Relationships 1: Matters of Purity

Love is

Speaking of relationships… On Monday we asked students in the Lion’s Den to finish the sentence “Love is…” It was a fun way of opening conversations and sharing what we think about love from a Christian perspective.

Should I date? Who should I date? Why won’t anyone go out with me? How far is too far? What is “appropriate” touching? What does the Bible say about purity? Dating? Love?

Books have been written, libraries have been written, on the subject of relationships. There are a thousand and one questions, a million and one answers, and sorting through all of it will definitely give you a headache. Heartache? Heart burn? Maybe all of the above. This week at Common Ground we started a short series with the purpose of sifting through the dross and finding a few golden nuggets of truth to hold onto… and offer a few pieces of advice.

First up: Purity. It matters. God says so. It is literally all over the Bible. From examples like Joseph fleeing Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39) to Solomon’s advice throughout Proverbs, to Paul advising everyone to “flee sexual immorality” in 1 Corinthians 6:18. Of course that’s easier said than done, but that’s where the advice comes in.

Our first piece of advice, consider yourself first. That doesn’t mean be selfish and do what you want, it means have the maturity to be a little introspective. Most people are so busy trying to date that they never really stop to consider whether or not they should date. Do you have the emotional and maturity to handle a relationship? To not get lost in the other person? The spiritual maturity to stay committed to Jesus first in spite of the inevitable infatuation that comes with romance? Do you have the social skills required to balance other friendships and family while you’re dating? What about financial ability? The answers to these questions and others like them will help you answer the ultimate question of whether you should be dating at all. Honestly, a lot of people need to stop trying to find the right person and focus on being the right person.

Second, the Purity Principle. As author Randy Alcorn puts it in his book The Purity Principle, “Purity is always smart; impurity is always stupid.” Look, pop culture doesn’t agree. Your body may scream otherwise. Satan will tell you otherwise. However, Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), the flesh is weak (Mathew 26:41) and we live in a fallen world (Genesis 3), so you might want to pay attention.  [It should be noted here that ‘purity’ in the Biblical sense is a much broader term than simple abstinence, it is the complete absence of all sexual activity. Take that as far as you’re comfortable, then add another mile or so and you probably get the idea.]

Finally, take precautions. Purity doesn’t happen by accident. Here’s a list of some of the things you can do to help yourself:

  • Have a strategy. (Ephesians 5:15)
  • Avoid temptation. (Proverbs 4:14-15)
  • Run. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
  • Cultivate your relationship with God. (Colossians 3:2)
  • Memorize scripture. (Psalm 119:11)
  • Pray. (Philippians 4:6)
  • Get radical. (Matthew 5:30)
  • BE ACCOUNTABLE (Proverbs 27:17)

NOTE: Purity is like integrity–it is a gift you give yourself that only you can take away. That’s a critical point to remember for the millions of men and women who have been victimized by sexual violence. Your body may suffer at the hands of a predator, but they can never touch your spirit and that is the ultimate source of purity.

NOTE 2: The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover all sin. ALL. Say it with me, “Jesus’ blood covers all of my sin.” Some of you need to hear that. No, it isn’t an excuse to go out and sin more, but it is a blessed truth that no matter what you may have done in the past, in Christ your sins are forgiven. Past sins. Present sins. Future sins. Stop beating yourself up, feeling sorry, neglected, rejected and alone. Go pray, realize that God still loves you deeply and desperately. Then get some accountability to make the changes you need to be the person you want to be in Christ Jesus.

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Common Notes 1.21.20

Here’s a summary of Tuesday’s message:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…

Hebrews 1:1-3 (ESV)

People search, it’s what we do. We want bigger and better all the time and in every way. That’s true now and it was true 2,000 years ago. The book of Hebrews focuses on how Jesus isn’t better, but best. Here’s 8 ways Jesus is worth stopping your search.

