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Small Groups: Deep Gospel Community

Monday, September 10, 2018
Small Groups: Deep Gospel Community

When I arrived at Southwood almost one year ago, I didn’t really “know” anyone. I didn’t know where to eat, where to buy groceries, where to send my son to school or where to take my wife on a date. I didn’t know if people would like me, if I would fit in, if I would be able to have close friends, etc. I had a lot of fear, but I also had the church. Now one year looking back, I can tell you that one of the largest ways that God has worked in my life is through the community of our small group. It has been a place where we can be known and get to know others. It has been a place where we can talk about our struggles and about how God relates to those struggles. It’s also been a place where we can laugh, cry, pray, and laugh again.

Our heart here at Southwood is for everyone to experience that kind of deep community that typically develops over time in small group relationships. We’ve all experienced feelings of isolation and loneliness. We know what it’s like

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Small Groups: More Than a Meeting

Friday, August 26, 2016

It’s easy to define success as a small group by getting everyone in the same place for two hours on a regular basis and leaving with no one upset at anyone else. As leaders, sometimes we feel that’s all we’ve got the bandwidth for. We need to remember that even in our weakness, God desires to use us for much more than that – to see his kingdom advance and the new community Jesus establishes lived out among us and through us!

One of the ways we as leaders can have our horizons broadened for our groups is to think of small groups as “more than a meeting.” Regular meetings are typically good connecting points and places where our relationships with each other and with God can be nurtured. But true community is often lived out beyond the group. In that vein, here are a few ideas of things that may begin to happen as the grace of Jesus impacts your group and makes you into those who truly love each other and your neighbors. Many important things happen during the

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Daniel and His Small Group Under Fire

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Daniel and His Small Group Under Fire

As you read through the book of Daniel, you’re struck by the number of difficult situations and decisions faced by Daniel and his friends (known to us as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). They are seeking to live in a pluralistic culture with a singular devotion to God. They are seeking to live in a polluted world and yet remain undefiled. Easier said than done … especially in the face of lions, fires, and powerful pagan kings.

As they consistently chose to maintain their distinctive identity and commitment to God, I can imagine how alone they must have felt. Everyone else was bowing, everyone else was eating, everyone else was seeking to get ahead. But I also imagine that reality brought these four men closer to each other. The more they seemed to be the only ones standing, the more I suspect they leaned on and encouraged each other. I imagine Daniel praying for his three friends as they faced the fiery furnace. I imagine them returning the favor as he entered the

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God’s Small Group Math

Tuesday, February 02, 2016
God’s Small Group Math

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

2 is greater than 1. 3 is greater than 2. It’s elementary math, really … nothing too complicated. But in a culture that prizes individualism and is suffering an epidemic of loneliness, sometimes we overlook the value of having each other to “count on.” Sometimes we view deep friendships as a crutch that weaker people need. Sometimes we think we can’t invest the time to develop real relationships.

God’s math says it’s worth the investment. Ecclesiastes is a book of wisdom for how to live life as God’s people. It speaks of many “meaningless”

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Five Seconds Well Spent

Friday, October 30, 2015
Five Seconds Well Spent

“If prayer seems to you a diversion from productivity, remember God does more in five seconds than we can in five hours.” This tweet from John Piper recently caught my eye primarily because I struggle with exactly that – I have an idol of productivity and efficiency that prayer often doesn’t seem to feed. One of the reminders I need for my own heart to help my prayer life is that prayer is, as the Bible teaches us, effective. There is no more productive five seconds I could invest in my small group than to pray for them. Busy? You can pray.

This is why famed Bible commentator Matthew Henry once wrote, “The greatest remembrance of our friends is to remember them before the throne of grace.” True, isn’t it? There are many situations in the lives of those in our groups that we simply can’t fix. There are many times we don’t know how to comfort, encourage, or help. But God does – and that’s not merely a spiritual platitude. We can bring those we love

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Becoming a Shield Wall

Thursday, October 01, 2015
Becoming a Shield Wall

There are a lot of neat pictures of what a small group looks like, but one of my favorites is the image of a “shield wall.” The idea comes from the armor of God mentioned in Ephesians 6. Here, Paul tells the believers in Ephesus to “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

The type of shield Paul refers to is a large one shaped somewhat like a door. It was typically used in his day not merely by an individual soldier but rather by a Roman phalanx (group of soldiers), who interlocked shields to form a shield wall beside and above each soldier, to protect each other from attack by fiery arrows. I’ll just note a couple of interesting aspects for small groups:

First, Paul says in the armor of God that our faith is what functions as these shields. It is our active trust in God’s promises, our dogged belief that He is good and is for us, our remembering who we are as God’s children because we are connected

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Which Came First?

