Sermon by Elder Tony Smith
I once had a pastor friend that said: "If the enemy is unable to get to you through traditional means, he will make you busy." No other time do we see this more than the weeks leading up to Christmas. With Christmas parties, shopping, traveling and cooking... It's easy to lose sight of the foundational truths of Christmas. That Jesus Christ came into this world to set the captives free and that one day He'll come again. How free do you feel this Christmas? Are you ready for Him to come again? This Sunday, we'll be unpacking an untraditional passage for Advent. We'll be going through Daniel 5 - The Writing on the Wall. We'll be using this passage to challenge ourselves to draw in near to Him this Christmas. It's my prayer, that we don't miss the "writing on the wall." That we come to realize that Jesus is the only gift we need this Christmas. See you Sunday!
Sermon by Corky Calhoun
Maybe it's just me, but it seems the way that the church and
most Christians do Christmas makes a statement that the
way God did it must have been wrong. l like we rearrange the manger, we focus more on gift bearing wise men than humble shepherds. It feels like to me that American Christmas is just
manger manipulation. I worry sometimes that Jesus has become just another church prop at Christmas. The word Christmas (Christ-Mas) is Latin for "More Christ". Do our Christmas's have more Christ or is it more of some other "C" words, like consumerism, commercialism and chaos! In order for Christ to become more, certainly it means something has got to become less. This is the heart behind "Simple Christmas" a way of celebrating Jesus that cuts through all the clutter and keeps Jesus in the center of it all. I have said for years the only benefit of Advent is that it would force us to pre-decide the kind of Christmas we desire. Join us this Sunday as we begin our season of preparation for God's grand celebration!
Sermon by Nathan Walter Youth Pastor
Throughout the Bible, there are many stories of God's grand designs and the people who played a part in them. Abraham was given the task to move from where he was comfortable to a land that God had prepared for him. It may have seemed like a huge assignment at the time, but God would do infinitely more with it than Abraham could have imagined. Like Abraham, God has called us each by name into His great plan for not only our lives, but the entire human race. Where are we on that journey? Have we followed Jesus all the way or have we stopped along the path? This week, we will study Abraham's journey to Canaan and look at the promises that God made not only to Abraham but to each one of us.
Sermon by Lay Leader Kelly Butz
Intimacy. We have taken it upon ourselves as Americans to redefine intimacy and we have created it to be something that God never intended. So, how would you define intimacy? If you had a 3x5 note card and you could write down the definition, what would you write? Would it be influenced by Hollywood and how they have sexualized our culture? Would you define intimacy using feelings? Would you make it about proximity and how close or distant you are from someone? Would trust be a factor in whether or not you are intimate with someone? We would have lots of different answers that define one word that is very near and dear to God, our intimate relationship with Him! Just so you know, it is impossible to hide from God. We try, but He knows our thoughts and our words before they are even spoken. We are fully known by God! Often times we treat him as a stranger so that we can avoid being vulnerable before him. Prayer is the only way we can become intimate with God. Prayer is the one way we can build a trusted relationship with Him. It is all about surrendering ourselves and bending our knee in prayer. So come this Sunday and draw near to God. Surrender your hearts and step into true intimacy with the God of the universe. The one true God who created each one of us uniquely to have a deep and intimate relationship with Him. See you Sunday!
So as I have been immersed in all things prayer this year, I have begun to wonder if familiarity has caused us to lose sight of the Awe and Wonder of God? Do our prayers reflect the magnitude of who God is, what God has done, and what God continues to do in the midst of an avalanche of worldly sinfulness. Have we become so familiar with God that we now take him for granted? I began to think that in our over-stimulated cyber driven world in which we live in, are we no longer impressed by the wonder of God's creation? Have we settled for avatars of reality or cheap knock-offs of divine experiences? Do our prayers reflect J.O.Y. ? Jesus first, Others second, and You last? So many of our prayers treat God like he is a cosmic Butler or a divine Concierge. When was the last time we hit the pause button and looked around at the world in which God has created and thought about giving thanks for the creator. If you asked me what I thought was missing most in our spiritual experiences, it would be the loss of awe and wonder in our daily lives. It's not that awe and wonder do not exist, it's that we fly right by it and miss all the beauty around us. So join us Sunday as we continue to look at prayer from every angle.
Sermon by Pastor Corky Calhoun
I want to first share with you how grateful I am for Janice's sermon last week. I truly believe that it was an anointed word from God for all of us, and if you missed I want to encourage you to go to the website and give it a listen. I am more of a charge the hill, rise up, get going, don't ever retreat kind of preacher, and my prayer life reflects this most frequently. What I am not so good at is slowing down, being still, sitting in silence, being contemplative. This means preaching on prayer as Sanctuary is harder for me in general. Listen, it's not because I have never experienced or for that matter needed prayer as a vehicle for Sanctuary, it's just not the vehicle I choose first. So the first four sermons in this series saw prayer as being on the offense; preparation, deliverance, being on fire, and warfare. These last three will be more of looking at prayer through a lens of pausing, seeking solitude with God amidst uncertainties and trials. More looking up than looking out. Sanctuary is meant to be and should be a safe place in the Kingdom for us to bare our souls. In the Old Testament days, you could not be touched in the sanctuary, it was a shelter from harm. I believe prayer as Sanctuary allows you to experience the cover of God, his protection and his comforting presence. It's a place to go when your afraid, when your confused, when your uncertain, when your running from the enemy. I believe eventually we all will need prayer as sanctuary. Join us Sunday as we add the next building block to our prayer practices.
