Category : Life Groups

All, Life Groups

Great White Throne VS The Bema

This Coming Sunday we will be debuting a new series at RLC on Legacy. The opening message contains some theology that is rarely taught in most modern Christian circles. On Sunday morning, I do not have the time to dive into the theology as much as I would like. Therefore, here is a little more explanation for those interested in digger deeper. This article is only one of many you can find if you type into google, “Different between the ‘Great White Throne Judgement’ and the ‘Bema.’”

Question: “What is the Great White Throne Judgment and How Does it Differ From the Judgement Seat of Christ or the Bema?”

Answer: The great white throne judgment is described in Revelation 20:11-15 and is the final judgment prior to the lost being cast into the lake of fire. We know from Revelation 20:7-15 that this judgment will take place after the millennium and after Satan, the beast, and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10). The books that are opened (Revelation 20:12) contain records of everyone’s deeds, whether they are good or evil, because God knows everything that has ever been said, done, or even thought, and He will reward or punish each one accordingly (Psalm 28:462:12Romans 2:6Revelation 2:2318:622:12).

Also at this time, another book is opened, called the “book of life” (Revelation 20:12). It is this book that determines whether a person will inherit eternal life with God or receive everlasting punishment in the lake of fire. Although Christians are held accountable for their actions, they are forgiven in Christ and their names were written in the “book of life from the creation of the world” (Revelation 17:8). We also know from Scripture that it is at this judgment when the dead will be “judged according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12) and that “anyone’s name” that is not “found written in the book of life” will be “thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

The fact that there is going to be a final judgment for all men, both believers and unbelievers, is clearly confirmed in many passages of Scripture. Every person will one day stand before Christ and be judged for his or her deeds. While it is very clear that the great white throne judgment is the final judgment, Christians disagree on how it relates to the other judgments mentioned in the Bible, specifically, who will be judged at the great white throne judgment.

Some Christians believe that the Scriptures reveal three different judgments to come. The first is the judgment of the sheep and the goats or a judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-36). This takes place after the tribulation period but prior to the millennium; its purpose is to determine who will enter the millennial kingdom. The second is a judgment of believers’ works, often referred to as the “judgment seat [bema] of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). At this judgment, Christians will receive degrees of reward for their works or service to God. The third is the great white throne judgment at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:11-15). This is the judgment of unbelievers in which they are judged according to their works and sentenced to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire.

Other Christians believe that all three of these judgments speak of the same final judgment, not of three separate judgments. In other words, the great white throne judgment in Revelation 20:11-15 will be the time that believers and unbelievers alike are judged. Those whose names are found in the book of life will be judged for their deeds in order to determine the rewards they will receive or lose. Those whose names are not in the book of life will be judged according to their deeds to determine the degree of punishment they will receive in the lake of fire. Those who hold this view believe that Matthew 25:31-46 is another description of what takes place at the great white throne judgment. They point to the fact that the result of this judgment is the same as what is seen after the great white throne judgment in Revelation 20:11-15. The sheep (believers) enter into eternal life, while the goats (unbelievers) are cast into “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

Whichever view one holds of the great white throne judgment, it is important to never lose sight of the facts concerning the coming judgment(s). First, Jesus Christ will be the judge, all unbelievers will be judged by Christ, and they will be punished according to the works they have done. The Bible is very clear that unbelievers are storing up wrath against themselves (Romans 2:5) and that God will “give to each person according to what he has done” (Romans 2:6). Believers will also be judged by Christ, but since Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us and our names are written in the book of life, we will be rewarded, but not punished, according to our deeds. Romans 14:10-12 says that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and that each one of us will give an account to God.

Article first appeared on:

Other recommended reading: Heaven by Randy Alcorn

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A Letter to RLC, All, Leadership, Life Groups

Why Pete Wilson is Rocking the Ministry Community

If you have not already heard, Pastor Pete Wilson of Crosspoint Church in Nashville, Tn resigned just a little over a week ago. What made this resignation so unique was why he resigned. It was not due to an addiction, moral, or ethic failure. It was something that most people ministry are familiar with but rarely talk about, burnout.

