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Tag: Forever Changed

Forever Chnaged 9

Week 7 Easter (Mar 31): Resurrection Day: Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene shows up in scripture as a person whose life has been Forever Changed because of her encounter with Jesus. Scripture is silent on most of the details surrounding this encounter except one. Luke 8:2 informs us that Mary was delivered from seven demons. What must her life have been like before Jesus? Imagine the emotional turmoil and trauma she would have experienced at the hands of such evil.
One thing is certain, the impact of Jesus healing Mary would not only be life-changing but would also be world-changing. Mary’s gratitude and tenacity as a result of her transformation led her to be a follower of Jesus in the most faithful of ways. In the early years, Mary used her resources to fund and support the work being done by Jesus. And when the final days arrived and preaching and healing turned into flogging and crucifixion, Mary became even more faithful and was present to all of it. Mary was present at the cross and his death. Mary was even present when the body of Jesus was placed in the tomb. Of course, it was Mary early on resurrection day who found the empty tomb and ultimately, after everyone else left, stayed at the tomb until she found her Lord.
‌Was it the gratitude found in the freedom of her changed life? Was it the experience of being a part of something so profound where lives were being changed all around? What brought this dedication and tenacity to the forefront of Mary’s life that would cause her to be the first to witness Jesus defeating death and the grave? Imagine that, Jesus chose a woman who had been plagued by seven demons to be the first to witness the resurrection.

Good Friday 8

Without Good Friday, there would be no Resurrection Sunday.
As we look forward to celebrating our risen Savior this weekend, we invite you to join us Friday, March 29th as we remember the suffering that Jesus endured in our place.

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Week 6 Palm Sunday (Mar 24): Peter

Is this going to be a good day or a bad day? Will my feet be used to move me in a positive direction or will I end up saying something that will prove yet again that I have a foot shaped mouth? I wonder if Peter ever asked himself these questions?

Our Forever Changed Series turns this week to focus on Peter. Sometimes we forget that Peter’s given name is actually Simon. When Jesus offered Simon the name Peter, it was for a greater purpose than just a term of endearment. Jesus used the names interchangeably as a reference for Simon to know if he was pointed in the right direction or possibly needed a course correction. Peter would ultimately become foundational and instrumental in the life of the early church but the journey getting there was full of all sorts of exciting moments.

Questions for us to consider: How often does the speed of our mouth outpace the filter of our hearts? Will steps be taken today to move us closer to the intended purpose of God? What name might Jesus use to call us to a more intentional life?

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Week 5 (Mar 17): John

Could it be youthful bravado or maybe indiscretion? One thing is certain, the disciple John that we read about in the gospels is vastly different than the apostle that crafts the Gospel of John. That is not to say that the person is different, but rather that John’s life was Forever Changed by his encounters with Jesus.

John’s earliest recorded moments found him rebuking others for casting out demons, offering to call down fire from heaven to consume an entire village, and pressing Jesus for a seat of honor. Each of these moments is less than a glowing report on a disciple’s record. These earliest reports are countered heavily by his late-in-life writings. We find that the disciple who threatened mass burning would eventually pen the words in 1 John 3:18 (NRSV), “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” John’s transformation was lifelong and as a result, he left the church with an incredible body of writings that will forever shape the way we balance truth and love.

Have you ever encountered someone who was all truth with no love? Have you ever tried to reason with someone who was all love with no truth? In what ways has society twisted or abandoned one or both of these two principles that John worked so hard to establish as foundational in the life of a believer?

