3 Strands of DNA ~ Metanoia and the Next Step

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On Sunday we had a great day. We were able to baptize some people, which is always amazing and I got to share on Metanoia. Metanoia is a word that is all about changing direction, and taking a new step. Which is exactly what we saw when people were baptized.

The trouble is that metanoia is translated as “repent”. This isn’t wrong it’s just that in our world today “repenting” is tied more to feeling emotionally bad about your sin, than changing direction.

So on Sunday I unpacked what metanoia really means. That it is about transformation, and not just feeling bad about sin but embracing the life that God has for you. Metanoia is all about making changes, embracing the path God has for you, and making some course corrections. It is not about feeling guilty and shame, it’s about embracing the Kingdom and life before you.

So when Jesus says in Mark 1:15, “”The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” What he wants isn’t for you to feel bad, but to live differently. The focus is on the change and transformation you can experience in your life because of Jesus and his kingdom.

And I shared all of this because I believe that in our church, we are built on Metanoia. We are built on seeing change, we are built on pursuing transformation. Part of our DNA is believing that Jesus can change your life, and you can partner with him in changing others. This is what Metanoia truly means, not feeling bad, but embracing the way of Jesus.

Rowan Williams puts it this way, “When the bible uses the word repentance, it does not just mean beating the breast, it means getting a new perspective”.

And that’s what matters to us here: gaining a new perspective on life because of Jesus Christ. So our main point was pretty simple: we care deeply about transformation here. And we must never let this go, because this is not only part of our DNA but God’s DNA. God cares about transformation, new direction, and new hope. And we get to be part of it.

So I closed with a simple challenge. If God is about transformation, what might he want to change in your life? What might you be called to leave behind, or to embrace? What changes is he looking to lead you into? What might courageously following him look like? What might be just one next step?
Because, metanoia is all about changing direction, and taking the next step. So what might that look like in your life?

Sermon Notes:

Big IdeaWe care deeply about transformation.

Teaching Points:

  • If we don’t know who we are we can drift from whom God has made us.
  • We are a grace-first church.
  • Church isn’t someplace you go, it’s a people you belong to.
  • Metanoia means a change of mind that results in a change of direction.
  • One of our core values here is transformation.
  • When the bible uses the word repentance, it does not just mean beating the breast, it means getting a new perspective. Rowan Williams
  • We celebrate people making life change.
  • We should practice some metanoia.
  • Metanoia involves embracing what God has for you, the kingdom in front of you.
  • Metanoia is more than feeling bad it’s about living differently.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? When have you ever been lost? When you think of “repent” what jumps to mind? How have you seen transformation valued here? What is God calling you to embrace or leave behind? What next step can you take? Who can help you?

Challenge for the Week: Take a next step towards Jesus’ path for you.

 

 

 

4 Books: 4 Questions ~ The Gospel of Luke, Baptisms, and Filling with the Spirit

holy-spirit-1315165On Sunday we heard really two messages: first, testimonies from baptism, and a short message from me. The truth is the baptism stories and personal sharing were the best. They are always the best.

But I also offered a few short thoughts on the book of Luke. We are in the midst of a series looking at the different books of the Bible from a high level and seeing what and who were the writing to and why? Luke is an investigator and a historian looking into the stories of Jesus and compiling them. But the point for Luke isn’t just history, but transformation. Joel Green writes this, “He did not, however, intend to provide just a historical justification of the Christian faith – ‘did it happen?’ – but to encourage faith – ‘what happened, and what does it all mean?’” And that’s what we looked at – what does it all mean?

And I think the point of Luke (and Acts which he also wrote) is really to encourage us to walk in service, sacrifice, and maturity. Luke is a book filled with a practical model for how we are to  follow Jesus. It’s like Luke outlines the first few acts in a play, and then encourages us to finish the play in line with what’s been laid down. And part of what Luke really recognizes is that to step out in service and sacrifice we need the Holy Spirit.

So we took sometime looking at the Baptism of Jesus and the Holy Spirit Baptism in Acts 2. And what we noticed was that the Holy Spirit fills people, and empowers people to share his Good News. That if we want to walk in maturity and service to the world we need to be filled with God’s Spirit that allows us to follow. We need the Spirit to truly serve and sacrifice.

So we ended with this simple main point from Luke: To serve and sacrifice we all need to encounter and experience a fresh filling of the Spirit. We all need the Spirit to continually fill us. So we ended with a time for prayer for being filled with the Spirit, and cheering on baptisms as people were filled deeper with the Spirit than ever before.

