New Series: Life Apps

LifeApps_16x9_webWe download apps on our smartphones and tablets all of the time—social media apps, weather apps, game apps. Often we download these apps but never use them. And some we find indispensable for living in a digital age. Did you know that God has given us some indispensable apps for living life well in relationships with other people? Let’s face it. We need those apps. Relationships can be rewarding, but they can also be challenging. Our new Life Apps series will focus on what we need to do to have healthy relationships in our families, with our friends, in the workplace, in our neighborhoods and in our church community. From choosing to trust to choosing to forgive to choosing to encourage, this 6-week series will be filled with practical, biblical wisdom on the apps you need to use so that you and those around you can experience relationships God’s way.

Here are the Life Apps we’ll discuss:

Oct 5 – Application is Everything

Oct 12 – The Trust App

Oct 19 – The Authenticity App

Oct 26 – The Humility App

Nov 2 – The Forgiveness App

Nov 9 – The Encouragement App

I want to encourage you to invite a friend or family member to this series. I know that you have people in your life who are struggling in relationships. This will be a very practical and applicable series, but most importantly, we will introduce them to Jesus and the grace and hope that He alone brings, even in the toughest of relational challenges.

For more information on Northshore and our Sunday worship gatherings, click HERE.

New Series: The Big Picture

TheBigPicture

What in the world is God up to? What’s His big plan? These are big questions that call for The Big Picture. There’s a larger story that God is writing. It’s the story of the God who creates and re-creates for His glory and for our good. From original creation to ultimate re-creation and a whole lot in between, God is up to something big. With the Apostle Paul’s help in Romans 9-11, we’re going to discover what in the world He’s up to, and we’ll discover what part we have to play in The Big Picture.

Here is a sneak peek of what to expect.

http://vimeo.com/65471020

New Series: Hello, My Name is God

HelloMyNameIsGod Graphic

Do you ever wonder about God? Do you ever wonder what He’s like? Do you ever wonder what He does? Our questions about God are our most important questions, and the answers we find shape our lives. In exploring who God is and what God is like, we discover that He meets us where we’re at… in our darkest fears and deepest needs. The Apostle Paul takes us on a journey in Romans 8 to discover who God is and what He’s like. He shows us that God gives us life out of His great love for us. He tells us that God takes our greatest pain in life and turns it to good. He reveals that God will never leave or forsake us. Here are some things about God that we’ll discover over the next 6 weeks:

March 31 – God Gives Us Life (Romans 8:1-11)

April 7 – God Adopts Us (Romans 8:12-17)

April 14 – God Gives Us Hope (Romans 8:18-25)

April 21 – God Listens to Us (Romans 8:26-27)

April 28 – God Redeems Our Pain (Romans 8:28-30)

May 5 – God Never Leaves (Romans 8:31-39)

If you’ve ever wondered what God is like, then join us for this new 6-week series beginning Easter Sunday. Your life won’t be the same.

Invite someone to Easter services with the email invite tool below as we will begin this series.

Invite a Friend Online

New Series: FREE

Free-SermonSeries

Free. What a liberating idea! We could define “free” like this: “released from something that controls, restrains, or burdens us.” There are a lot of things that control, restrain, or burden us. In so many areas of our lives, it seems as though we’re controlled by something. In so many areas of our lives, we aren’t free. We want to be free to love our family, but our anger takes over. We want to be free from our addictions, but they overpower us. We want to be free from fear, but it is ever-present in the background of our lives. We feel the burden. We lose the hope we once had. We get weighed down and worn out.

So what if there were another way to live? What if we actually could be free? Romans 6-7 is all about living in freedom through Jesus Christ. In this new series, we’ll discover how to be and stay free. We’ll also explore the battle for freedom in your life.

Here’s the schedule for the FREE series:

January 6 – How to Be Free, Part 1

January 13 – How to Be Free, Part 2

January 20 – How to Be Free, Part 3

January 27 – How to Stay Free

February 3 – Why Trying To Be Free Doesn’t Work

February 10 – The Battle for Freedom

February 17 – The Symbol of Freedom

If you want to learn how to live in freedom, join us on Sundays, January 6 – February 17. In the words of Jesus, “…the truth will set you free.”

I’d love to have you join us during this new series. For more info on Northshore’s worship gatherings, go here. I’d also love it if you’d ask a friend or family member to join you. Every person in this world longs and needs to experience the freedom that Jesus alone brings.