Thursday, September 03, 2015
Which Came First?

We’ve all been a part of it … the small group ambush: Someone begins to share about a difficult situation they’re facing, and as soon as they finish, three people start talking at once – “You know what you really need to do …,” “Why don’t you …,” and “What always works for me is …” This scenario is understandable because we care about each other and want to help relieve pain, fear, or tension. But it’s almost never the most helpful response.

Biblically speaking, love leads obedience; that is, we obey because we are loved, not in order to be loved. This is true for children with their parents and for all of us with our Heavenly Father. God doesn’t love us because we obey; he wants us to obey because he loves us. It’s not a chicken and egg situation that could work either way. So, in small groups we have the chance to live this out by offering sympathy before solutions, by being a place where someone gets friends before getting fixed, by

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On Mission Together

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
On Mission Together

A grassy field, a bandana, and a partner. That’s all you need to compete in the three-legged race. It has likely been a while since most of us ran, stumbled, and limped toward the finish line in this event, but the three-legged race still seems to show up at nearly every Field Day in town. Like most races, the goal is to be the first one to cross the finish line; however, in this unique event you have to cross alongside your partner, having run in sync with your legs bound together near the ankle.

The three-legged race is a good analogy for what God has called us to at Southwood. God has given us a mission to experience and express grace – that is, while deepening our relationships with Him, we are to be about seeing the good news of Jesus transform our neighborhoods, cultures, workplaces, friendships, city, and world. We offer the hurting and hopeless the hope of Jesus. We pray and work to see Huntsville flourish. We bring the light of Christ into the darkness of

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We Would See Jesus

Wednesday, July 01, 2015
We Would See Jesus

“To see Jesus is to apprehend Him as the supply of our present needs and believingly to lay hold on Him as such. The Lord Jesus is always seen through the eye of need. He is presented to us in the Scriptures not for our academic contemplation and delight, but for our desperate need as sinners and weaklings. The acknowledgement of need and the confession of sin, therefore, is always the first step in seeing Jesus. Then, where there is acknowledged need, the Holy Spirit delights to show to the heart the Lord Jesus as the supply of just that need.” – Roy and Revel Hession, We Would See Jesus

In last month’s post, I encouraged us as leaders to focus this summer on our following – on seeing Jesus for ourselves. So, how’s that going for you? Has life stayed busy and your vision of Jesus remained less than clear? I want to bring us back there one more time in this final post of the summer (side note: you know something’s wrong when summer only lasts two months!), and

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Leading by Following

Tuesday, June 02, 2015
Leading by Following

“Lucy went first, (and) … she fixed her eyes on Aslan. He turned and walked at a slow pace about thirty yards ahead of them. The others had only Lucy’s directions to guide them, for AsIan was not only invisible to them but silent as well. ... He led them to the right of the dancing trees—whether they were still dancing nobody knew, for Lucy had her eyes on the Lion and the rest had their eyes on Lucy…”

I’ve recently been reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my middle child, and we came across this passage in Prince Caspian that is one of my favorite descriptions of leadership: “Lucy had her eyes on the Lion and the rest had their eyes on Lucy.” The most vital thing Lucy does as the leader of the group walking through the woods here is fix her eyes on Aslan, who is leading her.

I thought about writing for you a “Top 10” list of things to do this summer as a small group leader while many of your groups are on a break or a different schedule. There are a

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Your presence is your present

Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Your presence is your present

You’ve gotten that party invitation before, right? It tells you when to arrive, where to come, what to wear, and that “your presence is your present.” It’s a gracious way of saying there’s no need to bring a gift because it adds that your celebrating with the guest of honor is itself a gift.

In our relationships, the “ministry of presence” is valuable beyond words (literally). There are moments when there is little or nothing helpful to say. But the fact that someone was there – being present with you, experiencing life with you, crying with you, holding you – made all the difference. It means you’re no longer grieving, wondering, or struggling alone; someone has entered in to shoulder the burden with you even though they can’t say or do anything to make it go away.

