Part 2 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." When guests enter our home, we love to clean house. But the home they see isn't often reflective of how we normally live. More often, our homes can me messy, but that's not the picture we typically wish to show others. In the same way, even as Christians, our lives can be a mess and we don't want anyone to see. But as Jesus demonstrated so many times as he ministered to others on his way to the cross, God wants to enter the home of our hearts with a sign out front that says, "Welcome to Our Mess!" It is only Jesus who can clean the impurity of our hearts. But we must first recognize our need to be cleansed before inviting him to enter.
Part 1 of the series “Why the Scriptures Are Trustworthy.” Is the Bible trustworthy? If your answer is, yes, how well can you articulate and defend this belief? This sermon series will instill in you, or at least remind you, why you can trust in the written Scriptures completely, how you can strengthen your confidence in the Bible's original source, in the integrity of God's communication within its pages, and in your ability to translate the power and effectiveness of God's living Word to those who need to know its truths.
Part 3 in the series, "Entering God's Rest" (July 2019). In the final message on entering Gods' rest, we look at what Sabbath rest means for the Christian in light of their relationship with Jesus. When Jesus says, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest," what does he mean? The answer comes from learning about Jesus' understanding of the Sabbath, his observance of the Sabbath, and his declaration that he is "Lord of the Sabbath." Christians have a unique opportunity to enter God's rest in a way that no one before the coming of the Messiah could enjoy. Rest in Christ promises a life empowered by his finished work: a life of love, grace. restoration, and fullness. But he must become Lord of our Sabbath before this rest can occur.
Part 1 of the series, "Marriage and Singleness." God created marriage for different purposes. One of the chief purposes was to give us the most complete picture of his nature, and to also show the ideal way that human beings can come together to love God and love each other well. However, our purpose for marriage is often at "cross-purposes" with God's. How can we pursue God's purpose for marriage in the midst of our fallenness? The answer is making the cross the fundamental purpose and driving-force behind our marriage. Only through the cross can two truly become one under God for a lifetime. (Note: Due to technical difficulties, you will experience some gaps and broken continuity during the message.)
Part 2 of the series, "Marriage and Singleness." Some people are just fine being single. They are perfectly content with their place in life and frankly, don't want to be patronized or felt sorry for based on their marital status. For others though, being single certainly has its challenges. For those who want to be married, there is a longing for that future spouse. For those single due to tragic events like the death of a spouse, separation, or divorce, the pain can be even more acute. So, to hear that singleness might be called a gift could understandably seem a bit offensive. This message looks biblically at those who are single and in what way this place in life could be considered a gift. God gives us many things. both directly and within our life circumstances. Is it possible that your place as a single person can be considered a gift to him, to yourself, and to others? Arriving at this truth, if accepted, may be eternally liberating.
Part 3 of the series, "Marriage and Singleness." The word "single" certainly seems to be associated with the word "alone." Whether you're single as a young person, never married but still want to be, whether you've lost a spouse due to death, separation, or divorce, or whether you look at your singleness as a lifetime calling––being single can leave a hole in your life that you constantly want filled. How can a single person view their aloneness, their place in God's Kingdom, their desire for wholeness that seems to come only from marriage and romantic relationships? Is there anything they can do to remedy these problems for however long they're single? This message attempts to answer these questions, both for the single person, but also for the church who is called to love, value, and support single people in their desire for purpose and relationship.
Where do we find our stability and growth as Christians in the church? Most often, we'd say our stability and growth come from God. But in practice, we too often look for our main stability through human leaders and ministers. But as we see in Scripture, our chief foundation for stability and growth must come from Jesus Christ. And not just Christ, but from our faith and confession in the crucified and risen Christ. Only when our lives are founded upon the rock of this heavenly confession, can Christians ever hope to grow strong and prosper.
Do you pursue self awareness? Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Jesus once said that in knowing the truth, we would be set free. This message makes the assertion that the truth we should seek isn’t just the truth about God, but also the truth about ourselves. Without self-examination, we can never fully transform into Christ’s image and find the freedom his disciples enjoy.
Part 6 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Jesus came to restore us to relationship with God by dying on the cross. He opened the door for us to belong by experiencing aloneness throughout his life and in his death, aloneness even from God. But while belonging to God absolutely starts with the cross, the spirit of the cross should never leave us. We too must take up our own cross with a spirit of sacrifice that infuses every part of our lives. In this way we will model the life Jesus lived, and we will, like Jesus, better identify with others in their aloneness when inviting them to belong (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 8 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Are you in need of a big hug? We all are at times. How about a hug from God? Exploring the story of the Prodigal Son and Jesus's words in the Beatitudes, we can discover the warm embrace of grace and forgiveness that God offers to our love-starved, weary, and heavy-laden souls (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 9 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13, love is the greatest thing. But is love all we need? We certainly need loving relationship where God accepts us as we are. But like with any good parent, mentor, or teacher, the fuller scope of God's love doesn't just include acceptance, it also includes expectation. God accepts us without condition, but because he loves us and wants the best for us, he also wants us to grow up and mature, becoming more like him. And so, in addition to God's love, we also need God's truth. We need God's true love (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 10 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. So many are in our world are searching for truth. But for most of us, the deepest needs of our hearts aren't fundamentally satisfied by an awareness of truth, but by the integrity of our personal relationships. So, yes, we should ask, "What is truth?" But we also need to ask, "Who is faithful?" "Who will keep their promises?" To satisfy the deepest needs of our heart, we must also ask, "Who is true?" (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 12 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. For many of us who live in democratic nations, it is right to elevate ideals like independence, freedom of religion, and speech. But these are civil liberties and can never truly liberate us from the deeper areas of bondage: depression, prejudice, compulsive behavior, hopelessness, separation from God. Freedom from that kind of bondage can only be found when we surrender our spiritual right to self-government to the lordship of Jesus Christ. True and transcendent freedom isn’t just about being liberated from what binds us, but liberated for relationship with God and our neighbor in need (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 13 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Are the standards Jesus expects from his disciples in the New Testament too high? Most Christians would say, no, yet all the while privately bemoaning the truth that they fail to measure up again and again. We then wonder if it is even possible to answer Christ's call and walk in transcendent relationship. The answer is, yes. It is possible. But, only when our main focus is not on our own strength and abilities, but on our transcendent faith. All things are possible to him who believes. (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 14 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Traditional Christian apologetics focus mainly on defending absolute truth. While this should be part of our focus, our first priority should be living in absolute relationship with God. We must know him intimately in every possible way, experiencing the reality of eternal life long before we ever set foot in heaven. Like with his first disciples, it must be clear to others that we have been with Jesus (sermon recorded in 2018).
