MONDAY SCHOOL for July 30, 2017, #4.2

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 30, 2017, #4.2
from The Place Of Prayer In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … prayer.

QUOTE #1:

QUOTE #2: An interesting bit of science attached to this ethnocentric and geocentric evolution of prayer comes out of Duke University Medical Center, where a study found that, within a group of 150 cardiac patients who received alternative post-operative therapy treatment, the sub-group who also received intercessory prayer (they were prayed for) had the highest success rate within the entire cohort. The fascinating thing about the study is that it was double-blind – neither the researchers, nor those on the receiving end of the intercessory prayer knew that these patients were being prayed for — suggesting an intervening variable.

A comparable double-blind study, conducted at San Francisco General Hospital’s Coronary Care Unit, demonstrated similar results. Those patients “prayed for” showed a significantly diminished need for imminent critical care, maintenance medications and heroic measures, as well as witnessing fewer deaths – again, suggesting an intervening variable.

Clearly, the intervening variable implied by these studies isn’t a case for God. It does suggest, however, some relationship between the states of consciousness experienced by those praying, and the subjective experience of those prayed for. [2]

QUOTE #3: Our species has probably been praying for as long as we have been able to contemplate our existence. And though we may never be able to establish evidence that a deity or spiritual force actually hears our prayers, in recent years, scientists have begun to consider the potential tangible (i.e., measurable) effects of prayer. And this research suggests that prayer may be very beneficial. So here are five scientifically-supported benefits of prayer:

1. Prayer improves self-control …
2. Prayer makes you nicer …
3. Prayer makes you more forgiving …
4. Prayer increases trust …
5. Prayer offsets the negative health effects of stress …

As I have discussed here and here, religion is complicated. It can be both good and bad for your health depending on a number of variables. However, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that prayer, a behavior often associated with religion, can be beneficial for individuals and society. [3]

QUOTE #4: Prayer is the practice of connecting to something deeper and more meaningful in life. It is rooted in a sense of spirituality. Prayer has two dimensions, one internal in the form of self-reflection and self-awareness, and the other external in a sense of connection with a depth, something bigger than the self and an inner dependency with all the other creation. Prayer, when done with the right awareness and intention and in moderation, can be beneficial in a number of ways:

1. It can give people a moderate sense of optimism and a healthy dose of hope. Optimism that there is more than the tip of the iceberg to life, and hope that when things do not go the way one wants despite reasonable effort, that there are other options.

2. It can help people cultivate a sense of gratitude. Prayer gives the person a quiet moment to use the time to appreciate the positive in life and to remember that at any moment, there is so much more positive than negative to life. And that sometimes, what seems negative may be otherwise.

3. It can help people delay gratification and control impulsive actions. By using this time to calm your mind, you can evaluate situations to see if it would create any harm and if it does, to stop yourself from doing it.

4. It can give people time to be able to see things from a broader perspective and that by itself can help with obsessive acts and compulsive thought or limited thinking. [4]

QUOTE #5: Researchers from Baylor University found that people who pray to a loving and protective God are less likely to experience anxiety-related disorders—worry, fear, self-consciousness, social anxiety and obsessive compulsive behavior—compared to people who pray but don’t really expect to receive any comfort or protection from God…. For many people, God is a source of comfort and strength, says researcher Matt Bradshaw, Ph.D; and through prayer, they enter into an intimate relationship with Him and begin to feel a secure attachment. When this is the case, prayer offers emotional comfort, resulting in fewer symptoms of anxiety disorders….

The findings add to the growing body of research confirming a connection between a person’s perceived relationship with God and mental and physical health. In fact, a recent study by Oregon State University found that religion and spirituality result in two distinct but complementary health benefits. Religion (religious affiliation and service attendance) is linked to better health habits, including less smoking and alcohol consumption, while spirituality (prayer, meditation) helps regulate emotions. [5]

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The image is from Pixabay.

FOOTNOTES

[1] This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #4 from The Place Of Prayer In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … prayer.

[2] The Science, Psychology, and Metaphysics of Prayer by Michael J Formica MS, MA, EdM Posted Jul 28, 2010 at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/enlightened-living/201007/the-science-psychology-and-metaphysics-prayer.

[3] 5 Scientifically Supported Benefits of Prayer by Clay Routledge Ph.D. Posted Jun 23, 2014 at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201406/5-scientifically-supported-benefits-prayer.

