Category Archives: Faith

Larry’s thoughts on faith.

Faith Over Fear: Week 2

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [31:22]

Audio Transcript:
“God is quite impressive and faithful when it comes to his timing… as he’s given us this series this idea of “Faith Over Fear” to talk about for these few weeks, and that this week would line up with the message that Pastor BJ just talked to us about, and the song that we just sang, and the life of Andrew Brunson is something that I don’t think of as just a coincidence.

Backstory on Andrew Brunson:
Andrew C. Brunson is an American prisoner in Turkey, arrested in the purges occurring after the aftermath of the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt, imprisoning tens of thousands of Turkish military personnel, civil servants, educators, academics, dissidents, and journalists. Brunson is an evangelical pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant church with about 25 congregants.

Brunson is married with three children. His wife, Norine, was initially arrested alongside him but was released after 13 days. 

Brunson, 48, who was applying for Turkish permanent residency, having lived there 23 years, was imprisoned on 7 October 2016, accused of being a member of the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government considers to be a terrorist organization.

 The charges were later amended to include spying and attempting to overthrow the government. Brunson shares a small cell with 17 Turkish prisoners also allegedly in some way affiliated with the Gulen movement.

Pastor Dan (Audio Transcription)
“We’re looking at this series this idea of choosing faith over fear. I think when we talk about the idea of choosing faith over fear we look at sort of the Andrew Brunson’s of the world, and we can kind of like imagine ourselves sort of being the type of person who would choose faith over fear in a circumstance like that… like us looking at someone who’s in great physical shape and saying like, “Oh I can see myself maybe someday looking like that person.” Like you just use you strive for that, you would love to imagine sort of being that type of person.

I think we do that with the idea of faith over fear… we like to think that if we were put in the same situation as someone like Andrew Brunson was, and has been, that we would repeatedly, as he has, choose faith over fear.

We can even imagine going further with it… we think of the martyrs as we learn about church history, who gave the ultimate price of their life for their faith. And we can imagine ourselves and we want to we want to be the type of people who would indeed choose faith over fear even in those types of circumstances.

And you know as commendable as it is for us to be thinking about choosing faith over fear, and big picture in these extreme situations, it may unintentionally come at the cost of us missing the reality that we have daily, perhaps, right here in America in our current culture and society, opportunities to choose faith over fear.

Is it possible that you may be unintentionally missing some of those opportunities to choose faith over fear, and perhaps, is it possible that you’ve been choosing fear over faith in some of the opportunities that God has been giving you?

Gold Dividing Line
[00:02:16] ​

So it’s what we’re going to talk about this morning, and in fact our big idea is this as we continue in this series. We’re going to see that sometimes, not all the time, but… 

Sometimes we will need to have the faith to act against the cultural norm, even though we might fear the consequences of doing so.

I love the release, if you will, that comes from embracing the second half of that sentence… even though we might fear the consequences of doing so.

We’d love to think that we might get to a place in our faith where when we are forced to choose to go against the grain of the cultural norm and we hear about the potential consequences we have no fear of them at all, but nonetheless we identify with those who often do have fear.

We’ll see biblical characters today who I think probably had fear and had to wrestle through but ultimately chose faith over fear.

Sometimes we need to have the faith to act against the cultural norm even though we might fear the consequences of doing so.  

Gold Dividing Line

To see this big idea played out we’re going to look in a book of the Old Testament known as The Book of Daniel. It’s in the prophetical section of your Bible–the Major Prophets. There are five major prophets and Daniel’s one of them.

For those of you love to turn your Bible and open up with us we’d love to have you turn to the Book of Daniel.

The narrative that we’re going to be looking at this morning is found in Daniel Chapter three but we’re going to spend just a few minutes looking at Daniel Chapter one starting in the first verse, and the reason we’re going to be doing that is because although this is not the narrative that we’re looking at, is the important backdrop and information that surrounds the narrative that we are going to be looking at.

Daniel’s always been one of my favorite books of the Bible, and we’re going to be looking at it now here. Daniel chapter one starting in the very first verse, This is the backdrop to our narrative that we’re going to be looking at, as we see that God puts his people in cultures and circumstances where they’re invited, through faith, to choose to go against the cultural norm. [00:04:15]

Daniel 1:1
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, [somewhere around 605 BC] Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon [so this is different King] came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

So this is the first of three waves that Babylon waged on God’s people, and ultimately Judah falls around 586 B.C.  But in this first siege they come in and they make great military conquests.

And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand,

And so we see that actually God was judging his people by allowing a pagan nation to come in and win and have victory over them.

Along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.

So you can see that many people of course when Babylon came in and waged war against Judah would have been put to death, but not everyone was put to death. It was quite customary to take some of the people of the of the nation that you conquered and bring them back to where you came from, and that’s the King’s plan.

Only not just to use this group of people as like lowly servants, but he’s going to use this group of people, these young men from Israel who are smart, and attractive, and all these types of things, and he’s going to train them up and teach them, coach them up to a place where they’ll be serving around him; like this sort of daily trophy of like look who I’ve conquered, and look what I’ve done with the people that I conquered.

It says in verse five,

 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

I suppose if you’re going to have to get conquered this is probably the best gig to land in the aftermath of it.

In verse six,

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar [So if you’re ever trying to get my attention and you go, “Hey Pastor”, and you can’t remember what comes next you can say Belteshazzar… (laughter) or Daniel either one]; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

So these people are brought from their nation, their land, their culture that they’re totally used to, and brought into a completely foreign land, the nation of Babylon.

What an incredible cultural shock this must have been for them… to have to learn to live in this new environment, to go from living in a place where the society reinforced God’s laws and principles, to also going to a place where there’s really no word of the truth of their God, and all kinds of false gods are being introduced. They’re having to learn what it’s like to live in this new society, and experience an incredible cultural shift.

