24/7: THE RHYTHM OF LIFE (Episode 6)

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24/7: The Rhythm of Life (Part 6)

October 14, 2018 | Pastor Steve Pixler

MESSAGE NOTES 

Review:

Let’s begin today by looking back over the last five weeks of “24/7: The Rhythm of Life.” 

WEEK 1

  1. “God has called us to live in peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15).

  2. God created the world in a 24/7 pattern when he called cosmos out chaos by the power of Spirit and his Word. 

  3. God created the world to function with RHYTHM and BALANCE. “So teach us to number [measure] our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Sometimes we must RESET OUR RHYTHM (Harry Connick, Jr. video).

  4. We find our creative rhythm and balance ONLY when Christ is at the center. Life is about WHAT you put on your calendar and WHEN you put it on your calendar (priorities). And the WHAT and the WHEN are determined by the WHY (values). A life centered in Christ is a life with a WHY. 

  5. Here’s the takeaway: Life was created to ebb and flow in patterns. It’s the way God made the world. 

    1. Daily rhythms: morning, noon and night. (Take 5)

    2. Weekly rhythms: Sabbath (day of rest) 

    3. Monthly rhythms: New moon (getaway) 

    4. Yearly rhythms: Sabbatical (vacation, holiday) 

    5. Life seasons: Successful transitions 

WEEK 2

In Week 2, we covered two main points:

  1. Life balance flows from soul balance. We must be balanced internally before life can be balanced externally. It is impossible to tame the the crazy outside until we tame the crazy inside. When we achieve “soul balance,” our feelings, decisions and thinking all settle down into a wise, peaceful perspective on the chaos around us. We can get “outside” the drama and objectively watch it go by. And this Spirit-led perception of life allows us to rise above the drama and see creative solutions to tame the crazy. If we remain unbalanced, teetering and tottering, veering wildly back and forth between the spiritual and physical chaos, we cannot get a good grip on the reins of life. 

  2. Second, we focused on one core discipline: CONVERSATION WITH GOD. Conversation requires two things:

    1. Talking: Talking to God is prayer. Prayer includes petition and proclamation, asking God to work and then declaring what he has promised to do. 

    2. Listening: Listening to God is reading the Bible and listening for his voice. It is recognizing when God speaks through dreams, through wise counsel, through the preached Word and through the “inner voice” of God within our heart. 

WEEK 3

In Week 3, we discussed:

There are two fundamental ideas to grasp about the family:

  1. The family is spiritually and strategically significant in God’s plan for saving the world. 

  2. The family chaos that we often experience is spiritual warfare. Because the family is central to God’s strategy for saving the world, Satan works furiously to sabotage family health.  

Then, we focused on ONE KEY DISCIPLINE:

FAMILY CONVERSATIONS

There is no greater discipline that we can develop than simply spending time talking together. God created the world with words, and our words create our world. 

The greatest longing of the human heart is to be understood. It’s all about words: to hear and be heard, to speak and to be spoken to

Healthy conversations require “safe” spaces. We must create ground rules for healthy conversations where everyone can both TALK and LISTEN. 

  1. Be honest. Speak your mind. Anyone can say whatever they want to say.

  2. Be kind. You can say whatever you want, but HOW you say it matters. 

  3. Be fair. We must give equal time and space for everyone to speak. No one gets “shushed.” From the youngest to the oldest, everyone gets to speak their mind. 

  4. Be open. No topics are off-limits. If we refuse to create a safe space for controversial topics, then family members “banned” from discussing their ideas will go underground and develop their opinions and beliefs alone, which is dangerous. 

  5. Be confidential. Conversations are sacred. We do not take them outside the home without the permission of the participants. 

WEEK 4

In Week 4, we talked about “work balance.” We discussed two things and then one discipline. 

  1. Work was created to be done in partnership with God. This is the DOMINION PRINCIPLE. God planted the Garden of Eden and placed man in it so that he could bring the entire earth under cultivation and civilization. Eden was a prototype of the earth. God created man for dominion. And dominion was intended to be a Spirit-filled partnership. YOUR WORK is an expression of God’s rule over creation.

  2. Work was created to flourish in a 24/7 pattern of work and rest, labor and renewal. This the SABBATH PRINCIPLE. God made “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them” to fit within this pattern. Trying to run the world without rest is like trying to run an engine without oil: it will burn up! 

  3. The “Take 5” habit: Throughout the day, when things get stressed and tense, take five minutes in the presence of God to recover balance:

    1. Get still

    2. Breathe in and breathe out: take in peace, release stress

    3. Pray and decree the promises of God 

WEEK 5

In Week 5, we discussed church balance. Though this may seem strange—and even suspiciously authoritarian and religious to modern ears—attending church weekly is part of the 24/7 cycle around which God designed the world.

