On Going Viral

by Nate Powell
This post has been updated since it was first published. To read the most current information and practices toward prevention, click here!
To go viral or not go viral? That is the question.

Everyone is talking about viruses, but not the computer kind. COVID-19 has been a topic of conversation everywhere, and everyone is talking about how to respond, especially as we interact with one another in public spaces. Churches are not immune to this, and we must each know how to respond and react considering such news.

Here are a few ways we can each be reacting, and some things we can do practically to help care for each other

Don’t Panic

First, we need to note that scientifically speaking, the statistics are bearing out that the fatality rate of this virus is slightly more deadly than the flu that we commonly deal with during flu season. So those at greater risk are those over 60 or with other secondary health concerns.

But beyond the science, people still become irrational about such virus issues, mainly because we are people who worry about the future and worry about worst case scenarios. As people who have faith in Christ, we know that it is better to the fear the Lord than to fear death, and that we can be fully confident that God is in control, even in this uncertainty. With God in control, we need not fear the future. I said this yesterday at the end of each service, and I will say it here again: We are the people of faith, not of fear. We must call everyone to be prepared for what is to come, to call Jesus Savior and Lord and be saved.

Greet Appropriately

Handshakes have been a part of church life for a long time, but they are also one of the leading and easiest ways to pass germs and illness. The last couple weeks, we’ve been encouraging fist bumps or elbow taps when you want to greet someone. Smiles and waves will always work, as well! We will continue to encourage these types of greetings in the context of our Sunday morning gatherings.

Serve Communion Safely

One of the easiest ways that germs can get spread during a church service is during the passing of communion. One thing we will be doing to minimize this in the coming weeks is to use two cups for our communion. One will have juice and will be stacked on top of the other cup, which will contain the bread wafer. We will continue to serve in this manner, and have you leave your cups in the cup holders, where our deacons can come around with gloves and collect them following the service.

Clean and Sanitize

We are going to up our cleaning game each week, with additional wipe downs of door handles and any other common surfaces of shared contact. Our nursery staff, who normally sanitizes anyway, will redouble their efforts to make sure our church nursery is spotless and in tip-top sanitary shape. Wipes and Lysol will be the friends of our janitors and volunteers in the coming weeks and months.

Give Online

Many of you already know this, but carrying cash is not a germ-free experience. Many people already take advantage of our online giving option, which you can even schedule weekly or monthly, so that you don’t have to handle cash or worry about taking the time to write a check. Click here to explore that option of online giving.

Ill or At Risk? Stay Home.

Normally, we don’t give out free passes for church skipping, but we are definitely making some exceptions during a season of sickness. If you happen to be sick and showing symptoms of illness, this is the note I’m writing you to not put others’ health at risk. If you’re sick, you have the pastor’s permission to stay at home.

On the other side of that same issue, I also want to encourage some members of our older or at-risk attenders. This virus does put your health more at risk. As we may see more spread of it, I would also encourage you to weigh the risks, and consider whether it would be pertinent to join us. If you’re elderly or at-risk during this season, you also have my blessing to do what is best for your health.

In both cases, make note: the elders (which includes me) are willing to bring communion to shut-ins or those who can’t be part of our worship services on Sunday. We are also willing to help any members get set up so that they can be part of our worship services online and hear the sermon, either by the Facebook live stream or by listening to the sermon audio on the church website. Please contact the office if we can get you on that list for communion or help you set up online watching/listening.

All the way around, we will be on the look out and careful when it comes to illness. Let’s remember to be in prayer for all of our health care professionals, and others who are making decisions to try to stem the tide of this illness in our nation and around the world.

Exodus: Which Mountain?

There are occasions that I would love to chase more rabbits than we have time to address in our weekly sermon or service. This week’s rabbit of the week relates to the historicity and location of the mountain of the Lord, known both as Sinai and Horeb in the Exodus text. It is a significant point of meeting throughout the book, but it is not merely some metaphor or representation. I believe that there is real evidence for a true mountain of the Lord.

