Freedom: We are free slaves.

Series: Gospel of John
Title: Freedom
Text: John 8:21-36

Living in America, we take pride in freedom. We live in a nation that prides ourselves on our freedoms and liberties. However, Jesus says that "anyone who commits a sin is a slave." Then He adds to that by saying,"not only are we slaves to sin, but He is the only means of finding freedom." So, what does that mean? How can that be?

 Everyone loves the “Golden Rule”...”love your neighbor as yourself”. Through history, every generation lived with that conviction and everyone knows when we don't abide by that rule, misery comes. However, here is what is interesting. Throughout history, there has never been a society to flawlessly live by what they believe to be right. That is extremely telling statement. If every religion, society and generation has known a right way of living, then why has no society has been able to do it? Because we're slaves. We think we are free but we are only free to choose what we will allow to enslave us.

Tim Keller says...“Our real problem is that Jesus is not burning at the center of our life. If Jesus is not the center of your life then you're a slave and you don't even know it! There is no bigger slave than the person that doesn't know that he/she is a slave. All the 12-step programs know this, the person who says "I have the power" is a powerless person. And the person who says "I am powerless, I need help" is getting power for the first time…”

So, how do we walk in freedom?

The secret to freedom is this: Worship. We've got to have great worship, we've got to have emotional worship, we've got to have glorious worship, we've got to sense the greatness of Jesus, sometimes be so moved by the love of Jesus... moved to tears, moved to laughter by who Jesus is and what He has done for you. When Jesus is the center of our lives, we are free. Because if I have Jesus, I am free to build my identity on the hope and freedom found in Him rather than the things that will eventually enslave me.

  1. What things in our lives have been exposed as things that enslave me? 
  2. How has we experiences false saviors seeming to bring freedom, but actually bring bondage? 
  3. In what ways have you experienced freedom in your life? 
  4. How can we as a small community encourage continuous worship in order to fight slavery?

I am "Humbly"; a very "Proud" Pastor.

I want to share a few things that was absolutely amazing when it comes to our leadership team. I could never have imagined having such an incredible team at Netcast, especially this soon. Beyond that, I never imagined that within 2 years of moving here to plant Netcast, that we would have the responsibility / opportunity of managing so much of God's Kingdom Resources.

I am humbly, a very proud pastor today. Here's why...

1. Unity.
Every budget conversation I have ever been a part of, prior to Netcast, was a catalyst in exposing a lack of unity. People are funny when it comes to money. Jealously and Envy creep in. People start getting bitter about how one person has a larger budget line than another. Salaries create anxiety and chaos, as well as revealing a lack of trust in God's provision. The list can go on…. But, not with our team!! If anything, working through the new budget exposed a unity, that I thought "probably" existed, but was absolutely confirmed through this process. The entire team was on board with trying to decide what seemed best for Netcast, rather than how we can benefit personally as individuals. There was never a feeling that someone was trying to take care of their personal needs or departments needs over the needs of Netcast as a whole. For that I am so grateful.

 2. Vision. 
Often times when dealing with budgets; vision is not clear. Therefore, to allocate money somewhere where there is a difference in opinion with vision, can cause a stir. Our vision as a church is continuing to be more clear as we move forward. In addition to that, I was so proud how through our budget conversations, the leaders at Netcast stayed focused on things that matter rather than fighting over things that don't matter. Everyone kept the vision of Netcast at the forefront of conversation. We are about worship, the gospel, community, authenticity, advancing the kingdom, making disciples, outward focus and generosity. All of that is reflected in our budget.

3. Long Term Thinking. 
The temptation with a budget is to think to short and too small. So, people make decisions on what will effect tomorrow, yet forget about next year. People think about where they are now, not where God is leading them for the future. As a Leadership team, it amazed me how everyone was able to grasp long term thinking. The team was able to make decisions based upon where we are going and not where we are now. They chose to make decisions now that will benefit everyone in 5 years. Because of that, much of the team put our pride to the side and chose to sacrifice personal preference for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. God desires sacrifice and promises to bless this one single act of faithfulness. I pray this continues to define us as a church and am so proud of our team.

