Listening Lydia

Stories We’ve Been Told 2.0

Acts 16:11-15

What if the story of Lydia isn’t about the BIG STUFF: she was the first European convert, the home of the Philippian church plant, a wealthy businesswoman who bankrolled Paul & Silas’ missionary journeys, who balanced career and home life and had authority over a household…

Perhaps her story, straightforward in the middle of all the chaos of Acts 16, invites us into the small moment that she listens, recognizes the movement of God, and responds faithfully with what she has? God’s Spirit stirs her heart and she says “yes” to God again.

The Spirit is at work in both miraculous big stuff and in ordinary stuff: in meeting to pray with friends, in opening your home to strangers, in asking “who is my neighbor?” and through our small steps of responding to God’s Spirit, the Spirit works and weaves and makes the big stuff happen.

I have an easier time imagining a person who worships God hearing a new word and saying “nope. I know what God is like, and that doesn’t fit.” But Lydia knows what Yahweh is about, and when she hears Paul and Silas talk about Jesus, recognizes “yes! of course that’s from You! You would…”

It’s like the worship song “Oceans” by Hillsong, and how the bridge has three different chord progressions underneath an identically repeated melody. If you’re not listening, you’d miss it – unless you know what to listen for.

Reflection questions: *How do you identify God’s voice? what do you recognize; what makes you go “there you are! of course you would…”  *What would help you to listen?  *What is God’s Spirit inviting you into?

*How has God been good – shown love – to you? How has God’s faithfulness not let you down?

“King of My Heart” by John Mark & Sarah McMillan

*What do the words ‘plans/control/surrender’ evoke in you? How have you understood them?  *Does the Shepherd described in this song resemble the God you know?  *Can you join/echo this song of praise today? Which words/phrases do you find yourself agreeing with and which are difficult?

“Shepherd of My Soul” by Rivers & Robots

*What was that experience of listening to God like for you?  *What did you notice?  *What might help you to “keep listening eagerly” to God?  *What is God’s Spirit inviting you into?

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OneLife Worship Playlist

Hello friends!

Many of you have mentioned to us that you’d love to have a playlist of the songs we sing on Sunday mornings to listen to throughout the week, to get to know them better, to have them in your heads and your family’s heads so you can be more familiar with them.  SO we’ve created a Spotify playlist of all of the songs we sing, plus some that we’ve had on my worship song wish list, just for you.

You can find it here.  just follow the link and take a listen! (If you don’t have a spotify account, it’s free and easy to sign up, you’ll need it to listen).  Brian will continue to update it as well as we add songs to our rotation on Sundays.  Enjoy!

Better Is One Day…[a word received]

tumblr_megygiT72l1qb18sio1_500Last Sunday April 26th 2015 Barbara Merklinghaus a long time member of OneLife Community Church received a word from God to share with the church.  It was shared during the first service but not the second due to her not being able to be there.  We wanted to make sure everyone got the opportunity to hear it, ponder it, and respond.  The words that follow were written by Barb as a recap of what was shared.

A couple of weeks ago I prayed a little prayer asking God to speak to me. As I was getting ready for work a few days latter I remembered this seemingly random verse from the book of Psalm. The verse was Psalm 84:10 which says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”

That verse was on my mind for the next week.  I read it over and over, as well as chapter 84 from Psalms finding it encouraging and uplifting.  When Sunday morning came I felt pretty good about being at church thinking this was the best place for me to be that morning.
During the worship time I could not stop thinking about Psalm 84:10.  I started thinking about the thousand days and how that works out to be about three and a half years.  What had I done and where had I been in the last three and a half years?  Well, I had been to the Grand Canyon, Grand Teton National Park,  Banff, and Lake Louise.  In my job as a nurse I get to witness births and take care of newborns and their families. I felt like I had been to these beautiful places and have a great job that I go to almost every day yet God was saying, “one day in my courts” is better than all these things!
Sometimes God speaks to us and we aren’t sure if it is just for us or to be shared.  After speaking with Greg it seemed appropriate to share with the body of OneLife Community Church.  There is no shaming or guilt in this message rather an encouragement that being in “his courts” is a great place to be. It is better than all the places we have been in the last thousand days. To read all of Psalm 84 click HERE  –  Written and shared by Barbara Merklinghaus
We would love to hear from you about this word.  If you have questions, thoughts, comments, please feel free to contact us. We hope that you hear an echo of the goodness and importance of being present and participating with us on Sunday.  We look forward to seeing you all this weekend as we continue in our Women In The Bible sermon series.

