Easter Party Music – HE’S IN ME!!!

The day Jesus arose from the dead was the greatest day in history.

Nothing comes close. Not Christmas, not birthdays, not the birth of a child, not national championships, not even VE Day. Nothing. It is the heart of all Christian preaching in the Bible. It is the axis on which all of history turns. In the resurrection, we see a preview of the end of the story when God will raise all of us to new life and judgment.

On Easter Sunday 2017, we pointed out that the resurrection proves (1) Jesus Christ is LORD and can give the Holy Spirit because he is God; and (2) we are forgiven, and so can receive the Holy Spirit because all our sins have been taken away. So, we can say with confidence, Jesus is not in the tomb, HE’S IN ME!! Jesus lives in me by the power of the Holy Spirit, and his presence in me assures me of God’s love, gives me contentment and God’s peace, and fills me with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

But since Easter is a party, maybe these truths are easier to learn through music. So here is some Easter Party Music to help you ponder the Resurrection this year:   

Alive - Hillsong Young & Free

O Happy Day - Tim Hughes

The Anthem - Planetshakers

Because He Lives - The Gaithers

Because He Lives - Matt Maher

Forever (We Sing Hallelujah) - Kari Jobe

Percy and Flossie Barber Memorial Scholarship

We're giving away money to college students!

Well, kind of. It's a scholarship you can apply for.
So don't borrow money for college or books; chase every scholarship you can.

The Percy and Flossie Barber Scholarship

Priority is given to Oakland Members graduating from High School, who've been accepted to an accredited College or University. For more details download the application below.
Download the full application. Complete it with the necessary recommendations and return it to the Oakland Presbyterian Church Office by April 15, 2018.


AN EXTRA SERMON – A Sermon About Singing and God’s Deliverance

Every so often, I try to share extra sermons on relevant topics that I think are helpful and frankly, better sermons than I could preach. Personally I try to listen to multiple sermons during the week to feed my faith. I find them easier than books often. I like to download them as podcasts on my phone so I can listen to them while driving.

In light of the Choir Open House tonight, here is a sermon that talks at length about singing and the Bible. Matt starts with this:

There are over 400 verses in the Bible about singing. There are 50 explicit commands around singing, which, if we just stop for a second, that's a weird command mixed in with all of the other commands 50 times, right? "Don't murder. Oh, and sing." Right? "You shouldn't touch another man's wife. Sing. Don't steal, but sing." Right?

The whole sermon is great, but if you don't have 52 minutes, at least listen to the first 15 or so.

From Bitter to Sweet from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Click HERE to watch or READ "From Bitter to Sweet" by Matt Chandler on the Village Church's Website

Click HERE to listen to the Podcast of "From Bitter to Sweet" by Matt Chandler, and check out other Village Church sermons.

Matt Chandler is the lead teaching pastor at The Village Church in Texas, and a hard-hitting, truth-telling pastor. If you like this sermon, check out his sermons on the Plagues via the Village Church Podcast. 



CHRISTmas OR christMUST – Advent Devotional Resources

Yesterday, I challenged us as a church to prioritize 4 things in our schedules and celebrations this month - God's Word, God's Church, God's Poor, and God's Kids. These are 4 places that JESUS guaranteed to meet us, speak to us, and change us. Let's try to put these practices on the calendar before the other "musts" this Christmas:


Jesus promises to meet us in his Bible, so let's commit to engaging Jesus through some Advent Devotional practice. You can obviously use our Weekly Reading Plans to guide your study, but if you want something more, check out these options: 


Two Free Resources from John Piper and DesiringGod

A Daily Women's Devo From SheReadsTruth


There are hundreds of ideas out there for this from Joshua Trees to Following the Wisemen to Truth in the Tinsel. Here are three and here is a great Facebook feed of ideas for Families trying to celebrate with kids. 

Download a Family Advent Calendar from Focus On The Family

Book of Family Advent Devotional Ideas

Read a Chapter a Day from the Jesus Storybook Bible


God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller

God Came Near by Max Lucado

EXTRA SERMON – How Not to Be Anxious During an Election

Every so often, I try to share extra sermons on relevant topics that I think are helpful and frankly, better sermons than I could preach. Personally I try to listen to multiple sermons during the week to feed my faith. I find them easier than books often.