There are two likely sites for the Mountain. One is called Jabal Musa, and it has been referenced from around 400 AD forward as the mountain site of the burning bush event. This mountain is located in the south-central mountains of the Sinai peninsula, located in present day Egypt. The other is called Jabal Al Lawz, and shares many of the same initial features with Musa. The Jabal Al Lawz location is in modern day Saudi Arabia, located east of the Gulf of Aqaba (which is one of the two gulf arms of the Red Sea).

While both of these locations bear traditions among the locals as to being the mountain of God, the Jabal Al Lawz site really stands out as the probable site of the Burning Bush & the law. Dr. Lennhart Moller’s excellent book, The Exodus Case: New Discoveries of the Historical Exodus, make this compelling case for the Saudi site over the Egyptian site. To summarize, Lennhart makes a textual analysis of the evidence, as seen in the chart of the left.

If you get Lennhart’s book, you will be impressed by his thoroughness in making a compelling case for the archaeological and geographic evidence of the Exodus. As well, another compelling article from the Wyatt Museum argues for the same case (click here to read it).

I wish we had more time to address some of these side issues in studying Exodus. Regardless, I hope you’ll read and study, and that God’s message of freedom from sin for his people will continue to resonate with you, feed our church family, and call us to follow our Great God together.

100 Facts About God

by Nate Powell
I have a stack of books and commentaries that I’ve been using in our recent studies in Exodus. Some tend to be devotional in nature, some to be pastoral, and some to be quite academic. There are two that I have found to be very helpful and preparing and writing these sermons. One is Philip Ryken’s Exodus Commentary from the Preaching the Word series. It is very thorough, but also very readable. The other is an out of print Bible Study commentary by Wilber Fields, which has tons of helpful charts & maps, and asks really good questions. Thankfully, you can read the full commentary online.
In Fields commentary, he notes that Exodus is written so that God would reveal himself and what he has done, so that His people might know Him. With that in mind, Fields made a list of 100 things we know about God from Exodus, and I wanted to share that list with you. I’ve found the list to be devotionally very helpful, and these items each represent an angle from which God has shown himself to us. Like a many-faceted jewel that sparkles as you turn it, we are going to see the glory of our great God as we examine Exodus in 2020 together.
Here is the list compiled by Fields. I hope you will read it and reflect as you study on God’s holiness and goodness in revealing Himself to us.
  1. God is a personal God, not an abstract force.
  2. God knows our names. He knows us personally. (1:1-4)
  3. God allows His children to suffer. (1:11,13)
  4. God rewards those who protect his people. (1:21)
  5. God is the unseen controller of all history. (1:20,21)
  6. God directs the activities of people so that they may be present to do His will when necessity requires. (2:5)
  7. God permits His servants to suffer rejection. (2:14; 5:2,9,21,22)
  8. God seems in no hurry, if judged by men’s views of time. (2:23; Acts 7:30)
  9. God hears His people’s cries. (2:23,24)
  10. God remembers His covenants of old. (2:24)
  11. God sees and God knows. (2:25)
  12. God is a miracle-worker. (3:2)
  13. God speaks to men. (3:4; 25:22)
  14. God is holy. His presence is holy and must be reverenced. (3:5; 20:12-15)
  15. God is still the God of His people even after they are long dead. (3:6; Matt 22:31,32)
  16. God is a deliverer. (3:8)
  17. God sends men to accomplish His will. (3:10)
  18. God is with us. (3:12)
  19. God is the eternal I AM. (3:14)
  20. God knows the outcome of events before they occur. (3:19-21, 8:2,21)
  21. God will not permit His will to be thwarted. (3:20)
  22. God makes spoil of those who resist him. (3:21)
  23. God desires faith in His people. (4:5)
  24. God becomes angry when His servants are unwilling to obey. (4:14)
  25. God lets others share the glory of serving Him if those first chosen are hesitant. (4:14,15)
  26. God smites His servants to teach them full obedience. (4:24)
