Blog / Podcast
ephesians pt 30: spiritual warfare 2
This message is the second part of a series on Spiritual Warfare. It's long, in depth, and addresses the equipment that God provides for Christian warfare. (Message from 11/12/17.)
Ephesians pt 29: spiritual warfare
Spiritual warfare is something often discussed in Christian circles, but also often misunderstood. Curious? Start here! (Message from 11/5/17.)
Ephesians pt 26: bridging differences in marriage
In this message, Pastor Joe bring the Kingdom Marriage series to a close. It's practical. It's gritty. If you need help bridging the differences in your marriage, here's how to do it. (Message from 10/15/17.)
ephesians pt 25: marriage, divorce, christianity, and culture
As we learned from last week, a Kingdom Marriage is a marriage based upon the Bible's design. Here's the next part! (Message from 10/8/17.)
ephesians pt 24: the kingdom marriage
A Kingdom Marriage, as it's described in Ephesians 5, is a marriage based on Christian hallmarks, like submission and love. (Message from 10/1/17.)
ephesians pt 23: the christian's guide to lifestyle
Here are 4 points taking us through Ephesians 5, which shows us what a Christian lifestyle should look like. (Message from 9/24/17.)
ephesians pt 22: 3 commands for the church
In this message, Pastor Joe tackles the 3 commands that Paul closes Ephesians 4 with: Don't give the Spirit, put away sin, and be kind and forgive. (Message from 9/3/17.)
Ephesians pt 21: 4 things
In this message, Pastor Joe tackles 4 things that every Christian should be handling in their life. (Message from 8/27/17.)
Ephesians pt 20: a new life lived with a new mind
Part of being a new creation in Christ is having a new mind, a "new self." Check out Pt 20 of Ephesians as Pastor Joe teaches what this entails. (Message from 8/20/17.)
ephesians pt 19: dedicated to godly knowledge and love
In this message, Pastor Joe reminds the church that although we may face intimidation we first face obligation: the obligation to be knowledge and loving Christians. (Message from 8/13/17.)
ephesian pt 18: unity in the church 2
How important is the pastor-teacher to the unity of the Church? (Message from 8/6/17.)
ephesians pt 17: unity in the church
In this message, Pastor Joe discusses the ingredients of unity within the Body of Christ. (Message from 7/30/17.)
ephesians pt 16: the church's life and order
In "The Church's Life and Order," Pastor Joe teaches the first few verses of Ephesians 4, as we learn about the Church in the world. (Message from 7/23/17.)
ephesians pt 15: 3 important lessons on prayer
In this message, Pastor Joe leads us through 3 lessons that we learn on prayer from Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. (Message from 7/16/17.)
Ephesians Pt 14: The Mystery
In this message, we explore the mystery Paul talks about in chapter 3. (Message from 7/9/17.)
Ephesians pt 13: the authority of the christian church
In this message, Pastor Joe covers the ABC's of what makes a Church, and what holds it all together. (Message from 7/2/17.)
Ephesians pt 12: Racism, Prejudice, the Southern Baptist Convention, and New City Church
In this longer-than-usual message, Pastor Joe addresses the topics of prejudice and racism, not only as they appear today but also how they appeared in history. (Message from6/25/17.)
Father's Day: "The Lord is with the Righteous"
For our Father's Day service, Pastor Joe discusses the Way, the Help, and the Salvation of the righteous man described in Psalm 37.
ephesians pt 11: Saved from What? Saved for What?
This shorter version of Sunday's message answers the question, Saved from What? (Message from 6/11/17.)
ephesians pt 9: prayer, power, and position
In this message, Pastor Joe finishes Ephesians 1, tackling some of the practical implications of what it means to be a saint, a member of the Body of Christ. (Message from 5/21/17.)
Mother's Day 2017: A Woman Who Fears the Lord
This message is a bit longer than usual, but we hope that it's a blessing, as Pastor Joe addresses not only Mother's Day but Womanhood in today's culture.
Unfortunately, there was a technical difficulty that damaged the recording. We apologize. Here is a brief outline of Part 8's essential lessons.
FED by the Spirit
- All 3 Persons of the Trinity are involved in our salvation!
- "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 1:13).
- The Spirit of God is a "down payment" or "guarantee" of our inheritance.
LED by the Spirit
- In godliness
- Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:12-14).
