You Are Here

Living in Light of Eternity


During our “You Are Here” series, we examined common beliefs and phrases in our culture, and compared them with truths presented in the Bible. The series concluded this week with the saying, “You only live once.” This common phrase is often used to encourage reckless, self-gratifying behaviors or to encourage people to live in the moment. As well, it taps deeper into the truth that we were not made to sleepwalk our way through life.

In Ephesians 5:8-17, the Bible affirms the idea that we need to wake up and actively live our lives but rejects the idea that our pleasure is the purpose of life. The ultimate motivation for us is setting our minds on  Jesus - both His sacrificial, selfless life, and  the eternal life promised in Him to all who follow Him. Following Jesus comes at a cost, and living a life with eternity and God’s kingdom in mind looks very strange to our culture. 

In this member spotlight, we are highlighting  a few of the many people in our church family who are leveraging their lives for the gospel in beautiful ways! The work of Jesus in their hearts is clearly seen in how they live life sacrificially and in light of eternity.


Caroline Faucette

In the Classroom

Caroline is in her third year of teaching at a low-income middle school here in Columbia. Though not originally from Columbia, Caroline enjoyed her time at USC and with Midtown while she was in college. She decided she wanted to stay and work in Columbia after listening to parents in our church family who were concerned about the public education for their children but still desired to live and be involved in their downtown neighborhoods. God showed Caroline how her school is her mission field, not only to serve her students, but to serve her students’ families and the community. It made sense to her to be a part of the solution and help parents see that there shouldn’t be a conflict between giving their children a good education and loving their neighbors well.

Exciting as it may be, Caroline has definitely faced many push-backs. There are times when she interacts with frustrated and exhausted coworkers who are not always eager to hear about the hope she has. There are times when it’s difficult to build relationships with students and relate with their parents. During these moments, doubts and lies creep in, and it’s hard for Caroline to justify working where God has her when she has co-workers telling her she’s limiting her professional and career growth by staying here. However, Caroline has seen God fueling her hope and passion to teach and serve her students as best as she can. 

If you want to join in on the work God is doing in our schools, pray for Caroline and other teachers in our church family who are loving and serving the students in our city.


Dave and Karen Brower

On the Mission Field

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Dave and Karen are going to Africa  to support  missionaries currently working there in the field. In addition to local outreach, As a nurse, Karen will help missionaries in the area navigate the healthcare systems, find appropriate aid for themselves, and ensure they stay healthy. Dave will be connecting and working with a team reaching the lost there and doing some part time IT work remotely for CIU. After going on a medical mission trip to Africa, Karen realized how little she knew about health and went back to school to get her nursing degree with the desire that God would one day call her to go and serve in this field. Dave and Karen have thought about doing missions over the years, but timing and the Lord’s will only made it happen now, in their 50s.

Uprooting their lives at an age when others are looking into retirement has brought its share of difficulties, but God has used those to shine all the more brightly. The Browers were most worried about selling their house that they invested time and money in, but they didn’t even put their house on the market before someone expressed interest, viewed it, and wanted to buy it right away. It is painful for Dave and Karen to think about the memories they won’t be able to make with their six grandchildren, and giving and selling their belongings has not been easy, but they are all the more aware of the cost of following Jesus and aware of how little they need the things of this world.

To support Dave and Karen, pray for them as they prepare for missions and transition into moving overseas.


Kent and Ana Bateman

Church Planting

The Batemans, along with other members from our church, set out to plant a church in Knoxville, Tennessee in the summer of 2016. Starting a church from the ground-up is no small task. Much of the Bateman’s time and energy goes towards building relationships with their core team and new locals from Knoxville who are coming around their church. Kent, one of the pastors at City Church, says that ever since he met Jesus and began living life alongside other followers of Jesus, he wanted to create that same type of community so more people could experience that. Ana, who never thought that she would be a church planter’s wife, always wanted to be a part of a church plant and make Biblical family available to clients, coworkers, and anyone else she came across.

It’s been challenging for Kent and Ana to adjust to having a smaller church family and circle of support, when they were so accustomed to having an extensive church family back in Columbia. Despite the challenges, God has been working by bringing in young adults and couples from all walks of life: people who’ve been searching for a Jesus-centered church, people who have been suffering and in need of community, and even people who want nothing to do with church. These people have all been welcomed in the church with their passion, hurt, or questions, and God has been actively redeeming the lost and bringing more people into His family. 

If you’d like to support City Church and the work that Kent and Ana are doing in Knoxville through prayer or financially, please check out City Church’s website.


Dalisha Shingler

Education Reform


During her graduate studies at USC, Dalisha found a disconnect between the research addressing opportunity gaps within underserved low-income African American communities and the action done to see change happen. Dalisha has since taken these concepts and theories and has been applying them within her specifically designed Residency role with Midtown. She wrote a plan of action to aid in increased literacy rates at Carver-Lyon Elementary, the closest school to Midtown Two Notch and a school with historically low reading scores. Through reading culturally relevant literature to engage students in reading, she hopes that the students’ reading ability and test scores will increase. The Serve the City partnership, known as Hearts4Schools, was formed, with Dalisha leading up the charge in building relationships with students in a time where they are most vulnerable and in affirming that they are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

While Dalisha would like to see action and results sooner, she has also realized the importance of pausing and praying for the staff and administrators she’s in contact with at Carver-Lyon. She has recognized the need for patience and care with them, as they are vital to seeing change happen in the school, and ultimately, with the students. She is excited for the partnership with Carver-Lyon and praying that the students get educational literacy, but she is also praying that they come to know Jesus and form relationships at Midtown Two Notch. Ultimately, Dalisha’s desire with the program is that the gospel is both portrayed and proclaimed to the students and staff at Carver-Lyon Elementary.

To support Dalisha and the Hearts4Schools partnership, pray for the volunteers who will be reading and building with the students at Carver-Lyon Elementary. 

What makes it worth it?

Lastly, here are what each of these members answered when asked, “what makes your work and decisions worth it?”


