On Christmas Eve, we talked about a child who was born to save us. We talked about his purpose. Tonight, we see that baby, now grown, fulfill it. And I have to warn you - it's not pretty. No longer a cuddly little baby in swaddling clothes, this grown man had been beaten, stripped, mocked, whipped, and could barely physically drag his pulp of a body out to this hill for the climax of this cruelty. It is not pretty. Yet this Friday is Good, precisely because it is Him doing what He came for. In order to save us ...
I was blind for an hour. And that was enough. Granted, I paid for the privilege when that exhibit "Dialogue in the Dark" was in Atlantic Station. It gave you the chance to experience life blind for a short time. I'll just say it was an eye-opening experience. I don't know how truly blind people do it.
Last week, we started looking at Genesis 3, that story of the first sin, to try to understand why we do some of the things we do. We compared it to the victims in a horror movie opening the door that we know so much danger is behind. Like helpless moviegoers, we watched Adam and Eve walk through that door. We saw how dangerous Satan's lies are to lead us to sin.
I just can't watch horror movies. I get too frustrated. You see, it bugs me that they always go through that door.
Last Wednesday, at about midnight, one guy shoved something up my dad's nose, another person shoved something down his throat, and then the kicker – this guy took a knife and cut my dad's midsection wide open. And we thanked him for it.
Dear readers: For the last 10 years, I have been the guy on call to be there for people when they're going through tragedy. I've tried to comfort them with God's Word as they mourn the loss of a loved one, face uncertain surgeries, and deal with pain in so many different ways.
We go through a lot to do "church". Think of the time and money and effort and energy put into making sure we've got a place to meet on Sundays, all the work that goes into the various events and traditions. People give up so much in the name of church, so today I ask you, "Why?" What's the point?"
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Wow! That's all I can say. I'm writing this on Sunday night after experiencing something I won't be able to adequately convey in words. A couple of days ago, I wrote to you from our secure hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, the big city of 20 million, home of Nigeria's biggest airport - the one I flew into. Today, I write from a world as far from that as Lagos is from Covington.
Have you ever thought about foreign mission work? Could you do it? Last week, I wrote about redeeming the time - making the most of every moment of every day. So how's this for redeeming the time? As you read this, God willing, I'm in Nigeria teaching at our Lutheran Seminary there.
Last week, we started talking about depression by looking at the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. If you missed that, you can find it under "sermons" at www.abidinggrace.com. We looked at noticing the signs of depression and seeing the dangers of those tell-tale signs, from focusing on feelings instead of facts, to taking responsibility for things you're not responsible for, to withdrawing to "be alone." We focused a lot on the problem of depression. This week, let's see the solution.
Ten years ago, I was installed as the pastor of Abiding Grace. Now, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago, but I guess the calendar doesn't lie. So, when we come to milestones like this, it makes sense to think again about what we're doing and to ask if it is what we hoped for. Is this working out?
Wisdom…sounds good doesn't it? You want to be wise, don't you? So how do you get there?
Crucifixion. Stabbing. Stoning. Flaying. Beheading.
It's the kind of person who can do anything, right?
Why would anyone want to be a Christian? There are so many rules, right?
This Sunday was Pentecost in the Church year - the day we mark what happened in Acts 2. If you aren't familiar - open up your Bible and read the story. Pentecost was really the kick-start to the New Testament Church - with miracles all over the place - the sound that filled the city, the flames of fire, the speaking in all those languages! Can you imagine being there? And it wasn't just the miracles; it was the message. The disciples were reaching so many different people in so many different languages. And the message, they had changed lives. Three thousand ...
Have you ever heard someone pray for you?
There's an old Spanish proverb: "An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest." So, on this Mother's Day weekend, let's thank God for many ounces of godly mothers.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…"
Peace be with you. That's one of those things churchgoers hear all the time. So how is it working for you? Is there peace in your world?
"I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story because I know it's true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do."
Last month, my congregation (Abiding Grace) celebrated our 10th anniversary. And there is plenty to celebrate. In 10 years, we've grown in people, in facilities, in opportunities to serve our community and spread the word around the world - in so many different ways. Things are rocking at Abiding Grace. So, looking at that, we must be doing something right, right?