Sound Doctrine

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching..." 2 Timothy 4:3

This Sunday, we are starting a new sermon series that I am very passionate about. Sound Doctrine is not only aimed at exposing various false doctrines that exist, it is intended to either plant your feet firmly on the Biblical doctrines of our faith or help remind you of the foundation on which we stand.

Our foundation is Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Word of God, and Paul warns in First Corinthians that we are to build very carefully upon that foundation. This Sunday we will explore how to identify sound doctrine verses false doctrine and how to know if a teacher you are listening to is a false teacher or a misguided teacher. It is my prayer that, whether a new or more mature believer, Sound Doctrine will help guide you into God's Word and help you grow in your walk with Him as a disciple maker for Jesus Christ.

As we go through this series, write down your questions! Get a few people together and work through them. Contact me; I love walking through the Bible with people! It is in our deeper, personal study that the Word truly begins to come alive as God teaches us what is good!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

30 Days of Prayer: Easter

"Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:12

I am calling the church to begin a season of prayer. Easter is one month away and there is no greater way to approach any work, whether one-on-one discipleship or the mass proclamation of the Gospel, on Easter Sunday. The above verse is our theme for Easter this year: Hope. 

There is always great talk of hope in the world, but the reality is that only true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ can offer the only true source of hope - the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans says hope in Christ does not put us to shame. Corinthians says that hope is everlasting. Colossians says that Jesus Christ is the hope of glory. Titus says the return of the Lord Jesus is our blessed hope. Hebrews says that our confidence in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ is a sure and steadfast anchor for our soul. And so on through all of God's Word.

Every Easter we proclaim the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. That's what we do. It is very important, in every context of our life as Christians, to remember why we do it. This reason is that Jesus is our hope and there are people that you and I know by name whose souls have no hope and who are without God in the world. Join me in praying for those people, those names, those souls over the next thirty days, starting tomorrow, March 23rd. I'll see you Sunday! 

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

He saw him and he went to him

"But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him." Luke 10:33-34

At The Village Church, we are about loving God and loving people. I say it all the time and I don't say it enough. This is the heartbeat of discipleship. One thought from the conference I attended last week simply won't leave me alone. The man said this, "When Jesus said to love your neighbor, I'm pretty sure He meant for us to know their name."

Did you see what the Samaritan did? The action he took? Look again: "But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw himhe had compassionHe went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him."

The Samaritan saw his neighbor, he had compassion for him, and he went to him. He didn't stand in his driveway and learn about him by watching him from across the street. He went to him. 

As we enter into springtime, imagine the impact we could have for the Kingdom and the discipleship opportunities that might arise if we saw our neighbor, had compassion, and went to them. Go, know your neighbor. I'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Effective and Fruitful

"For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:8

This weekend we will wrap up our series out of Second Peter: add to. We have talked about making every effort to add to our faith. We have carefully looked at every quality that we are called to add to our faith. During, this last week of the series, we will look at why it is so important that we add these things to our faith.

My prayer has been that the Lord has used this series to grow your walk and relationship with Him. That through this series, He is building strong disciple makers for His Kingdom. That through building strong disciple makers for His Kingdom, He would use us to reach the lost of our community with the salvation He gives through faith in Jesus Christ. That through reaching the lost with the disciple makers he has built for His Kingdom, He would receive all the glory and honor and praise that He alone is worthy to receive.

I'm praying for you and I'll see you this Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Love

"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:8

This Sunday, we will look at the last quality that we are called to add to our faith. I have to admit, it's probably the most daunting quality to address in this whole series. I've been in prayer and much study, but the topic of love is vast. The Christian life is to be a life of love. The God we serve is love. God's Word says if we claim to love God and hate man, we are still in darkness.

1 John 4:7 says, "Beloved, let us love on another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." Are we loving one another? Are we born of God? Do we know God? If we don't have an active love for people, something is amiss in our claim of knowing God.

The Bible says that if we could speak in the tongues of men and of angels, have prophetic powers, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have all faith so as to move mountains, give all that we have away, and sacrifice our body but don't have love, we have and are nothing.

