In this message, we kick off a new series on the book of Galatians, From Shackles to Sonship. In this first message, we see that the apostle Paul is really worked up and angry with the believers in Galatia. The reason he is so worked up is that false teachers have come into the churches and have taught a "different" gospel, which according to Paul is no gospel at all. In fact, Paul goes on to claim in the first couple of verses from Chapter 1 that there is only one gospel, and it’s the "Jesus plus nothing" gospel.
In Brave New World, the citizenry of a futuristic London move constantly to and fro from one activity and sensual experience to the next. They rarely, if ever, think about the true meaning of their lives. All the old books have been done away with. Real emotion and ideals are purged. Those who control things perpetuate this lifestyle with easy pleasures and crass commercialism. This picture unnervingly mirrors modern day America. Ask someone how they are doing and often you hear the words, "I am so busy," or "I feel overwhelmed." "Busy" has become the favorite new self-descriptor. Why do we jam as many activities or as much work as we can in one day? Why are Americans sleeping so much less per night? What are we afraid of? To these questions and very modern realities, the Bible offers a new way of seeing and experiencing the world.
The dystopia of Huxley’s famous novel Brave New World is unfolding in our 21st century world. One author found an eerie parallel in the ways we have become "enslaved by a compulsion for easy pleasure without accountability." In the novel, the residents in a futuristic London take a highly powerful pleasure drug called Soma. They take it to avoid any and every hint of stress or painful feelings. People are happy, but it is a cheap, conditioned happiness. This Brave New World is here today in the form of new pleasure drugs that are destroying lives, families, and communities. The story of the Bible offers a refreshing alternative on how to face pain and find comfort.
*Disclaimer: The audio recording for this message was lost so you will only hear the audio from the camera. Sorry for the inconvenience.
In the first part of our new series, Brave New World, we looked at the area of technology. In this message, we look at the topic of sexuality. Like in technology, things in our culture have changed rapidly in recent years in the area of sexuality. In light of that, we want to look at what our current culture believes about sexuality, contrast that with the scriptural view, and then look at which view leads to human flourishing.
In the 20th century, two popular dystopian novels were written: 1984 (by George Orwell) and Brave New World (by Aldous Huxley). Neil Postman, in the foreword to his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, said the following about these books:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture….In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
Postman notes that American culture has become much more like Brave New World than 1984, and perhaps he is right. There is currently a narrative in our society of what human flourishing looks like, and increasingly it resembles the dysfunction described in Brave New World. In contrast, the Scriptures paint a narrative of what human flourishing looks like, and it is in direct opposition to the current view. In this series, we will take a fresh look at our society’s narrative of human flourishing and critique it in light of what Jesus and the Scriptures say.
In the last message, Pastor Nick helped us see a remarkable reality--even the tragic consequences of David’s sins did not remove him from receiving God’s unconditional promise. In his suffering, David recognized the fingerprint of God’s mercy and ran to Him rather than from Him. In this message, we see the story of David’s life is drawn to a not so tidy conclusion. The ending of 2 Samuel promises both to puzzle and surprise.
In the last message, we saw the consequences of David’s sin with Bathsheba begin to play out. David's son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar, which leads to another son, Absalom, killing Amnon in retaliation. Eventually, that leads to Absalom challenging his father for the throne, which forces David to flee Jerusalem. In this message, we will pick up the story, and we'll see three main movements in the story. First, we will see David’s continued exile. Then, we will see Absalom’s downfall and death. Lastly, we will see David’s return to Jerusalem. During this period of David’s life, you really begin to wonder who is really in control. Is it David, Absalom, Joab, or is it God? As well, you wonder if God’s covenant with David will win out and triumph over David’s sin and mistakes.
In the last message, Pastor Rich showed us how God enters into the ugly messes we make. Examining the depth of David’s sins, Rich proved David’s life is a living picture of the amazing grace of God. At the same time, there are consequences to our decisions. In 2 Samuel 12:10 God warned David, “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.” The fulfillment of this ominous prophecy begins to unfold in the next part of our story, and speaks to the profound cultural moment in which we live, the fierceness of God’s discipline, and the strangeness of God’s love.