4. Generosity.
Netcast is becoming an extremely generous ministry. We are making decisions now that are freeing us to be generous in the future. Not many churches our size with our budget will give away as much money as Netcast will. Our generosity is becoming ingrained into the DNA of who we are. The Netcast Leadership team is determined to continue to be defined by that. The team has modeled this in their personal lives and now it is continuing on within the direction of the church. May Netcast always continue to be a generous church.

5. Risk 
Part of the reason that Netcast has been so blessed by the Lord is because our leaders have been willing to risk what other churches are often not willing to risk. The leaders at Netcast are ready and willing to do things better and more effective at the risk of anything, for the glory of Jesus and seeing disciples made. Budget conversations, often times become the sole reason why churches don't do this. Churches tend to be too safe. They use too much worldly wisdom and not enough faith. They are content with being content and feel like they are doing something because they are sustaining themselves and meeting budget.

I am so proud at how the leaders at Netcast will never allow us to be like that. Had Netcast been started with that mentality we would still be in the YMCA asking questions about; "why we are not reaching people, why are we not growing, why are we just like all the other churches." But we're not asking those questions. Rather we are asking questions like, "why do we have $40k in the bank after 18 months; yet gave away over $30k in the past year? Why do we have over 400 people in our services? Why is 1/2 of our church in community groups? Why are people experiencing God like never before? Why do we have over 20 people in the queue, ready to be baptized?"

Here's our answer…..Because all throughout the bible Jesus rewards risk and faith. Without faith we cannot please God. - Hebrews 11. What makes Netcast, Netcast; is our determination to not be safe (not stupid; but not safe.) Safe people don't defeat Goliath like David. Safe people don't break down Jericho's walls like Joshua. Safe people don't walk on water like Peter. Safe people don't make good missionaries like Paul. Safe people don't lead the most influential churches in America. And Netcast cannot be in New England, what we all dream we will become, if it is lead by safe leaders who are constantly making safe decisions.

Right now, Hell is being destroyed on the North Shore and we are playing a large part in fighting the battle. I don't mean that in an arrogant way, but for some reason Jesus has put his hand on us with power. He has blessed us with money, people, bands, leaders, gifts, wisdom, an anointing etc….because we are willing to risk it all for His name and Glory. At Netcast we preach boldly, we sing loudly, we live authentically, we lead faithfully, we risk everything, we pursue excellence in all we do, we worship passionately, we spend money to advance the Kingdom in any way possible, and we are generous with our finances. We will not stop, we cannot be stopped and may we not ever become content in our pursuit of these things.

I am so proud of our leaders at Netcast. They've shown themselves to be diligent, faithful, prayerful and lovers of the gospel. May God grant us another awesome year of kicking some Satan tail!!

Netcast and Operation Christmas Child

The Siems Community Group that meets in Salem will be overseeing Netcast's efforts in participating in Operation Christmas Child. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Here are some details: For more information, email
  1. Use an empty shoe box (standard size, please) or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required.
  2. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift.
  3. Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.
  4. Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child.
  5. Use the gift ideas provided below.
  6. Netcast will collect boxes and/or things to be put into boxes, Sunday November 4th, 2012.
  7. If you don't want to do a full box, please consider bring supplies, this Sunday, for the Community Group to put together. (see list below)
  8. Shoe box destination countries vary from year to year.
  9. A donation of $7 or more helps cover project expenses like shipping the boxes. Also, you may write one check for them all and place it in any one of your boxes.


Healthy Church w/ Pastor Andy Thompson in NC

I want to invite all of my friends in the ministry to check out my dear friend and partner in the ministry; Pastor Andy's Healthy Church Seminar. It is Fri\Dec. 7 & Sat\Dec.8. The early bird rate is $155 per person or $115 for 2 or more people. There is hotel info on the website listed below. Here is all the links that you need to get more information.

Feel free to share with other Pastors, leaders in your area. Over the past 4 years, Pastor Andy has not only become an incredible mentor for me as a Church Planter, but also a dear friend. I can promise that you will walk away having learned a ton of practical information on keeping your church healthy and influential. It is worth your while to check this out.


