Category Archives: North Village Church

Are you a Dangerous Leader? Or, are you a DANGEROUS LEADER?

Malachi 1:6-8: In the book of Malachi the people of Malachi’s day are living through a difficult season.  Their morale is low, their souls are depleted, they have lost optimism in the Lord, and their worship in the Lord is waning, and it bothers the Lord, so that in chapter 1 we see a rebuke that is primarily targeting the spiritual leaders, “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts.”

Up to this point the people of Israel have grown up hearing great things about the Lord through leaders like Abraham, Moses, David, Sampson, but lately the stories haven’t been that great.  Lately they have heard about the Assyrians, a wicked people take the 10 tribes to the north into captivity.  Then, Babylon, another wicked people take the 2 tribes to the south into captivity.  Then, Persians, another wicked people take out the Babylonians and issue a decree allowing Israel to return home, which is great, but Israel is having to start all over. They are having to rebuild their homes, restart their economy, re-establish their community, and they are still living under the oppression of the Persian government, so that their awe and worship of God is waning and it is trickling down into their relationships with one another.  But, there is HOPE.  

In Malachi 3 the Lord reminds them of His unending love, therefore, we are called to give our lives completely to Him, and when we give our lives to the Lord we will become DANGEROUS leaders, so let’s talk about what that looks like practically.  Dangerous leaders…

Pandemic Review: 2020

This year has been crazy, and it would be really easy to press into 2021 without even skipping a beat to what we might have felt and experienced last year.

This packet will serve as a guide to help you process 2020 with the Lord, and most importantly, invite the Lord into those places so that we might grieve and lament with Him. (click the link!)

Homeless: How did we get here?

I live in Austin, TX, and have noticed, as I am sure many have, homeless people are more visible in my daily routine than ever before.  A few years ago I heard that Austin allowed people to panhandle at the corner, so it was more desirable for people in Dallas or Houston to make their way to Austin, because there would be more opportunities for people to get help, but sometime around 2019 it seemed like everything changed, and it sent me on this path to learn, “How did we get here?” Here’s a brief outline:

  • On October 17, 2019, the City Council of Austin made several revisions to the city ordinance that prohibits camping in public areas.  Other ordinances, including those prohibiting obstruction on sidewalks in the downtown area and aggressive confrontation, remain unchanged.  The ordinance changes went into effect on October 28, 2019. 
  • I was encouraged to see how many resources the City of Austin have directed toward homelessness in our community. City staff work everyday on programs and with partners to help those experiencing homelessness. 
  • In addition, there are a number of data points the City of Austin is trying to keep track of, and in general it appears that the number of homeless in Austin are increasing. 

If you would like more current information you can glean data from 2020 that was provided by the Statesman and you will see that Austin is 11% increase.

At the moment I am still trying to find a more detailed explanation of what Mayor Adler is trying to accomplish, but I am having a hard time tracking down the information.  The best I have found is a quote by Adler that states, ““We need to invest in affordable housing and prevention efforts that make homelessness rare; and in diversion and rapid re-housing programs that make homelessness brief; and we need to significantly invest in permanent supportive housing that ensures that homelessness is non-recurring for all those that successfully rise above that experience,” but I haven’t been able to see the details of what that plan would look like specifically. 

Arguments: How does Jesus argue about morality?

At first glance it might feel like morality isn’t a very applicable subject for us personally, but arguments around morality are driving the majority of our headlines in the news today. 

The #metoo movement is a conversation around morality.  The conversations around immigration right now are a conversation around morality.  Racism, abortion, equality are all conversations, at the base level, around morality, and in Mark 12 we are going to see three sub-points; 1.  The Background.  2. The Rebuke.  3.  The Training. 

Mark 12:28, “28 One of the scribes came up and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

The Scribes were the teachers of the law, like Pharisees, but the Scribes had the responsibility of meticulously preserving God’s Word and replicating God’s Word, so Scribes are like Guardians of the Bible.

In verse 28 the Scribe has been listening to Jesus engage these arguments that we have covered the last two Sundays, and the Scribe says to Jesus, “That’s a pretty good response, but “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

This question isn’t like a memory question, and Jesus just needs to recall the correct information, but this question is to create division, because Jesus has a large following of people and each group of people would have certain commandments that they focused on more than others, so the Scribe is trying to get Jesus to show His cards. 

Arguments: How does Jesus argue about politics?

I was reading in an article where the author made the observation that the follower of Christ is comfortable talking to their friend about sexual addiction, financial debt, marital conflict, childhood hurts, but in today’s climate feels completely resistant to talk about politics. 

And why should we?  Due to the massive amounts of news, quality of news, and volatility of news it seems likely that it would be unwise to engage in any political conversation, because there are landmines everywhere. 

Have you heard of Critical Race Theory?  Critical Race Theory has hi-jacked most of the political vocabulary, so that we might be saying the same words around racism, white supremacy, or white privilege, but completely different definitions, and that makes political conversations really complicated, therefore, why would we even think about engaging a conversation around politics? 