We were careful to avoid empty, dead religiosity when discussing church attendance while preserving the Spirit-led awareness of what God does when his people gather that cannot happen any other way.

We answered two questions starting off:

  1. What is the church?

  2. Why do we meet weekly? 

Then, we wrapped up by looking at the big picture of what God is doing in the world through the church. It is truly amazing! 

THE BIG PICTURE

The church of Jesus is the means by which God is saving the world. Jesus came to earth, died and rose for our sins, and ascended into heaven to establish his church. His church is what he came to do! And that is how he is doing everything else: people are saved through the ministry of the church; families are made whole through the ministry of the church; nations are transformed through the ministry of the church. 

The church changes the world because it releases the rule of God into the earth. When the church gathers, we sit in session as heaven’s government upon earth. And the rule of God transforms people, families and nations as it uses the keys to the kingdom of heaven that bind and release heaven’s authority. The gates (government) of hell cannot prevail against the church! 

SERIES FINALE

Let’s wrap up the series by going back to the beginning. There are two passages that we referred to over and over throughout the series:

Genesis 1:1–3 (ESV): 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

God called cosmos out of chaos by his Spirit and his Word. That is still how we find balance in the busy of life. Wherever the darkness lies; wherever the chaos is; invite the Holy Spirit to brood in creative contemplation. And then allow the Word of God to speak light into your darkness, revelation into your confusion.  

Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV): Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

The only way to discover and maintain the rhythm of life, to find balance in the busy, is to hold tight to Christ at the center of EVERYTHING. 

And here is that passage rendered in the Message Bible: 

Matthew 11:28–30 (The Message):  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Life is a dance. Find your rhythm. 


small groups study guide (Session SIX)

SESSION SIX NOTES

Start by reviewing the previous weeks.

  1. Soul balance: define and discuss “soul balance.”

  2. Family balance: define and discuss “family balance.”

  3. Work balance: define and discuss “work balance.”

  4. Church balance: define and discuss “work balance.”

Then, wrap up by discussing how we can put Genesis 1 (the creation story) and Matthew 11 (the yoke of Christ) into daily/weekly practice.

  1. How can we invite the Holy Spirit to “hover” over the chaos in our lives?

  2. How do we release the Word of God to bring cosmos out of chaos?

  3. How do we partner with Christ by taking his “yoke” upon us?

  4. Discuss what it means to keep Jesus at the center of your life.

24/7: THE RHYTHM OF LIFE (Episode 5)

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24/7: The Rhythm of Life (Part 5)

October 7, 2018 | Pastor Steve Pixler

MESSAGE NOTES 

Review: Life balance begins with soul balance. Soul balance flows out into family and work balance. 

One huge part of achieving life balance is today’s topic: church balance. Attending church weekly is part of the 24/7 cycle around which God designed the world.

Let’s ask two questions starting off:

  1. What is the church?

  2. Why do we meet weekly? 

Then, we will wrap up today by looking at the big picture of what God is doing in the world through the church. It is truly amazing! 

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

First, let’s define the word “church.” “Church” winds through a long etymology that traces it roots back to the Greek word, “ekklesia.” In Bible times, an ekklesia was a civic assembly where the citizens of a city or province would gather to do government business. And that is exactly what the church is: it is the formal, governmental gathering of Jesus’ kingdom in the earth. (Think of a parliament, congress or legislature.)

The idea of “ekklesia,” however, reaches back farther than Greek civic tradition. Jesus and early Christians borrowed the word “ekklesia” to speak about God’s assembled kingdom community because Greek was the common language. Yet the idea of the assembled people of God goes back to Moses and the “congregation of Israel.” (Israel is called “ekklesia” in Acts 7:38.)

On the Day of Pentecost, Jesus’ church became the Spirit-filled congregation of Israel into which Gentiles were later gathered as the one-people-of-all-nations vision for the church was revealed to the apostles and prophets. (Acts 2; Ephesians 3)

Here is Jesus’ most famous statement about the church:

Matthew 16:18–19 (ESV): And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 

Then, Jesus made it clear that it only takes 2 or 3 gathering in his name for the kingdom assembly to be in session:

Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV): 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” 

The kingdom assembly of King Jesus is also the temple of God:

Ephesians 2:19–22 (ESV): So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. 

Jesus established his church as his kingdom assembly when he ascended into heaven. 

Ephesians 4:10–12 (ESV): He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

The church gathers as the kingdom assembly of King Jesus, and Jesus rules through his people so that the kingdom of God may flow out into every person, family and nation under heaven. The gates of hell shall not prevail! 

The church is the temple of God, the “building of God.” The church is also described as “the body of Christ” and “the bride of Christ.” 

