Posted: November 19, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized
When a man lusts a woman? Sexual desires are holy and healthy when they are expressed in God’s plan and boundaries. As we continued with the narrative of Samson from the book of Judges, we saw how the judge Samson was really bounded by his desire for Delilah. We also saw how Judges 16 was not just about sexual lust but about craving after anything else besides God. There are four things that happen when we crave something more than God: (1) You misuse your giftings to pursue your cravings; (2) You think you control your cravings but they control you; (3) You become blind to your spiritual condition; and (4) You are destroyed. The once indestructible Samson was eventually weakened and he was ultimately destroyed. However, thankfully, sin does not have the last say. Not in Samson’s life nor in the life of Israel. The only true and living God is the one who gives the Philistines their victory, and as he gives over Samson to the Philistines to judge him, God is actually judging the Philistines, bringing sweet victory to the nation of Israel. Actually, it is a violent victory. But there was a much more violent victory. Out of the ruble of Judges 16 emerges the rock of Jesus Christ. Like Samson Jesus was betrayed by a loved one, Samson by Delilah, Jesus by Judas. He was mocked, ridiculed, and abandoned. However, unlike Samson who was abandoned for his sin, Jesus was abandoned for our sin, so we would not have to be everlastingly abandoned for our sin. For us, he put one hand on the pillar of God’s holiness, and the other on the pillar of our sinfulness, and he was crushed by an avalanche of the sins of his elect people. While Samson’s victory was partial and temporary, Jesus’ victory is eternal, and by faith, we put our hope in him. You can hear this message on Judges 16 by Pastor Mike HERE! Also, if you missed last week’s message by Charles Bovan on the importance of walking in community you can listen to that HERE!
Posted: November 19, 2014 by David in Uncategorized
On November 8th we gathered for our first session discussing Wayne Grudem’s “Bible Doctrine”. This wasn’t meant to be a re-hash of the introduction or chapter one, but a time intended to stir up questions and comments; to delve further into the overarching theme of “What is systematic theology?” As Mike mentioned, systematic theology was one of his favorite subjects in seminary, because it helped him actually understand the Word of God; so let’s hope it does the same for us! In addition to our discussion of the text, Mike delivered a small lecture consisting of seven points that shed light on the need for systematic theology. If you weren’t there for the session, here’s a re-cap of his points:
- Everyone has a theology, and everyone is a theologian. Unless we are focusing on the Jesus of the bible, we will make Jesus look like us. That is to say, if we don’t focus on what God said about Himself in His word, we will end up manufacturing a God that looks nothing like the God of the Bible. In the end, we all end up having a “theology”. What kind of theologian will we be?
- Studying theology is one of the greatest privileges you will ever have. Did you know that theology was referred to as the “Queen of the Sciences” within Ivy League academics? Knowing about God isn’t the same as knowing God. However, what do you do when you want to know someone better? You try to learn as much as you can about them! When you start to know them, you’ll want to know them more and more deeply.
- Bad theology exists because people don’t do systematic theology. As Mike has said in the past “A text without context is a pretext to make it whatever we want”. By ignoring context, or considering what else the Bible says on a given topic, we run the risk of coming to heretical conclusions. In fact, there are no “new” interpretations of the Bible, just ancient heresies re-packaged for modern times.
- Be careful: don’t be fat in the head and skinny in the heart. It’s said that the Lutheran theologian Rudolf Bultmann memorized the entire New Testament (in Greek, to boot) and believed none of it. It’s possible to know a lot about God and not worship Him. We don’t want to get to a point where our heads are swollen with knowledge and our hearts are barren due to a reliance on our intellect. While many can swing between two camps: being doctrinal, or being experiential. We want to be both. Those who fall into the “experiential only” camp want to talk only about “experience”. That is to say, they only want to discuss their “experience” of God, which tends to be subjective. This ends up leading to a “mystical” interpretation of God – ignoring the fact that He has clearly revealed much about Himself in scripture. This leads to the other extreme (doctrine only), those who say “Give me a bible and a highlighter”. Ultimately, we want elements of both. We want our heads and hearts to aid us in being hands-on/missional. The end result is something thoroughly scriptural, deeply experiential, while being passionately missional.
- The study of doctrine must lead to delight or else it’s dangerous. You want to be growing in godliness and mission, not just “growing in knowing”. When was the last time you cried over scripture, an attribute of God, forgiveness of sin, or the brokenness of the world around you? See the fourth point.
