Emmaus Redlands

The Amazing Offensiveness of Jesus

Mark 6:1-13

In this passage we see three aspects of Jesus: we have reason to be amazed by his power, Jesus was offensive to those around him, and we do not want Jesus to be amazed by us.

Be Amazed by Jesus

Leading up to chapter six in the Gospel of Mark there have been quite a few instances that reveal why we should be amazed by Jesus:

-Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law

-Leper is healed

-Paralytic man healed after being lowered to Jesus from the roof

-Man with deformed hand

-Jesus commands the storm to cease

-Jesus heals the demon possessed man

-Jesus heals a woman who had bled for 12 years

-Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter


At this point in Mark it is easy to see why people were amazed by Jesus’ power. However, when Jesus returns to his home town he is met with perplexing questions as to what his true identity is and whether the rumors of his amazing abilities were actually valid. When Jesus returns to Nazareth, the town questions the origin of Jesus’ power because they are obsessed with the source rather than the content of his ability. Second, they wonder where Jesus could have received the wisdom he displays since it was reserved for religious leaders. Wisdom was seen as a divine blessing given by God. The crowd even questions how he could possibly perform such miracles with his hands due to his low status as a carpenter. Lastly, they question Jesus’ ability because he is perceived as the illegitimate son of Mary.

The underlying message is that they cannot fathom how God would use someone with such an inauspicious pedigree in order to do His work. Even though Jesus returns home as a Rabbi with disciples, authority, a deep knowledge of the scriptures,  and performing miracles his hometown refuses to see him as a Rabbi. They refuse to acknowledge Jesus’ amazing power. 


“Underneath all of these questions is the assumption that the people of Nazareth knew who Jesus was and how God was going to bring in His Kingdom.”



Be Offended by Jesus

The people of Nazareth were offended by the claims of Jesus because he was nothing more than an illegitimate child. They were scandalized by the claim that Jesus was the Messiah. However, there is an important distinction between taking offense and giving offense

Taking offense:someone who wants to be offended and will find a reason to be

Giving Offense: Someone who purposefully makes it difficult to be heard

It is an important distinction because Jesus never gave offense to others. Jesus always spoke truth with compassion and wisdom. Jesus seeks the truth with grace not shame. Even still people were offended by him yet they all wanted to be around him. Christians should not measure their success by how much they offend people but by whether or not we are capable of compassionately explaining where we stand with people in a way that they still want to stick around even when they’re offended. Jesus will offend us because he calls us to repentance in the areas of our lives that he is not King. 

“We cannot control whether or not people will actually take offense. But we do not have the luxury of changing the message to make it less offensive.” 

Don’t be Amazing to Jesus

The people who should have known Jesus the most, his hometown, failed to respond to his authority even though they were amazed. Mark tells us that Jesus is actually astonished by the town of Nazareth because of their lack of trust. How is it that the people who knew Jesus and even saw his miracles reject him? Faithfulness to Jesus is not just about proximity to his miracles, but it is about our posture towards Christ. We must remember that unbelief is not simply a matter of a lack of information. Sin causes a rebellious sickness that refuses to give up control. It takes more than a few miracles or knowledge to change our sinfulness. Rather, we need a heart transplant that can only be given to us by Jesus. 

“We need to allow Jesus to reign and speak deeply into our lives even if it offends us.”


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


The Essence of Faith

Mark 5:21-43

What does it look like to live a life of faith? 

Desperate for Jesus (How we come to Him)

Mark describes a story in which Jairus, a leader of the Synagogue, came to Jesus desperate for someone to help his dying daughter. Jairus came to Jesus knowing full well that Jesus already had the reputation of being a trouble-maker in Synagogues as a threat to the status quo. But, Jairus sets aside his position, reputation, and personal safety by falling at the feet of Jesus fraught with fear over the life of his daughter.

As Jesus and Jairus make their way to the sick child, Jesus stops in the middle of the crowd after he feels power come out of him. As it turns out, a woman who had been suffering from severe bleeding for years with no hope of being cured pushed through the crowd and touched Jesus’ cloak healing her instantly. 

These two stories are crucial in understanding God’s grace because the bleeding woman is the antithesis of Jairus. Jairus has wealth, status, and he was an authority in the synagogue. The woman was a social outcast due to her status as “unclean” from the bleeding, she spent all her money on physicians to no avail, and she was cut off from worship in the synagogue. Yet both are unified in their desperation for Jesus to help them in their life altering predicaments. 

“It’s not just sin and suffering that drive us to Christ. It is meant that even in the good times that we should be driven to Christ.”


Delayed by Jesus (How we grow to trust Him)

As we come to Jesus we may come to realize that his timeline is different than ours. First, the woman had been suffering from her illness for twelve years. Second, while Jesus is on the way to heal the dying girl he stops to talk to this woman, which seems to be a far less urgent matter than the task he was already on. The point in these two scenarios is that the timing of Jesus is not bound by our own intuition or urgency. Jesus chooses to give attention to this woman who has been pronounced unclean or unwelcome in the synagogue because his grace is not confined to status or wealth. 

In order for trust in Christ to grow we must understand that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but it is control. Since Jesus is bringing about our good within the delay he will not be controlled by what we think he should do. Faith requires us to relinquish the control we so desperately desire to have in order to place our trust in God’s ability to determine the best course of action. 

“Delayed, for your situation, does not mean denied. It may not be coming as quickly as you would expect, but because of who Jesus is, we can trust that there is something at play in the situation that God knows and we don’t.”

Dependent Upon Jesus (How we remain in Him)

The good news that is revealed from both of these encounters is that Jesus’ grace and love are compatible with delays. The bleeding woman had hoped to be healed incognito, but once she touched Jesus’ cloak he delays the healing of the young girl in order to bring deeper healing to this woman. Jesus requires more from her than she expected when he calls her out, but he responds to her with love and endearment bringing about a restoration that she was not expecting. 

Likewise Jesus requires more of Jairus than he was expecting. Jairus simply wanted Jesus to cure the fever coming over his daughter. When the news comes to both of them that his child had died Jesus asks that Jairus would simply trust in him. The outcome of such faith is that rather than a cure for his daughter Jairus witnesses a resurrection.

These stories reveal three aspects of Jesus’ character which makes him dependable:

  1. His grace is for you: Jesus forces Jairus to wait in order to give full attention to a woman who had zero status and power in the culture of his day because his grace is for both of them. Jesus’ grace is for us regardless of who we are or what we’ve done.

  2. His power is for you: We see Jesus’ power conquers our greatest enemy: death. Jesus grabs the young girl by the hand and raises her from death and he will do the same for you. The cross is a reminder that Jesus has power over death and he will gently pull us up from the curse of death.

  3. He became weak for you: In Jesus’ humanity we see a weakness after power comes out from him which was used to heal the bleeding woman. This is foreshadowing the weakness Jesus takes upon himself on the cross in order that we may live in God’s power. 

“The delays of God mean that we will sacrifice more than we thought and we will gain more than we hoped.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


The Power and Goodness of Christ

Mark 4:35-5:20

The apocalyptic literature of Daniel sets up the valuable truth that Jesus is both abundantly powerful and abundantly good. Daniel Chapter 7 dives into a vision of four beasts that erupt from the sea. Each beast is meant to represent the human powers of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. In the time that Mark’s Gospel was written the audience consisted of Roman citizens who were facing persecution and death from Caesar Nero. Mark wants his audience to connect the power and goodness of Jesus in the midst of the powerful evil they find themselves in.

A Great Power

Throughout the scriptures we see that water is often viewed as chaotic darkness. When the Jewish people thought of the sea they thought of the clash between order and chaos or the place where God and evil rage against each other. Mark tells us the story of when the disciples were on a boat in the midst of an intense storm. When they look to Jesus for help they are surprised to find him sleeping. In pure terror the disciples wake Jesus up and he immediately rebukes the wind and the storm immediately ceases. The power of Jesus takes the intensity of a storm and commands it into a deep calm. The disciples were astonished at the display of Jesus’ power because they know from the scriptures that only the power of God can control the sea. In this story, Jesus does not conjure a higher power to deal with the storm, but he speaks directly to the wind because there is no higher power than the power Jesus has.