Countless books have been written on the church, and we could go on for years. However, here is the main point to take away for now: the church is the gathering of God’s people and we are called to assemble together. 

Look at how the writer of Hebrews put it:

Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV): 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 

WHY DO WE MEET WEEKLY?

Remember this: we are talking about how weekly worship helps us achieve and maintain life balance. But first our second question: why do we meet weekly? 

The tradition of gathering every week as the kingdom assembly of Jesus flows out of three things:

  1. Creation pattern: God made the world in six days and then rested on the seventh. The “Sabbath pattern” of life carries over into the New Covenant as a PRINCIPLE, not a law. But we do still see the value of living in a 24/7 rhythm and observing a day of rest and worship. 

  2. The synagogue tradition: Israel was given numerous annual feasts to celebrate together, but they were also commanded to gather in a weekly “convocation” (assembly) each Sabbath evening, which would have been Friday night. (Leviticus 23:3) This was the beginning of the Jewish synagogue and was carried over into the church. The NT even refers to the church as “synagogue-ing” together (Hebrew 10:25)

  3. The Lord’s Day: The Christian tradition of meeting every Sunday (at least) as the church (2 or 3 or more gathered to do kingdom business in his name) flows out of the “first day of the week” pattern based on the resurrection of Jesus; the appearances of Jesus with his disciples after his resurrection (John 20); the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2); and a couple of NT references to the church gathering on “the first day of week” and the idea of “the Lord’s day” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10)

We must be careful here because we cannot reduce gathering as the church into a religious ritual, which is has become true for so many. In fact, much of the backlash against attending church regularly has been a backlash against dead religion demanding allegiance to the “institutional church.” 

And yet, there is GREAT POWER in gathering together as the people of God. 

THE BIG PICTURE

The church of Jesus is the means by which God is saving the world. Jesus came to earth, died and rose for our sins, and ascended into heaven to establish his church. His church is what he came to do! And that is how he is doing everything else: people are saved through the ministry of the church; families are made whole through the ministry of the church; nations are transformed through the ministry of the church. 

The church changes the world because it releases the rule of God into the earth. When the church gathers, we sit in session as heaven’s government upon earth. And the rule of God transforms people, families and nations as it uses the keys to the kingdom of heaven that bind and release heaven’s authority. The gates (government) of hell cannot prevail against the church! 

Ephesians 3:7–11 (ESV): Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 

CONCLUSION

So what does all this mean for you? Simply this: attending church regularly and getting involved in serving brings you into partnership with what God is doing in the world. But it also helps you find the rhythm of life—balancing the busy. 

By committing to weekly worship, you bring your self, family and work into alignment with the government of God and the transformation, re-creation power of the gospel. 

Weekly worship works! 

Life is a dance. Find your rhythm. 


small groups study guide (Session FIVE)

(Be sure and listen to the message above. Notes are included.)

DISCUSSION NOTES

  1. In the message, we talked about refusing to reduce church attendance down to a religious ritual. What has your past experience been with attending church? How do we prevent church attendance from becoming a “religious duty”?

  2. Discuss what it means for the church to be the “kingdom assembly” (ekklesia) of King Jesus. How does the church advance the kingdom of God in every area of life?

  3. Why did the church develop the tradition of gathering weekly (at least) and why meet on Sunday?

  4. Studies show that weekend church attendance remains the single most effective way (among many) to lead friends to Jesus. Discuss how we can bring friends.

24/7: THE RHYTHM OF LIFE (Episode 4)

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24/7: The Rhythm of Life (Part 4)

September 30, 2018 | Pastor Steve Pixler

MESSAGE NOTES 

Review: Life balance begins with soul balance. We cannot tame the crazy outside until we tame the crazy inside. Then, soul balance flows out into family balance. 

The next level of balance in life is work balance. How do we bring self, family and work into a rhythm that achieves balance in the busy? 

This is a huge topic with countless helpful resources available, but we shall narrow our focus down to two things that can help us tame the crazy:

  1. Work was created to be done in partnership with God. This is the dominion principle. 

  2. Work was created to flourish in a 24/7 pattern of work and rest, labor and renewal. This the Sabbath principle

THE DOMINION PRINCIPLE

Let’s start by looking at the origin of work. Strange as it may seem, work started in Paradise, in the Garden of Eden:

Genesis 1:26–28: 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 

 27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 

Work was intended to done in partnership with God. God planted the Garden of Eden and placed man in it so that he could bring the entire earth under cultivation and civilization. Eden was a prototype of the earth.

God created man for dominion. And dominion was intended to be a Spirit-filled partnership. 

Look again at how God created man:

Genesis 2:7–8 (ESV): Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 

God created man in his image and breathed his own breath of life into him. Then he put him to work. Spirit-filled work has been God’s ideal from the beginning. 

