Devoted – Part 1, by Brian Hammond

On October 7, 2018 at The Church at South Lake, the sermon was delivered by Senior Pastor Brian Hammond. The sermon title was “Devoted – Part 1.” It should be available on the church’s website (watch or listen) or podcast feed in the next few days.

Notes from the sermon follow. If something is in brackets it is a question or thought of mine.

Acts 2:42-46: 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Reflecting on past 20 years with a friend, Brian was asked what he worried about the next 20 years. He said it is that we would become devoted to wrong things or casually devoted to good things and less devoted to the most important thing.

Like mowing if you don’t keep a fixed reference point in the horizon your line won’t be straight. We wobble and we have to self-correct (see admonish).

Paul was afraid of a similar thing at one point: 2 Corinthians 11:3: But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Genesis 3:1-5 serpent deceived Eve. How? “… will be…” Eve was deceived into believing God was keeping something from them that He had already given them. Eve had everything she needed. But she saw “….”. Nothing inherently wrong with some of these things but a selfish pursuit results in a wrong devotion. This is the root of wrong devotion: a selfish pursuit of a right desire.

  • What? Devotion to gathering. Hebrews 10:24-25: 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
  • How? Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. The regular corporate gathering of the church is on of the most beneficial devotions of a Christian’s life.
  • Breaking bread. Jesus said that all of the years of observing Passover with the Bread of Affliction was not really about deliverance from Egypt but rather pointing to the day when I would deliver you from your sin.

Close with Communion.

GROUP BY Arguments in T-SQL

Note: You can go write to Microsoft’s documentation on SELECT – GROUP BY by clicking this link:

I wanted to learn more about the group and count functionalities in T-SQL. When I have tried to use them in the past I get frustrated by the error that says:

Msg 8120, Level 16, State 1, Line 4
Column 'AdventureWorks2014.Production.Product.ProductID' is invalid in the select list because it is not contained in either an aggregate function or the GROUP BY clause.

But obviously I need data to work with. Instead of using data from the database at the office I decided to use AdventureWorks2014. I get frustrated when I can’t try something and I can’t try it because I can’t afford to mess anything up. And I don’t want to create database copies on the existing server for performance reasons. And I don’t want to create copies on my home server for privacy reasons. So, I have decided to get very well acquainted with the Adventure Works database.

The Adventure Works 2014 database resides on my SQL Express Server instance on my Windows Server 2008 R2 running at the house. This server primarily serves as the file server and various other minor roles. I can connect locally via integrated network authentication but normally I connect remotely use server authentication. Bottom line on why is that I prefer one development environment and having SSMS, etc. at the same place is more efficient in my experience (not SQL Server experience, but other experience).

First off, I need to answer the question, “What is the Adventure Works database?” This database comes from Microsoft and is supposed to be from the fictional company Adventure Works Bicycles. The data is available from different years, in different forms, and even for different Microsoft products beyond just SQL Server. See Microsoft’s download page here: There are OLTP downloads, Data Warehouse downloads, creation scripts, etc. I want to expand on this more but now is not the time. However, the Adventure Works database is described in this concise post by Dhananjay Kumar Upadhyay:

I went poking around tables that looked like they would have data I could group by month or year or something. I finally happened upon the table [AdventureWorks2014].[Production].[Product]. I will describe this table more later.

I was able to create the error above by running this query:

USE AdventureWorks2014

FROM [AdventureWorks2014].[Production].[Product]
GROUP BY SafetyStockLevel

Again, the output was:

Msg 8120, Level 16, State 1, Line 4
Column 'AdventureWorks2014.Production.Product.ProductID' is invalid in the select list because it is not contained in either an aggregate function or the GROUP BY clause.


But with the following query, adapted from a good post on (, I got what I sought:

USE AdventureWorks2014

SELECT  SellStartDate = DATEADD(MONTH, DATEDIFF(MONTH, 0, SellStartDate), 0),
COUNT(Name) TotalCount
FROM    [AdventureWorks2014].[Production].[Product]
WHERE   SellStartDate >= '2000-02-01'
AND     SellStartDate <= '2012-12-31'
GROUP BY DATEADD(MONTH, DATEDIFF(MONTH, 0, SellStartDate), 0), ReorderPoint;


Which yielded:

Now I have two different queries: one that works and one that does not. The question I want to answer next is, “What is the difference and what is the GROUP BY syntax and structure?”

If you have any suggestions, questions, or want to undertake learning T-SQL as well let me know in the comments. Eventually I will add a contact form to the blog.

Winning by Losing – Reece Mashaw

On June 3, 2018, at The Church at South Lake, the sermon was delivered by a guest speaker (but no stranger!) Reece Mashaw. The sermon title was “Winning by Losing.” It should be available on the church’s website (watch or listen) or podcast feed in the next few days.

Notes from the sermon follow. If something is in brackets it is a question or thought of mine.

We erect a tower of things we do, strengths, accomplishments, roles, achieve, etc. and on top of it sits our basket of “status” in which our weight of value goes.

  • Value by achievement
    • Life becomes a competition > Breakdown with others.
    • You can never feel secure > Breakdown with self.

2 Cor. 11:21b and following:

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (NIV)

Background: Think about the humanity of Paul being turned away because he had no credentials for his authority. After spending a year and a half in Corinth establishing that church. And he says, in essence, “If I am going to boast in anything I am going to boast in my weaknesses.”

He is not saying we don’t play to our strengths but that we don’t boast in our strengths. How does Paul roll out a list of failures and not have his self-worth shattered?

  • The status you really need can’t be earned, it is given.
  • My status is fixed by Christ. Not performance. Not achievement. Not strengths. There is no such thing as “earned grace”.
  • We can spend our entire life trying to earn something that is offered for free.
  • Why? A life built on our strengths is too limiting for what God has for us.
  • There’s a secret you must know:
    • 2 Cor. 12:9-10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)
    • We will never know true strength unless we allow ourselves to be weak.
  • What great thing could be left undone if you live the natural life where we play it safe going on our strengths rather than being defined by the grace of Christ.
  • The transaction with Christ is a one-time event. However, Every day we decide where to put our value.
  • [Who gets the honor in where we place our value?]