Sermon by Community Care Pastor Janice Shepard
Most days our life seems far removed from any war zone. We drink our morning coffee, go to work, check off our to-do list, gather around the kitchen table for dinner, watch our favorite shows and head off to bed.
But the Bible describes a much different scene taking place all around us, in the unseen, spiritual world. God makes it clear, through His Word, that there is a constant battle raging all around us. Spiritual forces of evil at work in the realm of darkness, whose main objective is to ruin our life, thwart the plan of God and stop the advancement of His Kingdom.
The Bible names a real and present foe to our faith, the devil! He prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to destroy everything good in our life: our family, our marriage, our reputation, our integrity and our witness. And he does it in such a cunning way that we credit the blame to people we know, care about and love.
But take heart! The Bible also makes it clear that there is nothing about the enemy that indicates he should or will win the day. The devil is a defeated foe, and through Christ, we have been provided with more spiritual power than we are up against! Jesus is the One who is seated far above all rule and authority, all power and dominion; and all authority on heaven and earth has been given to him!
Join us Sunday as we learn how to engage our most powerful weapon of this spiritual war; communication with the One who reins victorious, PRAYER!
Sermon By Pastor Corky Calhoun
It's interesting to me that the further away we get from that personal moment of salvation from sin, the less passionate most Christians are about their faith. Time in truly erodes awareness of. I think the thing that keeps us from having a "Life on Fire" for Jesus is a disconnected prayer life. It's not frequent enough, fervent enough, faithful enough. Look, we are passionate about the things that mean the most to us, it's a simple truth that reveals a hidden reality. This reality is that our passionate life for Christ should be in full view to the world, people should know we are passionate about his mission to reach our community with love and grace. It is why we use terms like "All In" and "Sold Out" around here to describe the walk we are supposed to be walking. It's my desire that none of us would forget that not only have we been redeemed, but we have been redeemed with a purpose. When Paul tells us we should "pray with out ceasing" I think what he is trying to say is that we should live our life on fire. Not only should our prayer life be passionate, but it should influence our passions! I think we spend so much time asking God in prayer to give us the desires of our hearts, instead of asking him to help our hearts burn with greater desire for him!
Join us Sunday as we continue to look at the practice of prayer and the difference it makes.
This Sunday we look at the one aspect of prayer we share most in common with both our believing and non-believing neighbors...the Prayer of Deliverance. I really do believe this is the most common type of prayer uttered by all people. As I said last week, there are no atheists in foxholes. The fact is that for some people it is the crucible of crisis that ever drives them to pray. I mean, how many of our prayers have some aspect of, protect me, guide me, deliver me, rescue me, help me, watch over me? A great many of our prayers are cries to the Lord, which is perfectly fine as these types of prayers are littered throughout scripture. Even Jesus in the garden asked God to take from him the cup of wrath. But how often do we pray a prayer of deliverance with no expectance of him showing up? I call these "wishing well" prayers! The truth is all of us will need to be delivered even if it is just from our sin alone. I also believe we will all need Jesus, just better to know him before you need him. I always marvel at people who pray for deliverance and then attribute their rescue to luck. Or the person who prays for deliverance and then isn't happy with the means God chose in deliverance, I reference the Israelites on their way out of bondage in Egypt. So this Sunday, I hope we affirm that prayers of deliverance are both common and welcomed by God. However, I do not want us to miss that the methodology of God's chosen deliverance might not look like what we wish for. After all wishing and hope are not the same thing! And yet, God's chosen method of deliverance may be the very thing God needs to be glorified through our coming victory!
Sermon by Pastor Corky Calhoun
This Sunday we start a new series on "Prayer." Increasingly I am at meetings with Pastors, which by and large are a strange bunch of folks ( I am sure other vocational groups have strange members as well, but since this is my group I just need to call it like I see it). What makes it strange is that for people in the relationship business they seem to be awkward around each other. Honestly, I don't know what drives that, maybe the fear of competition or a hesitancy to be vulnerable. Conversations tend to be shallow and often times limited to complaining about the flock. Anyway, not long ago at one of these meetings a Pastor asks me one of the three questions always asked by one pastor to another..."what are you preaching on these days?" I shared that our emphasis this year had been on prayer and that we would soon begin our second series on this topic. His response was, "I can't think of anything more boring than a series on prayer." Yes he did, he actually said that! So I have been wondering...do we think prayer is boring? Is our communication with our God, who rescued us from sin and death more duty than delight? Is our encouragement to be in prayer once a month in the historic sanctuary more guilty obligation than anticipated expectation? I really do think prayer is one of the most vital and often one of the most neglected aspects of anyone's spiritual life. I never meet anyone who says "I am crushing my prayer life", but I speak to lots of people who wish their prayer life was better. This is what the next seven weeks will be about...the practice of prayer! So I hope you will join us and begin a journey to become prayer warriors in an age of darkness.