GROW-ing : healthy things always start growing from the inside out!

(watch this VIDEO first)

This book, which has now become a Netflix show, has simply taken off. It’s so popular. A small, overpriced, hardcover book, is flying off the shelf.

WHY?

Because people are desperate for their clutter to disappear, and many of us have no clue how to make that happen. So in comes Marie…the Tidy-up genius.

The episode I watched had something amazing happen in it: Marie paused…quieted everyone… and proceeded to take a few moments to be silent. The family wasn’t sure how to react or respond to this. What Marie was trying to do was help this family realize that their home ‘can’ be a place of peace if you simply allow it to be.

We don’t realize how much we simply need to stop, pause, be silent, and rest. It’s counterintuitive and counter cultural, but boy does it work.

Last week we participated in VISION SUNDAY: we want to GROW IN…

  • Formation
  • Generosity
  • Impact
  • Community

For the next few weeks we’re going to try and unpack those things a little more. Expand on the bite size portions we gave you last week.

What do we mean by GROW-ing?
– GROW & ING
– Now & Later. Present & Future.
– We wanna see some immediate fruit, sure, but we have to ensure that growth is continual…ongoing…

The word GROW leads us to think of size, impact, accomplishment, achievement, success, arrival – all good stuff.

However, for a church community, and for a follower of Jesus, for any of that to happen, we have to experience growth inside (heart/mind) before we see it outside.

For the first part of this series, we’re going to focus on the heart & mind.

  • Jesus said, blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God
    • Pure heart = focused, intentional, right minded…
  • Paul said, put on or have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5)
    • If we can think like Jesus thinks, we are led to live like Jesus would live and love like Jesus would love.

Here’s the thing: If our minds & hearts can stretch and grow, inevitably, our lives will too.

Lets back track, intentionally, to the scripture text that started our year off with a few weeks ago. Romans 12:1-2.

Before we do, it’s worth noting that around this time of January, 20, 21, 22, is when people start giving up resolutions. By now they’ve either formed a new habit or have failed miserably at introducing something new into their life.

  • It takes 21 days to create a habit…
  • If you did start something new…have you succeeded or have you failed?
  • Have you developed a new healthy habit or have you fallen off the map?

We ask this question because in Romans 12, you may remember, is where Paul challenges his initial readers and us, that in order to live God’s best life, we have to:
– Let go of something
– Embrace something

The challenge is to keep going, move forward, and grow where it matters most, in our minds/hearts.

Let’s read it…as a reprise from two weeks ago.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

4 things to focus on:

Ordinary Life

Our everyday consists of…

  • Cleaning up
  • Making lunches
  • Being ‘ON’ for work
  • Dealing with a good or bad boss
  • Getting tired with tasks at hand
  • Trying to be disciplined, failing because of our lack of discipline
  • And so on…

You may recall these words from the NIV version of Scripture, “offer your body as a living sacrifice…holy & pleasing to God”. These words would confuse and mess up anyone that was used to a sacrificial system. Why? Normally, sacrificed things were dead or ceased to live when they were sacrificed. Paul says, May you be “LIVING SACRIFICES”.

Place your life, your everyday life, before God. Everything in it. Every part of it. Our fears, our anxieties, our hopes, our dreams, our confidence and our doubt.

Embrace what God has for you/me

After we’ve surrendered, now we’re ready to receive and to embrace. Paul says, that in our act of embrace, of receiving, we are actually worshiping God.

Surrender and embrace is an act of worship. In worship, we surrender and we embrace; we give up what we don’t need any longer, and hold on to what God is offering us instead.

Not sure what’s harder, the surrendering or the embracing? That moment you realize that what you thought was important, isn’t that great, or that moment you jump in, with two feet, totally abandoned to who God is?

Difficult? Maybe. Worth it? Definitely!

Don’t just fit in without thinking

Speaking of difficult, this next challenge Paul puts before us may be the hardest to both discern and avoid – Fitting in.

These seeds of surrender & embrace lead to something so beautiful: Living a life that is not stuck to or pressured by the culture around me.

  • don’t be well adjusted to culture (msg)
  • don’t get squeezed into it’s shape (ntw)
  • don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world (niv)

NT Wright says…don’t let others set the pace for you…set your own…work out what sort of person you should be…or what sort of people we should be.

Many of us get stuck on the expectations of others. And it is a dangerous place to live. Paul’s challenge is this, figure out what God expects: that will be your sweet spot, that will be your success;, that will your best life.