And I share all that background information with you to help you see, to help you identify, as someone living in our current culture in society, that although we may not have had some nation come in and take over us and completely change our culture and society, many people feel like they’ve experienced a dramatic cultural shift like these Israelites would have experienced.
There’s a book out there called “Who Stole My Church,
and the book was written for the purpose of helping people who’ve been used to church a certain way for years and years, and then some young pastor comes in and makes all these changes… and it’s like, WHO_STOLE_MY_CHURCH?…

Some of you are looking for the book on the shelf that says, Who Stole My Country?… thinking ‘What I see today is not at all what I’m what I’m used to, what I grew up with… this is not the way it’s always been.

And so what I want to suggest to you is that many people, to identify with what these young Isrealite men experienced here, many people in this room feel like they’ve experienced that same thing right here in our society.

I think it’s one of those things that the older you are, the more perspective you’re going to have to offer on a subject. The younger you are, you’re probably not going to see the shift as much. But those of you who have lived in our culture and society longer are probably able to testify to a greater sense of change on many issues and subjects.

I want to suggest to you these four indicators of a declining society, and then I’ll just let you be the judge as to whether you think our nation is shifting, so that Christians who are living in America might be experiencing a similar type of change, as if they once lived in Israel, and then they got moved to Babylon.

Gold Dividing Line[00:09:36] ​

I think one of the first signs of a decline of society is that true faith is removed.

  1. True Faith is Removed
    Before you can start inserting a bunch of stuff into society that shouldn’t be there that you’ve got to take the conscience out of society–true faith is removed. I think we’ve clearly communicated to God over the last few decades that he’s not welcome in our schools, that he’s not welcome in our workplaces, that he’s not welcome in our Government, and he’s not welcome in our legal system either.

Then, for whatever reason, one of the first things that seems to fill the culture in society after faith is removed is this idea of sexual immorality rising.

  1. Sexuality Immorality Rising
    I see it all over the Bible, it’s just sort of right there soon as it happens. Romans chapter one.

For those of us who went through that, there it was, and here we see it in our culture and society as well. Do I really need to convince you of a declining sexual morality that exists in our culture?

The next thing you see is sort of an unethical behavior that becomes required,

  1. Unethical Behavior
    I’m thinking about like the workplace particularly. I’m probably one of the few people in this room who has a work environment that is still ethical. No one’s asked me to do something that I didn’t think I should do. But many of you are experiencing a work environment that’s changing.

Someone would have never asked you to do what they’re asking you to do now, or they would have asked you to do it sort of under the table, or with some sort of guilt or something like that in a subtle way.

Now it’s just much more overt. “Hey you want to climb the corporate ladder, you want to keep your job, you want to get a promotion, you want to get a pay raise? … here’s the behavior, here’s the expectation that we have for you.”

I know many of you have been forced to make some of those decisions along those lines.

I drew a line between 1-3 and #4 because I think there’s a strong argument to be said that these first three things are indeed happening, that we’re shifting to what many people refer to as a digital Babylon, a modern day Babylon in our culture and society.

Where we haven’t gotten so far is what we’re going to see in our text this morning which is number four, and I think one of the final points of a declining society is that not only you go full circle, true faith is removed to the place where false faith is required.

1. True Faith is Removed
2. Sexuality Immorality Rising
3. Unethical Behavior

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
4. False Faith is Required.

So now someone above you, a government or a law is instilled that says you must believe this, you must worship this, and it’s a false form of faith.

Gold Dividing Line[00:12:06] 

All right so let’s then move on to our passage… one last verse to kind of help set the scene so you understand what’s happening.
In Daniel 2:49, right before chapter three our narrative begins, the Scripture tells us this,

49 Moreover

Now some time has passed since these young men have been brought to Babylon, and Daniel has risen right up the ranks, he’s a pretty important person in Babylon at this point.

49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.

Now this is important to realize because these three men have come to a position of leadership as well. So when the king is about to call all the important people to gather together, they show up–they’re there.

The Scripture tells us then and in Daniel chapter three verse one this… and now we’re getting into our narrative; thank you for your patience in that background. The Scripture says,

Daniel 3:1-3

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, 90 feet high and 9 feet wide,

They say a human is usually six to one in ratio… this is much different, it’s a really tall, skinny person… it’s not a statue of me in any way at all (laughter); it’s not even a statue of King Nebuchadnezzar most likely… it was most likely a statue of some sort of false god… it’s plated or covered, at the very least, in gold.

 and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

So, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they’re there… they’re invited because there now in a position of leadership.

Then a verse four it says,

4-6 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do [no one is exempt from this]: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.  Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

I guess you can’t blame the king for not having clear expectations and clear punishments that’s been set up… right?

Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

So everybody’s doing it people… everybody’s worshipping; they’re all doing exactly what they were told to do… but in verse 8,

8-12 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.  They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Oh king, live forever! [kiss up, right?] Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold,  and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

There’s a lot of text there so just in case you drifted off here’s a summary:

The king makes of decree that everyone’s going to come and worship this image he’s built when the music plays. The first time comes around the music plays, and almost everyone around bows down and worships.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have had their first opportunity to choose faith over fear.

They had a decision to make. As soon as they heard the decree they would have started talking amongst each other… “How are we going to do this… how are we going to handle this situation?”

I wonder who first had the suggestion, “Let’s not bow down and worship.” I wonder if one of them at first said, “No maybe we should!”

And so they eventually come to the conclusion that they’re going to do this thing together–they choose Faith Over Fear, not fear over faith, and they decide, decree together, form alliance with one another–we’re not going to bow down and worship this thing.