“I know that I may never see the fruits from my students' lives as they grow and mature, but what makes it worth it is knowing that I have been deeply loved by Jesus and that He gives me the strength to follow through with His plan to save Columbia.”

Dave and Karen: 

“We just want to follow Him on this adventure. We feel His peace and presence in our lives. After all, isn't that what's it all about, Him?”

Kent and Ana: 

“If you factor in the good news of Jesus–that Jesus sacrificed everything to make us his own–moving to another city makes tons of sense. Actually, in light of that, why wouldn't we?”


“Education helps provide human dignity. That makes it worth it. We are affirming the imago dei of individuals and helping them walk in God's design for them. ”

Sermon Recap | "You only live once."


The “You only live once” or “YOLO” mentality is all about having an experience without thinking about consequences.

YOLO actually echoes something a little bit deeper in all of us: We all have a desire for our life to count. We want meaning for why we exist and struggle with the reality that the majority of life is ordinary, routine, and mundane. 

 “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.  But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
‘Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’”
- Ephesians 5:8-13

What we can accept from YOLO:

We can accept the call. The idea behind YOLO is “wake up.” YOLO and the Bible are both calling us to view the reality that we live in: that one day we will die. Our lives were given to us by God. How do we make them matter?

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom -Psalm 90:12

What we reject from YOLO:

We need to reject the very premise that YOLO is built on: that you only live once. The reality of the Bible is that you actually live twice and that changes everything.

We have a whole new lens to look through and incredible clarity about what matters; We get to spend our days building the kingdom of God and working on the mission of God.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. - Romans 8:18

What we can redeem from YOLO:

We want to redeem the outcome. YOLO is all consuming. Christianity brings freedom from consumption. 

In light of the gospel, and the fact that we have a new identity in Christ and an eternal perspective, the pressure is off. The Bible tells us that what is to come is better than anything we can experience here on Earth. We can remember that ordinary is not insignificant because Jesus is interacting in our lives and eternity awaits us. 

Loving the Stranger to Whom You Find Yourself Married


Lucy Blair was a part of Midtown in college and has recently moved back with her husband Jake, a church planting candidate. Lucy and Jake are grateful to be a part of Midtown’s church family. 

“The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough, we will find that just right person. This overlooks a crucial fact, and that fact is this: that we always marry the wrong person. We never know whom it is we marry; we just think we do. And even if we do marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being the enormous thing it is, means we will not be able to stay the same person after entering into it that we were before. [The great challenge then is] learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”
-Steve Hauerwas

I was a college freshman when I came to know the Lord, and within a year I began regularly attending Midtown gatherings, became a missionary member, and joined a Lifegroup. I largely credit Midtown’s teaching on relationships with the healthy perspective I had going into marriage. Because of the biblical view I’d gained over the years, I entered my marriage viewing it as a partnership with someone who would complement me, sharpen me, encourage me in my strengths and help me see my blind spots. I also knew that I was a sinner, and whoever I married was also going to be a sinner, so there would be a lot of brokenness between us, but we were choosing to love each other for the rest of our lives. 

That’s not the cultural message of marriage. Culture says, when you find “the one”, you’ll just know. “The one” will complete you, infinitely improve your life, meet your needs before you even realize you have them, and satisfy all your desires. “The one” will keep you happy. And if they don’t… well, get out of that marriage because you deserve to be happy. You must not have married “the one”. Keep your options open so you can find the real “one” next time. 

I, however, do not have to spend my time analyzing if I married “the one”. Because Jake is who I married, he is my one. And that changes everything. No need to keep my options open; no fantasizing about other prospects. It’s simple, but it’s not always easy. My husband definitely does not always make me happy (nor I him). If we were looking for red exit signs directing the way out whenever marriage rubbed us the wrong way, we could probably find them. One messed up broken person bound to another messed up broken person can be (spoiler alert) messy and broken. But if I believe what God says about Himself- that He sovereignly rules over all- then He wasn’t sleeping on the job when we exchanged our vows. God was paying attention, in power, on the throne on my wedding day. 

Here are some of the practical ways that committing to view my spouse as my one plays out in marriage. Sometimes, loving my spouse means...

  1. Laying down my preferences. Jake loves comic book movies. I would rather watch paint dry than sit through two hours of explosions and CGI fight scenes. But, I try to go to to the theater with him for the ones he’s really excited about because I know it means a lot to him. Wayne’s World was one of his favorite flicks as a kid. I noticed that the Nickelodeon on Main St. was doing a one-night showing of Wayne’s World so I surprised him with tickets. He was so delighted. It was adorable. Now, if I were choosing my perfect itinerary of a date night, we might have gone to a swanky dinner at a new restaurant or lingered at the wine bar down the street. But choosing something I knew he’d love, even if it wasn’t my favorite, ended up bringing me lots of joy. 
  2. Appreciating our differences. If you’re familiar with Myers-Briggs types, Jake is an ENTJ and I’m an ISFJ. This means that we have some significant differences in how we process information and relate to the world around us. One way that manifests itself is that Jake is completely energized by being around people and would choose to be surrounded by a large group at all times if he could get away with it. I, on the other hand, prefer smaller groups of 2 or 3 and find mass quantities of human interaction pretty draining. In our first year of marriage (first month even!) that was something we definitely had to grow in. Jake quickly discovered that my capacity and energy level for social events was drastically different than his. He learned that my need for alone time had nothing to do with my feelings towards him. He lays down his desire to constantly gather people in our home because he knows it can be exhausting for me. On the flipside, I have learned that, even though having people over can be tiring, it is so good for Jake. That even after a long, hard day that’s worn us out, I can sacrifice a quiet night because I know having friends over is energizing and life-giving for my husband. 
  3. Believing the best. My natural tendency when my feelings are hurt is to recoil inward and isolate. I can get too much in my own head and make up the backstory about why my husband said that hurtful thing, what he must be thinking, and how little he cares. The fact is usually that he just misspoke and I have completely overreacted to a run-of-the-mill misunderstanding. When I take the time to stop and acknowledge that I am the worst of sinners, I can then believe the best about my spouse. I remind myself, preach to myself, will myself to believe in moments when it’s hard, that my husband is on my team. He is for me, not against me. So much devastation can be avoided if we would first believe this about our spouse before the defenses go up. 

