An Honest and Open Conversation about Sex

Sex is often a taboo subject in church circles.  But the fact is, God created us to have pleasure and intimacy with our spouse.

This weekend, we continue our series “Staying In Love” as we talk about sex.  During his message last Sunday, Andy mentioned that we would be talking in more detail about sex in marriage (listen to last week’s message). So, we need to hear from you.  In order for Andy to address the questions people have about sexuality and intimacy in marriage, he needs to know what those questions are.  There is no question that is off limits… really!  Andy will keep all sender info in complete confidence.  Please take a moment to email Andy ransdell@lifepointvineyard.com as he prepares for this week’s message.

Full Contact!

God invites everyone to be great in His Kingdom.  Literally.

Jesus taught often on God’s invitation for greatness in Scripture. If you browse through some of the verses below, it is almost as if Jesus expects us to pursue greatness.  We shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to be great because God designed our spirit with this longing.  Andy was right on when he told us this is a HEART matter, not an issue of performance.  Sometimes we pursue greatness in the wrong ways.  God invites us to greatness without regard to our worldly achievements or what others think of us.

•       Matthew 5:19 “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven.”

•       Matthew 18:4, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the GREATEST in the kingdom of heaven.”

•       Mark 10:42-43 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be GREAT among you must be your servant.”

•       Luke 9:48 “and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is GREAT.”

For me personally, I believe I need to repent for neglecting to seek greatness because Jesus called us to be great in His sight.  Certainly, we all need to repent for situations where we did not chose God the way Daniel did, but I also feel the need to repent for not PURSUEING greatness. I can’t be an example of the Glory of God on earth, if I am refusing to walk in the greatness I was designed for.  I don’t God hides the road to greatness from us. It’s not some unattainable, lofty goal for a few elect believers.  It’s for every member of the Kingdom! I think Jesus explains to us what is required for greatness in the Sermon on the Mount.  There He tells us that the pursuit of greatness comes through meekness, obedience and servant hood. 

For he who comes to God must believe that…He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Heb. 11:6)

– Angie

Full Contact – The Playbook

“I have no problems cheering for college football, but I can’t
seem to get that worked up about God.”
A friend of mine said those words, when we were discussing our
Christianity, and his comments stuck with me.  Why?  Because if I’m
honest with myself, I have to admit that his attitude mirrors mine.
Another friend of mine, Bryan, just got his PhD in political science
from Stanford.  Bryan and I served in the Army together and I still call
him regularly to debate politics and talk current affairs.  Sometimes
when I talk to Bryan, my wife will stand in the other room and laugh
because our conversation gets so heated that I have to stand up and
pace.
I can’t remember the last time I got so excited about God, while
reading the Bible that I literally couldn’t sit down.  Why is that?  Why
is that a conversation with one of my best friends leaves me so
invigorated that I can’t keep still, but a conversation with the God who
created the universe usually leaves me reaching for another cup of
coffee?
In last week’s message, Full Contact, Andy offered some clues.
He talked about the passage in John 10:10 in which Jesus said that he
came so that we might have life and have it to the fullest.  The kind of
life that leaves so you restless that you just can’t keep still.  A
non-typical life.
I want that kind of life, don’t you?
So why don’t you join me in trying out Andy’s suggestions.  If
you’re a guy, come to Beans & Brew this Friday morning at 6:00 to react
to Andy’s message.  If you’re a girl, do the same thing on Saturday.
Start one of the Bible reading plans from the list published in Sunday’s
program and see what happens.  But most importantly, have the guts to
look yourself in the mirror and ask this question:
“Am I leading a typical life?”
If the answer’s ‘yes’, do something about it.  Life’s too short
and God’s too big to settle for ordinary.  Let’s live life full contact.

– Don

God, You are Large and in Charge

As I was listening to the last talk in the “Go” series, I started to realize that each time God had orchestrated  a “GO” situation in my life, He was really asking me: Do you trust Me? Do you choose Me above all else?

Above fear.

Above uncertainty.

Above comfort.

Above reputation.

God wants us to answers those questions with a Yes in our heart to GO and do whatever it is we feel He is asking of us.  When He asks us to talk with a neighbor, to invite that person into our faith and community, He is really saying: Do you choose me over your own momentary discomfort to approach this person and invite them into the larger story with you?  I think all of us would say yes, if God were asking us that question face to face.  We would say yes with our mouths.  I think God is asking us to say yes with our hearts and translate that YES in to GO.  The awesome thing about it is God will never ask you to go alone.  If we say yes and choose Him above all else, He has promised to walk there with us….. and I would even bet that there would be a few LPV-ers that would walk along with you.

