Sermon for February 25, 2018 - Levels of Meaning in the Bible - Part 1
The Ten Commandments seem fairly simple at first glance. Even the name, “Commandments”, seems to leave little to the imagination. These are the rules and you, as God’s people, will obey them. However, as with all scripture, God’s Truth exists on more than one level of understanding. From a historic framework, and from a scriptural and spiritual perspective, The Ten Commandments are far more than what they are when limiting them to a set of rules alone.
Historically speaking, one can understand, quite easily I suspect, why the laws of God were given, so forcefully, as commandments to his people. I will assume that you have a general understanding of the context in which the commandments were given. If you don’t, I encourage you to review the context of Exodus because it is vital to imagine what this time would have been like. This was not a time of peace, security, and civilization. This was a time survival, seeking, and insecurity.
I've seen the word "consume" being used when people are talking about how, and where, they get their news. I've read such things as, "People consume their news electronically versus..." - you get the idea. Consume is a great word to use, but not how I've seen it written. I propose that, rather than you consuming the news and social media, they are really consuming you.
Before I go further, let me just say that the news, or social media, or any number of other things in our daily lives, are very rarely inherently good or bad. They are concepts, things, occurrences, and we give them meaning by how we relate to them. So, the intent of this blog entry is not to vilify any particular 'thing' but to focus on the most important element in the equation- us. Our perceptions and intelligence and faith, our free will granted by the Grace of God, allow us to transform the world. Therefor, as you read on, don't get caught in the trap of what the 'thing' is we're talking about, whether it be news or something else, but explore how you create what that thing means.
Sermon For February 18, 2018 - God, Who Am I?
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
In Genesis, specifically the story of Adam and Eve, God is showing us who we are in this world. The words “sin” and “fallen”, and other similar concepts, come with so much preconception, and personal baggage, that often we get confused, much like Adam and Eve, and become lost in our ideas of ourselves in relation to the world and God. We get lost in the intellectual understanding of our existence as we dissect existence into difference concepts. If we look at the verses above, we begin to see the most basic definition of sin- separation from God. It’s not merely a physical separation but a spiritual one. It’s a knowledge of good and evil, combined with a new awareness of themselves as separate from God, and an enactment of that new awareness through their physical act of covering themselves. They didn’t just glimpse something different, they became different.
After watching the controversy surrounding Dodge using MLK as an element of a commercial, I wondered how many people are aware of the totality of MLK's grounding in Christ. Yes, civil rights were in the forefront, however, MLK was not a one sided Christian trying to simplify or change Christ's truth. He was a man of God. He called out injustice, untruth, and everything the deceiver covets in this world in a way that allowed the power of Christ to flow through. My question today is, how often do you see this in the Christian church today? Are we given to Christ enough to stand up to the status quo, to corruption, or do we too often become just another cog in the system?
If you read more of the actual, full and original, speech given by Martin Luther King Jr where he talks about 'having to buy a certain type of vehicle', which I believe was the same speech parsed and used in the commercial ironically, he is actually calling out the advertising, the brainwashing, of people's minds. MLK is speaking out against the idea that we need to do something worldly, have some particular thing, to somehow be acceptable and loved. It is a RADICAL and truth affirming witnessing for God's Truth versus the deceptions that we are bombarded with daily regarding what makes us 'ok'
Sermon For February 11, 2018 - "God Doesn't Need Your Help"
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29
I had an entirely different sermon planned for today. I had been thinking about it all week and it was on my mind constantly. However, as so often happens in man’s path with God, my plan simply faded away when I, even for a moment, got out of the way, stopped thinking of ‘my sermon’, and let God take over. Ironically, and beautifully, that very experience was an example of what God willed me to write to you this week. It wasn’t just an idea, or a hint- I was strongly compelled to write this even though the reason remains a mystery to me. So God, all at once, gave me a new message, and used the process by which I received this new message, to profoundly illustrate how the truth of this message operates in real experience.
Before you disregard the possibility this subject could apply to you, consider your desire to get to the point and/or just read the title and move on, thinking you already understand the point, as an indication of the very thing I'm about to expose. Many of us, including myself, when I allow the autopilot to engage, allow our lives to feel like a Facebook feed. I've even caught myself scrolling through verses in the Bible as if it were an "app". God help me.
This isn't meant as a guilt trip. It's meant to make you stop and take notice. If you do, I think you'll realize that the effect social media has on our lives can be insidious and very hard to reverse. This is not to vilify social media either- it is neither inherently good or bad. In fact, technology, in general, serves a great many purposes which I need not address here. The point is that once you begin to serve technology, rather than it serving your benefit, you have gone down a very dangerous path.
Sermon For February 4, 2018 - God, I Need Help - Where Are You?
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
One can’t read Psalm 22 without making the obvious connection to Jesus on the cross. The powerful, deeply personal, turn toward God, in suffering, exposes what the son of God gave up for us. It wasn’t simply suffering that Jesus accepted on our behalf. He accepted our kind of suffering, our condition. He suffered not just physical pain, but suffered without the wisdom and miracles and stature of the son of God that we so often attribute to Him. Putting yourself through a pain you can control, like a project you work hard on, or a fitness goal, is nothing like enduring a pain you have no control over, nor insight into. Pain you can control, and understand, can be pleasurable, just as a good workout might be painful but leave you with a sense of accomplishment. Pain imposed on you without a known end, and without a reason, is something else entirely. Jesus accepted our condition, accepted the kind of pain we bear, and, in so doing, gave us a key to our own nature, and thereby, our own liberation through Him.