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Grow January 29, 2014

Encourage One Another

The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews commands his audience in chapter 3:13, “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”.

Last Sunday, we were challenged to put off gossip and put on encouragement. The leaders of the early church knew that encouragement would be central to walking in the ways of Jesus, despite opposition from the world, Satan and our flesh. Here in Hebrews, we see encouragement is the antidote to hard hearts. This is literally the adding of courage. It is a critical balance to the challenges of Scripture and the human tendency toward criticism. It is the fatherly secret of not allowing one another to become exasperated or discouraged.

We have an amazing community of believers meeting every Sunday morning as the Mariemont and Gladstone churches worship and serve Jesus together. Consider this:
-almost four dozen people serve every Sunday; about one in every 8 people
-we serve about 150 people at Lite Bites where great tasting fellowship takes place
-the physical spaces are clean and prayed over; welcoming for every generation
-we are led in worship by gifted musicians who help us truthfully ascribe worth to God
-we study God’s Word in depth with a desire to obey what it says in daily life
-we hear testimonies of God’s faithfulness and the faith of those among us
-we suffer along with those suffering – whether in loss, bad health, or financial problems
-we invest almost a quarter of every dollar given to impact the world for Jesus
-many regulars serve as advisors or in leadership within other high impact ministries
-together with many city churches, we are coming together to love and serve Cincinnati

So next time you see someone serving well, loving others, taking a new step of faith, giving their time, talent, and treasure – or just plain persevering, let them know they are appreciated and encourage them to persevere!
Learning to live and love in the power of Jesus with you,

Denis

 

Grow January 23, 2014

We Ain’t Nothin’ Y’all

The Gospel reminds us that we were stuck in sin, trespasses and opposed to God, while Christ died for us. Our salvation is by grace! We can truly identify with the film “Remember the Titans” and their humble declaration: “we ain’t nothin’ y’all!” By keeping a humble perspective, we can also keep receiving grace and making sure that we do not receive the Lord’s beautiful grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Humility is also the foundation for relationships with one another.

The opposite of humility is pride. We are all subject to pride in some way. At the root, pride breeds most of the difficulty in relationships and disunity in the Body of Christ. Some of the common manifestations of pride are offense, accusation and gossip.

Righteous anger can be a holy reaction to evil. However, we more commonly experience offense – the inward reaction of anger or fear towards others. Behind that is usually a bruised or exposed idol. Our reputation. Our theology. Our priorities. But 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love is not easily angered. Other translations say love is not touchy or irritable, it does not brood, fly off the handle or take offense. Offense often leads to accusation. It is a reaction to seek and find blame. Often, accusation begins in our thoughts. These thoughts profoundly affect our relationships. Ask yourself if you have any relationships that need healing from accusation.

Finally, we may engage in gossip. We come near to those who will sympathize with us and we verbalize a bad report about someone not present. This leaves us agreeing with the enemy about another person… The Rabbi spent a lot of time rebuking, correcting and insisting on ways of resolving these kinds of problems among his followers. Jesus wanted us to become perfect children of a perfect Father (Matthew 5:48). Paul echoed the same goal (Colossians 1:27-29). This week, try an experiment: Zero gossip. Become aware when you fall short. Ask God to forgive you and change you. Identify idols and root causes for each case and seek out community for support and accountability. May we rediscover our humble and needy state when Jesus touched us! May we live humbly, like the One who made himself nothing.

May we be one with the same One who called us to unity in love,
Denis

Grow January 15, 2014

MID-WEEK

It is wonderful to see the Word of God, the prayers to God, and the Spirit of God hovering over our community. Last night we finished reading the pages of Revelation, as we completed our public reading of the Bible from cover to cover. At our staff meeting on Monday, we had the honor to pray by name for the 215 people who committed to our 40 day prayer covenant. I can’t tell you how encouraging that was. Yesterday the Spirit was moving as people were praying on the phone, in the hallways, at Joy in the Morning, and for Jerry Kirk’s visit tonight.

These are some important hallmarks of a hungry community with a growing desire to follow Jesus together.  May you be as encouraged as I have been in the last 48 hours.

Jesus, be Lord of our lives today in new ways, change us any way you want!

Love,
Denis

Media January 15, 2014

Zak shares on the grace of the Rabbi and the difference between grace and mercy.

Grow January 09, 2014

Denis introduces out 2014 vision series, “Dust Road”. We will look at the way’s of our Rabbi, Jesus.

Grow January 08, 2014

The Rabbi’s Path to Intimacy

Happy New Year Beloved! I hope you were encouraged by our Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve services, and that our 2014 Journey with Rabbi Jesus will bless you.

This coming Sunday, we will begin a journey to deepen our lives in prayer. We will look at prayer and begin a 40 Day Prayer Covenant together. This is our fifth Prayer Covenant in the last 9 years, and every time God has done something special in our fellowship. The prayer covenant is anchored in biblical history, for example in II Chronicles 15:12 during the turbulent times of revival under King Asa. The people awakened to God. Likewise, our goal is to deepen our intimacy, enjoyment and passion with, of, and for God! We pray for such an awakening to Jesus that everyone around us is affected. Rabbi Jesus went regularly to his solitary place with God the Father. He IS the path to intimacy with our Father. His prayers (Matthew 6:5-15, John 17:1-26) show the way. We will be looking at a particular scriptural prayer given to my mentor, Jerry Kirk, more than 45 years ago. See www.theprayercovenant.org.

Beginning Wednesday, January 15, at 7 pm we will host Jerry for 6 Wednesdays as he teaches about a lifetime of prayer. This will be really special and I urge you to clear your calendars to participate!!!

Consider these ideas:
– invite a friend to come and pray
– alternate weeks if both spouses can’t commit
– get the book and follow along (free for anyone participating)
– pray in covenant with your small group
– consider moving your small group to Wednesday for this series (child care available)

Starting fresh with the Rabbi, praying for us to awaken to Him!

Love,
Denis

Grow January 08, 2014

Paul Raz takes us through a scriptural and musical journey as we celebrate Jesus’ birth.