What Will We Be Like?

Posted by on December 30, 2007 under Sermons

What Kind of Person Will You Be In Ten Years?

  1. Ten Years Ago:
    1. World and Nation in 1997:
      • Princess Di and Mother Teresa died
      • Hale-Bopp Comet and Heaven’s Gate Cult
      • O.J. Simpson loses civil case
      • Nintendo 64 was the latest in video game systems
      • Dolly the sheep was cloned
      • Hong Kong returns to China
      • The first Harry Potter book was published
      • The term weblog or blog is invented
    2. Personally: I had just moved to Lake Jackson and began my first full time preaching job. Left Russellville and nearly 4 years of campus ministry. Ethan was not yet born (Sept. 1998). We had only been married for nine years. We had one child.

  2. What will the world be like in 2017? [Ten Years From Now]
    1. What will the River Valley be like?
    2. What will you be like?
      1. The most significant changes in this church, community, county will be in the type of people we become in the next decade.
      2. It’s important that we undergo that change collectively and individually. Both important.

  3. What will the world be like in 2008? [Next Year]
    1. What will the River Valley be like?
    2. What will you be like?
      1. The most significant changes in this church, community, county will be in the type of people we become in the next decade.
      2. It’s important that we undergo that change collectively and individually. Both important.

    Jeremiah 29 – RFC Banquet

  4. The Story of Joseph:

    1. The Time:
      1. There are about 2 decades from the time Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and the time he met them again.
      2. But there was a little over one decade during which God changed Joseph’s life dramatically. (17 -30)

    2. Dreaming:
      1. Genesis 37:2-11. It all begins with a dream from God.
        1. Joseph may have been na?ve, but he cannot deny the dream.
        2. The dream is not Joseph’s, but he sees the blessing of God in this dream.
        3. What dreams do we have? Are those God-given dreams? Would God be part of those dreams? Have you asked yourself what God could do with you in ten years?
      2. Dreaming the dreams of God may not be popular. Dreamers are not always well received. They fill people’s minds with adventurous ideas and cause discomfort.
        1. Yet despite the opposition and persecution of others, if the dream is of God, it cannot be stopped.

    3. Devotion:
      1. Genesis 39:1-23. Faithfulness to what is right no matter the circumstances.
        1. 39:9 – Joseph believed that adultery with Potiphar’s wife was not just disrespect toward Potiphar, but also God.
        2. But what had God done for Joseph? What harm if Potiphar never knew? If Joseph had been a bit cleverer, maybe he could have avoided being put in prison. Maybe if he had somehow appeased Potiphar’s wife without actually comitting adultery?
      2. Doing what is right may not always be rewarded, but unrighteousness makes us useless to God.
        1. Not because God is a wimp and a prude and faints before sin.
        2. Sin chokes out our spiritual nature. We become burdened and smothered by our guilt and selfishness and pride. We no longer become pliable in God’s hands.

    4. Diligence:
      1. Genesis 40:1-23. Waiting on the Lord with patience.
        1. How difficult it must have been for Joseph to be forgotten (v. 23).
        2. Although for Joseph it may have seemed par for the course.
          • hated by his brothers
          • sold into slavery
          • lied about and denied justice
          • thrown into prison
          • forgotten by one he helped.
        3. Joseph could have demanded special consideration for what he had been through. His past was really bad. He could have held all of this against Pharaoh, Potiphar, his brothers, even God.
          • and we might actually forgive him if he had!
          • but Jospeh never let his experience give him an exception clause.
          • Joseph saw the work of God in all that was happening and he remained dilligent. He persevered!
          • We will persevere for athletics, academics, and finances – why not for God’s purposes?

  5. Conclusion:
    1. The rest of the story: Genesis 45:1-11.
      1. God sent Joseph through his trials to save lives. (That’s the way of Christ!)
      2. Joseph saw the hand of God in those 22 years since his enslavement.
      3. It was all for the good of God’s people – It was for our good.
    2. Questions:
      1. What if Joseph had shut up about his dream? What if he had remained silent about the will of God?
      2. What if Joseph had submitted to Potiphar’s wife?
      3. What if Joseph had forsaken God while in prison? What if he had denied the gift God had given him to interpret dreams? (It got him into trouble, why bother?)
    3. The kind of people we are in ten years depends on dreams, devotion, and diligence.
      1. But don’t think it is simply up to us to make it happen.
      2. It is up to us to ask God to use us, to respond to his initiative, to trust him, to remain faithful.
      3. In ten years I pray we are God’s people.

A Bright Future

Posted by on under Sermons

Read Luke 2:21-40.

How long had old Simeon been waiting to see the Messiah? When he heard the Holy Spirit’s promise that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Anointed One, what did he expect?

  • Perhaps he expected that in his lifetime he would see the triumphant warrior-king of God take over the throne of Israel and restore the glory of David’s kingdom.
  • Perhaps he thought that he might serve the king as a faithful son of Israel in his prime.
  • But as the years rolled on and there was no sign of a Messiah, Simeon must have had moments of doubt.

Anna waits too. She’s a godly woman. She is well-respected and comes to the Temple daily – often she stays from sunrise to sunset. She has the gift of prophecy and that is exceptional. In a society where women are not given much respect, it is astounding when a woman claims to speak for the Lord God. Anna’s manner of life is above reproach and that lends to her credibility.

Anna’s from the North country, but she and Simeon have a lot in common, these two aged Israelites. They are both quite old and their lives span almost a century. During that century they have seen dark days …

  • The Roman invasion and subjugation of Judea
  • Ever increasing taxation
  • Moral decline, beginning with Herod – the king who claimed to be a Jew
  • Samaritan attacks and the desecration of the temple.

Simeon hopes for the day that Israel can be comforted.
Anna has taught her students that despite all the difficulties of the age, God will keep the promises he made to Abraham and rescue Israel – he will make this declining nation into something wonderful.
Simeon and Anna are waiting for a ray of God’s light to pierce the darkness.

So, when the aged Simeon with his wrinkled, crippled hands holds this six-week old child his hope is fulfilled. All the years of waiting and praying, the recommitment to believe the Spirit’s promise all pays off in this one simple moment – he has seen with his own eyes the salvation of Israel. Now Simeon is at peace. His wait is over.

