Sermon Series: Leading People

11/7 - 11/21/2021

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you got.  Having a friend to help along the way sure would help a lot.  Wouldn’t you like to get away?  Sometimes you want to get away…  People are all same. You want to go where everyone knows your name.”

As it says in the Cheers theme song, “People are all the same.”  Relationships, business, organizations, and churches all have one thing in common:  they are full of people.  People are great.  People are complicated.  How do we live with one another and keep moving forward?  It requires leadership, culture, and boundaries. 

Much of scripture is about people living together for a common purpose. Imagine a place much like Cheers, with one crucial difference: we are working for the Kingdom of God.  In the Old Testament, they were working for the Holy Land, “a land of milk and honey,” where they would worship the one God.  A land that would allow them to build a community and change the world together.

We aren’t any different than they were. People are all the same. We must learn how to live with one another, care for one another, and build the Kingdom of God together.

Messages

11/20 - 11/21/2021 | Exile

Destruction came. The land of Israel was destroyed. The people of God spent 80 years in exile. In the midst of this tragedy, we do not despair. We believe these truths of exile:

  1. God can redeem anything.  Even the destruction of the Temple can be restored, and so can your life.
  2. Moments of exile are clarifying. Much of our Old testament was compiled in these years.  The crisis of exile compelled people to reflect on the failures of the past and choose a different future.  Exile creates opportunities.
  3. Leaders emerge who can both thrive in exile and be faithful. Daniel, Shadrach, Mechach, Abendego, and others were able to be faithful to God and live holy lives.  They did not let the exile pass them by without inviting God to redeem it. 

Are we in an exile as modern Christians in 2021? There is temptation to complain about the decline of the church or a world that is hostile to our faith.  Daniel pushes us to ask a different question: “How do we thrive in the midst of exile?”  The people of God were still called to serve, live, and lead in exile. If Daniel could lead his people in such a crisis, surely we can lead today. 

11/13 - 11/14/2021 | Failed Kings

God did not want us to have kings but why? Because people entrusted with unchecked power will inevitably lead to sin and brokenness. Even Saul, who was anointed by God, failed.  David, the man after God’s own heart, failed with murder and sexual conquest.  Solomon’s children led to the destruction of the kingship and the splitting of the kingdom of Israel.  God did not want a king, but the Israelites insisted and destruction followed. 

The story of scripture not only shows us what is possible with God, but also what is possible if we rely on ourselves alone: broken cycle after broken cycle.  Two phrases stand out after the bold stories of Saul, David, and Solomon:

  • They did what was evil in the eyes of God
  • They did what was right in their own eyes

Power corrupts.  None of us are immune.  The instruction of scripture is clear: create accountability that stretches beyond human capacity and invites the presence of God.

11/6 - 11/7/2021 | The Law is a Gift!

The law is a gift.  It is not a burden, but a gift! 

Consider the rules that we place on children: they are an absolute gift to them!  Kids don’t always see it that way, but rules are generally designed to keep kids safe, happy, and healthy. For example, most parents teach their children to stay away from the stove, no matter how much fun it might be to play with. Children might not like it, but this rule helps keep them safe.

The Israelites were given a lot of rules.  And likewise, they are a gift.  The first five books of the Old Testament are called the Torah in Hebrew, which translates to “Law” in English.  This worship series invites us to reframe everything that we have thought about the Law. it was designed and intended as a gift. 

Too often, we see rules as constraining instead of freeing, but we all need rules in order to live a good life.  Our best life is not the one without constraints, but where we live with the proper constraints.  The same thing is true for families, businesses, friendships, and more. We live by unspoken laws, but laws nonetheless. As followers of Christ, leading people requires us first to be led by the law of God.

All Series

More Than Conquerors
5/14 - 6/19/2022
In the early first century, culturally speaking, everything was positioned around the idea that a nation ought to expand and conquer to accumulate power and influence. In this way, the movement that began with Jesus was positioned well to be a religion that was focused on going out in the world, spreading its message to new nations, and converting others to this system of beliefs. The world was primed for a religious movement that would respond to the great commission, and in effect, go forth and conquer. Yet, the church was not about conquering. It did not hope to extinguish and assimilate every other person and culture. Instead, the early church grew on the basis that it had the ability to universally speak to the human condition of brokenness and offer hope and promise in the wake of that very condition. The church would be more than the conquerors. Everyone was coming to believe in the promise of God. The Gospel reached into different cultures, differently idioms and languages altogether. In this message, they preached and believed that Jesus would return again, and would return again sooner rather than later. Nobody could have fathomed the idea that 2000 years into the future, we would still be waiting on this return. They were teaching each other lessons and lifting each other up in the hopes that they would be alive to see the grand return. However, those lessons taught have a practicality that transcends any time period. In growing over this time, the church moved beyond the disciples. What was once an effort of individuals and leaders who had all had direct connections to, and conversations with, the risen Lord now transitioned to a movement of different ages, nations, and races of converted believers who had simply heard the Good News of the Gospel. They would lean on their own spiritual experiences of the divine rather than tangible interactions with God Incarnate. What will leadership look like in this new Church? Who can be a part of this faith movement? What will be required to participate? Most importantly, how do those messages speak to us today?
Appeared
4/23 - 5/8/2022
Easter has come, Christ has been resurrected. We have enjoyed the big celebrations, the Easter egg hunts, and the family meals, but we forget that there was more than an empty tomb after Christ was resurrected. There were more visits than the brief encounter of the women in the garden. A fully resurrected Christ is a free Christ. Jesus could have gone anywhere and done anything after the resurrection, and yet he chose to search for the disciples. Jesus sought out the ones who abandoned and failed him more than anyone else. The ones who swore loyalty disappeared. The ones who followed in his footsteps for three years turned their backs on the suffering Savior. The ones who pledged to help transform the world abandoned the mission in fear and shame. Yet the story of the cross and resurrection is true for each of us through the power of God’s grace: we are more than our worst moments. The worst thing is never the last thing. What might those disciples have been feeling after the cross? Can you imagine the deep silence between them? The shared knowledge of their failures? The unrelenting question: “What now?” Brene Brown defines shame as “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love, belonging, and connection.” It is not hard to imagine the deep shame of these disciples, one that each of them knew intimately and yet did not want to name. Shame assigns identity based on our worst moments. It thrives on secrecy. It is “the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal we’ve not lived up to, or a goal we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection” (Brene Brown, Atlas of the Heart, 137). We see over and over again in the Gospels and Acts scenes of redemption and healing through God’s grace. Jesus could have chosen to abandon the ones who left him at the cross, who pretended they did not even know him, to start from scratch with better disciples. Yet in God’s infinite grace and unrelenting love, the disciples were chosen for connection, relationship, and entrusted with the mission of Christ. Jesus confronts their failures head on. This is the Christian story: our deepest shame is redeemed and we are transformed into world-changing disciples