Message Recap: Welcome 2018!

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Matthew 6:22-35: Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The core issue here has really nothing to do with the food we drink or the clothes we wear (though our anxiety often manifests in these areas of eating/drinking and shopping); the issue is really our heart posture. The material things, the tight schedule, the busyness – these are not the things Jesus is after. He’s after our hearts. In this passage, Jesus provides the antidote for our anxiety about all of these things (praise, amirite?):

The first dose for curing our anxiety is knowing that our identity is in Jesus (Matthew 6:32: For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all). God is our Heavenly Father, and He knows everything about you (your worries, your dreams, your fears. And he cares about every single one). In the case of earthly adoption, the law states that an adopted child is the same as a child born into the family; an adopted child is seen exactly the same as his or her biological counterpart. It is the same for us in the family of God. When He adopts us into His Kingdom, it is as if we were part of the family starting on day 1 (just like Jesus!). His holy adoption eliminates any separation between us and Him, our Father. Thanks to Jesus Christ, we are now considered related to God.

The second dosage for curing our anxiety is to seek Him (Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you). Jesus doesn’t tell us to stop doing something without also telling us what to start doing. He’s a God of abundance. He wants more for us than to stop being anxious; He wants us to be part of His family. We have this beautiful invitation to seek His invaluable Kingdom (Matthew 13:44-46: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.) 

The Greek translation of “seek” – as in “seek the Kingdom of God” – means seek in order to find. This happens by meditating, reading, thinking, inquiring, striving after, and aiming for. This is God’s invitation for us! It’s important to remember in our seeking that it’s not about the “to-do list”, or our goals, resolutions. It’s all about the fact that we are seeking after Yahweh, the Living God, with everything we have to give. That’s exactly what he wants of us: our hearts. That’s our invitation; let us take Him up on the offer!

Biblical references: Matthew 6:22-35; Matthew 13:44-46

12 Questions for the New Year:

  1. What is one thing I could do this year to increase my enjoyment of God?
  2. What will my personal times of worship look like this year?
  3. How will I approach reading the Bible this year?
  4. What one thing could I do to improve my prayer life this year?
  5. Whose salvation will I pray for most fervently this year?
  6. What books will I read this year?
  7. Who is the person I want to encourage most this year?
  8. What is the most helpful new way I could strengthen my church this year?
  9. How will I make time in my schedule for these things to actually happen?
  10. What is the single biggest time-waster in my life, and what will I do about it this year?
  11. What changes should I make with my finances this year?
  12. What single things that I plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Sermon Recap: Jesus’ Church, Pt. 2

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This week, we continue on in our series, Jesus’ Church, with part 2 of 7. Whether or not we know it, every single person is seeking the gospel in their heart. Everyone is looking for a purpose, a reason to live, something bigger than themselves. The gospel (“good news”) is powerful (“having the strong ability to cause an effect”).

Romans 1:16:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

The gospel isn’t just powerful in human terms, it’s powerful in God’s terms. There are powerful things of this world, but the gospel is not of this world; how much more powerful is it than we can even comprehend? It has the power to declare us all, with authority, guilty. But, it also has the power to declare us justified. And, it does!

Romans 5:6-8: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The gospel, as exemplified in Romans, releases unconditional love over us. 

Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God calls us to live out of this unconditional love and in His abundance, rather than in fear or anxiety. Believing in the gospel doesn’t mean you are now perfect (or expected to be), it means no condemnation. You are forgiven.

Romans 10:13-15: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'” Jesus instilled it in His church to preach the good news; how otherwise would the people of the world hear it?

The book of Mark – namely Chapter 1 – reveals how Jesus spent His time in relationship: He reclined with sinners, fed the hungry, displayed zeal, showed great compassion, cast out demons, publicly forgave, taught and interpreted the scriptures, and told a rich man to sell everything and give his money to the poor. Jesus walked intentionally, and met people right where they were. We were saved to do justice, be holy, and look like Him.

