Looking Forward: Words and Deeds

Sermon Notes
Looking Forward
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Acts 11:22-26

“Looking Forward: Words and Deeds”

Theme: Communicating our faith is about words and deeds saturated in relationship.

We are all called to live out our faith in word and in deed. This is hard enough but here is the real kicker.

How do we communicate our faith in words and deeds when the primary form of communication is digital; emails, text, and social media?

How do we communicate our faith when a primary mode of communication is not in physical space (face to face) rather electronic space?

How do we be a Barnabas on Facebook? How would Francis of Assisi navigate social media?

As a church, we do not have any simple answers. But we do know this needs to be one of our priorities as a church for the next several years, figuring out how to truly communicate and leverage our digital age. For every challenge, there are opportunities not only for our church but the greater church for possible ways to leverage the new technological world we live in for the Kingdom of God.

Questions to Ponder:

How well do I express my faith in the way I live?

Do I have spiritual conversations with folks outside of traditional faith?

On social media am I more interested in fostering relationship or projecting an image of myself?

How do I have spiritual conversations with friends on social media?


Looking Forward: The True Foundation

Sermon Notes
Looking Forward
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke 6:46-49

“Looking Forward: The True Foundation”

Many of us can feel ill equipped to fully know how to fuel our faith. This is exactly why discipleship is one of the key priorities for our church. We want to equip you as followers of Christ.

So what does it mean to be a disciple? Or I will rephrase it, What does it look like for you to be a disciple?

Greg Ogden in the book “Discipleship Essentials” describes a disciple as one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call to follow Jesus Christ. Being a disciple is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.

Dallas Willard describes discipleship as life of obedience to Jesus’ teaching and a life led by the Holy Spirit.

I want to focus on both as discipleship; life of obedience and life in the Spirit.

Discipleship as a life of obedience.

Discipleship as a life in the Spirit.

Some of us come from church backgrounds where all the emphasis on discipleship or following Christ is put on the person’s effort to work harder and try harder.

Others of us come from a church background that is on the other side of the pendulum, that where all the emphasis is not on any action on our part but purely on receiving God’s grace in our lives through the Spirit.

Discipleship is a combination of dependence on the Holy Spirit and obediently following Christ. This is a lifelong process. The two combined together allow Jesus Christ to come alive in us.


Looking Forward: God Dreams

Looking Forward
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
2 Samuel 7:1–13

“Looking Forward: God Dreams”

Today we start our new sermon series called Looking Forward. The hope of this sermon series is that we can look at it on parallel tracks. What does it mean for us to move forward as individuals and what does it mean for us to move forward as a church?

Theme: We are called as a church and as individuals to have God Dreams!

As a church and as individuals looking forward we have to be careful not to immediately assume that our dreams are God’s dreams.

Throughout Scripture there are stories after stories of characters like King Saul, the
Israelites, and other characters whose own dreams were more important than God’s dreams and eventually they ended up lost. But when we as individuals and as a church can sync our dreams into God’s dreams beautiful things are born.

Priority Action Learning Team Report (Kevin Oxnam)

Church Priority 1 -

Church Priority 2 -

Church Priority 3 -

What are some of your priorities/rhythms you want to chart this fall?

Spiritual life -

Family Life -

Work Life -

Exercise -

The Mystery of the Miraculous

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
John 6:16-21

“The Mystery of the Miraculous”

In a technological world we are not always comfortable with mystery. We want explanations for the unknown. The age of Enlightenment ushered in reason and science, all good things, but this quest to explain the unexplainable leads us to some gaps. I believe these gaps lead us to the beauty and mystery of God. 

Theme: When God shows up in your life, do not try to explain it. Simply embrace the mystery of the miraculous in your life.

We respond different ways when Jesus shows up in our lives unexpectedly.

First, we can just ignore it.

The second way we respond is we just intellectualize God out of our lives.

The third way we respond is the miracles of God can make us appreciate the mystery of God.

We live in a day and age where I see people going through the motions and are less lead by their faith and more led by their to do list or their email inbox. It is easy with all the distractions to go to numb to the very fullness of life that is right in front of us. What if we are developing cataracts to our soul that prevent us from seeing clearly the mystery, beauty, and power that God has created right before us.

What if Jesus is showing up in our lives walking on water but we just happen to be looking the other way?


Miracle Middle Manager

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
John 6:1-15

“Miracle Middle Manager”

As we are doing a sermon series on miracles, one of the greatest lessons we must learn through the Bible is that often God does indeed do miracles in this day in age, but his preferred way of doing them is through you and me. We are miracle middle managers. We are the right people at the right time, that if we so choose, we can allow ourselves to be part of a miracle.

