Gospel Law: Bad News and Good News

This week’s lesson, (Lesson 4), dwells on the “legal” side of the Gospel.  Our author explains the conflicts between what he calls “legalism” and “license”.  However, both legalism and license are destructive to the gospel (p. 36).  Here’s a key point that serves as the baseline for this week’s lesson:

“To avoid these pitfalls (of the destructiveness of legalism and license), we must understand the biblical relationship between law and gospel.  In a nutshell, here’s how God designed it to work:  the law drives us to the gospel and the gospel frees us to obey the law.”

Confused yet?

Not to fear.  Our fellowship this Friday will be led by Jason Schubert, also one of our resident attorneys by trade!  This is a great chapter.  Short read with a big message!

Gather same time, same place.  See you beginning at 7:30 am at The Cornwell Center.



Believing in the Gospel

Lesson 3 is upon us this week……and our author reminds us that while the last two lessons have been about the ways we minimize the Gospel, this week he shows us the path to growing it!

Two areas of focus….”passive righteousness” and “adoption”.

Now, I won’t give away all the secrets.  You’ll need to read lesson 3 in order to form your own conclusions.

Mike leads us this week and promises that the group will do the “check-box” exercise at the end of the lesson as part of our fellowship on Friday.

Gather at The Cornwell Center beginning at 7:30 am.  Lesson starts at 7:45 am.

See you then!

The Shrinking of the Cross

Welcome to our second lesson of our new study series, “The Gospel-Centered Life” by Robert H. Thune and Will Walker.  Your homework is to ready the second chapter of the book….come prepared to talk about the key ideas from our authors.

You’ll find as you start the reading that there are two primary ways we drift from a gospel-centered life:

Pretending:  When we “pretend” to be something we aren’t, we minimize our sins

Performing:  When we lower God’s “bar” in our lives, thereby making His standard easier to achieve, we minimize God’s holiness in our lives

Lots more to unpack in this week’s lesson…..Rob Miller will lead our discussions.  As always, gather at The Cornwell Center beginning at 7:30 am.  Rob kicks things off around 7:45 am.

Have a great rest of the week!


This week…start of a NEW series!

I’ve sent a text message out to many of our Friday morning “brothers”….but for those I’ve missed or any new FMMF attendees, we’ll kick off a new 9-week study series this Friday in Charlotte.  We’ve selected “The Gospel Centered Life” by Bob Thune and Will Walker.  Our study will span 10 weeks to cover 9 chapters.  We will not meet on Friday, JULY 5th due to the Independence Day holiday.

As always, men are asked to consider signing up to lead one or more of the planned dates.  As “leader” you are expected to prepare the discussion for the day….and generally “keep the ball in play”.  If you do that, the group tends to take on a mind of its own….in a very good way!

Trying to decide which chapter to lead?  Here’s a great summary of the nine chapters.  Beneath the summary, are links for the SignUp Genius as well as where to order the book.  See you this Friday at The Cornwell Center for Chapter 1.  YES…..we’re looking for someone to kick things off this first week!  Gather at 7:30 am in fellowship.  Lesson starts at 7:45 am.

• Chapter 1:  The Gospel Grid.  This chapter builds a framework for interacting with the gospel.  It has a very helpful diagram concerning our growing awareness of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.  This chapter addresses the gospel as not “just the means of our salvation, but the means of our transformation.”  The chapter closes out with an exercise on what motivates us to judge others.

• Chapter 2:  Pretending & Performing.  This chapter builds on the diagram from chapter one.  It discusses specific ways in which we “shrink the cross.”  As we loose sight of our sin before a holy God, we begin to pretend that we really aren’t that bad.  Conversely, when we loose sight of how Holy God is and our inability to earn His favor apart from Jesus, we begin to perform in an effort to earn His favor.

• Chapter 3:  Believing the Gospel.  This chapter expands on the previous chapter by helping the reader to understand that they do not need to pretend or perform to be right before God.  It is not by our own efforts that we are made right before God – and we need to be reminded of that!  “The good news of the gospel is not that God favors us because of who we are, but that he favors us in spite of who we are.”  The scripture discussed in this chapter is 2 Peter 1:3-9.  It closes out with a very helpful assessment to determine how we view ourselves before God, as orphans or children.