Practically, there are 4 ways to present the gospel:

  1. Stranger presentation (it’s about sewing the seed, not “saving souls”. That’s God’s job).
  2. Relational presentation (with a neighbor, coworker, or friend): has the most to do with having honesty. Are you truthful about your beliefs?
  3. Active demonstration: giving finances, living purely, engaging in social justice, etc.
  4. Personal invitation: to church, to Lifegroup, to Parent’s Night Out, etc.

Church – this is our calling! Regardless of your season, your job, your age/gender/background, your financial situation, your relational status, there is nothing like the call on our lives to share with the world the good news and the love of Jesus. We can’t wait to hear more about being Jesus’ Church with you next Sunday!

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Psalms and Proverbs

A photo by freestocks.org. unsplash.com/photos/EssPg6x5QeY

This week, we had the incredible honor of hearing from Renae Burford, speaking about the condition of our heart and how to keep it carefully. Specifically, we dove into Proverbs 4.

Throughout this series – Psalms and Proverbs – we have been reminded of this truth: however our current situation looks, and however it turns out, God is who He says He is.

Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” 

Friends, we are made to make it for the long haul. God did not create us for a sprint of faithfulness, but a marathon of faithfulness. To make it to the end as loving, believing people, we must guard and watch over our inner persons.

The determining factor of the life you experience has everything to do with your heart, and the truth that flows from it. The world tells us that what we produce is a correlation with our circumstances. In truth, your circumstances have nothing to do with your productivity or our sense of fulfillment; rather, your productivity and how you enjoy it is directly related to the condition of your heart. Because of this, we have to keep our hearts, and guard them because they are so precious.

Luke 6:45: The good person our of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks.” 

When we talk about the heart, it can feel abstract. So, practically, what do we need to do?Thankfully, the Bible provides guardrails that are as relevant today as they ever were:

Proverbs 4:20-22: “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” 

John 15:7-8: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” 

Ephesians 3:17: “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love…” . Jesus is the Word of God, made flesh.

Romans 10:10: “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confessed and is saved.” 

A heart of good condition comes from knowing the Word of God. To know the Word is to have a holy fear of God, and those who fear the Lord lack no good thing.

Returning to Proverbs 4:23, we look at our verse of interest: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  Vigilance, defined, is the careful state of keeping careful watch over potential dangers.

There is danger around us that has so many faces, but it is rooted most deeply in unbelief of the heart.  A lot of us hold on to unbeliefs and the world reiterates those and perpetuates them as being factual. Eventually, the unbelief crowds out the belief; we become bitter, distracted, frustrated, and resentful. But, the longer we live and choose to take care of our hearts, the more we produce and the more we enjoy doing it.

Where is it that we fail most in taking care of our hearts?

  1. We procrastinate.
  2. We spend time perfecting our facades than we do getting to the root of our unbelief.
  3. We do the work. And, the more we work, the easier it becomes. Know the Word of God, because those places of unbelief will be more readily identifiable.

What are your deeply rooted unbeliefs? Where can you ask God for help in your unbelief? How do you remove unbelief? Believe! Ask God to increase your belief, for apart from Him, we can do nothing.

The way to experience and enjoy producing fruit with Jesus for the entirety of your life is to own your own heart. Invite Jesus in and let him take hold, and not any one else or any other circumstance. The very mission of Jesus was and is your heart. Keep it carefully, because you are worth it, and he wants you to experience abundant life through belief.

A photo by Aidan Meyer. unsplash.com/photos/lkSwboL_rDM

Join us on Sunday to hear the first of our next series! 

Sermon Recap: Relational Resolves, Pt. 3

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Thus far, we have taken a look at two relational resolves, by which we as members of the church choose to relate with others: Honor and Healthy Conflict. Today, we break down Relational Warmth, and how to apply it practically and lovingly in our lives.

Our third relational resolve encourages us to decide in advance that we are going to be warm to others. Specifically, this looks like enthusiasm, affection, and kindness in engaging every person we encounter. God’s kindness is abundantly toward you. It is unchanging. It is mighty and ferocious and huge, and therefore we are called to love and warmly engage others greatly as His children.

