Sermon on the Mount | Kingdom Re-Action | Matthew 5:38-45 | Week 7

July 17, 2018

We are exploring the Sermon on the Mount this summer as a community.  We are sort of in the middle of Jesus's teaching, it's in the gospel of Matthew.  Matthew, one of Jesus's disciples, records a collection of Jesus's teachings in one place.  It's probably the most famous sermon given EVER!  If you have your Bible, you can open to Matthew 5.  Over the last few weeks, we've explored some really light, fun subjects like adultery, lust, divorce, remarriage, being people who are honest.  Jesus decided to lighten up a little bit on us and today we're talking about loving our enemies.  That should be easier, right?!  This is one of those passages that probably isn't all that difficult to understand.  It's just really difficult to live out.  It's difficult to apply.  Let's pray and ask Jesus that he would, by the power of his Spirit, open us up to what he would say.  Lord, we long to not only hear, but to obey, because we know that that's where the foundation of our life is formed.  Father, that's our posture today.  Would you move, would you convict, would you lead us to righteousness for our joy and for the sake of your name?  Amen.  

The year was 525 BC, and King Cambyses II of Persia marched his army toward Egypt.  He knew something interesting about the Egyptian people. . .they had a deep love for cats.  They (the Persian army) carved into their shields an outline of a cat.  They brought with them hundreds of cats onto the battlefield.  In Egypt, it was a capital offense to kill a cat.  This battle was called the Battle of Pelusium, Persia vs. Egypt.  The Persians went onto the battlefield with hundred of cats.  Since the Egyptians so revered cats, they had a god named Bastet that was formed and shaped into the image of a cat.  They didn't want to kill a cat so the Persians were throwing cats into the faces of the Egyptian army.  {For 38 years I've been wondering what good a cat is and now we've figured it out.}  What's fascinating is that the Persians won this battle, hands down, without much of a fight at all, because the Egyptians were so nervous about hurting the cats.  Afterwards, to scorn and shame them (the Egyptians), they took the cats and rubbed them in their face after they won the battle.  I thought, "What a strange battle tactic!"  Can you imagine the strategy session?!  What a strange, ridiculous strategy!...  

Sermon On The Mount | The Paradox of Freedom | Matthew 5:33-42 | Week 6

July 10, 2018

We’re continuing our series in the Sermon on the Mount.  I’ve spent a lot of time in fear, trepidation, and prayer over these last two messages.  Last week we talked about lust and adultery, and that was really easy, so we decided to build on that and now we’re going to talk about divorce, remarriage, and oaths.  Did you come to hear from the Lord today?  I hope you did, because as much as I’ve wrestled with this passage, I feel like there’s freedom that Jesus wants to bring.  As Isaiah (50:4) said, my prayer has been along that I’d have the tongue of one instructed that I might have a word for the wounded today.  That’s my heartbeat.  Jesus, would you help us as we wrestle with your Scripture and your words.  Lord, I pray against the enemy’s voice of condemnation in the hearts and minds of your people here today.  God, may they not confuse condemnation with the conviction that your Spirit wants to bring because of your kindness that leads to repentance and to life.  Lord, let us not confuse the enemy’s condemnation with your conviction.  We want your words over our hearts and our lives that we might walk in your life and in your freedom.  And all God’s people said. . . . Amen.

The year was 1773.  There were boats sitting in the Boston’s harbor, Griffin’s Wharf, just waiting to bring in 342 chests of British tea.  You know the story?  Where roughly a hundred colonists jumped on those boats and they unloaded, over the next three hours, 90,000 pounds of tea into the Boston harbor.  It was the first act of defiance that the American colonists perpetrated against the motherland of Great Britain.  It effectively began the Revolutionary War.  That war commenced a year later, but it was that act of ‘we don’t want any taxation without representation so we’re going to throw your tea into the ocean,’ it was THAT act, that began that war that we celebrated the victory of on the Fourth of July.  We celebrated by blowing stuff up, to the glory of God, didn’t we?  Nothing quite says we love our freedom like lighting stuff on fire and blowing it up...