- In holiness
- Peter reminds the church, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passion of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
Note: More post like this one can be found at Pastor Joe's blog: newcitythought.wordpress.com
ephesians pt 8: the holy spirit
For 2017, I'm suggesting that you forget about the resolutions and instead set goals. Why? Well, I have 5 reasons goals are better than resolutions.
- Goals are specific. Resolutions tend to be general, with direction but no particulars. Goals are specific. For example, if you want to improve your health this year, don't make the resolution to get fit. Set the goal of going to the gym 3 times per week. Want to read the Bible? Set the goal of reading John's Gospel. (You can break it up into 3 7's since it's 21 chapters.)
- Goals are measurable. Whenever you set a goal, you're setting a measurable thing, because you're moving toward a definite end. So, if you want to gain 5 pounds of muscle, or if you want to read the Bible by December, you can track and measure your progress. That's important to keep you moving forward toward your goal. Small victories are important!
- Goals are reasonable. Oftentimes, resolutions are just too abstract. Goals are simple: if you can't attain them, then they're not reasonable. The goals that you set shouldn't sabotage your potential for progress. If you're not a reader, for instance, don't set the goal of reading the Bible in a weekend!
- Goals are God-glorifying. Whatever goal you set should aim at making you a better person, a better Christian. If not, then why set it? Jim Rohn once said, "Set the kind of goals that will make something of you to achieve them." Check out 1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 14:23, and 2 Corinthians 8:21.
- Goals are reviewable. This last point is important, because we need to be able to review our goals while we progress...to know whether or not we're on course, need an adjustment, or are doing poorly. Write down your goals, place them in your closet door, on your bathroom mirror, or your car's dashboard, and review them regularly.
I hope this helps you achieve great goals in 2017.
don't make resolutions. set goals.
How do we, as Christians, exist in the twofold status that we are afforded as both the adopted children of God through faith in Christ and simultaneously citizens of the United States of America? To put it simply, it’s not always easy. On the one hand, there are times when our faith and earthly citizenship seemingly get along. On the other hand, there are times when our faith and earthly citizenship couldn’t be made to be more aliens to each other. Nevertheless, the Bible has a word for us, and, in view of the recent election(s), it seems high time to address it, specifically from Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2. They teach us 2 simple principles that we are to abide by as Kingdom citizens.
We Are to Respect Authority
First, according to Romans 13:1-7, we are to respect authority, regardless of whether or not we completely and entirely agree with their policies and positions. Case in point, President Barak Obama. I may or may not be in agreement with him and the direction in which he’s been leading our country, but that isn’t the question that God is asking me in Romans 13. God commands me to respect authority (of course, as long as it isn’t in direct contravention with His Word), and therefore that’s what I’m supposed to do. From time to time, we can find it hard to respect our parents’ authority, our teachers’ authority, our employer’s authority, or even Obama as a president, but we can still respect the positions they hold and respect them as people made in God’s image. In the president’s case, we can respect him as one who holds the highest office in our country. (This would apply to President-elect Trump, too.)
One issue that I have with his point, Respect Authority, is the link that the Apostle Paul associates with those in authority and God Himself; thus, eventually all authority leads us back to God’s authority. With that said, the point is simple: if we can’t respect authority that we do see, how can we claim to respect the authority that we can’t see?
We Are to Pray for Authority
The second and perhaps more important point at this time in our country is, We Are to Pray for Authority. It’s clearly taught in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, but it’s easier to talk about than it is to actually do, Why? Well, if you’re anything like me, you err in 1 of 2 ways. You either:
- don’t pray for those in authority because you already agree with them (so why pray?); or
- don’t pray for those in authority because you don’t agree with them (so why pray?).
But what we learn from 1 Timothy 2:1-4 is something grander than our own personal policy preferences. We learn that God has a desire for “all” to be saved, not just those with whom we may agree. Therefore, we should pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” We are Christians before we are anything else, and intercession for others is paramount to our daily practice and faith.
Ultimately, we can’t control what those in authority will or will not do, but what we can control is our own behavior and our representation of our Kingdom citizenship (Philippians 3:20). We’re afforded the right as citizens of the US to speak our minds, but we should do so respectfully and prayerfully. We’re afforded the right as citizens of the US to vote, but we should do so respectfully and prayerfully. We’re afforded the right to congregate, meet, and protest, but we should do so respectfully and prayerfully. After all, we should beware that we do not emphasize our rights as citizens of the US while neglecting our foremost obligations as citizens of the Kingdom. Christ’s command was clear:
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
I'm thankful for Kingdom and Country
As Providence would have it, last Sunday I preached a message titled "Fighting for Joy in a World of Worry," only to have Sunday afternoon and Monday morning unfold in such a way that I had to put what I preached into practice. I think at one time or another we've all been there. So, I wanted to share it. Here are the main points.