“[Jesus is] the creator of all things with unmatched and unmanageable power and the chaos of the sea is at [his] command.” 

A Great Compassion

When it comes to storms in our lives we can often become reductionistic in our views to the problems at hand. We may think that we simply need to move somewhere else or change a minor detail in our physical, mental, or spiritual lives rather than work on the depths of our problems. But, scriptures gives weight to our physical, mental, moral and spiritual selves and understands that they interlock which means they affect one another. Too often we reduce our world to the physical reality that we can see, touch, poke, or prod. But, there is a deep reality that is missed when we only focus on the physical. After Jesus calmed the storm the disciples ran into a demon possessed man who is so powerful that he is unable to be chained or controlled by anyone. The demon possessed man mimics the reality of what we run to for comfort in the midst of negative circumstances such as: isolation, bondage to addiction, or harming ourselves which doesn’t always mean physical harm. But the goodness of Jesus is demonstrated because he goes to the furthest depths for this man so that we can have the hope that Jesus will come rescue us from the depths of our chaos. 


In the midst of the powerful legion within this man Jesus shows his power by forcing the unclean spirits into the pigs who then drowned in the sea. The connection here is that Daniel sees a vision of a power that will engulf the world, but we see Jesus coming in the midst of this legion and he brings redemption, healing, and restoration. We see Christ’s power over what seems to be the most unimaginable power in the world. The demon possessed man is completely restored due to the deep healing of Jesus.  


“If we reject personal spiritual evil we will be blind to a significant power at work that stirs up our struggle and sin and creates chaos.” 



A Great Fear

Throughout each of these narratives there is an intense fear woven throughout. Fear of the storm, Jesus’ power, and the fear of the demoniac. Fear rises when we find ourselves in the midst of a power that we cannot control. The differences between the power of the storm, the demoniac, and Jesus is that Jesus is the only one that loves us. Just like the other powers we are unable to control the power of Jesus, but we can rest easy knowing that he is good. If the disciples had known Christ’s love and unlimited power they would have been able to remain calm within the storm. We often think that if Jesus loves us that he would not let us go through the storms of our lives, but this is not a Biblical view of Jesus’ love. Rather we should focus on the authority, power, and care of Jesus in the midst of the difficulties that arise in our lives. 


“If we believe he is powerful but not good we are driven away from him. If we believe he is good but not powerful we are driven to pity him. But, if we believe he is good and powerful we are driven to trust him in any and every season of life.”




Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Parables of the Kingdom Part 2

Mark 4:21-34


The Light of Jesus will not be Hidden

As disciples of Jesus our job is to put God’s light on display throughout the world. Two parables within the Gospel of  Mark pushes us to put the light of Jesus on display and to sow seeds, but ultimately the growth that occurs comes from God. Jesus starts to subvert the expectations of what the Kingdom of God is meant to be  and the dangers of hiding the light of Jesus in two ways:

1. If you hide it you misuse it: 

In Jesus’ day the only light available to them was fire. If anyone were to put a fire under a bed or basket the fire would spread and burn down anything it could along the way. Likewise, if we hide the light of Jesus from the world we will begin to use it in ways that it was never meant to be used.

2. If you hide it you will lose it: 

Jesus gives a warning that those who misuse the light will have it taken away. We must be careful not to misuse the light that has been given to us through the scriptures and through the example of Jesus. Misuse of the light comes from trying to manipulate the gospel for our own gain. The light must be used for the purpose of  building up the Kingdom for God’s glory.


“We come to Christ because he is the light of the world, but then he sends us out as light.”


God will see to it that His Kingdom Grows

All of the Old Testament is pointing to what Jesus is doing in his ministry. Jesus declares that God’s Kingdom is coming and it is near to us now. This means that everything God promised he would do for His people is being done. God promises in Isaiah that he would give his light to us and as we reflect the light of God in the world others will come to worship God because of the light that they see in us. 

Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God is here now, but it is not fully completed. The Kingdom is like a seed whose roots are growing strong underneath the soil. We only notice the seed’s growth once it breaches the topsoil. The kingdom’s roots are indeed growing and one day it will burst open in a glorious completion that God himself is creating. Even though we cannot see the growth occurring, the small acts of obedience that we produce contributes to the growth of the Kingdom that is certain to come.

“We know that God has done something, that He is doing something, and we know that He will do something. But for you, you need to be patient.” 


The Kingdom of God Starts Small and Grows Large

When Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, he is not merely saying that the Kingdom is small, but he is referring to what happens to that seed. Seeds start growing small, but then bloom into something far grander than it started. Mustard seeds are the smallest seed, but grows to be a tree large enough to house birds. The Kingdom of God starts small then grows large which transforms it into something completely different. The nature of the Kingdom of God is vastly different than the kingdoms of Jesus’ day or the ones that we know in our current time. The Kingdom of God is not like a boulder that rolls through other nations in order to gain power through domination. But the Kingdom of God is like a seed that comes in quietly, slowly and unseen. God’s Kingdom comes organically, gradually, and gently transforms the deserts of creation into forests of new life. The kingdoms of humanity are about sheer power while God’s Kingdom is about transformation. 

“Jesus says, “You know what my kingdom is like? My Kingdom is the God of the universe, the largest and most powerful being, who became like a small seed to come into the world in order to be buried so that something could grow.”



Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Parables of the Kingdom

Mark 4:1-20

Jesus is well known for teaching in parables that can often be confusing. The first parable that Jesus uses in the Gospel of Mark is one that gives us insight to why parables were used for teaching. When the apostles asked Jesus why he teaches in parables he responds with a quote from Isaiah expressing the purpose of parables is to open the eyes of those within the fold while those outside the fold will be able to see but unable to perceive. In one sense the parables are meant to help differentiate between followers of Jesus and those who see but are unable to perceive. Jesus is mimicking what God was saying for Isaiah's ministry revealing that the gospel  will stir faith in some, but many will be hardened to the message causing them to turn away.

 The Disturbance of the Parable

Jesus included teachings in his parables that were often shocking to his audience because they went against the normal conventions of the day. Jesus purposefully used shocking language as a way to elicit a response from his listeners. Jesus taught his audience in a way that forces people to stick around to gain understanding or to write him off. 


Jesus understood a crucial element of teaching a crowd which is: if you do not force your pupils to think deeply about what you are conveying they will not learn it. In our modern day we take for granted the depth of knowledge that exists at our fingertips. Too often people today do not remember what they have been taught because they have access to answers on the internet which means there is little reason to commit what one is learning to memory. By using parables mixed with shocking language Jesus is forcing his audience to think deeply about what it means to follow him and the nature of the Kingdom. Jesus knew that gaining knowledge was a slow, cumbersome, and tedious work that builds upon itself in order to grow in sustainable understanding. 


“The parables of Jesus are dynamic stories that should draw us in to reflect...Jesus arouses the spiritual imagination of his hearers that they might understand the nature of the Kingdom.”


The Details of the Parable

Jesus spends the first parable in Mark discussing the details of the heart’s soil. When seeds of the gospel are planted in our hearts there are many things that are actively seeking to obstruct it before roots are set in deep enough to stick. As a church, we are called to defend one another, to preach the gospel, and help support each other in the removal of these obstructions. 


The Four types of Soil

  1. Hard soil-the seed of the gospel is vulnerable capable of being devoured by Satan

  2. Rocky ground-thwarts root growth making it impossible to stand up to times of tribulation and persecution

  3. Thorny ground-portrays the choking of the word through false teachings within the world or the deceitful security found in wealth

  4. Good Soil-This soil allows for roots to grow deep. These seeds represent the ones who hear the word and yield an unimaginable amount of fruit thanks to the good soil they grow in.


“Jesus says here that it is not about our technique or trying to change ourselves or the ground. He stops and says ‘it’s God’s providence that is on display here.”


The Depth of the Parable

Everything that we do should be geared towards planting the gospel. Our job is to plant the seeds not to determine the outcome. Even when it looks like nothing is happening it is crucial that we keep the goal of planting seeds in mind because the depth is the most important thing. We may not see the roots that are growing within the people around us, but those roots must take hold deeply first before we begin to see the growth on the surface. Too often we become obsessed with trying to take away the weeds, thorns, and rocks in people's lives, but we are not the gardner. The growth that occurs in people's lives is solely from the miraculous work of God because only He can produce growth.


