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CHURCH AT HOME

1. Welcome to Church at Home! Please take a second to watch the video above if you have not already.

2. All of the content below is intended to be read aloud as a group. You may want to designate one person to do the reading, or take turns – whatever works best for your group!

3. Take your time as you make your way through. Be sure to continue until you see “Go + Be the Church.”

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MARY AND MARTHA

BY MILES FIDELL

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET?

This was the question posed to me and a room full of pastors just a few weeks ago. As sad as it may sound, my initial reaction was not one of excitement. The man who asked the question was a pastor who had been in ministry for decades. After the past few years we’ve had, watching leader after leader fall, I didn’t know if I could handle another secret from a pastor. Luckily, he quickly clarified the nature of his secret with a second question.

“Do you want to know how to lead your church, your family, and yourself to be spiritually and emotionally healthy, all at the same time?”

It sounded too good to be true. We all knew this man had experienced amazing highs and crushing lows in his lifetime of ministry – after all, we did travel across the country hoping to glean some wisdom from his words – but this direct, pointed question still struck us all. It sounded like he was proposing to have exactly what every person in the room was looking for. 

He grinned, knowing he had each of us on the edge of our seats.

Of course we wanted to know! The room he was speaking to had just led the Body of Christ through a global pandemic, a season of political turmoil, racial division, and more in the past few years alone. For most in the room, it was a flat out miracle they were still in ministry at all!

Finally, satisfied with the level of anticipation he had gotten from the room, he relieved us. 

“I’ll tell you the same thing my mentor told me. And if you live by this you will lead well and finish well:

‘You must arrange your life so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.’”

The once ecstatic room now turned to deafening silence. Was that it? The secret that held the answer to all he had just promised was … scheduling? 

It seemed counterintuitive. We were looking for a way to better manage all that was on our plate, a secret to somehow wade through all the expectations and responsibilities from our church, our staff, our family, and our community and still love Jesus ourselves. Yet here we were, being told to simplify all those callings and responsibilities into one, simple calling on our lives: to delight in Jesus. More than anything, it seemed impossible. 

Most of us walked away from that day scratching our heads, tried to get the most out of the rest of the conference, and moved on with our lives. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I haven’t been able to shake what was shared. In fact, after some time of deeper reflection, I’ve realized that this was not only a powerful, life-changing truth shared that day, but was actually a principle drawn from Jesus’ very own ministry with His disciples. 

Of course, I am under no assumption that you are reading this as a leader in pastoral ministry. Our church is full of people from all stages of life. We have business leaders, college students, stay-at-home moms, young professionals, empty-nesters, and everyone in between. Still, I believe this principle holds true for every single person in our church. 

Today, I want to take a closer look at this simple truth, paired with a familiar story from the Gospel of Luke, and begin to uncover the beautiful and powerful mystery of a life that daily and personally delights in Jesus.

"You must arrange your life so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.”

A clear picture of Jesus living out this truth is found in his visit to the home of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. For Jesus and His disciples, the clothes they wore, food they ate, and places they slept depended almost entirely on the hospitality and generosity of others. And a greatly underappreciated fact is that most of this care was provided by women who gave freely and out of their own means. In this story, Mary and Martha are two sisters who did just that. It is clear that each of these women enjoyed a close, personal relationship with Jesus. However, in the scene we are about to read, you will see that the two women respond in vastly different ways to Jesus entering their home.   

A brief disclaimer: I know many of you have read or heard this story dozens if not hundreds of times. Even so, I want to ask you again to approach this passage with a fresh perspective. Read this aloud slowly, allowing your imagination to go there with the story, as if you are just arriving at this scene in Jesus’ life. Now, on with the story!

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” As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

– LUKE 10: 38-42 (NIV, EMPHASIS ADDED)

This story is mostly known as the time Jesus Christ Himself exposed Martha as a stressed out busybody; meanwhile, her sister Mary is seen as the one who really gets it, who didn’t miss that Jesus – the literal Son of God – was sitting right in their living room. Come on, Martha! This is no time for good housekeeping – this is a moment for sitting and listening, gleaning every possible insight you can from the words of God Himself, now present before you!

While this interpretation is not entirely incorrect, it unfortunately misses the powerful for the obvious.

Of course it would be more important to sit and listen to Jesus than to prepare and clean the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not important to take care of the kitchen. (I mean, somebody’s gotta do it… Mothers of the world, can I get an ‘Amen?!’)

Remember, Martha’s generous gift of hospitality is the reason Jesus and His disciples have shelter over their heads and food in their stomachs that very evening.

No, I don’t think Jesus’ issue was that Martha was in the kitchen working while Mary sat at His feet. It seems that what Jesus took issue with here was Martha’s attitude while she was in the kitchen.

