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Check-In: October 17, 2015

Darin Charles —  October 15, 2015 — 1 Comment

We’ve spent the last few weeks discussing and defining the Holy Trinity: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  What I’d like to do now is to extrapolate the concepts of those beliefs to our own lives.

If our God is the one, true God.  If he is love and joy; if he is all-powerful and all-knowing; if he is patient and kind, then. . .

If Jesus is our Lord and Savior; if he suffered and died for our sins; if he defeated death and promises eternal life; if he speaks truth; if he is the ultimate example of sacrifice and humility for us to emulate, then. . .

If the Holy Spirit is always with us; if it guides us in our faith journey; if it is a teacher and a reminder of Christ’s teachings, then. . .

 

If all of these things are true, (and these are the collective truths of the guys in attendance), then what does that say about us?  If I believe what Jesus says about the Trinity, then “Who am I?”

My answer would be something like this:

I am a child of God.  Created in His image.  I am a follower of Christ.  I am imperfect, but I have been redeemed.  I am saved by his grace.  I am led by the Holy Spirit – God’s presence inside of me, and it creates within me a continuous unrest for my life as it is – a desire to live a life aligned with God’s purpose for my life.

Knowing those things, I choose to live a life reflective of Christ’s teachings, so that others may see him, through me, and may come to know him more.

So, “Who are you?”  Take a few minutes to think about a similar statement for your life.  Write it down if you like.  Post is here if you can’t be there in person on Saturday morning at 7:30.

I’m In,

Darin

Well, I have to be honest.  When I was planning the discussions for this “Who Am I” series, this upcoming week was the one I was most stressed about.  This week we’ll tackle “Who (or What) is the Holy Spirit?”

Most of us are comfortable with the concepts of God and Jesus, but the Holy Spirit, by its/his/her (see I can’t even come up with the right pronoun) nature is difficult to define.  But, this faith thing wasn’t meant to be easy, and it wasn’t meant to be done in isolation, so let’s get together and work towards a shared understanding of the Holy Spirit.

In John 14, Jesus says

26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

If you, like me, believe that U2 is not only the greatest rock band of all time, but, more specifically, the greatest Christian rock band of all time, maybe Bono’s lyrics in Mysterious Ways (which David first pointed out to me seemed a reference to the Holy Spirit) will help you form your thoughts on the subject

Johnny take a walk with your sister the moon
Let her pale light in to fill up your room
You’ve been living underground
Eating from a can
You’ve been running away
From what you don’t understand…
Love

She’s slippy
You’re sliding down
She’ll be there when you hit the ground

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways

Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things you can’t explain
To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel

(on your knees boy)

She’s the wave
She turns the tide
She sees the man inside the child

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
Lift my days, light up my nights

One day you will look…back
And you’ll see…where
You were held…how
By this love…while
You could stand…there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright

We move through miracle days
Spirit moves in mysterious ways
She moves with it
She moves with it
Lift my days, light up my nights

There it is, four lines from the end of the song – “Spirit moves in mysterious ways.”

Consider your mind blown.  See you Saturday morning.

I’m in,

Darin

This Saturday we are getting back into the routine with Check-In, and I hope many of you can make it.  We’ll meet in David’s office from 7:30 – 8:30.  We’ll try to start on time so anyone needing to be somewhere by 9:00 can get there.  We’ll be starting a new topic that I’m calling “Who Am I?”

This week we will actually be focusing on a different, but foundational question, “Who is God?”  The following weeks we’ll look into a few other questions, ultimately leading to the a good discussion about who each of us are.

I saw many of you at the Good and Beautiful Conference this weekend, and I’m certain that you learned a lot from it.  If you missed the conference, you can watch the sessions online through the church website.  One of the first concepts discussed at the conference was the idea that we all have a unique narrative about who God is.  This inner narrative is key to our understanding of God and our relationship with Him.

So, the question for the week is both simple and extremely complicated – “Who is God?”  More specifically “Who is the God you were first introduced to, and who is the God you know now?”

This should be good.

I’m In,

Darin

 

“If it feels good, do it” was a catchy line from the Better Than Ezra song “Teenager” from 1995.  As a teenager, this seemed like a pretty good philosophy for life.  I would like to say that with maturity, denying myself and delaying gratification has become easy, but that is not necessarily the case.  With practice, I’ve gotten better, but it’s never easy.  We can all relate to Paul’s statement in Romans 7:15

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Personally, I think that Self-Control is a misnomer.  It is neither about self nor control.  It’s about putting others, or God, first, and releasing the illusion of control.  But, we can talk about that more on Saturday.

 

So, we all face temptations every day, some big, some small.  I won’t ask you to name them (although you’re more than welcome to share), but I will ask

“How do you manage these temptations is a healthy way?”  

See you guys Saturday morning, 7:30, in David’s office.

I’m in.

Darin

 

We are jumping back in to our discussion of the Fruits of the Spirit this weekend.  We’ve covered Love, Joy, Peace and Patience.  This week we’ll discuss Goodness, Kindness and Gentleness.  We’ll wrap this series up over the next two weeks with our final discussions on Faithfulness and, finally, Self Control.  I hope you can join us each Saturday for the next three weeks at 7:30 in David’s office.

