Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

To conquer a besetting or habitual sin, I must:

  1. Fearlessly it (Hebrews 12:1)
  2. Place over it (Hebrews 12:2)
  3. Acknowledge how I am to it (1 Corinthians 10:12)
  4. Recognize how my sin affects (1 Corinthians 5:6)
  5. Understand the that draws me in (James 1)
  6. , every day, to conquer temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)

James 1:12-15
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
        When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
        Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Truth: does not tempt people to do wrong.

Truth: Temptation starts with evil desires.

The Descending Cycle of Sin

Evil personal

A Story of Temptation: Joshua 7:19-23
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”
        Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
        So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD.

Achan’s descending cycle of sin:

I → I → I → I

We all face temptation, but there’s a promise of God.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Another promise in the face of temptation:
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. – Isaiah 59:19

Now, read with the comma moved…
When the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

Journal Work

One Question: How will I choose to handle inevitable temptation?

One Truth: Temptation is common, but God always gives a way out.

One Step: Make a plan before temptation is revealed.

Small Group Questions

  1. What did you think/say/do when you saw the snow this past week?
  2. What is the greatest temptation you face on a daily/weekly basis?
  3. How do you handle temptation when it comes against you?
  4. Read all the scriptures from this sermon outline out loud. What do you learn from James, Achan and Isaiah that you can use to battle temptation?
  5. If someone came to you and said they were look for a way out from their besetting sin. How would you respond? Where would you tell them to look as a way of escape?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


Dr. Lem Usita, Guest Pastor

Romans 7:15–25
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Wanting and desiring to do good is .

Question: Can you your habitual sin cycle?

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Next Question:
When you’re in your habitual sin cycle, do you take the sin that you confessed ?

Hebrews 12:2
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Hebb’s Law
Cells that together together.

Quantum Zeno Effect
The brain becomes whatever you regularly .

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We can create new neural pathways that lead us to the

Centering Prayer:
The simple practice of holding on to a word and sitting in the presence of Jesus.

  • Choose a word or phrase as the symbol of your willingness to consent to God’s presence and actions within.
  • Sit comfortably, and repeat your prayer, and breathe deeply.
  • When thoughts come, let them go and return to the word or phrase and practice the 10k ways to return to God.
  • At the end, thank God for His presence.

Journal Work

One Question:  Can you name your habitual sin cycle? Is it different than the one you came up with week 1?

One Truth:  Fix your eyes on Jesus, in order to “throw off the sin that easily entangles you.” 

One Step: Practice the presence of God. One way is to practice centering prayer.

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s something God brought you through that you could’ve never gotten through on your own?
  2. Why do you think we’re so prone to repeating sin as humans?
  3. What’s your first response when you find yourself stuck in a pattern of sin? Do you move toward God or away from him? Why?
  4. How do you go about boasting in your weakness while still moving toward the wholeness and freedom Jesus invites us into?
  5. If you’re brutally honest, how hungry are you for God’s presence in this season? What would it look like for you to take a step toward God?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


Brian Behrends, Creative Pastor

Genesis 20:1–6
1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
        3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”


Romans 7:15
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.


2 Corinthians 12:9–10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


Psalm 63:1–4
1 You, God, are my God, 
        earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
        my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
        where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
        and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
        my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
       and in your name I will lift up my hands.


Romans 4:18–21
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.


Journal Work

One Question: If God says I’m qualified, why do I keep disqualifying myself?
One Truth: It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance.
One Step: 
One promise: God will never leave you or forsake you.

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s something God brought you through that you could’ve never gotten through on your own?
  2. Why do you think we’re so prone to repeating sin as humans?
  3. What’s your first response when you find yourself stuck in a pattern of sin? Do you move toward God or away from him? Why?
  4. How do you go about boasting in your weakness while still moving toward the wholeness and freedom Jesus invites us into?
  5. If you’re brutally honest, how hungry are you for God’s presence in this season? What would it look like for you to take a step toward God?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

What is your besetting sin?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2a

The Promise of God to Abram GENESIS 12:2–3
“I will make you into a great nation,
       and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
       and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
       and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
       will be blessed through you.

