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The Love Letter

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FROM DENYSE:

Growing up I looked at the Bible as a historical book full of stories of what not to do and a book full of rules. However, as I know God more, and as I have delved deeper into the Bible, and into a deeper relationship with Him; I found that in fact the Bible’s purpose is so much more meaningful. The Bible is actually a very long love letter to us from God. It is God pursuing us and wanting us to be healthy, happy and holy so that we can walk with him and talk to him as friends.


The love letter starts in Genesis when he created us out of love and spoke to us face to face, to the fall and his answer to our sin, to Jesus’s life and death, to Revelation when Jesus comes back for his people to Judge and eventually heal this broken and hurting world. It showed us the consequences of Sin and what not to do.
From the beginning Gods purpose has been a profound, intimate, relationship, but because of the fall this purpose could not continue as intended. Instead of giving up, God did the next best thing, he gave us a way to be temporarily purified so that we could still have means to enter his presence through the sacrifice of the priest. Leviticus 16


However, he didn’t leave things there, he knew this was a temporary fix that could not be sustained forever (the temple was destroyed, animal sacrifices stopped) and it also did not cultivate an environment where a close relationship with Him was possible because a priest was needed, and they were the only ones that could enter the Holy of Holies. God had a timely and more permanent master plan to show how much he loved us and how deeply he longed for us to have an unveiled relationship with him.

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  • Read Leviticus 16

  • What was the process needed to perform the sacrifice?

  • Do you think Aaron’s sacrifice was enough? Was this sacrifice a personal experience or more communal?

  • Read Mark 15:33-39

  • Why did the Veil Rip?

  • Why was Jesus’ sacrifice more significant that the one ordered by God in Leviticus?

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The Secret Place

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When we’re going through STUFF…we have a tendency to handle it badly, and sometimes we get mad at God and wonder why he would do this to us. Instead, we should running to him for safety, protection, and comfort. Hiding in the secret place. You don’t have to pretend to have it all together, or be strong all of the time. Hide in the shadow of The Almighty!

If you have a Hillsong Now account (just $10/month), go here to watch the teaching we watched in B&B tonight!

My notes from the video:

9 words from 1 Sam 30: “BUT David found strength in the Lord his God.”

Leadership is a verb, leadership is active. “Hey, I’ve got to lead myself through this moment…” This needs to become a reflex action.

3 Thoughts that we can learn from David:

  1. Lead ourselves to pick the battles that we have in life. Work on the battles that matter. What are the things consuming me right now? Are they going to matter in 10 mins, 10 days, 10 years? JESUS UNDERSTANDS (Heb 4). Good battles vs. dumb battles. Internal vs. external battles. Spiritual vs. physical battles.

  2. The Secret Place. An intimate “place” with God.

    The secret place is a place where God is okay with my humanity, my honesty, and my emotion. It's not geographical or physical, but it's a place of honest and free expression. Psalm 61:2, Psalm 57:1

    Sometimes we've gotta give our soul a good talking to. And the sooner, the better. Psalm 43:5

  3. Put our confidence in God's great ability, before the miracle. 

“Great leadership is not position. Great leadership is about learning to lead ourselves, in humility & honesty, but with faith in our Great God.”

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  1. Study the above passages. Read the entire chapter, take them into your soul. Do a SOAP study on each. Even if you’re not going through something difficult now, you will. Learn how to run to the secret place now, so you can be faithful, then.

  2. Take notes in the sermon this weekend. Learn to be a notetaker. As Bold & Brave Women, we are passionate, not passive. If we’re going to excel in our relationship with God, we have to be passionate and intentional about it.

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Do you love me?

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Freedom Valley has always been a church that welcomes the unchurched, the people who don’t feel worthy of a staunch, religious church environment.  Very down to earth, friendly, welcoming.

Where we’re currently tracking though, becoming disciplemakers, it’s about MORE than just welcoming.  For the past few years, we’ve been training our greeters team to be helpful, not just friendly.  That there’s a big difference between helpful and JUST friendly.  Friendly is smiling. It’s “hi, how are you?”, but not necessarily, “how can I help you?”.  There’s depth to HELPFUL that’s not there with friendly.

