The Tension Is Good

(This post was written by Evan Crass, Associate Pastor of Groups)

Just over a week ago, a team of staff and ministry leaders from Faith Promise attended Catalyst. The theme – “The Tension Is Good” – was described throughout the event as we were challenged to serve people in new ways, to meet the needs of those in our neighborhoods and around the world, and to grow because of (and not just through the) tension. Yet the theme was most clearly articulated by Andy Stanley during his opening and closing talks. Even now, I continue to think through the areas of my life where I experience tension and I’m forced to ask, “Is this tension good?”

Often I work to achieve balance in my life … between work and family, between my wife and my kids, between saying “yes” and “no”. But balance implies equity and life is NOT equitable or fair. The tension between these opposing priorities CAN be good. If I work incessantly to the neglect of my family, my relationships with those closest to me suffers. However, if I don’t work at all and spend all my time at home to the neglect of our finances, my relationships with those closest to me also suffers. The tension between these priorities must be MANAGED, NOT ELIMINATED. This tension will continue to resurface due in large part because these priorities are interdependent. Hence, we must seek out harmony over balance.

Perhaps the most challenging thought from this concept to me personally is not every tension is a problem to be solved. In fact, embracing the tension allows for growth. As you identify tensions in your life, the first question should be “Is this a problem to eliminate or a tension to be managed?” It is through tension that I choose to do what is important. It is through tension that I depend more fully on God. It is through tension that I grow. It is through tension that I become a little more like Jesus.

So what tension should you be managing in your life?

Adults learn on a need-to-know basis, so embrace the tension and the good that comes from it.

Paradise: Expanding Our Heart

Expanding Our Heart

1. Pastor Chris stated it has taken him many years to have the heart of Christ in relation to seeing and serving the afflicted, poor, and homeless. He prayed that God would wreck our hearts. How has your heart been wrecked by God? Is your heart broken for the same things that God has a broken heart?

2. Are you blessed? How so? Who has God placed in your life to share blessings with you?

3. Are you blessing others? How so? Who do you know that is afflicted? How are you sharing and proclaiming the good news with them?

Scripture:
Luke 4:21
Matthew 20:27
James 2:15-17
1 John 3:17-18
Isaiah 61:1-3
Isaiah 6:1-8

Paradise: Distracted

Distracted

1. Pastor Josh commented we often think “if you become like me, then I’ll help you.” Why do we make stipulations of people before we are willing to help them?

2. Jesus sees people as opportunities rather than distractions. Where is your focus? What processes consume you to the point of neglecting people?

3. Compassion was defined as seeing something that makes me so sick I must personally do something about the need. What have you witnessed that requires a personal step on your part?

4. We often put our faith in fixes rather than the Father. Pastor Josh encouraged us to pray for God to use us first so others will follow. What do you need to specifically pray in order to act out compassion?

5. Do you fear showing compassion to others? Why?

Scripture verses:
Matthew 9:35-38
Isaiah 61:1-3

Paradise: Whatever It Takes

Whatever It Takes

1. Pastor Chris stated people ask him when are we going to stop growing, and he responded that he wants Christ to find us at work in the harvest field when He returns. Pastor asked who do we know that is in bondage? Who is captive? Who does not have a relationship with Christ? Who is on your list?

2. Pastor Chris stated we are blessed to be a blessing. How has God blessed you? How has God used you to be a blessing to others?

3. Pastor Chris distilled John 15 by saying God is at work in order to produce fruit. What fruit are you producing that others can see?

4. We all have a little root rot, even after we accept Christ as our savior. Where in your life do you have a little root rot?
What can you do to change? Who has God placed in your life to help you change?

Scripture verses:
Romans 3:23
John 15:8
Isaiah 61:1-3
Acts 1:8
Psalms 19:14

Mug Shots

(This post was written by Drew Wells, Pastor of Young Adults)

The guys all laughed and passed around a nickel newspaper pointing at the picture. As the camera lens zoomed in, it was clear that the front page was a collection of mug shots of local people who had recently been arrested.  One picture was of one of the guys in this young group of Faith Promise men. But why were they laughing?


