Mom’s Cookin’

9 05 2010

Mom’s Cookin’

Do you remember the smell?  Do you remember the taste of your Mom’s Cookin’?

Mother’s Day is a great reminder to be grateful.  It’s the perfect day to pamper and praise your mom and all moms.  I’m blessed with a great mom, a great mother-in-law, and a wonderful wife as the best mom our kids could hope for!

My Mom is a great cook!  My personal favorite is the chocolate chip cookies!  She does a Thanksgiving meal that could get a death threat from Martha Stewart and Julia.  She does wings that any sports bar would buy in bulk.  She does a spinach salad with strawberries that your favorite organic eatery will never equal.  She does a slow baked Chex Mix that is like a narcotic.  Wow!  I’m ready for a nap!

Let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get walking into your home to the smell of a good home cooked meal.  Don’t get me wrong: I like to cook and do the dishes more often than not.  My wife’s just better at it, and she’d bury me if I tried to completely take over.  People spend  way too much money trying to get back to the quality of Mom’s Cookin’.

What can we learn about God’s love from Mom’s Cookin’?

1.  Mom’s cooking showed love and it just might be a reflection of God’s love.

A.  By design: choosing what is best for you

B.  By choice: decision of the will

C.  By hard work: time and effort invested

D.  By grace and mercy even when we don’t deserve it

E.  Not a one-time event, but a lifetime of love

2.  God’s “agape” love: sacrificial love regardless of the worth of its object.

Romans 5:5-8  Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

3.  Christ example of choosing to serve us: Philippians 2:6-8

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

4.  Christ words about the agape love state of being: Matthew 5:3-10

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

5.  Paul’s description of a Christ like love in action: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8  Msg

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

6.  Questions we should all ask:

A.  Who do I love, with agape?

B.  How do I choose who I love, with agape?

C.  In what areas do I need more love, by agape?

7.  Reminders we should have:

A.  A great moms only get better as a Christ follower.

B.  A Christ follower loves via agape.

C.  We cannot love with agape without God help.

D.  We should daily ask for help with more agape.

E.  We need to think about who we should love, with agape?

F.  We need to plan how we love people, with agape?

G.  Agape is love with quality.  It’s not cheap.

“Christ didn’t die for us because we’re worth dying for, but because He is intrinsically love, and loves infinitely.”

C.S. Lewis

“Once ‘the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,’ we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purpose in other’s lives (Romans 5:5).  And Jesus has an interest in every individual person.”

-Oswald Chambers

My beautiful wife Rebecca the amazing mother of our children:

Churches we are connected to

4 05 2010

Just a quick note about the churches you find linked here on the blog:

Each one of the links is worth a bit of your time.  I’ve put the location in the name of the international churches.

These are good friends of ours.  We are formally connected with each of these local churches either through Minister’s Fellowship International or the City Bible Church Network.

City Bible Church is our home church, launching pad, and direct oversight.


Pastor Ben

Our cities are too big…what can we do?

2 05 2010

Our cities are much larger than we have the capacity to reach on our own.

We have to stop asking, “What can I do?” and we have to start asking, “What can God do?”

Be a believer.

Be connected.  Be available.

Do life together.

Do grow in your faith.

Do share Jesus Christ.   Don’t wait another week!  Start planning and take action.

Each of us should have general topics that we study, in Scripture, over the course of our lives to benefit our spiritual growth.  I believe that God has created us for spiritual health, and that if we tend to the health of our spirit – it will naturally grow.  This comes without straining for good works, but develops through a natural process.  Of course, it requires effort on our part – the spending of time and energy.

Each of us benefits from the coaching toward guided study.

Here’s my thought:

Make an effort to study the topics listed below by using the following methods:

Devotional Reading – reading a passage of Scripture, prayerfully, in an uninterrupted block of time.

Memorization – In the Scripture this practice is emphasized and often combined with meditation.  This might be choosing a select verse (or even phrase) and committing it to memory and then meditating on it, by repeating it and/or applying it by thoughtful application over the course of a day or series of days.

Study – This may start with a word study, build toward a passage study, and develop into a theme study.  This practice will produce great results!  Often you may find yourself starting by writing out observations from your devotional study and memorization.  This can lead toward more structured study.  I would discourage you from reading commentaries.  One of the worst habits Christians develop is reading the opinions of others when grappling with a Scripture.  When it gets difficult keep working at it.

