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Body Surfing w/ Jesus

As The Table is in a season of discerning how God would have us serve Him in the coming season, I’d like to offer a few thoughts. I would like to base these thoughts today from the book of Malachi, and then consider how we might approach our discernment.

Malachi was written by the prophet to confront God’s people w/ their sin and ultimately restore their relationship w/ God. Malachi addresses priests and people who were offering defective sacrifices to God. He reminds them of their original purpose, which was to help bring God’s peace and life to His people. He calls them to repent, and pursue God w/ authenticity. The good news of the book of Malachi is that God desires relationship w/ His people. He desires for us to swim in His waters of love – that we would set aside the stale water bottles we cling to, and drink from His crisp fountain of life. He desires that when all things are completed we would live into the picture of Malachi 4:2, when is says: “But [in that final day] for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” The good news is that God desires that for us; He desires relationship w/ us.

In sharing this good news, the prophet Malachi is living into the meaning of his name; he is bringing God’s message of restoration. This is my prayer for all of us, that God would give us such an incredible picture of His peace, that we would be saturated by His love – and that we could not help but be His messengers of grace, bragging about the waters of life and leading fellow thirsty people to the waters of refreshment.

So my question is: How then do we go? All too often we psych ourselves out or rely on stale water bottles, choosing safety. We feel alone in stepping out into the water, or that God wants to kick us in the deep end when we barely know how to swim. But the truth is that we are not alone, nor is that the heart of God for us.

God impressed that point to me last week. We took our kids to the peninsula to camp and play at the beach. The waters were cold, and waves choppy, but my daughter was braving the conditions and went out on her own up to her waist. I knew she wanted to go further and wanted someone to join her. So I sucked it up and went out. I stood beside her and said, “Come on let’s go out further together, it will be fun.” She and I went out into the cold waves, body surfing, diving into the oncoming breakers, getting blasted and laughing the whole way. I was confident in her ability to handle herself in the waters. Her confidence was high b/c she knew I was there to grab her when a big wave came. It was an awesome time w/ my daughter, and afterwards we stared at each other in a new loving way. It was the highlight of my trip. Later, when the kids were asleep and my wife was reading by the fire, I walked the beach at sunset. I praised God for the day and for my time w/ my daughter in the waves. And then I was stuck powerfully by a thought. I believe God was smiling upon me and saying: “That’s what I desire for you and Me, Aaron, that you would trust me, and we would adventure together.” I had been praying about this next season at The Table and some upcoming family decisions, and it was as if God was saying: “Come on let’s go out further together, it will be fun.”

I believe God is saying that to each of us today. “Come on let’s go out further together, it will be fun.” I think as a community, we have learned how to swim and we want to head out and be messengers of His peace. As individuals we desire to be Kingdom builders in the fashion God has designed us to be. And like my daughter on the beach, we want to go further, and want someone to join us. The good news is that God desires to adventure w/ us, for us to swim in His waters of love, drinking deep. He desires for us to be messengers to those who are thirsty for His peace. And I believe He is standing next to us today, saying: “Come on let’s go out further together, it will be fun.”

So as we as a community and individuals discern how God would have us serve Him in coming season, know this: You are not alone. God the Father is smiling upon you, desiring to adventure w/ you and fill you up so you can serve Him w/ gladness. It is my prayer that God would give us such an incredible picture of His peace, that we would be dripping in His love, and that we could not help but be His messengers of grace.

So as we discern as a community and individuals, consider this question: How would you answer God today if He asked you, “What fun thing can we do together, that would build my Kingdom?” What would give you life, while building His Kingdom?

 

May God refresh you this season, as you consider how you/we might serve Him.

Hurray for Malachi!

The Table celebrated Malachi’s baptism this past weekend. It was a wonderful time of worship w/ church and family.

Thanks to all who came!

Birthday Reflections

As The Table is preparing to celebrate its 7th birthday this weekend, I am reflecting on the past. Below is a excerpt from my blog after The Table held its first worship gathering.

Last night was our first worship gathering as a church plant. It was awesome! We all showed up at our home at 5:30pm and ate a meal together for about 45 minutes. Then the kids left and did their own Bible lesson and activities, while we sang sangs, prayed, had a discussion on Mark 1 (I lead the discussion while sitting on my hamper…funny), and then took communion together. Then the kids came back and we hung out and ate dessert. It was so encouraging to see so many people in my small apartment. It was so much fun to see our small community come together and worship and party together. I look forward to seeing what God will do in the future.

