Thursday, October 8, 2015

So What? Now What? - Sunday Questions

So What?  Now What?

For the last couple of weeks, we have focused on Sunday morning on Paul’s call for us to be fully devoted.  Over the next two weeks, the sermons will focus on what a redeemed life looks like.  We will be looking at how a mind transformed by the Lord should function.  This study will help you dig a little deeper into that topic on your own.

1.       Read Philippians 4:2-3.  Two ladies (Euodia & Syntyche are feminine names) are fighting so publicly it is doing harm to the church.  What do we know about these women?  Why doesn’t Paul take a side in the conflict?  What does it mean to “agree in the Lord”?  On the subject of Christians in conflict, the gold-standard text is Matthew 18:15-20.  How does Jesus suggest you deal with conflict?  90% of conflicts would go away if we just obeyed verse 15!  Why don’t we?  What kind of power does he promise to those who agree?

2.       Read Philippians 4:4-5.  How can you be commanded to rejoice?  Isn’t happiness sort of out of your control?  Why does Paul mention that the Lord is near?  How would that affect your joy? Read John 15:10-11.  What does following commands have to do with joy?  Read Romans 12:12.  How do all these things work together:  joyful-hope-patient-faithful?  Consider James 1:2-3.  How do you choose joy in the middle of trouble?

3.       Read Philippians 4:6-7.  One of my favorite verses!  What is Paul’s prescription for stress/anxiety?  Compare it to what you hear from culture.  How does thanksgiving give power to getting through anxiety?  What do you think the peace of God feels like?  What should someone expect here?  How did Jesus exhibit God’s peace no matter what he was going through?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My New Normal - Sunday Questions

Today’s sermon is from Philippians 3:7-16.  Paul discusses the intensity with which he pursued knowing the Lord, and he presents his radical striving as normal for the Christian.  This study is intended to help you go over those verses again on your own.  First, see if you see things like Paul did.  Second, consider how that type of zealous focus would look in your own life.

1.       Read Philippians 3:7-11.  The things to Paul’s “profit” were all the things that made him look good, righteous or holy to others.  What kinds of things accomplish that today?  In one way, this seems like bad advice from Paul… isn’t a good reputation a good thing?  Paul has talked this way in other letters.  Read 1 Corinthians 4:3-4.  When Paul does boast, he brags different than most folks.  Read 2 Corinthians 11:22-30.  Can you sum up, in a sentence or two, what Paul thinks about our achievements?
2.       Paul says he wants to know Christ (3:8, 10), and you get the sense it is his highest priority.  How do you think he accomplished that goal?  For you to be able to honestly say “Knowing Christ is my highest priority”, what kinds of life changes, if any, would you need to make?
3.       Read Philippians 3:12-16.  Using the imagery of a track race, where did Paul feel like he was at in his spiritual life?  Where are you?  What is the prize?  How was Paul planning to reach it?  Paul used this picture of a race in other letters he wrote.  Read Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Galatians 5:2-7; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; and Hebrews 12:1-3 for other examples.  Why is “running a race” such a great metaphor for the Christian life?
4.       In Philippians 3:15-16, Paul says that all mature people see Christianity the same way that he does.  Compare that statement to what you see in church today.  Is it still true that 100% devotion is the only mature way to look at the faith?  If it’s true, how would that change how you see “maturity”?  Maybe maturity is not defined by titles, outward successes, great speaking ability, etc.?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Maturing Together in Christ...

Today’s sermon is from Philippians 2:12-30.  You can use the study as an aid to better understanding that passage!

1.       Read Philippians 2:12-13.  Note the similarities between 2:12 and 1:27.  Paul was greatly concerned he wouldn’t be there to help them become mature in Christ.  What kind of accountability do we have for one another?  How is it my problem if someone else doesn’t mature?  Paul says to work out your salvation with “fear and trembling”.  What does that mean?  How does fear/trembling go with verses likePhilippians 4:4?  How does 2:1-4 explain Paul’s thoughts on working out your salvation?  How does God work in us in this process?

2.       Read Philippians 2:14-16.  How does our complaining and arguing get in the way of our growth?  Is this a real problem for Christians today?  How so?  The ancient Israelites grumbled frequently against Moses.  Read Numbers 14:1-24.  How did their grumbling affect their destiny?  How does grumbling affect your faith (and the faith of those around you)?  When we obey, without grumbling/argument, Paul says we’ll shine (Matthew 5:14-16; John 8:12).  What do you think Paul means by “shine”?  By “holding out the word of life”?

3.       Read Philippians 2:17-18.  Do you think Paul expected to see them again?  (Maybe look over Philippians 1:21-24).  How did Paul view his life?

4.       Read Philippians 2:19-30.  How did Timothy and Epaphroditus exemplify Philippians 2:1-4?  How can the church honor such people today?

Friday, August 21, 2015

To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain...

So - here are the questions to ponder, before, during, and/or after the sermon this week...

1. Last week, Jeff began a series in Philippians, entitled, "To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain".  When you think of that title, how does it immediately strike you?  It is from Philippians 1:21, which we will look at today in the sermon, but what are your initial thoughts?  Jeff said last week, "It takes courage to be a Christian, and we get our courage from Christ."  Would that mesh with the thoughts of 1:21?

