I LEFT FULL-TIME PREACHING IN 2017. BUT BELOW YOU'LL FIND AUDIO OF A FEW OF MY FINAL SERMONS.
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We typically ask, "Why did Ananias and Sapphira die?" A better question is, "Why did Ananias and Sapphira lie?" They lied because what they claimed to be true about God and the new community did not match what they were willing to do to be part of it. Does your investment in God's Kingdom match your belief about what's possible?
Peter and John healed a man born without use of his legs. The Jewish leaders demanded to know by what authority he performed such a miracle, and Peter and seized the moment to share publicly how the name of Jesus is the driving force behind the new thing God was doing.
In Acts 2:14-41, it made on difference if the people gathered were disciples of Jesus or those who shouted "Crucify!" at Jesus's crucifixion. Peter's challenge to the Jewish people gathered at Pentecost is the same challenge we face today:
The Kingdom of God is here. What are you going to do about it?
It's frequently said that 10:00 on Sunday mornings is the most segregated time in our country. I don't think it's because we're racist; I think it's because assimilating with people who look, talk, act, live, think, vote, dress, smell, and eat like us is just easier. Creating a community where EVERYONE is welcome and wanted is hard work, and the story of Pentecost kicks off the Church's long struggle to help everybody belong.
Many of us - especially those with an evangelical bent - have two urges during the Lenten season: 1) Make it all about the external, and 2) Make it all about adding something new. Lent, though, is a season of inward transformation through outward fasting. Let those have the driver's seat during these 40 days. Outward stuff is good, for sure, but it cannot be the sole focus. Work toward a renewed heart, a transformed mind, and a resurrected life. All the external stuff tends to come along for the ride when we let God get at our hearts.
It's difficult to read through the Psalms without being struck by the amount of hatred and anger. Those songs and prayers are there for a reason, and laying our anger and hate before God is an act of genuinely faithful communication. But anger, once brought to the surface, needs to go somewhere. That's where Jesus comes in - he taught us how to use our anger in such a way to bring about love, justice, and mercy.
The poetry of the Psalms speaks to the places in our lives for which we have no words. Psalm 63 was such a moment for King David. He found himself in a wilderness where God's Spirit was not felt, and yet he could sense the overwhelming love of God, a love that's better than life.
Advent:Justice calls us to a radical inclusion of the poor by laying our own power down. This Advent, how can you live a more Biblically just life?
Advent:Together is not about heaven and hell; it's about living a life of love, sacrifice, compassion, and justice versus a life of selfishness, indulgence, greed, power, and violence. In which direction is your life aimed?
Esther teaches us many lessons, the best of which is that we're stronger than we think. This teaching focuses on overcoming the odds and includes a testimony from one of our CrossWalk members about the ways in which God has helped her overcome a childhood spent in foster care, meth addiction, and a prison sentence.
The doxology of The Lord's Prayer is a statement of praise. More than that, it is a statement of belief that at the end of all things God wins.
Jesus opens his prayer with the relatable word, "Abba," or "Daddy." But the next line is "Hallowed be Thy Name." God's nature is one of deep love and great power, and in prayer we invoke both. God's love and his power are essential for a complete life as followers of Jesus.
When we teach children how to pray, we're not just teaching them words to say, we're teaching them something about the nature of God and what it means to follow Him. The Lord's Prayer is not just a template or words to recite; it's shorthand for what Jesus believed God was up to in the world and how we as his children are to live. It gives us our identity and purpose.
After Jesus ascended in Acts 1, the apostles gathered in an upper room and had to make a decision about what to do first. What an incredible responsibility! What's the first step after Jesus' ascension? The apostles decided to pray, and prayer led them to name a replacement for Judas, the disciple who killed himself after betraying Jesus. Matthias was chosen to join the apostles as a "witness to the resurrection," because ultimately that's what the church is about - adding one more person to tell the world about resurrection.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, he showed them his wounds. It was not just a way to identify himself, but a way to identify resurrection. Redemption only comes through wounds, in the dark, after great suffering. If you're wounded, keep watching for the Light.
When Jesus washed the disciples' feet in John 13, it was more than just an act of love; it was a rearranging of the social order according to the way of the Kingdom. It was Jesus' way of teaching his disciples to VALUE people, not just accept them.
After a really hard week in our country, we came together at CrossWalk for a time of lament and grieving over the violence we've witnessed. Nicodemus came to Jesus in John 3 and Jesus talked about what it means to be born "from above." His words are a reminder of the way we are to respond to violence: we are born from above, so we see the world and everything in it through the eyes of God.
"For God so loved the world..." It's one of the most famous passages of scripture, yet we don't always talk as though God loves the world. What if, instead of starting with peoples' darkness, we made God's Love the reality of our existence?
John wrote his gospel "so that you might believe and have life!" But it's not logical, reasonable, wrap-your-head-around-it belief; he wrote stories meant to blow your mind in order to show that big belief leads to a big life. Enjoy this teaching from John 14 in which Jesus told his disciples, "Everyone who believes in me will do the same works I've done - even greater works!" Believe it!
Living in the City on a Hill means we let our light shine both inside and outside of the city, loving all people as God loves them. This is perhaps the hardest part of being a Christian.
In the third and final teaching from CITY LIGHTS: How the Church Can Find Her Way Again, we talk about what it means to come alive, specifically as citizens living in the City on a Hill.