[4] The Positive Psychological Effects of Prayer by Michelle Roya Rad.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roya-r-rad-ma-psyd/prayer_b_3055127.html. Dr Rad lists 14 psychological benefits of prayer in her article.

[5] Praying to a Loving God Guards Against Anxiety Disorders by Traci Pedersen, September 09 2014 at http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/traci-pedersen/praying-loving-god-guards-against-anxiety. “The study, entitled “Prayer, Attachment to God, and Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders among U.S. Adults” is published in the journal Sociology of Religion. For the research, investigators looked at the data of 1,714 volunteers who participated in the most recent Baylor Religion Survey. They focused on general anxiety, social anxiety, obsession and compulsion.”

 

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 30, 2017, #4.1

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 30, 2017, #4.1
from The Place Of Prayer In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … prayer.

QUOTE #1:  [1]

QUOTE #2: Indeed, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards says nearly a third of lottery winners declare bankruptcy—meaning they were worse off than before they became rich. Other studies show that lottery winners frequently become estranged from family and friends, and incur a greater incidence of depression, drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, and suicide than the average American. No wonder financial planners joke that if you have enemies, give ’em a lottery ticket. [2]

QUOTE #3: In fact, about 70 percent of people who win a lottery or get a big windfall actually end up broke in a few years, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education. How is that possible? “People who were little, ordinary people all of a sudden become extraordinary,” said Steve Lewit, CEO of Wealth Financial Group in Chicago. “They’re euphoric. They lose all sense of reality. They think they’re invincible and powerful. They think they’re Superman.”

The biggest problem, several finance advisers agreed, is that lottery winners give away too much money to family and friends. “Once family and friends learn of the windfall, they have expectations of what they should be entitled to, and many of these expectations are not rational,” said Charles Conrad, senior financial planner with Szarka Financial in North Olmsted. “It can be very difficult to say no.” [3]

QUOTE #4: According to a 2010 study by researchers at Vanderbilt University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Pittsburgh, the more money you win in the lottery, the more likely you are to end up bankrupt.

The authors divided past lottery winners into two separate groups: Those who had won cash prizes between $50,000 and $150,000, and those who had won $10,000 or less. What they found is that those who had won the more sizable sums were more likely to have filed for bankruptcy five years later. Similar research from the National Endowment for Financial Education estimates that 70 percent of people who had unexpectedly come into large sums of money ended up broke within seven years. [4]

QUOTE #5: Often lottery winners are betrayed, even murdered by family members and trusted friends. [5]

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The image is from Pixabay.

FOOTNOTES

[1] This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #4 from The Place Of Prayer In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … prayer.

[2] Why So Many Lottery Winners Go Broke by Ric Edelman, Jan 15, 2016 http://fortune.com/2016/01/15/powerball-lottery-winners/

[3] Why do 70 percent of lottery winners end up bankrupt? Posted on January 14, 2016.  http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2016/01/why_do_70_percent_of_lottery_w.html

[4] Riches to rags: Why most lottery winners end up broke, GoldenGirlFinance.com, April 22, 2013. https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/riches-rags-why-most-lottery-winners-end-broke-180227163.html

[5] Curse of the lottery: Tragic stories of big jackpot winners by Nicole Bitette, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Updated: Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 9:19 AM.  http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/tragic-stories-lottery-winners-article-1.2492941

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.9

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.9
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE: And I like to tell you in all the strange stuff this morning I forgot to bring a giant wooden spoon. I intended to take it out of my pocket at this time and wave it around as a visual aid.

There are a few of us who are afraid of giant wooden spoons for a good reason. It might have been what we were spanked with as a child!

But there’s this wonderful verse in Hebrews that says this, “Let us consider how to stir up one another.”

Now, I know you know what it means if someone’s a pot stir. I don’t mean to stir up people that way but what it say’s here is stir up one another to love. Stir up one another for good works. Stir up one another, not neglecting to meet together, as this is the habit of some, but stir up one another by encouraging one another. And all the more as you see today drawing near. In God’s way of doing church, we will stir one another up for the better. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus. If the church isn’t full, obviously, there’s not quite enough stirring. Maybe we left our spoon at home. Maybe we forgot where our spoon is. But help us to do our part so that the church can be a church that is together. That our church can be a church that turns every I into

But there’s this wonderful verse in Hebrews that says this: Hebrews 10:23-25  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

“Let us consider how to stir up one another.” Get your spoon out!

