The Bible and Marriage

During some great conversations at a men’s night with Oasis and GCA, the link between a biblical marriage and serving in the church, the bride of Christ, was discussed.  I recently read a page in Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence that laid out a similar thought:

We’ve noticed before how the Bible begins and ends with a wedding.  In Genesis, we see Adam and Eve established as husband and wife.  Then in the history of Israel, we hear God describe his relationship with the nation of Israel as a marriage covenant.  The same terms are used for Christ and the church: Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church.  Heaven itself is described as a wedding feast.

Before we even get to our systematic application, here is a major point of contemporary significance.  Marriage, a picture of love between one man and one woman, is at the heart of the biblical story of God’s love.  Therefore, marriage matters for a whole host of reasons.  It matters because God created it, not society, and therefore God and God alone defines it.  It matters because it’s a picture of God’s gospel love, hard-wired into creation.  Change or redefine marriage, and you’ve gone a long way toward defacing and obscuring one of the most significant common-grace pointers to the love of God in Christ.

So while we want to defend marriage for all the typical reasons you hear in conservative Christians circles – safety and nurturing for children, reproduction and stability for society, and so on – perhaps the most important reason is this: it’s one of the primary pictures of the gospel.  The story of God’s love is a story about marriage (pp 144-145).

Big Questions

“If you could ask God any one question and you knew that you would get an answer, what would you ask?”

These are the Big Questions of life.  They tend to revolve around origin, meaning, purpose, morality, and destiny.  Other times the questions deal with suffering, the nature of God, and salvation.

In order to get an idea of what the undergraduate students of The Ohio State University would ask God, Oasis Christian Community student Grant Smucker and I went around campus with a video camera.  Grant did some video editing and is created a series of “teaser trailers” for an upcoming spring quarter sermon series that will address some of the students’ big questions.  To help with getting the top four big questions, we have commissioned the Oasis students to survey their friends, roommates, classmates, family, and other people on campus for their “big questions”.

Two teaser trailers have been posted on the Oasis website, but check out the website each week for more video posts.

The Will of God & Sex

“The will of God”.  “Sex”.  Two very popular topics.  Two topics that are not often put together into one sentence.  Yet, the Bible links the two together in one powerful verse in 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality”.

In the Oasis Christian Community sermon “The Will of God“, Corey Fronk and Seth Evans explore God’s view of sex and sexuality in light of the will of God in 1 Thessalonians.  Sex is presented as neither a dirty bad thing nor as the god that our culture tends to celebrate.  Rather, lived out in accordance to God’s will in the Bible, sex is a beautiful, desirable, and good thing.  With this in view, the sermon speaks of ways that we can learn to “control our own body in holiness and honor” (1 Thessalonians 4:4).

The audio can be listened to and downloaded directly from the above link, or by going to 1 Thessalonians series on the audio page of the Oasis website (where you can also get the power point).

New Book Ideas: Your Thoughts?

I am thinking about taking the summer to turn one or two sermon series into a small book.  There are two series that I am considering using for the kickoff book and would like your input.

Should I kick off with the sermon series Growing Faith: Our Journey As Seen in the Life of Josiah or should I go with An Overcoming Christian (based on the seven churches in Revelation)?

You can listen to the sermon series online at http://www.oasisosu.com/audio

The Josiah book would have chapters based upon the three sermons (Phase 1: Seeking God; Phase 2: Taking Action; Phase 3: Biblical Living), but I would add a fourth chapter covering the death of Josiah.

The Revelation/Overcoming Christian would have chapters based upon the three sermons (Love & Endurance; Open Mind or Empty Head?; Proper Trust) that cover all seven churches, but I might consider breaking up the sermons into seven much smaller chapters so that each church gets one chapter.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

One recent suggestion was to do the Josiah series and call the book something like King in Training.

A Church That is a Supportive Community

Grandview Christian Assembly (& Oasis Christian Community with a cameo) made the local papers once again.  The Tri-Village News wrote the following article about the new church:

Church offers supportive community for young adults

By MARK DUBOVEC  Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It’s back to the basics for Grandview Christian Assembly.

After relocating from Upper Arlington in July and changing its name to reflect the move, the nondenominational church will hold its first services Sunday, Sept. 12, at its new location, 751 Northwest Blvd. John Myer, the church’s pastor, said the location was chosen to invoke a simple, coffeeshop-style atmosphere.

“A fair consensus of this generation is that there’s too much pageantry and performance,” Myer said. “We’re trying to get away from the realm of performance and just give people who we really are.”

Jeff Friess, associate pastor, said the church offers a warm, welcoming niche.

“What we’ve found from a lot of people coming to our services is they have more interest in an intimate, smaller setting,” Friess said. “They find it easier to penetrate the community rather than be a face in the crowd.”

Myer said the congregation gathers at 11 a.m. each Sunday for refreshments, singing, announcements and a sermon from him, about 40 minutes long. Afterward, everyone splits into smaller groups to go out into the community for activities and discussion.

“The majority of what goes on with us is probably outside in the community,” Myer said. “I can’t keep up with all of them on my calendar because they’re generated by our members and not church leadership.”

Some activities scheduled throughout the fall, Friess said, include an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, booths at the Taste of Grandview and the Pumpkin Run, and watching Ohio State University football games together.

