In the second week of the “Begin Again” series, Pastor Nate continues in the book of Joshua, this week speaking about the testimony of Rahab. Rahab had the reputation of being a prostitute, so the people of Jericho did not expect anything significant from her, however, history remembers her as integral the the Israelite victory over Jericho. Although she did not at first believe in God as her savior, she believed in & respected His power. In that respect & deference to His authority, she was able to see her family spared from the fate of the rest of Jericho. In this way, Rahab is an example of failure not being our future. Although no one thought she would accomplish much, God had a different plan for her life. Rahab may have had a reputation, however, God decided to use her as an example that it’s never too late to begin again.
In the first installment of the “Begin Again” series, Pastor Nate Gagne speaks from the book of Joshua in which God promises Joshua the Israelite people will inherit the promised land, even after they had failed to for decades prior. Joshua had had a mentor in Moses & found himself discouraged once Moses died as he thought, if my hero couldn’t fulfill God’s promise, how can I? This is an extremely poignant scriptural reminder that although our heroes & examples may not live up to our expectations, we shouldn’t allow that to stop us from realizing God’s promises in our own lives. The Israelite people in the time of Moses were fearful, lacking in faith and were disobedient to God. For this reason, God held back the blessing of the promised land until His people had their hearts in the right place to receive His promise. These same deficiencies are what keep us from God’s promises today; we fear, we lack faith, we disobey. However, it’s never too late to begin again as Joshua does when, although it may have seemed irrational from an earthly standpoint, he decides to stand on God’s promise and make the changes his people need to make in order to fulfill the promise.
In this standalone sermon, Pastor Nate examines Saul’s motivation in the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 15, in which Saul disobeys God’s commands and in response gets his rank of king stripped from him. Saul then rebelled against God for years & made his life more difficult than if he’d repented for sinning against God. Rebellion causes us to act in ways we don’t actually want to act because we led ourselves into places God never intended for us to go through the making of decisions He never intended for us to have to make. We rebel because we seek freedom, but the rebellion in & of itself becomes its own form of bondage. Later in the life of Saul, he became a follower of Jesus, after being brought low by his rebellion. It’s never too late to stop rebelling against God & instead allow yourself to be compelled by His love as opposed to repelled by it.
In the fourth week of the “Advent” series, Pastor Andrew Zemianek speaks from Matthew chapter one, in which Joseph struggles with his place in God’s plan regarding Jesus’ birth. Joseph could have responded very differently to the circumstances he found himself in & our entire history would have been changed forever. Instead, Joseph chose to be obedient to God & to choose joy in the difficulties; because of his response, he got to be a part of the biggest miracle in human history. Deciding to follow Jesus doesn’t necessarily make life easier, it can actually be more difficult when you have to walk opposite to culture as Joseph did, however, if you all your pursuit of the joy that God’s salvation brings to overshadow the difficulties, you’ll find they often bring your greatest blessings in disguise.
In the third week of the “Advent” series, Pastor Nate reads from Matthew chapter two, attributing Jesus’ escape from Herod’s massacre of all the baby boys in Jerusalem to the gifts of the wise men. The wise men’s gifts, all but gold seeming foreign to us this day & age, would have been worth more than $1,000/lb each. The money that came from these gifts is likely what allowed Joseph & Mary, a poor carpenter & his wife, to relocate for a few years to hide Jesus from Herod’s wrath. Although Jesus had just barely drawn breath, God had already prepared a way for Him. The wise men didn’t come into these luxurious gifts overnight, nor did they decide on a whim to bestow them upon a baby born in a stable. Before Jesus was even born, before Herod had even threatened, God had known to begin providing the gifts & guidance to the wise men. The bible says that we are co-heirs with Christ; if God is willing to go to such lengths for Jesus, think of what He can & will do for you if you are faithful & believe it's possible.
In the second week of the “Advent” series, Pastor Nate reads from Luke chapter 2 in which the angel reveals the presence of Jesus to the shepherds who eventually went to greet the newborn king & tell of His coming. The shepherds were at first frightened, however, their willingness to overcome their fears led to their history-making moment of being the first to witness the greatest miracle and subsequent privilege of being the ones to carry the news throughout the surrounding area. The more we abandon our fears & submit to our calling, the more opportunities we will have to witness God’s miracles, sing His praises and carry word of His miraculous deeds throughout the world. Pressure dissipates and peace follows when we praise.