Women in the Bible

On April 12, we started our new sermon series on Women in the Bible by looking at the interaction Jesus has with a Samaritan woman beside a well (John 4:1-42, NRSV). Removing lenses of formality, competition, or assumptions about the woman’s circumstances – and swapping them for a lens of playfulness and of personal engagement, the conversation that takes place between Jesus and the woman becomes lively, spirited, intense and tender.

What if Jesus is really quite witty, and what if the woman is brilliant too? They sound more like characters from The West Wing in Aaron Sorkin’s signature banter-style dialogue:

In John 4, the Greek verb oida (to know, to see, to understand, to know how to) is used six times. The woman and Jesus banter back and forth about who knows what about whom, and in verse 25 she lands on paydirt: “I KNOW THIS. The Messiah is coming and he will explain everything to us.” Jesus is THRILLED to hear her say so. “That’s ME! You get it! The point is not what you know but that you know me, that you trust me, that your bottom line IS ME. Attagirl!” She responds by returning to her town and inviting people to come and see this man for themselves, who eventually trust Christ as well.

Do you KNOW Jesus in your guts? Have you dived into a conversation with a stranger, not knowing the outcome, and found yourself spun around, dancing? Have you let Jesus burn through your layers of what you know and what you don’t know, through the layers you use to protect yourself from being hurt again? Have you let Jesus see you at your most vulnerable – and have you heard Jesus name you as lovable? Do you know that Jesus delights in you – feels full from spending time with you?

If any of those answers were ‘no,’ what would be different if you did? If any of those answers were ‘yes,’ what came next?

for further reflection:

what do you KNOW? what do you WANT to know?

what (seemingly) innocuous question might God be asking you today? how might you respond to God?

what vulnerable place in your heart can Jesus see now?

what comes next?

New Series on The Gifts Of The Spirit

So we are beginning our new 8 week sermon series on the Gifts Of The Spirit and we couldn’t be more excited.  We will not be covering all the details and answering every question regarding the gifts. In fact, there is so much to cover that this would be impossible. And even a quick study of the topic will render you with lots of different views and perspectives to make you think. AND THAT IS ULTIMATELY OUR GOAL — to get us all asking questions, thinking about, and praying about the gifts, to open ourselves up to receive the gifts of the spirit, and not just to receive them, but to use them, to share them, to experience the Holy Spirit using these gifts in and through us for His glory.

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:1 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers & sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” This applies to all of us: we should not to be uninformed about the gifts of the spirit. In fact, we are convinced that one of the main ways our church is going to continue to grow in what ever new ways God wants us to grow will not happen with out the gifts of the spirit being engaged according to Gods grace and our faith.

Week one we looked at the gift of faith and was challenged to rethink some of the ways we think about the gifts. PARTICULARLY THAT WE MUSN’T GET HUNG UP ON NAMING OUR GIFTS. The thing to get hung up on is, ARE WE DOING WHAT WE CAN DO TO STRENGTHEN THE FAITH OF THE PEOPLE AROUND US WITH OUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS?”  That as we seek to strengthen others in their faith and give God glory that it is in that where we will start to see our Gifts come out.

We started this series with a look at this gift because it is a spiritual gift that all of us who call ourselves believers in Christ have experienced at some point. Even if you literally made a decision to follow Christ this morning during worship or as you took communion. That very decision only happened as a result of being open to the Holy Spirit giving you the spiritual gift of faith.

You may feel as if you only have a very small amount of faith right now and that’s ok. It may be the size of a mustard seed, but because the gift of faith is from the Holy Spirit it has the power to do the impossible. And the more we experience and share this gift it encourages and strengthens others in their faith.

The spiritual gift of faith is not limited to situations like building an ark. The Holy Spirit gives us these gifts in different times and various situations simply to encourage and strengthen others in their faith and to point to God to be praised and glorified in the midst of things that seem impossible.

Looking at 1 Peter 4:10-11. I want to make 3 brief observations about spiritual gifts on the basis of these 2 verses

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength & energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. [or as the NIV says] so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. All glory & power to him forever & ever! Amen.

So real quick…

  1. First, note that “God has given each of you a gift Gifts are not for a few but for all,and every believer has abilities which the Holy Spirit has given and can be used to strengthen others. And you will find them if you really desire to be God’s instrument in bringing about faith and joy in other people.
  1. The second observation from this text is simply that spiritual gifts take different forms and shapes. “Whoever speaks (let them do it) as one who utters oracles of God.” So we see an example of the gifts showing them self in words. We also see it says, “Whoever renders service (let them do it) as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies.” Here we see the gift showing up in the form or service.