Sermon on the Mount | Directing Desire | Matthew 5:27-30 | Week 5

July 2, 2018

If you have your Bible, turn to Matthew 5.  We're continuing our series of the Sermon on the Mount.  We are about six messages in.  Let me give two disclaimers as we begin this morning.  Number One -- You got a service guide when you came in and it has an outline to follow along with the message.  You can make a big 'X' on said outline and flip it over.  There are three days between when I made that outline and today and God's done some different things in my heart and soul in that amount of time, so I want to be true to where I sense God leading us.  Secondly, we are going to be dealing with an issue this morning that may be an issue that has more pain surrounding it than anything else in our culture, and the by-product of it has destroyed many lives and many marriages.  I want to take as pastoral an approach as I can to this difficult subject, but I also want to hit it head on because I believe Jesus wants to bring some freedom this morning, and I believe the Scriptures want to invite us to live more in the kingdom of God, and I believe that's possible for us.  So let's pray and ask that God would invade this space of our hearts and minds and lives.  Spirit of God, we ask that you would do what we cannot do by will power alone.  Lord, we don't want the enemy's voice of condemnation in our ear, so we rebuke that voice.  Lord, we do receive your conviction, in order to lead us to a better way.  Lord, help us to discern those two voices in our own hearts and minds, and let us move in line with your Spirit as you lead us to life.  We pray this in the name of Jesus, and all God's people said. . . .Amen

When I was 10 years old, I had a friend of mine invite me to go to his parents' beach house in Oceanside, California.  We were good friends from school, so my parents let me go.  He had this tent in the backyard, sort of on the patio of their beach house, and we were sleeping out in the tent.  I can remember vividly him grabbing a stack of Boys' Life magazines and us walking into the tent.  He told his mom that we were going to be looking at the Boys' Life magazines before we went to bed.  In addition to the Boys' Life magazine, there was a Playboy magazine tucked in.  I can remember for the very first time in my life seeing pornography.  I'm almost three decades removed from that, and I can tell you, those images are still with me.  They did something to me.  They messed with me.  They imprinted themselves on my imagination...

Sermon on the Mount | Getting to the Heart of the Matter | Matthew 5:21-26 | Week 4

June 25, 2018

It's my privilege to talk about a passage of Scripture today that isn't very pleasant, but, hopefully, we'll be able to join together and realize we're not alone as we go to this passage.  This is part of the Sermon on the Mount series that Ryan started a few weeks ago.  When Ryan talked to me about it, I was excited to take a sermon; then I took a look at the passage I'm going to be dealing with:  You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment."  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment... (Matt. 5:21-22a)  Liable to the same judgment as if you commit murder.  Whoa!  Anybody been angry this week?  Hopefully as we dig in we'll be able to understand this topic of anger, and hopefully, leave with some hope.  

I want to take a little bit of time with "Travels with Dan."  Many of you know that this past November, Kerry and I were able to go to the Holy Land.  We had a great time.  When Ryan approached me about preaching a sermon from the Sermon on the Mount, it immediately brought up some memories of a place called the Mount of Beatitudes.  {Shows pictures of view from location and a church.}  Any time you go to Israel, any place where there's even a rumor that Jesus might have stepped there, they're going to build a church.  Right there at the church was a Catholic Retreat Center.  We stayed there overnight.  It was not fancy, but it was quiet and restful.  Kerry and I arrived at the Retreat Center, after dark, after a full day of seeing things.  We were pretty exhausted; I had in mind to take a nap because we had 45 minutes before they served us supper.  Kerry had in mind to go see things.  We got our cardkey for our room and entered our room.  We tried to flip the switches and nothing worked.  I was thinking we blew a fuse.  I went to the office and I said, "We must have blown a fuse or something, nothing works."  He said, "Did you listen to my instructions?"  "Well, no."  "When you get in there you need to be looking for a slot that's around the door, slide it in there and all your electricity will come on.  When you take the key out all the electricity goes off."  I went back and demonstrated for Kerry and everything worked fine.  Lights and air conditioning came on.  We put our luggage on the floor and I proceeded to curl up on one of the twin beds.  I was out!  When I fell asleep, Kerry was reading some of the pamphlets, but eventually decided to go see some things.  Since we only had one cardkey, she grabbed it and left.  Five minutes later, I wake up in a sweat; it's dark and I didn't quite remember where I was.  I got my way out of the bed and start walking and try to figure out what's happening.  I ran into my suitcase, barefoot, so I had a good stubbed toe.  Then I hit the coffee table, so that was my knee.  Eventually, I got to the door to shed some light.  Needless to say, I was a little bit miffed.  I caught myself saying, "How could she have taken the key?!"...  

