Upcoming Sermon Series

In a recent church survey, we asked if there were any particular sermon topics people would be interested in hearing. We received back quite a few topics that Pastor Mike is planning to use to finish out 2018 once we wrap up our journey through Exodus at the end of this month.

Unfortunately, there’s not enough time for every idea (though they may be visited further in the future). Below are the series and sermons planned from August through December.

August: The Art of Prayer and Fasting
08.05 “Learning to Pray” (Luke 11:1-13)
08.12 “The Art of Praying Well” (Romans 8:26-30)
08.19 “Learning to Fast” (Isaiah 58)
08.26 “The Art of Fasting Well” (Matthew 6:1, 16-18)

the art of prayer and fasting (sermon series)

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September 2: TBD

September: God and Money (personal finance)
09.09 “Stay Focused” (1 Timothy 6:6-10, Matthew 6:24)
09.16 “Plan Well” (Proverbs 6:6-8, 13:6, 21:20)
09.23 “Live Within Your Means” (Romans 13:8, Proverbs 22:7, Psalm 37:21)
09.30 “Give Generously” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

God and Money (sermon series)

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October: Finding Light in the Darkness (hope in the face of despair)
10.07 “The Greatest Light” (Genesis 3, John 1)
10.14 “The Light of Hope: Battling Depression and Fatigue” (1 Kings 19)
10.21 “The Light of Peace: Battling Anxiety” (Matthew 6:25-34)
10.28 “Shining the Light: Supporting Others in Their Dark Times” (Romans 12:9-15)

finding light in the darkness (sermon series)

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-52910/

November – December: The Life of… (biblical character studies)
11.04 “The Life of Mary”
11.11 “The Life of David”
11.18 “The Life of Hannah”
11.25 “The Life of Daniel”
12.02 “The Life of Tabitha”
12.09 “The Life of Barnabas”

the life of 00

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Good Reads 02.08.18 (on: joy, midlife crisis, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On praying and pastoring: How to Pray for Your Pastor by Todd Benkert

As a pastor, one of the greatest encouragements is to hear the words “I’m praying for you.” Truly, one of the great blessings of being a pastor is knowing that prayers are being lifted up on your behalf. Often, people ask how they can be praying for me. While there are particular needs that I have from time to time, here are some prayers for pastors that are always in season… (click here to read more)

On joy: I Am Eeyore by Adam Kareus

My mom nicknamed me Eeyore. She thought it truly expressed my soul. By nature, I have always been melancholy. Where others might reside on a baseline of 5 on the joy scale I was always resting at 2. My life has been good. It is not circumstances that have me down. Rather it is part of my personality. I experience joy and happiness, it just seems to be smaller peaks of happiness than others. Something pretty extraordinary has to happen for me to experience true joy. And because of that, I have looked upon others who seem to be happy in small stuff and it is hard not to wish to be more like them.

But that might explain my fanatical feeling toward God. For it was from Him and Him alone that I have found true lasting joy. This is joy uplifts all that I do so that I can now find joy in the most mundane task or everyday circumstance. In fact, this joy transforms my world in that circumstances aren’t the main thing that determines what I feel, rather what determines it is who I am in God’s eyes. (click here to read more)

On guilt: Christ Turns the Tide of Guilt by Amy Mantravadi

For the redeemed, the arms of the Lord are wings of protection in which they feel utterly at peace. For the sinner, there is only the arm of judgment spoke of by the prophets. They are not children wrapped in a familial embrace, but “sinners in the hands of an angry God”, to quote Jonathan Edwards. Overwhelming guilt and absence of trust: this is why the prisoner of the sinful nature takes no comfort in the phrase, “I am not my own”. (click here to read more)

On growing older: Why I Thank God for My Painful Midlife Crisis by Akos Balogh

If the root of midlife struggles is a wrong interpretation of life, then we are faced with a choice: will we let the theology of Scripture exegete and interpret our life, or let life reinterpret our theology?

In other words, will I let my midlife pain overtly shape my view of Godleading to doubt and uncertainty in Him? Or will I let Scripture interpret my painleading me to my suffering Saviour, who knows my distress?

