Posts Tagged ‘John’

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…)

Seeing Christ on the Cross — John 8:21-29

// September 20th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

We live in a culture that is shaped very thoroughly with the premise that everyone is “basically good.” It is such a prevalent “doctrine” of our culture, and many of us have grown up immersed in this culture, it has seeped into how Christians are reading the Bible and viewing the world. Even though I am a “card-carrying Calvinist” who believes in Total Depravity, I have even found myself at times with this “cultural doctrine” underlying my thought process. (more…)

Answering Darkness by Pointing to the Light — John 8:12-20

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

I want you to imagine a scenario. It’s possible that many of you in this room tonight have already found yourselves in a scenario like this. If not, I can guarantee you will.

Let’s say that tomorrow you show up at school–or practice–and enter into a conversation with a classmate/teammate. You guys are talking about Hurricane Irma and the damage left in its wake. Then, the conversation turns toward God. This classmate/teammate says something along the lines of, “When I see things like that happen, I can’t believe there is a God.” How are you going to respond in a situation like that? Now, deep down inside of you–hopefully–you know that God exists. So, how do you answer a friend who claims God doesn’t exist. (more…)

Compassionately Confronting Sin — John 7:53-8:11

// September 7th, 2017 // No Comments » // Sermons

It is so good to be back in the swing of things here at Ignite. I have really been looking forward to the beginning of this year. I think my excitement is ramped up because I missed half of the summer while we were in the Dominican Republic. Since the day we returned from that trip, I’ve been looking forward to every opportunity that I have to minister and “do life” with this group of teenagers. It’s good to be back and it’s good to be starting again.

I’ve also done a lot of thinking since we returned from that trip. I’ve been trying to situate myself back into our cultural situation and the people that we minister to. That means I’ve been doing a lot of praying, remembering, and thinking. A little over a week ago, I was reading through a bunch of my old journals. I came across a number of entries talking about sin in our world. Man, there are times when I walk through life, looking at what is going on in our culture and in our world, and I find myself repeatedly saying, “This is not the way its supposed to be!” There are times when God really opens my eyes to see the sinfulness of the world–times when he opens my eyes to see the sinfulness of what the world calls “wisdom.” It breaks me. I find myself going through periods where I’m in a “funk” because I feel like I’m surrounded by people who are destroying their lives in the name of “wisdom.” Then, I look at my own life–and my own heart–and realize the sinfulness that remains in me. I’m so far from where I want to be and where God wants me to be. I’m so far from looking like Jesus. (more…)