“The seed of the gospel is freely and lovingly scattered to any and everyone. It is the soil that matters. God alone is the one who prepares the soil to receive the seed.”





Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Slaves Set Free

Mark 3:7-35

Jesus did not come to simply fix the sin or moral problems of the individual. Jesus is Israel’s long awaited Messiah; God’s anointed one. Jesus came to liberate everyone from captivity of the dark powers within this world. Jesus came to set us free from the wickedness and power plays of the kingdoms that seek to bring us down with their hellbent agendas. It is difficult in our modern views to think about the ideas of slavery or the power that modern kingdoms seek to control, but Jesus’ gospel of liberation, freedom, reconciliation, and redemption are just as potent against powerhouses who falsely seek authority as it was in his day. 

“Jesus did not come to merely dismiss our minor imperfections or show us a more moral or better way of life. He came to liberate us from spiritual slavery.”

Just like Israel, we can all become enslaved to our own desires which acts out as rebellion against God. The tragedy in Israel’s story is that even when they were God’s covenant family they polluted their own land by choosing to rebel, insult, and fight against God’s Holy Spirit who was in their midst. Israel defaced their temples by putting up idols as physical  representations of the dark powers which ruled the pagan nations around them. Isaiah prophesied a new exodus would be lead directly by God’s spirit present in the Messiah. This Messiah would forgive the sins of the people thus freeing them from demonic bondage.  

“The people of Israel had become enslaved to their own passions; their own depravities. Enslaved to the wicked and hostile world around them.”

It is crucial to remember that Jesus does not call sinners and tax collectors to show them that there isn’t anything wrong with their actions nor to condone the fact that the pharisees were engaging with pagan slave masters. The point is that Jesus calls the worst and most vile enemies of God because if God’s restorative grace is not for them it is not for anyone. 

“This Messiah would forgive the sins of the people setting them free from demonic bondage.”

The scene is set with a confrontation of cosmic proportions when the Scribes accuse Jesus of having power from Beelzebul rather than the Holy Spirit. But, Jesus declares his authority comes from the God who promised to rescue his people and cast down all other rivals to His kingdom. Jesus’ exorcisms throughout his ministry are not just morality plays about individual deliverance, but they are the evidence of the cosmic upheaval of the pagan powers surrounding God’s people. The dark kingdoms of this world are being overthrown and their tyrants are being cast down and plundered. Jesus’ liberation from the self inflicted wounds of idolatry and spiritual adultery is unfolding before the watching crowds. Jesus declares that the kingdom which sets the enslaved free is available for those who would believe the gospel.

“The beginning of the new exodus is exactly what the good news, the gospel, is all about. God’s Holy Spirit returning once again to dwell with His people...this Spirit would be present in the Messiah and he would do all of this by the power of God.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript

A New Way of Relating

Mark 2:13-3:6

How often have we fallen into religious trihardism? Religious trihardism is the notion that we can earn God’s favor by following a laundry list of religious practices and rituals. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were notorious for their religious trihardism that created an environment of self-righteousness and legalism which drew lines between the religious elite and everyone else. Jesus came with a new message regarding our place with God which was a direct threat to the established order created by the Pharisees.

Missional Impact

 The Gospel of Mark shows Jesus’ desire to turn outcasts into insiders. Jesus meets a man named Levi who was a tax collector. Tax collectors at this time were highly disliked due to their union with Rome to gain money from their own people which was seen as a disgrace to fellow Jews. But, Jesus calls Levi to be a disciple turning him into an insider and his reaction shows how missional impact is possible when our lives are changed by Jesus.


Gospeled Life + Relational Proximity x Gospel Clarity =Missional Impact

  1. Gospeled Life-A life transformed and changed by Jesus. As we come to Jesus we learn truths about our lives that we did not understand before and become transformed by Christ

  2. Relational Proximity-As we live our changed lives among our family, friends, co-workers, and communities around us we are living in relational proximity

  3. Gospel Clarity-When we use our words to express the change that we have experienced we will have a missional impact

  4. Missional Impact- Our transformational story will create more disciples of Jesus 

Levi answers Jesus’ call to discipleship and his life is immediately changed. Levi goes out into his communities and tells everyone about the transformation he just received. Levi tells other outcasts about the change that Jesus provides so that more outsiders are welcomed as insiders creating more disciples of Christ. 

“If we will live lives that are transformed by Jesus. If we will remain in relational proximity of those who do not know Jesus and will be clear about why our lives are changed we will see God use that to reach more people.”


Acknowledge our Need

The Pharisees come across a meal being shared between unclean people and Jesus who, as a Rabbi, is in danger of becoming ceremonially unclean if he makes contact with other unclean people. When the Pharisees comment on Jesus’ actions his response is that he has come to heal the sick not the healthy. One of the major hurdles we have when it comes to being transformed by Jesus is recognizing our need for his grace. We must come to terms with the fact that all of us need the redeeming power of Christ in order to become a transformed people welcomed into the fold. Jesus doesn’t come for the self-righteous because they don’t have a need. But, Jesus came for those who recognize their separation from God due to their sins and to amend the gap created by sinfulness so that all have access to God.  


“The gospel continues to save us as we continue to acknowledge our need for grace.”


Human Need over Ceremonial Law

Jesus claims that the Kingdom of God is completely new. The old religious structure that has been set up will not hold the Kingdom of God. The way to God that Jesus is creating is not through religious practices but through joyful faith and association with Jesus. We do not get to eternity through going to church, conducting a Bible Study, or the giving of your resources. The only way we are brought back to God is through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 


The Pharisees get to a point where they are simply waiting for Jesus to make a mistake so that they can call attention to his failings. While worshiping in the synagogue, Jesus calls over a man with a withered hand. Rather than waiting for the Pharisees to accuse him, Jesus asked the Pharisees whether or not it is lawful to do good or harm on the sabbath. The Pharisees are stunned  because they have emphasized lawful requirement to the point that the lines for meeting human need over ceremonial law have become completely blurred. Religious trihardism created people that did not honor a holy God, but obstinate people who thought they could behave their way into the good graces of God. Jesus heals the man with a withered hand because he has created an entirely new way of relating to God.


“Jesus sets forth a basic principle: human need should take precedence over ceremonial and religious laws.” 


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


A Deeper Healing

Mark 2:1-12

Jesus drives us deeper than our perceived need

The gospel of Mark tells a well known story of a paralytic man who wanted to see Jesus; but because the crowd surrounding Jesus was so compact the only way to get to him was for his friends to lower him down through the roof of the building that Jesus was in. In a time where the inability to be independent was a massive burden, the paralytic man was hoping to be healed by the only being who could do such a miraculous work. However, we notice that Jesus does not heal the physical ailments of the man immediately, but his first words are “Son, your sins are forgiven.” This is because the man needs a deeper healing than just his physical maladies. It is a completely understandable desire for this man to want to be able to move his body as it should and it is not a bad desire. But Jesus sees that it doesn’t go deep enough because it doesn’t heal the heart. Jesus will not give us our strongest desire until he is our strongest desire. If our strongest desire is anything beyond Jesus, we will be devastated when it fails.

“Whatever your need is it is meant to drive you to Jesus who will take you deeper.” 


Jesus meets us in our need with His aggressive grace

As our need drives us to Jesus, he meets us in the midst of our struggle with his aggressive grace. It is rather strange that Jesus offers forgiveness to the paralytic man even though it seems he came to Jesus for other reasons besides repentance. However, Jesus saw the paralytic man’s faith through his eager desire to get to Jesus even within his powerlessness. This man’s actions mimic our own lives in that we come powerless towards Christ and cast ourselves on his mercy. It is not an attempt to buy God’s favor because grace is not earned. Faith is not earning Christ’s grace, but is trusting in his ability to deeply heal us holistically. When Jesus sees the glimpse of faith in the paralytic man and the actions of his friends, he responds with disproportionate grace. We may not always know how to put words to the weight of our afflictions, but as we ache towards Christ he meets us with his aggressive grace.

“If [Jesus] were not aggressive with his grace, none of us would have a saving faith because faith is not a virtue it is a gift.” 