Invite A Friend To The FREE Series

 

New Series: When God Got Dirty

Have you ever watched the television show Dirty Jobs? Host Mike Rowe takes an up-close and personal look at some of the dirtiest jobs people do to earn a living. From cleaning a sewage backup to counting salmon carcasses, Mike Rowe isn’t afraid to get dirty. Now, imagine if the President of the United States or the Queen of England guest starred on Dirty Jobs. Half of the world would tune in to that episode. Now, imagine the God of the Universe guest starring on the show. If that happened, we might begin to understand the essence of the Christmas story.

The Gospel writer John told the Christmas story this way: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The Christmas story is the story of when God got dirty. It’s the story of the God who entered into our pain and brokenness with tears and a broken heart and offered a new story of hope. It’s really the story of the God who gets it. That’s why Christmas matters. If you’ve ever wondered why God came and what difference it can actually make in your life, in your relationships, and in our world, this Christmas series is for you.

Here’s the schedule for When God Got Dirty

December 2 – “God with Dirty Hands” (We’ll talk about the God who gets it)

December 9 – “God with Tears” (We’ll talk about the God who enters into our pain and disappointment)

December 16 – “God with Hope” (We’ll talk about the God who brings hope in unexpected places)

December 23 – “God with Nails” (We’ll talk about the God who provides a way forward in life)

I look forward to seeing you during the month of December at Northshore as we talk about the God who gets it. For more info on Northshore’s worship gatherings, go here.

New Series: Restoration

There’s something exciting about witnessing a complete transformation of something old into something new. From dilapidated buildings to classic cars and from busted furniture to broken lives, the “before” and “after” shots are amazing. We begin to think, “Maybe there’s a set of ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures for my life. Maybe, just maybe, what’s broken in my life can be fixed.” Here’s the great news. Even in the messiness of life, God is in the business of restoration. It’s what He does.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, chapters 1-5 reveal the first act of God’s story of restoration. God comes right into the middle of our running and rebellion and offers hope. That hope comes in Jesus Christ as He takes the crushing burden on the cross for our rebellion and running in the “great exchange.” He pays the price. We receive new life. He shows us the “before” and “after” pictures and promises to walk with us during the whole “in between” process. I want to personally invite you to a new 5-week series to see what the “before” and “after” pictures might look like in your life. Come experience Restoration. I also encourage you to invite a friend or family member that needs to meet and know the God who makes restoration possible.

Here’s the line-up for the series:

October 7 – Salvage Squad (We’ll talk about the God of restoration who salvages broken lives, broken relationships, and a broken world)

October 14 – Wear & Tear (We’ll talk about why our lives, relationships, and world are broken)

October 21 – Scrapheap (We’ll talk about why we need Jesus’ help to restore what is broken)

October 28 – Overhaul (We’ll talk about being stalled and stuck in the ‘messy middle’ of restoration)

November 4 – Extreme Makeover (We’ll talk about hope and new life that Jesus brings in restoring us)

For more info on Northshore’s worship gatherings, go here.

I look forward to seeing you at Northshore during this series, and I can’t wait to hear the stories about how Jesus restores broken lives, broken relationships, and a broken world.

Sermon Series: Glorious Mess

We all spend a significant portion of life running, chasing down our own plans and desires. Like the biblical character Jonah, however, we eventually discover we’ve made a mess of things. And even in the mess, we keep running away from God. In Glorious Mess, we’ll discover how God’s relentless grace extends into all the messes we make in our lives. A line from one of my favorite songs says, “If God’s grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” This faithful, loyal, undeserved love from God through the gospel of Jesus Christ pursues us, woos us, and changes us. We’ll realize that He can transform our mess into a “glorious mess” as we not only receive forgiveness, but also as we receive His direction and encouragement to live out and share His relentless grace with the people in our world who find their own lives in a mess.

You’re invited to join us May 20 – June 17 to discover how God can reveal His love no matter how far you’ve strayed. Here’s the line up for the series:

May 20 – Listening to God

May 27 – Running from God

June 3 – Crying out to God

June 10 – Seeing God Work

June 17- Embracing God’s Relentless Grace

Throughout the series, we’ll reference Pastor Mike Howerton’s new book Glorious Mess. Mike is a personal friend, a powerful communicator, and a great pastor.

I’m looking forward to seeing you and your guests during this series. And I’m looking forward to seeing how God turns our mess into something glorious.

Upside Down ECONOMICS

This is my manuscript from a message preached on Sunday, April 29, 2012 at Northshore Baptist Church. Here’s the AUDIO of the message.

