Life Together Resources http://lifetogetherchurches.com/life-together-resources/feed Articles and Bible Studies from Life Together. en-us Resurrection Lutheran Supporting Mission to Peru http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Wed, 12 Oct 16 00:00:00 -0600 Wooster Ohio house church, Resurrection Lutheran, supported a team from One Hope Church this last summer (2016) and their mission to Peru.  With the low overhead of doing house church, Resurrection has been able to give away many thousands of dollars over the years in support of both local and global missions.  

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Ephesians Wrap Up: Go and Claim It! http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Thu, 01 Dec 11 00:00:00 -0700 Questions for the Ephesians Wrap Up:

1.       What do you think the response was from the Ephesian believers when they heard Paul’s letter read to them?

2.       Remember some of the characteristics of Ephesus in the 1st century: major port city, business center, religious pluralism (i.e., lots of different religions / beliefs to choose from), Greek philosophy, etc. In what ways is the place and time that you live in similar or dissimilar to ancient Ephesus? How does Paul’s letter to the Ephesians apply specifically to where you live?

3.       What has been the most meaningful and significant part of our Ephesians study for you?

4.       If there is one passage in Ephesians that you could memorize, what would it be?

5.       Drawing on the story at the end of the video, how does Ephesians speak to our inheritance and the mandate to go and claim it? (Hint: Think about the two halves of the letter.)

6.       What concretely will it look like for you to go and claim the inheritance that is yours in Christ?

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Ephesians - 6:10-18 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 21 Nov 11 00:00:00 -0700
Discussion Questions
  1. What do you usually do when you have a really bad day? How do you cope?
  2. What are the "schemes of the devil"? What are some of his strategies?
  3. Discuss what you think the various parts of the armor are for. How do you put each on?
    • Belt of Truth
    • Breastplate of Righteousness
    • Gospel Shoes of Peace
    • Shield of Faith
    • Helmet of Salvation
    • Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God
    • Prayer
  4. Which piece of the armor are you most in the need of right now?
  5. It wasn't discussed in the video, but verse 18 reveals how important prayer is in spiritual warfare. Read verse 18 and note how many times the word "all" appears. Discuss this verse with your group.
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Ephesians - 6:1-9 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Tue, 15 Nov 11 00:00:00 -0700
Discussion Questions:
  1. As a son or daughter (child or adult), what does it mean for you to honor your father and mother?
  2. What does it mean to raise children “in the training and instruction of the Lord”?
  3. What are your biggest challenges / struggles as a parent?
  4. When and where are you under the authority of others? And the inverse: in a position of authority?
  5. How would your workplace be different if everyone took these words to heart?
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Ephesians - 5:21-33 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Sun, 11 Sep 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. What does it mean to submit or be subject to someone?
  2. What does the fact that Jesus submitted to God the Father say about the person who is doing the submitting?  (i.e. Jesus is equal with God and yet he submitted to the Father)
  3. Husbands are called to love their wives like Christ loved the church.  How did Christ love the church?  What does this tell us about the role of the husband toward his wife?
  4. In your own words, how would you express the goal of Christian marriage? (see v. 31)
  5. What do you think about the statement made about men more needing respect and women more needing to be loved?  Do you agree or disagree?  Why?
  6. What counter-cultural principles from Paul can you work on to help you be a better spouse (or potential spouse)?
  7. Bonus Question:  When you play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” which do you most often pick and why?