I believe there is a reason this is the last quality we are called to add to our faith. As odd as it may sound, this may just be the hardest one yet. I'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Brotherly Affection

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10

The Bible doesn't often call us to a competition with one another but I won't lie; when I read the above verse, I think about Christians going out of their way to make sure someone else feels more honored than they have felt themselves.

Let's not miss the point of the verse: "love one another." As if we didn't hear enough of it through our study of First John, not to mention the rest of the Bible, here it is again! Loving one another is one of the highest marks of a true believer and this love is to be accompanied by true humility. 

This verse isn't a call for the church to have a contest to see who can honor the other person better. It is a call for the church, the body of Christ, to in all things, love one another and make sure we are honoring others to the furthest possible extent. This Sunday, we will revisit the first and second greatest commandments while exploring how we can add brotherly affection to our faith through the life of one of the greatest characters of the Old Testament.

Until then, get out there and love and show honor to one another. It's how the world knows that we are Jesus' disciples! See you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Godliness

"...since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:16

When giving the Jewish law to Moses on Mount Sinai, the Lord God spoke these words five times to his children. Thousands of years later, the Holy Spirit recalled these words to Peter's mind and inspired him to write them down. This message continues on in God's Word and to God's people today. It is a ridiculous notion for any person professing faith in Jesus Christ to think that we are called to anything less than godliness and holiness.

It almost seems impossible. "How can I be holy? How could I ever be a godly person?" The true answer is that you can't. If you are working to add godliness to your faith without first having by faith believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, you won't be adding godliness. The Bible teaches us that when we are saved, the Holy Spirit fills us and gives us the ability to be godly. If you are trying to add godliness without going to the Word of God to know what godliness is, what are you actually trying to add? This is precisely how man's rules and man's ways crept into Christianity.

Let's be a people known for godliness. Let's be a people known for being holy as the One who called us is holy. Let's be in His Word and know what He calls us to as His people. This is my prayer for all of us. That, "since it is written," we would be holy as He is holy. I'm praying for you, through another crazy week of snow, ice, Jand school cancellations, and looking forward to seeing you this Sunday as we worship the Lord together!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Steadfastness

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:33

This verse is a call, not given nearly often enough, for us to be steadfast, anchored, and as Paul says, immovable. Not merely claiming faith in the Lord, but standing, unshaken on the solid rock of Jesus Christ, in the faith that we claim. Not tossed about, as Ephesians 4:14 says, "to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." 

Far too many today are toe easily shaken, put back on their heels when the world pushes on their faith. But, this is not what we are called to! The Bible, over and over from Genesis to Revelation, calls us to stand firm in our faith! The Bible says that we have the source of our faith, our hope Jesus Christ, as an anchor for our soul! 

This Sunday we will look at adding steadfastness to our faith. If you have been following along with this sermon series, then the progression is that we would be adding steadfastness to our self-controlled, knowledgable, and virtuous faith. I hope you are safe and well through the past couple days ice: Jacqueline and I have been praying for you and look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Deep Freeze!

"The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31

In Mark 12:28-31, Jesus answers the question, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" He responds by saying that to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength is the first and greatest commandment. He then says the words in the verse above.

This week's weather has been extreme and we have neighbors who need us to love them. They need spiritual love and care, but they may also need physical love and care in the form of a warm meal or help around their home like shoveling snow. Check in on your neighbors. This isn't just a public service announcement. For us, it is a command from the King. I also know that I feel loved when people extend help to me or to my family. I want to help my neighbors have that feeling as well and, I pray, to know Jesus through my loving actions.

Reach out. The Lord has provided us the perfect weather to cold call or knock on your neighbor's door and make sure they are OK! You never know how the Spirit may be moving and what opportunity may come about just from following the simple command to love our neighbors!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Knowledge

"and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." Colossians 3:10

This week, we are talking about knowledge. Second Peter says we are to "supplement our faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge." I've been studying knowledge in the Bible this week and let me tell you, it's a big topic that God spent a lot of time talking about which means it's important for us.

