Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Great and Glorious Light

As Americans we often go to great lengths to make ourselves comfortable and forget the fact that, one day, we are going to face our Creator.  We hide in darkness trying our best to keep warm next to little candles that offer little heat and keep our eyes dim.  No matter how hard we try we cannot keep comfortable in the flickering glow of inadequate light. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Joseph and the Boy

by: Barta IV from flicker 'Jesus Joseph Mary Color'

Every so often you hear stories and accounts of major events in the bible and you begin to think to yourself, “Self, what was it like for those people who lived through those days?”  Today I would like to explore that question with you.  I would like you to put on your “sanctified imagination” and explore the life of Joseph.  The man who took the savior child, Jesus, to raise as his own son. 

What was it like for Joseph at Jesus birth?  What would happen if we asked Joseph this at the end of his life?  What would his answer be?  After Jesus is found in the temple, in Luke 3, Joseph, the adopted father of Jesus, is no longer seen in the scriptures.  Maybe he died just as Jesus Ministry began.  Maybe we came to him just after the wedding at Cana (where Jesus turned water into wine).  Maybe we asked him about his story. Imagine we had the opportunity to talk to Joseph, just before he died, about Jesus. What would he say? I imagine his story sounding something like this:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Shepherd's Story

Do you ever wonder what it was like, for the people in the great stories of the bible?  I often think about them.  Specifically, the people in the bible who get one word, a few lines, maybe even a single chapter.  I wonder what they would say if they were here to tell their story.  How would they say it happened? 

Today, let us think about the shepherds in the field on that night.  If they were before you today what would they say?  I would like to think it might sound something like this:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Moral Disparity and the Great Healer

Picutre By: Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY, from wiki commons

In the year king Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord sitting on his throne (Isaiah 6:1-8). This glorious image brought Isaiah to his knees and he proclaimed, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among unclean people.” How is it that a man of God has to call out and proclaim that he is unclean as if he were a spiritual leper before God?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Caution: Don't Waste Your Church

For quite some time, in the United States, the church of Jesus Christ could assume that people understood, or at least had a basic understanding, of the principals and morals and standards found in the scriptures.  Children would pray the Lord’s Prayer before school.  Court rooms and government buildings proudly displayed the Ten Commandments. 

But today things look much different.  Within the past thirty years the face of our nation has changed and church congregations that once stood proudly in the middle of community of life are now on the outskirts. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

What is Forgivness

Read: Matthew 18:21-34

What does it mean to forgive someone?  This is an important question.  Before we can begin to talk

about forgiveness we have to figure out what it is.  So what is forgiveness? 

Before we talk about what forgiveness is, let us talk about what forgiveness is not.  Forgiveness is not a feeling.  Too often, especially in our culture, we gage the effectiveness of something based on whether or not it made me feel good or not.  In forgiveness there is a large range of emotions that we have to work through and they are not all good.  We cannot base our forgiveness on how we feel about someone.  "I will forgive when I feel better about that person."  That is not forgiveness and is found nowhere in the bible.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

How to Cry

Photo By: Lies Thru a Lens - on Flicker
The music of Eminem intrigues me.  He is a man of broken hopes and dreams with a flood of sorrow and depression.  He is known in the evangelical circles for his crass lyrics and spoiled language.  And, for the reason of his spoiled language I don’t often recommend his music.  But, in his amazing talent he is doing something important in his songs.  We do not often realize what he is doing because we don’t understand the poetry of lament.  Eminem is singing out of a place of incredible pain.  He sings for many Americans as he cries out his lament.  In his day he was the voice of lament in our culture.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Repairing Race Relations - a Christian response to racial tensions

When considering the relationship between the races, America has a painful history.  This history is full of black eyes and ongoing shame.  There are many reasons for the struggle we face today.  It is a complex and sorrowful situation. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Enjoying Evangelism

Let us say that for my anniversary I decide I am going to get flowers for my wife.  So I go to the florist and get 12 roses.  Then I get all duded up in my best bow-tie.  Taking my well-dressed self, I walk up to her holding the flowers.  When my wife sees me coming she will get excited.  However, if in the moment of truth I, with no love or ceremony, thrust the flowers at her and say, "I got you these because I had to, it is our anniversary."  What would that say?  I got you these because I had to.   I can tell you I would be wearing those roses on my head. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I Love Jesus, but I DON'T Hate His Church

Image Source: hermanturnlp on Flicker

I love Jesus, but I don’t hate His Church.  It is popular to hate His Church, but I don’t.  The Church, she is filled with all sorts of fools, failures, and hypocrites, and I am proud to be numbered among them.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness

Image Source: Darwin Bell from flicker
What are the beatitudes? The beatitudes set the orientation of the heart. They say that we would be the type of people who love and reflect God’s character.  When we our hearts are aligned with the beatitudes we seek God honestly.

The first half of the Lord’s Prayer is a petition for God’s kingdom to reign on earth.  It is a cry for the holiness and justice of God to be manifested here on earth as it is in heaven.  This is not a prayer for escape but a prayer for restored relationships and correct ordering.  (I think that too often we skip past hollowed be your name, skip past your kingdom come and jump right to give us our bread, and keep evil away from us.) 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Living or Dead Sacrifice

Imagine yourself entering the Tabernacle, the Tent of the Meeting, for the very first time.  Your priestly garments are brand new.  You can still smell the new sent of fresh lanolin on your cloths.  You are a part of one of the greatest stories ever told.  You witnessed the wrath of God devastate Egypt by plague; the deliverance of your nation, Israel, at the Red Sea.  You were there when Moses went up to receive the Law. You even saw the very image of God on Mount Sinai.  As the tent of the meeting is consecrated, and you enter the holiest of places for the first time, how would you approach the Mercy Seat of the Living God?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Strive for Rest

God gave us sleep and rest.  In a world that is filled with frenetic movement our lives grow numb and our senses dulled so that we need sleep and rest.  Secular studies are showing that sleep is one of the most productive times in our life.  World is beginning to understand what the bible teaches, sleep and rest are a gift.  God gave us rest so that we could restore our faith by trusting in him.  The ultimate promise of restoration with God is the hope of entering into his rest.

