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Posts Tagged ‘sermon series’

gift-coverSummer is upon us and we will be exploring the gift of imperfection in our lives using a book entitled “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by, author and researcher, Brené Brown.

Here’s a description of the book from Amazon.com:

“Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, PhD, a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living–a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, and to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.”

Together we will talk about how through the power of God in Christ we can live Wholeheartedly and find worth and belonging.

Below is a tentative schedule for the series, we hope that you will be able to join us along this journey and to help us find our place of belonging.

June 7, 2015-          
Authenticity and Self Compassion 

(Letting Go of What People Think and Letting Go of Perfectionism)

June 14, 2015-
Resilient Spirit
(Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness)

June 21, 2015-
Gratitude and Joy
(Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark)

June 28, 2015-
Intuition, Trusting Faith, and Calm and Stillness 
(Letting Go of the Need for Certainty and Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle)

July 5, 2015-
Creativity 
(Letting Go of Comparison)

July 12, 2015-
Meaningful Work
(Letting Go of Self Doubt and Supposed To)

July 19, 2015-
Play and Rest and Laughter Dance and Song
(Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self Worth and Letting Go of Being Cool and Always in Control)

If you would like to purchase the book you can find it following this link at Amazon.com

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This is the fourth post of week 2 in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 8, Proverbs 3:13-18, and Ephesians 1:17-19. Today we are looking towards the scripture for Sunday (Romans 5:1-11)

Psalm 8

Another one of the aren’t we awesome scriptures…and…by we, I mean the God that we believe in. If God gave us dominion over the works of God’s hands and all things have been put under our feet, what does that say about climate change, celebrating profit over relationship, and the unwillingness to follow God? One of my parishioners asked this question and I had never thought about this in this way, “If we are supposed to have dominion, is God mad that we haven’t learned to control tornadoes yet?” What do we mean when we say dominion, does that mean we’re in control, but God is in control, but when is God calling us to control? Questions, Questions, Questions.

Proverbs 3:13-18

My daughter’s name is the Greek word for wisdom, so I like the scripture. It makes me think about preservation of the truth and the difference between knowledge and wisdom. You can know a lot of stuff but if it doesn’t affect your life it certainly isn’t wisdom. That idea draws me to people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and others giving away a lot of their money to help others. That seems wise to me, even biblical, if only everyone lived by the knowledge they had.

Ephesians 1:17-19

Another prayer for wisdom and revelation. I can only imagine that you don’t have wisdom without revelation. If there is no “AHA!” moment, then I’m not sure there can be understanding of or acknowledgement of the greatness of God and others.

Blessings,

Pastor Greg

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This is the third post of week 2 in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 48, Numbers 24:1-14, and Luke 1:26-38. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 2:1-21)

Psalm 48

I think we might have enough towers and ramparts to consider as we pass on to the next generation. The great ends of the church, for me, are more about relationship work than construction work. To be sure there are places that I regard as holy, but I know that those places are holy because of the experiences and the people I have shared with in those places. Whether that’s Mountaineer Field (a holy place for sure), the sanctuary of Lithonia Presbyterian Church (where I learned what the community of God is like, it’s closed now), or the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church in Corvallis (where I stood before God and my “family” saying vows to my wife.), the list goes on and on, beer garden at GoodLife, softball field at Skyliner, Bluestone, all of these places have one thing in common they are where I shared with others. When we proclaim the gospel, shelter the children of God, perserve the truth, promote social righteousness, maintain worship, and exhibit the kingdom we do it with people, the place is secondary.

Numbers 24:1-14

This reminds me of the “preservation of the truth”. A lot to times people want you to reinforce their understanding of scripture or particular issues. In my case, a lot of the time my understandings are based on cultural norms and misinformation. It sucks when people don’t tell you what you want to hear but tell you the truth. This is a delicate balance sometimes as a pastor. Sometimes you are living inaccurately, sometimes your people are living inaccurately in both those situations someone needs to stand up and say something. If you’re going to sell out, sell out for the gospel.