The beauty of trusting God’s sovereignty in marriage and choosing daily to view your spouse as your one is that you are freed up to truly and fully love your spouse. You don’t need to manipulate the other person into making you happy, try to change who he is, or serve out of fear that she’ll leave. You can just get after the beautiful, hard work of learning how to love and care for the person you married. 

If you’d like to check out a few additional resources that were really helpful to me, I’d highly recommend the book, When Sinners Say I Do. This is a book that Midtown frequently uses in their premarital counseling. There was also a really helpful sermon series five years ago called “A Marriage You’d Actually Want”, and you can find all those podcasts here

Singleness: Punishment or Blessing?


Lizzie Keegan has been a part of Midtown church family for a little over two years. She moved to Columbia to work with InterVarsity, a campus ministry, after doing ministry in Virginia for six years. She loves her work of walking alongside college students as they learn to follow Jesus. 

As a single woman in my thirties working in college ministry, my life is full of conversations about singleness and dating and marriage. Since so many of the students and friends I talk to are single, much of the conversation centers around waiting for “the one”. What will he be like? How will I know if she is “the one”? Does he really like me? I really hope I am not called to singleness. How do I know if I am called to singleness? As I wade through these questions in conversations, and sometimes ask them myself, I am often struck by the panic with which people talk about singleness. Beneath our questions is the lingering belief that somehow singleness is a punishment. 

Our culture, the church, our families, and our friends often perpetuate the idea that eventually our lives will lead to the point of finding “the one” - a significant other who will finally be our “happily ever after”. We spend our childhood and adolescence assuming marriage will be our future and we are confused when we find ourselves single. We assume that something must be wrong. 

The truth that single people have to wrestle through is that not only are we not guaranteed “the one”, we are not even guaranteed “one”. Marriage is not promised for anyone and despite what we may believe, it is not a better or more rewarding life than singleness. Singleness, like marriage, is a way that God has intended us to live that can be hard and lonely but can also be vibrant and full of Gospel-goodness. Yes, there are unique challenges to singleness, just like there are unique challenges to marriage, but there are also unique blessings to singleness as well. The blessings of singleness do not have to be the silver lining to a disappointing life but rather they can be joys unto themselves. 

Perhaps one of the most misused verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13 where Paul says: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Though you have most likely seen this on an athletic sign, Paul’s intent was not an encouragement for competition. Look at what Paul says right before in verse 12: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Paul is saying that God’s strength empowers us to get through anything in life by learning contentment. 

When I tell people that I am content in my singleness, I think they often misunderstand what I mean. People assume I mean that I do not desire marriage or a family of my own and that God just gave me a magical gift of not desiring it. That is not the case at all. Like Paul, I have learned (and am constantly learning) how to be content. Contentment is not a moment where God releases us from desiring the thing we want; contentment is a posture that we learn by believing and choosing to live in the truth that God’s way is better than our desires. Being content in singleness does not mean we never feel lonely or sad, rather it means that we are learning, day by day, to trust Jesus precisely in the moments of loneliness and sadness. 

One of the biggest barriers to learning contentment in singleness is that we are taught to wait for marriage. We wait in line at the store because we see that our lane has a cashier working. We wait for a phone call from a friend who said they would call. We wait for results from a test that we have already taken. We only actively wait for what we know is coming - yet so many single people wait for marriage to fully live their lives. We wait for something that we do not know is coming before we allow ourselves to do the things we long to do. Some of the best advice I received about living fully as a single woman was to not wait to do “adult” things until I got married. Rather than wait for something that may or may not come, we get to live our lives fully now -- settle down, buy a house, visit cool places, vacation with friends, etc. For my group of single friends, this means we vacation together every year (thanks Adam for starting Friend Cruise!). 

The other barrier we must admit is the belief that marriage is a reward. Too often I hear people telling each other what they need to do or work on in order to get married - as though marriage is a prize to be won. When we make marriage a reward, we treat God as a stingy and withholding Father rather than seeing Him as the generous and gracious Father that He is. A lot of that is rooted in the culture and church’s idolatry of marriage. We are told, both overtly and subtly, that marriage will bring a more joyful and complete life. Single Christians have the opportunity to show the church and the world that we can live a full life in the kingdom without a spouse. 

Once we have seen the barriers in ourselves and the world around us, how do we go about living in the contentment that Paul says is possible in Christ? Here are three encouragements for practically living out of contentment:

  1. Pursue deep friendships: One of the biggest losses in a society that idolizes romance is that we place less value on deep, intimate, committed friendships. God created humanity for relationship - not necessarily for marriage, but for relationship. We are made to live in community where we are known and loved. You do not need marriage in order to have relationships where you are known, loved, valued, and celebrated. Not only were we made for relationship, we were created for relationship with the opposite sex. We long to be known and loved by the opposite sex because cross-gender relationships reflect God’s image in a unique way. Although single people may never experience the intimacy with the opposite sex that comes in marriage, we can have healthy intimacy in cross-gender friendships. As I talk with good friends and college students about singleness, those who treat the opposite sex as off limits for friendship often have a worse view of singleness and feel more frustrated by it. However, my friends who have healthy cross-gender friendships enjoy the partnership that men and women were created for, even in singleness.
  2. Spend your singleness well: Most single people have the opportunity to get a full night of sleep every night. We get to choose what we do each weekend and with our free time. Use your time for kingdom service. Serve in the church. Live missionally in the city. Married people are called to these things as well, but as single people we are able to use our time in different ways. Use the extra space you have as a single person to love families well. Bring coffee to a tired mom. Make dinner for your friends whose kids are sick. Some of the most life-giving relationships I have are the ones where I get to enter the beautiful chaos of a family because of my independence as a single woman. 
  3. Remind yourself daily that God’s plan is always better than your plan for yourself: Paul tells us that contentment is learned - and how do we learn things? We tell ourselves over and over until we remember. Learning contentment in singleness requires repeating to yourself, and having community repeat to you, the truth of God’s goodness and His control over your life. Confess the lies you believe about singleness, marriage, and God’s plan for your life. Remind yourself of the truth: your good heavenly Father knows what is best for you. His way is always best. 