We are not called to follow the Lord and know nothing. But, knowing a bunch of stuff from the Bible doesn't mean that we are following the Lord. I've done a lot of funerals for people over the years, and in trying to understand if the person who passed away was a believing follower of Jesus Christ or not, loved ones will say, "Oh, they loved the Bible, they read it all the time." But anyone can do this. Anyone can read the Bible and, I believe, be drawn by the Spirit of God to faith in Jesus Christ and be saved. But, just reading the Bible and knowing what it says doesn't make you a faith-believing follower of Jesus Christ anymore than reading a cookbook makes you a chef in a restaurant.

The knowledge must be applied. Wisdom is found in the exercise of knowledge. Yes, we must be in the Word and grow in our knowledge of the Lord. But, the Word also says, in James 1:22, that we must to be doers of the Word and not hearers or readers only! This same verse says that those who only hear and never act on what they have heard are self deceived. We must apply the knowledge of God and the things of God that we have learned to our virtuous faith in Jesus Christ. 

This series has been fun for me to work through, because the more that I learn about the qualities that the Lord calls us to add to our faith, the more I can see the need I have of adding them. My prayer for us is that the Lord is using this passage of Scripture in our lives and in the life of our church. That, as we will see in a few weeks, if these qualities are ours and increasing we will be effective for the Kingdom! I'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Virtue

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called," Ephesians 4:1

This Sunday, we continue the series "add to" and begin looking at the first of seven qualities that the Word calls us to add to our faith. It is my hope and prayer that as you read this, you have settled the matter of faith in Jesus Christ. Faith that brings the grace of God which saves. The Bible says that if you are hearing God today, don't harden your heart! Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, confess him as Lord and the Bible says you will be saved. Settle the matter of faith in Christ. Have the power of sin broken in your life. Become a new creation.

For those who have already believed by faith in Jesus as the risen Son of God and confessed Him as Lord, it's time to grow in our faith. 2 Peter 3:5 says to, "make every effort to add to your faith..." and the first quality we are told to add is virtue. In our faith, we must practice and exemplify a life of virtue, a life of integrity. In Ephesians 4:1, Paul urges believers to walk in a manner worthy of the calling they have received. We are called to new life in Christ, the old life must pass away. We cannot walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received if we continue to walk in old ways. There is a new way to walk, it starts with faith and continues in virtue.

My prayer, for us individually and as a church, is that we would live out our faith while walking in virtue, and by doing so, point the world around us to Christ. I'll see you this Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add to Faith

"Now faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Last Sunday I said, "It's not just faith, faith is just the beginning." And, that is true. But in a day where "all it takes is a little faith" is thrown around like candy at a Fourth of July parade, we sometimes end up with wrong thinking about faith. Here are two simple thoughts on faith for you to dwell on and get into the Bible about:
 

  1. We are not saved by faith. We are saved by the grace of God when we, through faith, believe in Jesus Christ as the risen Son of God and confess Him as Lord (Romans 10:9). We do not have a faith strong enough to save us. If we did, God wouldn't have had to do what He has done to save us. We place our faith in the One who died to save us, and through Jesus, God extends His grace to us, calling us His own (Ephesians 2:1-10). That is powerful.
     

  2. Real, true faith is accompanied by action. James 2:14-26 is crystal clear. We are not saved by what we do, but what we do must be driven by our salvation. "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:17. Faith is not real without action, but action alone cannot save. We believe by faith in Jesus and our actions reveal our belief.

This Sunday "add to faith" will answer, "What is faith? Do I have faith? What is it in? Go back and read 2 Peter 1:3-15 again and also check out Hebrews 11 this week! See you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Add To

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with..." 2 Peter 1:5

"Supplement your faith? What more is there beyond faith?" Quite a lot actually. And if you join us this Sunday, we will begin the journey of learning what supplements need to be added to our faith. I grew up reading the NIV, but the King James and other versions also say, "add to your faith."

"Add to" is the new sermon series we are going to begin this weekend. Faith is at the core of the Christian life. The Bible tells us that it is "by grace, through faith" that we are saved. Faith is a common thread throughout all of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. But so many people stop at the faith. Faith is just the beginning! Not the ending! 