Randy Alcorn tells this story in his book The Treasure Principle

The streets of Cairo were hot and dusty. Pat and Rakel Thurman, friends of ours who were missionaries to Egypt, took us down an alley. We drove past Arabic signs to a gate that opened to a plot of overgrown grass. It was a graveyard for American missionaries. As my family and I followed, Pat pointed to a sun-scorched tombstone that read: “William Borden, 1887–1913.”

Borden, a Yale graduate and heir to great wealth, rejected a life of ease in order to bring the gospel to Muslims. Refusing even to buy himself a car, Borden gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to [global] missions. After only four months of zealous ministry in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died at the age of twenty-five. I dusted off the epitaph on Borden’s grave. After describing his love and sacrifices for the kingdom of God and for Muslim people, the inscription ended with a phrase I’ve never forgotten: “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”

The Thurmans took us straight from Borden’s grave to the Egyptian National Museum. The King Tut exhibit was mind-boggling. Tutankhamen, the boy king, was only seventeen when he died. He was buried with solid gold chariots and thousands of golden artifacts. His gold coffin was found within gold tombs within gold tombs within gold tombs. The burial site was filled with tons of gold. The Egyptians believed in an afterlife—one where they could take earthly treasures. But all the treasures intended for King Tut’s eternal enjoyment stayed right where they were until Howard Carter discovered the burial chamber in 1922. They hadn’t been touched for more than three thousand years.

I was struck by the contrast between these two graves. Borden’s was obscure, dusty, and hidden off the back alley of a street littered with garbage. Tutankhamen’s tomb glittered with unimaginable wealth. Yet where are these two young men now? One, who lived in opulence and called himself king, is in the misery of a Christless eternity. The other, who lived a modest life on earth in service of the one true King, is enjoying his everlasting reward in the presence of the Lord. Tut’s life was tragic because of an awful truth discovered too late—he couldn’t take his treasures with him. William Borden’s life was triumphant. Why? Because instead of leaving behind his treasures, he sent them on ahead.

Alcorn’s story exposes two vastly different and competing value systems as it relates to earthly resources and money. Years ago, the Wall Street Journal had a contest for the “Best Definition of Money.” Here was the winning definition: “Money is an article which may be used as a universal passport to everywhere except heaven, and as a universal provider of everything except happiness.” That’s profound, especially coming from the Wall Street Journal. So today, as we talk about “Upside Down Economics,” here’s the question I want to ask:

In Jesus’ upside down economics, how should we invest our earthly resources?

As we discuss this question, we’re going to explore a perplexing story from Luke 16:1-15. But we’ll discover that what Jesus has to say about Upside Down Economics is very interesting. So let’s read our story…

1 Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ 5 And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He *said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. 9 And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.

10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? 12 And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

Explanation

vv. 1-2. Jesus tells His disciples a story about a manager who is a steward of a rich man’s business and estate. The manager is not doing a good job. He’s “squandering” (literally “wasting”) the rich man’s money. So the rich business owner confronts the manager and tells him that’s he’s fired.

vv. 3-7. The manager, upon hearing that he’s losing his job, has a freak out moment, realizing that he’s not suited for anything else. He’s not fit to do physical labor, and he doesn’t want to end up destitute as a beggar. So he has a bright idea to secure his future. As he’s transitioning out of his job, he’s going to get in contact with his master’s debtors and reduce their debt so that he’ll earn favor with them. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll have compassion on him and give him a job. So he calls up the first debtor. “How much do you owe my master?” The guy replies, “100 measures of oil.” This is 875 gallons of olive oil, which comes from over 150 olive trees. It’s worth 1000 denarii, which is 3 years salary for average worker in the ancient world. The manager gives him a 50% reduction in what he owes. He calls the next debtor. “How much do you owe?” The guy owes 100 “measures” of wheat. That’s over 1100 bushels from over 100 acres of wheat. That’s worth 8-10 years salary for an average worker in the ancient world. It’s a lot of money. So the manager gives the guy a 20% reduction in his debt. Now you might be wondering how and why the manager is giving these discounts. There are a couple of different thoughts: (1) On his way out of the job, the manager undercuts his boss as a parting shot to spite him; (2) he removes the interest charge from the debt. In the OT law, the Jews were not to charge interest when they lent money. So perhaps the guy is trying to bring his master in line with the OT law; or (3) the manager removes his own commission and he’s sacrificing his own money, not his master’s. We’re not exactly sure which view is correct. The clear motive though is that the manager wants to create good will with his master’s debtors and business associates to secure his future.

v. 8. In a strange turn of events, the rich master actually praises the manager for acting shrewdly… for acting with wisdom and insight. And then Jesus adds this remark… if this “worldly” manager acted shrewdly and wisely as he thought about the future, why don’t followers of Jesus act with wisdom and insight as it relates to eternity because the eternal purposes we’re working towards are infinitely more important than any “temporal” future. Followers of Jesus are to be all about working for eternal purposes… not working for our eternal salvation, but doing everything we can in ministry and mission to make an impact for God’s kingdom as we make an impact in people’s eternal destiny.

vv. 9-13. After Jesus finishes the story, He elaborates on the meaning with three implications of using earthly resources for eternal purposes.

