I believe more people are afraid of the reality of grace than not. Grace, as defined in the Bible, is confrontational and deeply troubling. It demands a response and says this is the right way to live and to be human. In the face of grace all our delusions, well crafted excuses and alternative realities are blown away and we are confronted with the bare truth of love and forgiveness. No one, I believe, can taste even the smallest morsel of grace and leave the Table looking for something better. It is not that we have tried Grace and found it wanting, but we have found it challenging and left it untried. More often than not, we fear the embrace of Grace, we fear the changes we may have to make and the potential we will lose our independence in the process. For those who live in “Its-All-About-Me” land, Grace is a dirty word.
Does this help to make better sense of why Jesus who came to teach with Grace and Truth, did not have philosophical debates, but caused terror in the social fabric of our lives. People didn’t debate him, they sought ways to kill him.
Are you frightened of Grace?
Do you understand it? What you will lose and what you will gain?
Today’s lesson is on the power of Grace to change the world.
Sermon Notes 11.23.14 Jesus as Grace Sower
Who Is Jesus III
Offering Grace 11.23.14E
Offering Grace 11.23.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/12/10/overcoming-our-fear-of-grace/
Jesus has had without a doubt the greatest influence on world history, social structure, political structures, national boundaries and our understanding of human existence than any other person in history. We still study his teaching, dissect and parse his words, mine his parables and seek to look through the lens of spirituality he reveal as recorded in the Gospels.
To know Jesus is to be a student of humanity. But if we can agree that Jesus was a great teacher, what is keeping you from learning all you can from the greatest and wisest of all time?
Please join me for a deeper look at Jesus Christ, the Teacher.
Sermon Notes 11.16.14 Who Is Jesus as Teacher
Who is Jesus 11.16.14
Jesus the Great Teacher 11.16.14E
Jesus the Great Teacher 11.16.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/12/05/learning-from-the-greatest-teacher/
We all go through difficult times in our lives, times when we feel like no body else understands what we’re going through or what we need. We hide behind smiles and tailored suites and dresses secure in our misery of loneliness. If only someone understood, if only someone could share the burden, if only someone could show us a way to healing and hope because they had experienced all of it before.
Well the story of the Carpenter from Nazareth is one of vulnerable humanity that walked in our human shoes, dealt the difficult and immature people and who was rejected and bullied by those in his own community.
Jesus knows suffering.
And because he know first hand the pain and the loneliness of betrayal, he also can help us deal with those same situations in our life. He suffered and died at the hands of his own countrymen and was betrayed by his friends and abandoned by his closest friends and followers. Because he suffered, he also offers us the only alternative solution.
Listen this week as Jesus’ humanity offers us a Divine glimpse of God’s love and grace.
Sermon Notes 11.09.14 Who Is Jesus Sermon Slides: Who Is This Man 11.09.14
Audio: Who is this Man 11.09.14E Audio: Who is this Man 11.09.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/11/17/the-humanity-of-jesus-as-the-key-to-joy/
The value of any belief, virtue or goal in life is directly proportional to the amount you are willing to risk to achieve it, the obstacles you will face to make it come true and the time that must sacrificed to grow into it. In a world of quick fixes and sound bits, values and virtues are on the way out as popularity and pride take their place.
It is not that Christianity has been tried and found to be false, it has instead been found to be difficult and therefore left untried by all but the most courageous.
When we talk about money, we all want more, just like when talking to children about candy. Money eats away at our soul, poisoning marriages, dividing families and turning vocations into an endless competition for diminishing rewards.
This Sunday we’ll talk about what it means to be an ECONOMIC CHRISTIAN and then decide whether the challenge is more than you’re ready for or whether you were looking for a challenge to make life wonderful.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 10.26.14 Economic Christian
Sermon Slides: Stewardship A Test of Trust 10.26.14
Podcast Audio: Am I an Economic Christian 10.26.14L Am I an Economic Christian 10.26.14E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/11/04/am-i-really-an-economic-christian/
I had this discussion with my daughter the other day, is it really possible to be a Christian, believing and serving God, and an Economic Atheist, trusting and serving yourself as your own god of money? I say emphatically, “YES.” I think it happens in church and faith community all the times. There are simply parts of our lives we don’t want God to be God over. That role has been filled by us and we don’t need God to start meddling in our affairs. Whenever we ignore God’s commandments with respect to money, or anything in life really, we’re acting as if God doesn’t matter or God doesn’t exist. That attitude, to me, is an expression of atheism.
So here’s the out come of our conversation. In this tension between Christian and atheist co-existing in the same mind and heart, the atheist believe is what dominates the hard choices. Even a little bit of atheism makes one a full atheist. There really can’t be an almost Christian. That’s like saying someone is almost pregnant.
This week we’re looking at Leviticus 18.
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God.You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.” Leviticus 18:1-3
God wants his people to live a different way from their Egyptian task masters where they came from or from the Canaanite warring tribes in the land ahead of them. You are to live differently, with different priorities, and different values. But will God’s commandments, especially with respect to money and wealth, hold? Time will tell.
In our study this week, we look at the why and wherefore of God’s commandments to provide for the poor, foreigners and widows by allowing them to glean from the fields. This week’s stewardship message is as important today as it was for the Hebrews looking to become a holy people of God.
Are you ready for such a challenges?
Sermon Notes 10.05.14 Economic Atheism
Sermon Slides 10.05.14 Economic Atheist
Am I an Economic Atheist 10.5.14E
Am I an Economic Atheist 10.5.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/10/08/signs-of-becoming-an-economic-atheist/
The men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” Numbers 13:33
There they are, standing on the edge of their greatest success staring directly into God’s abundance. Would they take that step and believe, or turn and face the desert of despair? You guessed it, they turn away convinced they couldn’t accomplish what God has promised. How could they have they forgotten the 10 plagues and salvation from the Angel of Death? How could they have they forgotten the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian authorities? How could they have they forgotten the hunger and the thirst and refreshing gifts of manna and quail God provided? How could they have they forgotten Mt. Sinai, the golden calf, the brass snake, and the constant reminder of the Promised Land with milk and honey? I don’t know why we do, but we do.
Are we really that different? All of us still have a bit of a slave mentality. We’re too small, too powerless, too old, too young, too ugly, too poor, too sick, too dumb, etc. God makes a promise, we receive it, we forget it, we complain about it, then we reject it. Sound familiar? It should it occurs to all of us from time time.
Those who fear the future…
will glorify the past (bondage)
will devalue themselves (slaves)
will ignore hope (savior)
Life is made up of CHALLENGES that grow us, CHANGES that move us, and CHOICES that define us.
Join us this week as we wrestle with our daily decision to cross the Jordan each day and believe and receive God’s blessings. Will you take that step?
The Moment of Choice 9.28.14E
The Moment of Choice 9.28.14L
Sermon Notes 09.28.14 Promised Land Promise
Sermon Slides 09.28.14 The Promises of God
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/10/08/how-to-move-into-the-future-with-confidence/
There comes a moment in everyone’s life when we feel our back’s up against the wall, something has got to be done and God seems silent. We pray, we plead, we promise and we prostrate ourselves in the hopes that God will take away the pressure. The History of the Bible is filled with such situations. The History of Israel begins on a dramatic note as they leave Egypt with all kinds of riches and gifts. As they begin following the promise of God searching for the Promise Land, they encounter the Red Sea not the super highway they expected. No way over it, no way under it, no way around it, we have to go through it. As if that wasn’t bad enough the entire Egyptian army are in hot pursuit, and not to negotiate either.
When faced with such pressures, the Hebrews have a characteristic response of emotion, exaggeration, and mental breakdown. Have you ever faced a problem that you made larger by your emotional response and exaggerated the impact and neglected to consider some rather obvious alternatives? I think we all have!
Moses offer those of us who face challenges that demand a response an alternative way of confronting challenges in life.
(1) Moses tells the people – “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” [Exodus 14:13] Basically Moses is trying to get a control of our emotional runaway train.
(2) Stand on your convictions – “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” [Exodus 14:14] How easy it is when under pressure to forget all the miracles and blessings we’ve already experiences. How quickly the Hebrews forgot God’s saving sacrifice of the lamb give to protect them.
(3) The future belongs to God – “The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” [Exodus 14:13]
When faced with the challenges of life, we must choose either a slave’s response of emotional defeatism, or respond as the people of God with confidence, conviction and courage.
When faced with a crisis, are you more likely to respond emotionally or intentionally?
Sermon Notes 09.21.14 Against the Wall
Sermon Slides: Life of Moses Searching for God when Trapped 9.21.14
PODCAST: When Your Back is Against the Wall 9.21.14E
PODCAST: When Your Back is Against the Wall 9.21.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/10/01/what-to-do-when-your-backs-against-the-wall/
When God appears to Moses and to the Hebrews, it is a far cry from what they had expected as it usually is with us as well. We look for God to take care of our problems, solve the predicament we’ve gotten ourselves into, forgive every selfish decision, overlook every grievance and in general bless us with every gift from above. Do you see the narcissistic bent here. We want to choose the kind of God we serve, one of our own making, one that doesn’t demand, direct, or judge what we say or do. Now we don’t mind if God does that to those other evil doers, but we want to be judges on our good intentions whether they really were or not. I heard a song yesterday recorded by Huey Lewis and the News “I Want a New Drug” and I imagined replacing the lyrics with our attitude about God. Let me know what you think. I want a new [God]- one that does what it should, One that won’t make me feel too bad, One that won’t make me feel too good. I want a new [God]- one with no doubt, One that won’t make me nervous, wonderin’ what to do. … I’m alone with you, I’m alone with you, yeah. Perhaps the parallel isn’t too far fetched. We want God like we want a drug, wait on the shelf until the need arises and then guaranteed to work no matter how we got in trouble. Well, just like the Hebrews in our story, they expected a different kind of God, on that would relieve the pain, one that would produce prosperity all without the burden of expecting anything in return. Well it’s time to wake up to reality folks, God wants a relationships, a dynamic give and take, with expectations and responses. Are you ready for a journey like that? Sermon Notes 09.14.14 Where is God in my Life Seeking after God 9.14.14
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/09/22/searching-for-god-or-something-else/
We all go through seasons of dryness when the joy and excitement of new life seem to be a distant memory. Actually we feel like God has abandoned us and life as we know it has come to an end. If you’ve never felt that way, hang on because it is a basic human experience.
Moses is defeated, rejected and alienated from his adopted family and the community of his origin. He travels to Midian, takes a wife and builds a new family, but its not the same. Moses has a son and names him Gershom which means “I am a foreigner in a foreign land.” My life is over and I will never be the same.
Deserts can Define You – Sometimes God does his best work in the desert of our experience. When we have control of the reigns, we push God out of the wagon, but when life seems off course, we realize how much we need help
Deserts can be Self-Induced – Moses ran to Midian to get away from the problems surrounding him. Most of our problems stem from our irrational attempt to deny that bad choices produce bad consequences. Moses’ expectations didn’t match the situation and he fled. Many people flee behind protective walls of money, power, and privaledge. But they all can be deserts of love and acceptance.
Deserts can also Refine you – God speaks most clearly and loudly in the moments when all other voices have long since faded away. As long as we insist on following other lesser gods, Yahweh will not push himself upon us. Life will take care of that all in good time.
Join the conversation and find the three keys to survive Life in the Desert.
Sermon Notes 09.07.14 Living in the Desert
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/09/17/3-keys-to-surviving-life-in-the-desert/
We don’t know much about the life of Moses, but we do know it was a life marked by change, disappointment, spectacular challenges and unimaginable encounters with God that would require courage and humility.
Yet each of us will go through a season of change and time of become someone different. What can we learn from Moses’ experiences, success and failures. Can we become comfortable enough to embrace change as a gift from God rather than a punishment to be avoided.
This we will we focus on Exodus 16:1-18 and ask some hard questions about our resistance to change and our reluctance to trust God for with what we don’t yet fully understand.
Sermon Notes 08.31.14 Moses3 Seasons of Change
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/09/08/what-to-do-in-a-season-of-change/
Moses, the great Old Testament Leader, was also deeply wounded by issues of rejection, abandonment and isolation. We can learn to face our own pain and suffering with courage because we know that God did not abandon Moses but worked through his life to build a relationship that is deeply personal and healing.
Sermon Notes 08.24.14 Where is God 2
Moses the Wounded Deliverer, Early Service, August 24, 2014
Moses the Wounded Deliverer, Late Service, August 24, 2014
Based on Acts 7:20-29
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/08/25/moses-the-wounded-deliverer/
Waiting on God: How to Trust in God’s Timing
Have you ever been in a situation when you have been waiting on God? Maybe you have been waiting for healing, for a new home, a job, or some other kind of change that you desperately need. We’re all at some time or another in a season of waiting.
You’re trusting in God initially and patiently wait for Him to work.
And nothing happens.
And nothing happens.
And nothing happens.
I’m not going to deny that waiting on God is hard. We are trusting in God’s timing which may be different to our timing.
But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand;
What to do when you’re waiting on God…
Be Still and Know that He wants to bless you
God wants to bless us. Sometimes we forget this. Yet, the blessings God showers us with are not always what we are expecting.
Be Still and Know that God hears you
We may wonder why God seems to be silent, but we can always trust in His love for us and His great wisdom.
Be Still and Look for God’s purposes
Sometimes easier to see His purposes in hindsight
Waiting on God from the Life of Moses 1
Sermon Notes 08.10.14 Moses Where is God
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/08/13/waiting-on-god/
We each need our own Aldersgate Experience in which the presence, power and purpose of God are made real and personal. For John Wesley and for his brother Charles, that moment would be the convergence of Failure, Faith and Grace all coming together in one inexplicable moment of spiritual transformation.
On May 24, 1738, John Wesley recorded in his journal,
“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Wesley’s experience that night was a conversion. He experienced a “conversion” in thinking and understanding about the nature of grace and salvation. That night Wesley realized that forgiveness of sins and acceptance by God (justification) is a free gift. Nothing we can do will every make us worthy or acceptable. God did the work of atonement on the cross in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On May 24, 1738 Wesley’s was awakened to the truth Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
Another way of describing Wesley’s experience is to say that at Aldersgate Street he got the order of salvation right.
Luther’s Preface to the Roman
Faith is a work of God in us, which changes us and brings us to birth anew from God (cf. John 1). It, makes us completely different people in heart, mind, senses, and all our powers, and brings the Holy Spirit with it.
What a living, creative, active powerful thing is faith! It is impossible that faith ever stop doing good. Faith doesn’t ask whether good works are to be done, but, before it is asked, it has done them. It is always active. Whoever doesn’t do such works is without faith; he gropes and searches about him for faith and good works but doesn’t know what faith or good works are. Even so, he chatters on with a great many words about faith and good works.
Faith is a living, unshakeable confidence in God’s grace; it is so certain, that someone would die a thousand times for it. This kind of trust in and knowledge of God’s grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all creatures. This is what the Holy Spirit does by faith.
Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace. It is as impossible to separate works from faith as burning and shining from fire. Therefore be on guard against your own false ideas and against the chatterers who think they are clever enough to make judgments about faith and good works but who are in reality the biggest fools. Ask God to work faith in you; otherwise you will remain eternally without faith, no matter what you try to do or fabricate.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 08.03.14 My Aldersgate
Sermon Slides: My Aldersgate Experience 8.3.14
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/08/08/my-aldersgate-experience/
Each day we are bombarded with all kinds of advertisements, enticements to be more, have more and look more successful than we feel. In our rush to do everything we’ve got scheduled, to enjoy all that we have amassed and build all that we have in mind to build, we look past a certain group of people that mean a great deal to God. It isn’t that we’re mean or despise them, its just that we’ve just become numb to their presence and plight.
Jesus understood the human heart better than we do and knew how easy it is be blinded by our fixation on possessions and prestige. We don’t wish them harm or turn away from what we see; the problem is we don’t see them at all. They become non-persons. We stay protected in our own social circles, we are driven by our need for more, and we create agencies to care for others in our place. These habits of indifference have a calcifying effect on our heart, hardening it to feel the slightest tenderness toward the plight of those struggling to survive everyday.
“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:15
Jesus tells a story about the relationship between Lazarus and a certain rich man that had a far greater impact on their lives and their future than either of them could have known. The story begins in Luke 16:19-31 in which Jesus describes a man who wore fine clothes, ate fine meals and lived in a fine home. If you’re looking for evil, debauchery or intentional injustice, you won’t find it here. I even suspect that this man was admired in his community for his financial success, he was president of the local civic club, he was counted on to cast the deciding vote in local community decisions. He was well liked and they gave him a fine eulogy with local dignitaries and leaders.
In contrast to this man’s success, there laid at the gate of his estate a beggar named Lazarus, which comes for the Hebrew word Eliezer meaning ‘God is my help’. Lazarus knew of the man’s wealth and for reasons we don’t know and perhaps don’t matter, Lazarus was unable to care for himself and longed for simple crumbs from the rich man’s table.
Here we see life at its extreme and in sharp contrast. One man enjoys all the pleasure of this Earthly life he could find, enjoyed the best this life had to offer and in many ways followed the advice of King Solomon:
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.” Eccl 2:10
At the other extreme is another human being in desperate need of even the most basic human needs. Jesus tell this in such a way that Lazarus longed for even the crumbs from the man’s table. But this is more than just about food, shelter and envy, although it has been used for centuries to promote stewardship which is a good thing too. At its core of this story is a demonstration of our inhumanity toward each other when we fail to see those around us. They become non-persons, or perhaps we become non-humans.
Upon their death, which comes to all people, Lazarus finds the comfort he sought in life at Abraham’s side, while the rich man is suffering and asks for a single drop of water. The tables are turned, but when the rich man asks for relief, none is forthcoming. Actually Abraham says its impossible now no matter how much they would like to come to him. Abraham points out that there is now a great chasm separating him from rich man. This chasm is fixed in life by the choices the rich man made even if by inactivity. The rich man wanted Lazarus to come with just a drop of water, just like Lazarus wanted just a crumb from his table.
Is it possible then that Jesus is reminding us that to ignore those people at the gate of your life, your community or your nation will create a chasm so huge that you effectively cut yourself off from the help and comfort we need in heaven?
What do you think, is Haiti sitting at the gate of the United States?
What we do, or fail to do, in this life will echo through all eternity.
The people we look down on in this life are the very ones who will lift us up in the next.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” - Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio
Sermon Notes 07.27.14 Who is at the Gate
Who is Sitting at the Gate 7.27.14
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/07/28/who-is-sitting-at-your-gate/
We live in a hyper-competitive world where celebrity and champions are singled out at the highest achievement of success. This means, of course, that 99% of the world’s population are not successful and struggling to reach the top. Is this really the way life was meant to be, struggle all your life, accumulate all you can, and then leave it others when you die and are forgotten?
Jesus paints a different sort of picture of the church. According to Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon is where the “women are all strong, the men are all good looking and the children are all above average.” His perspective of the community is shaped by his perspective of what people could be and perhaps should be.
Jesus says that we are all gifted, not just a few and that our giftedness is for the good of the entire community. There are not just a few elevated to status and privilege, but we are interdependent on each other to share, receive and united.
This is certainly counter to what we normally experience in our competitive world, but is the only place where peace and fellowship can be found.