Here is a sermon in light of the upcoming election. It will not tell you who to vote for or not to vote for. It will not bash a candidate or bemoan the state of politics. Instead it talks about the biggest elections in Biblical history and what they show us about God and Politics.

Click HERE to watch "How Not to Be Anxious During an Election" by John Ortberg

Click HERE to listen to the Podcast of "How Not to Be Anxious During an Election" by John Ortberg

Pastor John Ortberg is the pastor of a large Presbyterian church in California and the author of a ton of books. His podcast is one of my favorites.



BLOG – Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last Sermon at Ebenezer

While preparing for my sermon on Matthew 20:17-28, I learned that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his last sermon in his home church Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA on the same text. His title was, "The Drum Major Instinct." It is a fascinating sermon. He goes in a different direction than I did, but with great effect.

In his sermon he addresses the evils of segregation and class warfare. He speaks about war and education. His sermons are still ripe with challenges that must be heard still in 2016. He challenges many of our assumptions and many of the political narratives of the last 50 years, and that is why we must listen to him. Challenges help us figure out what we actually believe far more than unquestioned assumptions. 

And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That's a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don't have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant.


and see the original transcript here. 

BLOG – Why was yesterday’s sermon part of the Money Matters Sermon Series?

Some of you are naturally drawn to connections and organizing facts together, and you might have wondered why yesterday’s sermon on power, cups, and service was part of a sermon series on money. You’re right to ask the question. I’ll give you two short reasons that didn’t make the sermon. I’ll give two short reasons.

“To give his life as a RANSOM for many.”

The chief reason is that Jesus uses Money to explain his life’s work. Here he does not use traditional sacrificial imagery of scapegoats or sacrificial lambs to explain his saving death. Instead he uses a financial, monetary image to explain why he must die and rise again. "RANSOM" is a Bible word used for the monetary price paid to free a slave, a captive, or to spare a person facing the death penalty. What we see is that Jesus uses everything he has – all his power, riches, and influence – to liberate us from the spiritual extermination camp of sin and the Devil. Like Oskar Schindler, Jesus liberated us at excruciating cost to himself in order to save us from death and the Devil.

Understanding this not only liberates us from the power grab of society, which is really just slaves fighting for position within a concentration camp. Instead it liberates us to serve, to lift, to give. When you understand that Jesus is your RANSOM it will affect your money, because it will change your heart and your money will follow your heart. When I understand that Jesus ransomed me, saved me, liberated me and gives me infinite worth and value and power, I find myself wanting to give everything to make sure everyone hears this news and is liberated from the rat-race for power. I will like Oskar Schindler use all I have to help liberate all those who still live like slaves to sin.

This is why we give to churches and Christian ministries, because I have been bought, and there are thousands, scratch that, millions of men and women still fighting for power and survival because they have not heard and have not believed in the awesome incredible news that our RANSOM has been paid. That’s why I plan my giving to the church even before my grocery bill, because I can live on beans and rice, but man does not live by bread alone.  

“Jesus talked about money more than anything else (including heaven and hell).”

You may have heard someone say that before, and while it is true it is misleading. Jesus did talk about money often, but most of the time, he was not giving direct financial advice. When he did give direct financial advice it was about generosity not economics. But Jesus knows the power money has over our hearts, and so much of the time that he’s talking about money, Jesus is using money as an illustration or parable or explanation for some deeper spiritual or anthropological truth. Last week for example, Jesus told a story about a businessman paying his workers, but he was offering an illustration of grace designed to show us how grace offends our sinful, self-righteous flesh. The story was not (directly) about how employers should pay employees, though there very well is something to be learned about paying “what is right” is connected to paying a living wage.

This week, Jesus uses RANSOM illustration to show us our own value. He’s using money words to talk about spiritual truth. You were bought. My dad used to say to me all the time, “Something is only worth what someone will pay for it,” and Jesus was willing to pay an infinite cost to save you. That is what you are worth, and it cannot be taken away from you by any financial situation, life circumstance, humble occupation, or embarrassing need.

Think of it this way, a $100 bill is worth $100 no matter where if it is stacked with a thousand other $100 bills in a suitcase or if it’s in the gutter covered in mud and muck. No matter if it is the hands of a banker or a beggar, no matter if it is crisp or wrinkled, no matter if it is on Wall Street or in an Indian slum. It is worth the same $100 because it’s guaranteed by the treasury of the United States of America. Believers in Christ are like that. They know their value is not dependent on their circumstances but on the guarantee of the treasury of Christ’s riches.