Simeon has spiritual insight. Chalk it up to the power of the Holy Spirit and years of waiting to see what God has promised. Though he is old, Simeon’s spiritual vision is keen and sharp. He knows that though he has waited for years to see the Lord’s savior and receives this as a blessing, he knows that some will not be so receptive. And so his blessing for Mary and the child speaks of the grand destiny of the child Jesus – yes, Jesus represents hope and salvation, but that which makes Jesus a hope for many also threatens others.

“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed-and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Simeon’s ray of light casts a shadow. Some will fall and some will rise. Some will accept the sign and others will speak out against it. Why? Because the inner thoughts and motives of all will be revealed …

  1. Rejection: Simeon knows that the sign to be opposed and rejected threatens what is already there. Everything is not a-okay until Christ arrives and makes it difficult. No, the pain and disease is under the surface and eating away on humanity and the world. The light of Christ simply uncovers it all and makes it known. When you turn on the light, it creates shadows. Some things reject the light.
    Illustration: Thomas Kincade’s portraits. Shadows are absent. We may try to connect Jesus only to that which is positive and cheerful, but there is a bitter assumption for the good news. Jesus is a savior and needing a savior assumes that there are people who need saving.

  2. Renewal: Change and renewal are not always embraced. The experience can be painful and demand sacrifice and even loss. Resurrection follows a death. This is why we must reflect and count the cost of discipleship. There is an investment – a costly one. When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die. Hope is made possible but only through sacrifice. But some would rather remain in the cold shadows than risk the challenge of renewal. They would rather deny than decide.

  3. Decision: Jesus will bring the truth to light – and that is risky. Revealing the truth calls those who confront truth into a crisis of decision! You have to decide. You cannot remain unaffected. You can reject, but you cannot be unimpressed if you really understand what Jesus’ presence and mission really is!

  4. Simeon and Anna stand apart from those who reject Christ because they realize that the very old promises of God can be kept in new and unexpected ways. They decide to receive the child rather than reject him. And they are renewed!

After Simeon’s blessing, Anna steps up and places a hand on Mary’s shoulder. She smiles and looks at the child. Her students have gathered around and she tells them though she is not certain if she will live to see it, that many of them will see with their own eyes God’s redemption of Jerusalem. They will see the rule of God spread out from Jerusalem and into the far reaches of the earth. This child is the light of the world!

It’s been centuries since old Simeon and Anna saw the Light of the World come into the world. Simeon died in peace. Like all righteous men, he longed to see God’s work done on earth. When he saw Jesus, he had all the hope he needed.

Since the time of Simeon and Anna, the great battle was won too. The enemy is defeated, but he has not conceded. He will never concede until Jesus brings his light into the world once more. Wouldn’t it be great to see that before you die?

You don’t have to be old to be like Simeon and Anna. If you’ve just had enough darkness and are looking to see a ray of light. If you want peace in your heart – having no fear of death or darkness. Then you are Simeon. You are Anna.

Depending on how old you are, you’ve seen many dark days … 9-11, Columbine, Jonesboro, the OKC bombing, the start of the first Gulf War, the assassination of a President, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Those are just the big ticket items. Every one of us has a day or two (or more) that we can circle on a calendar as a dark day. Maybe it’s the day tragedy invaded. Maybe it’s the day we made a mistake we find hard to forget and impossible to undo. Maybe it’s a season of stress and worry that we just find difficult to name.

God is still keeping his promises. Even if you have seen as much as Simeon and Anna; keep your eyes open for a new ray of light. Keep your ears open for a word of good news. Let us pray for that day to come!

Keep watch! Keep praying! You may yet see the Light of the World shine forth ever brighter in your lifetime!

The Gospel According to Joseph

Posted by on December 23, 2007 under Sermons

Opening thought: Dec. 22, 2007, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Christie Storm was doing an article on angels. My point was that angels are a symbol of the season sort of like snowflakes, bells, bows, and stars. But do we really understand what they mean?

The angels show up in full glory in Luke. The Chief of Staff, Gabriel, shows up to talk to Mary. The Armies of Heaven appear to the working class shepherds. That’s Luke. But in Matthew, there’s only one angel. An angel who doesn’t have a name or title. An angel who doesn’t frighten shepherds. This angel whispers to Joseph in dreams …

Read Matthew 1

  • Joseph – He is sort of the forgotten presence. When you see him in a nativity scene he is sort of out of place. What is he doing there? Where is he to be posed? Beside Mary, greeting the wise men, sorting out the gifts, tending to the sheep. What useful thing is he supposed to be doing?

  • I think there is a tendency to ignore Joseph because his perspective on the birth of Christ reminds us of the darker realities attending the birth of the Savior. When Luke writes his gospel it seems sure that he told the story of Christ’s birth from Mary, and she kept many of these memories in her heart.

  • For Joseph, Mary’s betrothed husband, the story of the birth is not about things he kept in his heart, but of things he struggled with in his soul. For Joseph, the focus is not on gifts and visits. It is on the trial of it all – on what appeared to be infidelity and his thoughts of a quiet divorce, the weight of the law, the shame of sin and a fear for his family. And though it is a much rougher, shadowy account of things, it is still very much a story of good news – perhaps one very appropriate for us because it is a testimony of the gospel light breaking into the darkness.

The Feeling of Shame and Scandal

Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married. It is supposed to be a blessed time as the two prepare for life together. There is already a sacred covenant between them and before the community they have promised themselves only to one another. They are not yet married and the rules about their interaction are guided by the community. Joseph is soon to begin his career with his father’s approval and begin a family with his wife. Joseph and Mary are bound to one another, but Joseph will not take her home to live with him until after the wedding.

However, this time of ordinary happiness is spoiled by scandal. Mary is pregnant. It would be bad enough if Joseph were the father and they had shamed the expectations of marriage, but all Joseph knows at this point is that he is not the father. He is in turmoil. If he ignores what has happened, he will be ignoring God’s law, and the law is very clear –
If there is a young woman, a virgin already engaged to be married, and a man meets her in the town and lies with her, you shall bring both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death, the young woman because she did not cry for help in the town and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

Joseph is a righteous man, but he is also a compassionate man. He loves God and God’s law, but he also loves Mary. He does not want to humiliate and expose her as a sinful woman, she would be rejected by the village and it would shame her and her father and she is so young. But worst of all it could lead to the death penalty. If the people were outraged, they could be brutal.