SERMON SLIDES Many Gifts One Spirit 7.20.14
SERMON NOTES: Sermon Notes 07.20.14 Many Gifts One Spirit
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/07/27/many-gifts-one-spirit/
“The gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It cannot be grasped by reason and memory only, but it is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart.”― John Calvin, Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life
Jesus says, “To what can I compare this generation? It is like CHILDREN PLAYING A GAME…. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and YOU DIDN’T DANCE, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn’ … But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” (Mt 11:16-19 NLT)
What is Jesus getting at here? We are fickle, contrary and unwilling to commit to anything. No matter what was suggested, they did not want to do it; and no matter what was offered, they found a fault in it. John lived a life of an OT Prophet, a solitary figure that denied worldly pleasures that demanded discipline and strict adherence to the Law, and they called him “mad”, Jesus came eating and greeting everyone, including the sinners and Gentiles, healing, feeding and sympathizing with the people and we call him a liberal, lacking decency and strict decorum.
If people are determined to find fault, no power on earth can change that. People consistently and predictably will remain stubbornly critical no matter what invitation is made to them. Grown men and women can be very much like spoiled children who refuse to play not matter what the game is. If they are in charge then no one else can be, including God.
The people criticized John for his strange appearance, but John moved their hearts to God as no one had moved them for centuries; the Jews might criticized Jesus for mixing too much in the ordinary life with sinners, but in him people were finding new life and new access to God. You can criticize John and Jesus for their methods, you cannot criticize their results.
If I was to translate it into our culture I think Jesus might say something like this… “You want Me to dance to the music you are playing the way you like to play it, according to your preferences, but you don’t realize that it is WAY OUT OF TUNE. I am waiting for you to ASK ME TO PLAY the music of eternity that was written for you by God Himself. I am waiting for you to dance and sing and live in harmony with Me and yourself.”
Life, like a dance, requires someone to lead and one to follow.
Which one are you?
Audio Files: Gospel Rest 7.13.14L Gospel Rest 7.13.14E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/07/22/the-jesus-promise/
We as a people are defined by what we believe, what we profess and what we act upon. In the United States “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I would take almost two centuries for us to figure out what that really meant.
When we consider what it means to be the church, the Body of Christ, we look to life and mission of Jesus of Nazareth. In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 4:14-21), Jesus declares his mission in the fulfillment of God’s promises through the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2).
We are Gospel people, living out the mission of Jesus in our time. But what does that mean in a 21st century world of technology, global injustice and growing indifference to spiritual life.
How does the Gospel shape who we are, how we view the world and how we respond to the pressures, demand and choices for the life we live.
How do we become Gospel people, not just in words, but in action and power?
(1) Accept the Authority of God
All military men and women know that their orders come from their commanders. They accept the authority of those over them and carry out the tasks they are given. Our authority comes from God, the calling is from God and God is in charge.
(2) Look for the Inspiration of God the Spirit
During the Second World War, resistance fighter in occupied France were fighting an almost insurmountable force, the well trained, well supplied and well entrenched German army. But they had a vision, a dream of freedom for their children and cause worth fighting and dying for. Their cause was not about more prosperity, but about the meaning of life itself.
Ask yourself what your life is about.
(3) Participate in Church Life
All sports teams know the advantage of having a ‘home-field-advantage’ when preparing for a difficult task. They like positive affirming people around to encourage them and inspire them to continue to the end. Marathon runners always remark on the inspiration they receive from those along the course encouraging them to finish the race the best they can. We need the church if we’re going to finish what we’ve started.
Sermon Notes 06.22.14 What Is the Good News
Gospel Centered Life 6.22.14
The Gospel Difference 6.22.14e
The Gospel Difference 6.22.14 L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/07/16/becoming-gospel-people/
Holy Communion (or the Lord’s Supper) is a mystery too deep for words. Its meaning and impact will vary for each of us depending upon circumstances in our lives and growing faith in Christ. But three essential meanings are caught up in this proclamation in our Communion service: “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again”.
“Christ has died” — Communion is a time to remember Jesus’ death, his self-giving sacrifice on our behalf. This is not theoretical or philosophical, but a painful death beyond anything we can imagine.
“Christ is risen” — Communion is a time to celebrate the Resurrection, to recognize and give thanks for the Risen Christ. We do not celebrate a past event, but a present, living person who invites us to join him in the Kingdom of God.
“Christ will come again” — We also celebrate the final victory of Christ. Having read the final chapter, we anticipate God’s coming reign, God’s future plans for this world and all creation and participate in sharing that Good News.
In this message, based Matthew 26, we’ll take a look at Jesus’ gift of remembering who we are as well as encourage us to continue in the journey to become all that God has promised. Take time to open the Sermon Notes and follow along with the message or open the Sermon Slides and see what everyone else saw.
Share your thoughts, testimony and purpose in God’s great story.
Sermon Notes 07.06.14 Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper Remembered 7.6.14
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/07/15/celebrate-the-lords-supper/
The change in the attitudes and actions of the early disciples was evident to everyone who saw and heard them. Some where fishermen who now spoke with a passion and authority few had seen before. Some were peasants who were now willing to give all that they had to the poor even to the point of laying down their lives for what they believed. When the ordinary crowd is confronted with the extraordinary and people experience first hand this level of commitment and passion, they can’t help but take notice. In a our world of prosperity, passion is what seems so out of place and what draws people to take another look.
So, when Gospel-Centered people make worship and prayer a priority over Sunday morning golf, leisure or football, people take notice.
Whenever you offer an alternative to a lifestyle of consumption and self-indulgence, you awaken soul to another kind of life. We call it a Gospel-Centered Life.
A lot of people talk about it, but few reflect the character of a Gospel Centered life. What was different about the disciples that people recognized and tried to emulate? What’s different about you that makes the Gospel in You so contagious?
In this week’s lesson, we’ll take a look at the Gospel Centered life and what makes it the perfect gift!
Sermon Notes 06.29.14 Marks of the Gospel Centered life
Gospel Centered Life 6.29.14
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/07/15/reflecting-the-gospel/
“I was in Prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25:36
The slogan of Kairos: Changing Hearts, Transforming Lives, Impacting the World is the essence of what Kairos does.
During the initial Kairos weekend, Kairos volunteers serve as God’s instrument through which His love, grace and mercy are expressed to the participants/guests in a real and profound way. God begins changing hearts.
Following their weekend experience, participants/guests are encouraged to take responsibility for their life choices and their relations with God; they are invited to engage in small accountability groups. Kairos volunteers continue to return monthly to provide mentoring and guidance through these accountability groups. It is here that Kairos participants/guests begin to replace old ways of thinking with new and they learn they are not alone on this journey. They realize there is a hope for a future. The prison environment begins to change; family relationships start to heal…..God is transforming lives.
IMPACTING THE WORLD
As the Kairos community inside a prison grows and begins to gain influence, the incidences of violence decreases. Incarcerated participants who are released re-enter the outside world with a God centered, perspective and focus on becoming productive citizens. Female family members find support, strength and encouragement. Youthful offenders acquire new God centered values and change their direction in life. Families are reunited with a hope for the future.
For more information check out their website Kairos Prison Ministry
Guest Worship Leader: Rev. Joe Heilman
Kairos Ministry 6.8.14
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/07/15/kairos-prison-ministry-update/
The Lost Sheep, Luke 15
Have you ever felt lost? I don’t just mean confused, disappointed, or frustrated, I mean desperately searching for a way when you’ve lost your way. Your heart is racing, there are sleepless nights and you feel you’ve reached a dead end. This way of existing, of course, leads to more stress, which leads to more searching, and so on and so on.
Is there anything we can do or is there something we should stop doing? Perhaps if we properly understood our situation, perhaps we could find the answers. So here are a few tips to help frame the problem you’re experiencing based on Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep found in Luke 15.
First, being lost is a natural human condition that happens to everyone at some point and often regularly to those who are growing and experiencing life. You’re not being punished, abandoned or rejected. You’re not a failure, stupid or hopeless. You’re alive.
Second, help is on the way. God does not abandon us, but is right now calling you. If you think you can do it all on your own with no help from anyone, good luck. This is typically how we got lost in the first place! If you want to find meaning and a reason for being, you’ll need help from someone. So you can either embrace the feelings of being lost and get use to it, or you can listen for the Voice calling to you. You can’t move on to step three until you decide this one.
Three, trust and obey the Voice. There are certain things in life that lie outside our own personal experience. There are dangers in life we don’t see coming, or choose to ignore.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Sermon Notes 06.01.14 Parable of Lost Sheep
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/06/09/feeling-lost-help-is-on-the-way/
Parable of the 10 Bridesmaids by Eugene Burnand
As Jesus led the disciple out of Jerusalem, they pointed out to him the magnificent buildings of their history, faith and hope that one day the Jewish people would rise to power again. Jesus all but dashes that vision by telling them that in the not so distant future, every stone, every hand carved pillar, and every gold covered ornament would be thrown down, destroyed or looted. There will come a time of great upheaval as has never been seen before nor ever will be again, so be ready, be prepared.
Not surprisingly, the disciples want to know when this great event will take place. “What should we be looking for,” they ask, and “what will be the signs that it’s time to get prepared?” To answer their question, Jesus tells this parable of the 10 Bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13).
Essentially the disciples want to know when will it be time to get serious because the end is near. Like many of us, they want to put off the things of God as long as possible and then like the thief on the cross hope for a death bed conversion.
This parable is more about our relationship with God than it is admonition to be ready always. At the very end, the foolish Bridesmaid want to enter the Wedding Feast (Revelation 19:9) but the door has been shut. The Groom refuses to open it not because they don’t have oil, but because they are unknown. “I tell you the Truth, I don’t know you” (Matthew 25:12)
Essentially Jesus is tell us and the disciples, that if you know me, if you serve me and if you do as I ask, you have no fear of dates, times or signs. You will always have enough oil.
But if you take it all for granted, wait until tragedy strikes and then panic to find your energy, spirit and hope is gone, then you will never have enough time to find the oil you need.
Oil is the source of the light, it is DESIRE converted into action, it is WISDOM from truth, and CONFIDENCE from experience. It is FAITH in Christ.
In this lesson the Parables of Jesus: Glimpse of a New Reality, we find that lasting hope comes from a lasting relationship.
Will you be ready?
The Parable of the 10 Bridesmaids 5.25.14
Sermon Notes 05.25.14 Parable of the Unprepared
Parable of the 10 Bridesmaides: Glimpse of a New Reality 5.25.14 E
Parable of the 10 Bridesmaides: Glimpse of a New Reality 5.25.14 L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/05/28/will-you-be-ready-parable-of-the-10-bridesmaids/
The Unmerciful Servant by Eugene Burnard (1850 – 1921)
Imagine standing before a judge in court about to be sentenced for your crimes or for a debt you owe. In the back of the court room stand your wife and children who are dependent upon you for their survival shivering in fear for the life they must now endure. Your sentence will profoundly affect them as well, its not all about you. Your doom is all but certain as the courtroom recorder reads the list of what the debt you owe society. In a fit of desperation, you beg, plead and prostrate yourself before the judge. You have no dignity left, no more excuses and no more options. Perhaps without even thinking you promise to make it all up to those you’ve wounded or to repay the debt you owe. It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic a scene.
Then the unthinkable happens, the Judge cancels the debt and pardons the crimes. There will be no condemnation today, no devastated lives, no broken families and no empty future. There is only Joy, tearful embrace and of course relief.
But where is gratitude?
As you leave the courtroom and steady yourself in your new found freedom and your new life, you see and old friend who owes you a couple of buck that you could use to help you get back on your feet. You run after him, seize him and begin to beat him for the money he owes you. He should repay what he owes after all he should be held accountable for using YOUR money, and he should know there are real consequences for crossing YOU! Using your own words spoken only hours earlier, your friend begs, plead and promises if you will only be patience and understanding. But he will find none of that in YOUR heart today.
The Unmerciful Servant by Eugene Burnard (1850 – 1921)
In all the parables that Jesus used there is always a principle to be illuminated, a question to be addressed or a truth to be proclaimed. Our purpose then is to mine these earthy stories to gain insight and wisdom on the human condition and the Kingdom of God. The key to understand them is to be clear why they are being told at this point in the narrative (context) and what they are actually saying (content). So it is important to look around to find what prompted this story and to whom it is being addressed.
To find the purpose of this parable, we must begin in Matthew 18:21 when Peter asks Jesus “then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” I suppose Peter thought he was doing well offer seven time since other Old Testament passages indicated that only three are necessary. (see Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6). But I can’t help but wonder if Peter was keeping score, thinking more about retribution and revenge and in restoration and reconciliation. Peter was developing a Bully Mentality.
A bully doesn’t understand forgiveness, though that is what Peter asks for. A bully wants their rights and feels justified to exact punishment according to their own metric. Perhaps an eye for an eye is better than wiping out an entire clan, tribe or town to settle a debt, but it falls short of creating a healthy community.
Jesus says the Kingdom of God is built upon the foundation of Forgiveness. But BEFORE we go around forgiving others (or not forgiving) we must be aware of how much we’ve been forgiven. Look inward first. The first step of spiritual maturity is self-observation.
Forgiveness produces a response, either gratitude or entitlement. How you respond to others reveals which side of the street you’re on, so to speak. The second step of Spiritual Maturity is always Gratitude.
Finally the Judge hears of your actions and is outraged. If that’s how you want to live, judged by the law, devoid of mercy and forgiveness, then so be it. You are thrown into prison until you pay your debt to those you owe, which means you’ll never see the light of day again!
The power of Jesus’ parable should cause every one of us to pause and consider if our actions are consistent with what we know about forgiveness, sacrifice and love demonstrated by Jesus for the whole world.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Sermon Notes 05.18.14 Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Worship Slides 05.18.14 Fifth Easter
The Parables: The Unmerciful Servant, 5.18.14 early service
The Parables: The Unmerciful Servant, 5.18.14 late service
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/05/19/the-parables-the-unmerciful-servant/
Parable of the Generous Landowner by Eugene Burnard (1850 – 1921)
Each parable Jesus uses is meant to illuminate some spiritual principle or value unique to the Kingdom of God that we don’t really understand very well by getting us to engage in a story that we do understand and perhaps have even lived. Parables usually begin by saying something like, “The Kingdom of God is like…” Parables are stories that allow us to compare earthly values to Kingdom values and lifestyle. So when read a parable, we need to ask what principle(s) is this story trying to illuminate or describe.
In the Parable of the Generous Landowner, found in Matthew 20:1-16, we must turn to Matthew 19 to find the question Peter asks that this parable is meant to address. In Matthew 19, we find the story of the rich young ruler who comes to Jesus seeking a deeper more meaningful life. Without going through all of the details of that story, Jesus finally tells him to sell everything and follow Him. He chooses not to, however, and goes away sad.
The disciples are watching this conversation unfold and are wondering about their own future. Give everything away as the means to eternal life? Inviting him to become part of their exclusive group? What are we doing this for, what’s in it for us?
Actually Peter says it best, “Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (Matthew 19:27)
It sounds like Peter feels entitled to more or at least expected more. God’s grace is fantastic when we first receive it, but as time passes and we work for the glory of God, we feel entitled to something more. Suddenly God’s grace doesn’t seem so fair when it flows into the lives of others who come to faith rather late in the game. Will our sense of entitlement shut the door on Grace?
Jesus tells the parable of a Landowner who hires people to work in his fields at regular intervals throughout the day BECAUSE they have not found productive work, no one has hired them. There is a sense of compassion and generosity displayed by the Landowner. The core of the story comes when the Landowner pays them all the same wage, those who were hired for only one hour are paid the SAME as those who worked all day. Naturally, based on human competitive spirit, those who were hired last grumble because they expected more. If those who worked one hour get a certain amount, surely we will get many times that amount, so the logic goes.
I think the point of Jesus’ story is that God gives gifts, not wages. We, as Christians, have been called to work in the fields, to have a purpose to serve, and a reason for living. If we’re keeping a scorecard and a balance sheet, we’ve missed the generosity of the Master in the lives of others and in ourselves. We have no right to complain, for God chose us, we didn’t choose him.
This is a much harder teaching than most of us can bear. Will the people of the church rejoice when new comers sit at the same table with saints of old? Will long time members be willing to go to the back of the line, for according to Jesus: “the first will be last and the last will be first.”
You decide. Are you able to rejoice in the new life others have come to know and accept, or are you only looking for what’s coming to you when you get paid?
Listen to this week’s message. It may just challenge you to serve your church, community and God with renewed passion.
Parable of the Generous Landowner, Matt. 20, Early, 5.11.14
Parable of the Generous Landowner, Matt. 20, Late, 5.11.14
Sermon Notes 05.11.14 Parable of the Landowner
Worship Slides 05.11.14 Parable of the Landowner
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/05/15/the-parables-the-generous-landowner/
Eugene Burnard (1850-1921)
The Purpose of the Parables
“Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (v. 17). – Matthew 13:12–17
What is the purpose of parables? Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:12–15 that He speaks in parables to hide the secrets of the kingdom from some and reveal them to others (Matt. 13:12–15). This does not mean His parables are full of esoteric information that only a select few can grasp with their minds. Christ’s enemies often understand exactly what His parables mean (see 21:33–46); the problem is their refusal to trust His teaching about Himself and God’s kingdom. The difficulty the Pharisees have is moral and thus volitional, not intellectual. They choose not to believe our Savior’s words. Those who take up their cross gain more access to kingdom truth; those who reject Him lose whatever insight they had (13:12). Matthew Henry says parables make the things of God “more plain and easy” to those willing to be taught, and “at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who [are] willfully ignorant.”
The word parable is a transliteration of the Greek word “parabole” (para-bow-LAY), and comes from two Greek words, “para” (translated “beside”) and “ballein” (translated “to throw”). Literally, the word parable means “to throw beside,” or “to place beside, or to place together for the purpose of comparing, or making a comparison.” They can usually be identified by the use of the word “like,” as in Jesus’ statement, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,” or “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven” (Matthew 13:31, 33). In these examples, Jesus was comparing the kingdom of heaven to the attributes or characteristics of a mustard seed and to leaven (yeast). Some have defined the word parable as “a story by which something real in life is used as a means of presenting a moral thought.” Others have said a parable “puts the known next to the unknown so that we may learn.” They are usually a story or a narrative taken from nature or from everyday human experiences. Perhaps the most simple definition of all is that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
In the Parable of the Talents, the Master has generously given his servants tremendous gifts before he goes on a journey. Their response to the gift is a reflection of their attitude toward their Master and to life in general. Are they excited, filled with dreams and grateful for the gift, or are they fearful, living with the constant threat of punishment, rejecting the gift and hiding it way.
The good servants are excited to show their Master what they have done, excited to see his pleasure and to return what was entrusted to them. Their positive response comes from their recognition they have been trusted by the Master and take confidence in that trust.
The bad servant believes the Master to be hard, condemning and judgmental. Living in fear, he hides his gift, never accepting the trust the Master has in him.
It is interesting that at the end of the parable, the Master takes the one talent from the servant who didn’t want it, and gives it to the one who has abundance. It shows that the Master doesn’t take the talents back, but intends for the grateful servants to keep what they have been entrusted with. The Master and the servant are in a deeper, more trust-filled relationship.
So, What talents have you been ENTRUSTED with?
Are you using them to please the Giver or avoid risk?
How can your RISK more and find more joy in the process?
Listen to the following podcast as we discuss these issues.