Here’s a string of Scriptures to consider:

Christianity is a verb: state of being and an action.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Proverbs 24:11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

Acts 26:18 I am sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place among in the family, inviting them into the company of those who are sanctified begin real living by faith believing in me.  The Message

Hebrews 11:6 without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:42-27 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Life Groups

1 05 2010

Life Groups

At City Bible Church Baltimore, we want to help you get connected with life giving relationships. You can be better connected with God and with other people. You may hear one of us say, “Nobody stands alone.” We believe that we are all wired for relationship. No one is designed to be lonely. You don’t have to be alone anymore.

Each of us has a next step to take in growth. At City Bible Church Baltimore, we can introduce you to someone, or a group of people, who can help you take that next step. We have “Life Groups” who meet in homes for a variety of reasons. We’ll help you find the focus you’re looking for. You may find life-long friends or a small group that discuss a topic or a book for a few weeks. We grow together. Daily life is better. Our families, our work, and our homes are better as we grow in how we pray and how we learn from the Bible.

We are thrilled to have Life Group Leaders who live in a variety of neighborhoods around the city. We would love to help you find a group that will work for you. Thankfully, none of our leaders have it all figured out. Each one knows what it means to need help. We believe that church is not an event to attend on the weekend. We believe that church works when we share life.

We would love to help you find a Life Group!


Small Groups: Share Life in Life Groups

No perfect people allowed: anyone can come regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey.  Feel free to take one step at a time.  “No Perfect People Allowed” John Burke.

Remember our Church Vision…each activity should move to each of “Our Big 3”:

  • Connect with Christ  (weekend services)
  • Grow in Christ  (small groups)
  • Share Christ  (serve by sharing)

What is a “Win”?

A mature believer will express “connect, grow, share” by daily contact with Christ, weekly involvement with “big” and “small” meetings of believers, resulting in service (Our BIG 3).

We want people to grow in:

  • Intimacy with God
  • Community with Insiders
  • Influence with Outsiders

Above From “Creating Community”  Andy Stanley

We are called to build a “soul winning” church.

“a city where they could live,” Ps 107

Through Christ the church can be a “city within the city” and a “city that serves the city”!

There must be some Baltimore residents that don’t think it to be a “city where they could live”.

People need Jesus.  With Him they will find it:

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.  I say to the Lord, You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you…The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you had my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:1-2,5-6

You see, we are called to build a soul winning church.  In my experience, God rarely draws in a harvest beyond the ability of local churches to reap it.  Billy Graham has often commented that number of “decision cards” was always in direct proportion to the number of trained volunteers and churches involved.

The small group expression of the local church is just as much a part of the “net” as the weekend services!

Often a small group is where the power found in the weekend service is expressed and brought to maturity.

It’s Biblical that God “inhabits the praises of His people”, and that we not “forsake the gathering of the believers”.  So we know that the weekend service provides an environment for people meet God.  And yet we need the gathering in homes to help make it real.  This enables us to share the struggles of growing in faith with each other.  This sort of candor is only possible when we’ve spent time talking, listening, laughing, crying, and praying together.  That sense of community only comes when we believe the other people are trustworthy and want to be with us.  This takes time and investment.

Each believer is a part of the “priesthood”.

1 Peter 2:9 “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

We are called to care for each other.

John 13:35  “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Do you love someone just because you attend an event together?

For many people in the US that’s exactly what church is, an event.

Do you love someone when you share life together?

Acts 2:46-47 “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Small groups may be called “Life Groups” because it should be where we “Share Life” or “Do Life Together”!

Sharing is being open with each other about the good and the bad of our reality.  This means food.  This means laughing, crying, talking, and listening.

Life is when our reality is met by His reality.  We help each other.  Then His life causes us to grow in faith through prayer for each other and discussing the Bible.

When we do Life together we:

  • Grow in life, love, and service.
  • Thrive in life, love, and service.
  • Release more life, love, and service.

That means that we really can live life to the full!

People who have a contagious passion for Christ and a love for family will live the good life.  No matter how broken their past.

Each Life Group should…

  • Share life: the good and the bad.
  • Pray for each other.
  • Discuss life and the Word.

We should birth many different varieties of Life Groups.  They should serve the people getting together.  They should work in tandem with the weekend services, not in place of.  They should motivate people to serve.

With all of the flexibility we want our Life Groups to have, we want to stay focused on the goal: Connect, Grow, Share and with the following values:

  • Life Change
  • Cultivate Relationships
  • Promote Participation
  • Replace Yourself
  • Provide Care
  • Multiply Influence

(with groups of 12, multiplying groups every 18 months impacts 1,536 in 10.5 years.)

from Andy Stanley

We will have Life Group coach training.  Each coach will always be looking for new coaches.  Each coach should always have at least one person in their group that they are mentoring to become a coach.

I can’t wait to kick off this part of our journey!

If you have questions on this topic please fee free to email me at

Please feel free to post stories of how a small group helped you!