But he cannot marry her either. Joseph cannot simply forgive her and marry her anyway – that’s very storybook and soap opera romantic, but it is not reality in first-century Palestine – certainly not for Joseph. The law demands that he annul the marriage. This is how he shows his love of God and the people of Israel.

Joseph is seeking a way through his dilemma. Since he learned of the pregnancy he has been trying to figure a way out. He is righteous, but he is merciful. His best option – to fulfill his obligations to God and to Mary – is to give her a “quiet divorce.” He can send her away to her relatives down in the hill country of Judea. She can go down there until the child is born and Joseph will prepare the divorce with a few trusted officials. It’s not a perfect solution, but it is the best that he can do – nothing else is possible.

The Dream of a New Possibility
While Joseph is trying to figure it all out, he has a dream. This dream is gospel – that is, good news.

  • Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife – the child is born of the Holy Spirit
  • Name him Jesus – for he will save his people from their sins

Now Joseph has a possibility that wasn’t there when he was trying to figure it out on his own. Matthew says that this fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 7) that the virgin will be with child and give birth to a son and he will be named Immanuel – God is with us.

For Joseph, the dream is truly a gospel – good news. It means that more is possible than he would have ever imagined. It means the burden of the law has been lifted.

Later, as the child grows, Joseph finds himself caught up in what God is doing in the world. The presence of Immanuel stirs up the fear and power Herod. The armies of the evil one will not go down without a fight.

This humble carpenter, this simple God-fearing fellow didn’t bargain for all this. He didn’t expect to be caught up in the politics of his age. He certainly didn’t imagine that anyone would put him and his family in their sights.

But that angel comes to him again. This time Joseph is told to cross the border into Egypt. Joseph didn’t expect to be a fugitive either, but he has learned to listen to God’s angel.

As the years in Egypt went by, Joseph probably wondered if he would ever see him hometown again. He must have wondered if someone would track them to Egypt. Did he rest comfortably in those days?

Yet again, Joseph has a dream. This time the angel tells him that it is safe to go home.

For Joseph, the dream is truly a gospel – good news. It means that more is possible than he would have ever imagined. It means that God doesn’t forget.

A New Possibility – “God is With Us”

O, how we need Immanuel – God is with us. How we need Jesus! He will save! Joseph receives the word of God in this dream as good news. He welcomes the possibility that this child is the Messiah – the Son of God. Yes, there will be scandal – not because of Joseph and Mary’s sinfulness but because of the sinfulness of humankind – but the possibility of the gospel that Joseph receives means that he and Mary and all their people will be saved.

God With Us means that God protects and watches over us. Even though it may be hard to believe at the time. God With Us means that God doesn’t forget us. What others intend for harm, God can use for good.

At this time of year I tend to reflect on the birth of Christ. But I am always fascinated by the struggle and dreams of a humble carpenter. He’s just a man trying to do what God calls him to do. He’s just a man who cares for a family. A family he loves – and a child that will bring about the salvation of the world. He becomes God’s agent. He becomes God’s man.

Joseph listened to God. He relied on God and trusted in God even when it seemed difficult, risky, impossible or questionable.

So when you see Joseph in a nativity scene, regard him as a man who trusts in God, see him as a man who paid attention to the whisper of the angel. See a man whose dreams came true.

A Sign That God Is With Us

Posted by on under Sermons

Read Isaiah 9:2-7

2700 years ago, the Middle East was a troubled place … [See 2 Kings 16, 2 Chronicles 28, Isaiah 7-9]

  • People were fearful and worried in the nation of Judah in the 8th century BC. Judah was not nearly what it had been in the old days. In the golden age when Israel and Judah were one nation they were known around the world. But not in the 8th century …
  • The big Superpower to the North was Assyria. Every nation was afraid of Assyria. No nation could match them. But what if the smaller nations could combine forces?
  • King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel had a plan. They would force Judah to join them in their campaign against Assyria.
  • Ahaz was the king of Judah. And if he would not join the other nations, they would place their own man on the throne to complete their coalition against Assyria.
  • So Ahaz’s has a no-win scenario – does he fight Aram and Israel and suffer defeat, or join them and go up against Assyria and get really suffer defeat? What should he do?
  • Ahaz is not the greatest leader. His father and grandfather were not the greatest of rulers either. Ahaz had committed his people to war against the northern tribes of Israel and suffered horrible losses. He lost 120,000 in one battle and 200,000 women and children were taken captive. Ahaz didn’t seem to learn from these losses. He seemed indifferent to the loss of life. He was willing to compromise anything to achieve his own goals. He even sacrificed his children to evil gods to ensure their favor.
  • Worse yet, Ahaz is contemplating a counter-alliance. If an alliance with Aram and Israel won’t work, what about an alliance with Assyria? He could turn the tables on Aram and Israel. It sounds logical, but it is a deal with the devil …

It’s in the midst of this Middle East Crisis that the name Immanuel is first spoken …

  • Ahaz is king in Jerusalem. Jerusalem has a special place in God’s heart because of his promises to David. God promised David that his throne would endure, so God isn’t real fond of this talk about a puppet ruler taking over.
  • So God sends his man Isaiah to encourage Ahaz. God’s word, his news, for Ahaz is this: “Don’t worry about Aram and Israel. I know the future and those kings aren’t going to be around much longer. Their days are numbered. But don’t cozy up to Assyria. Trust in me to take care of you. I am in control of Assyria and my plans don’t include an alliance between Judah and Assyria.”
  • To build up Ahaz’s trust in God (which has not been that great) God has approved a sign. God invites Ahaz to put him to the test. (Not the proper thing to do, but God is God). Go ahead, what do you want Ahaz? Even something impossible?
  • But Ahaz (out of character) chooses to do the proper thing and not test God (besides negotiations with Assyria were coming up and it was looking good). Isaiah encourages Ahaz to take the offer, but Ahaz still refuses.
  • Fine! God will pick his own sign – and it’s the Immanuel sign. A young woman (a virgin at the moment) right there in Ahaz’s court will have a child and before this child is old enough to eat table food and before he can choose what he wants and doesn’t want (i.e. in just two or three years) Aram and Israel will be history.
    • And that son will be named “God with us” as a witness to Ahaz that God is keeping his promise to David and there will be hope for the future, but in Ahaz’s rule there will be hard times with Assyria, because Ahaz’s decision was faithless and he would have rather have Assyria with him than have God with him.

