This past Sunday, I preached a message as part of a new series called, Made New. You can check out the message below. One of the main thoughts I shared was this:
You’re not a bad person.
We tend to judge ourselves as “bad” or “good” based on our perception of ourselves in comparison to our perception of others. This gets tricky on several levels. Because I know my faults far better than anyone else, I can be far more critical of myself. We all do this… we compared our “behind the scenes” to everyone else’s “highlight reel”. You’re not a bad person. That’s not your greatest problem. Your greatest problem is – outside of Christ – you’re a dead person.
Ouch. That was direct! Maybe even abrasive, huh? Well please don’t be offended at me. I’m not even the one pointing it out. In Ephesians 2:5 the Apostle Paul writes, “even though we were dead in transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!”
The bad news is – you’re not bad – you’re dead apart from Christ. If you were just bad, you could do something about your condition. You could work harder, get your life cleaned up, cut some bad habits, start some better ones, get all “religious”, and help yourself get right with God. A bad person could get better…
But a dead person is pretty helpless. You’ve never seen a dead person perform CPR on themselves, or warm up a defibrillator to shock their heart back to life. No, because dead people need outside help – they need a Savior. Someone who is not dead themselves, who can breathe life back into the lifeless, change their heart, and restore them to new life.
And that’s exactly what Jesus does for us. He squared off with death and dragged it kicking and screaming into it’s own grave… but He walked out victorious over death on the third day. Now, the One who came back from death offers to breathe His new life into our tired, broken, dead souls.
Have you experienced a new life in Christ? Have you placed your faith and trust into the only one who can bring a dead soul back to life? I invite you to do so today.
This Sunday at LifeCity Church we begin a new series on sex. Yes, you read that correctly. If you are one of the many people who think that subject is too taboo for a church to talk about, I offer you five thoughts as to why we are committing a whole four week teaching series on the subject of God, sex, and sexuality…
- The Bible talks about sex. A lot, come to find out. Song of Solomon, when translated correctly, reads like a steamy novel of a young married couple. Jesus spoke on sex. The apostle Paul spoke on it. Sex is mentioned, described, and instructed on extensively in the Scriptures. And here you thought the Bible was boring…
- God created it. We didn’t create sex. It wasn’t man’s invention. So if God is the author of sexuality it means that it’s good and that God has the right to give us guidance regarding our sexuality.
- The world is confused. This goes without saying, but still needs to be said. The world, while talking a lot about sex and using it as a marketing tool every time we blink, has horribly misinterpreted the true power, beauty, and value of our gift of sexuality. As a result, we’ve often connected sex with “dirty” when in reality, sex is beautiful… just not in the shallow ways we’ve been taught to think of it.
- People are searching. People everywhere are left with feelings of hurt, regret, betrayal, loneliness, and grief because of how sex has been misused and misunderstood. People are looking for real answers to real hurts, but they seldom know where to turn other than to the next partner.
- The church has chickened out. My generation grew up in a church culture that mostly avoided the subject of sex. Like junior high kids snickering when the word “sex” was ever even spoken out loud, the American church has largely blushed and hid when the subject ever gets brought up. The only counsel offered being – “DON’T!!! Unless you’re married…” Conversation over. But we needed to hear more than that. We needed more than a one-line “Thou shalt not” declaration – we needed wisdom. Understanding. And someone to turn to when we had questions or made a mistake. It’s time for the church to get over it’s fears and help people redeem their sexuality and live it out in a better, healthier, more God-honoring way.
We invite you to join us at LifeCity Church this Sunday, 10:30am for a tasteful, tactful look into what God actually says about sex as we begin a new series we’re calling The Birds, The Bees, and The Bible.
A little while back I wrote about how I generally write my teaching outlines. You can learn more about that here. In line with sharing how I preach, I wanted to talk about sermon planning in regards to a year-long preaching calendar. That’s right – a year’s sermon planning at a time. Don’t be scared. It’s not that bad. (more…)
Recently I’ve been preaching a message series at Edgewood’s Sunday night service on The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Specifically, I’ve been focusing on the implications of God referring to Himself through the Scriptures as the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Last night I preached on a particularly favorite story of mine among the patriarchs: Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32. Yes, God. Not an angel, but the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ Himself, in this preachers humble opinion (Gen. 32:30).
In order for Jacob to receive the blessing from this peculiar visitor that he had so desperately been seeking his whole life, really, the “Man” asks Jacob, “What is your name?”
For real?!? Don’t you know who you’ve been wrestling with all night? Of course He does. When God asks us a question, it isn’t because He doesn’t know the answer, it’s because He wants us to think about something. Jacob had to relive the last time he asked a different man for a blessing… his father, 20 years earlier. Only, that time He lied to his father and duped him into thinking that He was his older brother, Esau – who under normal circumstances would receive his fathers blessing, not Jacob.
But as Jacob confesses his true identity, simultaneously admitting to being the “heal-cather,” or “trickster” that his name implies, God tells him that he will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel. God gave Jacob a new name. This one exchange alone changes the rest of the Bible! Israel would become the name of God’s people, Jacob’s descendents – ironically, of whom Christ would be incarnated into.
Then Jacob – very humbled and curious, I believe – returns the question, “Tell me your name, I pray.” And the Man, a.k.a. Christ, simply says, “Why is it that you ask about my name?” and then He blessed him.
Interestingly, God would later reveal Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… Not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Why? Is it even important? I think so. Though God took away Jacob’s old identity as the “heal-catcher” which would have betrayed his past life, and gave him a new name, representing his new identity in Christ, He kept the name of Jacob’s past for Himself. But why?
I believe that as Romans 5:8 tells us that, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” this name exchange is a beautiful portrayal of Gods love toward all “Jacobs”. By identifying Himself as the God of Jacob, It’s as if God is declaring His love for us in our imperfect, broken, sinful state. He is not just the God of the forgiven, healed, and whole. He doesn’t just love us once we’ve come to His Son in faith. He loves us when we are lost in our sin, held hostage by our past, and empty on the inside… just like Jacob.
God took for Himself the name of Jacob’s past and gave Jacob a new name representing his future. Just like Christ took our old life with Him to the grave, rising again to give us a new life, a new future, and a new identity. And one day, He will give us a new name as well. Jacob just got his early – a promise to all of us who confess to God our brokenness in sin and our need for Him who can change us.
I’m grateful that He is not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the God of other sinners, too. Like me.
The right person can change everything. This is a series that deals with loneliness, discouragement, rejection, friendship, faithfulness, hope, and restoration. No different than the story of many of us, and the preferred future God has for us in Christ. Join us for three weeks as we look into one of the shortest stories in the Bible and gain new perspective into your own story. For every person that has worked hard, experienced set backs, or just thought that they would be somewhere else in life, this series is for you.
Begins Saturday, December 3, 5pm at Edgewood.