Motivated By Love

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text Matthew 21:1-9

One of the most memorable moments in Olympic history happened during the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta when Kerri Strug clinched the gold medal for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team with a heroic performance on the vault. The Russians had dominated in women’s gymnastics winning the team gold medal in every Olympics since 1948, excluding 1984 when the Soviet Union boycotted the Olympics. The U.S. had a special team that year. They were referred to as “The Magnificent Seven,” and they were determined to take gold in 1996. It looked like they were going to do it until they came to the final rotation with the U.S. gymnasts on the vault and the Russian team on floor exercise. Dominique Moceaunu, one of the U.S. favorites, took her turn on the vault and to everyone’s surprise she fell twice. Her score was low and now the gold medal was up for grabs. Enter Kerri Strug…See full sermon here

A Time of Doubt

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Mark 1: 9-15 and John 20:24-29

Listen to the words of this letter written in the late 70’s:

"Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. The tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak." Lord, my God, you have thrown [me] away as unwanted - unloved, I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer, no one. Alone. Where is my faith? Even deep down right in there is nothing. I have no faith. I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart.”

“I am told God loves me, and yet the reality of the darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?”

These are the words of Mother Theresa written to Rev Michael Van Der Peet, a spiritual confidant, in September 1979. Her letters which were revealed after her death show a person who was wracked with doubt for many years…see full sermon here

A Time of Dependence

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Exodus 16:11-26

As we continue through the Lenten season, we are still in our Wilderness Time sermon series, and this morning I want to talk about how our wilderness times are a time of dependence. Since Jesus’s time in the wilderness is our backdrop for Lent and considering our own wilderness times, I want to start by reading that story once again so it is fresh in our minds again. We’ve heard Matthew’s version and Mark’s version, and this morning I will read from Luke’s Gospel. Luke tells the story this way.

4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness2, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time…See full sermon here

A Time of Challenge

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Mark 1:12-13 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18

During Lent, as we are remembering Jesus’s 40 days in the wilderness, we are also thinking about the wilderness times that we experience in life and as part of our spiritual journeys. I was talking about this sermon series with a friend that we were visiting with on Thursday and Friday, and she asked me, “what’s a wilderness time?” which made me think I should be sure everyone knows what I mean by that. When I’m talking about wilderness times, I mean those times when we’re dealing with difficulties or challenges that make us feel unsure of everything we thought we were sure of; those times when we have more questions than answers; those times when we may feel lonely and isolated; the times when God seems distant and the devil feels near; it could even be a time when we endure some kind of persecution. Sometimes it’s some event, like a divorce, or a death, or a diagnosis that sends us into the wilderness, and sometimes it’s more like a fog that just seems to descend and settle around us for a season. Like the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness, these aren’t easy times, but we can have hope because God can and God does work, even in wilderness times, to accomplish His purposes in our lives. With that in mind, in this sermon series, we are thinking about what else wilderness time is- apart from just being difficult- and last week we thought about how wilderness time is a time for learning. Today, I want to talk about how it is a time of challenge…See full sermon here

A Time of Learning

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Matthew 4:1-11

If you look at the front of your bulletin this morning, you’ll see the picture of a bright green plant that has started growing out of some very dry-looking cracked ground.  When you look at the ground in that picture it makes you wonder how in the world that little plant could possibly be growing because the conditions don’t appear to be the right ones for any growth to happen.  That ground looks like the kind of ground where seeds go to die.  The picture represents the big idea for this Lenten sermon series which is called “Wilderness Time.”  The idea is that even though it doesn’t seem possible that anything good could come from the wilderness times that we enter and experience in our own lives, sometimes we actually do some of our best growing when we find ourselves in the wilderness…See full sermon here

Weird Ambition

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Matthew 20:20-28

We have come to the final week in our Keep Church Weird series. It has been my hope that through this series you would begin to get a glimpse of the heart of your new pastor, but more importantly, as we begin to navigate a new season of life and ministry together that will surely bring some changes at some point along the way, I wanted us to spend some time thinking about some essential things that should never change no matter what. These are things that Jesus teaches us, and as I’ve been saying all along, when we keep in step with Jesus, it often takes us out of step with what’s going on around us, so we may be “weird,” but weird is good in this case, and I want us to embrace it! This morning, in this final message in our series, I want to talk about “weird ambition.”