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week is one of the sermons John delivered many years ago at The Cove Church in Mooresville North Carolina). The last few decades have shown a surge in spiritual hunger perhaps unknown since the time of Plato and Aristotle. In this age of postmodernism, so many people are chasing after so many ideas that sincerity itself has become the chief virtue of the spiritual seeker. But, does sincerity prove that all religions are the same? This teaching invites an honest look at this question, and invites an honest comparison of the world’s religions. While God loves that we’re sincerely hungry for spiritual things, he does want our search to eventually lead somewhere. And despite protests to the contrary, that destination isn’t just about the absolute truth of the Bible. Ultimately, it’s about a personal relationship with the one who is absolutely true.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week is one of the sermons John delivered many years ago at The Cove Church in Mooresville North Carolina). A detailed examination of God’s “rules” for communicating with him through prayer. Most of us focus just on ourselves and our needs in prayer. But, the Lord’s Prayer is truly about God, and it is only by focusing on God’s greatness, his closeness, his kingdom, his will, his power to provide, to forgive, and to save, that we can truly find all our prayer’s answered.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the second sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) Jesus says that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become like a little child with a childlike faith. The same applies when it comes to the nature of our focus during the season of Christmas. Like a child, we must return to a pure heart of faith, hope, and dependence, and to an embrace of the new life offered through the birth of Christ. In essence, we must be "born again" during Christmas, and return to the purity of heart that exists within any newborn child of God.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the third sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) In coming to the earth at Christmas, God fulfilled his dream to be with us and offer us the gift of being with him. Through the divinity and humanity of Jesus, our Emmanuel, we find a God who is eternal and everywhere present, but also present to meet every need that we have.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the final sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) One of the best ways to describe the birth of Christ is with the phrase, "But...God." It goes like this: the world was sinking deep in sin, but God entered into our world, became one of us, and joined us in our weakness and suffering so we could join him in eternal strength and joy. The light shines in the darkness and, because of the coming of Christ, the darkness will never overcome.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the third sermon John shared from the series, "A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven" while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) If you knew you had 24-hours to live, how would you spend it? What if you had 50 years left to live? Making the most of every opportunity involves living with both priorities in mind. We must live in utter dependence upon God's providence over time. And we must step out and take risks in both our daily lives and in our long-term plans to ultimately sanctify time with a view of eternity in mind.
Part 16 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." To "fear God" is a recurring commandment in Scripture. But does it sound strange to your ears that we're likewise called fear Jesus? This sermon takes a look at the Jesus of the Gospels and demonstrates that people didn't just encounter the gentle, humble shepherd, but also the Lord of all creation, a person who regularly incited awe, astonishment, amazement...and reverential fear. How well we fear Jesus will affect the quality of our personal relationship with him, and whether or not we'll live in fear of everything else life throws at us from day to day (sermon recorded in 2019.)
Part 19 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." How do I relate to prayer? Is it just a way to get what I want? Is it something I just do, but doubt it ever really works? While God desires to meet our daily needs, he also wants us to understand our ultimate need: to belong to him. Prayer should be the avenue we use to nurture connection, intimacy, and oneness with God. If that's our first and main focus, then the answers to our prayers will be abundant...while perhaps looking a bit different than our imaginings (sermon recorded in 2019).
Part 21 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." Unconditional love feels unreachable. But not when we belong to God. God's love for us can transform how well we love one another. And the second commandment to love is like the first. Loving others affects how well we belong to him (sermon recorded in 2019).
Part 22 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." People like John-the-Baptist, Paul, and Jesus became "less" so that people could see more of God and ultimately, so they could belong to God. John modeled this in his words: "He must increase, but I must decrease." Becoming less doesn't belittle our self-worth. Rather, it's the path to finding our true self-worth and identity and genuinely sharing this quality of life with others. It's the best way to show others a love that comes from above, a love that invites us to belong to him and each other in the here-and-now (sermon recorded in 2019).
(John shares his next spiritual meditation based on thoughts from his upcoming book: UNTO LIFE: Reflections on Both the Journey and the Destination.) What is the secret to contentment? This is an age-old question. Many of us have made important decisions based on our pursuit of happiness. But it so often feels like a mirage, an illusion, where our fulfillment is always just out of reach. Some have given up on careers, relationships, even life itself, because the've never discovered the answer or experienced the happiness they've always desired. There is an answer to this question, but it's not one we may immediately like or accept. What's the secret to contentment? Here's a hint: It's to give up what you've wanted most in life to live for what you most deeply need.