We want to be HELPFUL to the people walking through our doors, not just welcoming.  We want people to BE accepted in our churches, not just FEEL accepted. We want them KNOWING God...not just knowing about Him.

There’s a difference!

And so, I’ve been challenging our church, since the end of last year, we need to go deeper.  We need to BE deeper.

In John 21, Jesus appears to some of the disciples after his resurrection, and has a very interesting interaction with Peter.  First, he blesses them with abundance of fish...something that they NEEDED. Not only for breakfast, but to support themselves.  He was blessing their efforts in the “secular world”, which I think is interesting. But then he sits down and has breakfast prepared for them.  He feeds them physically..THEN sets about ministering to them spiritually. Also interesting.

But then he says to Peter.  THREE times, do you love me? Read verses 15 - 17.

Jesus makes DIRECT comparison between loving Jesus, and feeding the sheep.  Not once, but 3 times. To the point of hurting Peter’s feelings, challenging him with it.  

  • There’s SO MUCH TO LEARN from this passage...so much that we could focus on.  Like the fact that Jesus asked Peter by using his OLD name..the one that didn’t mean ROCK or strength or stability.   

  • Or the fact that Jesus asked him THREE times.  The same amount of times that Peter denied Jesus.

  • Or the fact that Jesus that didn’t directly even mention Peter’s indiscretion...did chastise him for his fear...his betrayal...just wanted to hear him say OUTLOUD that he loved him. And make a point.

And I think the point Jesus makes is significant.  One that he makes over and over to the disciples when it’s “their time”

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Read:

  • Mark 16

    • What was Jesus’ directive to his disciples after the resurrection?

    • Do you see that as a directive in your life as well? How can you live that out?

  • Luke 14

    • What do you think the Parable of the Great Feast (vs.15-24) is trying to explain?

    • What’s your one takeaway from this chapter for your own life?

  • Matthew 28

    • How do you think this passage relates to being a disciplemaker?

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The Key To Life

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“People don’t have a problem adding Jesus to their life, they have a huge problem removing everything else so He can be the ONLY thing in their life.”

JESUS is THE key to life, not a key. He is THE way, not a way. He is THE truth, not a truth.

Stop trying to add Jesus to everything else you’re doing, and let Him be in everything and through everything.

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Read John 14:1-14

  • How is Jesus “the way” in your life?

  • How is Jesus “the truth” in your life?

  • How is Jesus “the life” if your life?

AND!

Start the Disciplemakers Challenge (it’s a sneak peak into the sermon for this weekend!)

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Amid My Mess

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From Denyse:

Lately I have noticed many people are surprised at the concept of praying not only for others, but also for themselves. Although this is a very selfless sentiment and actually very admirable, it can also be a bit precarious for us. Don’t get me wrong—the Bible is huge on being unselfish, drawing us away from the very human mindset of “me first”, and teaching us to put others ahead of ourselves, serving others and covering others with prayers. Nonetheless, as individuals, we are prone to believe we can do it all ourselves, we have the strength to deal with everything, fix everything and figure it all out without needing anyone else.

As leaders, parents, mentors, managers, (insert your title here) we believe that we need to know all, hold everything up and manage everything/everyone around us without showing any sign of weakness, confusion or fear and that our duty is to only come to God when it’s about someone else and that is the only time he listens. We have been taught not to rely on anyone but ourselves if we want things to be done right. Or we have been taught to toughen up and not let on that we are not as strong as we should be or look.

However, I notice that throughout the Bible the great leaders do not only cry out to God for the sake of others, but also for their sake as well and some of them do it quite thoroughly by bemoaning their very existence and having what we would call a meltdown (not that we should be whiners). I notice also that God likes to have friends who he knows intimately and races to their rescue when they desperately cry out to him. Moses and Abraham come to mind. He saw them at their best and saw them at their worst and loved them and strengthened them through it all. He wasn’t surprised or shocked about their shortcomings or when they couldn’t handle everything that life was dishing out at the time. Through the Bible He shows his spectacular strength with amazing rescues and awe inspiring deeds in the middle of pretty serious situations and yet (NIV) Luke 12:6 says, “Are not sparrows sold for 2 pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” This shows me that He is just as much interested in our BIG things as he is in our mundane and little things. He wants to know when we are strong, but he also wants to be there when we are weak, mad, happy, sad, unsure or just so-so.