The scripture this week is the “Good” Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I know that this is a familiar story, and there is a lot to unpack.  But, I want to focus on the title of the passage.  This is always referred to as the “good” Samaritan, but nowhere does Jesus refer to him as “good” in the parable.  So as we discuss goodness, kindness and gentleness, the question of the week is

What makes the Samaritan so “good?”

Note – We have several guys signed up for the Good and Beautiful Conference on September 11-12, but we still have a few spots available.  Our reservation includes a Meet and Greet with the author, Dr. James Bryan Smith.  If you are interested in attending this conference, and especially if you are attending the Meet and Greet, I need to know in the next week.  E-mail me if you would like to be included.  The cost is $15.

I’m in

Darin

Check-In: June 20, 2015

Darin Charles —  June 16, 2015 — 1 Comment

Thanks to all of the guys who came out for Check-In last week.  We had a great session as we returned to weekly Saturday meetings.  We’ll meet again this Saturday at 7:30, in David’s office.

We’ll continue to spend a good amount of time to let every guy check-in, and then we’ll resume our discussion on the fruits of the spirit.  This discussion is based on the passage from Matthew 6 that guided last week’s talk:

Matthew 7 New International Version (NIV)

17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

This week we’ll focus on the fruit of Joy. John 15 says this about joy

10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Joy was actually my “word of the year” a couple of years ago.  Specifically the idea of sharing and showing the joy I feel in my life.  Although I consider myself a joyful person, I have a difficult time expressing that.  How about you?

Question of the Week:  How do you express the joy that you feel?  If, like me, you’re not very good at it, how can you improve?

Special Announcement:  The Church will be hosting a conference with Dr. James Bryan Smith, author of one of David’s favorite books, The Good and Beautiful God, on September 11-12.  The conference should be great, and I hope you can all attend.  I have reserved us at least 10 spots to the conference, and in doing so, I have secured us a special lunch with Dr. Smith on the Saturday of the conference.  If you would like to go, comment on this post, and I’ll get your reservation set.  We’ll discuss this more in the coming weeks.

I’m In.

Darin

We are returning to our roots this weekend, and I’d love to have you join us. Starting this weekend, Saturday, June 13, we will return to weekly check-in group meetings. We’ll meet in David’s office, upstairs in the A&E building at the church at 7:30, and try to wrap up the discussion by 8:30. Many men who’ve been a part of this group will testify to the power that can come from a consistent group of guys getting together on a weekly basis to share life together.

In an attempt to get back to our roots, we’ll spend a good amount of time with traditional check-in – how’s your week? what’s going on in your life now? what’s going great? where are you struggling? Then, if we have time, we’ll spend some time with an open discussion on the topic of the week (or with some other important topic that has surfaced during the check-in). My goal is to keep the topics to basic concepts that tie into our common goals of being better husbands, fathers, employees (or bosses), community leaders and Christ-followers.

I’d like to spend the next few weeks talking about a basic concept – the fruits of the spirit.

Matthew 7 New International Version (NIV)

17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

If you don’t remember all of the fruits of the spirit, just ask your children and they’ll probably be able to sing you a song to help memorize them. The first fruit is love. I think this is a great place to start with this re-boot of SMCI because, in my opinion, love is the core concept of Christianity.

So, the question is this: How and where do people see love when they see you?

See you Saturday,

Darin

Freedom

Darin Charles —  July 11, 2013 — 1 Comment

Last week was “Kickoff Weekend” for our church’s upcoming Freedom Project.  If you haven’t heard (but I’m sure you have) First Methodist is attempting to get everyone, and David means everyone, to participate in Financial Peace this fall.  We have titled this endeavor the Freedom Project, as we attempt to loosen the bonds of debt in which almost all of us find ourselves.

We will spend several weeks this fall talking about finances, so I want to focus our discussion this weekend not on balancing our budgets, but on the basic concept of freedom.  Last weekend, David stated that freedom is not a political, or even a nationalistic, issue, but rather a spiritual one.  The Bible has an overarching theme of freedom – first from slavery in Egypt, ultimately from sin.  Freedom is a right, given by God, that is to be protected.  (Insert William Wallace speech here).  For most of us, the idea of freedom sparks energy and excitement.  It motivates us.

Yet, for some reason, we continually fall back into slavery or bondage.  We state that we desire freedom, that we’ll do anything to protect it, but when we step back and look at our lives, we often find ourselves securely bound in many ways.  I would argue that despite our aspirations for freedom, we are actually quite comfortable, or at least safe, in the confines of slavery – be it to finances, food, work, alcohol, societal expectations, etc.

Question of the Week:  So, if free men, in a free country, find themselves so “un-free,” and Christians, whose ultimate freedom has been guaranteed, still fall under the “yoke of slavery,” how do we fully step into the freedom that Christ has provided for us?

I look forward to our discussion Saturday, and I hope you can all make it.  If you haven’t been to check-in in a while, we would love for you to come back this weekend.