So, whatever your gift is do not try to do them in your own strength. For then your gift will cease to be a “spiritual gift.” It must come from faith, a reliance on grace, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit in order to be a “spiritual gift.”

This is just another way of seeing that the Holy Spirit has no limit to the ways that it can empower us, gift us, and fill us for a particular time, place, story, or situation.

  1. The final point from this text, is that the ultimate aim of all spiritual gifts above all is seen in verse 11 “that in everything God might be glorified This means that God’s aim in giving us gifts, and in giving us the faith to exercise them, is that his glory might be displayed. The stupendous reality of God is all encompassing as it says in Romans 11:36. “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” And there is nothing more thrilling, more joyful, more meaningful, more satisfying than to find ourselves involved in and actively participating in the eternal unfolding of God’s glory.

We ended the sermon with a practice of lectio divina on 1 Corinthians 12:1-28 from The Message translation.  I recommend you checking this out and letting the text teach you about the gifts as well.

All Things New…

all things new1As the year is coming to a close and we end our Advent sermon series here are the reflections from last Sunday’s sermon.  It was a conversation around the idea that we are actually given the opportunity to make all things new every moment of the day. That the spirit of God is giving us life with every breath with the hopes that we will experience life to the full.  That we, like Jesus would continue to grow in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and in favor with others.  Below is the guided practice we did during our time on Sunday.  If you missed it you can click HERE to listen and be guided through this or you can simply read on and do so as you please.

So like last week lets get comfortable. Position yourself in a way the feels restful and relaxing. Open your hands and place them on your lap as a physical expression of openness and receiving. Close your eyes and just quietly for the first minute I just want you to breath with intentionality. Paying attention to the air coming into your body giving you life, moving through you.

AFTER SOME SILENCE…

God – Breathe, breathe on us now
Open your mouth and speak the word that heals our broken life
God say what you will – show us your will as we breathe the very breath of god
Spirit of God here with us now, giving us life again
Breathe on us now

Now keeping your eyes close and your attention on your breathing I want you to ponder some questions. Just listen to them and pay attention to what hits you.

* Are you growing in wisdom? When it comes to everyday life, do you look for creative, innovative solutions, or do you gravitate toward what you’ve always done in the past? What areas of your life have you felt as if you are stagnant? What is keeping you from growing in wisdom?

ALLOW SPACE…

* As you are breathing focus on your body for a moment. How is your health? How well would you say you are tending to your body? Since your body is a temple or residence for the Holy Spirit how welcome is God in your life? As you think about the idea of helping kids grow what does it look like for your body to have what it needs to grow? What do you need to help you with this?

ALLOW SPACE…

* How’s your prayer life? Do you find yourself spending more time with God each day?  When you pray, do you listen as much as you talk? If the goal is to “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), are you closer now than you were before?

How has your prayer life grown over the years?  Are you praying more frequently and fervently than ever, or are you recycling the same prayers over and over?

ALLOW SPACE…

* When it comes to growing in your relationship with God do you use the whole Bible in searching out God’s Word for your life; or do you gravitate to favorite verses and passages and Bible stories with which you’re already familiar? When was the last time you read, studied, and pondered sections of scripture you were not as familiar with? When was the last time you found yourself surprised by God? Are you growing in favor with God?

ALLOW SPACE…

* When it comes to your relationships with others would you say you are growing in favor with them? Do you share your life with others and allow them to do the same? Do you make space to listen to others and to learn from others and serve others?

How does this come into play at your work, your school, with family, and with neighbors. Are you growing in favor with the people around you?

ALLOW SPACE…

I just want to end with some scriptures to ponder as we end so just listen and allow these words encourage you today…

Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk & not be faint.

Isaiah 42:9 See, the former things have already taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:16 MSG -So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.

Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

God You heard the cry of our hearts and You came down
Freely You gave us Your love showing us how to love
God make us an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let us sow love
Where there is darkness let us shine light
And may Your love cause us to open up our hearts
May Your light cause us to shine bright that we bring hope into the dark.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Advent begins…

5371_20131130-144931-628x250Today marks the start to the 2014 advent season which brings us a new sermon series exploring the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love.  With advent we have created a number of great resources to help us all to slow down, rest, worship, prayer, and more fully enter into this wonderful time in the church calendar.

We have all types of resources ranging from prayer guides, to daily scripture readers, advent candle practices for your home, and we even have an advent daily photo challenge.  All of these resources are available at the advent resource table at the back of the church sanctuary or you can download them all by clicking HERE.  We hope you find them helpful.

Here’s to an amazing advent!

