Sermons from May 2022
Mark 1:29-31 The gospel of Mark starts when Jesus starts his ministry. Mark skips the Christmas story. He ignores Jesus’ royal & human genealogies. He even leaves out the part about the Word being with God in the beginning. Mark shows us Jesus the Servant. As he does this, Mark captures the reaction of those watching Jesus descend into service. He captures their wincing reaction as the first witnesses see their great Messiah become the slave of all. To be the Messiah who saves from suffering, Jesus comes as the Messiah who serves & suffers.
Jesus taught that God commissioned him with a love-motivated mission to save the world rather than condemn it (John 3:16-17). His saving mission focused on forgiving people of their selfish decision(s) to rebel against God. The vital place forgiveness holds in Jesus’ mission extends to those who commit to following him; the forgiveness defining Jesus and his mission must characterize all who disciple themselves to him. It does not take one very long to realize that, while the Bible clearly describes forgiveness important place, it devotes very little space to exploring the complexities of practicing it. Rather than providing an exhaustive list of ‘if…,then…’ scenarios to guide people, the Bible expects individuals to work out how to practice forgiveness in ways consistent with Jesus’ teaching and practices. So, we will use this lesson to explore the practice of forgiveness.
Early in my ministry, an older preacher jokingly told me that you “don’t mess with people’s money or kids.” Conversely, I have noticed that people tend to like lessons that focus on other people more than ones that focus on them and their concerns. Despite seeing the same things, Jesus persistently directed his audience’s attention to their problems. His strategy often angered his audience and even motivated them to try and kill him on a couple of occasions. We are a church family committed to following Jesus. Like those who followed Jesus in the gospels, we should also be prepared to be disquieted by his teachings. However, the discomfort Jesus creates seeks to transform us so that we can enjoy the life God intended us to live. We will, in this lesson, consider the transformed relationship with wealth that Jesus expects to take root within the lives of all who follow him.
Nearly twenty-five years ago, I began seeing gender-inclusive religious slogans like, “Our God, She is alive.” Academic debates about feminism and patriarchy had reached a popular level and started to appear in bookstores and on bumper stickers. While some opposed gender-inclusive Bible teaching because of prejudices and others pushed gender-inclusive Bible teachings into unbiblical areas, the debate revolved around a clear center – God does describe Himself using feminine imagery in the Bible. As we celebrate Mothers’ Day today, we…
A [large] contingent of practicing Christians are more inclined toward materialism, the view that the material world is all there is. For them, “meaning and purpose comes from working hard to earn as much as possible so you can make the most of life,” a view held by one-fifth of practicing Christians (20%). The above quote comes from a 2017 Barna Group report summarizing its research into various worldviews influencing the beliefs and practices of self-identified Christians in the United States. While I suspect the finding that many believe “meaning and purpose comes from working hard to earn as much as possible so you can make the most of life” does not surprise us, the number of “practicing Christians” who espouse it should alarm us. That finding should disturb us because its claim that life’s meaning and purpose revolves around wealth stands in stark contrast to Jesus’ numerous teachings about wealth’s dangers. As we continue to explore what it looks like to commit ourselves to following Jesus and learning from him, we will use this lesson to consider Jesus’ teachings about wealth in Matthew 6:19-24.  https://www.barna.com/research/competing-worldviews-influence-todays-christians/