One of my favorite parts about being a pastor is the opportunity to preach week after week. Like those who sit in the pews, pastors have favorite sermons too. There are some sermons that I really enjoyed preaching because of how our congregation responded. Some of the sermons are favorites because of what I learned or how I was impacted in my preparation time. Some are favorites because God used them in ways that I could have never imagined during my study time. Here are my favorite sermons that I preached in 2009. All of these are available for download on iTunes by searching for Woodbury Community Church in the iTunes store, or by clicking on this link.
10. In The Beginning. . . Love – The Bible, from beginning to end is a love story between God and us. This message deals with God’s love for humanity as demonstrated in creation, fall and redemption.
This is a sermon that I preached on October 4, 2009. It was the first sermon of our 2009 Spiritual Emphasis Week. God did awesome things during that week, and I remember having a hard time sleeping the night before the message because I couldn’t wait to see what God would do with Spiritual Emphasis Week. The week led to four people coming into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
9. Getting It Right – What Is The Gospel? – Study after study shows that the majority of churched people can no longer articulate the Gospel. When asked what makes Christianity different than any other religion many are content to give trite answers like, “It’s a relationship,” or “Jesus.” But, what it is the Gospel? What is it that makes someone a true follower of Jesus Christ?
This is a sermon that I preached on September 6, 2009. I believe that it is so important that Christians understand and can articulate what the Gospel is. If we can’t do that, are we truly saved? This was the sermon that introduced our series on evangelism.
8. “Perhaps God Will Go With Us” – The Armor Bearer and the Prince –Jonathan and his armor bearer are two of Scripture’s most underrated heroes. They were men who in the face of insurmountable odds believed God instead of men. Their story is an inspiration to anyone who has ever taken a risk for God. People who recognize that their life is a mist, and God is most important are willing to take courageous risks for God. Big Idea: Courage happens when we persevere under pressure. It happens when we say, “No” to fleshly desires in order to say “Yes” to God’s desires.
Part of our Mist Stories series, this sermon, given on May 17, 2009, was so fun to preach. There is something incredible about taking risks for God. I love the passion of Jonathan and his armor bearer. I had a lot of interesting conversations after this message. One woman told me that she had studied this passage extensively, and believes that Jonathan’s armor bearer was a young King David. Another person, a friend who lives in Israel, told me that he has a friend who believes that he has discovered where Micmash Pass, the site of this famous confrontation, is located. I’m traveling to Israel in 2010 and hope to get a chance to visit this site.
7. Jesus: The Champion – It was a day unlike any other. Grief was replaced with joy. Sin’s curse had been broken. Jesus had defeated Satan. Everything in John’s Gospel comes down to Easter! Easter changed everything. Big Idea: Want life? Believe. The Resurrection changes everything.
What pastor doesn’t love preaching on Easter Sunday? April 12, 2009 was a special day. This was my second-to-last sermon in a series through the book of John. I hadn’t planned it this way, but I came to the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. God works in awesome ways during the sermon planning process. I brought EPPIC Ministries, a mime team that had traveled with me to Guatemala on multiple occasions, to act out the story of creation, fall and redemption. They came in about five minutes into my sermon. You can view that mime on the sermon page of our web site.
6. Jesus: The Good Shepherd – In John 10, Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd, and he talks about who His sheep are. What are the signs of genuine faith? How does a follower of Christ live? What does it mean to hear God’s voice?
It was on January 25, 2009 that I had the privilege of preaching about Jesus, our good shepherd. In the sermon I remember showing a couple videos of sheep, and telling about how dumb sheep can be. One video that struck me was how utterly helpless sheep are if they fall over. We desperately need Jesus. I’m so glad we have a Good Shepherd in Him.
5. Good Name or Great Wealth – What does your life say about you and your God to world around you? Who are you when nobody else is around? How serious are you about protecting both your reputation and the reputation of your Heavenly Father. Your name is more valuable than any amount of money, because you are created in the image of God and for His glory. Big Idea: A good name is a byproduct of a life that seeks to honor God.
On August 23, 2009 I preached a sermon in our Proverbs series on the importance of integrity. I told one of my favorite stories from childhood about meeting my hero, Pete Rose. I showed our congregation a baseball with two signatures. On one side of the ball is the autograph of my childhood hero, Pete Rose. On the other side of the ball is A. Bartlett Giamatti’s signature. Giamatti was, at the time, the President of the National League. He eventually became the commissioner of baseball and banned Pete Rose from life for betting on the game.
As great a player as Rose was, he is most remembered for betting on the game. Our names matter. It’s great to know that if we are Christians we carry the name of Christ with us. At the end of the sermon everyone was encouraged to come up and grab a football (this was the week Brett Favre signed with the hometown Vikings) and to sign it with their name on one side, and “child of God,” on the other side.
