His Gift | Sermon Notes Week One

10649713_10205695555539082_5817937599669116721_nAs I was going to lunch the other day, I driving the back roads of San Marcos (trying to get to Rogelios) and needed to take a right. I drove up to the road I needed to turn on and found this sign.

When I saw that it was one way and in the opposite direction that I wanted to go in, I was disappointed and then I looked closer and saw that the street was named Love Street and that it was a one way street.

I was shocked. Love is not supposed to be a one way street! In an act of rebellion, I turned right on the street and drove one block in violation of the traffic laws. I need to confess today. Glad I got that off my chest!

Love should be a two way street meaning that both parties participate in the relationship. Both people give and invest in the relationship. Both people selflessly give and then both graciously receive.

Growing up, I was really a chicken when it came to asking girls out on dates. In fact, I told the story a few weeks ago about Erica asking me out the first time. So I wasn’t dumped a whole lot. I do remember it happening a couple of times. I was broken up with twice. Once it was done when a girl called me from the payphone at school. I think she had just found a new boyfriend at the basketball game. So sad. Looking back on it, it is so funny. At the time, I thought it was the end of the world.)

When love is a one way street, people are drained. When only one person in a relationship is offering anything, they get burned out. The other person is negligent in the relationship.

The person that is checked out is bored, full of apathy, selfish.

The situation turns worse when the other person is not only disengaged, but pursuing other lovers.

So painful. There is rejection and abandonment.  There is relationship bankruptcy.

Some of my most difficult moments of pastoring is when a couple sits in my office for counseling. Tears begin to flow down cheeks. Sometimes they deny it. Other times they hold back all the details. After a while, the truth comes out and one of them admits to being unfaithful to their spouse.  “I broke my vow. I fell to temptation. I messed up.”

When the relationship began it seemed as though nothing could get in the way. The sky was the limit. There was so much emotional bliss in the air that what could possibly make this thing so south? Then, time wears on. Life gets tough.

What went wrong? What was it that made this thing break down?

What temptation did I fall to? What lie did I believe about the grass being greener on the other side?

When love is a one way street, it ends in a pit. There is a depth of loneliness and despair that captivates the brightest of minds and personalities.  The carnage of relationship destruction can go on for years.

This place of separation and darkness is where creation found itself before the first Christmas.

Love hasn’t always been a two way street when you look at the track record between God and humans.  God designed us to be in relationship with Him, yet with the choice to love or reject him. Freewill.  Throughout history, we have gone back and forth. We will serve God when things are tough and we need assistance. Then, we forget God when things are going well.

Love hasn’t always been a two way street when you look at the track record between God and humans.


There was a man, 760 years before Jesus was born, named Hosea. He married a beautiful young lady. They had a son. Things were going well. Then, she became a bit distant. None the less, she got pregnant again and bore them a daughter and then a son. All the while she would leave the home for long periods of time and become despondent and detached from the things at the house. Hosea began to wonder, “What is going on with my wife? Why is she leaving for so long? Why am I having to take care of everything?

Then, it was revealed that the two younger kids had different dads. Hosea’s wife had actually become a prostitute and pursued many other men. In fact,

Hosea 2:5 Their mother is a shameless prostitute and became pregnant in a shameful way. She said, “I’ll run after other lovers and sell myself to them for food and water, for clothing of wool and linen, and for olive oil and drinks.”

Wait a minute! Hosea was already providing all those things in a committed relationship! Hosea says in verse 8

Hosea 2:8 She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has- the grain, the new wine, the olive oil, I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal.”

Love has been a one way street. Hosea has been faithful. His wife has left him, pursuing other lovers to the point she is now basically owned by pimps and controlled by other men.

Hosea has a choice. He could leave her in that lifestyle. After all, this was a choice she made. He had been faithful. He had provided and lead the family well. She was prostituting herself out to other lovers. Such a brutal place to be. How devastated and lonely Hosea must have felt.

He was in the pit of rejection and despair.

Then, in an act of complete generosity and forgiveness, Hosea demonstrates the love of God.

Hosea 3:1 Then the lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” 2 So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.