We have discussed before, we are called to make disciples and discipleship means learning. We must learn about what we should be adding to our faith and, as we will learn, make sure that we are becoming effective and fruitful. You can read 2 Peter 1:3-15 and begin preparing your hearts for our time together in the Word.

I hope you will be able to join us! It is a pleasure to open the Word of God with you and I don't take it for granted. I am beyond excited that 2019 is underway and cannot wait to see all that God has in store! Let's be praying for it! Pray for the year, the Work we will do and the people we will be able to care for! I am praying that 2019 will see a great increase in our love for God and our love for people! Happy New Year! We'll see you Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Farewell 2018!

"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and striving forward to what lies ahead," Philippians 3:13

I hope you had as wonderful of a time as I did, worshipping and celebrating Christ the Savior on Christmas Eve. I hope you were encouraged and able to be an encouragement to someone else. Thank you to the many hands (I feel like the whole church showed up to help with setup!) that came out over the 3 days to help setup, serve during and teardown everything for Christmas Eve. I enjoyed watching you all have times of fellowship with one another and getting to know one another better.

But now, we are staring down the beginning of a new year. 2018 will soon be over and 2019 will be underway. There is nothing that any one of us can do to change anything that happened in 2018. But, we don't have to let the things happened in 2018 dictate what will happen in 2019. 

Join us this Sunday as we talk about forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead! We will share in the Lord's Supper and remember the only thing in the past that can change the future. I hope to see you this Sunday morning!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Strengthen Your Hands!

"So they strengthened their hands for the good work." Nehemiah 2:18

Well, here we are. As of the time that I'm writing this, Christmas eve is just a few short days away. We have been planning and praying, and now it is time to work. Oh, we're not building a wall like the Jews with Nehemiah. And, I'm not referring to the moving and setup of equipment and festive decorations on Sunday. I'm talking about the good work of proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ to our community, our friends and our neighbors.

No, we won't all help setup and we won't all sing with the band. We won't all greet and welcome people and we won't all open the Word of God and proclaim His truth. But, we will all, as the Body of Christ, in unison proclaim the living King of kings and Lord of lords, our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Who have you invited? How are you serving? Remain steadfast in prayer, especially for the salvation of lost souls! There is still room and time for you to join and support the work going into Christmas Eve! Strengthen your hands for the good work in front of us, Village Church!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Stand Firm!

"Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:13

It may seem like just a simple thing. We will decorate, gather, sing, preach, feel great about Christmas and Jesus and go home. But, there is nothing in any of this that is simple. It is actually, on the contrary, impossible. Not only is it impossible, but we have an enemy in satan who would seek to do all that he can to steal and kill and destroy the work we are doing.

As we enter into this fourth week of 30 Days of Prayer for Christmas Eve, let us focus our attention on standing firm in prayer against the enemy. Let us call on the name of the Lord, our Warrior God, to keep the enemy away, silent, and powerless in the face of the work we are doing.

When tempers flare, when words are short, when children are out of control, remember that the enemy of our God is working. Don't write these things off, have a heightened awareness and be on guard against the enemies attempt to work. But, also remember that the enemy of our God is defeated! Stand firm! Join me in praying for the protection of Almighty God over us during this season and always.

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

It's Impossible!

"And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness." Acts 4:31

As we enter our third week of 30 Days of Prayer for Christmas Eve, I want to help focus our attention on two things. One, when the people of God get before Him in prayer, God shows up and works. Two, the power that God shows up with when His people get before Him in prayer.

If we have a right understanding of God through His Word, then we must have a greater understanding of prayer as well. It is commonly said, "There is power in prayer." And, while I understand what is being said (James 5:16 literally says, "the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."), we cannot let ourselves think for a moment that we have power in anything we do. There isn't any power in our prayer. There is power in the One we are praying to. We are given access and allowed to come before the Lord Almighty with boldness and confidence to ask that He exert His power in a given matter on our behalf. And, He does, if what we are asking is in accordance with His will.

