Posts Tagged ‘John’

Lovingly Laying Down Your Life — John 13:1-38

// January 24th, 2018 // No Comments » // Sermons

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a husband, father, and pastor. What should be characteristic of me in each of these roles? The answer is fairly consistent. Because of a freak accident with a bull a number of years ago, I had to have my wedding ring tattooed on. I chose to tattoo Ephesians 5:25 on my ring finger. It says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25, ESV). So, my role as a husband should be characterized by me “giving myself up for” my wife on a regular basis. Another verse that has been on my mind is John 10:11, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, ESV).  The title “pastor,” simply means “shepherd.” So, my role as a pastor/shepherd should be characterized by me “laying down my life down” for the sheep.  Do you see the pattern? Biblically, responsibility and leadership are always characterized by a call of giving yourself up or laying down your life. God has called me to be the leader in my family. That means my life should be characterized by giving myself–laying down my life–for my family. God has also called me to lead this ministry. That means my life–in a secondary way to my family–should be characterized by giving myself–laying down my life–for the sheep (which is this youth group at the moment). Responsibility and leadership are always characterized by giving yourself up or by laying your life down for those God has called you to lead. This is how we LOVE them. (more…)

God’s Will Be Done — John 12:20-36

// January 10th, 2018 // No Comments » // Sermons

Just yesterday, I was listening to R.C. Sproul talking about some of his “pet peeves.” He said that one of his pet peeves was when pastors, in their zeal to see people become Christians, make a promise that all of your problems will be solved once you become a Christian. Then he said, “Actually, most of my problems and struggles came AFTER I became a Christian.” That’s been true in my life as well.

I know I’ve told this story before but I think it will be helpful to talk about it again. I didn’t grow up in the church. My family didn’t begin attending church until I was around nine or ten years old. At that point, my parents became believers, my brother became a believer, and I was the last one in my family to finally believe. However, it wasn’t long after this decision that I started making bad decisions. My newfound faith hadn’t solved all of my problems. In reality, it had created a whole new host of problems. Now I cared about the mistakes I was making. Before, I didn’t care. I didn’t even know that some of the decisions I made were mistakes. Now I knew they were mistakes and I cared about it. That was a problem. (more…)

A Different Kingdom — John 12:9-19

// January 3rd, 2018 // No Comments » // Sermons

Growing up, I was one of those kids who thought they could do anything. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Along with this tendency, I was also a perfectionist (which caused a lot of problems when coupled with the other trait). Being one of those kids that thought I could do anything, I would get really excited about doing things after watching the. So, after watching snowboarding at the Winter Olympics, I would be out in the mountains with a shovel building huge jumps. After watching dirt bike races, I would be out in the mountains doing crazy jumps. Over the years, I found that my excitement to do these activities blinded me to the reality of the situation. (more…)

Trusting the Heavenly Father — John 11:45-54

// December 6th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been spending a lot of time reminiscing about the past. I’m coming close to the end of my seminary degree. Times like that are times that naturally bring our minds to remember the past–where we’ve been, who we were, what we’ve done.

As I was preparing for this sermon, I kept thinking back before I was the youth director here at Bethel. I took a convoluted path into this position. I graduated high school desiring to be a phy ed teacher and a football coach. I went to Northwestern College (at the time), played football, and met Rachel. I dropped out after my first year of college because I had a “hair-brained” idea to start my own business. No, it wasn’t the dock business. I was going to buy a bait shop. That fell through, so I ended up working for Baas Construction for a little while. Then, I was laid off from that because things slowed down in the winter. After that I ended up finding a job as a car salesman down in the cities. That was short lived. I quit that job and began working for Westling Manufacturing here in Princeton. At the same time, I started the dock and boat lift business on Mille Lacs Lake. After a couple years, that business took off to the point that I could do it full time and provide for my family, so I quit Westling and continued on with the dock business, adding a lawn service. Since I didn’t have anything for the winter, I picked up odd jobs each winter working for the Vet Clinic and a cabinet shop, occasionally for Rachel’s dad’s well drilling business. It was only after I had done all these things, and the dock business was becoming very successful, that God called me into the ministry (six years after I graduated from high school). (more…)

Love, Waiting, and Glory — John 11:1-44

// November 29th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

Technically, the season of Advent begins this coming Sunday, December 3rd. However, we are going to start the Advent season early in order to give us some more time to focus our minds and hearts upon the coming of Jesus Christ.