• Chapter 4:  Law & Gospel.  This chapter explores the relationship between the law and the gospel.  In this chapter two terms are introduced, legalism & license, to help illustrate the extremes that are often held by Christians.  When we tend toward legalism, we believe that God’s approval is based on our obedience.  When we tend toward license, we believe that God has forgiven us and that God’s commands no longer are important.  The authors summarize the relationship between the two like this:  “the law drives us to the gospel and the gospel frees us to obey the law.  Realizing all that God expects of us should drive us in despair to Christ.  And once we are united with Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit causes us to delight in God’s law and gives us power to obey it.”  This chapter ends with a helpful exercise to identify if the reader tends toward legalism, license or gospel.

• Chapter 5:  Repentance.  This chapter develops the concept that “biblical repentance is the norm for gospel-centered living.”  This develops the idea that we need to be living a lifestyle of repentance because of our proclivity to shrink the cross by our performance and pretending.  This chapter is VERY HELPFUL in identifying our motives for repentance.  This chapter unpacks what biblical repentance looks like and has a helpful exercise at the end of the chapter to help develop biblical repentance.

• Chapter 6:  Heart Idolatry.  This chapter is possibly the most impactful in the entire study.  It begins to provide concrete ways to apply the material in the study.  The driving thrust of this chapter is where is our faith (trust) placed?  It pushes the reader to go deeper than just “surface sins,” and mine out the heart level idols that lurk deep within.  This chapter is a must read for all Christians – especially those who have been in the faith for many years.  It unpacks common heart idols and presses the reader to evaluate his own life carefully.

• Chapter 7:  Mission.  This chapter discusses how the gospel’s relevance is not just inward and personal, but also is expressed outwardly by people living differently.  “If the gospel is renewing you internally, it will be propelling you externally.”   This chapter does an excellent job of moving Christians to love, serve, engage and live missional lives without doing it out of duty and drudgery.  Missional lives are a “natural overflow of the gospel’s work inside of us.”  This chapter ends with a great exercise on examining our hearts when it comes to living on mission.  It does not tell you to go and do, but rather helps the reader to identify the heart issues that are preventing them from living on mission with joy.

• Chapter 8:  Forgiveness.  This chapter expands on how the gospel’s work internally drives us to forgive others biblically.  Forgiveness is a problem for many people – even Christians!  The remedy for this is the gospel!  The more that we understand how costly our own sin is and the lengths to which God went to redeem us, the more we will be moved to forgive others.  This chapter presents a balanced view of forgiveness, offering the readers an understanding of the difference between forgiveness and repentance.  “Forgiveness involves a heart that cancels the debt but does not lend new money until repentance occurs.  Like God, we take the initiative to move toward those who have offended us and we invite them to move toward us in repentance.”  This chapter also offers a very helpful homework assignment to help the reader identify where unforgiveness may have crept into their heart.

• Chapter 9:  Conflict.  The last chapter shows the reader how we engage others in conflict in a healthy way.  The study identifies two general types of people:  attackers and withdrawers when it comes to conflict and shows how “God did not pour out his wrath on us (attack) or remove his presence from us (withdraw).  Instead, he sacrificially moved toward us in the person of Jesus, full of grace and truth.”  There is a great matrix that helps the reader determine how he responds and how the gospel responds.  Additionally, the end of the chapter offers practical steps for implementing gospel-centered conflict resolution in the real world.


SIGNUP GENIUS link for weekly leaders

Order the book from Amazon at this link

Expressing Gratitude….

This week we’ll wrap up our study of the “4:8 Principle” with the final chapter.  Homework is to read chapter 9: “Thanks for Everything”….You should also browse over the Afterword section, but our main focus on Friday will be discussing chapter 9.

Among my favorite lines from this week’s lesson is on page 173 where our author explains, “Gratitude brings you back to the present moment to all that is working well in your life right now.”

