There has been a little while since I have posted a manuscript.  A sermon is part preparation, but is also a conversation with the Holy Spirit, and the Congregation in that moment.  With that said and the available technology.  Sermons are now made available online through our church’s You Tube channel.  Just search Antioch Baptist Church, Sandston, VA

A Call to Serve-September 25, 2016

Acts 6:1-7

The first seven were chosen to handle practical ministry of the body, freeing the disciples up for prayer and the ministry of the word.

They were chosen by the people from among the people to serve the people.

A Deacon is a position of service through which they lead the members as ministry in the body in serving in the body and in the community around.

They laid hands on them, setting them aside for this ministry.

The word of God spread, and the number of the disciples increased rapidly.  This only happens when we all are doing our part for the Kingdom of God.

A Charge to Deacon Candidates:

  • Be assistants to the pastor
  • Be servants to the church
  • Be witnesses to the world

A Charge to the Church:

  • To pray for them
  • To encourage them
  • To follow them

Make It Count-September 18, 2016

“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  Ephesians 5:15-17

These verses are sandwiched right in the middles of a call to be imitators of Christ and the relationship of Christ to the church.  In imitating Christ, we do so in our relationships with others in the world and through our relationship with one another in Christ.  The earlier part of the chapter shares about how we were once far from Christ and now after giving our lives to follow him, will we follow him anywhere?

Will we follow Christ out of the church and into the world?  Often we might believe that everyone has heard about Jesus, or have they heard me talk about Jesus, so they will ask me if they want to know.  This just doesn’t really meet reality.  So what are we to do?  What is Christ’s charge to us?

First, and thankfully, Christ doesn’t just teach us, he shows us and Paul reminds us we are to be imitators of Christ.  So then we have the best example possible in Christ, what then was the ministry and mission, and patterns and rhythms of Jesus’ life?  He lived in a way that honored God, he walked in love, and gave himself as an offering and sacrifice for all mankind.  Jesus did not sin but yet dwelt among the people of the day, not the religious peace of the day.  Jesus’ greatest mission was not in the church but to those outside the church.  The majority of the time he spent was being among everyday people and sometimes people of questionable character.  Jesus was fussed at for “eating with sinners and tax collectors.”  The question for us is where do we spend our time?  How can it have the greatest impact?  With who and where do we spend our time?

As Children of light; walk in the light of the Lord.  The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.  Fruit does not grow without light.  Darkness doesn’t go away by ignoring it.  Darkness is overcome by the presence of light.

Wake up!  Wake up sleepers, rise up from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.  When we get woken up in the morning sometimes it is abrupt, like turning on of a light.  Waking us up and calling us to live as light.

Be careful how you “live” not just how you “believe.”  Our be-living should represent our believing.

Make the most of every opportunity…redeeming the time for the days are “evil.”

Missions like a ministry is not just about dollars that support a cause, but is about lifestyle stewardship.  Money, time, and life.

In the stewardship of our lives (all parts) we are called to manage wisely freeing up more of those resources, money, and time, and life to help others in service to God when and where he calls.

We sleep in the darkness but when light has dawned it is time to get up, go, and make the most of the time, for our time on this earth and the world’s time is limited.

How then do we take our time shared, to eternity?  That is more than redeeming the time, the days they may be or seem evil but nothing is beyond God.

How do you live out your identity and have influence, not just in your personal life but in your public life?

We all have the ability to talk to someone.  How will you live out that calling?

Pray:  “You call us, God.  How do we make our time here count?  How do we use our influence?”

– Aaron Graham

What are you doing to make your life count in your home, in your town, in your city, in your state, in this world for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom?

What influences and opportunities are we missing out on?

You have one life, make it count for the Kingdom.


Fifteen Years After Tragedy-September 11, 2016

Fifteen years ago on a Tuesday morning I had forgotten something on my way to the office and doubled back to get it.  My phone was ringing and I heard a friend on the other end of the line tell me that someone had flown a plane into one of the world trade center towers.  At first I thought maybe it had been an accident.  So I turn on the T.V. and watch as the story unfolds.  Moments later we all saw a live, a second plane square up and flown right into the second tower.  It was horrible and it was raw.

With other similar acts of terror in the past as a nation we perhaps only saw the aftermath, or security camera footage, or edited images after the fact.  This was different, we saw it and it was an intentional act, seeing it play out as we sat in horror, learning that another attack struck our Pentagon, and then there is the brave passengers that brought down the plane in the Pennsylvania field, sacrificing themselves to save many more.

