May 13th, 2019

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Time to Wake Up
Acts 9:36-43

  • Happy Mother’s Day!
    • Good memories…
      • Some ine: apple trees, drink cups, “time to wake up”
    • We are thankful this day for the love God shows us through the mothers and mother-figures in our lives
      • And we single one out of scripture as an example…
    • Tabitha/Dorcas (maybe a mother; certainly a mother-figure)
      • She lived in Joppa, a port town on the Mediterranean just south of what is now Tel Aviv. The modern name is Jaffa, & it remains a thriving town in Israel.
      • Was called a “disciple”
        • One who is seeking to grow in the ways of faith and life, trusting God and serving God.
        • But THIS “disciple” in this passage is the ONLY feminine form of the word used in the whole Bible. She is the only woman in the Bible that gets labeled a DISCIPLE.
      • She was called by God to works of charity
        • Showed God’s love to widows (and orphans?), who were among the most vulnerable of society
        • Was she a widow? We don’t know.  A mother? We don’t know.  Were the widows followers of Christ? 
      • What we DO know, and what her story should teach us:
        • We do know that the widows loved her! Probably because she had first loved them.  Sound familiar?
        • We know that she was not just fond of doing works of charity (agape love) but devoted to them. Moms tend to be devoted to their child’s well-being.  Tabitha had widened her circle.
        • We know that she used what skills she had for God’s purpose.
        • She probably did her good works up to the last. We can imagine how she hung on to complete her work and then, finally, though that her work was done.  But we KNOW that God wasn’t done with her, and that MANY were saved!
  • Let us not grow weary of well-doing!  Wake up!  Be thankful for those examples of holy love that God sets before us and become those examples for others!  People need more Tabithas in this life!


May 13th, 2019

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Grace for the Skeptic
John 20:19-31


  • What is the Big News here?

    • Jesus is alive! Jesus breathes upon them the Holy Spirit!

      • Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created
      • John 1:1a In the beginning was the Word
      • Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God …breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
      • John 20:22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit."
    • But Thomas steals the show..
      • He wasn't there, he didn't see, he wouldn't believe!
    • How did Jesus respond to him?
      • With compassion, by letting him see.
      • With a final Beatitude
    • Why is there so much “active unbelief” nowadays?
      • God interferes with their "good time"
      • God has let them down (or God’s people)
        • These are often the “burned” or the wounded... like Thomas.  Such skepticism is very often the result of pain, and leads to emptiness
      • We imagine Thomas' disbelief as intellectual, but maybe it was relational
        • He didn't believe his friends' eyewitness accounts, or his Rabbi's past teachings & miracles
        • He was grieving, and this was "too good to be true;"
      • But what are we to make of what Jesus said to Thomas?
        • Can you imagine a case where demanding evidence is wrong? (How about "Prove that you love me!”)
        • Some may think that what is "leaped over" through faith is a lack of evidence. But in my experience, it is more about the struggle in our hearts (insecurities, fear of being hurt, etc.) than the struggle in our heads
        • Like "love," we can say a lot or a little when we say, "I believe"
          • ex 1: "I believe it's going to rain."
          • ex 2: "I believe this airplane is safe."
          • ex 3: "I believe in my wife."
        • "Belief in Christ" is that kind of belief that starts with a realization and moves quickly to trust, then over time permeates the center of your being and fills every corner of your life...
          • (Like Thomas says: "My Lord and my God!")
        • I LOVE talking with those who have honest intellectual struggles, for they are searching for the truth
          • But for MANY this last beatitude could effectively be translated "blessed are those who believe without an injured heart impeding their way"
          • Will we be there to assure them that God in Jesus felt the same grief and pain at the unjustness of this broken world? That is at the CORE of the Good News!



19_04_21 - Easter 2019 - Then They Remembered

May 13th, 2019

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Then They Remembered
Luke 24:1-12 

  • Why are we here?

    • Almost 2,000 years ago...