I know you know what it means if someone’s a pot stirrer. I don’t mean to stir up people that way but what it say’s here is stir up one another to love. Stir up one another for good works. Stir up one another, not neglecting to meet together, as this is the habit of some, but stir up one another by encouraging one another. And all the more as you see today drawing near. In God’s way of doing church, we will stir one another up for the better.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus. If the church isn’t full, obviously, there’s not quite enough stirring. Maybe we left our spoon at home. Maybe we forgot where our spoon is. But help us to do our part so that the church can be a church that is together. That our church can be a church that turns every “I” into a “We.” That our church can become spiritual friends by praying for other people inside our church and people out there because they need our prayers and they need a friend like the one we have in Jesus. Help us, Lord Jesus, to stir one another up because we are better together. Amen.

THINKING IT THROUGH

What has friendship meant to you in your life so far?
Who has been a good friend?

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Hebrews 10: 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,

Questions for each verse:
What does it say?
What does it say that we should obey? How do we do this?
Who needs to hear this?

We are a functional family of God where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
How does this definition of a healthy church work for you?
What would change if a church lived by this purpose?

RESOURCES
The photo “Discoloured wooden spoon” is by Lewis Ronald
and is from the Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.8

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.8
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE: We need to team up. Loneliness happens because people insist on doing everything all by themselves … so, we need to team up.

While I was at that church in Quincy, I thought about how I did everything as a pastor. And when I looked at the New Testament, I noticed that with the exception of Philip in the Ethiopian eunuch, there’s not a single example in the entire New Testament of any of the disciples doing anything alone. They always did what they did with at least one other person. They were always a part of a team.

And I’ve looked at how I did my pastoral ministry, and everything I did, I did all by myself. And I thought to myself, “I wonder if there are people in the church that God wants them to do this, too.” So I shared this in a sermon and I said, “You know, when I go to the hospital, I don’t have to go by myself.” With the exception of private counseling, everything I’m doing that I do as a pastor, I would love for one or more of you to go with me.

Actually, I had one lady in that church decide she wanted to go to the hospital. So I went with her on Monday, and she went by herself on Wednesday, and I went by myself on Thursday, and everybody got twice as many visits. It was quite strange. We’d go into the hospital room and the patient would talk to her and ignore me. I don’t quite understand that! But I think she was gifted. And she was able to use that gift. We need to team up.

By the time I got to the next church, I said to the people, “You know, we can do anything you want to do. But there’s a thing that I call the Rule of Three. If God wants us to do it, God will give us the people that are needed to be the leaders of it.” So if you have a great idea and nobody wants to do it with you, it just means it’s not God’s time yet. Whenever somebody has a great idea, the first question we’ll ask is, “Who wants to help with this?” If you go back to that church and you ask them about the four years I spent with them, four years where their church attendance went up 18% in the first months and eventually doubled after I left. They would tell you, “Oh, Dave’s the guy who wouldn’t let us do anything unless there were three people.” But it worked. When we have a goal or desire, the goal is on the wall, we need other people to help us reach it. I didn’t know if you’ve ever been in a physical fitness class. Anybody here ever done that? If I’m by myself, I stop at 10. If there’s somebody leading the class, she would get me to do 10 more, and then 20 after that. You ever

So if you have a great idea and nobody wants to do it with you, it just means it’s not God’s time yet. Whenever somebody has a great idea, the first question we’ll ask is, “Who wants to help with this?” If you go back to that church and you ask them about the four years I spent with them, four years where their church attendance went up 18% in the first months and eventually doubled after I left. They would tell you, “Oh, Dave’s the guy who wouldn’t let us do anything unless there were three people.” But it worked. When we have a goal or desire, the goal is on the wall, we need other people to help us reach it.

Have you ever been in a physical fitness class? Anybody here ever done that? If I’m by myself, I stop at 10. If there’s somebody leading the class, she would get me to do 10 more, and then 20 after that. You ever known that to be true? If you team up with someone, they’ll make you do more for your own benefit than you’re able to do by yourself.

We need to team up. We are not meant to be alone. We are better together. And if we do things together, you will learn more, and you will do more because the God meant for us to be together. And together is what church is all about.

