Road Trip Sermon Notes

It has been a few months since I last posted “Sermon Notes”. Truthfully, an entire teaching series on the Beatitudes went by without me getting any of them up here to the blog. I can’t say that I will get them up here every week, but I thought I would get you all caught up on the most recent teaching series at Journey Church. Sadly we will miss next week and 2 other weeks of this series while we are (ironically enough) on Road Trips to Half Marathons. Here is a taste of the first 2 weeks of the series:

Week #1 – Road Trip Preparation

1. There is no such thing as a perfect family

2. Choices we make today will have generational consequences

3. Every family is fixable

Week #2 – Rules of the Road (Ephesians 4:24-32)

Rule #1 – Keep it honest (vs. 25)

Rule #2 – Keep it under control (vs. 26, 27)

Rule #3 – Keep it constructive (vs. 28)

Rule #4 – Keep it respectful and wholesome (vs. 29)

Rule #5 – Keep it cleared up (vs. 31-32)

Two Questions

1. Who are you fighting with in your family?

2. How would the relationship change if you applied these rules for the road?

God Had Other Plans

I hate the treadmill. I really do. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but the nearly 2 feet of snow outside make it pretty difficult to train anywhere else. With a half marathon looming a week from Sunday, I have to get the miles in somewhere. My plans tonight were to get in a quick 4 miles, type a recap of our January half marathon in Phoenix and call it an evening. God had other plans.

I love when He does that….

Our Pastor recently started a series on the Beatitudes. With house church looming tomorrow night, I have been thinking all day how I could tie in Sunday’s sermon on Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. I wasn’t really able to come up with anything today so I figured I would try again tomorrow. I had a pretty good feeling for what Jesus meant when he said that from my study of the Beatitudes a few years ago. I figured I could always pull something from there. God had other plans.

I hit the treadmill at a nice easy pace.  I put my iPod on Shuffle which is rare for me. I’m such a control freak when it comes to pace and music that I always use one of my pre-arranged playlists. Tonight I figured I would go with whatever played. As I went along, I began to pick up my pace. By the end I was running with the treadmill on the number 8 and completely empty. I pushed for a 5th mile and was nearing that mark when it happened. The song “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder came through the ear buds. God had other plans.

As I stood there completely empty of energy, sweating like crazy, God finally had my attention. The words to the song on my iPod echoed through my mind and directly to my heart. It began to all take shape. He was giving me a vision of being “poor in spirit”. He was removing all of the distractions from my day, my thoughts, my emotions to bring me to a point where I could think of nothing else.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

Note after note, lyric after lyric I was reminded of my desperate need for Jesus. While I gasp for air, I was overcome with the emotion of a love for me that continues even when He knows me. He knows my faults, my failures, my weakness and my battle with self. Yet He loves. I thought of the pain I get in my chest when I think how much I love my wife and children.

He loves more.

Being poor in spirit is understanding this desperate need all of the time. Not just after a hard run. Not after being pulled from all of the distractions.

Not after God made other plans.

* You can hear David Crowder’s “How He Loves” HERE

Sermon Notes – As Expected

This week continued the sermon series based on the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” as we looked at the question “Does Life Always Turn Out As Expected”. It is so funny how this happens. I could have just waited a few days on the post I did last week about “What Might Have Been” and used that for my personal application to this sermon notes. I sat listening to the sermon and thinking how just 24 hours earlier we were back in Charlotte, North Carolina where life very well may have “turned out as expected”. You all know the story by now so here are this weeks “Sermon Notes”.

