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Sermon Recap: The Walking Dead

Posted on by Philip Nation in Sermons | Leave a comment

On Sunday, we finished our series “Jesus = Freedom” on the book of Galatians. It was immensely rewarding and I’ll be posting next week about the overall lessons I learned from it. But for now, here is the recap of my teaching notes from Galatians 6:11-18.


  • The Walking Dead = The bid to just survive.
  • Every day, we are surrounded by the walking dead. If you doubt that, then just consider the recent headlines about the Ashley Madison scandal, famous people caught in adulterous relationships, and others caught in various crimes against children.
  • We are the walking dead!
  • Galatians has shown us that only Jesus gives freedom.


1. Carrying the gospel to others is worth whatever cost it has for me. – v. 11, 17

  • Paul gave up his health (v.11) & beaten in his body (v.17)
  • He was arrested, imprisoned, beaten, flogged, and stoned. He was physically scarred from his gospel ministry.
  • We have a hard time getting off of the couch to help our neighbors.
  • There should never be the hint of shame, hesitation, or fear in talking about Jesus. No nervousness.
  • We always, always talk about what is important to us, or what is on our minds: football, baseball, politics, or whatever is ailing us. If we aren’t talking about Jesus, it’s because we aren’t thinking about Him or because something has pushed Him out of prominence in our lives.
  • The gospel is the one thing in our lives for which we can have unflinching confidence and unhindered sacrifice.


2. Legalism is about ego, not about relationships – v.12-13

  • Judaizers took a sacred symbol (circumcision) and defiled it. Ripped it from the symbol God intended it to be & made it into a man-centered practice of arrogance.
  • John Stott: “They have debased a religion of the heart into a superficial, outward show, and God has repeatedly sent His messengers to reprove them and to recall them to a spiritual and inward religion.” (Galatians, BST, page 178)
  • Conforming to the practice of the legalists is more for their ego than for your benefit.
  • Ultimately, everyone who seeks only the Law is an arrogant hypocrite.
  • They are proud of how they made you conform but forgot to do it themselves.
  • Legalism ends badly for the enforcer and the victim.
  • Legalism deceives us into thinking that its shackles are our freedom.
  • It deceives us into thinking that we can please God and fulfill our need for self-worth. We cannot. Ever.


3. The only boast we should have is in the cross of Jesus – v.14

  • In the cross, the world is dead to me. I am in no need of its pleasures for me to pretend that I have found joy and peace.
  • In the cross, I am dead the world. It will reject me utterly. And I’m fine with it.
  • Crux (cross) was close to a profanity in the ancient culture. Not used in polite company. They substituted the phrase “Hang him on an unlucky tree.”
  • Clarence Jordan said in The Cottonpatch Gospel: “God forbid that I should ever take pride in anything, except the lynching of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • I am lynched to the world, and the world is lynched to me. Separation from sin and sinfulness is not a quiet afternoon agreement over tea. It is a violent thrashing against our base desires, and a wearying struggle against temptation that leaves us spent, but temptation defeated.
  • John Stott: “Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”
  • Nothing about me can compare or measure up.
  • “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” -Jonathan Edwards
  • In the cross, Jesus assumes upon Himself the wrath of God for sin. He pays my debt on the eternal ledger book. While innocent, He receives the judgment of condemnation that was meant for me. The divine Son of God has His human life snuffed out in the vilest of public executions so that I could be freed from my shame. His innocence is laid upon my guilt. I am forgiven.
  • Once an enemy who lived in darkness like a troll consumed by his sin, I am brought into the kingdom of light to be made the child of the Most High God.
  • “Cheer up: You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” -Jack Miller


4. The only thing that truly matters is becoming a new creation. – v. 15-16

  • Your pedigree has no bearing on your eternal destiny.
  • Timothy George: “The Israel of God is an eschatological reference to the whole people of God who find mercy in the Messiah, both converted Gentiles and completed Jews.”
  • Pagan Galatians are welcome. The faithful remnant of Israel is welcome.
  • You are welcome!
  • God is most concerned in taking your sin-soaked soul and making you new.
  • There is no other way to becoming new. The way of the Law is a long, painful, and violent journey that ends in an eternal death. The way of the Cross is actually the shortcut for us to eternal life.
  • In the work of grace, Jesus equals our freedom. You can be made new.
  • HYMN: Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Upon that cross of Jesus
Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One
Who suffered there for me.
And from my stricken
Heart with tears,
Two wonders I confess,
The wonders of redeeming love
And my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place.
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face.
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss.
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross.