WE have been negligent in the relationship.  WE became bored and impatient with God.  We are full of apathy.  We are selfish.  The situation gets worse when we not only disengaged from God, but we pursue other lovers like our career, our education, family.

So painful.

We have rejected and abandoned God. The one who first loved us.  We broke our vow. We fell to temptation. We messed up.  What went wrong? What was it that made this thing break down?  What temptation did we fall to? What lie did we believe?

There is relationship bankruptcy.

It is in the middle of this dark relationship bankruptcy that God responds in the most unique way. He responds with generosity. He responds with a gift.

His Gift.

Christmas was the epitome of God’s generosity. Only God could respond to complete betrayal with Love.

Our natural response to rejection and loss is to be fearful, controlling, stingy, miserly, after getting burned, we protect at all costs, we do whatever we can to eliminate risk.

God’s response to our rejection is the opposite. Instead of responding with pompous ego and flaunting self righteousness, God responds with humility. The incarnation. (spirit becomes man), Immanuel (God with us), God responds with more vulnerability. He directly and personally gets into our world and relates to us with all of his attention.

The Advent of Jesus is the new beginning. The Messiah has come. The dawn on the horizon.

This is Christmas. The celebration of His Gift to us!

Over the next 2 ½ weeks we are going to spend a lot of time and energy celebrating with parties and food and lights and vacation………the coming of the messiah!

Most of all we are going to give gifts to each other as a symbol of the generosity that God first extended to us when he came to earth. His Gift of salvation and reconciliation with him!

Today, we remember what God has done for us. We remember who Jesus is to us.

If you are here today and are not in a personal relationship with God, maybe you are simply struggling with life and this Christmas season, wondering how you are going to make it,

Luke 2:10 “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”  13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”


Let’s not waste this opportunity today to thank God for his Gift! Let’s pray this morning and thank Him for coming to us.

We Have Been Given So Much


Sermon notes from “We Have Been Given So Much!” November 23, 2014 – You can listen to the podcast here.

WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN SO MUCH. November 23, 2014

Luke 12:35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!  38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.

Just for clarity. Here is another way to understand the suddenness of it.

39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?”

42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.  44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.  45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk?  46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

Jesus basically says there are three types of people.

  1. Wise Managers – faithful and sensible. Good Stewards. They take care of business
  2. Unwise Managers – selfish, procrastinators, unfocused, lazy
  3. Unknowing Managers – ‘does not know’

(we all are managers of some sort)

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How do we feel about Bill Cosby?

bill_cosby_620x480_cemrfThe news is littered with stories about Bill Cosby.  The beloved actor who many of us grew up laughing at is now being accused of horrible acts of violence.  Multiple women have come forward with claims that he forced himself on them.  Only them and Cosby really know what happened.

This post is not to condemn or exonerate Bill Cosby.  More than that, it is me thinking out loud about the conflict in my heart about this whole situation.  Here are some bullet point observations about my feelings.

  • The general public has always thought Bill Cosby was a dad that we all wanted.  His most famous character, Mr. Huxtable, was funny, caring, strong, successful and the positive list goes on and on.  Bill’s comedy routines were always clean.  He made us LOL (before that was cool) without ever saying anything socially inappropriate.
  •  When an accusation comes out against someone held in such high regard, my immediate response: “No! there is no way.”  My thoughts are that Bill Cosby is the guy that we have always known and the guy we have always known would never do something like that.  Then, when almost ten different women from different areas and time frames come out with similar stories, my brain and heart get really confused.  Really? Could this actually be true?  Could he have been doing that and then representing something completely different in public?
  • If he didn’t commit these horrible acts, then why would all these women randomly say these things?  What benefit or motive do they have in coming out if it didn’t really happen.  Is it a conspiracy? Are they starving for attention and feel like they should jump on this bandwagon in order to get publicity?
  • If he did commit these horrible acts, then what does that say about him as a person?  Does that mean he is a bad person? Yes, if he did it, then he is a bad person.  How much bad do we have to do before we are ‘bad people’?  More importantly what does it mean for all the good things he did?  What about all the positive things he did for the world through his comedy and philanthropy?
  • How many good things would he have to do in order to pay for the immoral acts that he committed against these women? What would it take for the court of public opinion to accept him again?
  • In a month or sooner, the news media will determine that the public is tired of this story and move on to another story.  Everyone remember that airliner that disappeared earlier this year and it was on the news every hour for a couple weeks.  They still haven’t found that plane, but we NEVER hear anything about it.  WHEN this happens: What does this “moving on” do the victims?  Are they validated and vindicated by his public ridicule? What should they do with the pain of the past when America moves on and Bill Cosby is either trashed or exonerated?