When you know this, you can stoop lower than the low, because all the dirt and filth and stank in the world can’t rob you of value. You can wash toilets, change diapers, serve soup, live in poverty, endure hatred and persecution, because you believe that you are worth what Christ paid for you. You will do these and crazier acts of service in order for others to hear the good news that because of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, they too can be children of God.

If you want to learn more, here is an extra sermon for you to read or listen to. It was given by John Piper, a Reformed Baptist preacher. 

An Excerpt From The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

For the last few weeks, I've been recommending the two books on marriage and one novel about the powerful effects of gracious love in a marriage listed below. The chief book I've recommended is The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller. Below is a provocative excerpt from the book and a link to a longer excerpt. Check it out, and see if it won't challenge you like it challenged me, to in the famous words of the Rolling Stones, "Love the one you're with." 

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Redeeming Love (A Novel) by Francine Rivers

"In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner." Timothy Keller in The Meaning of Marriage

Read a longer excerpt HERE.

A Case of the Mondays

uh-oh-sounds            A week ago, I had a case of the Mondays. Ever been there? You know the days when you wish your coffee would swallow you rather than you swallow it. The kind of day when you seriously contemplate that high octane coffee they sale in truck stops. The kind of day when you wish you owned a bomb shelter with a nothing but a A/C, a bed, and old movies.

            I struggled through the day, trying to find energy to work and willingness to love people, while I really, honestly, just wanted to hide. I wanted to sleep, to avoid, to procrastinate, to numb my brain. Every time I started to pray, I was interrupted. When dinner came, my journal literally said, “Father, I’m tired today” and that was it.

            Then as I drove into the setting sun after work, I listened to the radio and heard those familiar words,

“I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps 121:1-2).

a5cb11434b4d28bb0554a6c6f46c7e70And “the mountains” hit me for the first time. Why is the author looking to the mountains for help? In Israel, the mountains are the place of refuge and hiding. Whenever things get really bad, people would literally hide in caves in the mountains to survive. David did. Elijah did. They’d hide and wait for their enemies and problems to leave.

            The author wants to hide until his problems go away, but he reminds himself that when he wants to run and hide and avoid, the mountains are not his help – his help is in the LORD, the one who made the mountains. I needed that, cause I wanted to hide and avoid too. I wanted to ignore email and phone, hoping problems and responsibilities would evaporate and believing that “doing nothing” would fix my heart, but they don’t. Mindless TV and even a desperate dash to the coast are false-saviors I run to to fix my life – they are my mountains; but on that Monday night, I realized that if I wanted help. If I wanted protection and provision, creative solutions and committed relationships I needed the LORD. I needed to find my rest in Jesus, who is Lord of the Sabbath and giver of rest. I remembered that an old-timer, St. Augustine used to pray, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

            So I sat in my car in a parking lot for 15 minutes and just let worship and prayer wash over me, washing away my cares and renewing a right spirit in me. I didn’t really sing or say much, I just put on music that reminded me of God’s goodness and my need, for it is in the beautiful collision of those that I find real, full, meaningful life.

            When you want to hide away from the world, when Monday comes, may you remember Psalm 121:1-2,

“I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”


The Book of Job and Suffering Christians

Why-PicWe live in a broken world. Bad things happen, and sometimes they happen in clusters. Cancer, death, accidents, and illnesses happen all the time. This year as a Church we’ve been confronted with dozens of tragedies, and every time the same question comes up, “Why?”

It takes many forms like “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why did God let this happen?” “Why me?” but they all go back to that one word, “Why” which we desperately use to grasp for meaning and purpose and hope.

In one such moment, 6 months ago, I was trying to reassure a friend that God can work through all situations, that as the Heidelberg Catechism says, “[Jesus] also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.” In that moment, I pointed to Job, the archetypical innocent sufferer for proof that God use a situation even when he does explain it.

4 months later, my friend text me: “I finished reading Job. What’s the hardest book in the Bible to understand?” Haha. I guess I should have warned my friend or been a good pastor and read it with him. Either way, maybe this diagram will help some of you understand the book of Job, and Job will help you trust God in your situation.