  1. God…has spoken to us by his Son… People have looked for divine revelation forever, but Jesus is the ultimate revelation. Signs, wonders, prophetic messages… Jesus did it all. (Matthew 13:17)
  2. …heir of all things… The world thinks wealth matters. Don’t believe that? Just watch the Democrats and Republicans fight over inheritance taxes. Inheritance is all over Hollywood, its a main motive in hundreds of films. But Jesus is the heir of ALL THINGS. That’s pretty conclusive.
  3. …he created the world… Alright, go ahead and paint a sunset. Take a picture of a sunset. Use photoshop. Take your time. Create something beautiful. Then bow before the master who not only invented sunsets, but perfected them on a cosmic scale. And that’s just the tip of the artistic iceberg! Side note: you have to be not only creative, but pretty powerful to pull that off. More on power later.
  4. …the radiance of (God’s) glory… Someone really smart once wrote, “Just as the rays of the sun warm and light the earth, so Jesus radiates from God to warm and light the hearts of men,” or words to that effect. People radiate emotions, but Jesus is the radiance of God. Mind. Blown.
  5. …the exact representation of his nature… We spend our entire lives in an attempt to be more like God. Jesus is God. (John 14:9)
  6. …and he upholds the universe… So, yeah, sustainability is a thing, right? People try to sustain ecosystems, businesses, families, all kinds of stuff, really. But if Jesus stopped sustaining gravity, for instance, how much would our best efforts amount to? You get the idea. Jesus = power. (Colossians 1:17)
  7. …purification of sins… Okay, stop. If this was the ONLY thing Jesus did, it would be enough. The bible is clear and experience bears out that all men sin. Nobody is perfect by any reasonable standard. That much is self-evident. But the Bible also says that the price of sin is death. Uh-oh. That’s kind of a serious problem because two negatives do NOT make a positive in accounting. You owe. I owe. Everyone owes, which means there is no one on our broken planet that can help you. Except Jesus. He lived a perfect life and paid the debt for anyone willing to repent and follow him. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12)
  8. …he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. This is about authority. We don’t always appreciate authority, but if we’re honest, we crave it. We like having police there to keep the peace around us. We want answers to a million questions and we’re glad to know the people who can give them us. We teach kids to color inside the lines because deep down we understand that structure helps us succeed even if we sometimes chafe under it. And there is no higher authority than Jesus.

Jesus is amazing in so many ways. The problem is that even those of us who claim to love and follow him are still imperfect beings who have a lot to learn about life the universe and everything. As a result we far too often make Him our last resort instead of our first choice when confronted with life’s difficulties and that can really derail our faith. The challenge, then, is this. Drive the stake of faith deep in your life before the challenges come. Know that you know that you know that Jesus is LORD. Fixate on it. Study it. Take the time to investigate the doubts and questions you have so that when the storm hits–and it will–you’re already prepared.


  • January 24: Prayer Bowling
  • February 2: Super Bowl Party
  • February 10: Chalk Wall in the Lion’s Den
  • February 14: Cupids & Cowboys (Line Dancing?)
  • February 21-23: MBCollegiate Conference (Columbia, MO)
  • March 14-21: Spring Break Mission (Arlington, TX)
  • April 14: Prayer Golf
  • May 4: Pancake Madness
  • July 20-25: Above Tree Line (RMNP, Colorado)

For more information on BSU activities and events, follow us on social media. @mosobsu

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Common Notes 1.14.20

In case you missed it, Common Ground started back last night and we had a great time worshipping together and eating pizza at Gusano’s afterword. Here’s a short take on the message:

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:22-30

At some point or other, the green eyed-monster called jealousy effects us all. A friend gets a promotion, the neighbor gets a new car, someone else has more talent, better looks or a bigger bank account and you wish it could be you. More often than not it’s the sin of comparison, of wanting what others have because it seems better than what you’ve got. That’s the case here. John the Baptist’s disciples see that Jesus is drawing bigger crowds and they’re jealous, so they turn to their leader and complain. Check out how John responds though. He doesn’t commiserate. He doesn’t regret testifying to the identity of the Messiah. Instead he gives us a clinic on how to deal with issues of envy. He knows his role and relishes in it.