      • A man was betrayed, captured and killed; his followers scattered, his mother mourned; hopes were dashed ...and then the unbelievable happened
    • Have you believed the unbelievable, and found it true?
      • That you could find love, or self-worth, or meaning?
      • That your child would look into your eyes and call you Mamma or Dadda?
      • That you would look into the mirror and see your mother or father?
    • Have you ever doubted the words of someone you trusted, because they were too bad, or good, to be true?
  • A Catastrophic Joy...
    • Why do we have no word like "catastrophe" for something good?

      • Could it be that life hasn't caused us to need one?
      • J RR Tolkien: "I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears... because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, ...that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made.” - Letter 89
      • But we need a better word. Redemption, maybe?
    • ...at Odds with the World
      • Why Mary was disbelieved:

        • Not just because of the legal disregard of women, or even pure chauvinism
        • But because this is not the way the world works, but we feel it should!
      • Why did Peter (and John) not fully believe?
        • Mary and the women REMEMBERED, and they saw the light at the end of the tomb, but the “menfolk” were still “stuck” at Golgotha, in the land of shattered hopes and dreams.
      • Why are you here, some on most Sundays, some for the "high" holy days?
        • Not just because "I was made to come," surely
        • But because:
          • You have seen the brokenness of your work, maybe even yourself
          • And a part of you cries out for the "happy ending," the sudden undoing of the catastrophes of our lives, the healing of the harms and hurts, the world to be as your heart cries out that it should be
        • What is the promise of Easter?
          • That on that most blessed of mornings, the world finally worked as it ought to!
          • That on a blessed morning to come, the ways of this broken world will change, heaven and earth will join, and Joy will come!
          • And that until that day, our calling is to look upon the brokenness, the hurts, the little and large catastrophes of our lives and of those around us and proclaim that this is not how it has to remain! And to each day, and with the Spirit's guidance, help each other and all of those in this world full of brokenness and hurt, to REMEMBER Christ’s promise, and to see the Lord!

2019_04_14 - The Long-Awaited King

April 15th, 2019

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The Long-Awaited King
Luke 19:28-40

  • Do you like waiting? Does anyone?

    • Waiting for a certain date & time vs.
    • Waiting for something to happen… when?
      • Waiting for the world to change?
  • Did you know TWO processions into Jerusalem?

    • From the West: Pilate's Procession

      • The rulers, the soldiers and cavalry
      • Many "gods" represented by Caesar
      • Peace through Roman power
    • Pilate was an expert in the “game of thrones”…
      • Maneuvering for position; stabbing others in the back
      • Gaining power at the expense of others
      • Who will win? Who will lose?
    • But today we celebrate the Triumphal Entry!
      • From the East: Jesus' Procession

        • The "peasants," the poor, the faithful
        • Proclaiming the Kingdom of God
        • Peace through God's strength, shown in our weakness
      • Jesus was a King who refused to “play the game”
        • Humble ourselves to be exalted by others
        • Turn the other cheek; forgive a brother 77 times...
        • Praise a widow giving a penny vs. others giving fortunes
        • A STRONG person who turned down the lure of power to stand between us and death
  • Which King Will We Choose?

    • The irony: many people wanted Jesus to be more like Pilate
    • Let Jesus Be Jesus! Come to Him, not trying to "redefine Jesus for the 21st century." Jesus is just fine, thanks.
    • Jesus’ approach seemed doomed to failure, but (and here’s the kicker) how many of us remembered Pilate had a procession that day? 
    • Seems like in this case, the world did change for the better!  Maybe if we let Jesus be Jesus IN US, it will continue to!

Extravagant Love

April 8th, 2019

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Extravagant Love
John 12:1-8