The author specifically points out that she was “distracted,” meaning that her divided attention was causing an angst that prevented her from enjoying the moment with Jesus. The truth is, Martha was in no condition to delight in Jesus, serving in the kitchen or not.

Isn’t that our main problem? I hear from people every day who have made countless efforts to get their lives and schedules under control. Yet most of these efforts are aimed at changing activities, not attitudes. 

Now please hear me say this: most if not all of our schedules and daily activities need some sort of adjustment if we want to go deeper in discipleship to Jesus. We are overcommitted, overstimulated, and distracted. Our calendars do need to change, and there is immense spiritual power in doing so!

But more than that, have you ever considered that no matter how much you change about your schedule, you will always be somewhat overwhelmed?

At 34 years old, I am sad to report to those younger than me that life does not calm down as you move from one season to another. The challenges just become more complicated. In seeking wisdom from those beyond my years, I am hearing that remains true. Life will always have challenges, options vying for our attention, and circumstances that overwhelm us.

Maybe a wiser pursuit than simply rearranging our schedules would be to arrange our lives around ensuring our spirits enjoy Jesus.

In the arrangement of your life around getting yourself in the right mindset – that is, delighting your whole self in Jesus – you can start to experience the same daily situations in an entirely new way.

A once busy baseball practice becomes a delight to teach and coach your kids, the beautiful gifts God has given you and only you to lead and guide as a parent. Yet another meeting at work becomes an opportunity to honor the Lord as you honor authority, to work as unto the Lord in all you do. The onslaught of tests and endless hours of studying become a regular routine of remaining rooted in gratitude for where your God has placed you, to seek wisdom and let perseverance complete its work in you. As you can imagine, the list goes on.  

I know some of you are picturing your everyday lives right now and wondering how this could possibly be true for you.

“In what world is my crying infant leading me to delight in Jesus? And the traffic I hit on the way to my job every single day – that’s where I find joy? Not possible.”

Actually, yes – those are exactly the kind of situations I’m talking about. When the Holy Spirit has your heart in a worshipful condition, the difficulties and craziness of life can be encountered with a calm spirit. 

Now, there is some bad news in all of this that we must embrace. And it is revealed when you focus on the first five words of this statement:

 

You must arrange your life so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.

 

“You must arrange your life” means that we have to take ownership. This requires deep reflection, trial and error, and a host of other things. If you allow your life to be arranged for you, you will not experience deep joy, contentment, and confidence in God. No one can or will do this for you. 

This will look different for each of us. Life stage, personality type, job/school requirements, and a host of other things all contribute to the best way you should spend your days abiding in Jesus.  But we must do this if we want to persevere. If you want to do more than just survive your life and its responsibilities, you must arrange your life! 

There is so much more that could be said and needs to be said about this matter, and over the next few years, our church leadership will be continually challenging our congregation to evaluate whether or not they have structured their life around their own personal discipleship to Jesus. 

Today is simply an introductory conversation to the matter of what deep and true discipleship to Jesus looks like as a part of ACC. Our prayer is that radical discipleship becomes the norm through the way we are living, counter-cultural to the world around us, daily delighting in Jesus!

Now it's your turn.

Let’s start out with some self-reflection.

Before making any changes, we first need to observe how our lives are currently arranged.

Grab your journal and take five minutes to honestly consider the following questions.

Afterwards, discuss as a group.

  1. Are you enjoying Jesus?

  2. What activities make you feel most connected to God? Are you implementing those activities in your weekly schedule?

  3. How are you creating space to delight in Jesus?

  4. What appears as the priority of your life based on actions not simply intentions? What is shaping your life?

  5. When thinking about “arranging your life”, what advantages or limitations are currently present in your season of life?

Now it's time to make a change.

To help start this process, we have put together seven common areas of life in which we can delight in Jesus.

Read through each of the seven areas aloud as a group, and consider which area hinders you most.

REST

What are your rhythms for rest?

MIND

What do you fill your mind with?

BODY

What are your habits physically? (sleep, exercise, eating, drinking, etc.)

RELATIONSHIPS

How are you stewarding your relationships? (family, friends, co-workers, etc.)

ABIDE

How do you make room each day for communion with God?

WORK & MONEY

What attachments need to be released to delight in God?

GOSPEL & HOSPITALITY

How are you personally partnering with God in making disciples?

Select one of the seven areas of your life to begin to "arrange" towards enjoying Jesus daily.

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:



SLEEP
Get eight hours of sleep every night this week.

GRATITUDE JOURNAL
End each day by spending 10 minutes reflecting

SABBATH
Pick a day to have a 24 hour Sabbath. Sabbath Resources.

 

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 

NO PHONE
Spend intentional time away from your device for 24 hours this week (or for an extended period of time each day).
 
