David’s Sermon Preview

September 12, 2013

There are a number of quotes or phrases that get my blood pumping. When Mel Gibson’s character William Wallace says, “Every man dies, but not every man truly lives,” I want to do something lively. When I read Martin Luther King Jr.’s letters from a Birmingham jail, every fiber of my being wants to do justice. In the passage of Scripture we will be looking at this weekend (Acts 6-8) a few phrases jump off the page and stir my soul: “Men full of the Spirit and wisdom,” “the number of disciples increased rapidly,” “The word of God spread,” and “many…became obedient to the faith.” Those bold phrases sum up what I believe this church is to be all about. (My only exception would be to add ‘women’ to that first phrase.)

The cry of my heart is to be able use these phrases to describe what Jesus is doing in our city. I hope it is, or is becoming, the cry of our hearts, as the Lord is knitting us together, to be the light and salt in our day. Many have gone before us. Many have worked hard and answered the call to be salt and light in their part of the world, in their part of history. Now it falls to us. Who are we going to be? What will we be remembered for? Are we salty? Are we shining bright?

What follows chapter 6 are the stories of Salty Stephen and Radiant Phillip. One was so full of the salt of Christ that he was stoned to death by the same people that crucified Jesus. His martyrdom sparked the spreading of the gospel to the entire western world. The other was so full of the light of Christ that he was able to spark revival in Samaria, in Ethiopa, and (most importantly) in his own home.

Let’s get excited about seeing how Jesus can use our lives as a spark in our world and our time.

A Message from David

June 13, 2013

I wasn’t quite sure at first, but through some prayer time and Bible study, I am now convinced that Jesus wants to come close to us this summer, tell us His wild ideas for our lives, and bring some good stuff out of our messy situations.

There is a weather phenomenon that takes place each summer in Phoenix. It is always very discouraging for me. It happens when thick, full, rain clouds roll in and hover, heavy over the city. They are dense with moisture, almost yearning to be released. Everyone in the city gets excited and the temperature drops a bit. The wind picks up, and the burning yellow sun is filtered down to a soft grey. We see the rain clouds. Then, we see the rain falling. We go outside with thoughts of dancing in the rain, but what we find is no rain or moisture reaches our hot, dry, skin. Aggghhh, I hate that. I have been fooled many times by this summer desert situation. I find myself yearning, longing, and then disappointed because no refreshment is found.

I think this is the same spiritual situation the people of Israel were in during Samuel’s day and many of us find ourselves in today. It is not that Jesus has become impotent or anything less than perfectly consistent. Instead, the stuff of the world and the fiery trials we go through can leave us down in the valley, scorched and parched. We need to run to the mountain of God and climb up into His refreshing grace and cleansing love. We need to let go of the superficial and artificial busyness that this city fosters. We need to break free from the sin and weight that so easily entangles us. We need to daily resist the gravity of our flesh that leads us to the bitter waters that provide counterfeit refreshment and freedom. Simply put, we need to spend some focused time with Jesus each and every day. Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not climb the mountain of God and find our refreshing there.

Don’t forget to invest in your family this summer, and please make it a priority to join our LS family at 6:30pm on June 19th for our Worship Night. It will be a great time of climbing the mountain of God and receiving the refreshment and freedom that His presence can bring.
Grace and peace to you and yours,
David Stockton

Last week was heavy. Losing both Brad Piccirillo and Cheryl Watkins has deeply affected many of us, as evidenced by how full our sanctuary was at Brad’s memorial last Friday and Cheryl’s last Tuesday. It is hard to lose loved ones, especially ones as special as Brad and Cheryl. It is hard because we will miss them, it is hard because we have to start to live life without their companionship, and it is hard because we are reminded of all the other grief that we are still carrying from past hurts. Yet, at the same time we are awakened to the reality that each day, each breath, each moment of joy is a gift from our Father in heaven.

We are also reminded that, “the shadow proves the sunshine.” The times we walk through the valley of the shadow of death are hard, but those shadows are also powerful reminders that the sun is shining. I witnessed this very clearly as I spent time at the Piccirillos’ and Watkins’ homes. I have heard both the Watkins and the Piccirillos speak about how wonderful the Living Streams family has been. I have seen with my own eyes the hands and feet of Jesus on display through many different acts of kindness, a note, a hug, a prepared meal, or a prayer for strength.

This weekend we will continue in our 1 Samuel series. I will be preaching from 1 Samuel 8, where Israel asks God to give them a king. I am praying that once again by entering into God’s presence, by the ministering of God’s word, and by fellowshipping with the saints, our Good Shepherd will lead us out of the shadowy valley back into His green pastures. Jesus knows how to take us from a place of feeling so empty and low, to having our cups overflow.
Grace and peace to you and yours,
David Stockton (filling in for Mark)