Decide for Joy
Each and every day, sometimes even moment by moment, we all have a decision to make: we all have to decide if we will allow worry to affect our joy. This week, my truck broke down while I was taking my daughter to school. But I decided to be joyful about the fact that it didn't break down while my wife was driving back from Orlando last week or while I was still on the highway with my daughter or in the drop-off point where it would've caused a huge roadblock (undoubtedly being a giant embarrassment). In other words, I decided to focus on things that brought me joy rather than the inconvenience that didn't.
Although deciding for joy may seem like a ridiculously small step, it's the first and most important step to living a live that is joyful, because, if you don't decide to live a life of joy, then you most certainly won't.
Plot for Joy
Joy has never just happened to anyone. If we want to experience joy on a day-to-day basis, then, after we decide for it, we have to plot for it. That means creating boundaries in our calendar that keep the good inside but the bad outside. For my wife and I, as it relates to this particular situation, we have a AAA membership (PS: it's worth every dollar). That means that even trying events that can steal joy, like my car breaking down on a Monday morning, can be avoided with a little "plotting."
Here are some basics:
- keep a healthy prayer life: maintaining a healthy relationship to God is paramount to a life of joy. It helps us remain strong during trails and also gives us perspective, which is the next point.
- keep a wide perspective: we believe that the world revolves around us, but a little learning, a little broadening of our perspective will quickly remedy that mentality!
- keep a regimen: a schedule guards your heart and mind from concerns that could invade your calendar and potentially steal your joy. Major on majors. Minor on minors.
Don't wait for joy to simply happen to you...
Celebrate for Joy
Finally, we have to celebrate for joy. Each and every moment that we're alive, we should find a simple reason to celebrate, reasons that we often overlook and casually dismiss.
- celebrate Jesus, who never changes and is faithful (Hebrews 13:8)
- celebrate our Heavenly Father, who awaits our presence (Philippians 1:21-22)
- celebrate family and friends, whom God has given us to travel through life with (Matthew 19:23-30)
Don't wait for joy to simply happen to you before you decide to be joyful. Decide. Plot. Celebrate. Joy is a virtue of people who have decided not to allow the world's worry to negatively affect them, control them, or dictate to them what kind of person or what kind of life they're going to lead. How about you? Will you decide for joy?
Fighting for joy in a world of worry
The question that I got this weekend was: What Bible translation should I be reading? It’s a great question for a couple of reasons. First, it means that New City Church is reaching people who aren’t familiar with God’s Word–in other words, we’re helping people find and follow Jesus, and that’s our mission. Second, it means that people are interested in generally learning more from and about God’s Word. In any case, we all should be reading God’s Word with regularity, so here’s a little help when you’re looking for a (new) Bible.
First, there are essentially 3 types of translations.
- Literal — a word-for-word translation that aims at being as close to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts as is possible. (Ex: English Standard Version; New American Standard Bible)
- Dynamic — a thought-for-thought translation that aims at giving the balance of translation and readability. (Ex. New International Version; New Living Translation)
- Paraphrase — a translation that is aimed at readability. (Ex: The Message; Phillips Translation)
As you can probably see, it’s both simpler and more complex than most think. But here’s the gist:
- What translation is used in your church? It’s always helpful to be on the same page as your pastor when he’s preaching.
- Do you enjoy reading? If you do, then you shouldn’t have a problem going with the literal, “stiffer” translation.
- Are you going to use the Bible for in-depth studying? If the answer is yes, you’ll benefit from a literal translation. If the answer is no, then you can lean toward the a dynamic or even a paraphrase.
For most readers, the important question isn’t, What translation should I be reading? but, Am I reading the Bible enough?
The truth is, with Bibles and apps available by the hundreds, there’s no reason why anyone who calls themselves a Christian shouldn’t be reading God’s Word voraciously. Although I personally enjoy and read the ESV, I own a large variety of translations. I read and appreciate them all for different reasons. For most readers, the important question isn’t, What translation should I be reading? but, Am I reading the Bible enough?
So here’s the real question: Are you reading the Bible regularly? I can assure you that reading a paraphrase of the Bible is far more beneficial than owning a literal translation that’s never read!