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

Seeking the Living Among the Dead

Sermon Text: Luke 24:1-11

One night in Nashville, Tennessee, when I was a pastor there, I volunteered at St. Patrick’s Winter Shelter for homeless families. It was on the top floor of a Catholic church. As I reached the top of the long staircase – I always lost my breath on the way up – the first person I saw was Pat Zotloukal. “Uh oh.” I thought. ”He’s back.” I’d met Pat six months before at the shelter with his family. They’d come to Nashville from Iowa looking for work after their restaurant failed. Their kids enrolled in the Nashville schools, and the family stayed at the shelter while Pat and his wife got jobs and saved enough money for rent. My friend John Paul Walters, a Christian musician, volunteered with me that night, and we spent the evening with Pat and his family, playing guitar and swapping stories. Now, six months later, he was back at the shelter. “Oh no!” I thought to myself. “What happened?”  See full sermon here

What is Humility?

Text: Philippians 2:1-11

What is humility? Why is it so important in the Bible? I think the answer to the first question is obvious from our lesson today. Humility is what Jesus thought and did. He didn’t cling to his deity but let go of it and became a human being and died for us. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling a prophecy in Zachariah that says, “See, your king comes to you…humble and riding on a donkey.”...See full sermon here

What if Jesus Came to Church?

Sermon text:  1 Corinthians 1:18-25  John 2:13-22  

What if Jesus came to church? According to all four Gospels he entered the Jerusalem Temple at the Passover and cleaned house. John 2:14 says he found “those who were selling oxen, sheep and pigeons, and the money changers at their business.” What were these merchants up to? It sounds pretty innocent.  Pilgrims came to Jerusalem from all over the Mediterranean world at the Passover feast to sacrifice animals at the Temple and pay their temple tax. They didn’t want to bring animals over such great distances, so they bought them at the Temple. And they couldn’t pay their temple tax in Roman currency because Caesar’s image, which was on the Roman coins, would defile the Temple, so they had to exchange them for shekels, the Jewish currency, so there were money changers on hand at the Temple to provide that service. So where’s the problem?....See full sermon here

Two Ways to Live

Sermon Text: Genesis 17:1-8, 15-16  Romans 4:13-25   

There are two ways to live, according to Paul. One way is to live by the law. This is the merit system. You obey the commandments and receive salvation as a reward for good behavior. God’s commandments are good things, life-giving and life-protecting things: “Do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not bear false witness, do not covet,” and especially the commandments to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”...Read full sermon here

Glimpses of God

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

The Transfiguration is a difficult story to preach on. To me it seems a weird passage and finding in it what is useful for today isn’t easy. Still, I think it reveals something important about our experiences of God, namely what they’re about, or to put it better, whom they’re about. 
Haven’t you had experiences of God, or at least some experiences that you think might have been of God? I hope so...
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