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Ephesians - 4:25-32 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Sun, 04 Sep 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. Paul says, “In your anger do not sin,” which seems to imply that anger is not always bad. What is “good anger”?
  2. Do you struggle with anger? How does it show itself in your life?
  3. When have someone’s words been especially uplifting to you?
  4. Imagine out loud what your workplace or home or school would be like if people only spoke so as to “benefit the listener”.
  5. Where have you seen examples of kindness and compassion in others? How does that inspire you?
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Ephesians - 4:17-24 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Thu, 11 Aug 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. Where have you seen real change in your life since becoming a Christian?  How is your "walk" different now?
  2. What is one "old life" piece of clothing that you have that you are having a hard time "putting off"?
  3. What is the difference between asking yourself the question "what would Jesus do?" and asking Jesus "what do you want to do in and through me?"  How is the focus different? 
  4. Paul says we're to "put on" the new self.  What is the new self? 
  5. What is Jesus saying to you right now?
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Ephesians - 4:7-16 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 01 Aug 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. What does this passage tell us about spiritual leadership?
  2. A major metaphor for the church is the human body. Why do you think that is?
  3. What kinds of spiritual gifts are there? What spiritual gifts do you have?
  4. What is one area where you have sensed yourself growing and maturing since you’ve been a part of this body (your Life Together Church)?
  5. What does your life look like as you grow “into the fullness of Christ”? What kind of outlook does that give you for your life?
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Ephesians - 4:1-6 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 11 Jul 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. Read the text again as a group – Eph 4:1-6
  2. Reading between the lines, what problems do you think Paul was concerned about in Ephesus?
  3. What qualities ought to characterize “a life worthy of the calling”?
  4. What happens when believers live out these qualities?  
  5. How does each of the four qualities listed in verse 2 promote unity?
  6. Which of these four qualities do you need most in your life personally?  What relationships will profit from developing that quality now?
  7. How does viewing God as Father (not just as Creator or Judge) add to our unity?
  8. Anything else you think the Lord may be saying to you or to our group through this text?
(Note:  Most of the questions for this week was taken from the Serendipity Bible.  Copyright (C) 1988 by Serendipity House, Littleton, Colorado 80160)
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Ephesians - 3:14-21 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 04 Jul 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. What does it mean for Christ to dwell in our hearts? What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us?
  2. What do you picture when you hear words like boundless, fullness, surpassing measure or immeasurable, and magnitude? What does that tell you about how much Jesus loves us? About how much He loves you?
  3. What does it mean to live for God’s glory? How does that play out in day-to-day life?
  4. God is described as “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (verse 20). How would the Ephesians have been struck by this? (For example, think about the Jewish / Gentile context and the one family of God.)
  5. If God is truly able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, how does that impact your thoughts and prayers?
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Ephesians - 3:1-13 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 20 Jun 11 00:00:00 -0600 Exegetical Outline

  1. This mystery was revealed by God to Paul: in Christ the Gentiles are fully included in God’s family. (1-7)
  2. The grace given to Paul was to proclaim Christ to the Gentiles and shed light on this mystery. (8-13)

Application Outline

  1. God wants to reveal Himself to us.
  2. God reveals Himself to us so we can respond to His direction for our life.

The Big Idea: God wants to reveal Himself to us so we can respond to Him in relationship.

Questions:

1. In your own words, what is “the mystery of Christ” that Paul is referring to?

2. Have you ever felt like God was a mystery, that He was hidden, or too difficult to understand?

3. How does God reveal Himself to us? How has He revealed Himself to you?

4. What do you think God might be revealing to you at this time in your life?

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Ephesians - 2:11-22 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 13 Jun 11 00:00:00 -0600

1.       Imagine your life far away from Christ, “without hope and without God” (verse 12). Describe what your life might look like or feel like in that scenario. Considering the reality that you are actually near to God in Christ, what kind of response does that create in you – both vertically (toward God) and horizontally (toward people)?

2.       Where have you seen or experienced “dividing walls of hostility” in the world and/or in your own life?

3.       Are there people (groups or individuals) with to whom you’ve had a difficult time relating? Describe that and how this passage might speak to you about those relationships.

4.       Imagine a Jewish Israeli and a Muslim Arab-Israeli both becoming followers of Christ and now sitting in a living room next to each other for their Life Together Church. What would this passage mean for the two of them? Apply that lesson to our own Life Together Churches – what are the lessons we learn for our relationships to each other?

5.       Consider Paul’s metaphors of citizenship, family (i.e., household), and a building. How does each one of those metaphors describe the Christian life – both individually and in community?