So far in this sermon series we have focused on miracles primarily in relationship to our needs, but today we want to focus on us being miracles for others.

Theme: You and I can be vessels for God’s miracles.

The creator of the universe chooses you and me in all our brokenness to be his vessels, his instruments of mercy and power to a world that is in need. Today I want to say God is nudging us, sending us to be his vessels to be his miracles; but we must have our heart and eyes open to God’s nudges, large or small, that are all around us.

God is saying to you and me, “whom shall I send?”

The question is how will we respond?

But here is the catch, often the miracles God orchestrates through us at the time do not seem that spectacular. As we are just going through life being faithful to the nudges and promptings of the Holy Spirit, God takes the ordinary and turns them into the extraordinary for someone else.

We are all miracles if we so choose to be!



Get Up and Walk

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
John 5:1-9

“Get Up and Walk”

Over the years, as a Pastor I have encountered folks who feel like an accident, more who feel stuck, others who feel lost, and many whose dreams for themselves did not turn out like the expectation they or others had of them. Today we are going to look at an individual in John 5 who was lost and stuck almost his whole life. I believe when Jesus healed him he did not just heal him physically, but healed his heart with a sense of purpose.

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  (NRSV)

We often say with our lips we want more of God in our lives. But do we really? Do we want the Creator of the Universe meddling in our lives?

If we want God to do a miracle in our lives, we must first be willing for God to intervene.

8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”  (NRSV)

If we want God to do a miracle in our lives we must also take steps of trust.

Change is scary, even healing is scary because when Jesus says get up and walk, we can assume that Jesus is going to lead us somewhere. As we start to let Jesus intervene and meddle in our lives, over time we start to take small steps of trust. Many of us want external miracles! We want God’s intervention in our circumstances. But maybe, just maybe we need God to do an internal miracle first in our heart if we are to truly understand miracles and the power of God. If we want to have purpose and power in our lives we first must let God intervene and do miracles in our hearts by helping us to become willing and help us take steps of trust.

1. Why does Jesus ask the man if he wants to be healed? What is that about?
2. Why do you think it would have been hard for the man to hear Jesus words get up and walk?
3. What prevents us from being healed?


Word and Spirit

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
John 4:46-54

“Word and Spirit”

The “Word” versus the “Spirit.” It is a great divide. Many churches and denominations are characterized by one over the other. They emphasize one and give lip service to the other. If churches could truly discover how to bring these two priorities together, the simultaneous combination would be a spontaneous combustion. That is my hope and prayer for our church, that we would be people of the Word and people of the Spirit.

People of the Word
There are times that we want to see a miracle, we want to see a sign, we want to see the power of God, and God just seems silent. It is in those times we are called to trust God’s promises, to trust our theology of God’s sovereignty, to trust God’s love for us. It is in these moments we learn to be less dependent on the spectacular and dependent on the word of God that we see in Scriptures.

People of the Spirit
We as Christians are called people of the Bible. We study and learn. But we can analyze our faith literally, at times, to death. We are called to be people of the Word, but we are also called to be people of the Spirit. Our faith and relationship with our Savior is meant to be new every morning. The Spirit allows us to discover new vitality.

So how do we be people, a church that is both dependent on Word and Spirit?
How do we become people who are tethered to God’s promises, but looking for the power of God in this world and in our lives?

Theme: It requires us to be people that trust and pray!

Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, is based on the idea that all of us can create prayer circles where we pray around an issue with boldness. Much like the Israelites who marched around Jericho praying for God’s power, we can all become circle makers. There is a deeply personal dimension to all of this. We can encircle our family, our job, our problems, and our goals in bold prayer.


Lift the Veil

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
John 2:1-11

“Lift the Veil”

This sermon series is less about understanding miracles and more about awakening to the power of God. In the book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson explores the seven miraculous signs of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. Over the next seven weeks we will do the same hoping that as we see these signs of the power of God in the Gospel of John we can also see God’s miraculous power today.

Theme: Open your eyes and heart to the power of God.

Purification Ritual Reversed with Jesus
In changing water into wine Jesus is crashing any barriers to the power of God. Purification was no longer about ritual and Jewish Law it was about Jesus. New wine: new cleansing, new intimacy, new joy, is open to all who are willing to follow Jesus.

