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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 »

May 1st, 2017

God, the ultimate Sir, says, “I started everything and I will end it.”

Revelation 1:1-8

 

Call to worship

A revealing of Jesus, the Liberator.

God gave this message to make plain to his servants what absolutely must happen soon. God’s angel signed it to John who faithfully testified to everything he saw – God’s Word and the testimony of Jesus the Liberator.

Whether you are the reader or the listeners, if you hold tight to these words of prophecy, you will be very fortunate even in the midst of the mess you’re in.

The right moment is now. Read more »

April 23rd, 2017

“A Christian should and must be a cheerful person.”  (Martin Luther)

Genesis 21:1-7

April 23, 2017

Farewell to Holy Humor

Saying farewell to Holy Humor Sunday is bittersweet to me.  I’ve enjoyed this 21-year run, but I’m ready to give it up.  I’ll tell you why before I’m done.

The “farewell” service took me down memory lane, with many of those memories attached at the end of this manuscript.  I skimmed through my various sermon manuscripts and, honestly, had a lot of fun doing so because I shared many stories, personal and otherwise, that have made me laugh.  Sometimes others laughed with me. Read more »