God has been speaking to me through a number of sources (His Word, His Spirit, scholars, books, other pastors, meetings, prayer, etc.) about the power of what He does in a community of faith. The gospel is not first for our benefit (though we gain everything), it is first for God’s glory.
October 31, 2017, marks the 500th year anniversary since the start of the Protestant Reformation. This moment began when Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, nailed his 95 theses (his fundamental objections to Roman Catholic teaching) to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.
It is great to be back home. Susan and I had an amazing time with family while in Milwaukee for 48 hours for a wedding last weekend. We are so grateful for the opportunity to attend and be a part of the happy stuff that makes life rich and rewarding.
We have been talking a lot lately about law-reliance and law-obeying. We are being shaped by Galatians and learning to joyfully obey out of gratitude for the free grace given us. I read this question the other day, “Is God glorified and exalted when we are merely trembling before Him and obeying out of fear or when we are filled with joy as we delight in living according to His commands?”
Fall is in full swing. My thoughts and prayers are for our many families that are enjoying fall break with their kids. I love seeing moms and dad making the most of the moments and making this time feel special. Playing and resting is so important for busy families.
We arrived safely home last night from Austria and Albania. The trip was very fruitful. We cried; we prayed; we ate (a lot); we preached and testified; we learned history and perspectives; we visited homes of church leaders as well as Muslim refugees; we sang; we walked (a ton); we slept (way too little); and we laughed until our sides hurt.
Via Church is alive and well! Our mission is being accomplished. Lives are being transformed by Jesus. Our community is being blessed as we live on mission for His glory. God is adding wonderful new folks to our faithful congregation. What we are a part of is bigger than any one of us. I am so excited for our future!
The message for this Sunday is heavy on my mind this week. God is rewiring my heart through study and preaching. I also love hearing what God is doing in the hearts of our congregation as we move through the book of Galatians. I am excited!
This week my mind has been running the almost countless images and stories that are pouring in from Houston and the other areas hard hit by Hurricane Harvey. It is difficult to fathom...thousands of rescues, loss of life and property, and the fear and uncertainty facing thousands of people. May God use this tragedy to show His love and care for people! Please read the details below on how we as a church can respond with generosity to this horrific situation. Via, let’s show the compassion of Christ in a tangible way!
Dear Via Family,
The freedom that we have in Christ is beautiful. Some choose to live in constant striving to be right in God’s sight by their right living. Right living is good, but we are made righteous by Jesus. We obey in sincere gratitude for the free gift of salvation and love for our Lord. We are secure in Jesus! The goal of our lives is to live without fear, redeemed by a God who called us by name and declares for time and eternity that we are His. There is such freedom in the Good News that we have received.
Dear Via Family,
We all have a story. Our stories contain many stories that make up our story. Have you thought about your story? What are the moments that have shaped your life? Paul refers to a “former life”. This isn’t a reference to reincarnation. There are two polar opposite lives that Paul lived. His life before his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) and His life after. He was absolutely changed by the power of the gospel story. That reality for Paul is still available today. There is an offer on the table to everyone everywhere - to be changed by gospel.
Dear Via Family,
I need to hear the gospel more today than ever. The simple gospel that was shared with me when I was in junior high is still impacting me and the Holy Spirit keeps applying its implications to every area of my life. I am not longing for a new or hidden truth. I am not thirsty for a self-help message to improve my life. Nor am I hungry for a modern new twist to the old story. I am ....
My thoughts and prayers this week have been directed at our kids and leaders at Kid’s Camp in Prescott. I have seen many pictures and videos posted from them and I wish I was there. These are moments of major spiritual formation. The stories of ...
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Dear Via Family,
The sounds of my dad getting work done will forever live in my memory. Dad was a union heavy machinery crane operator. When I was able to visit Dad on the job as a kid, the noises were loud. Massive diesel engines roared, metal was clanging, welding was sparking, air brakes were releasing pressure, and men were yelling instructions and directions. I knew that big things were happening. Things were getting built, repaired, moved, and improved.
As a pastor, I have wondered what the sounds of my work are?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Dear Via Family,
I cannot believe that the Fourth of July is upon us! I have enjoyed seeing so many Via Church folks taking vacations, making family memories, and enjoying breaks from daily routines. It is very spiritual to Sabbath and enjoy God’s blessings. We are wired by God to rest. I pray that our love for Jesus and His church increases as we get away. If you get a chance, check out a local church where you are vacationing and peer in on what God is doing there.
Here are the nuts and bolts of Via over the next few weeks...
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
The heat is on! Despite the extreme temperatures, I still love Arizona!
I have a few things that I need you to know as we head into Sunday ...…..
In today’s consumer driven approach to church, many look for, and expect, a church to meet their needs and desires, and to do it well. Via certainly desires to serve those inside and outside our walls. As a community of faith, however, we must look to the Scriptures for our direction. What are the things that should mark us? What are the characteristics of a community with whom God is pleased?
Jesus actually laid out a compelling teaching that is meant to shape us, examine us, convict us, and change us by the Holy Spirit. How can we better reflect Jesus? How we operate should display how the Gospel has radically transformed us.
Jesus’ new and better law, given to us in Matthew 5:1-12 will be our focus through the summer. Our series is called Kingdom People. I, along with all of our pastors, are praying that God will work in our hearts as a congregation and lead us to repentance of sin and faith in Jesus. Let’s allow this series to be a mirror to who we are individually and as a community of faith (James 1:22-25).
You will want to know this ...…..
Dear Via Family
As we do most Wednesdays, the pastors and staff had numerous meetings together yesterday. As I sat listening to report after report, I found myself wishing everyone in the church could have been listening in. Week after week I find myself surprised at just how much awesomeness happens both on and off our campus. There is a lot to be celebrated at Via Church! Here is a small sampling of just the past week: