April 2013

April 29, 2013

Make Room - Greg Surratt

Seacoast did a series on making room for God, and this is the first sermon from it. It's based on 2 Kings 4:8-37, when a well-to-do woman literally made a room in her house for Elisha, the man of God, to stay. Some miraculous stuff happened and it's a great story, though I'm surprised that they could do an entire series based on it, because it seems pretty straight-forward. I guess we'll see what kind of wisdom there is to gleam from it.

What really stood out for me is the idea of going where God is likely to be. This is something I'd done some thinking on when trying to figure out some kind of direction for my life. My first instinct when dreaming of the future is that I want to start big things and be in charge. I'm not saying this is a bad thing necessarily, but God is already working in plenty of places, and maybe I just need to join in where He's already active and help where I'm needed. I've heard that in Jewish culture, when a disciple follows a rabbi, he calls it being "covered in his dust;" meaning that he follows his rabbi so closely that he physically gets covered in dust in the process. What a beautiful image for our own relationship with Christ.

I also like how this sermon really highlights that experiencing God happens in community. Church isn't just where you get "fed," but should be where we have a family of people that we live life with in our collective and individual pursuit of Christ. I wrote some things about this here, in the last two sections about sermons from Ray Vander Laan.

  • Making room for God begins with an invitation
    • She urged him to come to his home for a meal
    • Stalk God a bit -- go where He is likely to be
      • God is more often found in the quiet places of life
    • Experiencing God happens in community
      • Most of scripture was written to communities, not individuals
  • Anytime you make room for God, He'll fill it
  • Best done in community
  • You may have to convert space that could be used for something else
    • She built a room for the man of God
    • Make space for God and He fills it
      • "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
  • You don't have to make a lot of room
    • Let's make a "small room" for Elisha
    • Small steps
    • Luke 6:38
      • Whatever you need, if you give it to God, He will multiply and give it back to you.

April 26, 2013

I read something cool today...

I've been reading in the Jewish Publication Society bible (The Tanakh or the Old Testament). It reads a little differently than the Old Testament, but really the only main difference I've noticed is that it's more frank or brash in some of its language.

Anyway, I was reading 2 Kings 19 and Judah, under the rule of King Hezekiah, is on the verge of attack from Assyria. Assyria sends some dudes to come threaten them a couple times, and its scary -- I can't imagine living in a world where the threat of foreign invasion is constant. I suppose you could argue we're there right now, but I think it's much less imminent than in those days.

So Hezekiah takes this letter from the messengers of Assyria and goes into the House of the Lord. He spreads it out before God and prays:
"O LORD of Hosts, Enthroned on the Cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. O LORD, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see. Hear the words that Senacherib has sent to blaspheme the living God! True, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have annihilated the nations and their lands, and have committed their gods to the flames and have destroyed them; for they are not gods, but man's handiwork of wood and stone. But now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hands, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, O LORD, are God."
I think this is a beautiful model for prayer, especially prayer in desperation. First, he praises God for who He is. Then, he requests God's attention before stating what is true about the situation he is in. Next, he petitions the Lord in faith and for His glory.

What a great model! Praise God, tell Him your situation, express to Him your faith that He can change it, and request it for God's glory. It's pretty similar to Jesus' model of prayer in Mathew 6:9-13:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
A lot (if not all) of what Jesus said was based in, or an interpretation of, the Jewish scriptures, so it's important to know them if we're to fully understand what Jesus meant.

Also, this model for prayer is similar to what Jamie Winship speaks about, particularly in the Hearing from God series (here is the first one - I think there are 5 or 6. If you can't find them, let me know). I'm doing a bad paraphrase here, but essentially Jamie encourages us to tell God what's true about our situations, and then ask God to show up in a powerful way, which requires faith. This allows for honesty, where we don't have to pretend we're not in a bad spot, but can openly tell God, "this is where I'm at; I don't like it, but I think You can do something about it."

Simple, beautiful, powerful.

April 25, 2013

The Resurrection of Jesus - Joseph Barkley

Here is a sermon from Ecclesia church. It's part of the series "I Don't Buy It," which is going through things about Christianity that keep people from believing.