Jesus overcomes our need with the ultimate healing

In this passage we see Jesus answering a question about his identity. When Jesus declares the paralytic man’s sins are forgiven the scribes are confused because sin can only be forgiven by the one who is sinned against. God is the only one who can forgive sins because all sin is an offense to Him. The scribes become perplexed at Jesus of Nazareth who claims to have the power to forgive this man’s sins which would only be possible if he were God. The scribes cannot verify that man’s sins are forgiven, but to show that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins he commands the paralyzed man to get up, pick up his mat, and to walk home. Jesus verifies his ability to forgive sins by expressing his authority in something that seems impossible. 

The truth is that sin and brokenness are inextricably linked together. We have all sinned and have been sinned against which always brings brokenness to our lives. The good news of the gospel is all of that is healed in Jesus Christ. The deep need we have for our sins to be forgiven, our brokenness healed and the deepest desires of our hearts to be fulfilled is all healed because Jesus is healing all. 

“Sin needs forgiving and brokenness needs healing and Jesus does both. 

This is the deeper healing.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


A New Kind of Day

Mark 1:35-45

It is easy for us to live in such a busy pacing of life that the roots of our hearts and home are weakened with rot. We currently live in a culture that compounds on our already busy schedules with requests to volunteer or serve above and beyond what we already do. The technological age that we live in makes it nearly impossible for us to get away from the business that looms over us. We must learn a new way to go about our day so that our lives produce fruit in our lives rather than business.

Being Before Doing...

When our lives become overwhelming with our business, prayer and solitude are the first aspects that we leave behind which, ironically, are what we need most. The Gospel of Mark shows that the busier Jesus was the more intentional he became about prayer and communion with the Father. Jesus teaches us that our lives depend on communion with the Father. 

Jesus’ prayer life is incredibly intentional and intimate even when crowds of people were vying for his attention. Jesus understood that his priorities were geared towards being with God first and meeting the needs of others second. We cannot meet the needs of others fruitfully if we are not first laying the foundation of intimate relationship with God. 

“The degree that you know the Fatherly love of God is the degree that you do not need power, comfort, control and approval...we live out the freedom we have in Christ through prayer.”

...Produces Word and Deed Living...

Jesus was the first rabbi in history to ever suggest that we should have a fatherly view of God. Jesus’ prayer life reminds us that relationship with God is oriented around who we are and not what we do. Word and deed living is produced from a being before doing perspective. It is not being without doing it’s simply understanding that our being, identified with God, is what produces fruitful doing. Humans have more needs than just the physical reality of what they/we can see. There is a spiritual need that people do not see as readily which must be addressed in order for ultimate healing to come into their lives. When we are feeding our bodies on a spiritual level as well as physical we become a more holistic person which opens the door for word and deed living.  

“Christians must be word and deed people which means we are people who do not despise the world or reflect it because they are utterly different from the world.”

...Which Results in Holistic Healing

As we go about our day as word and deed people we see that we are joining God and his work which results in a comprehensive salvation. How do we view people who have needs in our sphere of influence? Do we see people as an interruption or as individuals in need of communion with their Heavenly Father? We cannot meet every single need in existence, but we are called to have compassion for those who are in our midst. If we are not living in the intimate relationship that Jesus exemplifies than we will see people as an interruption to what is fast and famous. As God’s people we are called to compassion for our world and our communities with a desire for holistic healing. 

 “At the foot of the cross we receive the spirit of sonship that cries out ‘Abba, Father!’ That reality leads us into word and deed living where we join in God’s work to see holistic healing come. Which brings us back again to the foot of the cross.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Kingdom Authority

Mark 1:21-34

An Undeniable Authority

The Gospel of Mark unpacks the difference in Jesus’ authority from other Jewish leaders when he visits the synagogue. The Jewish community would gather at the synagogue to be taught by scribes who would often quote well known rabbis in order to give their teaching authority. However, Jesus was different from these teachers of the Torah. Jesus did not speak authoritatively in the academic sense, but spoke in a manner that gave him rule, dominion and power. Immediately Jesus demonstrates this power by rebuking the demon out of a man. Jesus showed his authority in his teaching by demonstrating his power over unclean spirits.

Jesus is the author of all creation which means that there is an in depth knowledge and authority that can only be shown by the one whom all creation is subject to. Those witnessing Jesus’ power could not articulate it, but they were experiencing the authority of the author of all creation.

A Healing Authority

The undeniable authority that Jesus has leads to a healing authority. Jesus’ authority expresses itself in mending, renewing, and healing. As the kingdom fleshes itself out in our lives the brokenness we experience becomes renewed under the authority of Christ. This healing is both spiritual and physical because God’s good creation is not just spiritual but is physical as well. We must remember that what we do in day to day life of the physical realm is important. Jesus came to redeem all things and as we join with him in his work to renew creation what we do with our lives matters.

Jesus’ power and healing authority is the same today as it was in the synagogue all those years ago. In the midst of the inconsolable things of life, Jesus has healing power over our lives. Even though everything won’t be fixed here and now we have hope that Jesus will one day renew all things.

How is Jesus’ Authority Demonstrated?

  1. There is a time coming when all sin will be done away with, and brokenness in every form will be healed.

  2. We should join Jesus in asking God for healing

  3. Recognizing that the broken aspects of our lives are not defeats

“Inconsolable things’ are the sins and miseries that will not be eradicated until heaven comes home, the things that only Jesus, and no one of us, can overcome. We cannot expect to change what Jesus has left unfixed for the moment. The presence of inconsolable things does not mean the absence of Jesus’ power, however. Rather, it establishes the context for it. There in the midst of what is inconsolable to us, the true unique nature and quality of Jesus’s power shows itself to be unlike any other power we have seen.”

—Zack Eswine

A Resurrecting Authority

Jesus’ authority does not subjugate as the kingdoms of this world do. It does not destroy as kings of this world tend to do. Jesus’ authority resurrects, revives, and brings life. When we are healed by Jesus’ resurrection power it leads us to serve the kingdom that has true healing authority. Our lives become marked by hospitality and generosity as we begin building life giving communities right where we are. When Jesus’ authority comes to bear in our lives it gives us a new sense of priorities that reverses the need for dominating others. We do not do this in order to pay anything back but experiencing the healing authority of the kingdom blooms a desire to spread to others what our Savior has done for us.  

In the midst of this we must be careful that we do not confuse business with service. When we see all the inconsolable things of life it can be easy for us to serve in ways that are not effective. We must be careful that we do not trade true Christ honoring service for anxious business. Now, sometimes this comes into our lives because we see all the inconsolable problems of life which makes us apathetic because there is so much that we do not know what to do.

But there are two other reasons that tend to surface in our business:

1. We become busy in our vanity

2. We become busy in our laziness

“In the midst of the inconsolable things of life we have to distinguish from business and service. Business often masquerades as service...a busy Christian is a blasphemous desire to do God’s work for Him.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript

The Call to Follow

Mark 1:14-20

All of us are prone to think about ourselves first and foremost even in the midst of the good news that others have. This results in living in a Kingdom of self. Mark begins his gospel by warning us against the pitfalls of the false Kingdom of self and announces the triumphant kingdom that Jesus brings to us.

Kingdom Contrast

Mark places the kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of God side by side in order to contrast their major differences. Mark wants us to see that the kingdom of this world is a broken Kingdom of self. When we live in the Kingdom of self we tend to treat everyone and everything around us as being geared towards serving us.

Mark wants to point us to a truer and better kingdom. A kingdom of life where the true king is enthroned. God’s people have been longing for a king to set them free from the bonds of the world. Jesus arrives and says that the opportune time has come for the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the active exercise of God’s righteous power and authority with the rightful king enthroned. Jesus says that there is a new king in power that will usher in the healing of the world and a new way of life.

Even though a new king has been announced we still struggle to keep Jesus on the throne of our lives rather than ourselves. The reason we think about ourselves first is because we are born into a reality of sin. The problem is that there are few things that make us more functionally miserable than being self absorbed. It constantly makes us think of ourselves above everyone else which is a horrible experience. Very few people are capable of treating us or seeing us the way in which we want to be seen or treated. All of this is the outcome of living within the confines of a worldly kingdom.