Nine days after his public announcement, I have personally talked with six different ministers who have been rocked to the core by what Pete did. The reason why is simple but staggering, because they are in the same boat too. Pete has thrown the curtain back on something that has become an epidemic among leaders today. We know how to lead churches and businesses well but have no idea how to lead ourselves. Our churches and businesses are growing and thriving while we are slowly dying and wondering if the pain will ever stop. I applaud Pete’s willingness to confront such an issue. I believe God is using this difficult moment to reveal the hearts of so many who are hurting and desperately need help.

The purpose of this blog is to be a sort of online mentor for anyone wishing to grow in their lives. Because of this, I talk about various random topics that I hope will cause you to think, be encouraged, inspired, and maybe even grow in your pursuit of excellence. That being said, many people are on the brink or have already fallen overboard into the sea of burnout. You know it. It is time to come clean.

Here are some of the signs that you may be experiencing burnout or emotional exhaustion:

  1. Chronic fatigue. In the early stages, you may feel a lack energy and feel tired most days. In the latter stages, you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day.
  2. Insomnia. In the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week. In the latter stages, insomnia may turn into a persistent, nightly ordeal; as exhausted as you are, you can’t sleep.
  3. Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention. Lack of focus and mild forgetfulness are early signs. Later, the problems may get to the point where you can’t get your work done and everything begins to pile up.
  4. Physical symptoms. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).
  5. Increased illness. Because your body is depleted, your immune system becomes weakened, making you more vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.
  6. Loss of appetite. In the early stages, you may not feel hungry and may skip a few meals. In the latter stages, you may lose your appetite all together and begin to lose a significant amount of weight.
  7. Anxiety. Early on, you may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes in your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life.
  8. Depression. In the early stages, you may feel mildly sad, occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. At its worst, you may feel trapped, severely depressed, and think the world would be better off without you. (If your depression is to this point, you should seek professional help immediately.)
  9. Anger. At first, this may present as interpersonal tension and irritability. In the latter stages, this may turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at home and in theworkplace. (If anger gets to the point where it turns to thoughts or acts of violence toward family or coworkers, seek immediate professional assistance.)

Signs of Cynicism and Detachment

  1. Loss of enjoyment. At first, loss of enjoyment may seem very mild, such as not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave. Without intervention, loss of enjoyment may extend to all areas of your life, including the time you spend with family and friends. At work, you may try to avoid projects and figure out ways to escape work all together.
  2. Pessimism. At first, this may present itself as negative self-talk and/or moving from a glass half-full to a glass half-empty attitude. At its worst, this may move beyond how you feel about yourself and extend to trust issues with coworkers and family members and a feeling that you can’t count on anyone.
  3. Isolation. In the early stages, this may seem like mild resistance to socializing (i.e., not wanting to go out to lunch; closing your door occasionally to keep others out). In the latter stages, you may become angry when someone speaks to you, or you may come in early or leave late to avoid interactions.
  4. Detachment. Detachment is a general sense of feeling disconnected from others or from your environment. It can take the form of the isolative behaviors described above, and result in removing yourself emotionally and physically from your job and other responsibilities. You may call in sick often, stop returning calls and emails, or regularly come in late.

Signs of Ineffectiveness and Lack of Accomplishment

  1. Feelings of apathy and hopelessness. This is similar to what is described in the depression and pessimism sections of this article. It presents as a general sense that nothing is going right or nothing matters. As the symptoms worsen, these feelings may become immobilizing, making it seems like “what’s the point?”
  2. Increased irritability. Irritability often stems from feeling ineffective, unimportant, useless, and an increasing sense that you’re not able to do things as efficiently or effectively as you once did. In the early stages, this can interfere in personal and professional relationships. At its worst, it can destroy relationships and careers.
  3. Lack of productivity and poor performance. Despite long hours, chronic stress prevents you from being as productive as you once were, which often results in incomplete projects and an ever-growing to-do list. At times, it seems that as hard as you try, you can’t climb out from under the pile.