And so they make this decision.

And they would have had so many reasons, so many excuses for why they should have just done what everyone else did. Some of the very excuses that you and I come up with for why we just sort of fit into society when God would call us not to.

Of course the first one is, “Hey, everyone’s doing it.” … right? “If everyone’s doing it must not be that bad… surely God’s sense of morality is guided and directed by the majority. How could this many people get it wrong? So if everyone‘s doing it, then surely it would be OK for us to do as well.”

We might come up with the excuse that says something like, “Hey I’m trying to blend in… if I don’t follow along, I’m not going to blend in.”

Then we might use theological missional language like, “Hey I’m even trying to be incarnational… I’m just trying to fit in with the crowd and be amongst the rest of them. God doesn’t really want me to stand out.. I’m just going to fit in… I’m going to blend in.”

We might come up with an excuse that says, “But if I don’t follow the cultural norm I will be viewed as weird.” “What kind of witness, oh God, will I be for your name if everyone thinks I’m a weird person?”

We might come up with excuses to say, “But listen, I know what I’m doing outwardly, but that’s not a good reflection of what’s in my heart.”  “So why don’t we just go ahead and bow down and worship… we’ll pretend like we’re worshipping, we won’t get in trouble at all… but in our hearts we’re really only honoring God and therefore, like, we’re all in here.”

“We’ll save our lives, and God will be honored, and surely that’s OK with him.” You know that’s NOT the excuse they use… but we might say things like, “God, what good would I be to you, if I get fired… from my job?”  “What kind of representative in your workplace will I be if I get fired, or if I get kicked out of this, or if I get kicked off of that.”  

“How will I provide and give to the church and be a witness to the world if my business has to close for going against the cultural norm?”  Or the excuse that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego must have been thinking for a moment… “What good can I be to the kingdom of God here on Earth, if after all I’m put to death? “Maybe I should just bow down.”

But no, see, we’re convinced that our faith needs to move us to a place in our BIG IDEA that…
Sometimes we go against the grain of the cultural norm despite the fear that we might be experiencing.

Gold Dividing Line[00:19:12] Continue reading Faith Over Fear: Week 2

Faith Over Fear: Week 1

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [34:40]

Audio Transcript:
“Good job Debbie… but I got to say though [the song], it’s a little upbeat for a series on fear… do you know anything that’s a little scarier than that… like the Halloween theme song or Jason or something along those lines? (laughter).

Let me ask you… what is your earliest memory of being afraid? Surely we were we were afraid and experienced fear before we can remember being afraid… but let me just ask, when was your earliest memory of being afraid?

I know mine… I think I was like five years old, I’m not sure exactly, but I know I was living in our house up in Ann Arbor Michigan, and I had two older sisters. And parents, you know how it is… like, you’re kind of super cautious with your oldest kid, and then you get a little more lenient with the next kid, and each kid that comes you just start exposing to them to stuff sooner because you know part of is because your other kids are watching these things.

I had two older sisters, and I don’t think they were old enough to be watching the Halloween movies, but we were watching them, with Mike Meyers in our living room.

And there I was five years old or so and I was sitting just feet away from the T.V. by myself on a little blanket with apples and peanut butter watching this Halloween movie and my sisters were in the dark back in the back of the living room on the sofa.

And I remember the first time that I saw Mike Myers. What happened was this person gets out of the car and there’s this kind of ominous sort of scene the camera pans over and you see this guy in this white mask and he’s you know clearly after this person.

And I saw Mike Myers, and I threw my apples and peanut butter as high as I could up towards the ceiling. My mom claims I put peanut butter on the ceiling.  I don’t know, but I through these apples and peanut butter up and I turned around and I ran to my sister’s and I kind of like dove into the couch seeking some sort of refuge around them.

I know it’s not a very flattering story of me but it happened.

Needless to say, I spent many years in my childhood, often sleeping with one of my two older sisters because I was afraid at night.  In fact somewhere along the line I got the idea that I was safer sleeping in the hallway than in my bedroom. So I would grab my pillow and blanket and put it out in the hallway and sleep out there. That’s not safer, by the way, but nonetheless I did that.

Gold Dividing Line Continue reading Faith Over Fear: Week 1

Crucifixion Eve…

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [17:49]

NOTE: This Palm Sunday Service was a Choir Cantata with Pastor Dan’s message woven in. The first 3 songs were:
Amazing Love!
Lift Up Your Voice and Sing, “Hosanna!”
As You Serve, Remember Me

Pastor Dan:
“Palm Sunday is the Sunday that launches the focus of Jesus’ last week here on earth leading up, at least, until his arrest and crucifixion and ultimately his resurrection.

This is Palm Sunday which we’re celebrating in part, but then often we kind of go silent for a few days and then really things ramp up, to where we’ve moved in our service here this morning, to Thursday evening.

Thursday evening, the evening when Jesus gathered together with His disciples and had a meal with them… the evening in which Jesus would be arrested and betrayed. The eve of his crucifixion.

It’s this evening in which Jesus gathered together with His disciples and had this meal in which he took the bread, and he broke the bread in plain view of the disciples saying to them,

“This is my body which is broken for you; do this and remembrance of me.”

And then he moved on… later in the meal he took the cup, and holding it in plain view of his disciples giving thanks for the cup as well, he he held it in plain view of them saying,

“This cup represents a new covenant which is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”


And so on this eve of Jesus’s crucifixion we are reminded that Jesus was not thrown off by the events of being betrayed and being arrested and then being crucified, but rather he knew it was coming.

– – – – – –
So who could blame him. Who could blame him for being maybe a little self-centered, a little inward thinking during this time, knowing all that was going to be happening to him.

