Tag Archives: sermonprep

God is Good, Good, Good. Mostly.

Posts in the Sermon Prep: God is Good series

  1. This Week’s Sermon: God is Good
  2. God is Good, Good, Good. Mostly.
  3. God is Good: Sermon Audio

Well, first service is done, second service is about to start, and the sermon went great! I’ll post the audio a little later, but for now, here’s the manuscript. Thanks to all for your help, your comments, and your prayers.

God is Good (manuscript)

Previous in series: This Week’s Sermon: God is Good

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This Week’s Sermon: God is Good

Posts in the Sermon Prep: God is Good series

  1. This Week’s Sermon: God is Good
  2. God is Good, Good, Good. Mostly.
  3. God is Good: Sermon Audio

Yep. I’m preaching again on Sunday.

This week’s topic, “God is Good … So why is everything so f’d up?” I’ll probably modify the title by Sunday.

A little help please?

Next in series: God is Good, Good, Good. Mostly.

7 Days of Doubt

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Doubt series

  1. The Third Rail – Doubt
  2. Digital Art Photos
  3. 7 Days of Doubt
  4. From Descartes to Indiana Jones

I’m reading Matthew Henry’s commentary on John 20, and he makes an observation that I hadn’t noticed before. In the “Doubting Thomas” story, 8 days pass between Thomas’ proclamation of doubt, and Jesus reappearance to confirm his resurrection. Henry’s interpretation is that the delay serves as a kind of rebuke to Thomas.

That’s not what struck me, though. Thomas basically calls the disciples fools, and says “Someone has duped you, but not me.” And yet, when the story picks up 8 days later, Thomas is hanging out with the 12 (11 at this point, sans Judas). He’s still part of the community, still in the fellowship. Imagine what those 8 days must have been like! What else would the other disciples be talking about, apart from the resurrection? It had to have been the topic at every meal, every gathering. The resurrection, what it meant, what they should be planning for the future. I wonder if, when the week had passed, Thomas had begun to hope that it was true, if he was prepared to believe it, or if he become cynical in the face of their foolish (to him) faith.

I like the precedent that this sets for the church and those of us who are doubters in her midst. There is space for puzzling through, without breaking fellowship.

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Next in series: From Descartes to Indiana Jones

Digital Art Photos

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Doubt series

  1. The Third Rail – Doubt
  2. Digital Art Photos
  3. 7 Days of Doubt
  4. From Descartes to Indiana Jones

I’m usually pretty good at finding things in hidden corners of the internet, but I’m having a really hard time locating high-res photos of famous paintings. I’d really like to use Caravaggio’s painting “The Incredulity of St. Thomas”, but all I can find are embedded versions on people’s blogs. Anybody know where I can find the real thing? Well, not the real thing, but a big old high-quality photo of the real thing?

Or, if someone wants to loan me the real thing for a week, that would be cool too!
"The Incredulity of St. Thomas" by Caravaggio

Previous in series: The Third Rail – Doubt

Next in series: 7 Days of Doubt

The Third Rail – Doubt

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Doubt series

  1. The Third Rail – Doubt
  2. Digital Art Photos
  3. 7 Days of Doubt
  4. From Descartes to Indiana Jones

A week from this Sunday, Chad and Erica will be leading worship at our little dutch chapel in Orange County, and I will be bringing the bible-thumping fiery rhetoric from the pulpit. You should definitely come check it out. Or, if not, you should at least help me plan my message.

I think I’m going to talk about the third rail of the life of faith: doubt.

Here, let me make it a little spookier:

DOUBT!

Topics on the table:

Doubting Thomas
Mother Theresa
Mark 9:24

So – hit me. If you had to put a percentage on is, what’s the ratio of belief to doubt for the things in your personal creed? How influential is the belief of others in reinforcing your belief? Do you feel the freedom to express honest doubt about fundamental things (scripture, resurrection, omnipotence) when you’re in the company of other believers? And most importantly, Doug, will I still have a job waiting when I get back? For that matter, Phil, will I still have a job waiting when I come before the faith interrogation high council?

Next in series: Digital Art Photos

A Grateful Heart

I’m giving the message tomorrow night at our Thanksgiving service. I thought about giving a 12-part dissertation on the dispensational reading of Romans, with annotated commentary from the Darby Bible. Doug thought it might be better to focus on gratitude.