Exodus 31:1–6 (ESV): 31 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. 6 And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you.

Colossians 3:22–24 (ESV): Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

So consider two questions: 

  1. Do you see your work as dominion? As partnership with God to advance the rule of Christ and the creation blessing (released anew through Abraham in Genesis 12) throughout the generations into all nations

  2. Do you see the need for your work to be Spirit-filled? As Spirit-filled creativity and wisdom, fruitfulness and faithfulness

Ok, back to where we started: 

  1. Work was created to be done in partnership with God. This is the dominion principle. 

  2. Work was created to flourish in a 24/7 pattern of work and rest, labor and renewal. This the Sabbath principle.

THE SABBATH PRINCIPLE

Genesis 2:1-3 (ESV) 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Exodus 20:8–11 (ESV): 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.  

(NOTE: While we do not observe the “Mosaic Sabbath,” we do honor the principle of one day in seven set aside as worship to God.) 

God created work to flourish within this “six-days-shall-you-labor-and-the-seventh-shall-you-rest,” 24/7 pattern. God made “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them” to fit within this pattern. Trying to run the world without rest is like trying to run an engine without oil: it will burn up! 

BLESSED: God blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. This means that there is a blessing available to those who find the rhythm of life as God designed it. 

HOLY: What does it mean for a day to be holy? It simply means that God has set it apart unto himself. This means that a day of rest every week is more than a religious ritual. It is a day that God has called us to pause and reflect, to recalibrate our priorities, and to bring all of life before our Creator as an act of worship. 

REMEMBER: Quite possibly, the most important—urgently important!—word in the scripture passage above is “remember.” 

God knows very well that our busy work schedules will push us into overworking and never resting. So, he commanded us to remember the Sabbath. This means that we must plan to rest. We must schedule our Sabbath. We must be ruthless about rest. 

Psalm 127:1–2 (ESV): Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 

Matthew 11:28–30 (The Message):  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

One final thing: the last two weeks we have focused on one specific discipline that could help us find balance in the busy. Week 1 and Week 2 were both “conversation,” conversation with God and conversation in the family. Today, the one simple discipline that we can implement to find balance at work is the “Take 5” habit:

Take 5: Throughout the day, when things get stressed and tense, take five minutes in the presence of God to recover balance:

  1. Get still

  2. Breathe deep 

  3. Pray and decree the promises of God 

CONCLUSION 

What is our call-to-action today? Two things:

  1. To see your work as dominion

  2. To commit to “sabbath.” 

Life is a dance. Find your rhythm. 


small groups study guide (Session FOUR)

(NOTE: Be sure to review the message and notes above from last Sunday.)

READ Matthew 11:28–30 (The Message):  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

  1. What is the “dominion principle”? Talk about how we can work in partnership with God in our daily work.

  2. What is the “Sabbath principle”? Discuss the creation pattern of “six-days-shall-you-labor-and-the-seventh-shall-you-rest.” What is your day of rest?

  3. What is the “Take 5 habit”? (1. Be still. 2. Breathe deep. 3. Pray the promises of God.) Discuss how you can implement “Take 5” each day.

24/7: THE RHYTHM OF LIFE (Episode 3)

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24/7: The Rhythm of Life (Part 3)

September 23, 2018 | Pastor Steve Pixler

MESSAGE NOTES 

Review: Life balance begins with soul balance. We cannot tame the crazy outside until we tame the crazy inside. We cannot “impose” order. We must “manifest” (model-mediate) it. 

Soul balance leads to family balance

(NOTE: We are discussing “family” in terms of a household. The basic design of the family is dad, mom and kids. But a family can also be a single parent household, a grandparent-led household, a group of siblings living together or any other arrangement of related people living together in one household and sharing responsibility for the common good.) 

FAMILY CHAOS

There is no arena where the chaos is more evident and more distressing than in the family. The relationships closest to us are the most challenging ones. 

Psychologists have discovered that “family of origin” issues are THE single greatest source of ongoing personal and relational chaos. 

Paul the apostle addresses family issues in a powerful passage from Ephesians: 

Ephesians 5:20–6:4 (ESV): 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 

32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 

There is years worth of family teaching here. But our narrow focus today is on finding balance through a daily and weekly rhythm. (For more amazing teaching on the family, check out marriagetoday.com.)

Just before we focus on daily/weekly rhythm and balance, get this: 

There are two fundamental ideas to grasp about the family:

  1. The family is spiritually and strategically significant in God’s plan for saving the world. 

  2. The family chaos that we often experience is spiritual warfare. Because the family is central to God’s strategy for saving the world, Satan works furiously to sabotage family health. 