Sermon on the Mount | In Living Color | Matthew 5:17-20 | Week 3

June 18, 2018

Take a deep breath and identify that unbelievable smell wafting into the worship center today.  BACON!  If you're a student of the Scriptures, you may be thinking to yourself, "Should we be eating bacon?"  Doesn't the Bible talk about bacon?!  Leviticus 11:1-3, 7  ---  The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Say to the Israelites: 'Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.  There are some that only chew the cud or only have divided hoof, but you must not eat them. (v 7) And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.  You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.    How many of you sinned already this morning?  How many of you think I'm leading you into sin by having bacon in our lobby?   Can we agree the Bible is a difficult book?  Sometimes, as followers of the way of Jesus, we try to say things like, the Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.  I don't know how helpful that is for people when the Bible says, we DO believe it, but we're cooking bacon in the lobby.  What do we do with that?  I think part of the reason our voice in the public square has been tampered, if not put out altogether, is because we haven't been honest about the way that we read this book. 

Some of us have had experiences where we've been beat up by the Bible.  We've had people shove it in our face and say, "Well, you shouldn't do that.  The Bible clearly says...."  Maybe some of us have undertaken for ourselves the discipline of studying the Scriptures and sometimes we walk away scratching our heads going, I'm not exactly sure what I'm suppose to do with this.  If you've thought that, you're not alone.  If you're graduating from high school and you're going to go to college, I can promise you, you will be in a class at some point in time where you'll have a professor that shoves a Bible at you and says, "The Bible says don't eat bacon; do you eat bacon?"  You can go, praise be to God, I do!  The question is did God just recently decide he wants us to be happy?  Did he change his mind?  Does he now think it's delicious and we should eat it?  Did we change?  Did the Scriptures change?...  

Sermon on the Mount | Salt & Light | Matthew 5:13-16 | Week 2

June 11, 2018

We're in week 2 of a series we're doing on the Sermon on the Mount.  If you have your Bible, open to Matthew 5.  This is a picture of a man by the name of Michael Carroll.  Michael Carroll, at the age of 19, won $14.4 million in the lottery.  He was a garbage man at the time, just happened to play, and happened to win.  Over the next decade of his life, from 2002 to 2012, he bought mansions, he bought cars, he bought drugs, he bought a number of different things.  In the course of those ten years, he mowed through $14.4 million and found himself living on government assistance, unemployed.  Now, today, he makes $511 per week working as a butcher.  Which begs the question:  When we find ourselves in the midst of blessing, what do we do with it?  When we find ourselves "at the top," how do we use our resources?  Most people would act similarly to Michael Carroll.  If we find ourselves in the midst of flourishing, it should be used for us.  We should drink every little piece of that down and it should go to serve to make our lives better, whether it's being popular in high school, or whether it's as a nation winning a war.  When we do find ourselves at the top, we tend to think it should be used for us.  Which is exactly what Jesus begins to address in the Sermon on the Mount.  