First, a little music to set the mood.
be-grateful-hawkins.mp3
Be Grateful by The Hawkins Family (not OUR Hawkins, different Hawkins)

I think gratitude is a powerful antidote for some of the diseases of the heart. Not actual heart disease – the cure for that is to quit smoking and lay off the television. But for the pervasive ills of the soul, gratitude is a strong prescriptive. If we choose to practice gratitude, there are some things that come along with it, some benefits that accrue to the grateful heart.

A Grateful Heart is Humble

It is impossible to be grateful and self-satisfied at the same time. It is impossible to be grateful and also arrogant. Gratitude takes humility as a prerequisite, because gratitude admits that we have been the recipients of generosity, have been given something we had no claim over. It acknowledges that we have relied on others to extend to us the benefit of their free will, used on our behalf. It recognizes the freedom and dignity of someone other than us, and places us in their debt.

When Paul builds his case against natural righteousness in Romans 1, he says that the cardinal failure of those outside of the covenant is not that they were ignorant of God; how could they be, with such manifest evidence poured out around them? He says that the cardinal failure is the failure to give thanks to the God that they know must exist. Failure to admit humility before him. Failure to praise. And, out of that failure, Paul gives a litany of crimes against humanity that pour out of the ungrateful heart:

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things with are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, unloving, unmerciful …” Romans 1:28-31

Those of us spending time with family and in-laws this Thanksgiving might take pause for a moment to see that “disobedience to parents” was included in such august company with the other mortal sins.

I’m going to hell.

A Grateful Heart is Content

This was one of the 16 points in my epic 96-minute sermon from earlier in the year. The short version, which was definitely NOT the version I used during that sermon, is that gratitude shakes us free from focusing on what we lack, and refocuses us on what we have been given. “Things We Lack” is an infinite category, and like all good infinite sets, no matter how many things we take out of the set and add to the category “Things We Have”, the infinite set is still infinitely vast. (In my previous message, I skipped the whole 20-minute side lecture on number theory and the irrationality of actual infinites. Looking back on it now, that’s probably why so many people complained. Note to self: next time I preach on contentment, include more math-based proofs.)

Gratitude is incompatible with the twin symptoms of discontentment: greed and envy (both make an appearance in Paul’s notorious list in Romans 1). Greed feeds on our fixation with the future, and envy makes us competitors to those around us. Gratitude wrenches us away from the future and places us in the present. Gratitude restores our unity with those around us. Both are the hallmarks of contentment.

A Grateful Heart is Joyful

Gratitude often travels hand-in-hand with joy. The Psalmist knew it. Check out Psalm 100:

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

A Grateful Heart is Generous

I grew up in a strand of Protestantism that valued states of mind. Faith was a certain way of thinking about things, salvation was a certain state of belief about God, redemption was the renewing of the mind. The purpose of the church was to impart, defend, and celebrate certain states of mind. It was never articulated in quite that way, and if you stopped to talk to the teaching leadership in the church, they would likely protest. But the force of expectation and participation was all intently focused on that one aspect of being: the ideas and perspectives that we held in mind.

In coming to possess my own faith, I see the poverty of that perspective. Ideas, at least the kind of cherished by people of faith, are not static, and cannot be contained by the mind alone. They are ideas that compel, they are states of mind that pour out into actions. Gratitude that begins and ends with a state of mind is not worth celebrating.

Real gratitude expresses itself. It responds. If someone is generous to me, my gratitude provokes me to be generous with others. As God has been supremely generous to me, and if by faith I am filled with unspeakable gratitude toward Him, I will respond. My posture toward those around me will be generosity.

It will be a generosity propelled by humility, contentment, and joy.

Seize Him, And Make Him King

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Seize Him series

  1. Seize Him and Make Him King
  2. Inappropriate Zeal
  3. Seize Him, And Make Him King

The service went pretty well this morning. I had a few people come up afterward and take issue with the message, but I think they were, for the most part, reacting to what they thought I was implying, not what I actually said.

Thank you for your help, as always. For those interested, here’s the audio:

Sermon Audio: October 21, 2007

And, if you’d like to follow along, here’s the manuscript. Tons of spelling errors, I know. Oh well.

Sermon Manuscript: Seize Him and Make Him King

Previous in series: Inappropriate Zeal

Sermon Prep: Finished!

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Sodom series

  1. This morning’s sermon will be on …
  2. Sermon Prep (part 1)
  3. Sermon Prep (part 2): Lot
  4. Sermon Prep, part 3
  5. Sermon Prep: Finished!