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Ephesians - 2:1-10 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Wed, 25 May 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. What was one of the best gifts you received as a child?  What made it so special for you?
  2. What does it mean to be "dead in sin"?  What caused this?
  3. What is the relationship between "wrath" and "love" (vv. 3-4)
  4. What is the relationship between "grace" and "works" (vv. 8-10)
  5. Spiritually, do you feel more dead or alive now?  Why?
  6. What has God prepared for you to be and to do?
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Ephesians - 1:19-23 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Wed, 18 May 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. Read 1 Cor 12:4-31.  What impresses you most about this passage? 
  2. Paul lists a number of "spiritual gifts" that different Christians have (though his list is not exhaustive).  What spiritual gifts do you think you have?
  3. What gifts do you recognize in others in your group?
  4. How can your group function more as one body?  How should we be viewing one another?
  5. What is God saying to you right now?
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Ephesians - 1:15-19 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Thu, 12 May 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you ever struggle with discouragement or disappointment or depression?  What helps you come out of it?
  2. How could reflecting on the hope we have in Jesus both now and in the next life in heaven help?
  3. What do you need God's power for right now?
  4. How do we tap into God's power and use it? (Note to leader:  lots of potential answers here but guide the discussion onto the power of prayer)
  5. Spend time praying for one another.  Pray specifically for real needs - spiritual, financial, emotional, physical, etc.  Pray with confidence for one another knowing now that God's power is completely available to you.
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Ephesians - 1:3-14 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Wed, 04 May 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions
  1. Read the entire passage, Eph 1:3-14, but before you do, tell the group that when done you'll be asking the following question: 
    • What activities and descriptive words relate to the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit?
      (now read the passage and then go through each person of the Trinity below asking for descriptions of each - what each has done and how each are described)
      • Father
      • Son
      • Holy Spirit
  2. In your own words, describe the "blessings in Christ" (vv. 3-9)
  3. What excites you most about God's relationship to you?
  4. Knowing you are chosen and adopted, how will you view yourself and God differently?
  5. What changes in your lifestyle would help you live more effectively for the praise of God's glory this week?
  6. What is God saying to you right now?
 
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Ephesians - Introduction http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 25 Apr 11 00:00:00 -0600 Discussion Questions:
  1. Read Acts 19:11-20. 
    • Why do you think it was necessary for the new Christians in Ephesus to burn their magic books publicly "in the sight of everyone"?
  2. Read Acts 19:23-41.
    • Read verse 30 again. Why wouldn't the disciples let Paul speak to the crowd like he wanted to? What would have happened to Paul?
    • Paul sounds pretty brave, almost superhuman, like nothing phases him? Does that intimate you at all? Do you think you could ever be like Paul?
  3. Now Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 to find out how Paul actually felt the day he wanted to go in and speak to that angry mob.
    • Does Paul sound more human to you now?
    • Have you ever felt like Paul?  Have you ever despaired of life or felt the sentence of death like Paul did that day?
    • Read verses 9 and 10 again.  What did Paul learn through that experience?  Have you learned this same lesson Paul did, or is this something you still need to discover?
  4. What do you hope to get out of our study of Ephesians?
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Spiritual Practices: Solitude http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 04 Apr 11 00:00:00 -0600
  1. Do you like to be alone or is solitude hard for you?  Why?
  2. Read 1 Kings 19:11-13a.  How did the Lord speak to Elijah?
  3. If one of the ways God speaks to us is in a gentle whisper, what would you do if you were Satan and wanted to prevent God's people from hearing His voice?
  4. If having a consistent "quiet time" with the Lord has been a practice of yours, share with the group what has worked for you and what hasn't.  (Note to Leader:  if you have new Christians in your group, explain what the term "quiet time" means and make note of other phrases used (i.e. like "morning devotions", etc)).
  5. If you have never had a consistent quiet time or if you've fallen out of this practice, discuss some practical steps you will take this week to remedy this.  Share with each other ideas. 
 