Here’s 5 ways to deal with jealously when it touches your life…

  1. Check your attitude. Writing about this passage, theologian Grant Osborne said, “The divine plan is everything…” John the Baptist gets that. Do you? What are you actually envious of? Is it worthy?
  2. Know your role and do your job. God placed you, gifted you and equipped you to do what he wants YOU to do, not what he wants for or from someone else. John the Baptist had a job to do and he stayed in his lane. That’s sound strategy!
  3. Celebrate Kingdom wins. John the Baptist rejoices that the Christ has come. Yes, it came at his expense, but ITS A KINGDOM WIN! #sacrifice #worthit
  4. Recognize Σκύβαλον (Philippians 3:8). Pronounced “scubala,” it is the strongest word for human excrement in the Greek language, and yes, Paul uses it. There is treasure and there is trash, worry about heavenly treasure, not worldly scubala.
  5. Pray. Because prayer is never the wrong answer and we rarely use it enough.
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Common Notes 10.15.19

 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.                                  Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

It isn’t ALL fun and games on Tuesdays, but yeah, there’s usually a little bit of fun and games anyway!

The Christian life is meant to be lived in community. Not crowds. Not cliques. Community. Crowds are large groups of people who are only loosely connected by a short-term common purpose such as enjoying a concert or shopping at a mall. Cliques are small groups of people that are so closely connected as friends that they have little or no interest in others. You can be alone in a crowd because no one knows you or cares about you. Crowds are blind to those inside them. You can feel isolated and excluded by a clique because they’ll literally talk and move around you with little regard for your presence. Cliques are blind to those outside them. Both crowds and cliques are unintentional–they are there, but they serve no higher purpose. They form and dissipate with little or no regard to the people of which they are made. Christ calls us to neither.

Community for the followers of Jesus is intentional. Gospel-centered communities are meant see everyone. They are all about “one another.” Serve one another, help one another, love one another, support one another, and serve a greater cause. Crowds don’t do that. They don’t even try. Cliques may try, but the Gospel calls us to more. It calls us to look inwardly and outwardly. The BSU strives to be a community, a place where people are known and cared for, trained and developed to be stronger in their faith. Our mission is to be disciples who make disciples. That is our cause, our higher purpose.

Another difference between crowds, cliques and communities is that people in communities often play intentional roles. They are involved in the life, health and mission of the greater whole in identifiable ways. They participate. They contribute. People in community are just there, they are involved.

  • What are other differences between crowds, cliques and communities?
  • Are you more comfortable alone or in a group? Why?
  • Of what communities are you a part?
  • How do you contribute to those communities?
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Common Notes 10.22.19

We are blessed to have students willing to contribute each week by singing, playing and organizing live worship each Tuesday night.

Matthew was one of those ordinary men Jesus chose to be one of the 12 Disciples. A lot of people know he had another name, Levi. It is also fairly common knowledge that he was a tax collector. What may surprise you to find out is that tax collectors, particularly Jewish tax collectors like Matthew, were among the most despised individuals in Israel during the time of Jesus. They are listed right beside prostitutes in common conversation (Matthew 21:31). The temple, which had separate areas for priests, men, women and gentiles, made no provision for tax collectors to enter. Before Jesus, Matthew was isolated both socially and religiously from the rest of society. When Jesus called out to him (Luke 5:28), he followed immediately and hosted a banquet. The guest list? Other tax collectors and their “plus ones.” Probably the only people who would associate with him! Forbidden from entering the temple while he was collecting taxes for the Romans, his Gospel quotes the Old Testament more than Mark, Luke and John combined. He clearly loved his people–the Jews–and wanted them to share the good fortune he found in Jesus with them.

