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Showing posts from January, 2018

Spiritual Warfare: Who Is The Enemy - Ephesians 6:10-17

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We know who we are fighting, don’t we?  It is the liberals, or is it the conservatives?  It is the gay community, or is it those who oppose same-sex marriage?  It is Islam, or is it those who disparage other faiths?  It is the gun-control activists, or is the members of the NRA?  It is the illegal immigrants living among us, or is it those who want stricter immigration laws?  And obviously, it is the drug dealer, the violent criminal and the terrorist, right?  Like I said, we know who we are supposed to be fighting, right?  If we don’t, there are plenty of folks who will tell us who we are supposed to fight, aren’t there?  And every time that a there’s a controversy, a tragedy happens, or an attack occurs , battle plans are put together and lines in the sand are drawn—and along each of these lines, church folks around the nation join in, readily attacking or demonizing those on the other side.
The problem is, my brothers and sisters, that when the People of God begin attacking those …

Contracts and Covenants (Wednesday Night Reflection)

I’ve been asked several times during the time that I have been pastoring congregations, “what is a covenant?”  I’ve often asked the question of others, “what do you think of when you hear the word covenant?”  We read the word frequently through Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament, but sometimes within the New.  In the life of the church we hear it when we talk about the Baptismal Covenant or a Wedding Covenant.  Tonight we join together and will observe a Covenant Renewal Service, so I thought it would be a good time for us to consider the question together, “What is a covenant?”
Far too many times when I have asked folks what a covenant is…and sadly I’ve even heard some pastors present it this way, they look at covenant is just being the biblical word equivalent of “contract.”  We know what contracts are.  We sign a contract when we purchase a new car or a new house.  We might sign a contract for employment opportunities or a credit application.  There are times in schools …

A War Cry: The Magi - Matthew 2:1-18 (HIUMC)

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We’ve spent a lot of time in the darkness of Christmas…or at least the darkness of the nativity story as the first Christmas occurred without Christmas carols and Christmas trees, without blinking lights or elves in Christmas tights…, or as Dr. Suess would put it: “it came without ribbons!...it came without tags!...it came without packages, boxes, or bags.”[i]  Since mid-November we have been explored the dark world into which Jesus was born as God declared that the time had come for evil, sin, and even death to be defeated. We journeyed to tiny Bethlehem with its history of idolatry, prejudice, betrayal, brutal violence, and death. We walked with Mary as she put her relationship with her family, and even her own life, on the line to respond to God’s call to service—and found herself a rejected, outcast, teenage pregnant mom-to-be. We stood by Joseph as he chose not to reject Mary and in taking her into his life risked his reputation, his financial security, and his family connections an…

A War Cry: Simeon and Anna Luke 2:22-38 (HIUMC)

We’re nearing the end of our journey, as we’ve been considering God’s Christmas declaration of war on evil, sin, and death. Bethlehem indicated that there is no place too small or with too dark a history for God to enter into and redeem. Mary and Joseph’s entry into God’s service showed us what it means to risk everything, family, friends, finances, reputation, and life in order to serve God. The baby Jesus called us to a life of humble service, where we put the needs of others above ourselves, and never consider any area of service beneath us. The shepherds and angels remind us we can have peace in all things because God has come to be among us and that this message is a message to us all…every one of us…regardless of how insignificant others try to make us feel. Some would think we’re done at this point, others would suggest that we have one more group to cover, namely the wise men.  Considering that the wise men did not show up at the manger, but likely at Mary and Joseph’s home whe…