Darin

Punctuated by several cliffhangers, the series “Skeptics” have come to an end.  By far, these were my favorite sermons to-date.  Why? I will not do the justice to 7 weeks that these series lasted by condensing them into a paragraph, but to me, the ability of a pastor of a church to say – “I don’t have THE ANSWER” – is revolutionary.  I can see an obvious objection – “THE ANSWER is JESUS” – but if we are honest with ourselves that is only the beginning of the answer.  The full answer will only be known when we are standing in his presence.  Anyone proclaiming to HAVING the answer in the NOW is fool of himself.

It’s a paradox.  We want to KNOW, but we can’t.  We are created to KNOW.  We are great at science and figuring things out, but this crazy three-letter word – WHY – seems to be one hell of a curse.  Or is it a blessing?

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why do children die?
  • Why am I here?
  • Why God?

In the end, our inability to answer these questions may lead to mental and spiritual paralysis.  As men, we are called to be leaders.  Leaders as husbands, fathers, coworkers, Christians.  People around us will ask us for the answers to these questions.  How do you answer it?

The simple, but paradoxical takeaways for me from the 7 week series look like this:

  1. God is good
  2. Evil exists
  3. Life happens that is not evil or good
  4. Sin exists
  5. Our hearts are built for good, but susceptible to evil and sin
  6. Our life’s journey is to fill our hearts with good to the point that evil or sin have no space
  7. Path of Jesus is a roadmap for #6.
  8. Free will/ability to create is the essence of God’s creation
  9. Everyone’s life is a story of finding meaning.  For me – the answer is in #6.

At a recent, Chic-fil-A Leadercast, Andy Stanley, said that a good leader should be able to answer three basic questions about his or her organization:

  1. What are we doing?
  2. Why are we doing it?
  3. Where do I fit in?

The biggest problem, he stated, for many leaders is not taking the time and effort to answer them.

The problem for Christian men, in my opinion, is not taking the time to answer these questions about their own lives, families and immediate circles of relationships.

Questions of the week:

What is your ANSWER?

And how do you and your life fit in with your ANSWER?

Misha

Purpose of Love

Misha Orlov —  December 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

Christmas may be a few weeks away, but there is no denying that everyone is getting into the spirit.  Trees are up. Lights of all shapes and sizes abound in the neighborhoods.  Malls’ parking lots resemble Tetris at level 50.  Elves-on-the-shelves are helping out with parenting playing the role of the “big brother.”  But at the center of it all, whether we remember it sometimes or not, is Christ.

John 3:16 (NIV)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Love is the central part of Christianity.  And Christ is the standard bearer of Love.  Regardless of how I define love or what attributes I assign to it, in the end of it all, another question comes up: WHY?

I acknowledge it – we live in a broken world and the predominant thought is that Love would save the world and us.  Another common thought is that the world is broken because of our sin.  The evil entered the world through our sin.  But we are also God’s creation.  We are made in his image.  And God is perfect.  God is also big enough to overcome anything.

My mind struggles to reconcile some of the apparent contradictions that arise from all the things I try to believe in all at once.  We lift up the Bible to be indisputable and perfect and yet, we modulate its message “to fit our times.”  Through it all – I try to build a relationship with God while being totally confused about his nature.

When I read God’s commandment to “seek him with all my soul, heart and mind” – I interpret that as finding the truth for myself regardless of the traditions it may challenge.  Truth is the only way.  So what is the purpose of love?

God created the world.  In Genesis 1:4 – God creates “light” and sees it as “good,” and separates it from “darkness” that does not get a qualifier.  Whether this is a reference to good versus evil – I do not know.  But if I hold God to be The Creator – he is also the one that creates evil or allows evil to enter the world.  The important point here is this.  We are Makers.  We are Creators.  We inherit this quality in our design from the THE CREATOR.  And apparently, we inherit the same flaw – the ability to make/do/allow/create evil.  No evidence is needed to prove this point – as the history of human race answers it fully.

And this is where Love comes in.

Love is the weapon.  Love is the game changer.  Love is the only thing God has to fix the world.  If he could wipe out evil with the stroke of his hand – he would have.  There is no reasonable explanation as to why evil should exist.  The only thing that makes sense is that his creation got out of control.  We see it in our lives as well.  What can bring it back?

Love.

When psychologists look at the patterns in lives of criminals – lack of parental love is one of the major contributing factors to the life of evil.  Transpose that on the world.

It really is that simple.

God is coming.  And the good can triumph over evil.  And love is the only thing that can make it happen.

In some ways, everything we do as Christians is about pouring out more love into the world in all the shapes, forms and sizes. And the hope is that we can do it faster than the spread of evil. From mission work to raising our own children, from serving as a greeter to raising funds to help out orphans in Africa, from addiction counseling to kids programs.  The list is long. And this love has one true purpose.

To fill up all the empty spaces of the world that would simply leave evil no room to exist.

We are in a race.  In a race against the spread of evil.

Question of the week:

How do you see “the purpose of love?”