Sermon Notes 05.04.14 Parable of the Talents
Worship Slides 05.04.14 Parable of the Talents
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/05/15/the-parables-glimpses-of-a-new-reality/
In 1799, fifty years before the California gold rush, gold was discovered in North Carolina. At Stanfield in Cabbarus county a 12 year old boy found a nugget weighing 17 pounds. His father, John Reed, not knowing what it was, used it as a doorstop. In 1802 he took it to a market in Fayetteville. A jeweler recognized that the doorstop was gold and bought it for $3.50. John Reed was neither the first nor the last to fail to recognize the value in something. Many do not recognize the value of a marriage until it is gone. Some do not recognize the value of the home, the value of the church, the value of a good reputation. Each one is priceless and never to be treated lightly.
We do not recognize the importance of Easter until we face death and we do not recognize the importance of church until we have come to the end of our pride and need community.
“The Christian has a great advantage over other men, not by being less fallen than they, nor less doomed to live in a fallen world, but by knowing that he is a fallen man in a fallen world.” — C. S. Lewis
As Christians we recognize that we need one another for encouragement, accountability and inspiration. We can do so much together, but we need to admit that we are better together than we are separately or we will fracture at the first sign of disagreement. Conflict is not a dirty work, but healthy source of insight and wisdom to those who will learn from it. To those who do not, it is the final straw in an already fragile ego.
Baptism is a constant reminder that we are united as one in Christ, our inspiration, we are one with each other, our accountability, and one in ministry to the whole world, our encouragement.
In our lesson today we take a look at the amazing advantage we have as Baptized believers.
Sermon Notes 04.27.14 Remember your Baptism
Worship Slides 04.27.14 Remember Your Baptism
Baptism Advantage 4 27 14 late
Baptism Advantage 4 27 14 early
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/05/13/the-advantage-of-baptism/
We celebrate Easter each year because it is our defining moment, it is the light in a dark world, it is the courage we need in a harsh world and it the promise of victory when confronted with pain and hurt. We, as Easter People, have a distinct advantage over the rest of world. It’s not that we are superior, more righteous or even that we are , but that we know how sick we are and also what it take to get well.
“The Christian has a great advantage over other men, not by being less fallen than they, nor less doomed to live in a fallen world, but by knowing that he is a fallen man in a fallen world.” — C. S. Lewis
The Easter Advantages provides us with
Revelation of how sick the world really is. You can’t read the Easter story without going through Good Friday despair. Jesus came preaching love, mercy and grace, and the powers that be killed him for it. Despite all the rhetoric and cliches about tolerance and inclusion, we’ll kill anyone who really upsets the status quo. We want to mark the trouble makers as Pharisees, religious zealots, patriots and revolutionaries, but really they’re just like us. Frightened human beings afraid of the dark. The light Jesus brought to the world revealed how horribly things looked in the light of truth.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19
RESCUE from a world of despair. There isn’t much good in recognizing an illness for which there isn’t a cure. We see the horrible deeds of our world and realize it takes more than just a tweak, another self-help book or a new government program. It needs a complete overhaul, a new heart and a new birth. The payment for our debts was beyond measure and so too much the gift be beyond our imagination.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21
REWARD for those who choose to accept it. Yesterday’s despair and hopelessness is lost in today’s promise of life.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:55,57
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Rm 8:1
No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me!
Worship Slides 04.20.14 Easter
Sermon Notes 04.20.14 The Easter Advantage
Easter Advantage 4.20.14 early
Easter Advantage Podcast
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/04/30/the-easter-advantage/
At some point in our lives we must all make choice either by intention or by default. Sometimes that choice is intentional based on sound reasoning and careful, even prayerful, consideration of the results and the costs associated with a particular path. Other times we abdicate our choices to time and chance and simply accept what comes to us as “the way things are,” karma or luck. Many people hold to the delusion that relationships, circumstances, opportunities, joys and hardship are all subject to time and chance just like the weather. Some people live their lives as victims of a cruel world rather than spiritual being on a journey of adventure and discovery.
Which best describes you’re life? What would your friends say?
In our passage this week, (Matthew 16:13-20) Jesus engages his disciples with a question that will define their futures. “What about you, who do you say that I am?”
There is only so long we can just go along with the crowd, carried along by popular opinion, hiding in a sea of nameless faces. At some point we will be held accountable for who we are and what we did or didn’t do.
Are you ready to face the truth, to be called out and to join your life to Jesus?
Questions Jesus Asked IV 4.13.14E
Questions Jesus Asked IV 4.13.14L
Sermon Notes 04.13.14 Questions Jesus Asked IV
Worship Slides 04.13.14 Palm Sunday
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/04/21/what-are-you-living-for/
Imagine a young man running up to you desperate to ask a question before you turned to your next appointment and the opportunity was lost. Out of breath, he captures your attention and greets with traditional politeness, “Good sir, what should I do with my life?”
I suppose Jesus could have answered the obvious question by teaching on the meaning of life with reference to the Old Testament prophets and Kings, or by drilling down to the root cause of this person’s search for meaning. But Jesus does neither, he focuses on the description of himself as good. I thought that was just a polite greeting, but apparently Jesus thought otherwise.
Good morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.
“True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power.” Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Jesus opens the door to a deeper discussion of what is good, what causes goodness, and what keeps goodness a bay. In the notes that follow you will find a discussion of this encounter with the text and with yourself.
How is Jesus challenging your definition of the ‘good’ life?
Jesus challenges the young man to give up one lifestyle for another. How would you have responded to His invitation?
Sermon Notes 04.06.14 Questions Jesus Asked III
Worship Slides 04.06.14 Fifth Lent
Questions Jesus Asked III 4.06.14L
Questions Jesus Asked III 4.06.14E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/04/21/are-you-good/
In part I of this series we looked at the styles and reasons Jesus asked people seemingly simple questions. They were questions that drew the listener into a deeper conversation about their life, what they were doing and where it would ultimately lead. In John 5 Jesus asks a man paralyzed for 38 years, “Do you want to get well?” The answer was revealing and transformational. We begin to find the life we were created for when Jesus confronts us with the reality of where we are.
Questions Jesus Asked Devotional: Questions Devotional
This week we look at another well know story and another challenging question from Jesus. Found in John 4, Jesus encounters a woman from Samaria collecting water at an historically significant well of Jacob for just another day and simply ask if she “will give me a drink?” [John 4:7]. On the outside the question is quite simple, the implications are anything but. She is confronted with the barriers of her sex, her religion, her heritage and her lifestyle. Into this world Jesus comes to ask for some hospitality and then gives her more than she could ever dream or image. It would be the day her life changed.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
What questions about your life, your behavior and your attitude would you like to hide from God? Are you ready to be confronted by the truth of Jesus’ presence? Join us and find the confidence and the courage to life the life you meant to.
The Quesstions Jesus Asked John 4
Sermon Notes 03.30.14 Questions Jesus Asked II
Questions Jesus Asked 3.30.14L
The Questions Jesus Asked 3.30.14E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/04/01/the-questions-jesus-asks-ii/
Jesus constantly challenged his followers as well as the authorities that always seemed to be hovering around to think differently about the world and their place in it. We are no exception. Jesus’ words challenge us, invite us, and prod us to move in new directions. As we embark on this journey through Lent, we must face these personal questions as our own. Jesus didn’t ask people questions just to obtain information, but to reveal their true values, ideals and biases that ultimately determine the choices they made and the attitude with which they made them.
Jesus used a style of questioning often referred to as the Socratic Method. It is a style that engage the student to think deeply and differently about the motivation behind their actions and answers. The answers we give cannot be simply true or false, but rather a struggle with what the answer says about us and our world view.
This week we take a look at John 5:1-16 where Jesus comes to the pool of Bethesda (house of mercy) and finds a paralytic who has been struggling his whole life to enter the waters on his own power to obtain the blessing of heaven. His attitude reflects the countless men and women who struggle for the limited blessings they believe God meters out to only a select few. Good relationship, prosperity and happiness are for a limited few. Year after year he struggled to find God’s favor.
So here Jesus stands and asks the most obvious question in the Bible: “Do you want to get well?” As we live our lives faced with the frantic pace of overbooked schedules, superficial relationship and wornout habits we too must see ourselves as trying to succeed on our own power, tired and exhausted and then face the question from God “Do you want to get well?”
Jesus comes with a cure, new way of living and an invitation to Get Up! Pick up your tired old mat and learn to walk again.
Are you ready? Are you exhausted from chasing the illusion of prosperity? Then join us and face your fears.
The Questions Jesus Asked Study Guide: Questions Devotional
Podcast: Questions Jesus Asked 3.23.14L
Questions Jesus Asked 3.23.14E
Sermon Notes 03.23.14 Questions Jesus Asked
Worship Slides 03.23.14 The Questions Jesus Asked
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/03/27/the-questions-jesus-asked/
Every church I’ve ever known has been plagued by division, complaining and factions that tug and pull at the heart and soul of the Gospel often leaving it in tatters. People outside the church who are looking for something to believe in see what is happening and believe the Gospel of Jesus, a Gospel of harmony, forgiveness and grace, is poor alternative. They opt instead for the pursuit of individual happiness, self-fulfillment, and a “winner-takes-all” world view. Although it’s effects are not always immediate, this worldview will ultimately leave their lives tatter, torn and troubled.
But what can we do? My Advice – try the Church! You heard me, try a church as your only hope, not as you want to be, but as it is and was created to be, a place of healing for the sick.
Division has always been a part of the human psyche ever since Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, and Paul and Barnabas. We’re fractured people trying to gather people who will affirm our brokenness without suggesting we change. So, naturally faction develop and grow.
Paul was trying to get heal some faction in the Corinthian Church. Apparently there were division over preference, leadership and control, just as there is today. Paul suggests that the Corinthians had lost sight of their true target, purpose and mission. To avoid these division and the betrayal of the Gospel, we need to remember these three key steps:
ASSIGNMENT: We are co-workers in God’s Service. We are builders of the House, Field hands of the Harvest, Contributors to the Body
INTERRELATED: We require community. We need others.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
FOUNDATION: We are rooted in Christ. Like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.
FOCUS: Becoming a Church for all Ages!
i. Look back and THANK God
ii. Look forward and TRUST God
iii. Look around and SERVE God
iv. Look within and FIND God
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 02.23.14 Church for all
Sermon Slides: Worship Slides 02.23.14
Sermon Audio: Church for the Ages 2.23.14E
Church for the Ages 2.23.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/02/28/a-church-for-all-ages/
Do you feel blessed, grateful, joyful and happy? Probably not. We live in a competitive world where we see each gift as a stepping stone to the next higher achievement. We want more and we’re never really quite satisfied with where we are and yet never quite arrive at where we want to go. We live by wanting more, but don’t stop to think if the ‘more’ we’re pursuing will truly make us happy or just more addicted.
We are blessed by God with what we need in order to make us who we should be and to fill the emptiness in our souls . Happiness and Joy are gifts God offers to us to change our focus and lead us in a new direction of healthy living. Each blessing from God is a catalyst to think about the great invitation questions “Why me?”
After a long week of work, where you’ve giving your life to some project in exchange for resources, are you content with what you’ve done or are you more driven to achieve more?
Is your life dominated by the fear of what may happen, or contended with the knowledge of what has happened?
Is your life more in your hands or more in God’s hands?
Are you ready for a change?
Worship Slides 02.16.14
Sermon Notes 02.16.14 Bless
Audio:To be Blessed 02.16.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/02/22/the-problem-of-blessings/
I thought all my problems would be solved when I became a Christian. But in many ways they have increased. Maybe they didn’t tell me, maybe I didn’t read the fine print, maybe I didn’t want to know. Cost? Pain? Sacrifice? Surrender? These elements don’t fit into the American way of life of avoiding discomfort and inconvenience. Instant gratification is the order of the day. No goal could be further from Jesus’ way of life for his disciples while here on earth.
The Life of a Disciple is one of change, transformation and submission. Disciples are intentional about mimicking the habit and attitude of the Master even when the Master embraces a different path.
In our journey of life we must
(1) Begin with God – all changes begin with a deep dissatisfaction with the current state of thing. Life only makes sense when God is at the core.
(2) Belong to Christ and the Church – together we learn, we grow and we follow through on our commitments. We cannot be good believers if we’re not good belongers.
(3) Become fully Christian – we have at time immature ideas of what Christianity is and means. We signed up for heaven, but didn’t expect the Valley of the Shadows. We signed up for ‘fire insurance” but didn’t expect we would at time smell the smoke too!
This week we focus on what it means to become Fully Christian. Our Scripture verse is found in Deuteronomy 10:12-12 (NIV)
How would you describe the ‘Job Description’ for a modern day Christian? Would Jesus agree with you? Join the conversation.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 02.09.14 Become
Sermon Slides: Worship Slides 02.09.14
Sermon Audio: FTF Becoming Fully Christian 2.9.14E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/02/14/the-journey-of-becoming/
Everyone needs to belong to someone, somewhere that gives each day a reason. Without belonging or connecting to others in deep meaning relationships, we become lonely, isolated and depressed. This depressions destroys our health, saps our energy and makes a mockery of our hopes and dreams.
When God created Heaven and Earth, He looked at all he had made and saw that it was good. But when He saw Adam, alone as a created being, The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” [Genesis 2:18]
Recent studies have show there is an epidemic of loneliness in our country fueled by technology and the rapid pace of our culture. There are more people (35%) who report chronic loneliness than just a decade ago (20%). Chronic loneliness leads to depression and ultimately despair.
What I like about this cartoon is how it captures our obsession with technology and the unintended impact it has on our one-on-one relationships. We seem to be talking a lot, we just aren’t communicating or created healthy satisfying relationships.
As Disciples of Jesus we recognize our need to belong to the church, not just as an institution, but as a source of life-giving relationships. Jesus drew all kinds of people to Himself, giving them a new purpose that embraced diversity, challenged complacency and celebrated a community of mutual respect and grace. We all belong because Jesus invited us and we accepted.
You cannot be a strong believer if you are not a strong belonger!
We belong to the church because it’s how we grow. “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 Have you ever heard the old addage, you become like the five people you hang out with. So who are you hanging out with these days? Whether you like it or not, this is how we see you!
We belong to the church because it’s how we know God. God reveals himself in relationship with the Son and the Holy Spirit. John Wesley once said, “the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.” Well if God is in relationship, calls us the church, the body of Christ, to be in relationships, then our commitment to that relationship will be central to our faith and our identity.
Join us in the conversation and the growth!
Worship Slides 02.02.14
Sermon Notes 02.02.14 Belong
Audio File: FTF Belonging 2.2.14E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/02/06/the-need-to-belong/
It was a cold Sunday morning when we gather for worship last Sunday. We gathered to thank God for the blessings of a warm homes, the ability to gather freely and desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Our focus last Sunday was on Putting First Things First in our lives. One of our greatest mission fields is our own children. If we ignore them, if we fail to teach them or adequately provide for their spiritual life, then we have failed to be the church.
They say you can tell a lot about a church and what it truly values by how it reaches out and embraces their children as part of their own story of faith. Last Sunday we Celebrated Children as part of God’s family.
Unfortunately we had competition. Next door to the church, there was a wrestling match at the high school and the parking lot was packed. On a snowy, very cold day, people turned out in droves to let their children compete for a trophy, recognition or the right to say “I’m better than you!” What few were willing to do, however, was come and hear the Creator of Life itself say, “I have a plan for you,” “I believe in you”, or “You never have to prove yourself to me.” But they didn’t. All of life then becomes a competition for love, meaning and significance. How tiresome.
We love our children and want what’s best for them, not us. We believe in our children and see the best in them waiting to be discovered. We have a gift to give them that will warm their hearts, inspire their minds and shape their future.
Guiding Principles of Children’s Ministry
1. It’s a God thing. “The most important thing is not the work I do for God. The most important thing is to make God the most important thing. The impact God has planned for us doesn’t occur when we’re pursuing impact. It occurs when we’re pursuing God.”
2. Our Focus is on the Gospel. It is all too easy to get caught up in elaborate plans, dramatic scenery, curriculum, relationships, etc. Are all those important? They are absolutely critical!! But if they don’t ultimately lead to a focus on the Gospel, none of them really mean a whole lot.
3. Alignment matters. Children’s ministry is carefully & intentionally aligned with the church’s vision of Intentional Christian Discipleship. We are an integral part of the overall strategy and team.
4. Stories tell the vision. Ally Evans once said, “There are 2 Steps to Growing Your Kid min: Create a culture of invitation & share stories all the time.” This is why we take pictures, create videos and celebrate accomplishments. They are part of our story of faith.
5. Families are engaged. Practical equipping is the rule. Service opportunities are offered. Spiritual formation is primarily about what parents are and do, not what happens at church. Communication is critical and ongoing.
6. Calendars are clipped. Our success is NOT measured on the number of activities we can crunch into the children’s ministry calendar. Overextended and exhaustion among our families is an epidemic. In the case of Children’s Ministry, less is more. We’re doing less, focusing more and driving commitment in a few rather than guilt over the many.
If you have ideas or suggestions to make our ministry stronger, more effective and more engaging, PLEASE let us know. We can always use new ideas.
Sermon Notes 01.26.14 Children’s Ministry
Children’s Ministry 01.26.14
Audio: FTF Children’s Ministry 1.26.14E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/01/28/the-children-are-our-legacy/
Would you describe yourself as a Dog Person or a Cat person?
A Dog person looks at life and says, “you feed me, you care for me, you play with me and make me feel loved… YOU must be God.”
A Cat person looks at life and says, “you feed me, you care for me, you, clean my litter box… I must be god.”
Steven Hawthorne once said that the problem with our culture is that is was meant for dogs, but is experienced by cats. The Bible was meant to reveal to us the love of God, the purpose of life and the deep relationships we can have with one another. But we read the Bible, and thus all of life, like cats who are constantly searching for affirmation that we are God. We ask questions like, how will this benefit me, How will it further my ambitions, my goals, my desires, my needs… Well, you get the idea.
But life won’t make sense, the direction of you life, the aging process and the joy and sorrows will overwhelms us if we don’t put God first.
There was a news article that came out this week about a 12 yr. old boy who smuggled a shotgun into school in his band case and shot two classmates. He wanted revenge, we want to get noticed, he wanted to gain respect, and he got it. What he failed to do was engage the long-term thinking necessary to consider the consequences for the rest of his life. At that moment, his life had no meaning other than immediate response and revenge.
Yet many of us know of workplace bullies, church bullies and people who “tell it like it is” regardless of the consequences or who gets hurt.
We become like what we worship. If we worship power, we become a bully. If we worship pride, we become a critic and a gossip. If we worship God, and focus on becoming like Jesus, we will radiate a different kind of light and joy to all we know.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 01.19.14 First Things First – Worship
Sermon Slides: Worship Slides 01.19.14
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/01/21/it-all-begins-with-god/
Psychologists tell us that there are 3 major “wants” in life. The first “want” is to want comfort – to want food when we are hungry, to want something to drink when we are thirsty, to want a cool place when we are too hot, to want shelter from the storm. We want to be comfortable. While this may sound like a bash on possessions, it’s not. But often time when we seek to be comfortable, we’re really seeking security and insurance against an unpredictable often times dangerous future.
The second “want” is to want to be accepted by our peers, to be respected for who we are & what we are. We want to wanted, to liked or to be noticed. We were made for relationships and cannot function without some level of connectedness. If we can’t be connected to others in a healthy mutually nurturing way, we will do so in destructive, violent ways.