  27. God wants his NAME to be known, and to be associated with his acts of deliverance. (6:7)
  28. God redeems (rescues) his people. (6:6; 15:13)
  29. God desires to take His people unto Him and be their God. (6:7)
  30. God pushes and pushes to force an issue. (6:11)
  31. God hardens the hearts of those who oppose Him. (7:3; 9:12; 10:20; 14:4)
  32. God works great judgments upon opposers. (7:4)
  33. God has power to overcome men’s magic. (7:11,12; 8:18)
  34. God makes His works obvious and undeniable (7:20; 8:19; 17:5,6)
  35. God hears His servant’s prayers. (8:12,31; 9:33)
  36. God makes distinction between His people and others. (9:4,7,26)
  37. God permits some wicked men to live because He can show His power through them. (9:15,16)
  38. God gives repeated deliverances, even to those who have opposed Him. (10:18,19)
  39. God gives favor to His people in the sight of their enemies. (11:3)
  40. God gives sinners warning of coming doom. (11:4,5)
  41. God saves His people by the blood. (12:6,7,13; 24:8)
  42. God desires that His acts of deliverance be remembered by appropriate ceremonies. (12:14,24; 20:11)
  43. God’s judgments on even men are utter and total. (12:29)
  44. God fulfills His promises. (12:33-36; 13:19)
  45. God takes note of numbers and years. (12:37,41)
  46. God claims His redeemed ones as His. (13:2,12; 34:19,20)
  47. God wants His deeds to be remembered. (13:14; 12:26,27; 16:34)
  48. God directs His people. (13:17; 15:13)
  49. God gives light and guidance. (13:21,22)
  50. God does GREAT works. (14:31; 15:11)
  51. God is our strength, song and salvation. (15:2)
  52. God is a man of war. (15:3; 17:16)
  53. God is “glorious in holiness, fearful in praises.” (15:11)
  54. God proves (tests) His people. (13:17; 15:13)
  55. God is our healer. (15:26)
  56. God hears our murmurings. (16:12)
  57. God is our banner under whom we fight victoriously. (17:15)
  58. God blots out even the remembrance of evil men. (17:14,16)
  59. God like efficient government. (18:23)
  60. God deals with men through covenants. (19:5; 24:8; 34:10)
  61. God accepts His people upon the condition of obedience. (19:5,6)
  62. God shows His presence in clouds, lightning, etc. (19:16,18)
  63. God works in history. (20:2)
  64. God is a jealous God. (20:5; 34:14)
  65. God heaps up punishments for many generations of sinners upon later generations that walk in the sins. (20:5)
  66. God is a God of lovingkindness. (20:6)
  67. God is creator of all. (20:11)
  68. God retains final authority over life and death. (20:13, 21:12-17)
  69. God is concerned about our hearts and their desires. He knows our hearts. (20:17)
  70. God respects property rights. (21:33-36; 20:15)
  71. God requires truth. (20:16; 22:11)
  72. God cares about men’s freedom. (21:2)
  73. God protects the weak and afflicted. (22:22-27)
  74. God is gracious. (22:27)
  75. God requires worship from His people. (23:14-17)
  76. God’s appearance is glorious. (24:9,10,17)
  77. God asks voluntary offerings from His people. (25:2; 35:5)
  78. God desires to dwell among His people. (25:8)
  79. God requires conformity to His directions. (25:9,40; 26:30)
  80. God gives detailed instructions about many things. (26:1ff)
  81. God is associated with light. (27:20,21)
  82. God selects the men who perform His service. (28:1)
  83. God desires glory and beauty. (28:2)
  84. God is a revealer of secrets. (28:30)
  85. God desires modesty in His servants. (28:42; 20:26)
  86. God must be approached through sacrifices. (29:14,18,25)
  87. God provides the material needs of his servants. (29:28; 16:4)
  88. God meets with His people. (29:42,43)
  89. God does not forget our need of atonement (covering). (30:16)
  90. God’s ministers must minister in cleanliness. (30:19,20)
  91. God fills men with His Spirit for various services. (31:3-5)
  92. God sanctifies us (makes us holy). (31:13)
  93. God has wrath against idolatry. (32:10,35)
  94. God repents of “evil” threats when His servants pray. (32:14)
  95. God places distance between Himself and transgressors. (33:2,5)
  96. God is too glorious for men to see and live. (33:20)
  97. God is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger. (34:6,7)
  98. God will make all people to see His works. (34:10)
  99. God commands destruction of reprobate peoples. (34:11)
  100. God makes His presence obvious and dominant. (40:34,38)