For those of us who are single, God invites us to learn to be content in life without “the one” or even “one” at all. We get to learn day in and day out, just like married people, that God’s love is the only path to truth contentment. 

Sermon Recap | "One day you will find 'the one.'” 

Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. - 1 Corinthians 7:6-9

1. Singleness and marriage are both good gifts, each with their own unique benefits. 

Your goal, whether single or married, is to leverage your life to give glory and honor to Jesus.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • In what ways am I selfishly focused on myself and my own happiness?
  • Where am I believing culture’s views about romance instead of trusting Jesus?

2. When romance becomes God, disappointment will follow.

Check out Genesis 29 for a case study.

3. We need to find contentment in God’s love that will never disappoint.

A Counselor Reflects on Healthy Boundaries and Safe People


Ask a Professional: An Interview with Kristi Clements; LPC

We are on Week 6 of an 8-week series called, “You Are Here.” As a family, we’ve been navigating through some common cultural phrases to see if they hold up to any real pressure or scrutiny in the face of the Gospel. This past week, we examined the phrase, “Eliminate negative people from our life” and the cultural belief that we should get rid of anyone in our lives who is difficult or draining. 

To follow up on this topic, we talked with Kristi Clements, a licensed professional counselor and long-time missionary member. She and her husband, Brandon, helped plant Midtown Lexington two years ago. She also started her own Counseling & Consulting practice and regularly treats people dealing with anxiety, depression and eating disorders. 

How do you define “boundaries” as a counselor?

Boundaries are our personal property line, which marks what I am responsible for. Boundaries define what is mine and what is not mine. They are incredibly freeing because they show me where my responsibility ends and someone else’s begins. Boundaries give us our sense of ownership and help us take responsibility for ourselves. 

We’ve been talking about some cultural norms or phrases that have slowly but surely seeped into the way that we are living our lives, and specifically this sense of freedom to “eliminate negative people from our lives.” How would you encourage people in discerning if it’s the right time to remove yourself from a person or situation? 

I would use a process called “boundary development” which allows a person to examine why they are finding another person to be challenging or difficult to love. From there, we would work to discern how they are being responsible “for” a person versus “to” that person and we would work to correct that behavior. We would then begin the process of identifying healthy boundaries that need to be established in order to start developing a healthier relationship with that person and the best way to communicate those boundaries with the other person. 

Where, in your practice or around your group of believers, have you seen people misuse this concept of “boundaries”? 

Boundaries are a lot like chainsaws. They are incredibly helpful when we need to cut down a tree or a limb, but if used incorrectly they are quite damaging and can easily cut off an arm! So, we have to think of them as helpful and yet, they are secondary to what the Lord has called us to in our relationships (carry one another’s burdens, speak truth to one another in love, etc.). I find that many people try to use boundaries to just be selfish and not have to do things they don’t want to do. 

How do we to confront or bring up the conversation with someone who is infringing or pressing against our boundaries? Or how do we confront someone who is using boundaries like chainsaws to not be challenged or pressed by people in their life?  

I think we make communication harder than it has to be because of our poor boundaries. So, if someone is infringing on your boundaries say to yourself: “Self, you get to tell them that. You need to tell them that. Don’t have poor boundaries by ignoring your needs because you are scared to hurt their feelings.” Then, go tell that person in a humble way that you need to check in with them about this boundary you have. 

The term “self-care” gets bounced around a lot when we’re talking about boundaries. Where have you seen this idea being misused or abused? What is a helpful way for us to think about self-care as believers? 

I see people use “self-care” as a way to be selfish and mindless, which is not the intent of self-care for believers. The simplest way I can define self-care would be taking time to care for the soul/mind/body and confessing to the Lord our need for Him. Self-care looks a lot like checking in with ourselves (and the Holy Spirit!) and asking what to do with the ten minutes we have between meetings. TV may give us a moment of rest, but true self-care happens more in proactive things like praying, contacting a friend that needs encouragement, moving our body in a healthy way to care for it, drinking a really good cup of coffee that reminds us that God made coffee beans! I think the ultimate goal of self-care is renewal and rejuvenation, but we only get that when we realize we need a savior and the savior is not us.

For you personally, what do healthy rest, self-care, and boundaries look like? 

This is actually really difficult for me. I keep using “they” or “client,” but man, I have a hard time not just being selfish and zoning out. I learned from a sweet member at Midtown to look at my week and highlight energizing things green, draining things red, and neutral things yellow. Then, I can’t just take off all of the red items the next week (let’s be honest, I sometimes want to!) but instead, I make sure to cushion those red events with green items. So, if I know I’m going to have a really difficult conversation with a client, I will attempt to go grab coffee and pray while I walk to Starbucks from my office after. I can’t be selfish and say, “ummm, client, I’m too tired and you’re too difficult this week…gotta cancel!” but I can know that for whatever reason, I will be drained after that hour and need to care for my mind and soul. I think that routine has helped me to know of my neediness for the Lord and practice a lot of “I need a savior and I am not my own savior.”  I also have a running list of things I know I need to do to actually care for my body/mind/soul that I am continually trying to practice. 

The term “safe people” is another phrase that gets tossed around a lot. Where did this term actually come from?

The term, “safe people” got pretty popular when Cloud and Townsend, the authors of the book Boundaries, wrote about it. They defined safe people as people who draw us closer to God, to others, and help us become the person God created us to be. Pop psychology has damaged that last idea, but I do think there is some value in someone knowing you and being able to encourage you in the giftedness the Lord has given you. So, safe people are people that are like you, not like you, and everything in between. Safe people are legitimately any people that are pointing you to the Gospel in your life. 

How do you encourage people to reach out to community as they are going through counseling with you? 