With this promise in hand, Abram journeys to Egypt and in a moment of hardship does this:

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” – Genesis 12:10–13


The Besetting Sins of Abram

(which leads to )

Sin may appear to bring short term gain, but the long-term consequences will always affect , your , and your relationship with .

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. 17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household… – Genesis 12:14-17

The root causes of these besetting sins:

Lack of

Lack of faith in God’s

In the face of your own besetting sin, where do you lack faith and trust in God?


The Promise of God to You
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:34-36


Journal Work:

One question: 

One truth: 

One step:

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s the biggest lie you remember telling as a child? How did it work out for you?
  2. How does it feel to you when you find out you’ve been lied to?
  3. Read Genesis 12 out loud. What do you believe prompted Abram to take this course of action. In what ways can you empathize with his decision? What can you learn about his actions that can help you in your own life?
  4. In your own besetting sin, where are you experiencing a lack of trust and a lack of faith?
  5. Read John 8 (the whole chapter). What does the whole context teach you about the heart of God in the face of habitual sin?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

Habitual sin confirms that you have forgotten…

When dealing with habitual sin…

You don’t start with the ;
you start with the !

Isaiah 61:1–3
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
          because the LORD has anointed me
          to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
        to proclaim freedom for the captives
        and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor
        and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
        3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
        instead of ashes,
the oil of joy 
        instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
        instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
        a planting of the LORD
        for the display of his splendor.

From Isaiah 61, Jesus is…
God, Hope, Healer, Liberator, Deliverer,
Messenger, Comforter, Transformer

When dealing with habitual sin…

You don’t start with who you are;
you start with who you are.

A moment of truth and transparency:
My besetting sin is.

In the face of my besetting sin, God says:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be
burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
– Galatians 5:1

Small Group Questions

  1. Summarize your Christmas season in one word. Were you satisfied with your celebration of Jesus’ birth and if not, what would you change?
  2. Have you ever been trapped or felt trapped at any moment of your life? How did you manage to find freedom?
  3. Read Isaiah 61. Which of the declarations has God accomplished in your life? Share as many details as you are comfortable with regarding the work God has done and is doing in your life.
  4. Take some time and read Romans 6 and Romans 8. In these passages, who does Jesus say that you are? Write out the list. It’s worth it!
  5. This is your moment. What is your besetting sin? (If this is a group setting, only share what you feel God wants you to share.)
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


We’re all the wise men,
trying to figure out what gifts to bring to the party.

What gifts do I bring to the world?

Space for your notes…

Emily Jamieson, Guest Speaker

How can this be?

Luke 1:26–29
Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
         But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was.

Luke 1:30–33
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

Luke 1:34–37
Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin and have no intimacy with any man?”
          Then the angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a cloud]; for that reason the holy [pure, sinless] Child shall be called the Son of God. And listen, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.”

Luke 1:38
Then Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

We’re all Mary, wrestling with the fact thatGod chose to use us in unexpected ways.
Will I say yes to the life God’s given me?

Luke 1:39-41
Now at this time Mary arose and hurried to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by him.

Luke 1:42–45
And she exclaimed loudly, “Blessed [worthy to be praised] are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed [spiritually fortunate and favored by God] is she who believed and confidently trusted that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her [by the angel sent] from the Lord.”

Luke 1:46–49
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies and exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For he has looked [with loving care] on the humble state of his maidservant; for behold, from now on all generations will count me blessed and happy and favored by God. For he who is mighty has done great things for me; And holy is his name [to be worshiped in his purity, majesty, and glory].