Presently, we are in a season of prayer. We are asking for some things that, at face value, probably seem simple and small. For example, the effective planning and setup for Christmas Eve, the logistics, and our safety. These are not overly complicated. However, even these things are utterly impossible for us without the strength and power of God. And, if these are impossible for us without Him, how much more do we need His power for things like the protection of our families and our work from the enemy, our unity in spirit and mind, and, most importantly, the salvation of lost souls.

In this season of prayer, I am asking that God shake the place in which we are gathered. That we all, filled with the Holy Spirit, speak the Word more boldly, care more compassionately, and love more compellingly. We have two weeks remaining, don't stop praying now. Start praying more, now!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Favor With All the People

"Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:47

As we head into our second week of prayer in our 30 Days of Prayer for Christmas Eve Journey, this week I want to draw our attention to praying for favor with all the people. In the passage of Scripture that the above verse comes from, it is important to note what the believers did to earn the favor of the people. They followed the Lord in devotion to His teachings, fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer. They bore the burdens of one another and cared for one another. They spent time together and they were visible to the people around them, not hidden, concealed, embarrassed, ashamed.

I love when new people join us for our worship gatherings and I love that the Lord gives us a voice to proclaim His truth to them, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But we cannot rely solely on the drawing of people into our fellowship. We must be out among them.

Next Friday is Byron's Christmas in the Village. We will have the opportunity to be seen, to talk, to meet, and I pray, to share the Good News of Jesus with someone. As we are in prayer this next week, let's pray that our lives before the Lord would bring His continued hand of favor upon our church body in our community. That His favor would lead to the favor of the people around us. And, not so we can feel good about something we did but that we might also see the Lord add daily to His Kingdom those who are being saved!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

30 Days of Prayer for Christmas Eve

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

With yesterday's celebration, a national day of thanksgiving, we have officially entered into the 2018 holiday season. For the world, this just means the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties, stress, and spending too much money. For the follower of Christ, it should mean the heightened awareness that the unsaved, lost soul will be more vulnerable and receptive to the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

We will be getting you specific information about our Christmas Eve gathering very soon and we appreciate your patience as we finalize the last details. But, before we mobilize behind this year's Christmas Eve Outreach plans, let's begin going before the Lord in prayer. Once we begin inviting people to our Christmas eve gathering, let's remain before the Lord in prayer. And, as people begin to gather on December 24th to hear the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, let's be in prayer for their soul that they might be saved!

This is a church wide call to prayer, from November 24th through December 23rd. Every day for the next thirty days, join me in setting aside time for prayer, urgent prayer, with thanksgiving in our hearts for what God will do through our effort this Christmas. Each week in this article, I will highlight areas for us to focus our prayer on. We cannot do anything if the Lord does not go before us. And, the surest way to have the Lord before us is to be before Him in prayer.

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)

Don't Be Robbed!

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

This Sunday, we are going to look at a passage of Scripture that talks about the Body of Christ - the church - and it's many parts. It's a topic I am very passionate about. Here's why in a nutshell. Come Sunday for the long form! 

You have a part to play in what God is doing here at The Village Church and throughout the world. The Bible compares us to lost sheep, or lost coins, that the owners go to great lengths to find. God has gone to great lengths to bring us into His kingdom. In the verse above, Jesus tells us that the reason He came was that we may have life and have it abundantly. When we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we find life. When we step into God's design for our life, we find it to the full. Part of God's design for our life is that we would be active, working, members of the body. This is out there for everyone. It's not for a select club or group or specific person. We are all members of the body and we are important and we matter to the function of the body!

Sadly, many professing believers don't see what they're worth to the Kingdom and they don't take that step toward finding the abundant life that Christ gives us. This is because the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy. With all that I have within me, I want to work for the Lord in such a way that helps you see and understand that you have value to the Kingdom. You have value to The Village Church. And, you have value to the lost world around you as a light for Jesus Christ. 

Let's walk together in this. We need each other. Let's take chances for His name and for His glory. Let's be bold to share Christ with the family member or friend who doesn't know Him. Let's be actively serving in the church. Let us step out of any comfort zones, and go to the lost world, whether it's across the street or around the globe. Let us not just have life in Christ, let's have it abundantly!

Grace & Peace,
John
(You can reach Pastor John at jwhite@thevillagemi.com)