And yet the Scripture repeatedly tells us that even on this evening Jesus is thinking of his disciples, those who have placed their trust in him… even during such events Jesus is thinking of folks like you and me.

He did many things to show his thought process for us and his thinking of us. The Scripture says that he showed us the full extent of his love by washing his disciples’ feet.

In John Chapter seventeen he teaches them around the table in this long wonderful discord… passionate teaching like a parent wanting to pass on this last wisdom to the child before they drop him off at college… knowing the separation is happening, he’s teaching them… letting them know that they’re going to undergo some of the difficulties that he’s about to undergo. 

– – – – – – –
And then finally he ends this teaching by praying.

He prays right there in plain view of them… that they might hear and see; like a pastoral prayer, He prays aloud. And one would think, well maybe this is the time where Jesus moves into selfishness, and he’s focused on all of his needs and concerns… and again who would be able to blame him if that was the case.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

He does pray for himself for a small period of time, and then probably three times the amount of that he shifts his prayer to the disciples who would place their faith in him and this is what the Scripture tells us he prayed. In John 17:20 Jesus says,

“My prayer is not for them alone…” [speaking of the original 12 disciples; then he says], “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 

Do you hear what that just said? … the wonder of what that means.

It means if you’re here today and you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that some two thousand years ago, on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus prayed for you.  

Now he may not have prayed for you the way you would’ve wanted him to pray for you had he asked you, “What would you like me to pray for you about?”.

Had he taken the time to ask us and say, ‘Hey what do you want me to pray for?”, many of us would have said things like, “Oh I like to get into a certain college.” or “I’d like to get a certain job… or I’d love to move into a certain house or neighborhood.”

Or maybe you’d say something admirable like, “You know I have a health concern that I’d like you to pray about Jesus.”  Or someone else’s health concern that you’d like him to pray about.

But he didn’t pray for any of those things on this particular Eve.  No, instead what he prayed for was this, in verse twenty one, 

21-23 that all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and I have loved them even as you have loved me. 

Jesus comes along and of all things to pray about, he prays that you and I–that the church would be one–that we would be complete unity.

– – – – – – –
Now what does he mean by that?

Well he certainly doesn’t mean things like, “Oh by being one, that must mean we all come from the same socioeconomic background… or we all have the same political world view... or we all have the same theological opinion on every single issue… or that we all have the same ethnicity… or our skin color is all the same… or any of that stuff.

In fact the beauty of him praying for us to be one is that in having all of those things different and not in common with one another, he still is seeing that we would become one.
One in a more beautiful and profound way that meant then we might first think he meant us to be one. One in a way that says we are:

  • One in worship. Not some of us worshiping and others watching the rest worship, but all of us worshiping as one.
  • One in service. Not some of us serving and others watching others serve, but all of us one in our service.
  • One in kindness and grace. Not some of us ready to show kindness and grace and forgiveness to others.. and others unwilling. But rather all of us being willing to show that.

A oneness that is far deeper and more meaningful than perhaps the oneness that first comes to our mind.

[00:06:32] – – – – – – –

Now, speaking of which comes to our mind and I’m concerned that you’re getting the wrong idea of what Jesus means by us being one… like you’re picturing you’re having coffee with a good friend and you guys are just like one with each other.

Or maybe a twin and you finish each other’s sentences and you’re like one or something… or maybe even your spouse.
No, this is different from any other relationship… it’s the relationship that Jesus calls the church to have with one another–the standard of oneness that Jesus gives us is incredibly high.

Look at what the text says and verse twenty-one,

“just as you are in me and I am in you.”

That’s the standard for our oneness. He goes on to say in verse twenty-two,

as we are one.”

 In other words what Jesus is saying is that we are supposed to be one with one another like Jesus and the Father are one,

That’s an incredible standard isn’t it?

Jesus and the Father’s Oneness is a difficult theological thing to try to expound upon, to try to grasp. But I think that we can all just imagine that they probably had an incredible oneness and we can all probably be willing to admit quickly that we don’t always have that oneness with one another. 

That’s the standard of the oneness that he calls the church to have together. But for what purpose? For what purpose does he call us to such great Oneness?

The Scripture tells us the purposes is… (v21),

“so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

And then he goes on in verse twenty-three,

“To let the world will know that you sent me...”

So you see that the purpose of our oneness is so that we become greater, and more impactful, more effective at letting the world know about Jesus and the events that were celebrating this week, then we could as a group of individuals.  

He’s inviting us to come and to be a part of something that we would never be able to accomplish on our own;  so that our oneness is not to the end that we become a close-knit family that unintentionally closes its doors–that no one else is welcomed into. But rather the opposite:
We become a missionally sent group of people who are affective, more capable than we would be able to be on our own at letting the world know of how much Jesus loves them.

That’s why he calls us to unity into oneness. 

[00:09:06] – – – – – – – 

Whether a man or woman or child comes to relationship with Jesus is really a matter between them and God isn’t it… ultimately.  But this may be the single greatest aspect of that process that is in our ‘duty, if you will–to be one. To be one so that we can more effectively let the world know about Jesus.

Church, you should know… that we’re praying for you this morning, praying for you this week, that all of our thoughts, and our actions, and our words, move this church towards unity and oneness, so that the world may know of Jesus’s love for them. 

Alone in the Garden He Prays
Behold the Lamb of God!

There are few people who doubt that there was a man named Jesus–a Jewish man named Jesus from the rather insignificant town of Nazareth who was crucified… crucified at the request of Jewish priests demanding his crucifixion… crucified at the request of crowds who joined them… crucified at the hands of rather indifferent Roman leaders and also crucified at the hands of Roman soldiers.

There are few people who doubt the historical reality of those events, but there are some, many actually, who make the mistake of thinking that Jesus’ value, if any at all, was found exclusively in his life.

