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Archive for April, 2012

I had the privilege of preaching on Genesis 6:9-22 this morning. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: As a result of the widespread corruption of humanity, God tells Noah He will destroy the earth by a flood and that he (Noah) is to build an ark, which he does wholeheartedly.

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Winston Churchill is one of my favorite politicians, leaders, and people in history. I love the stories told about him and his reported interactions with others. He may be the most important person of the twentieth century.

Paul Johnson, eminent British historian, wrote a small biography of Churchill – appropriately called Churchill – in 2009. I just got around to reading it and am very glad I did.

Johnson’s biography isn’t exhaustive – it can’t be in 168 pages – but covers all the major periods in his life. We’re given the broad sweep of Churchill’s life, with individual aspects highlighted. In a chapter called, “Supreme Power and Frustration,” Johnson gives ten points (all with examples) that lead to the conclusion that Churchill saved Britain during the Second World War. Near the end of the book, he provides five lessons to be learned from Churchill’s life.

Churchill would be a good introduction to Sir Winston’s life and work, but also helpful to those who’ve read a lot about him. For a more full treatment, I would recommend Martin Gilbert – Churchill’s official biographer – or William Manchester. If you want a well-written account of the life of Churchill, Johnson’s book is one you definitely want to check out. It’s a good read.

Johnson has also written several other brief biographies – George Washington among them.

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Genesis 6:1-8. The following is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The rapid increase of sin brought God’s grief, judgment, and grace.

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We’re trusting God to do something big at Immanuel in June and July. It’s out of our comfort zone and is a definite step of faith.

We’re planning a Vacation Bible School-like format and curriculum for children age three through middle school. It will take place outside – under a number of canopies – for eight Sundays during the worship service. Quite a few volunteers will be needed from within the congregation, as will supplies, snacks, and a lot of other things we haven’t even though of yet. We’ll also invite children from the neighborhood – a lot of them. I’ll take a break from my sermons in Genesis to preach on each of the eight themes.

This will be the biggest, most volunteer-intensive activity we’ve done since I’ve been here (coming up on four years in August!). We don’t have hundreds and hundreds of people to choose from to help or hundreds of children, either. There may be times during June and July when there will be more people outside helping with the kids than are inside in the sanctuary worshiping God.  There is some “fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:13), but also walking “by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Football teams know that sometimes you have to “go long.” In other words, the quarterback needs to throw a pass way down the field every once in a while – try for something big, don’t always play it safe.

We would appreciate your prayers – most of all that God would be glorified.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on Genesis 5:1-32. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: There is grace, life, blessing, hope, and redemption in the midst of death.

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Here are some good links to helpful and thoughtful articles I’ve read in the last week or so. They’re all worth reading and thinking about.

Nancy Guthrie writes on being asked to pray for someone and being asked to pray for a specific outcome. This makes Nancy, and me, a bit nervous.

David T. Koyzis writes on the myth that the divorce rate among Christians is the same as non-Christians.

Phil Johnson writes on the anatomy of apostasy.

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I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 this morning, Here is a summary of my Easter sermon in one sentence: If the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not an objective reality, the implications are disastrous – but because He did, the implications are magnificent!

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He is Risen!

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.'” (Matthew 28:5-6a)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything! He has risen! He has risen indeed!

 

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I Wonder?

Today being “Holy Saturday,” I wonder what the first disciples of Jesus were thinking on this particular day 1,980 years ago?

As one of them – Peter – said to Jesus at one point, “We have left everything to follow you,” and they had. They had each given up their old lives in order to learn at the feet of the Master. They were with Him for three years – every day, every night, everywhere. They saw Him heal people, exorcise demons, feed multitudes with next to nothing, teach with authority, confound the Jewish religious and political leaders, explain Scripture, walk on water, calm storms,  make God’s character and nature visible, and say things they had a very hard time understanding.They also saw Him challenged, hated, arrested, beaten, tried, and mocked.

They saw Him die.

Maybe they thought all of their hopes and dreams died with Him, especially the dream of the coming of the kingdom of God. In the space of three hours on Friday, it was all gone. They scattered (except for John) and went back to their old lives. The memories of Jesus’s words and deeds must have filled their minds on that Saturday. I wonder if the phrase “now what?” went through their minds?

Even though He had told them at least four times He would be raised from the dead, I’m certain they didn’t expect a resurrection.

 

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Sometimes the thought goes through your head, “Why bother?” It happened to me last week in, of all places a Costco parking lot.

We went on a Saturday, which was probably a mistake, to pick up a few things. After driving around the parking lot for some time looking for a spot to park (not a spot right next to the door, mind you, just a place to park), we saw backup lights! It was a close spot, even though we weren’t looking for one. We stopped and I put on my turn signal, making it known to any and all that I would be taking this spot. So far, so good.

As we were waiting, I saw a man and woman walking up the aisle of cars toward the store. Even though they weren’t right in front of us, I decided to let them keep walking before taking the spot. What’s an extra 10 or 15 seconds?

On that day in the Costco parking lot, 10 or 15 seconds proved to be enough time for another car to take the spot. While we were waiting – doing a good thing – someone took advantage of it. I thought, “I had my turn signal on! They had to see it. I was doing something good here and this is what happens?”  Then I thought, “Why bother?” We drove off and found another spot, this time in the far reaches of the lot. At least it wasn’t raining.

So, why bother? Why do the right and good thing when you run the risk of getting taking advantage of for doing it? Because I know that doing good glorifies God and I’ve been commanded to do it. In Galatians 6:9-10, Paul writes, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Hopefully, the next parking lot experience will be different. My attitude, that is.

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