Love Came Down: Advent Sermon Series

"Love came down and rescued me, love came down and set me free, I am yours, I am forever yours..."

Do you need to hear some good news this holiday season?

Has it been a while since you've been to church and you'd like to reconnect with the God who loves you?

We want to invite you to visit New Creation Church this Christmas season to celebrate how God gave the greatest gift of all when love came down.

New Creation is a safe place to experience God's grace. A place to learn how God rescues families, sets people free from burdens and makes people part of his family forever.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Emerging from the Shadow of Shame

“Shame is an epidemic in our culture and to get out from underneath it, to find our way back to each other, we have to understand how it affects us, how it affects our parenting, the way we’re working, [and] the way we look at each other.”  Brene Brown

For the last few years, I’ve been coaching my daughter’s softball team. It’s not always easy to coach your own child or to teach your child new things. It’s not always easy to be coached or taught by your father either. During one of our first games this summer, my daughter was pitching for the first time. The fast-pitch motion isn’t easy to learn. Being out there by yourself isn’t easy either. She got really nervous. I knew from watching her practice that she could pitch and pitch well. But, as her anxiety level grew, so did mine.

As a coach, I’m allowed one visit to the mound per inning. I went to talk with her and it didn’t help. When I returned to the other side of the fence, I didn’t know how to calm or encourage her. She was upset. I was upset. I became impatient and spoke to her (loudly) in a tone that was more harsh than I realized. My wife came to the dugout to let me know how bad this sounded in front of the other parents. She also helped me see that I was unintentionally embarrassing and hurting my daughter. I felt like I was a lousy coach and a terrible father. In that moment, a rush of shame washed over me. I felt likea terrible father.

What is shame? As Edward Welch explains, “Shame is the deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something you did, something done to you, or something associated with you. You feel exposed and humiliated.”

It’s time to start talking about shame. In fact, the discussion has already begun. In June of 2010, a (then) little known research professor and therapist named Brene Brown delivered a 20-minute speech about shame and vulnerability at a TED Talks conference (TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.) Since then, millions of people have used Netflix, YouTube or the TED website to watch Brene describe a personal breakdown which became a spiritual awakening for her. Coming to terms with her own shame helped transform her life.

Shame is a quiet killer. It damages the way we view ourselves. It damages the way we relate to others. It damages the way we parent. “Shame is the gremlin that says you are not good enough.” (Brene Brown) That gremlin shouts at us, “You are ugly, unclean, unlovable, repulsive, worthless, vile, disgusting, loathed and a lost cause.” When we fail, or when someone sees us in a less than flattering light, or when we feel exposed, shame approaches with the crippling message:you are not good enough and you never will be.” Sadly, we believe this lie!

Beginning on Sunday, September 7, New Creation Church will begin a sermon series called “Hiding in Plain Sight: Emerging from the Shadow of Shame.” Shame can send us into hiding as we try to avoid being exposed. We are turning the tables on shame. We will work to expose shame so we can we can come out of hiding together.

Please, join on us Sundays at 10 a.m. to see how God brings us out of the darkness of shame and into the light of his grace and love.

 

Unfinished

A few weeks ago, I was meeting with one of the leaders of our church. I asked him a question that I’d been pondering for a while. “Are you okay with the reality that, in this life, you will never be finished?” I’d venture to say that most of us don’t like the idea of being unfinished.

How do you feel about unfinished business? I like to do projects around the house. I have years of remodeling experience after rehabbing a house in St. Louis and now making changes to my home in Wentzville. I have very little trouble starting a job. My struggle is finishing it. As I type this, a piece of baseboard is staring at me. I have an office in our recently “finished” basement. The room is 95 percent finished, but there are a few little jobs that still need to be done. (Seriously, I wish this baseboard would stop looking at me.)

Living Means Dying

I often talk to people who say things like, “I don’t feel that I’m a very good Christian” or they lament not making enough progress in the process of sanctification. What is sanctification? I’ve been reading the book “Jesus + Nothing = Everything” by Tullian Tchividjian. He points out a common mistake that Christians make: “We tend to think of the gospel as God’s program to make bad people good, not dead people alive.”

The Spiritual Peanut Allergy

A few months ago, the staff and interns of New Creation were gathered for our monthly meeting. As a group of younger men, we often find ourselves veering off track, chasing rabbits or going off on tangents. We might have some attention deficit issues. ;)

We started talking about peanut allergies. We discussed how a parent can safely give a peanut to one child, but must protect another child from the threat the peanut poses. How can one little legume be a delight to one person and a danger to another? One of the guys said, “That would be a great sermon illustration.” I asked him to flesh out his thought. It was brilliant.

Begin Again

A few months ago on Facebook, a friend posted a picture of a sign that simply read, "Begin again." Depending on your story and the filter you use to process information, this short phrase can be a blessing or a curse.

Interpreted as a harsh command, it can quickly take you back to childhood mistakes which were often followed by the criticism of an exasperated parent or teacher, saying something like, "No, no, no! You're not doing it right. You foolish child, do it again. Try to do a better job this time!" At one point or another, we've all been there. We try our best, but then fail. At these times the last thing we want is to be told to start over.