Set Apart

Chiseled ThumbThis weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series, “Chiseled,” on the Ten Commandments by looking at the third and fourth commandments from Exodus 20:7-11.

While we may not immediately see a connection between the command about not misusing God’s name and the command about keeping the Sabbath, they have a lot in common. They are both about keeping something as “set apart,” which is a reflection of God being “set apart,” or holy. So, the message was about having set apart words and set apart time.

The outline for the message is below. You can view the message online here or listen to it via our audio podcast here. Access all the messages from the series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This series is part three of an occasional series we are doing from Exodus. You can enjoy the first two parts of this extended series on Exodus here:

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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook


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5 Reasons I’m giving up social media during Lent

People talk about all sorts of things you can give up during Lent. For the past three months, I’ve sensed that it would be spiritually upbuilding for me to take a break – a sabbath of sorts – from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more. In the past, I’ve utilized my blog and social media as a tool for inviting others to be God-focused throughout Lent (my series of posts last year entitled “40 Days” are an example of this). However, I think I need to do something different this year.

So, I’m giving up social media during Lent and here’s five reasons why…

  1. From Distracted to Present: My daily routines are often filled with many things. I have rhythms that shape my days, some related to daily time with God, some related to work activities, and some related to happenings with family and friends. In the midst of all these things, I also give a lot of attention to social media. This allows me to stay connected to people and the world around me through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more. I love this but sometimes I become distracted. Sometimes I become more than temporarily distracted but become characteristically distracted. I sense the need to take a different routine than that for a while so that I can be fully present with people. Hopefully, this season will enable me to grow deeper into Psalm 86:11, “give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
  2. Turning Off the Information Tap: Social media makes me aware of so many things I might not otherwise know,and this is good and bad. I know about events in Somalia and Ukraine faster than ever, so I’m motivated to pray. I read up on the latest research about learning styles or urban life, and it shapes how I approach my work. I can keep up with distant friends and relatives’ lives and loves each day. So much of this information is fun and intellectually stimulating. At other times, I feel like I’m too informed about too many things without actually being able to think or consider what that information means. During Lent, I am stepping away from social media in order to intentionally limit what comes into my mind. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
  3. Cultivating Appropriate Quiet:: When we take something away during Lent, true spiritual transformation only happens when we put something of value in its place. The corollary to turning off the information tap is cultivating appropriate quiet. If I am going to reduce the flow of connectivity and information, then I must intentionally replace it with another practice. This season of 40 days is intended to stop th high level of connection to others so that I can live from the center of things and have needed space for reflection. Lent is a good time to live into the words of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
  4. Less Self-Consciousness: By its very nature, social media is centered on the presentation of facts, photos, questions, or information related to ourselves or our interests. Because of that, social media makes me more conscious of how I present myself to others. While that may be good in some ways, that self-centered presentation at times serves to reinforce my own tendencies toward stultifying self-consciousness and people-pleasing that are neither helpful for me nor honoring to God. Lent is a good time to step back from that self-consciousness in order to become more God-conscious. I believe that stepping away from social media during this season will be a good practical practice for me in that direction. I hope it will help me to grow in Jesus’ summary statement of God’s desires for us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27).
  5. From Hearing Voices to Hearing God’s Voice: With all the voices coming my way through social media, whether friends or various colleagues or news feeds, my inner mind often feels like cavern reverberating with the echoes of others’ words. It becomes harder to reflect and, many times, harder to hear God’s voice. Lent is intended to be a focused time for self-reflection, repentance, and purification under the penetrating voice and astute hand of God. It is my aim that consciously eliminating some of those voices for a season helps me to hear and respond to God more truly and vigorously. The prophets constantly called the people to just this, as Hosea declared: “Hear the word of the Lord” (Hosea 4:1).

I will continue to post on my blog occasionally, which automatically posts to my social media accounts. However, I will not be active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram from Ash Wednesday (March 5) through Resurrection Sunday (Easter, April 20). If you need to contact me, please email me.

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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in My Spiritual Journey


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What Is It?: Ash Wednesday and Lent

Matt Erickson:

I posted this on my blog last year as a simple summary of Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. I hope it’s helpful for you as Lent begins today.

Originally posted on Renovate:

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the traditional season of Lent, a 40-day journey (minus Sundays) toward Easter.

