This month, we begin a series on Loving our Neighbor. Like the Gospel Primer Series we followed in the Spring, we will use a book in group and individual studies to help us all make progress in connecting with our neighbors.
We launch this series on Sunday, September 16. Everyone, teen-adult, will receive a copy of Pastor Lynn Cory’s book, “Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God.” Pastor Lynn will preach on this day to kick things off. Then each week, the theme for Sunday will have to do with loving our neighbors.
The Gospel Primer: an eight-week guide to transformation in community.
This week we are focusing on, What is the Gospel?
“God himself has come to rescue and renew creation in and through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.”
That’s the good news.
The bad news is if we don’t trust the good…
Working in partnership with God and other’s who trust in him, we can grow in our trust and be an encouragement to others. We can truly share the Gospel.
So search your hearts every day, my brothers and sisters, and make sure that none of you has evil or unbelief hiding within you. For it will lead you astray, and make you unresponsive to the living God.
The Gospel Primer
Starting the week of April 1
Teens and up
A group of close friends whether it is a current small group or Bible study group, or you may invite some friends to join you in a new community for the next eight weeks. There are no size limitations, though 4-12 range is a good place to start. A good number to accommodate meeting in a home, apartment, or quiet restaurant, as you will come together once a week for simple meal and community building. Long time Christians, new Christians, and those who are interested in exploring faith.
The Gospel Primer Journal is the guide. These will be available Easter Sunday.
There will be a sermon connecting with what we did that week on the following Sunday.
Suggested $15 for the book. If that is an issue, give less. We want no one left out.
20-30 minutes a day for eight weeks
Eating with friends once a week
God is Good… is a new series on the good news of Jesus from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. It is interesting how much we have in common with the Colossians. As Paul shares the gospel with them, we too are invited into the same good news. And who doesn’t need good news?
This week we see how God saves us from too much separation and too much striving in our lives. It’s about receiving grace and peace…Colossians 1:1-2
(With some key insights from my friend, David Housholder)
Rockside Ranch is a ministry we support at LIFEhouse Church. We value the work being led by Craig and Jen (Wagner) Thompson, who are following God’s lead to bring hope and new life into the lives of young men. More information here…
Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic is one of the outside ministries LIFEhouse supports with our offering benevolence dollars. This non-profit ministry is local and brings such a wonderful service to our local community.
Open Arms offers these professional services at no cost:
- Medical Grade Urine Pregnancy Testing
- Ultrasound to Confirm Pregnancy
- Pregnancy Options Information
- Pregnancy and Parenting Skills Classes
- Support For Men and Families
- After-Abortion Support
One of their main fundraisers each year is a walk-a-thon to raise funds and awareness in the community. This year the Walk for Life will begin and end at LIFEhouse. The walk will take place from LIFEhouse to the Open Arms offices at 9535 Reseda Boulevard and back.
From their website:
“The Walk for Life is a peaceful, positive event giving people a way to apply their pro-life convictions, raise support and increase awareness in our community.
During the walk,there will be an interactive educational experience to help you understand the situations and emotions our clients are facing and how Open Arms helps them.
For those who are unable to do the walk portion of the event, there will be a gentle fitness class offered.
After the walkers return, we’ll enjoy a burger lunch (available for purchase at the event for $7) and we’ll have lots of fun activities for the kids.”
You are invited to support and participate in this great event!
Through our offering, we were able to assist one Galilee Primary School with a new roof on one of their school buildings! This is the school we have been helping out for several years with the “Pens for Afrikids” ministry.
Here is an excerpt from a letter from the Director of the School:
(This is a blog post about Halloween I have submitted to Life Model Works website)
First, let’s get this one out of the way for parents. Parents, if you grew up in the United States and so did your parents, maybe even your grandparents, then if you celebrate Halloween as the American traditional holiday it was when you or your parents or your grandparents were kids, you’ve got it covered. You can have the traditional down-home American Halloween, even today.
Now, along with that, the focus on how everyone else chooses to celebrate Halloween is going to be whatever is the craziest, most provocative, most extreme stuff out there. What sizzles sells. This is why what the media and social media chooses to cover this Halloween season won’t be you out trick or treating with your cute little Ninja Turtle.
Second, if you are a parent who is a Christian, here is a disclaimer. I am a biblical scholar, as are my colleagues. We can make 10 cases of why Halloween is not helpful, 10 why it is not harmful, and 10 more why it is a great opportunity to spread joy and love your neighbors.
I am also a historian, as are many of my colleagues, and so we have already studied all the varied background information about the “origins” of Halloween and such. I personally don’t find origin stories all that helpful when making decisions about present reality, and I notice that when we do make origin stories a huge deal, we tend to simply grab on to the origin stories that serves our point of view. When we pastor-types hang out together, we can argue all of these points and then see who the loudest, most aggressive person is, as he or she will probably go away thinking they are the Bible Answer Guy/ Origin Historian Extraordinaire. Come to think of it, if that’s the case, then we do have a problem and will need to do some work on self-satisfaction and humility. That’s not good…
Where does that lead us?
I will give my opinion as a Christian/parent/grandparent/pastor. This is profound, so wait for it…wait for it….
Do whatever you want, with common sense. If you don’t want to do anything? Don’t.
Alright, but what is common sense?
According to the latest brain science, God designed us so that the emotional well-being of children has already been wired to a great extent by age one. Parents, whatever you decide about Halloween is not going to “scar them for life.”
Hospitality toward your neighbor is a big deal for Jesus, and an important model for your children to witness. A friend of mine said it this way:
“Halloween is the only day of the year when many of our neighbors come to our homes. Don’t miss this great opportunity to be at home when they stop by. Let’s be hospitable!”
I would add, hospitality toward you neighbor might include trick or treating in your own neighborhood, as there are many homes that still have a warm remembrance of the down-home Halloween of days gone by, and your kids will increase the joy level of their evening, some in a significant way.
Appropriate costumes? For your children? Not too dark; not over-sexualized.
Appropriate costumes for neighbor’s kids? That’s their business. But, what do you do if they come to your door as a gory zombie or a sexy nun?
Give them candy without an editorial.
If you are already done trick or treating with your own kid and they see the gory or over-sexualized, at the end of the night, you can have a meaningful conversation about their experiences in general and the topic of costumes might come up. Then go for it.
Personally, as a pastor of a church where we celebrate Holy Communion every Sunday, whenever I see gory monsters, zombies, and vampires, if these same kids choose to worship with us some day and they are not familiar with Holy Communion, it will be very interesting when I start talking about eating the body of Jesus and drinking his blood…
Oh, well, Happy Halloween! Or not…
Why Not Join a lifeHOUSE today?
lifeHOUSES are an extended family of friends on mission together. lifeHOUSE groups bring people together beyond Sunday morning, for spiritual growth, fellowship, and reaching out in the community. lifeHOUSES meet during the week in host homes throughout the West Valley. If you are interested in participating in a lifeHOUSE, email the host for schedule and location.
Duane and Barbara Cirks
Buzz and Donnice Brown
Mac and Donna McLeod
Mike and Debee Jusko
Bill and Andrea Anz