  • Two weeks before Good Friday, before Easter
    • Jesus and the disciples are in Bethany
      • At the house of Simon the Leper
      • Martha was serving (but not grousing)
      • Lazarus was eating
      • Mary showed her (and possibly her family’s) devotion and gratitude
    • What is the greatest gift you’ve ever received, or given?
      • Have you ever poured out a year’s wages on a loved one’s head and feet?
    • An Extravagant Gift
      • 12oz spikenard
        • Imported from India (the Himalayas)
        • 300 denarii (a year's wages of a working man)
        • Probably used as an investment; possibly her (and her family’s) life savings
      • Econ 101: When you spend something, you have not just lost its value, but all the other possible uses of it
        • Pension? Unemployment? Food in a famine?
        • Their little bit of hard-earned security?
      • An Anointing:
        • Of His head as King before a Triumphal Entry
        • Of His feet as her savior, showing Mary’s humility
        • She could not know it was also the only burial anointing He would ever receive
      • She was only opposed by false piety
        • Judas (and others?) tried to tarnish her gift
        • What Mary did was astounding, and beautiful
          • Makes me feel a little cheap
  • This was the kind of action you must be CALLED to do.
    Not every person has every calling, but if we stay in love with Jesus, we will find that answering His specific call upon our lives leaves our hearts at peace and our souls filled with Joy.

Sermon for Youth Sunday 2018

May 10th, 2018

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04/08/2018 - Seeing Is Believing?

May 10th, 2018

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“Seeing Is Believing?"

John 20:19-31


  • Learning from Thomas

    • The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not the easiest truth to grasp and believe. Thomas was not shunned by the other disciples, and was not condemned by Jesus.  This should give us all courage.
    • Thomas believed, lost faith and returns to even greater faith.


  • The Character of Thomas: A Different Take

    • Thomas the Negative?

      • John 11:16 - "Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”"
      • John 14:5 - "Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”"
      • These two passages reveal a man who is not giving in to fear.
        • BUT he does seem to be a bit of a pessimist...
        • AND being brave while others hide in fear can make you a bit "puffed up..."
      • Thomas the Offended?
        • Easy to imagine: "Why would he choose to show up when he knew I wasn't there? Here I am being brave (unlike these fair-weather-disciples) and he doesn't appear to me?!?"
      • Thomas the Testy?
        • We do know this: Thomas failed the "do not put the Lord your God to the test" test. (see Deut 6:16; Luke 4:12)
      • Thomas the Honest
        • He did not try to hide his doubts...

          • Doubts which are left unattended can fester and grow, and can tear you apart.
        • Jesus knew Thomas. And Jesus knows you!
          • Jesus knows your doubts. He knows where you struggle in your faith.
          • If you honestly admit where you struggle with doubts, but you really want to know God in spite of them, He will lead you to a place where you will be content with the answers.
        • Joy in the Presence of the Risen Christ
          • The Reaching-Out of God

            • “Religion is about our reaching out to God; Christianity is about God’s reaching out to us.”
            • Willimon: “The resurrected Christ goes back to, and appears before the very same rag-tag group of people who so disappointed him, misunderstood him, forsook him, and fled into the darkness."
            • This is the dynamic of the Easter message. We don’t find Jesus, he finds us!
          • The nature of a post-Resurrection faith
            • Thomas was the pattern of what was to come:

              • faith beyond (immediate) sight; finding Jesus in the midst of his followers; confession of Jesus as Lord and God
            • The Last Beatitude:
              • Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:29)
              • The Last Beatitude was reserved for us!
            • Seeing What Cannot Be Seen
              • There are things we believe that we cannot directly see (love of parents; faithfulness of a spouse). They are often the most important things of all!

04/01/2018 - An Easter People

May 10th, 2018

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“An Easter People"

John 20:1-18


  • "Christ our Lord is Risen!" "He is Risen, indeed"
  • “Early on the first day... Mary Magdalene went to the tomb…”
    • “It was still dark.”

      • “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light..." In the Gospel of John darkness represents chaos, despair, unbelief.  Light is truth, faith, & salvation.
    • Mary was living in a state of chaos & despair...
      • She had watched as the person she had loved more than anyone in the world was tortured, and murdered...
      • And she was one of a small handful of people who did not desert Him when He was arrested and crucified. She heard Jesus say: “It is finished”  She knew where He was buried.
    • All her hopes and dreams had died along with Jesus
      • And so, she would weep. And she would remember all the good times.  But her meaning in life had gone away. 
    • The Empty Tomb
      • But when she got to the tomb, “the stone had been removed”