Implication #1 (v. 9) – God looks favorably on those who are generous with their earthly resources because they want to make an eternal impact.

Implication #2 (vv. 10-12) – Be faithful in the way you use your earthly resources regardless of the amount you have. If you are faithful with a little, it doesn’t mean that God will necessarily give you more monetary resources. But if you aren’t faithful and generous with what you have, why would He entrust you with more financial resources and responsibility?

Implication #3 (v. 13) – Be careful about the temptation of money and earthly resources and ensure that your heart is wholly and fully devoted to God and His eternal purposes and not your money and the temporal stability and pleasure you think it’s going to provide.

5. vv. 14-15. As the story closes, we discover that some Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) were listening to Jesus’ conversation. And they scoffed and sneered at Him for what He just said because they were lovers of money. So Jesus confronts them and tells them that they are people who try to rationalize their greed instead of being generous with their resources. God could see their hearts and motives. Their greed and love of money was “detestable” in His sight. Be careful about allowing money take over your heart.

The Economics of Greed vs. The Economics of Generosity

Here’s what this story teaches us and calls us to do: Generously invest your earthly resources for eternal purposes. Much like that shrewd, wise manager, we’re to make wise decisions about the use of our finances because we can have an eternal impact in the lives of others. Jesus is ultimately talking about a contrast and choice between the Economics of Greed and the Economics of Generosity. Will we be lovers of money or will we generously invest our earthly resources for eternal purposes?

#1 As we talk about the Economics of Greed, it begins with an attitude that sees resources as ours. It’s our money. We worked hard for it. We can do whatever we want with it because it’s ours. Sure, we might give God some of it… we might occasionally tip Him and give some to the church or to a non-profit ministry, but at the end of the day, it’s still ours. And we’re managing it for ourselves. But the Economics of Generosity sees resources as God’s. We’re all stewards and managers of God’s resources. He owns it all. He even owns us. He’s given it to us to steward and manage for His purposes. If God is the owner, and we’re the managers, then we need to adopt a steward’s mentality toward earthly resources. He’s entrusted those resources with us, not given them to us. It’s the steward’s job to find out what the owner wants done and then carry out his will. That’s a vastly different perspective than the economics of greed that sees resources as our own.

#2 In the Economics of Greed, money controls our heart. This is why Jesus says that you can’t serve two masters… you’ll love and devote yourselves to one and hate and despise the other. We think that money is there to serve us, but when it controls our heart, we end up serving it. When I talk about money and greed, I’m not simply talking about the “love of money,” as though we’re all some miserly hoarders who sit in some dark room as gold coins run through our fingers with gleeful delight. Money also controls our heart when we have excessive anxiety about it. Now we’re hitting closer to home. When we worry that we don’t have enough of it… or when we constantly think about how we can get more of it to alleviate our financial concerns or to get the things we want. It controls our heart and it creates fear… fear that we’re not going to have enough… or if we do have “enough” (which we never do), we’re afraid that we’re going to lose it. But in the Economics of Generosity, as we wisely invest our earthly resources for eternal purposes, it changes our heart. Again, if we see that it’s all God’s anyway, we can be generous people who release our grasp on our finances and earthly resources.  And in that release, in that freedom, it changes our hearts. Pastor Chip Ingram puts it this way, “Where your money goes, your heart flows.” If your money all goes toward yourself, your heart follows. If you generously invest your money and earthly resources for eternal purposes, to advance God’s kingdom, to serve the world around you in Jesus’ name, where do you think your heart goes? Towards Jesus and towards His beautiful, upside down kind of life. Generosity changes our heart.

#3 Back to the Economics of Greed… when we see our resources as ours to be used for our own pleasure and purposes, it not only controls our heart, but it also disconnects us from people. A February 2012 Boston Globe article asked the following question: Does money change you? Here’s what the article said:

Here in the home of the American dream, most people are convinced that gaining a lot of money wouldn’t change who they are as people. As a mounting body of research is showing, wealth can actually change how we think and behave—and not for the better. [Money causes people to] have a harder time connecting with others and to show less empathy to the extent of dehumanizing those who are different from them. Money causes people to be less charitable and generous and less likely to help someone in trouble. If you think you’d behave differently in their place, meanwhile, you’re probably wrong: These aren’t just inherited traits, but developed ones. Money, in other words, changes who you are.

