Is your faith shallow?

By Don Gentry


Many people say they are a Christian, but they can’t really explain it.  Simply put, their faith is shallow and ignorant.  Maybe yours is too.  If I said you need to have a better understanding of apologetics in order not to have shallow faith experience what would your response be?  Would you get mad and defensive or would you agree?

Many people resist the study of apologetics as if it somehow doesn’t apply to them.  Many also have a very poor understanding of what apologetics even is.

Every follower of Christ is and has been affected by apologetics whether they want to be or not.  And I strongly encourage every follower of Christ to have a good understanding of what apologetics is and how it affects their daily faith.  The question is, “do you care?”

Simply put, apologetics comes from the Greek word “Apologia” and it means to give a defense.  It was a common Greek word used for a formal speech, explanation, or rebuttal for charges being brought in a trial.  It is not a Christian word; it is a secular word used in law.

Our faith is put on trial by society every day. It is put on trial by family and friends, co-workers and peers.  We are expected as Christians to be able to articulate a defense for our beliefs.  Many Christians believe the lie that their actions are enough.  We need to be able to articulate why we act how we do with our words.  That is apologetics. 

Let me give you three extremely clear examples of apologetics in the scriptures.

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV2011)
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Peter uses the phrase “be prepared to give answer”. This is the word apologia.  It is a charge to us as followers of Christ that we need to be able to give a defense of our beliefs with words. 

Paul also gives us examples of how he literally had to use the art of apologia in a judicial setting.

Read Philippians 1:7 and read all of Acts chapters 24, 25, and 26.   He was literally making a defense for his life in the court of man.  Every time you see Paul saying, “let me give an answer, or a defense.”  It is this idea of apologetics.

Many people’s faith is shallow and ignorant because if most people had to stand before a court of law and defend their beliefs they would give a very weak defense because they have not properly prepared themselves to speak.  Thankfully we don’t have to defend ourselves to live freely in our land like Paul. Because we have not had much persecution we don’t even train ourselves to explain to our friends what we really believe about Jesus and why HE is the only ABSOLUTE hope! That is why apologetics should matter to all of us.

Does intimacy really matter in marriage?

By Don Gentry


Intimacy is the key to making your marriage last for the long haul and keeping it enjoyable along the way.  I have seen many miserable couples stick together.  While I admire their fortitude there isn’t a bit of their marriage I desire.  The kind of marriage I want to have and that I want to model is the one where the husband and wife still love and adore each other all the way to the grave.  That kind of marriage takes work, intentionality, and forgivenessA marriage that stands the test of time is one that is built upon true intimacy.  

Josh Squires wrote a great article on the topic of intimacy.  You can read the article by clicking on this link.  http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/marital-intimacy-is-more-than-sexThe title of his article is Marital Intimacy is More Than Sex.   He goes on to give the five types of intimacy and why each of them are important and how they are all interrelated.

Why do I give you this article? Because intimacy at all five levels is crucial if we are ever truly going to be one as God is one.   Marriage is supposed to reflect the image of God. Dysfunction and divorce is not the reflection that God has desired for his followers.  Yet too often that is the reflection that we model to the world.

Redemption/forgiveness (you can’t have one without the other) is truly the greatest gift that God has given to mankind, but I believe he gave us redemption so that we could model it within the covenant of marriage. We need to learn how to become vulnerable in our marriages in all five areas that Squires talks about if we want to reflect the image of God.

Read the article and honestly assess where you are at in your relationship with your spouse.  Use a 1-10 rating scale in each of the five areas.  Score yourself and then have your spouse score your relationship.  Once you have an accurate picture of where you are in your relationship, determine to move your score up one point this month in one or two of the areas.  Don’t think you are going to go from a 5-10.  Marriage and intimacy takes work and intentionality.

If you really want a marriage that lasts and one that is fulfilling, then it is going to be found in this idea of intimacy.  You can only control your own efforts but even one person working towards intimacy in a marriage can yield great benefits.  When two of us are working towards intimacy then marriage becomes a reflection of immense beauty. 

We hope to see you Sunday as we continue to uncover the beauty that God designed in marriage!

Message Preview | 1 > 2 – Part 1| What is Oneness?

By Don Gentry

Marriage?!?!?!?

Can God really make a difference in my marriage?  I have only been alive for 44 years now, but one thing I have noticed is that church people and unchurched people both go through ugly divorces, and lives get horribly damaged in the mix.  I have also seen some great marriages in and out of the church.  So, can God really make a difference in my marriage?

This coming Sunday we are kicking off a series called 1>2. It is all about helping us understand what God intended for marriage.  Marriage is and was designed to be an incredible gift to mankind as it was supposed to be a reflection of who God is and His love.  The problem of sin and selfishness, first evidenced in the garden of Eden, has destroyed marriages and relationships ever since. But it has also tarnished our reflection of God to this world.

How do Christians and non-Christians alike both have good marriages? Because they espouse the oneness that God intended for marriage to reflect.  If you don’t know what I am talking about then I guess you better join us on Sunday so that you too can enjoy the fullness that God originally intended through the gift of marriage.  Whether your single, single again, married, or married again, this series is for you as we uncover the truth of what God intended through the covenant of marriage.

The answer to whether God can make a difference in your marriage is YES, but you need to join us Sunday so you can find out how! 

I hope to see you then.

Spiritual Growth

By Don Gentry


On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach a difficult sermon. It wasn’t difficult to say, but difficult because I love our church and some of what I shared was hard to hear. As I said on Sunday, growing up is hard to do.

As a reminder, I had eight spiritual disciplines that I addressed that are necessary to help us grow and mature. If you weren’t there the disciplines were Prayer, Bible reading, Fasting, Solitude, Practicing a Sabbath, Giving, Worship, and Sharing your faith. As Matt shared two weeks ago most of us live in some form of arrested development in our spiritual walk. As you read this list there is a great chance that you may live in Arrested Development in one of these disciplines. (If you don’t know what I mean by arrested development then click here to listen to Matts sermon.)

The very awesome nature of the God we serve does not condemn us in our walk, but He challenges us to experience all that He has for us, as He has created us for greater things than we can possibly think or imagine. Because of His great desires for us, if you find yourself not quite as mature as you would like or as mature as you think you could be, then let me challenge you to a three-step process.

1. Don’t get discouraged. Maturity is a marathon not a sprint. None of us have arrived. We all get to spur one another on to better things.
2. Do an honest evaluation. Look at the list of the eight disciplines and use a scoring matrix of 1-10. 1 being the devil and 10 being Jesus. (That is a little bit of Donnie humor.) Then decide if you like where you score yourself. Don’t compare yourself to any other human. This is between you and God. The true measure of an athlete is not what he/she can do in comparison to others, but only what he/she can do in comparison to their own best self. This is true in athleticism and spiritual disciplines.
3. Make a plan. Start with a baby step. If you find yourself at a 1 don’t determine to be a 10 by the end of the month. Take a step toward a 2 then a 3. Be patient with yourself. A baby doesn’t skip childhood to become a mature adult. There is a necessity for each step in the process of life that we go through as humans. The same is true spiritually. There is incredible value in growing up in the maturity of our faith. If you struggle with making a realistic plan. Seek outside assistance, a loved one, a good Christian friend, or ask one of us on staff we would love to help.

Once you take these three simple steps ask the Holy Spirit to help you. The scriptures say the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak. You need the help of the Holy Spirit to keep you committed. Maturing spiritually is impossible without the Holy Spirit, Jesus sent His Spirit to help us in our walk because He knew we would need help after He left this earth. You have access to God 24/7 with the Holy Spirit. Seek His assistance as you develop in your faith.

Love you all and hope you have an awesome week!

