Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the ReNewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
- Deeper Faith
- Joyful Community
- Reaching More
That’s the vision of our church.
What I love about the phrase “Deeper Faith” is that it implies a journey. No matter where we are in our Christian walk – brand new Christian, back-slidding prodigal, professional church worker, or weary traveler – we can still grow deeperand deeper!
Indeed, I pray we always hunger to grow deeper!
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The theme of this study is ReNew.
There are two parts to this word – “Re” and “New.” Let me introduce the second part first.
Newness is a powerful theme in scripture. Jesus, for example, is “the mediator of a new covenant.” Heb 9:15 He proclaimed “a new teaching—with authority!” Mark 1:27 He offers “new wine in fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:22 And He invites us to discover “the new and living way.” Heb 10:20
The books about Jesus’ life and of His Church are called The New Testament. The heart of His teaching is His “new commandment” (which, by the way, is “to love one another.” John 13:34) And as we walk in “newness of life,” Rom 6:4 the Gospel inspires us to “wait for new heavens and a new earth.” 2 Pet 3:13
- In John 3:4, Jesus speaks of new birth. He calls it being “born again.” see also 1 Pet 1:3
- In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the Apostle Paul describes the newness of this ReBirth by saying: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”
- God – through the Prophet Ezekial – spoke of his desire to ReNew His people, saying, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone … and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezek 36:26
- And what is the culmination of it all? “The One who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Rev 21:5
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“Re-” is the other half of our theme.
It means “again.”
Every Fall classes start again in schools.
After a corresponding season of summer vacations, new programs kick-off again in churches too. It’s a good time to ReStart and ReFocus. After ReFreshing summer slowdowns, it’s a great time to ReConnect and ReNew.
Well … ReConnecting and ReNewing may be more important this year than ever! I mean, this has been strangest year in my increasingly long life and ministry! (I’m guessing it’s been a strange year for you too.)
Spring and summer have been swallowed by shutdowns. Thankfully, Spirit of Joy has never fully shutdown! Nevertheless, we’ve been radically distanced!
It’s time to ReConnect!
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Faith is designed by God to be “incarnational.” (This is a fancy way to say that faith is supposed to “in-person” – literally, “in the flesh.”)
Pastor Fran puts it even more simply: “Faith is not a do-it-yourself project!” God, for example, has given us the community of fellow believers to support us, to encourage us, and to spur us onward.
Therefore, if the goal of this study is ultimately to ReNew, then one of the first calls from God is to ReConnect.
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Wait … I know … I know … For safety’s sake, it doesn’t seem wise for some of us to gather in-person right now!
As I write this in June, I’m aiming at a moving covid target in early summer. That means you’ll have to forgive me if what this hits in September seems a little off!
Nevertheless according to June’s reckoning, there’s still lots of ways to ReConnect, even if you’re choosing to stay a little more distanced.
By the time you’re reading this, our plan is to have found ways to sort you into in-person or online groups. And if you have people in your group who are necessarily cautious, I’m celebrating in advance how you’re getting creative! Instead of meeting in more traditional settings like classrooms and homes, perhaps you’ve found ways to meet outside or in extra large spaces (like the church Fellowship Hall) so that you can easily distance. Good for you!
But whether you’re in-person or online, our ReConnecting honors God’s call. He says, “Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some. Rather meet together and encourage one another.” Heb 10:25
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Fall always seems like a good time to ReNew. This year, it’s an especially good opportunity to ReFocus and grow even deeper.
Through the craziness of 2020, some of you have been struggling with faith and fear. There’s been isolation, discouragement, and depression. But now is God’s time. Here’s his call to ReConnect and ReNew!
Others of you have watched your faith grow through this season as you’ve had more time to be intentional and have become more prayerful. But I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind growing a little deeper still, right?!
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And … it really is time to ReConnect with others.
I’ve done studies on how we discover and ReDiscover greater joy. Basically, “joy breaks through when the Kingdom breaks in.”
Well, maybe this study is an opportunity for you to encourage others. Indeed, I promise that as you take part in watching others ReNew their faith and ReDiscover hope, greater joy will blossom in you!
In fact, I love the statement that “Each of us is called to look like a sheep from the front and a shepherd from behind.” What does that mean?
From the front, we are to be sheep, following Christ and learning from others. Every group – and every person in every group – offers us the opportunity to discover something new and to joyfully ReNew.
And from the back? When we let Christ be the true shepherd (leading us) and when we share our life with others, we’ll inevitably lead a little and encourage a lot! (For example, I learn from all of you in groups all the time! You’re constantly my shepherds.)
And as a shepherd who does a lot of leading, I can tell you that when you see faith spark and grow in others, you will indeed see the Kingdom breaking into their lives and deeper into your heart!
And thus, your spirit will ReJoice!
To ReNew your faith, to ReConnect our church, and to help RePlenish others,will you join us for Forty Days of ReNewal?
I will: _____________________