Rhythm Sermon Series – Live

For our last sermon in our Rhythms series we looked at the practice of living which is very much a summary or an all inclusive type of practice that we hope will help us to once again rethink what this great commission looks like in the day to day, and also lead us into the Advent season!

If you missed Rich’s sermon you can here it by clicking HERE.

The text we spent our time in was…

JOHN 12:25 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

*  In it we looked at the word “hate” which is better translated surrender

*  We looked at the word “life” which shows up 3 times in one sentence.  We found out after looking closely at the text that the word translated life all three times is actually two different words in the Greek and the both mean something very different.  Jesus was making a comparison between two different kinds of life.

*  The first two times the word “life” is used is the Greek word “psyche” which is all the ever-changing circumstances of life such as your job, living situation, relationships, finances, family, school, your health, clothes, stress, and problems. All the stuff that we would see as making up our life is our psyche.  And by its nature it is always changing and it has a beginning and an end to it.

*  The third use of the word “life” is the Greek word “zoe” which is NOT about the ever changing things of life.  Zoe is about your existence itself – the very gift, the miracle of an existence, OF LIFE.  To be alive regardless of what happens in the psyche life is zoe.  And in contrast this has no beginning & no end. Zoe life is perfectly continuous, unchanging, immovable, and it’s unaffected by the things of life – psyche.  And it is not something you get when you die — you get it when you are born.

Jesus is making a comparison/contrast between these two…

We looked at a number of examples to help us picture this.  One of those being the SUN VS. PICTURE OF THE SUN – If Zoe is the sun then Psyche is a picture of the sun. If you were in a dark place in need of light or warmth – If we look at the picture expecting warmth, we will surely be disappointed.  IN OTHER WORDS – IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR LIGHT YOU’LL FIND IT IN THE SUN – NOT THE PICTURE OF IT

There was a lot more that we discussed that was really challenging to me as I studied this crazy text.  Like what is eternal zoe,  Is one of these two types of life better then the other, and how do you put this practice of truly living life as God intends in our day to day.  I hope you get a chance to listen, ponder, and wrestle with it.   For now here are the connection cards we looked at as we ended our series.

CONNECTION CARD QUESTIONS…

  1. How has the idea of eternal life as you know it affected the way you live your day to day life?
  2. What do you do that helps connect you to a Zoe life?
  3. Name a chaotic storm in your life right now and then think of what, in your Psyche life, you need to surrender to in order to allow your Zoe life to become your reality.
  4. List any things in your Psyche life that you have let come before God.

To God be the glory!

New Songs From The Retreat

Hello friends,

Two things:

First, if you weren’t able to attend the retreat or want to hear it again, the teaching sessions are up here.

Secondly, we introduced a handful of new songs at the retreat that I wanted to make available to you if you were interested in hearing them again.  They are listed below with a youtube video linked through the title. Enjoy!

You Make Me Brave” by Amanda Cook and Bethel Music

Breathe” by The Brilliance

Search My Heart” by Hillsong

Retreat follow up: Listening and Testimony

10410687_10204621063662396_8360415594539527457_nWe just returned from our annual all church retreat at the wonderful Lakeside Bible Camp on Whidbey Island (morning mist on the lake pictured). We spent the weekend exploring and practicing the life rhythms of Listening and Testimony. If you were not able to make it to the retreat and would like to listen to the sessions we will have them up on line at this link soon. There were a lot of great things shared at over the weekend and some of you may have things that you want to share from the retreat or in response to the retreat. This blog would be a fantastic place to share those things. Here is an image that Lauren Heerschap had during the Sunday morning session.

“I want to share an image that came to mind before and during Greg’s sermon on Sunday at the church retreat.  As I prayed before the sermon, the American Sign Language sign (ASL) for “trust” came to mind.  I have taught ASL, and when teaching this sign I describe it as grabbing onto a thick rope with both hands on top of each other and then pulling down. See video: http://www.handspeak.com/word/search.php?wordID=trust&submitword=Find

As Greg was teaching, I thought about this rope.  The Lord reminded me of a rope swing from my childhood.  The rope was so thick that my hands could not clasp all the way around it, and it had a big knot at the bottom that you could sit on. Kids would run way back with the rope, and then hoist themselves up to straddle on the knot and swing out over a cliff with the beach below.  You had to trust in the strength of that rope.

Our church is like that rope – made from myriads of fibers – each of us individually is weak by ourselves, but when we are bound together, by the Holy Spirit, we are very strong, and can carry others.  God is calling us to reach up and trust Him, and reach out into our fellowship, to each other, for strength.  We can take risks (like swinging out over a cliff) when we trust each other, and trust God.”

Many blessings and please share your thoughts and responses from the retreat!