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The image is from ChurchArt.com, a subscription service.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.7

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.7
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE: Josh Hunt recommends, in terms of building relationships, that you just simply do this: give Friday nights to Jesus.

Now, by the way, Jesus is Lord, right? If Jesus is Lord on Sunday morning, you’ll be here. And thank you for being here. If Jesus is Lord on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday, Jesus will begin to change your life, but it’s possible the very last night of the week that belongs to Jesus is Friday night.

Here’s what Josh Hunt did. He began to systematically invite people he knew outside the church and anyone he knew that visited the church, to his house on Friday night to play cards. Now, I don’t know if it was Bunko or Euchre or Dirty Neighbor or what game they played because it’s not the card game that made the difference. But they would play cards, they would eat pie or some other kind of dessert, they would have fun, and they would do this every Friday night and people would come and go. They’d drop in. Some would come every week. Some would come once a month.

Josh Hunt did this every Friday night. They never talked about religion unless somebody coming to the Friday night brought it up. It was purely social. They were just becoming friends. But he reported 90% of the people who played cards with him at an activity that did not include a sermon, no one sung a solo, no one took an offering– 90% of those people became regular committed church attendees. You know why? Because friendship comes first. And once Jesus has established a friendship between people, Jesus has the power to go to work to change their lives. 90%.

Josh Hunt says, “Fasten your seat belt, friend, because this is the most high powered approach we have. I do not know anything that works better than giving Friday nights to Jesus. Giving Friday nights to Jesus will reach more people in less time than any method I know … The Bible commands, “Get in the habit of inviting guests home for dinner.” (Romans 12:13b, LB) If we will simply do what this command says, we will see tremendous fruit. That is what is all comes down to, doesn’t it? Just being obedient to what God called us to do. It is amazing how much of church growth comes down to doing what God told us to do. You Can Double your class in two years or less if someone in your group will give Friday nights to Jesus.”  (http://www.joshhunt.com/friday.html.)

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The image is from ChurchArt.com, a subscription service.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.6

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.6
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE: I would like to tell you something that would sound a little bit like bragging, but it’s not.

Back in 1985, I was the pastor of the Grace United Methodist Church in Quincy, Illinois. A church that is now closed. We were the poor church in the city of 40 thousand that was Quincy. We were the church for the poor white people.

And I said to myself, “What is it that we want to say to people out there so that they’ll want to come to church?” And I thought to myself, “I know what makes the difference.” The first thing is open hearts, and then it’s open minds. And people who understand that understand about open doors. So I put on our stationary, and on the bulletin and everything: “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.”

Now, a couple years later, totally unrelated to this, a church (I believe it was up in Muscatine, Iowa) started putting a motto on their bulletins called “Open doors, open hearts, open minds.” Not related at all. They had no idea what I was doing down in Quincy.

But think about the difference between those phrases. If you first have a contact with somebody’s open heart, that starts a caring relationship. As you have a conversation with each other, you find that they have an open mind. Once you know that they have a caring heart and an open mind then you want to find out which door is open because that’s why people want to come to church. When you turn it around to where the doors are open first, what it kind of says is we will only love the people who come through the doors.

But I want to tell you, I was in that church for nine years, and after four years, we had people come to the church just because of that slogan. And you know something I found? They came through those open doors. Couple years later they went right back out those open doors because they had not made a relationship with anybody in the church except me. And the relationship with me was not enough to hold them in place. And so I decided I need a better model.

This was before the– oh, I forgot to tell you. The whole Methodist church adopted “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.” The whole denomination. And it’s a wonderful thing that the doors are open, but people come in and out and still don’t know anybody in the church at all.

And so I thought to myself, “What would really express what it means to be this sort of caring church?” And I came up with this phrase, “We are a functional family of God.” Now, by the way, that’s a hope because we’re not yet completely functional. We’re all a little dysfunctional. And sometimes maybe we don’t feel like a family but the goal is for us to be a functional family of God with good emotional and spiritual and mental health. Because if we’re like a family, babies happen. And if you and I are a healthy family as a church, baby Christians happen. So I thought to myself, “That’s the most important thing. We are a functional family of God,” and then I thought, “What else is important? Okay. Jesus needs to be Lord and if Jesus is Lord, then people will grow. I’ll be a better person next year than I am this year.”