I usually ask for them to create a list of people that we call their “support system.” This can range from their family to friends to coworkers to neighbors to sorority sisters/fraternity brothers to lifegroup/small group/whatever group with their church to 12 Step Programs to pastors. We sometimes even have sessions with that group to help foster a healthy, working relationship between client and their support network. I also tell my clients they are in session with me 1-2 hours a week max, so the hard work happens outside of the four walls of my office. They need people to help support them when they are doing that hard work.

If you are interested in learning more about the work that Kristi does, you can check out her website: If you think that you need counseling, please contact your lifegroup leader or Ryan Rike, pastor of care. 


Sermon Recap | "Eliminate negative people from your life."


There is a cultural belief that says you have to eliminate the negative people from your life. So how do we, as God’s people, think about the people that He has put into our lives—specifically the people who tend to be a bit more draining?

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. - Romans 15:1

The phrase “bear with” means to pick up and carry the weight of the weak. (Check out Mark 2:1-12

Two reasons the strong have an obligation to bear with the weak:

  1. for your own growth
  2. for the growth of the weak 

The key to strong communities is not to avoid the weak, but to embrace them.

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. - Romans 15:2

Two options for how you approach the people in your life:

  1. People exist to please/serve you. 
  2. People exist for you to please/serve them. 

You are either using people or loving people and what you believe here changes everything about how you go about your life. 

“Eliminate negative people from your life” is rooted in the belief that the people that God has put in your life exist to serve you and if they don’t you need to get rid of them. 

For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” - Romans 15:3 (Check out Psalm 69)

Jesus did not approach people asking, “What can you do for me?” but instead chose to love people when all they brought was their brokenness and their need. Jesus does not love any of us based on what we bring to the table. At some point, the reality of the nature of our relationship with Jesus soaks in and it directly impacts how we relate to and love the people in our lives. The way we love the weak and difficult people in our own lives is direct evidence of how much we understand the gospel.

We must not grow weary in loving other people, but instead, constantly set our minds on Christ. (Hebrews 12:3)

or whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. - Romans 15:4-7

Together, we have the opportunity to show our community what Christ has shown us. 

Three things that are required in order for us to grow in loving people:

  1. Prayer. Pray for a new heart to actually see this change take place. Pray for the difficult/draining people in your life every day. 
  2. Practice. Go out of your way to meet someone new. Set up a weekly hospitality night. Join us in one of our Serve the City Partnership events.
  3. Patience. You are not immediately going to see fruit, so pray for endurance. 

"Slavery thrives in the absence of right and wrong."

Absence YouAreHere.jpg

Tiffany Beaver has called Midtown home for almost ten years. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy and went on to earn her Masters in Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Tiffany is currently pursuing her doctorate in Philosophy from the University of South Carolina, with a focus in applied ethics. Her favorite people are her husband Benjamin and their 2.5-year-old daughter Teagan. 

When I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Social Work, I cared a lot about social justice. Lots of injustices made me angry, but I hadn’t found that one thing that really made my blood boil...until I traveled to Orlando to present an academic paper at a Christian social work conference. I attended a pre-conference seminar on human trafficking/modern day slavery that changed my life. When I registered for the seminar I assumed that “far-away slavery” would be the topic of discussion. However, that was far from what was actually discussed. The seminar was primarily focused on human trafficking and modern day slavery in the United States. In fact, during the seminar our speaker pulled up a website and showed us in real time conversations that were happening amongst sex traffickers within a mile of our Orlando conference venue. My mind was blown, and my heart was crushed. How could this be a reality in my own country…and how could I be completely oblivious? 

From that point forward I was drawn to the issue of modern slavery. I read and learned about it. I joined organizations that fought against slavery. I gave money when I could. I told other people about it. I slowly changed some of my own purchasing habits. I even went with a group of Midtown family to India to work with kids who have been rescued from sex slavery. 

After working as a social worker for nearly five years, I knew that I was in the wrong field. So I went back to school to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy and within philosophy I decided to focus more specifically on ethics. Modern slavery is one of the most complex, urgent ethical issues facing our world. (Did you know that according to IJM, a leading anti-slavery organization, 45+ million people are trapped in slavery right now?) In a light bulb moment of clarity early in my Ph.D. program, I knew that I was going to focus my Ph.D in philosophical studies on the issue of modern slavery. 

Fast forward six years, and I have developed and taught a course at USC to teach students about modern slavery, presented at an international slavery conference, and I am writing a dissertation (basically a book) on issues of responsibility surrounding modern slavery. 

The questions I’m most interested in answering include: “Who is responsible for the existence of modern slavery?” and “What are normal people like you and me obligated to do in response to the existence of slavery in our world?” My ultimate goal is to successfully argue that due to the gravity of the human rights violation(s) that slavery imposes, we cannot live as if the atrocity of slavery is the stuff of history books. Those of us in a position to do something (and that turns out to include most of us) are obligated to take at least some steps to change this reality. 

The Dangers of Moral Relativism

If it were true that everyone has to decide for themselves what is right and wrong, what would this mean for me, my research, and ultimately for the global fight against modern slavery? The short answer is that, if individuals (or even particular societies) decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, I might as well just stop what I’m doing, lay down my pen, cease teaching, kick my soapbox to the curb, and take a nap. Because arguing for any objective human right(s) - including rights to autonomy, freedom from coercion, bodily safety/security, compensation for work, fair and safe working conditions, etc. (see the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights) – is incoherent in a world where right and wrong are subject to the whims of individuals or societies. We cannot make a case that you and I (or anyone else) are obligated to do certain things on behalf of modern slaves if we are each able to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Furthermore, we cannot condemn slavery in any place, at any time past or present or future, if we have no grounds for objectively rejecting the enslavement of human beings. After all, if right and wrong are relative, and everyone decides for himself or herself what is permissible or impermissible, we have absolutely no right to tell slavers or pimps or human traffickers or old men who buy sex with prepubescent girls and boys that they are wrong. If we take away objective right and wrong, we put all of the power into the hands of the oppressors and slavers to use and abuse others as they see fit. We simultaneously silence the victims of these injustices, who know very well that objective right and wrong exist, but who have no grounds to argue this in a world of “you do you” moral relativism.  

