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How would you describe the Christian life? What kinds of attitudes, characteristics, behaviors would you identify as evidence of the life of Jesus in a person?  The old adage warns us “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” That’s an indictment of contemporary Christian discipleship. We have assumed that if a church provides consistent events, biblical information and appealing programs for people, and the people consume these offerings, then the users will grow. But we rarely stop to figure out in practical terms what God expects of us, or to assess what we must do to improve our performance with respect to those desired outcomes. Why is it even important to decide and define the marks of a life lived in Jesus?  I can think of at least three.

Reason #1: We don’t want to settle for shallow descriptions of the Christian life.

Lacking a clear notion of what we’re trying to become as believers, we often settle for something less than the biblical standard, and certainly less than we are capable of becoming.

How instructive is it to discover that when pressed to do so, not only have most Christians and most church leaders failed to specify what  “spiritual success” means, but they do not feel compelled to work out a definition of such an endpoint or destination.

The result has been that believers and churches embrace a cheap facsimile of spiritual success with remorse or, in many cases, the realization that they have “dumbed down” Christianity. Or, even worse, many have left the definition of life in Jesus up for grabs.

This is precisely why we have taken the time to define our understanding of biblical measures of life in Jesus. We call them lifeMarks.

Reason #2: We don’t want to settle for head knowledge rather than complete transformation.

Talk to church leaders about their discipleship programs and you usually hear about teaching events and programs. Sunday school, small groups, Christian education classes, seminary courses, study groups, reading groups, video curriculum, VBS—countless ways of communicating empirical information based on Scripture.

This is laudable and certainly needed. But filling people’s heads with Bible verses and principles alone, is inadequate. Discipleship, defined as becoming spiritually mature in our imitation of Christ, demands that we give both the head and the heart sufficient opportunity to grow and to make a difference in our lives and the world. Settling for information leads us to be puffed up busy bodies, not life-bearing representatives of the Lord of Life.

This is precisely why we have taken the time to define our understanding of biblical measures of life in Jesus. We call them lifeMarks.

Reason #3: We don’t want to settle for random, disconnected activities rather than intentional and purposeful growth experiences.

Most churches are content to provide their people with biblical substance. The problem is not that the content in itself is bad, but that the content is not provided in a purposeful, systematic manner. Ultimately, believers become well-versed in knowing characters, stories, ideas and verses from the Bible, but remain clueless as to the importance of each.

Think of the way we teach people about life in Jesus as a massive game of “Connect the Dots.”

The problem is, in our version of the game, we do not put the numbers next to the dots, rendering players incapable of connecting the dots in the fashion intended. All of the dots are provided and are pictured in exactly the right place, but without a sense of direction or the big picture, failure is inevitable.

Few churches intentionally guide their people through a strategic learning and developmental process that has been customized for the student. We push everyone through the same generic journey, expecting everyone to “get it” at the same time and in the same way, simultaneously developing mature believers. It doesn’t work that way. Until we assume a more strategic approach to delivering insights and outcomes within a viable mental and experiential framework, we will continue to be frustrated by the results of our well-intended but poorly conceptualized efforts to grow disciples. This is precisely why we have taken the time to define our understanding of biblical measures of life in Jesus. We call them lifeMarks.

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Our lifeMarks are expressed in a four-by-four framework. We have four major lifeMarks, each consisting of four foundational areas. Those foundational areas have personal reflection questions. We hope you will use these questions to assess your own spiritual growth.

I use these questions throughout the year to help me discover where I sense God is leading me to grow. For example, I am the missional heartbeat of God: Teach led me to commit to a 1:1 discipling relationship with two brothers in Christ this year. We are helping each other live life in Jesus!

I AM Sustained by the Word.

I AM Dependent on Christ.

I AM a Visible Reflection of Jesus.

I AM the Missional Heartbeat of God.

(Check them out at: http://lifemarks.livelifetogether.com/)

Here are just a few blessings of identifying and defining lifeMarks. They can...

Help you be more intentional.

Help you identify the next step in your growth.

Provide a clear description of the Christian life.

My hope is that you could articulate these lifeMarks when you are trying to describe the Christian life to a friend who is curious about Jesus. Perhaps you can detail a time when you lived out one of these 16 marks and were blessed as a result. And, maybe, when you are looking for ways to help a friend learn how to follow Jesus you could pull one of these 16 marks and see where your friend might want to grow and join her in that exciting journey.

 

 

HOW do we connect to life in Jesus?

Now more than ever you may be feeling disconnected.  You aren’t able to gather with friends and family and your church like you used to.  You might even be feeling like the Psalmist who said in Psalm 42:4-5:

 “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be; I walked among the crowds of worshippers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?  I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again- my Savior and my God.” 

 

Things are certainly different right now. However, we can still be intentional about how we are connecting with others through lifeGroup, lifeWorship and lifeServe, and living out a connecting lifestyle.  Not only can we be intentional about those ways of growing in our relationship with Jesus and growing in our relationships with others, being intentional is the only way it is going to happen.