700 years after Ahaz, the Middle East was still a troubled region … [See Matthew 1-2]

  • The king in Jerusalem is Herod. Like Ahaz, he has made a deal with the super-power to the north – in this case Rome. Like Ahaz, Herod is a man who will compromise to accomplish his own purposes. Like Ahaz, Herod is worried and fearful. He is so afraid of losing his family’s claim to the throne that when he hears of a rival king being born he orders the annihilation of all male children.
  • How many children died because of the orders of a fearful, arrogant ruler? How many mothers grieved because the powers-that-be loved power and control more than life and justice?
  • The actions of Herod threaten the well-being of a humble man and his betrothed wife. Their names are Joseph and Mary. Joseph is troubled. But God has approved a sign. He is sending a messenger to Joseph through a dream. Like Ahaz, Joseph was invited by God to take a step of faith. And once again, the name of Immanuel is spoken. This child is going to be born of a virgin – begotten of God. He is going to be the fullest expression of God’s solidarity and love for us. He will truly be God with us!

Immanuel … God is With Us. He lives with us, yet the presence of God With Us – God in this world – changes the way we live in this world.

Immanuel means we fear God rather than the crisis of the day …
The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. – Isaiah 8

Immanuel means that a new age of justice is breaking into our unjust and cruel world …
“He will break the yoke of slavery” – slavery? Is there slavery in the world? God help us there is. Some 20 million in the world, many of them children, are forced into slavery. The economics and sexual perversions of a troubled world have forged their chains.

“But Immanuel will lift the heavy burden from their shoulders and break the oppressor’s rod.” May God help us that we are not their oppressors, or we will find ourselves at odds with Immanuel!

Immanuel means that a new age of peace is breaking into our hostile world …
“The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.” His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” – Isaiah 9

2000 years after the name Immanuel was spoken to Joseph and Mary, the Middle East is still a troubled place. But in the 21st century, that means the world is a troubled place.

  • Aircraft carriers patrol the Persian Gulf.
  • The governments of Iran and Iraq could be moving toward alliance.
  • The governments of the United States and Iran are not.
  • Regardless of our political views, we know that our friends and loved ones are away from us in a troubled land – and what happens over there matters over here.
  • And people we do not know, people who live in other countries are just as concerned as we are about what may happen in our troubled times.

But God is With Us. He is with all of us. God is for us. Pay attention, I am not saying that God is with us – and not with them, whoever them is. For the arrival of Immanuel means that things are radically different [Isaiah 11]:

6The wolf will live with the lamb,
          the leopard will lie down with the goat,
          the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
          and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
          their young will lie down together,
          and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
          and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
          on all my holy mountain,
          for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
          as the waters cover the sea.

Under the flag of Immanuel, natural enemies live in peace. That’s not possible under any other banner. That’s not possible with any other treaty or alliance. No army on earth can secure this peace. Only the commitment of the the Lord who command Heaven’s Armies can secure this peace.

When all hope is lost, when we are afraid and troubled – that’s when God gives us a sign. Immanuel is that sign. God with us is that sign. We see in our baptism – God is with us. We see it in our communion – God is With Us. We see it in our love and service – God is with us.

God is with us. Immanuel. Jesus Christ born of a virgin. He showed us the glory of God. He bore the shame of the cross. God raised Him and established His rule over all time and space. Do you know Him?

Let us pray and hope for that day when the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. That’s the day when swords become plowshares. That’s the day we receive justice. That’s the day we stop harming one another. Let’s live like that day is today for in Jesus Christ God is with us. Do you know Him?

Beginning Again

Posted by on December 20, 2007 under Bulletin Articles

I wonder how the Paul of Acts 8:1-3 and 9:1, 2 dealt with being a Christian evangelist? How did he feel when he walked Jerusalem’s streets past the houses where he arrested people? How did he deal with past words of threats and murder? Even he was mystified by God’s grace that forgave his violence (1 Timothy 1:12-16)!

How did Paul deal with his past failure? How could he be so committed to a religious tradition of destruction and become an effective missionary among the hopeless? (1) He put his past in the past. (2) He forgave himself by trusting God’s forgiveness. (3) He committed himself to serving God’s purposes instead of his own fears.

All of us commonly refocus each January 1 as a new year begins. The New Year is fresh-a time for hopes and dreams. The old year is worn, threadbare. Though the old contained good, it also created opportunities for our flaws to tower over us as they controlled our lives’ direction. So, inwardly tired and troubled, we resolve to deal with our flaws as we are inspired to reach for productive new heights.

The following are some resolutions I hope we find worthy of consideration.

  1. I will seek to be more Christ-like in my mind, emotions, behavior, and consideration each day I am privileged to live.
  2. I will make serious efforts to understand God’s purposes and values instead of assuming my purposes and values are God’s.
  3. I will allow God to continue to “renew my mind” so my God will continue His transformation process in me.
  4. I will listen to understand before I speak.
  5. I will show the compassionate mercy I wish to receive.
  6. I will forgive as I wish God to forgive me.
  7. I will seek spiritual growth quietly, humbly as God’s servant by deliberately shunning arrogance.
  8. I will understand my credibility as Christ’s representative is enhanced by both my behavior and my words.
  9. I will dedicate myself to being a person of faith, and reflect faith in my character.
  10. I will put my faith in the Savior instead of the saved.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Happy New Year! May God be glorified in us!

Understanding Each Other

Posted by on December 18, 2007 under Sermons

I am not seeking an agreement with my perspective. All I want is to move you to think. I am convinced that when people think, they move closer to understanding each other and God. The result is that faith in God and Christ grows. All I ask you to do is think with an inquiring mind.