A Good Sunday!

By Nate Powell

Last Sunday was a Great Sunday! It has taken me a couple days just to put it into words what a great day it was. We had two baptisms (one on Friday and one on Sunday), and 10 total memberships placed. While some of these memberships were with people who had long ago accepted Christ, it was still a joyous occasion, as our brothers and sisters took an opportunity to acknowledge: This is our church.

That being said, I know this past Sunday was not the last of the memberships being placed or the decisions made for Christ. These are simply a couple steps that we call everyone to each week. Sometimes it takes seeing others take these steps to inspire these steps in the larger population of church attenders.

So, are you considering baptism? We want you to hear, believe and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. If you’ve been hearing the message and believe you are ready to respond, we want to visit with you sometime soon (and share some study helps/resources with you), to help guide you to be obedient to Jesus in baptism and make it known to the world that you belong to Jesus!

Are you considering membership at ACC? All it takes is a visit with an elder/pastor and agreement with our church’s bylaws and statement of faith. We recently led a class thru this material, and shared some resources, but we are also glad to meet with you personally and walk thru what membership means for you and your family.

I believe there are great days ahead for our church, and I truly want to help you connect and be a part of them in a deeper way by helping you connect with Christ and with the church! Come and grow with us!

I Can Understand My Bible? // Rightnow Media Video Spotlight

We often talk about reading our Bible, and consider it to be the task of not simply pastors, but one for every person who is named as a disciple. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) It’s something we should all be doing daily.
Yet, the Bible is not an easy book to tackle, especially if you try to tackle it from front to back. Where do we start? How can I get over the hump of feeling like I’m reading but not understanding? We need some help and training, humility before this important book. Bible reading certainly isn’t beyond anyone’s educational curve, but we all need some help.
Thankfully, because our church has a Rightnow Media subscription, you have access to some fantastic training. I’d like to recommend Michael DeFazio’s series, How to Read the Bible. It’s a very accessible series that has 8 episodes, along with a study handout/guide. Michael is a professor at Ozark Christian College, and our students are familiar with his videos and teaching from Christ in Youth conferences. He will take you in at a beginner’s level and help you understand how you can personally read/study the text and be a better student of the Bible.
If you don’t have your free signin on Rightnow Media so you can view the video, click here to register as a user with our church today.

You Won’t Believe These Animals // Rightnow Media Video Spotlight

by Nate Powell
For some time, our church has held a subscription to an video service that is the “Netflix” of Christian video content. It’s called Rightnow Media, and if you’ve not signed up to use it with us. Click this link and do it for free. You can use their app to watch in a web browser on your computer, in the Rightnow Media app for iOS or Android, or using Rightnow Media apps on such devices as Roku or Apple TV. It is truly a fantastic service that we don’t use nearly enough. I want to change that. So occasionally on the Pastor Blog, I’m going to highlight a video or show that you or your family might want to check out.
First up is a show called Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution (and there are 3 episodes of this great series). I’m not sure if that title sounds exciting to you, but students were mesmerized a few years ago when we showed these videos at camp, and honestly, they are great videos for all ages, kid to adult. Not only will you learn some things about animals that you never heard of, but you will hear about the idea of irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity is an idea put forward by intelligent design proponents, and this is the gist of it: that there are biological systems that seem very basic, yet are so complex that you could not remove a part of it and have it function. In other words, there are certain animals that, simply by their design, prove that they could not have possibly evolved. I hope you’ll check out these Incredible Creatures, and let me know what you thought of the series after you do!
As a side note, if you’d like to read more about irreducible complexity, consider reading Michael Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box.
Check out this preview of Incredible Creatures The Defy Evolution:


The Decline of Christianity in the U.S.: Bad News or Good News?