4. When God Shapes Your Character – Elijah bursts onto the scene, pronounces judgment upon the land and then just as quickly is told to hide away in the Kerith Ravine. Sustained only by the hand of God, Elijah the Prophet learns much about the character and nature of God. This sermon will challenge us to live our lives trusting God one day at a time. Big Idea: Where God guides, He provides.
Part of our Elijah series, this sermon was preached on October 25, 2009. I think I enjoyed preaching this one so much because I could relate so much to Elijah’s feelings in it. Does God ever take you somewhere that makes no sense to you, only to shape you and mold you into someone that you couldn’t have become had He not? I incorporated much from a sermon by Craig Groeschel into this message. I was so encouraged by listening to some of what he preached to his congregation on this passage, and I’m glad that I did. Many people talked to me after this message about the impact that it made on them.
3. “I’m Speechless” – Zechariah’s Story – Zechariah is one of the most intriguing people in Scripture. The old man dreamt of the day that he would chosen to go into the temple of the Lord to burn incense. When his turn finally came, he got more than he bargained for. This sermon will be given in the first person, as a dramatic interpretation of the life of Zechariah. Big Idea: We are tools in the hands of Almighty God. Embrace your place in His story.
Based upon congregational response, this December 6, 2009 sermon was probably the favorite of 2009. I preached this sermon as a dramatic monologue. I had a makeup artist come to our home and make me look like an old man, early in the morning. This was such a fun sermon to preach because it was unlike anything else I had done all year long. People told me that they readily identified with Zechariah. It helped them understand and appreciate the faith of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, and helped them understand God’s grace in a new light. The video of that sermon is available on our sermon page at WCC’s website.
2. Your Life Is a Mist: What Are You Doing With It? – We all have one life to live on this earth, and only what is done for Christ will last for eternity. So, why is it so hard to not get wrapped up in the world’s system of acquiring as much as we can for ourselves? This message focuses on living our lives for God and His priorities. Big idea: God has given us everything we need to know and to live the life that He desires for us.
I’ll never forget what God did after this message was preached on May 3, 2009. This was the first message in a series entitled Mist Stories: The Intersection of Faith, Life and Love. In the message I challenged our congregation to basically live like they were dying. In other words, we need to recognize that we have not been promised tomorrow, and only what is done for Christ in our lives will last. Then each attendee was given a can of Sierra Mist to keep as a reminder that our life is a mist. They were supposed to keep the can in a prominent location, and to try to give it away before the week was through. Each week, they were supposed to pick up another can. It was one small way to show love to someone else. If possible, I encouraged each member to try and find an even greater way to show love. I also asked them to e-mail me their mist stories. We started a page on our website to chronicle the mist stories of our congregation. The month of May saw over 40 mist stories e-mailed in to me. I couldn’t put many of them on our web page because they were far too personal. Our congregation was changed as a result of this series. I’m still hearing stories today about how God is using members of our church to reach out to others. God has also given me the opportunity to preach this message to about 500 other people this year in various venues. You can view the Mist Stories page by clicking here.
1. My Big Dysfunctional Family – The genealogy of Jesus is full of less than perfect people. But, it’s the stories of some of these people that help us to see just how beautiful the grace of God is. Jesus’ coming into this family should give all of us hope about what can happen when God takes over a life. Big Idea: No one is beyond the grace of God.
Nothing could have prepared me for what God did on November 29, 2009 at Woodbury Community Church. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was expecting a small crowd. We had one of our largest Sunday attendances of the year! I had been on vacation in Illinois all week, and had promised my family not to work on my message during our vacation. It wasn’t until the ride home on Saturday that I was able to work on my message. (I plan my basic outline months in advance but write my messages out in manuscript form on the week of the sermon). I drove to our lunch stop in Wisconsin Dells, and then my daughter Breanna took over driving. That is when the Lord just really spoke to me as I typed my sermon out. Throughout my preparation, I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to give an invitation to accept Christ at the end of the sermon. I felt that the Spirit was calling me not to just invite people to come to Christ, but to indicate it by raising their hands at the end of the prayer. I give invitations often, but not usually accompanied by raised hands. I asked my wife, Cyndi, to pray about this, because this isn’t something that we do much in Minnesota.
God worked in incredible ways! By the end of the second service seventeen people in our congregation prayed to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. That is about ten percent of our average attendance. Fourteen of those seventeen people are adults. Youth for Christ has a statistic that says that 95% of those who come to faith in Jesus Christ do so before the age of 21. We saw God work in miraculous ways that day.
I’m praising God for what He did in 2009, and can’t wait to see what He does in 2010.