Jesus = Freedom


Wow! Yolanda Adams and Jimmy Fallon

Posted on by Philip Nation in Music | Leave a comment

The amazing gospel singer Yolanda Adams recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. She killed it. Stop what you’re doing and listen to this powerful song. (And, yes, there is a brief ad prior to the video)

Disagreements in Your Small Group

Posted on by Philip Nation in Small Groups | Leave a comment

Old BibleIn your small groups, it is likely that discussions will happen where people disagree. Passions will flare up and debates may break out. All of that is a good thing. We want the members of our groups to wrestle with the truths of the Bible and to do so together. When we deal with issues that fall inside of our doctrinal consensus as a church but there is disagreement on particular points, we need to learn how to discuss them properly. Your groups may have already had one or plenty of such discussions where interpretations were challenged. Let me give a bit of advice about how to handle such discussions and disagreements.

Be intentional. Don’t prepare with the hopes that it will not happen. Instead, tell the group ahead of time about what the discussion will entail and that there might be varying viewpoints. In fact, an email out to the group prior to the gathering will help everyone be prepared.

Set the ground rules. As the leader of the group, you must set the tone. If you don’t, the first one to voice their position will do it for you. It does not have to be a tense rattling off of the “rules for theological combat.” Rather, let the group know that there may be some disagreement during the discussion and that it is okay. Hold up humility, hospitality, and civility as virtues that are needed for spiritual friendships to thrive.

Don’t make it personal. The discussion is about the issue, not the person stating their perspective. Help the group members address the issue rather than allowing sarcastic bombs to be lobbed at each other. If someone makes a personal jab, then ask the person to recognize it and make amends.

Clearly state what territory you are in. It is important to help members of the group understand if you are discussing an issue that is inside of our orthodox beliefs or touching on a subject that is deemed historically heretical. For example, to discuss the four major views of the millennial reign of Jesus is territory within the orthodox faith of Christianity. On the other hand, discussing the nature of Jesus and claiming that He was created by God as a normal man is a perspective that takes you outside of our faith. You can take the verbal temperature of the room down a notch if you help everyone understand if the issue is about orthodoxy or about a concept over which the church has debated for centuries.

Represent others’ views fairly. Don’t allow a member of the group to mischaracterize a viewpoint just so they can make it appear silly. If you are going to disagree with someone’s perspective, do so with respect. Caricatures of others will create division in the relationships.

Don’t allow a contentious spirit to dominate. Robust and passion discussions about our faith and the Bible are good. But a contentious spirit toward one another is destructive. If you see the conversation getting out of hand, intervene. Remind the group that we are called to live in unity as Christ followers.

Keep the “So what?” question obvious. Some of the discussions are simply to understand better. But even in those topics that are more intellectually driven still have a point of application. Your group is designed to facilitate spiritual transformation. Lead the discussion so that everyone comes away with an answer to the “So what?” question.

Plan for the conclusion. Unless you intend for the discussion to fill the entire small group meeting, make sure you plan on how to conclude the discussion. It can be as simple as “I know there is more we could talk about __________, but let’s make sure we cover some other ideas and find how they apply to our lives.”

Follow-up. In the days after your discussion (or debate), do some personal follow-up with both those who vehemently stated their position and those who remained silent. Everyone will likely need a debrief of some length to relieve any left over tension. In the next group meeting, do not ignore the fact of the previous discussion. Acknowledge and help people move on to the next topic of biblical conversation.

Discussion and debate about how to understand and apply biblical passages is necessary. As you lead your group, ensure that you prepare yourself and your friends for how to do so in a way that leads to spiritual transformation.


Water Park Observations: 2015 Edition

Posted on by Philip Nation in Humor, Life | Leave a comment

water slide AquaticaEach summer, the Nation family makes at least one trip to a water park. We recently took the boys and my Dad (for extra comic relief) to Nashville Shores. As always, we enjoyed it and learned more about the human species. So, with the stage set, I give you my annual Observations from a Water Park. Enjoy.

