Core Values


if you have no gauge on what is important, then you have no way to measure whether or not you are on the right track

That is what Core Values do…

they keep us disciplined… they keep us on mission… they give us something the bounce whatever it is we are doing, off of, and see… IS THIS FURTHERING THE MISSION OF MY LIFE? 

I know for us, in this city, as transient as it is, and just because of the heart of the city… it can sometimes be difficult to determine “God… are we on the right path?” but this gives us a clear guide… 

So we ask questions like: 


are we living and growing more and more generous? Are we working together more than we used to? Are we getting more courageous with every new step we take?or are we getting more timid and less bold with each step we take? are we holding closer to our wallets because we feel like things are too tight for us to help anyone else… 

Are we living our lives outside of ourselves? Are we reading the word of God more, praying more, and growing in our worship and adoration for Jesus? Or have those things become afterthoughts to our busy lives? 

Unless you build the foundation of your life on PURPOSE, you very well may find yourself working and working and working but never feeling like you have gotten anywhere. 


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In putting together this Core Values series, and shaping a lot of the direction for where we see our church going, the following books were either directly used and were mentioned or quoted during the series. 

In putting together this Core Values series, and shaping a lot of the direction for where we see our church going, the following books were instrumental in the shaping of the values. 

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Love Incorruptible


A series based on the book of Ephesians.

This 14 week series was given between April 23, 2017 and July 23, 2017

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we have an identity problem in our world. 


and we have it in our churches


and so often, when someone comes into this place, or wants to talk to a Christian and confess their “sins” to them, or whatever… what we tend to do is immediately focus on that thing… that “sin” and we try and work people through behavior modification thinking that “if they can just change the way that they ACT, then their lives will change…” 


but the root of so many problems can not be weeded out by changing your behavior… because who you are is always there, whether you mask it or not. The real issue is people don’t know who they are! 

Even Christians! They don’t know who they are… they don’t know what they are worth! 

Its an identity issue. 


We find our worth in the things that we tangibly accomplish or don’t accomplish on this earth. Take me for example… and today I can share this as a “testimony” but many of you have heard me say it as I was walking through it as well… We wanted to get that house. 

and I was riding high when we raised the money… I was feeling like the king of the world, like “we are going to DO SOMETHING!” 

but then when deal after deal fell through, seriously, I got so down on myself that I was a little depressed. I felt like a liar… I questioned the vision that God gave us… and I felt a bit like a worthless pastor at times…

now that we have it, I think because of that, I can honestly say that God is working, and having the house or NOT having the house does not define who I am… 

When I sin… when I screw up… I feel worthless. I feel incompetent to be a pastor at this church… not always… but sometimes… because what I am doing is, I am putting my worth in what I DO. and when things seem like they are not working… I do the same thing… I let myself take the blame… 

But what Ephesians says, is that my identity is not found in houses, churches, messages, music, art, and even Godly behavior. It is found in Jesus. 

and no book of the bible is more clear about this, than Ephesians.

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A bit of background… 

Jonah was a racist.

That is clear as day. The guy hated the Ninevites. 


Just about everyone from Israel hated the Ninevites. Which, by the way, when I was writing this, my computer kept auto correcting “Ninevites” to “nineties” - so it almost accidentally said “everyone from Israel hated the nineties.” - 

How could anyone hate the 90’s? 

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. In what we today know as Iraq. And this was during a time in history, when the Assyrians were constantly attacking Israel. The book of Isaiah, Chronicles, and 2 Kings (15 & 18) records multiple accounts of the Assyrians coming in, attacking, taking over, deporting people, taking what they want from whoever they wanted. So for this prophet from Israel, writing this story to other Israelites… the readers would have instantly agreed with Jonah “of course you should go the other direction. Those people are evil. We are at war with them. They have destroyed us, and walked over us and we don't WANT anything good to happen to them!” 

Has that ever happened to you?

Has anybody ever hurt you so bad, that as far as you are concerned, you don’t even want them to change. You just want them to pay. 

to be punished

God was literally telling Jonah to go into the heart of the city of his biggest enemies. 