“The Kingdom of self is heavily defended territory...Most sin, far from being a mere lapse of morals or a weak will, is an energetically and expensively erected defense against God.”

-Eugene Peterson

Kingdom Entrance

Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is at hand. In other words this new kingdom is within reach. We are not there yet, but we can see glimpses of its arrival in our lives.

How do we enter into this kingdom that is within reach, yet is not fully recognized?

1) Repent

Repent means more than simply changing one's mind. It means to rethink everything and look at the world through God’s rule. Repenting includes the act of turning away from wasting our time, money, and talents on the Kingdom of self where we try to surpass other people in the rat race of materialism.

2) Believe the Gospel

Believing in the gospel requires trusting the announcement of joyful news. When we trust the good news we turn from our agendas and enter into the kingdom that Jesus brings. We are all leaning on something that we think matters most in this life. If we lean on anything other than Jesus it is another form of enthroning ourselves. Believing is acting on what we know to be true.

“Repent: give up your agenda and trust me for mine.”

Kingdom Life

The call that Jesus gives us to respond through repentance and trust is an ongoing act rather than a one time event. It is the way that we continue in the life of the Kingdom of God. It is something that should be happening in our daily lives. Following Jesus means that knowing him becomes our supreme passion. Jesus is saying that we must die to the Kingdom of self and enter into the Kingdom of God. Jesus calls us to follow him so fully that all other attachments pale in comparison to our pursuit of him.

“Our call is to bring glimpses and tastes of God’s brand new world that is coming here and now...what people need to experience is an outpost of the Kingdom of God in the midst of a world that operates in the Kingdom of self”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Old News is Good News

Mark 1:1-13

Mark begins his gospel reminding us that the good news occurs in the midst of a grand narrative that has been in the works long before his time. The announcement of a coming Messiah has been prophesied for hundreds of years. God has been at work redeeming his people and Jesus is the climax of that rescue. Mark expresses the importance of remembering how God has worked with the nation of Israel so that we may fully understand the significance of Jesus’ actions.

The Exile

Mark begins his gospel by pointing back to the Prophet Isaiah. Prophets in the Old Testament were responsible for pushing Israel back into the covenant/commitment with God. Prophets were meant to help drive people back into right relationship with God when they began to fall astray. The first section of Isaiah reveals a time when Israel was falling away from their covenant with God to the point that they were becoming spiritually dead leading to their exile. Exile is a term referring to a physical manifestation of the spiritually dead state in which Israel finds themselves. God pushes Israel away from his presence and out of the land promised to them because of their decision to move away from their commitment to God. But, there is good news in the second part of Isaiah which foretells the pinnacle point of God’s grace in a coming Messiah. Our sin places us into a place of exile, but God promises to send one who will lead us out of exile permanently.

“Repentance is not just the turning away from death it is turning to life.”

A New Exodus

Mark continues his gospel with the baptism of Jesus. The imagery of water and sin are constantly placed together in scripture. Whenever we see sin in the Bible we see water soon after because it is a symbol for God cleansing the world. During Noah’s time, God cleanses the world of sin in the waters of judgment. In Egypt, we see the Israelites passed over by the blood of a lamb while the Egyptians are later engulfed in water. These symbols are key elements in Jesus’ baptism. Now that the righteous one has entered the judgment waters and the Heavens have opened up in peace we may be certain that if we enter the grave in Christ we will rise again with Christ. Jesus is the promised one who gives us the new exodus out of the exile brought by our sin.

“Christianity is not just a better moral code or sentimental sweet nothings. It is a new identity as a beloved child of God.”

The Wilderness

Jesus leads us through a new exodus and into the wilderness. When we read about wilderness and temptation we often assume that it is a punishment because God is displeased with us. But what if it is a sign that God is at work within us? Unlike Israel's time in the wilderness where God’s people continued to rebel, Jesus is sent in the wilderness but continues in obedience towards God. Surprisingly, scripture also describes the wilderness as an intimate time between God and his people. Wilderness is where people are stripped of their strength, dependencies and idols turning their attention towards God. Although there are certainly times where we place ourselves into an unpleasant wilderness due to our actions, we cannot immediately assume that wilderness is a result of God’s displeasure; rather, it is God’s refinement so that we find pleasure in Him.

“As Christians we are always in one of three phases. You are either entering a season of wilderness, in a season of wilderness, or exiting a season of wilderness. But be encouraged because what it means is that your Heavenly Father is refining you.”

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Gospel Community

Ephesians 2:11-22

Are you prepared to do what’s necessary within God’s definition of success?

In Ephesians, Paul describes that the gauge by which we should be measuring ourselves is whether or not we are good at remembering what God has done for us. We must remember that we were once separated from Christ, but we are no longer strangers or without hope. The mature Christian is someone who is able to quickly and deeply remember who we were and where we are going. It does not do us any good if we are only good at doing “church” once a week if we do not know how to build community outside those walls.

I. Remember that we’re designed for community

Paul uses the conflict between the Jews and the Gentiles to illustrate what it means to be part of a gospel community. The intense animosity between these two groups during Paul’s time spans across generations. But, Paul uses this conflict to express what happens when gospel community enters into the hearts of people. Communities are reoriented from a diverse people because when we experience Christ, radical grace becomes the foundational event in our lives. Our history, heritage, language, or race are no longer what identifies us. When we meet someone who has also been affected by Christ’s radical grace we have immediate commonality with them. We were designed to be united within a community marked by the grace that comes through Jesus Christ.

“We are united but different. We defer to one another but there is no hierarchy. We love without fear of being rejected. We serve people’s needs without being motivated to make sure our needs are met.”

II. Remember that there are distortions to community

We can easily bring our own assumptions into our communities which can create distortions because it misses God’s fullest intention for his people. Thus, we need to be aware of common inaccuracies that rob us of true community.

1. Community is Just Connection

When we make community only about connection it becomes a social networking platform based on convenience. If our goal is simply about connection, then it all falls apart when difficulties arise. There must be something that connects us more than what we have in common other than Christ.

2. Community as Counseling

Although community should be a place where we can be vulnerable, honest, and attempting to help one another through life’s struggles, it becomes a problem when we focus so much on these aspects that we only discuss our problems and forget to implement who Christ is in our lives.

3. Community is Just a Bible Study

Of course, we should be eager to learn more about Scripture. However, when a community becomes focused on transferring information rather than being transformed it becomes an issue.

4. Community Becomes a Clique

Cliques can occur when we have developed deep and intimate relationships with the people around us. We may not recognize it at first but this can lead to communities who turn their backs on newcomers because they lack the ability to immediately push people into the same level of camaraderie. We fail to allow newcomers in because we are more comfortable with those we are familiar with. If we alienate others in our communities then we are out of step with gospel community.

It is important to recognize that we cannot have gospel community without the first three aspects. We need connection, scripture study, and to work through sin. The problem comes when we substitute one or more of these aspects with the true unity that comes from access to God.  

“Without Christ we would not know our brother nor could we come to know him because the way is blocked by our own ego”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

III. Remember that we are redeemed to a new community

Before Christ came to reconcile all people to God, there was a time in which Gentiles could be killed if they tried to cross the threshold into the Jewish Temple where God’s presence rested. But Christ has brought peace between these two factions by tearing down the dividing wall and inviting all into a new community. Sin separates us from God and others which means we need access that only comes through Christ so that we can be part of the new community that he brings.

“It is not enough to be brought near to God, we need to be brought in.”


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Gospel Rhythms

1 Timothy 4:6-10

What is in the Way?

Disciples are those who learn and follow the way of Jesus’ life. But, what does it mean to follow Jesus or to grow as a disciple? How do you start? It can be easy to become quickly overwhelmed by our daily schedules while simultaneously trying to figure out how discipleship fits into the ebbs and flows of life.  Paul seems to say that two common outcomes of people trying to jumpstart their discipleship is either going with the cultural flow of non biblical ideas hoping for just a piece of life that we are searching for or just giving up. Paul gives encouragement to people who are trying to fake it until they make it or those have just given up. Often times we end up feeling burnt out on discipleship when in reality we never truly practiced authentic discipleship because we were grasping for it in the wrong places.