Sometimes selfless obedience to him is admitting we need him urgently and admitting that it is by His strength and not ours that we wake up, move forward, thrive, and survive. Sometimes by praying about what is affecting us, the prayer spills over and actually affects those around you in a positive way. A personal prayer is being able to allow God’s big shoulders to take the load and to admit that our strength is so limited next to the enormity of his love and who he is. There is something freeing and intimate when we can admit, I can’t do this Lord…I need you here amid my mess. This is where we allow him to do his best work, where he can powerfully move, change our circumstances or just give us the strength to walk through the hardest battles whatever the outcome may be.

  • Read 2 Kings 6:8-23

    • How did God move through Elisha’s prayer?

    • How did the outcome of the prayer affect the Soldiers of Aram?

  • Read Matthew 26:38-54

    • What do you think was the purpose of his prayer? And what was God’s response?

    • What was the outcome of Jesus’s prayer?

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Bold As Lions

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“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Growing up shy, but with God-given leadership gifts, I always felt like I couldn’t be myself. I was stuck in a cage of fear and insecurity, and I knew that wasn’t who God had called me to be. Somewhere along the line, someone said that we could use the Word of God to change us from the inside out, and encouraged me to start speaking it, out loud, over my life. So, I dug in.

What I mean by “dug in”:

  1. Write the scripture down.

  2. Write down what speaks to you about it

  3. Look up definitions of anything that doesn’t make sense.

  4. Read the rest of the passage, before and after the verse.

  5. Who was the writer talking to? What was the culture like at that time?

  6. Is there anywhere else in the Bible that talks about this subject?

  7. Pray about what God is speaking to you through this verse. What is God saying?

After I really got the meaning of the verse down, I could repeat it over and over to myself. I would say it out loud, or as an anthem in my head inspiring me to do things I wouldn’t normally do, out of fear. I would write them on little pieces of paper and hang them on my mirror, where I could see them every day.

Over time, these verses saved me. Changed me. Inspired me. That’s the power of the Word of God.

For me, I had to pursue boldness. Maybe for you it’s something else entirely.

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This week, read:

  • Proverbs 28:1-2

    • Why do you think the godly are as bold as lions? What makes them this way?

    • This chapter has a lot to say, which verse spoke to you the most?

  • 2 Timothy 1:5-7

    • How does God give a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline?

    • How can you pass on genuine faith to your children and grandchildren?

  • Deuteronomy 31:1-8

    • Why does God promise to not abandon Joshua? Do you think that’s a promise we can still hold onto today?

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It Is Still Well With My Soul

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We’ve all had weeks where we felt beat up, broken, and bloody. Weeks where our soul is limping into church on Sunday, where our faith is badly shaken, and we feel unable to be the leaders, the contributors, and the passionate women of God we were created to be. I don’t want to lie to you all, I’ve had these weeks too.

But there is a way to make it all well with your soul. To stand in the storm. To be found standing after the battle. To have the emotional equity to get through even the toughest of days.

(You do need a subscription for the Hillsong Channel to see the content, $7.99/month, but they offer a 7-day free trial!)

Do I have a healthy soul?

  1. You know you have a healthy soul, when you change your environment, and your environment does not change you.

    1. “My prayer for you is that you never acclimate to the dysfunction around you.”

    2. “Ah! I wish I could listen to your negativity, unfortunately, God says—I belong!”

    3. “Control the parts of your environment that you can.”

  2. You know you have a healthy soul, when you give the benefit of the doubt, to God.

    1. “Unhealthy souls are waiting to get wounded.”

    2. “Beware of good people who say bad things, by the way.”

    3. “Which way do you lean when crisis hits you?”



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Read Psalm 127:1-2

  • Does this verse speak to anything in your life?