Family renewal is essential to the advance of Christ’s rule over the nations. The kingdom of God cannot take root in the world without taking root in the family. 

Just like the first days of creation, the Spirit of God hovers over the chaos of every family and broods in creative contemplation. He speaks his Word and brings cosmos out of chaos. God plans to bring healing to the home in order to manifest his plans for the ages. 

FAMILY BALANCE THROUGH DAILY/WEEKLY RHYTHMS

The family, just like the soul, is both spiritual and physical. This means that we must develop spiritual and physical disciplines for the family. 

What are some of the spiritual disciplines that we can develop as a family? 

  • Prayer

  • Worship

  • Bible reading

  • Family meals and communion (weekly sabbath rituals) 

  • Church attendance

  • Generosity

  • Community volunteering

  • What is the Holy Spirit bringing to your mind? 

What are some of the physical disciplines that we can develop as a family? 

  • Healthy eating habits (diet)

  • Eating meals together 

  • Exercise (family walks, biking, visits to the park...)

  • Good sleeping habits 

  • Family participation in household chores (shared responsibility) 

  • Preparing meals together 

  • Doing homework together 

  • Sharing movies and TV shows, playing games

  • Anything else the Holy Spirit brings to mind? 

FAMILY CONVERSATIONS

The one discipline that the Holy Spirit emphasized again this week during message preparation is CONVERSATION

This was our emphasis last week when we talked about “conversation with God.” But today, let’s wrap up by talking about the importance of family conversations. 

There is no greater discipline that we can develop than simply spending time talking together. God created the world with words, and our words create our world. 

The greatest longing of the human heart is to be understood. It’s all about words: to hear and be heard, to speak and to be spoken to. Our heart craves words like our body craves food. (It is no coincidence that most conversations happen around a meal.) And there are NO exceptions to this need. People who claim to not need human conversation are living in denial. 

Conversations cannot be forced: they must be cultivated. The laws of sowing and reaping work in conversations. Sow kind words, and you will reap kind words. Sow harsh words, and you will reap harsh words—or sullen silence. 

Conversations take time. And they usually grow around shared activities. If we want conversations to happen, we must “till the soil” where they grow: time. 

Conversations are about two things:

  1. Talking

  2. Listening 

People will stop talking when they do not feel heard. 

Here is a great conversational habit to develop: 

  1. Listen

  2. Repeat

  3. Respond 

Healthy conversations require “safe” spaces. We must create ground rules for healthy conversations. 

  1. Be honest. Speak your mind. Anyone can say whatever they want to say.

  2. Be kind. You can say whatever you want, but HOW you say it matters. 

  3. Be fair. We must give equal time and space for everyone to speak. No one gets “shushed.” From the youngest to the oldest, everyone gets to speak their mind. 

  4. Be open. No topics are off-limits. If we refuse to create a safe space for controversial topics, then family members “banned” from discussing their ideas will go underground and develop their opinions and beliefs alone, which is dangerous. 

  5. Be confidential. Conversations are sacred. We do not take them outside the home without the permission of the participants. 

What else comes into your mind about ground rules for safe conversations? Write it down. 

CONCLUSION

Colossians 4:6 (ESV): Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. 

Ephesians 4:29–32 (ESV): 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 

What decisions will you make today to develop the conversation discipline in your family? 

Life is a dance. Find your rhythm. 


small groups study guide (Session THREE)

24/7: The Rhythm of Life (Session 3)

Discuss the following:

  1. Soul balance creates family balance. What does it mean to have “soul balance”? And what is “family balance”?

  2. There is a spiritual battle going on for the heart and soul of the family. Why does Satan fight the family so hard? And what weapons do we use to fight back?

  3. Family balance is strengthened through daily and weekly disciplines. Discuss a few examples of spiritual and physical disciplines that can be used to strengthen the family.

  4. The one “featured” discipline this week is “conversations.” Family health grows when family conversations grow. Discuss the five “rules” of conversation presented last Sunday:

  • Be honest. Speak your mind. Anyone can say whatever they want to say.

  • Be kind. You can say whatever you want, but HOW you say it matters. 

  • Be fair. We must give equal time and space for everyone to speak. No one gets “shushed.” From the youngest to the oldest, everyone gets to speak their mind. 

  • Be open. No topics are off-limits. If we refuse to create a safe space for controversial topics, then family members “banned” from discussing their ideas will go underground and develop their opinions and beliefs alone, which is dangerous. 

  • Be confidential. Conversations are sacred. We do not take them outside the home without the permission of the participants. 

Pray together that God will train us in spiritual and physical disciplines that will strengthen our families.

24/7: THE RHYTHM OF LIFE (Episode 2)

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24/7: The Rhythm of Life (Part 2)

September 16, 2018 | Pastor Steve Pixler

MESSAGE NOTES 

INTRO: The central ideas underlying this message series are laid out in the series title: “24/7: The RHYTHM of Life: Finding BALANCE in the BUSY.” 