Luke 1:50–55
“And his mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who [stand in great awe of God and] fear him. He has done mighty deeds with His [powerful] arm. He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, just as he promised to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

This Week’s Prayer of Examen

Ask yourself:
When did I say yes to God today through obedience of some kind?
When did I say no to God either by what I chose to do or left undone?

Ask God: Lord, where do I need your forgiveness?
And as you wash away my sin, what are you inviting me to instead?


Let every heart prepare him room.

(No small group questions this week)


Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

My perception of the shepherds
was that they were .

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

We’re all shepherds, trying to figure out
if the good news is really for people like us.

Do I believe I’m ?

Luke 2:9-20 NIV 1984
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
        13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
        14 “Glory to God in the highest,
                    and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
        15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
       16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

When I discover that Christmas was meant for me, there is:

towards God (verse 15 – “Let’s go to Bethlehem”)

Clear (verse 15 – “and see this thing”)

An open (verse 15 – “that the Lord told us about”)

Passionate (verse 17 – they spread the word)

Heartfelt (verse 20 – glorifying and praising God)

Confident (verse 20 – which were just as they had been told)

This Week’s Prayer of Examen

Ask yourself: When was I proud of myself today?
Where in my life am I struggling with self-doubt, shame, or self-rejection?

Ask God: Father, who do you say that I am?

Small Group Questions

  1. Have you ever seen or participated in a children’s Christmas program? What was your experience?
  2. Who is your favorite character in the Christmas story? Why?
  3. Read Luke 2. Why do you believe God called shepherds to be the recipients and stewards of the message of Christmas?
  4. When you examine the response of the shepherds, which area is God calling you into today?
  5. Take a moment and ask the questions in this week’s Prayer of Examen. What are your honest thoughts and responses to these questions?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

In the Christmas story:

Mary made room for a miracle baby
Joseph made room for discomfort
Shepherds made room for a new message
Wise men made room for worship
The Innkeeper…did not. Or did he?

Luke 2:4–7
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

We’re all the innkeeper, trying to figure out if we have room for Jesus. 

for Jesus?

I will make room…

In my
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool.
Ecclesiastes 5:2-3

In my
…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

In my
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16

In my
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:6

In my
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

In my
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
         “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:41-45

In my
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”

Isaiah 30:15

A Spiritual Practice: The Prayer of Examen

Ask yourself: When did I feel closest to God today?
When did I feel the farthest from him?

Ask God: God, where am I leaving you out of my life? How do I make room for you there?

Small Group Questions

Read Luke 2 as a reflection before you begin to respond. Read it slowly, soaking in the details.

  1. What’s your favorite part of the Christmas season? Least favorite?
  2. What word would use to you describe your life in the month of December (frantic, reflective, quiet, subdued, joyful, exhausting, etc.)? What would need to happen in your life to change the word to “peaceful”?
  3. From the Prayer of Examen: When did I feel closest to God today?
  4. From the Prayer of Examen: When did I feel the farthest from him?
  5. Personal Reflection: God, where am I leaving you out of my life? How do I make room for you there?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


Brian Behrends, Creative Pastor

Psalm 100:1–5
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
          2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
          come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. 
          It is he who made us, and we are his;
          we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
          and his courts with praise;
          give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
          his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Space for your own notes:

John 5:1–6

1 Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4]  5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

Space for your own notes:

John 5:7
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Space for your own notes:

John 4:13–14
13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Space for your own notes:

John 5:8–9
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Space for your own notes:

Small Group Questions

  1. What are three things you’re thankful for this week?
  2. Are most your prayers asking God to come down and change your situation or invitations for God to change you? What do you think about your answer?
  3. What’s the most common excuse you give when Jesus asks if you want to be well? What’s getting in the way of the breakthrough you desire?
  4. The man in this story put his faith in a pool to heal him even though Jesus was the only one who could give him the healing he needed. Is there something other than Jesus you’re currently putting your faith in? What is it?
  5. What does “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” mean for you this week?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?