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Spiritual Practices: Simplicity http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 28 Mar 11 00:00:00 -0600
  • In what ways do you think you need to simplify your life
  • How does the practice of simplicity affect how we spend our money?
  • In the story of Mary and Martha, Martha was busy serving Jesus, but Jesus implies that this "serving Jesus" was actually distracting Martha from what was most important.  Can you relate?  How can doing good things for Jesus be a distraction.
  • Picture Jesus as your King sitting down on the throne of your life.  What does He say to you as he seeks to bring order to the "kingdom of your life"?  What is Jesus saying to you right now?
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    Spiritual Practices: Introduction http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 21 Mar 11 00:00:00 -0600
  • Richard Foster writes, “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” What do you think about his observation? 
  • Reflect on the twelve spiritual disciplines. 
    • Inward: meditation, prayer, fasting, and study
    • Outward: simplicity, solitude, submission, and service
    • Corporate: confession, worship, guidance, and celebration Any thoughts? Something you’re familiar with? Something completely new? Questions? 
  • What do you think of the canoe trip metaphor? What might be another picture of how the spiritual practices work in deepening our relationship with God?
  • What are some specific ways in which you think we can be involved in God drawing us closer to Him? They might be on Foster’s list, or you might have your own words to describe them.
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    The Word http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Sun, 13 Mar 11 00:00:00 -0700 Teach Us To Pray - Deliver Us From Evil http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 07 Mar 11 00:00:00 -0700
  • Scripture speaks of three enemies for the Christian: the world, the flesh and the devil. Which of these three “enemies” we have are you most concerned about and why? 
  • Read through Ephesians 6:10-17 and discuss what you think each of the pieces of the Armor of God means. What would you actually put each of these on?
    • Belt of truth
    • Breastplate of righteousness
    • Shoes of the gospel of peace
    • Shield of faith
    • Helmet of salvation
    • Sword of the Spirit
  • Read Galatians 5:16-17. How do you “walk by the Spirit”? What does that look like?
  • Read Romans 12:1. How do you “renew your mind”?
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    Giving http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Sun, 06 Mar 11 00:00:00 -0700 Teach Us To Pray - Forgive Us As We Forgive http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 28 Feb 11 00:00:00 -0700 1. What kinds of images come to mind when you hear “release”? Or what other words or pictures do you associate with “forgiveness”?
    2. Lewis B. Smedes said, "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." What do you think about these words?
    3. Consider these words. “When deep injury is done to us, we never fully recover until we forgive. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” What do you think the writer meant about the past and the future?
    4. How does forgiveness happen? Fast? Slow? All at once? Bit by bit?
    5. There’s a saying, “Forgive and forget.” Do you think this statement is accurate? Why or why not?
    6. Describe how forgiveness happened / happens in your relationship with God?
    7. How have you experienced forgiveness with other people (either giving or receiving it)? Is there some relationship in your life where forgiveness hasn’t happened yet?
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    Teach Us To Pray - Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 14 Feb 11 00:00:00 -0700 Discussion Questions
    1.  What are some of the things you worry about?
    2.  What are some signs that you are worrying too much?
    3.  If God knows what we need before we ask, why pray?
    4.  Do you struggle with trusting God with your needs?
    5.  Jesus says we should pray for our daily needs and that we should not worry about tomorrow.  Does that mean we should never plan for the future or save money for the future?Why or why not?
    6.  Paul says in Philippians that he had learned “the secret of being content in all circumstances”.  What’s the secret?
    7.  When have you felt the Lord carry you through a difficult time in your life?
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    Teach Us To Pray - Thy Kingdom Come http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 07 Feb 11 00:00:00 -0700 Discussion Questions
    1.  Can you identify with the child charging headlong into the pool, or similarly, the child on the overstuffed chair?
    2.  What have been your own Towers of Babel in your life, your own little kingdoms, your sand castles? 
    3.  Are there any areas of your life that are especially hard to align with God’s will? 
    4.  We never hear of the rich young ruler again in the Bible. Imagine a few scenarios of how his story might have continued – both negatively and positively. 
    5.  Reflect on the words of William Wallace, “Every man dies, not every man really lives.” How does that help you view your own life? What does “really living” look like? 
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    Teach Us To Pray - Hallowed Be Thy Name http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 24 Jan 11 00:00:00 -0700 Teach Us To Pray – Hallowed Be Thy Name: Discussion Questions
    1. Have you ever experienced a time when you felt overwhelmed (in a good way) by the holiness of God.
    2. How might seeing God in His holiness and power and greatness impact your prayer life in a positive way.
    3. Explain in your own words the difference between being afraid of God and fearing God.
    4. Do you think there might be a connection between “fearing God” and “having faith in God”? If so, explain.
    5. What kinds of prayers are “hallowed be Thy name” prayers? List specific examples of what those kinds of prayers might look like.
    6. What are we really asking for when we pray that God’s name would be honored as holy? How might God answer that prayer?
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    Teach Us To Pray - Our Father in Heaven http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 17 Jan 11 00:00:00 -0700
    Teach Us to Pray – Our Father in Heaven: Discussion Questions

    1. What kinds of “father stories” do you bring into your relationship with God? How have
    those stories affected your relationship with God?

