I believe in the forgiveness of sins

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we celebrated Eastbrook Outdoors and also continued our preaching series entitled “Living the Creed: Connecting Life and Faith in the Apostles’ Creed.” This series walks through the Apostles Creed as a basic summary of our faith but also as a way to live our faith out with God in the world. Each weekend of this series will explore the biblical and theological roots of the Apostles Creed, while also providing specific spiritual practices and approaches to living out what we know as we ‘proclaim and embody’ the Creed in our daily lives.

This weekend I continued preaching on the third article of the creed: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

You can find the message outline and video below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The Reality of Our Need

The human history of sin (Genesis 3)

The human experience of sin (Romans 3:23)

The Reality of God’s Intervention

The history of God’s intervention (John 3:16-17)

The human experience of God’s intervention (Romans 6:23)

A Picture of God’s Intervening Forgiveness (John 8:1-11)

Apparent sin in this story

Less apparent sin in this story

The equalizing human experience of sin

The liberating divine gift of forgiveness

Living Out Our Belief in the Forgiveness of Sins

Finding forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ

Taking the step of baptism as a response of faith

Receiving forgiveness again in our lives

Experiencing the release of forgiving others


Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

Eastbrook Outdoors – August 14, 2022

On Sunday, August 14, we will meet at 11 AM for an outdoor worship service on the front lawn on the Eastbrook campus. Please note that this weekend we will only have one combined worship service at 11 AM and there will be no 8:00 or 9:30 AM services. Make sure you stay around afterwards for a neighborhood picnic & potluck following the worship service! We’ll provide food and fun activities for the whole family.

We also continue our preaching series, “Living the Creed: Connecting Life and Faith in the Apostles’ Creed.”

We will not be live streaming the service this weekend but it should be available on-demand by 1 PM if all goes well. You should be able to view the service via our regular online church platform, Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook by 1 PM.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

The Weekend Wanderer: 13 August 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


Joni Eareckson Tada“New Resolve After 55 Years in My Wheelchair” – Joni Eareckson Tada in The Gospel Coalition: “I sometimes wonder, Who am I, God, that you have brought me this far?Lately, I’ve been whispering that question from 1 Chronicles 17:16: ‘Then King David [said], “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”‘ Who am I to enjoy a platform on national radio for 40 years? Who am I that I should be so blessed in marriage to Ken for 40 years? And how did I ever have the strength to survive 55 years as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair? The truth is, I don’t have the strength. I still wake up every morning needing God desperately. Like David, I often confess, ‘I am poor and needy’ (Ps. 40:17). Perhaps that’s how God brought me this far. I cannot say, but I do know that ‘the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’ (2 Chron. 16:9, NIV). God is searching high and low for weak people who love him so that he can pour into them his strength. Maybe that’s my story, but how I arrived here is not for me to say. I just keep praising my sovereign God with every milestone I pass.”


Stuart Briscoe“Died: Stuart Briscoe, Renowned British Preacher and Wisconsin Pastor” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Stuart Briscoe preached his first sermon at 17. He didn’t know much about the topic assigned him by an elder. But he researched the church of Ephesus until he had a pile of notes and three points, as seemed proper for a sermon. Then he stood before the Brethren in a British Gospel Hall and preached. And preached. And preached. He kept going until he used up more than his allotted time just to reach the end of the first point and still kept going, until finally he looked up from his notes and made a confession. ‘I’m terribly sorry,’ he said. ‘don’t know how to stop.’ Briscoe recalled in his memoir that a man from the back shouted out, ‘Just shut up and sit down.’ That might have been the end of his preaching career. But he was invited to preach again the next week. Then he was put on a Methodist preaching circuit, riding his bike to small village churches where a few faithful evangelicals would gather to worship and encourage the fumbling young preacher with exclamations of ‘Amen’ and ‘That’s right, lad.'”