We hear things like, “Oh Jesus was a great teacher,” or, “Jesus was a wonderful prophet, he came to sort of show us the way.”  And then they make the conclusion that in him being crucified that his death was really just the outcome of being so significant in society, of standing out from the norm, like a Martin Luther King Jr who comes along, whose value is found in his life, and who’s put to death merely as a result of going against the grain.

Many people think of Jesus that way.

Others might come along and make the mistake of thinking of Jesus’ value, that it’s found exclusively in his death. Some who’ve been brought up in the church have been taught that Jesus’s death is impactful and significant to them, and certainly it is. But the real value is found in when we bring the two–Jesus’ life and his death together, and we begin to realize that the one being punished to death is the only one whose life deserved no such penalty.

What shall we say in this matter?

Should we should we declare that God is unjust then? Should we declare that God is somehow unjust for allowing Jesus to be crucified… he who had done no sin?

Well certainly we would have to declare God to be unjust if Jesus was being crucified for no sin at all. But it is the Scripture that tells us not that he was crucified for his mistakes and sins, but rather for ours. 

And so we see that Jesus’ actions are designed to accomplish our forgiveness.

And if there’s any seed of doubt for us, wondering whether or not Jesus has really accomplish your forgiveness through His death on the Cross, we might allow his words on the cross to drive away that doubt, for here’s what Jesus said while being crucified.

It is the Scripture that tells us in Luke 23:32-34, that,

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.  When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Father Forgive Them.png

To clarify who Jesus is speaking about when he seeks their forgiveness,

  • he’s speaking about all those around him who have participated in the process of him being crucified;
  • he’s speaking of the Jewish leaders who unjustly ran a trial against him, who spoke lies against him, who stirred up the crowds and demanded that he be crucified;
  • he’s speaking of those in the crowd who joined their leadership and also chanted for Jesus’ crucifixion;
  • he’s speaking of the Roman officials who had the power to stop this from happening but did not;
  • he’s speaking of the Roman soldiers who actually carried out Jesus’s crucifixion.

And Jesus says of these people, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

I mean the mere fact that Jesus was praying this prayer; the mere fact that what this reveals about the character of Jesus and the character of God, should give us a greater sense of confidence that we have indeed been forgiven.  [00:14:19]

I mean for when we mess up against another person in life, it’s usually all we can do to somehow encourage them that they should desire to forgive us, let alone whether or not they’ll actually be able to forgive us. 

I mean not only should Jesus’ words in seeking their forgiveness give us confidence in our forgiveness, but also, as we go through the Scripture, we begin to see that Jesus’ prayer here is actually answered. 

There’s a Scripture that tells us in passages like Matthew 27:54 that the Roman centurion and the soldiers involved in this process, some of them come to faith in GodHere’s what the Scripture says, Matthew 27:54.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Here’s Jesus’ prayer for those around him to be forgiving starting to be answered.

We go on in Acts 6:7, we ask ourselves what about the Jewish priest, what about the leaders who really made this thing happen to Jesus? Surely they might be somehow excluded… maybe Jesus wasn’t thinking about them. And here’s what the Scripture tells us,

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

It’s not only encouraging when we think of our own forgiveness, and wrestle with our own forgiveness to think that Jesus saidFather forgive them” of those who were crucifying him, but it’s even all the more encouraging to start to see Jesus’ prayer in this way answered and unfolding.

For some people in our lives have desired to forgive us before, but they haven’t had the character to do so. And here we are reminded that Jesus not only reflects the forgiving character of God in his desire for us to be forgiven, but that it becomes a reality in our lives as well.

– – – – – – – 

Let me ask you this morning church… what have you done that is worse than being involved in the crowd that crucified Jesus Christ?

What have you done, if Jesus can say to them, “Father forgive them, that he’s unwilling to say to you, “Father forgive her… father forgive him.”

I know some of you have made mistakes in your life in the past that have maybe been haunting you now for decades. Others of you are struggling with sin in your life in such a way that you are really beginning to question whether or not you’ve crossed the line… whether or not Jesus’ words are no longer applicable for you. And that struggle with sin, the sin you’ve made in the past, the devil, the enemy has used as a footstool, and he’s begun to speak into your head and into your life that these words that Jesus says, don’t apply to you.

And we want you to know this morning, that we are praying for this congregation, praying for you, that by the grace of God, louder so much louder than what the enemy would say to you on this matter, you would hear Jesus saying,

“Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

How Can it Be?
Christ Is Risen, Sing Alleluia!




Kirkmont Closing Pic Combo

Kirkmont Composite Pic

  Link to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church Website

Listen to recent sermons

What I Learned This Christmas…

Until December 3, 2017 I thought I had a Spiritual ‘handle’ on Christmas, and my method of teaching my children it’s true meaning. But four messages capsulized below revealed the fragility of my grip.

I learn best by listening to audio messages then transcribing them, of which most of this blog site is composed.  This one is an excerpted composite of four separate sermons given by Pastor Dan Borget, at Kirkmont Presbyterian Church in Beavercreek, Ohio.

What follows is a ‘labor of love’ which I intend to apply not just at Christmas, but every day for the rest of my life. I hope you will join me in in this venture to sharpen our “swords” and put on our “full armor” because Christmas has become a battle… a battle between two competing stories: one that is seductive and attractive but fundamentally untrue; and the other that is deeply humbling but what every person everywhere needs.

Gold Dividing Line


AUDIO (30 min):

Worshipping Jesus Christ More Fully
In that past I thought I was fully celebrating Christmas by teaching my children that it was about GIVING, not receiving presents. Then I realized that while there’s nothing wrong with giving each other gifts, we’re not giving them to Jesus. Imagine a birthday party in your honor where everyone gave their gifts to each other, but none to you.