In the first week of the “Advent” series, Pastor Nate preaches about the Advent season, which is a month-long lead-up to Christmas in which churches of a certain tradition celebrate that Jesus came & that He is coming again. Although traditions differ, we are focusing on the hope that comes with the fact that Jesus has come & that He is coming back again. God knows where you’re coming from, where you are now & where you’re going. Although Mary didn’t seem like anyone special, God chose her to carry Jesus because of that fact. Mary allows her faith to be stronger than her fear & begins preparing for Jesus, although others will likely not believe and the circumstances go against everything in her culture. If Jesus could come from such humble beginnings, He could be that much more relatable to all of humanity, His sacrifice that much more believable, and His second coming that much more miraculous.
In the last week of the “Sinkholes” series, Pastor Dan Dedrick speaks from the book of 2 Kings in which a widow learns about God’s provision even in the midst of her sinkhole when she changes her perspective, decides to participate in God’s plan and gets her priorities in order. It can be easy to focus on what we can’t see, where we aren’t going and what resources we don’t have. However, when we define our priorities based on God’s plan & choose to see our situation from the perspective of where He is bringing us rather than where we currently find ourselves, we can begin to recover from our sinkhole.
In the third week of the “Sinkholes” series, Pastor Nate warns about the precursors to a collapse within our relationships; romantic, familial, friendship, etc. There are three areas in any relationship to shore up or avoid altogether; secrets, our ability to forgive, selfishness. Keeping secrets erodes trust, harboring grudges undermines trust, being selfish cancels out affection. As with any foundation, preventative maintenance goes a long way. We can learn to combat secrets with honesty, the inability to forgive with compassion, and selfishness with humility. It is going to take a lot more conscious effort to keep your relationships on a firm foundation than to let them collapse, and that includes your relationship with God as well. However, as Pastor Nate discussed at the beginning of the series; “sin will always cost you more than you’re willing to pay.” Once you’re attempting to pick up the pieces at the edge of the gaping crater in your life, you’ll wish you had a few of those minutes back when you could have laid a better foundation from the start or established some healthier habits and maintained it properly.
In the second week of the “Sinkholes” series, Pastor Andrew reminds us not to be concerned with roles & labels but to concern ourselves with who God says we are. The farther we’re drawn into the lie of our value being in what we can & cannot do for others, even God, the closer we are drawn to an inevitable collapse. “In the moment where we don’t have our role anymore, we are terrified to exist”. But keeping your identity in God & who He says you are, the stronger you will be and the more able you will be to endure the shifts in the world & your relation to it without falling into a sinkhole.
In the first week of the “Sinkholes” series, Pastor Nate Gagne preaches about the collapses that can come when we don’t address the decay in our life before it becomes a disaster. Most of the time, there are warning signs, whether the sinkholes are literal or figurative. Ignoring the warning signs & not addressing the stress fractures can not only lead to a collapse in your life, but it can impact others as well. As worldwide Christian leader Ravi Zacharias says, “sin can take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” The preventative maintenance, whether physical or spiritual, will in the end have been far less costly in terms of time, money & potential lives lost than when a sinkhole inevitably opens up. It’s not a question of if, provided you fail to address the warning signs, but when.
In this standalone sermon, Pastor Nate speaks about the ‘pumpkin spice craze’ and how we sometimes can feel as though a good thing has gone too far; i.e. pumpkin spice dog treats. It’s easy to become sick of things that you used to like due to over-exposure. However, the law of diminishing return does not apply to God. The more you know Him and seek to come to a greater understanding of Him, the more results you will yield in your life. You can never have too much of God’s presence; unlike pumpkin spice, it never gets old.
In the final installment of the “Kingdom Builders” series, Pastor Nate lays out the intended missions projects for the church next year. We are encouraging kingdom building at all levels; children, youth, adults. In Ezra chapter 8 we learn that God can orchestrate the resources to rebuild & relocate His kingdom, it’s just up to us to pursue His promise. The concern shouldn’t be on what we need or what we don’t have for resources, but what God can give us to help us meet the needs of those who have even less physical resources & awareness of God than we have. Sometimes it takes radical faith to see your life & your world changed.
