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Showing posts from May, 2009

Our Song (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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The opening lyric of David’s song is an invitation for the entire earth to join in. It is a new song. A new song is something fresh from experience, something that is for the moment, it is newly inspired. Songs are commentaries on culture, on moments, and on souls. Songs can express a person’s deepest regrets, fears, and utmost joy. Wars inspire new songs. Love inspires new songs. Failed love inspires new songs. If you were to sing a song that reflected your week last week, how would it go? If you were to sing a song, like David’s, that reflected your relationship with God, what would it say? No one sings happy birthday at a funeral. It is hard to join in a song that we are not connected to in soul and moment. There are times we just don’t feel like singing. In this sermon today I ask simply that you listen. I ask that you listen to David’s lyric, his new song of praise to God, and at the same time listen to your own song. What are the lyrics that describe your life, your moment, yo

The Heart of the Matter

I have just returned from the cardiologist. The diagnosis is a minor thickening of the heart wall. At this point the doctor has chosen only to monitor my condition instead of treating it. He did not think my weak spell last week was related to my heart, but because they did an EKG they caught this abnormality. He said my spell means that they did an EKG at 35 and caught it instead of doing one at 55 and seeing the same thing. I do want to thank everyone for praying for me. Your support and love over the last several days has meant a great deal to me.

Read Contend

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Many people say they believe in God, but when you listen to them explain their faith in conversation it becomes crystal clear that they really do not know what “believing in God” means. This is not only a discipleship issue but one of evangelism as well. The church is at a crisis. In a Biblically illiterate culture the people of God are unable to articulate their faith. My friend Jason Dollar has just published a book, “Contend” which he designed as an apologetics primer for high school students. Although this book is written at a student level my experience has been that student level is the perfect place to start, especially in the area of apologetics. You may be wondering what “apologetics” is, are, was, or were. If so, you need this book. We must be able to explain what we believe and why. I highly recommend every person who names the name of Jesus Christ as Savior spend some portion of their year studying apologetics. Allow my friend Jason to begin your journey. Read Contend .

Who Are You (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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The Book of Romans ends in the most unexpected way, with a list of names. The Bible is famous for this, compiling mountainous, monotonous lists of names. We read through them as if they are a bore. But are they meaningful? If we were to eliminate the list of names we would emasculate the Scriptures of one of its greatest truths; that God has chosen to reveal Himself in human theaters. Paul could have shared with us thirty more profound truths about justification, or he could do as he has, share with us thirty people who have made the journey from Romans 1, people who participate in the wrath of God, to Romans 16, people who participate in the glory of God. God could have revealed Himself to us in code, or theological treatise, or religious formula. But He has not. God has revealed Himself to us in a list of names, in a monotonous mountain of humanity. If we were to erase Romans 16 we should also erase the names of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Jeremi

Smoke in Wind (Reading Romans 16)

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The Book of Romans ends in the most unexpected way, with a list of names. The Bible is famous for this, compiling mountainous, monotonous lists of names. We read through them as if they are a bore. But are they meaningful? If we were to eliminate the list of names we would emasculate the Scriptures of one of its greatest truths; that God has chosen to reveal Himself in human theaters. Paul could have shared with us thirty more profound truths about justification, or he could do as he has, share with us thirty people who have made the journey from Romans 1, people who participate in the wrath of God, to Romans 16, people who participate in the glory of God. God could have revealed Himself to us in code, or theological treatise, or religious formula. But He has not. God has revealed Himself to us in a list of names, in a monotonous mountain of humanity. If we were to erase Romans 16 we should also erase the names of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Esther,

Who are You? Part 2, The Benefactors (Reading Romans 16)

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Paul mentions four groups in Romans 16. He mentions those whom the church should greet (1-16), those of whom the church should beware (17-20), those whom bring greetings to the church (21-24), and he finally acknowledges the glory of God in His Son at work in the church (25-27). Who are you? From verses 21-24 Paul mentions a series of men who bring greetings to the church. Some of these names you may quickly recognize like pastor Timothy to whom two epistles are written and Jason whose story is told in Acts 17. The other names may be more obscure. At the very least we can discern that these are men with Paul as they are not greeted by the church, but instead they send their greetings to the church. The church needs men and women who work inside the church, servants, workers, teachers, etc. But the church also needs men and women of means who are able to use their time and talents to move the church. These are people who use their frequent flier miles to transport a missionary. It is

Who Are You? Part 2, The Dangerous (Reading Romans 16)

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Paul mentions four groups in Romans 16. He mentions those whom the church should greet (1-16), those of whom the church should beware (17-20), those whom bring greetings to the church (21-24), and he finally acknowledges the glory of God in His Son at work in the church (25-27). Who are you? From verses 17-20 Paul tells the church family to watch out for those who would cause divisions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine that has been taught. For those outside the church this statement is surprising. To those who have been hurt by the church, it is not. For those new to the faith and naive this is surprising. To the seasoned and embattled warrior of truth, it is not. What is surprising, is the form the dangerous take. They do not plainly declare their presence nor their intentions. They have a gift of smooth talk and flattery. The enemies of the gospel can make you feel most important. Yet their motives are single, their own appetites. Whether it be the destruction of