By Nate Powell

One of the largest research firms in the US (Pew Research) has released a new study regarding U.S. Trends in faith identification and worship attendance among the general population of our country (which currently numbers more than 327 million people). You can click here to view the full report, but here are a few highlights of said report:
  • In the last 10 years, the number of US adults who identify as Christian has gone from 77% to 65%.
  • In the last 10 years, those who call themselves religiously unaffiliated have increased from 17% to 26%.
  • In the last 10 years, those who identify as atheist have increased from 2% to 4%.
  • In the last 10 years, those who who attend church at least monthly have decreased from 52% to 45%.

There is much more that I could share from the report, but I think you get the picture. Those who claim a Christian faith are decreasing in number, and those who are known as “nones” when it comes to religion are increasing in number.

So, is this bad news? Certainly. Anytime we watch a retreat from Judeo-Christian values, we recognize this is a bad thing and will carry bad consequences. Anytime less people are going to church, we know that we as a people overall will stray farther from God’s will and ways. These are hard trends to watch.

Yet, I’d like us to consider that there is some good news in what is taking place here. When we as a country lay aside a “cultural Christianity”, this can be a good thing. For many decades of our existence, it has been an assumed truth: that to be American is to be Christian. Yet deep in our hearts, as we read our Bibles, we know this cannot be the case. To be Christian without repentance, confession, growth or love, is to not be Christian at all. Jesus noted that we know trees by their fruit (John 15:1-11), and it seems that the trees are doing a better job these days of self-identifying the fact that they don’t wear the name of Christ or bear fruit. This type of honesty is refreshing, and it should give us hope.

It should give us hope, because we have the ultimate good news in what Christ has done. Because Christianity is losing some of that favored status it has previously held, followers of Christ will have to truly WANT to bear the name of Jesus, along with the derision or mockery that it may bring us. And it will help us better identify our neighbors who don’t know Christ. They won’t simply tell us that they belong to a church to which they don’t actually belong or rarely/never attend, but that they honestly are not Christians. This will give us reason to once again speak of the good news that has been given to us, and pray for our neighbors to come to Jesus.

So, in the face of these reports and numbers, don’t lose hope. Numbers and polls are temporary. Christ and his word are eternal. Remember Paul’s words to encourage the church and fix their eyes on Christ and eternal things, found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Good Sports in Philippians

by Nate Powell
For the next four months, we are going to be preaching thru the book of Philippians. It’s a sermon series entitled: “No Matter What”. It could be that a bit of explanation is in order. Why all of the pictures of runners and sports references in the graphics and illustrations in this series?
One of Paul’s best allusions to sport (though not the only one he used) comes in Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Here, he uses an example of runners training and pushing themselves to finish the race and compete to get the prize. This is the work of all who are in Christ. We have been saved and can know we are such, yet we press to be more like Jesus every day. This is the work of sanctification that God continues in us, guiding us into good works which he has prepared for us (Eph 2:10). Sports provides so many living examples of training for righteousness and growing in faith that I couldn’t help but bring that motif into the sermon series as a whole.
I currently serve as a coach for FCA, which has caused me to spend quite a bit of time around athletes in our local district. I love seeing their drive to compete, their toughness in training, and their will to win. It is truly inspiring to be around so many state-class athletes on a regular basis. And I can tell you this: if we as disciples do as Paul calls us to, pressing hard to win the race, just as hard as the athletes in our local county train, then God is going to do amazing things in this church and the disciples in our community; so much more than he has already done!
So how will we train? We will resolve to read, understand and apply God’s word. We will pray harder and more intentionally than we have before. And we will strengthen the fellowship of church and the support we provide for the church. When we strengthen and train, we will grow strong in the Lord and be bold for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So ask yourself, “How can I be training today to run this race of faith and finish strong?” I hope and pray that you will press to finish well and be faithful to Jesus NO MATTER WHAT.