The answer is simple, really.  We engage these conversations because Jesus calls all who are in Christ to “go and make disciples” and making disciples involves every part of our life coming under the name of Jesus, and that includes politics.

In Mark 12 we see how Jesus engages political arguments, and we are going to see three sub-points; 1.  The Background.  2. The Rebuke.  3.  The Training

The Background.

Mark 12:13-15, “13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?”

This conversation is taking place on Wednesday, and in two days Jesus is going to be put to death on Friday, so that On Monday it is “The people love Jesus, crying out Hosanna, Glory to God” and on Friday it is “The people are crying out crucify Him” so that Wednesday is filled with tension.

The “they” in verse 13 is the Sanhedrin, which was the super religious group in Israel, and the Sanhedrin are wanting to catch Jesus in a trick question.

First, Israel was already paying land tax, grain tax, oil tax, wine tax, and this poll-tax was just another way for Rome to oppress the people of Israel, and they were done with it. 

Second, the Pharisees and Herodians were symbolic groups representing both sides of the argument. The Pharisees were the religious leaders representing Israel, so that if Jesus says, “Pay the tax” then Jesus is aligning himself with Rome, aligning Himself with oppressor, and the Pharisees are going to gasp.

But if Jesus says, “Don’t pay the tax” then Jesus is aligning Himself with Israel, aligning Himself with revolt, and the Herodians are going to tell Rome to take down Jesus as quickly as possible.

Arguments: How does Jesus argue about life after death?

In our culture today we tend to have one belief that we are all going to go to heaven one day, and everything is great, so don’t worry, and on the other extreme is that we all rot and die and death is where it all ends. 

But in Matthew 22 we are going to see how Jesus responds to the question, “What happens when we die?”

Matthew 22:23-28, “23 On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, 24 asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; 26 so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”

The word “resurrection” means rising up, and it is a teaching that is every man, woman, and child is going to be “resurrected” (raised up from the dead), so that those who are in Christ will spend eternity with Christ, and those who are not in Christ will spend eternity in judgment, called hell.  

The kicker of the story is that the Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection at all.  My professors would say, “That is why they are sad you see.” 

Rise Up and Reach Update: October 2020

The City of Austin has our paperwork, and they keep pushing us out two weeks, but we want you to know we are still looking for opportunities. 

We talked to two different owners on Burnet Rd. and both properties are asking for twice as much as the property we are looking at right now, which is encouraging for us to keep persevering with our current opportunity and keeping an eye out for new opportunities. 

In addition, 100% of the one time gifts that were committed for Rise Up Reach in August have come in, which is a huge encouragement for our church family, so please keep praying and know that we are fully expecting the Lord to provide for us as a church family.

Titus 2:1-15, “Genuine Faith, Genuine Lives.”

About a year ago I had someone knock on my door about the house across the street being for rent, and he said, “Do you know the owner living in Florida?”  I said, “The owner just passed away and left the house to her nephew who lives in Phoenix?”  He said, “Really, because I am emailing someone who is telling me to send a deposit check of $1,500 in Florida.”

  • Have you had one of those moments where you ever felt misled? 
  • Have you had one of those moments where you go to buy something, and then you didn’t read the fine print? 
  • Teenagers, have you had one of those moments where you were watching a Tik-Tok video, only to find out they are trying to trick you into buying something?

In the book of Titus we see a people who are professing faith in Jesus, but living a life that is misleading, deceptive, destructive, and God’s Word teaches us that genuine faith in Jesus produces genuine lives in Jesus, and in Titus 2 we are going to see God’s Word focus on three sub-points; 1.  The Charge.  2.  The Context.  3.  The Comfort.  Lets look at our first sub-point; 1.  The Charge. 

The Charge.

Titus 2:1, “1 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

Now, verse 1 is specifically for Titus, but this charge is also for all those who are in Christ, and the word “sound” basically means “healthy” and the word “doctrine” means instructions, so verse 1 is talking about “speaking words that build up others and making relationships, society and culture better.”

It’s possible that you are only thinking about preaching or formal speaking, but the word “speak” is just the word “talk” so that we are talking about our normal, conversational, words with the people around us so that our relationships are cultivated and made beautiful. 

Can you think of a more important verse for our culture today?  We have people rioting in the streets, we have presidential candidates yelling at each other, we family members cutting off relationships because of social views, and God’s Word charges us, “But as for you, build up your up the people around you.” 

6 Stages of Processing the Coronavirus

In January 2020 I started to hear people talking about the Corona virus, but it wasn’t something I took serious. In February, I started to hear a few more clusters of people talking about the threat of the Corona virus in the United States, but I was still optimistic that it wouldn’t be a problem for me personally.