  • Do you need to start asking God for good rest?

Read Matthew 11:28-30

  • What do you think Jesus means by this statement?

Read Mark 6:30-32

  • Why do you think Jesus led the disciples to be alone?


BONUS ASSIGNMENT: Find 2 more places that the Bible talks about rest or having a healthy soul. Write then down, and bring them to B&B next week!


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Contributors, not Consumers

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The church was never meant to be a spectator sport, because we were never meant to be unproductive! In fact, from the very beginning of time, God created us with purpose, and with a job to do!

Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

We are productive, because God is productive, and He created us in His image. We’ve been given gifts and talents and abilities to pour INTO the world around us, to make it better than we found it, and work diligently. We have trouble with this because our fallen nature doesn’t always want to work for something, face something difficult, or challenge the status quo, and our consumerism culture doesn’t help!

Some resolutions I’ve made in the past to help myself be a contributor, not a consumer:

  1. Leave things better than I found them.

  2. Learn about a subject (or both sides of the story), before speaking my opinion into it.

  3. Let everything I say be good and helpful. (Eph 4:29)

  4. Challenge myself, even when it’s scary.

  5. Gauge my own investment.

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This week, read:

  • Ephesians 4:29-32

    • Can you identify any areas of your life that need to change based on this passage?

  • Romans 12:1-3 (in the Message version)

    • How can you place your everyday life before God as an offering?

  • Proverbs 18:17

    • Have you been taking one side of the story in any area of your life? How could you begin to make more well-rounded opinions?

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Passionate, not passive.

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As Bold & Brave women, we are passionate, not passive. I used to sit back and watch the world go by me in fear. My most comfortable place was in the background, not being pressured or challenged, playing a supporting role. Fast forward to today, and you can see how God didn’t exactly allow me to stay in comfort zone.

Now, I have to make decisions. I have to embrace conflict. I have to fight my way to justice! And all of that requires passion. Passion overcomes fear.

We see passion modeled in Jesus’ flipping the tables, in his constant retreat to the presence of God, his steadfast submission, and his single-minded focus on his father. We need to follow that example to the best of our ability. Like an olympic athlete who trains obsessively and watches what they eat and cuts out other things from their life, we need to have focus.

Passionate people speak up when something goes wrong, they light up the room, they pull the people around them up, they are vibrant, full of life, and give into the people around them.

But as bold & brave women, we’re not passionate about just anything. We’re passionate about God, and we’re passionate about people.

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Read 1 Corinthians 9: 19-27

  • What do you think Paul’s point is here?

Read Romans 12

  • What can we learn about passion from this passage?

Read Psalm 63

  • How can you make this more your prayer this week?

  • What verse jumps out at you from this passage?


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Leaders, not Complainers

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Welcome to Bold & Brave, Winter Semester!

Bold & Brave began as a mandate to me (Candace), from God. He dropped the vision for it, even the name for it, into my heart at a conference, and I just couldn’t let it go. Since then, we’ve become a group that encourages each other, prays for each other, and challenges each other to move forward in our faith and understanding of God’s Word.

I’ve become very passionate about knowing God’s Word over the past few years, and I want that for you too! It’s unlocked countless truths for me, challenged me to do things I never thought was possible, and made my life better in so many ways. I am Bold & Brave today, because of the Word. 100%! So, in this group, I want to teach you how to study it, know it, live by it, and apply it to your life. For me, the Word has always shaped my worldview and self-view. As it should!

The first thing that I had to learn on my journey to being bold & brave, was how to be a leader, not a complainer.

  1. I had to own my part in how people treated me.

  2. I had to choose to make my own table, not pine for tables I’m not invited to.

  3. I had to stop giving myself permission to have self-centered discontentment.

  4. I had to model behavior that I wished to see in those around me.

  5. I had to make the decision to serve those around me.

————————————————————————————————————-

To get the most out of this group:

  1. Commit to showing up every week.

  2. Do the assignments, and let your curiosity take you further.

  3. Be honest.

  4. Make friends!

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  • Read Philippians 2:1-18.

    • What about this passage speaks to the “leader, not complainer” idea?