 

We can make it top priority in our life to build connections with those who do not know Jesus and help them to experience life change. We can make it top priority to be a part of a group of people who discuss what God is teaching them in His word and how they are going to respond to what He is saying. To build those relationships and care for one another and pray for each other. We can make it a top priority to engage in worship, not just watch the service, but interact and invite others to worship with you (even if you are apart). We can make it a top priority to serve others with the gifts that God has given us.  What do you enjoy doing, what are you good at, how could you help someone else with those gifts. Don’t keep it to yourself, give your life away by serving others in love. 

 

Our purpose, our mission, is to connect people to life in Jesus and that happens through each and every one of us. The ways in which you can be a part of doing that are through lifeGroup, lifeWorship and lifeServe.  It may look different, but it is still vitally important. Are you missing one of these areas currently in your life? 

 

Do you want to learn more about connecting to a lifeGroup?  Have you taken a break from lifeGroup and now you are ready to jump back in? Send me an email: ameyer@livelifetogether.com  Are you missing someone you used to see? Invite them to your lifeGroup.  

 

Are you interested in meeting 1:1 with someone or in a small group of 3 to grow in following Jesus?  Email or call me.  608.217.9967  or 608.271.2811 x11 

 

Do you want some tips on how to stay connected with worship opportunities? Reach out to me. 

 

Are you looking for ways to use your gifts? Wanting to know more about opportunities to serve in the community or even with our ministry?  Or even in discovering what your gifts are? Again… let me know I would love to help you make those discoveries. 

 

One thing I know for sure, it won’t just happen.  It will take you making it a priority and being intentional with following through.  Put it on your calendar. Schedule it. Pray for God to show you what next step to take, and then take it.

 
 

Intentionally About The Mission

“Connecting People to Life in Jesus” is our Mission Statement at the Church.  

 

It’s our Mission, our purpose, the answer to “What are we doing?”

Our Vision Frame has 4 sides, as most picture frames do, and the picture in the middle is where we are going, our Vision.  Those four sides are Mission, Values, Strategy, and Life Marks (Measures).

Our Values are the reasons “Why?” we are Connecting People to Life in Jesus.

Our Strategy is “How?” we are Connecting People to Life in Jesus.

And our Life Marks help us to measure “When?” we are Connecting People to Life in Jesus.

At a very basic level, then, our Vision is a future where people are connected to life in Jesus.

I’ve heard people question our values, not want to participate in parts of our strategy, even wonder about the vision.  But I can’t remember hearing anyone question our Mission Statement. 

            Connecting People to Life in Jesus

 It’s so basic, so fundamental.  And it’s hard to argue with Jesus’ commands.

“18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20

We all seem to be able to agree on this.  But are we doing it?

Our current sermon series is titled “Intentionally.”  In it we’re exploring how Paul and others Intentionally acted, based on the mission, and God’s sending and leading.  There’s a lot we can learn as we see the decisions they make, the ones they wait for, and what they do while they are waiting.

How are you Intentionally Connecting People to Life in Jesus?  This isn’t the mission just of our corporate church, as if it’s up to the staff and the board and the rest are just along for the ride.  It’s the mission of each of us.  Each of us has been commanded to make disciples.  It is the mission of each of us to Connect People to Life in Jesus.  So, how are YOU Intentionally doing it? 

This isn’t finger pointing.  I want us to take a couple of minutes to think about our answers.  If your mission is to make disciples, to Connect People to Life in Jesus, how are you intentionally doing it?  

Another way to get at this is to ask yourself what you are connecting people to?  We connect people to other people and things all the time.  

When we talk about the latest Netflix show we’ve watched or the latest podcast we’ve listened to

When we invite people to read a book

    When we have people over for dinner or to try a new drink

        When we introduce friends to each other

 

We almost can’t help but connect people to the things we’re intentionally connecting to.

So when it comes to Intentionally Connecting People to Life in Jesus, an easy place to start is by being intentional about our own Life in Jesus.  He is the one who has connected us, and He invites us to continue connecting with Him in many ways.  What habit of connecting with Jesus would you like to see in your own life, or in your family?  Pick one thing that takes less than 5 minutes, and commit to doing it every day until Thanksgiving.  

Be intentional about your connection to Life in Jesus, and then, share with other people your joy, what’s fun, interesting, what you’re learning, how it makes you feel.   

We’re going to continue a review of our Vision Frame in upcoming Spiel articles.  The whole Vision Frame simply helps us be intentional about the Mission God has us on.  It’s all about living and connecting people to life in Jesus as we live life together.