From John Piper to Our President on the Value of Life

Who Are You? Part 1 (Reading Romans 16)

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In Romans 16 Paul speaks of four groups. The first group is those whom the church should greet (vv. 1 – 16). They are people critical to the life and health of the church. These people are servants, hard workers, new converts, and heroes of the faith like Prisca and Aquila (v. 4). These are people the church should cherish and never take for granted. In order for a church to be healthy there must be people who give themselves to people, servants (vv. 1-2). The servants of the church are the most inconspicuous. They are what they are without a vote, without invitation, and too often without recognition. Paul recognizes Phoebe. He commends her to the church which means that they should immediately accept her and stand beside her. Paul goes on to say that the church needs to help her in whatever she may need. Phoebe, the servant, needed to be served. It was time to return the blessing. In order for a church to be healthy there are times it must serve its servants. In the first church I

Because of Jesus (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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How would you complete the statement, “Because of Jesus I . . .?” The Christian life is a dynamic, ever growing, definitive relationship with Jesus Christ. Every element of our life should be traced back to how we are related to Jesus. Paul was so related to Jesus one could say that Christ even defined him geographically. He knew where he was going because of Jesus. God uses our meditations on the life of Christ and the information we gain from studying the Scriptures to have conversations with us. When was the last time you heard God’s voice? He is speaking to you because of Jesus. Are you listening? Listen to audio

The People You Need (Reading Romans 16)

Romans 16 appears to be just another list of awkward Bible names; the kind of list you read at scan speed. Yet take a moment, slow the pace, if it helps drop the names and list the roles. Servant of the church Protector of many Fellow workers in Christ Jesus who risked their necks for my life One who has worked hard for you My kinsmen and fellow prisoners My beloved in the Lord Our fellow worker in Christ Workers in the Lord One who has worked hard in the Lord One who has been a mother to me One who is host to me and to the whole church In order to be effective we are in desperate need of people. We need a broad range of people. We need those who serve in general and we need those who become like mothers to us. We need those who enter the journey during the lowest moments of our life and we need those who will fight for our lives. We need hard workers and we need hosts. It is not good for man to be alone. You and I need people. You and I need to be people for other people.

What is Your Christ History? (Reading Romans 15)

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Romans 15 and 16 are Paul’s Christ history. These chapters teach us that there are many things about Paul that were solely defined by Christ. So many things Paul writes ring with a “because of Christ, I . . .” sort of rhythm. He creates this list to share his heart and inspire our walk. Because of Jesus Christ Paul says we can bear with the failings of other people and not please ourselves (v. 1). People are difficult, especially people who seem to infringe on our faith. Paul describes them as weak. Yet, because of Jesus, you can deal with it. Why? “For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me (v. 3).” Because of Jesus you can be full of hope. The very essence of Jesus’ mission was to bring the knowledge of the name of God to the Gentiles and to confirm the promises of God to the Jews. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (v.

Scruples (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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A scruple is a moral or ethical consideration or standard that acts as a restraining force or inhibits certain actions. Scruples are things other people do, but for some reason your conscience won’t allow you to go there. In the broad expression of faith in the Christian church there are scruples. One person may feel strongly that he should not eat at a restaurant that serves alcohol. Another person may enter a restaurant and have no issue with the bar. Within Paul’s audience there were scruples of food, holidays, and drink. The problem with scruples is in their mishandling. Mishandling scruples can be dangerous to our faith and to God’s work in the church. In Romans 14 Paul gives us the dangers and the solutions of handling scruples. Listen to audio

He is Your Brother (Reading Romans 14)

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“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 10:10-11 Romans 14 is about dealing with scruples. Scruples are things that people cannot bring themselves to do because they defy their conscience. Scruples may be things other people are totally free to do, but for some reason you just can’t go there. Being afraid to bungee jump is not a scruple. Believing that bungee jumping is behavior unbecoming to a Christian is a scruple. Sort of. But you get the point. Within the Christian church there are things that people believe differently and strongly. The casual reader of church history can see that while Christians are united that Jesus is the Son of God, some of us just can’t bring ourselves to wear pants or use something other than the KJV. Sadly, it is all of the other things

Weak People Believe Certain Things Strongly (Reading Romans 14)

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Romans 14 is an odd passage that it admonishes the strong in the Christian community to be able to constructively deal with the weak. The immediate audience is comprised of people who had strong beliefs about diet and the observance of special days. The odd aspect of the passage is that Paul is labeling those with strong convictions as those who are weak. There are essential points of belief that define the Christian community. The identity of Jesus as the Son of God and the meaning of His death, burial and resurrection are non-negotiable. That a person must repent of sin and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord is a foundational tenant of our faith. Yet there are many other things in the Christian community that people believe strongly. Paul says that people believe in certain things so strongly, like diet and days, that they are matters of conscience (v. 5). As such we should not cause a brother to stumble over them (v. 13). Yet how could Paul call someone who believes something strong

Getting Dressed in the Dark (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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Paul paints a picture of the followers of Christ as early risers who get dressed in the dark. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a defining moment in human history. The next one will be His return. We are living in the dark just before the dawn. This is the time when we should be living as if we are preparing for the next life, a new day. In this sermon, learn how the second coming of Jesus Christ serves as motivation for holy living in this present age. Listen to audio