  1. 24/7: God created the world in a 24/7 pattern, and the balance that we need so urgently is only found by developing patterns of behavior—habits, disciplines and routines—that happen DAILY and WEEKLY. (And that extends out to monthly, yearly and lifetime patterns.) 

  2. RHYTHM: The daily and weekly patterns create a rhythm of life that strikes a balance and maintains it over time.

  3. BALANCE: The daily and weekly habits, the disciplines that we develop, create ongoing, repeated adjustments that allow us to balance the various responsibilities and pleasures of life without becoming rigid and legalistic about our disciplines. 

  4. BUSY: Life is chaos, life is crazy. But the only way to tame the crazy is to develop patterns of behavior that harness the energy of the chaos and bring it under the dominion of the Holy Spirit. 

The Father is passionate about YOU developing a 24/7 rhythm for life that brings balance to the busy.

Matthew 11:28–30 (The Message):  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

In Message 2, we have two main points to cover:

  1. First, get this: life balance flows from soul balance. We must be balanced internally before life can be balanced externally. It is impossible to tame the the crazy outside until we tame the crazy inside. 

  2. Second, let’s take a closer look at how we develop a 24/7 pattern of disciplines with an emphasis on one core discipline: conversation with God. 

SOUL BALANCE 

The first thing to understand about SOUL BALANCE is that we exist as “tripartite” beings: spirit, soul and body. This means that we exist within two realms, the spiritual and the physical, and our soul (our conscious self) sits astride them both. 

In order to achieve “soul balance,” we must develop both our spiritual and physical health. Health comes from diet and exercise, what we take in and what we put out. This is true both spiritually and physically. 

Some people emphasize spiritual health while ignoring their physical health, and others emphasize physical health while neglecting spiritual health. Both extremes intensify the imbalance of the soul and deepen the “crazy” (neurosis, psychosis, pathologies).

The soul sits astride the spiritual and the physical, and it is also tripartite: mind, will and emotions. As we achieve spiritual and physical balance through daily and weekly Spirit-filled rhythms (disciplines), our soul begins to settle into its own internal balance.

EMOTIONS: The emotional chaos that erupts out of the “crazy” starts settling down into self-control, into emotional intelligence.

It is interesting how many of the fruits of the Spirit are emotional: 

Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV): But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

WILL: When we achieve spiritual and physical balance, our will—our volition, our decision-making power—comes under the will of the Holy Spirit, and our decisions start flowing out of God’s wisdom rather than selfish impulses that are harmful to us and those around us. 

Ephesians 2:3 (ESV): Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 

MIND: When we are spiritually and physically balanced, our mind experiences “renewal.” The renewing of the mind liberates our mindset and worldview from the prevailing spirit of this age, the dominant way of thinking imposed on us by family, culture, the media, education and entertainment. 

Romans 12:2 (ESV): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

When we achieve “soul balance,” our feelings, decisions and thinking all settle down into a wise, peaceful perspective on the chaos around us. We can get “outside” the drama and objectively watch it go by. And this Spirit-led perception of life allows us to rise above the drama and see creative solutions to tame the crazy.

If we remain unbalanced, teetering and tottering, veering wildly back and forth between the spiritual and physical chaos, we cannot get a good grip on the reins of life. 

As we quoted last week, “God has called us to a life of peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15). The Father is passionate about our “balance in the busy,” and his Holy Spirit partners with us as we develop disciplines in the daily. 

The Creation Story is a powerful metaphor of how the Holy Spirit hovers over our chaos to help us bring forth cosmos. 

  1. Chaos: the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. 

  2. Holy Spirit: The Spirit of God hovered over the waters, brooding in creative contemplation. 

  3. The Word: “And God said...” The Word of God penetrated the chaos and brought forth cosmos. 

  4. 24/7: And the cosmos that God brought forth emerged in a 24/7 (daily/weekly) pattern. 

Soul balance is achieved by partnering with the Holy Spirit as the Word of God commands order out of disorder and arranges our world in a healthy 24/7 pattern. 

DAILY DISCIPLINES

The rhythm of life is found in the habits, the disciplines, we pursue daily and weekly. The balance of life is found pursuing these disciplines both spiritually and physically. 

What are some of the disciplines we should pursue daily and weekly?

PHYSICAL: diet, exercise, medical attention, rest, recreation, etc. 

SPIRITUAL: prayer, worship, church attendance, generosity, fasting, journaling, solitude, silence, etc. 

