Posts Tagged ‘John’

Sunday May 23, 2010 Sermon Recording Who Said That?

Scripture: Acts 2 and John 10: 1-4

Pentecost. A day that changed the world and a day we can continue to experience.  I have heard Pentecost preached on and talked about in many different ways and generally the focus is placed on the extraordinary means of the miracle and not the miracle itself.  It is often assumed that the means of the miracle, the manifestation of multiple languages being spoken and understood by a great many people, is the miracle when in reality that is just the means.  Just like the burning bush and Moses, the amazing thing is not that there was a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire, but by the fact that God desired to speak to him in the first place.  The Moses story also puts on another perspective; Moses wasn’t chosen because of his qualifications.  And so with Pentecost, God chooses to speak to all people regardless of their background and baggage.  Peter declares, all will be saved who call upon the name of the Lord.

All. Everybody.  No excluions.  Pentecost is God’s willingness to pour himself out upon all who would receive.  He speaks to all who would listen.  The difficulty for most of us is not that we don’t want to hear, but that we resist doing the things that help us hear.  I was watching “My Name is Earl” on my lunch break today and he met a woman who was too vain to wear glasses so she had a Very Large Print Bible.  Here is the clip.

Now she wants to read, but she is going to miss out on a lot reading like this.  Why are we so resistant to change our lives for something we know will improve our life.  My grandmother refuses to wear a hearing aid.  We would be in discussions and she would ask me a question and because she couldn’t hear well she would just make up an answer to either satisfy herself or make her upset. She had the tools at her disposal to hear me, but wasn’t willing to change her behavior to do so.  The result was that she would often be mad at stuff I never said.  (Of course, she also laughed at things I said that were never funny to anyone else.) I would hate for us to miss out on what God has to say to us because we are unwilling to learn how to listen and unwilling to step into a deep relationship with him.

Sunday Worship Songs:

  1. Here Is Our King
  2. How Great Thou Art
  3. Glory To God Forever
  4. Take My Life

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Walmart.  Walmart is a strange place.  I have decided that there is really only one Walmart in in the US and whenever we walk through the doors of our respective Walmart, we are transported to one located on the island where the TV show Lost is located.  It appears to be the same people.  I am not casting judgement, I am there as well.  I simply find it fascinating.

I do not go often, but today I needed my weekly supply of  40 pounds of dog food (don’t judge me), a plastic pool, hot dog buns,  bread, lighter, and “opsicles” as Sydney calls them. Come one, that’s a fascinating shopping list.  Once Syd and I loaded up the dog food (I have 3 dogs ok, leave me alone) we passed the dog toy section.  Sydney, who knows the difference between dog toys and baby toys as I do (not much) camps out here for a few minutes before grabbing 2 squeaky fish and a squeaky star fish.  Armed and squeaky, we pass by the live fish tank.  Little splashes of blue, silver, red, and orange darted back in forth while Sydney laughed. An oasis of kid entertainment in the middle of a world of stuff we only think we need because it’s cheap.

We stayed there just long enough for me to actually start thinking that we needed fish.  While I was contemplating this, two little girls, probably 4, came by.  One felt the need to tell me the name of all the fish.  There was a goldfish, a beta fish, a sucker fish, Bob, a mini shark tail fish.  I was personally fascinated by the Bob fish.  It was new to me.  Another little girl came by (is this where women learn to just gather and talk) and said matter of factly, “My fish died” to which the other 4 year old replied sincerely, “aww, that’s too bad”.  It’s like a mini women’s auxiliary. The only difference is that it’s not, “hey did you hear? Maude died last week, she was 84”. And likewise, the girls went on to talk about other fish.