Here is a "Thank You" video that Netcast put together for Pastor Andy, as he and WOCC have been a huge supporter of Netcast Church and The Chewning Family.

Jesus; The Light of the World.

Series: Gospel of John
Title: Light
Text: John 8:12-20

At a light ceremony that was meant to worship God; Jesus tells the crowd, "I am the light of the world and if you follow me, you will not walk in darkness but instead have the light of life". So to follow Christ, is to “have the light of life”. But what does that mean?

In this profound statement, Jesus says that it is necessary for the world to have its eyes enlightened to who he is, in order to experience life the way it was intended to be experienced. And the only way to experience life the way it is intended to be experienced; is to walk with eyes illuminated to the Gospel; or to have what Tim Keller calls, "Gospel Lenses.”

Gospel lenses, are eyes enlightened to see the world through the reality of who God is and who we are. At the point of conversion, we have a very limited view of God’s holiness compared to our sinfulness. However, as we mature, our awareness of God’s holiness and our sinfulness, increase and I start to see God as he actually is and myself as I actually am. As a result, the reality of my need for the gospel is illuminated. Or in other words, “Christ becomes the light of my world.” and therefore, as illumination occurs, my love and worship of Jesus increases. As we begin to view Christ as the light of the world, our entire perspective of Christianity shifts.

No longer do we view Christianity as a group of people who are trying to appease God, but we are now enlightened and free to see Jesus as our gracious King who loves us based upon who He is, and thank God, not upon who we are.

Questions to consider... 

1. What things (outside of Jesus) have you pursued in order to enlighten yourself or give yourself a better perspective on life? How did that work out for you?

 2. If you are a Christian, what are some ways that Christ has lit up your life? Or how do you see the world differently now as a believer in Jesus?

3. Give an example of having Gospel Lenses in your life?

 4. If Christ is the light of the world; how does that have implications on us as "Christian Missionaries"?

Help Netcast; Help Amirah. Join the movement!!

When I mention the word "SLAVERY", what images come to mind?  Perhaps southern plantations in the 18th and early 19th centuries?  Or more recently, forced labor in Southeast Asia making designer clothes, sneakers, and handbags?  Or maybe child soldiers wielding machetes and automatic rifles in Uganda?

Unfortunately, the problem is much larger and closer to home than you may have thought possible.  Yes, slavery is alive and thriving today, right here in the land of the free and home of the brave.  Recent statistics indicate that more than 300,000 human beings are trafficked in the U.S. each year.  Upwards of 10% (THIRTY THOUSAND people) are trafficked right here through Greater Boston!

I am so excited that Netcast has a community group that refuses to stand idly by while this activity goes on around us. We have partnered with a safe house for women who have been rescued from the bonds of sexual slavery.  These women are in dire need of physical and psychological healing, which experts will provide.  The community group is sponsoring a room at the safe house to provide a comfortable and safe environment for such healing to occur.  The room will accommodate two women (for six to 18 months, depending on the extent of rehabilitation required).  We are supplying everything for a room, including but not limited to: beds, dressers, nightstands, lamps, alarm clocks, clothes hangers, bed linens, blankets, pillows, window treatments, and wall coverings. In order to organize the contributions and avoid duplication, we have developed a registry for items that will be donated to the safe house, much like a wedding or baby registry.

This registry also affords an opportunity to those who may want to participate at arms length.  Once an item has been obtained, it will be removed from the list, so that only those items still needed will be listed. This is an ambitious effort that will have untold impacts on some very hurting women.  Please be in prayer for these women, the safe house, and this project.

If you feel moved to participate in this initiative, we would welcome any additional assistance that God sends our way. Here's the link to the registry: 

Financial Contributions can be made as a "Special Designation" at 

I challenge anyone reading this, to pray about how God may invite you to participate in this effort.

Blog written with assistance from Alan Day and the Wednesday Night Danvers Community Group.

Netcast is spreading and more...

Netcast is Spreading...This month, Netcast will be displayed on the front page of the Biblical Recorder which is distributed to 25,000 people worldwide and thousands more online. You can read the article at‘bad-kid’-leaves-N-C-to-start-church Also, it'd be great if you left a small comment at the end of the article to thank the editor for his support.

