Generosity is Revealing

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: John 2:1-11

The year after college, when I was still trying to figure out where I was going and what I was doing, I got a job as a youth ministry intern at a church out in California. I spent the year serving the church and learning how to do youth ministry, and the members of that church spent the year taking care of me and showing extraordinary generosity. A family from the church provided for all my food and housing by hosting me in their home for the year. Women in the church took me under their wing and provided friendship and spiritual support as I navigated all my young adult questions and life issues. There was one time that a family asked me to help with watching their children while they went on an overnight trip or something. I can’t remember exactly what the job was, but what I do remember was the evening that the father kindly and quietly slipped a one-hundred-dollar bill into my hand to pay me for whatever it was I had done to help them. I remember knowing that the payment far exceeded any service I had provided, and I felt that it was much more a gift of love than an actual wage that I had earned. I went into my room that night with that one-hundred-dollar bill in my hand, and I remember falling on my knees at the end of my bed and being completely overcome and overwhelmed with emotion. A hundred dollars was lot of money for me at that time, but it wasn’t even the money as much as it was what the money represented…see full sermon here.

Generosity is for Everyone

Sermon Text: Acts 9:36-43

I can’t think of a much better way to begin Stewardship season than with an original play written by one of our gifted members and performed by two of our other gifted members. I’m so thankful to Linda, and Chris, and Arnie, and I’m thankful for them.

In the play we saw fear lurking around trying to take over Stewardship Season and Stewardship Sunday, but I want us all to be clear up front that this season is not about fear and dread. Stewardship is about celebration, and gratitude, and a joyful response to God so that’s the mood that I hope will fill us and carry us through this year’s Stewardship Season. To solidify that association between celebration and stewardship, I want to invite you to kick off this sermon series and this year’s Stewardship Season by offering up an expression of thanksgiving, and praise, and celebration. A round of polite Presbyterian applause is ok, but I know that at least some of you can get more excited than that because we have Gator football fans in here, and if you can get excited about football, I know you can get excited about celebrating the goodness and faithfulness of God. So, think for a minute about all of God’s goodness and the kindness God has shown to us in Christ. Think of all the unmerited gifts God has lavished on you. Think of the community of faith that has nurtured you and cared for you. Think of how your physical needs are met. Think of how others have blessed you with their spiritual gifts. Think of God’s steadfast love for you, and the hope that is ours through Christ. Is that enough to inspire an expression of gratitude and praise? Let’s do it. Let’s get this celebration started!

Thank you for indulging me, and now we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled sermon.

Our stewardship theme this year is “Devoted to Generosity,” and that’s what we’ll be thinking about throughout this sermon seriesSee full sermon here

Reboot Series "Commit to Serving"

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text : 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

I want to start by sharing something with you from a New York Post article that was published in 2018. The title of the article is “New Year’s Resolutions Last Exactly This Long.” This is what it says.

Before the first month of the year has even come to an end, most people have given up on their annual commitment to themselves. Research conducted by Strava, the social network for athletes, has discovered that Saturday, Jan. 12, is the fateful day of New Year’s resolutions. After analyzing more than 31.5 million online global activities last January, Strava was able to pinpoint the date when most people report failing their resolution.

The article goes on to talk about the reasons for this and strategies you can use to help you make it past the 12-day mark. This is interesting to me because my thought with this sermon series was that we could try to tap into the energy and feeling of a fresh start that comes with the beginning of a new school and church program year and make some fresh commitments to practices that make a difference in our lives and help us grow and mature as Jesus’s disciples. That is still the goal with this series, but I’m aware that we’re at week 4 now and school started 28 days ago, and we returned to some of our regular church programming 22 days ago, which means that some of that new beginning motivation is wearing off or has worn off alreadySee full sermon here

Reboot Series "Commit to Community"

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Acts 18:24-28

This morning we have come to the third message in our ReBoot series. In this series we’re talking about some basic things that we can commit to doing or recommit to doing that God can use in our lives to help us become more fruitful and more mature disciples. We’ve talked about committing to reading Scripture, committing to asking God in prayer to make our mission fruitful, and this morning the invitation is to commit to community. As members of the church, we are already joined together in community by the Spirit, and if and when you joined LPC you committed to being part of this community, so if you’re a member, or maybe even if you just attend regularly, you are committed to Christian community at some level. There is a difference, though, in being a member of a church, and even an active member of a church, and in cultivating intentional, close, Christ-centered relationships for the purpose of helping us grow in Christ. It’s possible to be a member of a church for years without ever experiencing that kind of community, but that kind of community can make all of the difference in our spiritual lives. That’s what I want to talk about todaySee full sermon here

Reboot Series "Commit to Prayer"

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: John 15:1-11

Those of us with children have finished the second week of school now, and today we’re into the second week of our Sunday morning church programs, and in our worship time I’m hoping to help us capitalize on this new beginning energy and use it to help us “reboot” our spiritual operating systems. In this series we’re talking about some basic spiritual disciplines that we can commit or recommit to practicing that God can use to help us either recover, or maintain, vitality, and growth, and forward motion in our spiritual lives. Last week we talked about the importance of reading Scripture regularly and today we’re looking at the practice of prayer.