Most of us have little insight into how much controversy and reaction Jesus caused among his own people. His work and teachings caused people to think as they had never thought before. People (including us) are not good at thinking brand new (to us) thoughts. Controversy and reaction is not what Jesus wanted or sought (consider his grief in Matthew 23:37-39). He wanted to redirect people toward God’s core concerns. He wanted people to value God’s concept of compassion. He wanted people to see God’s character and concerns as He is, not as they had heard from others. He wanted them to learn the joy of having confidence in God. The route to that discovery lay in their repentance. His objective was not to squash, but to liberate.

However, as Jesus’ popularity grew among the common people (which were considered the wrong people in religious circles) opposition to Jesus grew among the religious leaders (which were the symbols of the right people in religious circles). Jesus’ emphasis on motives (see Matthew 6:1), secret dependence on God (see Matthew 6:5, 6), compassion toward the struggling (see Matthew 12:7), and repentance (see Luke 15) did not set well with most of Israel’s leaders. They interpreted scripture to focus on correct deeds, human praise, compassion for those who keep the rules, and repentance for the godless (which they were not!).

  1. Consider how radical Jesus was in first century Israel. (Most examples are deliberately taken from the gospel of Matthew because that gospel dealt with many first century Jewish religious perspectives.)
    1. Consider some of the things Jesus said and did in Matthew:
      1. He touched lepers (Matthew 8:3), which was not to be done (Numbers 5:2, 3).
      2. He healed the servant of a gentile (Roman Army Officer) and declared the gentile had more faith than anyone he met in Israel (Matthew 8:6ff).
      3. He further declared gentiles would assemble with ancient Jewish forefathers in God’s kingdom while the sons of the kingdom would be cast in outer darkness (Matthew 8:11, 12).
      4. He did not have his disciples fast [fasting was a common religious activity utilized to declare humility before God] (Matthew 9:14).
      5. He blessed a hemorrhaging woman who touched him [a woman was not permitted to have any public contact with a man who was not a relative; a person with a hemorrhage was not allowed to be in public] (Matthew 9:20).
      6. He healed the blind [people with permanent disabilities were commonly considered punished by God for some sin–see John 9:1,2] (Matthew 9:27ff).
      7. He answered the imprisoned John by applying Isaiah 35:5 to himself (Matthew 11:5).
      8. He invited the weary and burdened to follow him [not the powerful, privileged, and influential] (Matthew 11:28).
      9. He was accused of tolerating Sabbath violation [a huge evidence of violation of God’s teachings] (Matthew 12:2).
      10. He healed a withered hand on a Sabbath (Matthew 12:10ff.).
        1. Miracles had an old acceptance in Israelite history–the plagues in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the manna and quail in the wilderness, the crossing of the Jordan, the fall of Jericho, Giddeon’s fleece (Judges 6:36-40), Elijah’s flight (1 Kings 19), Elisha’s resurrection of a boy (2 Kings 4), Naaman’s cure (2 Kings 5:6,7), the floating ax head (2 Kings 6:4-6), etc., –the problem was not that Jesus’ performed a miracle.
        2. The problem was that Jesus performed a miracle to eliminate a condition that did not threaten life, and he did it on a Sabbath day [see Luke 13:14].
        3. To heal a condition that did not threaten life and do it on a Sabbath day was a violation of the Sabbath day.
      11. Jesus taught a "strange concept of the law" (Matthew 12:41ff).
      12. Jesus transgressed Jewish tradition (Matthew 15:1-3).
      13. He healed a Canaanite [gentile] (Matthew 15:21-28).
      14. He was tested by religious leaders (Matthew 16:11ff).
      15. He did not feel obligated to pay the temple tax that Jews commonly paid (Matthew 17:24ff).
      16. His concept of significance before God was different (Matthew 18:1).
      17. His attitude toward children was different (Matthew 18:3,4).
      18. His concept of forgiveness was different (Matthew 18:15ff).
      19. He drove the money changers [a sanctioned business considered necessary for visitors to the temple] out of the temple area (Matthew 21:12ff).
      20. He said the tax collectors [considered traitors to Israel by many Jews because they collected taxes for Rome] and harlots [prostitutes] would enter God’s kingdom before the chief priests and elders (Matthew 21:31).
      21. To the chief priests and Pharisees, Jesus said God’s kingdom would be taken from them and given to a nation who produced the fruit of God’s kingdom (Matthew 21:43).
      22. A deep antagonism toward Jesus developed with the religious leaders (Matthew 22:15-40).
      23. Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees they were hypocrites (Matthew 23:15-36).
      24. Jesus ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners, healed people who were demon-possessed, and was accused of eating and drinking too much (see Matthew 9:10-13, 11:19, and 12:22-37).
    2. Compare those things Jesus did to many typical congregations today.
      1. Much of our focus in teaching and preaching is on what is wrong with others and what is right about us.
      2. We often want to attract people to our congregations who are just like the people in the congregation.
      3. When a Christian reaches out to someone very unlike those in the congregation, some question his or her motives or his or her integrity.
      4. Too often we focus our internal considerations on:
        1. What translation should be used.
        2. How Christians should or should not dress in different places.
        3. The appropriate involvement of Christians outside the congregation.
        4. What stand should be taken against social drinking (not drunkenness).
        5. What is acceptable worship and acceptable worship etiquette.
        6. What are the correct concepts for preserving the church?
        7. What is the role of elders? Who should be elders?
  2. When a Christian individual understands how concerned Jesus was about "the unacceptable people," how hard Jesus worked to give such people hope, and his willingness to tell the religious elite of his day that they missed the thrust of God’s concern, what is he or she to do?
    1. Jesus was not intimidated when his motives were not understood; what does that mean when a Christian’s motives are misunderstood by other Christians?
    2. Jesus was not ashamed of his association with the outcast; does that mean we should not be ashamed to associate with the outcast?
    3. Jesus questioned internally (he questioned the Jewish system of the First Century): should we question internally (should Christians question congregations of the 21st century)?
      1. Should the spotlight be on those who follow the God of the Bible as it should be or on those who do not?
      2. Does the focus need to be placed on Christians individually and collectively in a manner equal to those who do not follow Christ?
    4. Jesus paid the price for his internal questionings within Judaism: should Christians expect to pay prices in congregations for internal questionings?
      1. The first century religious leaders did not like for their "long-accepted concepts" to be questioned.
      2. Twenty-first century leaders often do not like for their "long-accepted concepts" to be questioned.
  3. There is a grave need for Christians and congregations to understand that many Christians need a forum within our Christian community to discuss what is understood to be a conflict between Jesus’ thrust and the thrust of congregations today.
    1. Christians need to understand such discussion and openness is not destructive but the avenue to healthful spiritual maturity.
    2. Christians need to understand there is a place for Christians to reach different conclusions and still respect each other in Christ.
    3. Christians need to understand that biblical unity never has been uniformity.
    4. We Christians need to understand that Christianity is a caring, courageous thrust into this world, not a fearful hiding from this world.
  4. How could this possibly happen?
    1. As Christians, we need a deeper understanding of scripture as we seek a godly balance between what we define as internal peace and following Jesus.
    2. As Christians, we need a better understanding of the fact that we can have internal peace without destroying Christians who disagree with a long held conclusion.
    3. As Christians, we need a better understanding of the conflict between Jewish Christians and gentile Christians in the New Testament.
      1. As Christians, we need a better understanding of the epistles’ teachings regarding that dilemma.
      2. As Christians, we need a more biblically accurate understanding of Romans 14.
      3. As Christians need a more biblically accurate understanding of Ephesians 2:11-22.
  5. Recommended commitments:
    1. As Christians, we all should be more committed to a patient sharing of "whys" instead of a quick dismissal of those in Christ by an emotional reaction.
    2. As Christians, we should not assign bad motives to Christians with whom we disagree.
    3. As Christians, we refuse to seek internal resolutions by destroying people in Christ.
    4. As Christians, we inspire others to listen to us by who we are in Christ and how we act in Christ.
    5. As Christians, we are committed to making "our congregation" an oasis of hope in Christ rather than a cemetery for people in Christ who dare to study and think.