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Week 4 (Mar 10): Woman at the Well
Shame is often a silent prison that alienates us from the connection that offers freedom. The story of the woman at the well found in John 4 reveals the power that love has over shame. In our study, we will discover a woman racked with shame from years of choices that alienated her from the community that she grew up in. In one revealing conversation, Jesus invited this woman into a relationship where she was honestly seen, known and loved anyways. Instead of heaping more shame on the woman, Jesus invited her to taste a living/spiritual water that would leave her life, Forever Changed. The result of this conversation started a revival in a Samaritan village that would eventually be the place that Philip and others would carry the Gospel Message after the resurrection. Jesus sows seeds into this community that will be reaped a few years later.
How often have we allowed shame to determine the shape of our relationships? Jesus models for us what it means to know the details of a person’s life and hold them in a way that is sacred and offers healing. Hopefully by understanding the heart of God as it relates to shame, we can learn the value of unlocking prisons of shame verses committing people to longer terms.

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Week 2 (Feb 25): Nicodemus
Imagine spending your whole life at the top of your profession only to discover that you really didn’t understand the profession at all. This is the story of Nicodemus.
As a Pharisee of Pharisees, Nicodemus is thought of as one of the great religious leaders of his time. As a Pharisee, his focus would have been upholding the law and ensuring that all of Israel did the same. One evening, under the cover of darkness, Nicodemus seeks out Jesus and pursues insights to explain the miracles that he sees taking place. Jesus challenges Nicodemus by explaining that being born again would be required for one to see the kingdom of heaven. This statement temporarily breaks Nicodemus’ thought pattern but ultimately leads to a life that is, Forever Changed.
Nicodemus had to be willing to sift through his theology and allow the heart of his tradition to be challenged. What theological constructs in our lives need to be considered in light of Christ? What traditions have we held on to that need to be let go? And, how do we allow the Gospel message to forever shape our lives?

Forever Changed

Have you ever stopped to consider the individual lives of our New Testament church founders? What were they walking through when they encountered Jesus? What life events troubled them and how did their Journey with Jesus transform the arc of their lives?

Forever Changed is a series that will explore the lives of 7 individuals found in the New Testament: Matthew, Nicodemus, Philip, the woman at the well, John, Peter and Mary Magdalene. We will wrestle with modern topics like church hurt, mental illness, deconstruction, the search for meaning and so much more. Our hope is to examine our own issues in light of the work that Jesus accomplished in the lives of our those in our Biblical text. We invite you to walk along with us as we experience lives that have been Forever Changed.

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Week 1 (Feb 18): Week one of Forever Changed connects us to the life of Matthew. This disciple turned apostle started his journey off as one that was ostracized from religious life because of his career choice. Matthew’s decision to be a tax collector found him shut out of synagogue worship and the normal ebb and flow of community life. No doubt, ridicule by religious leaders and scriptural authorities would have left a mark on this life. Thoughts of church hurt and self-righteousness permeate the landscape of his gospel account.

One of the most striking facts of Matthew’s future ministry would be his inclusion of 99 different quotes from ancient scripture in his account. This number reveals a vast knowledge of Tora and seems improbable from one who was denied community worship and would have been forced to search truth outside the normal constructs of faith. But clearly, when Jesus calls Matthew, Matthew was ready to respond. Did he finally discover authenticity? Did he finally find the one that scripture spoke of? What caused Matthew to leave a lucrative world and wade into a life of service to the Lord? One thing is for certain, when Matthew met Jesus, his life was Forever Changed.

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Come and see! This week in our series, Forever Changed, we focus on Philip. Clearly, Philip was a visual learner. His desire to know God set him on a quest that started with his connection to John the Baptist but ultimately led to him being a disciple of Jesus. In this transition, Philip drug his friends along by inviting them to, “Come and see.”

Throughout the course of his life, Philip seemed to ask probing questions that stemmed from a desire to find a deeper connection to faith. On one such occasion, Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father. Philip’s question led to our deeper understanding that Jesus in fact was the revealing of the Father. His persistence in asking, his willingness to listen, and his heart to change ultimately led Philip to a place where he became one of the first apostles to carry the message to Samaria (Acts 8). This region received his message in such a way that it was said that people were hearing and seeing the signs that he did. Who would have guessed that a person so bent on seeing would be the one that others would gather to see?

What are we asking for God to show us? What is it that God has done that we are unable to see? And, How can we be more like Philip by inviting others to come and see?