Thursday, May 2, 2013

Biblical Perspective on Human Trafficking

Crossroads is hosting an ant-human trafficking event in the month of May. Some representatives from Oasis USA will be there to help us understand the issues and we'll also look at what the Bible has to say to us about this. We'll start at 11am on each Sunday in May and go until 12:15 or so. We'll be in the Rose Room on Lake Avenue Church's campus (that's Family Life room 202). Even if you aren't a part of Lake Ave we'd love to have you come and learn about this important issue!

Here's the link to the facebook event we created for this:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Week

This week we'll join with Christians around the world as we commemorate Holy Week.

My challenge is short and sweet -- spend some time this week reading about Jesus' last week.  What did he do?  What did he talk about?  What do these things tell us about him and what he was all about?  What does any of this mean for us?

See all of you soon!  Some at our Maundy Thursday service, some at the Good Friday service, and hopefully most of you at our Easter Service (don't forget to meet at 10:30 at the kiosk!).


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's Up With Faith?

It's been a long, long, long time since we've updated this blog.  Sorry!  Better late than never, right?  Well, that remains to be seen...but thanks for reading this anyway!

In Crossroads we are in the beginning of a new series about the word "faith" in the New Testament.  We have seen that the English words "faith," "belief," and "trust" all come from the same Greek word.  And, in my opinion at least, "trust" is almost always the best option.

We're going to see that the faith that is found in the New Testament has more to do with following Jesus than it does with things that we merely affirm in our heads.  Faith is proactive.  Faith requires intentionality.  Faith doesn't require good works but it always inspires them.  Real faith is always lived out.

So, as we go through this series together, our prayer will be like the words found in Mark 9.24 -- "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

See you soon!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Suffering -- Personal Spiritual Growth

Here's a version of my notes from Sunday. Enjoy!

We are continuing our series on personal spiritual growth. Last week Morgan lead our discussion about following Jesus, specifically with regard to how others affected how you followed Jesus. This week we’ll be talking about the road bumps that are bound to happen when following Jesus, namely suffering. When we suffer it tends to get in the way of our personal spiritual growth…why do you think this is? What about suffering knocks us off the path of following Jesus? Hopefully today we will learn about suffering and how to respond to it as Christians.

Why are we surprised? 1 Peter 4.12-13Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” The point seems to be that suffering and being a Christian go hand in hand. Why do you think it is that being a Christian and suffering seem to always go together? Because the world hates us… John 15.18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” 1 John 3.13 “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.” How can the world hating us lead to suffering? What about in the West where Christianity is much more accepted? Because God uses suffering and pain to discipline us… Hebrews 12.7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” (Reminds me of C.S. Lewis quote (From [Problem of Pain] – “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”) Have you found this to be true in your life? Why do you think God has to communicate to us in this way? Because we learn and grow through suffering… Romans 5.3-4 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Do you think that we can get in the way of this learning process when we suffer?

So how can we cope with suffering? 1. We can rest assured in the fact that we aren’t alone…Jesus suffered, every other human has suffered too, and Christians in particular suffer. Does it really make it easier to know that you aren’t being singled out? Why? 2. We can remember that our suffering is temporary. Romans 8.18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Can this idea of future glory really help us cope now? 3. We can comfort one another when we suffer. 2 Corinthians 1.3-5 “Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who gives tender love. All comfort comes from him. He comforts us in all our troubles. Now we can comfort others when they are in trouble. We ourselves have received comfort from God. We share the sufferings of Christ. We also share his comfort.” What will it take for this kind of shared comfort and suffering to become a reality in a community like ours? Any other ways that we can cope with suffering?

Here’s the big point: Suffering is a normal part of following Jesus. We have a choice when we suffer: we can let it get in the way of our personal spiritual growth or we can allow God to use it for its designed purpose. And if we keep things in perspective and help one another, we can better cope with suffering! (Note: no one is saying that we should go out looking for new ways to suffer!)

Take Away: If you find yourself suffering in anyway, try to view it as an opportunity to grow in your relationship with Christ!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Study

On October 18th we'll be beginning a new study on 1 John. This is exciting to me because I love 1 John! It covers the "Christianity 101" stuff while also delving deeply into what it means to be a follower of Christ. I hope you can be a part of our study!

Come check us out at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California. We are on Lake's campus in the building called Ortland Hall and we are in room 205. For a map of the church's campus, click here.