  1. In 20 years, many people will need counseling for how their parents drug them into a wave pool as small children.
  2. If the Dad Bod fad is a real thing, then I’m like the Chris Hemsworth of water parks.
  3. If all of the lifeguards are wearing jackets, just go home.
  4. My father has, by far, the best tan of anyone I know.
  5. Unless preteen boys are restricted from it, “The Lazy River” desperately needs to be renamed.
  6. No matter how wet they are, people at a water park look for shelter when is rains.
  7. The buzzer at the wave pool was designed as an ongoing “Pavlov’s dog”-esque experiment.
  8. Seeing white people covered in tattoos of cartoon characters will always confuse me.
  9. The older one gets, the more likely a water park is simply seen as a napping center.
  10. The fabric to weight ratio for swim wear is NOT being observed by most of the population.
  11. Given the age and lack of attentiveness by the lifeguards, water parks executives are betting on the idea that everyone knows how to swim.
  12. People with aerosol suntan spray can are generally unaware of wind patterns.
  13. No matter what day you visit a water park, there is always one guy in blue jeans. WHY?!?
  14. Additionally, there will always be one grandfather who came to the park under protest. He is easily identified by his penny loafers, black trousers, and a button down shirt.
  15. Humanity has spent the last few millennia perfecting the science of houses and air conditioning. In response to these advances, we pay corporations to let us go outside and sit in the sun for entertainment purposes.
  16. The water park puts on display our poor, late night choices … as evidenced by one dude’s waistline tattoo of Curious George.
  17. Musical unity of the Nation family can be characterized by all of us lip-syncing “I Love Rock n Roll” by Joan Jett when it was played across the park’s speaker system.
  18. Water parks are basically the most expensive place people go each year for bad snacks, power wedgies, sunburn, and a place to pretend to read a book.
  19. Never, ever, under any circumstance purchase pudding as a snack at a water park. Just ask my son Andrew for the story.
  20. Dear lady wearing cowboy boots with your bikini: I know this is Nashville, but people don’t actually dress like this here. At least, I hope not.


For my Water Park Observations from past years, click these links.



One Sentence Book Reviews – August 2015

Posted on by Philip Nation in Books | Leave a comment

During the course of 2015, I have read a number of books thus far. Along the way, I severely slowed my pace of reading while I was completing two different writing projects. However, in order to keep my sanity, I began to read a more varied group of books. Here are some one-sentence summaries for a few of the books I’ve read this year.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Perfect story of escapism for children of the 1980s (like me) who are looking for a quality story about how video game geeks really do rule the world.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe – A history of Marvel Comics that reveals both the cutthroat nature of the publishing industry and how young men can make a big splash in culture.

The Truth About Lies by Tim Chaddick – Written by a pastor in Los Angeles, an engaging treatment on how the temptations we face are always an opportunity to reveal our true love for Christ.

Awakening: How God’s Next Great Move Inspires and Influences Our Lives Today by Matt Brown – Stories and principles that remind us that God is working powerfully in the church throughout the world.

The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle – Though I’ve not finished them all, it is an unexpectedly enjoyable trek into the mind of the drug-addled genius who always solves the crime riddle before him.

The Martian by Andy Weir – A story of survival that is in love with profanity but an enjoyable romp about how the right guy with the right knowledge and the will to succeed can make anything possible.

The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure by James Dashner – Simple but quality set of young adult novels that continue to deliver unexpected plot twists. (There is a prequel in print and a fifth volume due out in 2016.)

Preacher and Prayer by E.M. Bounds – One of the books on prayer that every preacher should read every year because of its driving force as to why we preach and how we should pray about it.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger – Combining professional experience and psychological findings, Berger presents the factors as to why ideas and products catch on virally.

Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body by Martin Pistorius – The story of how powerful the mind can be and how one man’s hope can strengthen all of ours.

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-Earth by Jill Richardson – Combining character studies from Tolkien’s world and biblical figures, Richardson leads us to evaluate how we live out our faith (especially good for teenagers).

Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint by Ben Reed – Brief and helpful training book on small group ministry from a young and energetic leader.

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