eight: connection

eight: connection

connection is living a life of constant community with God. 

He is our supplier, who is as close to us as the air that we breathe.

six: collaboration

six: collaboration

collaboration is all of us working together to create something better than any of us could create on our own.

#4 Disappointment

series: Thawing

title: Disappointment

teacher: Jacob Bender

date: January 29, 2017

scriptures: Matthew 11:2-11, 2 Corinthians 4:18, Romans 5:5, Isaiah 61, Matthew 11

This message was given on our first fruit Sunday at Courage Church, a time when we plant a seed together for our church and the new year.

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#3 Women of the Narrative

series: the narrative of grace

title: women of the narrative

teacher: Jacob Bender

date: November 29, 2015

scripture: Matthew 1:3, Hebrews 11:31, James 1:27, Hosea 4:14, Romans 12:19, Genesis 38, 

A lot of people talk about Justice. It is something that is very close to the heart of God, but I think that a lot of people talk about it, without even knowing what it is that they are talking about.

I have, in recent months answered questions about what I believe the church should be, and what I believe is important, by talking about Justice. And often when I start talking about that, people get a bit uncomfortable. They are not quite sure how to respond to me, because they don’t understand what I am talking about. They think I mean vengeance.

It is very easy to confuse the two. Vengeance, in Hebrew is the word “naqam” which essentially just means vengeance, – Holmans Bible Dictionary tells it slightly differently when it defines it as “to avenge” or “to be punished”

The idea is to get back at someone… to make them hurt more than you hurt because what they did to you hurt.

It is an anti-gospel that many of us at times have adopted when we allow our emotions or our politics to shape our convictions rather than the truth found in the word of God.

But if you were to ask me, “What is important to you?” and I were to answer “Vengeance” – run. Any pastor who would say that, get as far away from them as you can.

Vengeance is a poison.

The bible says we must never, ever take vengeance. It says vengeance is the Lords (Romans 12:19) but it says that we must seek and defend Justice. Isaiah 1:17 says “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

The word Justice in Hebrew is the word tsadaq

it literally means “to have a just cause, OR to be in the right, or WHAT IS RIGHT…”

Justice is the right thing to do.

Thats the definition. The right thing to do.


My entire life growing up was always about abstaining. What am I not doing? Am I pure? Do I lust? Do I sin? and there is absolutely no justifying sin, there is no justifying what Tamar did, or what Rahab did, or what David and the wife of Uriah did… There is no justifying sex in any context outside of a marriage, there is no justifying doing any of those things, but I have found, for me,  in all my efforts to not do things, I didn’t do much of anything for other people, at all. 

In my little “mission” of staying away from the sinful things I got so caught up in that, that I didn’t notice people who were hurting.

I always noticed people when they were sinning.

I was really good at that. I always knew when people were doing what they weren’t supposed to be doing.

But I didn’t notice the stranger.

I didn’t think about the stranger. I thought about my friends. I didn’t entertain angels. I entertained my friends! I entertained people who knew me and had something to offer me, and who made me feel comfortable.

and though those things are all great, if your life is limited to only that, then that is not the right thing.

You know, the bible is full of stories of people who did the wrong thing. Paul talked about it constantly. He said he always did what he didn’t want to do…

King David and the wife of Uriah, they did the wrong thing. And an affair lead to a cover-up, and then lead to murder. But even King David’s mess of a life culminated at grace. It culminated at God looking at him and saying “That is a man after my own heart…. a man who does ALL that I say”

Every instance of people doing the wrong thing all throughout the bible is met with grace.

Because the entire gospel of Jesus Christ is that:

We are people who do the wrong thing.

Yet the bible speaks over and over of a God who is extremely gracious to people who do the wrong thing.

But it seems that He is far less gracious toward the people who do NOT do the right thing (JUSTICE).

The people who ignore justice, when it is right in front of them. The harshest judgments are set aside for them. James 4:17 puts it mildly when it says that “for him who knows what he ought to do, to not do it is a sin.” And Matthew 25 speaks of the harshest judgments going to the ones who ignore injustice.

Yet we focus on the sin part.

