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Showing posts from 2013

What Was Mary Thinking?

On Sunday nights we have been preaching through Proverbs, which can be a very, very difficult book to preach. The proverbs collected have little or no defined theme throughout most of the book. The challenge is to search for similar sayings or verses about the same themes and piece them together into a cohesive group. By doing this we really begin to see just how important certain key ideas, themes, and attitudes are to those who collected these proverbs.
One such group of proverbs that I've been looking into for the past week or so has to deal with the righteous and the wicked. In chapters 10 through 17 alone (less than 1/4 of the whole book) I found about 40 different verses all giving the same hope - the righteous will be blessed by God and the wicked will get their due.

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. (10:3)

The name of the righteous is used in blessings,
but the name of the wicked will rot. (10:7)

The wages of the …

Keep Christmas in Christ

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I love the holiday season. Halloween through New Year's is just about my favorite time of year. But it's being ruined. People are taking these holidays and completely trampling over their intended purpose.

You might think I'm about to bash the consumeristic society, the greedy mega-corporations, or the materialistic masses who would rather trample over people to get a video game system than observe a day of Thanksgiving and gratitude. You may think that Capitalism or the free market is to blame for my holidays being ruined.

You would be wrong.

The thing is, I am a Christian. The majority of the world is not. They may stake a claim on the title and even observe our holidays, but for all practical purposes the majority of the world is nonreligious. Therefore, it doesn't matter to me if they want to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Festivus. In fact, they very idea of a nonreligious "Freedom From Religion", "God Is Dead", atheistic culture observing h…

The Unfinished Sermon

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I'm not a preacher.

I have no desire to do full-time pulpit ministry. But I do preach on occasion - usually every fourth Sunday night, and I fill in as needed when our preacher is away. I enjoy preaching when I do it, but it is not something I could do week in and week out, as least not right now. I won't even begin to move that direction unless I hear God calling me there.

I don't really have a fear of public speaking. I enjoy studying Scripture and drawing out the meanings from the text. I like reading books and commentaries and blog articles to help my insights into God's word. I listen to sermon podcasts - for fun!

But during my short time in ministry I have discovered something. Most people don't know this. Most people will never understand this. But for every sermon delivered, there are multiple unfinished sermons that will never be made public.

When writing my sermons, the absolute hardest part for me, believe it or not, is making sure I have something worth…

The Pursuit (Proverbs 21:21)

Here's a sermon I preached back on November 24. It's based on Proverbs 21:21

Whoever pursues righteousness and love
   finds life, prosperity, and honor.

What Are You Reading?

I think this is the most books I have ever read in a single year. I haven't always kept track, but I'm glad I am keeping a list of the books I have read. I look back on this list and think, I can't believe it was less than a year since I read that book! I am in a completely different place now than I was then. It seems like a lifetime ago.

And that's the beauty of books. Once you read them, you can't unread them. They are with you. You may not remember much from them, but they become a part of you. They are resources you can draw from, memories you can reflect on, and adventures you can relive.

I came across a quote in A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin, recently that has become one of my favorites:
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads lives only one.Jesus: A Theography, by Len Sweet and Frank ViolaWhispers, by Dean KoontzWild at Heart, by John EldredgePirate Latitudes, by Michael CrichtonWatchers, by Dean KoontzPilgrim Hear…

The Gospel According to Doctor Who

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Yep. It's here.

Anyone who knows me is probably not surprised by this post and is probably surprised it hadn't come sooner.

For anyone who doesn't know me, let me confess something. I am a Whovian. I belong to the Doctor Who fan nation. I have a t-shirt, two mugs, a Sonic Screwdriver, an iPhone case, and more. In other words, I really enjoy watching the longest running sci-fi show in the world brought to us by BBC featuring a time-traveling alien guy who always seems to find trouble and always seems to kick trouble's teeth in.

The 50th anniversary special was the largest simulcast screening of any show ever. It was shown in over 90 countries and viewed by countless millions around the world. So what is it that makes the Doctor so popular? Is it the concept of time travel? The scary aliens and monsters? The historical figures? The witty writing? The cool companions? The quirky, lovable, fearsome Doctor?

I'm sure it's all of the above. But there's something m…

Hot Topic: Greek Mythology

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[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on the origins of religions. The following is my humble attempt to shed some light on how human beings attempt to reach out for God/the gods as considered through the eyes of Scripture.]
Ecclesiastes 3:10-11
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Acts 17:27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
Romans 1:19-20 ...since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. __________________
One tidbit of historical evidence that confirms for me that there is a God is…

Is Your Water Living or Dead?

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You are hiking along. The day is warm, the sun is shining, the wind is rustling through the leaves. You lose yourself in nature, and before you know it minutes turn to hours. You have been gone much longer than you planned to be. Your water bottle is empty and your mouth is dry. It’s the hottest part of the day; you haven’t had a drink of water in about two hours. You’re beginning to feel weak and light-headed.

Suddenly you come across two sources of water. To the right of the trail you see an ankle-deep puddle of water, a remnant of the heavy rains two days back. The water seems clear, all the mud and sediment has settled on the bottom. The water appears clear and undisturbed.