  • Read Luke 12:13-21.

    • How did Jesus respond to complaining?

  • Read Luke 10:38-42.

    • What is the thing worth being concerned about?

  • Read John 8:1-11.

    • What can we learn about Jesus’ general attitude towards people in this story?

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The Remedy

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The joy of faith is the best remedy against the griefs of sense.
a remedy with a promise
a remedy with a proof

A lot of things in Jesus’ teachings, and in the Bible, seem contrary to popular opinion, or even good sense. Sense says that to be happy, as with any emotion, it must come from within. And doesn’t that sound like a lot of popular advice? “Be true to YOU—true happiness comes from being YOU.” That kind of thinking appeals to our very American, very original, very individual thinking.

The Bible, however, has some different things to say. It actually seems to think that joy isn’t found within, all of the time. That sometimes—it must be something that you PUT ON. Like clothes! That it’s something that must be found outside of yourself.

I've had this theory for some time now—that ALL topical sins, come from 3 base desires deep within each of us. Pride, lust, and greed. We act out of them all the time, but usually, we tend toward one over the others. But, I’m starting to believe that even out of those 3….everything we do—everything—-everything that affects us negatively…is actually based in fear.

We fear everything. We fear loneliness, rejection, poverty, sickness, disease, failure, disappointment, spiders, lack of sleep, hunger…the list goes on. We even fear fear itself! Humanity keeps conquering disease after disease, we haven’t had any world wars in a while, and yet we’re still killing ourselves with anxiety & depression by the millions! FEAR does that.

YOU can train your body, your mind, and your soul, to PLACE your faith, PUT ON joy, and CHOOSE to love. Joy is not only possible, it’s NOT OPTIONAL.

Over the next two weeks, until we meet again, take a few days to really study, meditate on, and apply each of these verses. By study, I mean: do a SOAP study, write each verse out word by word, pray about, read the rest of the chapter, read a commentary, etc.

  1. James 1:2-4

  2. 1 Peter 1:3-12

  3. Psalm 27

  4. Proverbs 15:16

  5. John 16:16-33

  6. If you need more, check out this article.

I also found some songs that help me PLACE my faith, PUT ON joy, and CHOOSE to love. Use these…just like Saul used music of the harp, in 1 Samuel, to ward off a “tormenting spirit”.

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Chasing the Mystery

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I believe that God wants to know us, and wants to be known. If that’s true, why does it seem so difficult to know Him? I think there are many reasons for that, but here’s a few:

  1. God is infinite. We are currently bound by time.

    1. “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:8

  2. God is complex. We aren’t ready.

    1. “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord, ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” Isaiah 55:8

    2. “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Mark 4:23

  3. God is perfect. We were born into imperfection.

    1. “We see things through a glass, darkly” 1 Corinthians 13:12

In these ways, it’s difficult for us to know God because he is so different. And in some ways, we just have to embrace the mystery, trust and have faith, that God is who He says He is, and He’s going to do what He says He’s going to do.

But He also calls us to KNOW Him. By “know” I believe that means to experience Him, not just know facts about Him. We often call it the difference between being a fan and a follower. Fans of Jesus know stuff about Him, but don’t really apply it to their lives. Followers actually model theirs lives after Him. In the same way, I think you can know facts about the character of God, but not actually have a relationship with Him.

So how do we get to know Him?

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This week, we’ll challenge ourselves to try a few of the disciplines from the article we read in Bold & Brave. For more info or direction on any of them, click that link for the article. This week, try 2 that you haven’t tried ever, or in a long time. Look through the list reflectively and try to pick out something that you need, then try the discipline for it!

Disciplines of Engagement (Christ in Community)

  • Bible Reading

  • Worship

  • Prayer

  • Soul Friendship

  • Personal Reflection

  • Service

Disciplines of Abstinence (Self-Denial)

  • Solitude

  • Silence

  • Fasting

  • Sabbath

  • Secrecy

  • Submission

Looking for more info on this subject?
I highly recommend the following books:

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The Love Pretenders: Week of Dec 6-12

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Things you would probably never say out loud:

  • “No, I won’t pray for you.”