For those of us who long eagerly for justice – especially justice for those in our world who have been the most abused and overlooked and exploited – we must cling to the reality that there are right actions and there are wrong actions. Enslaving human beings is wrong. It was wrong in ancient Greece and Rome, it was wrong in Antebellum America, and it is wrong today, wherever it exists across the globe. AND those who do wrong things are accountable. They are culpable. Their actions have consequences.We can judge them, because a standard exists, and slavery falls grossly short of that standard. 

These arguments (for objective right and wrong) are logical arguments. When really pressed, most people – both atheists and theists alike – choose to accept them. The alternative is to reject the notion of human rights, which most people are not willing to do. The desire and fight for justice only makes sense in a world where some things are objectively right and other things are objectively wrong. For atheists, the difficulty then lies in justifying where such an objective standard of right and wrong comes from. For Christians, we can easily answer this question. 

God’s View of Moral Relativism

The God I worship and serve cares more about justice than I ever will. He is the one who created people with value and dignity and worth. He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27) and breathed into us His breath (Genesis 2:7), and when we screwed up and shattered our relationship with Him he devised a plan to free us from our self-imposed slavery (Genesis 3:15, 21). God made a covenant with His people (Genesis 17:9), and when they were slaves in Egypt He heard their cries and delivered them from their oppression (Exodus 2:23, 6:5-6, 13:14; 20:2). 

Scripture is filled with affirmation that God is a God of Justice.
(Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 37:22-24; Psalm 9:7-8; Psalm 33:4-5; Psalm 89:14; Isaiah 61:8; Psalm 145:5-9)

“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” -Psalm 103:6

Scripture also clearly implores us to seek justice on behalf of others.
(Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Isaiah 1:16-17; Jeremiah 21:12; Hosea 12:6)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” -Micah 6:8

As a follower of Jesus, I have all the reason in the world to fight for justice on behalf of the oppressed. Jesus died to free me from my own slavery to sin, and thus satisfy the demands of justice on my behalf. (Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 6:17-18)

My Christian worldview affirms that right and wrong are objective truths. God values human life above everything else He created (Genesis 1:27-31), and although injustice often reigns in our fallen world, we can trust in the hope and knowledge that our God is a God of justice. He will win in the end, and He will establish his throne as a throne of justice (Isaiah 16:1-5). 

And with this hope before me, I trudge on in this broken world, fighting for justice where I can, and looking toward that day when Jesus will make everything right. With this hope, I echo John in Revelation 22:20: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”  


Sermon Recap | "Everyone has to decide for themselves what is right and wrong."

What is right for you may not be right for me.
You have to find your own truth.
You can believe whatever you want as long as you don’t tell others what to believe.

Moral or cultural relativism: morals are not absolute. They are culturally formed and no culture is inherently superior to another. Therefore, everyone must decide what is right and wrong.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? - Romans 6:12-16

Paul says clearly that morality is not subjective. God has a transcendent, objective standard of morality despite our cultural resistance to this idea. This leads some question God or reject the God of the Bible who claims the right to declare objective moral truth.

There is such a thing as right and wrong, and God holds everyone accountable to it. (Romans 2:16)

The irony about our pushback against a God who sets an objective moral standard is that our souls actually desire for there to be an objective right and wrong in our world.

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. - Romans 2:14-15

Paul says that our actions, thoughts, and consciences actually prove to us that we do know and believe in an ultimate moral authority.

At times, we like the idea of everyone choosing for himself what is right and wrong, but when someone truly wrongs or abuses someone that we love, we don’t have to be convinced that there are some rules that should not be broken.

If we remove absolute truth, then we remove the basis for justice altogether. If we say that we want everyone to decide what is right and wrong, we are saying that we should not be able to enforce rules that protect and bring justice to people.

The very fact that we have a desire to condemn things that we see as unjust shows that the work of the law is written on our hearts and our consciences bear witness to it. 

It’s great news that God cares so passionately about justice but it’s also the most terrifying news because all of us have done so much wrong. The truth is, we need a God who cares about people enough to judge those that break universal laws to the full extent of the law, and we need a God who cares about people enough to be able to forgive and show grace to those who have broken His laws.

This is where the beauty of the gospel is found: Christianity is good news for those who have suffered wrong AND those who have done wrong.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. - Romans 3:20-25

This gift that Christ gives is the reason we know we can trust Him as the universal authority.
His life showed us that He was perfectly righteous. The fact that God poured out His wrath for sin, shows us that He cares about justice. The fact that Christ took the wrath of God onto Himself for our sins while sparing all those that believe in Him from the punishment that we all deserve, shows us that He loves us tremendously. There is no one more qualified to establish the universal law that we all desperately need to exist.

So let us trust in His law even when we don’t understand it. Even when we don’t feel like it, because the crucified and risen savior has proven that He and He alone is worthy of establishing the ultimate transcendent law that we should all submit to.

Sermon Recap | "If you do good things, good things will happen to you."

And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. –Galatians 6:9

While most people in our culture don’t ascribe to a holistic, religious karma worldview, the mentality that people who do good things will get repaid with a good life is everywhere. And there’s a problem with a karma-way of thinking: we grow weary of doing good.

Three ways that karma creates weariness:

  1. Karma can’t explain the random, chaotic nature of human suffering in the world. (Ecclesiastes 8:14; Luke 13)

  2. Karma leads to believing things about God that He never actually said about Himself. God never promises to keep everything bad from happening to his people. What he does promise is to be with His people in the midst of anything they go through and He promises that someday He will do away with all brokenness in this world once and forever.

  3. Karma fuels a sense of entitlement in us. 

What does the gospel offer that is different? 
We get something way better than karma; We get grace. 

Through the gospel, we are called and motivated to do good because underserved good has already been done to us. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

God will return to remake the world and do away with all suffering. We look back to the cross and we look forward to that promise that God will do away with all weariness and all pain and all suffering. 