God bless!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Studying the Bible

Before I post a rundown from last Sunday I would just like to say a few things about the purpose of this series. You may have been in attendance last week and thought, "There's no way in the world that I have time, energy, or interest to do what Matt is talking about!" You're right! I don't either! This method of studying the Bible that we have been talking about isn't something that you have to do everyday or even every week (unless you teach a class of interested people like you all!). Also, this method isn't intended to demean or replace reading your Bible devotionally. Instead, studying the Bible in this way is useful for us to know whenever we are curious about something that we read in our quiet times or heard in a sermon. If you are leading a Bible study sometime, following these steps could be helpful for you. And while it may seem time consuming, in practice this won't take you very long if you have the resources at hand (which I assume you do since you are reading this on the internet right now and some of the sources we talked about are online!). So while some of you might have found the last two Sundays a bit daunting, don't worry. No one is asking you to do this all the time! Nope, instead it's just another tool to have in your Batman utility belt so that you can know Scripture better!

Okay, so here's the quick rundown:

After completing the quick and slow readings, you would start by thinking about concentric circles. First, how does your passage fit with those around it? How does it fit in the book that its in? How does it fit with the rest of the NT or OT? How does it fit with the Bible as a whole? These are questions that you can answer on your own. You don't have to read all of John if you are interested in the Miracle at Cana, but you can skim it! The same goes for the NT/OT and the Bible circles. The idea here is to get a hold on how your passage fits with the rest of Scripture.

Next you will whip out your helps (study Bible notes, one-volume commentary, online commentaries, etc). But before starting to read, re-read your notes that you have made so far. This will help you remember what to be on the lookout for when you peruse your helps. Here are some common things that your helps will show you: historical context (who wrote your text, when, why, to whom, what the cultural situation was like, etc), the definitions of important words in your passage, connections with the immediate and wider contexts, how non-biblical stuff might shed some light on your passage, other points of view, and, if your interest has been piqued, other places to find more information.

Here are a few sources that might help you out in this process: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (introduction into studying the Bible by two excellent believing scholars), HarperCollins Bible Commentary (a little left of center), Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (centrist), Baker Commentary on the Bible (right of center), Oxford Annotated Bible (left of center), NIV Study Bible (right of center, NASB Study Bible has the same notes), study notes (really conservative), (collection of links), (collection of links), (collection of links for OT), (helps with geography), (concordance and loads of other stuff too), Google Books, Fuller's bookstore, and Archives Bookshop.

I hope this is helpful!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Studying the Bible

As requested, here is an overview of what we talked about on Sunday regarding studying Scripture:

Materials needed: 1) A Bible translated into your "heart" language; regarding English translations, I prefer the NIV or the NRSV but the NKJV, NLT, NASB, and ESV are all good too (as are many others); the question to ask yourself is this: Do I prefer translation that are word-for-word, thought-for-thought, or some combination of the two?; Don't just buy the one that looks cool, do a bit of research first!; 2) pen and paper (or your computer); 3) a concordance (or and internet connection hooked up to; and 4) a one-volume commentary of the Bible (or an internet connection that will give you access to solid information [more on this in the coming weeks]) and/or a Bible with study notes

First Step - Pray: Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you as you study God's Word.

Second Step - Choose a Passage: We talked about how this can happen organically, that is, during your devotional Bible reading you may find a passage that you find interesting or confusing; make a note of it so that you can study it later; and by "passage" I mean a paragraph or a story, not (necessarily) one verse or one word

Third Step - Read the Passage Quickly: Read your text quickly out loud and ask yourself this: What is this passage about? Write down your answer(s). Don't use any helps yet.

Fourth Step - Read the Passage Slowly: Now look at your text in more detail (which may meant that you need to read many times) and ask yourself these questions: Is there anything that I find confusing?, What transition words (therefore, thus, moreover, etc) are being used in this passage?, What are the keywords (words that are used a lot or that are especially meaningful to your passage)?, Does this text bring up any questions for me?, and What genre (poetry, narrative, letter, etc) is this text? Write down your questions and any possible answers that you can think of during this step. Don't use any helps yet.

Next week we'll talk about the next steps, some of which will may require the use of outside helps. I'll also be providing some book suggestions and internet links to things that might prove to be helpful.

God bless!

Oh, I almost forgot. Next week (9/13) is not the last week that we'll be talking about this. We'll also discuss it the following week (9/20) and we'll practice on a few passages. The last Sunday in September, the 27th, we'll have the "State of Crossroads" meeting where we'll hopefully introduce our new leadership team, talk about the past year, and discuss plans going forward. Thanks!