White Christmas, Part 2 – Sermon Notes

[These notes are from a sermon given at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO, as a part of the series “A White Christmas”. If you’d like to see the full message, you can watch it here.]

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. – Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

We sin and others sin against us. We can be white as snow, with one clarification: we obey. If God points this out, it’s probably because it’s not something we would do on our own. If we do this, we will be at free.

When was the last time someone did something against you? These things are unavoidable. Matthew 24:10, many will offend, be try, hate you. The word offended in this passage means we’ve been baited in and trapped.

Proverbs 18:19 – We begin to build barriers to protect ourselves. We live by the mantra of hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me. We build up walls and we miss out on all these good opportunities in order to protect ourselves.

There are many types of hurts, including being taken advantage of, used, ignored, lied about, confidence destroyed, or even hurt by churches. There are many types of rejection, opportunities lost, abused whether it be emotionally, verbally, or sexually. Sometimes we feel offended when we’re humiliated, becoming the butt of someone’s joke. There are so many ways that we can be hurt, far more than what’s mentioned here.

Jesus Was Hurt

Jesus knew these. He was betrayed by his own disciple for about half a year’s wages. The authorities falsely accused and misunderstood what he said. His friends scattered into the night. One of the closest disciples,Peter, denied him three times. Jesus was rejected and abandoned. Then, he was abused and beaten, whipped, stabbed and then nailed alive to wooden beams due to losing a popularity vote.

Experts say Jesus would have been unrecognizable due to the beatings and hanging naked in front of everyone. Jesus took on all these things for us and because of what we needed. Hebrews 2:17-18 says Jesus became a mediator (think modern day lawyer) that truly knows what we’re going through because he experienced it first-hand. Jesus is the authority on what it looks like to respond to offenses in our lives. Because of this, we can come boldly because He knows what it is to be abused, broken, hurting.

Responding to Unavoidable Offenses

1 Peter 4:1 says Jesus understood what you’re going through, learn to emulate him. While he was dying on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what their doing.” Jesus made a choice that we should mirror. Maybe the person who has offended you really is a bad person, but it does your heart no good to choose to believe that. We need to try to remember that others who are causing us problems or issues may be suffering in a way that we cannot imagine.

“Remind us each day that the greatest gift you give us is love. Let us open our hearts to all humanity, not just our family. Let us be patient and loving.”

Jesus didn’t enjoy what he suffered, but he made a choice to keep his heart clean in the face of evil. And that’s a choice we can access today. We can chose to pray the same prayer that others will be forgiven, just like Jesus did. We have to start doing this: learning to see people through the eyes of Jesus.

3 Steps to bring Healing Godly Forgiveness

  1. Remember that we need forgivness, too. We’re not angels; we have sin on our hands just the same as everyone else. Romans 3:23, all have sinned and fallen short. You have received, so freely give. You’re never going to have to give out more forgiveness that Jesus had to give on the cross.
  2. Acknowledge and focus on the real enemy. Jesus saw the people that were killing him as victims of the real enemy. Hurting people hurt people. It doesn’t make what they did right, but knowing that helps people begin to have compassion on them. Ephesians 6;12 says we’re fighting against powers that are not of this world.
  3. Receive God’s love. Some of us haven’t truly accepted the unconditional nature of God’s love. We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John says we can’t love God and hate our brother or we are a liar. Don’t leave today burdened by unforgiveness.

Don’t be afraid to find someone to pray for you, either for past offenses that you are struggling to forgive or for strength to keep from being offended.

A White Christmas- Part 1, Sermon Notes

[These notes are from a sermon given at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO, as a part of the series “A White Christmas” . If you’d like to see the full message, you can watch it here.]

As a culture, we believe things about forgiveness that aren’t true.

Myth 1: Forgiveness is minimizing the seriousness of the offense.

Myth 2: Forgiveness requires reconciliation. 

  • Forgiveness is between me and God more so than me and the person who wronged me.
  • For people who wait for the other person to start the process, that is handing over control of your life to the person who hurt you.

Myth 3:Forgiveness is forgetting what happened. Unfortunately, we will never forget what happened, especially true the more hurt-filled the situation was.

One reason that often keeps us from forgiving is that we think it’s not fair. Life isn’t fair and we should be grateful that God’s not fair. In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), we see a man who was forgiven a large sum of money, valued today at approximately $5 billion. Instead of offering that same extravagant forgiveness to others, he demanded repayment from one of his debtors of a sum of money equal to about $10,000-$12,000. The one who had forgiven him the $5 billion heard about it and threw him in prison until the money was repaid. We are the person who has been forgiven an amount that is impossible to repay, which is completely unfair. We need to be just as unfair in our response to others.