The choice is clear.

Looking back, I had let a secularised view of reality frame my experience of midlifewhich is why I felt so fearful and starved for meaning.

But a biblical view of reality provides a different interpretation, a different narrative: one that gives meaning, hope, and joy. (click here to read more)

Prayer and Boldness

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. – Acts 4:31 (ESV)

What do you do when you feel threatened? We hear about the fight or flight response. When someone threatens us, hurts us, or makes us insecure we either boil into a rage, ready to defend ourselves, or we withdraw and seek to distance ourselves.

Peter and John had already experienced this as part of Jesus’ Twelve. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested, and crucified, the other nine of the party scattered (flight). John stuck around but mostly kept out of the way (a type of flight) whereas Peter followed close but denied, even vehemently, that he knew Jesus (a type of fight).

Yet, something changed after the resurrection. Jesus commissioned them (and us) to take his gospel into all the world, even if it meant facing great dangers. And to empower us, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to be with us, strengthen us, and direct us.

So, in Acts 4, Peter and John went about healing people and proclaiming Jesus. This time, they were the ones arrested and taken before the leaders. There they were threatened and told to stop, or else worse would come to them.

After their release, however, they went back and joined their fellow followers of Jesus. They told of what had happened, and together they prayed. This time, though, there would be no fight to protect themselves and there would be no flight to escape. They prayed, the Holy Spirit strengthened them further, and they went out and faithfully spoke about Jesus, emboldened.

This is what prayer does when we’re threatened. When we feel tempted to fight or to flee, prayer takes the focus off our own anger, hurt, or fear. Prayer reminds us that we are helpless to be faithful in our own power. Prayer focuses and connects us to the God of all strength and grace. And God will answer those prayers for spiritual boldness because he loves us and he has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us away from fear.

Thus, we can be faithful to Jesus and we can say along with Peter and John, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard!” (Acts 4:20)

Good Reads 11.22.17 (on: thanksgiving, prayer, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On Thanksgiving:

The Scientific Connection Between Gratitude and Happiness by David Murray

Thanksgiving is much more than saying “Thank you” for a present or benefit we’ve received. The world’s most prominent researcher and writer about gratitude, Robert Emmons, said it is “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.”

We can boost gratitude in our lives by intensifying the feeling of it for each positive event, by increasing the frequency of it throughout the day, by expanding the number of things we’re grateful for, and by expressing gratitude to more people. But the most effective multiplier of gratitude, said Emmons, is humility: “At the cornerstone of gratitude is the notion of undeserved merit. The grateful person recognizes that he or she did nothing to deserve the gift or benefit; it was freely bestowed.” (click here to read more)

Blessed Even in the Worst by Nancy Guthrie

These words were not given for Israel’s priests to use to ask God for his blessing, leaving them to wonder whether or not God would give it. Rather, God took the initiative to assure his people of his settled intention to bless them. He seemed to want to make it clear that he intended to be personally involved in their lives as the source of all the goodness they would enjoy.

So the first thing we learn from this blessing is that God is the source of every blessing in our lives. He blesses us by keeping us secure, extending his grace, and flooding our lives with his healing and wholeness. He is fully engaged, fully determined, and fully able to fill our lives with the security, grace, and peace we all long for. (click here to read more)

On prayer and salvation: 18 Prayers to Pray for Unbelievers by Tim Challies

A friend asked the question: How do I pray for unbelievers? How do I pray effectively? I trust that every Christian regularly prays for family or friends or colleagues or neighbors who do not yet know the Lord. And while we can and must pray for matters related to their lives and circumstances, the emphasis of our prayers must always be for their salvation. Here are some ways the Bible can guide our prayers… (click here to read more)

On the cultural oddity of Christianity: The Early Christians Were Odd, Too by Michael Kruger

A fundamental aspect of early Christian worship was its exclusivity. Only Jesus was to be worshiped. Whatever other religious loyalties one possessed before coming to Christ, they had to be abandoned and full devotion given to Jesus the King.