To the left of the trail you hear what sounds like the trickling of a spring. Sure enough you spot a small spring of cool, clear water emerging a crack in the rocks just off the trail.

Where do you fill your water bottle?

To me, the answer is simple: the spring. Even the bottled water you buy at a convenient store …

God's Economy

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Last Sunday night at our evening worship service, the sermon from Proverbs ended with a passage that has really stuck with me. The reason it stood out is because it's one of those verses that is so counter-cultural it borders of blasphemous (against society, not God). It's something you would never hear on a TV show or during commercials. It won't be on billboards. It's so outrageous that it's best left well within the recesses of that dusty old Bible on the shelf next to Chicken Soup for the Soul. In fact it's so radical that I dare say if all of God's people would put this verse into action, the entire US economy would be flipped on its head.
Here it is. Give me neither poverty nor riches,
   but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
   and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
   and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9)Utter madness. Hogwash. Apparently Agur son of Jakeh has forgotten that Am…

Do you have what it takes?

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I Hear You, but I'm Not Listening

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HOT TOPIC: How to talk to someone who isn't religious
Evangelism.

That is one of the scariest words in the Christian dictionary. Evangelism is kind of like diet and exercise. We know we should be doing it. We have every intention of doing it more. But it's just so hard to find the motivation and the time.

But it doesn't have to be that daunting of a task. Telling others about Jesus should be as natural as telling people about that new restaurant that opened up down the street. Being a witness for Christ shouldn't be any more difficult than telling about that AWESOME trip you took during Spring Break.

Shouldn't be, but it is. I think it's because we have stopped relying on and listening to the Holy Spirit's guidance. Witnessing the resurrection wasn't enough to really turn the disciples around. Even 50 days after the resurrection the disciples are still in hiding, keeping to themselves. They don't break out and begin winning the world for Jesus unti…

I Am Nicodemus

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John chapter 3 tell two stories about two men. One is Nicodemus - a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Rabbi of Israel, living in Jerusalem. The other one is John the Baptist - a charismatic prophet living in the wilderness.

I wish I were more like John the Baptist. But I am Nicodemus.

Nicodemus knew the Scriptures. He would have them memorized, beginning to end. Genesis through Malachi, always on the tip of his tongue and the front of his mind. Nicodemus had it all figured out. He knew what God wanted, how God wanted it, when God wanted it. He ate right, prayed right, worshiped right, and lived right. He knew the system. He worked the system. He loved the system.

John the Baptist didn't simply know God's word, he knew God. He knew what a relationship with God was all about and that God couldn't be manipulated into owing us anything for our good behavior. John came to let God out of the box.

Nicodemus had a curiosity about Jesus. But he was about as curious of Jesus …

What Is Dead May Never Die

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There are two kinds of people in the world. Okay, there are WAY more than two kinds of people, but I'm only going to focus on two kinds right now. In order to explain the two kinds of people, I am going to turn to the 1980s cult classic Better Off Dead and the popular SciFi/Fantasy book series A Game of Thrones.

THE FIRST TYPE
In Better Off Dead, starring a young John Cusack, there is a scene where Cusack's character, Lane, is practicing to make the ski team. He and his buddy, Charles, head to the top of a very difficult ski course full of trees, jumps, twists, and turns. Charles is pessimistic and warns Lane, "Dying when you're not really sick is really sick, you know. Really!"

THE SECOND TYPE
In the George R.R. Martin series, A Song of Ice and Fire (AKA Game of Thrones) there is a religious order in the sea region of the Iron Islands. This religion is centered on whom they call "The Drowned God." The priest and his closest followers are known as "d…

Where Does God Feel at Home?

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Have you ever really paid attention to the people and places that Jesus considered important during his ministry? Have you really noticed the kind of folks Jesus felt most comfortable with, the ones he called his family, the men and women he spent most of his time with? Has it occurred to you the places Jesus felt most welcomed, most received? The places Jesus could be himself? The places he called home?

We get a glaring contrast in John 2 between two places, two groups of people, and Jesus' reaction to both. One is the Temple, the seat of all Jewish religion, the hub of worship, the house of prayer, the epicenter of God's presence on earth. The other is a wedding party in a Podunk town where there is *gasp* wine, merriment, and celebration.

We would think Jesus, you know - the Son of God, would feel more at home in...the Temple. But we would be wrong. Check out the brilliant comparison and contrast between these two locales in John 2.

2:1-2 -------------------------------2:1…

STD Awareness

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We have a serious epidemic on our hands. STDs are spreading like wildfire. Fewer and fewer people are making the choice to keep themselves pure and untainted. That means more and more people will be suffering life-long consequences, issues that will haunt them and plague them until they die.

There is treatment for most of these STDs, but few are willing to accept it. Most victims don't even want to admit they have one for fear of appearing weak or unfaithful. They don't want to be labeled or judged. They do everything they can to avoid the stigma of these STDs. The shame, the embarrassment, the humiliation - it's too much for them to handle. So they suffer silently trying to live their lives as "normal" people.
But the problems never really go away. Not unless they are willing to confront their STD head on and accept the necessary treatment.
And the sad thing is, all of us, to some extent, live with at least one STD.
You and I both have Spiritually Transmitted Di…