If you were here last week, you heard these eight blessings that Jesus gives.  These eight statements of wisdom, of grace, of mercy, of invitation to live a life different than anyone had ever seen on the face of the globe.  He made these declarations---sort of crazy-sounding statements like, when you're poor in spirit (which nobody then and nobody now wants to be) you're blessed.  When you find yourself meek---sort of at the bottom of the pile, that pile is actually flipped on its head in the kingdom of God and you're blessed.  When you're persecuted, there's blessing.  Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, if you're in the kingdom, you're blessed.  Jesus's words were dangerous, because you had people who had never heard blessing before.  You had people who were used to the social structures and the political structures and the relational structures, where there's certain people that were always on the bottom.  Jesus says to those people, you're blessed.  The reverberation of that would have gone off of this mountain---this Sermon on the Mount---and gone into culture and into society at large and the question is what happens when it does?  Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12 that one of the things that happens is you're going to be persecuted.  You want to flip the social societal structures on their head?  It's not going to go well with you so just be ready for that, Jesus says...  

Sermon on the Mount | Blessed | Matthew 5:1-12 | Week 1

June 4, 2018

We are starting a new series that we'll be in all summer, where we're going to be exploring one of the most impactful, significant, beautiful messages ever given.  It's called the Sermon on the Mount, and you can open your Bibles to Matthew 5, where you'll find it.  

Over the last few weeks, throughout our nation, we've been in a season that we affectionately refer to as graduation season.  In graduations, you have a few pieces of pageantry, right, where it signifies that a person is moving from one season to another, from high school to beyond high school, and college to beyond college.  We had a preschooler that graduated and he's moving into kindergarten, which is a pretty huge accomplishment for him.  But along with the pageantry, there's also typically a speech.  There's some words said and it's intended to be motivational, sort of Chris Farley motivational, right?  Like, you can take the world and you can wrap it around your hand and put it in your pocket. . . . .that type of a speech.  I started to wonder, "Why can't I remember any of the speeches from the graduations I've been involved in?"  They were so magical and inspirational [at the time].  I can't remember any of the ones I've been involved in...  

Ethos | Roots | 2 Peter 1:12-21 | Week 7

May 30, 2018

If you haven't been with us, let me catch you up on where we've been the last six weeks. We started by talking about our mission as a church, which is to help people live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus.  We started exploring these values that we want to shape us over the coming months and years that we have together.  The value of presence of God---that we'd be people who pursue the presence of God, who experience the presence of God, who soak in the presence of God.  That we would be people who believe that Jesus has come, not just to save us so that we go to heaven some day, but to heal us and lead us to wholeness TODAY.  We believe that we are a people designed, and wired into our being is that we're people of habits and practice and disciplines that would help, by God's grace, shape us to be more and live more in the way of Jesus.  We believe that God has intended us to live together as family, as a community of faith.  We have different gifts, different passions, and different backgrounds, but God has planted us together in this body of faith, that we would be more together than we would be as individuals added up together.  Last week, we talked about the invitation that God's given us to join him in the world.  He is on mission.  The end of the story is not just that you and I are saved, but that his world is renewed.  He invites us to link arms with him as HE is on mission in this world.  Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, it just so happens (it lined up perfectly) that we're going to talk about the fact that we want to be a rooted community.

Tomorrow we'll celebrate our history and Memorial Day.  In 1868, the United States started celebrating the people that have gone before us to give the ultimate sacrifice of their very lives to lay a foundation of freedom that we now stand on and are incredibly grateful for.  Amen?  If you're a student of the Scriptures, you will, as you read through the Scriptures, come to see that God constantly reminds his people to be intentional about remembering.  He brings them out of Egypt.  They pass through the Red Sea.  He passes over them and commands them to be a people who celebrate the Passover --- Do not forget what I did in passing over you and bringing you out of Egypt. (Exodus 12)  After their wandering in the desert for forty years, they pass through the Jordan River, and as the Jordan River is held at flood stage, people go back into the middle of a dry river bed and they pick up rocks and make an Ebenezer, a memorial.  God told them that every time you pass by that stone structure, you retell that story.   Because you'll forget... 

Ethos | Renewal | Jeremiah 29:1-14 | Week 6

May 21, 2018

If you're new with us, we're in a seven-week series called "Ethos."  We're looking at the values, dreams, and hopes we have together as a community of faith, as we seek to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus.  This week we're talking about renewal, next week we're going to be talking about roots, the last in our series.