    2. Imagine out loud together the Star Wars story if Yoda could have assured Luke, “The
    Force loves you.”

    3. Describe the difference between the life of a slave and the life of a child heir– both in
    literal and spiritual terms.

    4. Consider our two Bible passages: the story of the Running Father and the Galatians
    passage about slavery and sonship. Was there a certain word, phrase, or idea that stood
    out to you?

    5. N.T. Wright gives this description of prayer: “whenever we pray, this is what we are
    coming to do: to pursue the mystery, to listen and respond to the voice we thought we just
    heard, to follow the light which beckons round the next corner, to lay hold of the love of
    God which has somehow already laid hold of us.” What do you think of his description?
    What other kinds of descriptors would you add?
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    Teach Us To Pray - Introduction http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Mon, 10 Jan 11 00:00:00 -0700 Teach Us to Pray – Intro: Discussion Questions

    1. What images, memories, or thoughts come to mind when you hear the Lord’s Prayer?

    2. What part of the Lord’s Prayer sticks out to you? Is there a part that especially resonates with you?

    3. Is there any part of the Lord’s Prayer that you have questions about or that’s confusing to you?

    4. If you feel comfortable sharing, what has been your experience with prayer (both as a child and as an adult)? What are the positive or negative markers along your life journey with regard to prayer?

    5. N.T. Wright in The Lord and His Prayer says, “If we linger here, we may find our priorities quietly turned inside out. The contents may remain; the order will change.” What do you think he means by that?

    6. Bjorn shared that something in us resists that ordering of God first, ourselves second. Do you see that in your own life? In your own prayer life? 

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    The Great Rescue http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Tue, 10 Aug 10 00:00:00 -0600 On April 14, 1912, shortly before midnight, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg, sinking early on April 15, two hours and forty minutes later.  The sinking resulted in the deaths of 1,517 of the 2,223 people on board.  It was a tragedy of epic proportions.  And yet the tragedy is only made worse by the knowledge that many of these deaths could have been averted.  Many of the lifeboats launched from the Titanic were less than half full.  One lifeboat meant to hold 40 people had only 12 on board.  Another meant to hold 65 had 28.

    This tragedy reminds me of a story Jesus once told.  In Luke 14:16-24 the Master tells of a feast held by a man.  But many of this man’s invited guests did not come to his dinner.  His tables were half full.  Even after bringing in the poor, crippled, blind and lame, still there was more room.  So the man commanded his servants to go out and compel anyone they could find to come in.  Elsewhere Jesus speaks of his primary mission – to seek and save the lost.  2000 years ago Jesus launched the greatest rescue mission in history.  The world is sinking.  By the death and resurrection of Jesus a secure means of rescue has been established.  The Great Rescuer has launched his church which is to go out amidst the wreckage and pull people from the freezing waters and into the safety of His church.  Every church is like a lifeboat engaging in the mission of Jesus to seek and to save men and women drowning in their sin.  And yet the tragedy of the human race is only made worse by the knowledge that many of our churches are anchored half full a safe distance from the wreckage.

    A little over three years ago the LEM began the construction of some new lifeboats called Life Together Churches.  This last fall we launched our first Life Together Church and shortly thereafter saw three completely unchurched families come to faith in Christ.  One woman in our new church after the first couple of months told me, “I’ve learned more about God in the last two months than in the whole rest of my life combined.”  Another had tears in her eyes the first week she was with us as she experienced the presence of Jesus.  It’s been a joy to share the gospel with these families each week and to see them come to a living faith.  When we started, some of these folks had never prayed out loud before, had never sung songs together in a group, didn’t know the difference between the Old and New Testaments, didn’t know what the chapters and verse numbers meant.  But they were hungry from God.  They knew they were drowning and God pulled them from the freezing water and into Himself.  This has been a work that God has done and our family has been privileged to witness it. 

    These families are not unique.  The number of unchurched in our nation has grown to a staggering number.  Millions are drowning in the freezing waters of their sin and separation from God.  But many of these folks are not hardened against the Lord.  They will respond positively to the gospel in the context of a loving Christian community.  However, many of them have a negative impression of the institutional church and would not step foot into an established congregation for various reasons.  For these folks the church must instead come to them.  And that’s what Life Together Churches are.  Its churches being launched right in the neighborhoods where people live and work and play. 

