Archive for February, 2012

Feb. 26, Sermon: Heaven Splits Open

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Sermons

Text: Mark 1:9-15

Notes & Thoughts:  The opening of Mark is fast paced and Jesus is quickly moving from one thing to another and I hoped to be able to capture some of that in this sermon.  We’re also using the image of the Journey to the Cross as the backdrop for this series.  This passage covers a journey — a journey from Nazareth to the Jordan River to the Wilderness and back to ministry.  A couple of weeks ago, during the sermon from I AM the ROAD, I almost used the song, “Life is a Highway.”  Glad I didn’t use it then and could bring it back today for this one.  Thank you Tom Cochrane!

Link:  Click Here for HEAVEN SPLITS OPEN


Ash Wednesday: Crashing the Gate

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Sermons

Title: Crashing the Gate

Scripture:  Joel 2:12-17

Bottom line: Repentance frees us to worship!

Notes:  Since this is the Ash Wednesday service, I knew that the theme would be repentance.  It was in my search for information on repentance that I came across a statement attributed to John Wesley that repentance and faith are the gate to religion. That image of the gate stuck with me.  The movie I refer to is “The Mission” and it’s from 1986.  The picture above is from the scene in which Mendoza is pulling his burden behind him.

Click here for the ASH WEDNESDAY SERMON

Why Lent?

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

Someone once asked me, “Why do you Methodists celebrate Lent?”

It was an interesting question because I’ve never viewed it as a Methodist thing and I’ve certainly never thought of it as a celebration.

Many religious groups track with the Christian calendar.  It’s a reminder for us that, when it comes to God, that even the way we think of time and seasons is transformed.  Lent is that time of preparation leading us to Easter.

Lent is typically viewed as a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, beginning on Ash Wednesday (this year, Feb. 22) and ending on Holy Saturday.  The Sundays that fall in this period do not count as part of the 40 days.  They are considered to be mini-Easters.

Forty is a symbolic number and in Scripture is often viewed as a time of testing and preparation.  We can tie it to what we read in Mark 1:12-13:

 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (NIV)

Following his baptism, Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness preparing for what is to come and facing temptations that really hit at what kind of savior he is going to be.  The wilderness in Scripture is that untamed place, the tough place, a place of separation, loneliness and even darkness.  It is in the wilderness where we can realize our need for and our reliance on God.  Jesus emerges from the wilderness and begins his public ministry.

Some ways that Lent is viewed:

  • Lent is a period of repentance.  Repentance isn’t just uttering a blanket statement of “I’m sorry.”  Repentance is about making a change of the heart.
  • Lent is a period of fasting.  During this time, some people choose to give up something.  It’s not about being showy and telling the world what we’re doing.  It’s about letting something go and, in the act of letting it go, realizing how much more we need God.
  • Lent is a period of growth.  For some, this is a time to study more, to read more, to pray more and, maybe, to add something to their lives.  Lent would be a great time to get involved in a new ministry, a new group or a new Bible study.
  • Lent is a period of self-examination.  It’s an opportunity to take a look in the mirror, so to speak, and to look at where we need the light of Christ in our lives.
  • Lent is a reminder.  Lent is a time that reminds us that Jesus’ journey from his baptism to the cross and resurrection is not an easy journey.  Much happens along the way. There are many trials and tests and encounters.  There are miracles and amazing things.  There are lessons and we are invited to be a part of the journey.

I think back to that question, “Why do Methodists celebrate Lent?” and I think I would re-frame it.

“How does God invite us to share in Jesus’ journey to the cross and beyond?”


Text: John 15:1-17

Thoughts: While I was working on this sermon, I kept coming back to the thought of the big lie:  You can do this on your own.  It’s definitely not a new thought, but I’ve had it on my mind since we watched “The Lion King” with Grace.  There’s a scene where the lion, Scar, has set up his brother, King Mufasa.  Mufasa has died and his son, Simba, stands near him in mourning.  Scar tells Simba that it is all his fault and he would be better off to just run away.  For some reason that “lie” stuck with me while I was thinking about this passage from John.  How many of those “lies” will we hear and how many of them do we actually believe?

I also had some thoughts but didn’t use them in the sermon about what the vine isn’t.  The vine isn’t a particular church, a particular brand of theology, a list of rules to follow, a pastor with a certain personality, a type of music used in worship or a particular worship style.  THE VINE IS CHRIST.   There’s no such thing as a perfect church, but we’re all connected to the perfecting love of Christ.  Christ shows a lot of grace and love for the branches despite the imperfections.  Maybe we should be willing to share a little more love and grace with the other branches too.

Feb. 12: I AM the Road

Posted: February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Passage: John 14:1-7

Date:  Feb. 12, 2012

Notes:  Most of the time we use the reference that Jesus says, “I AM the way, the truth and the life.”  Way can be translated out as road, path or highway.  I used the Message translation this week which opted for road.  This is a passage that works in the context of when it is given — Jesus is having his last teaching time with the disciples.  It’s the passage, beginning in John 13, that reveals that one of Jesus’ disciples will betray him and that Peter is going to deny knowing Christ.  When you hear news like that, you have to be upset and I think that leads to the beginning of the passage — Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Don’t worry.

Click here for audio of Feb. 12 — I AM the road


Some sermons are tougher than others and a sermon on life and death is a tough challenge.

One of the things that stands out to me in the passage that runs from John 11:1-45 is Jesus’ love for Martha and Mary.  He never belittles what they are experiencing. In fact, he enters into their pain and even cries.  In Jesus, we have the promise that there is more to life than death.

Feb. 5 — I AM the Resurrection and the Life