Similarities between Joseph and George Bailey

-Both Married to a “Mary”

-Both from a small town (John 1:45-46) (Matt 1:23)

-Both had dreams (Matt 1:17) (Luke 1:30-33)

-Both visited by angels

-Both had a wonderful life

-Offered to Jesus the right ancestry (Isaiah 9:6-7)

-Provided protection for Jesus as an Infant

-Provided spiritual instruction (Luke 2:21-24) (Luke 2:49-50)

-Supported for Jesus Mother (Matt 1:25)

When Dreams Don’t Happen

1. Maintain a heart of mercy (Matt 1:19)

2. Be open to hear a word from God

3. Obey completely and unquestionably (Matt 1:34)

4. Remember that everything has a purpose (Matt 1:21)

Personal Application:

As I said, it seemed so odd to me that just 24 hours prior to hearing this sermon, Heather and I were back in Charlotte. It was just 15 months ago that we were “this close” to moving our family there. We were chasing what we believed was a God given dream. Yet visiting there this past weekend only confirmed to me that we made the right decision in not going through with that move. It was a time of disappointment and maybe even some frustration with not knowing what God was up to. Yet knowing what I know now, I am so thankful that we are where we are today. I’m so much more appreciative. God has been so good and patient with this servant. I am humbled by his grace and willingness to allow us to sort things out. I also wonder if the “sorting it out” is what refines our faith. It’s no secret I love Charlotte, North Carolina. However God had other plans and they were, remarkably, even better.

Same is true for the events in Bethlehem that night so long ago….

Sermon Notes – Do Angels Have Wings

Sunday we began our first message in the “It’s a Wonderful Life” series with the question, “Do Angels Have Wings”. Below are my notes followed by a personal application:

1. Ministry of Angels Towards God

A)Worship Him (Rev 4:6-8)

B)Serving Him (Psalm 103:20)

C) Ruling

-Over evil men

-Over Nature (Rev 7:2)

-Over powers of darkness (Eph 4:12)

2. Ministry of Angels Towards Jesus

A)Birth – Predicted (Matt 1:20-21), Announced (Luke 2:8-12)

B) Life – Protected (Matt 2:13) and Provided (Matt 4:11)

C) Resurrection (Matt 28:1-2)

D) Ascension (Acts 1:9-11)

E) Return (Jude 14)

*Note – Notice where they were not? They were not present at His death. (Matt 26:23-24)

3. Ministry of Angels to Believers (Heb 1:14)

A) Watching – (1 Cor 4:9)

B) Guiding – (Acts 8:26)

C) Providing – (Genesis 21:17-19)

D) Protecting – (Daniel 3:24-25) (Daniel 6:21-24) (Acts 5:17-19) (Acts 27:23-25)

E) Carrying us home – (Luke 16:19-21)

Our Response?

1. Recognize that Angels still exist

2. Find comfort in their existence and all they do

3. Never worship or pray to Angels

4. Follow their example to worship and serve God (Rev 22:8-9)

Personal Application:

One of the favorite things my mom used to tell us growing up was that “God still sends his angels”. I often wonder if that is true. I do believe that there are unseen forces at work that battle both for and against us. There is no question in my mind that spiritual warfare is real and true. If you doubt that, think about a time when you were on a spiritual “high”. How long was it before you were under attack? How long did it take for something that is your weakness or your failure to quickly come to mind? For me personally, it is a daily struggle. I’m thankful that I have come to recognize it as such. It’s similar to what the author Frank Peretti described so well in his book “This Present Darkness“.

I also wonder sometimes if we will see a replay of our life when we get to Heaven. Like a DVR version of what COULD have happened vs. what actually DID happen. Those times when Angels fought for us, protected us, guided us and carried us. Several years ago, I was retrieving a voice mail on my cell phone and literally drove through a red light at one of the most dangerous intersections in Columbus, Ohio. It wasn’t until I noticed another car nearly smash into to rear of my car that I realized what I had done. I’m lucky I wasn’t killed. It was at that moment that the words my mom used to say came ringing back to me “God still send his angels”. I wonder if we won’t see many of those clips when we get to Heaven.

Lastly, I am reminded that angels may not always appear as we think they should (halo, wings, white robe). I loved that about the movie “Michael” with John Travolta (see clip below). God still sends his angels. One day we will know and see just how many and how often they protected us.

