pexel upcycledHave you ever heard of upcycling?  It is basically the practice of taking something old and making something new from it.  Like this example from pulptastic.com of an old TV console that was transformed into a new aquarium.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we find a verse that seems to indicate that God has done some kind of upcycling in our lives.  In that verse Paul writes these words, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.”

That is a well-known verse, but it is typically used without any reference to the context of the rest of the passage, even though it begins with the word, “therefore.”

When we put the verse back into the context we begin to see that Paul is talking about how in Christ we are no longer to look at ourselves or those around us the way we did before.  God is calling us to take the message of reconciliation that we have received and share that with others.

Take a look at verses 18-20: 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

I love this image that Paul gives us about how we are to view our lives.  We are supposed to look at ourselves as ambassadors.  An ambassador is someone who is sent from one country to another.  That involves living among those he has been sent to, getting to know them, their language and their culture, building relationships, but always recognizing that they are there to be used by the one who sent them.  What a powerful way to view ourselves.  As ambassadors to this world, living our lives on a mission for God.

That puts a different spin on verse 17.  In his old life Paul was an enemy of God, but God stepped in and did more than just a little upcycling.  He reconciled Paul to himself, transformed him into a new creation and gave him a role as his ambassador.  And God has done the same with is.  It is time for us to grab hold of this mission God has given us.  To realize that we are not who we used to be and to start living like his ambassadors to a world that desperately needs his message of reconciliation.


Neither Hot Nor Cold – Sermon Notes

pexel lukewarmIn Revelation 3:15-16, we find some strong words from Jesus Christ to the church in Laodicea,

‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” – Rev 15-16

The fact that this is a letter to the church in Laodicea suggests that this is for followers of Christ. But it seems that at some point they have lost the passion they once had for Christ and have become complacent and apathetic in their faith.

The other problem is that they apparently don’t even realize that there is anything wrong.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” – Rev 17

This seems to be describing people who thought they were spiritual millionaires, but who were actually living in spiritual poverty. It is a warning or a wake-up call for people who didn’t even realize that they needed to be woken up. For whatever reason at some point their passion for Christ was gone and they had become lukewarm even though they thought they were doing just fine.

And then Christ gives them some counsel about what to do in verses 18-19:

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.   19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” – Rev 18

They need to recognize that Christ is everything for them. Only he can wash them clean and clothe them in righteousness. Only he can open their eyes that they can see. And what he gives, he gives for free. They don’t earn it, or deserve it. They need to remember the treasure that is Christ and how much they need him.

And then we arrive at a very well-known verse:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” – Rev. 20

This verse points out the relational aspect of Christianity. It speaks of fellowship with the Lord. He is not a travelling salesman who knocks on our door to sell us something and then goes on his way, but rather one who comes in and establishes residence with us. Christianity is a relationship with Christ.

This is a wonderful passage. But it should cause us to pause and consider ourselves. This is a wakeup call for the church in Laodicea. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions:

  • Is this a wakeup call for us?
  • If we were to get a letter written to us, from Christ, what might it say?
  • Do we find ourselves reflected in this rebuke?
  • Have we grown complacent in our relationship with Christ?
  • Are we lukewarm? And if so, what are we going to do about it?


Back in 2010 there was a movie called “Unstoppable” which featured Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.  The story was about a runaway freight train that needed to be stopped to prevent a catastrophe.   The movie built to a climax as the characters tried  to get the train to stop, but to no avail.  I don’t want to give away the ending, but as you can probably guess: the train was actually stoppable after all. The heroes just had to come up with the right plan about how to stop it.

This Sunday we are going to be reminded of the unstoppable power of God.  And unlike this movie, God literally cannot be stopped.  Right now we are in a series called “Acting Up” where we are looking at the Acts of the Apostles, and throughout this book we are reminded again and again that God cannot be stopped.  The church faced serious persecution in the book of Acts, but God was never stopped.  And two thousand years later, His Gospel continues to spread!

Come on out to The River this Sunday to hear about the unstoppable power of God as we take a look at Acts 5.

The Empty Tomb

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” (John 20:1)

On Easter Sunday we celebrate the fact that Jesus died and rose again.  The above verse from John 20 shares that when Mary arrived at the tomb on Sunday morning, she found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.  Later on in that same chapter, we find accounts of two different occurrences when the disciples were gathered together in a locked room and Jesus all of a sudden showed up among them.