In my opinion, this is one of the greatest gifts we give to each other in small groups, in true community. It’s a gift in all sorts of situations – good and bad, mundane and crisis.

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Back to Good Again: How Easter Shapes Our View of Creation

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:21-23

“Good … Good … Good … Good … Good … Good … Very Good.” Seven times in the first chapter of Genesis alone God looks at his creation and calls it “good.” Plants and animals. Light and darkness. Mankind himself and everything God had made. Good.

But that perfect creation – just the way God had designed it – didn’t stay that way for long. Sin enters, and the fall of man leads to a curse over all of creation. Thorns and thistles, pain and grief, enter into God’s good creation, and it’s no longer the way it’s supposed to be. When

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“But we have nothing in common!”

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

“… Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:20-22

Jesus may be the only thing you have in common with one of your fellow small group members. At least it may feel that way sometimes, right? Different personalities, different opinions, different ages … really why would we continue investing in these relationships?

One good answer to that question is that God has something beautiful and magnificent in mind for such diverse people. In the Old Testament the temple was God’s home; it was the place God dwelt among his people; it was where He lived. It was special and set apart because of his presence in it. When you set foot in the temple, you were on holy ground – something majestic and mysterious was there.

In the New Testament, God’s presence is with his people

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Loving at the point of Need

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Since this is a season of the year where we especially think about “love,” I thought it would be worth considering a unique way in which small group relationships afford us the chance to show love to others. At Southwood we concluded 2014 by hearing an excellent series of sermons that defined biblical love as “the expression of a relationship based on the object’s need.”

One of the challenges for us in loving each other in this way (the way that God has loved us based on our need!) is that we are so naturally focused on our own needs to the point that we often try to show love to others in ways we personally would want to receive love. The problem is not everyone loves candy hearts, bear hugs, or fruit cakes in the same way you do! What a gift it is when someone loves us enough to ask us what we actually need and then to communicate love intentionally based on that need!

The more we know each other’s needs the better we are equipped to love each other. This

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The Person Behind the Prayer Request

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One of the things I love about the small group setting is that we can join each other in praying for just about anything. It is not helpful for everybody in a worship service on Sunday morning to request prayer for their ailing elbow, their aging pet, and their general sleeplessness due to young children. But our Heavenly Father loves to hear the things that are really weighing on our hearts and minds, and the small group setting often allows for that level of engagement in each other’s lives. If the list above sounds like prayer request time in your small group, don’t despair … God values those prayers!

On the other hand, there’s another aspect of prayer in small groups that is equally valuable and more easily missed. The relationships we develop with each other should be the foundation from which we can delve into the person behind the prayer request. What do I mean by that? Beneath every life circumstance or difficulty is the heart of the person sharing the

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The Beauty of the Body

Friday, October 31, 2014

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” – I Corinthians 12:26

We’ve looked at I Corinthians 12 and seen both our need for the other parts of the body and God’s perfect arrangement of those parts for his purposes. Here’s what it starts to look like when the body made up of these unique members is connected the way God wants: Beautiful community flourishes. We share in each other’s lives, feel each other’s pain, and celebrate each other’s joys. If you’ve ever experienced relationships where that is genuinely how you feel about each other, you know how beautiful this is.

This is what you want to be seeking in your small group. How can you develop people who do more than merely meet together but who actually weep and rejoice with each other? This takes not only time but also intentional investment in each other’s lives. It involves sharing things that really matter to you. It involves showing up at events

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No Lone Limbs!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.” – I Corinthians 12:14-15

Paul begins this great section on the Body of Christ by comparing the human body with the spiritual body of Christ, the Church. Both of them, he says, have “many members” but “one body.” Part of his point is that we are united and inextricably connected by our common calling to follow the Head, Jesus himself.

And as parts of his body, we need each other! None of us – not the most important, the best looking, or the strongest – was designed to follow Christ on his own (vv.21-24). There are to be, in that sense, no lone limbs in the body of Christ; no Christian was intended to survive, much less thrive, outside of deep connectedness to others. Our dependence on the glory and strength of our great Head is followed closely by our

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Perfectly Arranged Parts

Thursday, September 04, 2014

“God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” – I Corinthians 12:18-20

Do you have those people in your small group that you just don’t seem to click with? Perhaps they never seem to understand what you mean. They never seem to get on the same page with the rest of the group. They never get excited about the things you get excited about. They just don’t seem to have anything in common with you.

