“Impossible” October 14, 2018

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Sermon Archives

“Impossible” Amos 5:6-7, 10-15 Hebrews 4:12-16 Mark 10:17-31   (Heb 4:12 Comm Eng Bible) “..because God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions. No creature is hidden from it, but rather everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we have to give an answer.” God’s word is living, active, and able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions – and as the old comedy line goes, “Yeah, I hate it when that happens.” The story of the rich man who asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life,” is, to me, a shining example of how the word of God cuts the joints from the marrow. It is able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions; and quite frankly, it makes us a little uncomfortable. Jesus and his disciples are on the road to Jerusalem and so to his death; and I can’t help but feel that this changes things a bit. There is a sense of urgency in almost everything he says and does. After this man has ran up and knelt on the ground asking the $64000 question to the “Good Teacher,” Christ says to him (vs 18) “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” And right off the bat, we can sense that this isn’t going to go well. Jesus then proceeds to recite the commandments to him and he was ready for that. You could tell he had done his homework when he answered (vs 20) “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” Now before we go any further, I have a thought. Who is this guy? We know by reading the rest of the text that he is well off, and we know that in those times, the Jewish folks believed that if you were right with God, you would be rewarded – and not just with the blessings of the spirit, but with cash, property, and with prestige. Being wealthy was the sign of a good man, and if you were rich and prosperous, Jewish belief held that God honored and blessed you. So what gives here? Don’t you suppose that this man who had been overly blessed by God and had faithfully kept the commandments “from his youth” – don’t you suppose that he figured he was a shoe-in when it comes to this eternal life thing? So my thought is did he really want an answer to a very important question here, or was he simply looking for an endorsement; a seal of approval from Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God? Some kind of certification that says, “Yeah, you’re in, pal. Don’t worry.” I...

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“It Matters What Matters” October 28, 2018

Posted by on Oct 28, 2018 in Sermon Archives

“It Matters What Matters” Job 42:1-6, 10-17 Hebrews 7:23-28 Mark 10:46-52   Margie and I took a trip to northern California two summers ago to see the redwoods. Evidently, that Spring there had been a major wind event which had caused a lot of these giants to come crashing down. By the time we showed up, some of the lesser highways were still closed for repair. Now this wasn’t a matter of clearing the trees from the roadway – that had been taken care of. No, I’m talking about actual repair of paved roads that had been gouged and torn up and smashed by some of the largest trees on the planet. It was a sad thing. Some of these trees could have been saplings at the time of Christ and then here they were: crisscrossed like a bunch of giant matchsticks. Eugene Peterson, one of my favorite preachers, passed away last Monday at his home in Lakeside, MT. Mr. Peterson was known for many things: he was a scholar, a clergyman, a poet, and the author of over 35 books. His greatest work would have to be the paraphrase translation of the Bible that is called simply, “The Message.” Eugene Peterson was often called a pastor’s pastor. He had a way of cutting through the weeds that clergy find themselves getting tangled in. You could say that he had a keen sense for what really matters in the life of the church, what matters in our journey of faith, and what matters in the eyes of God. In many ways he was disappointed with the state of the church today. His dissatisfaction began when he started his church outside of Baltimore in 1962. In an effort to get the church off the ground he attended several seminars on church growth. He figured this would be a good idea but soon realized that those leading the sessions didn’t understand what a church or pastor does, and so he was disappointed they ended up pushing consumer driven churches. The way to grow, he was told, was to find out what people wanted and then dish it up to them. Like I said, what I love most about Eugene Peterson is that he understood that it matters what matters. He knew this seminar was off the mark when he was told by the leader, “The most important thing you can to do to have a good church is to have a big parking lot.”  Later, he told podcast host Jason Daye, “That was the end of it for me, I just quit.” Likewise, when he found himself frustrated with the unimaginative way his congregants treated the Bible, he translated the whole thing himself and that translation has sold millions of copies around the world. His down to earth faith hinged on a love of metaphor and a commitment to the Bible’s poetry as...

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