Be Transformed

Here’s the formative part of Paul’s challenge…

He tells us to surrender…to embrace…to be careful not to conform…

But this final word is about how the values of Jesus and the power of the Spirit can grow in us:

Be Transformed. Be changed.
Fix your attention on God, and you’ll be changed from the inside out.

How? Paul says, by the renewing of your mind.

  • important for two reasons
  • God works on our insides to effect what comes from out of our lives
  • God cares about our minds…he wants us to think through things and ponder on things, and figure out how we can best love him and love others and make the world better.

– – – – – – –

This leads us to the questions we ended with a few weeks ago:

  • What do we need to let go of this year?
  • What do we need to embrace this year?

Better yet, what are you holding on to that is holding you back?

– – – – – – –

How do figure all this stuff out? Surrender? Embrace? Not conforming? Being Transformed?

Implement these practices:
– Prayer
– Solitude
– Rest
– Reading Scripture
– Listening to God

We must add formative practices to our lives for there to be any real spiritual formation in us!

Here are a few suggestions for you/us:
– old school bible/notebook
– online tools (sacred space, you version, daily office, get on an email list or app notification, etc.
– plan, set aside, book in time, for these important things to happen
– (more on this next week/post)

– – – – – – –

Think about Marie Kondo and her gift of Tidying Up your life. She comes in, analyzes what needs to go, helps you believe it has to happen, removes the unnecessary and space filling items, and then allows you to invite the things that actually need to be there to help your life be the best it can be.

Our minds and hearts will grow…by getting rid of the stuff that’s in the way – adding the things that nurture our faith – and watching God work in us.

 

PRAYER (read this one line at a time, spending a few seconds thinking about what you said/prayed, and listening to what God might be saying to you)

 

 

I place my ordinary life before you God (every single part)

I embrace God’s best for me (what is that God? lead me there)

I acknowledge where I have fit in without thinking (this is a moment of confession, so may God’s spirit help me see where I have failed or where I’ve conformed to who I am NOT)

I fix my attention on God (take a minute to embrace God’s very real presence)

I invite Jesus to be planted deep inside of me, transforming me, changing me, renewing me.

Amen

VISION : GROW

Welcome to Vision Sunday. This is exciting for a few reasons. We had enough vision to get where we are today. We continue to see the importance of clarifying vision as we move towards ‘what-else’ God has for us, as a community and as individuals.

I don’t where glasses. So, by default, I don’t understand what others feel like without their glasses or contacts on. We’ve had this conversation in our home around glasses, as I am out numbered 3-1 in vision impaired-ness department 😉

As a church or as a follower of Jesus, it’s not that we need glasses, but we do need direction and a visual path before us to help us walk where God wants us to walk and to do what God wants us to do.

Vision – in the Bible is found about 80-120x (depending which translation you’re reading)

  • sight (Jesus healed people’s vision)
  • dream (God gives people dreams)
  • direction/plan (God gives his church a vision to keep moving forward and growing)

You may have heard (maybe) this verse from Proverbs.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. But he that keeps the law is happy. (Prov 29:18 KJV)

If people can’t see what God is doing,
    they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
    they are most blessed. (The Message)

Some vision-esque statements we’ve come back to around here since we started:

Love God, Love Others, Make the world better
Discovery, Story, Community
A safe place to discover faith
Broken people help broken people
God’s best for you, really is the best for you (just last week)

If there is one word that keeps coming to our hearts as leaders for this season, one word we want to keep in front of us, it’s this: GROW.

Before we get to what that looks like here, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.

– – – – – – –

Corinthians is a letter Paul wrote to a church in Corinth. This letter, among other things, addresses conflict…normal…not so pretty…kind of ugly…conflict. (no one ever has to deal with that???)

Chapter 3 doesn’t start that warmly…listen to how Paul begins this section: (3:1-4)

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

Live by the Spirit vs Still Worldy
Drink Milk vs Eat Solids

These two comparisons are really about maturity. About where these corinthian christians were at in their spirit journey. They are ‘seeing’ things through the lens of culture, of society, and simply following suit. We talked about this last week…

  • don’t become well adjusted…don’t get squeezed into the mold of the present age (Rom 12:1-2)
  • Be changed, Live differently, Discover God’s best…mature, loving, community minded, etc.
  • That is where the conflict in this early church came from – a lack of maturity.
  • (note: this is not an assessment of us)

Then Paul says… (3:5-9)

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

What’s going on here?