    Life Together Churches come in three forms:  simple church, cell church and house church.  Simple church is church at its most basic level.  It may be a gathering in a coffee shop, on the beach, or in a home.  It is, by definition, simple.  It focuses on people, rather than programs and structure.  Cell church can be seen as multiple simple churches linked together to form a hierarchy of support and accountability.  Usually a pastor oversees the cell groups and leads a monthly large group gathering.  A house church is more autonomous than a cell church though it is often networked organically with other nearby house churches for occasional large group gatherings and other shared ministries. 

    These Life Together Churches can be rapidly started and supported without trained pastoral leadership because of a well-designed set of offerings that provide all the required resources and services. The offerings leverage Internet technologies to create a network of churches that work together in mutual support.  To aid in moving this forward, the LEM has entered into a strategic partnership with the Word Alone Network (now called Word Alone Ministries) and we are launching Life Together Churches together as a joint venture.  Word Alone has contact with many emerging small worshipping communities lacking pastoral leadership due to recent events within the larger church.  Life Together Churches is helping some of these groups to formalize into missional congregations networked with other house churches and cell churches in our Life Together network.  Life Together Churches is not another new denomination, but rather is a network and resource for emerging cell churches and house churches.  As we launch and/or service these new churches we aid them in linking up with appropriate denominational affiliations in step with the membership base and leadership of each emerging simple church.

    To help launch a new Life Together Church we first offer a startup workshopThis is a face-to-face, day long workshop to help local leaders and participants get their Life Together Church started quickly and effectively.  We then offer them ongoing pastoral care and leadership coaching through weekly interactive video sessions to support their learning and development.  A basic worship plan is designed and published each week to support worship in small group worship settings.  This plan can be adjusted or replaced as needed by local Life Together Church leaders at their discretion.  The Life Together network provides website, social networking facilities, and a monthly email newsletter to help local groups gain a sense of the greater community of Life Together Churches.  We’re also developing adult educational materials as well as a new innovative confirmation program called DSTNY to aid in the discipleship of young and old.  Periodic retreats and an annual conference will round out our program offerings to support this new paradigm of church planting.

    We’ve run into many folks who are excited and intrigued by this new model of ministry and who would like to explore this unique way of doing church.  To aid such groups in evaluating whether this model is for them we’ve developed a program called Starting Our Life Together.  This is a series of worship plans and group activities designed to take a new congregation through its first 120 days.  The content focuses on rediscovering the nature of church life in the New Testament.  This timeframe is often used as a trial period for the group, ending in an evaluation about whether to continue.

    If you would like more information about how you can start a Life Together Church in your area (or join an existing one), please contact us!

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    The Friendship and the Fear http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Wed, 21 Apr 10 00:00:00 -0600 Recording artist Matt Redman's 1997 album was entitled The Friendship and the Fear. The phrase is a profound one and contains within it one of the keys to living the Christian life.

    The concept of friendship with God is central to us as believers. In 1 John 3:1 we read, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” Jesus said to his disciples, “I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). And Paul prays, “…that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation” (Eph. 3:17). Growing in our knowledge of God’s passionate love for us is foundational to the Christian life.

    But what about the fear of the Lord? Paul writes in Phil. 2:12 that we are to “…work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” And Peter writes, “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth” (1 Peter 1:17). The fear of the Lord is not just an Old Testament concept—it’s a New Testament one, too. And it was a mark of the early church which “…grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31).

    Both the love of God and the fear of the Lord must be embraced by the Christian. I’ve found that the more I’m immersed in a deep sense of God’s love for me, the more I’m inclined toward obedience. And the more I walk in obedience and fear, the greater my joy. Jesus articulates this truth in John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love… I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

    Holding the friendship and the fear in a healthy balance and allowing them to work together is key to joyful Christian living.

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    Worship Video 001 http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Sun, 03 Jan 10 00:00:00 -0700 Worship Video:  Peter Churness

    Songs:

    • Come Thou Almighty King
    • Here I Am to Worship
    • Amazing Love
    • I Love You Lord
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    Living For the One http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Thu, 29 Jan 09 00:00:00 -0700 With the New Year holiday just behind us, we are still in a season where it is common for people to spend a little time reflecting on the year that was, with all its joys and sorrows, as well as looking to the year that lies ahead. It is a time where many establish goals, review their priorities and maybe even make a few New Years resolutions.