Reorientation around the Gospel

In order for healthy discipleship to occur we must have a reorientation around the gospel. We see what it looks like to be godly through the life of Jesus Christ. In order to be godly we must look at the gospel of Christ because it is only through the gospel that we come to know and gravitate towards Christ. Therefore, if we want to know what it means to train in godliness we must reorient our lives around the aspects of the gospel.

Aspects of the Gospel:

  1. Cross: the historical facts of what happened at the cross and Christ’s resurrection

  2. Kingdom: Jesus is on the throne of the true kingdom and it is coming in its fullness

  3. Grace: While we were sinners Christ died for us by God’s grace and we extend that grace to others

  4. Glory: The glorious demonstration of God’s very heart and love to redeem all creation

The Rhythms of life which are the outcome of Gospel Aspects:

  1. Study: the cross

  2. Serve: the king

  3. Share: his grace

  4. Seek: his glory

“True life isn’t about orienting my life around church things or whatever happens to be popular right now. True life in Jesus Christ is about reorienting our lives and the church around the whole gospel.”

The Plan for Growing in Godliness

1. We start with our identity:

We don’t want to start with the outcome of what we hope to achieve. But, we start with the fact that our identity is in Christ meaning we are a new creation within a new kingdom. We are called to strive because of who we are in Jesus.

As Christians, we live our lives in two contexts. The first is the gathering which is where we are formed and rehearse the gospel. The second is scattering which is wherever God has placed our sphere of influence and the relationships we have with the people around us.  

“Grace isn’t opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning”

-Dallas Willard

2. The Process

Aspect: Cross Kingdom Grace Glory

Rhythm: Study: The Cross Serve: The King Share: His Grace Seek: His Glory

Gather: Rehearse the truth Stewardship Come & See God’s Glory in Worship

Scatter: Live the truth Serve Others Go & Be God’s Glory in Prayer

3. Start Small

It is important to understand which practices we are already implementing in our daily lives and those that we need to start including in our routines.  Remember that transformation is a journey that takes time so start small with one rhythm and then slowly stack on more rhythms and more time in each rhythm.  If you struggle with studying God’s word consider just reading for five minutes at the start of your day. Find where you struggle, begin to incorporate the practices to strengthen that struggle, and give yourself time/grace as you begin your journey in discipleship to Jesus Christ.

“While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Gospel Identity

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6

We all know that we are going to die one day but we  tend to push our entire lives towards making a mark on the world that will prove we had significance. We hope to impact the world around us so that when we pass on our lives will live on in people’s memory. It is because of this goal that the idea of being forgotten once we die stings our pride. The sting of being forgotten comes from a misplaced identity. Our identity is where we locate our significance. Identity is what matters the most about us. If our identity is rightly located being forgotten loses its sting. But often our identities are misplaced.

Four areas we misplace our identities:

  1. Our performance-I am what I do

  2. Possessions-I am what I have

  3. Pleasure-I am what I want

  4. Popularity-I am what others think of me

Living Blind

When we do not live every aspect of our lives before Christ we are living blind. Paul says that even when we eat and drink we should be doing so with the glory of God in mind. This means that there is nothing in our lives that is too mundane or basic to be under the umbrella of God’s glory. We are living blind if we do not recognize that everything, including the most foundational aspects of our lives, was made to give glory to God. The issue of living blind emerges when we are consumed with our own story rather than the story of Jesus. We place our identity in our performance, possessions, pleasure, and popularity rather than focusing on how our lives can be joined with creation in giving glory to God. We labor for significance in the wrong places all the while feeling as though we are losing the battle which we are if we do not place our identity in Christ.

We must take an honest account of our lives to determine whether we are living for Christ or for ourselves.

Self-Glory Diagnostic:

  1. We parade in public what should be private

  2. We are too self-referencing

  3. We talk when we should be quiet

  4. We care too much about what people think of us

“Our identity apart from Christ is always misplaced.”

Seeing the Light

The only way that we can come into the light from living blind is through the words of renewal that God has spoken into existence post fall. We are being recreated through Christ into new creations. In order for us to find out who we are we must start with whose we are. The core of our identity is not what we do but who we belong to. This means that everything we do should flow out of an understanding that our identity belongs in Christ. The place of our self is service to one another for the sake of Christ.

“The light coming in the midst of darkness of living for self and shining a light on the glory of Jesus Christ wakes us up to whose we are.”

Becoming who we are

What does it mean to be created for the glory of God?

Glory simply means God’s character and attributes going public for all to see. As we grow in the goodness, grace, and work of God by making him the primary aim of our lives we are being transformed into the image of God so that the world can see God’s character and attributes on display. Greed transforms into generosity, arrogance transforms into humility, and covetousness transforms into satisfaction. What  was lost in the fall is being restored in those who worship the creator and walk in his light. Our identity is not our self-promotion which is where we naturally lean, but as new creations in Christ we are being restored to be reflections of God which is what we were originally created to be in the first place.

“We tell stories that begin and end with us and that’s what makes this so incredibly difficult. That’s also what makes it so incredibly glorious. God is at work in the midst of the body restoring his image in us through one another.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Gospel Renewal

Romans 3:21-26

Once we are in Christ we begin a continuous process of renewal. Gospel renewal means that the work of God continues after we are saved. God is not done with us. It is apparent that humans were created to worship something. We will either worship ourselves, creation, our desires or God. When we give ourselves to Christ we are telling the world that we are seeking to worship God alone. Thus the process begins in which God will renew the desires we once had for the flesh into desires that bring about His glory into the world. We are being renewed day by day into the image of our creator.

But what is the meaning of Gospel Renewal?

We have been saved from the penalty of sin

We were made to reflect God’s glory, but time and again we choose to disregard love for God and replace it with lesser loves. We look to our jobs to fulfill our identity or we look for the achievements of our lives to give us significance. We constantly look for places other than the worship of God to find satisfaction. It is because we are inclined to reject God’s love and substitute it for worldly desires that Paul points out in Romans that there is not one who is righteous. We have turned to find glory in creation or ourselves rather than accepting the glory of God. This is a crucial point because without an understanding of the bitterness of our sin we cannot be ready to accept the sweetness of Jesus Christ.

God does not want to give us some quick fix for our tendencies towards hatred over love, lust over fidelity, abuse over tenderness, but He wants to completely renew our inclinations to mimic His glory, goodness, and beauty by experiencing the fullness of His presence which is only made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God does not just simply sweep our sin under the rug, but he actively deals with it so that we may become renewed creations through the grace that is given to us by the blood of Jesus. We do not need to work to overcome our shame or guilt because God has placed the wrath we deserve on Jesus so that we may be given a renewed life.

“The best thing that could ever be created is the world

God created for us to live in.”

We are being saved from the power of sin

Salvation by grace alone creates an opportunity for cheap grace. Cheap grace occurs when we use the renewed life that God has given us in order to excuse our sinful acts. Paul declares that those who are baptized in Christ have been buried with Christ in death so that we may walk in the newness of life. Once we have accepted the renewed life given to us by God we can no longer actively seek to continue in our sinful nature. If we have been baptized in Christ we have been held under the waters of judgement and we have been raised to newness of life. We now have the glory and spirit of God living within us which means our lives are fundamentally different. We must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Renewal in the gospel is not just about one moment of forgiveness, but it means that we walk within this renewed life daily.

God’s means for renewal and freedom from the power of sin:

1) Identity in Christ

God looks upon us with delight and he is pleased with us because of our identity in Jesus Christ. God does not pour shame upon our mistakes but washes his judgement over Jesus so that we are resurrected alongside him in newness of life.

2) We have power in the Spirit of God

We have been given a renewed desire within the holy character of God through his Spirit. It cultivates a desire of holiness, obedience, and guides us as we seek life in Him. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome our fleshly desires so that we can serve God in wholeness.

“Gospel renewal does not come from feeling more guilty or demanding more of ourselves. Gospel renewal comes by God’s means”

We will be saved from the presence of sin

One day God will make all things new bringing back the glory that existed before the fall. We are pilgrimaging towards the day that death and sin will no longer exist. The promise that we will be saved from the very presence of sin guarantees complete renewal of all of creation. We have confidence that all things will come together for the good of those who are in Jesus since the outcome of the new Jerusalem is assured through God’s promise that he will make it a reality himself. This promise gives us a hope that allows us to endure the trials, tribulations, and temptations that come our way because we know the truth that God will end the tension that we face. God promises that one day we will be free from the presence of our fleshly desires and will live in a redeemed glorified state where we will no longer have to fight the tension of living for him.