A few weeks back, my wife took our two boys to a mother-son event, so I got the chance to take my daughter out for a little daddy-daughter date.  We went out to dinner together and came back to the house to watch a movie of her choice.  She picked the newer "Beauty and the Beast."  We were having a great time watching it together.  About three-quarters of the way through the movie, the boys and Kelly came back home so we stopped the movie and everybody went to bed.  We stopped it at this very tension-filled moment, where the Beast had told Belle that she was allowed to go and help her father.  He released her from the captivity she was in.  So, you have Belle, who's free, then the Beast, who it seems like, is going to keep on living as the Beast for the rest of his existence.  I thought, what a terrible story that would have been if that's where the movie ended.  If the movie ended with Belle being freed and she's happy to go and do what she gets to do and back to her normal life, and the Beast is still the beast.  There's something in us that wants the Beast to be redeemed, isn't there?  There's a reason the movie doesn't end in that place...

Ethos | Family | 2 Corinthians 13:11-14 | Week 5

May 14, 2018

I want to invite you to close your eyes and to pretend the year is 200.  You live around the Mediterranean; you've decided to follow the way of Jesus.  Against the advice of most of the people in your life, you've joined this sort of rogue, rag-tag band of the Jesus way followers.  It's Sunday morning and before you go to work, you head to church.  You get your family ready, you walk through the dusty streets, and you enter into the "sanctuary," which happens to be an apartment building.  You sit around with a number of other believers.  The Way is growing so the room is jammed packed.  You open with prayer and everybody starts to pray around you.  Then you move to the greeting time.  As you stand up, you look somebody else right in the eyes; they're following the way of Jesus too.  You plant a big kiss right on their lips!  {Okay, open your eyes.}  So that's pretty much the way that it went in the early church.  Can you believe this?  We might have an easier time recruiting greeters if we bring this back!  

The early church was known for what they called the "kiss of peace."  Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, wrote that everybody in the church participated in this custom.  Cyprian, another early church father, in 250, was exiled on an island, and here's what he writes:  "There is nothing which could give me greater pleasure or more noble delight than at this moment to be kissing the lips of those who have confessed Jesus as Lord."   The dude is probably starving, right? He hasn't seen his family, and what he's longing for is to kiss another follower of Jesus.  This is strange!  This is different!...  

Ethos | Practice | Matthew 7:24-27 & Luke 6:40-42 | Week 4

May 7, 2018

We're continuing our series called "Ethos."  Ethos is a word that means the aspirations, the dreams, the hopes, the values of a community of people.  Over the last few weeks, we've been exploring who we are as a church, as a community of faith.  When you walked in today, you got the 'subtle' message that the reason we exist is to help people live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus.  {I believe it's ten feet tall on our wall.}  We want to be all about Jesus and inviting people to Jesus and calling people to walk in his way.  

If you have your Bible, open to Luke 6.  We're going to continue that journey that we're on, this morning, and try to tease out, as a community, what are the things that we hold valuable, what are the things that motivate us, what are the things that drive us, and how do we plan on living this Jesus life out together?...  

Ethos | Wholeness | Mark 1:21-28 | Week 3

April 23, 2018

How many of you like scary movies?  I love scary movies; I grew up watching scary movies.  My wife and I, on date night, many, many times have gone to the theater to see a scary movie.  I don't know, it's something really interesting.  One of the most well-known scary movies of all time is a movie that came out in 1973 with a little actress named Linda Blair.  The name of the film is called "The Exorcist."  The film cost $8 million to make, but since 1973, it's made over $1.2 billion, through box office, DVDs, all those sort of things.  Isn't that interesting?  It's pretty wild and scary.  Normally, when talking about a film as an illustration, I would show you a clip from the film...   I do want you to see what this girl looked like.  She's a little possessed girl who did some crazy stuff.  I didn't want to show you an actual still [shot], so I've hand drawn a representation of what she looked like.  {Shows stick figure with Ryan's head!}  Now THAT, friends, is scary!!  