Sandra Valabregue, ‘Circle in the tree’“Our Technology Sickness—and How to Heal It” – Micah Goodman in Sources: “Such explanations are locally defined, but polarization is far from unique to Israeli society. It is a global problem. Twenty years ago, political identity did not demarcate our intellectual or social horizons. Today, however, in contrast to the Talmudic ideal of nurturing an intellectual world wider than one’s practice, our intellectual world has shrunk to fit the narrower dimensions of policy and practice. The books we read, the lectures we hear, and the videos we watch are all produced by people in our own camp. In short, we have sunk into an anti-Talmudic world. To understand why this is so, I turned to several leading thinkers, each of whom can help us understand what is going on. In his book The Upswing: How We Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again (2020), Robert D. Putnam, who teaches public policy at Harvard University, presents a fascinating study on polarization. In the 1950s, Americans were asked whether they would be bothered by their son or daughter marrying a person of a different race. About fifty percent responded in the affirmative. They were also asked if they would be bothered by their son or daughter marrying a person who affiliated with a different political party. About ten percent answered yes. When the same questions were posed in the 2010s, fewer than ten percent said it would bother them if their son or daughter married someone of a difference race, but over fifty percent said it would bother them if their child married a person with opposing political views. In other words, Americans are growing more open to people of different races and growing more closed to those who hold different political views.”


Petrusich-WendellBerry-2“In Distrust of Movements” – Wendell Berry in Orion Magazine: “I have had with my friend Wes Jackson a number of useful conversations about the necessity of getting out of movements—even movements that have seemed necessary and dear to us—when they have lapsed into self-righteousness and self-betrayal, as movements seem almost invariably to do. People in movements too readily learn to deny to others the rights and privileges they demand for themselves. They too easily become unable to mean their own language, as when a ‘peace movement’ becomes violent. They often become too specialized, as if finally they cannot help taking refuge in the pinhole vision of the institutional intellectuals. They almost always fail to be radical enough, dealing finally in effects rather than causes. Or they deal with single issues or single solutions, as if to assure themselves that they will not be radical enough. And so I must declare my dissatisfaction with movements to promote soil conservation or clean water or clean air or wilderness preservation or sustainable agriculture or community health or the welfare of children. Worthy as these and other goals may be, they cannot be achieved alone. They cannot be responsibly advocated alone. I am dissatisfied with such efforts because they are too specialized, they are not comprehensive enough, they are not radical enough, they virtually predict their own failure by implying that we can remedy or control effects while leaving causes in place. Ultimately, I think, they are insincere; they propose that the trouble is caused by otherpeople; they would like to change policy but not behavior.”


Askonas-Puzzle-Piece-Part-2-B-300x300-1“Reality Is Just a Game Now” – Jon Askonas in The New Atlantis: “On the recent twentieth anniversary of 9/11, I reflected on how I would tell my children about that day when they are older. The fact of the attacks, the motivations of the hijackers, how the United States responded, what it felt like: all of these seemed explicable. What I realized I had no idea how to convey was how important television was to the whole experience. Everyone talks about television when remembering that day. For most Americans, ‘where you were on 9/11’ is mostly the story of how one came to find oneself watching it all unfold on TV. News anchors Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw, broadcasting without ad breaks, held the nation in their thrall for days, probably for the last time. It is not uncommon for survivors of the attacks to mention in interviews or recollections that they did not know what was going on because they did not view it on TV. If you ask Americans when was the last time they recall feeling truly united as a country, people over the age of thirty will almost certainly point to the aftermath of 9/11. However briefly, everyone was united in grief and anger, and a palpable sense of social solidarity pervaded our communities. Today, just about the only thing everyone agrees on is how divided we are.”


liturgy a la carte“Why We Shouldn’t Practice Liturgy ‘A La Carte'” – Benjamin Vincent in Christianity Today: “If you told an evangelical pastor in 2005 that the Book of Common Prayer might soon be trendier than church-lobby coffee shops, he would almost certainly have laughed. It was not so long ago that countless evangelical churches abandoned the use of prayer books and traded their hymnals for high-resolution projectors. The use of the historical church calendar to order services became a rarity as most churches began to develop thematic sermon series or preach through the Bible one book at a time. Liturgical prayer and call-and-response confession fell by the wayside, and even the names of churches changed in ways that distanced congregations from their denominational roots—as many a Hometown Baptist Church became a Wellspring Christian Community. In short, the rhythms, readings, patterns, and prayers of historical liturgies fell decidedly out of style. Over the past several years, however, a new trend has begun to emerge. Anyone who spends time among Christians in their 20s or early 30s has likely noticed a major uptick in the use of the word liturgy, which has become commonplace in both corporate worship and private spiritual practice.”