The third “want” is to want to find meaning in life, to understand what life is all about, to leave a legacy and be significant & that we have a part to play in it.
The first two, comfort and relationships, often involve short-term thinking. You want to be comfortable NOW, you want people to like you and think well of you NOW. It is seeking the meaning of life that is long term thinking and we put off endlessly because of the tyranny of the NOW.
But I like what CS Lewis says “Seek Heaven and you will get earth thrown in, Seek earth and you will get neither.” Seek to find meaning in life and all you need will be given to you to achieve that goal. Seek the substance of life without purpose or meaning and nothing will satisfy for very long.
Join the discuss for finding meaning and purpose by being intentional and putting First Things First!
Sermon Notes 01.12.14 First Things First – Values
Worship Slides 01.12.14
Audio Files: First Things First 1.12.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/01/21/putting-first-things-first/
Guest Pastor, Rev. Meredith Grudger-Raines shared a message of hope everyone should hear. Enjoy.
Sermon Audio:Meredith Grudger Raines 1.5.14E
Meredith Grudger Raines 1.5.14L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/01/17/a-god-of-questions/
Each year it’s the same. We say good bye to the previous year by celebrating the fact that we survived another one, and we look apprehensively to the coming year with unknown troubles, unexpected joys and opportunities to become more than we currently are. Life moves faster and faster and we feel we’re falling farther and farther behind. We do more each year and fell less alive. Each year is the same, little progress and little to show for a year that we’ll never get back.
What if this year was different? What if this year was your Breakthrough year, the year you found the ‘sweet spot’ in your life and in your heart? What if this year was the year when your relationships flourished, your work was raised to a higher purpose, and your outlook was bright and energizing?
Then let’s make it so. The first step in any journey is hardest and it’s the decision to take the journey, we call it COMMITMENT.
- the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. 2. an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.
synonyms: dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity
Maybe it sounds harsh, but nothing will happen, nothing worth having at least, if you’re not committed to it. Decide what you want in life, what you want to be known for, what you want to be an expert in, what you want to share with the world, then commit to make it happen.
Step Two – tell a friend about your decision. We all need accountability partners when we fall off the wagon, which we probably will. They will encourage us, sometimes kick us in the pants and sometimes remind us of the goal for which we’ve lost sight. This is also a great opportunity to support, motivate and follow the progress of others. HINT: Don’t pick someone who isn’t making progress in their own life, a family member, or someone who will tell you only how wonderful you are. Find someone who is where you want to be, someone who will tell you the painful truth and someone you respect and look up to.
Step Three – Read a Book! I know that sounds strange but it is intended to do three things. (1) You are active, doing something, however small, to move toward your goals. The first step need not be correct, just needs to get started. (2) We are continual learners and the best way to learn is from those who have done what we hope to do. We grow in wisdom, confidence and understanding. (3) Obviously, don’t read just any book, but a book on your subject of interest. This will help you develop a plan which is sometimes the information we lack. How do we do what we want? Reading the experiences of others will sometime shed new light and insights on the path before us.
I encourage you to listen to this week’s podcast and sermon notes on making 2014 a real BreakThrough Year for you!
Sermon notes: Sermon Notes 12.29.13 Breakthrough
Sermon Slides: Worship 12.29.13 Breakthrough
PODCASTS: Breakout 12.29.13E Breakout Year 12.29.13L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2014/01/08/are-you-ready-to-move-forward-in-2014/
We all have our favorite Christmas movies, the ones we watch year after year – movies that bring friends and families together, that inspire us, and that make us laugh. And sometimes, they remind us of what Christmas is all about – the timeless story of hope and joy and love – the birth of a child.
in·tan·gi·ble adj. 1. Incapable of being perceived by the senses.
One of my favorites is Miracle on 34th Street, the 1947 version, although as my kids are quick to point out my all time favorite is the Muppet’s Christmas Carol. That gives you some idea of my literary and cultural sophistication!
Anyway, the story unfolds with Doris Walker who is trying to organize the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade when her “Kris Kringle” (the reader should be aware that Kris Kringle is a metaphor for the Christ Child and faith in general) turns up drunk and a serious disappointment. We’ve all be there from time to time.
Then out of no where come another Kris Kringle who is perfect for the job, so much so that Doris hires him for the Macy’s Kris Kringle to bring shoppers to the store. Just think about how much money they will bring to the store with this guy! But this is no ordinary Kringle, and Doris and Macy’s gets more than they bargained for!
Kris turns the store on it’s head when he puts people ahead of profits and advises people to look for what they want at other stores if they have better products or a lower price. His manners and his resolve that he is the one and the only Kris Kingle lands him in a mental hospital and on trial for sanity. The parallels to Jesus are striking. Here are a few quotes to seal the deal…
Kris Kringle: You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past 50 years or so I’ve been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we’re all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle.
Doris quarrels with Fred Gailey when he quits his job at a prestigious law firm to defend Kris against charges of insanity. Doris calls his resignation an “idealistic binge” over some “lovely intangibles”. He replies that one day she might discover that “intangibles” are the only worthwhile things.
Fred Gailey: Look Doris, someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.
Fred Gailey: Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.
Kris Kringle: Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind… and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here, maybe I can do something about it.
Sermon Audio: The Miracle of Christmas 12.24.13E
The Miracle of Christmas 12.24.13L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/12/28/lifes-little-intangibles/
None of us get through life without a few detours. They come at times we don’t expect, they challenge us to say the course and they force us to realize that control is partly an illusion.
Opportunity comes with so many different faces that we often don’t recognize it. That’s probably why we sometimes miss its call. A previous generation said that opportunity comes dressed in overalls. And they were largely right, for nothing succeeds like hard work. Our generation thinks that opportunity comes with a college diploma. It may, but there’s no guarantee.
The divine opportunity comes in what is, to our human eyes, the most unlikely garb of all. It’s no wonder we don’t recognize it; or that, recognizing it, we resist it. This Advent season is an especially good time to experience the divine opportunity. Any time is God’s season; but because you and I find certain settings and circumstances especially hospitable to religious experience, Advent and Lent are particularly attractive.
How do you deal with Detours?
I suppose you could quit, but then what would you go back to? Life is filled with detours, expected and unexpected. When you find a road closed, a door shut or a window only part way open, don’t take it personally. God isn’t singling you out for punishment, but for a new adventure.
I suppose you could complain about it. That’s OK I guess since we need to get it out, but staying there in bitterness and self-pity doesn’t change the fact or make the journey less arduous. It may make you more lonely as people begin drifting away from the negativity.
I suppose you could look upon the detour as a unique opportunity to see and experience something new. To explore new parts of yourself, develop confidence and become a guide for those who follow you. You have been chosen to walk a different path. Congratulations. How do you think you’ve been doing thus far with your journey? Any advice for those who are following your footsteps?
Sermon audio: A Life of Detours 12.22.13E
A Life of Detours 12.22.13late
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 12.22.13 An Interrupted Life – Magi
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/12/24/dealing-with-lifes-detours/
God interrupts the monotony that is our day to day life and offer a new challenging way of life.
Appointments to be kept. Tight schedules to maintain. Routines established. That’s how most of us try to live our lives. But what happens when life is interrupted with something totally unexpected?
What happens when God steps in to redirect our priorities, rearranges the patterns of our lives and replaces it with a path we never intended to follow?
All through our lives God is trying to break into the routines that keeps us safe and comfortable but also bored and anxious. We feel like there should be more to life, but what and where do we look.
In the Christmas story the Shepherds are given almost a saintly status and they look on the baby in a manger, or a least that’s how most commercial nativity sets display their role. But historically, shepherds were the low lifes of society, living out in the fields, homeless, down on their luck, watching someone else’s animal eat and wander around. I can imagine that as they sat in the fields, weeks on end, they pretty much gave up on the hope that their’s was a life worth living. That perhaps God had given up on them and that their best days were behind them.
God interrupts the Monotonous Life. Despite it’s predictability, monotony kills the soul and eats away like cancer at our passion and our dreams. Christmas is a constant reminder that God has not given up on us and that hope, inspiration and divine purpose is waiting for all of us, not just a select few.
Join the conversation this week as we look at how and why God interrupts our lives.
Podcast: Interrupted Life of Shepherds 12.15.13E
Interrupted Life of Shepherds 12.15.13L
Sermon Notes 12.15.13 An Interrupted Life – Shepherds
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/12/21/overcoming-a-monotonous-life/
To say that Mary’s life was interrupted when the Angel came and spoke with her, revealed God’s plan and her purpose in it is a understatement. Mary’s plans of marriage, family and domestic home life was put on hold and God revealed to Mary that she was more than even she knew. She had found favor with God, I doubt she knew that.
The Lord, the great I AM, was already with her, did she sense it?
She would have a child, though unmarried and still a virgin.
We tend to hold on to those stereotypes of who we are and what we can accomplish based on years of culture, rejection and fear. When God interrupts your life, it is to reveal more of who you are than you ever thought possible.
When the Angel first reveals to Mary God’s plan for her life, like most of us, Mary is confused and struggles to understand “how will this be… since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)
Mary’s self-identity is being challenged and changed. How many of us have our lives governed by what we believe we are? Are we able, like the Psalmist, to live out the mystery of our divine purpose? “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
In today’s lesson based on Luke 1:26-34, Mary has her life interrupted by God and comes to a radically different perspective on life and on herself.
What can we learn from Mary?
What question would you have asked the Angel or God?
Have you ever objected when God wanted to use your for some great purpose?
>> See Part 1 of the Advent Study John the Baptist
Sermon Notes 12.08.13 An Interrupted Life – Mary
Worship 12.08.13 Second Advent
Sermon Audio: Interrupted Life Part 2 12.8.13L
Interrupted Life Part 2 12.8.13E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/12/11/an-interrupted-life-advent-study-part-2/
Appointments to be kept. Tight schedules to maintain. Routines established. Projects to be completed… The list goes on and one.
That’s how most of us try to live our lives in a seemingly endless cycle of doing stuff so we can buy more stuff, so people can envy our stuff. But what happens when life is interrupted with something totally unexpected? A phone call, an alarm clock, or a bit of a fender-bender.
What happens when God steps in to redirect our priorities and change our perspective? The stories and people I want to share with you this Advent will challenge you to see the interruptions we often run from as a rare opportunity to let God to work in our lives in some rather amazing ways.
Opportunity comes with so many different faces that we often don’t recognize it. That’s probably why we sometimes miss its call. A previous generation said that opportunity comes dressed in overalls. And they were largely right, for nothing succeeds like hard work. Our generation thinks that opportunity comes with a college diploma. It may, but there’s no guarantee.
The divine opportunity comes in what is, to our human eyes, the most unlikely garb of all. It’s no wonder we don’t recognize it; or that, recognizing it, we resist it. This Advent season is an especially good time to experience the divine opportunity. Any time is God’s season; but because you and I find certain settings and circumstances especially hospitable to religious experience, Advent and Lent are particularly attractive.
The first Advent preacher, John the Baptizer, offered opportunity in a compelling, almost ferocious way. When you read his words, you don’t think he’s offering opportunity; I expect that if we had heard him in person, we would have been even more doubtful. William Barclay said that John’s message “was not good news; it was news of terror” (The Gospel of Luke, Westminster John Knox Press, p. 28). I understand what Professor Barclay was saying, but I see it differently. It seems to me that good news must sometimes come dressed in rough clothing.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 12.01.13 An Interrupted Life
Sermon Slides: Worship 12.01.13 First Advent
Sermon Audio: Interrupted Life Part 1 12.1.13L
Interrupted Life Part 1 12.1.13E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/12/06/interrupted-life-john-the-baptist/
If we want to be happy, and who doesn’t, then we must focus our energy on what is rather than dwell on what isn’t. “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” Thomas Merton
Developing a heart of Gratitude is perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself or for others.
Cicero once said that “Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all others.” If you trust Cicero, then obviously the best thing you can do for yourself is be grateful and the rest of the joy in life will follow.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
Steps to Gratitude 11.24.13E
Steps to Gratitude 11.24.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 11.24.13 A Grateful Life
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/11/29/happiness-begins-with-gratitude/
I know, I know… I’ve heard it a million time, “there is no perfect church and if there was one, we would ruin it by joining it.” I am here to say I disagree. There is a perfect church, and I’ve found it. If that doesn’t get your attention and make you want to read on, nothing will.
Last Sunday we honored our veterans and were reminded of the sacrifices they made on our behalf. I was wondering what they thought of the state of our country with all the bickering and animosity in our government and the loss of civility in our social dialogue. Is this what they fought and died for? Yes they did. They did not fight for happiness for all, but for the pursuit of happiness for all. There’s a big difference. And that got me thinking about the church, its purpose and its perception.
If we find fault with the church, with the music, the pastor, the traditionalism, the lack of hospitality, are we revealing faults not in the church, but in ourselves.
We see the church not as it is, but as we are. We find faults because we unsatisfied, we lack grace, we struggle with forgiveness, and fail to see the hope Jesus promised to those who surrender their lives to him. The church is a hospital for spiritually wounded people to be made whole, not a museum for perfect people to be admired and protected. So don’t expect to find perfect people there, that’s not the purpose!
In this message I try my best to lay out why I think the church IS perfect, perfectly changing, perfectly healing and perfectly following Christ. If you don’t think so, them maybe the reason is the cure, but the narcissism that is so prevalent in our society.
I realize not everyone who left Egypt was thrilled about the journey. Many grumbled against God, many thought more of their stomach’s ache than of the Promised Land, and many longed for the comforts of Egypt more than the Presence of God. Yet God was with them, leading them and transforming them, perfectly.
The Church, at least my church, is a process, a possibility and path, but it is certainly not an final destination. Sometimes I have to walk through the desert to get to the Promised Land. The path will get me there, but I should never mistake the path for the final vision of what life will be like when I arrive.
Listen, learn then lead others to find a perfect church inside themselves.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 11.17.13 The Perfect Church
Sermon Slides: Worship 11.17.13 Perfect Church
Sermon Audio: The Perfect Church 11.17.13E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/11/18/i-found-the-perfect-church/
Fishing on the Sea of Galilee
What does it mean to be blessed? How do you define it?
Do you recognize present, past or future Blessings?
Do you feel Blessed and are you energized by them?
Are you motivated by your blessings to try new things, meet new people, and grow in new exciting ways?
Do you ever expect to be blessed again?
How many times do I miss God’s blessings because they are not packaged in ways we expect? While we’re waiting to be blessed, God is waiting for us to accept and use the blessings lying before us.
Generally people consider ‘blessing’ to be synonymous with prosperity, money and the freedom to do what you want when you want in exactly the way you want. Sound less like blessing and more like independence. So what are we to make of this Jewish rabbi who says stuff like, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their’s is the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 5) This Kingdom is obviously much different than the one we’re use to.
The Bible seems to define “blessed” as those who live in close communion with God. sounds wonderful, but to get to that mountain top experience involves struggling with our doubt, having our faith tested and strengthened and faces the many challenges in life that made the mightiest prophets weep and worry. Still, we are blessed when we look through the trouble we’re in and see the Presence of God.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples were still unsure of the future, dealing with their own betrayal of Jesus, and trying to understand what the events of the last few weeks were all about. Like all of us, they returned to the familiar, the comfortable and predictable. They went fishing.
Are you fishing? Are you in your place of greatest comfort because of your fear of falling into a place of greatest uncertainty without a net? Jesus helped the disciples, at least those fishing, to experience the Greatest Blessing their lives had ever known. And He can do it for you if you’re open to it, aware of it, and embrace it. Here’s how..
(1) Every ending is but the beginning of something new. Every blessing begins in our moments of greatest frustration. When you feel like all you want to do is go fishing, go to your happy place and pull the blanket over your head for another day, perhaps God is drawing you into a place you’ve never been, but need to be.
(2) Every blessings requires action. The disciples experienced the presence of Jesus when they listen and cast their nets. When you’re too afraid to risk even the simplest things. Where are you casting your nets, where are you involved in life and creating opportunities for God to work?
(3) Blessings lead to new understanding and transformation. Having received a huge catch of fish, which would have been a financial windfall, Peter leaves it all and the boat and jumps after Jesus. He KNEW it was the Lord. Relationship with Jesus will always be more valuable than smelly fish, money, power, privileged or security.
This week’s pod cast is on recognizing that we’re Blessed beyond Reason.
Sermon Audio Blessed Beyond Reason 11.10.13E
Sermon Notes Sermon Notes 11.10.13 Blessed Above and Beyond
Sermon Slides Worship 11.10.13 Blessed Beyond Reason
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/11/18/blessed-beyond-reason/
Imagine going through life never depending on anything or anyone. There are times when that certainly sounds attractive, but it doesn’t last long. We need people, we need some predictability, and we need some sense of direction. Without these three elements, we live lives that are lonely, chaotic and pointless.
We build our lives on covenants, spoken and unspoken, of what we believe, what we will respect and what we expect from others. Spiritually we have covenants as well. Atheists have spiritual covenants too! They may not believe in God, but this believe is a belief they agree to and order their lives accordingly.
Covenants go something like this “Since I hold this to be true…Then I will order my priorities and my choices accordingly.” Anything else is to lose integrity and to be speaking jibberish, it is the life of hypocrisy. We agree to one thing, do one thing, act one way, but then turn around and do the opposite.
Covenants determine who we are. Covenants are not always determined by what we say, but always by what we do.
For the past several weeks we have been talking about how the church is a community of covenant relationships, dependent upon one another, and committed to the mission of Christ. This Sunday we talk a look at the greatest hope in our lives and in our world. The Church. Despite all its’ flaws, warts and misdeeds, the Church is the Body of Christ in the world, saving, redeeming and rebuilding lives and shaping the future. To ignore the church is to ignore Christ, to give up on the message of Grace and to surrender to apathy and despair.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to give up.
Join the conversation this Sunday’s message follows.
Covenant Sunday 11.03.13L
Sermon Notes 11.06.13 Communion of the Saints
Worship 11.06.13 Beyond Cynicism
Moment of Decision 10.27.13E
Leading Causes of Life Connections 9.9.13L
Leading Causes of Life Connections 9.9.13E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/11/08/covenant-people-live-the-best-lives/
In the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville recorded his famous observations on America, he noted a “strange melancholy that haunts the inhabitants…in the midst of abundance.” Americans believed that prosperity could quench their yearning for happiness, but such a hope was illusory, because, de Tocqueville added, “the incomplete joys of this world will never satisfy [the human] heart.” This strange melancholy manifests itself in many ways, but always leads to the same despair of not finding what is sought.
In the Old Testament, as God was leading a fledgling nation out of Egypt, he warned them of the problem pitfalls of prosperity.
“Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God.” Deuteronomy 8:13-14 (Msg)
The seeds of prosperity are the seeds of our own destruction. We are perhaps the first nation in history to be consumed by our own insatiable greed and ravenous desire for more, better and faster. We must think through what our prosperity means, what we do with it and how we control it or most assuredly it will control and destroy us.
Join the conversation. What difference has prosperity, wealth and materialism made in your life?
Seeds of Arrogance: one’s superiority toward others
“Look at me.” Arrogance confuses vice and virtue
Seeds of Indulgence: What’s in it for me?
