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The Power to Change

1 Corinthians 5 is a hard chapter; Paul is abrading the Corinthian church for allowing a man to hang around who took his father's wife. Paul's larger point is clear - don't tolerate what even non-Christians don't tolerate (v. 1). But in verses 6-8 Paul pictures crucial truths for us, for growth, change and sanity: First, that grave danger underlies all boasting. Verse 6 -...

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Endurance by Shared Suffering

There are twin ditches in preaching: saying everything, and saying not enough. As I reflected on the sermon last week, I think I would have included this, or said it in a following sermon: our sufferings are meant to be shared, that we would endure them in hope. Gloryifying God in this fallen world, in a life stained everywhere by sin, involves much suffering - Paul says ...

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Please Consider "Listening" to This Sermon

On behalf of the elders, I would like to invite you to consider volunteering to serve in children's ministry this fall, particularly for Children's Church - the time when kids up to third grade step out for separate instruction during the sermon. "What? And miss the sermon?! I'm not a 'kid person'. I've been there and done that, when I had kids." I've heard these and oth...

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God's Sovereign Use of Sin for Holiness

We do not grow in certain sins because we pursue change with a "corrupt principle", said John Owen - that being self-love, not love of God: "It is evident that you contend against sin merely because of your own trouble by it. Would your conscience be quiet under it, you would let it alone. Did it not disquiet you, it should not be disquieted by you. Now, can you think tha...

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Be Killing Sin, or It Will Be Killing You

The only time the word "mortified" comes up in common language today is in this context: "What he did was so embarrassing; I was just mortified" - as in, I was so embarrassed, I felt like dying, or like I was dying. But the word literally means to bring about mortality - to be killing. No one was actually strangling this imaginary person; the word has become only a euphemi...

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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 first a work of fai...

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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 his transcendence is accompanie...

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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 this wor...

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