Check out the whole Vision Frame at www.livelifetogether.com/who-we-are

If you would be willing to share with me what your 5-minute practice is, and how it goes and/or if you have any questions, email me at mwipperman@livelifetogether.com

 
 

Intentionally Connecting

Connecting with each other isn’t as easy as it…

Connecting with each other isn’t as automatic as it…

                                

Our Intentionally series seems especially appropriate these days given how intentional we have to be about everything we do.  I don’t just run into people I know like I used to.  Many kids aren’t around their classmates and friends every day like they used to be.  We don’t bump into each other at church like we used to.  In fact, bumping into someone now seems like a bad thing.

 

We have to be intentional about connecting with each other.  And we have to double down on our intentionality when our normal patterns of connecting are disrupted.  

 

For some of us, our lifeGroups are a huge part of our connectedness, and are even more so now. 

But many of us are not in a lifeGroup. 

Some of us have family close by.

But many of us don’t.

 

We’ve tried a few things to help the whole church be more connected, but it still requires a bunch of effort. 

 

I get it, I’m tired of being in front of a computer, or on the phone.  It’s easier to just bleed Netflix dry.  And when I think about calling someone I don’t regularly connect with (for me, even those I do regularly connect with) I don’t know what I’ll say, or what I’ll ask, or if it will just be an annoyance to them that I’m calling. So far Netflix hasn’t acted as if I’m an annoyance, just the periodic “are you still watching?”

 

But we are missing out on seeing each other, and running into each other at church.  And so we’re missing the chance to have changes in another person’s life (a newly lost tooth, an injury, or even a new child) slap us in the faces (Ok, maybe the rest of you are naturally more observant than I am).  And so we’re also missing the chance to ask, “what happened” and “how can I help” or “how can we celebrate?”

 

So, if you’re missing some of that community that I am, or if you just think that there might be others in the church who are (hint, there are), I want to give you an easy way to call, and hopefully sprinkle in a little fun.  And no, this isn’t the same thing we’re asking lifeGroups to do.  This is another way to try :)

 

Pick someone from the church who you don’t know, or don’t know that well, especially someone who you used to run into at church, or who you just feel led to reach out to, and call them.

 

You can simply say, “Hi _____, this is _____.  I go to the Church with you.  We’re all trying to connect a bit better since we don’t run into people at church right now.  So I just wanted to see how you are doing?” (here’s where you wait for them to respond, and then ask follow up questions)  You might also ask, “Is there anything going on that you would like prayers for?”  If you’re feeling up to it, you can ask to pray right then and there on the phone with them.  It’s easier than you might think.  And when you’re done, you can say something like, “I had a nice time talking to you, feel free to call me if you ever want to chat.”

 

Easy peasy pumpkin squeezy.

 

In addition, every week in our weekly email I’ll include a fun question you can ask.  The first fun/bonus question is, “Have you ever dressed a pet up?” (And do you have any pets and what are their names)

 

I hope that helps make it easy enough to try.  If you need phone numbers, you can use the church App, an old directory, or you can email (or call) me and I’ll get you some numbers.  

 

8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. -1 Thessalonians 2:8

 

If you are surprised in any way, and have a story to tell, please email it to story@livelifetogether.com or add it to our website at https://www.livelifetogether.com/stories

 

And if you have any ideas for fun ways we can be intentionally connecting as a church family, please call, text, or email me.

 

Teammates,

Matthew Wipperman

mwipperman@livelifetogether.com

Pastor and D.M.M.

the Church

 
 

Intentionally Series Introduction

God does not involve us in His mission because He is incapable. He intentionally involves us because He wants human beings to reflect Him. And, our involvement is only possible because of His intentionality.

We could not be involved unless he did everything to involve us. Without the atonement of Christ, we can’t be involved. Without being born anew by the Holy Spirit, we can’t be involved. Without the Father drawing us to himself, we can’t be involved. So even our involvement is entirely to his credit. But that doesn’t render our involvement any less essential to what God wants to do.

During these last 6 months, we have been introduced to a new term: essential workers. These workers have worked tirelessly and intentionally to serve humanity during a world-wide pandemic.

The call to live with focused intentionality rests on God’s intentional choice. “You did not choose me, I chose you, “ Jesus said. (John 15:16) During this new sermon series in October, it is my prayer that we would grow in our belief that God made US essential. I fear we diminish this truth. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why we choose to not live with focused intentionality.  To believe that we are not essential might sound humble, but it’s actually arrogant sin, because it’s a rejection of God’s valuation of us.

Our Acts story continues. The Good News about Jesus is spreading. And missionaries are multiplying. More and more essential workers are on the job.

 

So, the question is, will we join the movement?

October 4 Get in the Game

What if the call to follow Jesus and join Him in His mission is less about duty and much more about delight?

October 11 Now What

How should we respond when, on our journey, we are confused and have no idea what to do next?

October 18 Stay the Course

What can we do to cut through the clutter of “can do” in favor of our “must do?”

October 25 Stay on Message

What happens when we are really trying to intentionally share the Gospel but are misunderstood?