“Money doesn’t change people, it merely unmasks them. If a man is naturally selfish or arrogant or greedy, the money brings that out, that’s all.” Henry Ford
Seeds of Despair: “a chasing after the wind…”
Stewardship being committed to the mission of God
Calling: being formed as a holy people
Confidence: personally connected to God
Control: a purposeful use of resources
Contribution: people will see you and be in awe
Sermon Notes 10.13.13 Money, Work and Debt
Worship 10.13.13 Problems with Plenty
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/10/18/the-problems-with-plenty/
Got idols? It’s hard to believe there are perfectly sane people who dress up in elegant dress and then bow and scrap down in adoration toward inanimate objects. How childish and regressive, right? We are so beyond that? Right? Nope. Take a look at the kind of idols we worship and the kind of sacrifices we lay before them. In order to appease of the counterfeit god of wealth we’ll sacrifice family and our children’s future to attain a promotion. To the false god of beauty, we’ll spend incredible sums on makeup, fashion and starve ourselves for the affirmation of friends and family. To the false god of power, we buy more than we need, take more than we should and hoard more than anyone has a right to all in the name of feeding the beast of excess. We still seek life from non-lifegiving sources, don’t we? Shiny things still dazzle and lure us in.
If your life is going to Make a Difference, a real difference, you must first Name Your Idols, those shiny gods that capture your attention, demand your allegiance and suck the life, joy and passion right out of you. Without focus and a direction, you will follow any shiny, marketing scheme, even if there’s a hook attached.
Making A Difference: A Journey of Hope
During the next couple of weeks, I’ll challenge you to do hard things. You will be asked to:
- reject the “shiny gods” or idols that lead you away from God, keep you in debt, and render you ineffective in serving the Kingdom;
- see work as a gift, not a curse, and deploy it powerfully, not just to earn an income but to bring about God’s desired outcome;
- eliminate debt, living simply and within your means;
- fully release all your resources—time, money, and talents—into God’s hands for his purposes.
It’s a long journey from shiny gods to a life well lived and a world well served. It isn’t a journey for the faint of heart, but it is a journey of hope.
Let’s get started.
Sermon Notes 10.06.13 Naming Your Idols
Worship 10.06.13 Naming Your Idols
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/10/07/got-idols/
Hope is much more than wishful thinking or having a “Polly Anna” attitude about everything. Hope is certainly realistic about the problems and pitfalls of life, but it isn’t overwhelmed by them. Hope has a healing quality about it that suffers pain like everyone else, but has a confidence that the day always follows the night. Hope has an internal drive that despite the obstacles, set backs and unforeseen detours, it still pursues a course of actions because it is right.
The work of Hope is Discipleship. The Fruit of Hope is Joy.
Sermon Slides: Worship 09.22.13 Leading Causes of Life 3
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 09.22.13 Leading Causes of Life 3
Leading Causes of Life Hope 9.22.13L
Leading Causes of Life Hope 9.22.13E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/09/27/a-leading-cause-of-life-is-hope/
Life is present in every community; and the challenge life presents to us is to find it, grab hold of it and run with it because life is moving on. We have a choice, of course. Life or Death. The language of death is easy to speak, but they call us to make a different choice and find a new language. They remind us the more we speak of death the more we forget about life and that ask “Why not look for the causes of life?” Indeed, why not? If we can learn life’s language we can see it, work with it and maybe
Leading Causes of Life, Part 1
even more deeply discover our own life in the process. To walk the streets these days you’d better understand the language or you’ll be living in a hopelessly naive bubble. But if you can’t talk about life, you’re just as naïve about what going on around you.
Do you live a consistent life story? Is it Coherent (moving in a consistent direction) or Compartmentalized (moving in different directions to satisfy different needs)?
Do you have stress in your life, struggle with feelings of inadequacy, or lack direction for the future?
Do you act one way on the weekends and another at your job? Then you’re compartmentalized, fractures and fragmented.
Stress is the result of a fractured and fragmented Life
Expectations are the roles we are given to play in unfamiliar stories of others.
The First Cause of LIFE is Relationships. Always.
The second cause of LIFE is coherence.
Coherence navigates the chaos and conflicts inherent in life with an internal gyroscope that guides circumstances and directs all of life.
Coherence is the master narrative of belonging and meaning — the story of life. Coherence is the language that generates adaptation to our circumstances and manages our complex sets of relationships. Leaders articulate coherence to individuals and groups such as congregations by telling the story and encouraging others to tell the positive stories that lead to life. We have been encouraging churches this past fall to tell their stories of ministry in the community.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 09.15.13 Leading Causes of Life 2
Sermon Slides: Worship 09.15.13 Leading Causes of Life 2
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/09/20/building-your-life-story/
Leading Causes of Life
Life is present in every community; and the challenge life presents to us is to find it, grab hold of it and run with it because life is moving on. We have a choice, of course. Life or Death.
God says, “I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:19)
The language of death is easy to speak, but they call us to make a different choice and find a new language. They remind us the more we speak of death the more we forget about life and that ask “Why not look for the causes of life?” Indeed, why not?
Relationships are at the center of our being. People will endure the most abusive relationships to avoid the pain of loneliness and isolation. The worst criminals in our society with uncontrollable behavior problems we put in solitary isolation as the most severe form of behavior modification and punishment.
Instead of running away from the Causes of Death, perhaps we would do better to run toward the Leading Causes of Life. What are they?
For the next several weeks we’ll be digging into creating life as God has offered it. Becoming more intentional about the choices we make and the consequences of the life we’ve been given.
“My wish has always been to write my own story, to create a life that’s worth writing about. But is a story worth anything at all if I have no one to tell it to?”― Charlotte Eriksson
Sermon Audio: Leading Causes of Life Connections 9.9.13E Leading Causes of Life Connections 9.9.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 09.08.13 Leading Causes of Life
Sermon Slides: Worship 09.08.13 Leading Causes of Life 1
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/09/16/relationships-create-life/
“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” [C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters]
The easiest way in life is to follow the crowd, do what others are doing, and go where others go. But if you remember you’re mother’s advice (“would you jump off a bridge if your friends did?”) is still pretty sound advice. I would also add the advice of William Penn, the founder of my beloved Pennsylvania, “Right is right even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.”
Jesus comes to Earth to engage our heart and minds and to lead us from destruction and despair to hope and love, but will we go? Jesus describes himself as “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” [John 14:6] So what does he mean and what does it mean to be off course?
Join us as walk through the Scriptures together and find the Promise of God in Christ.
Audio: I Am the Way 9.1.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 09.01.13 The Way
Sermon Slides: Worship 09.01.13 The Way
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/09/06/when-life-seems-off-course/
Celebrating Their place in the Church, the Family and Community!
Most parents, at least the healthy ones, want their children to grow up to be mature, healthy, and happy functioning adults able to appreciate life and enjoy healthy relationships. But its a daunting task to keep our children safe and secure while providing a healthy environment for their emotional, physical, mental and spiritual growth. What happens when these four needs gets skewed and some are neglected? When we get overwhelmed, we assume the spiritual part will take care of itself, or leave it to time and chance. Big Mistake!
When we think about raising healthy children we naturally think about the immediate needs of shelter, security and sustenance but we neglect the deeper essentials of meaning, direction, choice, and self-control. Of course we pretty good at preparing them to be physically healthy children, but how can we provide for their emotional and spiritual health as well? Children are naturally active, driven to grow, goal oriented, but without a direction or purpose end up being empty, depressed, aimless and without meaningful relationships. A steady diet of competition will create adults who know nothing else but how to compete for love, cut corners to get ahead of competitors, and live in despair if they don’t rise to the top. It’s not until late in life they realize they been sold a bill of goods and that the ‘prize’ they’ve been pursuing is a hollow shell like so much spun sugar.
Children matter to God because we matter to God. We are after all, all children in our relationship to God despite our years, in our understanding of the world in which we live and in our emotional and spiritual development. We have miles to go before we can reasonably think we’ve arrived at a place of maturity and wisdom.
In one of the amazing stories where Jesus doesn’t just upset the apple cart, he flips it upside down, Jesus elevates the importance of children and the life they offer. Jesus tells his disciples “People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17
So often we look at this passage and conclude that Jesus wants us to take care of children, that we must give so they can receive. But the last part of the passage indicates, at least to me, that they have lessons about the Kingdom we have forgotten or perhaps have chosen to ignore. Jesus seems to be saying, “if you don’t learn to live they way they are now, you will not be able to receive from your Father all that you need to live at home with Him.” (my paraphrase)
So what can we learn from children and how does it inform our own spiritual growth. I think we need to learn:
The Power of Faith -focusing on God’s Presence, Power and Purposes shapes our character and controls our attitude when faced with challenges of all kinds.
The Spirit of Growing – Children are instinctive in their desire to learn and be inquisitive. Parents lose that desire and a fear of looking foolish takes over.
The Truth about Us – we’re all children in the sight of God. As we age we tend to think of ourselves as beyond all that. But teaching and guiding children reveals something about our true relationship to God and to one another.
Worship Slides 08.25.13 Children Matter
Sermon Notes 08.25.13 Children Matter
Sermon Audio: Children Matter 8.25.13E
Sermon Audio: Children Matter 8.25.13L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/08/29/children-matter-part-1/
The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung once said that “the primary neurosis of people is emptiness.” There is within all of us an insatiable desire for something worthy of our lives, something to fill the void we feel but somehow cannot quite describe or discuss in polite company. It is a hallow feeling, a yearning to pursue and achieve something elusive. Maybe it will be money, success and comfort, but who knows. If this doesn’t describe you, stop reading now and move on. If it does, if you’re hungry enough and fed up enough with cheap solutions, then please read on.
The metaphor of food has been used to describe our spiritual hunger and God’s response. We know there are four basic food groups, but we’re immersed in a fast-food culture the provides few of them. A recent cartoon described our appetites as a life that is “fast, easy and cheap.” In a recent movie on the effect of fast foods on our national health Super Size Me, a guy lived for about a month on McDonald’s food and watched his cholesterol and weight skyrocket. Poor health, lack of energy and depression became the norm with a steady diet of cheap, quick and easy. I believe it is the same when we feel our spirit quick, cheap and easy solutions to life’s meaning and purpose.
What are you feeding your soul? What is your Summum Bonum? What is the most noble, honorable and highest good worth spending your life to achieve? Looking back on your life in 10 years, what will you remember, what will others remember, and what will God remember?
In John 6 Jesus says there is something worth feasting on that give the kind of fulfillment and satisfaction for this life and the life to come. It is the Bread of Life, the Word of God and the Life of Christ. Jesus is described as the Bread of Life because every human being is hungry for meaning and purpose.
“Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted for having someone to call their own.” Mother Teresa
Jesus sets a feast and invites us to join him. Jesus doesn’t offer easy solutions but a total life change. If you’re hungry for the reason for being, if your sick of the steady diet of reality TV culture, or if you’re just ready to sink your teeth into something more, the Bread of Life will satisfy in ways you cannot yet fully imagine.
Sermon Audio: Bread of Life 7.28.13E Bread of Life 7.28.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 07.28.13 Bread of Life
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/07/28/choose-substance-over-simple-solutions/
There are time in everyone’s life when we feel dry, parched and worn out. Perhaps it is the routine of daily activities that seem to be going no where, or it is the lack of meaningful relationships that leave us alone, or it is the failure of the past that doesn’t give us much hope for the future. Whatever the reason, trust me we’ve all been there and, more importantly, if we’re not careful we’ll be there again soon.
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1
Parched: (adj.) to be dried out, extremely thirsty
The story of the woman at the well is a real personal encounter between a Samaritan and a Jew that crosses racial, sexual and cultural boundaries and speaks to the deepest needs of humanity. In the heat of the day the woman comes, day after day, to collect water from a cistern. It’s part of her duty as a wife and homemaker, but what about her life as God’s child. Somehow that’s been forgotten or evaporated through the five husbands she’s had. She’s worn out and pretty much given up on having dreams. Perhaps you can identify with her struggle to find purpose and meaning in her life.
What can we do when our dreams seem like a distant memory? Where can we turn when our failure out number our friends? What’s the point of hope when each day looks pretty much like the last? We need help.
“I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” Isaiah 41:18
There’s two kinds of water: (1) Cistern Water and (2) Living Water.
Cistern water is collected and held in a deep pit. We did a cistern where we want it, as deep as we want it and we can in some way say we “own” it and the water it contains. A bucket is lowered and collects the water to be hauled up and stored in jugs. Whatever falls in the cistern stays there. The buckets churn up the water until the last person gets only muddy, silty water. When the water’s gone, or there’s a drought, you do with out. You can’t manufacture more.
Living water up from deep in the ground as of a spring, gurgling cold, clean and abundantly. We didn’t ask for it, it’s a gift. No one can rightfully claim they own a spring, it is free to share and cannot be controlled. When we’ve collected all the water we need, it still flows, almost wastefully, overflowing to form streams and eventually rivers. Because it is unending, it forms an oasis in a parched land enabling things to grow in times of great heat and drought.
Now… which do you suppose most people prefer in their life? That’s right, the Cistern. Simply because we control it, own it, and distribute its blessing to those we choose. Cisterns give us the power.
So this story, like most in the Bible, are stories of power, grace and surrender. The imagery of Living water in a desert land is so enticing and inviting that the casual reader would be salivating at the thought of fresh spring water on a hot day, but would also be faced with the prospect of overcoming their disgust at talking to a Samaritan woman. What if you can’t have one without the other? Which would you choose?
When you’re desperate, parched and empty, Jesus’ invitation will sound like music to your ears. If you’re not ready to trust that much, then you’re not ready to give up your cistern lifestyle. Yet…
Sermon Audio: Living Water 7.21.13E
Living Water 7.21.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 07.21.13 Living Water
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/07/26/two-sources-of-purpose-and-passion/
The 23rd Psalm is a classic in Christian literature. People refer to it more often than any other passage, prayer or petition in times of death, grief and personal crises. It is the quintessential Judeo-Christian statement of faith that stirs something deep within every one of us. As human beings, we are are all connected by the harsh reality of death, where all the trappings of affluence, status, education and power are stripped away and we stand naked before the God of the Universe and feel as vulnerable as the little lamb pictured above. In moments like these, it is the 23rd Psalm that seems to speak with a voice that awakens hope and renews our strength. It says what we long to say, it affirms what we long to know, and it boasts of strength we long to feel, but often don’t. In only 6 short verses it breaks through the fog of doubt and despair and reveals a world where light, courage and gratitude are the norm. This is the world David pursued his whole life. We all need to have a vision like this, a story we feel apart of and a compass for those time when the stars won’t shine and you’re not sure they every will again.
The 23rd Psalm, however, is much more than just a band-aid for the wounded to get back on their feet or an incantation to recite over a loved one at a funeral as if it absolves us of any serious reflection about our mortality. The 23rd Psalm is actually King David’s life statement, a poem of wisdom based on a lifetime of real experiences. It encompasses the reflections of a ruddy boy who faced Goliath, who found about his real convictions while on the run when he was tempted to kill his rival, who discovered the seductive nature of power as the anointed King of Israel and then brokenness when his affair and murder were revealed. It is the story of his life. David reflected on the highs and lows of his life and discovered a relationship with God that draws us back to this passage time and time again. They are powerful words that demand more than just mere memorization or to be relegated to funeral liturgies, they demand respect, meditation and surrender.
I think everyone should have a life map, a metaphor of how they see themselves, the purpose of life and their place in it. It becomes a boundary if you will when tempted to give up or drift off course. The problem that I have with most of the regular Mission Statements you find on-line is they encourage narcissism. They encourage well meaning people to buy into the “what’s in it for me” world view. They consist of a two stage process (1) What do you want and (2) how do you want to get it. They seem to solidify our obsession for money, power, prestige, possession and popularity, but they don’t get to the core of these desires and answer the bigger “WHY” questions in life. Why do you want these things? Why are they valued over simplicity, generosity or serving? Why are you driven to choose one path over another? Why does your life story matter?
David’s psalm is value statement, simple and visually profound. It is a statement about who he is in his relationship to God and the circumstance of life. David doesn’t talk about the money he makes, the power he wields, or the battles he’s already won. It is simple, spiritual and sublime that even as king, David is a mere lamb before God. When was the last time you heard a king, a president or a celebrity embrace their identity as a lamb? Everything else in Psalm 23 is a reflection on his life story based on this metaphor. David’s grief, loneliness, inspiration and vision are all contained in six short verses.
What would different about your life if you created a Life Story? A narrative that describes your experiences, good and bad, and where your heading. (here’s a few questions to prompt your thinking)
Life is like…. God is like….
I am like….
The greatest thing I have learned about problems is…
An Audience of One – Who are your trying to please, and why?
Out of the Shadows – in times of personal crisis, where do you turn for emotional and spiritual strength? Why?
Create a Visual Image – When you arrive wherever you’re heading, what will it look like? For David it was a quiet pasture that reminded him of serenity, abundance and protection. What will it look like for you?
Sermon Slides: Worship 07.07.13 The Shepherd sermon
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 07.07.13 The Shepherd
Sermon Audio: The Good Sheperd 7.7.13 L The Good Shepherd 7.7.13 E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/07/12/create-a-life-story/
[Noun] The process of coming to be something or of passing into a state. To grow to be, to turn into.
A human spirit is, in a real sense, not a finished product; rather it is a lifelong endeavor of becoming.
Each day, through the choices we make, the words we say, and the thoughts that consume our minds, we’re in the process of becoming. What few people really stop to consider is what are you becoming. Do you know, do you care? Perhaps even fewer think it can be known. I believe rather strongly that there is a rhyme and a reason to the universe and our character and our destiny are part of the answer. There are, however, three ‘facts’ we must grasp clearly before we ever proceed much further.
(1) Life is Short.
(2) Life is Important.
(3) Life has Consequences.
“We become what we love. What we put first in our lives is what we receive from life.” ~Guy Finley
If you agree with my ‘facts’ as stated above, then we ought to focus on what’s important, before the consequences kick in because time is slipping past whether you want it to or not! Got it, good.
How are we going to decide what’s important? Should we take our chances with time and circumstances and just see what comes our way? Should we listen to the crowd, take a poll and listen to popular opinion and then try to gain the admiration of family and friends only to become a hero in our own minds? (that’s a terrible sentence, I know) Or should we take the easy route, throw up our hands and admit it is all to much religion, philosophy and psychology for busy people like us? Perhaps that will work for some, but this is the only life I’ve got and I want to think this through a bit more. I suggest that the Bible, written of several millennium has more experience with these sorts of questions than any other source available.
There is an image in Jeremiah 18 of potter working a lump of clay. God invited Jeremiah to consider this scene and learn what he can from it. The potter has in his or her mind a specific purpose for this lump known only to the potter. As the potter begins to work, a flaw develops that must be addressed or the vessel will fail, perhaps catastrophically in the kiln under moments of intense heat and stress. So the potter deals with the flaws before they get too bad, and begins to work again. The clay yields to his skilled hands and rises bit by bit from a shapeless mass to an elegant perfume vase, water jug or cooking plate. Each highly valued and uniquely cast.
There’s something comforting just knowing that we are clay in God’s hands. That the same hands to created pulsars, galaxies and planets are also working on me. The same mind that created pedals, wings and music are working on me. It is also incredibly good news to think that He’s not done with me yet. There’s more to me yet to be made, more art to be expressed and more flaws to be removed.