In order to forgive this way, we need to acknowledge two important things.

  1. This will not come easily or naturally.
  2. Waiting till you feel like forgiving means that you will never do it.

People who walk in freedom don’t rely on their emotions to determine their actions. Instead, they use the scriptures to guide and train their choices.

The scriptures tell us how we are to respond to those who have wronged us.

  1. Pray for them (Matthew 5:43-44). This doesn’t mean praying they will get “in trouble” with the Lord. It means honestly putting them before the Lord. You can’t pray for someone and hate them at the same time. Eventually, one of them will give. We must be guarding our hearts against hate taking hold in our hearts. Prayer is how we do that.
  2. Bless them (Romans 12:14). This is specifically referring to words. If you say that you’ve forgiven, and then speak badly about them every time they come up, you’re undoing any benefit of forgiveness (assuming you’ve actually forgiven them).
  3. Do good to them (Luke 6:27-28). Doing good things for those who have wronged us sounds crazy. No one operating out of the natural would do this. We’re spiritually transformed, meaning we will be lead by the Spirit of God and the truth of God’s scriptures. The only way these kinds of actions are possible is by the knowledge that God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).

Arrows, Part 3 – Sermon Notes

Rhythm – Movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements.

God has a specific rhythm for each of our lives.

1. If you want God’s rhythm in your life, you need to control your schedule. There is no one else who has the power to fill up your schedule except you. We live in a culture that equates busyness with importance.

What good things in your life are keeping you from the great things?

It’s easy to justify all the things we cram on our calendars. What are the great things God has for us? Start by going back to week 1 and focus on the target, knowing Jesus Christ.

We need to view our schedule like a pitcher of water. When more is added, it displaces what’s already there. You need to add a scheduled time for prayer Mark 1:35). You’re not too busy to pray, you’re too busy not to pray.

2. You need to begin each week by gathering before you scatter. It’s important to start your week by joining the body of Christ and honoring God before scattering for the week.

It’s also important to join a circle. You need to be in a place where people know your story.

You need to serve. Many people believe that the church is not here to serve you. Instead the hope is that you will be so inspired by others’ service that you will offer your own service to bring others to Christ.

Two things that we need to make surr are important in our days are family days ans family dinners. Make it an appointment that you can’t break.

3. Discipline is vital to finding rhythm. God loves us so He disciplines them; we should do the same for our children. No one enjoys it. Discipline, by definition, is an unpleasant process that leads to a desirable result. There is a difference between punishment and discipline. We need to be the archers that set a standard in our home that when broken is consistently enforced. Giving freedom only works when we’re willing to reel it back in when needed.

4. Rhythm requires rest. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says there’s a time to work and a time to enjoy the results of the work. Take a break, take a vacation. Why did God rest on the seventh day? He rested to provide for us a model, to show that the rhythm he wants for us includes rest.

Are you taking a Sabbath weekly? Are you taking a day to rest and not work? We need to cultivate the difficult art of doing nothing. Psalm 127:2. Lack of rest increasesany physical issues, including heart disease.

5. Rhythm includes romance. If, after the kids leave the house, you turn to your spouse and realize there’s no feeling there anymore, it’s because you neglected to pursue the one you caught. We are also called to serve our spouse above our kids. We should never discontinue to pursue the one we are spending life with. The kids are supposed to leave, but our spouse isn’t.

Where do you go from here? What are the area that you are out of rhythm? Ending prayer comes from Hebrews 12:1-3, run the race you were made for with perseverance.

Arrows, Part 2 – Sermon Notes


Arrows are meant to fly. No matter how good your aim or how good your technique, if you don’t let go of the arrow, you’ll never hit your target.

1. The point of parenting is a propulsion system, not a prison system. We need to fight back against being the warden and more like Kennedy Space Center. We should use our security in order to keep the wrong people out so the right thing can be released effectively.

2. Each child has a mission. Menoah is the father of Samson. When the angel tells him he’ll have a son, he asks “What will be his manner of life and what is to be his mission?” We should be conscious of working with the Lord to help them find their purpose and teach them how to use their gifts.

3. A clean release is the result of Godly stewardship. The moment that you realize God’s unconditional love and His grace it changes things. Nothing that we own or anything we’ve accomplished is our own. We came into this world naked and screaming with nothing and that’s how we’ll leave as well. One day we’ll be held accountable for how we stewardess our gifts. Our children our one of the gifts we’ve been given. We will be held accountable for how we’ve supported and released that gift.

4. At the end of the day, the only hope we have of keeping them, is to let them go. There’s no way to guarantee a child will serve the Lord. The book of Proverbs tells us that raising a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it when it he is old. That’s wisdom and not a promise. We have to learn how to teach them without forcing love or forcing choices on them.