So, thank you all kindly for your help this week. This was maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever had to speak on, but I think it came together. I’m posting both the podcast and my notes, for those of you who like to read along. I write everything out, so you can see where I stumbled over my words.

07-30-2006_service.mp3

Click here to download theManuscript

If you’re just joining the conversation, you can see the bones of the thing by navigating the series links above.

SnG Manuscript

Previous in series: Sermon Prep, part 3

Sermon Prep (part 2): Lot

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Sodom series

  1. This morning’s sermon will be on …
  2. Sermon Prep (part 1)
  3. Sermon Prep (part 2): Lot
  4. Sermon Prep, part 3
  5. Sermon Prep: Finished!

Lot is an interesting character in this story. At first glance, he’s the hero, but as the story unfolds, we start to see some things that make us question his choices. In fact, one of the questions that keeps popping up for me when I read Genesis 19 is why Lot is called “Righteous”? What sets him apart, other than one moment of courage that, itself, seems sullied by a horrific compromise? So, here’s my run sheet on the guy.

Lot

19:1 Sitting at the gates of the city – this is a position of prominence in the city, the equivalent of a city council meeting, or high court. Lot has obviously done well for himself in Sodom.

Lot mirrors the actions of Abraham in 18:2, bowing to the angels.

Hospitality, one of the cardinal virtues of the ANE. Protection is implied, consent of the guest is a show of honor.

19:3 patsar me’hod – “he single-mindedly, obstinately pressed upon them with urgency, exceeding force”. Lot seems very aware of the kind of welcome the visitors will receive at the hands of the city. How long has Lot been living with the disparity between his position of respect and prominence in a wicked city, and his internal moral voice? The arrival of the guests seems to be a watershed moment for Lot’s moral identity.

19:6 Lot exits the safety of the house. He presumed that his prominence in the city would be a safeguard against the mob?

19:7,8 “do not act wickedly … they are under the shadow of my roof.” Lot’s perspective here is instructive. His assumptions about the people will be important later when we try to understand what the sin of sodom was. He assumes that they are not morally ignorant (they understand wickedness). They know his obligations as a host to the visitors (shadow of my roof). His offer of his daughters shows that Lot believes that the crowd is motivated by sensual lusts, which he hopes to divert away from his guests.

The offer of his daughters is ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly. What’s are the relevant features of this offer? Women as property under the sovereign rule of the male head of household, safety of guests over safety of family, homosexual vs. heterosexual?, how would this affect their status as “betrothed”? Are there other examples of this kind of barter?

How does Lot get called “Righteous” in light of this hideous sort of compromise?

The rejection of the offer shows that Lot’s assumptions about the mob’s motivation was wrong. There seems to be an air of violence about their intent, not just sensuality.

19:9 “who are you to declare judgement against us? You’re not from here, yet in your wealth and status you presume to declare what is right and wrong for us? Why should we bend to your moral pronouncements?” c.f. 19:1 – is this a latent resentment against Lot’s prominence, or a general revolt against moral restraint?

19:14 Lot’s sons-in-law thought he was joking about God’s impending wrath. Are they from the city? How does Lot’s willingness to marry into the city fit with his inner turmoil between morality and position? That they take Lot’s warning as a joke might indicate that they are unused to hearing language about righteousness, justice, and judgement coming from Lot.

19:16 But he hesitated. This is it. This is the window into Lot’s soul. In Sodom, he has wealth, he has position and prominence, he is integrating his family into the city, and everything that he has in this world is within those walls. The laughter of his sons-in-law has given him pause. Who are these visitors? How do I know that they’re telling the truth? Maybe my sons-in-law are right, and this is a huge joke. Should I risk everything by abandoning the city? It’s been a long time (how many years since the split w/ abraham?) since I’ve heard anything about, or from, Yahweh, and after all, the covenant is with Abraham, not with me … Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

19:19 Now he believes. Once outside the city walls, he sees the lovingkindness (checed – mercy? grace?) and compassion that motivated the angels to rescue him (Doug, how very reformed! Lot does not believe, and then is saved; he is saved, and then believes. And then runs!)

19:20 Lot is still looking for a city. Escape to the mountians? They have no Starbucks there! What if I just move to the suburbs instead, and chill over here in this little town.

19:23 The rising sun. Measurements of time are prominent in this story. The angels arrive at dusk, the violent mob assembles at night, at first light the angels urge Lot to run, and when the sun rises, he reaches the safe city.

