Wednesday, May 27, 2015
It's the end of casual Christianity. Isn't that terrific?
Sometimes only a sentence or two of a sermon strikes me and the sketch comes to life. When Pastor Greg spoke about viewing that race that lays before us, he used Paul's illustration. Paul wanted to inspire us to put effort and heart into our growth as Christians, in the way an athlete trains and pushes hard to win in a race. But I saw this in modern terms. Many of us have taken up the call to fitness by using a device called a Fitbit.
If you own a Fitbit you know they include a homepage called a dashboard. It is here that you keep track of you progress. At first I filled this spiritual Fitbit with all the things I knew I should be doing to strengthen my walk. Then I listened to Pastor Todd's sermon on the Soundcloud. He reminded me we should not think our Christian walk is about doing all the "right" things. That we should be inspired to follow Jesus so closely that the dust from his feet, will cover our clothes. This reminds me of watching a three year old copy every move, quirky mannerism, and favorite expressions that his dad or big brother is making.
In light of this, I changed the boxes to read the things that we can gain from following Jesus. The help we can get and where we can get it. We live in a time where the casual Christian is losing ground. It may feel like Christianity is dying in America, because there are fewer people claiming the title. But the reality is that people are learning to be the truth instead of shouting it at others. We are not satisfied to sit in a pew and simply be entertained. Hurray!!
Saturday, May 23, 2015
In a past sermon, Pastor Greg wondered how a grandpa might answer his grand-daughter's question of, "How do you follow Jesus?" So many ways have been touted. Is it an easy road? One filled with wealth and blessings? Perhaps a road lined with rules and constant shouts of "No!" Is it to huddle away, separate from the world, pointing critical fingers in fear and condemnation? A highway safe and not marked by struggle or stress?
No, none of these. It is the road that is difficult but filled with compassion and love. A path know for humility and selfless service. Sometimes it displays a roaring boldness that steps up to defend the poor and marginalized. Flames of the Holy Spirit ignite and burn to light the way, to inspire us and push us to greatness in our service.
What does following Jesus Christ mean to you?
Christianity in America has been stretched, twisted, and diluted. Have you heard it? Be patriotic, if you aren't what kind of Christian are you? Yearn, and earn your way to a nice house, a fine family, pull yourself up in the world. Look for God to make you rich, and blessed. Sit in the pew each Sunday, be Republican, conservative, patriotic, AND back the correct politician. If someone interprets the Bible different than the majority, don't forget to make sure they know they are wrong and are going to hell. Let them know in a sly way how glad you are about that. Being happy is the goal in life and most of all safe. After all why would non-Christians want to become one if we all looked poor as a church mouse, and were struggling.
The word of God has a different story. A story of grace, sacrifice, and generosity. Whatever you are hearing, allow the Bible to be the filter through which you listen. Pray for wisdom, make a conscious effort to allow love and mercy to be your guide.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Hand in Hand
Have you wondered how there are so many different opinions in the Christian community? I mean look at all the different denominations. Even within each church it can be hard to get a consensus on things. Many of us have a determined desire to make everyone keep their toes up to our line of thought. Yet God has made it known he wants His people to live in unity.
As a member of the Covenant denomination, I am very pleased that we make room for differences even within our own members. How can this be? As long as the resurrection Gospel is the center of the belief, the side issues can be different. Like branches off of the same tree. We are connected to the main branch that believes in Jesus and His sacrifice.
Here is a phrase I learned from one of my son's sermons. Let us be the ones of whom the world says, they walk hand in hand, even though they don't see eye to eye.
Not a Ghost
Jesus felt pain. He skinned his knees as a child. He was annoyed by his little brother. He was flesh and blood. The historians Josephus and Tacitus, from that day and time, wrote about the man Jesus. If you believe what other historians have written, why not this?
As a believer in the Bible I listen to what the word says about Jesus life, death, and resurrection. Were there witnesses to his death? Yes, many. Did he appear to anyone after He rose? Yes, individuals and crowds of people. Personal, one on one conversations, and joyous celebrations with close friends. He didn't just appear in a vapor. He ate with them, If He was lying about who He was, what an incredibly elaborate plan to prove it. To arrange for Himself to be crucified and die, and have his disciples steal his body?You'd have to be pretty committed to that lie.
He was the first fruit of a resurrection that we can all experience someday.
He died, was buried, and rose again. This is the gospel. The good news. That God killed evil, and made a way for each of us to decide are with God? Or not?
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Among the cheery greetings of the season, and fights over what they should sound like, are souls that hurt and are discouraged. Feelings of loss and loneliness can discolor the red and green lights that shine in the malls and glitter in front of houses. This season Pastor Greg preached on why suicide should not be the answer. Also, if it was for a loved one of yours, how there is still hope in the loss.
In the picture above Greg says "God is with us." Even when all is hopeless, to choose life. The picture below shows that God sent us His son and reveals to us a reason for hope, He pours His love down from above. We may feel lost in the grief, or fear, and it is hard to see it right at that time, but be assured it is there. God sends us His Son, and sends His love. Don't give up. Don't end it. Seek God, because "God is with us." He is with YOU.
If someone you know has already chosen this path Greg gives us hope. When anyone faces judgement we can know that God is a just God. He will take everything into consideration. He will look at what the law is. Did we break the law? Did we know it was a law? Did we understand it was wrong? Then if we have given our control and submission to Jesus in life, at the time of that surrender He took all sins, past and future. At judgement He will stand with us and say, "This one is mine. Forgiven and made righteous through my sacrifice. Allow him to enter into our Love."
Sunday, November 9, 2014
How Do You Measure The Success of a Church?
Instead if giving you the sermon sketch, a summary of Todd Spieker's sermon, and adding my own interpretation of the topic, you can watch the sermon for yourselves. Several of you have asked for this recording of my son's sermon at the 20th anniversary of Living Hope Covenant Church, so I have placed it on Youtube. The first video is of the whole sermon (http://youtu.be/8engOoStrbM), but it was taken from the back of the church and harder to see Todd's expressions and movements. So, I have added closer, shorter clip that came from my cell phone (http://youtu.be/JXEu_1R9dsA).