Sermons by: Carolyn Moore
Oh my, what Jonah is teaching us this month! We are learning from his mistakes how to pray more deeply, live more compassionately, serve the world with more grace. Jonah challenges us not to write off anyone God has not yet written off (spoiler alert: God doesn't write off anybody). What if the people you think are the most lost are actually much closer than you think to spiritual awakening? If that's true, then how would that change the way you pray for them? Let's keep after all that Jonah's story teaches us about God, the world, and ourselves.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
~ Luke 4:18-19
What Luke (and Isaiah) said? That's exactly what Jesus did. That was his mission statement. Jesus healed blind people, and raised dead people, and set free those who were oppressed by demons. He met people right where they were and called down healing over them ... over and over again (at least 40 times in the gospels). In scene after scene, we see Jesus touching people and loving them and proclaiming healing over them. Friends, healing is the stuff Jesus did! And as followers of Jesus, we also are called to be healers and to do "the Jesus stuff." Let's talk about that. Let's get inspired by the healing stories among us to step into the healing life of a Jesus-loving, hand-laying, prayer-proclaiming, trust-and-obeying believer! See you Sunday!
On Sunday, we learned from Paul and the Galatians about all the things we are free from as followers of Jesus. “Freedom from” a crucial step in our spiritual journey, but eventually we have to move on to focusing on “freedom to,” which is all about creating. This is where we get to focus on God’s preferred future. Freedom TO is about going through the right doors at the right time for the right reasons. This Sunday, we focus on the "freedom to" life, and learn from Jesus himself just how life-giving spiritual freedom can be.
Egypt. Babylon. Exile. These are the terms of captivity that show up over and over again in the story of God. Why? Because God's people spend a lot of time stumbling in the dark of captivity, unable to embrace a "freedom to" life. This Sunday, we'll talk about how to gain "freedom from" so we can live the better half of the good news about Jesus. And it IS great news! Christ longs to fill our emptiness with his Holy Spirit, who brings with him the freedom we long for. Let's continue on this road to freedom, friends. I'll see you Sunday! (now you get to say, "Sounds great! Let's go!")
We know the invitation to follow Jesus is an invitation into freedom, but too often we put the emphasis on things we are free FROM. We are free FROM guilt, sin, shame ... all the bad things. Of course, it's good to let go of things that have not worked for us, but we do the greatest disservice to Christianity when we make it only a list of things we have to stop doing in order to go with God when the Christian walk offers so much more than just "freedom from." Our faith is very much a freedom TO enterprise. We do the greatest disservice to Christianity when we make it a list of things we have to stop doing in order to go with God. Paul tells us that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. That's an invitation to explore possibilities.
So let's do that this month! Let's take a few weeks to talk about the things we are free from and how that frees us up to creatively explore all we have been set free TO. Let's look together at what freedom looks like for us especially in this season, and just imagine what God can do! Can't wait to get started!
The story in the book of Ezra represents a significant milestone in Israel's history. After 70 years in exile -- in a fractured land of foreign gods -- the people God chose to model faith were sent home to rebuild. They began by restoring the altar. In a significant story with a significant milestone, that's a significant thing to start with! Altars are a big deal, especially in the Hebrew world. Altars are where miracles happen, where healing happens, where atonement happens ... where people meet with God. And what is true in the stories God's first people is still true today. Altars are where transformation happens and where life begins. I look forward to meeting you at the altar.
Last week, we began our journey into the book of Ezra and learned that whatever our situation, whatever the cause of our exile, we don’t have to stay in Babylon. We have an invitation to come home and reclaim our faith, rebuild our altar, and restore our relationship with Jesus. This week, we discover, as we walk with the Israelites out of yet another exile and back into Jerusalem, God’s constant, invitational grace over our lives. He knows us. He has counted on us. And he invites us into hope. I can't wait to share with you all that Ezra has to teach our church!
Topics: How God Moves
This Sunday, we'll get familiar with our friend Ezra, and we'll talk a little about what it takes to reclaim, rebuild, return, and restore. Because there's more to it than we might think! As one commentator notes, "The book of Ezra leaves you with the sense that more is needed than a rebuilt city and a rebuilt temple." To make a building into a church, what's needed is not only fire on the altar but also fire in every heart. So got ready! This summer, we will talk about how to build a personal "altar" and rekindle a spiritual fire, as we study a book that rarely gets focus but that carries a timeless message. See you Sunday!
Topics: Back to The Basics
Yes, Lord! Do it again! This week, let's cast a little vision. As a faith community, what gets us most excited? How has God shaped us uniquely for this time in history? How are we fulfilling the Great Commission, and how are we loving our city well? Focusing on what it means to be the Church as God has crafted it, we'll step back and take some time to remember who we are as we move forward into a new chapter in the life of our "sweet communion." I can't wait to talk vision and pray together with you as we worship the One who makes it all worth it!
Here's the big idea this week: entire sanctification is by grace through faith, not works. That is great news! So yes, there are pitfalls of attempting to live a holy life — namely, the temptation to lean on legalism and black-and-white thinking. And that can so easily stir up unholy judgmentalism. But the great news is that we are saved by grace through faith, not works ... so we don't have to be right about everything, and we don't have to worry about whether everyone around us has it all down exactly right. Here's the wisdom of Kevin Watson: “Seek entire sanctification by faith. And because we receive entire sanctification by faith, we seek it as we are, not after we think we have sufficiently gotten our acts together.” Amen, all by myself!
Topics: Law and Grace