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

The Practice of the Presence of God

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Sermon Text: Romans 8:28-31, 35, 37-39 and 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

The Road to Discipleship - Community

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Sermon Text  2 Corinthians 4:3-6Mark 9:2-9 


We are in the second of four Sundays devoted to the road to discipleship, which Jesus says is a hard road. “Enter by the narrow gate,” he said, “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 he way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” I can think of four parts of this hard road to discipleship: sabbath-keeping, community, faith, and cross-bearing. Last week we considered sabbath-keeping. Today we turn to community. 
A lot of people believe in God, or something like God, but don’t go to church. It’s important not to confuse their religion with Christianity...
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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

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

The Bigger They Are...

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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

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

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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