Three months ago while I was staying up late writing another blog post, an idea surfaced of a reality-based video project that captured a month in the life of people that are connected in a Faith Promise group. No scripts, no actors, no boundaries. This is the best and worst idea I have ever had… that I can remember.

Now three months wiser and two groups later, it is clear to me that life change happens in the context of community. It is also clear that God reveals monumental themes in His character, in the most peculiar of ways.  So, why were these guys laughing at the mug shot?

Just weeks before this group, the young man was arrested, charged, and sentenced to a short but sobering time in the clink.  During that time, the young man accepted Christ and upon release was baptized during a Faith Promise weekend service.   The young man connected in a group, and soon entrusted them with his story.  Weeks later, one of the his group brothers came across the newspaper and brought it to group for a laugh.

These guys were not mocking the humiliation and brokenness of a brother from one of the darkest moments in his story. They were acknowledging a marker that ultimately led to his salvation and renewal.  There was no judgment, no air of superiority.  He is no longer a criminalHe  is a part of the family, subject to all the ribbing and camaraderie that comes with it.

6 billion people.  6 billion stories.  This is just one of those stories.  People.  Life is better together.

Never Say Never

(This post was written by Caroline Ervin, Membership Director)

There is a topic of conversation within the church that I continue to hear across many circles that sounds something like this:

I know someone at my work that needs help paying their bills, we should help them!” or
I know someone in our small group that can’t provide for their children, we should help them!” or
There are so many in Haiti and Nashville that need our help, we should help them.

The more I have tuned into these conversations, I’m starting to realize that the “we” to which they are referring is the church organization. They don’t think they should be the one to help provide the resources for that help or that they should be the ones to go spread that message of hope, but it should be done by the organization.

I want to challenge you to ask, ”What if God revealed that family with a need or that information about a country in need because He actually wanted you to be the one to help them or you to be the one to help spread that message across the world?” It’s so much easier and more comfortable to pass the responsibility on to someone else.

I can speak from experience, because for years, this was me. I can vividly remember conversations I had with my boyfriend (now husband, Brad Ervin) in college as we would discuss traveling on mission trips or even thinking about being missionaries. I would quickly respond by telling him, “God has definitely not called me to go on a mission trip to even go visit and definitely not to move half way across the world. He would never call me to do that, and I just won’t go.” Little did I know that to say never to God is the most dangerous and humorous phrase you can utter.

Fast forward to 2006. I have just come on staff as the Membership Director at Faith Promise and just a few months into being full-time, Josh Whitehead comes to me and says, “We have spot open on our mission trip to Thailand. I think you should go, and I need you to go!” I said I would pray about it, knowing full well God would not call me on that trip (that left in only eight weeks). I begged God not to make me go. I begged Him to break a bone so I couldn’t go. I even prayed to get really sick. Yet all the while I knew I was going to go on that trip. If it isn’t already obvious, I was not looking forward to it at all. The day I was supposed to tell Josh whether I was going or not, the last line of the book from my quiet time read, “Have you ever considered going to a foreign country and sharing the gospel in another language?” Ouch! If that isn’t blatant confirmation, then I don’t know what is.

That trip changed my life forever. God opened my heart and showed me a new love for Him and for His people that I would have always missed out on had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and traveled to the other side of the world to experience it. Since then, I have traveled to Macau, China, and Cape Town, South Africa three times. We just returned from Africa about a week ago, and I am begging my husband to sell all our possessions and move our family to Cape Town, South Africa to serve as missionaries.

I want to share my story because maybe you have told God, “I will never go on a mission trip!” or “I would never be able to give up my own money to help someone else in need.” I want to encourage you to be willing and open to God asking you to do something out of your comfort zone. He may have placed that situation, family, or trip into your path because He wants to work in your life and reveal Himself to you in a way that is unlike anything you have ever experienced. You just have to be willing to say “Yes!” And also, to never say never.