        • She ran, in pitch black darkness, to tell Peter and John that Jesus’ body had been stolen!!!
        • And when they got to the tomb, we are told that they saw Jesus’ grave clothes, but no body.
        • Peter and John went back to their homes, but not Mary.
      • Mary stayed and wept, and wept and wept. She “saw two angels," but she seems oblivious that they are angels. 
        • Is it possible that in our darkness, misunderstanding and unbelief that we have been stumbling over angels as well?
        • She tells these angels that someone has stolen Jesus’ body, and she turns away from them.
      • And when she turns away, there is another figure standing in her line of sight. But she does not recognize that it is Jesus Himself.
        • How many times do we fail to recognize Jesus as we are walking in the darkness of this world?
        • And yet Jesus is all around us. Do we see Him?
      • Mary “saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was him.
        • ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”  You can almost hear His tender smile.  But Mary was looking for a dead body, not a living Jesus.
        • “Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
      • At this, “Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
        • And suddenly, everything changed!!!

          • Jesus simply calls her name! And in John’s Gospel this is the moment when the Resurrection is declared.  And it’s not done by Jesus telling Mary Who He is, it’s done by Jesus telling Mary who she is!!!
        • This is the turning point. Nothing will ever be the same again!
          • The world seems without meaning until God speaks our name and calls us to Himself, and everything is changed.
          • The Resurrection took place for Mary when Jesus spoke her name!
          • The chaos, despair and hopelessness and darkness was gone as she ran to the Light of Life!!!
        • Mary went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’
          • And that is what we are called to do…not just with our mouths, but with our entire lives.
          • You see, belief in the resurrection is more than some intellectual agreement to the story of the gospels.   The power of Easter is not found in mere assent that Jesus walked out of the tomb.
            • The power of Easter is the power of the resurrection itself, present in the life of those who truly follow Christ. Jesus is raised by the power of God into a new way of life, a new existence.
          • The power of Easter comes as the resurrected Lord is raised to a new way of life, and then shares that life with us.
            • Those of us who follow Christ share not only in his name but in this Life to which he is raised.
            • Because he is risen, we share in his new existence.


  • We are an Easter people.

    • We are not just a people of a spring-time celebration...

      • For us to be an Easter people means the daily realization that the very power of God which raised Jesus from the dead is also the very same power which flows in and through us as His followers
    • To be an Easter people means that even as the long dark nights come, even as the daily grind wears at us, even as the tugs and bumps of the problems of each day come our way, we know that it is not our own strength which sustains us.
    • Rather, "Because he lives, I can face tomorrow."
      • Because he lives, and lives in me; because my true life is hidden with Christ in God, and will be fully revealed in that great day a-coming, I can live today with grace and power no matter what comes.

For "Christ our Lord is Risen!" "He is Risen, indeed!

03/25/2018 - The King of Israel

May 10th, 2018

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“The King of Israel!”

John 12:(1-11) 12-16


  • Is the King of Israel the Lord of my life?

    • Is Jesus both our Savior and our Lord?

      • One way to see is to look at our priorities.
    • We all have our priorities...
      • Ever sat down and thought about what your priorities are?
      • Spouse, children and grandchildren, work or study, etc., etc.
      • What about God or church...?
    • John 12:1-11 - Martha, Mary, and Judas
      • Martha:

        • Jesus is again in Bethany enjoying a dinner put on for him
        • Martha is serving the meal...
          • One of Martha's top priorities seems to be service to others, and by extension, service to God.
          • In Jesus' presence, her first impulse was to serve Him
        • Mary:
          • Mary comes and kneels at Jesus feet to anoint him. John probably wants us to connect this anointing with the triumphal entry. Jesus is anointed then proclaimed King.
          • The cost of the ointment was worth about 300 denarii, about $55,000 U.S. dollars. Mary had probably spent her life savings for it.
          • Mary's priority was adoration of Jesus; receiving His teaching and showing Him extravagant worship.
        • Do you notice that neither Martha nor Mary's priorities had themselves as the object?
        • Judas:
          • Remember Jesus saying: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also? It also works the other way around. Where your heart is that’s where you’ll invest your treasure.
          • Judas is more worried about what might be done with the money that this jar would bring in the market place – particularly if he could get his hands on it. Judas doesn’t have kingdom priorities. He seems to be in it for what profit he can get out of it.
        • John 12:12-16 - The Chief Priests and the Crowd
          • The Chief Priests:

            • They’ve already decided Jesus, and now Lazarus, needs to die. They’ve closed their minds to the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah.
            • "All the world has gone out after Him!" The chief priests probably meant by this, "our world, our people, are going after Him, instead of us!"   They were afraid of what He was going to cost them: power, prestige, control...
            • How different from Mary!
          • The Crowd:
            • They cry out a royal welcome: “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!”