This particular sermon does a great job of explaining many of the popular theories refuting the resurrection of Jesus. It also presents some great material confirming it. This is great to listen to if you're either doubting, or want more confirmation in what you believe.

After going through a lot of head-knowledge and facts, Joseph pulls it in to get to the heart of what Jesus' resurrection really means, and it's significance in our lives.

The sermon can be found here: http://www.churchinhollywood.com/#/sundays/podcasts

I only took a few notes on this one:
  • The resurrection of Jesus does three things:
    • Validates our faith
      • If Jesus can't resurrect the dead, then He can't save me, atone my sins or do anything else He claims.
    • Conquers our greatest fear: death.
      • 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 - "'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
      • Joseph points out that Paul, in this verse, is using poetry to talk about death, emphasizing that we can rejoice in its defeat.
    • Secures our future:
      • Paul says that, if Jesus has not resurrected, Christians are to be pitied most of all men for sacrificing their lives to a hopeless cause.
      • This is not the case though, and our labors are not in vain.
      • 1 Corinthians 15:58 - "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

April 24, 2013

Knock - Greg Surratt

For the last installment of the "Breakthrough" series about prayer at Seacoast, Greg spoke heavily on praying for others and on behalf of others. He bases the sermon on Genesis 25:21 - "Isaac pleaded with the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The LORD answered Isaac's prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins."

There's some great stuff here about praying specifically, and with passion. I know in my own life that generic and lifeless prayers abound. My grandmother emphasizes "crying out" to God in "fervent prayer." I doubt many of us do this often; I know I don't. Who knows, maybe adding passion to my prayer-life will make its way into my day-to-day as well...

I've also been hearing a lot lately to pray specifically. Whenever you pray, think about what you're saying. Is it even quantifiable? Some things aren't that are still good to pray for, but it's important to always consider our words (Matthew 6:7).

A couple more takeaways -- Isaac and Rebecca prayed together. Greg talks about how this builds a really strong bond between husband and wife, especially in desperate prayer. Also, God's time is not our time! That's super important and so true, as well as a great thing to remember as we're waiting on God.

Some notes:
  • Isaac was passionate (he "pleaded" with the Lord).
    • Pleading is not whining, but a certainty of heart that God will help with what your heart is breaking for.
  • Prayers should be personal
    • Whatever you need a breakthrough in might be there because God is working on your heart.
    • Be empathetic when praying for others or with others
      • Isaac and Rebecca prayed together
      • Isaac interceded, but she was likely there with him
    • Faith is from the one praying
      • So when you're praying with someone else who may not believe, you are sharing your faith with that person (Jamie Winship teaches a lot about this - do a google search for him and watch!).
  • Prayers need to be specific
    • Beware of generic prayers
    • Be desperate!
  • God is not limited by our timeline

April 23, 2013

Seek - Chip Judd

Here is part two of the "Breakthrough" prayer series from Seacoast Church. Probably the greatest takeaway from this that I got was the revitalization of what we believe prayer is. Too often, prayer has become a lifeless ritual that we feel guilted into doing. However, the truth of the matter is that it is the release of God's power on this earth, as well as one of our primary methods for getting to know Him. It's easy to forget this, and this message does a good job of bringing it up.

Another interesting thought from this sermon is the idea that God created a world that could distract us from Him, so that we could voluntarily go to Him, motivated by a deeper love for God and desire for Him. What a strange idea! Although compliant with scripture I'd say. That's the answer to the question, "If God wanted us to love Him, why didn't he just create us without the ability to choose a life apart from Him?" The answer: Is forced love real love?

Here are some notes I took:
  • Prayer is an invitation to shape culture, change things, join the unseen adventure
  • Is the reach and impact of heaven limited by our prayers?
  • 3 kinds of prayer
    • Ask: asking for & receiving what God has promised & already paid for
      • Can approach with confidence, and differently than other types
    • Seek: building an intimate conversational relationship with God
      • Setting can be important - create the right place to hear God
    • Knock: fighting with & for others who need God's help
      • Intercession
  • Prayer is talking to someone you can't see, working with power you can't measure, to achieve results you can't control.
  • When I go to God, I must understand:
    • He's there, He's listening, He responds
  • Is God hiding? What about when God is silent?
    • He created a universe that could distract us from him, so we could have a voluntary choice to talk to him
    • By trying to be strong, I may be actually blocking God's power
    • God is thrilled at just our attempts at prayer
    • Every time you say "yes" to God, you get more sensitive to His voice and less sensitive to the flesh
  • 1 John 5:14-15 - "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."
  • When you want to hear God's voice, open it (the bible)
  • God becomes visible to those who look for Him

April 18, 2013

If nothing were impossible...

