I did not grow up in church observing any sort of Christian Calendar. Church life centered around Christmas and Easter at those times of the year and there were special days such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Although my family wasn’t Southern Baptist we were Baptists in the South so Homecoming, Vacation Bible School and revival meetings were annual observances. The vast majority of the year the pastor preached on whatever he felt led to, Sunday School teachers did the same, and all of that seemed perfectly normal to me.
If you Google ordinary time you will get a lot of results from Catholic sources and relating to the Roman Catholic Church. Many Protestant churches find they benefit from a Christian Calendar, like the one shown above, even without following a strict lectionary throughout the year. Continue reading →
If you are a follower of The Master’s Table, or a former student, or have ever listened to me preach, teach Sunday School or lead a small group of any kind, you know by now that I do not pick up a recent newspaper and use the headlines for talking points about Bible prophesy. During Advent I talk about prophecies of the Messiah being fulfilled by Jesus’s birth and the events surrounding it. During Easter and Pentecost I talk about prophesies Jesus fulfilled during his earthly ministry, his death, burial and resurrection, and the promise we have of his future return. What I have never done is point to earthquakes, volcanoes, war in the Middle East or any other current event while quoting snippets of scripture and saying “See, the Bible says so.” I’ve seen preachers and other church leaders look foolish when Mikhail Gorbachev did not turn out to be the antichrist, Saddam Hussein was not the Beast described in Revelation and the world did not end in 1988 despite the list of 88 reasons that it was going to. Continue reading →
Here is a sermon I wrote a few years ago for Pentecost. I found full text of this message, originally title The Holy Spirit Bears Witness, courtesy of cloud storage and decided it was worth sharing.
Our celebration of Easter corresponds with the Jewish festival of Passover. It’s no mere coincidence if we think about the Passover lamb as symbolic prophecy for the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Pentecost, fifty days later, corresponds to the Jewish Festival of Weeks. Jews still celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost is the Greek word for Shavuot).
Before the crucifixion, Jesus told his followers that he must go in order for the Comforter to come. Before his ascension in Acts 1 to told the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem and “wait for the promise.” John the Baptist had prophesied that one coming after him that would baptize with fire. Jesus said in Acts 1 they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. I’m going to take for granted you either have read or will read Acts chapter 2. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the first “Christian sermon” and the New Testament Church Age began.Continue reading →
Today is the annual National Day of Prayer. In years past I would encourage you to find a group event and join them in person and in prayer. It should come as no surprise that this year things are different. Continue reading →
Every adult Christian probably has memories of Easter outfits and eggs hunts from when they were kids, and a list of traditions they carry on with their kids and grandkids. Easter probably involves sunrise service, some special breakfast, new suits or dresses, pictures with family, Easter egg hunts, and so forth. Church choirs perform cantatas and perhaps put on passion plays. We used to go to one in London, KY that was very well done.
And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. –John 12:23-26
Wednesday April 8th was the first day of Passover for observant Jews. The event we know as the Triumphal Entry occurred when Jesus came into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover for the last time. Ethnic Jews and those practicing Judaism gathered at Jerusalem from all around the Mediterranean world. John 12 records that “some Greeks” came looking for Jesus. The very well known statement “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” is found in verse 21. Philip told Andrew, Andrew and Philip went together and told Jesus. His response is shown above. He talks about bearing fruit, eternal life, following him and being honored by the father. He also talks about, as he had many times before, sowing seeds but in this instance uses what happens to seeds to allude to his crucifixion and burial. The grain of wheat must fall into the earth and die in order to bear fruit. Continue reading →
A few years ago we tried something new that just didn’t work out. I have decided to spare you the details but we made a few slideshow presentation videos and since I never throw anything away the ones we produced still exist on YouTube.
As we begin Holy Week here is a sermon titled “The Gospel Changes Things” with scripture texts and images. To share the Gospel is why Jesus came into the world. The Church has the potential to do a lot of good in the world but above all else sharing this message is what we are called to.
From Facetime with school teachers to livestreaming worship services, we’ve all been doing whatever it takes to carry on in this new age of social distancing. So many church services started using Facebook Live for the first time in the past couple of weeks they crashed the system. FB apparently didn’t see that coming but they have worked hard to get those archived videos back up. I’ve seen so many posts about how to participate in worship from home as well. Getting up and getting dressed is helpful for working from home and on Sunday morning. If you sing, clap, read along in your Bible and shout “Amen!” it makes worship a group activity and not just a spectator sport. Continue reading →
I was listening to the Jimmy’s Table podcast this morning as he interviewed a local Charlotte, NC pastor. They discussed the recent wave of Facebook Live and other video/streaming church services and that brought up a few questions. Will church members go back to church when this is all over? Why send tithes to a church in your city when you could watch a live stream or listen to a podcast from a pastor anywhere?
Whether you believe in a literal six day creation week 6,000 years ago or evolutionary processes that took eons, conservative Christians and anthropologists agree that before societies developed humans were hunter-gatherers. During times of plenty the human body stores extra in fat cells, using those reserves in times that are lean. Evolution at work or God’s providence? Since you’re reading a religious blog, and I’m a Baptist preacher, we’re probably on the same page. We probably agree on what happened next. Technology improved, life got easier, and since none of us have to spend the majority of time making sure we have enough to eat we have to go jogging or walk a treadmill to stave off morbid obesity. We are designed for the struggle. When we are provided an abundance, with no hard labor required, we get fat. Continue reading →