Thursday, September 26, 2013

Starting next week. We will post one question each week from New City Catechism by Tim Keller and Sam Shames. We hope you will look at it and use it for your own personal devotion and edification.

But let me give a brief word for those you unfamiliar or a little weirded out by the word "catechism." It is a word that people often associate with the Catholic Church and rote soulless memorization. The word means "instruction" and comes from the Greek word katecheo in Gal. 6:6; Lk. 1:4; Acts. 18:25; Rom. 2:18; 1 Cor. 14:19 (ESV renders it taught or instructed).  This might be surprising to you, but in fact the Catholic Church instituted their catechism during the counter-reformation as a response to numerous reformed catechisms developed during the Reformation. The first Catholic catechism appeared in 1566, 25 years after Luther and Calvin developed their respective catechisms (Luther's Large and Small Catechism in 1529, Calvin's Geneva Catechism in 1541). The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) and Westminster Catechism (1648) are the most famous of them all with the former pre-dating Catholic catechism. The intent and purpose was that through them people would learn the basics of the Christian faith. Catechisms have been used in important periods of Christian renewal throughout history. The first would be the Apostle's Creed. Early creeds were another from of later Catechisms (it should be noted that some baptists have a problem with creeds and catechisms but there are Baptist catechisms you can google).

New City Catechism is a simple question and answer format that is intended to be memorized. It is short, only 52 questions (one per week of the year), and has a great web format with an ipad app too. Each question also contains a short bible passage, brief commentary from classic Christian works, short videos by great pastors around the country, and a brief prayer. I highly recommend you try it. You can even do it as a family since it has short answers easy enough for kids that are color coded within the longer answer for adults.

I would also highly recommend reading Keller's explanation of what Catechism is and why it is beneficial here.

Here is a helpful FAQ on how you can use it personally and with your kids.

You can check it out at or just wait for our posts starting this Monday morning.

I pray you will find it edifying.

Pastor Chris

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

From Pastor Jason: Two Bad Reasons to Give God Your Money

Last week I shared the three lanes” of giving. I hope you found them helpful. Simply, these were three good reasons to give your money to Jesus and his mission. However I also think there are bad reasons to give. That’s right, giving isn’t always good. Think about it. Throughout the Gospels Jesus is incredibly concerned and focused on the motivation underneath an action (check out the Sermon on the Mount). It was about the heart. Consequently, there are certain and consistent compulsions that you and I often have toward giving that don’t exactly come from the best place. And I think these are less like lanes and more like pits. You know, like huge holes you can fall into. Here are two bad reasons to give: 
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To pay God back. Now you might say, “God has done so much for me, I want to give evidence to my gratitude by giving.” Amen. Go team! Agreed. However this can be a slippery concept. Sometimes this logic melts down to keeping score with God. He gives, you give. He gives, you give. And on and on. For starters, you can never really keep up with him. Additionally it supposes full knowledge of God’s generosity. And what’s more, generosity isn’t meant to be just a reaction, but a rhythm. Christians are to be generous, not just do generous things when the moment is right. Don’t fall into this pit.

To make a deal with God. You know you’ve done it. So have I. With the best intentions sometimes we put a couple bucks in the offering bucket while whispering the terms of our gift. The health of our kids. A promotion at work. And sometimes even with the intention of securing our eternal residence. In some respects this approach is the opposite of the first. You give, God gives. You give, God gives. And on and on. Though it may be subtle, giving that springs from this pattern supposes power and manipulation over God. We can naively believe that giving our money puts God on the proverbial hook. Just to be clear … God can’t be put on the hook. Watch out for this pit too.
May we truly become more and more generous people. And a more and more generous church.
Peace …
Pastor Jason

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

From Pastor Jason: The Three-Lane Highway of Giving

Generally speaking, I think of giving like a highway. And this particular road has three lanes. Most of the time Christians gravitate toward a particular lane. Similar to our driving style there is a context, approach, and speed at which we are most comfortable. However it’s not that simple. Think more about your driving habits. At different moments, on different trips and depending on where you are going you probably use different lanes. And every lane demands different behavior. Nobody likes that guy who uses the diamond lane with exit lane tendencies (Bless his heart). Similarly every lane of worshipful giving ought to be in the Christian’s generosity repertoire … at different points … at varying speeds … for different reasons … yet nevertheless always accessible. Here are three ways in which we should consistently give our money to Jesus and his mission.

Lane #1: When the Mood Strikes. Sometimes the desire to give just hits us. Perhaps God puts a person on your heart and mind, or you have a vision to see a safe event for the kids in your neighborhood, or you’ve just got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart. Whatever the reason, sometimes we just want to give. And we should. But our generosity should never be limited by our desire to give.

Lane #2: When the Needs Arise. Other folks have a tendency to give only when a need arises. Maybe a missionary communicates a need for more support through a newsletter, or a school kid knocks on your door  and tells you that ten more chocolate bars mean five more textbooks that will change her life, or your church hands you a graph on a Sunday morning. Whatever the reason, sometimes a need arises and we give. And we should. But our generosity should never be limited by our awareness of needs.

