Do I REALLY believe?

I believe

Sunday 06/14/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?


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Do I REALLY believe?

It’s already been a long road since we started at the beginning of this year, but it all ties together into one thought. The difficulty is really language…we get lost in it! God has made language so robust that many words are used for the same idea, but each one can explore and reveal different aspects of it. Over time it can get confusing if all you are doing is memorizing rather than learning the concepts – understanding the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’. 

Once you have a firm grasp of the concepts at hand, most of the words used to explain or even talk about them become super easy to identify. You begin to anticipate where scripture is going with a topic before you even finish reading it because you understand the concept and its purpose.

If you remember, in the beginning of the year, the Lord brought me in contact with a few teachings of Francis Chan. I loved his passion and his convictions – admittedly, this was mostly because we shared the same views.

This led me down a pathway of teaching the lessons we’ve covered this year. I began by attempting to stir a REAL awareness that Jesus is actually and literally ‘In Our Midst’ scrutinizing our lives as either conforming to or failing to conform to His words.

We learned about the meaning and nature of our church gatherings -that they have and serve a real and valuable purpose which cannot be supplanted or replaced by “Bible study” or “Church on TV” from home.

We talked about the purpose of our redemption from God’s eyes rather than ours. That it was to create awareness…pulling us out of the sleep of darkness and into agreement with His ways and thoughts, so that we can walk together with Him in peace – free from the shackles of sin. In fact, THAT IS what worship is!!!

All of these things are just different ways of approaching the only real topic of the Christian faith and that is forming Christ in people.

This is where we began to talk about suffering, because the glory of Christ being formed in us is VERY CLEARLY tied in scripture to suffering, which will only happen in the hearts of those who literally love Him with all their hearts. ALL OTHER HEARTS have limitations to their love and so draw the line of how much they are willing to suffer somewhere south of Christ being formed in them.

The following include both questions and thoughts I want you to prayerfully think through. THIS IS NOT a speed test – it isn’t a test at all! 


The goal of this exercise is to get you to think through what you have already been taught. NOT just to get right answers to questions, but to arrive at the comprehension of God’s work in you.

Everything we’ve been covering is doing nothing more than pulling the covers off of our heads so we can see the truth of reality. Reality means that which is truly real. So, all that we have been learning since the beginning of this year has everything to do with REALITY for a Christian. 

What is life about – what does it mean to be God’s child – what are God’s intentions for you? 

God has been busy since creation, molding mankind into something He desires. We are now at the end of the age and God’s purposes are ALL focused upon His church – and you are part of that body. Understanding these things is EVERYTHING! 

So dig in and be serious in your approach to these thoughts and questions. 

In the end, I want you to grasp the panorama of what God is doing in His body and in you in particular, SO THAT you can be deliberate in cooperating with His redemptive plan in you.

Key passages we’ve covered which touch on these topics:

  • 2Cor. 4:6-11 – Suffering, Jesus formed in us
  • Ephesians 1:1-11 – holy, blameless, in Christ, Created for good works
  • Ephesians 1:19-22 – Temple, tabernacle, dwelling place
  • Phil. 3:7-14 – Knowing Him, faith, maturity in Christ
  • James 1:2-4 – Trials
  • James 1:12-18 – Temptations, life
  • James 2:18&20 – Faith, works
  • 1Peter 1:6-9 – Trials, soul salvation, faith
  • 1Peter 4:12-19 – Trials, glory, Christian suffering
  • Heb. 10:13 – Temptations
  • Heb. 10:35-39 – Need for faith, patience, life
  • Heb. 12:1-14 – sin, weights, maturity, chastening, righteousness, holiness 

One message which touched on MUCH of these things was ‘Suffering…who for the Joy’.

Thoughts & Questions:

Explain your understanding of the nature and purpose of suffering. 

Make the most complete list you are able to, of scriptural synonyms for suffering.

Why is agreement with God so important?

What is Life and why does God want that WITH you?

What does it mean that you and I are God’s temple?

What does it mean when the scriptures tell you that you are being prepared TO BE a dwelling place for God in the spirit forever?

What is testing?

What is the difference between tests, trials and temptations?

What is the PURPOSE of tests?

What is the PURPOSE of trials?

What is the PURPOSE of temptations?

What part does the original fall of man play in all of this?

What does all of this have to do with God’s intentions for us in eternity?

If you were going to have to explain the role suffering plays in forming Christ in you to a Sunday School of 6th graders…how would you explain it?

  • What questions do you suppose they might ask?
  • How would you answer those questions?

What is the difference between the body, soul and spirit?

Describe how the Bible explains the salvation AND the timing of salvation for each of these. [Body – Soul – Spirit]

What is a pure heart?

What does that have to do with Loving God with all of your heart?

What is holiness?

Write down a list of synonyms for holiness.

What does holiness have to do with a pure heart? 

What are some other ways of saying ‘soul salvation’?

 (Example: Christ in you)

What does faith have to do with the salvation of our souls?

  • What are you believing?
  • Why are you believing it?

The scriptures tell us that we are to lay aside every weight and the sin that does so easily thwart our progress in Christ.

Describe the difference between a weight and a sin.

I imagine you are quite familiar with your sins, but I want  you to spend a little time thinking and praying through what are the things which serve as weights in your life that slow down or put an absolute stop to your progress in Christ.

What are you doing ON PURPOSE to address your sins and weights?

Are you actively believing God regarding Christ being formed in you?

Closing encouragement:

Get before God and get a game plan to address these things and make it difficult to slip back into inactivity.

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!