Practicing To Practice

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Practicing To Practice

In this study we’ll be continuing our short series of Following Jesus into the World – and we’ll be talking about Practicing to Practice. There are two different ways in which we use that word “practice”. It either means learning in preparation for the “real thing”, like a competition or a performance. It can also mean to practice something like law or medicine.

I believe the main purpose that we find for gathering is actually missional. Our main text is going to be Ephesians 4:11-16.

What does Paul say about the reason for the gifts that God placed in the church? Entertainment? Personal edification? What does he expect is going to happen as people gather and experience the presence of Christ corporately? How does that enlarge the idea of practice in it’s first usage? How does it relate to practice in the second way we described it?

In what ways can you imagine the church community as a practice field for our lives in the larger world?

I think this will be a challenging study!

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And The Beat Goes On (Matthew 28:16-20) Rob Woodrum

Well – we did it. After a year and some change, we have come to the final study in the Gospel of Matthew. We will be finishing up chapter 28, reading verses 16-20. This is Matthew’s abbreviated account of Jesus meeting up with his disciples after his resurrection. It’s a brief passage, but there is a lot of stuff to consider in these final words.

Jesus gives several imperatives in his final instruction. Go to all nations, make disciples, baptize, teach, obey and trust. This is what will be going on until, as he puts it, the end of the age. Which of those imperatives are easy for you to jump in on and participate in? Which ones are more challenging for you? How has our study of Jesus’ ministry help to shape our understanding of what this will look like?

I hope you’ve gotten as much out of Matthew’s gospel as I have. I hope we all gain a clearer focus of God’s kingdom and heaven meeting earth to make all things new.

Bearing Our Consequences (Matthew 27:32-66) Rob Woodrum

I was doing my usual research for our teaching this week and came across some differing views about policies of capital punishment in the Roman Empire (yes…I’m that boring), which led me to investigate historical evidences of crucifixion, which led me down a very long path of looking at all the various ways in which the crucifixion of Christ has been represented in the arts. (None of this, by the by, made the cut for my teaching…but it was fascinating for me)

What struck me was how much the crucifixion of one Middle Eastern man two millennia in the past has persistently and relentlessly invaded the imagination of humans right up until this present day. That cross emanates something we vaguely intuit. There is a key there and we can’t shake it.

The New Testament has the crucifixion of Jesus as a central theme from which the hope of the gospel flows out. While a robust theology of this event was still in it’s primitive stages in the minds of the NT writers – one thing is crystalline clear: Something VERY important happened in relation to the human condition and the future of the world when Jesus died on the cross. That much they unflinchingly declared.

This Sunday we’ll be reading the account of Jesus’ crucifixion in our ongoing study of Matthew – we’ll be reading Matthew 27:32-66.

Over and over again the NT tells us that Jesus died for sinners – for us. The picture they present is that Jesus, as our substitute, the righteous for the unrighteous, took the consequence of our sins onto himself in that death.

As we consider him, hanging naked and surrounded by enemies who mock him, we see him bear our shame.  In what ways does that effect us now? How can Jesus bearing our shame help us in understanding ourselves in relation to God. How does it effect our understanding of God’s view of us?

Jesus quoted Psalm 22 from the cross – most likely wanting to connect himself with the suffering servant of God from that lament. On the cross he takes our forsakeness – our despairing aloneness and separation from the Divine onto himself.  Not just to identify with us – but to take that away. What do you think that looks like in your life experiences? How can we apply this to times when we do feel alone or forgotten by God?

I love the image of the curtain which separated the holy of holies being torn from top to bottom. What significance, if any, do you see in the direction of that tear? Christ’s sacrificial death has now cleansed us and re-united us with God. What implications does this carry for us, especially in light of understanding who we are in relation to God?

As you read over the passage – what other consequence of sin, if any, do we see Jesus bearing in our place?

This, again, is a brutal yet beautiful passage – a window into the heart of God towards you and I

The Wonderful Cross (Matthew 27:1-31) Rob Woodrum

This Sunday we’ll be reading Matthew 27:1-31. It describes the preliminary stages of the cross experience of Christ. We’ve stated before that the cross is the central revelation of God’s character. So, we’ll be focusing on the cross in our teaching, discovering what it reveals and provides for us. It’s a very painful section to read and discuss, but it is also beautiful when understood as a picture of God’s heart towards humanity. That’s one of those strange, delicate tensions that the Gospel is full of.