Sermon Notes – Thankfulness

When I started posting “Sermon Notes” late in the summer, I was surprised by the emails and comments from those that follow this series weekly. Those notes are just from those that were willing to send some encouragement to keep posting. My hunch is that there are some out there that read them and have not written in or commented. I count it a blessing to have the technology to share church with each of you once a week. I actually thought of each of you tonight as I sat down in front of my laptop.

The service this morning at our church was dedicated to people sharing their stories of thankfulness. I cannot begin to express my deepest respect for each and every person that stood in front of the congregation to share their “story”. They battled fear of public speaking, fear of what others might think and the risk of transparency to be real. The stories were both inspirational and heart breaking. The stories ranged from addictions, battles with cancer, new marriages, loss of income and physical struggles. Yet each one shared their praise to God for the struggles. They gave praise to the Lord that moves in our lives and has full knowledge of our journey. To each of you I am humbled by your faith. Thank you.

My other thoughts during this time of sharing were:

1. I love the place that I call “church” every week.

2. I love that our community can be the place where we are who we are and it’s alright.

3. I pray I will have the courage of those that shared to give the honor and praise when the storms come.

4. Count your many blessings. Name them one by one.

One word that was spoken over and over and over again this morning was the word “grace”. I think all too often I take the gift of Gods grace for granted. To stand in the face of a storm and call it “grace” takes a faith I aspire to learn. For those that read this that do not attend, take the next 8 minutes to watch the video below. While this is not from our church service this morning, it might as well have been. This will give you an idea of the courage and the stories that were shared. Thanks for your encouragement on this journey. I am honored to share the road with each of you towards our ultimate destination.

Sermon Notes – A Church Made To Go!

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XubM62q9nlw

As you can see from the clip above, we wrapped up the series from Acts 3 – 7 yesterday by taking a look at witnessing. Specifically, we looked at Phillip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-36.

Reasons Most Christians Don’t Witness:

  1. Not able to do evangelism as well as professionals
  2. Too timid
  3. Fear of how people will respond

Elements of Effective Evangelism

  1. Obedient messenger (vs. 26)
  2. Hungry heart (vs. 27-31)
  3. God’s Word (vs. 34)
  4. Gospel and Jesus (vs. 34-35)
  5. Public profession (vs. 36-38)

Phillip’s Principles For Effective Witnessing:

  1. Obey the spirits leading
  2. Look for hungry hearts
  3. Approach people with tact
  4. Study the scriptures
  5. Share the gospel

Application:

Interesting service yesterday. I often tell my wife that I am one of the worst travelers in the world. I don’t like to be talked to when I am on a plane. I don’t like to talk to others. As soon as we hit that 10,000 feet and hear the “ding”, the use of portable electronic devices is something I can’t wait for. The iPod goes on and I get lost in a book. It’s probably rather obvious that I have no desire to talk on the flight. So when I hear stories of so many that have had deep and meaningful spiritual conversations on a flight, I am not one of them. I wish I was better about that, but I am always afraid to be “that guy”.

What is interesting is that my wife and I are never afraid to follow the spirits leading. If you were around for our Charlotte adventure you probably remember that. We’re not afraid to go where the cloud moves. So how can I be so strong (like Phillip) to follow God’s prompting in one area, but not in another? One thing I have learned is to not so much pressure on myself. Jesus saves…not Aaron. That doesn’t remove the call to spread the gospel, but it sure reminds me of my role. We are called to plant seeds. We should witness in the way we live our lives, care for the less fortunate and be aware of any opportunity to live out the gospel.

I have much to learn in the “Go” calling of the great commission.