I first thought that this message would be called “a weird mission,” and mission is certainly a “churchier” sounding word than ambition, but the two are related. Our mission is the work that Jesus has given us to do in this world, and we can be either eager and ambitious about it or apathetic and lazy. When it comes to participating in God’s mission, I don’t think lazy and apathetic is what Jesus wants from us. I think Jesus wants us to give energy and all the best of ourselves to God’s mission, and as your new pastor, I want us to be a church that is earnest, and eager, and ambitious about participating in God’s mission and building God’s kingdom…See full sermon here

Weird Friends

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Matthew 9:9-19

Over the last few weeks our theme has been “Keeping the Church Weird” and today’s topic is weird friends. Now I am willing to bet a few of you know something about weird friends. It seems every friend group has at least one who is a little on the weird side.

I remember in primary school, which is Scottish for elementary school that there was this boy who was on the periphery of my friend group who always wore a rain jacket and wellies. Wellies are Wellington Boots, y’know those big rubber boots. Every day, he had on a rain jacket and wellies. He might have been wearing shorts on a sunny day, but he’d still be wearing his wellies. Playing football, he’d be in a rain jacket and wellies. We thought that a little weird. Now looking back wearing a rain jacket and Wellington Boots in Scotland probably should have been seen as wise. But at the time we thought it pretty weird. What I did not consider was the reasons for him wearing those things. It was probably economic. He probably didn’t have another pair of shoes or another jacket, maybe from experience he just expected it to rain every day!…See full sermon here

Weird Worship

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Sermon Text: John 4:16-26

The phrase ‘in spirit and in truth’ describes two essential characteristics of true worship: in spirit, as distinguished from place or form or other sensual limitations; in truth, as distinguished from the false conceptions resulting from imperfect knowledge.” - Word Studies in the New Testament

We have come to week 3 in our Keep Church Weird series and this morning we’re going to be talking about Weird Worship. My whole inspiration for this series actually began here with the subject of weird worship when I read an article by a young woman named Rachel Held Evans in which she said that the church ought to “keep worship weird.” If you haven’t heard of Rachel Held Evans, she is a writer and a blogger and she is also a millennial. She writes and speaks about her spiritual journey and search for what she calls a “truer and more authentic Christianity.” At some stage she left the church for a time, but she has since returned, and Rachel’s journey out of church reflects the trend that we are seeing in our culture, especially among young people. You have likely heard the statistics about how membership and attendance in our denomination have been shrinking in recent years along with other alarming statistics that tell us a quarter of the US population now identify as “none” (meaning people with no religious affiliation)…See full sermon here

Weird Love

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: John 13:1-17

Last week we started a sermon series called “Keep Church Weird,” and I told you that one of the first things that I want you to know about your new pastor is that I’m a little weird and that I am going to be committed as your pastor to keeping Lakewood a weird church. I have to tell you that it was really endearing to me this past week how many of you came to me and told me that you are weird, too. It’s like, “great! These are my people!”

I love quirky things and quirky people, but in this series we’re talking specifically about the ways that we are weird because of our faith in and relationship with Jesus. If we are Jesus’s followers and if he is living in us, we are going to be different because the way of Jesus is different than the way of a world that is under the curse of sin. As Christians, we are people who have been set free from the curse of sin and we’ve accepted Jesus’s invitation to be part of his kingdom and Jesus has actually formed us into a community that exists to bear witness to the reality of the new life that can be found in him and I really want the congregation at LPC to be great witnesses to the new life and the new reality that comes through Jesus. So there are some specific “weird” things that we need to hold on to hard and fast so that our witness is fruitful, and powerful, and effective. Last week we talked about holding on to this weird message that we get to share that says you don’t have to work hard to make yourself acceptable to God. You just have to trust in the work of Jesus on your behalf. We’re accustomed to having to earn our way into acceptance but God says we are already accepted. We just have to come to Jesus and we are already loved. This week, I want us to think about weird love…See full sermon here