Remember, unless the Lord builds a house, the builders labor on vain. We can’t do this parenting thing, but the Lord can.

Prodigal God, Part 3 – Sermon Notes

[These notes are from a sermon by Craig Kackly at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO. Today’s notes are part 3 of series Prodigal God. The whole series including this sermon can be seen on their website. My notes from part 2 are here.]

Forgiveness has a cost: the blood of Jesus

Review of last two weeks: Jesus is teaching here to two distinct groups of people. The first group is the tax collectors and sinners, and the second group is the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. These two groups are total opposites; one does everything right and the other does everything wrong. The Pharisee don’t like that the self-proclaimed rabbi (Jesus) hangs out with the sinners. Jesus tells the three parables to the righteous in the crowd.

Parable of the Lost Sheep

This parable is about the loss of one sheep from a flock of 100. 100 would be an average size flock for that time. The shepherd leaves the 99 in a safe place and finds the lost one. He not only finds it but carries it back, which means it was too tired [or injured] to make it back on its own. Then Jesus says heaven throws a party for the return of the lost.

Parable of the Lost Coin

A widow loses one of 10 coins, each coin estimated to be about a day’s wages. Together, these coins could have possibly represented her dowry or her entire worth. When she finds her lost coin, she goes to her friends to have them celebrate with her.

Did you know that heaven held  celebration for you when you accepted Jesus Christ when you accepted salvation? Awesome thought!

Parable of the Lost Son
You might assume this story will parallel the first two, something lost then something found, but Jesus throws a twist in this one. The second parable is really about the response of the older brother to the father’s acceptance of the lost son.

This Week:
In the first two parables, what’s lost is actively sought out. But in the story about the son, when he’s thought lost, no one sought him out. Why? Who should have gone after the younger son? Culturally, the older brother should have gone after the younger brother and taken on the expense of dealing with helping out of the troubles he was in. Instead of an older brother that isn’t filled with compassion, the younger brother has an older brother who stands back with a callous heart and lets him stay lost to suffer the consequences of his own bad choices.

Fortunately, we didn’t get that older brother. We think that there’s no cost for the younger brother’s forgiveness, but that’s false. Reality says that there is always a cost.

In this parable, the cost is born by the older brother, by decreasing his inheritance. The cost of our forgiveness was Jesus’ very life. It was the sacrifice of shame and pain that He went through that paid the cost to allow us back into our Father’s house.

You will never know how to forgive until you know what it cost to bring you home. You will never know to give until you know what it cost Jesus to give you an inheritance.

Are you going to be the older brother who chose to hold onto the unforgiveness and resentment, or are you going to be the younger brother who accepts the payment for grace?


Prodigal God, Part 2 – Sermon Notes

[These notes are from a sermon by Craig Kackly at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO. Today’s notes are part 2 of series Prodigal God. The whole series including this sermon can be seen on their website.]

We think that only the younger son in the Prodigal Son parable was lost, but in fact it was both sons.

Recap from last week: there is nothing we can do to disqualify ourselves from God’s love. This parable is told to the teachers of the law, not to the sinners.

This Week: The Older Brother

The older brother is off doing something long enough that he doesn’t know what’s going on. From the servant, he learns that the father has thrown a great feast and accepted the younger brother back as a son. In response, he becomes angry and refuses to go.

By accepting the younger brother back, the father has set him back as a son. This means he has decreased the inheritance of the older brother [the father’s forgiveness comes at a cost]. By refusing to enter the banquet, the older brother is making a statement that he disagrees with the father’s choice to accept back the younger son.

Now we see the father pursuing a lost son again, when he goes and pleads with the older brother. [Note the word play on son of yours when the son speaks to this brother of yours when the father speaks.]

The unresolved nature of the story makes sense when you remember who the audience is. [The Pharisees would have been the older brother, so the response of the older brother would have been represented by their response, hence the open-ended story.]

The younger brother represents self-discovery. Letting go of inhibitions to experience the world and find out what there is to offer. Someone on this path seeks happiness and fulfillment through determining your own choices.

The older brother represents a moral conformist. It’s someone who does whatever their righteous culture or church says they should. They give, serve, pray, but it’s never intimate and life giving. It’s dry and lifeless. There’s no joy, instead there’s guilt.

Both sons rebel against the father. Younger son through bad choices, the older son through good choices. We can rebel by breaking all the rules or by keeping all the rules. The older brother did everything right, but still alienated himself from the father.

The sin here is all about putting yourself in the place of Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life. All the older brother’s good deeds are an attempt to control the father for what he can get, not in true submission to serve from love. Whether you are a sinner or a religious person, both paths lead to death w/out Jesus.