Showing posts from January, 2018

Spiritual Warfare: Armor of God: Breastplate of Righteousness - 2nd Corinthians 5:16-21

(Note this is one of those weeks where the actual sermon delivery varied a good bit from the manuscript here (towards the end of the message). However, for thsoe who were missing this week, this will keep you on track with the series.)

When we think of places like Charlottesville, Las Vegas, and Sutherland Springs, we realize we are in a war zone. Moving outside the United States, to places like Istanbul,  London, Bagdad, Stockholm, and Paris, we still find we are in the midst of war.  The thing is, the war is not between ISIS and the world.  The war is not between white supremacists and people of color.  The war is not between liberals and conservatives.  The war is not between democrats and republicans.  The war is one that has been going on since the Garden of Eden…a war that was won on a hill called Calvary…a war, though, in which the enemy, not accepting defeat, refuses to go out quietly and volleys attacks not only in Charlottesville, Sutherland Springs, London, and Paris, but a…

Wrestling With God - Genesis 32:22-31 (Wednesday Night Reflection)

I have to confess, I have never been a huge follower of wrestling.  I mean, growing up, I knew the names: Rick Flair, Junkyard Dog, Dusty Rhodes, Andre the Giant, and of course, Hulk Hogan.  However, I can’t tell you if one hand would be needed to tell you the number of times I watched them wrestle.  I even have a friend from college, a theater major, no less, who went into professional wrestling.  His real name is Dan Covell, but his ring name in the Ring of Honor is Christopher Daniels, though he has also gone by Curry Man and Suicide.  I’ve never seen him wrestle, though my college roommate, Chris, whom some of y’all have met, has been to some of his matches. In preparing for tonight’s message, I found that he won the world championship last march. I’ve had friends and church youth who have wrestled in high school, but while I have attended football, basketball, baseball games, and even tennis matches, I have never been to a wrestling event.  I’m not sure why, but it has just neve…

Spiritual Warfare: Armor of God - Belt of Truth — John 18:37-38

Truth.  When I hear the word “truth,” the first thing that comes to mind is the movie A Few Good Men.  It’s the middle of the courtroom scene and the attorney Lt. Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise, is facing off against Colonel Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson.   Lt. Kaffee is charged with defending two Marines accused of murdering another Marine in a beat-down. Lt. Kaffee is challenging that the men were just following the orders handed down from Colonel Jessup.  Kaffee accuses the colonel of ordering a “Code Red,” a command that has soldiers beat a fellow soldier, either to get him to step up his trying or to run him out.  In the court room scene, Kaffee is just grilling Jessup.  In a heated exchange, Kaffee says, “I just want the truth.”  Jessup responds, “You can’t handle the truth.”  
This fictional exchange brings to mind a truly crucial court scene.  In that room, two men are facing off alone.   In this exchange the first gentleman, Pilate, questions Jesus, wondering if he can conv…

What To Do When It Snows! - 2nd Samuel 23:20-23 (Wednesday Night Worship)

Considering they are calling for our second round of winter weather within just two weeks, I thought it might be good to discuss appropriate activities for when the winter weather sets in. There was once a woman driving through town who became lost in a massive snowstorm. She started to panic, but then remembered what her dad had told her years ago, "If you ever get lost in a snowstorm, just pullover and wait for a snowplow to come along and then follow the plow. Sure enough a snowplow came along and she fell right in behind it.   She followed the plow for about forty-five minutes, until the plow came to a stop and the driver walked to her door and asked what she was doing. She told him what her father had told her about following the snowplow. He just nodded and smiled, "Well, I'm finished with Wal-Mart now, but you can follow me over to Sears if you want to." What do you do when it snows? Some folks go out and play…snowball fights, building snowmen, sledding, skiing, …

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

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)

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! came without tags! 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…