1. Take an inventory. Make a list of all the situations that cause you to feel stressed, anxious, worried, frustrated, and helpless. Don’t rush through it. It’s not a race; it’s a process. Also, you cannot move forward until you know where you are.

2. Locate. After taking an inventory, locate the highest stress options and eliminate.

3. Just say “no.” While you’re “recovering,” avoid taking on any new commitments or responsibilities.

4. Delegate as many things as possible, even if the person you’re delegating to may not do them as quickly or as well as you would.

5. Control your devices. Gadgets, such as iPads, computers, and smart phones, can consume large amounts of your time and energy. Turn them off as much as possible.

6. Socialize outside your professional group. This can provide fresh perspectives, stimulate new ideas, and help you discover previously undiscovered resources.

7. Resist the urge to take work home. Enough said.

8. Get a better view of counseling. Gone are the days of misguided views on counseling. Have a professional counselor in your life is a very healthy thing to do.

9. Rediscover your passion. How long has it been since you did something purely for the joy of it?

10. Rest. It took you a long time to get this way. I will not get better overnight. Embrace the process and rest, rest, rest. The world will keep spinning, I promise.

So, where do you stand with all this?

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All, Books, LCL, Life Groups

Book Review: Five Love Languages

5-love-languagesOf all the tag lines for books, the one for this book is probably the best. It says “The Secret to Love That Lasts”. That’s really it. We all want to love and be loved. The big trick is HOW?!

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman will help you understand how to love others in a way that means the most to them.

This book is always my ‘go to book’ when I speak with struggling couples who want to grow in their marriage. Communication is one of the number one issues that all struggle with, especially in the area of showing and receiving love.

This book will take a lot of the guess work out of figuring out LOVE.

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A Letter to RLC, All, Life Groups

6 Reasons to Give an RLC Life Group a Try

Life Groups are officially kicking back into gear this week at Real Life Church. Maybe you are thinking about taking the plunge and trying one out this week. If so, here are 6 reasons why you should give it a try:

BTW- Click here to view all LifeGroup opportunities.

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All, Life Groups

The “Sweet 16″ of Authentic Small Groups

This is a guest post by Michael C. Mack

These 16 commands for living in healthy, authentic community will help your small group change the world. Talk about one shining moment!

  1. Love one another.
  2. Be at peace with each other.
  3. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
  4. Honor one another above yourselves.
  5. Live in harmony with one another.
  6. Stop passing judgment on one another.
  7. Accept one another … just as Christ accepted you.
  8. Instruct one another.
  9. Serve one another in love.
  10. Carry each other’s burdens.
  11. Be kind and compassionate to one another.
  12. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
  13. Admonish one another.
  14. Encourage one another daily.
  15. Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
  16. Confess your sins to each other and pray for one another so you may be healed.

Look through this list with your group. Which are slam dunks for you right now? With which ones do you need more practice?


Michael C. Mack founded in 1995 and has served as a small-groups minister in several churches. He is a writer, editor, trainer, and consultant in the areas of small groups, leadership, and discipleship. He is the author of more than a dozen books and small group studies, including his latest, Small Group Vital Signs. He also regularly blogs at His family is a small group that includes his wife Heidi, their four children, and their dog, Lainey. Mike is also an avid mountain biker.

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All, Leadership, Life Groups

I love Life Groups Because…

Young_Adult_LifeGroup-16-56I love Life Groups because…

I recently read an article which said these were the top ten reasons why people love Life Groups:

  1. I love getting beyond just saying “hey” to other people on Sunday mornings. Going to church can be hard when you feel like you don’t really know anyone well.
  2. Seeing people talk about what God is doing in their life has challenged and encouraged my faith!
  3. It’s amazing to see that everyone in my LifeGroup has the same challenges my family does. I’ve realized we’re not all alone.
  4. The support my group provides me is invaluable. Through births and deaths, as a group we’ve always been there for each other.
  5. I love seeing people make a breakthrough in their understanding of Jesus and take one step closer to him.
  6. I experience God’s presence among others in a very powerful way.
  7. My LifeGroup has become like a family to me. I don’t have extended family around here, so I can’t tell you how much it means to me.
  8. I finally have deep friendships where I can discuss my life and my faith.
  9. I’ve enjoyed the accountability–having others push me to the next level.
  10. Watching people become Christians and grow as Christians in a LifeGroup makes it all worthwhile.