One of the enduring strengths of the spiritual kingdom God built on Jesus’ death and resurrection was and is its ability to encourage believers to grow and question. Understanding is the interstate highway for the journeys of faith. May spiritual growth never make us feel threatened. May fear never be substituted for faith.

Swords Into Plowshares

Posted by on December 16, 2007 under Sermons

One of the thoughts that is current at this time of year is the sentiment of “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” It’s an ancient idea … Read Isaiah 2:2-5

Verse 4
A Vision of Peace – Nations No Longer At War
The imagery of Isaiah 2:1-5 has inspired nations to hope for an end to war and conflict:

sculpture by Vuchetich“Let Us Beat Our Swords Into Plowshares” is a bronze sculpture created by Soviet artist Evgeny Vuchetich and presented to the United Nations in December 1959 by the Government of the USSR. The sculpture depicts the figure of a man holding a hammer aloft in one hand, and a sword in the other, which he is making into a ploughshare. It is meant to symbolize man’s desire to put an end to war and to convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of mankind. The sculpture is located in the North Garden of UN Headquarters. Vuchetich imagined the sculpture, but the idea came from Isaiah. The inspiration for the sculpture is taken from Isaiah 2.Isaiah Wall

The words of Isaiah 2 are inscribed in a wall across the street from the U.N. building. It’s known as the Isaiah Wall in Ralph Bunche Park. For the last 32 years, visitors to and workers in the United Nations Building have walked in the presence of this word from the prophet. It enlightens them to the vision of a world without war. A time when all nations will be at peace …

The Christmas Truce of 1914
Christmas TruceIn the trenches on Christmas Eve of 1914, the soldiers of both sides became silent. In many locations throughout the no-man’s land, the soldier’s exchanged the sound of gunfire and shelling for Christmas carols. Soon they gave calls for a peace. And they emerged from their cold muddy ditches to greet one another. The men shared their provisions. They drank toasts and traded chocolates and cigars. They held communion services. In some places they even played a game of football.

Some accounts say that the soldier’s maintained the truce for over a week. But the politicians and high ranking officers viewed the truce as insubordination and threatened to shoot the soldier’s if they did not return to war. Well, the officers and politicians had “trained for war” after all.

Isaiah would say that the soldier’s were beating their swords into plowshares. He would say that the soldier’s were calling each other to go to the mountain of the Lord. They were learning to walk in the light of the Lord. The last chapter of Stanley Weintraub’s book Silent Night: The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce is entitled “What If – ?” He sets out what he believes the rest of the 20th century would have been like if the soldiers had been able to cause the Christmas Truce of 1914 to stop the war at that point. There may have been no Russian Revolution, no Communism, no Lenin, and no Stalin, thus, no Cold War and no fear of nuclear annihilation. Furthermore, there probably would have been no Versailles Treaty, and therefore, no Hitler, no Nazism, no World War II. The dominos of world history would have fallen out very differently – perhaps there would still be disputes, but a spirit of peace and unity would have brought into settling the disputes rather than a spirit of war. All this might have been if the soldier’s had been able to beat every single sword into a plowshare.

But it’s just What If – right? Sure. Why couldn’t it be What If for today? Do we believe that any of this is truly possible?

Verse 3
Of all people, we ought to be the ones who truly believe that this vision may come to pass. In fact, we should be living now as if it were already here. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

The scale of the vision seems so large and grand. Nations are at peace. They are not going to war, but instead they are streaming into God’s house. The government and the Supreme Court are not in Washington, D.C. or New York City. No, in that day we are ruled from the spiritual Jerusalem, from Zion – in other words, the throne of God. Disputes are taken before God himself – and the judgment is good. Instead of learning new ways to kill and conquer, people are learning God’s ways. They are walking in God’s paths. It is a grand vision.

But it starts with people – just people like us – turning the swords and spears, the instruments of battle, into instruments of peace and prosperity. It starts with people like us, humbling ourselves enough that we will listen to what God has to teach us. It means that you and I will care about the things that Jesus taught us and treat it as a light that shows us the way.