Lane #3: In Our Budgets. Another approach to generosity is budgeting. This habit is birthed from the scriptural concept of tithing—setting aside 10% of your income on a regularly basis. By the way, a budget is an estimation of income and expense for a set period of time (I’m only thirty, I had to look up the definition). This is a disciplined approach that honors God by planning regular gifts, usually of the same amount and generally on a weekly or monthly basis. Whatever the amount or frequency, sometimes we build our generosity into our budgets. And we should. But our generosity should never be limited by our plans.
In summary, generosity should never be limited by our desire to give, our awareness of needs, nor by the plans we have made. The only limit to our worship through giving our money to Jesus and his mission ought to be the example Jesus has set before us. Interestingly, that road is narrow, few find it, and it has a small gate.

May we honor Jesus with everything we’ve got.

Peace …
Pastor Jason

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

From Pastor Jason: Two Big Congratulations and Our New Sunday Morning Schedule

What an exciting time! Two new Little Dwellers have come into the world. Congratulations to Michael and Katie Gonzalez on the birth of Emilio Michael Gonzalez and to Keith and Erin Driskell on the birth of Levi Jeremy Driskell. Please continue to pray for these awesome moms (and dads) as they recover and enjoy the arrival of their new sons.
In other (much less exciting) news we are beginning a new Sunday morning schedule. On Sunday, November 3rd our Sunday schedule will be as follows:

9:30 – 10:30 AM: Discipleship Training
10:30 – 10:45 AM: Community Time
10:45-12:15 PM: Worship Gathering

I’m thrilled about this change. You’ll notice that the overall start and finish times are the same. However we have switched the gathering and training times and introduced a fifteen minute community time in between. The leadership and I believe this refreshed schedule will introduce more life and community interaction on Sunday mornings. We trust that many of you will not only take advantage of an incredible fall line-up of classes before the gathering, but also have more relaxed time to connect with each other and visitors afterward.
Let’s remember, like any change this is not just about us. Rather it’s always about taking every opportunity to cultivate an environment where Jesus is honored and everything possible is being done to encourage visitors to participate naturally within the life of our church. I think this new Sunday schedule positions us to do this best. Thanks for being on this mission and journey together.
See you on Sunday!
And congrats again to the Gonzalezes and Driskells!

Peace …
Pastor Jason

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So Long Summer is just around the corner! Invite your friends and neighbors to this FREE concert of American Music Favorites. And don’t forget about the food trucks and bounce house!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From Pastor Jason: Sunday Schedule and Two Events

As many of you know we have been considering a change to our Sunday mornings schedule. Our primary motivation for considering an alternative approach to our worship gathering and discipleship training hour is twofold: community and mission. I believe with a slight change in our order and timing we can make more room for connecting with each other on Sunday mornings. Additionally I believe with this same shift we can make what we offer on Sunday mornings more accessible and life-giving to our friends, family members, and other guests. Taking into account various conversations and our church-wide survey, last night the elders and I arrived at a consensus. We do feel as though we need to make a change, but not until November 3rd. This later date will allow the first wave of our new discipleship courses (each is eight weeks long) to remain at the same time throughout. So now you want to know the new  schedule, right? Well we’d love to marinate on it for just another week. We want to make certain that this change is the best way forward to encourage community and mission at Dwell. I’ll let you know next Tuesday what Sundays will look like come November 3rd!
In addition to the refreshed schedule I wanted to remind you all of two great events right around the corner. In just a couple of weeks the back lawn at Dwell will be filled with delicious treats and great music. Please visit our website to get all the information you need about “So Long Summer ” on September 21st. Make sure to invite your friends! This concert has been strategically placed so that we might foster relationships with folks  as well as invite them back the following month to our annual Harvest Carnival. On Halloween night tons of people come to the Willow Glen area to enjoy one of the best trick-or-treating locales on the planet. By God’s grace we are right in the middle of the action. And we need everyone to help! Brian and Nicole Schaffer have volunteered to lead the effort this year. We’ll let you know real soon how you can jump on board.
Peace …
Pastor Jason
Key Dates:
  • This weekend there is a free marriage conference at East Valley Church
  • On September 21st don’t miss “So Long Summer”
  • On October 31st our annual Harvest Carnival
  • Our new Sunday schedule will begin Sunday, November 3rd

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Discipleship Training - What classes will we offer?

As some of you may have heard over the last few weeks.  We will now offer a rotation of classes to better equip people to follow Christ.

We will offer a variety of short term subjects (6-10 weeks) all for the purpose of enabling us all to become better disciples of Christ and to make disciples.

Sometimes it is helpful to know what the schedule will be so you can plan ahead of time.  So here is the schedule through the spring of next year.

September - October
Overview of the Major Prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, 8 weeks
Everyday Church for Everyday People - How following Christ in community can be a lifestyle.  This is a preparation for Gospel Groups.  8 weeks

November - December
Overview of the Minor Prophets - Daniel through Malachi. 8 weeks
Faith and Work - We will study Tim Keller's Every Good Endeavor together (I think a lot of people are looking forward to this one). 6-8 weeks.  We will see how it goes.

January - February
Identity - Our membership class that everyone talks so much about. 10 weeks
Overview of Paul's early letters - Galatians, Corinthians, Thessalonians, and Romans. 8 weeks

March - April
Overview of Paul's later letters - Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, Timothy and Titus.  6 weeks
Family Matters - Dating, Singleness, Marriage, Family, Parenting, etc.  You know, nothing too difficult.  I suspect this will be popular too.  8 weeks.

I hope this is useful for people.  We have many sharp people in our church and wonderful teachers.  We hope to serve you all well so that we can serve the Lord well in our challenging and confusing times.  Let me know if you have any requests and I will see what we can do.

Chris Tenny
Discipleship Pastor