The Veil was lifted with Jesus
There is a Hebrew concept called “Shekinah Glory” that comes from the Hebrew word, “shekinot.” It represents the miraculous dwelling of God with his people. God’s presence was manifested by the intense light that filled the Tabernacle, in the Temple in Jerusalem, “Shekinah Glory.” This “Shekinah Glory” this dwelling place of God was in the chamber of the “Holy of Holies” in the Temple that was covered with a veil that separated God’s glory and power from the people. But we know that when Jesus died on the cross and his side was pierced the veil suddenly ripped. Jesus crashed the barrier to the power of God. Jesus death on the cross represents our access to the power of God through Jesus.

My prayer for you and me is to lift the veil in our lives that separate us from fully awakening to the power of God in our lives.
Lift the veil!

Why is there a lack of wonder and mystery in our lives today?
What barriers do we create to keep ourselves from fully embracing the power of God?
How can we access more the power of God in our lives?


Outpost to the Kingdom

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Women in the Bible
Acts 18:1-3

“Outpost to the Kingdom”

Since I was a child I have been fascinated by all the stories in the Bible but even more than just the stories, I love the different characters in the Bible. All the great heroes were flawed people, I guess that has always given me hope. But I also love the smaller characters in scripture as well, not necessarily heroes but folks who had a significant role. Many of these characters were women. Today we are going to look at another early church leader, Priscilla.

What do we learn from this story of Priscilla and Aquila?

They took literally the commandment of Jesus to love their neighbor.

Loving our neighbor starts in our home.

Loving our neighbor starts with mentoring.

(Graphic) The Art of Neighboring – Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon

Seizing an Opportunity

Women in the Bible
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Acts 16: 11-15

“Seizing an Opportunity”

Since I was a child I have been fascinated by all the stories in the Bible but even more than just the stories, I love the different characters in the Bible. All the great heroes were flawed people. I guess that has always given me hope. But I also love the smaller characters in scripture as well, not necessarily heroes but folks who had a significant role. Many of these characters were women.

Today, I want to talk to you about a woman entrepreneur by the name of Lydia who became a tremendous catalyst for Paul’s Church Plant in Philippi.

What do we learn from this short story of Lydia?

First, God can use us no matter how experienced we are in faith.

God can use us no matter how experienced we are in faith, but it takes paying attention to the tugs at our heart.

Second, we might just be the fulfillment of someone else’s prayer or vision.

You could be the answer to someone else’s prayer but it takes paying attention to the tugs at our heart.

Carpe Diem – “Seize the Day”

Carpe Opportunitatem – “Seize the Opportunity”

Lydia was an entrepreneur economically and spiritually.
Lydia knew how to seize on an opportunity. I imagine she was quite successful. But she also knew how to seize on a tug from God. She saw God at work and seized upon it.

women of the bible 22.jpg

Service Worship-Foster Care in Tucson

The Word Written                                                                                                                        RuthAnn Smithrud

                                                                              Psalm 139:1-18  


Preaching Panel                                                                          
                                                                               “Foster Care”

Dawn Zitco from ‘Christian Family Care’

Tiffany Clauer from ‘GAP Ministries’

Kristy Deakin from ‘More Than a Bed’


Who Is Jesus?

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Easter 2017
Luke 24:36-47

“Who Is Jesus?”

I think this question of Who Jesus is, is a question all of us wrestle with in different seasons of our lives. Regardless if you are fervent in faith or a skeptic, I want us to wrestle with Who Jesus says He is.

Theme: When we allow our lives to encounter the power of Jesus something beyond our comprehension happens, we become transformed from the inside out.

“While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering”

“While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat? They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and H e took it and ate in their presence.”

This is more than Jesus being hungry. Jesus knows before they can hear the truth they need to spend time with Him. Jesus throughout the Bible has meals with tax collectors, the poor and the rich, because He knew before they would listen to Him they had to trust Him and encounter Who He was.

So how do we encounter the power of Jesus?

We symbolically have a meal with Jesus, we crack the door to making space for Jesus in our lives. When we make space for Jesus we start to experience Jesus’ grace and mercy. Like laughter through tears, it takes over us, and suddenly we find our hearts being changed inside out.

This is the redemptive process of making something beautiful and new out of us. God can make beautiful things out of the dust. God can take what looks dead and chaotic, and somehow turn it to good. This is what we celebrate when we celebrate the resurrection.

Start having meals with Jesus. Make space to spend time alone so you can encounter your Savior afresh. Open yourself to God’s saving Grace. All you must do is surrender and respond to the voice Who is calling you by name.