One might think the Roman state wouldn’t care about private worship practices. They cared because the Roman government didn’t view religion as private.

To be a good citizen, your duty was to pay homage to the Roman gods who kept the empire prosperous and flourishing. To refuse to worship the gods wasn’t only socially rude (Christians were viewed as sanctimonious), but it risked invoking the gods’ displeasure.

Thus, Christians’ refusal to participate in the broader Roman worship caused them to be viewed as reckless and callous to the welfare of their fellow man. Indeed, they were called “haters of humanity” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44). As a result, they often suffered serious persecution. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 10.05.17 (on anxiety and prayer, evangelism, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On evangelism: Engaging Others with the Gospel by Adam McClendon

We are called to consistently engage our culture with the gospel in mind, within and outside our normal routines. We should go on mission trips. We should, on occasion, go door-to-door to people we don’t know to engage them in gospel conversation, but we don’t end our engagement there. We should engage others from a gospel perspective in our everyday and every-weekend moments like our school boards, club teams, Home Owners Associations, Parent / Teacher Associations, workplaces, classrooms, charities, neighbors, etc.

We should take others fishing, hunting, golfing, or whatever other recreation activity we might prefer, and we should do it with a gospel mindset and a love for others. Many of us are already engaging our world where we are through social media, neighborhood conversations, sitting at our kid’s practices, etc. We just need to ensure we shift in our mindset, keeping the gospel in view. In addition to just being friendly, we must engage with a gospel mindset that looks for opportunities (i.e. open doors) to point people to Christ and gauging their openness to the gospel. (click here to read more)

On prayer and anxiety: What if Prayer Makes Anxiety Worse? by Mike Leake

This is why I still pray…or try to pray…in the midst of darkness. Because eventually the gospel wins out and God breaks through. It happened with Bunyan and it happens with me.

Prayer is helpful even when our thoughts of God are jacked up simply because the gospel is true. When we cry out to God—even with hearts tinged with unbelief, depressive thoughts, and the whole lot—he answers. It may not make me feel better in the moment in which I pray. But God hears and God answers. (click here to read more)

On discipleship: Let’s Get Real About Women’s Discipleship by Rachelle Cox

Less than a year ago, I helped organize a women’s ministry event focused on discipleship. During this hour-long event, we offered women the chance to ask anonymous questions to a panel of female leaders in the church about the practice of discipleship. It went well. Frankly, a little too well. The five of us participating on the panel ran out of time long before those in attendance ran out of questions.

While I was encouraged by the interest women showed in the topic, I left the panel feeling somewhat burdened by the trend I saw in the questions women were asking us. Many women in my church seemed to struggle with the essential rhythm of discipleship, mostly because they had unrealistic ideas about what discipleship should look like in the first place. They were frustrated by their lack of theological prowess or their inability to squeeze a group Bible study into their schedules, and rather than doing discipleship “wrongly” they were just foregoing discipleship completely. (click here to read more)

On doing good to others: Enjoying God Fuels Doing Good by David Mathis

Titus also has something to say about “learning” to do others good. There’s a process — with practical steps to take ahead of time — to make space for the Spirit’s leading. That may include leaving enough margin in your schedule to be able to meet unexpected needs, or carrying paper money to give on the spot to someone in need, or setting aside funds for personal ministry in your monthly budget.

“Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). Being ready to do good doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s something we learn. We learn to devote ourselves to the good of others. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 08.24.17 (on: parenting, prayer, Bible reading, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On parenting and discipleship: 8 Tips to Help You Disciple Your Kids by Dembowczyk

One of the main problems we have as parents is that we expect way too much of ourselves when it comes to discipling our kids, and when we can’t live up to them, we feel like failures and often quit. Family worship doesn’t have to look like worship with your church family with singing, prayer, and lengthy and in-depth Bible teaching. Gospel conversations don’t always have to end with some profound theological gem from you. We need to be realistic of what our family discipleship will look like. Perhaps that means talking about a Bible story for 15 minutes one night a week at dinner and trying to find one or two times each week to move conversations toward the gospel. Wherever you are, start there and develop rhythms and habits that work and then build on them to get to where you want to be. (click here to read more)

On Bible reading: 4 Bible Reading Strategies for Reading Plan Quitters by Scott Slayton

When you read large portions of Scripture, you will consistently see passages where you want to slow down and read more carefully. Keep a list of these passages and when reading large sections starts to feel tedious, spend some time reading only one chapter or less each day for a while.