Netcast also just launched the Netcast App. The app has all of the sermons video/audio, announcements, blog, community group information, and more. Help spread the word and download it at

Netcast is also on the front page of the NAMB (North American Mission Board) website this week. While in New Orleans this summer, I was asked what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus and they have the video featured that on the front page of their site. You can check that out at

Holy Spirit Series.
The past few weeks have been awesome. I feel like Netcast is becoming an entirely new church as we spent time studying God the Holy Spirit. The stories we've received have been so encouraging. People are experiencing God in ways like never before and I am so blessed to hear that.

This past month Netcast saw another wild growth spurt. In 6 weeks we doubled in size again and are making necessary adjustments to see that everyone is feeling cared for, plugged in and can fit in the service. We praise God for what He is doing here but bear with us as we make adjustments.

Personally, I am so proud of how we all responded to the call to serve. As your pastor, it is never easy to call people to serve within the local church, but you have continued to stay faithful and accept the call. Please keep up with the commitments that you have made as the growth has caused some added responsibilities and we need the extra help.

Netcast....thank you for your faithful generosity with tithes and offerings. Although the percentage of the church that is giving is about average, we are in a great financial position with no debt and a growing budget. I would continue to challenge you to give sacrificially and generously as the Lord provides.

Words cannot express the love I have in pastoring Netcast Church. I honestly believe that we have an opportunity to change the world. Lets go after it while praising Jesus and giving Him all the glory as He uses us.

- Pastor Matt

Big Bang Theory; Literal Interpretation and more

A close friend of mine recently asked my opinion on the Big Bang Theory, and my view on a Literal Interpretation of the Bible. Below are some of my thoughts as well some thoughts of others who have helped me work through this in my own head.

It is hard not to see the evidence for the Big Bang as a stunning example of where science and theology intersect. Astrophysicist Dr. Robert Jastrow phrased it this way in his book God and the Astronomers (New York, W.W. Norton, 1978, p. 116): “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” Why? Because, as Jastrow explained in a subsequent interview, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. . . .That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact” (“A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982, pp. 15, 18).

If Christians are to have objections to the Big Bang theory, it should only be in the atheistic presuppositions that often go along with the theory. The idea itself, that the universe came into existence due to an explosion, is not necessarily incompatible with the biblical creation account. As one Christian theologian has stated, "I am not necessarily opposed to the Big Bang theory. Rather, I know who banged it."

Now, pertaining to a literal interpretation of scripture. The short answer to the question of whether we at Netcast believe in a literal interpretation is “Yes”. But, it isn't that simple.

Interpretation occurs when someone reads the Bible in a language they can understand and determines the meaning of the verses they read by the enablement of God the Holy Spirit who also inspired the writing of Scripture. Each text of the Bible has only one true interpretation and so we must be careful to read the truth out of the Bible rather than reading our beliefs and desires into it. A common question arises at this point: is the Bible to be interpreted literally? The answer is yes....but let me explain. There are plain-literal and figurative-literal portions of the Bible. We begin by assuming the plain-literal meaning and if that seems absurd then we go with a figurative- literal interpretation. A figurative-literal Scripture teaches a truth in a poetic way and often uses the words “like” or “as” to tip us off that figurative language is being used. But even when figurative language is being used, it is still communicating a literal truth.

For example, in the poetic Song of Songs, the man says to his beloved, “your eyes are doves” (1:15). In this figurative language, the man is communicating a very literal truth. He likens her eyes to doves, which come in pairs, and when their tail-feathers flutter they appear like eyelashes. Doves have just one faithful mate throughout their lives, possibly indicating that her eyes are focused on him alone. The dove is also a symbol of peace and purity, alluding to her virginity. Similar figurative thoughts can accompany the creation story and many areas in the bible.

For me personally and Netcast as a church; our official stance would be that we accept the Bible as the written Word of God. The Bible is an essential and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Being given by God the Scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God. Therefore, as originally given, the Bible is free of error in all it teaches. Each book is to be interpreted according to its context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through it in living power. All believers are exhorted to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives. The Scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice and doctrine. They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation or even worldly wisdom and science. Every doctrinal formulation, confession or theology must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture.

