Pastors' Notes

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How the Spirit Produces Fruit

To understand growth in Jesus-likeness, look to your garden. Growth results in fruit, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24).  “of the Spirit.” This little phrase first means that it is NOT the fruit of our hard work, or discipline, or our increasing spirituality or contrition. The Spirit produces fruit in us, not us. Therefore growth, sanctification, is f...

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Abortion and Grace

How can God justly forgive you? The theological answer: it’s not the relative badness of one’s sins that matters, but the worth of the sacrifice given by God, for the forgiveness of sins. Leave in place the badness of what Bundy, Duch and you have done. Do not minimize it for a moment. But Jesus, the perfect Son of God, God in flesh, was an even greater, infinitely mor...

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Glory Around a Table

Where is God glorified most in the life of our church? I would argue that he is often most glorified in Community Groups. To explain, I quote John Piper, on the “diverse excellencies” of Jesus:  “we admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility; • we admire him for his transcendence, but even more because h...

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Characteristics of Faithful, Useful Groups, Over the Long-Term

There are three common characteristics of Community or Discipleship Groups or friendships that are faithful and useful and healthy over the long-term: • Deliberately Gospeled • Attentive Friendship • Consistently Missional:...

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Needing a Bigger Discomfort

I am uncomfortable, at times, with living in contrast to the world. There exists in me a residual desire - shrinking but still there - to be friends with the world. I’m much more comfortable standing in contrast to this or that denomination than against the philosophies of this world. I need to grow in tolerating the discomfort of being increasingly different from th...

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Stress, Revealer of Idols

The term “idolatry” is big and bad. It probably conjures pictures of bad Israelites and really bad Babylonians doing bad sacrificial, religious acts, in defiance of the one true God. That’s all true. But in the whole of the Bible, the term idolatry came to mean a constellation of faith, deeds, beliefs, affections, and even resting, in antipathy to the one...

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The Shack and The Benedict Option

I have often been asked about The Shack, the book and movie that portray God in fascinating but unbiblical ways. Another book, The Benedict Option, has resonated with many lately. Its author commends seceding from the culture, like Benedectine monks of the sixth century. Where the two books intersect reveals an inflection point for us. The Shack portrays a god that’...

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Your Ministry

What does “ministry” look like? “You’re asking me, pastor?!” Yes, you, because Scripture plainly places ministry at the feet of Joe and Joan Pewsitter: “And he gave apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints [Joe and Joan Pewsitter] for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of...

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Keep Yourselves in His Love

The most repeated phrase in Scripture is “the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever”. It’s no coincidence that Paul ends his great gospel “song” of Romans 1-8 by singing of God’s love: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers nor height nor depth, nor ...

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The Sin Fighter

Last week’s sermon said that Christians actively “fight sin in one another, and forgive constantly”. There is perhaps no better time than Good Friday to revisit what this means. It does not mean constantly criticizing one another; gossiping about one another; “right-sizing” one another; or judging one another by one moment, instead of the dir...

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