So considering that locked doors couldn’t stop Jesus, why did the stone blocking the front of the tomb have to be rolled away?  Did Jesus need the stone rolled away so that he could get out?  Obviously not.  When Lazarus was raised from the dead, they had to move the stone to let him come walking out, but this was different.  Lazarus rose from the dead, but eventually died again.  Jesus rose from the dead and then after appearing to more than 500 people over the course of about 40 days, He went to be with the Father again.  We can tell from the resurrection appearances, that Jesus’ resurrected body was different.  Locked doors couldn’t keep him out.  And He didn’t need to have the stone rolled away to get out of the tomb.

So if Jesus didn’t need to have the stone rolled away to rise again, why was it rolled away?  Good question right?  I believe that the stone was rolled away not to let Jesus out, but to let the witnesses in.  The stone was rolled away so that Mary and then Peter and John could see the proof that Jesus body was gone.  The stone was rolled away so that we could see the evidence of the resurrection.

And this Sunday on Easter we will be looking at that evidence.  Consider joining us this Sunday at The River, 2510 Chaska Blvd.  We will start with a breakfast at 8:30, followed by our worship celebration at 9:30.  Everyone is welcome!


My wife and I have been married for almost 17 years now and we are very different.  Before we were married we took a personality survey to see where the strengths and weaknesses might be in our marriage.  The person who was working with us actually asked if we were sure that we wanted to get married.  Our results were about as opposite as they could be.  We have laughed about that many times over the years.  Our differences sometimes make life difficult, but after 17 years I can honestly say that we are better together than we would be apart.  And I know my wife would say the same thing.

The key is that because we have chosen to love each other, even in the midst of our differences we come together in unity.  Of course, that doesn’t always happen the way it should, but overall it does.  And so instead of being a weakness, our differences actually have become a strength in our marriage.

Love and unity are connected.  It is only when we choose to love one another that we can really experience unity.  And that is what we will be talking about this week at The River.  We will be looking at Jesus’ prayer for His Church from John 17:20-26.  Come on out this Sunday and join us.

The Paraclete

Apparently Greek soldiers fought in pairs.  They would stand back to back so that they could protect one another’s backs as they fought off the enemy troops.  The other soldier was a trusted wingman, an advocate, a helper.  And he was called a paraclete.

What a great concept.  We all need a paraclete.  We could all use an advocate, a helper, a friend who has our back.  In this world, facing the things we face, it would be nice to have someone like that along with us to help us face the journey and fight the battles we have to fight.

In the passage we will be looking at this Sunday, Jesus is getting ready to leave His disciples, but He promises to send them a helper, an advocate, a paraclete.  He promises to send them the Holy Spirit.  Check out the passage in John 14:15-31 and come on out to The River this Sunday to find out more about the paraclete that the Lord promised.

Have You Been Hurt by Church?

Spending time working out of the local Dunn Bros. coffee shop gives me a different perspective on the church than I would have if I spent most of my time working out of a church office.  It allows me the opportunity to hear, firsthand, what unchurched people think about the church.  Unfortunately, the picture is often not very flattering.

I have had way too many conversations with people who are disillusioned with the church.  They have previously been hurt in the church or have found church people to be judgmental, hypocritical, and unloving.  Others have expressed their concerns over the fractured picture they get of the church.  It seems to them like we can’t even get along with each other, and so if we can’t get our own act together how are we supposed to help anyone else?  Good question.

Now I know that just because we follow Christ does not mean that we are perfect, but this is an area where we need to do better.  Jesus reminds us in John 14 that the world will know we are His followers by the way that we love one another.  If that is the measuring stick, then the conversations I have been hearing are not a good sign.  We need to work on this.  And at The River this Sunday, this passage from John 14 will be our focus.  It is called “Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial,” but I think it is really more about loving one another.  Check it out at John 14:31-38 or come on out to The River this Sunday to find out more.

What Other People Think

Do you like it when people say nice things about you?  Like, “your hair looks nice today” or “I like that outfit,” or (my personal favorite) “are you losing weight?”

