Dear CCC Family,
Wow, who knew? I miss you and can’t wait until we can all be together again to worship, eat some donuts, laugh together, and continue to learn from one another. I’d like to give a shout out to our Community Group Facilitators who are learning new ways to connect and stay in touch with you. Thank you!! (If you’d like to participate in a group, click here and fill out the form.)
I think it’s so important that we ask the question, “God, what are You wanting to show us and teach us during this time?” Certainly, God wants to speak to us as individuals, as couples, as families, as a church, and as part of The Church. It seems obvious that God is seriously up to something. A phrase that’s been running through my heart is, “God wants His Church back.” Have we drifted? I’m thinking of 2 Corinthians 11:3 which says, “But I am afraid that…your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” What would it look like for God’s people to get back to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus? Here’s a link to a song many of you will know; it entitled Simple Gospel by United Pursuit. I’m praying for you (and me) to relax into God’s care to refresh and deepen our relationship with Him. And another (really cheesy) song from way, way back also popped into my head—it’s entitled “Take another Lap Around Mount Sinai.” It’s so dorky it’s almost awesome. You can listen to it here.
So, Why Are We Going Back into the Sermon on the Mount?
The Sermon on the Mount (SOTM) is the inaugural sermon of the most revolutionary Person who ever lived. Jesus came down from heaven into our brokenness to ignite a counter-intuitive and subversive revolution that we now know as the Kingdom of God. John Stott (the late pastor, theologian, and missiologist) said, “It is the nearest thing to a manifesto that [Jesus] ever uttered, for it is His own description of what He wanted His followers to be and to do.”
In short, the SOTM shows us what life should look like for a heart that has been melted and transformed by the gospel of grace, while also making clear the true nature of God’s standards of righteousness, which are unattainable apart from God’s empowering presence that will do IN us and THROUGH us what we could never do on our own.
In this sermon, Jesus is calling His followers to be God’s called-out people in the world. He’s also calling out the religious and moralistic leaders who were more concerned with outward appearances than the condition of their heart.
Here’s an outline of the SOTM where we’ll be spending the next several weeks. We’ll begin tomorrow with Pastor Frank speaking from Matthew 5:13-16:
Matthew 5:3-12 – Our character is to be completely distinct from the character which the world admires through the counter-intuitive qualities identified as the Beatitudes (you can listen to these sermons and/or download and review the notes here).
Matthew 5:13-16 – Our influence is like light to (spiritual) darkness and like salt to (moral) decay.
Matthew 5:17-6:18 – Our righteousness must exceed the superficial righteousness of the Pharisees (by grace through faith):
- In ethics 5:17-48
- Murder/anger: 21-26
- Adultery/lust: 27-30
- Divorce: 31-32
- Oaths/honesty: 33-37
- Retaliation/non-retaliation: 38-42
- Hatred/Love for enemy: 43-48
- In devotion 6:1-18
- Giving: 1-4
- Praying: 5-15
- Fasting: 16-18
Matthew 6:19-34 – Our ambition is to be distinctive. Though the world around us is preoccupied with material longings, the followers of Jesus will seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness.
Matthew 7:1-20 – Our relationships must be transformed and different from those around us.
- With our spiritual family 7:1-6
- With our heavenly Father 7:7-12
- And even with our spiritual opponents 7:13-23
SOTM Study Resources (I always look for used copies)
- Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
- Sermon on the Mount by Jen Wilken
- Sermon on the Mount (Lifeguide Bible Studies) by John Stott
- Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing by Jonathan T. Pennington
Thank you for your generosity in this weird and difficult moment in human history! Here is an update on our finances…
March General Giving: $47,069.16 / Missions: $1,490.00
April to date: General Giving: $29,893.30 / Missions: $455.00 / Benevolence: $255.54
In anticipation of families being affected by the economic slowdown, we would like to grow our Benevolence Fund. We consider benevolence to be an offering over-and-above our regular giving. Based on Galatians 6:10, our priority will be those who identify CCC as their home church and monies or gift cards distributed will be accompanied by an intake form and an interview. If you have been graced with some extra in this difficult moment, you can contribute here. Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Finally, we have applied for the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program and our application has been approved. This loan is designed to allow small businesses and nonprofits to maintain their payrolls through the COVID-19 crisis and carries an interest rate of 1%, and depending on payroll maintenance or growth, most, or possibly all of this loan will be forgiven after one year.
Well, that’s enough for now. I’ll see you online!
 John Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, IVP 1993: 15.
 Adapted from Frank Thielman, ESV Gospel Transformation Bible 2013.