This early church is having a bit of a spat about who’s more important. They’re putting either Paul or Apollos on a pedestal they were never meant to be on. Paul is, from what we know, the key figure in this church plant, but Apollos had a part to play as well. He may have taught a few things, led a few things, encouraged a group of people.

Paul wants to get across this very important truth:

Everybody has a part to play, but God is the one who brings it all together. Every person in a Jesus community offers something of value, but God holds it together – God leads us forward.

The language or words he uses are: Watering, Planting & Growing.

Paul is setting out…presenting if you will…a vision…for community…for a healthy community…for a healthy church community.

It’s not about one person, but all people.
It is however, about one God.
We play our part, and God does the rest.

PLANTING

  • Hard work
  • You have to trust that what you planted will eventually become soemthing
  • Jesus talks about this (Scattering/Sowing seed) in Matthew 13

WATERING

  • Nurture what you’ve planted
  • Follow up with your seed
  • Sure, trust that it’ll grow, but then help it along by watering, caring, nurturing…

GROWTH

  • a bit of a mystery isn’t it?
  • We don’t see growth happening, we recognize that growth happened. (ill…kids)
  • Trust God is working behind the scenes, making things grow, and one day we’ll say, “wow, look what God did”.

We are God’s field, God’s building, he’s the one who brings it all together.

Things won’t grow without planting. Things won’t grow without watering. Things won’t grow without God. Every part of what Paul is saying is important.

OUR VISION : GROW

  • If we plant & water…we will grow
  • If we’re not growing…something is missing…seeds or water…
  • God, however is ready, we simply need to do our part

How do we want to grow? Glad you asked!

GROW in our Faith & Formation

  • we can never neglect this
  • It’s about us inviting Jesus to be planted and to grow in us (his heart, his ways, his love)
  • what does that look like?
    • Prayer, Scripture, Community worship, smaller groups, intentional discipleship

GROW in our GIVING

  • when we give, we plant seeds
  • our giving doesn’t end when the resource leaves our hand (resources = $ or skill)
    • it keeps going & keeps growing
  • giving is an integral part of a healthy stewardship/finances (10%(give) 10% save 80% live)
  • generosity is about more than money. It is anything that resources God’s mission of loving our neighbour and building the church. ($, Service, Acts of Kind, Volunteering, etc)
  • we are the answer to our prayers…God uses us to bring the healing, helping, restoring that we are praying for.
  • what does that look like?
    • Equip & enable generosity
    • Teach stewardship
    • Champion volunteers/-ing

GROW in our IMPACT

  • Loving Neighbours
  • Sharing Faith with others
    • Includes leading people to Jesus
    • Includes inviting friends to church
  • Praying for others (not just when they’re sick or hurting, but for God to get their attention)
  • what does that look like?
    • Community events
    • Woodcrest School Partnership
    • Benevolence
    • Missional giving
    • Kids / Students
    • Social Media
    • Being Present

GROW in our expression/experience of COMMUNITY

  • Be Community
  • Serve Community
  • Grow in our sense of Family
  • Grow in our passion for others
  • Desire all this growth happens in one another
  • what does that look like?
    • Sundays
    • smaller groups
    • Big Table
    • Multi-generational relationships
    • Coffee shops, living rooms, back yards, restaurants, etc.

– – – – – – –

I started a garden a couple of years ago. This summer we were overwhelmed with tomatoes. We had so many that we were looking for ways to give them away. We were able to generous in this way for one simple reason. We planted something. We watered that something. And, what do you know, it grew.

In 2019, we want us to focus on Paul’s vision for growth…and make it our own.

PLANTING
WATERING
GOD MAKING IT ALL GROW

If we do this, we’ll be able to look back and say WOW, look at what God did!!! 

Lego Movie 2

Lego Movie 2

On Saturday, February 9th at 10 am we’ll be hosting a special screening of
‘The Lego Movie 2’. This annual event has become quite popular and fills up quickly so be sure to send an email to let us know you’re coming.

Be sure to invite a friend to help spread the word!

Landmark Theatre, Whitby
Email your confirmation to connect@thevillagewhitby.ca
Invite your friends…there are currently 200 seats available

The Park – January “Take Homes”

Each week we will be providing “Take Homes” for you to use to continue the discussion at home with your kids.