2. Read 1:6.  The idea of completion Paul talks about has to do with Greek sacrificial rituals, language this Greek city would have been familiar with.  The language used for "begin a good work, and perform it (or complete it)" had to do with sacrificing something.  Here, God does the sacrificing, and who is the sacrifice?  Yep!  You and me!  How do you feel about that idea?  Its a good work for God to sacrifice you - it takes you someplace you might not go on your own (see Romans 12).

3. If God sacrificed His own Son, what might He want with you?  Paul emphasized this idea of living sacrifice (Romans 12), old man dead, rising as new man (Romans 6), crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20).  Now look at 1:12, "I want you to know that the things which have happened to ME...,  have worked for the furtherance of the gospel"  We have a saying, "It is what it is..."  I've thought a lot about that statement since first hearing it.  Its always bugged me, but I used it along with everyone else.  I'm not sure everyone had the same fatalistic bent to them that I can have, but it really seems a hopeless statement, used to express exasperation with situations that seem beyond our control.  While Paul could certainly say of his imprisonment and shipwrecks and trouble that, "It is what it is," it seems that over and over again, Paul says something more like, "It is what God wills," or, like Joseph, "what you meant for harm, God has used for good."  The things that have happened to you - are they useful to God?  Have you let go of them sufficiently for Him to grab hold and make beauty from ashes?

Have a great week!

Peace in Christ,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

To Live is Christ...

Philippians: To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain

Beginning August 16th...                        

So as we have considered the makeup of our county, the 25,000 that are not experiencing the life-giving joy of a relationship with Christ and/or His church, and as we have considered the apologetic response to many of the arguments for not coming to Christ and/or His church, and for the last few weeks considered our own devotion level (is it 100%?), we turn our attention for the next several weeks to a little church from a couple thousand years ago, made up of elites, scoundrels, and all points in between - the Philippian Church.

Paul wrote the book of Philippians, and we have record of some of its happenings and activities in the book of Acts.  We will be looking at how that rag-tag group became a solid launch point for ministry, and how that might apply to us today.  How do we really live?  If it is all-in, our talents and creativity, and even our weaknesses, when taken together, make a pretty awesome spot for Jesus to show up and blow the lid right off this thing - and for us to literally develop the "to lives is Christ, to die is gain" mentality/discipline of life!

We've had the RightNow Media resource for a few months now, and we have several using it, but I would like to encourage you to jump into this particular study (if you haven't signed up, just go to the church web site,, and follow the links to free resources).  You can search on Matt Chandler, and it will bring this up.  Jeff won't be copying this study word for word, or anything like that - its just another really good resource on what we will be looking at.  Stay tuned for more blogs on this church and how it relates to our church as we move through this series.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

To All Who Are New-ish to MPCC - Please Pass the Ketchup!

A handshake.  A simple gesture used for a variety of reasons.  Resolution to a disagreement (I remember the schoolyard fights when I was a kid).  The "good game" of sportsmanship when we'd all line up and, win or lose, shake (loosely) the hands of each of our opponents.

How about when you would settle on a price for something, say, a car?  Yep, handshakes are employed there, too, to seal the deal.

When you meet someone new, what is the first physical contact you normally have with that person?  Yep - a handshake.

Resolution. Sportsmanship. Sealing the deal.  Greeting.  All of them valid uses of the handshake.  We also employ handshakes also to indicate fellowship, acceptance, even love.

Our newcomer lunch at MPCC is like a collective handshake.  Or knuckles.  Or maybe even a high five.  We use it to inform, greet, help folks make a decision about MPCC, show love, affection, acceptance, and fellowship.

It is coming up on July 26, right after church.  Group leaders are ready to serve, and we want you, if you are new to MPCC, to know that we would love for you to be there.  No one is going to pressure you to do anything other than to eat a burger or dog, and to maybe pass the ketchup.  Pretty low pressure.  And did I mention dessert?  You will get to know our leader folks here at MPCC, and you will get to ask questions in a low key setting.

So, think of us reaching out a collective hand to you :-)

Monday, June 8, 2015


Ok, so if the title captured your interest, I have to confess to just a bit of bait and switch here...  TV - Theological Vision.  That's where I'm going.  Sorry.

But, check this out - its from the book I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian, and I liked Him Better Then, by Rubel Shelley:

So long as church is a place or a series of events on certain days and at certain times, it will continue to have minimal-to-decreasing influence for changing the world.   It will continue to create unhealthy dependence by the many on the few and preserve our focus on externals as measurements of Christian life and maturity.
To the contrary, if wee could rid ourselves of the debilitating effects of institutionalized religiosity - which has passed for Christianity over the past 1700 years - and enter the experience of God's life-giving presence in Christ, EVERYTHING (emph added) would change.  As the authentic body of Christ in the world, such a church would turn the world upside down again.  The medium would become the message of rescue and renewal.
Church would not be something to "do" but would be experienced as who Christ's followers are everywhere, with everybody, all the time.  Worship would no longer be a place to "go" but would be the offering of our bodies as living sacrifices.  Our outreach would not be a "program" but would be touching people with acceptance, love, and nurture that honors and imitates Jesus himself.
What do you think?  How are you doing at this?  Does your life, my life, reflect a heavenly DNA, or are we just playing church? 

This book is really challenging me to examine myself, my motives, my life, in light of Jesus, and not the expectations of others.  I would love to read through this book with a couple other folks if any of you are interested, its a really good eye-opener!

Peace in Christ,