teaching series

Who's In Charge Around Here?

Today's message comes from Luke 2:1-7, the first part of what is commonly known as the Christmas story. I broke up the story into two parts because there's a specific contrast here between the great king, Caesar Augustus, and the one true king, Jesus, who ends this scene as a helpless baby sleeping in a feeding trough. Which one of these kings will you trust? Will you trust in Jesus, even in those moments when he doesn't seem to be in control? Or will you trust in some other king - another person or even yourself?

Here are the questions we created for groups to walk through and talk about - based on the sermon but not entirely dependent upon the sermon. If you're not in a group, feel free to use these but I can't stress enough how critical it is for you to plug into the life of a group of people. For more information about our community groups, contact us at info@missionathens.com.

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Time for Men To Grow Up

Towards the end of today's message, I'm going to take some time to talk to our men about the culture of spiritual adolescence that pervades life in the American South. We have the opportunity to see our families and city transformed by grace - and the Scriptures call men to take the lead in working towards that end. I'd love for you to join me in asking God to give the men in our church everything they need to live and lead this way Here are the questions we created for groups to walk through and talk about - based on the sermon but not entirely dependent upon the sermon. If you're not in a group, feel free to use these but I can't stress enough how critical it is for you to plug into the life of a group of people. For more information about our community groups, contact us at info@missionathens.com.

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The One Thing I Wish...September 19, 2010

The audio from this past Sunday's sermon on Luke 1:5-25 can be found here. The one thing I wish I had more time to dig in and unpack is the relationship between shame and guilt. This came up a few times in conversations after the sermon because while my particular focus was on the experience of shame because of something that had been done to you, it was noted that you can feel deep shame when you're the perpetrator who has done wrong.

So then the question expands beyond 'what do I do about my shame?' to ask whether or not I have good reason to be experiencing shame in the situation and circumstances that present themselves.

To help answer that question, I encourage you to check out the manuscript of a sermon by John Piper entitled 'Battling the Unbelief of Misplaced Shame'. Here's an excerpt:

Misplaced shame (the kind we ought not to have) is the shame you feel when there is no good reason to feel it. Biblically that means the thing you feel ashamed of is not dishonoring to God; or that it IS dishonoring to God, but you didn't have a hand in it. In other words, misplaced shame is shame for something that's good—something that doesn't dishonor God. Or it's shame for something bad but which you didn't have any sinful hand in. That's the kind of shame we ought not have.

Well-placed shame (the kind you ought to have) is the shame you feel when there is good reason to feel it. Biblically that means we feel ashamed of something because our involvement in it was dishonoring to God. We ought to feel shame when we have a hand in bringing dishonor upon God by our attitudes or actions.

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The Family - Why We're Studying the Gospel of Luke

This next Sunday, we begin a teaching series called The Family that will take us through the life of Jesus as told by a first-century doctor named Luke. To help us prepare, we'll take this week to address some background questions about this story. Today's question - out of everything we could talk about in the Bible, why are we getting into Luke's story?

I plan our teaching about a year in advance and try to get a good balance of different biblical genres and topics so that over a 4-5 year period we're hitting parts of the entire Bible.

So when I sat down last December and started to map out 2010, I knew it had been awhile since we had studied any of the gospels [NOTE: in this instance, 'gospels' refers to the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - each of which tells the story of the life of Jesus from a slightly different missiological angle and taken together gives us a robust picture of Jesus during his time on earth]. And when we had studied Mark's gospel, it was during a summer when many of our students were gone and we sprinted through it, covering an entire chapter each week.

So I felt like this would be a great time to dive back into the heart of the biblical story - I mean, everything in the Old Testament points to these events and everything else in the New Testament points back to this story. So this is the jelly in the doughnut, so to speak.

Now what drew me to Luke is that because it's the story of a homeless Jewish man written to a wealthy Gentile, it has some far-reaching possibilities in a church context that is increasingly multi-cultural. It speaks directly to the habits and worldview of religious insiders and outsiders. It says something to people living in the suburbs, to students on the UGA campus, and to a diverse community in downtown Athens that is unified in its disinterest in American Southern Suburban Christianity.

My hunch, even before I really begin to pick the story apart and get to the heart of the thing, was that this would be pretty volatile. If you let the story come into contact with real life, there are going to be tears - sometimes tears of comfort and at times tears of conviction. The Jesus we find in Luke's story is impossible to ignore.

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