In March, everything changed. Festivals started to close, sports started to cancel, and it wasn’t long before our mayor was signing a city ordinance for us to Shelter-In-Place.

As the ordinance went into effect I was surprised by how my friends and neighbors responded to the ordinance with such optimism, and it reminded me of how people tend to process going through cultural changes.

As a pastor, I have led many people into cross-cultural experiences, and found there is a pattern that people go through in cross-cultural experiences that might apply to this season of our lives:

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Preparing to Engage God Every Day

On March 22, 2020, Austin, TX issued a “Shelter At Home” ordinance in our city during the Corona Virus spread. As a result we are encouraged not to leave our homes, unless for essential activities, and as a result we are in our house, or in our PJ’s longer than usual.

In the past, we would have gone throughout the day, or the week, and there might have been passive ways that our heart, soul, mind and strength might have been stirred for the Lord. There might have been a song we heard from someone’s office, there might have been a billboard that peaked our curiosity about the Lord, or even a friendly hello from a passerby might have been a divine hello that we didn’t know we needed. But, these days it seems like we have less of those opportunities, and if we’re not careful we will just keep scrolling our social media or watching re-runs on Netflix.

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Why Are We Praying Every Day?

On March 13, 2020 AISD issued a statement that our church family would not be able to meet in Pillow Elementary because of the Corona Virus that was spreading through our country, and through our world.

At first, it was a bit of a shock. All those apocalyptic movies I had watched started flooding to my mind like, “I Am Legend” and “World War Z.” Even my children were asking me, “What was it like when you were our age and viruses started shutting down your schools?”

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Colossians 2:16-23, “Calling Out L.I.E.S”

Colossians 2:16-17, “16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”

These aren’t men, women, and children who are anti-Jesus. They are pro-Jesus, love Jesus, believe in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and yet they are getting distracted with these messages that “Jesus isn’t enough” and these messages are going to break down into 4 different categories:  Legalism

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Colossians 2:8-15, “Made Complete In Jesus.”

Colossians 2:8, “8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

  • In verse 8 we see the most common reason we see a spiritual lull in life is because we have distractions coming at us every day like, look at verse 8, philosophy, empty deception, tradition of men, and elementary principles of the world.
  • The word “philosophy” literally means the love of wisdom, and when you partner this word with “empty deception” it is love for wisdom that is empty and doesn’t bring about any change. It sounds wise, but it is all fluff, it’s elementary, shallow traditions.
  • These types of messages are coming at us all the time through movies, books, songs, and even our own thoughts, but in verse 8 the Apostle Paul writes to the Colossian church, “See to it that no one takes you captive.
  • The Apostle Paul is using the word “captive” as a sense of urgency, to grab their attention. The word “captive” has a connotation of a soldier losing a battle, and being carried off as a prisoner of war, getting kidnapped, being held hostage by the messages coming at us every day:

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Colossians 2:1-7, “Spiritually fighting for one another.”

Colossians 2:1, “1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,”

  • In verse 1 we are reminded that the Apostle Paul does not know the Colossian church personally. The Colossian church is started by a guy named Epaphras from chapter 1.
  • The Apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome for proclaiming the name of Jesus, and Colossae, Laodicea, Heirapolis are all new churches in the community, false teachers are wrecking havoc on these new churches, so that the Apostle Paul and the church of Colossae (1500 miles away, Austin to Boston) but still the Apostle Paul is struggling for them spiritually.

Colossians 2:1, “1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,”

  • When you see the word “struggle” in the original language it is the word “agony,” write that in your notes, because the word “agony” is an athletic metaphor of sweating, straining, and fighting to accomplish a goal, and the Apostle Paul’s goal for the church of Coloasse is to know Jesus and grow in Jesus.

Colossians 2:2-3, “2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

  • In verses 2-3 there is so much to draw out, but the first characteristic of what it looks like to spiritually fight for one another is, “that their hearts may be encouraged.”
  • When the Apostle Paul uses the word “heart” it isn’t an emotional heart like Valentine’s Day, or emotionally feeling close or distant from God, but an “encouraged heart” is an inner strength that comes from knowing Jesus and growing in Jesus that produces a strong heart.
  • In the Hebrew culture the “heart” was the inner man or woman. In Hebrew culture the heart was the reference to the inner will, or mind, so that the Hebrew culture didn’t talk about the brain or intellect, but the heart, so that the Apostle Paul is spiritually fighting for the people in Colossae to have strong hearts in Jesus.

Take a moment to examine the men, women, and children in our church family (Community group, ministry team, personal family, sitting shoulder to shoulder) and consider how we might spiritually fight for one another to be strengthened in heart.

Where are there opportunities to remind one another to place our mind on things above, not on things below (Colossians 3:2)? How can we pray for one another, agonize for one another to fill our heart, mind and soul with God’s Word? Where are there moments we can Initiate conversations and hang outs to spiritually fight for one another to have strong hearts in Jesus?

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