All The Good and Bad

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Sermon Text: Job 1:1, 2:1-10

I wonder if there is anything in scripture as strange as the conversation between God and Satan in chapters 1 & 2 of the Book of Job?

The Lectionary provides us this World Communion Sunday with the passage in Chapter 2. But we must look at the happenings of chapter 1 for context.

But first a quick Job 101. It is one of the books of wisdom in the Old Testament. It is a piece of poetry, bookended with 2 narratives that introduce and conclude the book. It tells of a man called Job, a man who is blameless and right. He has a large family and owns many animals, in fact he is the greatest man among all the people of the East.

Let’s begin with Chapter 1…see full sermon here

Christian Time Management

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Sermon Text: James 4:13-17, 7-11

We Americans are busy people. We’ve always been hard workers, but Time magazine reported, “Sometime in the (1980’s) Americans came to worship career status as a measure of individual worth, and many were willing to sacrifice any amount of leisure time to get ahead.” Money is elastic in the sense that we can stretch it temporarily by borrowing, and it can accumulate in our bank account if we earn more than we spend. But time isn’t elastic. We all have the same amount of it every day, and there’s no way to borrow it or stretch it.

Hurried children skip their youth rushing from school to swim practice to homework to bed. Idleness is the devil’s workshop, they say, but so is a childhood with no time to throw rocks in the creek, chase butterflies, daydream or wonder…see full sermon here

Notes From Underground

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Sermon Text: James 3:13-4:7

Today in our lesson from James we come to his teaching about unruly feelings and their effects. “Where there is envy and selfish ambition,” he says, “there will be disorder and wickedness of every kind.” “What causes wars, and what causes fighting among you?” he asks. “Is it not your passions that are at war within you?” C.S. Lewis described his own personality as “a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, and a harem of fondled hatred.”

Sometimes our runaway passions are obvious and openly expressed. During a phone call years ago at another church, I lost my temper at a church member. We were making plans for a congregational retreat, and I don’t know what we were arguing about, but, whatever it was, the phone call did not go well. He got angry at me too. I called him later and apologized. Luckily, he accepted my apology and forgave me and apologized for his temper. Sometimes our feelings are clearly visible…see full sermon here

Toothpaste

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Sermon Text: Proverbs 1:20-30 and James 3:1-12

Chris was a junior high student in the first church I worked at in Ohio. Chris was one of those kids who would not shut up, who wanted to bug everyone. Always something to say, appropriate or not. He had days when he was popular and days when he was not. There were days when the other kids wanted nothing to do with him. I loved Chris. I loved hanging out with him hearing his stories, listening to what he was into. Youth leaders obviously don’t have favorites, but if I did Chris would be one of them… See full sermon here

The Road to Discipleship - Self Denial

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Sermon Text:  Mark 8:27-38

We are finishing a sermon series today called “The Road to Discipleship,” which Jesus says is a hard road. “Enter by the narrow gate,” he says in Matthew’s Gospel, “for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter by it. But the gate is narrow, and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” What is this hard road, this narrow gate Jesus is talking about? I think it is four things: sabbath-keeping, community, faith and self-denial. Today we talk about self-denial and cross bearing...See full sermon here 

The Practice of the Presence of God

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Sermon Text: Romans 8:28-31, 35, 37-39 Mark 10:13-16

Today we are in the third Sunday of a four sermon series on the road to discipleship, which is a hard road, according to Jesus. “Enter by the narrow gate,” he says in Matthew’s Gospel, “for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” As best I can understand it at this point in my research, this road consists of four things: Sabbath-keeping, community, faith and cross-bearing. Today we consider faith…see full sermon here

Appointments with God

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Sermon Text:   Exodus 20:8-11     Matthew 7:13-14     Luke 10:38-42  

“Enter through the narrow gate,” says Jesus. What is that narrow gate? What is the hard road that leads to life? There used to be a ski slope at Sugar Mountain called Easy Street, for beginners and hopeless cases like me. But Jesus doesn’t call us to an easy street. What is the hard road to discipleship that so many miss? I think it consists of four things: sabbath-keeping, community, faith and cross-bearing. Today we consider the first one, sabbath-keeping. For that we turn to the famous story of Mary and Martha.
Martha entertained Jesus at her home as a dinner guest. As she prepares the meal. Her sister sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him... See full sermon here

Build It Up

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Sermon Text: Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2

Today’s passage is taken from the letter to the young church in Ephesus. As some of you know I was a high school soccer coach for many years. I have given hundreds of team talks through the years. As I read through Ephesians I sometimes think it reads like a coach’s team talk. And it’s a young team, some are new to the game, some need coached on the basics, some need reminded of some of the things they already know. There is a feel of, “Ok, we’ve had a good start to the season, here is what as a good team, we need to work together on, and here is what we need to do to take it to the next level. C’mon everyone let’s get this going, time to lift our game.”We have had these letters all our life to read over and ponder, discuss and debate, but I wonder if we can put ourselves in the place of the early Christians in Ephesus as they were read this letter in church for the first time. A letter written by the top coach of the time, The Apostle Paul, written specifically to their situation. I wonder if it pumped them up to go out play a great game. That we will never know, but as I read through the letter this week I felt the inspiration to change, the word of God still speaks to us today. Feel free to consider this a little team talk for our spiritual journey...See full sermon here
 

Redemption

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Sermon Text: 2 Samuel 12:13-25

Last week I spoke about the change of mood in the David story from giddy optimism in his early years to sober remorse in his later life. We also heard the story of the Prophet Nathan’s confrontation with David over David’s adultery with Bath-Sheba and his attempt to cover it up by having her husband murdered. Bath-Sheba is now David’s wife and is pregnant with their child. God sends Nathan to pronounce judgment on David for his sins. “The child that is born to you shall die,” says Nathan... See full sermon here

A Change of Mood

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Sermon text: 2 Samuel 11:1-5, 26-27; 12:1-13a

Our Scripture lesson today is about a change of mood in the story of David. Until now everything has gone smoothly for David. Ever since Samuel anointed him king in Bethlehem, luck and success have been with him every step of the way. He felled the mighty Goliath with a mere slingshot. He was blessed with Jonathan’s friendship. He escaped the murderous jealousy of Saul. He thrived in the wilderness as a mercenary. Now Saul is dead. The throne is his, and he has lead Israel into a golden era of power, peace and prosperity. His life has unfolded like a fairy tale from shepherd boy to king and conqueror...See full sermon here