So God called Jonah to Nineveh. and instead, Jonah gets on a boat, heading toward Tarshish. 

Now… Nothing about this was an accident. As you will read in the extreme amount of details that we get in the first three verses of the book… Jonah started off in Joppa. So again, Jonah was from Israel. God calls him to this great city, Nineveh. A city Northeast of Joppa about 500 miles. A city that he did not need to get on a boat to get to. and instead, he goes to the port, and he jumps on a ship, heading for the place that is the farthest in the other direction that he could possibly go. 


2000 miles away at the bottom part of what we now know to be Spain. It was a paradise. It would be like God calling me to Detroit, and instead I go to Maui. I have been there… and trust me, I wondered… God, are you sure you aren’t call me here? Jonah knew, God was calling him to the city. Instead of going where he was called, he set sail not only to the place that was the farthest possible place he knew of from Nineveh, but it also was a place where he could be lazy and passive and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation rather than be active in reconciling God’s GREATEST creation, people, back to God. 


Red Letter City


a verse-by-verse look at the sermon on the mount.

(the beatitudes were looked at individually in a separate series, included at the bottom of the page.)

This sermon series began on April 10, 2016 and concluded on August 21, 2016

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I saw something recently on Facebook, that a friend of mine posted, and it made me wonder, “does my life look like Jesus? Am I shining the light of Jesus everywhere I go? And made me seek Jesus’ face in prayer because man, I want to raise my family in a way that ushers in the Kingdom of heaven. I want my home to be a haven for my children as much as anyone else who enters it… that they look to our family and they see Jesus. I want to be an example like so many others have set for me. 

There is a family I grew up with. A great family. Several members of this family are very close friends of Dawn and I. In the first two days that we were gone on our vacation, their grandmother passed away. She lived in Lansing so all of their family who live all over the country now, from Wisconsin to Philadelphia, all regrouped here in Michigan… for a funeral. and one of them posted a picture of her grandfather… the man who had just lost his wife, and he is sitting around a table surrounded by all of his children. And he is kind of smiling in this picture, and moving his arms in a way that it is obvious he is teaching his adult children, even in that moment. And all of their heads are facing him and their eyes are locked on him. 

and I couldn’t help but wonder as I starred at this picture… “What is he teaching them in that moment?” that would cause them to look with such anticipation for what he was sharing, in the midst of such a brokenness and void that they all had to of been feeling…

and then I wondered, how did he and his wife manage to raise that many kids up in such a way that they still hung on every word that he says? 

When everything about our world is despair and pain and disappointment how did this family turn out ok?

How is it that some people can rejoice even when they mourn?

How is it that in the middle of loss, people can come together and somehow, in some amazing way, they can do something collectively that just feels like Jesus. Thats just this beautiful reflection of what he is like. 

Like he is there. and everything that is supposed to be wrong, is going to turn out ok

its almost as if they have learned a secret. and I am not sure if I have learned it myself yet or not, but if I had to guess as to what it is, it would be this. 

That Jesus lives in the broken places of our hearts.

That he came to call the sinner… the broken one. 

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor… but those who are sick.”

But what if the secret is just realizing, “We are all sick.” 

Some of us just don’t know it yet. 

The sermon on the mount is the most famous sermon ever given, by the greatest teacher who ever lived (who also happens to be God)

It is an amazing announcement of a new Kingdom that is invading our current reality, and it is TOTALLY UPSIDE DOWN. It handles with amazing clarity some of the deepest and hardest situations we could possibly face in life, and is full of more hope than you could possibly imagine. 

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During our series "Red Letter City" we gave a single message about the Beatitudes, and then during our midweek EQUIP Bible Study on Thursday evenings we went through in detail each Beatitude individually. Those teachings (below) were not filmed, so you can listen to the sermon and follow along with the slides on the video. 

During this in-depth study, we pulled from dozens of resources and commentaries and teachings...

countless hours of prayer, research, conversations and wrestling with the text has lead us to draw the map out the series the way that we did. Below are some of the books that have been extremely helpful in preparing it. 

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