The moments were intense as our President was in one of the Air Force One planes with military escort.  We were not sure where he was once he left the school where he was visiting.  The date was September 11, 2001.  The symbolism of our emergency service we are to dial 911.

In the next few moments I was able to pull myself away from the T.V. and went out to the church I was serving.  I sat on the front steps looking across the calm blue sky in front of me, knowing that we who had experienced that day would be different because of it.  Seeing the peace in front of me, while the horror was going on in other places in our country, and because of the scale and ongoing nature of the events of that day, I was for once very uncertain of much.

In the days that followed there was a heightened sense of alarm.  There was shock, numbness, depression, as people also saw uninterrupted hours of this on the news.  There came a heightened sense or need for people to return to the Lord or at least return to the church.  There was also a different sentiment that comes from grief…anger.  People began to lash out at others at others that looked different.  People would talk of killing other from that region.  People were hurt and scared, and rather than dealing with it they lashed out, many did so in the name of nationalism.  The language of nationalism for many became hate or revenge.

These terrorists believed their faith was worth dying for and so do I, where we are different is the killing of others.  In the days, months, and years that have followed there have been many mistakes, in war, policy, and decency in the name of this event.  Crisis brings out both the best and worst in people.  More true is that it brings out what is most central in our lives, and the core of our hearts.  When squeezed to do fruits of bitterness and hate rule, or do the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

We are now 15 years removed from this event, what is our language of nationalism?  What is our response as followers of Christ?

This is a reminder that God is still on the throne and in control.  We may feel out of control but that doesn’t mean God is not.

Most of us over a certain age know what we were doing on September 11, 2001.  It was a very visible and raw tragedy.  Because of the delay between multiple planes we saw a lot that day.  Much like the Kennedy assassination a generation before.

We are a people hurting, confused, depressed, and angry.  All of these emotions are part of grief but none are healthy if we dwell in them too long.  Our national language had become one of resilience, determination, and revenge.  Those who did this to us are going get what’s coming to them.

Language helps to create culture, so what culture was that creating in our country?  It was a heightened level of anxiety for a long time after that.  It appears to me that in the light of this hurt and uncertainty anger and revenge became more prevalent.  What language informs the Christian?  God speaks a word to us about suffering, love, forgiveness, and trust.

As believers we put our mind and eyes on things above where God is seated on His throne and Christ at His right hand.  No matter what is going on in the world today and we feel out of control…God is still in control.

We need to be people of thoughtful prayer and intentional action.  In other words, are we people who react or respond?  Reacting is a gut level, fight or flight, feels good in the moment type of thing.  A response has thought and intention, engaging heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Just like the “reaction” of many would have been to run away from those buildings but the “response” of men and women like our police and fire fighters was to run towards trouble to help others.

Our reactions don’t demonstrate control but helplessness.  Our responses reveal our character.  Don’t react, respond!  Every person will experience difficult things and how we deal with them will say a lot about who we are and who we trust.

We must be full of Christ instead of full of ourselves to have the peace that passes all understanding.  If you want to be uplifted don’t look around but look up.  To be in Christ is to be intentional, and a response is intentional, a reaction is not.  I am forgiving not because of myself, but because Christ forgave me.

It may not be right in the world, but it can be well with my soul.  It may not be right in the world, but it can be well with soul.  IT MAY NOT BE RIGHT IN THE WORLD, BUT IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.

Here is a Response …

The Prayer of St. Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”

Raised to Walk-September 4, 2016

Colossians 2:6-15

Last week’s sermon was about putting Christ first by recognizing him as Lord.  This week we talk about our purpose as Christians, morality, and faith.

This scripture is clearly for believers.  It begins as we have received Christ as Lord continue to walk in him.  Our purpose or goal as a believer is to live in Christ.

Life doesn’t come from the dying world around, from inanimate objects, or even rules or morals.

Only life can give life and only the one who holds eternal life can give eternal life.

Objects that do not have life cannot give life.  Objects do not give life they are shaped and fashioned by the living.

Rules or Morals as an end to themselves may make you a good person and a law-abiding citizen, but they don’t necessarily make you a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

While the rules or morals may make us better people it doesn’t mean that we are saved people.

Rule following as an end itself makes us believe that we are justified by the law and are able to just be good, or good enough.

Rather than rule following, God honoring encompasses more than the rules.  It’s not about how do I do the minimal amount, but how do I mature in faith.  We start with the law (Ten Commandments), but finds its maturing in the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Some might ask shouldn’t Christians be moral?