Why do scary movies hold such intrigue with us?  Why do scary movies freak us out?  I think part of the reason is, psychologically, we watch a movie like this and our brain sort of imagines....     If the writers and actors do a great job, you can get sucked into the story and start imagining that you're there.  Or you take it one step further and you start saying, "What would it be like if this really happens?"...   

Ethos | Presence | Exodus 33:7-23 | Week 2

April 16, 2018

Ethos is the series we're in.  We started last week, and we're going to be talking more about who God has created us and shaped us to be uniquely, some of our values, and our mission.  Last week, we said the reason that we're here, the reason that we gather on a Sunday morning, is to help people live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus.  We want to help people become apprentices, or learners, or disciples of what it looks like to live more and more in the way of Jesus of Nazareth.

Today we're moving into our very first value.  I was watching my news feed this week and there was something that kept popping up over and over and over again.  It was the hearing Congress was having with Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook.  Did anybody see the highlights of this?  A few parts of it were a little bit comical.  Congressmen and women asking Mark Zuckerberg, "Let me get this straight.  Facebook is free?"  He's like, "Yeah, absolutely free."  "100% free?"   You could almost see them going, "Oh, we've got you backed into the corner now, buddy."  He's like, "Absolutely free."  They're like, "Well, how do you make money?"  {Gotcha!}  He's like, "Well, Congressmen, we run advertisements."  Their minds were like BOOM! this is a completely new, revenue-generating model!  Right?  What they really asked Mark Zuckerberg was how much is Facebook following people?  How much do you hear?  Mark, where are you guys?  When people sign up, do you get access to them at that point in time, or are you in more places than just that?... 

Ethos | Kingdom Apprenticeship | Matthew 4:12-23 | Week 1

April 10, 2018

Over the next few weeks, we're going to be talking about what type of community "that brand new world" starts to give birth to.  What type of community it starts to form.   We're calling this series "Ethos."  Ethos is a Greek word that means values, the character of something.  It also means things that we believe and things that we dream about, things that we hope for, things that we plead with God for.  Over the next eight weeks, we're going to take a step back and go, God, who are you shaping us to become, and what are you shaping us to do, and what are the things that we hold dear, and what are the dreams that we would say, collectively together, we have about the way that you would use this little community of faith to make a massive difference in your world?  That's where we're going over the next few weeks.

I thought we would start where Jesus starts.  That's never a bad idea, right?  To ask so, Jesus, where do you start?  Jesus, what are you up to?  Jesus, how are you at work?  We're starting with a pop quiz.  What did Jesus talk about most?  If we were to read through the gospels and take a note every time Jesus talked about a theme, what would he have talked about most?  A.  Love    B.  Heaven/Hell    C.  The Kingdom of God    D.  Money    Interesting.  We have a pretty wide-swath of answers.  Let me let Jesus answer that question for us.  If you have your Bible, open to Matthew 4:12-17.  In Matthew 4, Jesus is just coming on the scene.  If you know anything about the gospel of Matthew, Matthew wants to walk us through the birth narrative---tells us how Jesus was born and focuses primarily on Joseph and the courage Joseph had to have.  Chapter 3 is Jesus's baptism.  Chapter 4 is Jesus getting led out into the desert to be tempted by the enemy.  Half way through chapter 4, Jesus comes on the scene to publicly begin teaching and ministering to people, and listen to what he says:  When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.  Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali----to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordon, Galilee of the Gentiles----the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."  From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near..."  

4 Days that Changed the World | Dawning of a New Day | 1 Thess. 4:13-18 | Easter Sunday

April 3, 2018

Sometimes when we gather for Easter, we sing songs about life and resurrection, and it can feel a little bit like we're telling an incomplete story.  We all know that, in the end, it's coming, SOMEDAY, but TODAY there's some stings, aren't there?  Life is awe inspiring, and it can be awful.  Life is painful, and it's powerful.  Life can be holy in one moment and harrowing in the next.   That's the life that we live, isn't it?  We have these moments of bliss and then we have the reality of brokenness.