Of all the great leaders of the Old Testament, David is among the greatest. Warrior and king, composer and conqueror, unifier of kingdoms, a man after God’s own heart. So great was David that one of the most well known titles of Jesus would be Son of David. Like almost all the great figures of the Bible, David was a man who struggled and was flawed. However, in the midst of his serious struggles emerges a picture of the surprising grace of God, as God invades David’s mess and invites him into restoration.
The book of 2 Samuel can be divided up into two sections--the first describing David’s rise, and the second outlining his fall. This week, we will look at the last of the chapters which follow his rise and the greatness of his reign. We will see all of the ways that David embodied God’s ideal chosen king. While ultimately David fell short, he did foreshadow the true and better King who is to come.
King David stabilized the kingdom and is enjoying peace. With time for reflection, it does not escape his notice that the tent containing God’s house pales in comparison to his own. Driven by the evident disparity, David hatches a plan with his friend to tip the scales the other way. He is going to build God an amazing house. But God has other plans, and in saying "No" to David, He sets in motion an intimate and surprising human/divine conversation. It is a conversation revealing more grace than David could ever have imagined, a grace that reaches down to us.
Is there something that prevents you from experiencing the blessing of God? Do you have an everyday confidence and awareness that He is alive and working in you? In our journey through 2 Samuel, the fifth chapter marks a significant turning point in the life of David. David’s scope of responsibility grows exponentially and the writer reaffirms why success came to him. That same pathway of blessing is available to you. It is not easy, but it is remarkably simple. Sound interesting?
Last summer we began a journey through the period of Israel’s history described in the book of 1 Samuel. 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book, so we ended last summer very much in the middle of the story. In this series, we continue on this journey through 2 Samuel.
There is not any doubt that Jesus came to proclaim justice. But over the last several decades, the meaning of justice has been dividing churches, Christian colleges, and denominations. What is justice? How does it relate to the mission of the church? And what is my individual responsibility to fight for justice?
In this message, we continue in our three-week series A Mission for Everyone. Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. (Luke 19:10) He left the 99 to search for the one lost sheep. (Luke 15:4) How can we join Him in that which He cares for? We will explore an old, yet up-to-date, method of communicating the gospel to others and making disciples. It is a simple way to be where Jesus is.
The book of Acts ends with Paul talking about Jesus while under house arrest. What a compelling picture of his relentless pursuit to serve Jesus. It is a perfect bookend to a book beginning with a prophecy on how the gospel will spread to the whole world. How can we continue the book of Acts today? A significant part of Linworth’s strategy is to plant churches in spiritually needy communities where the gospel can be lived and proclaimed. To help us envision our future, we are reaching into our past. Chris Old, who led a church plant from Linworth in 2010, is returning to tell the story of Awaken Church. Joining him is a member of the church planting team and a young woman recently introduced to Awaken. Each perspective will help us appreciate how God grows His Kingdom and us through bold steps of faith.
In this message, we conclude our study of the book of Acts. We will hit the rewind button, taking us on a journey through where we have been and the lessons we learned.
The Bible promises, in multiple places, that every believer will experience suffering and sorrow at some point in life. In Acts 16, we see that even the very place that the Lord led Paul and his missionary team, for the purpose of ministry, came with troubles and suffering. When thinking about situations like this in your life, how do you respond? Do you resort to fear? Do you worry? Do you question God? These are normal responses to suffering for human beings. But, as we continue in the book of Acts, we will see that Paul and Silas respond to significant suffering in a much different way through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What do Christians mean when they say, "God spoke to me"? When Vice President Mike Pence said that Jesus has spoken to him, Joy Behar of ABC’s The View said this: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.” If Behar had a problem with our vice president, I am afraid she would share an equal concern about Peter, Paul, and the other heroes profiled in the book of Acts. The author Luke repeatedly states, “The Spirit said” when referencing how early Christians experienced personal guidance. What did that look like? How did the Spirit speak? Can God speak to us today in the same way? Can we hear Him when we are discouraged, lonely, or at a fork in the road?
We live in a world of broken relationships--in families, in communities, and in other institutions. Praise God that He has raised up the church to be a place where peace and harmony reign. But what happens when disagreements do arise in the church? And what about church conflicts that are centered on theological questions? How does the church navigate the difficult waters of theological disputes? This is the very situation facing the early church in Acts 15.