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How easy it is to adopt cultural and societal norms, even local church traditions, as part of the Christian life. We set unnecessary expectations rather than encouraging one another and giving glory to God. How then do we live as one Body in Christ Jesus?

Click here for this week’s study –>Ephesians 4:17-32

The Body can only move as one when each unique member is properly functioning and focused on what the Head is signaling. What does Paul say about what a healthy believer looks like? Let’s jump into the first part of chapter four to find out!

Click here to read this week’s study                  –>Ephesians 4:1-16

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Click here to view this week’s study                   –>Ephesians 3:14-21

“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 3:8-9

Access this week’s study–>Ephesians 3:1-13

While we were once separated from Christ, we are now made near through the covering of His blood. What does Paul have to say about Christ’s unification?

Check out this week’s Ephesians study here –> Ephesians 2:11-22

 

Death and life. Grace and works. What does Paul have to say about our position in Christ in the first 10 verses of chapter 2?

Click here to download this week’s study —> Ephesians 2:1-10

Welcome back! Let’s delve into Ephesians with Chapter 1. Begin by asking God to speak into your heart and the Spirit to guide your thoughts.

Click here for the Greeting Study —>Ephesians Greeting

Click here for the Chapter 1 Study —>Ephesians Chapter 1

Last Sunday, we embarked on our journey into Ephesians by reading through the letter written by Paul. For the next fourteen weeks, we are inviting you to join as we dive into scripture. We will have a PDF study that you may choose to go through individually, as a family, or with your small group.

To begin, take a moment to watch this video on the background and structure of Ephesians provided by The Bible Project:

Approaches to Consider as We Begin

Have you ever had a difficult time trying to study your Bible? Sometimes when you read, it seems as if the words come out and slap you in the face. Other times it’s more like a whole lot of jibberish.

You are not alone.

Much like studying any text, whether it be Emily Dickenson, C.S. Lewis, or the Bible, there are different windows to look through to see a different angle of the big picture. Three of the major windows for biblical study are conceptual, theological, and literary. Each tends to intertwine with the other.

Along with these approaches, we will provide questions and thoughts to consider each week before exploring together in Sunday service. You can find the study guides here on the website and in the Tumbleweed each week.

Let’s make a quick overview of each of these biblical study aspects.

Conceptual

A conceptual study is exactly as it sounds. It’s a look into the ideas and intentions of how the Christian life looks. “What does the Bible say I should do in ‘situation x?'” “What does it look like to love my neighbor?”

With a conceptual study, you are looking for the solution to a specific question. This practice helps attempt a quick answer; however, we must be aware there is a risk in interpreting scripture the way we would like to read it rather than what it truly intends. This also includes how we may have heard others explain the meaning.

Theological

A theological study asks the question, “What does this scripture tell me about who God is?”

We can view the big picture of God in most, if not any, scripture. Even in the shortest verse, “Jesus wept,” the word gives us the image of a Savior who feels deeply, as do we, in His image. Throughout the books of the Bible, we see God as Warrior, King, Lord, Lover, and Friend.

As you read, take a moment to ask what the words may be telling you about who God is. It may even stir other questions and curiosities.

Literary

There are many genres of literature in the Bible. Legal, narrative, poetic, romance, and tragedy, to name a few.

In Roy Zuck’s book, Basic Bible Interpretation, he says, “The more you know of the patterns, styles, and forms of the various units in a book of the Bible the more you will know of that book’s purpose and unique character, and the better you will understand it.”

Do you read a poem the same way you read a history book? Do you approach written law the same way you read a letter from a friend or mentor?

Without going into technical terminology, some aspects (but not all) to look for while reading are sentence structure, word or concept repetition, outline structure, and writing style.

Confused? Don’t worry. We’re only covering one letter. We will look at more apparent examples as we look at the book of Ephesians.

Final Thoughts

Begin every study with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word to you.