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Gospel Conversion

Matthew 28:16-20

Conversion has become a major taboo in our culture today. Converting people is something that we do not often hear in civilized conversation because of the negative connotations that are often affiliated with it. In order to understand the importance of conversion we need to come to an understanding of what conversion means. The most basic definition of conversion is the process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another. It is a complete transformation. Conversion means that you become something that you weren’t before. Rather than conversion being a manipulative tool or a way to control the behaviors that we find unsavory, conversion is the transformation from death in our sin to being alive in Jesus Christ.

Why would we want anyone to be Converted?

A major theme in the gospel of Matthew is that God has been at work to redeem the world throughout history. A common question that exists in the midst of humanity’s shortcomings is how will God remove the broken intentions and desires that exist in our world? How will God reconcile his creation to himself? The answer is that one will come who will bridge the gap between Heaven and Earth who is Jesus Christ. Every human being has been seeking satisfaction in earthly appetites which always leaves them grasping at straws. Every human longing, want, and desire was ultimately desiring Jesus Christ and now he has come. We want to convert people because every longing that they have can be fulfilled in Jesus whether they know it or not. Everything else in this world will pass away except the promises of Jesus who vehemently states that he will be with us forever.

“Why would we want anyone to experience this new birth, eyes opened to see Jesus? It’s because it is everything they have ever desired, whether they realize it or not.”

Three Distorted Approaches to Making Disciples

When we approach people with the proposition of conversion we must remember that we are not the ones who are transforming them because God is the only one who has that power. In one of the last conversations Jesus had with his disciples he warned them that there would be many who would claim to know Christ but would end up leading people astray. We must be aware of how we are representing Christ so that we do not unintentionally lead others away from truth.

1. The Parrot Approach

The Parrot approach focuses on converting the mind. Proper conversion is not about getting other people to think like us or mimic our jargon. The pitfall in this approach is that we often begin to think that people are born again if they just say the right religious phrases or have the correct theological answers. One could be saying all the right things or repeating what we have told them, but could still be dead inside. Following Christ is about more than mere information, it is about complete transformation. The outcome of the Parrot Approach is not disciples of Christ, but disciples of us.

2. The Puppet Approach

The Puppet approach focuses on colonizing the will of others. Jesus explains that disciples will come from every tongue, tribe, and nation. Jesus will renew humanity right in the culture that they are in. This emphasizes the fact that people do not have to look exactly like us to be followers of Christ. Too often we make conversion about acting exactly like us. In this approach, people live bound in the strings of our expectations rather than living in the freedom of their own transformed worship to Christ.

3. The Party Approach

The Party approach focuses on emotional highs for conversion. Jesus promises to be with us to the end of the age which is eternal rather than a moment or a season. Regardless of how we feel in a moment of our lives, God’s word still rings true. We often think that conversion is about experiencing a series of emotionally charged moments so that others will finally want to give their lives to Christ. Jesus wants to transform the inside not leave us endlessly searching for another high.

“We are commissioned to go after more than just right thinking, right actions, or right feelings. Jesus wants the whole person.”


The Key to True Conversion

The key to conversion is to understand that we are commissioned and God converts. It is not in our own power that conversion happens because in those circumstances we end up manipulating minds, wills, and emotions. When we allow God to convert others it leads to true transformation of the whole person. Conversion must be rooted in the power of Jesus Christ not rooted in our own power, personality, or persuasion. If we allow God to get their heart the rest will follow.

Then what is our task in the conversion process?

1. Proclaim the gospel

The best way to learn how to share the gospel is to allow God to do a work through the gospel in our own lives. People need to see that there is one who is true and on high in our lives rather than hearing people who preach from a pedestal. We need to share how Jesus has given us the newness of life which is offered to all.

2. Pray

Everyone around us is seeking to know the Lord. Sometimes we take the weight of conversion on our backs by believing we must persuade people into conversion, but it is only in God’s power. Once they are converted it is our job to bring them into the fold and teach them how to live a Christ centered life. So, ask God to change the hearts of the people around you. Ask God to give you the opportunity to share how Jesus has changed your life forever.

“What the heart most wants, the mind finds reasonable, the will finds doable, and the emotions find desirable.”

-Timothy Keller


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript

Sharing our riches in Christ

Philippians 4:14-23

What is Stewardship?

At the end of his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul reiterates his appreciation for their partnership in his ministry. The Philippians have constantly been partners with Paul in his ministry of the gospel and they have shared in his troubles. As we steward the time, talents, and treasures that God has given us to the ministry of the gospel we become partners of the gospel. We have all been given various talents that we can use for furthering the gospel in the world around us. It is by being good stewards of what we have that we actually participate in what God is doing through the church.  Good stewardship is what aligns our hearts and desires with the eternal kingdom of God. It is how we are trained to value, prioritize, and love the things within God’s work of redemption.

“Stewardship is how we learn to invest our very lives in what matters.”

Paul gives the church insight on the crucial principles of good stewardship. As we incorporate these principles into our own lives we can become partners in the work of God’s goodness.

Principles of Stewardship

  1. Practicing generosity rather than presuming generosity

    We must understand that everything that we are given is a gift of mercy from God. Good stewardship requires a generosity with no strings attached. We do not give our time or talents to God and others with an expectation that we will receive back what we have given.

  2. Focused on partnering with people rather than the purchasing of products

    The Kingdom of God is about people not products. Therefore, good stewardship isn’t focusing on the service or product that is given. We are partners with God and other people as we seek out His redeeming work. We must be more focused on the people we serve rather than a commodity.

  3. Long Term rather than Short term commitment

    The Kingdom of God is about people not products. Therefore, good stewardship isn’t focusing on the service or product that is given. We are partners with God and other people as we seek out His redeeming work. We must be more focused on the people we serve rather than a commodity.

The Motivation of Stewardship

  1. Overflowing fruitfulness rather than obligatory gifts

    Giving our finances, time, and talents must come from an overflowing fruitfulness within us. Just as God has given us the gift of salvation without obligation we must be willing to give what we have without expecting anything in return. We live in world with a “I scratch your back you scratch mine” mentality. However, Paul expresses that good stewardship gives without thought of reimbursement.

  2. Pleasing God rather than placating God

    God has made each and every one of us a unique individual. God has given all of us unique and beautiful talents. Within these giftings God has given us the desire to offer up all that we have to Him. As we give all of our resources we fan the flame that preaches the gospel in our lives. When we spend our lives offering the beautiful and unique offerings that only we, with our giftings, can present to the God of the universe, our lives emphasize the beautiful grace that we’ve been given in Jesus.

“And so, stewardship isn’t motivated by an overwhelming sense of guilt, but an overflow of grace. So, why steward? Because, it is an expression of the gospel, that God has fully paid the price of our redemption, and therefore we give not to placate God, but to please God.”

The Riches of Stewardship

If we’re honest, it can be incredibly difficult to give our resources. We can be consumed with the fear that giving up our riches means losing everything we have. But, Paul emphasizes that it is through the stewardship of our resources that we actually discover true riches. Stewardship actually frees us from constantly aiming for riches that will not last and points us in the direction of what is truly eternal: people entering into fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus came to redeem eternal souls. True riches that last forever comes when we invest in the eternal lives of other people. When we see the fruit of eternal souls being reconciled with their loving Father through the saving grace of Jesus Christ we forget to worry about hoarding what we have. As good stewards, we see the intense beauty of redeemed people and push everything that we have towards partnering with God in redeeming a fallen world. All material possessions become insignificant in light of bringing eternal souls to the glory of Jesus Christ.

“True riches, tangibly, is most found when we see others see Jesus. When we see others grow and know Christ.”


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcription-Lent Guide


Content in Christ

Philippians 4:10-13

In childhood, most of us imagined what our lives would look like in the future. We would pretend to have our dream job, dream family, and dream home. We would come up with a myriad of ideas on what our lives would look like in the future which filled us with hope. But then reality begins to set in as we grow up. We realize that all the dreams we had as children are much harder or different than we thought they would be. We get married and realize that sharing your life with another human isn’t simple. We have children but they are “real” and they don’t match our preconceptions of what having children means. We find a career and realize why it’s called “work.” You commit to a church and you find out that everyone needs Jesus. When imagination meets reality our contentment is tested and the possibilities we dreamt about give way to the reality of a fallen world.

