Sermon: Harder Than It Looks

Sermon Text: Matthew 4:1-11 Sermon Excerpt Change is a given.  It is also something most of us dislike – perhaps more than we are willing to admit. Who among us wanted the time to change last night? Why did we have to lose an hour of life, especially an hour of sleep? Why does something so small tend to become something we hold on to and complain about for days or even weeks? Who among us wanted church to shift from ordinary time to Lent? Why did we go from the liturgy we knew Read More …

What Do You Call Yourself?

Douglas Lobb, retired minister and former executive secretary of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, recently wrote about an increasingly challenging and vitally important term often used as a means of identifying oneself with the Way of Jesus: Christian (The Congregationalist, Dec. 2013, p.21-23).  Relating his own experience, Lobb writes: In the light of today's Christian world, I find that I have great difficulty calling myself a Christian; because what is Read More …

Ask the “Why” Questions

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi - director of the United Church of Christ's Center for Analytics, Research and Data - recently wrote about the importance of asking "why" questions.  She reminds us that Jesus was the master of using just the right why question at just the right time, and offers several examples including: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your Read More …

Review of Spiritual Awakening

Meet the Author Tim van der Vliet is a former trader on the financial markets turned spiritual seeker.  Adopting an irreverent eclectic approach to spirituality, he is now a full-time writer. Book Basics Spiritual Awakening (the easy way) is the sort of book one could read easily in half an hour or might opt to spend the better part of day pondering.  van der Vliet proposes his own irreverent simplistic approach to spirituality in five easy steps: break free of our collective Read More …

Jesus Didn’t Say This

Just over a week ago, Brian McLaren made the following Facebook post: Jesus did not say, "Blessed are the deserving poor," or "Blessed are the legally documented poor." The power of these brief phrases spread quickly, and led him to reflect on the response.                 So What? Rarely do we see the poor with the eyes of Jesus.  Typically, we bring a good deal of baggage and many invalid or incomplete assumptions to Read More …

WWJND

WWJD - What Would Jesus Do - was an incredibly popular theme during the 1990s.  Jodi Detrick, recently shared that she has been thinking about a modification created by adding the letter N:  WWJND - What Would Jesus Not Do. She explored the idea more fully in a chapter in her recently published book: The Jesus-Hearted Woman (2013).  In that context she offers a list of things Jesus would not do, including He did not seek human popularity. (John 8:50) He did not pander to the rich and Read More …

Sermon: The Best Sermon

Sermon Text Matthew 5-7 Sermon Excerpt I begin in a way I never have before and likely never will again by offering a bold guarantee. I assure you that this morning's sermon will be the best sermon you will ever hear. With this in mind, let us pray . . . As those who seek to follow the way of Jesus, may his wisdom continue to be our guide.  Take and use the words I will speak to empower our imaginations, awaken us to new possibilities, and embolden us in our actions. Amen. When Read More …

The Most Interesting Man

While I have never consumed a Dos Equis beer, I have enjoyed many of their commercials.  If you have watched much television at all in recent years, you are likely familiar with their very successful  The Most Interesting Man series of commercials. Jon Acuff -- a popular blogger and the author of Stuff Christians Like (2010), Quitter (2011) and Start (2013) --   recently reformed the Dos Equis ideal by replacing the actor with Jesus: "Jesus, the most interesting man in the world."  Acuff also Read More …

Christians Can’t

Mark Sandlin, minister at Vandalia Presbyterian Church (Greensboro, NC) and co-founder of The Christian Left, recently shared his list of ten things people can't do while following Jesus.  His list includes: exclude people, make money more important than God (and the children of God), and use the church to hurt people. So What? As one who follows the way of Jesus I find Sandlin's three "thou shalt not" statements to be on target.  Consider the list of three above.  Which item on it Read More …

Things Jesus Didn’t Say

Last weekend I found my way to Jim Palmer's list of "15 Things Jesus Didn't Say."  Three items on his list really resonated with me: I have come to bring you a new religion; By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have correct theology; and If anyone would come after me, let him disparage all other religions and their followers. So What? For the last several years I have been seeking to follow the way of Jesus.  Often I find well meaning Christians who lose Read More …