In the end, I struggle with what these type of conversations produce. I have really been challenged in recent years about what Paul tells Timothy about this.

2 Timothy 14-26 
Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene.…... 

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Pertaining to our hope in life, joy on earth and love for each other; these conversations rarely produce anything significant to our lives. If the conversation is about proving a point, taking a side, winning an argument or debate, or just trying to convince myself of how bright I am; I have no real desire to engage in the conversation. However, if my joy is at stake and conversations are heartfelt with the intentions of growing in my love for Jesus...I love those discussions.

Holy Spirit Strategy

At the end of Matthew, Mark and Luke; Jesus gives some very important instructions. Right before Jesus ascends to be with the Father, he tells His disciples what to do, what their mission is and their first step to accomplishing this new mission. To our surprise however, the first step to accomplishing the mission of God is to wait. Now, waiting is counter-intuitive to what we think is necessary when we are looking to accomplish something. However, upon waiting Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to them, granting them supernatural power from God.

Jesus is clear; For us to effectively fulfill all that Christ is calling us to fulfill, we first have to be empowered by God the Holy Spirit. To do anything apart from the Holy Spirit, is to do nothing at all. Therefore, in order to be a church empowered for ministry, we have got to be people that pursue God the Holy Spirit. As we continue to pursue this type of life, we will see incredible things. Peoples eyes will be enlightened to the beauty of God's word. Worship will resemble heaven while demonic forces will be destroyed. The preached word will produce transformed hearts and we wont be just sitting around waiting for our gatherings to end. Praise God; the sick will be healed, the lost will be found and the family of God will grow in numbers and health

The Broken Man (Visual Illustration)

Humanity is born with an inner man and outer man (aka Flesh and Spirit) as well as an internal void that desires to be filled.  

All of humanity recognizes that there is a void in the human hearts and we seek to fill the void with things that continually fail to deliver what they promise. 

When we put our trust and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are saved by His grace and God the Holy Spirit comes to live within us and unites with man's spirit while also filling the void that all of humanity was born with. 

As a Christian grows in their love of Jesus, trust in Jesus and worship of Jesus, the Holy Spirit within us continues to grow and mold us more into the image of Jesus. This is the process of progressive sanctification.

Throughout our life, God the Holy Spirit continues to grow more and more, and actually begins to overcome our outer man (aka our flesh) which begins to transform our emotions, feelings, actions, desires, etc. This is the process of a believer in Christ, growing in holiness. 

Although we are saved by grace, we are still surrounded by a shell of flesh that is holding the Spirit captive. While we feed our flesh through pursuing idols, it thickens and makes it more difficult for God the Holy Spirit to permeate through us. However, God promises to grow us and mold us into His image, but the thicker our flesh is, the more painful our growth will be. And the means in which God will mold us into his image and permeate his Spirit through us; is Brokenness. Therefore, God delights in aligning our worlds in order to touch us ever so slightly, in order to break us ever so significantly. Brokenness is the way of blessing and the only means in which the Spirit is able to permeate through us.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

For more on this, read "The Release of the Spirit" by Watchman Nee.

Don't attempt to live the Christian life.

God has no provision for you to live the Christian life. You have absolutely no power to live the Christian life that God intends for you to live. There is no evidence in scripture that God has empowered “YOU” to live the Christian life. Rather, God desires to live the Christian life through you as you yield to His Spirit that has made his home inside you. We can ask, “What would Jesus do?” until we are blue in the face, but without yielding to the power that has been given to us in the Holy Spirit, we will accomplish nothing. Jesus himself said, “I can accomplish nothing apart from the Father.” The ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit is to so penetrate our flesh that we walk in such a way that we are walking where the Spirit directs us, we say what the Spirit tells us to say, we think and feel and react under the influence of the Holy Spirit. And God the Holy Spirit will permeate through us and begin to effect, not just us, but also our world that surrounds us. If this is true; what is the way of holiness? How does the Holy Spirit penetrate through our existence in that way? The answer is summed up in 1 word…"Brokenness". Brokenness is the way of blessing and God's desire is to break us to the point that we are fully available and surrendered to him.