#1 Beginning with Grace

Series: The Narrative of Grace
Title: Beginning with Grace
Date: November 15, 2015
Teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Matthew 1:1-17, Genesis 12, Genesis 38, Joshua 2, Hosea 6:6, 1 John 3:18

Do you ever find yourself keeping score of failures? Or do you tend to assign a guilt you have to some current life circumstance?

I am alone because __________

I can’t go home because __________

I’ll never do that because __________

I don’t deserve grace because __________

But what if I were to tell you that the because doesn’t matter?

In fact, the only BECAUSE that does matter is That Jesus loves you BECAUSE you are his child. I try to tell my daughters that, as often as I can… Milly I love you…

“I know” she’ll say.

And I don’t do this every time, but sometimes, when I am at the top of my parenting game,  I will ask her “Do you know why I love you?


Because you are my daughter. You are my daughter…

I love her because she is my child.

Well you are children of God. And nothing can change that. The bible says that nothing separates us from the love of God. Not death nor life..

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

The because does not matter. Because nothing can not separate us from the love of God any more than anything else.

You think you are jacked up? That God can’t use you anymore?

Look no further than the first of names on the list we read at the beginning… the names of those in JESUS’ family line…

Mathew one… The lineage… A genealogy was something that told people who you were… There was a sense of pride in where you came from, and the fact that God chose this particular family to be the one to birth Jesus into has great significance.

These people weren’t just jacked up like sometimes I think I am jacked up. These people were JACKED UP.

We invite you to join us as we explore this jacked up family for the six weeks leading up to Christmas. 

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#4 Peace

Date: July 26, 2015
Series: The Fruit of the Spirit
Title: Peace
Teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Philippians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 112, Psalm 51:10-12, Proverbs 12:25, Proverbs 10:28, John 16:33, Hebrews 10:5-7, Ephesians 6:12-15, Hebrews 12:2

note: There was an audio issue during the first ten minutes of this sermon. This does not continue through the entire message.

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#5 The Layered Heart

DATE: June 14, 2015
TEACHING: Jacob Bender
SERIES: Intentions
TITLE: The Layered Heart

SCRIPTURES: Philippians 2:1-13, Philippians 1:27, Ephesians 5:22-23, Galatians 6:2, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, Genesis 2:18, James 5:17, Isaiah 53:3, Luke 5:16, John 14:12-13, 1 John 3:16-17, John 13:35

We have come to the end of our first series. I have been so encouraged by all of the feedback everyone has been giving us through this series, and the reports of the healing it has been for peoples lives. I know it has impacted me greatly to study it and to put it together.

Last week, Dawn talked about transparency, which could not have been a better lead-in to the Layered Heart. As we go through life, tragedy, heartbreak, disappointment, etc. we tend to put layers around our hearts… because nobody wants to be hurt over and over and over again so we put up a layer against a person… “They will never get through again… They will never hurt me again…”

but before long, somebody else, or something else, will let you down. And you put up another layer.

And soon enough, you decide to block everyone out from that part of your life, from that part of your heart, and transparency gets thrown out the window and your whole life becomes about the appearance of strength. Nobody can hurt a strong person, right?

The layered heart (or whatever you want to call it) is the number one killer of community. It stops community dead in its tracks. But Paul tells us that we should bare one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)… how are we suppose to bare each others burdens, if we don’t know what they are.

He tells us that we should not only look out for our interests but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4), and he tells the Philippian church that he hopes to hear reports of them “standing firm in ONE spirit, with one mind, STRIVING SIDE BY SIDE for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).

I love this quote by Paul David Tripp, he says “Autonomous Christianity never works, because our spiritual life was designed by God to be a community project.”

This whole series has been about working out our minds, so we can be effective in our world. Well the church is the hope of the world. Discipleship happens in community. Life transformation happens in the context of healthy relationships… and as we work out the Intentions of our hearts, lets do it standing side by side together, striving for the faith of the gospel. Lets do it understanding that two are better than one, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Why do we do what we do?

We do it because we are the bride of Christ.
We are his representation here on Earth.
We are his ambassadors to the city of Detroit.

We do it because Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient, to the point of death (Phil. 2:8).

We do it because the local church is the hope of the world. And that is us.