He loves to meet our disappointment with His kindness, and He loves to meet our failure with His kindness. For you, specifically and intimately, His arms are wide open, and He desires to overwhelm you with kindness.

Luke 15:1-6 tells the Parable of the Lost Sheep, a depiction of the kindness of Jesus: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” 

His affections are toward you. It is out of His abundant kindness that we are encouraged to be warm to all others.

Colossians 3:12-15: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32.

1 Peter 3:8 furthers yet the importance of biblical warmth, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble”. 

As believers, we are being carried through the process of sanctification, to look more like Jesus every day. To have the process of sanctification working in us means that we have the power and authority to love others outlandishly. Being warm with other people  is the calling on our loves by the will of God. Being relationally warm is more than a suggestion; to have a calling by God over our lives is grand beyond measure! We put on the clothing of relational warmth because we have first received it immensely from Jesus.

We live in Seattle (though this notion of coldness toward others certainly is not limited to Seattle alone), where indifference tends to characterize relationship. When did being cold become trendy? When did being “nice” become synonymous with being “boring”? This isn’t true at all! Being nice doesn’t mean we are boring; rather, it means we are clothed in the Spirit, representing kindness and affection and enthusiasm toward everyone. We, as people of God, reject the idea that the Seattle Freeze is the norm, and instead hold ourselves to a standard of heavenly norm.

As with our other relational resolves, there are 4 Practicals for Relational Warmth:

  1. Acknowledge people
  2. Use eye contact
  3. Use physical contact
  4. Practice inclusion

We haven’t done anything to earn God’s warmth toward us. Therefore, we are open and welcoming to others in return, because it is a gift that has already been given to us. We choose to put on relational warmth because of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are His chosen ones, holy and beloved, called to live as Jesus lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

We are called to aggressively, purposefully, intentionally love others, because this is exactly how we are loved by Him.

Need to do some catching up? Check out our sermon recaps about honor and healthy conflict on the blog!  

 

Sermon Recap: Relational Resolves, Pt. 2

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In this sermon, lead pastor Andrew Bach discusses a challenging, but important and biblical relational resolve.

As a church, we – Mosaic – landed on 5 relational resolves to help us become the body of Christ as Jesus calls us to be. These Relational Resolves have principally guided how we relate with people, and they have helped tremendously to set our culture as church.  However, these are more than just points of discussion for aspiration; we live them, constantly looking to Jesus for strength and wisdom to do so.  Every so often, we need to review these, and decide again that this is indeed how we will relate with others.  In the first sermon, we discussed honor. Today, we discuss healthy conflict, a biblical calling for us as His people.

This discussion, though perhaps less sweet than others, is important, because there are ways that God intends for us to engage each other in healthy conflict and ways that God does not. If a part of Mosaic’s culture is healthy conflict, then we have a chance at long term relationships.  However, unhealthy conflict is a quick way to division and broken relationships.

As a people that love Jesus, we have to make a resolve.  We will have healthy conflict.

The Bible speaks about this in detail, because God knows that people have varying perspectives, and therefore have conflict. His intention for us is conflict characterized by grace and patience, in order for relationships to grow and exemplify Him.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV.

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. Luke 17:3-4 ESV.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Ephesians 4:26 ESV.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:5-6 ESV.

We know the Bible has a lot to say about healthy conflict. Here, Andrew provides principles for us to understand how to practice what we preach.