Luke 1:26-38

When we accept the great ends of the church, or buy into them, start to live them out it may seem to be a litte strange, maybe even impossible. (I use a lot of commas) Impossible like a virgin giving birth, impossible like a small church changing the historical documents of a denomination (I like to dream big). Verse 37, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Well, let’s just see.

Blessings,

Pastor Greg

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[DISCLAIMER: So I like to take my time off and I like writing my sermon on Thursday, it’s my rhythm. I am realizing though that I may only be blogging Monday-Thursday every day. I will post the sermon from Sunday as well. I’m still figuring out how all this works but I’m liking the reading, I hope you’re liking the reflection.]

This is the second post of week 2 in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 48, Ezekiel 11:14-25, and 1 Corinthians 2:12-16. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 2:1-21)

Psalm 48

Alright so today I’m in a better mood I think. Talking about God’s citadels and their power to protect fits right in with “the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.” Yesterday, I think I was just over people using power and holding it over others. I’m really not into that, except when I am. (that’s another blog).

Ezekiel 11:14-25

In this, Ezekiel’s vision God explains that God is creating a shelter for the people of Israel and that God will “remove from it all its detestable things and abominations.” (v. 18b) Ouch. I feel like this is a great verse for Zionists would pull out to justify the nation of Israel’s attacks on Palestinians (ie those detestable things and abominations that were supposed to be removed). Pretty sure that’s not what the PC(USA) had in mind when they said a great end of the church was “the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.” Maybe I’m not in a better mood today.

1 Corinthians 2:12-16

Jeez, this week’s readings. This makes me think of arrogant Christians who fight, literally and figuratively, about the TRUTH. So I guess this fits right in “the preservation of the truth”. I think there’s a big difference between the big “T” truth and just “truth”. Most of it has to do with me telling you what you should and should not believe and that if you don’t believe the way that I do then you must be “unspiritual” or dumb. I have been labeled arrogant, I know what’s it’s like to demand that someone agree with you. This is not my call. I have my beliefs and I think they are pretty good, but I love those moments (and by love I mean, “I wish I had thought of that.”) when someone who I think might not have the right education, the right experience, or whatever is able to live out the “spirit of God” WAY more than me. This is another one of those passages that in the wrong hands (see I didn’t it again) can be dangerous.

Blessings,

Pastor Greg

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[DISCLAIMER: So I like to take my time off and I like writing my sermon on Thursday, it’s my rhythm. I am realizing though that I may only be blogging Monday-Thursday every day. I will post the sermon from Sunday as well. I’m still figuring out how all this works but I’m liking the reading, I hope you’re liking the reflection.]

This is the start of week 2 in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 48, Joel 2:18-29, and 1 Corinthians 2:1-11. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 2:1-21)

Psalm 48

I’m not sure if it’s just me today but this just seems to be a call to walk around and look at the cool stuff God created, which is nice…I guess. It just doesn’t seem to be jiving with the great ends theme. Maybe, exhibition of Kingdom of Heaven to the world, but not really. I’d be open to someone helping me out on this one.

Joel 2:18-29

This is a weird pericope, most of it has to do with God not letting the Israelites be a laughing stock anymore, God saying, “you know all that stuff I did to you, well…sorry, how about I fill your threshing floor and we’ll be straight. Right?” Then the last two verses are the verses that Peter quotes in his speech on Pentecost. Maybe God is sheltering and nurturing God’s children but it kind of just sounds like an abuser who says, “No really, I’ll change this time.” These passages are hard for me.

1 Corinthians 2:1-11

It’s a rough day for me. Based on the title of this section “True Wisdom of God” I guess it fits in “the preservation of the truth” category, but it also says, we don’t really know the truth, God does. Well. That’s. Just. Awesome.

Better luck tomorrow.