That’s the wrapup. So, why is Lot called righteous? What righteous actions did Lot take? He offered hospitality, he protected the safety of his guests, and (though it was a bit late in coming) believed in the lovingkindness of God in protecting him and his family. He fled, which was an act of faith. But he was also a man at home in a wicked city, prominent among the people, who seemed to at least be able to navigate the moral ambiguity of that place. He offers up his daughters to be raped by an angry mob. He betrothed his daughters to faithless men. In the moment of decision, his faith falters, and he has to be dragged to safety.

So, why call Lot righteous? Why save him from the destruction of Sodom? 19:29 might be an indication that it actually has nothing at all to do with him or his actions: it says that God remembered Abraham, and so saved Lot.

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Sermon Prep (part 1)

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Sodom series

  1. This morning’s sermon will be on …
  2. Sermon Prep (part 1)
  3. Sermon Prep (part 2): Lot
  4. Sermon Prep, part 3
  5. Sermon Prep: Finished!

(You can follow this whole thread by tracking the tag “sermonprep” in the site archives. Or, just click here.)

Remember how I decided to use all ya’ll to help me with my sermon prep? Well, the day is fast approaching, and I thought that, in the absence of any real content to add here at Addison Road, I would instead post my sermon prep here for you to peruse.

I imagine this will be similar to the sensation that most sane people have when they look at serial killer art: it wouldn’t be interesting, except that it comes from such a disturbed mind. Enjoy!

I start with a legal pad, a comfy writing utensil, and as many good verbal translations of the text as I can find. NASB is usually my first pick. Every major character or prevelant theme gets its own page in the pad, and I jot down clusters of questions or initial thoughts that come from the text. I tend to go translation by translation, and do a straight read-through rather than go verse-by-verse from translation to translation, scouring for distinctions in syntax. I’m not poking in the valleys yet, I’m looking for the mountains, the big things that were the most important to the author, and so should be most important to the reader trying to understand the text.

The text for this Sunday is going to be Genesis 18:16 – 19:29. So far, I have pages on my legal pad for Abraham, Lot, Sodom (city), Sodom (biblical references), What was Sodom’s Sin? (this one might stir up some firestorms), Justice and Righteousness, and Faith.

Here’s part one:

Abraham
He’s the one already safe from harm in this story – the covenant is begun, promise given, he’s miles away from the city of Sodom.

18:17 What’s the significance of the Lord’s inner dialog on whether or not to tell Abraham? Perhaps he knows that Abrahams bargain will fail? The subordinating conjunction “since” seems to be a non-squitur here. How does Abrahams place in the covenant promise have any bearing on whether or not God reveals his plans to him? Is this just to highlight his position of safety in the narrative that follows?

He pleads for God’s mercy on behalf of the whole city, for the sake of the righteous.

Ink is significant – why is so much space devoted to Abraham’s “used car salesman” technique of bartering God down to 10 people?

18:25 “shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” this looks like a common OT technique for petitioning Yahweh – appealing to aspects of his nature as the basis for him ammending his actions. c.f. Moses with Israel. Not “do this thing for my sake” but “do this thing for your own sake, since it is within your character to do so.”

What’s the right response of those who have already been saved from judgement toward those who have not? Interceding prayer, passionate concern. There is no room in this story for human judgement, for people standing on the sidelines and cheering on the destruction. If we can talk about God’s righteous judgement and great wrath without our hearts breaking, we have not understood how deeply his grace reached down to us.

19:28 The last thing Abraham knows in this story is that his intercession didn’t work. When the angels leave him, he knows that his bargain is in play, and the next thing he sees is the ash and smoke of the wreckage.

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This morning’s sermon will be on …

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Sodom series

  1. This morning’s sermon will be on …
  2. Sermon Prep (part 1)
  3. Sermon Prep (part 2): Lot
  4. Sermon Prep, part 3
  5. Sermon Prep: Finished!

So, on July 30th, Pastor Doug will be gone, and I’ve got the keys to the pulpit. I’m not getting struck by inspiration at this point, so I may bail out on preaching and just show a veggie-tales video.

But, in the fine tradition of us using Addison Road people to do our homework for us, I thought I’d open it up, and see if you all have any ideas. If you had a mic and 300 people for 30 minutes, what would you talk about?

(You can follow this whole thread by tracking the tag “sermonprep” in the site archives. Or, just click here.)

Next in series: Sermon Prep (part 1)