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May 22nd, 2017

The self-reliance we strive for might be the worst thing that ever happened to us.

 Revelation 3:14-22

May 21, 2017

The sermon I need to hear

Sometimes the sermon I plan to preach is the sermon I need to hear.  The past few months at Corinth have presented one set of “over and above” challenges after another – 40-50 meetings about the Capital Campaign in January, forty Confirmation appointments in February, meeting with sixty people who attended the March Pastor’s Class, and three difficult funerals on Saturdays since Easter weekend.  There are some responsibilities that seem to fall uniquely on my shoulders as senior pastor.  More of them cropped up in the past six weeks, and I needed to rise to the challenge.  Or did I?

In preparation for this sermon, I came across a blog titled, “A Self-Reliant, Self-Sufficient America is a Safe and Secure America.”  Here is the heart of the key sentence:   “For the majority of our history…America as a nation was…self-reliant and self-sufficient.”   A historian might argue for or against that statement.  A pastor needs to ask, “Is that a good thing?”  Is it good for a nation to be self-reliant and self-sufficient?

Let’s bring that closer to home.  Is it healthy for a church to be “self-reliant and self-sufficient”?  What about families?  Individuals?  Is the best thing for people and communities to have responsibility and opportunity unhindered by others? Read more »

May 20th, 2017

Last week, Ed and Susan Pearce came face to face with a parent’s worst nightmare – not only the loss of their child, but at his own hand.  No one brings a child in the world with even a faint imagination that someday that child will come to believe his own life is not worth living out to its natural end.

Many people, parents or not, would respond to that circumstance, as well as to the years that led up to that moment, with diminished faith, or even with the complete loss of all reason to believe.  Knowing Ed and Susan, it doesn’t surprise me that their faith has only become stronger.  Susan texted me this morning:  “It is well with our souls.”  That’s crazy talk, unless you know Jesus.

I want to suggest for you today that Matthew Pearce’s life, his illness, and even his death all offer reasons to believe. Read more »

May 15th, 2017

Churches that don’t love cannot shine light into the darkness.

Revelation 2:1-7

 

A city of firsts

The city of Ephesus may not mean much to you, but it would if you lived in the first century. Ephesus was a leading city, a crossroads for commerce and culture. Unlike many other ancient cities (Rome and Jerusalem, for example), no modern city was built on the ancient ruins. This has made it much easier for archaeologists to uncover and study the remains. We know Ephesus was a city of firsts.

First in importance. There’s a reason why Ephesus is first among the cities Jesus writes to in Revelation 2 and 3, and why the Apostle Paul’s circular letter to the area is called “Ephesians.” Read more »

May 7th, 2017

Isolated from all he loves, John has the greatest vision of Jesus ever.

Revelation 1:9-20

 

Truth into life

Early in my ministry, an older pastor told me that he didn’t believe a pastor could counsel and preach to the same people. He referred his parishioners to others for counseling, and did most of his counseling for people outside his church.

I can’t disagree more. Even though I don’t think my friend was talking about pastoral care – walking with people through grief and pain – I can’t imagine preaching the Bible to a congregation without some awareness of the deepest personal issues they’re facing. It would not be appropriate in many cases for me to name names and circumstances, but at least I need to know my people’s pain and joy. Read more »

May 6th, 2017

I was leaving church last Saturday evening about 5:30 when my cell phone rang.  It seemed odd that Amber Tramble was calling me.  It wasn’t Amber; it was a St. Stephens volunteer fire fighter using her cell phone to tell me that Justin had passed away.  I have to admit my first thought was that he had taken his own life because he has struggled with depression.

That wasn’t it. Justin was in his garage, doing something he loved.  It was also an escape place from whatever was spinning in his head.  Generally, though, what he was doing out there was for someone else.  Read more »