Keep Going

Yesterday morning I was running through the park.  From about 50 yards away, I saw a man and a woman running in my direction.

The woman was struggling.  It appeared that it took everything she had to keep going.  Let’s be honest, she wasn’t enjoying the run.

On the other hand, the guy running next to her was running effortlessly.  He had a huge smile on his face.  He was occasionally running behind her, then beside her, or in front of her.

(Allow me to interrupt my own story.  You may be wondering to yourself, “How is Sterling able to determine all of this and notice all of this while he is supposedly running?”  Great question. Simple answer. I am running. But, I literally have nothing better to do than to notice everything going on around me and determine if there is a potential sermon illustration or something to write about in this article!)

Back to our story.

It was obvious that the guy running was the personal trainer.  The woman was the trainee.  He repeatedly was telling her to “keep going! you can do it! One foot in front of the other!”

When I passed them, the guys smiled at me.

This guy was so happy, I even felt encouraged to keep running.

One of the harder aspects of following Christ is developing endurance.  Many of us are aware of some things that we should or could be doing.  Many of us have done things at one point or another to pursue God  Yet, somewhere along the way, we become tired.  We become discouraged.  We become less motivated. We want to quit.

There are those days that we wish that we had someone cheering us on and telling us to “keep going.”

This coming Sunday, we will be looking at the importance of being encouraged and being an encourager to the people around us, especially in our pursuit of following Christ.

Everyone needs someone to encourage them.

I am going to try and remember that as I start the day today.

sterling

Ecclesia Baptism Service

We had an amazing baptism service this past Sunday afternoon. We had three people from Ecclesia who were baptized at Crossroads.
We are excited about how God is working in the lives of people and seeing people’s lives transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ.
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Madison’s 15th Birthday!

Madison 15th Birthday!

“The Exploitation” Sermon On Video

“The Exploitation” Sermon On Audio

Here is a link to the audio of this past Sunday’s Sermon entitled “The Exploitation.”
We should have the video link soon.

The Exploitation

In the midst of seeking to share the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done, there is a realization that the gospel has been abused and misrepresented.

Whether it is in regard to money or man, the gospel has for centuries been exploited for personal gain.

As a follow up to last week’s sermon regarding “The Expense” of the gospel, tomorrow, I will be sharing a sermon entitled “The Exploitation.” 

We will be looking at three warning signs regarding the exploitation of the gospel.

 

Below you will find my outline and scriptures regarding the sermon.

Thanks so much.

sterling

 

The Exploitation

May 26, 2013

RECONCILE Teaching Series

 

2 Corinthians 11:1-8 (NLT)

11 I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride[a] to one husband—Christ. 3 But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.4 You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

5 But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. 6 I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.

7 Was I wrong when I humbled myself and honored you by preaching God’s Good News to you without expecting anything in return? 8 I “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost. 9 And when I was with you and didn’t have enough to live on, I did not become a financial burden to anyone. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me all that I needed. I have never been a burden to you, and I never will be. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, no one in all of Greece[b] will ever stop me from boasting about this.11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows that I do.

12 But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. 13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

2 Corinthians 11:1-15 (The Message)

11 1-3 Will you put up with a little foolish aside from me? Please, just for a moment. The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much—this is the passion of God burning inside me! I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to her husband. And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.

4-6 It seems that if someone shows up preaching quite another Jesus than we preached—different spirit, different message—you put up with him quite nicely. But if you put up with these big-shot “apostles,” why can’t you put up with simple me? I’m as good as they are. It’s true that I don’t have their voice, haven’t mastered that smooth eloquence that impresses you so much. But when I do open my mouth, I at least know what I’m talking about. We haven’t kept anything back. We let you in on everything.

7-12 I wonder, did I make a bad mistake in proclaiming God’s Message to you without asking for something in return, serving you free of charge so that you wouldn’t be inconvenienced by me? It turns out that the other churches paid my way so that you could have a free ride. Not once during the time I lived among you did anyone have to lift a finger to help me out. My needs were always supplied by the believers from Macedonia province. I was careful never to be a burden to you, and I never will be, you can count on it. With Christ as my witness, it’s a point of honor with me, and I’m not going to keep it quiet just to protect you from what the neighbors will think. It’s not that I don’t love you; God knows I do. I’m just trying to keep things open and honest between us.