Letting Go

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road with Jesus
Luke 19:28-44

“Letting Go”

The crowd had the expectation of Jesus to usher freedom from Rome but Jesus was ushering the freedom from sin. They were looking for the immediate and he wanted to give them the eternal.

We often want our lives to be a success story but God often wants to create our lives into an adventure story. Like the disciples sometimes we must start letting go of our expectations and start trusting Jesus.

Theme: For us to follow Jesus with earnest we must learn to let go.

1. We must learn to let go of our control

2. We must also learn to let go of our expectations

For us to follow the King with earnest, we must learn to let go of the control and expectations of our life and grab hold onto His.

On the earthly scheme of things if we follow Christ I can’t guarantee that everything will work out alright on this side of the Kingdom. I can’t guarantee that our health, finances, family or our dreams will work out the way we want them too. I can’t.

But from an eternal perspective if we follow Christ, God promises to be with us forever. It is about the long haul. As we grab hold of him. His love, mercy and comfort will surround us for eternity.

Life with God is an assorted collection of small leaps of trust.

What do you need to let go of?

What do you need to let go of to more fully follow Jesus?


What Difference Do I Make?

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On The Road With Jesus
Luke 19:1-10

“What Difference Do I Make?”

Zacchaeus had everything according to the standards of the world yet he was still haunted by the very things we are.

· Who am I?

· Where do I fit?

· What difference do I make?

Theme: As we start to build our lives on Jesus and His teachings, we start to discover who we are, where we fit and what difference we can make.

But this requires us to make space for God. It takes intentionality!

What would it look like for you to make space for God?

What is the sycamore tree in your life that would allow you to rise above?

Creating space for God is the number one discipline of the soul, and the best place to do that is to establish a rhythm of place and time to attend to the loving embrace and tender voice of God.


Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 15:11-24


Last week I described God’s love for us no matter who we are or what we have done, but like a pipe that is clogged, there just seems at times to be something blocking us from fully accepting God’s unconditional love.

We do know that God’s love is persistent and can break through any barriers. Today, I want us to look at one of the hardest misconceptions to overcome in our lives, the misconception that we are unworthy to be forgiven by God.

Theme: God is a God who forgives us, and He wants us to forgive ourselves so we can live in freedom.

So how can we have this freedom of forgiveness?

First of all we need to come out of hiding.

Second, confession leads us to Grace.

Third, we must forgive ourselves, casting out the unforgiving inquisitor.

It is difficult to forgive ourselves because it takes courage to face our past. The very thing we need to forgive ourselves of, we have probably buried deep with no intention of digging it back up. So it puts us in a very interesting bind; we are haunted by guilt and we cannot forgive ourselves, yet to allow healing we have to face it and bring it before God.

But as we slow down, stop and bring our guilt before God, God embraces us with forgiveness and showers us with His grace.

Reflection Questions:

1. Why is forgiving ourselves the hardest part of forgiveness?


2. What are practical ways to come out of hiding?


3. How can we come face to face with our sin?


4. What does confession look like for me?


People of the Shadows

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 14:16-23

“People of the Shadows”

Theme: This parable of the banquet illustrates God’s enormous inclusive Kingdom, where He loves all of us no matter what we have done or who we are. But this parable also gives us a model on how we are to love as God loves.

The traditional interpretation of this parable of the banquet is that Jesus was referring to the religious leaders as the guests who refused to come to the feast. Jesus was saying the Kingdom of God is much wider and as the religious leaders take Jesus for granted, the New Covenant would be open to all, even the gentiles. In the first century context the poor, crippled, blind, and lame were considered the marginalized or even outcast.

This parable illustrates God’s enormous inclusive Kingdom, where He loves all of us no matter what we have done or who we are.

Jesus is saying My Grace and Mercy is for all those who are in need of a Savior. All who are weary, tired and worn out, you are invited to the Great Banquet. This is a prophetic image of Jesus’ redemptive and restorative plan for the world. Jesus on the cross paid for our sins once and for all and declared it finished. We are no longer slaves, but we are free. We are restored. We are home again to the place of love.

This parable also gives us a model on how we are to love as God loves.

The church is the representation of the movement of Jesus’ Kingdom. The “good news” isn’t enough to say that we ourselves are the people dragged in from the country lanes to enjoy God’s party. That might be true. But we as party guests are called to be party hosts and go to the streets and invite those who are generally cast aside. 

You and I are called to get dirty, to get uncomfortable, and to compel people into the Kingdom of God. We compel people by the way we love.