After the kibitzing among the 4 year olds, they turn to Syd, my 2 year old who is holding one of the squeaky fish, minding her own business and sitting in her cart.  The other girl reaches in our cart to “borrow” the fish (again, squeaky not real).  This does not bode well with Sydney, so she gathers all her toys into her arms.  The other girl (I’m wondering where her mother is at this point) looks to me and asks, “why won’t she share?”   Now, I know adults are perplexed why their kids are reluctant to share a toy.  After all, it’s only plastic and they’ll return it right?  My cousin told me once to imagine a bunch of adults who don’t know each other, sitting in a circle, then asked to place their wallets in the middle.  Now imagine everyone grabbing other peoples wallets and telling each other, you’ll get it back.  Anxiety attacks! To the child, that is what it is like.  So I don’t feel bad not encouraging my 2 year old whose reasoning skills are minimal to give a child who reached into her safety zone her toy.I told the little girl that I didn’t know.  I thought to myself, the reason is that Sydney is 2 and neither she nor I know you and seriously, where’s your mom.

This got me to thinking about what we hold tightly too and why we don’t share with God.  I wonder how often we feel like Sydney when God is working in our lives.  We feel like he is taking something away from us, that he wants to diminish us in some way.  Diminished, isn’t that really why we don’t like letting things out of our control?  We feel like something is being taken from us.  Think about that times that you have known that God was asking you to do something or directing you in a direction you really didn’t want to go.  Why was their resistance?

I think one of the reasons we resist is that we do not trust the voice we hear, or we do trust but me misunderstand the motives.  In either case it means that we don’t know the God we say we believe as well as we think.  Could it be that our resistance to hear is a lack of trust in Christ?  Could it be our resistance to share our life with God is our lack of knowledge of who he is?  If I told you that the better you knew God, the easier it would be to hear, follow, and trust, would you actually take the time to get to know Him?  This weekend I will be preaching from John 10 where Jesus tells the disciples that the sheep know the shepherds voice and follow.  We will be reflecting upon how experience is a great way for us to learn to hear and trust.  This means we have to put in some kind of effort.  The Ball is now in your court, or the squeaky toy is in your cart.  What will you do?

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  • Season: Eastertide
  • Series:  Hearing God
  • Sermon: A Principle of Love
  • Scripture: John 15:14-19
  • Songs:

9:30AM Service

  1. How Can I Keep From Singing
  2. Almighty God
  3. Joyous Light
  4. Lead On O King Eternal

We began a new sermon series this past week called, “Hearing God”.  I imagine most of us in our life have been at a point where we fell like no one is listening to us, like we are talking to a brick wall.  Perhaps you remember my illustration of throwing a ball to no one, essentially playing catch by ourselves.  Our prayer life can feel like this.  It is amazing how many people pray but how few of those people ever expect a response.  What is even more amazing is that we are created to hear God and it is his desire that we do.

I remember sitting in the parking lot of a used CD store in Nashville, TN (a place I spent a lot of time… the store, not the parking lot) called the “Great Escape”.  A friend of mine and I were having this discussion and I told her that the Bible was a story about man in search of God.  She said no, “it is about God in search of man”.  That struck me deeply.  She was absolutely right.  The story of our existence is about relationship with God and his continual outreach toward us.  We spend a lot of effort learning how to speak to God but we spend little time learning how to hear from God.  A major reason is that many of us don’t think God would speak to “little o’ me”.  We don’t expect him to throw the ball back.

We are however, created for relationship.  It is a fabric of our being that we are able to hear God in different ways.  Genesis tells of God speaking into existence and creation responding.  Not until the darkness hears God’s voice, does it begin to know light, form, and life.  So to is our life.  Only in believing that God speaks and learning to listen can we begin to discover that abundant life Jesus talked about.  Over the next few weeks we will begin to explore how we can orient our lives into a better position to hear God speak.