  • “You’re a stranger, and I’d like it to stay that way.”

  • “I do not want to get to know you better.”

  • “You’re probably just lazy, and I don’t think you deserve to be helped.”

  • “You’re not my problem.”

  • “This conversation is taking way too long, and I want to go do my stuff now.”

But we do find ourselves thinking them, don’t we?

If not thinking them—we definitely do them subconsciously. I sometimes find myself sinking into a rut of pretending to love people, rather than actually loving them. Love is difficult. It usually costs you something. It’s anti-lazy, anti-selfishness. I think this is why God is described as love. Not that He has love or gives love, but that He IS love. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient and kind, it doesn’t envy or boast, it’s not proud or rude or self-seeking. It doesn’t easily anger, and it keeps no record of wrongs.

Romans 12 also tells us, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

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This week’s assignment is a little more practical than most! From the article we read, here are your challenges for this week! Try to get at least 3 done this week (bonus points if it’s the most challenging ones for you!)

  1. Have a conversation with a stranger, with the same tenderness you would a friend. Romans 15:7, Romans 12:10

  2. Meet a need of someone not in your immediate family. Acts 2:44-47

  3. Have a conversation with someone who is different from you. James 2:9

  4. Invite someone over to your house for a meal. Romans 12:13

  5. Allow people to take off their masks. Galatians 6:2

    1. (This one is tougher to be practical, but I think you’ll know when you do it. REALLY listen to someone, and bear their burdens, with a spirit of gentleness)

  6. Pray for someone, out loud, in the moment. 1 Thessalonians 5:25

  7. Spend a day consciously smiling at strangers. Be the first to say hi.

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Week of November 29 - December 5

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I don’t consider myself a particularly good cook. Don’t get me wrong, for Thanksgiving this year, I made a delicious pecan pie, the best chocolate chip cookies ever, a perfect Amish baked corn, and a wonderful green bean casserole, all from scratch! I got plenty of compliments on them, everyone agreed: Candace’s cooking was a success! But my answer to those compliments? “I can follow a recipe like the best of ‘em!”

For each and every one of those dishes, I googled recipes. I found one that sounded good and looked easy. I made a list, went to the store, gathered the ingredients, and then painstakingly followed the recipe (almost to the letter) with very few variations. I just followed the formula that someone else set for me.

In other areas of life, I try to follow the same principle. I see good results coming out of someone, and I want to know how they did it, so that I can follow “their recipe”. That works with cooking, but it doesn’t always work with spirituality or with leadership.

Lately, on a podcast, I heard Larry Osbourne say, “I’m big on judging the fruit, not the watering schedule. I’m a fruit inspector. If you’re fruit is fine, stop changing the watering schedule! If your fruit sucks, then maybe google watering schedules.” To understand this, you have to understand what the Bible says about fruit, so this week we’re going to study just that!

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Read:

  • Galatians 5:22-23

  • John 15:1-17

  • Matthew 7:15-20

  • James 3:17

  • Psalm 1:1-6

  • Ephesians 5:8-11

  • Isiah 37:31

  • Matthew 3:8

Answer:

  • What kind of fruit do you desire to produce?

  • Why do you think you haven’t been producing it?

  • Do you think you need to change up some watering schedules?

  • Is there an area of your life that you need to be a “fruit inspector” for?

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Week of November 15-21

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This past weekend we talked about the calling of Saul (if you missed it, watch here), but we didn’t get to finish Saul’s story. He could easily be another character in the Wayward series, actually. Saul makes two big mistakes, found in 1 Samuel 13, and 1 Samuel 15. Personally, I feel that they are both indicative of a much larger problem, however.

In 1 Samuel 13, we see Saul panicking. He doesn’t trust God nearly enough, I think he gets his eyes off of God providing for him, and onto the people around him. He sees his army melt away, and he takes on their stress and fear, instead of redirecting it to God.

In 1 Samuel 15, we see Saul making his own decisions. God’s command is clear, but Saul thinks there’s some wiggle room there. He takes matters into his own hands, which is a very popular decision with his troops, and he’s very happy with himself. But God isn’t.