- Don’t let systematic theology trump the plain, everyday, beautiful reading of the Bible. Plainly put, this isn’t your Bible. While the study of systematic theology can help us in understanding our Bible, it won’t read and experience the Bible for us.
- You must put shoes on the truth. You’ve learned a lot. So, how are you going to apply and walk it out?
Posted: November 4, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized
What is grace? Is it anything more than an overused Christian word that carries no weight? NO! Grace is undeserving favor to undeserving sinners that brings us into relationship with God, most fully revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we continue with our series Darkness vs. Light, we saw how, more than being about Samson’s birth, Judges 13 paints a picture of what happens when grace lands on someone, what grace does. So what does grace do? Grace comes unexpectedly. Again we see the ongoing pattern of rebellion against and the retribution, but what we don’t see is repentance. Yet God in his sovereign grace, sends a judge to deliver them. In other words, even though they have not cried out in repentance, God sends them a rescuer. The posture of God towards those who he plans to save is to run after them and to bring them home. The God of all grace does the impossible. In overflowing grace, not only does God bring blessings to the barrenness to your lives, but his saving grace turns spiritual cadavers into true worshipers. Also, in his grace, God changes our direction. As both of Samson’s parents embraced the new direction to which God had lead them, when grace breaks into our lives, it changes our direction in the form of holiness, service, and missions. Lastly, when grace lands, it creates a worshiper. T’was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. When we start to fear the Lord is when we start to get to know him, which leads us to worship.
As God promised, Samson was born. As we will see in the next couple of weeks, God saves in very unconventional manner and this points us to someone whose birth we celebrate every year. Just like Samson, Jesus was consecrated after his birth and saved his people. But unlike Samson who sinned early and often, whose victory was incomplete, partial at best, Jesus was sinless and his victory was complete, saving all his people from their sin. Has he saved you from your sins? You can hear this message on Judges 13 by Pastor Mike HERE
It is that time around the month! It is the first Friday (11/7) of the month, which means we as a body will pray and fast throughout the day, depending on the Lord and seeking His will. Prayer topics will be posted on social media throughout the day so be on the lookout. Later that evening at 6-7pm, we will gather at the PO for a power hour of prayer. Let us continue to cry out to God who is not only our deliver, but also our sustainer!
Posted: November 2, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized
Inaugural Trunk or Treat at the PO! Despite the poor weather and the trunks kept closed, there were so many kids in their beautiful(?) costumes that stopped by to get their faces painted, play some games, experience a winter wonderland, and of course, grab some candy! Thank you all who showed up early to help set up the stations, made hot drinks, cleaned up after everything was done, and donated all the candy! We hope this was the first of many!
Posted: October 27, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized
‘Hybrid’ means something is formed of two or more entities, such as hybrid shoes and hybrid bikes, and we typically associate ‘hybrid’ as being a good thing. However, it’s not good to make a hybrid god. In other words, it’s fun to build-a-bear, but not to build a god. As we read in Judges 10-12, God saves and uses thugs. ‘Thugs’ meaning people, no matter what they look like, who refuse to live under God’s authority. Jephthah was equivalent of the four-year varsity starting inside linebacker, but not quite what we would typically label as someone who has the qualities of a leader, shunned by his own brothers because of his background. However, Jephthah was eventually called to lead his people in battle against the Philistines. Along the way we see how he seemed to show some signs of having faith in the LORD, and he was filled with the Spirit. Unfortunately, Jephthah’s story of redemption does not end there. He then makes a foolish vow which resulted in his sacrificing his daughter as a burnt offering. He doesn’t show that God operates by grace. Jephthah made a hybrid god, sacrificing his daughter like the pagans did. He embraced the truth of the living God and mixed it with lies of false gods. He was a mixologist with blender theology.
Jephthah leads us to be longing for a better rescuer.
Jesus like Jephthah was rejected by his own people. He was also followed by a bunch of worthless fellows. But it was even worse for Jesus that he was abandoned by them when he needed them the most. And he would offer a sacrifice just like Jephthah, but unlike Jephthah who sacrificed his daughter, Jesus sacrificed himself to make us sons and daughters of God. Japheth did not understand grace, but Jesus was, still is, and forever will be, the source of all Grace. When we are gripped by this grace, we glory in the reality that God uses people of rough backgrounds, and we are freed to confess where we’ve been making a hybrid god.
God plus racism, plus blame-ism, plus fallen sexuality, plus individualism, and plus tradition. Where are you being a god mixologist? What are some of the hybrid gods in your lives? We are trucking along our sermon series on the book of Judges, Darkness vs. Light
! You can hear this message by Pastor Mike on Judges 10-12 HERE.