  1.  The goal of healthy conflict is Authentic Unity.
    1. Specifically, this means that we don’t just pretend to ignore the differences we encounter. Instead, we work through them, together, to the glory of God.
    2. The goal is more about being unified than it is about you being right. Body of Christ: we must work together to accomplish the purposes and plans of God. It’s not about you proving your right. Rather, it matters that we stay together.
  1.  The person is not the problem.
    1. Our battle is never against people. Ultimately, your problem is not with this person.
  1.  Truth must be spoken in love. 
    1. We cannot be afraid of conflict. We have the hard conversations, from a place of desiring unity, and we trust and hope that conflict will always lead to the best possible outcome in the end.  Therefore, we don’t shy away from speaking the truth.
    2. Seek to understand rather than to be understood. To speak in love, recognize how you communicate through tones, facial expressions, and word choice.
    3. Assumptions matter. Ask questions. Actively listen.
    4. Understand what heavenly Love is, exemplified by Jesus. Love is not flattery, and love is not making sure people feel good. This is hard, but to make others feel good is the easy way out. Understand that healthy conflict is loving, and discipline the delivery.
  1.  Forgiveness is a matter of the heart, and forgiveness has no limit.
    1. We are commanded to forgive.  This is one of the most powerful aspects of our relationship with Jesus.

Practice Healthy Conflict, for the goodness of God and His people.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17 ESV.

In healthy conflict, we follow the process found in Matthew 18:

  1. Approach the person alone
  2. Approach the person in a small group
  3. Approach church leadership

All 3 steps are taken with these 2 important truths in mind:

  1. The church is a unified body
  2. Forgiveness has no limit

Just as Jesus forgave, we must follow suit and forgive others as well – with love and authenticity.

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Check back soon for more Relational Resolve series recaps! 

 

Deep and Wide

A church that is both deep and wide. This concept has been pervading my mind ever since Andrew’s sermon several weeks ago, and I believe each follower of Jesus needs to consider it with me.

Will we be deep? Pursuing intimate friendship with Jesus, studying scripture, intentional to give glory to God in every facet of our lives and living in meaningful Christ-centered community with each other?

OR

Will we be wide? Making a place for anyone and everyone to experience the Gospel, purposefully living to see as many people as possible put their trust in Jesus?

The challenge is obvious. Take preaching for example. The more theologically intricate a sermon is, the less approachable for a person who has no background with Jesus. And yet – if everything we do is geared toward pre-christians, mature followers of Jesus may feel that their river runs dry.

Deep and wide. Is it even possible? I propose that for our church to be both deep and wide, we must leverage two ancient truths:

#1 It’s about Him (God) and them.

As we turn our focus to glorifying Jesus and advancing HIS Kingdom, we will begin to think about ourselves less. As we think about ourselves less, we will think less about having or not having our individual spiritual needs met. In fact, we will become more alive in Christ than ever before as we glorify Jesus and share His love with others.

#2 As we get bigger, we need to get smaller.

When I first joined Mosaic, there were about 20people total. We gathered on Sundays at the Lutheran Student Center in the U-District and even one new visitor on a Sunday was basically synonymous with God having performed a miracle. In contrast, around thirty people sat on the floor at Mosaic the Sunday before last; there simply wasn’t space for them to sit anywhere else. God is bringing people to Mosaic, transforming their lives through His grace, and knitting them into this local expression of His body.

Is there a certain size we will reach when we will say “we’re full–no more room for people here?” Absolutely not!

This is the fundamental reason why we will transition to two Sunday services in January. We need to ensure that we are consistently in a position to welcome new people into the body of Christ.

But as our church gets bigger, we must get smaller in order to pursue the same depth that we see in Acts 2. The essence of getting smaller is to commit to agroup of people who you can endeavor in the values of Acts 2:42-47 together. We think this is best done through Lifegroups. What is a Lifegroup? A Christ-centered community, devoted to connecting with each other and encountering God together. In this definition, the word “devoted” is essential. There is no such thing as being partially devoted. You either are or you aren’t. When a group of people is devoted to the to the vision of Lifegroup, to going small together, the potential for depth in God and in Christ-centered community is seemingly limitless.

I want to be a person who knows Jesus intimately in the midst of meaningful, Christ-centered community. And I want to be a person who sees countless people put their faith in Jesus. Deep and Wide. I am not willing to settle for anything less.

It is possible for our church to be both deep and wide? Will you come with us?

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By Executive Pastor Paul Jackson