This coming Sunday, June 25th, The Table will celebrate its 7th birthday! Join us at Fairhaven Park from 11a-2p to celebrate all that God had done through The Table over the years and what He will continue to do.

2 Peter 3 & Hope

2 Peter is a letter of encouragement. In the 1st chapter of 2 Peter, readers are encouraged to know that they share in Christ’s divine nature (1:3, 4). We are not divine, but because of the work of Jesus our identity is now placed in Him. In 2 Peter 2, the author give warnings against false teachings that deny the Lordship of Jesus. In the midst of these warnings, we are giving the encouragement that even in the midst of brokenness, God preserves the faithful. Chapter 3 of 2 Peter builds off of these truths and encourages readers to guard the hope they have in Jesus.

Read 2 Peter 3

Things can be discouraging at time. Folks say “Where is God?” or “If God is there, why doesn’t He do something?” The author of 2 Peter addresses this by saying that God may seem slow to us, but in reality is being patient, because He desires people to come to Him and is allowing time (v. 8-10). But the day will come when accounts will be settled, and as we wait for that day it is our task to guard our hope in Jesus, seek Him, and live in peace (vs. 11-13).

As people who desire rightness, we have hope because we know the One who will make things right. My prayer is that God would reveal His presence to you, that you would guard hope, live at peace, and seek Him.

3 Week Book Study on Jude

Tonight we are beginning our study of Jude starting next week. We’ll do 3 Mondays in a row for the study (June 5, 12, & 19), starting each week at 6pm at Aaron’s house (2716 Douglas Ave.). Week 1 we’ll do a quick overview and look at the historical context. Week 2 will focus on theological themes, and week 3 will focus on the implications/applications for us. My hope in this study is that we will also develop a framework for studying scripture in general, while gaining insights into what God has for us through this letter.

Contact us if you are interested or have questions. Feel free to invite a friend; everyone is welcome!

Discouragement & 2 Peter 2

Discouragement is something we all can slip into, regardless of the situation. As believers, we trust in the hope and promises of Jesus. We sing and pray and live according to our faith of Christ, but as we look around, we are confronted w/ loss, broken relationships, health challenges, and a scary culture. We carry the promises of Jesus in our hearts, while we hold the brokenness of the world in our hands. And if we are honest w/ ourselves, its discouraging at times. If the good news is so good, then why are things such a mess? I would venture to say the readers of 2 Peter were a lot like us.

2 Peter is a letter written about 60 AD to a group of believers. This is likely the same group as addressed in 1 Peter. The problem facing the readers in 1 Peter was persecution. In 2 Peter, however, the author is confronting heresy. One suggestion of the heresy combated in this letter was an early form of Gnosticism. Gnostics denied humanity of Jesus, His bodily resurrection, and His future coming. They saw the physical realm as purely evil, and therefore concluded that God would never take physical form. And so many of them believed that bodily sins did not matter.

So w/ this context in mind, you can begin to see that this letter was designed to warn its readers against false teachers in the church who were blending an early form of Gnosticism w/ Christian thought. The author therefore emphasized the true knowledge of Christ, and desired the readers to focus and remember the true teachings of their prophets and Savior, while they looked forward to the Lords return.

Read 2 Peter 2, and see if your notice these themes.

As Peter discusses the realities of Christ followers surrounded by false teachings and brokenness, he says this in 2 Peter 2:9, “… the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials…” In the face of brokenness and discouragement, this phrase would have been encouraging. They held and professed the truth of the faith. They leaned on the promises of Jesus. And yet, teachers came into their midst that said that the convictions they held were not true – that Jesus did not come in flesh, that his sacrifice was not real, and that the hope of His return was ill placed. If these believers were like us, they would have looked at this teaching in light of the brokenness of the world and been discouraged. In light of that, these readers would have been encouraged to remember how God is a God of justice, and corrects falsehood. They would have been encouraged to have this falsehood named and identified clearly. It would have been good news to know again that God rescues His people even in the midst of falsehood.

This good news is our good news too, that God is faithful to preserve His people, even when they are surrounded by brokenness and falsehood. The truth is that we get discouraged. We look around us and wonder how the promises of faith affect our lives in a broken world? We ask: If the good news is so good, then why is everything a mess? We are ultimately asking why God is not visible, and brokenness is obvious.

In light of the text, we ask: How do the promises of faith affect our lives in a broken world? The answer is confidence. Knowing we are identified w/ JC, we can live confidently, even though we are surrounded by a mess. We can speak the truth in love w/ neighbors who disagree. We can look at crummy season square in the face and declare boldly that we are not defined by brokenness of grief and loss and change and discouragement, but defined by our faithful savior who will make things right.

