Sermon for September 9, 2018
A sense of futility can be a great teacher. It can be the ultimate teacher.
Most of us, no doubt all of us at one time or another, run away from the feeling of futility. It’s something we fear because we believe it will take away our ability to go on in life. Futility seems like a punishment, something that makes life unbearable. In the myths of Tantalus and Sisyphus, futility is used as a punishment. Tantalus is constantly trying to get relief from his desire that is always just out of reach while Sisyphus is condemned to push a boulder up a hill only to see it roll back down, over and over, with no reprieve. How could futility possibly have any value?
Indeed, in many situations in life, others try to warn us against futility. People will often try to tell us what our limitations are, who we are, when we should give up, how we should define our lives. When you accept these things, go down the rabbit hole of allowing specific meanings, even meanings assigned to you by others, this is the beginning of the end of your life. What if Rosa Parks accepted someone’s idea of the futility of her actions? God forbid!
Sermon for September 2, 2018
One of the most consistent complaints, or requests, depending on how you look at it, from spiritual seekers concerns the contrast between being told, in a sermon or lecture or whatever the format might be, about what the reality of our existence is versus how to actually ‘get there’. I’ve heard this apparent dilemma described as the difference between someone giving a “description” of reality versus a “prescription” to get to liberation. I think it is safe to say that anyone who has delved into spiritual issues for any length of time will eventually reach a point where they no longer want to hear about what is, they want to ‘be’ what is. They want to get to the destination and stop hearing about how beautiful it is.
On a purely surface, scriptural level, it appears that Jesus does offer us a ‘way’, a ‘prescription’ rather than just a ‘description’. However, as St. Paul alluded to in his struggles with the ‘thorn’ in his side, and his admission that although he constantly tries to take the path he intellectually, even spiritually, knows is right, he often errs again and again, this ‘way’ is not as simple as some would have us believe.
Sermon for August 26, 2018
Have you ever had someone tell you to “just be yourself”, as if they have you figured out, and expect that you do also? It seems simple at first, “Yes, I’ll just be myself” - until it isn’t simple at all. Sometimes we get a quick peek behind the curtain and notice there are many characters backstage. Even more than that, in these moments, we might also begin to wonder which character really is the ‘me’ who can just ‘be myself’?
This week I want to have a practical exercise that we can all complete on our own, and together if you’d like to share. I’ll start it off by giving a small bit of direction, however, I want everyone to take that start and go wherever it takes you. There isn’t a right or wrong way to explore these things so let go and just try it, even multiple times if you like. Compare what happens each time, compare where you started and where you end up- both for each time you explore things and as compared to each session versus another. Most importantly, just let go and watch where you take yourself.
Sermon for August 19, 2018
“Sometimes life will make us feel like a train on railroad tracks. Other times life will make us feel like an eagle with the whole sky to itself. Concern yourself with the “who” that feels, not with what is felt.”
If we knew the time of our death, and the way it would happen, how would that affect the course of our lives? How would this knowledge affect not only our choices, but our enjoyment of our lives? Now expand this idea and assume that we had knowledge of many of the biggest ‘forks in the road’ that would come, and what we would do. Again, how would this change the ways we enjoy life as we currently know it? As much as one might have feared many things that have come, or fear things yet to come, does the mystery of it all contribute to the enjoyment of life?
Now think about times in our lives when we are suffering versus times when we feel happy and free. When we are suffering, we just want to know how to make it stop. We want answers, ways to remedy whatever the situation we find ourselves caught up in. When we are happy, we enjoy the mystery and spontaneity of life. The unknown is actually part of the fun.
Sermon for August 12, 2018
Acts 20:22-24 (NIV)
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns methat prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
How many times in our lives do we feel compelled to do something, but fear of the unknown pushes its way into our intention? Fear of what might happen, fear our identity, which has been shaped by the memory of our past, might not live up to our calling- these all pull us out of the present. The ‘future’ has a unique nature in that it is largely made up of possibilities, probabilities for those with a quantum physics affinity. The past can be viewed as somewhat stagnant by comparison, however, it is very alive in the way it influences our current identity. The present is where the Spirit lives, and, in reality, the only one of the three that truly exists.