If you've ever been on a vacation and if you're anything like me, I'm a time guy.  I always want to know how many days until the vacation, how many days are we going to be on vacation, and then once we hit halfway point on the vacation. . . . .anybody with me?  I start doing a time clock in my mind of 'this is great but it's going to end.'  Halfway point, the day is great.  Next day, it clicks over and 'oh no, it's ending!'  The beauty of being there is sort of overshadowed by the reality that life's coming again.  It's temporary.  I think so much of our lives carry with it that in the shadows we hear this voice saying, "It's good, but it's temporary."  It's good, but eventually you'll have to say good-bye.  It's beautiful, but eventually you'll breathe your last breath...  

4 Days that Changed the World | Divine Descent | 1 Peter 3:18-20, 4:6 | Week 4

March 26, 2018

We are in a series that we've entitled "4 Days that Changed the World."  That's not some sort of spiritual hyperbole, this is the most talked about week, most written about week, most debated week, in the history of the cosmos.  On Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered into the streets of Jerusalem, you start a clock ticking from there. One week.  It's about .06% of Jesus's life and it's roughly 33% of the gospel narratives.   Do you think they thought this was important?  Just a little bit.  

Two weeks ago we talked about what happened on Thursday.  On Thursday, Jesus reimagined for us and taught us what love really looks like.  He shed his outer garment and got down on his hands and knees and he washed his disciples' feet.  It's this picture of what you do when you have power.  You don't use it to oppress people and keep people down.  You actually leverage your power to lift others up.  Last week, we saw that on the cross, on Friday, Jesus offers us forgiveness.  He takes on our forsakenness and that he says it's finished. . . .you're reunited with the King of kings and the Lord of lords, God Almighty.  If you weren't here last week, I'd encourage you to hop online and watch that video, if you can...

4 Days that Changed the World | Good Friday: What happened on the cross? | Week 3

March 19, 2018

As a youth pastor, I can remember telling my students a fictitious story about a father and a son.  The father was a draw-bridge operator.  His son was with him at work, down climbing around in the gears, having a good time.  A train was coming.  The drawbridge was up.  The father had to decide:  Am I going to crush my son, kill my son, and save everybody on the train?  Or, am I going to let my son live and everybody on the train die?  It's a very emotional story and one that stirs the human heart.  The punchline was that this was a picture of what happens on the cross, and God decides to kill his son, so that we, humanity, on the train might live.  It's emotive.  It stirs a response.  But is it accurate?  Is that what's going on on the cross?  Ever since there's been a cross, there's been discussion.  Paul would say:  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God [to save].  (Romans 1:16)    The reason he's saying 'I am not ashamed' is because there were some people who were ashamed.  There was shame to be had.  The cross was as much about shaming someone as it was about killing someone.  

Jesus's cross wasn't the only cross people had seen.  It's the cross we talk about, but there's this story that Josephus records.  He was a Roman historian.  He wrote that in 4 B.C, when Varus, one of the governors of Rome, propped 2000 people on crosses. . . . .ONE day, outside the city of Galilee, and he crucified them all in ONE day.  People in Jesus's day would have understood the shame of the cross.  They would have understood the pain of the cross.  They would have understood the cross in a far better way than we do.  They would have struggled just as much with Paul's statement that the cross is the wisdom, and the power, and the glory of God.  How could something that was so shameful be so glorious...

4 Days that Changed the World | Downward Mobility | John 13:1-17 | Week 2

March 16, 2018

From the moment Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, at what we refer to as the Triumphal Entry or Palm Sunday, to the time he rises from the grave is about .06% of his life.  Not a lot of time.  But if you read through the gospels, that one week encompasses 33% of the gospel narrative.  It's one-third of the story that the gospel writers tell.  If you put it all together, this one changed the world.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John felt compelled to tell us about it.  From a lot of different angles and a lot of different ways to recount that week, and specifically these 96 hours----Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday---of that week changed the world.  