My Personal List:

>>> I love realizing I’m not the only one to NOT have life figured out.

>>> I love being a part of gatherings where we make memories.

>>> I love having a close relationships that become my second family.

>>> I love getting past the simple hello and goodbye of Sunday morning.

>>> I love hearing someone say, “How was your week?” and they are actually curious.

>>> I love having someone I can tell my funny story to or someone I can cry with.

>>> I love knowing someone is praying for me everyday.

>>> I love being around people who see the best in me and try to help me achieve it not just see the worst in me and expect it.

>>> I love realizing I’m not alone.

Here’s my list, what’s yours?
It’s for all these reasons and more that we will always be passionate about Life Groups. I truly believe true discipleship happens in the context of relationship. When we get together we grow, we become, we feel at home. That’s Life Groups.
That’s Real Life Church.

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All, Life Groups

LifeGroup Leader: Take A Step

When leading a life group it can be difficult sometimes to really feel like you are making an impact on those around you. It’s great to have that one on one conversation or to pray with a member but what about everyone else.

The best idea is to have a goal in your mind for each person in your group.

As a life group leader, your primary role is to know the spiritual condition of your group members and then help each of them move one step closer to Christ during the semester. Knowing that can take a lot of pressure off of you. You’re not there to take them all the way from point A to Z in their relationship with God. This semester, let’s focus on one step. So, on your first and second life group meetings, try to identify where each member is and what one step you want to encourage them to take this season.

taking-the-next-step-graphicHere are some practical steps to accomplish this:

1. If a group member is not in a relationship with Christ, then bring them to a church service where they can hear a clear presentation of the Gospel.

2. Encourage group members to be water baptized.

3. Challenge group members to complete the Growth Track.

4. Connect group members to the Dream Team.

This is probably going to be a lot easier than you think to identify.  For instance, if someone becomes part of your group and they have no idea about God at all… they need to meet Jesus. Encourage them to join us on Sunday mornings where they can hear about Christ.  Another example would be maybe someone recently gave their lives to Christ but have no idea what to do next. Encourage them to get baptized and join the Growth Track. It is vital to the health of our groups that we as leaders do all we can to help our members identify their next steps for spiritual growth and encourage them to take them. Simply said—help your group members move towards God this semester!

Proverbs says, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” (Prov. 27:23)

I’m so honored for you to take this journey with me in helping others have deeper, more satisfying relationships with God.

Here are some “ONE STEP” questions and conversation starters…


QUESTION: Tell me about your relationship with Jesus. Does your relationship with Jesus take priority in your life?

>>> If no, share with them your personal testimony and offer to pray with them that Jesus will be Lord of their life.
>>> Invite them to a Sunday worship service.


QUESTION: Are you regularly attending weekly worship services?

>>> If no, offer to meet them on Sunday before service and sit with them.


QUESTION: Have you been water baptized since you have become a believer?

>>> If no, encourage them to be baptized and let the LifeGroup Coordinator know so they can let you know when the next water baptism opportunity will be. Invite the rest of your small group to come for support.


QUESTION: Have you completed the Growth Track?

>>> If no, encourage them to attend the Growth Track. Remind them that it does not have to be done in order so they can jump in at any time! Offer to meet your small group members there attend the Growth Track events together.


QUESTION: Have you identified your spiritual gifts? Are you using them to serve on the Dream Team?

>>> If no, encourage them to attend Discovery 301 on the third Sunday of the month. Even if they have attended Discovery 301 before, it is fun to attend again to discover new things.


QUESTION: Describe your daily Bible reading then ask “Do you use a Bible Reading Plan?”

>>> If no, direct them to the One Year Bible Plan no the Real Life Church Website.page1image17600 page1image17760


QUESTION: Do you have relationships that offer accountability?

>>> If no, encourage them to find an accountability partner especially within the group.

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