Music:Vampire Weekend, Sunflower,” (feat Steve Lacy) from Father of the Bride

5 Must-Read Statements on the Church

It’s no secret that one of my favorite theologians of all time is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His book Life Together is, in my opinion, the best book written on the nature of true community in the church. It is a must-read for many reasons, but one of the most important is the way that Bonhoeffer directly deals with something all of us face with the church: disillusionment. If you have not experienced disillusionment at some point in your involvement with the church, then you probably have not been that involved. At a time when people struggled with living their faith individually and together, when the church was rent apart by conflicting allegiances and hypocrisy, Bonhoeffer stepped forward to train young pastors to serve Christ’s church.

Here are 5 must-read statements on the Church by Bonhoeffer from Life Together. The second of these I mentioned in my sermon this past weekend, “I believe in the holy Christian church, the communion of saints,” from our series on the Apostles’ Creed. I hope you find them as challenging and encouraging as I have over the years:

  • “Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world.” [26-27]
  • “Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” [27]
  • “Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.” [28]
  • “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is not great experience, not discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” [29]
  • “A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men….Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren.” [29-30]

[These quotations are taken from John W. Doberstein’s classic translation of Life Together. A more recent translation with thorough annotations and a helpful introduction is found in Volume 5 of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works.]

What Happens When the Church is Activated?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

In the book of Acts we read about how the Holy Spirit set the early believers ablaze for the work of God. We encounter Peter, who courageously steps into the public square to preach the good news of life in Jesus Christ, and thousands come to believe Jesus is the Messiah. We see powerful people like Stephen, who speaks of Christ in the face of persecution, even though it ends up costing him his life. We hear about Philip, who shares across cultural and religious barriers to bring the Samaritans to Jesus. We even see an enemy of Christ and persecutor of the early Christians, Saul of Tarsus, become a passionate evangelist and bold church planter that we know as the Apostle Paul.

The book of Acts is an active book. The church is not stagnant, but moving. The church is engaged and alive, moving forward on mission by the power of the Holy Spirit. What does it look like when individual believers and church communities are activated by God for His work? Well, at the very least we can say that it is not easy to ignore a church that is activated.

But it’s important to give a little more attention to something we could miss here. While Acts is an active book, we also see two things in this story of the early Christians that clarify for us what does not fit with an activated church.

First, an activated church that truly follows Jesus cannot be apathetic. There are times when see find ourselves confronted with the many needs, challenges, and serious situations within the world, that we can become overwhelmed by it all. In the mass of it all, we sometimes shut down and turn away from the needs of the world. We may, instead, focus on our own lives and challenges without giving any thought to the world God loves. Essentially, we become apathetic. But activated churches and Christians are not apathetic. They are engaged with the needs of the world because God cares about people and the needs of the world. While no one church or Christian can address all the needs and challenges of the world, our faith will not give us permission to turn away. An activated church remains open-hearted to the world because God is an open-hearted and generous being.

Second, even though Acts shows us that an activated church is not apathetic but engaged, it also shows us that an activated church is not necessarily a busy church. There is a significant difference between being busy and being active. The early church was activated by the Holy Spirit to join in with God’s mission in a focused way. However, the early church was not meaninglessly busy, doing whatever came their way at any time. In fact, there were key moments where the early believers chose not to do some things or pursue some aspects of potential mission because of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Some of us misunderstand the missionary aspect of Christianity as a command to become busy for the kingdom. But an activated church replaces busyness with focused obedience. Some of us need to remember that God is not very interested in un-commanded work. Yes, God wants us to join in with His kingdom mission, but He does not want us to aimlessly rush around with whatever need or challenge captures our attention in the moment. In fact, what captures our attention may lead us away from the mission God has for us. As a mentor once shared with me: we may need to consider whether we are more in love with the work of the Lord than we are in love with the Lord of the work.

An activated church is not boringly apathetic to the world’s need nor frenziedly busy. An activated church is alive in the Holy Spirit, open-hearted to the world, and walking in obedience to the Living God.