You may find it helpful to write down scripture that stands out to you whether it inspires encouragement or questions.

Not everyone studies the same way. Feel free to approach the study in a way that works for you and how God created you to learn and know Him.

Let’s jump in! If you haven’t done so, take eight minutes to watch the introduction video at the top of this page.

 

 

 

by Kristal Kidd

The cross of Christ is the central theme for all believers. This Sunday, we will have the opportunity to revisit the story of Peter’s denial. Many of us can see how we are more like Peter than we would like to admit.

When Peter denied Jesus, he disassociated himself from Christ.  “Deny” in this sense means to affirm that one has no connection with a person.  Peter denied that he knew Christ…. Three times!  He walked with Christ, talked with Christ, and these things required spending time with Christ.  Then, Peter reports having no connection with his Lord?

Peter WAS sincere when he made the promise not to deny Jesus, but Peter found that he was weak.  He was proud, boastful, over-confident, and self-assured (Matthew 26:31-35).   He was spiritually lazy and did not watch and pray (Matthew 26:36-46).  He was zealous for the wrong cause, a physical fight (Matthew 26:47-56).  Finally, he was cowardly and did not follow Jesus closely (Matthew 26:58).

We have moments of denying Jesus too.  We may give in to peer pressure and go along with the crowd.  Maybe we don’t mention Jesus when controversial or worldly issues come up.  We pity ourselves during rough seasons.  We, too, pray less, think too highly of ourselves and fight for the wrong causes.

Thankfully, Peter did not remain in sin!  Peter was restored and did great things for the Lord.  This is good news for each of us too.  We serve the all-knowing God of Redemption.   AMEN!

Each person has a different perspective on Mother’s Day. We all have different stories of celebration and heartache. Your emotions may consist of admiration, love, and wonderful memories, or it may look more like heartache, anger, or loss. And who’s to say that it’s the same from one year to the next? Life is full of ups and downs and bumps along the way. Thankfully, we as a church body are family who will rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Always keep in mind that not everyone is living your story. Reach out in love and kindness. The following are a collection of stories from our body.

Anonymous #1

I have to admit. I am not really a fan of Mother’s Day. While the thought behind such a holiday is sweet, there are times when it is nothing short of an ordeal. My mom and I have never really had a great relationship. She has been emotionally and physically abusive ever since I could remember.

This spring is nothing different. As we approach Mother’s Day I am faced with the hard reality that I want to show my mother Jesus (i.e., love and grace) but honestly she has degraded my mothering skills and torn down my husband, and it takes everything within me to forgive and try to “rise up and call her blessed.”

The Lord has given me this mom because I am supposed to learn something BIG. I am not quite sure what it is, and I might never see it, but until the day I get to heaven, I will continue to love my mother. She, even through all of her fallacies, raised me. She blessed me with food on the table and an awareness of others that has shaped me into who I am today. Mother’s Day isn’t always sunshine and roses. It is a time of reflection for most moms. We think about the mother who raised us and the mother we have become.

We have a tendency to compare the two and compare ourselves to the moms around us when in reality we are each on our own different journies, and we are all at different stages in life. I want to encourage you that if your story is similar to mine, DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO YOUR MOM. Do NOT feel in any way, shape or form that you are her. You are YOU. A new creation in Christ.

Reflecting on your motherhood journey is ok! Be proactive and intentional with how you are shaping your children, but DO NOT for one second think that you aren’t good enough. Words that have been spoken at you do NOT define you. TRUTH defines you and YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH KING. He loves you and YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH! 

Marisol Seegers

To me, Mother’s Day was always a great time to show my mom gratitude and love for being the amazingly strong, brave and sacrificial mother she’s always been.

Although I always knew I wanted to be a mom someday, I never actually pictured myself celebrating Mother’s Day until I became a mom but didn’t have a baby to prove my motherhood. What I mean by this is that I got pregnant in January 2017 and lost that precious baby just a month later.