In v1-10, we have the set up for the trial before Pilate, but then a parenthetical account of Judas’ fate. Judas went to the temple and the temple leaders because his heart was burdened by the sin he committed. What response did he meet there? What does that tell us about what had happened to the temple system of that time? How does that contrast with Jesus’ ministry and the cross experience he undergoes in this section? What warnings do we discern when it comes to our own framework for the practice of our faith?

Through the rest of the section we’ll cover we read about the trial before Pilate. Pilate had political aspirations and clearly wanted to protect those, but he also had difficulty with the apparent innocence of Jesus. The crowd and their leaders wanted blood and Pilate wanted to avoid a riot which could further tarnish his reputation as a competent leader for Rome. He offers a trade – he’ll let one prisoner go as a gesture of good-will for the Passover – who will it be? Barabbas, a condemned insurrectionist and murderer, or Jesus, the hopeful messiah. He likely expected they would choose Jesus over a brigand, but he was wrong. Barabbas, the guilty goes free and Jesus, the innocent, takes his place for crucifixion. Matthew is pretty heavy handed with the telling of this – it’s obvious what he wants us to see. What do you see?  What is this a picture of the cross providing for us all.

When the soldiers mock Jesus, they dress him up like a clown king…a parody of what a ruler should look like. They fashion a crown out of thorny brambles to put on his head. The Creation story comes to mind, and the curse pronounced because of sin:

Gen 3:17…”cursed is the fertile land because of you;
        in pain you will eat from it
        every day of your life.
18 Weeds and thistles will grow for you,
        even as you eat the field’s plants.”

Considering that curse, what does Jesus being crowned with thorns mean to you? What can it be picturing about what the cross of Christ is providing for us?

As I said – it’s a heavy and painful section of Scripture to read – but beautiful beyond comprehension as well. Hope to see you Sunday.

When Faith Is Falling Apart (Matthew 26:31-75) Rob Woodrum

I think one of the most common questions that gets posed to me is: “What is God DOING to me?” – or variations on that. “Why God? Why is this happening?” seems to be a regular refrain in the song of the redeemed. The reality is, life is painful and difficult and being a follower of Jesus doesn’t insulate us from experiencing that. That’s one of the reasons I love the gospel so much, because it never presents a triumphalist view of the world where the good guys always win. No, it clearly presents us with suffering, in all of its ugliness; but also reveals that pain as the very stuff that God works through to bring about his ultimate good.

This Sunday we’ll be reading Matthew 26:31-75 – covering a lot of territory, but all of it goes together, trust me.

Obviously, Jesus is the focal point of this section – but there is another character that reoccurs over and over through the entire section. Who is it?

We’re going to look at what we can learn from Peter’s miss-steps. By observing what he does, we can discern what NOT to do when our world starts to fall apart and our faith beings to fail.

Read it over – consider what the opposite moves are to Peter’s movements and attitudes, and you should be tracking with what we’ll consider this Sunday!

The Wonderwhat Podcast #4-Spoil The Child

Join us this month as we get you up to speed with Eastgate happenings and more.  In this episode we delve into a marriage and family minute, Cubs updates and some more Eastgate history.  We also discuss Eugene Peterson, cuss words in worship songs, and thoughts on corporal punishment.

A New Exodus (Matthew 26:17-30) Rob Woodrum

For the people of Israel, the Passover Meal was and is the central celebration of the Jewish faith. It is a special meal, with special food and special prayers – all of it rich with meaning about the national heritage and covenant they enjoyed with God. In our text this Sunday we’ll be reading Matthew 26:17-30, where Jesus and his disciples share the Passover Celebration together. Jesus, however, veers from the normal traditions and reshapes the celebration to reveal something amazing about his mission!

The Passover meal was instituted during the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt where they had lived as slaves. It commemorated their deliverance from slavery, as well as their protection from judgement, as the angel of death passed over the houses where the blood of the Passover lamb was sprinkled. The exodus of Israel revealed the distinction between the systems of this world (Egypt) and God’s Kingdom. Israel enjoyed a unique relationship with God – a covenant – and those are the things the Passover celebrated.

Jesus chose Passover as the timing of his sacrificial death. What does that tell us about the nature of Jesus’ messianic mission? What is it recreating. What are the parallels, on a worldwide scale, between the first exodus and Jesus’ mission.

Why do you think Jesus cryptically states that one of their own will betray him? Why do you think he didn’t just point him out and condemn him on the spot?