  • If you were to have a “Look! Jesus!” party, who would you want to be there?
  • Jews looked at tax collectors with utter disdain. Who are the people you tend to look at that way? Why them?
  • Describe a time when you felt looked down on by others. How does following Jesus affect that?
  • In what ways have you told others about your faith in Jesus?
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Common Notes 10.1.19


Lauren O’hare quietly running slides during worship on Tuesday. You wouldn’t know it, but her small contribution makes a huge difference on Tuesday nights!

This week at Common Ground we enjoyed another rousing game of “Ruining the World.” Apparently the answer is ‘kittens,’ lol. Afterwards we worshiped together and learned about Andrew the Apostle. Fast facts: the first one called by Jesus, he is also the patron saint of Russia. Now you know. The antithesis of his brother Peter, Andrew is low key, quiet and unassuming. Looking at the scenes from scripture in which he is featured (John 1, 6, and 12) a couple of lessons can be drawn. First, individuals matter. Its great to win crowds of people to Jesus, but everyone matters. So, while Peter is preaching to thousands, Andrew takes people to Jesus one at a time. Who do you need to introduce to Jesus? Second, inconspicuous is a-okay. Andrew was inconspicuous. He doesn’t say much, doesn’t figure prominently in a lot of stories, just follows Jesus and quietly goes about the work of a disciple. Sometimes people feel unworthy because they don’t have big flashy gifts or talents, but neither did Andrew and Jesus chose him first! He was an ordinary guy, blessing people with his ordinary life because he knew an extraordinary Jesus. How have you been blessed with “small gifts?” Andrew shows us that you don’t have to be out and loud to make an impact on someone’s life. For an even deeper look at exactly why we don’t have to all be like Peter, read 1 Corinthians 12. You’ll be glad you did.

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Common Notes 9.24.19

Last night at Common Ground we played a game called Ruining the World, where contestants had to tell us how Abraham Lincoln, The Washington Monument and Public Transportation were ‘ruining the world.’ We also watched a slideshow from this weekend’s 417 Collegiate Retreat and announced a trip to the Defend conference in January.

As we continue into the “Ordinary Men” series, this week we examined the life of Peter the Apostle. Thirty minutes is no was to treat this important apostle, the leader of the 12, so after a quick overview of a few factoids, we dove into a single scene, namely the time when he walked on water with Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33). There we identified 8 points and a question to apply from each one. It was also pointed out that these were inspired in part by Mark Driscoll and John MacArthur…

  1. Look for Jesus and keep looking to Jesus. The disciples were surprised when He showed up in the storm. We know better. When life gets stormy, look for Him. He’ll be there. What does looking to Jesus look like for you?
  2. When Jesus command you, obey Him. Peter did the last thing anyone would expect because Jesus called Him to it! What is Jesus calling you to do that goes against the grain what you or other might think?
  3. Faith is simply taking the next step. Jesus called, Peter obeyed and everything was fine in that moment. It was only when Peter looked away that things went south. What is the next step of faith Jesus has asked you to take?
  4. Faith unleashes the supernatural. Peter walked on water because he was fully committed to following Jesus. Miracles, both obvious and obscure, happen all the time when we are willing to be fully surrendered to God. What area of your life do you need to commit to Him?
  5. Fear will sink you. Peter looks away from Jesus, gets scared and immediately gets in trouble. Fear always has that effect. What is it that you are afraid of that is controlling and holding you back?
  6. Jesus saves us from more than just hell. Peter could’ve drowned, but Jesus wouldn’t allow that. What are some of the the things Jesus has saved you from? Consider things you might never have experienced because of His presence in your life.
  7. A little faith is better than no faith. Jesus chides Peter’s “little faith,” but of the 12 men in the boat, we only talk about the one who got out. What does having a ‘little faith’ look like in your life?
  8. You can choose to worry or worship. Everyone in that boat was afraid, even the hardened fishermen who had grown up at sea. And in a matter of moments, they went from worry to worship. God is always on his throne, even when the storms of life are rocking your boat to the point that you think it might sink. Is there any area in your life where you in worry mode when you should be worshipping?

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