The very first Christmas was filled with WORSHIP–the worship of baby Jesus. Perhaps the closest thing we have in our culture of worshipping someone or something are images of people at a concert… and that teen star, or that super handsome young man or beautiful woman comes out on stage. We can picture groups of people pushing their way to the front, reaching their hands up, longing to touch them in some way, crying that they’re finally seeing this marvelous person in person — worship.

Or consumerism ‘worship’–the new iPhones come out, people in line for days, camping out, and they finally get their hands on the new one, and they’re crying over it, or they are crying because they didn’t get one… perhaps that idea of ‘worship’. But when one thinks about people in the church worshipping… well, it’s just different to most people.

When the Magi came, their level of passion and enthusiasm to worship this baby, this child, the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS… doing something like this in public is something that would make many of us very uncomfortable.

I used to think I was showing the world I knew that I was zealous by saying “Merry Christmas” (not ‘happy holidays’).  I’d even write ‘Merry CHRISTmas” with Christ in red, and put the manger scene in my yard because after all “I knew what Christmas is all about.

And while those are good things, I was still not worshipping fully as the Maji did.
It’s possible to do all the things on the surface that show we understand Christmas intellectually, but never move into this place the Maji did.

Like what’s happening today, King Herod wanted to introduce a new story to hide the real story; he wanted to kill baby Jesus and hide the truth of the Christmas story from the world around him. And while we may not have a King Herod walking around in the American culture today, we do have an evil one who has introduced a different story for the purpose of concealing the real story.

Warning: Christmas Is Coming!

“There’s an ongoing WAR which will define our children’s beliefs about who they are, what they need, and what their lives are about.  We must ask ourselves, will they experience the true Christmas Story, or the one our culture has introduced?

The war signs are already appearing, and we should consider ourselves warned. Our family is about to be attacked. Not physically by terrorism or fire… no, this attack is much more subtle, seductive, and attractive, but infinitely more dangerous.

Our family is about to be attacked by a holiday season which should be a peaceful time of remembering God’s response to his lost and rebellious image-bearers. That response wasn’t to condemn, but to give the ultimate gift—the gift of himself—in the person of his Son. But instead of a peaceful season of worship and celebration, it has devolved into a spiritual war with our family at the center.

There’s nothing wrong with beautiful decorations, family feasting, or giving gifts. The Christmas season can be a time when families gather again, renew relationships, and express love for one another. But we should be concerned because there is a war for which story will define our children’s beliefs about WHO they are, what they need, and what their lives are about.

The “Christmas story” our culture tells our children puts them at the center instead of God. It looks to creation for fulfillment rather than worship of the Creator. It makes physical pleasure our primary need rather than the rescuing intervention of the Redeemer. It’s dominated by the comforts of the moment rather than eternal priorities.
In every way, the story our children will hear over and over again during this season is dangerously wrong when it comes to who they are and what they need. It calls them to find comfort where comfort can’t be found, to place their hope in things that will never deliver, to think they can accomplish what only the Messiah can do.

But unlike this false “Christmas story,” the true “Advent Story” is humbling and unattractive. It’s a sad story about a world terribly broken by sin, populated by self-centered rebels who are willing participants in their own destruction. It’s about beings created to live for God but who in every way live for themselves. This story is about the dethroning of the Creator and the enthroning of his creation. It’s about conditions so desperate that God did the unthinkable, sending his Son to be the sacrificial Lamb of redemption. And why did Jesus come? Because we were so lost, so enslaved, so self-deceived that there simply was no other way.

Until our children hear and understand the bad news, the good news won’t be attractive to them. The news that Jesus came on a glorious mission of grace to live, die, and rise in our place is only worth celebrating when you understand it’s our only hope.

The battle of Advent isn’t about whether we should sing silly seasonal tunes versus gospel carols, or have worship times versus big family feasts. No, this war is about what story of identity, need, meaning, and purpose our children will believe and give their hearts to pursue.

Life really is a battle of stories, and the battle rages most fiercely when the true story is meant to be told most loudly.

So enjoy the gifts, the decorations, and the delicacies, but start preparing our family early this year for the battle to come by telling them the true story. Before you begin to get distracted by all the traditions of holiday fun, take up the battle for the hearts of your children.

Here are five ways to help our children focus on the true Advent story:
1. Start early.
We can’t start early enough or tell the true story often enough, since the false story is everywhere to be heard. Don’t wait until Christmas Day to point your family to God’s Word.

2. Tell the bad news.
Protect your family from fake news by telling them of the bad news: their sin and separation from God. Good news isn’t good unless it’s prefaced with bad news, and redemption becomes beautiful when we understand the depth of our need.

3. Warn them about the false story.
Enjoy traditions and fun, but take opportunities to point out how and why the false story your children will hear again and again isn’t true.
I learned that whether we realize it or not, there’s a battle for the souls of children. It’s between the illuminated brilliance and ‘present’ presence of the world’s false Christmas… and the real story of Christmas.

If we’re trying to uphold both stories, the cultural one is going to win–especially with a four-year-old child for example. While fun, the false story is going to make a more indelible impression on than the real one.

Santa Claus is an example. We don’t need to avoid his name, or talking about him to our children, but we also don’t want to pretend that he’s real. We can treat him like Dora the Explorer… we watch her on television, but she’s not real.

Below I’ve scanned a book I read to my students every year. Perhaps you’ll find it useful in your understanding too.

4. Present Jesus as the gift of gifts.
Express love by giving gifts, but remind your children that creation can’t satisfy, and that our only hope is found in one Gift—the person, presence, work, and grace of Jesus.