**Stop and think about the disciplines that you should put into practice starting NOW. 

There is one specific daily/weekly discipline that the Holy Spirit has emphasized during preparation for the message: 

Conversation with God

Conversation requires two things:

  1. Talking: Talking to God is prayer. Prayer includes petition and proclamation, asking God to work and then declaring what he has promised to do. 

  2. Listening: Listening to God is reading the Bible and listening for his voice. It is recognizing when God speaks through dreams, through wise counsel, through the preached Word and through the “inner voice” of God within our heart. 

We are being drawn by the Holy Spirit into an ongoing dialogue with our Father. Conversation with God is much more than just morning devotions or evening prayers, though it may begin there. Conversation with God is about walking in daily, weekly communion with God that hums under the surface of every moment, whether awake or asleep. 

HOMEWORK: This week, practice talking to God like most of us talk to ourselves. Just engage the Father in conversation throughout the day. 

Develop the habit—the rhythm—of talking to God everywhere you go and everything you do. Include him in your emotions, bring him in on every decision, and consult him in your thinking on every part of life. 

And a sense of peace (shalom, wholeness) will emerge out of this daily conversation that will pervade every area of your life. There is no way to exaggerate the lifelong impact of this one simple discipline. Start a daily conversation with God and see how the Holy Spirit will recreate your life. 

CONCLUSION

Let’s wrap up with the scripture we started with:

Matthew 11:28–30 (The Message):  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

This is where the balance begins.

Life is a dance. Find your rhythm. 


small groups study guide (Session TWO)

Be sure to review the notes from Episode 02 (above) and listen to the message if you have not already.

There are two main points from Message 02:

  1. Soul Balance

  2. Conversation with God

SOUL BALANCE

  1. You are a “tripartite” being. Briefly discuss what it means to be “tripartite,” and the three parts of your being (spirit, soul and body).

  2. You exist in two realms: spiritual and physical. What is the difference between the two?

  3. Your soul is also tripartite. Briefly discuss the three parts of your soul and how each one differs from the other (mind, will and emotions).

  4. How do we become balanced spiritually and physically?

  5. How do we become balanced in our thinking, decisions and emotions?

CONVERSATION WITH GOD

  1. Briefly list a few spiritual and physical disciplines.

  2. What does it mean to have daily conversation with God?

  3. Share examples from your own experience about how walking and talking with God daily has transformed your life.

  4. Discuss practical ways you can implement the habit of conversation with God.

  5. Pray for one another as a group to release grace for spiritual and physical disciplines.

24/7: THE RHYTHM OF LIFE (Episode 1)

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24/7: The Rhythm of Life (Episode 1)

September 9, 2018 | Pastor Steve Pixler

MESSAGE NOTES

For many people, life is chaos. Do you ever feel a bit stressed out from the hustle and bustle of life?

Yet “God has called us to live in peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15).

And the peace to which he has called us is SHALOM (wholeness, wellness). God has called us to live full, balanced lives.

Jesus described shalom like this:

Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV): Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

God calls us to live in peace. That’s how he made the world. Creation achieves optimum efficiency when it is balanced.

CREATION: God’s antidote to CHAOS is “COSMOS” (order)

 Genesis 1:1–2 (ESV): 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

God created the world by calling cosmos to emerge from chaos. He spoke his WORD into the chaos and order developed within the molecular structure of the universe, manifesting as patterns and frequencies of time, space and matter. When the WORD of God penetrated the chaos, the infinite fractals inherent to the triune life of the one God (for God exists as the supreme order, the Prime Mathematician!) emerged into material reality and the universe manifested visibly the invisible glory of God. (Romans 1:20) The WORD OF GOD is the basis for balance and order of life at the “molecular” level: the heart.

And when the cosmos emerged from the chaos, life was formed into a twenty-four hour day and seven day week—into a 24/7 pattern. (Genesis 1, 2)

The 24/7 pattern—and we shall see in a moment that the patterns extend out to monthly and yearly, as well—is the fundamental pattern of life. God built us as creatures of time, and when we ignore the patterns of time he created us to inhabit, we begin to fray around the edges and disintegrate. We lose shalom.

We were designed to be a “renewable resource,” so to speak, and when we ignore the need to renew and refuel, we crash and burn.

RHYTHM AND BALANCE: Rhythm and balance are products of MEASURED time and space.

Psalm 90:12 (ESV): So teach us to number (measure) our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

“Teach us measure our days.” This can refer to “goal setting,” but it also refers to adjusting to shifting seasons of life. Teach me to measure—“count the rhythm “—of every season of life.

In music, the measure of time is determined by the meter.

(WATCH: Harry Connick, Jr resets the rhythm. https://youtu.be/UinRq_29jPk))

We must learn how to reset our rhythm and bring life back into rhythm and balance. We must cooperate with the 24/7 pattern.