Or how about at work, when your boss, or a coworker recognizes you for the job you are doing?  Or when a friend let’s you know how much they appreciate you?  Or a neighbor compliments your lawn, your home, or (even better) your children.  It is always nice to get complimented or praised.

On the flip side, it is not so nice to get criticized.  Like, when you make a mistake at work and your boss points it out.  Or when a neighbor complains about how your lawn looks, or that your house is bringing down the property values.  Or when you hear from a teacher at your kid’s school about something your child has done wrong and you feel like a bad parent.  Or when you get a few choice words or hand gestures from another driver on the road.

We don’t like those kind of comments as much, do we?  We want to be praised.  We want to be liked.  We want to be loved.  We want to be valued.  We want people to think, and say, nice things about us.

But does it really matter so much what other people think about us?  To some extent it does.  I mean we want to have a good name and be a good testimony.  But sometimes maybe we are a little bit too concerned with what others think.  This Sunday we are going to look at some people who were a little bit too concerned about what other people thought, and it really got in the way of them following God.  You can read about it in John 12:37-43, or come on out to The River this Sunday to find out more.

Meeting Jesus

About 4 or 5 years ago we went to a wedding for one of my wife’s cousins.  While we were at the reception we were talking with Julie’s aunt and found out that Justin Masterson, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, (who is now with the Cleveland Indians) was there.  He had gone to the same college as Julie’s cousin and they were friends, so he had come to the wedding and reception.

Well, that got my son, Jacob, very interested, because he is a big sports nut.  So Julie’s aunt took Jacob over to meet Justin.  It was very cool.  Justin spent some time talking with Jacob and gave him an autograph.  He was nice and he made Jacob feel very welcome

I have met a variety of different famous people over the years.  Most have made me feel very welcome and have been very accommodating.  But I had one experience that was not so positive.

I was at a mall in Denver and the Lakers were in town to play the Nuggets.  At the time, the Lakers, were one of my favorite basketball teams.  So I knew the players pretty well.  As I was walking down the hall I saw Byron Scott, their starting shooting guard.  I think he was trying to keep a low profile, but I just had to meet him.  So I walked over and tried to talk to him and he just flat out ignored me.  Eventually I walked away.

I don’t blame Byron Scott for not talking with me.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it reminds me of the different ways it can go when you meet someone famous.  Sometimes you get welcomed and other times you get ignored.

Well, this Sunday, we are going to look at a passage from Scripture that opens up with a few people who just wanted to meet Jesus.  They had probably heard about Him somewhere along the line.  He was pretty famous after all.  They were visiting the area where He was, and they wanted to meet Him.

After looking at this story, I am not exactly sure what to make of the response they got.  It almost seems like Jesus ignored them, but He goes on to share a powerful time of teaching that includes information about His coming death and the life that is available through Him.  Whether they met Jesus or not, if they had the opportunity to listen to that time of teaching, it might have been life changing.

You can read about it in John 12:20-36.  Or come on out to The River this Sunday to find out more.

Dinner with Judas

At www.biography.com I found an interesting opinion poll.  They were asking the question, if you found yourself at the most awkward dinner party of all time.  A party filled with both famous and infamous people.  And you found yourself stuck in a conversation with the most awkward guest, who would it be?

Currently leading the poll is Adolf Hitler.  Some of the others on the short list are Charles Manson, OJ Simpson, Charlie Sheen, and Kim Jong Il.  While I agree, being stuck at a dinner party with any of those people would probably be pretty awkward, it does seem to be a bit of a random list.  But let me add one more name.  How would you like to be stuck in an awkward dinner party conversation with Judas Iscariot?

Well, even if that could be arranged, it wouldn’t be the first awkward dinner party conversation that Judas was a part of.  We find one captured for us in John 12:1-8.  It takes place at a dinner party celebrating the raising of Lazarus.  And the awkward conversation is between Judas, Lazarus’ sister Mary, and Jesus.

I will be preaching on that story this Sunday at The River.  And believe it or not, to some extent I actually agree with Judas a little bit in this story.  And in the end I encourage us all to look a little foolish.  Does that peak your interest?  Come on out and join us this Sunday at 9:30, at 2510 Chaska Blvd.  to find out more.