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Courage

Learn. Be. Do.

Discipleship is how we choose to follow Jesus Christ in response to God’s love. In this, we Learn who God is and what He desires, are transformed to Be like Jesus in the way we live our everyday lives, and Do love in action towards our families, our church, our city, and our world.

Over the next month, we invite you to engage daily in the discipleship framework of Learn. Be. Do. Every day there will be a passage to read that encourages us to engage in God's Word. After reading the passage and short reflection, we invite you to use three simple questions to guide how you allow God to speak into your yesterday, your today, and your tomorrow.

1.     Learn – As I read this passage, what is it that you want me to learn?

2.     Be – What is it that you desire me to be in light of what you are teaching me? What have I been? What are you calling me to be?

3.     Do - What do you want me to tangibly do in this moment, this week, based off that? What does it look like to do what you are teaching me?

 

 

 

April 16, 2017 | Easter

Rev. Dr. Drew Sams

I first experienced Bel Air Church as a USC student in the Fall of 1999. Tuesday nights on the USC campus, a Bel Air-sponsored Bible study was held. Completely student led, I quickly found a vibrant community that lived and loved like Jesus. Fast forward 18 years and a lot has happened. I gave my life to Jesus at a Bel Air college group retreat, volunteered in the high school ministry, became the interim high school director for a year, got set up on a blind date and eventually married Erika, who was also attending Bel Air. We miraculously had a son named Judah. I was called back to Bel Air to be the Senior Pastor and Head of Staff in April 2014. More than a job, I get to serve the community of faith that forever changed my eternity by introducing me to Jesus!

Over the last 17 years, I have grown in the many environments and ways through which I connect with God. Reading Scripture, prayer, musical worship, in community with other Christians, and serving others have always been the primary way in which I “draw near” to a God that is always near. Recently, I have been captivated by the grandiosity and wonder of nature. As I look across the valley from our campus at the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains or when I am surrounded by hulking winter waves while surfing Ventura Point, I am enveloped in something so powerful I have no control over. As I reflect on the God that spoke this grand creation into existence, I am humbled and yet emboldened to know that He seeks a personal and vibrant relationship with me in the midst of His “grandness.”

In Scripture, this all comes together in the Easter story, where we are reminded of our saving God, the God of creation. John 20:15–16 reveals that when Jesus had defeated death and resurrected from the grave, He was mistaken for a gardener. I marvel at the fact that Scripture begins with a garden, ends with a garden city, and in the center of it all is One who not only revives and renews those that put their faith in Him, but is actively reviving and renewing all of creation. On this Easter, I am filled with wonder and awe at our Powerful and Personal God, that has come to us as Jesus and has filled us with the Holy Spirit.

He is Risen!

April 15, 2017

Linda Wiseman

My name is Linda Wiseman and I have been attending Bel Air Church since 2011. I am blessed with two young adult children, an amazing husband and a fulfilling real estate career. I was fortunate to have found the church after losing my older sister in a tragic accident. I grew up in a Christian home and unfortunately, after moving out as a young adult, I thought I no longer needed to have a close relationship with God. Losing my older sister created a yearning to reestablish my relationship with God and made me realize I needed Him in my everyday life. My husband and daughter were very instrumental in finding the church and I am so thankful to them for that and the impact it has had on my whole family.

I have drawn nearer to God by regularly attending Sunday worship and actively participating in the “Monday Night Women’s Bible Study.” The friends that I have made on Monday night have given me a comfort that has allowed me to be more open and forthcoming with my feelings, which doesn’t come easily for me. I later realized, when sharing my feelings with the group, I was being healed in many ways and I am so thankful for the growth and healing that has taken place in me as a result of attending the Women’s Bible Study. God prepared and guided me there and it was in His grace that I have grown closer to Him. I also find myself drawing nearer to God when I can slow down my busy life and just enjoy my natural surroundings that He has created for us.

The “Triumphal Entry” reminds me of how often God gives me instructions and patiently waits to see what I am going to do with them. Upon reflection, I can see how often the Lord has placed people in my life to teach and stretch me. God never imposes Himself in my life, instead he patiently waits to see how I am going to respond to the situation that lies before me.

I am thankful for my life and the moments when I feel close to God and I know that He is always by my side. God is calling me to be ready to receive whether it is a lesson or a gift.

April 14, 2017

Teri Proulx

My name is Teri Proulx and I am Acting Co-Director of Bel Air Presbyterian Preschool. I have been a part of the Bel Air Church and Preschool Staff since 2002. I began my journey here as a teacher of 4-and 5-year-olds and have been in many different roles at the preschool. While my roles have changed, my love of this community has remained constant. God has used my time here to mold and shape, challenge and refine me. I have made some of my best friends and memories in this community.

