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November 19th, 2017

The worst pain fell on the best person and resulted in the greatest good. 

Genesis 40:1-8

 

The Star

Have you seen the trailers and promos for the new Christmas movie, “The Star”? Linda and I saw the movie on our date night this week. Maybe you’re wondering whether it’s worth your time, and whether it will be the classic its producers hope for.

My opinion is yes, on both counts. The writers tried to be faithful to the Bible’s storyline. They didn’t correct the popular myth that the wise men showed up the night Jesus was born, and I don’t think Mary as a Jewish girl had blue eyes. Then of course there was the creative license of talking animals and Herod sending menacing dogs to track down the newborn king. Read more »

November 12th, 2017

Joseph’s story is ultimately not about Joseph. Neither is yours about you.

Genesis 37:3-8

 

Surprises

Preaching on a familiar story in the Bible presents a unique challenge. That’s one reason that Christmas and Easter are challenging. How many new insights can one gain into the stable or the empty tomb? (A lot, I’ve found over the years.)

The story of Joseph and his coat of many colors is one of the more familiar Old Testament stories. Before you yawn and think, “I’ve heard this one before,” let me suggest a few aspects of this story that were new to me this week. Read more »

November 5th, 2017

God’s expecting you to fight back in the strength he gives you.

 Genesis 32:22-32

November 5, 2017

Really sorry and really afraid

After a short break to ponder the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we return to our studies in Genesis, specifically to the second of two sermons on Jacob.  Here’s a little fact I bet you didn’t know – at least I didn’t: The name “Jacob” appears more often in the Bible than “Abram/Abraham.”  Jacob is arguably the most pivotal patriarch, with his story spanning half of Genesis (chapters 25-50).

When we last left Jacob, at about 40 years old he was running away from his twin brother Esau – and for good reason.  He had connived with his mother to steal Esau’s rights as the firstborn son.  Esau had determined to kill him.  Jacob slipped away, terrified, and on the way out of town had a surprising encounter with God – a vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder (or ziggurat).  In that vision God promised to bring Jacob back home and to bless him with innumerable descendants.  Jacob awoke and declared, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (28:16).

Jacob has been gone twenty years.  Read more »

October 29th, 2017

 

(On a 45 degree day with 20-mile-per-hour winds for an outdoor wedding at Raffaldini Winery in Elkin, I greatly abbreviated the ceremony and meditation for Colton and Kimberly.  Here’s what I had planned to say!)

Colton and Kimberly, on this day when you formally choose each other, I want to thank you for choosing me!  There are lots of pastors out there, and I am blessed to be yours.  My prayer is that we will grow closer in the years to come, and that I will be part of your family.

I love that you chose this vineyard for your wedding, because it reminds me that Jesus’ first miracle was not only at a wedding – the miracle itself was turning water into wine.  Jesus showed us that he cares about weddings – the big picture and the details. Read more »

October 29th, 2017

“The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of grace.”  (Martin Luther)

Ephesians 2:1-10

 

A terrorized life

The story I’m about to tell is true. Some of you know it well; to others most of it will be new. It’s one of the most important stories for Christians outside the Bible.

The story is about a boy I’ll call Marty, the oldest of nine children born to a couple of modest means. Marty’s parents were household servants, cleaning and cooking and doing whatever else needed to be done for wealthy people. Seeking a better life, Marty’s dad moved his family to a town where he got a job working in the copper mines. It was dirty and dangerous work underground, but soon he rose to management and then ownership of several copper mines and processing plants.

Marty’s parents pushed him hard, because hard work and discipline could bring a better life. Read more »