My formal training in homiletics (“the art of preparing and delivering sermons”) has revolved around yet another $10 word: “expository” preaching. Expository preaching is almost universally contrasted with “topical” preaching; and to such a degree that one is commonly viewed as superior to the other. Allow me to elaborate… (more…)
Our church is starting a new series this weekend (in a new place!) before Valentine’s Day called Mr. & Mrs. Betterhalf in which we are focusing on building lasting marriages. I was out with my wife this week walking downtown San Jose on a date – call it research. We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this June and I got to thinking about why we’re beating the statistics; according to divorce rates, we should have ended it at least 5 years ago. Yet, we’re better and stronger than ever. Here’s why I believe our marriage works…
- My wife is my best friend. This sounds cliche, but I genuinely mean this. I would rather spend time with my wife than any other person. While we do have our separate interests, we enjoy most things together; ministry, sports, family time, mutual friendships, etc. She knows me. And I know her. Like best friends should.
- We solve problems. Every couple fights. Or at least they should. Too often, to avoid conflict, many couples just bottle up their frustrations until it eventually explodes, resulting in an even uglier conflict. While Tiffany and I don’t like to fight, we would rather the air be clear between us than fake our way through a single day.
- Nothing is more important to us. My marriage takes second place to nothing. Really. Nothing. “What about your kids?” The best gift I can give my children is a good example of a strong marriage. Where do you think kids get their strongest impressions of what a family should/shouldn’t be like? That’s right, the one they come out of. “What about your relationship with God?” This may come as a shock, but God is not the first priority of my life. He’s bigger than that to me. He’s the center of every priority in my life. So it isn’t “God and then my marriage,” it’s “God in my marriage.” According to the Bible, my marriage is a reflection of my relationship with God. That only makes my commitment to Tiffany that much stronger.
- Two words: Date. Night. Tiff and I have some form of a date every week. With four kids, we don’t have the time or money to get out as often as we like, so “date night” means a tub of ice cream and Netflix some weeks. But about every other week, we do get out, and go do something together. After 10 years, I’m still dating my wife and pursuing her heart. I plan on continuing to date her for the rest of my life.
- Our marriage has a vision. We talk about growing old together. About watching our grand kids grow up, and seeing their marriages last. We are trying to have the kind of marriage now that we want them to have one day. We hope to be the beginnings of a godly legacy of men and women who beat the cultural trends and make it work.
It’s important for me to point out that my marriage doesn’t work because I’m better than anyone else. What I do know, is that if others had the same self-sacrificing love that I have for Tiffany, and she has for me, than more marriages would last. We want everyone to have as good (or better!) of a marriage as us. And that is what this new series is about. Strengthening marriages God’s way. Whether you’re married, single, or single-again, we believe God wants to work powerfully through your relationships. So if you’re in the area, we hope to see you!
So taking a page from the sitcom, Seinfeld, which began as an idea to start a show about “nothing,” we thought we would do the same with an entire message series at our Saturday night worship service, The Awakening. A sermon series is suppose to be a collection of messages that are connected by a common theme, Scripture, or concept. Much like our Sun Stand Still series that we just finished. But this Un-Series is a collection of messages that have nothing to do with each other… aside from being in the same un-series. It’s like an anti-series. The opposite of a series.
Why are we doing this, you ask? That is a fair question. I find that there is a temptation to focus on what you “should” do next in a series instead of what God is speaking to you. In my personal time in God’s Word, I constantly read over different passages and think to myself, “Wow! That would make a great message.” But I often tuck it away because it doesn’t fit with the current series.
So the Un-Series is an opportunity to let God speak through me to you, unhindered by any other agenda. Don’t mistake what I’m saying, though… God speaks through my planning just as much as He speaks through spontaneity. The series I preach, I preach because I genuinely believe God wants me to cover a subject, idea, or passage of Scripture in the detail of a 3-6 week sermon series. I do not apologize for that. In fact, I have 4 more series planned out after this. And it’s going to be awesome!
I just wanted to simplify the process and show my church that I depend on God’s leading just like they do. We’ve already finished the first night of the un-series, and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to begin.
PS… If you’re a church leader that feels stuck in a creative-thinking slump, let your un-creativity inspire you!
In Joshua 10:6-15, we read this story of Joshua praying for the sun to stand still in the middle of a battle, and God answered him. A supernatural phenomenon took place in the sky as God answered the prayer of a man who simply believed God to do the impossible on his behalf.
The Bible tells us that “nothing is impossible with God,” and that we “can do all things through Christ” who strengthens us. But we often get so bogged down in our current struggles and circumstances that it seems hopeless to experience anything different, and useless to dream of better.
But you were meant to experience more than the ache of the ordinary. Even in your circumstances, God has the ability to break barriers, remove obstacles, pour out healing, and restore brokenness. If you have the audacity to ask, God has the ability to respond.
Inspired by the book, Sun Stand Still, by pastor and author Steven Furtick, we’ll take a three week look at the Scriptures to see what happens when we dare to believe God for the impossible. Join us at Edgewood at our Saturday night service, 5pm, beginning this Saturday. I look forward to seeing you there.
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.