Archives For Sermon Notes

Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community

  • “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
  • Pergamum
    • It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.”  Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny…insignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion  – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.



Preached this sermon yesterday at Main Street and it was well received.

God’s Kaleidoscope

(Romans 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:9-10)

            “I think every church should be a church irreligious people love to attend. Why? Because the church is the local expression of the presence of Jesus. We are his body. And since people who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus, people who are nothing like Jesus should like us as well.”[1] I just read that quote on Friday and it is amazing how well this fit into the sermon idea that I wanted to talk about with you this morning. A few weeks ago I shared a blog post chronicling my usage of marijuana in middle and high school and I received many warm comments but most of them had to do with me having courage to share that information. In that blog post I wrote:

I am not sure why I am telling all of you this now as many of you are finding this out for the first time. I guess because I have seen a few of my own youth struggle and have heard of so many others that I feel it is probably time to share my story.[2]

Some of you in this audience knew of my past and some of you did not. Perhaps some of you are thinking to yourself, “What is this guy talking about?” The blog post simply told part of my story where I struggled with drugs and alcohol in my middle and high-school days. The struggle could have been worse but it did not have to happen. I tell you all of this to ask this question:

Why did people say that I had courage to admit that I used drugs?

Why does that take courage?

I read the New Testament and people who were responsible for the death of Jesus, the Savior came to Peter asking for repentance and desiring baptism. Smoking weed is nothing compared to killing the savior.

It takes courage to admit things like my broken past not because there is a loss of people in the church who have similar pasts but there are people in this church and every other church who are either afraid of what people might think (i.e, “they will judge me”) or, even worse, they do not want to address those demons of the past. It also takes courage to admit that those types of things because most of time many people in this auditorium spend 45 minutes to an hour pretending to be someone who they are not. This is why so many people who are unchurched do not want to attend a church because they feel like they have to have everything in order before they can be a part of the church. That’s not the way the New Testament church operated.

What I am going to do this morning is going to take some courage on your part. I am going to ask a bunch of questions and all I ask of you to do is to be honest and raise your hands.[3] If you are visiting with us feel free not to participate but if you are a member of this church I ask all of you to participate. I ask you to trust me in what I am about to do and understand that I am making a point with all of this. Finally, this goes without saying, those who raise their hands are free from judgment on your part. There is only one judge and you are not he. This should make good lunch discussions…

So here we go…

We’ll start easy…

  • How many of you come from a Christian home where you church was talked about all the time and you absolutely loved going to services, participating in VBS, youth the whole nine yards? How many of that was you raise your hand?
  • How many of you did not grow up in a Christian home as Christ was never talked about or if he was it was only around Christmas time? How many of that was you raise your hand?
  • How many of you grew up attending church but then hated going to church because mom and dad forced it on you so you left when you got old enough and then played a little, visited other churches but eventually came back? How many of that was you raise your hand?
  • How many of you came from some other denomination before you landed here at Main Street?
  • How many of you became a believer after your 20th birthday? 30th? 40th? 50th? Any higher?
  • How many of you, your parents are still happily married?
  • How many of you are from homes where your parents were divorced either early on or at some point since you left the house?
  • How many of you, your parents are married, but not necessarily happily?
  • How many of you have experienced divorce?
  • How many of you have a master’s level education or above?
  • How many of you did not graduate high school but have a GED or some sort of equivalent?
  • Any democrats in here?
  • How many of you were born in the north above the Mason-Dixon line?
  • How many of you were born in another country?

Again this is a safe environment where you will not be judged….

  • How many of you have a past in addiction whether it is alcohol, drugs or pornography?
  • Last one, how many of you have experienced some sort of abuse (physical, sexual or mental) in your background.

Let’s take a deep breath. There is this lie from the handiwork of Satan himself that says God only saves certain people. As if God loves republicans more than he does democrats. As if God loves people who have been to church their whole lives versus those who just made it. Here is the gist of this sermon, the big point…

“God, by his grace and mercy, wants all to be saved and the gospel is for everybody.”

Let that marinate on your heart rate now. Let that sit in your stubborn chambers where the “ideal Christian” image sits. God saves the person who cusses like a sailor and get’s drunk all night long and God saves the person whose worst words are “silly goose” and who feels guilty drinking a Pepsi. You know what I mean? God saves all of us and we should be courageously unashamed of that fact.

Some of you are walking around saying, “I never tried drugs and I never have touched alcohol and I have gone to church services my whole life and feel like my testimony to God is insignificant.” Hogwash! Praise God that he saw it fit to save you from that situation and now uses your story to teach all families that God-fearing people can raise another generation of God-fearing people. Some of you are walking around saying, “If church people only knew of all the things I have done they would not want me into their church.” First off, it’s not their church it’s Jesus Christ’s church. Secondly, if they really knew about all the things you have done and if they had an ounce of authenticity in them after hearing about the things you have done they would not say, “How horrible you are,” they would say, “How great is our God!”