Raise your hand if you’ve complained about something lately.  (My hand is up right now.)  The author’s quote about “gratitude” reminded me how my own complaining has been an obstacle in seeing all the goodness that’s in my present life.  Amen to that!

Mike leads us this week as we wrap up the book.  We’ll meet at The Cornwell Center starting at 7:30 am.  Lesson starts at 7:45 am.

Our NEXT study will be on the book, “The Gospel Centered Life” by Robert Thune.  Order the version of the book that includes study guide with leader’s notes.  Amazon has it here:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1942572913/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

We’ll dig into the next study on Friday, June 7th.


Too Much Junk in the Trunk?

Love this week’s topic from Chapter 8 of the 4:8 Principle.  “Junk Proof Your Mind”.  Our author does a great job discussing how we’ve convinced ourselves to make wise choices when we go on a weight loss binge.  But do we do the same to remove the “junk” that’s cluttering our mental diets?  Probably not as much.

Great chapter as you read along.  There are several practical strategies designed to protecting our minds and bringing about more positive inputs.

Ernie Meland steps up this week to lead the group!  Meet at the normal time, normal place….7:30 am at The Cornwell Center.

Reminder that next week (Friday before the long Memorial Day weekend) and we are not planning to formally meet.  We may gather for an optional breakfast for those who are in town.  More on that this week when we gather.


Saying Too Much??

We’re finding a lot of “meat” packed into these chapters and the suggestion was made at last week’s FMMF to take a pause this week in order to review the last three chapters…..chapter 5, chapter 6, and chapter 7.

SO….in that regard, we are calling a quick timeout to do just that…..review and reflect!

Jon Paschal is on tap to lead the overall discussion and we’ll rely on Jason Schubert and Rob Miller to help spark some of their oversight from past chapters.  Let’s hit the high points…and drive home the important themes!

Maybe we’re saying too much…but better to reinforce some great points from The 4:8 Principle!

Gather at The Cornwell Center at the normal time…7:30 am on Friday.  Leaders will kick off reviews starting at 7:45 am.


Early Morning Joy Ritual (EMJR)

What was the first thing you thought about this morning when you woke up?

How grateful were you within the first 15 minutes of today?

Did you avoid reading, watching or listening to anything this morning when you first woke up?

All great questions as we begin a new section of the book which is themed “Guarding Your Heart….Defending Your Joy“.  Our author shares eight questions, some of which I’ve listed above, under what he defines as our “early morning joy ritual or EMJR…”.

Homework this week is chapter 7 “Your Personal Firewall”.  Jason Schubert leads us this week as we gather at the Cornwell Center.  We’ll start things off at 7:45 am but you’re encouraged to show up a few minutes early to catch up with others in fellowship!


Stop messing with me….!

I love the chapter for this week….titled “Head Games” (Chapter 6).  Like many of you, we’ve had periods of our life where that little voice inside our head keeps saying…”you can’t”…..and for the larger part of our life, we focus on telling that voice, “I can….”.

How many can relate?

I remember … when I was younger and twenty pounds lighter….I loved to compete in triathlons, especially the longer distance ones….half-Ironman and full-Ironman distance events.  The sequence for those races was typically SWIM….then BIKE….then RUN.  I usually finished middle of the pack during the swim, since swimming was not my strength.  But then on the bike, I would make up a lot of time, picking off other competitors as I raced passed them.

Then….and luck would have it, I would lose a lot of time on the run……just simply wasn’t my favorite event.

Looking back now, however, I think I might have done better had I not listened to the voice in my head saying “you’ll never win this race on the run…..”.

Head games…..all the time!

Our author this week correlates how thinking negative thoughts translates into our failures to follow the 4:8 Principle.  In reading the chapter, you’ll discover, and I did….how to not only notice these “voices”, but also how to tackle them once and for all!

We’re back at the Cornwell Center this week.  Rob Miller leads us for our lesson.

Gather at 7:30 am.  Lesson starts at 7:45 am.