We live in a society that despises rest.  Sometimes it is innocent, other times it is blatant unbelief.  God created us to be, and calls us to be, people who rest.  The way we rest, from the constant grind of life, is a direct reflection of our faith and trust in God.   

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The God Over Pain

One of the most difficult topics, in any study of God, is the problem that suffering exists, in significant portion, for all people in this world.  We believe that God is loving, that he created man in his image, and yet there is real and present suffering in this world.  As we are confronted with the bible we want to laugh and toss it aside because, we say, “How could a great and loving God allow me, us, to suffer?”  Today I want to address the real suffering in this world and offer a hope that only the grace filled God of the bible can offer. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Three People who Pray

There are three types of people who pray, in this passage.  What type of person are you?  How do you approach God when you seek him in prayer?  The three types of people are (1) the religious sinner, (2) the pagan sinner, and (3) the forgiven child. The reason I say religious and pagan sinner is to denote that neither of them are saved.  The first and second persons are sinners because they are still in their sins and have not received forgiveness from their sins. They approach God on their terms and not his.  The third person however is different.  He or she approaches God not as one demanding but as one who is grateful to be a child. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Looking or Living the Good News

When we hear the word "Gospel" we think of a presentation of initial doctrines, specific to the Christian, faith that one must affirm to become a “Christian.” The problem is, when we look at the gospel as merely the starting line or the rudiments of the faith, we start to add extra things to the Good News, in turn making the Good News less than good news.  The truth that Christ died for us should change not just how we enter into the Christian life, but how we live our lives day to day. Every day we need to be refreshed in the Good News. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Delight and Desire

I fear that too often, and over the years, Christians have earned the reputation of being a group of lemon sucking sour pusses, who cross their arms and stifle enjoyment.  We found too many ways to tell people they are wrong without ever pointing people to the only object worthy of our affections.  You must understand no one has a greater claim to the unfettered pursuit of joy and delight than those who are in Christ Jesus.  Those of us who are in the family of God should be the purest hedonists seeking the purest happiness. 

“How can this be I though hedonism was a bad thing?  I thought seeking happiness is a selfish thing?”  

There are two ways we can seek happiness.  The first is seeking happiness that is a delight in self.  "I enjoy myself and I demand everyone else do as well."  We become the focus of our joy and pursuit of pleasure.  When this happens we can only find destruction.  This leads to destruction since in our brokenness we will fail ourselves and others.  This will eventually lead to a never ending chase to catch a shadow of the real joy.  

The better way to seek happiness is to seek God as the object of our enjoyment.  When this happens even the smallest pleasures are built on top of the deep, rock solid, foundation of the God's reality.  So, when we indulge in the cornucopia of culinary offerings at a feast, like thanksgiving, or your favorite restaurant, we do so with the promise of deep enjoyment. God made food and he made food so that we could enjoy that food and know him better.

ReadPsalm 37:1-7

Friday, July 10, 2015

Lifting Glory

Listen to this sermon here

Why is sin such an uncomfortable topic? To understand why sin is so uncomfortable you must understand the scope of God and God’s glory.  If God’s glory was a book, I could spend my entire life studying this topic and not get past the gold filigree on the cover.  To understand why we feel so condemned when light is shown on our sin we have to wrestle with the profound weight of God’s glory.    

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Shadow of Death's Valley

God reveals himself in poetry. He created us in his image as emotionally complex and beautiful creatures.  Songs and poetry cause us to experience a range of emotion that we cannot fully understand otherwise.  I want you to know that you were created for intimacy with God, and he understands the joy and hurt, the pain and celebration of this life.  I want you to see the hope of intimately being honest before God with the difficult experiences of this life.  After all isn’t that what the gospel is about?  Jesus came to die for us so that we could be called sons of God.  Shouldn’t you, as a child, intimately and boldly declare our deepest pains struggles and doubt to the creator of the world, who experienced the pain sorrow and struggles you have experienced?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Battle for Joy

In college I was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). They taught us a lot about the theory of war.  That teaching mostly revolved around scintillating topics like the 5 paragraph operations order, and military decision making process (MDMP).  But the days I had the most fun were when we pulled the weapons from the armory, and went to the range.  The day we threw the grenade was truly exciting.  You stand with this heavy round ball (a little smaller than a bocce ball) and you know it can cause irreparable damage to you and others.  We stood in cement bays, with Drill Instructors standing next to us.  Their job was to throw us to the other side of the cement barrier if we dropped the grenade, or forgot to throw it in the excitement. 

I stood in my bay ready to pull the pin, looking at the crater left by someone who dropped their grenade earlier that day.  There is a healthy terror to pulling that pin.  And yet, when you do, you release a powerful weapon.  In a flash of light and sound, I could hear and feel the powerful force of the grenade going off on the other side of the bunker wall.  In live combat the grenade is an even more terrifying weapon.