Don’t you think it’s time church that we become a little more authentic and a little more genuine? I am not saying we have to unload every personal detail every time we come to services but I can honestly say that many of you I know but few of you I know on a deep, personal level. The apostle Paul was very upfront about who he was and how God saved him from the wretched person that he was. There are a ton of verses I could share (especially in Acts where he recounts his conversion story a couple of times) but I felt like this one sums it all up…

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Cor. 15:9-10)

In context Paul is talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how Jesus appeared to him who was the least of the apostles. He calls himself one who was “untimely born.” Paul is forever having to defend his apostleship to people who think he is a nobody. Imagine the criticism he got:

“This guy is not one of us, he was a persecutor of the church. How dare he think he can tell us how to run this church?”

“He was not an apostle as he barely even saw the Lord Jesus.”

Yet, Paul understood that and in the wake of his past he came to the conclusion that the suffering, the persecution and the pain he causes to the church he could do nothing about right now. He said, “by the grace of God I am what I am.”

I think churches are starving for people like Paul who just puts all of his cards on the table and lets whatever falls to fall. He does not say what he did gives people license to do bad things but he allows other people to see how God can save people from horrible circumstances.


So there is this myth that there is this certain type of person God saves. It does not exist. He saved a rich tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus and he saved the woman caught in adultery, in the very act. How rough would that one be if a woman caught in adultery interrupted our services begging to be saved at the very instant? We would probably escort her out so we would not disrupt the order of worship. God saves all kinds of people. If we want this church to grow we need to be more authentic. We need to be the church that does not seek other church-going people but we need to be the church that seeks the people nobody wants… the unchurched. There are plenty of churches in this county who brag about their numbers when all they are doing is swelling from other churches. We need to be that church where unchurched people look at and say, “I want to be a part of that.”

How do we do that? We started today… honesty, integrity and openness. I titled this sermon God’s Kaleidoscope. One definition for kaleidoscope on was, “any complex pattern of frequently changing shapes and colors.” Sounds a little bit about what church is supposed to be. As the leaves change in the fall I am reminded about how different people from church are. We come from every background imaginable and the one common theme is that we are all trying to give God his glory and reach others to do the same. We all are spared by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ so that we do not live lives in the “used to be” or “what could be” but we live in the already.

So we have all been a bit honest. This should help us reach others. This should help us start. We do not have to have this mask put on. “Fake it until you make it” is a cliché for people who don’t know what they are talking about. Let’s stop faking. Let’s stop living in our empty cisterns of despair. Let’s live in the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I am not scared any more are you? Let’s do this church! My name is Robbie Mackenzie. I used to do drugs, I used to drink heavily, I was not a virgin when I got married, I treated God like a genie in a bottle and God saved me from all of that. HIS GRACE REACHES EVEN ME….

[1] Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend (Kindle Locations 57-59). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[3] The idea from this came from Matt Chandler’s masterful sermon entitled, “City on a Hill – Part 1: A New People” preached at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX on September 2nd, 2012. Some of the questions are directly from his sermon.

Below are my notes from Evangelism University main sessions.  Hope you enjoy…

Wesley Hazel – Seeing the One Who is Different – Evangelism University – 1/13/12

Mark 10:46-52

–       Christianity is about living your life and going to heaven.

–       We have the opportunity to change the eternal destiny of someone’s soul.  Help them have an eternal foundation.

–       Taking people to heaven with you.

–       You are not going to heaven on accident and you are not taking anyone with you on accident.  Living intentionally.

–       The field is souls and the challenge is to harvest.

“…and they came to Jericho….”

–       Verse 46

  • Jesus was a busy man.
  • As he walked he walked with a great multitude.  5,000 people followed Jesus around (?).
  • People wanted his presence.
  • In the midst of all of the commotion who was blind.  He was a blind beggar.
    • Have you ever walked in the streets who was blind on the streets?
    • Helpless?

–       Verses 47-48

  • People were urging the beggar to be quiet.

–       Verses 49

  • Jesus stopped and said call him here.
  • We are going to have to stop and notice people.  Jesus focused on someone else because that is what he did.
  • Other people had agendas but Jesus went to those who were forgotten, neglected, abused, disenfranchised.
  • This is why I came.
  • What are we here for?  For people to talk about how wonderful we are or are we here to seek and save the lost.
  • Zaccheus – Luke 19 – Sinners
  • John 4 (Samaritan Woman) – Another neglected person…Jesus sat down with her.
    • Be like the little children Matt. 18
    • Enemies – Jesus said you better love them.  Not just tolerate them, not just doing bad things to them but to love them.
  • How do we notice who are different from us?
    • Social class? – Hierarchies, cliques, etc.  It would make their year if you would just talk with them.  Ask them about their life.  Open our lives to people.  Reaching out to people who are different than us.
      • I want to fight in the Lord’s army.
      • Different social classes.
    • Race
    • Faith – Share the “gospel” with them?

Andrew Phillips—“Seeing Souls: Looking at People the Way Jesus did.”—1/14/12—Evangelism University

Invest time and learning how to reach others.

–       Do you remember the time you first needed glasses or contacts?

–       The feeling you get when you realize that you have missed it before but now you got it.  When I look through the eyes of Jesus in the gospels where Jesus sees that we miss.

–       Miss the gorilla, basketball illustration.