Probably one of the most basic things to say about prayer is that it’s just communicating with God- both listening to and speaking to God. That seems simple enough, yet Christians have been thinking about, and writing about, and practicing ways to pray for thousands of years now. Much can be said and has been said about prayer, and I know that you aren’t novices on the subject or the practice. This church is full of praying people and I don’t discount that. You and I know that prayer is important, and I think we trust that there is power in prayer, but, like I said about Bible reading, or eating healthy, or getting exercise- sometimes even though we know it’s good to do something, we don’t necessarily do it. The same is true with prayer….See full sermon here

Reboot Series "Commit to Scripture"

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Psalm 119:105

We spent a wonderful and relaxing week down at Indian Shores beach for the last week of summer vacation, but we had to get out of vacation mode fast when we got home because school started on Monday. Even though I used to complain about it as a kid, I always kind of liked it when school started again because it was a chance to make a fresh start, and to this day, even though I’m not starting a new school year, I always feel energized and excited at this time of year because it feels like a mini New Year that brings a chance for a fresh start on things. This is what I had in mind as I thought about the sermon series that we are starting today. We’ve had summer vacations and we’ve taken some time off from some of our regular church programming, but now after a break and some rest time, it’s time to reboot the system and get things running again in our lives.

In my own life, one of the systems that I tend to have difficulty maintaining is my spiritual life operating system. By that I mean, I tend to have difficulty keeping up with spiritual disciplines and habits that feed my soul and keep me close to Jesus and in a position to more easily receive his grace. I find that I must commit and recommit again and again to keeping up on daily practices because busyness, and tiredness, and other distractions become reasons that they get neglected. I’m sure no one here can relate. So, over the next 5 weeks when we find ourselves at sort of a natural new starting point with the beginning of a new school year and program year here in church, we’re going to be looking at 5 basic building blocks of discipleship – 5 things that we can commit or recommit to practicing and focusing on in our individual lives and in our life together as a faith communitySee full sermon here

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text: Luke 7: 36-50

One of my very favorite hobbies and please don’t judge me is to collect autographs. Especially Scottish football players. When I was a wee boy, I would stand outside football grounds and collect autographs when the players came out. I never outgrew it; when I go back to Scotland I usually go to the stadium and pick up a few. In fact, when we were back over there in March, after a game, Brennan, my brother in law and my nephew all patiently waited while I collected autographs. Eventually they said, we’ll wait in the car. One thing I don’t do very often is buy autographs, you never know if it’s a fake or not and usually they are overpriced. I did break that rule for this though. This piece of paper has been folded, it’s not in great shape but it has the signatures of many of the Celtic team that were European Champions in 1967. That is the only year Celtic have won what is now the champions league, so these guys are legends and a few of them have passed away. So, this was a big deal to meSee full sermon here

Sowing and Reaping

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text Galatians 6

On this day 11 years ago, I had my first baby, Virginia Catherine. Back then, I did what a lot of eager new parents do. I bought and read parenting books. Reading parenting books is a good idea, but I naively thought I could just follow the instructions in the books and then my child would just give me the result that the books told me they would if I followed them. Well, I found out that trying to follow the instructions in a parenting book ends up being a lot less like Martha Stewart baking a perfect cake and more like an episode of that show Nailed It where people try their best to recreate their own versions of professionally made cakes that come out looking pitiful and hilarious. You read the instructions and do your best, but it doesn’t always work like they say it’s going to in the bookSee full sermon here

Christian Freedom

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text Galatians 5:1 and Galatians 5:13-26

It is good to be back with you this morning. I missed you while I was away and was thinking of you and praying for you last Sunday morning, but I have to confess to you that while you were here in worship last Sunday, I wasn’t worshipping in another church as a visitor. I admit to you that while you were in worship, I was watching the US Women’s Soccer team play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final. This confession is not, by the way, the equivalent of me giving you permission to miss worship so you can watch sports, but I was on vacation and it was a big game so I gave myself over to World Cup fever and watched the game. Of course, the US women won, and this week the news has been filled with stories about the team and the players and interviews and public appearances and speechesSee full sermon here

Apostle to the Gentiles

Sermon Text: Galatians 2:15-21

Today we are looking at Galatians chapter 2 in our What’s in Galatians? sermon series. Last week we learned that a problem had come up and there was some confusion in the churches and Paul’s reason for writing this letter was to clear up the confusion. His big point as he opens the letter is that he is a trustworthy teacher, and he makes the case that the gospel that he first preached in the churches in Galatia and the gospel that they had received through him was the true gospel as opposed to the teachings that had been introduced and were causing confusion since his departure. Today, we’re going to find out exactly what the big point of contention wasSee full sermon here