 ...what would you ask God for?

Seacoast church did a series on prayer titled "Breakthrough" at the beginning of the year. I used to go to this church when I lived in Charleston and I have to say, I really miss it. It's a big church, and a pioneer in the multi-site church movement, but they have great leadership and really manage being a mega-church well.

I listened to the first in the series by Greg Surratt, and based on Luke 11:1-11:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.[b]
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c]
And lead us not into temptation.[d]’”
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
 Most of you know that's The Lord's Prayer up there. It's a model for prayer that Jesus gave us and there is tons to say about it - Greg speaks briefly on it.

After that, Jesus tells that story about a persistent man. Greg calls this importunitance (not sure if that's a word or not) - essentially shameless, obnoxious and bold persistence. Jesus says we should approach God this way, which seems odd, but it's worth a shot!

Here's the sermon:

And here are some notes I took:
  • God wants us to ask Him for what we need
    • Jesus says this 3 times ("ask, seek, knock"), which means it must be important
    • Often times our problem isn't having a bad desire, but how we go about getting our desire (James 4:1-3).
  •  All of God's kids receive when they ask
  • Remember that we're asking our FATHER
  • Not getting what we ask for:
    • Sometimes we don't get what we ask for because, in our asking, we are acting like God (determining what we need)
    • Sometimes we ask for "stones and snakes"
  • "The greatest tragedy of our time is the prayerlessness of Christians."
  • Fasting = quit doing something so you can hear God more
  • To establish a new habit (like prayer):
    • Ask "why" about motivation
    • Set a goal
    • Create the right environment
    • Become accountable
  • Pray specifically:
    • If nothing were impossible, what would I ask God for?
    • Set a generosity goal instead of an income goal
    • Pray for people specifically
  • Pray persistently
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (a good memory verse because it's super short!)
    • The bible never says stop praying because of discouragement

April 16, 2013

The Problem of Evil

Ecclesia is currently in a series titled "I Don't Buy It," where they explore a lot of the reasons people don't believe in God. The one last Sunday was on "The Problem of Evil," which turned out to be very poignant considering yesterday's bombings in Boston.

Katie and I lead a small group that discusses the sermons from church, so I gave this one another listen today. It's really great, and works through many of the reasons people are atheists, and their arguments, along with logical rebuttals in favor of God. It cites C.S. Lewis often, as well as a few famous athiests. I'm a big fan of Lewis (once an atheist), so I almost always find his stuff super helpful. This is great, real-world stuff that is applicable to Christians and non-Christians, which I guess is the point of our series!

You can listen to the sermon here. It's by Brett Kunkle, who works for Stand to Reason, an organization that "trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square."

P.S. - He mentions a clip in the sermon, which is below:

April 15, 2013

New Thing - The Peasant Princess

So I usually write my monthly emails detailing all the notes I took from sermons that I've listened to throughout the month, along with a few other fun things. Today I want to start something new...

Since I usually listen to a sermon about every day, I'm going to try and make this a daily thing - reviewing and sharing notes on what I thought about the sermons/ lectures I listen to. We'll see what happens.


This is a sermon series that was recommended to me by a friend who is about to get married. It goes through the Song of Songs and explains its application to sex and marriage.

This is the first sermon I've ever listened to by Mark Driscoll, but I really enjoyed it. He's a pretty fundamental guy, teaching straight from the bible, which I really value. He is also tough on men, setting up high expectations for biblical masculinity and responsibility. This is a trait I think is really lacking in Christian culture, so I really appreciate Mark's work in this area. It was eye-opening and convicting to me when, after taking questions from the audience after each sermon, Mark said that most of the questions he received were men trying to get out of as much responsibility as they could. Wow...