Moana and the Disney Doctrine


Courtney Gibson has been around Midtown since its early days. When she’s not spending time with her husband, Adam, and two kids, Selah and Hunter, she enjoys putting her MFA in Creative Writing to good use by editing manuscripts and book proposals. She has recently taken over curating the Midtown blog. 

Before my daughter was born, I talked a big game: we would not do princesses. This included but was not limited to: princess costumes, princess dolls, and shirts with phrases like, “Diva Princess.” But then my daughter was born, and it was as if she came out wearing glass slippers and humming Cinderella’s “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” Somehow I went from self-righteously imagining how I would raise a princess-dissing daughter to detangling a very well-loved Rapunzel doll’s hair while watching the 100th episode of Sofia the First

When my daughter was three, my in-laws took us to Disney World and it really was magical. Somewhere between eating lunch in Cinderella’s castle and touching Gaston’s biceps, I became an adult woman who loves Disney. I even own a shirt that says, “I like my food Mickey shaped.”


The thing about Disney is, they are very good at what they do: be it franchising a story or indoctrinating children into their worldview. I quickly learned that when my toddlers were watching Disney Jr., they weren’t merely viewing shows about pirates and toy doctors, they were absorbing a belief system: a belief system that often did not line up with the good news of the gospel. And while my very first inclination may have been to throw away our television and ban the D-word from our home, I realized that Disney was doing me a favor; they were providing me with a natural opportunity to train my children up in wisdom and discernment.  


1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 says: Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. I began to wonder: What does it look like to teach my children to test everything—to affirm what is beautiful in their world and culture and also reject those things that do not line up with what we know to be true in God’s Word?. How could we have these conversations in a way that becomes normal? I wanted to make sure that as we enjoyed the adventures of Disney, we were always looking out for these three questions:

  1. What can we affirm?
  2. What do we reject?
  3. What can be redeemed?
    And a fourth question we ask at times:
  4. How does this point to Jesus, the ultimate hero?

Here’s a practical example of how these questions have played out in our family’s conversations recently:

Our family was predestined to be Moana fans. As soon as I found out that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the songs for the movie while simultaneously writing Hamilton, I knew I was a goner.

We took our kids to the theatre on Opening Day and as soon as baby Moana looked up at us with her big Disney baby eyes, we were hooked. And it really is a beautiful movie: the scenery, the adventure, the feelings, and of course the music. The movie wasn’t even over, and I was already singing about the ocean calling me.

As we walked out of the theatre, my husband turned to our kids and said, “I really loved that movie, but I didn’t love how Moana thought she knew more than her dad. What did you guys think?” And then the ball was rolling. Obviously, the way that we dialogue with a five-year-old and two-year-old looks different than someone parenting older children, but here are some conversations that have happened over the last several months as Moana continues to be a favorite in our home:

  1. Affirm what is good. 

    Moana sees darkness taking over her world and she wants to fight to bring light. She does not want to remain passive; she wants to be a part of the solution and bring light to her community. Jesus calls us to likewise bring light into the darkness. 

    Moana does a nice job critiquing Maui for his self-centered arrogance. He has his most heroic moments when he learns to use his gifts to serve others instead of serving himself. 

    The movie also critiques Tamatoa, the crab for only caring about shiny, material possessions. 

    Moana comes to realize the value of community both on her journey to restore the heart of Te Fiti and as she returns home to her village. 

  2. Reject what doesn’t line up with God’s Word.

    Moana disobeys her father and the good restrictions he’s placed on her life with seemingly no negative or realistic consequences. Her father’s rules are not frivolous, but rather come from wisdom and experience that she does not yet possess.

    Moana’s grandmother tells Moana to follow the little voice inside of her no matter what, because it is the truest thing about her. God’s Word tells us that our hearts include some of our true identity: the image of God stamped on us. But our hearts are also marred with sin that needs to be repented of, not embraced. 

  3. Redeem what we can.

    Moana sings about having conflicting desires: she both wants to be the perfect daughter and she feels called to the water, where her family has forbidden her to go. All of us have these conflicting desires—these feelings of wanting to do what we can’t do and not wanting to do the things we should do. The Bible says this is because of sin. And the good news of the gospel is that, in Christ, we don’t have to be slaves to sin or our desires!

    Both Moana and the goddess Te Fiti are wrestling with their identity. They don’t know who they are and both are encouraged to look inside themselves to find the answer. The good news of the gospel, is that in Christ, we have a new, unshakable identity that is based on Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

  4. Point to Jesus, the ultimate hero. 

    Like Moana, Jesus left his home to come to earth and eliminate darkness. But unlike Moana, Jesus was sent by his father, on the ultimate rescue mission to save the world from sin and darkness. Where Moana can only encourage people to look inside themselves for strength, Jesus invites us to trust in His strength and power and not in our own.

    These conversations are ongoing. As we prepared to meet Moana at Disney World last December, we had a lot of fun brainstorming the questions we would ask her:

    • Moana, do you see any possible ramifications of only, always following your heart?

    • Moana did you know that God trusted your dad to parent you so you should listen to him and follow his instruction?

Truth be told, as soon as we met her, she offered us a lesson in wayfinding, and I think the only question that got asked was, “Can you sign my autograph book?” but man, I love the conversations our family is growing  to have. I love seeing my children’s minds constantly as work, as they are beginning to test what they hear. Just the other day in the car, as we were listening to the Moana soundtrack, my daughter asked about a line in Maui’s song when he says, “There’s no need to pray, it’s okay.” On the way to the park, my five-year-old and I were able to engage in a beautiful conversation because she is learning how to discern and seek truth. 

My prayer for both of my children, is that as they grow in wisdom and discernment, they will have something bigger than the courage to follow their own hearts, but rather they will be captivated by and fall in love with the heart of God—to love the things that He loves, to despise the things that He despises, and fight for the things that matter for eternity.

Sermon Recap | "Follow your heart."

“Have the courage to follow your heart.”
“Listen to the little voice inside of you.”
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do.”
“You can do anything you want to do as long as you believe it.”
“I have to be free to follow my heart.”