When I went through Ordination, the Bishop asks us a series of Historical questions that may seem odd today, but connect us to the Potter’s hands and the Potter’s purposes. “Are you going on to perfection?” We are if we yield to the potter’s hands.
I encourage the reader to listen to the audio podcast to learn more about Jeremiah’s insights into God’s role as potter, and to read through the sermon notes.
What attracts you to the image of God as the potter and us the clay?
What about this metaphor do you find repulsive?
Be creative: What kind of vessel do you imagine God is making of you?
Sermon audio:The Potter and the Clay 6.30.13E
The Potter and the Clay 6.30.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 06.30.13 Potter and the Clay
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/07/05/the-art-of-becoming/
A Face in the Crowd
“What’s the point of striving to get to the top, to be better than everyone else, to be admired, applauded and worshiped if in the process you lose that spark of life that makes you more than just another face in the crowd? What need is so valuable you would be willing to give up the artist, musician, healer, or friend inside you in order to be better than all the rest? Have you thought about the path you’re on and what you’re becoming?” (my paraphrase of Matthew 16:26)
I have found that there are times in my life when I’ve been shocked back to reality by an event or a person who revealed the truth in such a way that I simply had to take notice. Many times these sacred moments were completely unplanned and unknown to the other person, but for some reason they hit me unusually hard. Have you ever had that kind of moment? It makes you stop and think and usually for a long time.
I believe we all create a story of the kind of life we hope to live out or perhaps are expected to live. In these stories, we all turn out to be successful, happy, and secure with loving relationship and perfect health. But our definitions are usually created by others, culture and a deep need for affirmation. Success is usually defined in terms of possessions, power and prestige, the more the better. Happiness is reflected in our insatiable desire for entertainment and our ability to satisfy our craving or lust for pleasure. Security is usually defined by financial prosperity where we can afford to protect ourselves or replace anything life might through at us.
Still, I have found that there are a few things only we can define by our choices and actions, regardless of what we may say or believe. Integrity, dignity, trust, love, kindness, gentleness, and generosity are great examples. I’m sure there are others but this will suffice. It matters very little what you believe about these words, or if you believe in them at all. People around you already know what you believe by how you live. What you admire in others, what draws you to those you love and who love you, is what is really most meaningful to you.
You may, for example, dress like something out of Vogue magazine, yet use speak such foul language that proves it is all window dressing for an empty shell.
To become more than a face in the crowd I recommend these three critical decisions to guide your life and your future.
(1) Draw a line. Know what your values are and what is non-negotiable. People will continue to push you, test your values and try to manipulate you and control your life until you decide differently.
There’s a story by Mark Twain who supposedly was on a steam ship en route to Europe. He encountered an attractive woman and perhaps inappropriately asked if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. Shocked but intrigued she said she would for a million dollars. Well he said, he didn’t have a million dollars but would she consider sleeping with him for twenty bucks! Outraged and insulted, she said she would not, after all what kind of woman do you think I am. I already know what kind of woman you are, he said, now we just negotiating a price.
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man a more clever devil.” C.S. Lewis
“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.” GK Chesterton
(2) Take Responsibility – who you are now and who you will become is no body’s responsibility but your own. Until we as a people accept the power to choose, we become someone else’s pawn.
“Until a person can say honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.’” ― Stephen R. Covey
(3) Stay Connected - we live in a culture of people trying to make a name for themselves, trying to look more different, more significant, more important. We can easily lose ourselves if choose to go it alone. Find a group that inspires you, challenges you and encourages you to be the best human being God created you to be.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 06.23.13 Face in the Mirror1
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/06/28/more-than-a-face-in-the-crowd/
“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Benjamin Franklin
Our spiritual lives are filled with excuses. Adam blamed Eve for the apple he bit into, Eve blamed the snake for the apple she plucked, and you and I blame everyone and everything for the inconveniences, conflicts and challenges that we wish would go away. The mantra of our generation is painfully, “It wasn’t my fault!”
The reality is that excuses steal the passion, vision and wisdom each day offers to us. If we’re not at fault for the problems then we’re not responsible for the successes and the struggles that we went through to achieve them. We empower others to have control over our lives and then complain when things don’t go the way we envisioned them.
So… if you want to live boldly and without regret, get rid of the excuses. Easier said than done, I know. But there are real options and habits we need to engage in if life is to become our own.
In the following audio message, Neil Parsons share the why and wherefores of living without Excuses
Sermon Audio: Neil Parsons 6.9.13e
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/06/16/life-without-excuses/
The Artists eye sees beyond the obvious to the obscure and oddities in life that reveal something more profound. The Artists eye lives each moment in wonder, amazement and humility. We’re not just passing through our days and our relationships we pause to see what’s really happening. It means having a big picture perspective.
The Goal of this Church is not to create a space for people to conveniently look upon God, but to enable Christians to embrace God everywhere and in everyone.
As we approach the summer season and the special moments when we reconnect as families and friends, we need to be intentional about experiencing God in the midst of these sacred moments.
Listen to the following Podcast to learn how to:
(1) Worship wherever you are
(2) Love whoever you’re with
(3) Play a little bit ever day!
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 06.02.13 Passing Through
Sermon Audio: Passing Through 6.2.13L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/06/04/not-an-ordinary-day/
We hide our brokenness from the world and eventually from ourselves. We are shackled with the chains of perfection in an imperfect world. Our children try to live up to standards that we ourselves have never kept but hide behind a facade of respectability, success and achievement. Unfortunately none of it is true. Perhaps our greatest beauty is our ability to be broken time and time again and yet our resilience to never give up, to learn and grow and experience compassion, mercy and grace flowing out of the broken places.
If you’ve been broken, and who really hasn’t, then the Apostle Paul’s message to his friends in Corinth is something you not only need to hear, but embrace and celebrate.
2 Corinthians 4:5-12 (The Message)
Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
The Church is not made up of perfect people, rather of the broken people who are beautifully mended by Christ into a masterpiece of life, love and grace.
Broken does not mean USELESS, it means ready for REBIRTH
“Trials in life are courses with very high tuition fees, so I don’t cut classes and miss my lessons: on humility, on patience, on hope, on asking others for help, on listening to God, on trying again and again and again.” ― Bo Sanchez
We are Stewards of the BROKENNESS
We carry this treasure in unadorned clay pots, but…
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness.
We are a fellowship of the beautifully MENDED
Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us.
i. Stay in touch with your limitations.
ii. Let Christ take over.
iii. Boast about the weakness
“Life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to seek those answers that continues to give meaning to life. You can spend your life wallowing in despair, wondering why you were the one who was led towards the road strewn with pain, or you can be grateful that you are strong enough to survive it.” ― J.D. Stroube, Caged by Damnation
SERMON NOTES: Sermon Notes 05.26.13 Clay Jars
SERMON SLIDES: Worship 05.26.13 Clay Jars
SERMON AUDIO: Clay Jars 5.26.13L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/05/30/the-blessing-of-the-broken-rebirth/
John Ortberg tells the story of a friend who made his first trip south of the Mason-Dixon Line from Chicago to Georgia. On his first morning in the South he went into a restaurant to order breakfast, and it seemed that every dish included something called grits…which, as my Tennessee friends tell me, is exactly the way God intended it. Not being familiar with this southern delicacy, he asked the waitress, “Could you tell me, exactly what is a grit?” Looking down on him with a mixture of compassion and condescension, she said, “Sugar, you can’t get just one grit. They always come together.”
John Wesley knew there was no personal holiness without social holiness, and is poplar for having said, “The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.” We’re just like grits…you can’t get just one. They come together.
Building relationships that are both honest and encouraging are challenging to say the least, yet this is where the greatest learning and growth occurs. The church was created by God on Pentecost as an incubator to grow baby Christians in grace-filled environment through spiritual nourishment and the exercise of a serving and mission focused community. Our inclination, however, is to pursue comfort, convenience and the applause of others and let our spirit simply atrophy. Pentecost is God’s infusion of strength and power to those seeking a cure from the malaise of the comfortably numb. The question we must ask, is whether we’re ready for the transfusion.
The coming of the Holy Spirit provides was is still missing from many lives. Listen to this brief message and find the path to
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/05/27/pentecost-is-good-medicine/
Pivotal Circumstances – something big happened, death, sickness, divorced, birth of a child, lost a job, got a job, got married had a child and now responsibility set in. A miracle given to us, perhaps not the one we asked for, and now we’re responsible for a beautiful life or the hard work of rebuilding one. It is a Pivotal moment in our life story.
God began to do something in our faith to build our faith, to put us on a new path, to change our destiny and to reveal a part of life we would never would have known otherwise. In the midst of our crisis we’re terrified, our faith is purified, and we find prayer and solitude the only relief. We turned to God as our only hope and security and strength.
Our Faith Grows in the process.
Scripture: Mark 6:45-52
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 05.12.13 Faith Catalysts 4 Pivotal Circumstances
Faith Catalysts Pivotal Circumstances 5.12.13 E
Faith Catalysts Pivotal Circumstances 5.12.13 L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/05/17/faith-needs-to-be-stretched/
We are relational beings and everything we do revolves around this central hub. Our careers, our sense of fulfillment and our drive to achieve all revolve around how we are perceived by others, how we try to impress others and how connected we feel to certain groups we want to belong. If you know someone who is struggling with satisfaction in life, feeling empty and unfocused in their aspirations and goals, it is, in my opinion, because their relationships are out of order. Life seems to fall apart when we relegate relationships to a second place behind possessions, position and power. It’s like running a car engine on kerosene rather than gasoline. It may seem to be working, at least for a while, but eventually it will all seize up.
The same is true of our relationship to God. It must come first if everything is to fall into it’s proper place and in the right priority. Nothing else in all creation can take the place of God in our life and all other attempts will be running on kerosene, ultimately doomed to failure and sometimes rather spectacular failures at that.
So how do our relationships with God, which are based on trust, flourish and bring the kind of satisfaction we’re all looking for. Well, we’ve already talked about learning the basics of spiritual relationships through the teaching and practical experiences of wise mentors and teachers. We talked about being introduced to what spirituality is, how it works and how to grow it by special people who have walked the path and can show us the way.
But there comes a time when we must take ownership of every relationship. Our faith cannot depend just on our family traditions, on our place of origin or on a specific denomination we’ve been loyal to for years. It must become PERSONAL, PRIVATE and PERSISTENT. I’m sure this isn’t particularly surprising, at least it shouldn’t be. All our relationships become our own or they remain only acquaintanceS or associates.
If you want your FAITH TO FLOURISH, it must become PERSONAL.
If you want your FAITH TO MATTER, it must become ACTIVE.
Sermon Audio Faith Catalysts Personal Disciplines 5.5.13E
Faith Catalysts Personal Disciplines 5.5.13L
Sermon Slides Sermon Notes 05.05.13 Faith Catalysts 3
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/05/06/make-it-personal-and-it-becomes-powerful/
“Faith is living in the confidence that what we hope for will actually come to pass; it gives us assurance about things we cannot yet see.” Hebrews 11:1
Imagine how different your outlook on life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you? Imagine how differently you would respond to difficulties, temptations, and even good things If you knew with certainty that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for good. In other words, Imagine what you would think, what you would do, what you would feel, what you would say, what you would invest in, what you would live for if you had perfect faith.
Main Idea: Spiritual growth happens best in the context of close personal relationships.
We choose to place ourselves under Practical Bible Teaching. We choose to participate in private spiritual disciplines. And we choose whether or not to serve in ministry. But there is a sense in which providential relationships and pivotal circumstances choose us. Yet every faith story I’ve ever heard included both of these components.
When people tell their faith stories, they always talk about the individuals they believe God put in their paths. You hear things like: “Then I met this couple.” “Then I ran into an old friend from college.” “A guy at work invited me to church.” “A lady I barely knew said she had heard about my circumstances and asked how she could help.” “One afternoon my boss called me into his office.” I’ve never heard a faith story without a relational component. There’s always mention of that guy, that couple, that neighbor I barely knew.
We call these providential relationships because when people tell their stories, they are convinced God providentially brought these individuals or couples into their lives. Encounters that initially appeared accidental or random are eventually viewed as divine appointments. As you’re reading this, I bet you can think of that person, couple, or perhaps group God brought along at just the right time. And if you are like most people, this is not a one-time occurrence. At every critical juncture in our faith journeys, there are individuals whose paths intersect with ours. In some cases, long-term relationships are formed. On other occasions, the relationships are only for a short time. But in either case, there is no doubt in our minds that the encounters were providential.
Three things make a relationship providential: when we hear from God through someone, when we see God in someone, and when we feel God through someone. When any of those things happens, our faith gets bigger. Isn’t it true that when we see God’s faithfulness in someone else’s life, it is easier to trust him with ours? That’s the power of a divinely ordained relationship.
When I look back on these relationships in my life, as well as others, there’s no better word than providential to describe their significance.
Sermon Audio: Faith Catalysts Relationships 4.28.13 L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 04.28.13 Faith Catalysts 2
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/04/30/faith-goes-farther-with-friends/
Imagine how different your outlook on life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you, right here, right now? Imagine how differently you would respond to difficulties, temptations, and even good things if you knew with absolute certainty that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for something wonderful you could not yet see or understand. In other words, Imagine what you would think, what you would do, what you would feel, what you would say, what you would invest in, what you would live for if you had perfect faith.
The whole story of the Bible is inviting us to believing in and grow in a relationship with God based on absolute trust not fear. Trust that we gave away in the Garden of Eden and continue to betray when we ignore God’s place in our lives or make ourselves the center.
All true relationships are built on trust. Your family consists of people you trust. People get married when they find that one person they want to trust with their very life and divorce when that trust is betrayed. FAITH = RELATIONSHIP = TRUST.
May you think that’s not realistic, or perhaps beyond the realm of possibility for someone like you. It’s Not. There are, however, specific means people have consistently used to enter into the flow of God’s plans and develop a life altering faith.
Faith Catalyst 1: Practical Bible Teaching
“If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt….There is no believing without some doubting, and believing is all the stronger for understanding and resolving doubt.” — Os Guinness
Jesus taught from parables and people responded by saying things like “they were amazed for he taught as one with authority and not as the teachers of the Law.” [Matthew 7:29] Jesus was practical. He said this is how the Kingdom of God applies to you, your problems and your desire to live a meaningful kind of life. Don’t just study it, live it, embrace it and share with others, then you’ll know that what I’m saying is true.
Join us this week as we invite your to experience Practical Bible Teaching
Sermon Audio: Faith Catalysts Scripture 4.21.13 2
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 04.21.13 Faith Catalysts 1
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/04/23/how-to-develop-life-altering-faith/
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Have you ever faced disappointment, grief or rejection so powerful that you felt so alone even God seemed to have walked out. Have you ever felt forsaken? Forsaken means to be “complete deserted or helpless, abandoned.” I think if you’re honest with yourself, you’ve been there once or twice before. Looking back at those times, would you say you’ve grown through those experiences or merely survived?
Life is filled with hardships we must overcome, obstacles we must face and conquer and doubts we must wrestle with and defeat if we’re going to grow in wisdom and maturity. Those who give in eventually give up. Many people become emotionally crippled and unable to function socially because of an inability to process pain in their lives at some level. Even in the Bible, Jesus painfully asks God why this pain is coming and why he feels so alone. Are you ready for God’s answers?
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus speaks from the cross words that reflect our very human feeling of abandonment and cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (from Psalm 22) But few people understood what he was saying until later, at the time they thought he was praying for Elijah to come and rescue him. But I think Jesus was asking God to reveal why this suffering would transform the world and open the way for a new life through His sacrifice. The Hebrew word “lema” which we translate as “why” is not asking “why did it come to this” (looking to the past) but “why is this necessary for what will be.” (looking to the future, think of child birth)
In this week’s lesson we take on this beautiful passage from Matthew 27:45-54 and see how Matthew describes a world filled with darkness and God’s revelation of the new world in Christ.
Take a listen and follow along with the sermon notes.
Sermon Audio: Forsaken 4.14.13E Forsaken 4.14.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 04.14.13 forsaken
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/04/16/the-future-of-asking-why/
Daily Morning Prayer
Baptism is the initial step of a faithful heart. Max Lucado
A Jailer becomes a Disciple (Paul and Silas in Prison) Acts 16:25-34
The Story of the Jailer and his family has always fascinated me. The jailer’s experience and his amazing conversion from being a hard-nosed, control oriented, government official, to a joy-filled host who washes, feeds and serves those who were moment earlier his prisoners requires more than just a passing glance. What gives?
I think the jailer experienced three critical life events that shook the foundations of his jail, his predictable life and his standing in world beyond his control. Will it do the same for us?
(1) He Encountered an Uncontrollable Power – whether it is an earthquake, a medical test, a sudden job loss, or a untimely death, we all at some point come face to face with a power that we cannot control. We are not in as much control as we thought. We are small, vulnerable, fragile and frightened. Are there storm clouds on the horizon?
(2) He Faced an Overwhelming Fear – what do I do (what can I do) now? Actually the Jailer was in such despair, his world order was destroyed and all that was left for him was despair, so he was ready to commit suicide. What other choice did he have? His life as he had constructed it was over, all that remained was punishment, disappointment, rejection, broken dreams… When our decisions, choices and lifestyle finally come home to roost, when all the false gods finally dissipate like fog, when there’s no one left to blame, it’s time to face the music. What is your greatest hope for the future?
(3) He Received Unexpected Grace - Don’t despair, we’re right here! We haven’t run out on you, we haven’t left you to your fate, we’re not like everyone else. God walks in when the rest of the world walks (or runs) out!
Baptism is a Confession – I can no longer be a simple jailer in control of my life and destiny. I am small and need help: I Need God
Baptism is a Change – I realize I am no longer a controller, manipulator or dictator – I AM a Host, a servant and learner.
Baptism is a Conviction – I will become like Christ
He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God
Do you remember and honor your Baptism Covenant? Do you live according to the vows you’ve made?
Are you an example of faithfulness like Paul and Silas?
Are you striving to live joyfully in the new life you’ve accepted?
“Tragically, some people believe they are going to heaven when they die just because a few drops of water were sprinkled over their heads a few weeks after their birth. They have no personal faith, have never made a personal decision, and are banking on a hollow ceremony to save them. How absurd.” Max Lucado
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 04.07.13 Baptism
Sermon Slides: 04.07.13 Baptsim
Sermon Audio: Baptism4.7.13
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/04/08/baptism-this-i-believe/
Last Sunday Esther shared her experiences during February mission trip to Haiti and how being a part of the mission both inspired and challenged our understanding of the Gospel and God’s love for the world.
Enjoy and Share.
Slides: Esther’s Mission Testimony
Audio: Mission Moment E Dehmlow 4.7.13
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/04/08/haiti-mission-moment/
According to an ancient legend, if you could find a touchstone on the coast of the Black Sea and hold it in your hand, everything you touched would be healed and restore life and vitality. You would recognize the touchstone from ordinary stones by its warmth. Ordinary stones would feel cold and empty, but when you picked up the touchstone, it would turn warm in your hand and you would feel your life being restored.
There once a man who sold everything he had and went to the coast of the Black Sea in search of this elusive touchstone. He began immediately to walk along the shoreline picking up one stone after another in his diligent and intentional search for the touchstone. He was consumed with this dream. He wanted desperately to find this miraculous stone, find his youth, vitality and abundant life again. However, after several days had gone by, he suddenly realized that he was picking up the same stones again and again. So he devised a plan. Pick up a stone, if it’s cold throw it into the Sea. This he did for weeks and months.