This Friday (10/31) 5:00 – 7:30 pm, we will be hosting a Trunk or Treat at the PO, an event open to the community. There will be trunks creatively decorated and full of goodies. Please invite your neighbors, for we want to have fun, but also build relationships with the people near to us! There is also a prize to the person/family with the best decorated trunk, so started getting those creativity juices flowin’!
Posted: October 23, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized
There are two kinds of people in the world: the repentant and the unrepentant. And God makes sure unrepentant people get what they deserve, as we saw with Abimelech from Judges 9. Why was Abimelech so intent on being king? He was a broken man fighting for significance, having an inferiority complex. It’s not wrong to feel like you don’t measure up or to feel that you’re broken. The issue and question is where are you going to be healed. Fallen broken people like us weren’t meant to fix ourselves. Whenever we play doctor, we make a bigger mess than what we started with. We all make attempts to fill our God shaped holes in our hearts with things that don’t fully satisfy. We have to learn how to take those natural longings of significance to Jesus, so he can be that for us. Are you closer to unbelievers than Christians? Do you have a habit of linking arms with people who you know won’t ever challenge you or call you out? Do you find yourself moving away from people you feel or know won’t give you a pass and will check you on your sin? If the people around you aren’t actively point you to Jesus, you are living in isolation and God did not intend for anyone to do life and live life in isolation. On the flip side, a community of yes-men and enablers is no community at all. That’s why we need people who will not tell us what we want to hear but to reel us in when we get off track.
Abimelech ruled Israel for 3 years, operating in a position which God did not intended for him to have, and there was silence. Based on what happened next, we see that it would be foolish to think that God’s silence as a sign of his approval. God, the just and righteous judge, makes sure Abimelech gets what he deserves. We are like Abimelech in so many ways, deserving of God’s unsuspecting wrath. But thanks be to God, someone was willing to stand in our place. Jesus Christ, the ultimate judge, the true king whose only desire was to do the will of God, did not need a community of yes-men to bolster his claim to be the king of king because he already had his cosign from the Father. God makes sure that unrepentant people get what they deserve, but he also makes sure that repentant people get the mercy and grace that they do not deserve. Are you doing the right things for the wrong reasons? Do you really believe God is just? You can listen to this powerful message by Randy Wimbley on Judges 9 HERE!
Thanks again to the brothers at Mosaic Church who invited us to be part of the men’s retreat. It was a great time of fellowship, and our hope is that all the men would be constantly reminded of God’s Grace over our lives, the power of Prayer, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit (GPS)!
Posted: October 15, 2014 by Nick in Uncategorized
Have you ever caught yourself sticking out your chest for something that you shouldn’t be taking credit? In the second part of our study of Gideon, we see the fall of this great judge of Israel. As we read in Judges 8, Gideon, who went from doubting to doing, then went to chest thumping. We saw how there are danger signs that maybe indicate that you are not leading or handling success well. You might avoid needed tough conversations, in bondage of being liked by everyone. You might have anger against those who buck your authority. You also might be abusing your authority for personal gain, for things such as money and for more power, or for acclaim and identity. Lastly, you might professionalize hypocrisy, having a studied ability to say what is right but practice what is wrong. Gideon did some good things but he also left a hot mess. However, there was another leader who had all the right to demand first-class service. Unlike Gideon, Jesus resisted the temptation to gain power and authority for himself. He had all the right to be served, but he himself served the ones who did not deserve anything.
In order to defend against the dangers of success one must remember that true leaders are servant leaders, that we are tools with expiration dates. We also need to remember that gifting is from the Lord and that he is not impressed by our giftedness but rather our godliness. We must not forget that we are a target of the enemy and his weapon is pride, and that God in his sovereignty may allow struggles in our lives to keep us grounded. But more than anything, we must always remember that we are constantly drenched in His Grace. The message of the cross is that we are forgiven, and we can lead from the cross as crucified leaders. Because Jesus was extraordinary we can be ordinary, and because he was somebody we can be nobodies. Which of those danger signs got you? If you lead anything or have been successful at anything, this message is for you. You can hear the message by Pastor Mike HERE!
This upcoming weekend, the men of Restore will join our fellow brothers from Mosaic church to a men’s retreat. The theme is Compelled – In brokenness, Toward Jesus, Into Mission. Please pray for this retreat, that it may not only be a great time of fellowship, but also a time in which the men are empowered by the Gospel of our Lord and Savior!