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Sunday April 18, 2010

  • Season: Eastertide
  • Sermon: Follow Me
  • Scripture: John 21: 15 -22
  • Songs:

9:30AM Service

  1. Rejoice
  2. Awesome is The Lord Most High
  3. Our God Saves
  4. I Surrender (sorry, can’t find a link to the version we do yet)

11:00AM Service

  1. Crown Him With Many Crowns
  2. I Surrender (same version I can’t find)

I mentioned on Sunday that had I thought of it before bulletins and slides were made, I would have entitled this sermon “The New Normal”.  This phrase I am completely stealing from a friend of mine.  Several years ago this friend lost his father to cancer.  When I asked him how he was doing he said, “we are learning to live in the new normal.”  That struck me on a hundred different levels.  What really stands out for me today is how often when we are faced with something significant in our lives that we cannot quite process, our default mode is to go back to doing something normal as if the event never happened. That may work for a little while, but the reality is that the old normal is long gone and if we are ever to begin living healthy, we must step into the “new normal”.

When reading this passage about Peter and the disciples I am struck by how much their default mode is kicking in.  They are trying to process the events of the last several days (weeks?).  Grant it, not an easy thing to do.  First they enter into Jerusalem with their leader Jesus.  Jesus is praised.  I imagine the disciples were floating on this recognition and wondering if Jesus was about to take over everything.  Then Jesus is betrayed, convicted of  crimes he did not commit, beaten, and crucified.  Peter moves from being the valiant, if not ineffective knight, who declares his loyalty and tries to kill one of the guards succeeding in only missing the guards head and catching his ear, betraying all the teachings of Jesus in that moment, having his master yell at him to stop in front of his enemies, and then running off and denying ever knowing his beloved to the point of cursing his very name.  Not a good turn of events for any of the disciples.  They didn’t know it was going to be a last supper to them it was just, “supper”.

Now, three days after Jesus’ execution, he returns from the dead and shows up among the disciples in a locked room.  Surprise!  Then he is off again appearing to others and then once more back on the shores of Galilee where he finds the disciples off shore fishing.   When Jesus first met these men, they were doing the same things and I suppose now, they are simply attempting to figure out what normal is by going back to doing something they thought they were good at.  Now that I think about it,  I do not remember one story in scripture that ever paints these disciples as good boating men.   Anyhow, Jesus calls out to them, shows them were to throw their nets and they recognize him once more.

Once they are ashore, the Gospel writer John spends more time with Peter and Jesus.  When I look at this dialogue between Jesus and Peter, I still see the comparison of Peter denying Jesus 3 time and Jesus asking if Peter loves him 3 times, but I do not see this as God doubting or chastising Peter.  What I find is a wakeup call to Peter expressing all things are new.  They cannot and should not start over, but they do begin fresh.  Where once Jesus gave a man named Simon the name Peter, he calls him Simon once more as if to say let us make a fresh start and move beyond living in betrayal to living in forgiveness and life.  In a similar way, the writer John reminds us that these men were once fishers of men, but now Jesus has something more in store; he calls them shepherds.  I new vocational title for a new creation.  The New Normal does not have then returning to the old things as if nothing has changed, you see everything has changed now.  There is a new way to live and it can only be found when one first finds themselves in the forgiving presence of the Christ who defeated death.  From there we step into a new normal where death no longer has sting and we have something good to shout about.  As we are embraced by THE SHEPHERD, we become little shepherds coming along side those in this world who need a touch of grace.  Living in the New Normal makes this possible.  Hopefully here in this community or where ever your faith community rests, we might all be uplifted by one another to live in the new creation Christ has inaugurated through his death and resurrection.  It is not complete yet, but we can begin living in his rule today.

The biggest mistake many people make in having a relationship with Christ is that they try to take their new encounter with God and apply it to their old life, as if God were a kind of clothing we wrap around ourselves in certain weather.  Jesus, however, calls us to lay down our life and follow him.  It is difficult to make sense of God if we try to apply to our old way of living.  Jesus calls us to rename us and set us on a vision of life.  This means a life of following Christ.  Are you ready to live in a “new normal”?

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