Without an objective, outside measure, a CENTER to which time and space can be related, rhythm and balance are lost. Christ must be the center. When Christ is our center, life revolves around him in perfect orbit. The first step in “finding balance in the busy” is to arrange life around Jesus.

Walk, run or dance, it’s all about balance and rhythm (stride = timing). 

Life is about WHAT you put on your calendar and WHEN you put it on your calendar (priorities). And the WHAT and the WHEN are determined by the WHY (values). A life centered in Christ is a life with a WHY.

Here’s the takeaway: Life was created to ebb and flow in patterns. It’s the way God made the world.

    1. Daily rhythms: morning, noon and night. (Take 5)

    2. Weekly rhythms: Sabbath (day of rest)

    3. Monthly rhythms: New moon (getaway)

    4. Yearly rhythms: Sabbatical (vacation, holiday)

    5. Life seasons: Successful transitions

What will YOU do to bring life into balance and rhythm?

Life is a dance. Find your rhythm.


small groups study guide (Session One)

Three main points to discuss:

1. God spoke his word into the chaos of creation and formed cosmos.

  • Discuss ways that you can speak God's word into your chaos (disorder) and command cosmos (order) to appear.

  • What are the best methods for finding "words" from God to speak into your life?

  • Share examples of how God's word has reordered your life.

2. Sometimes, as seasons shift, we must "reset our rhythm." 

  • What does it mean to "reset our rhythm"?

  • Discuss ways that we can adjust to new seasons of life and find our balance as we face new challenges.

  • Share examples of times that you adjusted well (or not!) to new seasons of life.

3. God created the world in a "24/7" pattern. 

  • In what ways to you see the 24/7 pattern impact your life both positively and negatively?

  • Discuss creative ways you can develop daily and weekly routines that will help you achieve balance in life.

  • Share experiences you've had with helpful (and unhelpful!) daily and weekly disciplines.

EXPERIENCING THE MIGHTY POWER OF GOD (2-PART SERIES) | Steve Pixler

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EXPERIENCING THE MIGHTY POWER OF GOD (2-part series)

August 26, 2018 | Steve Pixler

MESSAGE NOTES

God wants YOU to experience his power, his supernatural ability to make things change. Positive, permanent change. God is a miracle-working God, and he wants YOU to experience his miracle-working power. 

(2 Chronicles 16:9) — “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support (to show himself strong—KJV) to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”

The power of God starts within us and flows without us. 

(Ephesians 3:20, 21) — Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The power of God is “at work within us.” God placed his power in us when we heard the gospel and believed. As Jesus said,

(Acts 1:8a) — “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...”

Do you believe? Then you have received the Holy Spirit, and the power of God embedded within the faith of Jesus lies deep within you. You already HAVE the power of God within you! 

Yet God never intended for his power to remain hidden within us—he intends for his power to work within us and without us so that the world may witness the mighty power of God. Here’s the rest of what Jesus said about his power within us: 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

A witness has an experience and then testifies to what he or she has seen. A witness without an experience is a false witness. 

The power of God was meant to be experienced personally and then shared with the world.

Many Christians find it difficult to be a witness to others because they have little confidence in their experience. It’s time for that to change! 

FORM OF GODLINESS

Many Christians have externalized the experience of God into dead religious ritual.  

(2 Timothy 3:5) — Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

The world needs the mighty power of God. The world needs a church alive with the experience of God’s power. The world needs a church that “with great power [gives] testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). 

FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

The Spirit that we receive when we believe is meant to bubble up like a fountain and flow out like a river. The Bible describes this as “being filled with the Spirit“: 

(Acts 2:4): And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 

(Acts 4:31): And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. 

(Ephesians 5:18) — And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.

To “be filled with the Spirit” is when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon us for empowered action. It is the same phrase that is often used in the Old Testament: “And the Spirit of the Lord God came upon him…” 

(Acts 19:6): And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 

HOW DOES THE POWER OF GOD MANIFEST? 

  1. Faith and repentance, a transformed life  
  2. Answered prayers
  3. Open emotions (this is where deep change takes place)
  4. Dreams, visions
  5. Fruit and gifts of the Spirit
  6. Healing, miracles, signs and wonders
  7. Evangelism (Acts 1:8; Col. 1:29)

EMPOWERED FOR WITNESS

We witness the power of God personally. We then witness of that power to others. Through our testimony, in both words and action, the world becomes a witness to the power of God. 

God called us to manifest the power of God through personal transformation so that the power of God may be experienced by people, places and things around us. 

Can you imagine the delight of watching as the power of God increases your influence for good in the world? There is nothing more astounding than the power of God in action. 

The normal Christian life is a life of power. God intends to demonstrate his power through you to the world.

Ask God to make his mighty power known. Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit.