All posts in “Series”

Q&R: Acts 29 – Now we get to change the world

This month, pastors Luke Uran and Josh Pardee are wrapping up a 17-week sermon series on the book of Acts. Today they look ahead to where this leads our church family next.

 

So, there’s one more sermon from Acts. How does it end?

Luke: This week, Josh is going to be driving home the idea that we are now the 29th chapter of Acts. The book’s ending was left unfinished. We have this mission that we have been given, to go and make disciples.

 

That sounds like another good jumping-off point.
Headshot of Lead Pastor Luke Uran

Lead Pastor Luke Uran, First Free Rockford

Luke: Yes. As we look to this spring and the launch of our Life Groups, the sermon series we will be doing next is based partially on another book by an author we looked at last fall, Dustin Willis. This book is called The Simplest Way to Change the World.

What the series is going to focus on, and the reason we’re doing it next, as a follow-up to Acts, is because if we want to see all generations go, tell, and show the love of God here in the city of Rockford and around the world, then we need to be ones who are willing to be out and present in our community. We’re going to focus on that idea of being present, being active, being involved, being available and out in the community. Our primary purpose behind that is, let’s put hands and feet to this now. Today, not at the time of Acts. What does this look like? How do we apply it?

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Q&R: Looking back at the Acts series

This month, pastors Luke Uran and Josh Pardee wrap up a 17-week sermon series on the book of Acts. Today they talk about what God showed them, and our church family, through this series over the past four months.

 

This has been a long sermon series. What was your thinking behind extending it even through Christmastime?

Luke: We wanted to go a little more in-depth, especially in the beginning part of Acts where the church got its start. Not so much the individual missionary journeys of Paul. Those are important, but for me personally, the Lord has been teaching me what it means to live by the Spirit and to listen to the Spirit and to open the Word and continue to allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate that. Especially in those beginning portions of Acts, we see the apostles all being Spirit-led. That was one of the primary qualifications for any laypeople who wanted to be a part of the movement.

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First Free Rockford book spotlight recommendation header image

Book Spotlight: November 2019

The weather’s cold now. Darkness falls before dinner. No one’s too happy about that, but it does leave more time in the evenings to settle in with a good book. Here are recommendations from some of our church leaders. All of these books are available in The Scroll Resource Center.

 

The Spirit-Filled Life

Beloved pastor and author Charles F. Stanley turns his attention to the power, joy and meaning brought by the Holy Spirit. He also answers tough questions: who the Spirit is (and isn’t), how being filled with the Spirit works, and what the Bible teaches about spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues.

From Chapter One: “For too many believers the Christian life boils down to simply doing the best they can. There is no power or distinction that sets them apart from the way everyone else in the world exists. The good they do can be attributed to their own discipline, determination, and devotion to God, rather than His activity in their lives. … The real tragedy is that we have lost our ability to function in our society the way God originally intended.”Stanley then unpacks what the Spirit-filled life looks like, how to have it … and why so many Christians don’t.

This book is recommended as a complement to our current sermon series on the book of Acts.

Pastor Luke Uran says:

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Let’s Go Out: Week 2

 

letsgoout

Element High School Ministry is in a series called “Let’s Go Out.” We looked at the topic of love the first week, and this past week, we looked at the topic of sex. We looked at 4 questions and compared culture’s answer to God’s.

What is Sex?
1. Culture says that sex is just PHYSICAL.

God says that sex is becoming ONE.

Here we looked at Genesis 2:21-25 and the beauty of marriage. In this passage, the key theme is “Unity.” Not only was Eve created with Adam’s rib, but they “became one flesh” through sex. Sex is not just a physical act or entertainment. It is bringing two people together to become one. Thus, God created sex to be in marriage and to reveal commitment to one another.

2. What’s at Stake?
Culture says that sex is just for FUN.
God says that sex affects YOU and your future SPOUSE.

Culture says sex is just fun and has no consequences. But God shows us in 1 Corinthians 6:18 that any type of sexual sin damages ourselves. When we sin sexually, we are sinning against God, our future spouse, and ourselves. A little decision can have big effects

3.What do I do now?
Students are years away from marriage and thus years away from God’s design for sex in marriage. So what do they do now? We gave them 3 action steps.

RUN AWAY from all that encourages sex.
PRAY for yourself and your future relationships
-Determine what STORY I want to tell.
This last action step came from Andy Stanley. Here is an excerpt of his thoughts:
one day you will have to share your past with your future spouse and you can share 1 of the following 3 stories with them.

  1. When I was a teenager I messed up sexually. I got carried away with someone I was dating. I figured that since I did it once, it didn’t matter if I did it again. So I slept with several people along the way to meeting you.
  2. When I was a teenager I messed up sexually. But when I was in high school, I learned what God’s design was for sex and purity. So I committed to following those standards and have stuck with them. I saved myself from high school on for you.
  3. When I was a teenager I realized that God knows more about sex than anyone. Since he created sex for marriage, I decided to wait. I have saved myself for you. Determine what story you will tell your future spouse. And commit to it.

4. What if I mess up?

God is full of GRACE and His PEOPLE are too.

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, grace might also reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:20

 Grace abounds when shame and mistakes and sin rise. Thankfully, no matter where we mess up, we have a God who forgives.

 

Let’s Go Out: Week 1

We started a new series last night in Element called Let’s Go Out. In this series we are going to talk about what God’s Word says about love, sex, and dating. Over the next three weeks, I want to summarize each lesson here on this blog.

This past Wednesday, we looked at the topic of love. If we don’t get love right, we definitely won’t get dating and sex right. So we want to lay the foundation of what love looks like. And love defined in Scripture will impact not just our dating relationships, but all of our social interactions. So we first defined what love is and then we spent the last half of our time talking about how our culture has twisted God’s definition of love. So here are our points from last night:

What Love Should Be…

Love is DISPLAYING and IMITATING God to others.

If we want to truly love someone, we will treat them as God has treated us. We know that God is love (1 John 4:8) but we also have been given a description of true love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 True love is acting like that description. If you truly love your friend or sibling or boyfriend, you will act like 1 Corinthians 13. And each one of those characteristics is a description of how God has acted towards you. Love in its essence is acting godly.

What Love is Today…

  1. Love is something to excite us TEMPORARILY rather than something to COMMIT to.

Our culture has made “love” out to be something that is just a “fling.” But this is the opposite of a love that always perseveres.

  1. Love is something to GET rather than something to GIVE.

Love in our culture is all about me. It is all about what I can get from this relationship. But this is opposite of a love that is not self-seeking.

  1. Love is something to make us FEEL GOOD rather than something to PROTECT.

Love in our culture is all about crossing physical boundaries and feelings. But this is the opposite of a love that is honoring and a love that rejoices in truth.

If we have a right view of love, we will have the right views of relationships. Love is about showing the other person(s) who God is. So this changes everything when it comes to dating and romance.  Next Wednesday we will cover the topic of sex.
Troy Solava
Director of Student Ministries

Did You Hear That?

In our High School Ministry, Element, we just finished a 4 week teaching series called Did You Hear That? Each week, we would look at one saying of Jesus that is really hard for us to believe and follow. Jesus is not an easy person to follow or believe in. He says some very radical and confusing things. At times we can forget that there is a true cost to following Jesus. We had the opportunity to encourage our students to value obedience over comfort. Here is a little summary of each week:

Week 1: Matthew 7:21-23
 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…”
In this passage, Jesus reminds us that just because we know the right things to believe about Jesus does not mean we truly know him as Lord and Savior. Our church attendance and our good deeds do not earn us salvation. But those who do enter the kingdom of heaven are those whose lives are full of confession and dependence upon Jesus. The ones who inherit heaven are those who know that they cant get there without the work of Jesus.

Week 2: John 9:1-7
“Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
This story in John 9 is a wonderful story of Jesus healing a blind man. But if we look in more detail at this story, we will come across a difficult truth. In verse 3, Jesus says that this man was born blind so that “God might be displayed in him.” This man suffered for years for the sole purpose of God being glorified in Him. So we had the opportunity to talk about how our own suffering can lead to glorifying God. And one truth that we focused on was this: In times of suffering, don’t focus on the “Why” but focus on the “Who.” In times of difficulty, look to God who can be displayed in you.

Week 3: Matthew 5:29-30
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.
This statement of Jesus is difficult because sin is so attractive to us. Sin promises us happiness and excitement and fulfillment. But as we discussed, sin actually separates us from God. In this talk, we focused on the practicality of how to “gouge” sin out of our lives. We may need to take radical steps to avoid our sin. We may need to find new friends, give up our phones, or even change schools. If we desire obedience to God above all else, we will do whatever it takes to reject sin.

Week 4: Matthew 5:10
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Sharing the gospel with our friends is hard enough. But now Jesus says that when we share the Gospel, we may be persecuted. If we desire to share the good news of Jesus, we will suffer. We know this because of Jesus Christ and his suffering. He paid the penalty for our sins and suffered upon the cross. When we accept that gift, we then have the opportunity to share it with others. It may bring suffering, but it also brings blessing. We have the privilege to follow Christ in this way.

This was a difficult series but it was a necessary one. I am so excited to see our students continue to follow Jesus, no matter the cost.

Troy Solava
Director of Student Ministries.