Sermon Notes:

Big IdeaTo serve and sacrifice we all need to encounter and experience a fresh filling of the Spirit,

Teaching Points:

  • What should we do?
  • Luke is about courageously following God, in service and sacrifice
  • The Holy Spirit fills people, and empowers people to share his Good News

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? Had you ever thought about the gospels being different before? What stood our to you from the testimonies? Have you ever experienced the Holy Spirit in a strong way before? Why do you think we need the Spirit to serve the world deeper and fuller? How can you continue to ensure you are filled deeper and deeper with the Spirit?

Challenge for the Week: Be filled with the Spirit and step out and serve.

The Gospel of Luke and Baptisms

water-baptism-1431326I’m really looking forward to Sunday, because on Sunday we are doing some baptisms. So for me this is a real highlight of the year because we will hear testimonies of what God is doing in people’s lives, we will hear people share about Jesus, and we will watch them take a big step in obedience.

Oh and I’ll have some things to say about the gospel of Luke and what it’s all about, but the real message will be in and through the baptisms.

So come on Sunday and join us celebrating people walking in obedience, to hear stories of transformation, and to maybe even be transformed yourself. 🙂

 

Baptisms, Faith, and Why You Need Others in Your Life

445128_29914509This Sunday was a beautiful Sunday, because it was baptism Sunday. There is something beautiful, special, and wonderful about joining with others as they commit to following Jesus publicly. There is something so moving about seeing and hearing people’s testimony and desire to follow Jesus.

 

And that’s what this Sunday was about.

 

But it was also about recognizing a key of faith: you can’t do it alone.

 

The only reason we had baptisms is because people invested in others. Is because people realized they can’t do faith on their own, and had others join their journey.

 

We often believe in our culture that it’s all about our own personal willpower, drive, and strength that leads to success. But not only isn’t that true, it’s one of the most damaging lies in our world. The truth is we are only as strong as those who are journeying with us.

 

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. And that is true.

 

And so on Sunday we looked at how we need each other. But we ended with a very personal but important question: who are you journeying with? Who is close enough to you to support, care, and miss you when you drift? Who knows your struggles and your strengths? Who are you journeying with, and who is journeying with you?

 

This question isn’t a light one, but a crucial one to our faith. If we want to not only start well in life, but finish well in life – we need one another.

 

So we gave a challenge on Sunday. That if you can’t think of someone who is journeying with you, to invite someone in. Ask for a mentor, find a spiritual guide, don’t go it alone – but go together.

 

So that was our challenge on Sunday, and it’s a personal one, but it’s a needed one. Because we all need someone.

 

 

 

Sermon Notes:

 

Big Idea: Journey with others

Teaching Points:

  • It’s not starting that’s hard, it’s finishing.
  • We think succeeding is about us, and our willpower. It’s actually about others, and who is journeying with us.
  • We need others to care for us, support us, and miss us when we start to drift.
  • We simply can’t do this thing called Christianity alone.
  • The friends you have will often determine the quality and direction of your life.
  • To think of one person you can invite to walk with you this year.

 

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? What were your first impressions to the topic for today? Does it seem to you that growing older does limit your future? How would you answer the question “Who are you trusting to guarantee your future?” What do you believe your future looks like right now? What does your future look like with God involved? What does he want to do in your future?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Today talk with your kids about their futures. Ask them what they want to do, and who they want to be. Today learn from your kids. Sense the enthusiasm, the belief, the sense of excitement and possibility. Learn from them, and seek to bring that into your relationship with God today.

 

Challenge for the Week: To think of one person you can invite to walk with you this year.

Baptisms and Walking with Others

772301_79279389This Sunday we are having Baptisms to end our series on “Finding a Fresh Start”. Could there be any better way to end talking about finding a fresh start, than seeing baptisms? That’s what they are all about – starting fresh. Saying I want to follow you Jesus, going down into the waters, and coming out confirmed in Christ’s death and resurrection.

It’s a beautiful thing.

 

But something we will learn this Sunday is this too, it is not an individual thing. Baptisms are a corporate thing, body-thing, community thing.

 

And while this distinction might seem small it isn’t. It is crucial and important. Because the truth is that while we can find a fresh start on our own, we can’t keep a fresh start going on our own. We need others investing and involved in our lives. Faith is a communal journey, not an individual journey.