Then one morning, he went out to continue his routine search for the touchstone. He picked up a stone; it was cold, so he threw it into the Sea. He picked up another stone … cold! He threw it into the Sea. He picked up another stone. It turned warm in his hands, BUT before he realized what he was doing … he threw it into the Sea. Because of his habits, the routine of searching and lack of expecting anything different, his habits took over and what he wanted more than anything passed by and was lost forever.
When we come to Easter, each year remembering and reflecting on the story of God’s love and Jesus’ resurrection, Easter is our touchstone. It is what we’ve been searching for our whole lives. Yet when habit, ritual and routine dominate our lives, we can so easily throw the whole thing on the scrap heap of history and keep searching for who knows what. Easter becomes just another Sunday, and the touchstone just another rock.
When we come upon a miraculous moment in time, like Easter, something that will turn the rest of our lives around, we feel it turn warm in our hands, we see the beauty and feel connected to something greater. However, then either because of routine, habit or expectations (because we are numb, indifferent and from our routine) before we realize what we are doing … we throw it all away. Absentminded, mechanically, nonchalantly, we toss it aside and the miss the miracle that God has sent our way. And we keep looking.
Since we have just finished celebrating Easter, maybe this year we strive not to throw away the joys of Easter. Instead, we are offered the opportunity to seize the moment and celebrate and embrace the incredible good news of Easter. This year we realize that Easter holds one of the greatest nuggets of God’s truth … namely the redemptive power of Easter. Easter showcases for us that God has the power to redeem. He can through the miracle of His grace, turn bad things into good things, broken things into new things, and make life better for each one of you.
In a symbolic way, we have made our way to the empty tomb with Mary that morning. We were seeking Jesus, seeking life and vitality. Some of us saw the stone rolled away and we left with an empty feeling inside ourselves. Others saw the stone rolled away and heard the good news that “HE is not here! HE has risen!”. Upon hearing this, we begin to believe that God can turn our defeats into victories, our despair into hope, and death into life. God has the power to redeem.
Did you bring this discovery away this time from Easter? Or, will you throw it away and keep looking?
Sermon Audio Easter Touchstone 3.31.13 E
Easter Touchstone 3.31.13L
Sermon Notes Sermon Notes 03.31.13 Easter
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/04/01/touchstone-an-easter-legend/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/03/28/podcast-archives/
Mask: To conceal one’s real personality, character, or intentions
Masks prevent us from looking at our lives honestly or experiencing true intimacy with others. Mask don’t protect they suffocate.
Jesus’ encounter with people was so dramatic because he saw right through the masks we wear, address the fear that made us feel we needed them, and gave us hope we could actually live without them. James Baldwin once said, “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” The Gospel is deeply personal and brutally honest, but in the end, healing.
Lent is a season when we encounter the Gospel in such a way that we can no longer avoid the truth of who we are and who God calls us to be. We are encouraged to take off the masks that wear and look at honestly and lovingly at who God created us to be. It is a season of soul searching, uncomfortable as that may be. Lent pulls no punches but reveals what we want to kept hidden – a dirty room of regrets, smelly leftovers of the past, stains of self-centeredness under the sofa, or a back room filled with the clutter of hurt feelings. But it promises forgiveness, redemption and renewal.
Every person Jesus confronted on the way to Jerusalem he confronted with love but not with timidity. He confronts them and if they are willing liberates them. Will you choose to subject your life to Jesus’ scrutiny and accept the pain and the liberation?
This week we look at the mask worn by the “Rich Young Man” from Luke 18:18-26. Let us walk together and unleash the power of God in your life.
Sermon Audio: Confronting Our Masks 3.24.13 2
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 03.24.13 Confronting Masks
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/03/27/masks-what-are-you-hiding-behind/
Everyone has a fresh perspective, a different take on events shared with others and their what they mean to them. Our trip to Haiti is no different. I’m learning that the trip has meant many different things to different people and has had an impacted the team members in a profound and personal way. Their stories are as varied and as unique as they are. This past Sunday, Matt Young shared his perspective on the Haiti and what it means to him to be part of the First United Methodist Church Family in Mission to the world.
You can listen to Matt’s story and reflections along with the slides he shared with us on Sunday.
Haiti FUMC YOUNG — slides
Matt Young Haiti Experience 3.24.13 2 — audio
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/03/27/haiti-mission-matts-story/
This Sunday, Erin Long and Barb Richter shared how their trip to Haiti impacted their life. It was a huge risk to Erin who’s never done anything like this, but it opened a whole new door to what she’s capable of and what God is able to do through her. Her story and her experience is emotional and inspiring.
Listen to Erin’s Story: Erin Long Presentation 3.17.12L
Barb Richter founded the House of Faith orphanage in Bon Repo Haiti almost 10 years ago. Her story is one of listening to God’s invitation and responding with humility. For Barb, it has been a wonderfully rewarding walk with God. In our culture of “what’s in it for me” her spiritual journey may seem impossible and impractical, but its real, it happened and it growing.
Listen to Barb’s Story: Barb Richter’s Story 3.17.13L
You can check out the House of Faith Mission here.
Check out our Haiti Page
Other Haiti Posts of Interest:
Home Again from Haiti
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/03/20/potential-believing-you-can/
Jesus is on a mission. He’s turned his face toward Jerusalem and knows there is a destiny with death that lies before him. On his way, just outside of Jerusalem, he stops at the home of his dearest friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. If you’re not familiar with the details of the story, I encourage you to review the Luke’s telling of the story (Luke 10:38-42).
Luke draws our attention to what may seem to be a minor sibling rivalry. One sister, Martha is working to prepare a meal for the guest and is extending a gift of hospitality to Jesus. Actually the Scriptures say “she was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” v40. The word distracted here comes from a Greek root meaning “to be dragged around”. So Martha’s work was controlling her and her anxiety and stress was in control. Naturally, she became angry at her sister Mary who was sitting, listening to Jesus talk with his disciples and friends. Martha in a rather bold move, interrupts Jesus and accuses him of not caring that she is working and her sister is doing nothing. (Sound vaguely reminiscent of the elder brother’s complaint against his Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15)
Jesus lovingly engages Martha and let’s her know that in these circumstances it is more important to spend time with him, just as Mary is doing. “Mary has chosen what is better” v 42. I love the way Eugene Peterson translates this verse when he says, “Mary has chosen the main course!”
This is a story of priority, distractions and experiencing the Presence of God. We started this discussion by confronting our own discipleship journey and asking a deceptively simple, challenging question:
What distractions are keeping you from experiencing the Presence of God in your daily life?
This lesson highlights the importance of knowing what is important, knowing what is not and maintaining a balance between our working and resting life.
Podcast: Confronting Priorities 3.17.13E
Confronting Priorities 3.17.13 L
Sermon slides: Worship Slides 03.17.13 Priorities
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 03.17.13 Confronting Priorities
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/03/20/priorities-is-you-life-in-balance/
Like seasons of the year, the church also has seasons for spiritual growth, renewal, harvest and planting. Seasons for self-reflection, seasons for joyful exuberance and seasons for tending the seeds already planted.
We find ourselves in the season of Lent, a time of inner reflection and self-evaluation. During Lent, we confront our own self-righteous attitudes and look at ourselves without restraint in the light of God’s mercy and grace. If there needs to be some house cleaning, this is the time acknowledge the cobwebs and dust bunnies collecting in our lives before they morph into something more sinister.
This week we look at how our brokenness can be the source of new spiritual vitality, healing and strength. Through the story of Bartimaeus,. we must acknowledge our spiritual blindness, cry out for help despite the nay-sayers and the status conscious. We must look past the past and listen as Jesus offers us an invitation to become whole persons.
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
But before healing can take place, Jesus asks us all, the righteous and unrighteous the same Big Question: “What do you want me to do for you?” This question is at the core of our worship and our spiritual growth. It answers our deepest longings and it is the seed for abundant fruit. Plant it in your heart, let it roll around in the recesses of your mind and let it produce a fruit you didn’t expect.
“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” Vance Havner
Sermon Audio Confronting Brokenness 3.10.13L
Sermon Slides Worship Slides 03.10.13 Brokenness
Sermon Notes Sermon Notes 03.10.13 Confronting Brokenness
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/03/11/confronting-our-brokenness/
If I asked you if you were a confrontational person, how would you respond? Do you admire confrontational people or flee from them? Are they helpful or hurtful? Most of us I think avoid conflict and confrontations at all cost, even if it means sacrificing our happiness and our better judgment as long at it keeps even a glimmer of a ‘false peace’. Confrontations brings up feelings of anxiety, abuse and anger. Confrontations tend to be the “I’m-right-You’re Wrong” or “I-win-You-lose” variety rather than the “help-me-to-understand” variety. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m not talking about attacking another person, but confronting our own behavior, even ruthlessly if necessary.
From the very beginning our lives have been plagued by our fears. I find that what most people do in the public, personal and private spheres of their lives is driven primarily by their need to escape their fears, real or imagined. Some people work incredible long hours at a job they hate because of their fear of want, fear of what others might say, and fear of rejection even from a boss they despise. People change their appearance, get costly and painful surgery and deny themselves good things from God in order to avoid being an outcast, and the fear of loneliness.
There has been a rise of a small group of fringe people who think they’re bucking the systems, but they are not. There is a growing segment of the population that are into tatoos, body piercings, and odd lifestyle changes all in an attempt to be part of an avant garde group. Once again, our actions are driven by our need for approval and community, even if it is a only a fringe.
As disciples we must be confrontational with our own behavior and the fears that drive us while at the same time being compassionate and conciliatory with our brothers and sister who struggle with their own journey. We all have fears, because like Adam and Eve, we know that we’re not perfect and we’re hiding from God, from each other and even to some extent from ourselves what we’ve really done and who we really are. As a result, we remain handicapped by guilt and shame.
“Fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed” 1 John 4:18 (Msg)
In today’s sermons we take on the fears that most people deal with and invite the reader to consider how God, knowing what’s going on in our hearts and minds, offers us the choice to stand up and confront the negative voices that whisper self-destruction. Are you ready?
What fear drives most of your behavior?
What difference does it make feeling God’s Presence when you’re afraid?
What advice, if any, would you recommend to someone who’s crippled by fear, right now?
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 03.03.13 Confronting Fear
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/03/05/confrontational-discipleship-confronting-fear/
Adventure of the Haiti Mission Team…
Yesterday was filled with adventures some planned, a lot unplanned. After my last post we were on ou way to Mount Cabri or Goat Mountain to be part of (i.e. observe) a revival service in a small mountain community, or so I thought. We were all excited to experience life in the mountains. As things seem to happen in Haiti, everything is unexpected and a surprise. Two hours before we were suppose to leave, about 1 pm as I’m getting ready to get a shower, Boto says that I’m suppose to preach during the revival and said that I should focus on the Gifts of the Spirit. I was frantic, but I didn’t want to seem ungrateful or to reject their generous offer. I thought that might seem offensive.
So we all got ready to leave at 3pm. Two guests have joined us, Rick Phillips and his friend Olivia from McDermitt, OH. So we all piled into a Tap Tap, all 13 of us. Don’t ask me to name everyone who joined us cause I don’t know. Of course once we were all seated in the sweltering heat under a tin roof, the truck wouldn’t start and we all piled out and waited about half an hour to get the truck running. On the way up the mountain we have a flat tire and so we pulled over to the side to change the tire (see above) , which Thank God we had a spare. This will be important later in the story.
We actually travelled past the church where the revival was being held (at 6 pm) to go into the mountains and see where Boto and Pastor Luc want to start a church in the midst of a Voodoo village. Pastor Luc showed a house where he practiced VooDoo (worship of Satan) as a boy with his father. It was here that Esther and Erin handed out candy this the phrase in creole “Jese’ reme’ u” Jesus Loves You! (this is a picture of Tony, Erin and Pastor Joseph)
We left there by 6:30pm, it was dark by then and stopped to visit Pastor Luc’s brother Andre who received Christ on my first visit to Haiti in 2011. We made one more stop so pastor Luc could show us where his other church is in the Mountains. I’m telling you all this so you know that arriving on time is not as critical to the Haitians as it is for the Americans.
I preached on Matthew 7:16-19, John 15:1-8, and Galatians 5:22
I’ve attached the audio (130221_002) so you can hear what it’s like to preach in these kinds of services with an Creole interpreter. It’s hard to listen to and perhaps you can understand why I’m concerned that my style doesn’t connect with the people through an interpreter, but you can also ask if FUMC would listen to this kind of message as presented. I am powerfully grateful for the opportunity to preach God’s word whenever and wherever asked.
During the service the Haitians broke out in a praise and worship dance, and it did my heart good to see Esther and Erin get up out of their chairs and join them. When the service was over, Esther, Erin, Tony and Matt were mobbed by the people who wanted to touch them, hug them and bless them, this went on for a good 20-30 minutes. Like famous stars, they had to be escorted out of the church or we might still be there!
On the way down the mountain, in the complete darkness of Port-au-Prince, we were all very tired and exhausted when the unthinkable happened. Another flat tired. Do you remember the first one? So you guessed it, there was not spare. Boto left us long the side of the road to take a motorcycle taxi and one tire to get it fixed. We were all a bit on edge but confident that our Haitian friends would do what they could to protect us. After about an hour, Boto returned, fixed the flat, and got us home at 10:30 pm. Exhausted but with another story to tell.
Today started with Matt’s devotional on not being concerned for the things of earth when things of the spirit are within your grasp Matthew:6:19
Today has been exhausting work. The girls painted a blue strip on the second story wall, Steve and Tony build bookshelves for the office, and Matt focused on digging a hole for a basketball rim and net. It’s been incredibly hot, and were thrilled to share a soda drink that is produced here in Haiti with ICE!
Tomorrow we heat to DBR and so I will be off the grid for a couple of a days. I will try and give you and update and saga of the FUMC Haiti Mission Team on Monday.
The very bottom picture is of the boys receiving new towels that were purchased with the money from FUMC donors. God bless you all!
Till then, please let Linette know that I’m heeding her advice and changing my underwear every three days whether they need it or not!
Today’s Prayer Time: Do what thou wilt with me, O God; make of me what Thou wilt, and change me as Thou wilt, and use me as Thou wilt, both now and in the life beyond. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
tomorrow begins our Journey to DBR at 6 am!
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/02/22/life-in-haiti-2-22-13/
“I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moment’s gone. All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity. Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind.” [Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, 1978]
As a Christian I don’t share the hollow despair of “Dust in the Wind,” yet I am moved by its profound statement of what life without Christ is like. “Dust in the Wind” doesn’t proclaim the Christian gospel, but it does sum up the bad news that prepares us to hear the good news of what God has done in Christ. Apart from Jesus, “all we are is dust in the wind.”
On Ash Wednesday we remember that we are dust [Psalm 103:14]. Of course we also remember that we are far more than merely dust. But Ash Wednesday gives us a chance to focus on our “dustiness,” if you will. It’s a day to remember the bad news of who we are apart from Christ so that we can appeciate the great news of Good Friday and Easter.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a forty-day season of preparation for Holy Week and Easter. For centuries Christians have had ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. The ashes remind us of our mortality and the Cross of salvation.
Some church members complain that Ash Wednesday service is “a real downer.” To be sure it is not joyous in the way most worship services are. Yet Ash Wednesday is our recognition that apart from God we are indeed “dust in the wind.” Yet into this dust God breathed, not only the breath of earthly life, but also the breath of his Spirit. Thus Ash Wednesday’s vivid reminder of our mortality leads us, not to despair, but to hope. It points not to defeat, but to the coming victory of Easter. Ash Wednesday is the beginning, not the end.
The ashes that are used are prepared by burning the palm leaves kept from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations and mixing them with olive oil as a fixative. As the first day of Lent, it comes the day after Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, the last day of the Carnival season. The word “Carnival” is in fact derived from Latin carne vale: “farewell, meat”.
Sermon title: Are we just going through the motions?
Ash Wednesday 2013
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/02/14/ash-wednesday-services/
Have you ever been walking down the street when you came upon someone in need, either asking you directly for help (financially or perhaps a hitchhiker) or someone caught in a mishap that looks like it is going to ruin their day (flat tire, shopping cart overturned, etc.)? What do you do? What should you do? Are they different responses?
The thing is that we often say we believe in a lot of very nice things, because we believe we’re very nice people, but what we do and how we respond when we’re caught off guard is what’s really at the core of who we are. Our Epiphany, or ‘Aha’ moments, come when we’re faced with a decision and are forced to respond out of gut instinct. We need to think about how to respond before the decision has to be made so it comes out of who we are and who we will become.
This Sunday we look at a Generosity Encounter faced by Peter and John on their way to pray at the Temple (Acts 3:1-10). Peter and John had an appointment, a spiritual appointment they didn’t want to miss. The faced a request but saw a need. They responded in a way that teaches us something about Generosity and our ability to give.
How will you face your next Generosity Challenge?
>> Give what you’ve GOT
Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. V6
“Three essentials to happiness: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Addison
>> Give what they NEED
“Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.” V7
“Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.” — Rick Warren
>> Give with an eye on the FUTURE
“Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” v8
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
Sermon Audio: Generosity Encounter 2.3.13E Generosity Encounter 2.3.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 02.03.13 Generosity Encounter
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/02/06/what-to-do-when-faced-with-a-generosity-encounter/
As leaders of God’s church, our greatest responsibility is to create an environment in which people can give generously. When people in our churches have an encounter with the living God and are touched by his grace, we find no greater evidence of God’s power than the existence of a culture of reckless generosity. Generosity like this is exceptional, unexpected, and provides a clear witness to the transforming power of God.
In the end, the primary goal when creating a generous culture is not financial gain or expansion of your budget. In fact, the real goal has very little to do with money. The real goal is spiritual formation. We believe that generous giving is one of the best external indicators for measuring transformation and spiritual growth. Paying attention to the giving habits of our faith communities gives us concrete feedback about the effectiveness of our discipleship strategies.
Generosity, or the lack thereof, is perhaps the most telling evidence of faith, character and values.
Sermon Audio: Giving 1.27.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 01.27.13 Giving Animal
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/01/28/taming-the-money-animal/
If life isn’t about money, then why does it cause so many problems. A recent survey the Barna Research Group found that 54% of Non-Christians and 51% of Christians believe the MONEY is the main symbol for determining a successful life. In Paul’s letter to pastor Timothy, he speaks about the temptation, the trap and the sorrow that comes from placing too much emphasis on a symbol. We give our money more significance and meaning than it deserves and we can easily become enslaved.
Are you the owner, the slave or the steward?
“People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” 1 Timothy 6
Sermon Audio: Epiphany of Money 1.20.13E Epiphany of Money 1.20.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 01.20.13 Paradigm Shift
Sermon Slides: Worship Slides 01.20.13 Paradigm of Giving
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/01/24/creating-a-culture-of-contagious-generosity/
Natural wisdom says, “I’ll give when all my needs are met.” “I can’t afford to give” or “I’ll give when I’ve got some surplus.” God’s wisdom says, “Give now, even in your time of need, and watch me work!” The Bible teaches that when we give in faith (trusting totally in God) even when we are in a time of need, his miraculous provision begins to come our way. He only asks us to give of what we already have (not what we don’t have) and as we go first, in faith and obedience, we release his blessing into our life. This principle is taught explicitly throughout the Bible and there are also many illustrations of people who experienced the miracle of giving and then God breaking through to meet their need (see Gen.26:1, 12-14. 1 Kings 17. Luke 21:1-4. 2 Cor. 8:1-7).
