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July 17th, 2016

The New Testament says more about humble service than about going to church.

Philippians 2:1-11

July 17, 2016

Two things about you

I hope this isn’t creepy, but I know about two things about you, whether you and I go back decades or whether this is the first time we have ever met.

First, I know you need people.  You crave connections with other human beings.  I can use a different word – relationships, intimacy, attachment, community – it’s just semantics.  You want to be known and yearn to be loved.  You can’t help it, because you are hard wired this way.  God created human beings in his image, and God is eternally and constantly in connection – Father, Son and Holy Spirit existing in perfect intimacy and constant communication.  He made you with the capacity and longing to experience personal connection.  To deny it is like a fish denying it needs water, or an eagle insisting it enjoys a long walk.

Second, I know people drive you crazy.  Some of the problem is that you didn’t necessarily choose those you are closest to you – people in your family, your neighborhood, your work place.  Even if you did, many of your closest connections formed almost mysteriously and involuntarily.  You fell in love.  You bonded with a coworker.  You felt drawn to someone. Read more »

July 11th, 2016

Why Missions?

There is a Grand Canyon of difference between the haves and have-nots in the world.

Romans 10:8-15

Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:8-10)

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

“Why Missions?” is the theme for today. We will hear from our Moldova mission team and also from George and Kathy Cail, career missionaries who are returning next month to west Africa.

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“Why Missions” raises the reverse question, “Why not missions?” There are definitely Christians who feel a push back to mission investment, especially foreign missions. Read more »

July 3rd, 2016

Freedom is not the right to satisfy the flesh, but the power to walk in the Spirit.

 Galatians 5:1, 13-26

July 3, 2016

Two freedoms

When I drove to church Thursday morning for Bible study, I noticed that someone had placed small American flags on the church property.   I asked my Bible study guys what were the pros and cons of having the flags on church property this weekend.

Let’s start with the pros.  You and I are only able to worship here because we live in a free country.  The United States of America has led the world in embracing and proclaiming freedom of worship, of speech, of assembly, and of the press, along with other freedoms.  The American flag symbolizes political freedom.  As a Christian who lives in America Christian I can’t separate my gratitude for our freedom from my recognition of God as the giver of all good gifts, including our freedom.

What about the cons?  First, over identification of faith and patriotism.  I’m not an American who happens to love Jesus.  I’m a follower of Jesus who is blessed to live in America. To say it another way, I’m not a Christian American.  I’m an American Christian.  Which one is noun and which one is adjective makes a big difference. My heart identity is gospel-centered, not country-centered.  It’s important that I not get that backwards.

The other con is confusing political freedom and gospel freedom.  Read more »

June 27th, 2016

Any reading of Scripture that increases my pride is not a biblical approach to the Bible.

Psalm 19; 2 Timothy 3:14-17

 

Many paths to arrogance

Pastor Paul and I decided this summer to focus our Corinth sermons on a series of topics rather than on a book of the Bible, as we usually do. We’re calling these sermons “Truths that Live.” We hope we have some topics that connect your life and God’s truth.

We begin with “Biblical Authority,” because it’s the foundation for every other topic we’ll touch this summer – or anytime. A “Reformed” church seeks to base our identity, our worship, our preaching and teaching, and all of our common life on the Bible.

I have lived most of my adult life hearing two very different approaches to the Bible. Thirty-eight years ago God called Linda and me into the United Church of Christ, and there have been many times during the years I have heard – from inside the church! – views of the Bible that sounded to me like outright disdain. Whether it was the language for God or how we discuss what’s right and wrong, sometimes there was outright mockery of the Bible. Read more »

June 12th, 2016

Sunday Evening at Doxa Deo Church, Chisinau, Moldova

Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 16:16-18; Revelation 22:20

June 12, 2016

Giving glory to God

I am so impressed with the number of people in Moldova who speak both Romanian and either English or Russian or both.  Before we begin I need to ask Vitale, my interpreter, some questions to be sure he is qualified.  Vitale, what is the English word for someone who speaks two languages?  (Bilingual)  What is the English word for someone who speaks three languages?  (Trilingual)  What is the English word for someone who speaks one language?  (American!)

The title for my sermon tonight is “Why God Is Not Worried.”  Pastor Fyodor has said the purpose of our trip is to bring glory to God.  To give glory to God is to lift him higher.  This morning we talked about giving glory to God in our suffering.

I bring you greetings from Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, North Carolina, USA.  Our church is full of young adults like you.  We honored our high school and college graduates last Sunday.  Colby Ingle, who shared his testimony, plays on one of our three church basketball teams.  I quit playing basketball on the church team years ago when I realized I was getting more fouls than points.

Back in North Carolina, our church has invited a Christian psychiatrist, Dr. Curt Thompson, to speak to us twice.  He has the same last name as I do, but we are not related.  On one of his visits Dr. Thompson made a startling statement: “God is not worried about your children.” Read more »