The book of Colossians focuses on how Christ reigns supreme – that he is sufficient for all our needs and the head of all creation and the head of the Church. From chapter 2, Paul reminds the church that with Christ in charge of us, it’s because of him that we are made alive. Our relationships to sin has changed – we are no longer in bondage to it. It’s no doing of our own – it’s all because of Christ’s work on the cross that we are made new.
The last day in the life of Christ included some intimate moments with his closest friends – the disciples. At the last supper, in John 15, Christ shares an illustration with them on how they are to remain connected to him using the image of the vineyard branches and the vine on which it grows. The abiding relationship is natural to the branch and vine, but it must be cultivated in the Christian life. In the same way the vine and branches are connected, we must be connected to Jesus for fruit to grow. Yet in our effort to grow, we tend to concentrate so hard on being the person we think we should be, and work on attaining all those fruits of the spirit. When instead we must to focus on the only one who gets that fruit to grow.
As believers, we are to walk as children of light. Our sinful nature is darkness, but Jesus Christ is the light in us. Through this text, Stephanie shares how our relationship with sin has changed because of what Christ has done, and how in this strength, we are called to take that light to the world.
The world believes that if you do something bad, you can do something good to make up for it. Stephanie explains how this kind of thinking is a form of false repentance. Using the sarcasm from the prophet Micah, we learn the easy way out is to do the good action, rather than turn from our ways. True repentance includes a change of heart.
In this special service for Covenant Presbyterian Church in Casa Grande, AZ, Stephanie shares from 2 Corinthians 4 and how she learned an important lesson about being a jar of clay and how places of discomfort shape and mold us into being more like Christ.
At the heart of the story behind the demon-possessed man is the reality that Satan is after the hearts of God’s people. Satan has power, but he has no authority. Even over our sin. Stephanie shares how Jesus Christ, in his authority, holds the power of spiritual forces of darkness and power over our sin. Through him, we are set free from the bondage, just as the demon-possessed man was set free.
God’s people failed to obey God after he granted them the Promised Land. Charged with rebuilding the walls around the city of Jerusalem, God’s people instead chose to rebuild their own homes. God sent Nehemiah to speak the truth to his people, reminding them of God’s faithfulness in the midst of their sin and brokenness. Stephanie shows us how in our own brokenness, God forgives but he also heals. Only the one who made us can heal us.
There is so much to learn from the complaining of God’s people as they face entering into battle for the Promised Land. One of which is how disappointment can alter our view of God. As the Israelites lost sight of how faithful God was to them, we can also lose sight of who God is for us. Stephanie shares how her own complaining and disappointment revealed the state of her heart, and the dangers that follow when we forget who God is.
Most of us have gone through a dry season in life, whether it’s from friendship, love, or our relationship with Jesus. In this text from Ezekiel, God warns his people they are in grave danger in their disobedience, and how their dry bones will come alive because of God’s grace towards his beloved people.
When we really consider our own brokenness, it’s any wonder that God uses us. Yet he does. In our imperfect and simple offerings to the Lord, he is made great. For it is his power on display in our weakness.
With so many things in this world that makes us weary, it is no wonder we struggle to be filled up when we need it. God’s yoke on us is not one made for the beast of burden, like the ox, but one of refreshing and joy.
Is it easier to process bad news when followed by good news? The reality of the bad news for us is that we are sinful creatures. Our sin has made us dead and deserving of God’s wrath. The good news is that is not the end of the story.
The cost of discipleship is one we rarely weigh the power of, nor is the weight of the cross with whichwe are called to carry each day. Stephanie shares how we are often unwilling to go into the difficult places of discipleship, unwilling to give up parts of our lives with which we are comfortable.
2012 was a controversial year for women in the arena of sexualized pop culture. The hugely popular 50 Shades of Grey books were read by most, and the movie Magic Mike was a blockbuster hit. In this workshop talk, Stephanie challenges the division we put on sacred and secular when it comes to pop culture, and asks women to engage in culture from a Christian worldview without discarding it as useless. Pop culture can reveal much about the world around us, but what does it look like to engage in a way that honors the Lord?