    Like many of you I have a variety of responsibilities and pressures that I face on a weekly, even daily, basis and I often long for a simpler, less complicated existence. I’d like to know that in the many tasks and events that come my way I’m accomplishing those things that are important to God—those things that are a reflection of His will for my life.

    In Luke 15:1-7 the Lord Jesus reminds us of a guiding principle that can bring new simplicity to our Christian walk and keep us focused on what really matters to God. In the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son, Jesus declares that every person, regardless of who they are or what they have done, is so important to Him that He searches for them until He finds them. And when He finds them there is rejoicing and celebration in all of heaven.

    The heart of God is to see every person living in covenant relationship with Himself, and He has commissioned us as His church to the task of making disciples. It is imperative that we not only embrace this commission to make disciples, but that we also recognize the extreme value of every individual. Only then will we be willing to move beyond “the reasonable” and embrace a “whatever it takes” mindset.

    After his ordination in 1969, author and Pastor Phillip Johnson received a call to serve one large church and ten smaller churches on the northern coast of Newfoundland, Canada. On the first day of his new circuit ministry, Johnson learned that in order to get to the smallest of the churches, he would have to travel 40 miles by snowmobile to a tiny village. When Johnson arrived, only one person was there for worship—a fisherman who had traveled about 20 miles to get there.

    Initially Pastor Johnson thought he’d just say a prayer and call it a day. But then he realized that together, he and the fisherman had already logged 60 miles of travel and had 60 more miles to return home. With that in mind, he decided to conduct the whole service as if there were a hundreds of worshipers in attendance. They did it all: the hymns, the readings, the prayers, the sermon, the Lord's Supper, and the benediction.

    It was during the sermon that Pastor Johnson wondered why he had even bothered. The fisherman never looked up. But when Johnson greeted him at the door and thanked him for coming, Johnson received a pleasant surprise. “Reverend,” the fisherman said, “I’ve been thinking about becoming a Christian for over 30 years. And today's the day!" (Lee A. Dean, Plainwell, Michigan).

    Who is the one person God is calling you to reach out to in 2009? He or she might be a notorious sinner, indifferent, even hostile to the gospel message of Christ, but through prayer and sacrificial acts of love, even the most hardened hearts can find their way back to God. Let this be the year of our living for the one!

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    After the But http://www.solapublishing.com/life-together-resources/summaries.html Tue, 27 Jan 09 00:00:00 -0700 Leah is one of the most unappreciated heroines in the Bible. Her husband Jacob never intended to marry her—he was tricked into it by her scheming father. Jacob wanted Leah's sister, Rachel, and he married her just one week later.

    Leah is a great example of coming to terms with God in the midst of our struggles. For years she tried to get Jacob to love her. That was the focus of her life, and she named her first three children accordingly (see Genesis 29:31-35).

     But then something changed. After eight long years in a loveless marriage, her fourth son, Judah, was born and she said, “This time I will praise the Lord” (Genesis 29:35). No longer is Leah fixated on what she lacks in her life. She isn't trying to get Jacob to change anymore. Instead, her focus is on the Lord and his love and favor for her. Her troubles have led her to a place where she looks to God to meet her needs, and can receive his love and mercy with joy and thankfulness. I'm sure Leah still struggled—her situation probably never changed very much. But she came to the point where the dominant thing in her life was not her struggle or unfilled needs, but God's awesome love for her.

    I call this “living after the but.” For years Leah's attitude was, “I know God loves me, but my husband doesn't.” Then, at some point she changed what she put after the “but.” Her attitude became, “I know my husband doesn't love me, but God does.”

    Whatever it is that we put after the “but” is what holds the most power in our lives. God is inviting you to put Him after the but. “I know economic times are tough, but God is my provider.” I know I keep failing and sinning, but God forgives me.” “I know my marriage is in shambles, but God can heal me and my marriage.” Reality may or may not change for us, but when the dominant thing in life becomes God and His amazing love for us, then regardless of what is happening on the outside, we can remain strong and at peace within. Follow Leah's example. Put God after the but.

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