Sermon for August 5, 2018
Matthew 4:1-11 New International Version (NIV)Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
God knows it can be so hard to be open to the Spirit when you’re under attack, feeling stressed, when even the most simple things in life feel impossible. Especially if you’re feeling as though life just won’t let up, I urge you, call you, even beg you, to just read on.
Sermon for July 29, 2018
“Losing it” probably brings up immediate negative connotations. In a world where we are in a seemingly never ending rush to accumulate, create, become, achieve, loss seems like something we should avoid at all costs. You don’t want to lose your job, your house, your car...or do you? What if you lost your mind? Sounds bad right? Well what if your mind, as you know it, was holding you back from something even more wonderful- but you couldn’t see it because of that very mind? “Losing it” can be a great thing.
From a very practical and simple perspective, I can show you why we all strive, in one way or another, to “lose it”. Take something as simple as a vacation. What are you getting away from? What do you need a break from? When you think of a vacation, you don’t see yourself adding things to your daily schedule. People don’t generally keep their normal routine, work and everything that goes with it, and add to it to give themselves a break. If they did, you’d see people taking on another job when they wanted something different. Maybe I’ll work 80 hours a week next month, instead of 40, because I just need a break from the normal routine. Let me babysit the neighbor’s 8 kids, in addition to my own, because I just need a break from what’s normal.
Sermon for July 22, 2018
As I’ve heard happens to many current and former police officers, a memory from my days on patrol was suddenly triggered this past week. I don’t know exactly what the spark was that brought back this particular call, but it was one of those calls that has stayed with me more than most. I don’t know why one call, versus another, tends to stand out. I’m sure there are numerous reasons but I won’t go into that here.
In the interest of respect for the involved parties, I will keep my description purposely vague, and void of normally salient details, which could lead one to have any idea of the actual call I responded to.
This particular call for service was a 911 call of a report of a deceased party who had committed suicide. A roommate had found this person in their room and called. I don’t know how many of these kinds of calls I went to as a police officer but it was many. If one is paying attention, each one of these situations is so different. There is a sense of reverence and stillness when entering the scene where someone has taken their life. In a way, you almost want to mentally ask the deceased permission to violate their moment, their space. Still, there is a job to be done and this job is part of how I showed respect- doing my job, taking care of whatever their final moment was like. It’s a surreal feeling combined with a practical attention to duty.
Sermon for July 15, 2018
At some point in your life, you will be pushed to your limit. It doesn’t mean you won’t ‘bounce back’, but you will find one thing or another that just breaks every defense you have down until you simply feel like giving up. Maybe that feeling only lasts a moment, or maybe it’s an ongoing struggle, but we will all experience it. It can even be something totally self imposed. Perhaps you want to run a marathon and at some point during training, or even the race itself, you just reach a limit you didn’t know existed.
I was reminded recently of a time, when I was younger, when I just felt totally sick and tired of being type 1 diabetic. I don’t even recall exactly what the tipping point was but I just felt defeated and tired and confused. I just wanted to feel normal again. In a moment, I just yelled out that I don’t care anymore. Realistically, I don’t even know what that meant because it wouldn’t, and couldn’t, change the fact that I had diabetes but I just had to not care for a minute. As soon as I let that out, almost as if there was an immediate divine response, I had the thought, “What if I combined not caring, totally letting go, with compassion?” I never forgot that blinding realization.
Sermon for July 1, 2018
Shocking title, but it is the truth. This isn’t meant to have shock value simply to gain the reader’s attention. There is no trick here just to get ‘clicks’ on a website. This is about your salvation.
The Bible does not, and cannot, contain the truth of Jesus Christ, nor God if there needs to be a distinction. Even if you do accept this, how could it possibly be a good thing? Read on and you will see how you’ve always known these things even if you weren’t consciously aware.
Seeing that the Bible is not the actual truth, our true salvation, really isn’t that much of a stretch. I’m sure there are some who won’t be able to get beyond the idea that saying something like this is irreverent or sacrilegious- that’s ok. Hopefully you will see that this is not the intent, or the reality, of what I’m saying and that it is actually the opposite- stopping with the words of the Bible is an affront to the true spirit of Christ.