In the second week of the “Kingdom Builders” series, Pastor Nate Gagne relates the journey to becoming a kingdom builder to the journey to becoming a husband. You have to start living the promises before you get to the point of making them. When dating, one begins to ‘walk the walk’ of being true only to that person, being there for them in good times & bad, in sickness & in health, etc before they ‘talk the talk’ of officially making the vows. In this way, we must begin working toward the miracle we know God is going to do to advance His kingdom, even before we can see the results. Pursuing the promise God has for us costs provisions. He will be faithful to supply them, however, we must be faithful to submit to His will & trust Him that His plan is far greater than our own.
In the first week of the “Kingdom Builders” series, Pastor Nate Gagne speaks about the necessity for courage, community and abandonment of one’s comfort zone to truly reach just one more. As the prophet Ezra led a group of exiled Jews back into Judea, Northern New England is a mission field of its own. The mission of Restoration Church is to provide the courage and community to enable those who have found out about Jesus’ love to step out of their comfort zone to help lead someone else.
In the final week of the “Anthems” series, guest speaker Jonathan Cashman whom Pastor Nate attended bible college with, relates the song “Sit Next to Me'“ by Foster the People to the mission we should have as followers of Christ. Drawing from his book “Go” regarding discipleship, Jonathan details what discipleship is at its core; to be available for people and to carry God’s message to them by showing them love. Those who reject the church often do so because they either find it judgmental or bureaucratic. The attitude of a judgmental or bureaucratic environment would be the opposite of “sit next to me”, however, Jesus led His ministry in an attitude of following, doing and participating. Before His death, Jesus taught many but really connected with a core group which we call the disciples. For three years they observed and served with Jesus. The more they portrayed the “sit next to me” attitude, the more people were intrigued and whose hearts began to be opened toward Jesus. This was only possible through their sacrifice and willingness to love and foster others.
In the third week of the “Anthems” series, Pastor Nate compares King David’s response to his sin to Imagine Dragons’ response to what it takes to be successful. Imagine Dragons calls out today’s culture as one of those who are described as being “cold”, “cutthroat” & having “hearts of stone”. Although it can seem easier not to feel anything, you end up living in a constant state of hurt. Asking for forgiveness is difficult & you save a lot of face by keeping mistakes to yourself. However, if one can own up to their sins & ask for forgiveness as King David does in Psalm 6, the freedom they will walk in is far more satisfying than the secrets they’d have to keep to maintain the lies to hide their sins. As Imagine Dragons puts it, “you gotta be so cold to make it in this world”. The wonderful thing about God is that He offers us a life beyond the cold-heartedness the world calls for.
In the second week of the “Anthems” series, Pastor Nate compares Psalm 6 to Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry”. Grande likely wrote this song in response to the 2017 suicide bombing of one of her concerts in England in which a number of her fans were killed. King David wrote Psalm 6 in response to sorrow over his own sin toward God. We often rationalize our own sins but feel the full weight of sins against us. In this way, King David’s Psalm showcases the similarity between sin against God & sin against others. “When we sin against God, our reaction should be greater than when someone sins against us.”
In the first week of the “Anthems” series, Pastor Nate Gagne compares the popular Panic! at the Disco song “Say Amen” to Psalm 73 in which the writer begins to question if living his life for God will have been worth it at the end of his life. In the popular song, Panic! at the Disco singer Brendon Urie expresses the disconnect between his religious upbringing which he cannot completely abandon but in the end, he chooses his current lifestyle. In the Psalm, the writer Asaph declares in verse 28, “but as for me, it is good to be near God”. Although Asaph lived generations before Urie, the important question in their lives remained the same; what do I want my life to be & where does God fit into it?
In this stand alone sermon, Pastor Nate Gagne poses the question; "what would we see as a supernatural church, living out a supernatural word, following a supernatural God?" In the natural, we're just a group of people, in the supernatural, we have gifts, talents, resources that don't make sense. One of our church's core values is: "our God is able", we believe for a strong movement of God in Londonderry as we launch there next week because He's bigger than the limitations we put on Him.