 
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This week:

  • Read the rest of Saul’s story. 1 Samuel 13-31.

    • What lessons can we learn from Saul’s story?

    • What lessons can we learn from David’s story?

    • What do you think God is speaking to you through this?

    • What verse means the most to you?

    • How should you life change because of this story?

BONUS FOR NEXT WEEK, IF YOU NEED MORE! (No Wednesday Night Ministry on November 21st)

  • Read 2 Samuel.

    • Where does David end up going wayward?

    • What can we learn from David’s story?

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Week of November 8-14

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Anointing is a word used a lot in church, but not explained very often. If you listen closely, you could probably figure out that anointing is a word used for the presence of God, or God speaking through someone. It’s almost synonymous, figuratively, with God’s Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 61 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.”

Here we see the word anointing being used in a more figurative sense, as we do in church, most often.

But the actual definition of the word anointing is: “to smear or rub with oil, typically as part of a religious ceremony”. Where did that come from, in the Bible? Was anyone ever physically anointed with oil?

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Pick a few of these examples to read and study:

  • Aaron & sons: Exodus 28, 29, 30, 40. Leviticus 8, Numbers 3, 35

  • Ruth: Ruth 3:3

  • Saul: 1 Samuel 9, 10

  • David: 1 Samuel 16, 11 Sam 2, 5, 12. Psalm 89

  • Solomon: 1 Kings 1, 1 Chronicles 29

  • Hazael, Jehu, Elisha: 1 Kings 19, 9

  • Sick people: Mark 6, James 5

  • Jesus: Mark 14

  • Jesus’ feet: Luke 7, John 12

After reading a few of these examples, what do you think God’s anointing produced in the lives of the anointed? What did you learn from these examples? What changes in your life because of what you learned?

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Week of October 25-October 31

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What is a pastor? What is the God-given role a pastor should play?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and at FV, we don’t usually do much for it. Not because we don’t love our pastors, but because I think it feels a little disingenuous coming from our pastors, haha. :) This morning, as I was praying and getting ready for the day, I felt like God said that Bold & Brave should take this on, and make it something that we can do every year going forward, as a women’s ministry!

Most people have no concept of what a pastor actually does on a day-to-day basis. Pastors are expected to be theologians, prayer warriors, completely sinless & perfect in every way, in addition to: business whizzes, property & building managers, social media gurus, advertising execs, set up & tear down crew, systems thinkers, counselors…all of it!

Pastor Jason always says that he had a professor in college at Bible school who said, at the beginning of his class, that it was his goal to talk every one of them OUT of being in ministry. He said, because if he could talk them out of it, they couldn’t hack it at being a pastor anyway. It has to be your heart’s cry—the only thing in the world that you could do—or it probably isn’t for you.

Pastors are gifts to the church, Ephesians 4 tell us, but why? A lot of you saw my anguish a few weeks ago, as I wrestled through some emotional issues regarding friends whom I care deeply about, walking away from God. It’s tough work. We don’t work with products that we can sell, or customers that we can bribe away from the competition. We’re working with SOULS. People! People are complicated. If you’re still a pastor after 5 years…10 years…it means you’ve dealt with dozens of cases like these, and you’re opening yourself up to the heartbreak, over and over and over. That should be appreciated!

So…how do we show our pastors and church staff appreciation? Let’s brainstorm today, ways that we can be used individually, and as a group, both for the last week of October 2018, and for next year!

FV’s Pastoral Staff

Candace Pringle
Aaron Pringle
Gerry Stoltzfoos
Jason Hollenbeck

FV’s Admin Staff (not all of these are paid-staff members, some are just REALLY dedicated volunteers!)

Lorrie Redding
Jaymie Hollenbeck
Jody Whitney
Jess Kutz
Travis & Steph Kuykendall
Chris Whitney
Bobbie Fleming
Julie Stoltzfoos

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  • Read Ephesians 4:1-16.

    • Why do you think Paul is calling those 5 roles gifts?

  • Read 1 Peter 5:1-11.

    • What is the job of an elder?