Have you had these thoughts or others?

The Art of Forgiving

WYBMN_mainSermon notes from “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” | Week Five

Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the whole Bible is boiled down to two things:

Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor (the loner, the talker, the grouch, the giver) as yourself.  (ESV)

The term “neighbor” that Jesus used here was not ambiguous.  It simply meant: those in close proximity. Those whom Jesus has put in your path.

Today, let’s talk about the Art of Loving Your Neighbor!

Luke 10:5 “Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ 6 If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you.  7 Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide….10 But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’

When we put this spiritual concept in the context of our neighborhood, it is the:

  1. The Art of Focusing

We can’t be BEST friends with everyone. You don’t have the time or energy to invest in everyone equally.  We don’t have the capacity for deep relationships with everyone.

Jesus was intentional about how he spent his time. Throughout the Gospels Jesus was repeatedly focused on small groups of people so he could invest in their lives in big ways.

How do you determine WHO to spend the most time with? Start with Meeting EVERYONE, Learn names, Become acquainted with some, Pray, Follow natural patterns of connections AND… Look for People of Peace.

A Person of Peace is someone hospitable and open to becoming a friend. Once the disciples found a person of peace, Jesus told his followers to stay with that person.  Don’t worry about wide impact. Focus on deep impact.

Notice, a person of peace didn’t mean: a Christian, or sinner, or agnostic, or certain race or creed.

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3 Important Parts of Loving Your Neighbor

WYBMN_mainHere are the sermon notes for “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” | Week Three

Click here to listen to the podcast of this message.

Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the whole Bible is boiled down to two things:

Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor (the loner, the talker, the grouch, the giver) as yourself.  (ESV)

The term “neighbor” that Jesus used here was not ambiguous.  It simply meant: those in close proximity. Those who Jesus has put in your path.

Knowing where to start is often the hardest step. Going from the theory of loving your neighbor to actually loving. Here is a simple framework to view your relationships:

Stranger   >   Acquaintance  >   Relationship

That looks so simple and basic. It is. I highly encourage you to start framing your connections with this categories. Simply seeing them in that light will get the ball rolling.

Here are some people that you might encounter in your hood!

Today, I want to show you the 3 basics of loving our neighbor…

1.  Loving Your Neighbor starts with meeting your neighbor.

Couple weeks back, I asked everyone to name the 8 people that live the closest to you. If you haven’t done that exercise, then now is the time. You can start right now, you can sit at the kitchen table and do it with your roommates.

This is crucial. It starts making you analyze the status of you and your neighbors.

Are they Strangers? Are they Acquaintances? Do we have a significant relationship?

“Hey, I’m Robin. I know that you have told me your name, but I’m not great with names and have forgotten it.”

“Hey, I’m Robin. We wave to each other all the time, but I actually don’t know your name. “

Then, remember it until you can get home and write it down on your paper!

Eliminate Strangers on your street.  Loving Your Neighbor starts with meeting your neighbor. Baby Steps!

2.  Loving Your Neighbor means hanging out with your neighbor

We have so many excuses: We don’t have time. We don’t like them. They are involved in some unholy things.

Jesus gives us the ultimate example of this. He calls Levi to be his disciple in Luke 5 and then Levi throws a party with all of his unsaved friends!

Luke 5: 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”


We are called to help the sick get well. The problem is that we think we are only allowed to hang out with well people.

Jesus was confident in his role as Son of God. His identity was secure. The temptation to be like the tax collectors and the sinners would not be acted upon because Jesus was well grounded.

Levi was throwing the party. Levi is creating an environment where the people he knows well can interact with Jesus and his new friends.

Jesus is questioned by the religious leaders and has every opportunity to apologize for spending time with sinners. Yet, Jesus does the opposite. He defends his right to be there. He doesn’t back down.

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