God’s not surprised. According to his Word, He has actually designed us uniquely to be different parts of his body. Some of us are hands, others are eyes, still others are feet. Spiritually, this means that we have different gifts and different functions within the body of Christ. Practically, it means that we see things differently and have personalities and preferences that often clash.

It’s easy, in light of this reality, to get frustrated

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Rooted in Relationships

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Isolated. Alone. Distanced. Friendless.

We all know at some level the pain of these words and can sense that the epidemic of loneliness and relational distance in our culture is not the way things are supposed to be. Many of us have more acquaintances and fewer true friends than ever before. And thanks to the Fall, distrust and distance come more naturally to us than the vulnerability and intimacy for which we were designed. One of the reasons we recognize this dysfunctional reality is that God created us in his image for community. The Triune God, who from eternity past existed in relationship (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), designed people to work the same way. We were created to know and be known, to serve and be served, to love and be loved.

Because he created us for relationship, this emphasis is part of God’s redemption, too. God doesn’t save us by ourselves; from the beginning he was pursuing a people and calling them into a “church,” a body made up of

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Surviving Summer in Small Groups

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

As shifting summer schedules create challenges for consistent connection, many of our small groups take a break during the summer. This break from the regular meeting schedule can be helpful, even refreshing to a small group, but it doesn’t have to mean a break from the small group altogether.

At Southwood, our small groups focus on three key relationships, not three key group meetings. Our relationships with each other, with God, and with our neighbors continue through the summer even when our regular meeting schedule gets interrupted. In fact, many groups find the change of pace in the summer to be an open door to new ways to be intentional in these relationships. Here are just a couple ways our small groups deepen their relationships even during a “break”:

1) Join together in an activity already on someone’s schedule. A weekly Tuesday night small group meeting may have fallen off your summer calendar, but for many of us other summer events have been added. Some

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Prayer: the best help you can give

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

For some of us, prayer time may be the most anxious portion of a small group meeting. What if no one prays and it’s just quiet? What if we all forget someone’s request? What if my prayer doesn’t sound spiritual? If you have ever thought that way about prayer, I have, too. But I want to give you some encouragement as well. Prayer can be the best part of your small group when we stop to think about what is really going on.

I often have to remind myself that I don’t just pray for the work of the kingdom; rather, prayer is the work of the kingdom. When we pray, we are acknowledging our need before God and reminding ourselves of who is in charge. It is God who is at work to see his kingdom advance, so my crying out to my kind Father is tapping in to the greatest resource for kingdom advancement that I/we have!

In many ways prayer is the work of the small group. Famed Bible commentator Matthew Henry once wrote, “The best remembrance of our friends is to remember them

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10 Encouragements for the Discouraged Leader

Thursday, March 06, 2014

I’ve talked with several small group leaders recently and realized it’s that time of year that we could all use some encouragement. Some of us are tired of pressing on week after week. Some of us are feeling inadequate as leaders. Some of us are struggling to see any point. Some of us are wondering if the people we haven’t seen in 4 weeks are ever coming back to our group. Some of us are wondering if they left because of us.

If you aren’t feeling any of those things right now, you probably have in the not too distant past or will in the not too distant future. Below is a list of 10 things (because lists always have 10, right?) to encourage you … 10 things I suspect you already know but are good to remember when we’re discouraged. Chime in with your own encouragements to share with others!

1. You’re not alone. You’re not the only leader who feels inadequate, wonders if she’s wasting her time, feels sluggish in the middle of a semester, or thinks he’s

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“Together with all the saints”

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Tears roll down his face as he leans forward on the sofa and talks about caring for his wife with dementia. Across the room a single mom and a middle-aged couple share about challenges with their teenage kids. Before the circle is complete, someone has announced a new pregnancy, another has asked for prayer for loneliness, and yet another is seeking to make ends meet financially for his family. All in one night. All in one small group. All of them pointing each other to the same loving God who meets them in very different circumstances.