He said new members will have more opportunities to participate depending on their comfort level.

Getting involved with the community is at the center of the church. Friess said although today’s generation lives in one of the most technologically connected societies in history, people still struggle to develop personal connections.

“With all this technology, the No. 1 cry of people is, ‘I don’t have any friends’,” Friess said. “That’s what a community is. You have an environment where you can make some real friends.”

Grandview Christian Assembly’s congregation largely comprises people just out of college or in graduate school, between the ages of 23 and 30. Friess said it began as a spinoff of Oasis Christian Community at Ohio State University, which works primarily with underclassmen.

Friess said students often are uncertain about their lives once they graduate.

“Suddenly, they’re thrown out into the world where they don’t have the same structured community,” Friess said. “We started to hear from a lot of seniors and grad students who … were starting to have different needs.”

As the church grows, Friess said he hopes it attracts more families.

“I’m 39, been married seven years and have two small children,” Friess said. “We’d like to see more people in my demographic.”

He said more families provide examples of the next life stage for congregation members just out of school. One service for families, which Friess said he’s excited for, is the new children’s church, offering child care while teaching children the Bible and making it fun for them.

Myer said the goal of the church remains to teach the Bible while moving away from what he called the “old Middle Ages feel.”

“We’re not changing the message,” he said. “We believe the message is timeless.”

Myer said the church also tries to give people a community where they feel supported and needed.

“We all need tremendous help in this world,” Myer said, “and if the church isn’t going to give it, where are you going to get it?”

Friess said the congregation is excited to be in Grandview Heights.


“We really feel we have something to offer,” he said.

“Coffee Shop” Style Church Makes the News

Grandview Christian Assembly has made the news as a “coffee shop” style church that stands strong on the Word of God.  Check out the news article run in the This Week Community Newspaper:

‘Coffee shop’ style church has relocated to Grandview

Wednesday, September 1, 2010  12:51 PM

By ALAN FROMAN

ThisWeek Community Newspapers

An area church relocating in the Grandview area offers what its pastor calls a modern “coffee shop” atmosphere at its Sunday worship service.

Grandview Christian Assembly will officially open at its new location, 751 Northwest Blvd., on Sunday, Sept. 12.

Formerly known as Upper Arlington Christian Assembly, the church was forced to move from its site in that community when its landlord announced plans to sell the property.

“We decided to try to make a situation that could be a setback for us into a positive,” Pastor John Myer said. “The more we thought about it, we realized it would be great if we could move to Grandview Heights because it’s a type of community that fits us like a glove.”

The majority of the 50 or so members of GCA are graduate student or starter family age, he said.

“Finding the space on Northwest Boulevard has been such a blessing for us,” Myer said. “It gives us better visibility and it will be easier for people to find us. Our former location was hard to find even using MapQuest.”

Services at GCA are “quite relaxed and casual,” he said. “You won’ t get that intense feeling of ‘churchiness,’ which depending on your viewpoint, could be a good or bad thing, I suppose.”

The idea is to make worship a more welcoming and comfortable experience, especially for new churchgoers, Myer said.

“We take the edge off for people, but our message and teaching are 100 percent faithful to the Bible,” he said.

The services feature mostly contemporary Christian music with some traditional music mixed in, Myer said.

GCA is taking the coffeehouse theme to heart.

“We’re in the process of buying out a coffee roaster business and we will be brewing our own coffee,” Myer said.

The church plans to serve free coffee to first time visitors, he said.

“It’s another way to help make people feel welcome to our church,” Myer said.

Sunday worship will be held at 11 a.m. and small group bible studies will take place on different days of the week at various church members’ homes, he said.

The church was founded in January 2009 emerging from Oasis Christian Community, an Ohio State Christian group, and Columbus Christian Assembly in Worthington.

More information about GCA is available at www.grandviewchristianassembly.org.

Save Thyself

“If Jesus Christ leads us by His moral example, that is how He saves us…then what you really need is a tool kit, not a Redeemer.  There is absolutely no reason for Jesus to be God descended to us in the flesh to save us because we can’t save ourselves if in fact we can.  If we can save ourselves or if there is no need to save ourselves from God’s righteous, just wrath then there is no need for Jesus to be Divine; there is no need for Him to absorb the judgment that was meant for us.” (Michael Horton, Westminster Seminary California Professor)

C.S. Lewis was once asked what separates Christianity from all other religions and he responded with “Grace”.  All other worldviews cry forth, “Save thyself!”  Only Christianity has God becoming a man, paying the penalty for sin, and offering salvation free of charge.  It can seem too good to be true because we don’t deserve it (and we don’t) which is why it is grace.  There is something within us, driven by our sin nature, that rebels against grace and insults the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross by rejecting what is freely offered in a vain attempt to try to earn salvation.  Unfortunately, even Christians can fall into this trap as described by the quote above from the video interview What is the Greatest Theological Challenge Facing the Next Generation of Pastors?.

For more on this, listen to the Oasis Christian Community Spring Retreat 2010 messages by Ian Brinksman.
1. Why Share the Gospel?
2. Five Worldviews
3. All Religions Lead to God…Or Do They?
4. Practical Gospel