Broken Pieces

God uses things that are small, weak and broken. I’ve said that many times so you may have heard it in a sermon, lesson or read it here. Every person in the Bible that does anything for God was flawed in some way, perhaps fatally so. Abraham believed God and God counted it to him as righteousness; but he still lied, twice, about Sara not being his wife. David was a man after God’s own heart but committed not only adultery but murder in an attempt to cover up the previous violation. Noah got drunk and naked, Lot was comfortable surrounded by sin, Samson was a pompous jerk and so forth. Continue reading

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Saving What We Love

That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love. -Rose Tico

Have you ever heard the old saying about how anything could become a sermon illustration? The quote above is from the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’m sure if there had been internet and social media in 1977 everyone would have hated the original film too. But stay with me on Rose’s line. Continue reading

Nets vs. Bait

Screenshot 2019-04-29 at 9.29.44 AMIf you listen to my Sunday sermon (it’s linked in the left-hand sidebar) there are numerous references to Peter and other disciples fishing. Jesus called Peter by telling him that he would become a “fisher of men.” Peter left his nets behind and that’s an important detail to keep in mind.

When we go fishing it’s probably not on a commercial fishing vessel. We go for recreation or even for sport which probably means a rod and reel for most people. We use bait, either live bait like night crawlers and crickets or else some type of lure or fly. Sharing the Gospel message is like casting a net, not like using bait on a hook. When Jesus first met Peter his crew had been out all night and not caught anything. Same story in John 21. We cast the net of the Gospel and many times come back with nothing. But we keep throwing it out there. If we were trying to attract cell phone or cable customers to sign a contract then bait and switch or bait and hook tactics might do the trick. But we are called to build the Kingdom, not generate profitable sales figures. Go out into the world and be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Don’t forget the innocent part.

Opinion: Rebuilding Notre Dame

Screenshot 2019-04-17 at 10.34.18 AMHopefully the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral is not news to anyone. I don’t try to cover breaking news and share you heard it hear first stories because many times the first things you hear are wrong. Now that everyone has had a chance to hear and digest the facts, and many people have shared their opinion, I would like to reflect on a few things. Continue reading

Pickle Parable: Extended Metaphor

There is value in using simple images we are familiar with to help us understand more complex concepts. The Bible is rich with such imagery. But sometimes we get carried away and a metaphor can be overextended. At some point every analogy breaks down and it is possible to complicate the issue we started out trying to simplify. I didn’t want to add to the original post but the wife and I had a discussion about the Parable of the Pickle Jar and I submit the following for your consideration. Continue reading

Denominationalism

Screenshot 2019-03-06 at 10.41.29 AMIf you don’t know about the recent special session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the issues at hand nor the potential for that denomination to split, I’m going to assume it’s because you have been trying to avoid hearing about it. I’m not even going into it here. I suspect you either know all you want to and more or you are really trying hard not to find out.

I only bring it up because one of my friends posted a link to Facebook last week and one his friends, that I do not know, went off on a tangent about denominations. He first denounced the Methodist Church for even having a vote on such an issue then denounced all denominations across the board referring to the practice of denominationalism. What does he even mean by that? Continue reading

Thoughts on Keeping Christ in Christmas

Screenshot 2018-12-18 at 8.59.08 AMThere is no command in the New Testament to celebrate Christmas. Jesus is not disappointed over losing “his day” to Santa Claus or commercialism or anything else. He never asked for a day but rather we assigned him one. What Jesus wants is a place in your heart not a date on your calendar. He wants to bring each of us into a personal relationship with a loving God. He tells us to abide in him as he abides in the Father.

Suing the local government over the right to put up a nativity scene doesn’t “keep Christ in Christmas.” The secular society never had Christ to begin with so there’s no keeping him there. We as believers must keep Christ in our hearts, in our homes and in our church. And we must do so year round not just when Santa is at the mall. That’s not to say we can’t celebrate Christmas. We put up a tree in our home (after Thanksgiving), hang stockings, watch Rudolph on tv and put out milk and cookies for Santa. We also light the candles on the wreath as we keep the weeks of Advent. I can’t do anything Hallmark Channel showing Christmas movies in October but I have a great deal of control over what verses we read, hymns we sing and prayers said during our family devotions.

Don’t be surprised or offended that the world is not interested in Jesus. The manger reminds us that he came into the world. The cross reminds us that, for the most part, the world rejected him. Do good deeds, share good news. Badgering unbelievers with Christian images isn’t going to do anything for them. Show them Christ. Be salt and light. And like I said, that continues into January and beyond. If your Christianity can be stored in a box in the attic, maybe it’s time to revisit the Gospel.