Build It Up

Sermon Audio

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


Sermon Audio

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

The Bigger They Are...

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: 1 Samuel 17:4-11, 40-51

I love Frederick Buechner’s description of Goliath:  “Goliath stood ten feet tall in his stocking feet, wore a size twenty collar and a 52 inch belt” – reminds me of a defensive tackle for the Jaguars. “When he put his full armor on, he not only looked like a Sherman tank but weighed like one. Even stripped to the bare essentials he had plenty to carry around, and flesh and bones were the least of it. There was the burdensome business of having to defend his title against all comers. There were the mangled remains of the runners-up. When he tried to think something out it was like struggling through a hip-deep bog. When he tried to explain something it was like trying to push a truck uphill. His dark moods were leaden and his light moods elephantine. He considered underarm deodorant a sign of effeminacy.” ...See full sermon here

Healing in His Wings

Audio Sermon

Sermon text: Mark 5:22-34 and Numbers 15:37-41

Most of us are at least a little familiar with the story from Mark 5 concerning the woman who reaches out and touches Jesus’ garment looking for some kind of healing. I have paired it this morning with a passage from Numbers that may help us understand what is going on in the mark story. I hope so anyway.

Numbers is the 4th book of the Hebrews scriptures, part of the Torah, the first 5 books. Torah was given to the Jews by Moses at Sinai. They saw it as life, how to live. Pre-eminent in the life of a Jew, in Jesus' time, Torah was everything. It was sometimes referred to as the Way, the Truth and the Life. In Numbers 15 God tells Moses to attach tassels to the corners of their garments. They were to look at and to remember the commands of the Lord, a visual reminder if you like. Kind of like we look at a cross. An observant Torah following Jew would wear a prayer shawl, even today you will see these shawls... See full sermon here

Why Evil?

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Sermon text: Job 2:1-10

 “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job,” begins our story. The location of the land of Uz is unknown, but one commentator suggests that Uz is wherever trouble is. 
Job was “blameless and upright,” says v. 1. Job may not have been an historical person but an ideal figure who stands for everyone who suffers undeservedly.
Job is materially blessed. He has ten children, who all get along with each other. He offers extra sacrifices for his kids, just in case they do anything wrong. He has thousands of herds and flock. He’s a prominent and highly respected person in his community. 
All this is evidence of God’s favor, and those in the ancient world who read this story would assume Job was rewarded for his good behavior. “Blessed are those who walk not in the counsel of the wicked…but delight in the law of the Lord,” says Psalm 1. Illness and poverty, personal and national catastrophes were generally believed to be divine punishments for sin. And wealth and prosperity and health and peace were the rewards of righteousness...
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Shoveling With Teaspoons

Sermon Audio not available for this sermon

Sermon Text: Mark 4:26-34 and Matthew 13:33 

I was a youth pastor in Charlotte more years ago than I care to mention. It was my first full-time job in the ministry. And the first year was awful. Only a few kids came to the Sunday night youth meetings. I wasn’t a charismatic speaker or a pied piper who could draw teenagers to meetings with my personal magnetism. I was a boring scholar just out of seminary with my head still full of Greek and Hebrew and systematic theology. The programs I planned were boring. One night I gave them a lecture on the proofs of God in Medieval theology. Some kids snored through it, while others heckled me from the back seats with snide comments. Needless to say, many didn’t come back after that. I sense a similar discouragement and fear today in our Presbyterian denomination at dwindling membership and money. But I find the parables before us today from Mark and Matthew encouraging. Let’s call them parables of growth. They describe several characteristics of Christian growth...see full sermon here

How Do We Know God?

Audio Sermon  

Sermon Text: John 3:1-15

How do we know God? I don’t know about you, but I have spent a lot of my adult life in a struggle with doubt, trying to prove God’s existence to myself in various ways. I think this is a sermon for people who wrestle with doubt, like me, and for people who wish they could help others with their doubts.

Nicodemus, says John, came to Jesus “at night.” Why? The rabbis said nighttime was the best time to study the law, because it was quiet, and all the other chores were done. But I think it’s more likely that Nicodemus came under the cover of night in order to keep his visit a secret...See full sermon here

What to Do About Guilt

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Ephesians 2:1-10 and Hebrews 10:1-4, 11-18

Ever feel guilty? It can be a terrible burden to bear. Captain Charles McVay of the U.S. Navy took his own life on November 6, 1968. He’d been the skipper of the U.S.S. Indianapolis that sank in World War II with a loss of 900 crew members. His biographer writes, “He tried hard to convey his sense of grief and loss in letters that he wrote to the bereaved families…He was consumed with guilt over the deaths of so many young men. His punishment, he felt, would be a long life.” Unable to endure such a life, he ended it. Maybe our frenetic American lifestyle is an effort to distract ourselves from an uneasy conscience...See full sermon here