Greg

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This is the third post in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 29, Ezekiel 3:12-21, and Luke 9:18-27. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 16:16-34)

Psalm 29

Verse 7 says, “the voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.” In terms of the upcoming Pentecost Sunday I’m intrigued by Psalm 29’s varied expressions of the voice of the Lord and how that relates to proclamation of the gospel. St. Francis of Assisi has a famous quote, “preach the gospel always, use words if necessary.” As we are called to proclaim I wonder if we limit how we do that or what proclamation even means. Is a casserole delivery or a hug just as much proclamation as any sermon? I think it is, but in a different way. In our world that is ever changing and the lecture style of communication is waning, how do preachers and the church own and intentionally proclaim the gospel to the world?

Ezekiel 3:12-21

Wow! No pressure! God lifts Ezekiel and takes him to live with exiles to tell him that if he doesn’t proclaim God’s word to people they will die and so will he. Yikes! It makes me think of that Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” It seems that God is telling Ezekiel if you here something from me, you MUST share it, even if it’s not going to be easy. That’s a challenge. How to tell people things without them thinking you’re a self-righteous jerk or crazy. I know that’s a little extreme, but as someone who stands in a pulpit and proclaims the gospel weekly it’s hard.

Luke 9:18-27

“Who do you say that I am?” That’s a tough question. If you look in the media it might appear that Jesus is judgmental, hateful, violent, and aggressive. There’s a saying, “You might be the only Jesus someone ever meets.” As we proclaim the gospel our actions do the talking, if we say one thing on Sunday morning and do something else on Monday that says something about we say Jesus is. Those that are able to be consistent every day of the week are the one’s Christ is talking about in verse 27, “But truly I tell you, there are standing here who will not tast death before they see the Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is around us always and we can have glimpse of it, if we look and we can share that message with all we meet.

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This is the second post in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 29, 2 Chronicles 5:2-14, and Acts 26:19-29. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 16:16-34)

Psalm 29

I’m sitting here in Southeastern Nebraska on the banks of the Missouri river. I’ve seen pictures and heard stories about the flood a couple of years ago and how (to the folks here) it was caused not by the rain but by mismanagement of flow by the Army Corps of Engineers. I don’t know enough to know what happened, but I do wonder how someone who lived through that would read verse 10, “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” Would they read that as comforting that even through the flood God is with them? Would they read it that God caused the flood to “teach” some kind of lesson? Did God cause the flood because God was mad or bored? Was God even around?

I do know that those floods caused the church I serve (First Presbyterian Church–Nebraska City) to begin feeding victims of the flood weekly which speaks to the great end of the church, “the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.” At least, I know that God was in the aftermath of the flood and I believe God was there all along.

2 Chronicles 5:2-14

Reading about how the Israelites brought the ark into the temple for the first time makes me thing about the great end, “the maintenance  of divine worship” and how that can be a stumbling block for us. The story of the relationship between Israelites and God goes back to Genesis and it began with walking with Adam, then speaking with Abraham and Noah, etc. Then after God used Moses to lead them out of Egypt the ten commandments on tablets were made, then those were put into an ark, now that ark is being put into a temple. We have build temples all over the place to place our arks and sometimes I think in our zeal to maintain divine worship with have, to quote Richard Rohr, anesthetized and weakened the actual transformative power of Christianity”

I wonder if we worried less about our relics and more about the call from Christ, where that would lead us? Not to say that tradition is bad, per se, but when does maintenance inhibit expansion?

Acts 26:19-29

This is an obvious case of “proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind.” I thought the end of verse 20 was interesting, “that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance.” (emphasis added) When we repent, or turn, or say we’re sorry, that should change our behavior and often when we change our behavior people notice. Whether that’s your friends and family complaining that you’ve changed or the world beginning to look at you differently. I believe when we truly proclaim the gospel to the world it changes us and the world. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right, plain and simple. If reading scripture and discussing the teaching of Christ doesn’t make you want to stand up and shout then I’m not sure we are reading the same gospel. I know that we will probably shout about different things, I’ll be shouting about systematic racism, I’ll be sharing about universal healthcare, I’ll be shouting about broken capitalist systems. I wonder what others will shout?

 

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