Research studies conducted by Kathleen Vohs, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and her colleagues have found that even the mere suggestion of getting more money—a technique known as “priming”—makes people less friendly, less sensitive to others, and more likely to support statements like “some groups of people are simply inferior to others.” “If you win the lottery and you want to avoid becoming an insensitive lout,” there is a simple solution. One of the researchers summarized it this way: “Give at least half the money away.”

Now, of course it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to allow money and earthly resources to disconnect us from people. In the Economics of Generosity, as we see our resources as God’s and as we generously invest our earthly treasure for His eternal purposes, it connects us to people. When we give generously toward God’s kingdom work and His eternal purposes, our heart not only flows toward God, but it also flows toward loving other people the way He loves them. When we give generously, we see the impact of our generosity in people’s lives.

When we give towards the ministry and mission of Northshore, we see the difference He’s making in people’s lives and it connects us to them more deeply. We hear stories about individual lives and families being changed by Jesus’ love and grace. We hear about people in our LIGHT ministry who are moving beyond their hurts, habits, and hang-ups and are now beginning to live in a place of life. We hear stories about people who’ve come to the Discovery class and are finding life-changing answers to their questions about Jesus and faith. We hear about people who came to our Easter services and it was the first time they’ve been in a church maybe ever or for a long time, and they experience love and warmth. We hear about families in financial crisis who’ve been helped our benevolence funds. We hear about low income families being served by ministries like the Mobile Medical Unit or the Bring:Give:Serve initiative over the Christmas season. We hear about how villages, cities, and even nations are being changed by our global mission efforts. It’s all about people and seeing them and loving them the way God sees and loves them. I could go on and on about the life-change that’s happening in and through the ministries and mission of Northshore… and it’s funded and empowered by your generosity. Generosity connects us to people… eternally.

So how are you going to live and invest your earthly resources? Will you choose the economics of greed or will you choose the economics of generosity?

Let me close with a quote by the famous pastor A.W. Tozer:

As base a thing as money is, it can be transmuted into everlasting treasure. It can be converted to food for the hungry and clothing for the poor. It can keep a missionary actively winning lost men to the light of the gospel and thus transmute itself into heavenly values. Any temporal treasure can be transmuted into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.

Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality. Generously invest your earthly treasures for eternal purposes. See those earthly resources as God’s. As you give generously, you’ll see how it changes your heart and connects you more deeply with the people God loves. And together as a church, as we grow in generosity and live out Jesus’ upside down economics, we’ll have an extraordinary, eternal impact in our world for Jesus.

 

SERMON SERIES: Upside Down

Jesus Turns Everything Upside Down. The last will be first. The least will be greatest. Even death becomes life. From our personal lives to our politics, from our integrity to our economy, from our leadership to our relationships—Jesus changes everything. Come discover a new way to live—the beautiful, upside down kind of living Jesus makes possible.

This series began Easter Sunday, April 8. This is a great series to invite friends and family to. Here’s the line-up for the Upside Down series:

April 8 – Upside Down LIFE

April 15 – Upside Down POLITICS

April 22 – Upside Down INTEGRITY

April 29 – Upside Down ECONOMICS

May 6 – Upside Down LEADERSHIP

May 13 – Upside Down RELATIONSHIPS

I’m looking forward to seeing you and your guests during this series. And I’m looking forward to seeing how Jesus’ call turns our lives and our world upside down.

New Series: Stories from the Road


When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem~ Luke 9:51

Jesus journeys from heaven to earth to go to the cross. As He heads toward Jerusalem on His journey to the cross, He meets various people. Some grasp who Jesus is and what He came to do and some don’t. In each and every conversation, Jesus shares the heart of God, the heart of who He is and the heart of who He calls us to be. In Stories from the Road, we’ll lean in and listen to some of these conversations from the Gospel of Luke. Here’s the series line-up:

March 11 – “Be Compassionate” (Luke 10:25-37)

March 18 – “Be  Grateful” (Luke 17:11-19)

March 25 – “Be Transformed” (Luke 19:1-10)

April 1 – “Be Whole” (Luke 10:38-42)

Join us March 11 – April 1 as we explore who Jesus really is and who He invites us to be. This is a great series to invite your friends and family who don’t yet know Jesus. They’ll discover who Jesus really is, what He came to do, and how He changes everything!