The Habit of Turning

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 13

“The Habit of Turning”

Sometimes when Jesus is teaching He refers to historical incidents that His listeners would be aware of but not necessarily we readers two thousand years later. That is why to understand what Jesus is saying at times we must understand Jesus’ context. Today is one of those times.

Theme: Jesus is giving a strong warning to not lose sight of Him.

Jesus is calling us to go beyond the expectations of the day and follow Him and His ways.

In the Old Testament there are numerous signs of what we call a “messianic hope.” There was an expectation of a Messiah, but the expectation was a bit more militaristic. They were hoping for a Messiah who would be like David and be a strong military leader, leading them into a revolution, so Israel could gain power and a kingdom once again. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we watch this confusion play out with the crowds and even His disciples at times.

Regardless of how lost you get, allow Jesus to be your savior.

Jesus knew He was to be a different kind of King bringing a different kind of Kingdom with a different kind of power. “The Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus took the projected evil of the world and drew it on Himself.

Repent, turn towards God.

Repentance recognizes that where I am is not where I am supposed to be. So I turn and move towards where I am supposed to be. It starts with the cry of our heart and ends with running toward where God wants us to be.

Our faith life is about habitually turning back to our first love.



Peace Makers

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole  
Luke: On the Road with Jesus
Luke 10

“Peace Makers”

As I have shared often, we, the followers of Christ, are the sent ones! We, like the seventy-two, have been chosen to go before Jesus and live out the Kingdom of God.

But the central question all of us ask from time to time is how? How do we live out the Kingdom?

Theme: We are called to be Peace Makers.

Ken Sande in his book, describes Peace Makers as people who breathe grace. They draw continually from the goodness and power of Jesus and then they bring love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to their daily encounters in life.

“Peace” is a central theme throughout scriptures.

· Peace is part of God’s character as we often see God referred to as the God of Peace.

· Peace is one of the great blessings God gives those who follow Him.

· God regularly commands His people to seek and pursue peace.

The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom” meaning healing, wholeness, and restoration. The Greek word for peace means deep rest, freedom, and security.

As we are sent out as Peace Maker, it may come at a cost.

As we are sent out as Peace Makers, it may not be comfortable, but it is when we experience true joy.

If all of us would be willing to be sent out to breathe grace and forgiveness to whomever God puts in our path, the harvest would be completed and there would be a feast of deep rest, freedom, and restoration.


Storms and Trials

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road with Jesus
Luke 8

“Storms and Trials”

Today we are going to look at the intersection of Jesus’ power and our faith as we go through storms and trials.

The word “faith” in Greek is “pistis.” It translates into trust, confidence, fidelity.

In our passages today we are challenged to wrestle with what is the object of our trust, Jesus’ power or Who Jesus is?

Jesus has power over the natural order of the world but He also allows us to live in the brokenness of it. This is where Jesus power intersects with faith.

Theme: We are not to just trust in what Jesus can do, rather we are to trust in Who Jesus is. Jesus is the object of our trust.

We cannot put our faith in external factors, but in Jesus Himself. No matter what you are facing right now in your life, our deeper reality is that Jesus has power, Jesus is power, and we have to define ourselves on the deeper reality of Jesus never letting us go.

Jesus does not promise to calm every storm in your life, but you can allow Jesus to calm you in every storm of life, and it takes a deeper trust that only God can give you.          

Reflection Questions:         

1. What storms or trials are you facing right now?


2. Do you sense God in the middle of it?


3 How do we misplace trust on external factors? Examples?


4. How can we trust Jesus more in our lives?


The Stranger

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 7:11-17

“The Stranger”

Many of us know the story of Jesus healing Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus. That miracle of bringing a friend back to life is powerful. But this story of bringing back to life a stranger is intriguing.

Beyond just this scene, Scripture is filled with evidence that Jesus loves the estranged.

• We see this right here as Jesus is stirred by a stranger.

• We see this as Jesus spends time with Tax Collectors.

• We see this as Jesus showed compassion to prostitutes.

• We see this as Jesus healed and touched the social outcast.

Jesus loves the estranged.

But Jesus also calls us to love the Stranger.

The definition of “stranger” is a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.

As children we are taught not to talk to strangers. This is very good advice in the world we live in. But as adults our fear of the stranger has turned into apathy for the stranger in need. If people look different from us ethnically or racially, if people look different from us socioeconomically, if people act different from us we tend to stay away. But Jesus calls us to move towards, move towards the stranger, the one who is in need and love them into the community.

*Please note there is no audio for 1/29/17 as this was a Service Worship date.