    • How does a shepherd care for his flock of sheep? How is that similar to what a pastor does?

  • Read Acts 20:13-38.

    • If you had to make a job description for Paul, based on this passage, what would you say would be included on it?

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Week of October 18-24

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This weekend, Jason will be preaching on Samson, and how he went wayward. As we were studying this passage together, one verse in particular caught my eye.

Judges 13:25, “And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneth-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.”

I know this verse may not sound like much, but I wondered what God meant by “stir him”, because (as those of you who were at B&B last week know), I’ve been STIRRED lately. :) I have previously described the feeling as a “fire in my belly”…a deep inner conviction. It’s sometimes like a lightening focus, and other times, like an unsettling, that I just can’t get rid of. These feelings move me to DO SOMETHING for God, and it made me wonder where I could see Biblical examples of these types of feelings.

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Read Judges 13-16

  • Why do you think God stirred Samson? What was the end goal of Samson’s life?

  • What do you make of the lion experience Samson had? Do you think God was trying to teach him something?

Read Exodus 35:21

  • What were the Israelite’s stirred to do in this case?

Read Ezra 1:1

  • Was was Cyrus stirred to do in the book of Ezra?

Have you ever been stirred by God? What was He stirring you to do?
Is a “stirring of hearts” something we should pray for?
Is there anywhere else in the Bible we see anything like this?

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Week of October 11-17

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Dictionary Definition of "faithful”: loyal, consistent, steadfast. true to the facts or the original.

I used to see myself as a pretty wishy-washy person. I was easily convinced by one side of the story…until I heard the other side. I thought that meant that I was weak, or at least, that I didn’t have an opinion of my own. Now, I think it just made me a little naive.

Proverbs 18 says, “What a shame—yes, how stupid!—to decide before knowing the facts.” and “Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight.”

A wise person waits to make a decision until they know all the facts they can know. A wise person hears both sides of the story. A wise person also knows some bottom line truths.

I had to come to the conclusion that there were some things I could not be UN-convinced of. I know—that I know—that I KNOW God is real. That He is good. And that His love is unconditional. Those pieces of truth can not be shaken in my soul. And if those things are true, then his Word is also true. And if it’s true, then it’s ALL true. And I must obey it.

I believe that is the beginning of faithfulness.


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This week, we’re going to do a word study, and a people study.

  1. What does the Bible say about GOD’S faithfulness?

    1. 1 Kings 8:56

    2. Psalm 89:8

    3. Hebrews 13:8

    4. 2 Thessalonians 3:3

    5. 1 Corinthians 10:13

    6. 1 John 1:9

    7. 1 Corinthians 1:9

    8. Philippians 1:6

  2. Why was Moses considered faithful?

    1. Read Exodus 33-35 again, if you didn’t last week

  3. What does the Bible say about being UNfaithful?

    1. Proverbs 20:6

    2. Jeremiah 17:9

    3. Matthew 26:75

What did you learn from all this studying?
Would you consider yourself to be faithful? Why or why not?
How can you be more faithful?

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Week of October 4-10

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So, if you missed this weekend’s message, you should catch up here.

I spoke on the book of Exodus this week, the first section of Moses’ story, and this coming weekend, I plan to speak on the next portion of Moses’ story (even though we’ll be in a different series!).

So I wanted to focus a little more in depth on the context of Moses & the Israelites, and study that more thoroughly. The concept of holiness is really important by the end of Exodus, and I don’t want to lose the bigger picture here. We may be able to identify with the Israelites in some ways, but we have something they didn’t—JESUS. Watch the videos below, and let’s study Exodus, and HOLINESS together this week!

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Read:

  • Exodus 1-14

    • What stuck out to you the most about this story?

    • What can you apply to your life?

  • Exodus 15 (the first praise song recorded in the Bible)

    • Which verse do you want to claim over your own life?

  • Exodus 16-20

    • What did you find interesting about this part of the story?

  • Exodus 21-31

    • Why do you think God was so specific in his instructions?

  • Exodus 32-34 (what the sermon is on this weekend)

If you missed class, watch these videos:

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