Those 8 weeks of carrying a tiny little embryo transformed me in ways I could never have imagined before. I felt full of life (even or especially through the morning sickness), and my heart was just bursting with happiness, gratitude to God and with an immense love for someone I had never met, and that didn’t even look like a human yet. To say I was devastated to find out our first baby’s heart was no longer beating is an understatement. It was like I lost a big part of me that I would never get back.

The grieving process went slow and when I thought I was making progress, Mother’s Day came around, and it reminded me that, in people’s eyes, I was still not a mom; therefore I couldn’t and wouldn’t be celebrated. I indeed didn’t celebrate it because It caused more pain and seemed silly to own a holiday when I didn’t have a baby of my own to hold. Majority of our friends and family members didn’t even know we had expected a baby, much less that we had lost it, so it wouldn’t have made sense anyway.

This painful feeling about not being able to celebrate Mother’s Day made me realize that I had actually become a mom from the moment I saw those pink lines on the pregnancy test.  

When we found out I was pregnant, my whole perspective about life changed. I was no longer eating for myself, I was eating to provide nutrients to my growing baby. I was no longer working for my own self-growth, I was working to show my child what it looked like to enjoy the fruits of our labor and to provide for her future. I was no longer worried about my appearance in a vain way, I was desiring to grow my belly to see her growing in a healthy way. I was simply no longer thinking about myself, I was only thinking about her, and those loving, selfless, and sacrificial behaviors are what made me become a mom.

Although I wasn’t able to enjoy Mother’s Day 2017, I looked forward to the next one whether or not I’d have a baby by then. The Lord blessed us with a baby boy in March 2018, and I had the opportunity to rejoice that following Mother’s Day next to him. Now, Mother’s Day to me means celebrating the miracle of life, the ability to see a part of yourself in the form of another human being, and most importantly, it means that I was chosen to lead and nurture another child of God – and that is the most amazing job I get to have.

After more than a year later of having Kean, now more than ever, I get to enjoy motherhood to the fullest as he gets to love back on me with kisses, clingy hugs, and adorable “momma” calls. He is the pure definition of love in human form and the promise of God’s eternal love for me. Mother’s Day means the world to me. 

Anonymous #2

My mom did not come from a family of believers, but when she was a teenager in the 1960’s she moved from Chicago to Goshen, Indiana! There she informally became part of a Mennonite family who taught her about gardening, canning, sewing, caring for animals, and loving God. She became a believer in college and passed her faith down to me; now I am passing it down to my children.

Mother’s Day is a day to remember and recognize the role motherhood plays in making disciples. We cannot control our children or their decisions, but we can be an influence and a model of authentic faith. I hope I raise a “Timothy” or two.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Louis and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  (2 Tim 1:5)

Justin Wood

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it is easy to go the Hallmark greeting card route.

“So thankful,” “You are my inspiration,” “You make every day brighter.”

Somehow, these are hollow and empty for those of us that didn’t have a traditional childhood. For me, Mother’s Day means something a little different.

My mom and I had a rough time as I was growing up. She was a single mom that struggled with substance abuse and the lifestyle that goes with it. I, in turn, followed the same path.

We both came to a point twenty plus years ago that we chose to walk down a different path, one of health and life. Part of that new path included the reconciliation of our relationship. My mom has become a dear friend that I now get to do life with, walking through the good and the bad. There is life in our relationship where there was once hate and animosity.

Mother’s Day is a yearly reminder of where we were, and where we are now, about the love that can grow when we stop considering our position as right and the other wrong. It is a reminder of not just this earthly relationship, but our eternal relationship with our Creator, the One that was willing to sacrifice what is just for a relationship that could not exist outside of intentional reconciliation.

So, this Mother’s Day, there isn’t a Hallmark card that can capture the depth of love and appreciation that I have today for my mother. All I can say is, I love you mom, and I am grateful every day that God gave us the chance to be reconciled and have the opportunity to walk in life together!