Only Jesus? [Thoughts from the Cutting Floor]

In yesterday’s sermon, we spent a couple minutes chasing a rabbit with regard to Jesus’ parable of Two Houses, also known as the parable of the wise man and the foolish man. The rabbit we chased was with regard to the story, which was obviously about people who have heard Jesus’ words, and either chosen to obey or disregard his commands. The question that we asked was: “What about those who have never heard of Jesus or his teaching?”
Jesus has made it clear in the passage at hand that there are two roads, two gates, and two fates for trees who bear good fruit or bad fruit. Clearly, Jesus points toward the coming reality of eternity spent in heaven with the Lord or eternity spent in hell. So the real question is, “Would God send someone who had never heard of Jesus to heaven or to hell?”
There are two schools of thought on this. One is that of inclusivism. The idea here is that those who haven’t heard will be judged by their actions, good weighed against bad (something of a karma situation), or by some separate standard that God would use to judge righteous from unrighteous. The other school of that is that of exclusivism, wherein it is believed that none will be receive salvation outside of faith in Christ. I personally fall into that second school of thought, and I base those thoughts in the scripture. Let’s look at what the Bible says on this front.
Romans 1:18-20 // “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” This was the scripture we read yesterday, noting that God has created everyone and everything, and in his creation, he has made it apparent that he exists. How? By giving order, design, beauty, and majesty to us in his creation. So all should see that there is a God, and that they are not. The passage concludes by saying they are without excuse. Why? Because they are still accountable to the Lord for their sin. That is the point here. All know in some fashion there is a higher authority, a right and a wrong. And all can and should recognize they do wrong. This is what prepares the heart for Christ and repentance.
Romans 10:14-15 // “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” Paul, later in Romans, makes and plea for the Gospel message to go out. It cannot be believed without being heard, heard without a preacher, a preacher without sending. Paul is presenting the case for the church and for sending people forth with the word of Jesus Christ. Paul is certainly burdened for the lost, and his life bears this out. He was of the belief that no one would be saved apart from the saving name of Christ.
John 14:6 & Acts 4:12 // “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” & “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” I list these two scriptures together, because they essentially say the same thing. But the claims come from two different sources: Jesus & Peter. Jesus makes an exclusive claim about himself and Peter confirms it. There is salvation found nowhere else but in Jesus and in his name. All are called to turn from sin, believe exclusively in Christ as the way of salvation, being baptized in his name. Neither Christ nor Peter name, or give room for, another way of salvation.
Acts 10 // A reading of the whole chapter in this case is quite necessary. In the chapter, Cornelius is found to be “a devout man who feared God with all his household”, yet he is a gentile and outside of a knowledge of Christ. It is thru the process of God giving visions and dreams to both Cornelius and Peter that Cornelius is brought to salvation in Jesus Christ. It is quite a story, but in demonstrates how even a God-fearing, moral man like Cornelius and his family were in danger of God’s judgement apart from Jesus Christ.
While it may be tempting to go for the idea of inclusivism, we must not fall for it when we look at the text of scripture. God is under no compulsion to save all; he is God and can do as he pleases. But it does please him to save some, and this is why Jesus came. Certainly, God is calling all people unto himself, and he is calling us to join him thru our own evangelism and thru our sending of missionaries to the ends of the earth. Let’s keep meeting together as believers and working so that every tribe, tongue and nation may hear the good news that Jesus Christ has died to save sinners.