God has used a variety of people to reach me! Our incredible pastoral team, community leaders and friends have been the hands and feet of Jesus to me. Each of them took time to teach me to pray, seek God’s Word, recognize God in new ways and see the beauty in vulnerability. This was most evident when my husband and I were navigating through infertility. While I did not know if my dream of becoming a mother was part of God’s plan, my spiritual mentors held me in consistent prayer and offered Godly wisdom. A group of women gave me my first prayer journal and that spiritual discipline has radically changed my prayer life. Not only do I feel very close to God when engaging in the act of writing, these journals tell the story of God’s power in my life that I can so easily forget.

As I was reading about Palm Sunday it struck me how quickly the crowds turn on Jesus. We all know the story of Jesus riding into town on a colt, crowds of people praising Him. And yet a short time later they have forgotten their devotion. Forgotten who they thought He was. All the while Jesus continued on with God’s plan, loving each of those people despite their betrayal. While I don’t like to admit it, I often get overwhelmed with life and forget the power of my Lord and Savior. In those moments it can be so easy to forget who God is and all of the amazing blessings He has provided. Thankfully, when we turn our back, God doesn’t turn His. In this season of Lent I encourage you to begin a prayer journal. My journal is full of letters to God. It may feel awkward at first, but God even loves our ‘awkward!’ I pray that this season you take a step closer to God whether that is through a journal or a prayer partner, music or a hike. God is waiting for you!

April 13, 2017

Dan Korneychuk

Greetings, Bel Air Church! As I write this on January 20th, it is six years since I began a conversation with BAC staff and Worship Choir leaders about the possibility of serving alongside you. Having just been challenged by some personal study on the subject of the “Missional Church,” I was drawn by Bel Air’s deep commitment to what God is doing in the city of Los Angeles. My twin desires to lead God’s people in worship and to join God in His purposes of redemption, reconciliation, renewal and restoration led me to accept the invitation to join the BAC staff. My wife, Jennie, and daughter, Maddy, and I moved from Irvine to Santa Monica to begin this new chapter together. We’re glad we did!

James 4:8 invites us to “Draw near to God,” and promises that “He will draw near to (us).” There are, in this time of my life, three practices where this mutual drawing near is most evident.

FIRST are my walks along the streets of Santa Monica. Solitary people racing by (or grid locked) in their Teslas, BMWs and Mercedes. My homeless friend, Freddy, who lives down the block. Office workers in windowed towers. Seniors passing the hours at McDonalds. Hospital patients, visitors and medical professionals. All of it calls me to prayer…looking into their eyes, surprising them with a friendly, “Good morning,” listening for what God is saying through it all, and praying for God’s redemptive touch.

SECOND, is the privilege I have of planning a worship service for every Sunday of every year. Reading the Scriptures. Asking God what He wants us to hear. Struggling to find just the right hymns, songs and readings to help us respond to God’s revelation of Himself. Marveling at the way God transforms it all into an authentic conversation with His people on Sunday.

THIRD is living in a prayerful community…the Bel Air Worship Choir. Working, learning, growing…laughing, crying, singing…serving, worshiping, and praying with this diverse yet unified family. It all draws me near to God and opens my eyes to the God who draws near to us.

Today, as I read Mark’s account of Jesus riding a young beast of burden into Jerusalem, our new President rides in “the Beast” in a triumphal entry into Washington. (No kidding! They call his armored car “the Beast!”) In both cases, some celebrate and some plan their opposition. In both cases a transition of power unfolds. One demonstrates a peaceful democratic process that has welcomed forty five presidents. The other reveals the One whose singular, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection will TRULY CHANGE the course of history. Hosanna to the King!

April 12, 2017

Bret Lewis

My name is Bret Lewis. I’ve been attending Bel Air for 11 years. I am involved in Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12 Step program that deals with any issue that keeps us from freedom in Christ.

The consistent way I draw near to God is in service. It is incredibly fulfilling to use gifts and talents from God for other people. I was a broadcaster. My drive was for myself. To feel validated because of my performance. That can too often spill over into ministry. But more and more, it’s a true response to the love God has given me and helps me get a deeper understanding of that love. Especially when my plan falls apart. That reminds me that it’s God and not me. God will accomplish what He’s set out to do. Only Christ can impact lives. And that’s how I experience Jesus drawing near to me by His choice. Not how well I’ve done.

All four Gospels tell the story of the triumphal entry. But there is one moment only in Mark. Jesus tells the disciples to go into the village, and they will find a donkey that has never been ridden. Say, “the Lord has need of it” (Mark 11:3) and bring it to Him. But Jesus adds, “and will send it back here immediately.”

Jesus is about to go into cosmic warfare for the entire human race. It’s never been so real in His life. He has never been so focused on his sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. But whoever owns that donkey has no concept of that. They just know that a valuable asset is being taken from them. So Jesus wants them assured they will get it back. He cares about that one person.

Too often people say, “God has more important things to worry about than my little problem.” But God sees my little problem in the vast sea of all the world’s problems and still makes it a priority. There is no such thing as an insignificant individual.

I once was at the Hollywood Bowl before an Easter Service. I climbed to the top row. I saw all the people coming in. All the cars on the highway. All the houses. And said, “God, how can you have a personal relationship with all these people?”

I felt I heard Him say, “I have one with you, don’t I?”