SILENCE AND SOLITUDE
Spend an extended period of time in silence and solitude each day (for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.)
 
BOOK READING/PODCAST
Spend 10 minutes a day reading a book or listening to a podcast focused on filling your mind with things that are good, noble, true, and pure.
 

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 

WHAT YOU EAT

Pay attention to what you eat this week. Engage in helpful activities such as meal planning, limiting sugar, etc.

WHAT YOU DRINK
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake this week.
 
WHAT YOU DO
Make a healthy routine out of exercising outside this week.
 

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 

CONNECT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Intentionally set aside time in your day to call or write a letter to family members or close friends.
 
EAT TOGETHER
Plan a meal to share with close friends and family. Be intentional about the direction of conversation.
 
WORKPLACE INTENTIONALITY
View your workplace as your ministry. Be intentional with co-worker relationships this week.
 

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 

MORNING PRAYER
Spend 10 minutes a day in prayer right when you wake up. Prayer Resources.

JOURNAL
Spend 10 minutes a day journaling and reflecting on your day.

MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE
Focus on memorizing one passage of Scripture this week. Recite it to your community group the next time you meet.

 

Choose ONE of these two practices to implement into your life this week:


 
GENEROSITY
Go above and beyond in your financial giving this week. Pay it forward to a stranger one day this week. Generosity Resource.
 
BUDGET
Spend time budgeting to ensure that you steward your money well. Budget Resource.

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 
SERVE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY GROUP
Plan a time this week for your community group to serve together. We have BE THE CHURCH this Saturday! Sign up to serve HERE.
 
JESUS CONVERSATION

Intentionally pursue a conversation about Jesus this week or share your testimony. (Someone at a coffee shop, someone in your workplace or in your class, etc.). Testimony Resource.

INVITE SOMEONE TO CHURCH
Invite someone to church next week!

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 

SLEEP
Get eight hours of sleep every night this week.

GRATITUDE JOURNAL
End each day by spending 10 minutes reflecting

SABBATH
Pick a day to have a 24 hour Sabbath. Sabbath Resources.

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 
NO PHONE
Spend intentional time away from your device for 24 hours this week (or for an extended period of time each day).
 
SILENCE AND SOLITUDE
Spend an extended period of time in silence and solitude each day (for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.)
 
BOOK READING/PODCAST
Spend 10 minutes a day reading a book or listening to a podcast focused on filling your mind with things that are good, noble, true, and pure.

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:



WHAT YOU EAT
Pay attention to what you eat this week. Engage in helpful activities such as meal planning, limiting sugar, etc.

WHAT YOU DRINK
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake this week.
 
WHAT YOU DO
Make a healthy routine out of exercising outside this week.
 

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 
CONNECT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Intentionally set aside time in your day to call or write a letter to family members or close friends.
 
EAT TOGETHER
Plan a meal to share with close friends and family. Be intentional about the direction of conversation.
 
WORKPLACE INTENTIONALITY
View your workplace as your ministry. Be intentional with co-worker relationships this week.
 

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:



MORNING PRAYER

Spend 10 minutes a day in prayer right when you wake up. Prayer Resources.

JOURNAL
Spend 10 minutes a day journaling and reflecting on your day.

MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE
Focus on memorizing one passage of Scripture this week. Recite it to your community group the next time you meet.

 

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 
GENEROSITY
Go above and beyond in your financial giving this week. Pay it forward to a stranger one day this week. Generosity Resource.

BUDGET
Spend time budgeting to ensure that you steward your money well. Budget Resource.

Choose ONE of these three practices to implement into your life this week:


 
SERVE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY GROUP
Plan a time this week for your community group to serve together. We have BE THE CHURCH this Saturday! Sign up to serve HERE.
 
JESUS CONVERSATION
Intentionally pursue a conversation about Jesus this week or share your testimony. (Someone at a coffee shop, someone in your workplace or in your class, etc.). Testimony Resource.
 
INVITE SOMEONE TO CHURCH
 Invite someone to church next week!

WELL DONE!

By taking just one step in arranging your life today, you have begun a powerful work of God on your life. But as we all know, the initial decision to change is only one, small part on the journey to affecting real change in our lives.

We encourage you to take the time now as a group to cover one another in prayer regarding your individual commitments. You may even want to write them all down in one place, checking in on them each time you gather together. Whatever it looks like for you and your group, the important part is remembering that we are designed to live and thrive in community.

As we continue this journey towards radical discipleship in the way of Jesus, our prayer is that you find encouragement in the process, that you persevere even when it is not easy, and that each person who calls ACC home would come to find the fullness of life available to them through daily, personal delight in Jesus Christ.

GO + BE THE CHURCH!

LOCAL GATHERINGS
Find the times and addresses for all of our Local Gatherings HERE!