Generosity has nothing to do with the ‘amount’ given. It has everything to do with the ‘attitude’ in which something is given. The Bible has much to say about the blessings that come through generous giving (Ps.112:5. Prov.3:9-10; 11:24-25; 19:17. Luke 6:38. 2 Cor. 9:6). When we give we are blessed too! Again, this should not be our motive in giving but it should be our expectation! We give because we want to and love to (not have to). As a by-product, we always receive in the process. If you sow, you will reap! If you don’t sow, you won’t reap. This is a law and a principle that God has ordained.
Without God’s help we will easily succumb to materialism, become prisoners to our debt, and be unable to experience the joy of generous giving. With God’s help we can curb the spirit of greed that so pervades our society, live within our means, and have a generous spirit of giving. As a church, let’s seek to excel in everything, including giving (2 Cor.8:7). How would you describe yourself? Are you a non-giver, a giver, or a generous giver? Make a choice to give more generously … in every area of our life.
Sermon Audio: Epiphany Giving 1.13.13E Epiphany Giving 1.13.13L
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 01.13.13 My Epiphany Giving
Sermon Slides: Worship 01.13.13 My Epiphany Gift
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2013/01/16/the-epiphany-of-giving/
God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12
“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. And that’s what you’ve given me. That’s what I’d hoped to give you forever” Nicholas Sparks
“Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.” Joan Crawford
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 12.23.12 LOVE
Sermon Slides: Worship 12.23.12 The Gift of Love
Sermon Audio: The Gift 12.23.12E
The Gift 12.23.12L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/12/27/the-gift-of-love/
Most of the time we settle for happiness when Joy is being offered. Happiness is circumstantial and depends on things going the way we expected. Joy is deeper and certainly longer lasting. Joy understands the ups and downs of life because its focused on the destination and know that trials and troubles are a necessary part of life’s adventure. When we gather to sing “Joy to the World” it is profound recognition of this deeper purpose in life, it is an attention grabber that despite all the hardships that still exist, there is a purpose more wonderful than we might realize.
This Sunday we take a passage from John 16. Jesus’ disciples are very concerned about the direction Jesus is taking toward Jerusalem. They fear for their lives and for the future. Jesus speaks to them of true joy, the way a mother gives birth to a child. There will always be moments of great pain in life, he says, but true joy will be realized in overcoming it.
Happiness happens, but Joy is Genuine!
Sermon Audio: Advent Joy 12.16.12L Advent Joy 12.16.12E
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 12.15.12 Joy
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/12/17/joy-is-genuine/
HOPE: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to expect with confidence, trust
Read: Luke 1:16-38 NIV
Immanuel – God with us. The Presence of God in our world radically changes the nature of how we see and live each day. The Light of Christ shows us the world as it is and brings us the HOPE of how it could still be.
This Sunday we reflected on Gabriel’s message to young girl from Nazareth and how God put Mary’s faith to work.
May people this Christmas are looking for something to believe in, something to hope for and something to be proud of. Christmas invites us to HOPE with Mary in the miraculous and mysterious work of God in the world and in our lives.
Mary was pregnant. Maybe that goes without saying, but it is a huge realization. For 9 months Mary would probably worry, wonder and question the wisdom of God’s plan. Had she made the right choice? To be faithful to God means to live expectantly (i.e. pregnant). What are you expecting from God? What doubts and fears in seem insurmountable today are about give birth to something wonderful?
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 12.09.12 Unexpected Hope
Sermon Slides: Worship 12.09.12 Outta the Darkness HOPE
Sermon Audio: Unexpected Hope 12.9.12L
Unexpected Hope 12.9.12E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/12/10/when-hope-comes-unexpectedly/
Advent, like Lent has strong themes of preparation, of waiting, of the coming dawn. And the story started a long time ago. Why did God decide to be born a man? Why was a rescue plan of this magnitude needed? It all started way back in at the beginning of beginnings: Read Genesis 3:8-19
We all have our failings. We all have our dark times that test what we believe about life and ourselves. But despite our shortcomings, God has journeyed with us through it all. When Adam and Eve left the garden, they stumbled and God picked them up, clothed them and followed them. He never abandoned them, or us.
Of course in the coming of Jesus we see the greatest expression of God with us. As we wait for his coming this Christmas, let’s not forget why he came.
Read John 3:16-20 in the Message Translation (wonderful stuff!)
Jesus came to reveal what the world wants to conceal
that there really is an ALTERNATIVE to the Darkness of our world
that we really do have a CHOICE to live differently
that we can have a FLAME in each one of us for the world to see.
- How is your life different because of Christmas?
- What would you say to someone who rejects Christmas?
- What will you do to spread the message of Christ?
Worship 12.02.12 Outta the Darkness Light
Worship 12.02.12 Outta the Darkness Light
Sermon Audio: Into the Light 12.02.12L
Into the Light 12.02.12E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/12/03/why-we-need-light/
What is FAITH?
Simple Definitions Quiz
Match the words Faith, Hope, & Trust to their corresponding definition.
(1) Once, all villagers decided to pray for rain, on the day of prayer all people gather and only one boy came with an umbrella — That’s called _______
(2) Example of feeling of a one year old baby. When you throw him in the air, he laughs because he know you will catch him. That’s called _______
(3) Every night we go to bed, we have no assurance to wake up alive the next morning, but we still set the alarm for tomorrow. – That’s called ______
(go to the end for answers)
The harsh reality of life is that our faith can be severely tested. If what we have is not real FAITH but a cheap imitation, it will collapse and life with it. Real faith will give us strength not just to survive, but to thrive in the face of hardships, uncertainty and disappointments.
Jesus spent 3 years trying to overcome a false religious mindset in his disciples and create a faith that would last, thrive and survive the harshest persecution. Jesus develop True Faith in his disciples by teaching them to…
Know what He Knew
Do what He Did
Share what He Shared
In this week’s message, we’ll share how we too can possess REAL FAITH!
Sermon Slides Worship 11.25.12 Faith Survivors
Sermon Notes Sermon Notes 11.25.12 Faith Survivors
Sermon Audio Faith Survivors 11.12.12E
Ans.: faith- trust – hope
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/11/28/will-your-faith-survive/
In Part 1 of our series, Faith that Works, we described the essential elements that distinguishes faith from belief.
Belief is a mental activity that agrees with something, but does not necessarily act on it. Belief is essentially passive in nature.
Faith, however, is active and risks life and limb out of a deep sense of trust and love.
When Christians talk about FAITH, they mean it as an expression of a deep relationship resulting in actions that from the outside may seem irrational. But to the Christian, there is a core belief, based on experience and deep reflection, that the outsider cannot see.
Marriage, committing ones self to another for a lifetime, is one such step of faith. We cannot at any moment know what is driving they two adults to make such a lifetime vow, but they do!
Yet faith goes through stages, grows and matures with time and attention. Like a young plant, if you fail to nurture it, feed it and care for it, it will die.
So what are the stage of faith growth?
Acquaintance of Jesus – Luke 4:22
Admirer of Jesus – John 3:2
Accepted by Jesus – Luke 7:38
Assurance by Jesus – Hebrews 10:22
“ We share the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so that all of Christ’s followers will grow and become mature. That’s why I work so hard and use the mighty power he gives me.” Col. 1:28
Sermon Slides Worship 11.18.12 Faith that Grows
Sermon Notes Sermon Notes 11.18.12 Maturing in Faith
Sermon Audio Faith that Grows 11.18.12L
Faith that Grows 11.18.12E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/11/19/faith-that-matures/
Faith has two elements: 1) being convinced of the truth, being certain of reality, having evidence of unseen things, and 2) then acting upon those truths to achieve a certain outcome.
“There are things, say in learning to swim or to climb, which look dangerous and aren’t. Your instructor tells you it’s safe. You have good reason from past experience to trust him. Perhaps you can even see for yourself, by your own reason, that it is safe. But the crucial question is, will you be able to go on believing this when you actually see the cliff edge below you or actually feel yourself unsupported in the water? You will have no rational grounds for disbelieving. It is your senses and imagination that are going to attack belief. Here, as in the New Testament, the conflict is not between faith and reason but between faith and sight. We can face things which we know to be dangerous if they don’t look or sound too dangerous; our real trouble is often with the things we know to be safe but which look dreadful.”
“Our faith in Christ wavers not so much when real arguments come against it as when it looks improbable – when the whole world takes on that desolate look which really tells us much more about the state of our passions and even our digestion than about reality.”
C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) 42-43
Faith is a DOING Word
Faith is a CHALLENGING Word
Faith is a LIBERATING Word
Marks of LIVING Faith
- A Sense of Calling.
- A Church Community.
- A Desire to Contribute.
Sermon Slides Worship 11.11.12 Growing in Faith
Sermon Notes Sermon Notes 11.11.12 Growing in Faith
Sermon Audio Growing in Faith 11.11.12L
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/11/14/faith-that-works/
The time for Joy is now.
As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians–and I am one of them.”
Today In The Word, June, 1988, p. 18.
“All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be’” – CS Lewis
Sermon Notes Sermon Notes 11.04.12 Unspeakable Joy
Sermon Slides Worship 11.04.12 unspeakable joy
Sermon Audio Unspeakable Joy 11.4.12L Unspeakable Joy 11.4.12E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/11/09/finding-your-unspeakable-joy/
“[Saint Anthony] said, in his solitude, he sometimes encountered devils who looked like angels, and other times he found angels who looked like devils. When asked how he could tell the difference, the saint said that you can only tell which is which by the way you feel after the creature has left your company.”― Elizabeth Gilbert
It is said that the angels were once moved by the godly and beautiful life of a saint on the earth who, wherever he went, diffused goodness as a flower diffuses the sweetness of its odor. Greatly interested, they came down to investigate the secret of his power. So impressed were the angels with the life of this saint that they summoned him to them and offered him the gift of miracles. By the touch of his hand he would be able to heal the sick or raise the dead. But the saint declined the gift, saying that God alone could heal the sick. Then they offered him the power to convert sinners and turn men unto repentance. Again the saint declined, saying that only the Holy Spirit could work the grace of repentance in human souls. The angels then offered the saint the power to become a model of goodness, so that men might be drawn to him by the virtue of his life. But this, too, the saint declined, declaring that if men were drawn to him they might be estranged from God. Perplexed, the angels then asked him what he desired. The saint answered, “That I might have His grace, so that I might do good to men without knowing it.” Then the angels decreed among themselves that wherever the shadow of this saint fell where he himself could not see it, the shadow should cure disease and heal broken hearts and wipe away tears.
We admire Saints, We Desire Fame, but We settle for Comfort!
What makes someone a saint? Do you settled already?
Is there someone in your life you admire? Why?
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 10.28.12 Surrounded by Saints
Sermon Slides: Worship 10.28.12 Surrounded by Saints
Sermon Audio: Surrounded by Saints 10.28.12L
Surrounded by Saints 10.28.12E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/10/27/the-secret-life-of-a-saint/
See Part 1 of the Spiritual life of a Hoarder
The TV show “Hoarders” documents people who are unable to part with their belongings – to the point where they are on the verge of a personal crisis because their “stuff” takes over their homes and even their lives.
“Hoarders” features the true stories about people with compulsions so strong that they can’t let go of their “stuff.” On the show, loved ones, psychologists, and organizational experts are brought in to try to help the hoarders stop hoarding.
Most people who watch this show have the same reaction: they can’t believe that people just won’t let go of all the stuff that’s slowly sabotaging important relationships and harming themselves. Unfortunately, most viewers don’t see that at times all of us can act like hoarders when it comes to our spiritual lives. For instance, I have a tendency to misplace my affections; to value some things more highly than I ought, to cling to some things that aren’t doing me any good—like worry, resentment, gossip, pride, self-righteousness, lust, or anger. The truth is, most of us may not clutter our lives with physical stuff, but we’re just as guilty of emotional or spiritual hoarding.
Compulsive Affluence is a spiritual disorder marked by an obsessive need to acquire and keep things, even if the items are worthless, hazardous or painful to the soul.
We may not have boxes of junk sitting around our homes, but we do have piles of money gathering dust in a bank somewhere. Jesus encounters a young man who think he wants to give all that up and live a different kind of life. We see in Matthew 19:16-22 how powerful the addiction of affluence really is. He goes away sad, unsatisfied and empty. He couldn’t break the chains of his addiction.
Learn Jesus’ model for breaking free. Are you willing to go that far?
Read: Matthew 19:16-22
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 10.21.12 Coming Clean
Sermon Slides: Worship 10.21.12 Coming Clean
Sermon Audio: Coming Clean 10.21.12L Coming Clean 10.21.12E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/10/20/the-spiritual-life-of-hoarders-coming-clean/
The TV show “Hoarders” documents people who are unable to part with their belongings – to the point where they are on the verge of a personal crisis because their “stuff” takes over their homes and even their lives. Sometimes we’re no different – especially as it concerns our gifts, forgiveness, or even our money – even though God has lavishly given each to us.
Do I think I have a Problem? NEVER!
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as Hoarders, at least not compared to the standards they show on TV. But if we were to be compared to a different standard, say according to the average world population, or
according to our friends in Haiti, would they have a different opinion of our lifestyle. A Hoarder is defined as a mental illness.
Does God think we’ve got a Hoarding problem?
When you stop to consider that we live in a culture where success is measured by what and how much you own, control and
Join us as we learn how to be generous as God is generous.consume, by almost any measure, we’ve got a problem. From 1989 to 2010, the share of wealth held by the top 10% of American households grew to nearly 75%. Three out of every four dollars in wealth is controlled by just 10% of American households, while the bottom half of Americans holds just 1%.
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 10.14.12 Life of a Hoarder
Sermon Slides: Worship 10.14.12 Hoarders
Sermon Audio:Spiritual Life of Hoarders 10.14.12L
Spiritual Life of Hoarders 10.14.12E
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/10/17/the-spiritual-life-of-hoarders/
In the movie “The Bucket List” Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson are two of the most unlikeliest of characters who are thrown together because of they share a common enemy, DEATH. They have both been diagnosed with cancer. They now come face to face with Ultimate Truth, perhaps for the first time, they are mortal. Jack Nicholson is a wealthy CEO who has run his life like he’s run his company, with cool efficiency and with an eye on the bottom line. As a result, he’s divorced and alone, estranged from his daughter, and facing the prospect of death with few significant relationships to show for his life.
Morgan Freeman is an articulate black mechanic, who’s life was spent working to provide for his children and his wife, but now faces the prospect of having lost himself in the process. His wife wants him to stay home, to convalesce in her care. But he finds he cannot love her completely without knowing himself, without loving himself and having something to give that is truly his own.
Together they create The Bucket List: “things I’d like to do before I die…” The movie touches a nerve in everyone who sees it, but is it deceptive in nature. The movie assumes that death is the end, so get what you can while you can. Achieve all you want because when the ride is over, it’s over!
As Christians, however, we believe life is a journey to a destination we only vaguely remember. Like a melody that haunts our memories, we’re going someplace familiar that we don’t know yet. If life is a journey and death is a time of change, then perhaps the question we should be asking is really this:
What should I be doing before I die?
There an important part of the movie when Jack and Morgan are on the top of one of the pyramids in Giza talking about the Egyptian perspective on death and the afterlife. Morgan suggests that there are two questions we will be asked in the afterlife:
(1) have you found joy in your life
(2) have you brought joy to the lives of others.
I think there is a better question we will be asked from a Christian perspective:
Have you been seeking the heart of God?
NO? – Then you’re not going to like what you find here.
Yes? – Then this is your true home you’ve been searching for all your life!
The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart. Although flawed, prone to temptation and on the run most of his life, David loved God and held a special place in God heart too. What can we learn from David about our own lives and our own destiny with God’s Heart.
Join our discussion of Living in Pursuit of God’s Heart
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 10.07.12 After God’s Heart
Sermon Slides: Worship 10.07.12 After God’s Heart
Sermon Audio: After God’s Own Heart 10.7.12L After God’s Own Heart 10.7.12e
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/10/09/living-in-pursuit-of-gods-heart/
We’re all sojourners, refugees in a foreign land and to some extent, nomads. We cannot stay here on Earth forever, our destination lies beyond to a place we’ve never been before, or can’t remember if we did. We wander through life trying to find our way, hearing music that sounds familiar but we can’t quite place. We’re like sheep who have left the flock and are now at the mercy of the wolves. Where do we turn, where are we headed and where are we suppose to be?
We need to get back on track. If you seriously look at the scriptures you will find this theme played out over and over again. The human condition is in desperate need of an overhaul. The Bible shows us time and time again that we’re broken, that all by ourselves, we’re:
1. Uable to go straight – (morally)
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15
2. We have a distorted perspective – (deceived)
“The Pride of your heart has deceived you.” Obediah 1:3
3. We have no Point of Reference – aimless
“tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” Eph 4:14
It was Jesus’ mission to get us back on track and restore us to life again. Jesus shows us the way and invites us to walk in his footsteps, but we much choose it and do it.
This week we take a look at Jesus’ invitation to Get Back On Track! Part IV
Sermon Audio: Getting Back on Track 9.30.12E Getting Back on Track 9.30.12L
Sermon Slides: Worship 09.30.12 Getting Back on Track
Sermon Notes: Sermon Notes 09.30.12 Getting Back on Track
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/10/01/getting-back-on-track/
There’s just something odd about the human heart. We just can’t seem to get it together. Throughout the centuries we’ve been at war with each other, struggled through famine, drought and disease yet we never seem to learn from our mistakes. It’s almost as if we can’t help ourselves. We fight to have more of what we don’t need, we live in fear of what hasn’t happened yet, or we are jealous of people we’ve never met. It seems to me that we’re broken on the inside and playing out that brokenness on one another. This raises and interesting question:
“Is there something at the heart of the human condition that makes it inevitable that we should live in endless cycle of greed, fear and emptiness unless we receive help?”
this boils down to three basic Realities:
Our Problem – We must first recognize the truth. People everywhere are wandering aimlessly looking for something to believe in. We’re lost in a physical world looking for spiritual meaning. We must first come to grips with this reality if we’ve ever going to look for a solution.
God’s Solution – God knows our wandering hearts are hurting and broken and gave us the cure. Believe in Jesus’ way of life and you will find the rest and hope you’re looking for. A cure is only a cure if the patient is willing to take it.
Our Choice – true happiness and peace cannot be forced upon another, they must be freely chosen. This may mean leaving your pride and prestige behind to take on the role of a servant. There’s no other way to get out of the cycle of violence and degradation.
This week we’re looking at the difference the Gospel make in Human Condition.
Based on the Story of the Rich Young Ruler.
Sermon Notes Sermon Notes 09.23.12 Gospel Journey 3
Sermon Slides Worship 9.23.12 Gospel Journey pt 3
Sermon Audio How the Gospel Changes Things 9.23.12E How the Gospel Changes Things 9.23.12L
The Gospel Part 1
The Gospel Part 2
Permanent link to this article: http://www.stevegedon.com/2012/09/24/charting-a-new-course/