Shoveling With Teaspoons

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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?

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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

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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

Mark the Spot

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Sermon Text: Joshua 4:1-17 and Acts 2:1-4

Today is a special day in the life of our church. It is a special day for many of our families as we have celebrated our 4th graders and our seniors. In a few minutes, two of our youth will confirm their faith and become our newest members. Special memories will be made today. Our Church family celebrates with them today. It is also Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate The Holy Spirit being given to the disciples. God often shows up in the quietest moments, but on this day, God shows up in the flame and wind...See full sermon here

The Invisible Ruler

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Sermon Text: Hebrews 2:5-9  and  Acts 1:1-11

This is the last Sunday of the season of Easter. Next Sunday is Pentecost, the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church. So, it’s fitting that today we deal with Acts 1, which describes the ascension of Christ to God’s right hand in heaven. When he was raised from the dead, he didn’t go immediately to heaven but spent several weeks with his disciples convincing them that he was really alive after being crucified and teaching them as much as he could about the coming kingdom of God. Now he’s going to ascend to his position as Lord over all things, and this is his last conversation with them... See full sermon here

The Four Loves

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Sermon text: John 15:9-17

Our lesson from John today is part of a long discourse Jesus gave to his disciples during his last supper with them on the night before he died. It’s a farewell address giving them instructions for their ministry and their life together after his departure. Their challenge will be how to carry on without him, without having his physical presence among them anymore. Jesus is reassuring them in this long speech that he will continue to be with them spiritually in the Lord’s Supper and in the community that celebrates it...See full sermon here

God's Pruning Hook

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Sermon Text: John 15:1-8  

I’d like to focus our attention this morning on something in our lesson that the English reader doesn’t see. It all happens in verse 2. To set the stage, let me read again for you verses one and two. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser [the one who trims the vine]. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, to make it bear more fruit.” The English seems clear enough, but it’s hiding something significant in the Greek, namely a word play. The Greek word for “remove” is AIREIN, and the Greek word for “prune” in the same verse is “KATHAIREIN ” So you have AIREIN and KATHAIREIN, and that’s a play on words! A much better translation of vs. 1-2, a bit clumsy but truer to the Greek, would be this: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he cuts clean, to make it bear more fruit.”...See full sermon here

Time for a New Ark

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Sermon text: Genesis 9:8-17  

       As our passage today begins, God says to Noah, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature, that is, with the birds, the cattle, and every beast that is with you, as many as came out of the ark.” No heaven-sent flood will destroy the creation again. “While the earth remains,” says Genesis 8:22, “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” The rainbow that appears in the clouds will serve as a reminder of this promise. The Hebrew storyteller thought of the bow in the clouds as a weapon hung up on the wall forever as a sign of peace between God and the creation...See full sermon here

Wrestling with God

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Sermon Text: Genesis 32: 22-29 

Today’s message is about wrestling. In particular the story we just heard from Genesis 32 about Jacob wrestling with God. 

When you think of wrestling your thoughts may automatically go to WWE or one of the many wrestling entertainment associations. You may love that stuff. When I was a boy the wrestling was always on TV on Saturday afternoon and I took it very seriously. My favorite was a guy called Big Daddy. He was the good guy. He was also pretty old and big, when I say big I don’t mean well built, I mean, he was overweight, I never questioned the fact that this old overweight guy always won. I just accepted it. I mean it was a legit sport, right? ... See full sermon here