              • "Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord." - Psalm 118:25-26 (NRSV)
            • But why did they praise Him? Was it adoration like Mary's?  Was it self-interest, like Judas?  What were their priorities? 
              • Most likely a mix, which surely the Lord understands...
              • "For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you!  At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster." - Zephaniah 3:15 (NLT)
              • Yet also, surely Martha's and Mary's priorities, committed service and extravagant adoration, are the examples for us to follow...
            • Closing thoughts and a Challenge
              • We have seen a range of responses to Jesus based on different priorities.
              • Where do our priorities lie when it comes to Jesus, to God, to God’s church?
              • A bit of "homework:" Prayerfully consider what are most important things in your life, and what you believe your priorities should be.  Then consider, are those things which I believe are the most important things in my life, also those things that my actions proclaim to be the most important?


03/18/2018 - We Wish to See Jesus

March 21st, 2018

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“We Wish to See Jesus”

John 12:20-36


  • Into the Midst of Holy Week

    • As we come to John 12, Jesus has ridden into Jerusalem on the donkey. Jerusalem is full of people from all over the world, gathered for the feast, and among the crowd, there are some Greeks. They would have been Jewish converts, but they’re not native-born Jews. Do you see their question in verse 21? ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’
    • It’s not obvious on the surface how Jesus’ reply relates to the Greeks’ desire to see Him.
    • Instead, it is the question, and who it comes from, that is the signal for Jesus, the indication that his time has come.
  • So That All May See Jesus
    • The Hour has now come...

      • Up till now, there has been a repeated theme in John’s Gospel that Jesus’ hour or time has not yet come.
    • ...for the Son of Man to be Glorified...
      • But now, in response to the request of these Greeks to see Him, Jesus announces (John 12:23), “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Salvation would now be proclaimed to the whole world. The hour had come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
    • ...in the most unexpected of ways.
      • Now, when you think of Jesus being glorified, what is it that comes to mind? You might think of the crowds in Jerusalem shouting their praise; or being elevated high on people's shoulders. But as Jesus is glorified, as he is lifted up, it means his death on the cross - as John says: 'he said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
    • So That As We See Jesus, All May See Jesus In Us
      • The Necessity of Death

        • “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit...”
        • Somehow death and seeing Jesus are intimately related. To see Jesus is more than looking at him. It is more than just believing the things he said and did. We follow Christ as participants not spectators. If we want to see Jesus then we must also learn to die.
      • The Process of Death
        • see Galatians 2:19b-20
        • Seeing Jesus means dying to our own self-sufficiency. We let go of our life to receive God’s life.
        • This work of dying (to self) is difficult and painful. But in the process of dying is what begins to heal our vision. We see a new life, and a new way of living, and this new way looks a lot like Jesus, and his way of living and being. That’s a big part of what Lent, and Holy Week, are about.
      • The Purpose of Death
        • "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
        • When we hear of the next tragedy, the next shooting, the next suicide, we need to hear the words, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
      • Bearing Much Fruit
        • The Foster Care service and churches:

          • In 2012 there were 397,000 foster care cases; by 2016 there were 437,500 children in the system. In 2012 there were 384,000 functioning churches in America.  So if every church in America had one family willing to take in a foster child or two, we would empty the system out, at least for a time. 
          • Imagine if all these children were shown what a loving family looks like? What Jesus' love looks like?
          • When was the last time in Western world that the Church did something that was shockingly good?
        • Do we wish to see Jesus? Do we want others to see more of Jesus in us? If Jesus said that where He is, his servant will also be found, then Jesus calls us to stand in the place of self-sacrifice with Him. If we hear His call, then we will see Jesus...

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