If Christ’s body and his blood, given sacrificially on the cross, is the basis of our unique relationship with God (a new covenant, in Jesus’ words) – what will that relationship look like in light of its basis?

Contrasts of the Cross (Matthew 26:1-16) Rob Woodrum

The story begins with Jesus giving one of his clearest predictions of his upcoming death so far. He even indicates when it will be taking place. What does that tell us about the nature of Christ’s death? Was it an accident? Was he pushed into a corner where he couldn’t escape? What does his foreknowledge reveal about his mission?

In contrast, look at the religious leaders conspiring to have him murdered. They considered themselves representatives of God; doing God’s work. Look at what morals, values and commands they were willing to throw aside in order to keep their place of political power. What contrast do you see between Jesus’ willingness to die and their schemes? How does our present day, Evangelical church measure up when compared to the cross?

The woman who brings the perfumed oil and pours it on Jesus (weird thing to do…but I’ll explain it a bit on Sunday) is commended by Him. He described it as anointing him for burial, tying this act to His upcoming sacrificial death. If we look at her example, what would we say the cross of Jesus can inspire in our lives? What do you think Jesus meant by indicating her actions would be remembered when the Good News is shared?

What question does Judas ask? How does that contrast with Jesus’ cross and the woman’s sacrificial devotion? If we’re not challenged by this, we’re not thinking it through. The cross exposes something here in Judas. What are our motives for following Jesus? If it cost us everything, would we still be faithful? How can the cross reshape our values and form us into better people?

Hope to see you Sunday! Surf-N-Grill is supposed to be happening – but the weather just doesn’t seem cooperative with our plans (with a nod to my opening paragraph). Let’s hope for some clearer skies!

The Wonderwhat Podcast #3-Brian & Kristi Talk Shop

This week we get to meet Brian & Kristi who both work at Eastgate and they share some of their stories of redemption and grace.  We also discuss theBibleProject.com, Calvary Chapels Pastors Conference and Dr. Who.

Music credits include: Surfing With My 2 Little Brothers  by Party People in a Can;  Le Surf by Chocolat Billy; Falling, Falling by Podington Bear

 

Risky Mission (Matthew 25:14-30) Rob Woodrum

This week we’ll be reading a very familiar parable – the parable of the Talents, in Matthew 25:14-30.

As you read this story, remember that parables aren’t meant to be exact representations of God’s kingdom in all the details. Jesus said it is “like” this sort of thing. The most important element of this story to discern is just what Jesus meant the talents to represent. A talent was a sum of money in Roman currency.  We get our English word “talent” from this parable, interestingly enough. Do you think Jesus is talking about money? Probably not, since money is the metaphor he’s employing. Do you think he’s talking about our skills though? What else do we know that God has entrusted to us, his subjects, to manage while our King isn’t presently seen?

The element of investing the talents is intriguing to me. It carries the implication of risk-taking. What would taking risks with what God has entrusted to us look like in our lives? What would it look like in our churches?

The third steward in this story seemed to speak respectfully to his master. But what do you think his actions actually revealed? Contrast the way the first two stewards interacted with the master and the third stewards assessment of what the master is like. What do you make of that contrast, if anything? Here’s a hint – how did the Pharisees understand God in contrast to Jesus’ revelation of God?

This should be an intriguing story to consider!

Prepared to Wait (Matthew 25:1-13) Rob Woodrum

This week, as we continue our study in Matthew, we’ll be reading about the unusual wedding rituals of ancient Palestine as we study chapter 25:1-13.

As you read the parable that Jesus tells, what do you believe the main point is?  How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with discussing the end times? If you knew for sure that Jesus was going to return within the next hour, what would you do differently?

It’s interesting to note that both sets of girls fell asleep while waiting for the bridegroom. The only time the differences began to show up between them was when the alarm was sounded. One group was prepared, one was not.

In what ways can we see to it that we are prepared for the reveal of Christ as King?

Living Like the World's Ending (2) (Matthew 14:15-35) Rob Woodrum

As we did last week, we’ll focus on the instructions we receive from Jesus concerning how we respond and live in light of the temporal nature of this world’s systems. As  you read through the passage, pay attention to the places where Jesus gives specific instructions to his disciples and consider how those instructions would apply to our lives in this present world.

The Wonderwhat Podcast #2-Sorry Man

So, here's the second instalment of the Wonderwhat (reboot) podcast.  In this episode R&R talk more about Eastgate history, as well as upcoming events-and of course some baseball news.