It starts with people like us inviting one another to go up to God’s mountain. It starts with people like us inviting everyone to take a hike up God’s hill and sit down in God’s house and learn from him. It starts with people like us walking in God’s paths.

Verse 2
Of all people, we ought to be the ones who truly believe that this vision will come to pass. In fact, we should be living now as if it were already here: because if we really believe God’s Word then we believe that a day is coming when this grand vision is a grand reality.

What makes the U.N. believe that peace is a possibility? What inspired Soviet Yevgeny Vucheitch’s sculpture? What is it that calls people to pray and protest in front of the Isaiah Wall? A simple answer is that they have a hope – an idea about a better future. Even if they cannot quite clarify it, they know that the future could be better than what we experience today.

That’s why we ought to be the people blazing the trail to that brighter tomorrow. Because we believe that the Day of the Lord is coming. Sadly, we are less able to express our hope than the people outside the house of God. Our expectation of the future is really quite thin and anemic. It’s like a game show – “Who wants to go to heaven?” Answer a few questions, and you win the prizes. And if that seems too self-serving we can simply say that we prefer heaven to the alternative. We are like Dante Allegheri – we can tell a good story about hell and the Inferno, but our portrait of heaven and paradise is sort of dull.

This is no one’s fault but our own. Scripture has given a vivid image of what we can expect. Here’s what Isaiah saw: In the last days … the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
And that’s just a sample, that’s just how it begins. Everyone is coming to God’s mountain. It is THE mountain. It is the place to be because God is there. Everyone is welcome. National borders, national economics, national heritage – these things do not separate us. We are all on the same path heading up God’s mountain. We all have an audience with the Creator of the Universe. And he welcomes us.
That’s just how it begins. Since we are all heading to the same place and devoted to the same God, there is peace. No bombing, no shooting, no crossing of swords, not even the shout of angry and bitter words.

What’s our vision of that day? Have we heard the prophets? Have we heard the apostles? The apostle Peter knew what to expect. He regarded the vision of the last days as a call. God was making a promise and calling us to anticipate that promise being kept: we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13) In the day when the mountain of the Lord is the center of the universe, we will be living in the place where righteousness is the norm. That’s heaven, that’s hope.

Verse 5
So —- Come Let Us Walk in the Light of the Lord! Here’s the call for us. When the prophet Isaiah spoke these words to the family of God, the house of Jacob, was stumbling around in the dark. They were blinded by the gold and silver of their graven images. They had fashioned their own objects of worship. They trusted in themselves more than they trusted in God.

Are we stumbling in the dark? We are when we are blinded by silver and gold. When we worship fashion. When the object of our worship is not God, but the facts and logic of our study about God. We trust in what we know rather than trust in the God who knows us. Being so blind and arrogant, we do not climb the step to the house of God. But, we descend into the trenches of conflict, bitterness, and war. We beat our plowshares back into swords and we exchange wounds rather than gifts. That’s stumbling in the dark …

So listen up. If we’ve been blinded then listen for the sound of singing. Listen to the ring of the hammer on the anvil. We’re doing away with our weapons. We are working for peace. Let’s go to school. Let’s learn how to live with one another. Let’s go to Christ’s house, up on the mountain – everyone is going there. Disputes will be settled there. Conflicts will be resolved. Come on, we’re the house of Jesus Christ, so Come on – let’s walk in the light of the Lord!

When The Cost Exceeds God’s Intent

Posted by on December 13, 2007 under Bulletin Articles

In warfare, there is a modern term often heard-collateral damage. My Webster’s New (though quite old) Collegiate Dictionary defines collateral as indirect or parallel (along with some other concepts). In warfare, collateral damage concerns innocent [civilian] people who suffer fatal or destructive wounds as a result of the actions of military forces. It is the common way to refer to civilians who are killed or maimed as the result of a military confrontation.

A man, woman, or child who dies or is maimed as a result of collateral damage is just as dead, suffers just as much pain, or causes just as much grief to his/her family as the man/woman in the military who dies or is maimed in the same hostile action. Dead is dead. Maimed is maimed. Pain is pain. Grief is grief. The end result: the grieving survivors have zero confidence in the nation whose personnel caused the collateral damage.

Christians need to give great care to avoid collateral damage. At times Christians become so emotional about their personal cause that they ignore the effect of their actions on the souls and spirits of others. How awful it would be to be surrounded in Judgment by a great cloud of witnesses who were the collateral damage of our words and deeds! How wonderful it would be in Judgment to be surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who came to or remained in Christ because our words and deeds prevented collateral damage!

With God, there is no collateral damage. His people are committed to a “no collateral damage” policy. Consider Matthew 5:43-48. Godless people know how to be nice to those who are nice to them. Godly people know how to be nice to enemies.

Christian Jews had a lot to tolerate in Christian gentiles, and vice versa. The uncleanness, food (sacrifices), and kept days to which Paul referred involved spiritual acts. Those two sets of Christians reached totally different conclusions about those acts. Paul did not say, “Decide a winner, decide a loser, and become identical.” He said that God’s kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, not winners and losers.

As we commit to a policy of no collateral damage, let’s invest as much in the salvation of others as God did. May our actions and words never negate Jesus’ death in their lives!

Decalogue 2.0

Posted by on December 9, 2007 under Sermons

Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 – A comparison

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20)   “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Deuteronomy 5)

What are the different situations that may account for the change in order?

  1. Ownership of land?
  2. Social status of wife?


  • The second (giving of the) law
    • Deuteros = second; Nomos = Law
      – Decalogue 2.0
  • Moses’ last words to Israel
      – Three Speeches
  • Bridges the Past Tradition and Current Situation
  • Deuteronomy is for each generation (see Deuteronomy 6)

Deuteronomy 17:18
[The King] is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left.

Deuteronomy 5:1-3
Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.

Deuteronomy 29:12-15
You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, … that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today.

Three Settings – One Book

  1. Before entering the land
  2. Living the good life on the land
  3. After losing the land in exile

Living Interpretation – A Process

Don’t Covet

Posted by on under Sermons

Read Ten Words [Exodus 20]

In his book, The Year of Living Biblically, writer A.J. Jacobs sets out to follow the teaching of the Bible as literally as possible. He will not pick and choose which instructions to follow, so he lets his hair and beard grow out and will not wear clothing of mixed fibers. Of course he observes the Ten Words, including the Tenth Commandment.

Jacobs makes a list one day of all the things he covets … a PDA, his neighbor’s front lawn, the speaking fee of a fellow author, George Clooney’s fame. He even covets for his infant son. He wants his son to have the vocabulary of other kids. Jacob’s begins to notice that coveting leads him to compare himself to others, including his wife’s ex-boyfriend. Jacobs concludes that he tends to spend a lot of time and mental energy on breaking the tenth commandment – and it’s all the harder not to do that since our advertising age seems to run on coveting. But Jacobs finds a tactic that helps him overcome coveting: “If you’re intently focused on following the rules of the Bible, you don’t have time to covet. Not as much anyway.”

The tenth word to live by takes us back to the first. The first and tenth words to live by are bookends. Unlike the other eight that are focus on visible actions, the first and tenth have to do with our heart, or our state of mind.

    What is our focus? Is it God, or it the goods of our neighbor? Is it the Lord, or is it self?

Remember that the last six of the Ten Words are aimed at how we ought to live in community with one another. What happens to us as a people when we covet? Coveting is desire. It is very much related to greed and jealousy. Describing it so harshly, none of us would think much of coveting. However, since coveting is an internal problem and not connected to any specific action, it is a subtle problem. As a people, we have ways of ignoring the detriments of coveting.
We center our economy too often on coveting. Many of us are overworked trying to earn more so that we can own more. We may be able to get more, but we lose the time to enjoy what we have. But instead of labeling this as coveting, we describe it as ambition, providing for the family, supporting a lifestyle, working for a better life, getting ahead.

  • Story of the fisherman and the business man – An exhausted businessman traveled to a faraway island for a vacation. Everyday he went to the beach to swim and relax and every day he noticed a man with a boat and fishing net. He was cleaning one, maybe two fish every day. The business man finally asked, “You’re a fisherman, right? I noticed that you catch just one or two fish a day.” The fisherman replied, “Yes, I usually find plenty of fish in the morning.” The businessman asks, “But what do you do with the rest of your day?” Fisherman: “Well, let’s see. I clean the fish to eat or sell. I go home and take a nap. I work on my house, I eat supper with my family, then I play guitar and sing with my friends.” The businessman with furrowed brow said to the man, “Well see here, if you were to fish all day you could probably triple your profit. You could use that to buy a bigger boat, hire workers, and maybe even expand your business by getting into distribution.” “Why would I do that?” the fisherman asks. “Why, you could eventually get to the point that you would be set of life. You could quit work, stay home most of the day, take vacations, relax and spend time with friends and family whenever you wanted.” “Well man, that’s what I am doing now but I only have to catch one fish a day to do it.”

On the other side of the economic equation we are consumers and not just overworked providers. The Christmas season is big business. [Do we ever stop to think at how natural it is for us to find Santa in a store? Santa and commerce go together.] Shopping has become an activity that pleases us rather than something we do out of necessity.

  • Woolworths was one of the first stores to put merchandise out for the shopping public to handle and select without the assistance of a sales clerk. Earlier retailers kept all merchandise behind a counter, and customers presented the clerk with a list of items they wished to buy. We sell things for no other reason than the fact that someone will want it – or because our neighbor may want it!

When wants and desires come between us, we will all be unhappy. [A neighbor of Abraham Lincoln saw him carrying two of his sons, one under each arm. The little boys were crying. The neighbor asked Lincoln what was wrong. He replied, “Just what’s the matter with the whole world. I’ve got three pieces of candy, and each wants two.”] The tenth word is a a perfect sign-off to the ten words to live by. It reminds us that unchecked desire, jealousy, and discontent leads us to violate the other commandments. As a result we wound our neighbor and wreck our life together …

  • King David ignored God’s words to live by. He stole another man wife thus ignoring two of the words. He lied about it and had the other man murdered thus ignoring two more of those words. He invoked God’s name to justify his actions, thus he violated even another. But it all began by ignoring the tenth word to live by. He was coveting his neighbor’s wife. And he ignored the tenth because he ignored the first. David should have been doing what God called him to do – leading the armies of Israel – but instead he was at home.
  • Coveting is the attitude of heart that preceeds us not living according to God’s words.

The remedy is to go back to the first word that God spoke. He will be our God. He are to be his people.

Jesus is asking us to look inward and question what it most important. Where’s our treasure? Is it God? Is our treasure found in the kingdom of God? Or do we have our eyes and hearts set on our neighbor’s stuff?

Rather than compete with our neighbor, let’s be content with what God gives us. A few weeks ago we spoke about greed and materialism, but let’s go a step further. Let’s listen to Jesus: He recognizes the bookends to these Ten Words and gives us Two Words to Live By …

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matt. 22:37-40

Special Note:

The following is a bibliography of resources used throughout this series on the Ten Words to Live By. I am grateful to the authors of these books for being my “conversation partners” in this series. In both agreement and disagreement, these resources have proven to be useful aids in the writing of the sermons and classes.

  • J. John, Ten: Living the Ten Commandments in the 21st Century, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Publishing), 2000.
  • Anne Robertson, God’s Top Ten: Blowing the Lid Off the Commandments, (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing), 2006.
  • J. Ellsworth Kalas, The Ten Commandments from the Back Side, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press), 1998.
  • Rich Atchley, Sinai Summit: Meeting God With Our Character Crisis, (Siloam Springs, AR: Leafwood Publishing), 2003.
  • S. Hauerwas and W. Willimon, The Truth About God: The Ten Commandments in Christian Life, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press), 1999.
  • Carl E. Braaten and Christopher R. Seitz (eds.), I Am the Lord Your God: Christian Reflections on the Ten Commandments, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans), 2005.
  • William P. Brown (ed.), The Ten Commandments: The Reciprocity of Faithfulness, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press), 2004.
  • Lewis B. Smedes, Mere Morality: What God Expects from Ordinary People, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans), 1983.
  • Joan Chittister, The Ten Commandments: Laws of the Heart, (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books), 2006.