I realize that I mention this every year, but Advent has become one of my favorite times of the year. The word Advent means “coming.” When we talk about Advent, we talk about Jesus’ first and second comings. It’s important for us to remember both of these. We are very focused on Jesus’ birth (his first coming) during this time of year, but we often forget about Jesus’ second coming. It’s important for us to think about both of these during this time of year.

Also, because this season (from now to Christmas) is focused on the comings of Jesus, it’s also a season of waiting and anticipation. We wait and anticipate the celebration of his first coming, but we also wait and anticipate his second coming. Waiting is not something that we do well–especially in our culture. Actually, people start to get frustrated when you talk about waiting. I’ve been “rebuked” before for saying that this is the Advent season and not the Christmas season. Someone once said, “What are we waiting for? Jesus already came. We just need to celebrate!” Yes, that’s true–to some degree. Yet, like I’ve already mentioned, we are still waiting for him to come again. We still anticipate that day. (more…)

Failing Successfully in our Witness — John 10:40-42

// November 15th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

This week, I found an old article about a missionary named Dr. William Leslie. Dr. Leslie was pursuing a degree as a pharmacist when he turned to Christ in faith and became a Christian in 1888 (almost 130 years ago). Eventually, God grabbed ahold of his heart and called him into medical missions. He served in various areas, but eventually landed himself in the Democratic Republic of the Congo–the city of Vanga in particular. He served in this city for seventeen years. Eventually, tensions arose between him and some of the tribal leaders. They kicked him out and asked him never to return again. He left feeling absolutely discouraged, feeling like he hadn’t made an impact of Christ. Maybe feeling like he had wasted seventeen years of his life. Then, he died nine years later. (more…)

A Peacefully Bold Witness — John 10:22-39

// November 8th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time reflecting back on the beginnings of my time as Youth Director here at Bethel. A couple stories have jumped out at me this past week.

After being in this position for a couple years, our youth ministry had changed quite a bit. It had grown considerably and we had a number of teenagers in our group who were not followers of Jesus–like half of the group. At the time I was still immature as a youth director and was still growing considerably. One week, God laid it on my heart to preach more of an “evangelistic” type message, calling the entire group to put their faith in Jesus Christ. So, I worked on the message diligently, putting a lot of time and effort, heart and soul, into what I had to say. Leading up to the night I was going to preach, the message lay heavily on my heart. This was a big deal! I wanted to see these teenagers give their lives to Christ! Then, the Wednesday came where I was going to preach. I was praying in the back room over the message and over the group. I was very stressed. I kept wondering, “What if nobody hears what I have to say? What if nobody turns to Jesus? What if I mess up and say the wrong thing? What if….. What if…..” Then, in the midst of my worrying, as I was flipping through a notebook, I came across something I had written a number of years prior. It said something like, “You don’t save anybody. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Just speak.” Peace washed over me and boldness filled me. I stepped up that evening and preached with full confidence that the Lord would use whatever I said. I don’t know if anyone believed that evening. Doesn’t matter. I trust the Spirit’s work. (more…)

Thieves and THE Shepherd — John 10:1-21

// October 25th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

Well, I’ve got a lot to say tonight. So, we’re just going to jump right in. Here’s our passage for the evening: [Read John 10:1-21]

Now, there’s a lot going on in this passage and there’s a lot of discussion about what each detail means. However, I’m convinced that many people end up missing the forest for the trees when they look at this passage by getting too caught up in the details. So, I want to set this passage in the proper context, then show you the overarching theme. I’m doing this along the lines of Calvin who says, “It is useless, I think, to scrutinize too closely every part of this parable” (395). So, let’s not waste our time 🙂 (more…)

Who Do You Think You Are, Jesus? — John 8:48-59

// October 4th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

I wanted to start that way because it’s important to remember how this gospel starts. We’ve been working our way through this book for a little over a year. Yet, every part of this gospel continues to point back to this beginning passage. Tonight’s passage is no different. Let’s take a look. [Read John 8:48-59] (more…)

Slavery or Freedom — John 8:30-47

// September 27th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

Many of you have noticed the painting we have on the wall in the hangout area. That was painted by a guy named Eric Samuel Timms (The Jesus Painter) at an event called Spirit Quest. He painted it upside down so that you couldn’t tell what was being painted. Then, as he come closer to finishing, he flipped it over and everyone was able to see what the picture was. Someone from our congregation came over to me and said, “We need that picture in the youth area. I’m gonna make it happen.” So he went around to various people in our church, collecting donations so that we could purchase the painting. Now, it’s been hanging there for around eight or nine years. (more…)