Message Preview | Don’t Be a Baby | Part 2

By Don Gentry


Are You a Lopsided Gym Rat?

We are in the middle of talking about spiritual maturity in our current sermon series. One thing that I have found fascinating is that many Christians approach spiritual maturity in a why they would never approach any other area of life.

Can you imagine going to the gym and only doing exercises to build up your biceps because you want big arms. I have seen guys in the gym that forgot their back, tris, lats, shoulders, legs, and abs, and they look really weird. But I have never seen anyone in the gym only focus on one muscle.

Yet, when it comes to spiritual maturity, some of us go the spiritual discipline gym and literally focus on our biceps, and then we wonder why our relationship with God is so unfulfilling, frustrating, empty, nonexistent, or just plain weird.

I hope you come to church on Sunday so you can keep from looking like a lopsided gym rat! Seriously, join us on Sunday so you can see what you can implement into your life to experience spiritual maturity! As Matt said on Sunday, God has invited you to the big person table. It is full of amazingness, but there is only one way to experience all that God has for you!

I can’t wait to see you Sunday!

Message Preview | The Next Generation | Part 2

By Don Gentry


Not Me

That is not my responsibility!

If you work in management, that phrase is one of the most frustrating phrases out of an employee’s mouth that you can hear. We have all said it in one form or another. Many of us actually say it to God on a regular occasion.

On Sunday, we are wrapping up a two-week sermon series on how to reach the next generation. Church people are notorious for thinking it is someone else’s job to serve, someone else will take care of those kids, I can’t stand kids, or the most spiritual thought is, “I am not called to serve children and youth.” These are all variations of “It is not my responsibility.”

I hope you all come out on Sunday to hear what the scripture says about children and the next generation. I am not saying you are going to change how you talk or how you view your responsibility, but maybe after you view children through the eyes of God you might change how you are going to serve them.

Jesus was the first children’s pastor. He changed societies view of children two thousand years ago. What he modeled and taught is still changing the worlds view of children. I am not even talking about church anymore.

I hope to see you all on Sunday as we learn how each of us can take an active role in impacting and inspiring the Next Generation.

Model It!

By Don Gentry


We are doing a two-part sermon series on how we can reach the next generation. We really need to understand the we are reaching the “current generation.” If we fail to reach this generation then the next unborn generation is without hope.

As we think about reaching our current generation we need to wrestle with the question of how do we reach them. There are two primary modes of reaching the current generation. The home and the Church. If we want to reach anyone for Christ these two components must work in unison.

I will forever be an advocate that parents/home trump the church when it comes to learning about God. I am talking about church going people. I am not addressing people living far from God. There are stories of people being saved and reached for Christ without having a good home life or Christian parents. That is an entirely separate conversation. When the church and the home are combined children/youth will gravitate towards what mom and dad do, not what church does or says. Let me explain.

If you ever say or think, “do as I say not as I do,” you are a hypocrite. I am not saying we must be perfect, but we do need to learn to apologize and repent when our actions don’t coincide with what we say are our beliefs. Don’t use the old excuse that I am just human and I am a sinner. The church is then designed to come alongside and support whatever is being taught in the home, not to replace the home.

Whether you are a parent or an adult that attends church the “next generation” is watching. Kids are always watching! They are watching you in the lobby at church, listening in the hall and parking lot, they are watching how you interact with others, they are listening when you are on the phone, watching how you drive, sneaking in on you while you watch TV and surf the net, on and on I could go. What you model is what they learn and do!!

Kids are sponges! They soak up everything, so be careful what you are leaking. The church is here to help lead the “current generation” to God, but the church can’t make up for toxic waste that was leaked at home. Please hear me, I am not preaching perfection or guilt; godliness and holiness should be the desire of our hearts. Kids will always be able to tell if they are expected to live out of a list of rules or if they are expected to live out of a love for Jesus. If you wonder what they are learning, just watch what is leaking out of their sponges.

Love you all and hope to see you on Sunday!