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The GAP: Go!

Back in 1942, C.S. Lewis wrote a provocative book called The Screwtape Letters. The book was a fictional account of  letters written by a senior demon tempter named Screwtape to a junior tempter about how best to pry a human being away from faith in God. In one correspondence, old Screwtape writes these words to his apprentice:

One of our great allies in this is the church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her, spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy, but fortunately, it is quite invisible to these human beings. When your patient goes to his pew and looks around him, he sees just that selection of his neighbors he has hitherto avoided.  You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbors. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like ‘the body of Christ’ and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little what kind of people that pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy’s side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father Below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune or have shoes that squeak or double chins or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.

CS Lewis is making an interesting distinction in this passage. There is, on the one hand, what might be called the Church (capital C) -- the body of Christ “spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners,” a community of men and women being redeemed by God on the mission Jesus gave.

The Church is kind of like the soul in the sense that we can’t see it directly. It is fully known only to God. What we can see is what might be called the church (little c) -- buildings, pews, programs, denominations, people in odd clothes going to services. The danger is if that’s all we see, if all we see is the church, we miss the vision of this staggering eternal Jesus-fueled mission in the world.

In this message, Pastor Dana wraps up our conversation called, “The GAP”  by talking about how amazing the Church is and what it means for you and me as we stand in the gap between God and the world.

Click here to listen or right click to download message.


Click here to view or download the Powerpoint slides from the message.


The GAP: Be Active

Years ago, the Chicago Bears’ coach Mike Ditka got fired.  At his final press conference he said, “As the Scriptures say, ‘This too shall pass.’”  “Da coach” was good with the x’s and o’s but not a great Bible scholar. It turns out there actually is no place in the Bible that actually says, “This too shall pass.” It sounds kind of biblical but it’s not there. 

There are a surprising number of statements people think are in the Bible, but are not:

“God will never give you more than you can handle.”  Not in the Bible. (People are given more than they can handle all of the time).

“Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Not in the Bible.

“God moves in mysterious ways.” Not in the Bible.

 “God helps those who help themselves.”  Not in the Bible.

 A Jewish professor, Rami Shapiro, at Middle Tennessee State University, said he once had to persuade a student that the saying “That dog won’t hunt,” is not actually a verse in Proverbs. “Verily I say unto thee, that dog won’t hunt” sounds kind of like what the Bible would say, but it’s not in the Bible.

There’s another statement a lot of people think is in the Bible, but it’s not. A lot of people think Jesus said it, but he didn’t. He said something different, and the difference actually has an enormous implication for your life and how God wants to be with you. In this message, Pastor Dana looked that misunderstood statement and how understanding it correctly could change your life.    

Click here to listen or right click to download message.

Click here to view or download the Powerpoint slides from the message.


The GAP: Be Real

Since the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves in order to cover themselves from God, human beings have been hiding.  We work hard to cover up the parts of us that we don’t want others to see.  We act as our own personal public relations firm – spinning the truth to make us look better than we actually are.

About 60 years ago, Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote these fabulous words from a Nazi prison:

He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be the Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, Common Prayer, all their fellowship and service, may still be left to their aloneness. The final breakthrough to communion-to community-does not occur because although they have fellowship with each other as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout-as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin…from himself and from the community. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. (Life Together)

This message is part of a conversations about what is really core to Real Life Church and what it means to stand in the gap between humanity and God.  In this message, Pastor Dana explores the value of “Authenticity” by focusing on some words of Jesus that push us to quit focusing so much on externals and to look instead at our hearts.

Click here to listen or right click to download message.

Click here to view or download the Powerpoint slides from the message.

This Sunday we also bid farewell to Blake Hicks who has made a major contribution to our music ministry at Real Life.  Blake is heading off to study at Portland State University.  At the end of the service, Blake performed a song he wrote for us about his faith journey.  It was a powerful moment in our church's story. It is not a very good recording, but you can hear the song here:

Click here to listen or right click to download Blake's Song.

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