There's a way that the world works.  If you watched the Academy Awards last week, you know this way.  Here's what it looks like:  If you're beautiful, if you're wealthy, if you're famous, then people cater to your every need.  They put out, literally, a red carpet for you.  The more powerful you are, the more prominent you are, the wealthier you are, the more people you have to cater to your every need.  I read an article a while back about the way celebrities use their assistants.  Christian Bale has an assistant who, as he walks down that red carpet, actually smells his armpits to see if he has B.O.  Madonna has an assistant that wakes up every hour (six times during the night) to get Madonna a cold glass of water.  She also has somebody who goes into the restroom before her with Lysol and disinfectant, and wipes them down from top to bottom before she uses it.  Mariah Carey, who is a notorious diva, has somebody who holds her drink for her while she drinks out of the straw.  She has somebody who washes her hair for her.  She has somebody who walks in front of her so she doesn't trip while wearing her high heels.  That's pretty impressive!  Ceelo Green has somebody in his entourage who is responsible for dabbing the sweat off of his brow.  Can you imagine being THAT dude?  Where do you sign up for that?  Or, Prince Charles.  Prince Charles has somebody who irons his shoelaces before he puts them into his shoes. . . . .and it shows!  He also has somebody who undresses him after his day and puts him in his pjs before he goes to bed.  Prince Charles walks in, falls down on his bed, somebody takes all his clothes off and puts his pjs on.  Frank Sinatra had a butler who wash his boxers (his underwear), by hand, and followed him around to straighten his toupee in case it got off...   

4 Days that Changed the World | The Turning Point | John 12:20-36 | Week 1

March 7, 2018


We are starting a new series today that we are calling "4 Days That Changed the World."  Sometimes a walk has a way of changing things.  I did a wedding yesterday --- those doors in the back of the worship center opened, and a bride walked down the aisle to be received by her groom.  Anecdotally, it was a 'Cook' marrying a 'Hunter.'  By the end of the wedding, it was two had become one.  Some walks change everything.  March 21, 1965:  Martin Luther King, Jr., and a number of his civil rights workers with him, left from the city of Selma, Alabama to march to Montgomery, to fight for the right for African-Americans to vote.  They'd been turned back two times already, but this time they had the backing of President Johnson.  He had given his support to the march.  Instead of having armed guards there to turn them back, they were there to protect the marchers as they embarked on a 54-mile walk.  When they got to Montgomery, Dr. King gave one of his most famous speeches.  It was summarized by the phrase "How Long, Not Long."  In that speech he said, "Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us.  We are moving to the land of freedom."  On August 6, 1965, African-Americans were given the right to vote in this country.

Some marches change everything.  It was March 29, AD 33.  Jesus of Nazareth got on the back of a colt to ride into Jerusalem.  We call it 'The Triumphal Entry.'  It started the clock ticking on a week that has changed the world that we live in.  Maybe in more ways than we recognize, that week changed everything!  The reason you have Sundays off as part of your weekend?  It's because Jesus rose from the grave on a Sunday.  It used to be that followers of Christ, until Christianity was the religion in the Roman empire, would go to church before work, early in the morning, before the sun came up, to worship, then go to work.  Because Sunday was just like every other day in the week.  THIS changed everything!  We now have a weekend.  It changed more than that.  Over the next few messages, we're going to wrestle with these four days, these 96 hours that changed the world.  My hope is that over the next week, the Spirit of God invites you into this story to know it better, but maybe knowing IT better, we would be known.  That we might not just regurgitate it and the facts of what happened. We're going to wrestle with questions like:  Why did Jesus die?  Why did Jesus have to die?  Who killed Jesus?  Who did Jesus "pay off" for the debt of sin?  What was that all about?  Please come back.  We're going to wrestle with a new type of influence. . . .an influence of love.  We're going to talk about 'he descended to the dead' or 'he descended to hell.'  What does that mean?  On Easter morning, we're going to celebrate the fact that what Jesus does on Easter morning changes definitively the world we live in.  It's a march that changes everything...."