In all of these sayings, what we are talking about is freedom and restrictions. So how should we think about rules and expectations? Should we really throw off all restrictions that are put on so that we can follow our hearts?

As Jesus was talking to a crowd of people, He said: "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." –John 8:31-32

There is an inherent relationship between truth and freedom.

There is no freedom outside of the truth. If you really want freedom, you must know the truth. Jesus says the rules are designed to set you free.

Galatians 5:1 says: "For freedom Christ has set us free"

Jesus wants to set you free, but not in the same way that culture does.

As a culture, we are pretty dialed in to how life crumbles in the presence of the wrong restrictions. It’s just that we aren’t as dialed into how life also crumbles in the absence of the right restrictions. We’re missing a key insight of Jesus’ here: True freedom is not found in the absence of restrictions; true freedom is found in the presence of the right restrictions.

When we understand what we, as humans, are designed for, then we can begin to live under the good, necessary, and life-giving restrictions that God has given us:

  1. We are designed for love

  2. We are designed for carrying weight

  3. We are designed for God

One of the most dangerous aspects of “just following your heart” is that sin is present in our hearts and sin desires to enslave us.

In John 8:34-35, Jesus says to the crowd: "Truly, truly, I say to you everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever."

True freedom isn’t found in running away from God but in running to Him.

So run to Jesus, who, instead of enjoying the freedom He had in heaven, took the weighty restrictions of sin onto Himself in the cross so that we could be free.

So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed. –John 8:36

Sermon Recap | “Do whatever makes you happy.”

“Do whatever makes you happy.”
“The most important thing in life is to pursue your own happiness.”
“Why can’t you just be happy for me?”
“God really wants me to be happy.”

These phrases get thrown around all of the time in our culture…even within Christian culture. So what does the Bible really say about happiness? Does God really want me to be happy?

Isaiah 55 tells us that in our pursuit of happiness, we are chasing the right thing in the wrong way:

"Come everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
   and he who has no money
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price."

                                            -Isaiah 55:1

Isaiah 55:1 actually brings up three drinks: water, milk, and wine.

  • Water is for reviving and replenishment.

  • Milk is for nourishment and strength.

  • Wine is for joy and gladness.

God is inviting us to find our holistic satisfaction in Him.

We are all searching for contentment, joy, satisfaction, and happiness. The question is, what are we turning to in this pursuit? In Isaiah 55:2, God explains that the ways we’re pursuing happiness and satisfaction are empty pursuits:

"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
   and your labor for that which does not satisfy?"

                                            -Isaiah 55:2

So where does true happiness come from? Isaiah 55:6-9 answers this question in a  surprising way:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
 let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts."

                                            -Isaiah 55:6-9

True happiness is a byproduct of repenting and returning to the Lord.

In light of Isaiah 55, here are six steps to go about seeking happiness through repentance:

  1. Agree with God about where true happiness is found (Isaiah 55:9)

  2. Confess to God (Where have you been trying to find your happiness apart from God? Where have you been mistrusting God and not believing that satisfaction is only found in Him?)

  3. Confess to others (Allow the people that God has placed in your life to be a part of your growth and change)

  4. Actually stop (repentance is not just mentally agreeing with God; you must actually cut yourself off from the places you’ve been going to in your search for happiness and actually return to the Lord and press into Him.)

  5. Make it right (You are going to realize that there are some people that you’ve harmed in your selfish pursuit of happiness and you need to go make it right.)

  6. Keep returning to God by choosing to enjoy Him. (Isaiah 55:2-3 and 7. This is the mark of the mature Christian life.)

Returning to God includes celebrating that God’s loves for you doesn’t change, despite how often you do. Repentance is brokenness that leads to celebrating Jesus!

Check out the full sermon here:

"You need to find yourself." Pressing In


In Sunday’s sermon, we looked at four areas where people are tempted to look inward to find their identity. Which one is it for you? We’ve put together some additional resources that we hope will serve you as you repent of where you’re tempted to find your identity. And as you press in, remember the beautiful truth that, in Christ, you have a new identity based on His finished work on the cross.

We are what we do.

Memorize: "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I might gain Christ." –Philippians 3:7-8

Study: Philippians 3 and Romans 4

Listen: “The Good Life: The Trophy Case”

We are what we have.

Memorize: "Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”" –Luke 12:15

Study: Matthew 19:16-30 and Acts 4: 32-37

Listen: “Luke: The Wealth Trap”

We are who we have.

Memorize: "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." –Psalm 118:8

Study: John 1:1-18 and Romans 1:18-25

Listen: “Theology of Sex: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Romance”

We are our desires.

Memorize: "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do." –Galatians 5:16-17

Study: Mark 4:18-19 and Romans 7:15-25

Listen: “Luke: Jesus Needs a PR Manager”

Sermon Recap | "You need to find yourself."

How do I know who I am? What makes me, me? How do I figure that out? You need to find yourself is modern society’s response to identity: Look inward, and whatever you find there, celebrate it.

When most of us look inward, we end up defining our identity in one of four ways:

1.     I am what I do

2.     I am what I have

3.     I am who I have

4.     I am my desires

When we try to build our identities on what we find inside ourselves, we run into several problems. Our inward search for identity leaves us in a constant state of earning. And based on what we discover, we become trapped in cycles of self-righteousness or despair. None of these are secure.

But the good news of the gospel is that if we are in Christ, we are given a new, unshakable identity. (Colossians 2:1-10)

So how do we build our new identity in Christ? Colossians 3:1-4 tells us:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are of earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you will appear with him in glory.

We will best understand ourselves when we stop looking inward and focus our eyes on God. Our identity is wrapped in His victory, not our own. We are defined by the fact that the God of the universe has adopted us into His family as His children.

It turns out that what we believe about God is the most important thing about us.

This week, set your eyes on Jesus: the founder and the finisher of our faith. Our identity is based on what He thinks of us from day to day and that doesn’t change. In Him, we have an unshakable identity.

Check out yesterday’s sermon here: