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Money Talks

Sometimes I think God should have given ministers an extra ear.  We get engaged in so many conversations.  Across the years, most of those conversations get lost from memory because of sheer volume.  Unlike your laptop, my memory isn’t measured in terabytes or even megabytes; maybe kilobytes.  I forget a lot.  But some conversations get lodged in the memory so deeply that…

God the Owner

Let’s do a little word association this morning.  I’m going to say a word and you whisper the first thing that pops in your mind.  The word is money.  Question: was the word challenge on anybody’s lips? This morning we’re beginning a January series called The Money Challenge.  It is, isn’t it?  For most of us.  How are we supposed to maintain a decent standard of living,…

121 For the Next 365

I invite you to open your Bible to Psalm 121.  Except for the 16 years I lived in Kansas City, I’ve spent my entire life in the hills—younger years in the Ozarks, later years in the Ouachitas.  I like the hills.  They feel like home.  At first glance it sounds like Psalm 121 was written with an eye toward the hills.  But when we listen closely, we see that the psalm was…

Remember the Manger

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr said that on Christmas, he preferred to go to a church where there was no sermon, only music, art, and drama.  “Words just aren’t up to it,” he said.  Niebuhr’s right.  Words aren’t up to it.  That’s why we’ll keep our words to a minimum today.  But there is good news in Christmas worth telling.  A few of those words are found…

Follow the Light

Is it just me, or does Christmas get more complicated every year?  Online shopping has made that part of it easier for some, but there are lots of decisions to make, lots of complications to negotiate, lots of questions to answer: Are we staying home, or do we go to Grandma’s? What do I get my dad who has everything? Do we decorate before Thanksgiving, or do we wait?  And…

Light and Life

I invite you to open your Bible to John 1:1-5, 14.  This is John’s Christmas text.  He writes nothing of shepherds watching their flocks by night, nothing of angels singing in the sky, nothing of a young Nazarene couple, nine-months pregnant, frantically searching for a place to stay in crowded Bethlehem before the baby comes.  There’s no nativity scene in John’s account,…

It’s Gonna Be Alright

If there’s one thing that every Christian can say with full confidence, it’s what the choir just sang to us: “It’s gonna be all right.”  That’s what the prophet Isaiah is saying to God’s’ people.  I invite you to open your Bible to Isaiah 60:1-3.  This is a classic Advent text.  I encourage you to read the whole chapter.  We’re going to hear the first three verses: Arise,…

Just Walk

I invite you to open your Bible to Romans 10:14-15. George Scott, a one-legged school teacher from Scotland, came to J. Hudson Taylor to offer himself for service in China.  Taylor asked him, “Why do you think of going as a missionary?  You’ve only got one leg.” And Scott replied, “I do not see those with two legs going.” He was accepted. A few years ago, Bill Hybels…

Pray

As we conclude our James series, This Is the Life, I invite you to open your Bible to James 5:13-18.  We’ve been in James since early September.  If, over the course of this series, you’ve felt a little chastened and a lot encouraged, if you better understand the Christian life, feel more equipped to live it, and are practicing your faith in ways you didn’t when we began,…

The Best Laid Plans

We’re continuing our James’ series this morning.  It’s called This Is the Life.  When a loved one falls into some kind of life-destroying addiction, family members may arrange an intervention.  This is a kind of in-your-face, come-to-Jesus attempt to get the addicted loved one to face reality and seek help.  As we’ve tracked through James, it feels kind of like an…

A Prescription for I-Disease

As we continue our James series, This Is the Life, I invite you to open your Bible to James 4:1-10. Well, I think it’s worked.  Long about the end of the 70s, American culture fell in love with self-esteem.  The self-esteem cult creeped into education, advertising, and sports.  This is the … “You’re special” quit keeping score everybody gets a trophy feelings are…

Taming the Wildest Beast of All

We’ve been tracking through James this fall.  We call the series This Is the Life because James sketches out what the Christian life looks like.  This is no remedial course.  Nor does James coat it with cinnamon and sugar.  It feels more like a nasty-tasting dose of medicine that makes you screw up your face in disgust.  And you’re sure not licking the spoon.  It doesn’t…