12-15 And I’m not changing my position on this. I’d die before taking your money. I’m giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing “preachers,” vaunting themselves as something special. They’re a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—posing as Christ’s agents but sham to the core. And no wonder! Satan does it all the time, dressing up as a beautiful angel of light. So it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants masquerade as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end.

EXPLOITATION – (DEFINED)

1. The act of employing to the greatest possible advantage:

2. Utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes

THREE WARNING SIGNS CONCERNING THE EXPLOITATION OF THE GOSPEL

1. ENGAGING IN A MASQUERADE

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (NLT)

12 But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. 13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

Philippians 3:17-20 (NLT)

17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

2. The Empowerment Of Money

1 Timothy 6:3-10

Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life.4 Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. 5 These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.

6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

9 But 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. 10 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.

2 Peter 2:1-3

But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

3. The Emphasis Of A Man

1 Corinthians 3:4-11 (NLT)

4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

5 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. 6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

10 Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

 

Matthew 7:15-23 (NLT)

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

True Disciples

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

 

20 Years

Today is our 20th Wedding Anniversary.  It is very hard to believe.  We have now been married for half of our lifetimes!

We were young when we got married.  In many ways, too young.  I can look back on several things and wonder about what we were thinking.  I can remember the various aspects of not having enough money and not having enough maturity.

Yet, marrying Jenna is absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me.  She has been the most incredible gift and blessing that God has given to me, aside from the grace of Jesus Christ.

It hasn’t all been easy.  There have been moments when I thought it was over and that we weren’t going to make it.  

But, in the midst of all of it, our marriage has allowed us to have a deeper understanding of the incredible grace of Jesus Christ and how to extend that grace to one another.  

I truly love Jenna with all of my heart.  She is my best friend and the most amazing mother to our girls.  But, I also love her because I know that Jenna is a gift from God to me. 

For that, I could not be more grateful.

 

 

Reconcile 519 on 5/19

Here is the video from the sermon that past Sunday at Crossroads. I hope that it provides some insight into what is going on, as well as our vision for the future.

Thanks for watching.

sterling

The Cost

 

I am always looking for a good deal.  It doesn’t really matter what the item or product is, I am usually trying to maximize my purchase.  It can be clothes, cars, food, or any other variety of things.  

I am also one of those people who likes to brag about finding the great deal.  For some reason, finding a bargain can make me feel like I have somehow beat the system.  It also makes me enjoy the product all the more, (like the shirt that I am currently wearing that cost me $4.99 from the Banana Republic Outlet in Deer Park.)

There’s nothing actually wrong with trying to find bargains, although it truly can become obsessive in some ways.   But, issues do arise when we somehow make following Jesus into some kind of bargain or value.  

Yet, following Christ never involves negotiations.  It is never about what we have to do or what we are willing to give.  We have nothing and we bring nothing to the table.  It is only about what Jesus has done for us.  There is no way to earn or achieve His gift.  

This all makes it seem like following Jesus is a great bargain and good deal.  In truth, it is amazing that Jesus paid the price that we could never pay.  But, we can never underestimate what that actually cost.  He gave everything.

What Jesus is asking from me and you is everything.  No negotiations.  No compromises.

This includes our time, money, and attention.

Honestly, we don’t talk about money very often at our church.  The subject makes people uncomfortable.  The discussion of money and church tends to alienate people and distract people.  The truth is that the subject of money has been abused and misrepresented by enough churches and preachers, that it becomes easier to push the topic aside and focus on other aspects of our lives.  But, Jesus talked about money, Jesus talked about giving, and Jesus talked about forsaking everything else to follow Him.

This coming Sunday, we will be talking about money.  We will be talking about what it looks like to give and what it means to tithe.  We also be looking at why sacrificial giving is central to understanding the message of Jesus Christ.

When we come to grips with the fact that all that we have in our lives is what God has given to us, giving a portion of our money to the Lord is not so hard.

But, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t cost us something.  

It does.

Yet, that is where freedom begins.

 

I hope that you will be able to join us this coming Sunday.

 

sterling

 

 

Reconcile: The Example

Here is the audio of yesterday’s sermon. This is second sermon in the RECONCILE teaching series.

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