My prayer for you is that God would reveal His presence in the midst of discouragement, that He would give you peace in the midst of uncertainty, and that He would give you confident eyes of hope that look past the brokenness and falsehood of the world, and focus on the goodness and strength of our sovereign God.

Heads Up – Jude is Coming

Let’s study how to study, by studying. Sometimes approaching the scriptures can create a feeling of disconnection. 2,000 years or more separate us from the original audiences of the Bible, and so we must consider how we might approach the text. This is what we would like to do together. Starting on Monday, June 5th at 6pm at the Walters (2716 Douglas Ave.), we will gather together and study how we study scripture by looking at the often forgotten New Testament book of Jude. This study will run for only 3 weeks (June 5, 12, & 19). No homework is required, just show up w/ a Bible. Week 1 will cover historical context and general impressions of Jude. Week 2 will focus on the theological themes of the letter. And, week 3 will center on the implications of Jude for us today. Let Aaron know if you are interested (thetablebellingham@gmail.com), and invite a friend – everyone is welcome!

Identity and 2 Peter 1

2 Peter Stats

Background: The readers of this letter were believers (1:1) and apparently the same group as addressed in 1 Peter (2 Pet. 3:1). The problem facing the readers in 1 Peter was persecution. The problem facing the readers of 2 Peter was false teaching (2:1, 21).[1]

Opponents: One suggestion of the heresy combated in this letter was a proto-Gnosticism; “knowledge” (a favorite emphasis of the Gnostics, though hardly limited to them) is mentioned seven times in the letter. Gnostics denied the future coming of Christ, and many of them believed that bodily sins did not matter. It is likely that the opponents are simply Diaspora Jews almost completely overtaken by Greek thought.[2]

Purpose: This letter from Peter was designed to warn its readers against false teachers in the church (2:1–2; 3:17). In contrast with the opponents’ claims to knowledge, Peter emphasized the true knowledge of Christ (1:2, 3, 8; 2:20; 3:18). Peter intended for the letter to stir the readers to remembrance of the true teachings of their prophets and Savior (3:1–2) and encourage growth in knowledge of the Lord Jesus (3:18),[3] as they look forward to the Lord’s return.[4]

Themes: Holiness, Orthodoxy Christ’s return

 

2 Peter 1

Series question: How do resurrection promises affect our lives in a broken world, in light of 2 Peter 1?

Read 2 Peter 1, What is good news in this chapter?

1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your callingand election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

 

Today

Good news: We share in Jesus’ divine nature (2 Pe 1:3,4)

“Believers will not participate in God’s essence, but His holiness, including His glory and virtue, 2 Pe 1:3. Sanctification is the imparting to us of God Himself by the Holy Spirit in the soul. The divine power enables us to be partakers of the divine nature.”[5]

 

Questions of Meditation:

-How will you adjust your consumption this week to help yourself live into your identity in Jesus? What will you feast on? What will you fast from?

-How will you live into John 10:10?

 

[1] Hughes, R. B., & Laney, J. C. (2001). Tyndale concise Bible commentary (p. 695). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (2 Pe). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Hughes, R. B., & Laney, J. C. (2001). Tyndale concise Bible commentary (p. 695). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[4] Gangel, K. O. (1985). 2 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 862). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 517). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Culture of Hospitality

This past weekend was our Hospitality weekend, where we intentionally pursue our neighbors and friends, in place of a communal gathering. The heart behind these weekends it to “make room” for others, allowing ourselves time and intention to make this happen. It has been at the heart of our church since its inception. Below is a passage from our website, written in the 1st season of The Table. You can feel the heart behind this rhythm of Hospitality. May you live it well this season!

“The Table has been set, candles and good music have set the mood, and the aroma of delectable food is noticeable. Tired, isolated, and hungry folks are arriving, having accepted the invitation. Their glasses are filled as they sit down with a sigh of relief. Together we will feast on our laughter and care, on great food and drink, and on the Lord’s presence. This table symbolizes the Kingdom of God, and is the vision God has given us for our faith community. But, it is also a reality of how Christ is now moving in Bellingham.”

Table Prayer Gathering, Sunday, April 30 at 4:30pm

Join us this Sunday at 4:30pm for a Table prayer gathering (contact us for locations details). We will begin with a shared meal, so bring something yummy to share. We will then spend some time praying for our church, world, and each other. Let us know how we can be in prayer for you, and join us!

Next week is our Hospitality week, and our next worship gathering will be May 14th.

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