When you do this, make sure that you read with a pencil and a notebook. Write out what you are reading on your notebook. Skip a line so that you leave yourself room to write notes. Then, go through the passage slowly. Mark significant words. Look for words that the writer uses more than once. Take note of the connecting words like “for,” “therefore,” “but,” “so that,” or “in order that” and pay attention to how they connect one clause in the passage to another. (click here to read more)

On joy and prayer: Ask Him for Joy by Mike Phay

Jesus references a radical change in relationship between his followers and his Father that will happen through his mediating work; specifically, through his redemptive death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Jesus is assuring his gathered disciples that “that day” will come when direct access to the Father will take place. In that day, Jesus says that we will be able to ask directly, that is, we will be able to pray. We will be able to approach the Father directly in Jesus’ name and through his mediating work—and we will be the ones asking (“I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf”). In turn, the Father himself will be the one hearing, listening, and responding, “for the Father himself loves you.” (click here to read more)

On Bible interpretation: Are You REALLY Interpreting the Bible Literally by Stephen Altrogge

Understanding the original intent of the passage guards us from reading a modern meaning back into scripture. Does it take work and study and thinking to wrestle the original meaning from the text? You bet. But it’s valuable, necessary work.

Why do so many people end up twisting scripture? Because they infuse their modern, “enlightened” sensibilities into the text, taking it far away from what the author originally meant. (click here to read more)

 

Good Reads 05.17.17 (on Christian living, prayer, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On our dreams vs. our reality: Embrace the Life You Have by Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Finally, I am called to embrace the life I have. Embrace it as I would a beloved friend. Wholeheartedly. With joyful acceptance, not grudging obedience. Embracing means gladly receiving and even welcoming whatever the Lord gives me, even when it wasn’t in my plans. It means being fully present, living in the now, finding joy in the moment, and not longing for what’s past. (click here to read more)

On parenting: How Should Parents Respond to Their Children’s Sexual Sin by Russell Moore

It’s good for parents to feel burdened about their kids’ sin. There are far too many parents, including evangelical parents, who assume sexual sin is just part of growing up, particularly when it comes to boys. That’s not true. This is a sin against God, and a genuinely Christian response to such sin needs to begin with feeling the true weight of this sin.

Having said that, parents should also not be excessively shocked. We shouldn’t communicate to our children, “I can’t believe what you did,’ or even worse, “I can’t believe you did this to us.” Too many parents take their children’s sin personally, because they expect their child to always make the right moral decision in challenging moments. There is no sin except what is common to man, and while there are extreme sins, your child will not invent any sin. (click here to read more)

On men and prayer: Men, Lead Out in Prayer by Casey Lewis

Prayer is what the church and country need. It especially needs men who are willing to lead spiritually, and specifically, to lead in the area of prayer. Men, we can’t abdicate our responsibility any longer to the women in the church. We must lead as God has called us to lead.

I am sure other pastors in other times have said this but I am going to say it now in our time. Men, if we want our country and community to change, if we want to see people come to Jesus, we have to be spiritual leaders who are leading out in prayer. (click here to read more)

On living faithful to Jesus: Stop Being on Fire for Jesus by David Appelt

And that’s the rub. Yes, if I am living my life in obedience to Jesus, in worship of him, and striving to grow in His grace, then I will have the positivity that often comes along with it.

But by no means does the bible tell us to gauge our spiritual lives solely (or even primarily) based on our feelings. It’s a reality in the bible that we will go through seasons of pain, doubt, failure, feebleness, and loss. Not every second of our lives will be exhilarating, news-worthy, record-breaking happiness, and excitement. Most of the Christian life is radically ordinary. (click here to read more)