Morality for the Christian then doesn’t come from following every rule, it comes from following Christ.  The essence of our salvation is that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Out of Christ’s fullness in our lives we become more like him.  It is not because “I can” but because “he is.”  Our morality, if you will, comes from the outflow of Christ in us, not our working toward the law.

The law has little or no power.  It may curve the behavior of some, and over time and generations change sentiments, but it is unable to change hearts.  The law is about the transgression and the transaction, but is not about the transformation.

Couple of examples…our country is 240 years old and we now have more laws on the books today than ever and most written in our lifetimes.  Then if they did have the power to change hearts why is the world in such the condition we are in now.  We are no more a moral people for having more laws.

Secondly, for a believer you can outlaw their faith but you can’t change their transformed hearts.  That is why in places of persecution the Gospel thrives.  The greatest thing the law can do is end their life here on this earth but can’t take away the Kingdom they will inherit.

The law gives the idea that we are able to earn, rather than become.  So how do we become?

We continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as we were taught.

Don’t trust what will lead you away from life in Christ, “having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”  We were once dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ.  “He forgave us all our sins having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was again us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

We are not only saved from hell but also for the purpose of living for him.  We have been raised to walk in him.  Not raised to talk, sit, grumble, complain, or gossip, but raised to walk in the newness of life in Christ.  CHRIST NAILED IT!  He took with him self-righteous religiosity we believed we gained in the law and took it away nailing it to the cross.  He death was enough, he fulfilled the requirements and penalty of the law on our behalf.

He disarmed the power of the authorities used their public execution to make a public spectacle of them, triumphing over the cross.

We are raised to walk in Christ, not in our attempts at keeping the law, but out of the fullness of Christ.

Are your steps heavy today from carrying the burden of the law and religious tradition, or are you free in Christ, walking in his love, and serving out of his fullness?

Christ First-August 28, 2016

Excerpt from the sermon…

Christ, by virtue of him being God makes him worthy of worship and praise.

Christ in his sacrificial death on the cross is also worthy of our love and affection.

Many will choose one or the other or neither. Some only wanting to love themselves or others. Still others do not worship and honor him as Lord. Still others choose only to love and worship self.

Jesus asked the disciples, “who do you say that I am?” We too as modern disciples must answer this question with our words and deeds.

Do we honor and obey Jesus as Lord? Do we love him as Savior?

If we don’t see him as Lord we will neglect to worship. If we do not love him as Savior we cheapen his grace.

How will we respond to the will of our Lord and the love of our Savior?

Our lives will reveal our hearts. Is Christ first in our lives? It has to be first true of the members before it is true of the body. May we put Christ first each day.

The Voices

The Voices-Luke 19:28-44

The turn toward Jerusalem is a shift in the story of Jesus.  He asks two men to go ahead into the next town and get the colt and if anyone asks why, tell them the Lord has need of it.  The amazing thing is they went.  Would you or I trust the word of Jesus to act on it in practical ways, even if we didn’t think it made practical sense?

People were traveling in front and behind Jesus and others who were in Jerusalem that heard that Jesus was coming went out to praise him.  What does it mean to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah?  What expectations did they have of Jesus?  What expectations did the Pharisees have?  What expectations do we have?

For the people, most likely that he would deliver them as a people and restore the nation.  For the Pharisees, that if Jesus were a good teacher he would rebuke the disciples perceived heresy.

What about you?  What do you expect from Jesus?  If your expectations are not met how does that challenge or change our faith?

Jesus’ response to the demands of the Pharisees is simple, confrontational, and also haunting in foreshadowing the days ahead.  He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

The Pharisees insist that Jesus correct the crowd to fit their limited view of the work God was trying to do.  If Jesus does this he condemns the crowds as if their words were untrue, even if their own understanding of what they were saying was limited too.  Jesus then must listen fully to the word of his Heavenly Father and follow His will.

He must through the criticism and cheers listen to the one true voice.  Crowds can be a funny bunch by their very nature they are a “following” or “joining in” bunch.  Too often crowds can be moved very quickly changed.

Do we celebrate and glorify Jesus out of our own expectations?

Peace, like most things in life, including praise, should not be circumstantial.  Peace based completely on circumstance will always lead to unrest.  Likewise praise based on circumstance, is not the praise of worthiness of God but upon the favor we hope to garner.  Jesus weeps saying the city will be destroyed because they didn’t know or respond to the visitation of the prince of peace.

Don’t let the crowd control your character, let Christ.  For Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever and crowds quickly change.  Those who offer hallow praise for high expectations may soon grow silent or bitter.  Listen to the voice of Christ.