5. Embed the Advent story everywhere.
The Advent season gives you a wonderful opportunity to help our children understand themselves and everything in their lives from the vantage point of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The Advent story tells them who they are, what they need, and what their lives are about. This story is the only reliable way they will ever make sense out of the story of their individual lives.

Nothing is more important than helping your children understand that the grace of Jesus shines brighter than any gift the world has to offer. It’s a light that will never go out and will never be put away.”


AUDIO (of above 30 min):

ADVENT CONSPIRACY INTRO VIDEO” played in audio link above (3 min)



The second thing I learned was that I need to spend LESS on material things and spend MORE in the currency of TIME with others.

1. We should spend less at Christmas because we don’t honor Jesus’ birth by buying temporary things.
 For those of us who’ve come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, it’s the most life changing thing we’ve ever experienced–we wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s not only radically transforms who we are now, but who we will be for all of eternity.

And there’s nothing that someone else could give us at Christmas that would even come CLOSE to not only rivaling it, but even even being in the same ballpark. The temporary stuff we get for Christmas really just doesn’t even match the occasion.

2. We should spend less at Christmas because we don’t honor Jesus’ birth by buying so much that we go into debt.
Realizing the amount of debt we’re willing to go into in order to somehow please our spouse or our children or grandchildren, we may see that we’ve actually made little gods out of them. And so we don’t honor Jesus’ birth by buying so much that we go into debt.

3. We don’t honor Jesus’ birth by buying each other gifts.
Again, imagine at your birthday party everyone else received gifts but you.

When God acted in history to ensure that his people were freed not just from physical slavery, but from spiritual slavery, He instructed us not to do anything that would overshadow that. Ultimately when we fill our Christmas with presents for each other it doesn’t do anything to remember God.

4. We should consider spending less this Christmas so that we don’t honor Jesus’ birth by BUYING our children another Christmas story.
Eventually present after present after present just becomes stuff after stuff after stuff… and eventually all that stuff becomes stuff that competes with the real story of Christmas.

Which one is a six year old going to walk away with and remember?

Do we really want them to remember that at Christmas they got a certain toy? Is that life changing? Can we save our own kids? Have we ever died on the cross for them? Is the new sweater, the is the new game… are any of those things going to get them through life? 

None of it will.

But a precious powerful transforming relationship with Jesus Christ absolutely will every single time… and so that’s what we should impress upon our children. 

AUDIO of above (26 min)



Week 3 – GIVE MORE:

AUDIO (26 min):

Scripture shows that in his travels, Jesus was always pausing and stopping if only for a moment to give people true relational time.

He shows his relational character through those with whom he engaged–they were the social outcasts of society, those who other people had deemed unfit for a relationship. Jesus invests in those people.

God is a relational God… and we see it never more clearly than in the story of Christmas when he comes to be amongst us. His gift to us is a gift of himself.

So how do give more and still spend less? … by giving more of ourselves relationally in the currency of time.

God gave himself relationally at Christmas and so should we.

Shut-ins, or those living in retirement homes, for example, have more years behind them than they do ahead of them. What dominates their memory is not the stuff that people bought them throughout their lifetime, but rather their memories are flooded with precious times they’ve spent with people whom they love and cared about. 

On the other side of the coin, the majority of regrets they might be carrying with them over the years are not centered around things that they didn’t buy people, but rather regrets with the time they didn’t spend with people.

Adding to all that, the relative little effort it takes to give quality time with people shows the value of the “currency of time“.  

We model the character of God when we make the transition and are spending less on presents and spend more on giving ourselves away relationally to one another.

Gold Dividing Line

Yes, time is the most effective currency that we have to express and demonstrate love towards one another, but it would be
 almost irresponsible not to mention one other aspect that might be keeping us from giving ourselves away relationally with others and that would be the whole idea of technology.  Think about often technology allows us to be partly but not fully present.. and ultimately and then fall short of giving yourself away relationally.

Some images to consider when we think about technology…



Our modern culture paints this illustration that when we walk around with our phone, it’s like the end of our world… we don’t see what we’re missing.


Some of us may be tempted to blame the whole idea of being distracted just on modern technology, but this next picture will add perspective.

While our obsession with the cellphone is part to blame, it’s not just the cellphone. The cellphone just draws out an aspect of the broken condition inside each of us. I makes it easy, to use that part of our brokenness.
The top picture reveals that it’s ingrained in us as part of the enemy who would love to keep us isolated and out of these wonderful intimate relationships… that God has come and died for to restore.

God’s people are are relational people, and we give ourselves away relationally. It’s the cultural norm not to be present relationally … and this message is to encourage us to be counter-cultural, and not settle for some in-part giving of ourselves–but to be fully present in the moment… not just be there physically, but when we’re there to put the phone down, put the whatever down and invest in one another’s lives–to give ourselves away to them as God has given himself away to us.

AUDIO of above (26 min):


Week 4 – LOVE MORE

AUDIO (31 min):

The humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth reveal that all_are_loved, and we are to love ALL… four examples that point to the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth:
1.  MARY
The Bible says Mary
, mother of Jesus, is a servant, a humble servant from humble circumstances who focuses on the reality that she is not up on the throne of a person of great significance and importance and her society in the fact that she’s relatively poor.

God takes our normal social order and construction, and flipping it completely upside down and saying he brings down those who are rulers and rich and lifts up those who are poor and not considered significant in society.

The birth of Jesus Christ and his humble circumstances reveal that no one is below his love–the fact that he was born to Mary and Joseph in these circumstances is reassuring.

Some of us grew up with parents that we would consider to be in very humble circumstances by the way that we were raised. But it’s reassuring to realize that those things don’t disqualify us, in fact nothing about who our parents were disqualifies us, or put us below the line of being a part of God’s rescue mission.

The fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem points to his humble circumstances.  Bethlehem was a very humble city of no real significance and yet God chooses here for Jesus to be born. 

In today’s culture we would call this “the wrong side of the tracks” or from the “South” or the “Eastside”.

Bethlehem lies not in the city of itself but in the one who are to be born in the city because the one who would be born is born into a city that is otherwise a very humble city and of no suit real significance and yet God chooses and here of all places to be born today in our culture society we have expressions like oh he was born on the wrong side of the tracks or she’s from the wrong side of the tracks or oh he’s from the south side or I don’t go over to the east side.

We have you know all these associations about people, or where they’re from, and we realize right that sometimes those things actually get in the way of ability to love and how we perceive people… and Christmas just comes along and reminds us that all of that just gets flipped upside down–that no one is below the rescue mission of God. No one falls below the line of God’s love,

The manger points to the most significant of the humble circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.

Most likely Joseph, and all of his other relatives who had moved away and now were required to go back to Bethlehem, most likely they would have gathered together in a family home of some kind at some relatives who were still living in Bethlehem.

When you consider that relatives would have opened up their homes to them, and now you start thinking about it, it starts to feel really weird because which one of us would tell them, “No, you must sleep outside.”

Even if our bedrooms are full we’d let them sleep on the floor or the hallway, unless… they had brought disgrace to our family, and they included a child… a young woman who was pregnant outside of wedlock, and letting her come into the family home was not a good idea.

And so most likely scenario is that Joseph and Mary are turned away, not just because there’s like no place literally to put them in the family home… but because there’s no room for them.

And so then you add in not just the physical dimensions of the humble state of Jesus’s birth, but the reality of us parents at the very least whether they are rejected by their family in this moment or at the very least alone.

And then finally the shepherds invited to the birth of Jesus. Shepherds were social outcasts of their day. As they travelled and moved about they would often supplement their low wages with thievery and stealing. And so they had a reputation for being cheaters and stealers and so that eventually led to the place in society where they couldn’t even testify in court. or serve as a witness in the legal judicial system because they were considered such an unreliable group of people… and yet they’re the first ones who go and visit Jesus after his birth and the first to go out and tell other people about his birth.

This isn’t by accident.

God is flipping our societal norms completely upside down through the birth of Jesus Christ.

A modern parallel could be someone who’s been in prison for crimes. But through maybe just good enough behavior have been allowed to be in some sort of a work program. Prisoners who are out on the side of the highway cleaning up the trash that people throw out the windows. Just not a group of people in society that many people care about… certainly don’t want to hear their testimony.

And for some reason is a good dark God decides to come and communicate to them this wonderful news.

And what’s he telling the rest of us by telling them and not us?

That even them. Even them.  Even they don’t fall below the line of God’s rescue mission. Even they are to be loved by God and the recipient of his love.

  • – – – – – –

This reality, that the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth reveal that no one is below God’s love, is first to be received by us as the church as wonderfully good news–the assurance that comes from that reality… for some of us have been taught a competing message.

Some of us have heard a different story than that. Some of our parents or our past churches, or past friends, or whoever it might be have told us a different story that said no for whatever reason, because of where we’re from, or who we were born to, or what we’ve done, or what we didn’t do, we’re below the line somewhere.

And the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ is that reminds us and lift us up and helps us to see that we’re above the line.

Some of us have been struggling with sin and the certain areas of our life long enough that we’ve eventually believed the lie that maybe we’re below the line… and this good news of the birth of Jesus Christ lifts us above the line and reminds us that no we’re not.

Some of us have loved ones that we wonder that maybe God has given up on. We care about them. We love them, but they’re making dumb decisions repeatedly in their life and we wonder, are they below the line? Has God given up on them?

And the good news of Jesus Christ and the humble circumstances of his birth remind us no they’re not either.

But not only is this reality a message I think should be heard by us as far as good news, but I think it’s also an eye opening challenge as well.  Because it teaches us not only that all are loved by God… but the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth also reveal that we are to love all. 


And this becomes the challenge that comes out of the Christmas story.

In a moment I’m going to go through a list of examples of groups of people that you may have unintentionally allowed in your mind to slip below the line of your love. And I’m going to go through this list and it I think will be maybe potentially offensive to some of you.

And I will pray of course that you receive it with humble hearts and grace and mercy.

And I want to be clear about something… as I go through this list of people that should receive our love even though maybe some of us have left them out and put them below the line, I’m not claiming that the Bible says there’s no difference between right or wrong or there aren’t bad choices or good choices or anything like that.

But I am suggesting to you that our love for people is in no way at all conditional or based on how other people behave. So saying that we should love them is not saying that we think that they’re doing the right thing, it’s just saying that we should love people whether they’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing.

So what I’m talking to you about of the idea that we should love these groups of people.

So what I want to suggest to you is that some of us have allowed people to slip below the line in our life and that does not parallel the character of God at the Christmas story

So regardless of someone’s skin color; regardless of their race or ethnicity; regardless of their religious practices or beliefs; regardless of their political party; regardless of their view of America; regardless of how they got into America; regardless of their sexual orientation; regardless of their moral decisions and lifestylesthey ought to be above the line when it comes to who the church loves.

And it doesn’t matter, if everyone else in your family, or in your circle of influences has taught you otherwise… the birth of Jesus Christ tells you they are above the line. God could not have communicated it any clearer–they should be the recipient of the church’s love because they are the recipient of God’s love.

Gold Dividing Line

AUDIO of above (31 min):

Link to all Pastor Dan Kirmont Sermons:



Kirkmont Closing Pic Combo

Kirkmont Composite Pic

Link to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church Website

Listen to recent sermons