An administrative reminder that we are redoing/updating our registration at The Park. Thanks to those of you who stopped by the registration table last week to fill out family registration forms! If you have not done so yet, please grab a registration form this week to fill out. All families (new and old) will need to complete this registration. Get your Family Registration Form here!

JK/SK Take Homes:
Family Week 1 – Parent Take Home
Family Week 2 – Parent Take Home
Family Week 3 – Parent Take Home
Family Week 4 – Parent Take Home

Grades 1-6 Take Homes:
Jesus Is Week 1 – Parent Take Home
Jesus Is Week 2 – Parent Take Home
Jesus Is Week 3 – Parent Take Home
Jesus Is Week 4 – Parent Take Home

Embrace God’s best for you…and be Rooted & Establish in his love

(Talk #1)

I love lines in the sand like New Years. Coming out of a full season of Advent & Christmas, we get to reset, relook at things. Things like, budgets, health, work, family priorities, goals & dreams.

One skim through Instagram or Facebook photos/posts and you’ll see people’s notebooks out, writing down their goals, writing down their prayers. In essence, what we’re doing is deciding to, and then hoping that, we can accomplish certain things, arrive at certain places, grow in certain areas, and impact those around us.

One very helpful tweet from this week’s plethora of them was this…

“A goal without a workable plan and the support of others is just good intention in disguise”

In Ephesians 3, Paul gives us a goal, and workable plan to get to that goal.

He says in verse 18&19…
…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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

How do we get to that end? (16&17)
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 

Paul’s workable plan?
– Get your inner being strong
– Allow Christ to dwell in you
– Be rooted & established in Love

Let’s focus on the last one: Rooted & Established

  • Both of these words reflect a certain kind of action that involves going deeper than just the surface that we’re used to
  • We are to plant deep roots in God’s love
  • We are to build a strong foundation in God’s love

Planting & Building are hard work; the kind of work that leads to accomplished goals.

Planting = Fruit
Building = Structure

Prayer/Reflection over these verses…

Where are you planting deep roots this year?
Will you take steps to dig deep and plant roots in God’s love?
Will you do the hard foundational work of building on God’s promises, on Kingdom values, on the ways of Jesus?

– – – – – – –

(Talk #2)

The New Year often encourages us to pray and ask that God to be in control of our out of control lives. Our prayers narrow in on the everyday things in life that are both profound, and also difficult to deal with.

It we’re not careful, we miss the everyday miracles happen in front of our eyes: Kids, Relationships, a successful work day, etc. On the other hand, if we’re not careful, we’ll let the difficult things overwhelm us, forgetting that God is with us every step of the way…every moment in our life.

It would be nice if life was like Christmas Holidays…no time constraints, liaises-fair attitude, you don’t have to answer to anyone, very chill and restful.

But…that’s not our everyday is it? Our everyday consists of…

  • Cleaning up
  • Making lunched
  • Being ‘ON’ for work
  • Dealing with a good or bad boss
  • Getting tired with tasks at hand
  • Trying to be disciplined, failing because of our lack of discipline
  • And so on…

We look to Paul again – this time in Romans 12. (msg)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

What a way to start 2019: God? Here it is. My life. Everything in it. Every part of it. My fears, my anxieties, my hopes, my dreams, my confidence and my doubt. I surrender it all to you.

As I surrender, I also EMBRACE all that God does for me. God’s best for me.

These seeds of surrender & embrace lead to something so beautiful: Living a life that is not stuck to or pressured by the culture around me. Notice Paul’s encouragement and challenge:

  • don’t be well adjusted to culture (the message)
  • don’t get squeezed into it’s shape (N.T. Wright)
  • don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world (NIV)

Instead, live God’s best life for you!!!

Say this with me:

God’s best for me, really is the best for me!

To live God’s best for me/you, we have to answer these questions…

What do I have to let go of this year?
What do I have to embrace this year?

– – – – – – –

(closing prayer from Sunday)

God, we pray for an impactful 2019…
We invite your Spirit to strengthen our inner being…and as your Spirit works in us…
May we continue to plant ourselves deeper and deeper in Jesus
May we continue to become people who abound in love
May we take steps in our faith that we’ve yet to take
May those steps impact our families, our neighbourhoods, our vocations and jobs, and yes, our church community.
As we surrender to you…May we discover your best for our lives, in every ordinary, and extraordinary thing that we do.

On the good days, may we thank you
On the bad days, may we rely on you
In all 365 days, may we simply be aware of your presence in our lives, in our homes, in our church.

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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)