Tracking with the Pastor

By Nate Powell
Well, I’ve been in my new role for 2 ½ months, and preached 8 sermons. It certainly has been a blast going through these core teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
Several of you have spoken to me to give encouragement or feedback on my sermons, which I greatly appreciate and will always welcome. Anytime you have a question, my email inbox will always be open to you. It does seem like I’ve had a few common questions regarding some of the logistics of my preaching, that I will seek to address in this post.
What version are you preaching from and why?
I answered this question in a previous post on the blog. Read up on where I’m at in terms of preaching translations. We are truly blessed that we have this wealth of translation material in the English language.
Why don’t you put the scriptures on the screen?
My plan each week is to preach expository sermons. That means we are going to open the Bible to a central text, and seek to explain the meaning of the text and its application to our lives. My preaching will typically assume a couple of things and ways that I hope the church regularly engages with the text.
First, I hope that you bring a print Bible. Bibles on phones or other mobile devices are great and all, but they are deficient on a few fronts. You are at the mercy of both power and data to ensure they are working. You have no ability to permanently underline and take notes around the text. Notifications on phones can provide tremendous distractions to reading and meditation. Printed scriptures truly become your own scriptures that you study, pour over and create visual memories with. And at the end of the day, as one pastor friend of mine (Mitch Coston) stated: “We spend and waste a lot of time on our phones looking at both trivial and/or unholy things.” The Bible is neither trivial nor unholy. We should treat it as the Holy, singular book that it is. It is God breathed (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Second, I hope that you will open that text. Underline, highlight, take notes. Look up other scripture references or write them down. This is how we can prolong our own personal study and application of a sermon throughout the week. I am seeking to push you toward these ends.
So, my encouragement to you is to bring your Bible, put away your phone for a few (we all need a break, don’t we?), grab a bulletin or notebook, take some notes, and become a student of the Word. One of the biggest things that Christians sometimes feel so deficient in is with regard to their knowledge and study of the Bible. I’m seeking to help you be a better student, reading and studying effectively, handling your sword properly and to great effect (Heb 4:12).
Why don’t you slow down the pace to help us keep up?
As a general rule, just note that I’m trying to be as efficient with my time in the pulpit as I can. I’m typically working with the goal of taking the content of a 45-60 minute sermon and boiling it down into 30-35 minutes. That will mean that sometimes, I will note several scripture references in short order that backup the meaning of a certain text or point. I did this last week, where I gave you about 8 different references in fairly short order under a couple of points. I don’t do this to lose or confuse you, but to simply say there is much the scripture has to say on the given topic.
To help in this as well, I am doing more blogging here on the church website, to ensure that some of the textual rabbits I could be chasing aren’t taking up too much time or causing most to lose interest when only a few may have questions or care to hear an explanation about a given point.
That being said, if you miss something, here are two things to help. First, we have posted recordings of all our sermons on the sermon audio page of the church website. This is also available in your podcasting app under “Auburn Christian Church”. Feel free to give a second listen, pausing to take notes as you need to. Second, if you ask, I will be happy to share my sermon notes with you. Just drop an email and I will share at a copy with you.
Why is the podium back, and where did the table go?
This podium on the stage gets a bit crowded on Sundays, as you sometimes see me shuffling my notes, my bible and my remote on my phone (for the slides) on the podium; but I am doing this for a specific reason. My view of preaching is that it is not so much a conversation between individuals, as it is a proclamation of what God has said and revealed to his people. It’s my desire that the equipment used on the stage would reflect that truth. I actually hope to build a bit bigger or more permanent podium/pulpit at a point, and it will help me manage the space up there better.
Also note that I preach manuscript, which means I write out most everything that I say. I hope that it helps me to speak clearer and more effectively. That is my goal as a communicator.

Thank you for checking in and reading this, and thank you for praying for me. Please continue to pray that I will manage my time wisely, study the Word effectively, and proclaim God’s truth to us clearly.