 

So on Sunday as we see people take a next step, and see a fresh start we are also going to be reflecting on this question: “whom are we journeying with”? Because faith is passed on through others, sustained with others, and developed with others. So who are the others in your life?

 

That’s our question for Sunday, and it’s a good question for today too.

The Story of Baptism ~ Grace, Gospel, and Gift

On Sunday we looked at the story of Baptism. You’ll be able to download the sermon here. And what I realized as I prepared the sermon on Baptism is that it’s really about grace, gospel and gift.

We looked at Acts 8 and in the story we meet a eunuch. This is a man who has been socially excluded, hurt, suffered something that is humiliating, and has no opportunity for a family or descendants. And he is reading a passage about humiliation, cutting, and a loss of family (Isaiah 53:7-8). This is a passage that would resonate with a man who has been cut, humiliated, and will never have descendants. Right at that moment Philip asks if he understands what he has read and shares with him the Gospel of grace and Jesus Christ.

The Eunuch understandably wants to join this movement, to be included in a family, but he is scared and scarred. Because the eunuch has just been turned away from the Temple in Jerusalem (see Deut.23:1). He has just been excluded, thrown out, and rejected because of who he is. What is amazing about the story in Acts 8 is that Philip immediately baptizes him and welcomes without wasting any time. The gospel of grace doesn’t demand that the eunuch change before he comes to Jesus; the gospel of grace is that people change by coming to Jesus.

So from this story I pulled three main thoughts. That baptism is really a reminder and a marker of the story we are a part of. It also reminds us of grace, identity, and inclusion in God’s family.

First, baptism is a reminder of the wideness of God’s mercy. So we need to be careful if we limit the scope and activity of God’s grace. The religious institution of the day excluded this man whom the Kingdom of God welcomed. The truth is God’s gospel of grace is for everyone and anyone. Everyone is free to come to Jesus. Jesus died for the whole world and baptism is a reminder of the wideness of God’s grace.

Secondly, it reminds us of our identity. The eunuch is no longer a broken, excluded man with no descendants. He is a part of a spiritual family. He is pure, holy, and clean. Baptism doesn’t save us, make us holy or clean; Jesus Christ does that. Baptism doesn’t change us, but it does remind us of the change that has happened. And when we follow Jesus, we are new, we are no longer sinners, but holy, perfect, and clean because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Paul says, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore for the old life is gone. A new life has begun (2 Cor. 5:17). So Baptism is a reminder of our identity in Christ. We are no longer the same anymore. The old life is gone and new life has begun. We don’t need to cling onto our old identity but embrace our identity in Christ.

Lastly, it reminds us we are part of a family. The eunuch joins a family of God, and tradition says that he brought the gospel to many people. So while he may not have any physical descendants, he has many spiritual descendants. He is a father to many. Baptism is a reminder that we are apart of a family and a people called by God. We are included in God’s family and that gives us reason to celebrate.

So from an odd story about chariots, eunuchs, and running disciples, we learn about God, gospel, and most of all grace.

The Story of Baptism and the Story of Grace

On Sunday I’ve chosen an odd topic, one that now that I’ve got into it, I find so beautiful, compelling, and life-changing. What’s odd about the topic is that it is Baptism.

I would say that most people don’t feel that a sermon on Baptism is beautiful. They either feel forced or guilt driven by it, if they haven’t been baptized, or feel it’s a waste of time or redundant, if they have been baptized. The problem with that is, when you read about the story of Baptism in Acts 8, it is anything but boring, redundant, guilt-driven, or forced. The story is all about grace, gospel, life, and beauty. The story is about how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we see the church. The story of baptism reminds us of our identity, the gospel of grace, and the people of God.

So I know it’s odd to preach on Baptism. I know that you might have heard sermons that seem to be trying to convict people to make a choice to be baptized. I know you might have heard sermons that didn’t speak to you because you’ve already been baptized. But I don’t believe Sunday is going to be at all like that, because as I’ve been preparing, God’s been changing me. He’s been using this odd topic to remind me of who I am in Christ, of how I should see my neighbors, and how I should value the church. So my prayer is that on Sunday he’ll keep doing what he’s started in my life, changing us through a story of grace and gift.

So on Sunday if you want to find out about the gospel, grace, and your identity in Jesus, we’re going to find out all about that through the spiritual practice of Baptism. But before we get there why not take a moment and read Acts 8. Simply read it a few times, and see what you notice and how God speaks to you through it. And come Sunday we’ll see how one man’s life was changed and how ours can be as well…