When I was a kid our family often traveled for a summer vacation. Our highway travels took us all across the United States to a variety of destinations, some of which had “believe it or not” attractions. These varied from the billboard advertised “unbelievable” and “world’s largest” or “world’s greatest” this or that, to the only slightly more respectable Ripley’s museums you find in tourist towns. Despite getting my hopes up that we might stop, pay the fare, and feast our eyes on the unbelievable – as it turned out, I learned that our family (especially dad) were not believers when it came to these attractions. Instead we were treated to some of God’s more unbelievable natural attractions in the nation – Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and so forth. In hind sight I think we got the better deal!
As you read the narrative accounts of Christ’s birth in Matthew 1 and Luke 2, they might strike you as containing stories that are too good to believe. Continue reading
This week I put out a query through social media regarding “service”. I asked three questions: 1. Why do you serve others? 2. Where did you learn to serve? 3. What have you gained by serving?
I want to thank all of those who responded. There were several thoughtful replies and they’ve helped me think about this topic more in preparation for sharing a sermon on “Serve”. I thought I’d use this post to share my answers to these three questions: Continue reading
The marks moved incrementally up the door frame no more than a half inch or more at a time. To the side they were assigned the initials of the one being measured: REC, TCC, PJC, KIC, and DMC. Measurements were taken on no particular schedule, but probably after a fair amount of pestering had transpired. In resignation – perhaps curiosity, but mostly to satisfy – the yard stick would be brought out as one by each the subjects stood. Shoulders back, eyes forward, head level as that same yard stick served first as marking point and then was brought down the wall to measure the height of the subject. Inches were converted to feet and inches called out to the nearest quarter or eighth. Growth was noted, cheered, celebrated, and marked for all of posterity on the frame behind the door to our utility room. Those marks, perhaps under a layer or two of paint, still exist today.
As the youngest of the above identified initials, and therefore the shortest for quite some time, I took specific interest in the gains being made in my growth in stature. Was I gaining on my siblings? Continue reading
In my sermon today in the series “Be the Message” I drew on the wisdom of Dallas Willard and his work on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the “attitudes that ought to be” (or Beatitudes). Willard said that living a good life, or being a good person, is learning to live “interactively with God”. He suggests that this is what Jesus is speaking about in his famous sermon when he describes persons who are “blessed.” Jesus does this by offering a quite unlikely list of 8 different characteristics: poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted (for righteousness sake). Those who live in this way are “blessed” or content because they are in tune with the things of God, the ways of God, and the will of God. They are living “interactively” with God.
That may seem to us a high bar of a goal. Perhaps even unattainable in our own merit, and therefore unreachable. But it’s the life that Jesus modeled, and the life that he calls us toward. A friend, having listened to the sermon, commented that living interactively with God today might be thought of as having a 24/7 FaceTime encounter with God. Continue reading
One of our dear more mature members (let’s just say she’s in her 10th decade on this earth) remarked to me Sunday as she left worship: “I ask the Lord every morning what he wants me to do today. He generally has something in mind.” She put in two sentences what I had just tried to say in about a twenty-five minute sermon.
As we strive to “be the message” by finding God’s purpose for our day . . . week, month, year, life . . . we would do well to begin with her question: “What do you want me to do with this day (week, month, year, life) Lord?” But, having asked the question, we then need to be in a listening posture to discover what the Lord has in mind. Continue reading