–       When Jesus saw people he had the ability to see beneath the surface.  4 texts to help us do that best.

LUKE 7:36-39

–       In the ancient world you were in a reclining position.  When you come into someone’s home and hospitality is important an uninvited guest is going to be a big deal.

–       The biggest act of hospitality someone could do is wash the feet of someone.

–       What did everyone else see?

  • They saw a sinner…
  • They didn’t see hope, they saw an interruption.
  • When Jesus saw her he saw a person who desperately needed forgiveness from sin.

–       Luke 7:46

–       Are there people we know that when we look at them all we can think about is what they did, what happened in the past, how they look, how they dress, what they said or something else?

  • It is easy for us to hold on to things but if we look with the eyes of Jesus we see their brokenness for what it is.
  • We see a need for redemption…a better story.

–       Do you see potential or pain?

–       Seeing things like Jesus…

MARK 1:40-42

–       Leprosy.  When we think about leprosy in the first century it was contagious and dangerous.

  • They had to live isolated by themselves.
  • For someone who comes begging Jesus, this is scandalous.
  • Every day he lived he was reminded about what he had and what he experienced.
  • When was the last time this man had physical contact?  Jesus reached out and touched this man.

–       When people looked at this man, what did they see?

  • A leper?
  • Or someone who needs compassion.

–       Who do we see when we look at others?

LUKE 19:1-7

–       There is a lot more to the story of Zacchaeus.

  • He was a tax collector.  A hated person who was considered a traitor.
  • He was a “chief” tax collector and the only way a person gets rich is to steal from people.
  • He was desperate to see Jesus.

–       What did people when they saw Zacchaeus?

  • Tax Collector?
  • Sinner?

–       Zacchaeus changed his entire life!

  • Four times the amount of stealing.

–       What do we see when someone has everything going in their life?

  • Even if someone looks like they have it together they don’t.  Every person is in need.
  • Donald Trump – “No matter how much money he accumulated, he probably will always want more.”  One of the saddest statements ever made.
  • Are we reluctant to reach out to people who are successful?
  • Sometimes we have this secret fascination with people suffering who have been successful.  Is that the right attitude to have?

JOHN 3:1-21

–       Nicodemus

  • Why didn’t he show up during the day?
  • He had a good status in the religious community?

–       Has there ever been someone whom we did not want to talk to?

  • What did they see?
    • A religious man…
  • What did Jesus see?
    • A possibility…

–       Top 5 people who would never be converted

  • Paul

–       What am I seeing?

Worth:  Value is determined by what people are willing to pay.  (Great Quote)

–       When I look at this with the eyes of Jesus that means every person has value.

Keith Parker—“Seeing Past Mistakes” (John 4)—1/14/12—Evangelism University

“Super Sabbath Day Crowd”

Is there anybody in love?  If you are in love you know that love is an action.  It’s not just a feeling.  It’s so much more than that.

–       1 Corinthians 13

  • Love is kind.
  • Love is saying “you first and me second.”

JOHN 4:7ff.

–       Jesus sits down at Jacob’s well.

–       There are two words from John 4:26 (“I” and “am”)

  • Jesus is busy witnessing to people.
  • In John he talks to people about who he was, “I am”
  • He is busy introducing himself to others.  It’s about lunchtime….

–       If you are going to put words into action there are two people you need to meet.

    • The Samaritan woman…Romans 3:10, 23
    • How would you treat the woman at the well?  What about a lady whose skin-color is different and has been married five times?
    • Jesus treated the woman in John 4 the same.  Like he treated Zacchaeus the sinner in Luke 19.  Jesus loved sinners.
    • Number one sin struggle: Selfishness
    • We are like selfish babies.  We are so consumed with self
    • 2 Tim. 3:1ff.
    • The answer of help is when people like us who are sinners and are willing to be open and honest enough to admit who we are.
    • We are sinners.  1 Tim. 1:15
    • Superstar of John 4.
    • John 4:42 – They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.
    • If Jesus can say one thing to you, what would he say?
      • “I’ve been watching you…”
      • “If you don’t quit that you are going to go to hell…”
      • A lot of people think God’s favorite word is “don’t.”  Not true.
      • If Jesus could say one thing to you he would probably say, “I love you!”
      • Eyes are the windows to our minds.  Maybe we afraid of letting people look down deep.
      • He sees anger, bad attitudes, disobedience and says, “I hate it but I love you just as you are.”

Keith Parker—1/15/12—Evangelism University

–       It’s a big deal to be in Savannah, TN.

–       I am a nobody who is trying to tell everybody about SOMEBODY who can save anybody.

Mark 5

–       The motto of Evangelism University

–       Mark 5:19-20:  Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”

–       Go tell what the Lord has done for you.

–       The demon-possessed man was healed but the first thing he ever did was share the message of Jesus and what God had done for him.

–       James 1:17; 1 Tim. 6:17

–       What has the Lord done for you?  Have you told anybody?

–       Ephesians 4

  • Spiritual body is the church.  Acts 5:32
  • One Lord, one faith and one baptism.
  • Ephesians 4:6 – One God and father of all, in all through all and above all.