And psychologists will tell you if you’re a part of a family that cares for each other, that is a place where people get better. They get healthier. We are a functional family of God where Jesus is Lord and people grow. And Jesus has the cure for this epidemic of loneliness, and really, everything else. It’s called church. Especially if it’s a church like this motto describes. But if we’re going to have a church like that, we have to focus and be intentional about loving people and on relationships that are healthy. And I think, personally,  as a church, we are pretty healthy.

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The image is from Pixabay.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.5

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.5
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE:  Jesus said in John 13:34 a new commandment. It wasn’t a suggestion. It wasn’t wishful thinking. This is something that should be a part of everything we do: “A new commandment I give to you,” Jesus said, “that you love one another.”

Love – not as you would define it. Not as the dictionary defines it. Not as a psychologist might define it. But that you also love one another as I have loved you. So you read through the New Testament, and whenever I read about how Jesus loves someone, I should be doing that, too. I should be doing that, too. If we do this, look at the promise in the next verse: By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.

If you’re in an airport and somebody gets off a plane from somewhere in Australia, from somewhere in Africa, from somewhere in Russia, some place you’ve never heard of before, if we love each other, they’ll be amazed that you’re from that church in Kinmundy. And they’ll know where we are because it says all people will know. We’re a loving congregation, but we’re not there yet.

That’s how important this is. The reason pastors talk about this love one another stuff so much is that relationships, healthy relationships, are important. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” When you and I link up with someone else and have a conversation, what this verse means, if you take it literally, is that Jesus joins our conversations, and conversations change human lives.

As a church, we’re not in competition with anybody. We do not keep score. But I want to tell you that if you want to measure the health of a church, it’s the number of conversations that people have with each other each week.

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The photo “Prayer – The Rock Church @ Music” is by Judy Baxter
and is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/50905349/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.4

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.4
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE: Four simple things …. and one of them is this: they devoted themselves to fellowship. They devoted themselves to relationships. They devoted themselves to building healthy relationships between people. They devoted themselves to the Greek word Koinonia. To the practice of Koinonia.

The word Koinonia literally means partnership. When we are doing as a church what we need to do, what the world needs us to do, what will help people to live happy and fulfilling lives, we are strengthening and building partnerships with other people by such silly things as bus trips. Like the group of women that traveled all the way to see Beth Moore in Evansville, Indiana, this weekend. By such silly things as a fellowship dinner. By walking out of the sanctuary and to the fellowship hall, and enjoying delicious cinnamon rolls that Tammi and Wayne Hoard brought early this morning. Just so that you could enjoy them.

I can always tell when the Holy Spirit has really spoken to the congregation. You know why? You’re not quick to leave. You want to take a little bit of time to talk to each other because when the Holy Spirit touches us, we want to be in touch with others. We want to link up with our spiritual partners.

So every time I see you standing in little groups around the church, talking, or down there by the cinnamon rolls, I understand that we are doing one of the main things that builds and strengthens the church, and changes the problems of our entire society. Because we’re building partnerships with people!

Let’s look at scripture. Acts 4:24. They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship. Notice that the bus trip is as equally important as the bible study. They did their fellowship on purpose and intentionally. They devoted themselves to the breaking of bread, which is communion, and the places of prayer. Acts 2:46 And day by day attending the temple together. Day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes together, they partook of food with glad and generous heart. That builds the church.

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The images are from ChurchArt.com, a subscription service.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.3

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.3
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE: And here is the main reason why loneliness is a killer. You were not created to be alone. God created us human beings to be like a herd, like a basket of puppies. We are meant to be connected and be around other people, and for centuries. My boy would never in a million years think of moving to Austin because the way we were created is for your children and grandchildren to live next door. You know how it was 100 years ago. Kids lived with their parents and helped with the farm, right? That’s how it was.

We are meant to be connected and be around other people, and throughout our life time. A century ago my son would never in a million years think of moving from Illinois to Texas because the way we were created is for your children and grandchildren to live next door. You know how it was 100 years ago. Kids lived with their parents and helped with the farm, right? That’s how it was. And as the parents got older, eventually, the kids got to farm and the parents babysit the grandchildren right in the same house. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. We weren’t created to be so disconnected. It is not normal for the way God made us as people. But sadly, it is normal for the way society is today. We live in a society that disconnects people from each other. And we all suffer greatly because of that. We were not created to be alone.