I say yes.  I choose God above all else.  I will pray for boldness to talk to the woman who sits next to me at work, boldness to not stay silent when faith comes up in conversations outside of church.  I will pray for the boldness to dare to GO anywhere God is going, because after all, He is large and in charge….. so I have nothing to be afraid of.

Go!

“Go.”

Jesus is pretty clear about what he expects from Christians.  In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, verse 19, He says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Pretty cut and dry if you ask me.

So if Jesus is so clear on what he wants us to do, why do we so often act like he told us to “stay” instead?  Stay with my group of Christian friends.  Stay in the safety offered by church on Sunday.  Stay away from spiritual conversations with non-Christians.

Ask yourself this question—when’s the last time you’ve had a spiritual conversation with a non-believer?  When’s the last time you invited someone to church who doesn’t attend anywhere?

Been awhile?  Me too.  So if we know we’re supposed be doing these things, why aren’t we?  Instead of answering this question myself, I put it to a couple of my friends.  Here are their responses:

“I think there is a fear element that has less to do with whether people will reject us…and more to do with a lack of a trust in God.

“I’m afraid to have spiritual conversations with my Christian friends…now imagine opening up to a non Christian.”

“I wonder…will God come through if I invite someone to church?”

“If they ask me questions and I don’t know the answer, will God help me?”

Wow.  Those statements hit close to home, don’t they?  Seems to me that each of those quotes revolves around this simple question:  Do I really believe that God is who he says he is?

If I truly believe that God is the answer for everyone, then I shouldn’t I be working that answer into every conversation?  Gut check time, folks.  Are you in or are you out?  If we honestly believe then we need to start acting on those beliefs and engaging in the world around us.

No Christian cul-de-sacs, no members only clubs masquerading as churches.  We are called to Go so let’s get moving.

– Don

Hostage…

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

I know what you’re thinking.  The Beatles?  Really?  After listening to Amy’s inspiring story on Sunday, the most you can come up with is lyrics from a Beatles song?

Sad, isn’t it?  But that’s what’s going through my head as I sit down to process what I heard during Celebration.  I thought Amy did an incredible job tying her real life account of almost becoming a Hostage to the story laid out in the gospel of Mark 2:1-12.

In both of these tales, a person in desperate need of help had to blindly trust their friends.  Think about that for a minute.  How many of us get down on our hands and knees to cry out to our heavenly Father, but refuse to let anyone in our Lifegroup know that we’re hurting?  How many of us, if we were the paralyzed man mentioned in Mark, would have stayed paralyzed rather than risk the humiliation of openly expressing our needs to our friends?  How many of us are just too proud to admit that we need help from anyone?

Funny how we have no problem railing against God for not answering our prayers while we willfully ignore the people he’s placed in our lives to do just that.  There have been times in my life when God has revealed himself in miraculous ways.  Times that have left me humbled and in awe of a Father that loves me.

But those times haven’t been the norm.

More often than not, I’ve seen His love through a random act of kindness, heard his voice in a phone call, or felt his touch in a handshake.  More often than not, God ministers to me, not through signs and wonders, but through the daily interaction of the people surrounding me.  People who care about me.  People who are my friends.

I think the Beatles had it right on this one.  We truly do get by with a little help from our friends.

Envy

“If you want fair, then go to hell”.

The first time I heard Ian Andrews say this phrase I thought that he was being unfair and even a little harsh.  But after listening to Andy’s talk on Sunday, I’m not so sure.  If we really want what we ‘deserve’ then we should all suffer the penalty of our sins.  Matthew 27:18 tells us that Jesus was handed over to be crucified because of envy.  So, even though the world may tell us that envy is no big deal, or just a natural emotional response to a situation…. I’m beginning to see things differently.  Envy can literally be a matter of life or death.

On Sunday Andy explained that envy causes us to uses words like “deserve” and “fair”.  Envy doesn’t trust God’s will for our lives and calls into question the very character of God.  So I decided to do something small to find out if this four-letter word was holding me hostage.

I paid attention.

I listened more closely to radio and T.V. ads for words like deservewant, and fair.  I listened more closely to my own conversations and thoughts.  I was surprised to find that envy is everywhere and that we are being enticed to welcome its bondage daily.  This surprised me, because as I was listening to Andy speak, I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted that someone else had – not really.  I can honestly say that I am happy with my life…. but I prayed that God would show me the hidden envy in my heart and He faithfully answered my prayer.   If you haven’t identified where envy lives in your life – I’d encourage you to ask God to reveal that to you as well.

For me – getting free from envy means opening myself to receive God’s love.  “Love drives out envy and enables you to be sincerely happy for the blessings of others. By letting go of envy, you free yourselves to appreciate your own blessings.”

When you can appreciate what God is doing for you – you’ll see how much you are LOVED.

– Angela