That’s a small picture of what Paul has in mind when he writes in Ephesians 3, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ …”

The dimensions of the love of Christ for us are almost unfathomable. In each of our own experiences, we see glimpses of the immensity of this love as our sin is forgiven, our needs

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But what do we do with our KIDS?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

One of the questions I’m most often asked about small groups by people in my stage of life is “But what do we do with our KIDS?” I understand. I have had many conversations that could hardly be described as such due to the number of interruptions to wipe noses, answer the same questions four times, or give discipline to my children. It hardly seems that I’m going to be in a position to bare my soul to others or think about what God is doing in my life while my kids argue with each other in the same room.

Before I give us all an out (and a break from our kids during small group), let me challenge myself and all of us who have ever asked that question. Our kids are a vital part of our lives - not just in our families but in our personal lives as adults. Very few of the difficult decisions, heart-level struggles, or great joys of my life in the past few years have NOT involved my kids. It’s hard to know me well without knowing my kids. God uses them to show me my sin. He uses

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Small groups that exists for others

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his Letters and Papers from Prison, “The Church is the church only when it exists for others.” In saying this he echoed the sentiments of Church of England bishop William Temple, who once said, “The church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.”

Now before I agree wholeheartedly with them (see the rest of this article), let me state the obvious: These men are not saying that members of a church in no way benefit from their community together. Certainly the fellowship, care, encouragement, and love expressed to fellow followers of Christ are of great value. What these statements are getting at is the purpose for which God has called us to himself and into the communion of his people (“the church”).

All the way back to Genesis 12, God has blessed his people SO THAT they will be a blessing to others – in fact, to all the families of the earth (verses 2-3). This outward-facing mission of

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God Weaving a Tapestry in Your Life

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

One of my favorite pictures of God’s working in our lives, especially during hard times, is the picture of God weaving a beautiful tapestry together with both light and dark colors (joyful and sorrowful times). On this side of heaven, though, we stand behind the tapestry and usually see only the knotted ends and frayed edges of what God is doing. If we could get “on the other side” of the tapestry, we could see God doing something beautiful, but we live on the underside with painful circumstances and God’s purposes unclear.

This image comes from a poem of unknown origin that was popularized by Corrie Ten Boom (author of The Hiding Place). Here it is:

My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.


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You can only give away what you have

Thursday, October 03, 2013

You can only give away what you have. Seems pretty obvious. Seems pretty basic. It is. And there’s very little more foundational for you as a small group leader (or Christian) in thinking about how you point others in your group to Jesus. At one level it’s just another way of saying “Experience and Express Grace,” that we must experience grace ourselves first before we can share it with someone else, but in this context it goes even further.

It’s not just that we need to have experienced grace ONE TIME in the past; rather, it’s the principle that we must be feeding on Christ DAILY right now in order to be able to offer him to others. Let me explain it this way: Have you been on a diet before that really, really worked? You followed the guidelines, ate what you were told, avoided everything you were supposed to, and the pounds fell off. And stayed off (If you’ve never had this experience, just imagine!). Now suppose someone you love is having weight problems

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The Daily Need for Deep Relationships (from Paul Tripp)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Daily Need for Deep Relationships (from Paul Tripp)

As we start (or start again) meeting with our small groups this fall, we have the great privilege of enjoying and deepening relationships. Remember that small groups are about relationships, so we have the privilege of leaving the natural tendency some of us have toward isolation and instead living life in community. The following are some excerpts from Paul Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling, which is about the challenges of pastoral ministry but highlights the daily need that every member of the body of Christ has for meaningful relationships. I hope this is an encouragement to you of the importance of investing in relationships as we are doing in small groups! Sharing part of this with your small group as you start meeting might encourage them as well.

Tripp quotes Hebrews 3:12-13 and then comments on these verses. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day,

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What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love & The Spiritual Disciplines?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know:
What’s so funny ‘bout peace love & understanding?
~ Nick Lowe

If you have been reading and following Jean on his blog “Knots” - and I recommend you do - you couldn’t help but notice that he has addressed many variations of a concern that go something like this: “With all this overt grace coming from the pulpit, what’s happened to the things we are supposed do?” What do you have against telling us what Scripture teaches about the spiritual disciplines? I mean, doesn’t the Westminster Standards in the Shorter Catechism question #3 say that Scripture principally teaches what man is to believe concerning God AND what duty God requires of man?” 

