
  • How can you worship God even in the midst of the busyness of every day life?
  • Spend some time reflecting on the attributes of God and the precious gift of the gospel

This is our mission; to be disciples of Christ who make disciples of Christ.  Discipleship is to proactively come alongside others in the faith and helping them grow.  But, discipleship is more than just helping Christians become better or more knowledgeable or more passionate Christians.  The path of discipleship begins with the lost.  Truly embracing a lifestyle of great commission discipleship means embracing our call to intentionally love, serve, and proclaim the gospel to those who are without the hope of Christ.  As people come to faith in Jesus as Lord, the path of discipleship helps them grow and multiply.  A simple suggestion to prioritizing this mission is to set aside one night a week devoted to discipleship.  Perhaps this is time with a lost neighbor or co-worker that you want to build a relationship with, or perhaps it’s another person in the body or your LifeGroup that you can help grow in their relationship with Christ.  We have an excellent material to facilitate a discipling relationship in the Biblical Foundations material.  This time won’t happen unless you purposefully plan for it!

  • How can you intentionally live out discipleship?
  • Who are three people in your sphere of influence that you’d love to share the good news with?  What steps will you take to do it?
  • When will you make time for discipleship in your weekly routine?

Together.  The community that we find in the body is the context in which we should live out our mission.  There’s no such thing as a Lone Ranger in the Christian life; and this is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to us as His children.  My hope is that we would prioritize relationships with others in the body; that we not be too busy with our own cares and concerns, or be too uncomfortable to be vulnerable with others.  Community is the greenhouse for growth in the Christian Life.  If you are unwilling to step out in faith and be part of Biblical Community, you will miss out and others will miss out.  The community of the body at Mountain View is best experienced in two main ways: Corporate Gathering and Intimate Community.  Both of these areas are vital.  If you’re not regularly attending and serving on Sunday morning, you’re missing out on a phenomenal blessing of God.  If you’re not gathering regularly in a LifeGroup for encouragement, shepherding, community, prayer and mission, you’re missing out on a phenomenal blessing of God.

  • How can you better prioritize, love and serve the body at Mountain View?
  • What step of faith might God be calling you to?  Joining or committing to a LifeGroup?  Prioritizing weekly worship services?  What would it look like to be committed to those that God has put in your life through your LifeGroup?

These are my hopes for our church in 2015.  Don’t miss the opportunity to reflect, reset and head into the New Year with greater purpose and intentionality.  Let’s make Christ known as we passionately love Him together!