Some may ask, what is Lent all about? Lent is more than a worn-out tradition of the old-school church marked by self-absorbed sorrow and meal-skipping. Rather, Lent is our journey into greater depths of life with Jesus Christ. The 40-day journey reminds us of Jesus’ 40-day temptation in the desert before starting his public ministry. It reminds us of the people of Israel led by Moses through the wilderness for 40 years before entering the promised land. We enter into Jesus’ journey toward, into, and through the Cross. It is

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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Ten (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “The Ten,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, which began our new series on the Ten Commandments entitled “Chiseled.”

Discussion Questions:

1. When you hear the phrase “Ten Commandments” what do you think of? Why?

2. This weekend at Eastbrook, we begin a new series entitled “Chiseled” on the Ten Commandments. This series accompanies the season of Lent, which is a season of drawing near to God and renewing our hope in Jesus by turning from sin and clinging to the Gospel. This mirrors the journey of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt to a new land guided by God’s deliverance. In preparation for this study, read Exodus 19:1-20:21. (If you haven’t read the entire book of Exodus before, make it a goal to do so during this series.) Then, ask God to speak to you through your study of the Scripture.

3. The story of Exodus moves from slavery in Egypt to the clash between God and Pharaoh in the plagues on to deliverance from slavery and movement toward the land of promise. The Ten Commandments are an identity marker for God and for the Hebrew people as they become the nation of Israel. Read Exodus 19:3-6. What do these brief words tell you about who God is, what He is doing, and what it means to be His people? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections


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The Ten

Chiseled ThumbThis weekend at Eastbrook Church, I began our new series on the Ten Commandments entitled “Chiseled.”

The message was really an introduction on how we can see the Ten Commandments as God’s words of life, love, and mission to God’s people. I also spent time reflecting on how we should read the Ten Commandments as followers of Jesus.

The outline for the message is below. You can view the message online here or listen to it via our audio podcast here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This series is part three of an occasional series we are doing from Exodus. You can listen to the first two parts of this series here:

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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook


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We begin a new series on the Ten Commandments this weekend at Eastbrook Church entitled “Chiseled.”

One of the key identity markers for God’s people is the Ten Commandments. When God called His people out of slavery from Egypt and into a new land of promise, God established a new covenant with them. This covenant was an agreement outlining God’s relationship with the people. It was a covenant of grace characterized by a new way of life as a community and as individuals. While there were many parts of this, the Ten Commandments – or Decalogue, are a good summary of this covenant. In this series, we will continue our exploration of what Exodus means to us as 21st century followers of Jesus. How might we be shaped by the Ten Commandments, and how might they be chiseled upon our hearts, minds and lives?

March 1/2 – “The Ten” -  Exodus 3:19; Matthew 5:17-20

March 8/9 – “The One and Only” (commandments 1-2) - Exodus 20:1-6

March 15/16 – “Set Apart” (commandments 3-4) - Exodus 20:7-11

March 22/23 – “Your Mother and Father” (commandment 5) - Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-4

March 29/30 – “Murder, Adultery and Theft” (commandments 6-8) - Exodus 20:13-15; Matthew 5:21-30

April 5/6 – Move Mission Festival – Special Speaker: Victor Hashweh 

April 12/13 – “The Neighbor” (commandments 9-10) - Exodus 20:16-17; Mark 12:31

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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook, Relationships


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The Slippery Slope of Peacemaking

In my message this past weekend on working through conflict in relationships, I mentioned the “slippery slope of peacemaking” developed by Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker and Resolving Everyday Conflict. There are a variety of ways we can respond to conflict in our lives. Sande highlights a spectrum of dealing with conflict and seeking peace. The the top of the slope is where we want to be in proactively dealing with conflict by making peace. The extremes are the tendencies we move toward as we slip off the path of pursuing peace in our conflicts.


I summarized Sande’s “slippery slope” around three ideas:

1. Peace-faking by avoiding or escaping conflict. This is typified in the life of Jacob who steals his brother’s birthright, deceives his father and then flees from the conflict by hiding with his uncle, Laban (see Genesis 28). The problem with avoiding or escaping from conflict is that, except in extreme circumstances, it puts us into greater difficulties than before and we still have to deal with the conflict in the end.

2. Peace-breaking by attacking others in response to conflict. We find this in brunt reality when Cain is incensed by God’s favor toward his brother Abel. In rage, he kills his brother Abel instead of actually trying to work through the tensions with Abel or with God (see Genesis 4).

3. Peace-making by choosing a pathway toward resolving conflict and bringing deep peace. This happens when we live into the realities of the gospel of peace (see Ephesians 2) and make the statement of James our motto: “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” ( (James 3:18).

You can read a much more detailed description of the slippery slope at Ken Sande’s web-site here.

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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Relationships


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