Opposition

TyroneBogues

On Sunday morning, we looked at Acts 6:8 – 8:3 and how Stephen faced the “ultimate opposition”. In preparation for home group this week, I found an interesting story regarding opposition. Chuck Swindoll shared this story in one of his messages:

In the northeastern United States, codfish are a big commercial business. There is a market for eastern cod all over, especially in the sections farthest removed from the northeastern coastline. But the public demand poses a problem for the shippers. At first, they froze the cod, then shipped them elsewhere, but freezing them takes away much of the flavor. So they experimented with shipping them alive in tanks of seawater. But that proved even worse. Not only did the cod still lose their flavor, but they became soft and mushy. The texture was seriously affected.

Finally, some creative person solved the problem in a most innovative manner. The codfish were placed in the tank of water along with their natural enemy – the catfish. From the time the cod left the East coast until it arrived at its western-most destination, those ornery catfish chased the cod all over the tank. And, you guessed it, when the cod arrived at the market, they were as fresh as when they were first caught. There was no loss of flavor nor was the texture affected. If anything, they were better than before.

What is true about the codfish is also true about the group of people who call themselves disciples of Christ. The group is known as “the church.” (source)

Ahhh opposition. Ain’t it grand? We all face it. I am sure each one of us can tell a story about how we face opposition at work, at school, at home and (as much as I hate to say it) within churches. When it comes to opposition, we have much to learn from the life (and death) of Stephen. As our Pastor pointed out on Sunday:

  1. He excelled at his calling
  2. He experienced ongoing opposition
  3. He found peace when others around him were in turmoil
  4. He saw things differently

Stephen looked to Heaven where he saw Jesus sitting at the right hand of God and was fearless in the face of his opposition. What they thought would stop the gospel only made it stronger. Opposition does that. Example?

In sports, teams often bring in a “backup” player that has equal talent to the “starter”. They are not attempting to create a controversy, they are looking to push that “starter” to his best. They are challenging that player to work hard to maintain his spot as the best. Without the opposition behind him, just waiting for his chance, the “starter” can get lazy and not reach his potential.

When we are following our God given and Spirit led calling, there will be opposition. Opposition can come from the most unlikely of sources at times. I often find it strange that, within the church, we can celebrate a family leaving a church to come to “ours” yet make it personal when one leaves “our church” to join another. When a family is spirit led to move to a place where they can use their God given gifts and talents to advance His kingdom (no matter where that is), shouldn’t we celebrate it? Yet, opposition is often the response. The enemy would like nothing more than to create opposition, dissension and conflict within the very walls of the churches.

Have you ever noticed how out of control the family seems on Sunday morning before church? The kids are arguing and it seems like everyone got up on the wrong side of the bed. It’s no coincidence that this happens to most families as they head off to church. It’s opposition.

When “fall ball” season came around this year, “the boy” was invited to play with the 10 year old kid pitch team. He was 8 at the time and would be “playing up” to a level of competition nearly 2 years ahead of where he had been. He would face kids bigger, faster and more talented. We made the decision that this would be best for him when the summer rolls around and he begins “U9″ (9 year old travel league) play.

He is now playing travel basketball with the 4th grade team. Again, he is only in 3rd grade, so he is “playing up” one level. Through the first few weeks of practice, you can see that he is a step behind others that played last year. He’s learning on the fly and doing his best to keep up.

While we could have just plugged him in for another year of Upwards Basketball, we believe it was not the best for him in the long run. His passion is basketball. He loves the sport and is gifted at it. While he is facing opposition today that he didn’t face in Upwards, he is learning and growing as a player. We know that he will be a better player for having faced the toughest opposition he could face. It is sharpening him.

As we move through this journey, we are going to face opposition. It might come from friends that don’t see the bigger picture in play. It might come in the form of physical battles and struggles that are taking our efforts away from advancing His Kingdom. You can bank on opposition. Our response is to know that it makes us stronger. I love the version of text (NLT) that states the following:

“As Goliath moved closer to attack, David QUICKLY RAN OUT to meet him” – 1 Samuel 17:48

May we all face our opposition by quickly running out to meet it!