Let me introduce you to a bowling team. These are the Incredibowl Divas. They are on a bowling team. Anybody here been on a bowling team? Anybody here ever do that?

Years and years ago Robert Putnam, Harvard Sociologist, used this image as the heart of his book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. People are still bowling, but they are not bowling on bowling teams. They are not bowling in leagues. Do you know why?

The team may need you on the night your favorite TV program is on. If you work or serve on a bowling team, you may have to change your schedule because you have made a commitment, and the way our society is going is people are avoiding everything that might involve a commitment. Like being here at 9:00 on Sunday morning.

People don’t want to be tied down by all those commitments. Now, if you’re on a bowling team, you really get to know the other people on your team. You get to know them well enough to borrow $20. You get to know them well enough to borrow a car if you’re having trouble with yours. You get to know them well enough to where you trust them and they trust you, but when people don’t make commitments to each other, no one knows who can be trusted.

So all of a sudden, there’s all kinds of people out there that never had the commitment to come here, but they will come here and ask for money for gas. They will come here and ask for other things. Got a letter a few weeks ago from a lady who wanted the church to put a new roof on her house because the people in Salem wouldn’t do it. She lived out in the country. Commitment is what creates relationships that meet this need for human caring. It’s a part of all of us.

And one of the things that Robert Putnam points out is the church is the primary builder of social networks. And if the church does not do this well, the church becomes more and more empty. Last week, we talked about the reality that most of our members would prefer us to have again the reality of this building being full.

Do you know why it’s not full? People are not being brought into the social network of the church. But the reason that Putnam points this out is that this is also the cure. This is the cure not only for this health epidemic of loneliness, but it’s also the cure for almost every other social problem our society faces from crime to addiction to gangs to you name it. The cure is for the church to be the church and return to building community among people, return to building social networks among neighbors.

The church has the power to change the world we live in. Jesus has the cure for this illness of loneliness. It’s called church. And right now, I am pleased to give you a big dose of the cure – because we’re all here together.

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The photo “IncredibowlDivas” is by University of Missouri System
and is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/umsystem/33492544235/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.2

MONDAY SCHOOL for July 23, 2017, #3.2
from What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

QUOTE: Let me tell what it is. It’s loneliness.

The statistics I’m about to give you come from journalists of sociology and medicine; they are the medical truth. They come from resources such as medical journals, Time Magazine and well-respected news reports.

The subjective feeling of loneliness – if you feel lonely – the subjective feeling of loneliness increases your risk of death in the coming year by 26%.

If you are socially isolated, if you do not have social connections to other people, the risk rises to 29%.

If you just simply live alone, it increases the likelihood of death 32%. There are families that don’t get along. But apparently, it’s much healthier for you to live with someone you don’t like than to live by yourself. In fact, I know some people who are very unlikeable but would probably like to move in with you. Let me know!

But see, here’s the point. Loneliness kills people. It is a heart disease because it breaks your heart. And there are many people in large cities and in small towns as well who are heart-broken because of loneliness.

Loneliness is breaking our hearts but as a culture, we rarely talk about it. Loneliness has doubled … 40% of adults in two recent surveys identified themselves as lonely; this is up from 20% 37 years ago.

From 1985 to 2004 – and it’s a long time back to 2004, so I believe that it’s worse now – on average, Americans dropped from three friends to only two friends. Only two people that they could talk to about the most meaningful things in their life.

And because of this, people are more and more relying on spouses. They are more and more relying on family to meet this need. And then your son moves to Austin, Texas! What is wrong with this boy? Or your wife passes away. How could God do this? Or there’s a divorce because to ask for so much from a single relationship is sometimes very taxing upon it.

I first heard this information on the radio. Back around 2004, the average man had gone from three friends to only two friends. But the number of people saying that there is no one with whom they can discuss important matters literally tripled.

Loneliness is a killer of people in our society. It is at the root of a lot of drug addiction and alcoholism. It is at the root of a lot of depression and mental illness. It is a fact that people who suffer from mental illness quite often feel cut off from meaningful, caring people around them. And in fact, scientific studies show that they become isolated and have limited contact with other people. Isolation makes everything worse.

THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?

SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?

What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?

How can we make it happen? What are the steps?

RESOURCES
The image is from ChurchArt.com, a subscription service.

This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #3. What We Have In Common In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … fellowship …

 

Posted in MONDAY SCHOOL | Leave a comment