In the face of reality, will we look on our life as gracious blessings or will we see it as undeserved impoverishment?

Universal Chase for Contentment

Every person deeply desires contentment in their lives, but it is not the natural mindset. In a world full of God's’ gifts and bounding generosity we want the things that are just beyond our reach thinking that our contentment lies within what we do not have. Even when we achieve our goals we often enjoy it for a short time then begin to chase something else still hoping to find that place where we are satisfied. We distract ourselves by achieving goals such as education, career, marriage, children, or a better salary expecting each one to fulfill us. But, often times we find that we have made it to each step in life, yet we are still unable to be content. The reason we achieve and are still found wanting is because contentment can only be found in the person and works of Jesus Christ.

“The reason why we lay ahold of the things that are just outside of our reach, and before we know it they’re gone, is because you and I were made for something much more grand.”

Unusual Contours of Contentment

In Philippians, Paul describes how he is able to find contentment in any situation. Paul creates an unusual picture of what is required for one to be content regardless of whether they are in seasons of wealth or poverty.

  1. Contentment is free from prideful comparison and expectation of others

    Comparison is not necessarily a negative perception. Comparison can be used for our own growth when we learn from one another. When we see how others are living in ways that we wish we could do better we can learn from their example. This mindset is a humble comparison. However, comparison becomes an issue when we move from humble comparison to prideful comparison. Pride can hijack our perception when we begin to see others as threats to our own glory or as failures because they are unable to contribute more to our own glory. This pride breeds jealousy and selfish ambition which destroys the ability to be content with what we have.

  2. Contentment is not dependent on circumstances

    The reality is that if we are not content with where we are now, we never will be because all of our hopes and dreams are placed in something that ultimately cannot handle our expectations. Paul says that contentment is not a destination, rather it is a mode of travel. We do not finally arrive at a place where we are content, we must be navigators who move throughout the world with a heart of contentment.

  3. Contentment is a battle in the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of life

    The basic truth is that the more we have the more we want. We must guard our hearts against discontentment even when we have plenty. In times of great wealth, we will always want just a little bit more. If we do not learn how to be content in any circumstance, our greed will become insatiable.  

  4. Contentment is learned over time

    Contentment does not come through an epiphany. It is an attitude that is learned over time. We must grow in contentment throughout the seasons of our lives.

“If we consistently go about life looking at others, and using them as a mirror to either validate ourselves, to feel superior, or feel inferior, we will not live as content people.”

The Secret: Our Union with Christ

Our daily existence in trusting and loving Christ is what brings life to the believer. This was a radical notion for the culture at large of Paul’s time because a widely held philosophy was that contentment was found in self-sufficiency. Paul rejects the idea that contentment is an outpouring of independence by saying that he is capable of being content because he is dependent on Christ.

Paul is capable of being content, even inside of a prison, because he knows that everything he has been given is a gift. Paul knows that every breath he takes is receiving mercy from God’s goodness. We were created with desires in order to join with God in reshaping the world to make it new. When we are united in Christ we place our desires under his rule which brings us into the fold of contented people.

“In light of what scripture teaches about anthropology, about who humans are, and how we’re wired, and how we function, we don’t deserve anything. Therefore, everything we have is mercy. It’s grace.”

What it means to be united with Christ

  1. Everything we need and lack is found in Christ

  2. Christ is always with us, and will never forsake us

  3. We are in Christ, who is all sufficient

  4. The all sufficient Christ is in us

Contentment is yours, if you desire it, because you are in Christ, and he is in you.

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript-Lent Guide


Guarded in Christ

Philippians 4:2-9

Throughout the Philippian epistle, Paul is reminding the church that they are living in the reality that Jesus Christ is transforming all things in order to make them new. Paul encourages us to keep our eyes focused on the reality that we are citizens of Heaven, however, the one thing that will take our eyes off that reality is the conflict of how we live out the reality of Christ’s reign. Rather than being united under the saving grace of Christ we are often divided over how to live out Jesus’ reign. Paul says that Satan loves to use that diversion of our focus to steal our hope, and to completely zap us of all our passion for the gospel. We become filled with seething anger at one another causing anxiety for all involved rather than a church united under one hope.

In the midst of this dilemma, how do we guard against fighting over the how’s of following Jesus?

Why “the how” takes over “the what”

Throughout history the church has had problems with strong leaders who begin to quibble and fight over how they should lead their congregation in following Christ. When this happens it is often the congregation that suffers the consequences of such debates. It would be understandable if these issues occurred in churches that did not have a strong theology, but the problem is we can often find this kind of bickering in churches that are strong theologically and have high biblical convictions. These argumentative obstacles occur when convictions of seeking God’s way shifts into seeking our own way.  We can become obsessed with our method of worship, our way of doing ministry, our way of preaching, our methods of following Christ become the only method to follow Christ. It is within this atmosphere that we can begin to look down on other groups with a sense of spiritual superiority. If other churches do not follow Christ our way then we can immediately separate ourselves from them. The method we use, or how, we worship becomes far more important than who we worship.   

In a healthy church, strong convictions breed healthy disciples. In discipleship we begin to mimic the person that we are following which means we become more like Christ. But, if we become obsessed with our methodology rather than the one we worship, strong convictions act as a poison in the church which slowly spreads from the leadership to the congregation. Paul knows that Philippi has strong convictions for the gospel, but somewhere along the way two leaders are becoming obsessed with their own way which is threatening to tear the church apart. We must be sure that we are not becoming calloused to what Jesus has done, in favor of burning with a passion for the opinions of what we should be doing.  

“When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

It is important to recognize that it is not wrong to be passionate about how we follow Jesus. However, it becomes a problem when our love for Jesus becomes overshadowed by our way of following him. It is also crucial to realize that this is not something only leaders of the church should be watching out for. We are all called to be ambassadors for Christ which means it is a heart issue that we must all watch out for because we are all called to lead and serve the church forward with the gifts that God has given us. Methodology is vastly important because it should unite us as we live our lives as disciples of Christ, but it becomes an issue when it becomes the focus.   

“If we leave Jesus behind, what is the point of being the church?”

Paul’s Habits to keep us focused on “the what”

If we want to be a people who know Christ, then we must be a people with habits that saturate our hearts in what Christ has accomplished on our behalf.

Habit 1: Thanksgiving before the Father

The first habit that Paul encourages us to practice is to rejoice in every aspect of our lives. This can be incredibly difficult for us to grasp because our lives are complex. There is a plethora of events which we could say do not evoke a spirit of rejoicing. Yet, Paul encourages us to rejoice in all things because of what Christ has done. Regardless of what happens in our lives, either positive or negative, we can rest assured that we are reconciled to our loving Heavenly Father thanks to what Jesus has done for us. We can draw near to God and He draws near to us. If we make it a habit of pushing away from God, then our lives will be full of anxiety, fear, and worry. Then we will expect other people to fill the void only God can fill which leads to fighting over the best method of overcoming our obstacles.

Habit 2: Hospitality towards others

Paul says that we must literally practice the “what” of Jesus’ kingdom because every day we are going through the motions of what the world says is true, just, pure, and noble. We must strengthen our muscles of discipleship towards Christ and what it looks like to be part of his kingdom by forming habits that mimic those truths. Paul is saying that in order to be a people who properly sees what Jesus has done, we need practices that captures the picture of the truth of Jesus. Hospitality is a habit that keeps our focus in check.

Hospitality is simply welcoming others as Christ has welcomed us. It creates a grace filled space where a friend or stranger can enter and experience the welcoming spirit of Christ. It is a way to express love for others in the way that Jesus loved us even when we were sinners. It challenges our assumptions of other people and pushes away our biases towards others by reminding us of the welcoming grace that we have received in Jesus. As we sacrificially welcome others into our lives our hearts begin to open to the understanding that we all are welcomed into the adopted family of God which keeps us focused on the what so that the how’s can take care of themselves.

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcription-Lent Guide