Here are some notes I took from the whole series. The first part is just notes from various sermons (it's a 10-part series), the last two are categorized by the sermon specifically.
  • A biblical, successful relationship = two givers
    • Both must give themselves completely, which = freedom in the relationship
  • Healthy priorities:
    • Jesus at the center
    • Marriage
    • Kids
    • Whatever else...
  • 4 Horsemen of Divorce
    • Criticism
    • Contempt: communicates disgust
    • Defensiveness: excusing your own sin
    • Stone-waling: disengaging/ ignoring
  • Ask what are the "foxes" in your marriage? And what are your fears?
    • Fight them!
  • You have two options in marriage: happily married or unhappily married!
  • 3 warnings to married people:
    • Foxes: architecture of your life, other things that get in the way
    • Fears
    • Friends: who is speaking into your life?
  • Christian men should ask, "how can I get more responsibility" because Jesus took responsibility for our sin, though it wasn't his to take.
  • According to the bible, you're either selfish or a servant.
  • "My friend, my lover"
    • Friend = someone you serve/ who serves you outside the bedroom
    • Lover = someone you serve/ who serves you inside the bedroom
  • It all begins with serving/ giving
  • The only marriage that works is a servant with a servant (1 Corinthians 7)
  • Don't judge the scriptures by your predjudices, let scriptures judge your predjudices
  • Women should be visually generous, men should be verbally generous
  • When a husband is 100% solely devoted to his wife, she is free to love passionately
  • "We live in a world that lives by minutes, and marriage are built by decades."
    • The last day of your marriage is more important than the first day
  • If you walk away from God (like Solomon did), you are capable of anything
  • A marriage that doesn't know how to deal with sin won't last
    • You need a plan
    • We need to initiate reconciliation and apology
    • Look your spouse in the eyes when resolving conflict
    • Sin requires sacrifice; when you're sinned against in marriage, the sacrifice is either Jesus or your spouse.
    • Sin = thought, word, deed, motive; omission, comission
    • Don't repent for other people
    • Bitterness happens when it's personal
    • Forgiveness is not a one-time thing
  • 3 Questions:
    • Where is your sin? Especially sexual sin?
    • Where is your bitterness?
      • Anger/ violence = bitterness/ unforgiveness
    • What does repentance/ forgiveness look like for you?
  • Repentance:
    • Conviction
      • Conscious & Holy Spirit
    • Confession
      • Talk with others & God
      • Be careful who you talk to
      • Avoid worldly sorrow (bad feelings but no repentance)
      • Repentance is foundational to Christianity
      • Starts in the mind, with scripture
    • Changed mind
    • Changed heart
    • Changed behavior
    • Restitution (kind of like My Name is Earl)
    • Reconciliation (doesn't always happen if both parties aren't seeking it)
MARITAL SABBATH (still part of the series)
  • Husbands must touch their wife's heart, mind & soul before touching her body
    • Study scripture = mind/ soul
    • Pray = soul
    • Heart = forgive, grace, love
    • Tough = communication
      • Each day should be filled with communication
  • Be a student of your spouse & how he/she changes
    • Not books (only) but your spouse specifically!
    • Write down observations
  • Make plans!!
    • If all you do is spontaneous, you're not loving your spouse
    • Write down plans & execute, then review how it went to see if you're closer or not
    • Talk about expectations before trips/ dates/ etc.
  • Love is...
    • Personal
    • Protective
    • Powerful ("strong as death")
    • Possessive/ jealous (Like God - in a good way)
    • Passionate (the bible commands love -- you can't command a feeling)
    • Perseveres
    • Priceless (never bought, freely given)
  • Most marriages end at year 7
    • You finally become less selfish between years 9 and 14, so hold on until then!
  • You are the first and most important pastor to your child
  • Teaching is integrated into all of life
  • You are the example
  • Instruction precedes correction
  • Goal of parenting is to have kids with hearts that love Jesus
  • 6 tips for parenting daughters (for dads)
    • Pay attention; initiate talk and touch
    •  Don't expect that if your daughter doesn't talk, that she has nothing to say
    • Carve out time for her
    • Pray for her
    • Pray with her
    • Teach her the bible
    • Compliment her