Similarly, one critique that is leveled at small groups is that they are weighted

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Why We Do Small Groups: Life Change (and the Gospel)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Life Change is the shorthand response we have adopted to the question, “Why does Southwood do small groups?” As small group leaders we need to have a clear idea what life change means in the light of the Gospel. A misunderstanding of this can lead to legalism and works oriented small groups that place a premium on saying the right things and doing the right activities rather than discovering and rediscovering the surpassing worth of a relationship with Jesus rooted in the Gospel (Phil 3:8). Here are three thoughts we need to keep in mind about life change as we lead our groups.

Life change isn’t essentially about new behavior or disciplines.
Life change starts in the heart with new affections, new desires, and new motives that lead to new behavior (life change). Tim Chester points out in his book You Can Change, “If you don’t see your sin as completely pardoned, then your affections, desires, and motives will be wrong. You will aim to prove yourself. Your focus will

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Mad Gospel Skills - Identifying Idols

Thursday, May 05, 2011

For followers of Jesus, embracing the Gospel of grace is the end of striving. Grace is the end of striving to perform and become acceptable to God. The Gospel is simply this: Jesus lived the life we, in all our earnest and most disciplined strivings, could never live, and died the death we deserved. Scripture drives the point home in 2 Cor 5:21 - “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” But in the glow of the brilliance and beauty of grace a new striving emerges: A striving to find our satisfaction in Jesus and to rest him alone - “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matt 11:28

Idolatry is a major reason - dare I say THE reason - we find the satisfying rest in Jesus alone so elusive.  In the first commandment God makes it clear: “You shall have no other gods before me…” and Romans 1:25 reveals that we will worship and serve either God or something we

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Recommended Reading

You'll find most of my recommended books available in the Guest Center at Southwood.

  • You Can Change
    You Can Change
    Tim Chester

    How do we mortify sin? How do we address the sin in our lives that reignite like a trick birthday candle we thought we had already blown out of our lives? This is a careful and thoroughly theological book that is hopeful without avoiding honesty. It is practical without being legalistic. It gets to the root of the sinful areas of our lives without offering a prescriptive regimen to hide behind avoiding the grace that has the only true power to teach “us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

  • Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp

    Small groups would be easy if weren’t for the people in the group! This book will help equip you to see your own sin first and provide the courage and humility to address it in others.

  • The Heart of a Servant Leader

    This is a collection of letters written by Jack Miller to people experiencing real-life concerns and struggles. Through these gracious and honest letters you will learn how to humbly offer to others (and yourself!) hope, repentance, and courage that flows from the truth of the gospel of grace.  Though this isn’t a “how to” book full of nifty steps to Your Best Gospel Life Now. It’s a glimpse into the heart of a person who has found food at the Cross, and you watch (and learn) as he humbly points others to the feast.

  • Comforts From The Cross
    Comforts From The Cross
    Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

    This 31 day devotional will bring you to the foot of the cross to remember and celebrate the truth of the gospel of grace, and develop skills that will help “inform, free, gladden, and enliven your soul every day.” Becoming proficient in applying the Gospel of grace to our own hearts is a key skill that is well worth our effort to develop.

Recommended Listening

  • Christ PCA - Nashville
    Scott Sauls and CPC Staff

    Listen to sermons from Senior Pastor Scott Sauls and other CPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Lookout Mountain PCA
    Joe Novenson and LMPC Staff

    Check out sermons by Senior Pastor Joe Novenson and other LMPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Steve Brown Etc.
    Steve Brown

    Steve Brown’s unique blend of orthodoxy and controversy, humor and profundity, and a refusal to play religious games will give you permission you have needed to stop being so uptight. And even if it’s for 30 minutes, you just might experience radical freedom, infectious joy and maybe even a bit of surprising faithfulness.

Recommended Links

  • Tim Chester: reformed spirituality and missional church
    Tim Chester

    Tim has an incredible way of applying the Gospel of grace that is both practical and honest with a consistent skillful affinity to point us to Jesus. He is director of The Porterbrook Institute; a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK; and the author of over a dozen books including Total Church and You Can Change.

  • Of First Importance
    Living Each Day in the Good of The Gospel

    Here you will find a growing collection of gospel-centered quotes to help reorient your thoughts toward the splendor and grandeur of the person and work of Jesus.