How to Study the Bible: Philippians

How to Study the Bible: Here’s a great way to get started with self-guided bible study. In the congregation we’re using this method to study (Philippians 1-4), and you’re welcome to follow along.

Here are some resources:

  • Our Bible Study Guide (downloads automatically after you click it).
  • The Word Hand (opens in a new window), a classic method for hearing, reading, studying, memorizing and meditating over a bible verse.
  • The full text of Philippians in a Word document  (downloads automatically after you click it) so you can print your own with wide enough margins to make notes.
  • The video (below) of my sermon “Accepting the Challenge”, where we kick off our congregation’s study of Philippians.

This Week’s Message

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11)

The Road to Hell is Not Paved with Wedding Cake

On Tuesday I joined hundreds of other souls at the state Capitol to rally against the “religious liberty” bill making its way through the current legislative session — a bill that is clearly designed to be red meat for the conservative base. And by that I mean: It’s a distraction from the real issues the Legislature should be tackling.

Among those for whom this red meat is intended are apparently Christians who would believe that their eternal salvation might hinge on whether or not they baked a cake for a gay wedding. I am not making this up. (And I sincerely wish I were.)

So please add my voice to the growing chorus who say, not in my name. Not only because I do not believe a law like S.B. 129 belongs in Georgia (or anywhere), but also because I can assure you that God is not waiting to damn anyone for baking a cake.

What God is waiting for is for us to do something like this. Because God is already on our side. And by the way, Jesus spoke quite directly to our ability to get lost in a tangle of laws.

That’s my idea of exercising “religious liberty”. If the day ever came that my right to do those things were curtailed, then I would have grave concerns. But for now, I think the best thing we can do for ourselves as people and as a nation is to remember Jesus’ teaching that anyone who is not against us is for us. And in the meantime, there is much real work to do.

Claiming Our Abundance

When Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, what was he teaching the disciples, and what does it mean for us today? And how does claiming our abundance look for us as individuals versus as a society?

Sermon for March 15, 2015
By Lance Helms
Gentle Spirit Christian Church
Rev. Paul M. Turner, Senior Pastor
Atlanta, Georgia

What to Do When No One’s Looking

Are you your truest self when you’re on display, or when no one’s looking? Jesus sometimes healed in secret, but he also publicly kicked the moneychangers out of the temple in what is viewed as a display of anger. Or was it?

Sermon for March 8, 2015
Gentle Spirit Christian Church
Rev. Paul M. Turner, Senior Pastor
Atlanta, Georgia

This Week’s Message

But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.
(1 Timothy 6:9-10)

A Lenten Execution Flies in the Face of Everything Calvary Was About

With the scheduled — and now postponed — executions of Kelly Gissendaner and Brian Keith Terrell in the headlines this Lenten season, I can’t help but wonder how many of the people who support state-sponsored killing are participating in the ages-old Christian ritual of “giving up something for Lent” that amounts to forgoing sweets, or fast food, or caramel-flavored lattes.

I wonder this because that Lenten practice, while well-intentioned, is supposed to feel like a sacrifice. It’s supposed to be part of a time when we renew our focus on God. So the irony of the state executing people during Lent doesn’t escape me; in fact, it haunts me. It haunts me because the end of Lent is Easter, which includes Good Friday, a solemn observance of the day Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice — indeed, at the hands of the state — in order to wash away our sins.

One way of looking at Calvary is that in its own way, it should have been the last state-sponsored execution. Ever. So every time we allow the state to execute someone in our names, we make a mockery of that. We set aside the Good News for the Old Testament of laws that Jesus told us he came to fulfill. And then he gave us a new command: Love one another.

But that new command doesn’t mean much if we can’t apply it in the most trying circumstances. Not executing a convicted killer is just such a circumstance. We should try it sometime, and there’s no better time than Lent.

Stop Worrying About Whether You’re Saved

We all have a choice to make when it comes to following Jesus. And once we make the choice to do so, is there any reason to worry about being saved? Or does being in a relationship with God make our salvation God’s job rather than ours?

Sermon for March 1, 2015
Gentle Spirit Christian Church
Rev. Paul M. Turner, Senior Pastor
Atlanta, Georgia

An independent, affirming and progressive church serving metro Atlanta. We are open, positive and inclusive.